Best species for a new 38 gal freshwater tank?

Beckett

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Hello! I am new to the forum and hoping to get advice on a few good species to stock a freshwater 38 gallon tank. The tank is 36 inches long and 12 inches wide, 20 inches in height. I am in the process of setting up the tank, it's completely empty right now so I can build the substrate/decor around the species I end up choosing to put in it. I am completely open to any ideas except a species only tank. I really would like a few different species that can coexist together in this size tank. I do have some initial ideas on potential fish but I am not sure if they actually would be good for the tank since there is conflicting information online and also from my local aquarium supply shop.

My local shop recommended Clown Loaches which surprised me since I figured they would be too big for this tank. I absolutely love them and would love to have a few, but I don't want to get them if the tank is going to be too small and not the best home for them. Are there any good loach options besides a clown loach? Are clowns way too big for a 38 gal?

Another I am considering is Boesemani Rainbow, maybe a small group of 4? I am also considering a pair of German Blue Rams and a Bristlenose Pleco. This would not be all together, just species I am considering. Once I decide on a 'focus' species, I will build the community around that.

I definitely am a beginner. I had a 22 gal tank years ago that unfortunately I made all the classic beginner mistakes with, although my fish did well overall I felt the tank was too small for the species I had ended up with. So I am trying to avoid that this time around and really pick my species according to my tank, build the decor around that, then properly cycle and eventually stock the tank.

Thanks for any advice on options for a 38 gal freshwater!
 

PheonixKingZ

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Hello and welcome to the forum! :hi:

Never take advice from fish stores. They are usually very wrong. As you thought, Clown Loaches can get very big and would out grow your tank very fast. (They can get over 7in long)

I know the question will come up as to what your pH, GH, and KH are? What are your water parameters? Are you aware of the nitrogen cycle? If not, read up here: https://www.fishforums.net/threads/cycling-your-new-fresh-water-tank-read-this-first.421488/

The possible stocking list, is only possible if we can know what your water parameters are.
 

essjay

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To find your GH, search on your water provider's website for hardness. You need a number and the unit of measurement rather than words.
 

Byron

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:hi: Welcome to TFF.

I concur with above members, the first thing is to establish your source water parameters, especially GH and pH. While waiting for that, I will offer some general comments on a community aquarium which is the term for a tank housing more than one species of fish. I've n idea of your level of experience or knowledge, so this may be "old news" but it is crucial to success.

Fish size (mass) and water volume is often all many consider, but it goes far beyond that. Species must have the same basic requirement for water parameters (hence the request for GH and pH) and also the third parameter, temperature. For example, you mentioned the blue ram, and this fish must have warmer water, above 80F, and many other species cannot manage in this long-term.

Many species are shoaling fish, meaning they must have a group of several of their own, so this impacts tank size. The clow loaches for example need at least five, and they grow up to 12 inches, which means an 8-foot long tank. There are several species of loach that would work though, depending upon parameters.

Substrate is important. Sand is overall the best because all fish will be OK with sand (some willnot with gravel), and plants grow very well in sand.

Ignore any advice from store staff; unfortunately most of them do not have the knowledge, and they are there to sell stuff which is fine but it is up to you to research.
 
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Beckett

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Thank you all for the helpful replies! I had purchased some test strips at the store, so I ran a quick test to get an idea of the tap water. I got the following results:

GH: 30
KH: 0 - 40
PH: 6.5 (maybe slightly higher but I don't think too much)

Now that I have those numbers I need to go re-look at the species I've mentioned.

What is the opinion on a single angelfish in a 38 gal? I've read at multiple sources angelfish can be peaceful when kept alone so they don't begin forming breeding pairs. However, many sites offer different information on what size tank is acceptable. One website said 29 gallons and another said 75+ gallons. Could a single angelfish be a good center piece fish for a 38 gal community? Or is that really too small?
 

PheonixKingZ

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It all depends on what specific species of angle fish you are looking at getting. Which type were you looking into?
 

Byron

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Thank you all for the helpful replies! I had purchased some test strips at the store, so I ran a quick test to get an idea of the tap water. I got the following results:

GH: 30
KH: 0 - 40
PH: 6.5 (maybe slightly higher but I don't think too much)

Now that I have those numbers I need to go re-look at the species I've mentioned.

What is the opinion on a single angelfish in a 38 gal? I've read at multiple sources angelfish can be peaceful when kept alone so they don't begin forming breeding pairs. However, many sites offer different information on what size tank is acceptable. One website said 29 gallons and another said 75+ gallons. Could a single angelfish be a good center piece fish for a 38 gal community? Or is that really too small?
You have very soft water which is ideal because you are looking at soft water species and there are more of these than would work with fairly hard water. You should be able to build a very nice community aquarium.

Angelfish. This is a shoaling species, so ideally a group of five (no fewer) or more is providing what the fish expects, but this needs a larger tank. A single angelfish will have sufficient room in your tank given the dimensions, but I do not like recommending fish that cannot be maintained according to their inherent needs. But yes, it could work. The angelfish might or might not be aggressive given this situation. And tankmates will need to be carefully selected.

In post #1 you had mentioned Melanotaenia boesemani (Boeseman rainbowfish). This is not going to work here. First, it does not do well in soft acidic water, second it is shoaling and needs a group which means a larger tank.

Suitable fish are pretty much any species from South America and SE Asia, as far as parameters are concerned.
 

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Welcome, I had a mated pair of angelfish in a 55 gallon tank for years, That is the only way to have less than 5 and meet the shoaling needs of the fish. One grew to a little over 6 inches and the other almost 5 inches (body) So as they grow it may get a little too crowded in your tank.
 
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Beckett

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Thank you everyone! This has been super helpful advice and helped me to refine my online research. I just purchased my decor and substrate. I am avoiding live plants for now because I really don't know anything about maintaining them. That might be a step further down the road. I have a bunch of artificial plants at different heights, some driftwood (in the process of soaking it to water log it and reduce it affecting PH, also planning to boil both pieces to remove any bacteria/spores). I also purchased a gravel and sand to blend for the substrate, it will end up being mostly sand but I wanted the gravel to be the base layer to hopefully improve cleaning and have a substrate that won't get sucked up when cleaning, to promote healthy bacteria in case I accidentally suck up the sand over time and have to add new sand.

I am waiting for my background and leveling mat to arrive tomorrow, then I can start actually setting up the tank to cycle it. I am planning to do the 'shrimp' method I read about. So I will setup the tank and drop a piece of raw shrimp in, let it hang out there for awhile to produce bacteria while doing some partial water changes. Is there a better method to cycle? It seemed this was the best one I read about to really produce the needed bacterias.

As for species, I finally have narrowed it down to what I THINK might be a good setup for long term success. Please let me know what you all think:

- 7 Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish (tank level top to mid) <-- seemed these guys are smaller and have diff water parameters than Bosemani
- 2 German Blue Ram (tank level mid to bottom)
- 1 Bristlenose Pleco (tank level bottom)
- 1 Blue Shrimp (tank level bottom)

What do you guys think? Would the tank be overpopulated? If not, would there be any potential room for any additions to the tank in the future? Do these fish fit the setup I plan to have and my water parameters?

Thank you so much!
 

Byron

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You have an issue with this stocking that willnot work. The blue rams must have warmth, 80F/27C is absolute minimum. This is going to be an issue for the Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia praecox) which has a temperature range of 22-28C/72-82F, long-term maintenance is best at 24-25C/74-77F, higher for breeding.
 

dmpfishlover

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I am waiting for my background and leveling mat to arrive tomorrow,
Is your tank "rimmed", or is it a rimless tank? The reason I ask, is because you mention that your waiting for your "leveling mat" to arrive. I believe that I read or heard someplace (might have been YouTube?), that mats should NOT be used under rimmed tanks, that they are designed for rimless tanks. I might be wrong though? I am sure someone else on here can either verify what I am saying, or tell me that what I heard/read is untrue. I thought I should bring it up anyway....
 
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Beckett

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Thank you Byron, I will do some more research then. It seems the other species would go well together though?

dmpfishlover - I just did some reading, had no idea it was only rimless tanks! I really just want to use it to protect the top of the furniture I am placing the tank on. Would foam be bad to use under a rimmed tank? Maybe I could use a yoga mat and cut it down to size? This way it will be thinner and just serving as a protective layer between the bottom of the aquarium and the wood surface it will be on.
 

dmpfishlover

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Thank you Byron, I will do some more research then. It seems the other species would go well together though?

dmpfishlover - I just did some reading, had no idea it was only rimless tanks! I really just want to use it to protect the top of the furniture I am placing the tank on. Would foam be bad to use under a rimmed tank? Maybe I could use a yoga mat and cut it down to size? This way it will be thinner and just serving as a protective layer between the bottom of the aquarium and the wood surface it will be on.
I think that the concern for rimmed tanks, is that they are designed so that the bottom rim or frame equally distributes the weight of the water on the bottom pane of glass. If a mat of any significant thickness is placed under a rimmed tank it can possibly put an uneven upwards pressure on the bottom pane of glass in relation to the bottom frame/rim. This can possibly cause stress fractures in the glass on the bottom of the tank. If the mat layer is very thin and wont possibly exert any pressure on the bottom pane of glass then you might be okay. Rimmed tanks do not need leveling mats at all, it is rimless tanks that require mats underneath due to their different design. If you do want a mat layer between your tank and the wood surface it will be on, just make sure it is a very thin one and not a thicker foam-like layer. Again, I am sure someone else on here might have more to say, or be able to verify what I have heard.
 

Byron

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Thank you Byron, I will do some more research then. It seems the other species would go well together though?
The shrimp I will leave for the experienced shrimp members to answer. The BN with rams would be just above its preferred range. The common or blue rams are going to limit your options because of the temperature. Another thread yesterday dealt with this too.
 

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