Fish Stock Help

UkNath

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Evening, sorry to bother you all but i’m relatively new to fish keeping. I’m 19 and we’ve always had a fish tank but i decided it’s now time to get one for myself in my room. I’m currently day 22 in a fishless cycle and tested 0ppm ammo and nitrite today with 80ppm nitrates. I’m going to do a final test tomorrow (as i’ve added 3ppm of ammo today and waiting to see if both results return to 0 after 24 hrs). So it is time to double check i have my desired stocking levels correct. I have a 60l aquarium (60cm x 35cm surface area) with an aqua flow 200 filter (suitable for 100l - 200l tanks), i will of course stay up with weekly 25-35% water changes. My ph is consistently around 7.2, with a general hardness of 6. The water temperature is currently set to 29 degrees celsius to aid the fishless cycle but will be regulated to 24/25 before fish are added. I have a large artificial bonsai in my tank as decor and the rest is open space with around 8 plants at the back (africanus, elodea densa, heterophilla, ludwig super red, aurea and dwarf hairgrass). With all this information i am aiming to first add a shoal of 6 harlequin raspboras and 3/4 otocinlus. Then if water perimeters are maintained for 2/3 weeks add a dwarf gourami (as a feature fish) along with a small group of shrimps. I then finally aim to add a further shoal of 6 neon tetras and 3 male guppies if permitting (i think i may be pushing it a bit with the guppies so may do without). I’m sorry for that bombardment of information but i’d just like a nod to whether these stocking levels are realistic and maintainable ? Thankyou in advance.
 

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Welcome to TFF. :hi:

First, water parameters. GH of 6 I will assume to be 6 dGH not 6 ppm, so that is soft water. The pH is fine, it will likely lower as the tank establishes with fish, also good since most soft water fish prefer acidic water.

That rules out guppies, they are livebearers and these must have moderately hard or harder water. The other mentioned fish are all soft water. So that brings us to the tank size.

This is a standard 60 liter (15 gallons) tank. I would not suggest a dwarf gourami here as the other fish are shoaling species and that means a group, and while we often recommend six as minimum, the fish will always be the better with a few more of their species, and this should take precedence over adding more species. Also, the DG is known to still carry the iridovirus which is untreatable. There are some smaller gourami species like the pygmy sparkling gourami, licorice gourami, etc. that would be fine in your soft water.

Harlequin Rasbora are fine, I would have 7-8. But considering the space, there are two very similar related species (same genus) that are a tad smaller and would open up space for more fish. Trigonostigma espei and T. hengeli, the latter my favourite for its brilliant copper blotch. A group of 8-9 of either of these. They swim mid-lvel. The neons like it lower down, so that is a good fit. A few more, again 8-9.

Otos I would leave until later. They settle in better if there is some natural algae, as they arrive in stores nearly starved and without natural algae may die. They too are shoaling but I have had good results with three in tanks though five would be better. But before this, consider other possible fish. Cories, esp the pygmy or similarly-smaller habrosus? Dwarf rasboras (Boraras brigittae, etc)? Ember Tetras?

EDIT. Forgot earlier...water changes should be more substantial. Once a week is fine, but change 50-70% of the tank water each time.
 
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UkNath

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Welcome to TFF. :hi:

First, water parameters. GH of 6 I will assume to be 6 dGH not 6 ppm, so that is soft water. The pH is fine, it will likely lower as the tank establishes with fish, also good since most soft water fish prefer acidic water.

That rules out guppies, they are livebearers and these must have moderately hard or harder water. The other mentioned fish are all soft water. So that brings us to the tank size.

This is a standard 60 liter (15 gallons) tank. I would not suggest a dwarf gourami here as the other fish are shoaling species and that means a group, and while we often recommend six as minimum, the fish will always be the better with a few more of their species, and this should take precedence over adding more species. Also, the DG is known to still carry the iridovirus which is untreatable. There are some smaller gourami species like the pygmy sparkling gourami, licorice gourami, etc. that would be fine in your soft water.

Harlequin Rasbora are fine, I would have 7-8. But considering the space, there are two very similar related species (same genus) that are a tad smaller and would open up space for more fish. Trigonostigma espei and T. hengeli, the latter my favourite for its brilliant copper blotch. A group of 8-9 of either of these. They swim mid-lvel. The neons like it lower down, so that is a good fit. A few more, again 8-9.

Otos I would leave until later. They settle in better if there is some natural algae, as they arrive in stores nearly starved and without natural algae may die. They too are shoaling but I have had good results with three in tanks though five would be better. But before this, consider other possible fish. Cories, esp the pygmy or similarly-smaller habrosus? Dwarf rasboras (Boraras brigittae, etc)? Ember Tetras?

EDIT. Forgot earlier...water changes should be more substantial. Once a week is fine, but change 50-70% of the tank water each time.
Thankyou very much for the detailed reply! I will take your advice on board and do 50% water changes weekly, ditch the guppy idea and the dwarf gourami. I’ve just done a quick research on your suggested fish and do you feel the T.hengeli or the T.espei would be available at local push stores (most notably maidenhead aquatics). Also, in regards to the gourami’s i really like both your suggestions which do you feel would mix best with the water conditions, raspboras and neons ? In addition, how many gourami should i aim to get in this tank along with 2x8 shoals of raspboras and neons. With the otos it’s kind of a personal choice that downstairs we have a large main tank which homes corys and also ember tetras and therefore i’m trying to have a tank with completely alternate fish to try and keep some separation and variation. Finally, and thankyou for taking the time to reply, at which stages would it be acceptable to add each species (raspboras, neons, otocinclus, shrimp and gourami ?) Thankyou again !
 

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do you feel the T.hengeli or the T.espei would be available at local push stores (most notably maidenhead aquatics).
A member from the UK should be able to answer this, @essjay knows Maidenhead, I'm sure other members there do as well. Sometimes species are "seasonal," so don't be in a hurry to get "something" rather than wait for what you really want.

Also, in regards to the gourami’s i really like both your suggestions which do you feel would mix best with the water conditions, raspboras and neons ? In addition, how many gourami should i aim to get in this tank along with 2x8 shoals of raspboras and neons.
The pygmy sparkling gourami (Trichopsis pumila) is less sensitive and fussy than the licorice. These (T. pumila) can be kept in a trio in this tank. You must have floating plants, Water Sprite is ideal for this, or something similar, or any of the gourami will be seriously stressed. There is a slightly larger similar species Trichopsis vittata, the Croaking Gourami, but the pygmy would work better due to space. Both of these produce a clicking sound ("croak") which is a series of double pulses generated by rapid beating of the pectoral fins. This can be heard outside the aquarium.

With the otos it’s kind of a personal choice that downstairs we have a large main tank which homes corys and also ember tetras and therefore i’m trying to have a tank with completely alternate fish to try and keep some separation and variation. Finally, and thankyou for taking the time to reply, at which stages would it be acceptable to add each species (raspboras, neons, otocinclus, shrimp and gourami ?)
The otos would be better in the larger tank. Your space in the 60 liter is very limited. The trio of sparkling gourami, a group of 8-9 of one of the rasbora, a group of 7-8 neon tetra. One of the "dwarf" species of cory (8-9) for the substrate perhaps. And the shrimp (which may get eaten, some do easily). If you have the floating plants, you can add all of these whenever. Always add all of a species at the same time, like all 7 or 8 neons together, and all 8-9 rasboras, and all 3 gourami.
 
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UkNath

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A member from the UK should be able to answer this, @essjay knows Maidenhead, I'm sure other members there do as well. Sometimes species are "seasonal," so don't be in a hurry to get "something" rather than wait for what you really want.



The pygmy sparkling gourami (Trichopsis pumila) is less sensitive and fussy than the licorice. These (T. pumila) can be kept in a trio in this tank. You must have floating plants, Water Sprite is ideal for this, or something similar, or any of the gourami will be seriously stressed. There is a slightly larger similar species Trichopsis vittata, the Croaking Gourami, but the pygmy would work better due to space. Both of these produce a clicking sound ("croak") which is a series of double pulses generated by rapid beating of the pectoral fins. This can be heard outside the aquarium.



The otos would be better in the larger tank. Your space in the 60 liter is very limited. The trio of sparkling gourami, a group of 8-9 of one of the rasbora, a group of 7-8 neon tetra. One of the "dwarf" species of cory (8-9) for the substrate perhaps. And the shrimp (which may get eaten, some do easily). If you have the floating plants, you can add all of these whenever. Always add all of a species at the same time, like all 7 or 8 neons together, and all 8-9 rasboras, and all 3 gourami.
Thankyou again for all your help i’ll have a look into dwarf cory species and also into getting myself some floating plants before adding any of the gourami. Thankyou so much !
 

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I have not seen any of the Trigonostigmas except heteromorpha - harlequins - in MA, though they have stocked different colours of this species. The other nationwide chain, Pets at Home, is unlikely to stock them either; the branches near me only stock 'bread and butter' species of fish.

I bought my T. espei from an independent shop. Do you have any independents near you? If there are some, you could try phoning round to ask. In normal times most will order fish in, but they may not be willing to do this at the moment.
 
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UkNath

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I have not seen any of the Trigonostigmas except heteromorpha - harlequins - in MA, though they have stocked different colours of this species. The other nationwide chain, Pets at Home, is unlikely to stock them either; the branches near me only stock 'bread and butter' species of fish.

I bought my T. espei from an independent shop. Do you have any independents near you? If there are some, you could try phoning round to ask. In normal times most will order fish in, but they may not be willing to do this at the moment.
Cheers and there are a couple of tiny independent stores around but i mean like a sort of terraced house turned shop small but nonetheless worth a look. The larger independent store in my area is called daves aquarium and whilst i don’t want to talk bad of a place it simply wouldn’t be my ideal place to shop for fish. I can always ask at maidenhead and see if anything can be done even if this is in the future
 
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The otos would be better in the larger tank. Your space in the 60 liter is very limited. The trio of sparkling gourami, a group of 8-9 of one of the rasbora, a group of 7-8 neon tetra. One of the "dwarf" species of cory (8-9) for the substrate perhaps. And the shrimp (which may get eaten, some do easily). If you have the floating plants, you can add all of these whenever. Always add all of a species at the same time, like all 7 or 8 neons together, and all 8-9 rasboras, and all 3 gourami.
I’m sorry i’m just re-reading your advice again tonight planning the fish i will hopefully be getting monday as todsy i again tested no nirite or ammonia and high nitrates and am just wondering when you said .... ‘One of the "dwarf" species of cory (8-9)’ .... does this mean i could have 8 pygmy cory’s ? Sorry i just want to double check because if that’s the case i’m well chuffed didn’t think i could have so many with the 8 neons 8 raspboras (which i’ve also been looking into your ‘chilli raspboras’ suggestion which i really love) and 2/3 sparkling/honey/liquorice gouramis.
 

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I’m sorry i’m just re-reading your advice again tonight planning the fish i will hopefully be getting monday as todsy i again tested no nirite or ammonia and high nitrates and am just wondering when you said .... ‘One of the "dwarf" species of cory (8-9)’ .... does this mean i could have 8 pygmy cory’s ? Sorry i just want to double check because if that’s the case i’m well chuffed didn’t think i could have so many with the 8 neons 8 raspboras (which i’ve also been looking into your ‘chilli raspboras’ suggestion which i really love) and 2/3 sparkling/honey/liquorice gouramis.
Yes on the pygmy cories with the other species. Just remember to get the entire group of a species at the same time unless the store doesn't have that many. So all 8 cories should be acquired and added together, and the same for the rasboras and the gourami and the neons (I think you already have the neons).
 
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Yes on the pygmy cories with the other species. Just remember to get the entire group of a species at the same time unless the store doesn't have that many. So all 8 cories should be acquired and added together, and the same for the rasboras and the gourami and the neons (I think you already have the neons).
Okay thankyou very much ! I’ve currently no fish at the moment i’m just getting towards the end of my fishless cycle after 19 days and have tested 0ppm ammo and nitrites for the past 3 days whist adding 2ppm of ammonia however it took 24-48 hours so as soon as it’s down to 24 hours to get from 2ppm ammo to 0ppm ammo and nitrite i’ll look at heading to the fish store to get my first fish after the large water change hopefully monday. After your advice i think i’ll be looking to get around 8 T.espei (Copper harlequin) first along with possibly the 2/3 gourami, then leave it a couple of weeks to ensure all is well and possibly add the shoal of neons about 9 and then hopefully the shoal of pygmy corys or around 3 otos depending on what’s available and if my tank has enough algae for them yet. Before finishing off the entire tank with the species of shrimp (i’m looking at cherry shrimp so far). Again thankyou for all the help and different possible options.
 

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Okay thankyou very much ! I’ve currently no fish at the moment i’m just getting towards the end of my fishless cycle after 19 days and have tested 0ppm ammo and nitrites for the past 3 days whist adding 2ppm of ammonia however it took 24-48 hours so as soon as it’s down to 24 hours to get from 2ppm ammo to 0ppm ammo and nitrite i’ll look at heading to the fish store to get my first fish after the large water change hopefully monday. After your advice i think i’ll be looking to get around 8 T.espei (Copper harlequin) first along with possibly the 2/3 gourami, then leave it a couple of weeks to ensure all is well and possibly add the shoal of neons about 9 and then hopefully the shoal of pygmy corys or around 3 otos depending on what’s available and if my tank has enough algae for them yet. Before finishing off the entire tank with the species of shrimp (i’m looking at cherry shrimp so far). Again thankyou for all the help and different possible options.
You have live plants in this tank I believe, so do not add any ammonia. You do not "cycle" an aquarium that has plants growing. Get some floating plants and you're set to go.
 
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You have live plants in this tank I believe, so do not add any ammonia. You do not "cycle" an aquarium that has plants growing. Get some floating plants and you're set to go.
Oh shoot have i messed up then here ? I’ve been adding ammonium chloride up to 2ppm every time ammonia has got down to 0 and i’ve seen the ammonia spike and then fall then the nitrite spike and fall whilst nitrates rising i have also been trying to keep nitrites down to readable levels and safe levels for plants via water changes. I’ve also been adding fertiliser to the water and bottled CO2 for the plants ? i’ve lost an elodea densa and had to cut a leaf off the africanus however the super lidwigia, aurea, hairgrass and heterophillia all seem relatively healthy and are growing in size nicely and retaining colour ? I’m sorry i never knew about not cycling planted tanks
 

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Oh shoot have i messed up then here ? I’ve been adding ammonium chloride up to 2ppm every time ammonia has got down to 0 and i’ve seen the ammonia spike and then fall then the nitrite spike and fall whilst nitrates rising i have also been trying to keep nitrites down to readable levels and safe levels for plants via water changes. I’ve also been adding fertiliser to the water and bottled CO2 for the plants ? i’ve lost an elodea densa and had to cut a leaf off the africanus however the super lidwigia, aurea, hairgrass and heterophillia all seem relatively healthy and are growing in size nicely and retaining colour ? I’m sorry i never knew about not cycling planted tanks
Do a major water change to get rid of or at least significantly reduce the ammonia. There are no fish, so you do not need a conditioner as chlorine/chloramine will not hurt the plants. Plant fertilizer is OK, add it back. What is the bottled CO2?

An explanation of how "cycling" works in planted tanks. Plants need nitrogen (ammonia, ammonium, nitrite, nitrate are four forms of nitrogen) and most aquatic species in the aquarium prefer ammonium. They take it up rapidly, faster than the nitrifying bacteria can. The benefit of this is that plants do not produce nitrite, so that is a non-issue. And following from that, nitrate is also minimal. Ammonia/ammonium for our purposes here is the same; in basic water there will be more ammonia than ammonium, while in acidic water there will be more ammonium. Plants will assimilate ammonia/ammonium so long as it is present, and faster growing plants are like sponges taking up ammonia/ammonium. Floating plants are best at this, but stem plants are also fast growing.

The nitrifying bacteria will still colonize but with plants using most of the ammonia this will occur in the background so to speak, which is why it is sometimes referred to as silent cycling.

Ammonia is toxic to all life forms, depending upon the level. I doubt anything has occurred here, but it is safer not to risk it.
 
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Do a major water change to get rid of or at least significantly reduce the ammonia. There are no fish, so you do not need a conditioner as chlorine/chloramine will not hurt the plants. Plant fertilizer is OK, add it back. What is the bottled CO2?

An explanation of how "cycling" works in planted tanks. Plants need nitrogen (ammonia, ammonium, nitrite, nitrate are four forms of nitrogen) and most aquatic species in the aquarium prefer ammonium. They take it up rapidly, faster than the nitrifying bacteria can. The benefit of this is that plants do not produce nitrite, so that is a non-issue. And following from that, nitrate is also minimal. Ammonia/ammonium for our purposes here is the same; in basic water there will be more ammonia than ammonium, while in acidic water there will be more ammonium. Plants will assimilate ammonia/ammonium so long as it is present, and faster growing plants are like sponges taking up ammonia/ammonium. Floating plants are best at this, but stem plants are also fast growing.

The nitrifying bacteria will still colonize but with plants using most of the ammonia this will occur in the background so to speak, which is why it is sometimes referred to as silent cycling.

Ammonia is toxic to all life forms, depending upon the level. I doubt anything has occurred here, but it is safer not to risk it.
Okay i shall a do a 90% water change. Is it that the tank is in essence probably already ‘cycled’ then as i have seen a spike in ammonia and nitrite whilst they both then fell and got replaced by nitrates and therefore will be safe to add the fish ? Or will i have to in effect now do a fish-in cycle because it was the plants taking the ammonia not the bacteria ? Also i just use Api Co2 booster it’s probably not brilliant but i tried to choose relatively ‘easy’ plants as my tank is simply not big enough and i’m simply not experienced enough to know how a co2 canister will work in a tank.
 

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Okay i shall a do a 90% water change. Is it that the tank is in essence probably already ‘cycled’ then as i have seen a spike in ammonia and nitrite whilst they both then fell and got replaced by nitrates and therefore will be safe to add the fish ? Or will i have to in effect now do a fish-in cycle because it was the plants taking the ammonia not the bacteria ? Also i just use Api Co2 booster it’s probably not brilliant but i tried to choose relatively ‘easy’ plants as my tank is simply not big enough and i’m simply not experienced enough to know how a co2 canister will work in a tank.
You have probably an established colony of nitrifying bacteria, but that doesn't matter if the plants are showing signs of growth, as they will be taking up most of the ammonia once fish are present. Before adding any fish, make sure ammonia and nitrite are reading zero for a few consecutive days. Nitrates must be low, hopefully also zero.

No, we do not do fish-in cycles. With live plants there is no discernible cycle because the plants will take up the ammonia rapidly and that is the end of it. You add new fish slowly, and members can guide you through. I can set up a brand new tank in one day with fish and plants but as you're just starting taking it slow is a good idea.

The API CO2 Booster is toxic to fish, don't use it. The major water change will get rid of most of that too. This product is glutaraldehyde and water, and glutaraldehyde is a very toxic and strong disinfectant that they use to sterilize surgical instruments in hospitals, in embalming fluid, in anti-freeze, and applications to kill bacteria. Used as they direct, it will usually kill Vallisneria plants which are particularly sensitive to it, but if it should get overdosed it has the capability to kill all plants, fish and bacteria. I know some people use these toxic chemicals, but I do not think it wise to use them in an aquarium. The CO2 is not needed anyway. Once you get fish in, the fish waste sinks into the substrate where it along with all other organics will be broken down by various bacteria and this produces CO2 that the plants can use. Most of us have low-tech or natural planted fish tanks, which means tanks of fish where plants are secondary and we use nature more than chemicals. It reduces the risk of problems, and makes everyone's life much easier--fish and aquarist.
 

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