Stocking ldeas for 15 gal soft-ish water tank?

AdoraBelle Dearheart

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Setting up a 15 gallon as a softer water tank for seven otocinclus I already have didn't know they needed softer water. Will be mixing rain or RO water with my hard (15dgH) tapwater to make it softer, but not very soft, so looking for mid-range soft water fish. Can narrow down numbers later.

Right now the tank will definitely have seven or more otocinclus, and will be densely planted (but with swimming room for any schooling fish) and I'd like to add some crystal shrimp at some point. I think a nice school of small tetras, rasboras, or something along those lines would complete the tank, but I need ideas! have limited experience with any tetra other than neons/cardinials/black neons, and harlequin rasbora. I love the idea of a more nano species, and really like reds or blues. Cherry barbs, chili rasbora, celestial pearl danios all really appeal to me - but I know that there are so many more varieties out there that I've never heard of or considered. Ideas please! Or votes for or against the above species.

Must be a small ish species that would be fine in a 15 gallon with a decent sized school, so neons and cardinals are out. Nano type fish are what I'm thinking of, but with a slightly larger tank.

I'd like a species that feeds only from the top or mid-levels, so that otos and shrimp can eat in peace without being mobbed for their algae wafers or veggies.

Must obviously be peaceable and not harass the otocinclus, and not inclined to go after adult shrimp, although I realise most fish will eat a shrimplet if it's not well hidden. Hoping dense planting will allow for a good colony even if the odd shrimplet gets picked off.

Appreciate any thoughts!
 

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I don’t have any experience with mixing RO water but I know @Retired Viking does. I vote cherry barbs.(if it is a standard 15 gallon like I assume) for the ottos try to grow algae on smooth rocks by putting them in a are next to a window in a container with water so when the ottos need num nums you can just move the rocks over.
 
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AdoraBelle Dearheart

AdoraBelle Dearheart

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Desperate for you to have some corys :nod:
Aaaw, I'd really love to have some panda cories. But I think they might be a bit cramped in my 15 gal, especially sharing floor space with ottos and shrimp, so trying to be sensible and hold off until I get a 20 gal or larger for the little guys
 
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NCaquatics

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Id nix the idea of cherry barbs, they need a bit more room.

I think given your preferences, the perfect fit would be chili rasboras or ember tetras.

Could do a small amazon biotope...

10 ember tetras
7 otocinclus
10 corydoras pygmaeus

And call it stocked at that
 
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AdoraBelle Dearheart

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I don’t have any experience with mixing RO water but I know @Retired Viking does. I vote cherry barbs.(if it is a standard 15 gallon like I assume) for the ottos try to grow algae on smooth rocks by putting them in a are next to a window in a container with water so when the ottos need num nums you can just move the rocks over.
Thank you! I'm still new to the idea of mixing RO water, but determined to do it so I can make the right environment for my little ottos in the long term. :) I have another thread where seangee, essjay and others really helped and walked me through the water chemistry and mixing ratios, so will be referring back to that a lot when the time comes!

My otos eat really well fortunately. They graze a lot on the plants in the tank, and take supplemental food like wafers, pellets and blanched veg. Even thinking of increasing the otto school once the tank is established, since they eat so well. We'll see. :D


Id nix the idea of cherry barbs, they need a bit more room.

I think given your preferences, the perfect fit would be chili rasboras or ember tetras.

Could do a small amazon biotope...

10 ember tetras
7 otocinclus
10 corydoras pygmaeus

And call it stocked at that
Brilliant, thank you for the help! cherry barbs ruled out, so that helps narrow it down. I definitely don't want to overstock the tank. Light - mid stocking levels ideal.

I love everything about the ember tetra in terms of size for this tank, feeding level, peacefulness, good with shrimp. And if I could have the ones with a deeper red colour, I'd be totally sold and going for those. But I'm not so crazy about them when they're the lighter orange colour, as superficial as that sounds. I wonder what makes some of them so deep red compared to some lighter orange ones? Maybe conditioning through live foods? I'd be open to learning about culturing life foods for my fish, especially if I wind up with a mid-column feeder and if it would help bring out those deep reds.

I also hadn't considered pygmy cories. If this was a 20 or 30 long, I'd love to try them, but in this smaller tank designed around the ottos, I think the lower level might be a bit overcrowded with pygmy cories too, and I'd rather up my otto numbers to a school of 12 and add some more ember tetra than add the pgymies.
 

NCaquatics

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Thank you! I'm still new to the idea of mixing RO water, but determined to do it so I can make the right environment for my little ottos in the long term. :) I have another thread where seangee, essjay and others really helped and walked me through the water chemistry and mixing ratios, so will be referring back to that a lot when the time comes!

My otos eat really well fortunately. They graze a lot on the plants in the tank, and take supplemental food like wafers, pellets and blanched veg. Even thinking of increasing the otto school once the tank is established, since they eat so well. We'll see. :D



Brilliant, thank you for the help! cherry barbs ruled out, so that helps narrow it down. I definitely don't want to overstock the tank. Light - mid stocking levels ideal.

I love everything about the ember tetra in terms of size for this tank, feeding level, peacefulness, good with shrimp. And if I could have the ones with a deeper red colour, I'd be totally sold and going for those. But I'm not so crazy about them when they're the lighter orange colour, as superficial as that sounds. I wonder what makes some of them so deep red compared to some lighter orange ones? Maybe conditioning through live foods? I'd be open to learning about culturing life foods for my fish, especially if I wind up with a mid-column feeder and if it would help bring out those deep reds.

I also hadn't considered pygmy cories. If this was a 20 or 30 long, I'd love to try them, but in this smaller tank designed around the ottos, I think the lower level might be a bit overcrowded with pygmy cories too, and I'd rather up my otto numbers to a school of 12 and add some more ember tetra than add the pgymies.
Sounds good to me!

If you want super dark red then definitely the chili rasboras then. Theyre like a ruby red, the males, and females a nice dark orange red. Peaceful too.
 
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AdoraBelle Dearheart

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have been reading that ottos appreciate some moderately high flow from filtration, while chili rasboras would struggle with too much flow, being so tiny and all. So Ember tetra are still in the lead, with chili rasboras losing ground.
 
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AdoraBelle Dearheart

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Found this;
"When it comes to putting the diet together, try to make it as diverse as possible. The feeding habits of Ember Tetras directly affects their appearance and color. Also keep their size in mind – when necessary grind the food up."

So I think if I look for well coloured stock and keep their diet varied, I could have the colours I like :) I've also not seen ember tetra in person yet, and pictures and videos rarely do justice to any fish. I might love the orange if I see it in person.
Microdevario Kubotai look amazing in a group
I only stumbled across those the other day, they're so pretty! I think they might get lost against the plant background for this tank though, which is why the reds appeal to me. I can imagine a gorgeous tank design with some dark green and red plants where those would look stunning though!

So ember tetras are looking like the winner for my tank so far! @NCaquatics if I wind up going with 12 otos, shrimp (negligable bioload) and embers, how many embers do you think?

Still open for other ideas though! Will be a while before I buy any more fish. Setting up the tank now. Ottos will move in, then I'll be messing with planting and scaping and making sure I have a solid handle on RO mixing and have the tank stable and established before adding any more fish, so more suggestions for other nano fish could still change my mind :wub:
 

NCaquatics

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Microdevario kubotai are fantastic and love some flow!

I love them in my 20g long.
20200727_221412.jpg


Theyre literally hilighter green, but they look like leaves come to life. Always moving so they don't blend into the plants tbh
 
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AdoraBelle Dearheart

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Microdevario kubotai are fantastic and love some flow!

I love them in my 20g long.
View attachment 111330

Theyre literally hilighter green, but they look like leaves come to life. Always moving so they don't blend into the plants tbh
Oh my goodness, they're stunning! If at all possible, and no rush at all, I don't want to give you work - but would love to see a video of them swimming sometime. That tank is stunning with the plants on one side and swimming space on the other, and they really are a bright green! Looks like such a relaxing tank to watch.

Now I want another tank so I can have both. You guys are so helpful and awesome, but you also provoke my MTS terribly :p
 
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