Originally Posted by melissaw
I am in the researching phase of getting my first (responsibly owned) aquarium, and I wanted to get some opinions on the set-up I'm thinking about going with:
20 gal. tank with Bio-Wheel filter, heater, hood & light
1 java fern
1 sword plant
6 Neon Tetras
1 Oto cat
2-3 Corydora cats
Of course, I'm not planning on introducing all of these at once. I was going to start with the plants and the Platys, add the Tetras in about a week, and wait a few more weeks for the cats.
I really want a lot of movement and action in the tank, but not from conflict among the fishes, so I tried to pick less-aggressive, schooling species. I also want it to be as low maintenance as possible, so I want plants and scavengers.
I had some hodge-podge aquariums in college, but those were a nightmare I'm ready to do it right this time, so please give me any and all information that you can to help me out.
Thanks in advance for any help!
First off, learn about the nitrogen cycle, that's the most important part of getting your tank right. A properly cycled tank will keep your fish happy and healthy, one that doesn't cycle will just kill fish.
These are some very good threads on cycling and tank set up: http://www.fishforum.com/freshwater-...ium-cycle-252/ http://www.fishforum.com/freshwater-...-new-tanks-67/ http://www.fishforum.com/member-subm...-methods-3067/
Your stocking plan looks to be decent but there are some places you could improve.
-Tetras are schooling fish but 6 is about the smallest school you can have and keep them comfortable. I own neons and have nine in my aquarium with 3 more waiting in my QT tank. The more the better with them. They feel safer in bigger schools and look great. Neons are also small fish that stay small, their bioload is light so adding a couple more to that list shouldn't be a problem.
-I'd highly recommend getting female only platys. If not get only males. If you mix males and females you will get little baby platies. Lots and lots of little baby platys, which make more baby platies, and so on and so forth. Platys are livebearers and livebearers make rabbits look celibate. I'll attach some pictures that will help you tell who's who. At the shop just be careful and take your time if you have to sex them, if a female is stressed she may clamp her fins down and look like a male. All females is generally better as they aren't as aggressive towards one another as males can get, but it's hard to get a non-pregnant female platy from a pet store tank. The odds are good that a female from a pet store is already pregnant and they can get pregnant up to six weeks after they leave the store because they can store the male's sperm. So at the end of all that I guess neither option is great, all males relieves you of pregnancy worries but they might fight amongst one another. All females will have them more docile long term but you might still wind up with babies. It's up to you, but if you don't want to keep the babies a female is likely to pop out be prepared to deal with them in some way, either giving them as feeders to another fish keeper or returning them to the store and they'll use them as feeders. It's up to you.
-Corys are like tetras, they like larger schools. 2 To 3 is gonna leave them a bit stressed and you likely won't see them as active and adorable as they could be. Bulking that up to a half dozen would be a good idea. Your bioload on this tank is light and you should be able to handle it no problem. What species of cory do you like, some can get quite a bit larger than others. Don't count on the corys cleaning the tank. They'll eat food that falls to the bottom but they will not clean up all the detrius that falls.
-I'd probably recommend against the Otto. They can be finicky to keep, some will only eat algea and die of starvation once the tank is free of it. Others will learn to eat flake and then only take that. An algae scrubber is your best bet, they aren't that expensive and if you get a magnetic one you don't even have to get your hands wet.
would give you a lively and colorful tank.
Plants will help a little with nitrates but you will still have to do weekly water changes to keep nitrates under control. Two or so plants cannot keep up with the nitrate production of these fish. Having the plants is good, they will out compete algae for nutrients and your fish will love them but don't count on them to avoid water changes. Also what kind of light were you planning on?
Overall you're off to a good start. Much better to do the research up front then get the aquarium and find out only later that you have to change things up a lot to avoid a disaster.