Suggestions to build out my community?

Zackm873

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Just got my tank established and cycled so I am not running out to do anything immediately but want to plan next steps. I am definitely new to this so I want to keep it simple and hardy to begin.

Tank conditions:
20 gallons, pH ~7.5 (trying to get this down), temp ~78 F. Soft water

Fish that came with the tank:
2 Black Neon Tetras
2 Java Loaches
1 Halfmoon Betta (male)

I am thinking 3 or 4 more black neon tetras to start? Any other suggestions?
Thanks
tank.jpg
 

CaptainBarnicles

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First thing you do is take out those nasty ornaments and get yourself some live plants! Cryptocoryne, limnophila sessiliflora, some anubias on a bit of wood or rock, beautiful and very easy to grow... Your betta will thank you for it!
 
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Zackm873

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I was actually going to ask about that! I really want to do plants but want to do a little more research first. Think the tetras and loaches are lonely in 2's though? Want to make them happy first.
 

OliveFish05

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Hi! I believe loaches are shoaling fish and tetras are schooling fish, so the next thing I would do would definitely be bumping up their numbers! That dark substrate is really nice!


If you needed any information on plants there are lots of us here who would be happy to answer any questions, and even give you a long list of good low light beginner plants!
 

CaptainBarnicles

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The trouble is, your betta really ought to be on his own... They're very territorial so may freak out or get stressed if you add more fish... Some do really well in a community so by all means do what you feel is best. As Olive says, what you have do need to be in larger numbers... So up to you ??
 

CaptainBarnicles

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But seriously dude, those neon plastics have got to go! ? Not only are they ugly ? but they could potentially rip up and tear your bettas fins
 
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Zackm873

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@CaptainBarnicles I know, I know, working with what I got here. I got the setup this way. Baby steps. The plan is to get them replaced with real plants and get the numbers of my current schools up
 

CaptainBarnicles

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@CaptainBarnicles I know, I know, working with what I got here. I got the setup this way. Baby steps. The plan is to get them replaced with real plants and get the numbers of my current schools up
Awesome ? I'm just teasing (deadly serious)

You've got a lovely set up, nice for a beginner! How much does it hold?
 
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Zackm873

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@CaptainBarnicles Thanks, can't even take credit for it, bought it off someone online but big plans to make it my own with all of your help! Can't wait to get some plants in there though. 20 gallons.
 

CaptainBarnicles

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Plants are so beneficial, love them. I'm no expert, still learning myself but here's my 60l
IMG_20210501_195102.jpg

It doesn't look as clean as this now though, diatoms seem to have claimed it as their own
 

Byron

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The Java Loach presumably is the species Pangio oblonga, and like most all loaches it is a shoaling species; given the size, and the tank size, I would say a group of 5 is OK but no more. Info on this species here, they should have sand for the substrate as they like to bury themselves, and they must have hiding spots like chunks of wood, or artificially-made similar places.

Pangio oblonga – Black Kuhli Loach (Cobitis oblonga, Acanthophthalmus javanicus) — Seriously Fish

All tetras are shoaling fish, so they need a group; and while six is usually suggested everywhere as the minimum, it pays to keep in mind that the more of the species you have, the happier and thus less stressed and thus healthier they will be. This species, Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi, is not especially active in swimming (active tetras would need more tank space) so a group of 7-8 are OK here, if you still intend them.

Edit. Forgot about the Halfmoon Betta...you do not want a male Betta in with other fish. Betta splendens is a solitary fish, meaning it lives alone in its habitat, except to spawn. And it can be extremely annoyed (aggressive) with other fish in "his" space, but fish like the tetras will often decide to fin nip a Betta. Either way, stressed fish means unhealthy fish and problems you do not want to have.
 
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Zackm873

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@Byron Thanks! Yes to all accounts, would love to increase the numbers on the others but the betta does pose a problem. He seems to be doing well with the fish he is currently with but they are in small numbers. Right now, they don't seem to interact at all. I think I am going to stick with my original plan to increase the tetras first. I will keep an eye on the betta. If he needs to be removed, I will make a decision then to rehome him. Not ideal, but it seems like my options are stress the others by having them in small groups or stress the betta by having more fish. These fish came to me as a group, I have not added any myself, so I am trying to make the best situation for all of them. I definitely want a healthy, balanced tank here, I am not in it for the showiest tank. Thank you again for the advice on the numbers! I am going to add better places for hiding. The loaches are great at burying themselves in my tank currently but some wood or caves will add a nice touch.
 

Byron

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@Byron Thanks! Yes to all accounts, would love to increase the numbers on the others but the betta does pose a problem. He seems to be doing well with the fish he is currently with but they are in small numbers. Right now, they don't seem to interact at all. I think I am going to stick with my original plan to increase the tetras first. I will keep an eye on the betta. If he needs to be removed, I will make a decision then to rehome him. Not ideal, but it seems like my options are stress the others by having them in small groups or stress the betta by having more fish. These fish came to me as a group, I have not added any myself, so I am trying to make the best situation for all of them. I definitely want a healthy, balanced tank here, I am not in it for the showiest tank. Thank you again for the advice on the numbers! I am going to add better places for hiding. The loaches are great at burying themselves in my tank currently but some wood or caves will add a nice touch.

A couple of observations. First, aggression is not always physical interaction which obviously the aquarist can see; there is also the chemical signals fish use to communicate, pheromones read by others of that species, and allomones read by other species. There is no way we can "see" these, we just know they are there because that is how nature works. So the fish may be under stress now, and the longer this goes on, the worse it gets. There is also stress to the tetras and loaches by not having the group, so all of this just compounds--unseen by you/us until it is too late. The Betta should be removed, perhaps a store will take it; or a small tank just for the betta is another option.

I don't mean for this to sound harsh, but ignoring the inherent needs of fish is causing them stress, and this is not fair, as they are forced to survive in what we provide for them. Each species has evolved to live in a very specific environment--which means water parameters, numbers, other species, the aquascaping--and the more we provide what nature tells us they need, the less stressed and healthier they will remain. They have no way to tell us they are suffering until they can no longer cope.
 

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