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Feb 24, 2017
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Hello all (first post!!!),

I am about to pick up a 60 gallon tank and am trying to plan out my community. I know I want freshwater tropical fish. I am not completely new to the hobby but it's been awhile and I have never had a large variety of fish. I had a 150 gallon Oscar tank with one Tiger and one Red about 10 years ago but that's it.

I would like schooling fish, cleaners, and then like one type of "show" fish, something cool and exciting.

So I have a few ideas/questions and would like some input on if this would work or not.

My tank dimensions are as follows and I planning to scape it with rocks and/or wood and some live plants.
12.75"L x 48.5"W x 25" H
I also plan on setting up a 15-20 gallon sump filtration system.

I found out about pea (dwarf) puffers and I really, really want some lol. So I have been trying to kind of plan around them. During my research it seems that some people say they need their own tank, and others say they can be in a carefully planned community tank if it is large enough and has enough hiding spaces. From what I understand you have the best chance of success with other fast moving, small-finned fish. In any case... if they don't work out, I have some extra smaller tanks that I could separate them into.

Idea for community:
I am a big one for colors that are complimentary too. Part of why I picked these particular tetras.
  • 4-5x Dwarf Puffer
  • 10x Neon Tetra
  • 9x Gold Neon Tetra (I read to keep these in odd #'s. Not sure why lol)
  • 10x Diamond Tetra
  • 8x Harlequin Rasbora
  • 3-4x Oto
  • 6-8x Ghost Shrimp

1. Will the tetras stay in schools of their own types or will they end up just kind of roaming around all mixed up? Either way is fine, but it may change the types that I get. (i.e. if they end up all mixed the majority of the time, I may stick with say just one or two types of larger groups.)

2. Is this too many? I used AqAdvisor to help me out, but it's an algorithm based thing and may not be accurate. It had me at 87% stocked.

3. Is there an order that I should introduce these fish to the tank? This will be a brand new tank setup and I will make sure it is cycled beforehand but for dominance/territory purposes should I introduce the puffers first or last? Which fish or shrimp would be the hardiest for introduction to a new tank?

4. Is there a slightly larger, more independent fish that I could add in as a "center-piece" type fish? Obviously it would need to be small enough that it wouldn't eat my puffers or tetras, but semi-aggressive would probably be ok/good because it will keep the tetras in schools and might calm down the puffers also.

Any thoughts are appreciated! Again, I know that some will say not to put dwarf puffers with other fish but I think it will be ok if I plan it out properly and I do have a backup if it doesn't work. I really want those little cuties!

As a side note.... I am also planning on eventually building a long shallow acrylic tank and stocking it with little shell-dweller cichlids. Love those guys too :) But that is a project many months into the future.

Thanks all!

James from Seattle
I would use your back up plan if you want dwarfs :) I keep them and they would really do best away from a community and you will appreciate them so much more, they are also very finnicky about what they eat and will struggle with community fish eating all the food, they need frozen or live foods and won't be likely to touch any flakes/pellets.
I kept dwarf puffers before. And I tried them with different fish but in the end they're better off by themselves. Its easier to find tankmates for some aggressive cichlids than a Dwarf puffer.

They are smarter than most fish and opportunistic. They wait for the right time to nip at they're tankmates. It even survived a night with my cichlids and young polypterus finding my polypterus and some cichlids nipped at in the morning.

I ended up returning my puffer
Well change of plans for the better :)

I got a brand new panoramic 16 gallon tank from a friend. So the new plan is to put a few puffers (maybe 3?) by themselves in that tank and then make my big tank into something else.

So taking the puffers out.... does anyone have any opinions on the rest of the fish and questions? Without the puffers in there I could do some other fish that I had been avoiding. Like maybe some loaches? Any ideas? Something that will go well with a bunch of tetras and make people go... ooo, ahhhh lol.
New stocking plan for the large tank. I got some advice on another forum as well. What do you guys think?
  • 10x Red Eye Tetra
  • 20x Celestial Pearl Danio
  • 10x Pygmy Cory
  • 6x Oto Cat
  • 6x Dwarf Rainbowfish
  • 2x Mystery Snail
Any suggestions for one other species I could put in the small tank with the puffers? If I should keep them alone that's fine too, but it would be nice to have either a few more puffers in there, say 6?, or be able to add a few fish of another kind. Not really sure how many dwarf puffers should be kept together in one tank...
Hello :)

Nice tank size there is lots of potential.

Please don't be offended. Honest answer: No, don't like it.

You are mixing hard water (Dwarf rainbow) and soft water fish (all the others). What are your water paramters (KH & GH)? Everything below only holds true if you have the right water.

Pygmy cories are more or less free swiming too. So if you were looking for some bottom fish, I would chose some other cory species. I would highly recommend to use sand as substrate, most fish will benefit.

I would also recommend to only go for max 2 different species of shoaling fish for the middle of your tank and pick two species which are different in shape, size and behaviour. Then you could add some smaller labyrinth fish or cichlids to finish up.
No offense taken :) I have changed my stock ideas many times trying to find the right fit.

I did not realize about the water hardness for the rainbowfish. Honestly I had not done as much research on those ones yet so I will have to look into that a bit more.

My tank is brand spankin' new (well for me anyways) so it is completely empty right now. I am in the planning stage so pretty much everything is open to changes. I probably won't actually be adding fish for at least a couple of months so that I can get the new tank cycled and planted and all that jazz, not to mention quarantines.

As for the cory's I was going for a more bottom-centric fish so that is good to know that they don't really stay down there. I added those in because of a suggestion on another forum. Are the Oto's mostly bottom-dwelling and do I need a good group of them or are they more solitary?

I love cichlids but had been avoiding them because of their aggressive tendencies. I wanted to be able to have more flexibility in the fish/plants that I choose.

I actually was trying to get 2 different size schooling species with the Red Eye Tetras and Celestial Danios (I originally had neon tetras instead of red eye tetras). Do you think those would not work well together? I added the rainbowfish really just because I have been trying to find a bigger "center-piece" fish that would work well in the tank. The ones that I like best are of course aggressive.. like cichlids or gouramis... and I am not sure if they would work with the other species.

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