First Tank

WintersKnight

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I just purchased a ten gallon tank and ordered some plants. I want to mix some ember tetras with pygmy corys and some cherry shrimp. I'm conflicted. Many websites suggest mixing no more than 10 fish together in a 10 gallon, while aqua advisor says it's perfectly fine for me to house 10 ember tetra, 10 Pygmy corys and 10 shrimp in the same tank, which seems like it would be overstocked. Finding a middle ground might dilute the schools of fish, making them unhappy.

I just want happy fish. Should I play it safe and just stick with a small school of Ember Tetra, or mix the two species together (how many of each would you suggest)? I plan to keep it well planted and filtered. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 

sharkweek178

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According to Aqadvisor, 10 ember tetra and 10 pygmy corys put the tank at 103% capacity. Thing about Aqadvisor is that you want to stock at much less than 100%. Especially as an inexperienced fish keeper. You should stock 85% at the most and preferably be at 75% or less.
Since this is your first tank, you should go low on the number of fish you stock. One of the things you'll learn is that counterintuitively, a smaller tank like a 10 gallon can be harder to maintain than a larger one. The water parameters change more quickly and there's less room for error. There's definitely a learning curve on maintaining the tank which is more difficult with a smaller tank. So it's best not to make it even more difficult by overstocking.
 

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I agree.

Since these tiny fish need to be in a large group I would go with 10 of just one species rather than smaller numbers of both.
What substrate do you have? If it's sand you could have either but if it's gravel go with the tetras.
 

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Those fish will be fine in there as long as you properly cycle your tank and get a good enough filter. I bet you are going to get tired of the ten gallon tank soon and will want to move on to a bigger tank. The multiple tank syndrome is real
 

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I am of somewhat different views than some other members here, depending upon your situation.

First, I'd like to know the plants, so can you post a photo of the tank? I assume the plants are planted. Plants are your friend when it comes to a new tank. I'll have more to explain when I see the photo(s).

Second point which you already seem to know (very good) is that shoaling fish like the cories and tetras must have a decent-sized group, and 10-11 or 12 is absolute minimum. You will be OK here with this number of the pygmy cories and Ember Tetras, but this is subject to the plants and maintenance. Provided the parameters--these refer to GH, pH and temperature--of the tap water and tank water are the same, you can do water changes without worry, and a 50-60% change once each week should be fine going forward.

The sand issue is critical, if you intend pygmy cories (or any species of Corydoras).
 
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sharkweek178

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I am of somewhat different views than some other members here, depending upon your situation.

First, I'd like to know the plants, so can you post a photo of the tank? I assume the plants are planted. Plants are your friend when it comes to a new tank. I'll have more to explain when I see the photo(s).

Second pit which you already seem to know (very good) is that shoaling fish like the cories and tetras must have a decent-sized group, and 10-11 or 12 is absolute minimum. You will be OK here with this number of the pygmy cories and Ember Tetras, but this is subject to the plants and maintenance. Provided the parameters--these refer to GH, pH and temperature--of the tap water and tank water are the same, you can do water changes without worry, and a 50-60% change once each week should be fine going forward.

The sand issue is critical, if you intend pygmy cories (or any species of Corydoras).
Question. We've talked about plants offsetting the bioload. But what about the issue of physical space? How much physical space do individual fish need to themselves? I realize that the answer to that depends on a number of factors like size, shoaling, aggressiveness, activity level. I guess I'm wondering how much of a factor this is in stocking in general.
 

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Question. We've talked about plants offsetting the bioload. But what about the issue of physical space? How much physical space do individual fish need to themselves? I realize that the answer to that depends on a number of factors like size, shoaling, aggressiveness, activity level. I guess I'm wondering how much of a factor this is in stocking in general.

Space is critical, and you are correct on factors.

There are studies now showing that the numbers in the group of a species are significant to the point of being critical. Fish in small groups like five or six showed increased aggressive behaviours, and a latency to feed. When fish are hesitant to feed, you can be certain there is a serious issue behind it. We have known for some time that inadequate space produces similar reactions. But clearly shoaling fish must be in groups of sufficient size or they immediately have problems, which may be stress (the direct cause of 90% of all aquarium fish diseases) which weakens them, making them susceptible to various problems they should otherwise be able to easily deal with. And interestingly, having a group of say 10-12 of a species will have less impact that a group of 5 or 6, due to the stress factor.

The swimming activity of a species is the guide to how much space it needs in order to realistically function normally. Sedate fish need less space that very active fish. Turning to Ember Tetras and pygmy cories, these are not especially active in terms of swimming laps down the tank as say rummynose tetras are. Rosy Tetras do not need as much length as Rummynose Tetras, though in terms of mass they are probably fairly equal. Pygmy cories are certainly generally active, but they do not swim lengths. In a 10g with chunks of wood and plants including floating, these fish will swim from surface to surface, browsing every plant leaf and chunk of wood looking for food. They do not need lengthy tanks, but the larger species do need the length to some degree. I had 30 pygmy cories in my 10g tank at one time (largely fry from the original six). I had a 10g tank with no filter, just a heater and plants, housing 11 pygmy cories and 12 dwarf rasbora (Boraras brigittae). This tank ran for a year, with just weekly 50% water changes. It was an experiment of sorts; it also had no overhead light, just window light. I finally moved it and added a light and a sponge filter which did make the water clearer, but the fish seemed to be quite content all along.
 

sharkweek178

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Space is critical, and you are correct on factors.

There are studies now showing that the numbers in the group of a species are significant to the point of being critical. Fish in small groups like five or six showed increased aggressive behaviours, and a latency to feed. When fish are hesitant to feed, you can be certain there is a serious issue behind it. We have known for some time that inadequate space produces similar reactions. But clearly shoaling fish must be in groups of sufficient size or they immediately have problems, which may be stress (the direct cause of 90% of all aquarium fish diseases) which weakens them, making them susceptible to various problems they should otherwise be able to easily deal with. And interestingly, having a group of say 10-12 of a species will have less impact that a group of 5 or 6, due to the stress factor.

The swimming activity of a species is the guide to how much space it needs in order to realistically function normally. Sedate fish need less space that very active fish. Turning to Ember Tetras and pygmy cories, these are not especially active in terms of swimming laps down the tank as say rummynose tetras are. Rosy Tetras do not need as much length as Rummynose Tetras, though in terms of mass they are probably fairly equal. Pygmy cories are certainly generally active, but they do not swim lengths. In a 10g with chunks of wood and plants including floating, these fish will swim from surface to surface, browsing every plant leaf and chunk of wood looking for food. They do not need lengthy tanks, but the larger species do need the length to some degree. I had 30 pygmy cories in my 10g tank at one time (largely fry from the original six). I had a 10g tank with no filter, just a heater and plants, housing 11 pygmy cories and 12 dwarf rasbora (Boraras brigittae). This tank ran for a year, with just weekly 50% water changes. It was an experiment of sorts; it also had no overhead light, just window light. I finally moved it and added a light and a sponge filter which did make the water clearer, but the fish seemed to be quite content all along.
I think the experience level of the fish keeper is also a consideration. I'm sure experienced fish keepers can maintain higher stock levels. But speaking as someone who is fairly new to the hobby myself. There's always some factor where experience comes into play. For example, newer fish keepers can tend to overfeed, which can cause ammonia spikes. So I'm thinking that it might be better for someone who is newer to the hobby to be a little conservative on stocking the tank until they get past that learning curve. Definitely want to have an adequate school/shoal size, though. So maybe going with one or the other between embers or corys and then adding the others later. Who knows, the OP might be like me (and like InsaneM referred to before) and soon realize that they want to have a bigger tank.
 
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WintersKnight

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Thanks for the replies. There's a lot to consider. Apparently there's more than one way to skin this catfish. My tank is still in the box and I'll have months of cycling to make a decision. Right now, I think I'm going to go with 10-12 ember tetras and some shrimp. It's my first tank and I can always build another down the line.

I'm switching the motor of a Mignon 150 filter and replacing it with Mignon 60 motor. It'll increase filter size and reduce flow rate. The following plants are in the mail:

Water Sprite × 1
Anubias Congensis × 1
Myriophyllum 'Filigree' Simulans × 2
Hygrophila Corymbosa "Cherry Leaf" × 1
Narrow Leaf Java Fern × 3
Dwarf Red Parrot's Feather × 1
Crinum Calamistratum × 1
Dwarf Hair Grass - Eleocharis parvula × 2
Dwarf Water Lettuce × 1
Christmas Moss × 1
Java Moss × 1

This should get me started. I was going to use a couple of substrates, using aqua soil as my base, sand and pebbles, maybe a little biochar for the plants and shrimp. I'll post pictures when I have my setup.
 
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WintersKnight

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I finished planting.
 

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WintersKnight

WintersKnight

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I am of somewhat different views than some other members here, depending upon your situation.

First, I'd like to know the plants, so can you post a photo of the tank? I assume the plants are planted. Plants are your friend when it comes to a new tank. I'll have more to explain when I see the photo(s).

Second point which you already seem to know (very good) is that shoaling fish like the cories and tetras must have a decent-sized group, and 10-11 or 12 is absolute minimum. You will be OK here with this number of the pygmy cories and Ember Tetras, but this is subject to the plants and maintenance. Provided the parameters--these refer to GH, pH and temperature--of the tap water and tank water are the same, you can do water changes without worry, and a 50-60% change once each week should be fine going forward.

The sand issue is critical, if you intend pygmy cories (or any species of Corydoras).
 

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Byron

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OK, that is a good planting. Now you need to ensure they are settling in and growing/living. A comprehensive fertilizer will help, as without fish there are very few organics. Give it a couple weeks, and if the plants show growth, you can add whatever number of fish.
 

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