05-12-2010, 12:40 AM
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I've heard of lots of people keeping neons in water with pH in the 8's. They won't spawn, though. But it's erroneous to label neon's with the more stringent pH requirements of Cardinals.
Additionally, the following corys can handle a high pH, as long as the water quality is good: Bronze corys, skunk catfish, imitator corys, and peppered corys. Again, your water quality must be very good for these corys, and the pH should be CONSISTENT. But they ought to be able to handle the high pH environment of your aquarium.
For other fish species to consider, I would look at most of the livebearers (guppies, mollys, swordtails, platys), which do extremely well in high pH water.
If your heart is set on tetras, some of these might do better in your particular water than neons would: bloodfins, black widows, silvertips, emperors, and x-rays. However, for shoaling fish I would probably be more likely to look at appropriately sized barbs and/or zebra and pearl danios, which are much more likely to thrive and breed in a high-pH/hard water system.
If you like african cichlids, then by all means you might want to consider them...but be careful about species as many of them have no business in a 20g long.