Tankmate suggestions. New to TFF and (kind of) new to the hobby.

Tool13x

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Hello everyone. I have had a 30 gal tropical community tank that I started about 5 years ago and have really been getting into the hobby in the last year or so.

This is a tank we had started for the kids and at this point it is mostly a mix-match "survivor" community of fish that have made it through the years from the "peaceful" aisle at the LFS.
I am upgrading to a 55 gallon tank and I would like to finally have a well balanced community of fish, and am looking for some suggestions from the knowledgeable folks at TFF.

Here is what I have right now in an unplanted sand substrate tank: 2 Melini Cory, 1 Julii Cory (likely trilineatus??), 1 Bristlenose Pleco, 1 Bolivian Ram, 1 Longfin Rosy Barb, 1 Blackskirt Tetra, 1 Purple Glo tetra, 1 Redtail Botia, 1 Zebra Loach.

I recently lost my Electric Blue Acara when he jumped through a small gap in the lid and we found him on the rug a few hours later. We had him for a long time and he was my absolute favorite...

Anyways, I am not against trading a few of these fish in to replace them with better fitting species, but everyone gets along fine right now. I know many of these fish do much better in a larger groups so id like to rectify that (maybe a few more rosy barbs?) And I wouldn't mind getting rid of the tetras at least to replace them with a larger shoal. I was looking at tiger barbs and many people are talking them up if kept in a large enough group but I am still hesitant. I really like my Corydoras and I would love to get another Electric Blue Acara or another peaceful S.A. Cichlid, any suggestions?

I would love to finally have a planted tank so I was thinking some Java moss/fern and maybe Anubias in the new tank. I am still planning on keeping the sand substrate in the new tank to keep the Corys and the Ram happy, plus it looks great! I would love to hear any suggestions or criticism on my community and how it could be better. Thanks everyone!
 

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Hi there :)

We really need to know the hardness and pH of your water before we can recommend the best species for you. If you don't know those things, you can find them on your supplier's website; do take a note of what scale they're using, as there are a few different ones that are used in the industry.
 
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Tool13x

Tool13x

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Hi there :)

We really need to know the hardness and pH of your water before we can recommend the best species for you. If you don't know those things, you can find them on your supplier's website; do take a note of what scale they're using, as there are a few different ones that are used in the industry.
I have looked for this information before and I just checked again but in my suppliers annual water quality report the Ph and the Hardness is not listed at all. All the report includes are Inorganic, microbiological, and radioactive contaminates.
 

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They don't put the hardness in the water quality report, it is usually in another section of the website. If you tell us the name of the company we can see what we can find.
 
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Tool13x

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They don't put the hardness in the water quality report, it is usually in another section of the website. If you tell us the name of the company we can see what we can find.
All I have to go on is this http://www.niagaracounty.com/Departments/Water-District
Im afraid theres not much information there but I appreciate your help. Maybe I should just grab a testing kit, are the 5 in 1 test strips any good?
 

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They don't appear to give the hardness, I'm afraid. You could always call them and ask.
Liquid testers are better but since you wouldn't need to test more than once, maybe take a sample of tap water to an LFS you trust and ask them to test it - but make sure you ask for the number and units rather than words.
 

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I agree with other members, we need to know the GH (general or total hardness) and pH of your source water. But while waiting for that data...

Anyways, I am not against trading a few of these fish in to replace them with better fitting species, but everyone gets along fine right now. I know many of these fish do much better in a larger groups so id like to rectify that (maybe a few more rosy barbs?) And I wouldn't mind getting rid of the tetras at least to replace them with a larger shoal. I was looking at tiger barbs and many people are talking them up if kept in a large enough group but I am still hesitant. I really like my Corydoras and I would love to get another Electric Blue Acara or another peaceful S.A. Cichlid, any suggestions?

There are serious issues with the present species at these numbers in this (30 gallon) tank. While it may seem that they "get along fine," they really are quite the opposite. The need for a group of a shoaling species is inherent in the fish's DNA, so it "expects" to be in a group. [See the green and blue citations in my signature block.] Serious internal damage is being done to the fish when this is denied them, and it cannot be reversed. At some point, the fish individually may suddenly react. Another issue is the species themselves...there are some here that should not be together. However, until we know the parameters, it is difficult to start suggesting options.

Byron.
 
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I had the water tested and the Ph is 7.6, the LFS does not test for hardness and I called the water authority who did not have an answer for me. It was suggested I call again tomorrow during earlier hours and there might be someone there who can find the info for me.
 
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I agree with other members, we need to know the GH (general or total hardness) and pH of your source water. But while waiting for that data...



There are serious issues with the present species at these numbers in this (30 gallon) tank. While it may seem that they "get along fine," they really are quite the opposite. The need for a group of a shoaling species is inherent in the fish's DNA, so it "expects" to be in a group. [See the green and blue citations in my signature block.] Serious internal damage is being done to the fish when this is denied them, and it cannot be reversed. At some point, the fish individually may suddenly react. Another issue is the species themselves...there are some here that should not be together. However, until we know the parameters, it is difficult to start suggesting options.

Byron.
I understand that, this is why I am here. I have been getting more interested in the hobby and the more research I do, the more problems I realize I have. When first populating this tank I was basically going off of suggestions from an old LFS staff which was basically "anything in this aisle will do fine" which really is not exactly true. The tetras are survivors from a larger school (shoal?) that have been dwindling over the years, I dont want to get more because I dont really care for them and id rather trade them in and get a different species. I was also told the Rosy Barb is fine as a single fish but I recently found out they do better with a minimum of 4 or 5. Im realizing misinformation is a pretty big problem that many hobbyists are running into.
 

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I had the water tested and the Ph is 7.6, the LFS does not test for hardness and I called the water authority who did not have an answer for me. It was suggested I call again tomorrow during earlier hours and there might be someone there who can find the info for me.

What you want to ascertain is the general or total hardness. This will be a number with some unit of measurement (mg per liter, parts per million, degrees, whatever). Make sure you get both the number and the unit they use. We can convert to the common aquarium units which are easier for hobbyists.

You might also ask for the carbonate hardness, which is also called Alkalinity. This is important (but less so than the GH for our purposes) as it will tell us the buffering capability for pH.

On the pH, you can test it, that's fine. When testing tap water on its own, you need to out-gas the CO2 as this will affect the result depending how much dissolved CO2 is in the water. Let a glass of tap water sit for 24 hours and then test. The number will be more reliable (it may be the same as your 7.6, or it may be higher). This is not necessary when testing aquarium water.
 

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I understand that, this is why I am here. I have been getting more interested in the hobby and the more research I do, the more problems I realize I have. When first populating this tank I was basically going off of suggestions from an old LFS staff which was basically "anything in this aisle will do fine" which really is not exactly true. The tetras are survivors from a larger school (shoal?) that have been dwindling over the years, I dont want to get more because I dont really care for them and id rather trade them in and get a different species. I was also told the Rosy Barb is fine as a single fish but I recently found out they do better with a minimum of 4 or 5. Im realizing misinformation is a pretty big problem that many hobbyists are running into.

Yes, this is all good to know. Once we have determined the GH, we can offer suggestions to build around the fish you want to maintain. Old shoaling fish that are the last of a group are usually best left alone, unless they show signs of aggression. I have shoals of some characins (tetras, pencilfish, hatchetfish) That I acquired many years ago but that have dwindled down to a few, a couple or even just one, from old age primarily. Some of them are not readily available. But I have not had any issues with this. Acquiring one or two or three of a shoaling species when young is a very different thing, and that is when issues usually occur, down the road if not initially, depending upon the species and the individual fish.

In very general terms...shoaling fish such as the tetras, rasboras, danios, barbs, and cory catfish need groups of at least six, but more is always better for the fish. What most of us suggest is to work this out in relation to the tank space; if you have space, a group of 9-12 of one of these will always be better, as the fish will be happier and that means healthier. Having said that, some of the species (such as Tiger Barbs which were mentioned earlier) need larger groups, at least 10-12 minimum, in their own 30g. In larger tanks, other fish can be included depending (the nippiness of the TB must be remembered). The Black Skirt Tetra has something of a similar problem. I realize you are not intending more of these, but I mention them as examples. There are very few if any real hard and fast rules, as we are dealing with nature.

The Redtail Boria...is this the species Yasuhikotakia modesta (used to be in the genus Botia)? here's a link to reliable data and photos:
http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/Yasuhikotakia-modesta

This can be a bit of a nasty loach, and could be problematic with upper level fish, depending, as that data mentions. The "Zebra Loach," if it is the species Botia striata, might also get the worst of the other, so this species in a group of five or six would be better without the Redtailed. Here's a link on the Zebra:
http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/botia-striata/
This is a lovely loach if you can find them (they are wild caught and thus seasonal).

And that brings me to the matter of the misinformation you mentioned. Anyone can set up a website and promote themselves as "expert," and store employees are very rarely trained at all in fish unless they are hobbyists and have researched and learned. The value of this forum is the number of knowledgeable individuals, and what one of us says, the others see; we call this peer-review in science, and it is the only guarantee of reliability. The site I linked above, Seriously Fish, is owned and run by ichthyologists, and peer-reviewed by others in the field as well as the hobby.

And, as I forgot earlier...welcome to TFF. :hi: Last thought...I see you are in upper New York State, Lincoln County. I was born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and grew up in Welland a few miles from NF. Long time ago now...but beautiful country. We went over to NY state a lot, on "Sunday drives" back in the good old days.:)

Byron.
 
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Ok, the boys at the local water treatment plant were very helpful. The total hardness is 112ppm, the carbonate hardness is 89ppm and the pH is 7.8 at the source but my aquarium water tested at 7.6 at the LFS. Hope this helps.
 
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Tool13x

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Yes, this is all good to know. Once we have determined the GH, we can offer suggestions to build around the fish you want to maintain. Old shoaling fish that are the last of a group are usually best left alone, unless they show signs of aggression. I have shoals of some characins (tetras, pencilfish, hatchetfish) That I acquired many years ago but that have dwindled down to a few, a couple or even just one, from old age primarily. Some of them are not readily available. But I have not had any issues with this. Acquiring one or two or three of a shoaling species when young is a very different thing, and that is when issues usually occur, down the road if not initially, depending upon the species and the individual fish.

In very general terms...shoaling fish such as the tetras, rasboras, danios, barbs, and cory catfish need groups of at least six, but more is always better for the fish. What most of us suggest is to work this out in relation to the tank space; if you have space, a group of 9-12 of one of these will always be better, as the fish will be happier and that means healthier. Having said that, some of the species (such as Tiger Barbs which were mentioned earlier) need larger groups, at least 10-12 minimum, in their own 30g. In larger tanks, other fish can be included depending (the nippiness of the TB must be remembered). The Black Skirt Tetra has something of a similar problem. I realize you are not intending more of these, but I mention them as examples. There are very few if any real hard and fast rules, as we are dealing with nature.

The Redtail Boria...is this the species Yasuhikotakia modesta (used to be in the genus Botia)? here's a link to reliable data and photos:
http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/Yasuhikotakia-modesta

This can be a bit of a nasty loach, and could be problematic with upper level fish, depending, as that data mentions. The "Zebra Loach," if it is the species Botia striata, might also get the worst of the other, so this species in a group of five or six would be better without the Redtailed. Here's a link on the Zebra:
http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/botia-striata/
This is a lovely loach if you can find them (they are wild caught and thus seasonal).

And that brings me to the matter of the misinformation you mentioned. Anyone can set up a website and promote themselves as "expert," and store employees are very rarely trained at all in fish unless they are hobbyists and have researched and learned. The value of this forum is the number of knowledgeable individuals, and what one of us says, the others see; we call this peer-review in science, and it is the only guarantee of reliability. The site I linked above, Seriously Fish, is owned and run by ichthyologists, and peer-reviewed by others in the field as well as the hobby.

And, as I forgot earlier...welcome to TFF. :hi: Last thought...I see you are in upper New York State, Lincoln County. I was born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and grew up in Welland a few miles from NF. Long time ago now...but beautiful country. We went over to NY state a lot, on "Sunday drives" back in the good old days.:)

Byron.
Thanks for the info, that appears to be an informative site. So basically i will have to choose between the bottom dwellers, looks like the red tail botia will probably go. If anything I'd like to build the shoal of Cory's. Not sure if I have enough space to add more striata as well, as i'd like to add some mid/upper level fish into the tank too.

Welland is not that far away from where I live, I'm only 15 minutes from the Lewiston/Queenston bridge. We used to go to across the border in my younger days since the drinking age in Ontario is only 19 ;) and it was much easier back then, no passports needed!
 
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Byron

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Hardness (GH) at 112 ppm is soft water. The ppm is one unit we use in the hobby, the other is dGH or dH which stands for degrees. I prefer the latter as the numbers are smallewr and easier for me to remember, but either is fine. You can convert using the number 17.9, multiplying dGH by 17.9 to get the equivalent ppm, or dividing ppm by 17.9 to get the equivalent dGH. Same holds for the KH. So 112ppm is 6 dGH, which as I say is soft water.

KH at 89ppm equates to 5 dKH. The pH at 7.6 or 7.8 may lower slowly in the aquarium. It partly depends upon the source water; if they add something to raise the pH, this may dissipate out. If the pH is more closely tied to the GH, it may remain close to the mid 7's.

As far as the fish mentioned in post #1, they will all work as far as parameters are concerned. So now we can consider options.

So basically i will have to choose between the bottom dwellers, looks like the red tail botia will probably go. If anything I'd like to build the shoal of Cory's. Not sure if I have enough space to add more striata as well, as i'd like to add some mid/upper level fish into the tank too.

Yes, the red tail botia should go. Cories in a group of 12-15 minimum (thinking of the new 55g tank) or more (nothing wrong with 30-40), fine. You could do more than one species, just have 5 or 6 of each species if possible. And you're probably correct that "Corydoras julii" is more likely to be C. trilineatus; this confusion seems engrained into the hobby, and C. julii does appear but infrequently.

As for the Zebra Loach, I personally do not like mixing cories and loaches. Loaches are territorial, and even with a species like this one that is fairly peaceful, individual males may take a serious dislike to cories bumbling around the loach's territory. Loaches will establish an hierarchy within the group of that species, but cories are not going to form part of this hierarchy.

Another thing is the Bolivian Ram. This is a substrate fish (most if not all neo-tropical cichlids are), feeding off the sand. Cichlids are sedate fish, and do not appreciate wild activity around them. Loaches might annoy the Ram. Cories will be fine. At feeding time, the Ram will push cories out of his way, but nothing serious occurs. Loaches could be a different story. I have a Bolivian Ram, in with my 50 cories; I would never consider putting the Ram in with my loaches. This male was only added last week, a replacement for my former male that lived well into his ninth year, pretty good for a fish with an expected lifespan of 4 or 5 years. He "owned" the tank, and it was a five-foot 115g with various cories and tetras, but the Ram was the master, and all the other fish knew it.

The upper fish in terms of numbers will not be much affected by either cories or loaches. If you want the Zebra loaches, at least five, preferably six or seven. Now, these must have a lot of chunks of wood. Loaches need to select a "home," and it always turns out better if there are more "homes" than loaches so they can select their own. May sound funny, but it is how it works. Each loach will find a hiding spot in a tunnel or crevice of a chunk of wood, and claim it as their own. They also like chunks of wood with tunnels to play, sort of "tag." My Botia kubotai and Ambastasia sidthimunki do this when the mood strikes them.

Sand is best for loaches, and frankly imperative for cories, if we want healthy fish. I use Quikrete Play Sand which is available from Home Depot and Lowe's. Out here it is dark grey, but I have heard that some stores carry the buff colour. The gray is better for being darker, but either can work. It is inexpensive; you will want two 50-pound (25 kg) bags and will have some left over but that is always nice to use for fill-in or whatever. And lots of chunks of wood, cories like this too, as they like hiding places. And the wood is good for all these fish.

As for the upper fish, you mention not getting more Black Skirt Tetra, and I would agree. This species can get feisty, and is not the best companion to a cichlid. There are many suitable tetras. The Rosy Barb (presumably the species Pethia conchonius, would work in a group of 8-9 minimum. More info here:
http://seriouslyfish.com/species/pethia-conchonius/

Barbs generally speaking are active swimmers, by comparison to say rasboras and some but not all tetras, so this has to be kept in mind. Not all fish appreciate activity around them. The cichlid should be OK with this barb species.
 

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Ignoring water parameters, there is ALOT WRONG with your tank:
  • Tetras are schooling fish, each individual species need groups of 8-10.
  • Bristlenose Plecostomous needs driftwood, not a bare-bottom tank.
  • There should be at least 6 Rosy Barbs in a group.
  • There should be at least 4 Julii Corydoras in a group.
  • There should BE ATLEAST 4-6 Zebra Loaches in a group, but preferably more than 10, they're very social.
  • Bolivian Ram is pretty aggressive for the Purple Glo Tetra, they should not be kept together.
  • Zebra Loaches can be intimidating to smaller fish, such as tetras, and they should not be kept together.
  • False Bandit Corydoras should be kept in groups of 4-6.
You should be aiming to fix these first before getting any new fishes.
I may have missed a few, I'm sure some other people will add on.
Regards, Hyr.
 

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