New aquarium imminent, compatibility advice needed!
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New aquarium imminent, compatibility advice needed!

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New aquarium imminent, compatibility advice needed!
Old 08-08-2012, 04:53 PM   #1
 
New aquarium imminent, compatibility advice needed!

Hi all,

I'm helping put together a brand new tropical aquarium setup for a family member, but while this is something we've wanted to do for a while, we don't actually have any previous experience of stocking/keeping/maintaining an aquarium!

The tank has already been bought - an Aqua One Acquience 800 (175 litre) - complete with filter and heater. We also have about 20kg of small pebbles for the bottom (not put in yet).

I've tried to do some research and have spoken to a couple of people at aquarium stores regarding some fish compatibility issues, but not since coming up with a list of fish that we want.

The plan is to place real aquarium plants, driftwood/bogwood, and stacked stones to create plenty of cover and caves for the fish, while also leaving plenty of open space and clear ground for the various fish to use.

This is currently the desired setup, which I need reviewing for potential issues - apologies if I've missed something glaring in my research:

1 x Bristlenose Pleco
1 x Butterfly Pleco (might change this to clown, or second bristlenose for breeding if necessary)
1 x Synodontis Petricola (I forget the common name)
3 x Adolfo's Cory
3 x Panda Cory
2 x Redline Torpedo Barb
9 x Guppy (3 x male, 6 x female)
5 x Harlequin Rasbora
5 x Glowlight Tetra
5 x Diamond Neon Tetra
5 x Neon Tetra

As it stands that is a total of 40 fish. We were initially looking at a 125 litre tank, which we were advised would hold up to 35 fish, which I'm assuming is pretty dependent on fish size! The largest in the above list are the Torpedo Barbs at 15cm max. Even the plecos are "dwarves", so I'm hoping this is still feasible.

All the fish will be quite young when bought, and therefore nowhere near full size. Again, this could be me being stupid, but I've come up with a temperature of ~26 degrees C, at ~6.5-7 pH, and soft-moderate hardness.

What I would like to know is:

1) Is this realistic, or have I missed something silly?
2) Are the fish compatible (socially/biologically)?
3) Any advice on how to set up the aquarium (how to create correct eco-system pre-fish, what order to put fish in, upkeep, etc.)?

Obviously I'm not looking to stunt or harm any of the fish to achieve a varied community, but we would like to keep this variety and interest if possible.

For reference, other fish available locally that we liked but rejected either due to apparent compatibility or just preference for other species are:

Albino Glowlight Tetra
Bentosi White Fin Tetra
Long Fin Neon Tetra
Rosy Tetra (I've heard they nip fins more than other tetras)
Ghost Catfish (Due to size/numbers required)
Hoplo Catfish (V Nice, but possibly clumsy with other fish?)
Lace Catfish (Acts nocturnal?)
Longfin Bristlenose (Interchangeable with regular BN as far as I can see)
Bronze Cory
Electric Blue Ram
Polkadot Loach
Red Blue Endler
Silver Hatchet

Feel free to tell me I've screwed up my research! Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Last edited by sjb10; 08-08-2012 at 04:54 PM.. Reason: Spelling
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:39 PM   #2
 
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First off, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.

I am only going to zero in on a couple of very important aspects of building a community aquarium. First is water parameters, which you have mentioned. Is this what comes out of your tap with respect to the pH and GH (hardness)? I only ask because if it is, fine; but if not, adjusting the GH and pH can be an effort, depending what the GH and KH (carbonate hardness or Alkalinity, which "buffers" pH)especially now is.

Turning to the fish listed, there are some that are not compatible for other reasons, and some that need more and grow much to large for a 175 liter/46 gallon tank. Rather than plod through all of this, may I refer you to our profiles, second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top of the page. Many of these fish are included. If the name shades it means you can click on the name to pop-up the profile page. The name has to be identical with how it is used in the profile (spelling, singular, etc) for this to occur, which is why some did not shade even though they are included. "Butterfly Pleco" for instance is actually the Hillstream Loach, and in the profile it mentions some very specific needs respecting water flow and temperature that make this fish unsuitable with the rest.

All the fish are in the profiles except the Synodontis petricola, but you will not want to add this. It is endemic to Lake Tanganyika which has very hard basic water, and as you mentioned the other fish are all soft water.

Livebearers (guppy, etc) are prolific if male and female are included, and you will have hundreds of fry every month. This creates problems of its own. Also, this fish, all livebearers for that matter, do better with medium hard or harder water so this is not a good fit anyway.

If you have any questions after browsing the profiles, ask away.
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Old 08-08-2012, 08:12 PM   #3
 
Thanks very much, Byron.

I think I made a fairly naive mistake, assuming it was easier than it actually is to alter water hardness. I live in an area that produces fairly hard water - I did a bit more digging and found some actual stats for you:

7.6 pH
12 dH

So it's hard, but not terribly so, and almost neutral/slightly alkaline. As I understand it aquariums naturally become more acidic with fish and plants etc living inside, and features like driftwood lower water hardness slightly. I'm not sure exactly how extreme the effects of these factors would be, but does this new information make a difference to my selections?

Also, thanks for the information on the profiles, I hadn't realised the highlights meant that they were linked! I was also wondering why I found it so difficult to find butterfly plecos listed elsewhere, so thanks for pointing out its real identity too.

As for the guppys, I was sort of concerned if that might be a problem. Unfortunately I think this may be an area of compromise I'm going to have to look at, my partner in crime loves the guppies but isn't that aware of the potential breeding problems. Would a switch to an all-male shoal be more sensible, or would they get aggressive without females?
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Old 08-09-2012, 11:15 AM   #4
 
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Having only male libebearers is one way to avoid the fry issue, and they are the more colourful.

On the water, that is not bad. Medium hard is possible for many fish; in our profiles the section on water parameters notes the fish's preference--which means the range in which the species will be its most healthy and less risk of disease--and specific comments are included if there are issues. It is always better to select fish suited to the water, since this avoids problems with the weekly water change. Adjusting the GH and related pH can be done, and for this I will refer you to my article on the subject:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...quarium-73276/

Wood, leaves and peat do tend to acidfy and soften water, but the extent they do this is usually minimal because of the initial GH and KH. Dilution with "pure" water is the safer route, as explained in the linked article.

Byron.
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Old 08-09-2012, 04:31 PM   #5
 
Thanks very much again!

Yep I think I had underestimated water control difficulties, definitely now more aware of trying to find fish for my water supply, rather than the other way around.

We've had a chat and come up with a revised list with various pieces of advice and new research in mind:

Removed:
9 x Guppies (all males a possibility, put off by breeding habits of a mixed group - for now)
5 x Neon Tetras (seem to prefer very soft water - unsure of their adapability)
1 x Butterfly Pleco (Not a plec, and with fairly specific requirements, as you pointed out)
1 x Synodontis Petricola (Assuming my water's still a little too acidic for this one, replaced with Hoplo)
2 x Redline Torpedo Barb (Expensive for a big enough shoal, risky to keep only a pair)

Complete New List:
6 x Harlequin Rasbora (up from 5)
6 x Diamond Tetra (up from 5)
6 x Glowlight Tetra (up from 5)
5 x Ghost Catfish (Top dwellers, apparently!)
1 x Hoplo Catfish (Replaces syno)
1 x Bristlenose Pleco (unchanged)
5 x Adolfo's Cory (up from 3)
5 x Panda Cory (up from 3)
1 x Siamese Fighting Fish (1 x Male, or 1 x male + 2 x female)

This is assuming the Syno is still a little too alkaline-based for my water. The siamese fighters were something we liked immediately but were told we couldn't put in if we wanted guppys, so now we're not so sure about the guppys we've switched to them possibly!

If I've worked it out correctly, this gives a good balance of top:middle:bottom dwellers (spot on 12:12:12 unless I've mistaken a couple), and I think they're all compatible/suitable. If any others are problematic we're also just checking out a few swords, pencils, gouramis, danios and barbs as alternatives, just in case. I'm not sure about specifics though - profiles seem to suggest quite a few species might fit - or even Discus possibly?

Getting closer...
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Old 08-10-2012, 08:59 AM   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjb10 View Post
Thanks very much again!

Yep I think I had underestimated water control difficulties, definitely now more aware of trying to find fish for my water supply, rather than the other way around.

We've had a chat and come up with a revised list with various pieces of advice and new research in mind:

Removed:
9 x Guppies (all males a possibility, put off by breeding habits of a mixed group - for now)
5 x Neon Tetras (seem to prefer very soft water - unsure of their adapability)
1 x Butterfly Pleco (Not a plec, and with fairly specific requirements, as you pointed out)
1 x Synodontis Petricola (Assuming my water's still a little too acidic for this one, replaced with Hoplo)
2 x Redline Torpedo Barb (Expensive for a big enough shoal, risky to keep only a pair)

Complete New List:
6 x Harlequin Rasbora (up from 5)
6 x Diamond Tetra (up from 5)
6 x Glowlight Tetra (up from 5)
5 x Ghost Catfish (Top dwellers, apparently!)
1 x Hoplo Catfish (Replaces syno)
1 x Bristlenose Pleco (unchanged)
5 x Adolfo's Cory (up from 3)
5 x Panda Cory (up from 3)
1 x Siamese Fighting Fish (1 x Male, or 1 x male + 2 x female)

This is assuming the Syno is still a little too alkaline-based for my water. The siamese fighters were something we liked immediately but were told we couldn't put in if we wanted guppys, so now we're not so sure about the guppys we've switched to them possibly!

If I've worked it out correctly, this gives a good balance of top:middle:bottom dwellers (spot on 12:12:12 unless I've mistaken a couple), and I think they're all compatible/suitable. If any others are problematic we're also just checking out a few swords, pencils, gouramis, danios and barbs as alternatives, just in case. I'm not sure about specifics though - profiles seem to suggest quite a few species might fit - or even Discus possibly?

Getting closer...
The only problem in the new list is the Betta (Siamese Fighting Fish). This is not a community fish and should be on its own in a small tank, say a 5g. I know some will say they have one in with this or that, but there is always a double risk. The Betta can take exception to brightly coloured fish, and it will eat small fish or attempt to; in reverse the flowing fins of the Betta are too much of a temptation for many normally peaceful fish that will nip it.

You have no "surface" fish. The Glass Catfish (presumably this is the same as the Ghost) is mid-water. Have a look at the Silver Hatchetfish, or the Marble Hatchetfish.

I would increase the shoaling fish by 1, 2 or 3. Six is the number most sources including our profiles list for the normal shoalers, but this is assuming in the minimum sized tank. More is always better; the fish interact more, there is less chance of problems from a "bully," and it is more interesting to observe. You have the space. For example, with the rasbora and glowlight, I would always consider 9 minimum. Seven for larger fish like the diamonds.

On the last paragraph possibles. I would not have discus in anything under a 4-foot, and then the other fish must change due to the nature of discus, higher temperature, etc. Pencilfish in your water is pushing it, except for one species, Nannostomus beckfordi, but this is the only pencil species that can be a bit of a bully with slow fish, or surface fish. I have had this species for many years, and spawned them, but they are in my "active" tank because they would not leave my hatchetfish alone. They get a bit feisty with my Emperor Tetra now, but they get back what they give from these, so it is an even match.

Danio and barbs are active fish, and I would not combine any of these with rasbora, some tetra. Gourami might work depending upon species, and tankmates.

Byron.
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Old 08-10-2012, 09:27 AM   #7
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron View Post
The only problem in the new list is the Betta (Siamese Fighting Fish).
I had wondered, I knew they could be aggressive amongst themselves and fish with similar features, hadn't realised tetras/rasboras might be an issue too. Fair enough though!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron View Post
You have no "surface" fish. The Glass Catfish (presumably this is the same as the Ghost) is mid-water. Have a look at the Silver Hatchetfish, or the Marble Hatchetfish.
I'll take another look at the hatchetfish, we can get some locally and found them quite interesting! I'm actually taking out the glass/ghost (yep same thing apparently) catfish again - they seem to have a rather large biological footprint compared to many other fish from what I've heard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron View Post
I would increase the shoaling fish by 1, 2 or 3. Six is the number most sources including our profiles list for the normal shoalers, but this is assuming in the minimum sized tank. More is always better; the fish interact more, there is less chance of problems from a "bully," and it is more interesting to observe. You have the space. For example, with the rasbora and glowlight, I would always consider 9 minimum. Seven for larger fish like the diamonds.
Fair shout again - I was trying to keep the number down in order to leave space for a siamese fighter, barbs, or another slightly bigger fish to top things off, but seeing as that's looking less and less likely the answer is likely to be to just increase the sizes of these shoals instead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron View Post
On the last paragraph possibles. I would not have discus in anything under a 4-foot, and then the other fish must change due to the nature of discus, higher temperature, etc. Pencilfish in your water is pushing it, except for one species, Nannostomus beckfordi, but this is the only pencil species that can be a bit of a bully with slow fish, or surface fish...

... Danio and barbs are active fish, and I would not combine any of these with rasbora, some tetra. Gourami might work depending upon species, and tankmates.
That's a shame, but thanks again, not worth the risk! Might double check a few of the smaller gourami, but I've already heard some mixed things about them so who knows.

OK, another revision:

Harlequin Rasbora x 6-10
Glowlight Tetra x 6-10
Diamond Tetra x 6-7
Bristlenose Plec x 1-2
Adolfo's Cory x 3-5
Panda Cory x 3-5

Possible:
1 x Hoplo Catfish - I heard from somewhere they may see the smaller tetras and rasboras as food, but have not found information on this behaviour anywhere else. Are they safe/a reasonable addition still?
? x Silver Hatchets - I'll definitely look into a small shoal of these. Same size shoals as the others?

Depending on the Hatchets/Hoplo, this may leave a small amount of space for the future if we can find something appropriate. Any possible contenders I may have missed? Or other issues? I'll be starting to cycle the tank soon too.

I also found AqAdvisor through google to help assess tank/filter capacity - is this a reasonable tool (if you've seen it before)?
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Old 08-10-2012, 11:51 AM   #8
 
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List looks fine, but again i would not have 6 but no fewer than 7. The Hoplo [h'm, I see our profile needs revising, i haven't go to that one yet] I've not maintained but it is reported as peaceful with small fish, though I would suspect fry would be gone in a flash; they attain 5 inches, so only one perhaps--I'm not sure if this needs a group or not. On the hatchets, more is again always better. The Silver Hatchet is fine in your water, and here a group of 7 minimum. The marble I mentioned is getting a bit iffy water-wise, but probably OK; I have wild caught fish of both variants of this species so naturally they are in soft water. The other species in this genus Carnegiella I would not attempt without soft water.

I understand the keeping space for later idea. But my approach is always to provide the best natural environment I can for the fish. That means that if i decide on a species, I will always buy the number best for it (or a few more, as invariably there will be a loss or two along the way). And make sure that the aquascape is suited for the species, and obviously everything intended must have the same or similar needs. Only this way will the fish be free of stress, and thus healthier and m ore likely to behave as nature intended. Which I always think is the real joy of an aquarium. When i am sitting in front of my 90g river habitat tank and watching the male Congo Tetra racing each other down the length of the tank, then spinning around one another, in pairs or sometimes a trio, I am in awe. But I cannot imagine confining this species to a shorter tank, it just wouldn't be "right."

A word on cycling, I never do. Use live plants, and plant well from the first. Then add the first fish and increase slowly. Fast-growing plants such as stem plants and particularly floating plants [which i consider mandatory for all these fish we have been discussing anyway] are ideal.

Byron.
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