08-29-2012, 01:12 AM
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Platies would be a better choice than swords if the tank is shorter. Swords are speedy fish and a longer tank is preferable for them.
The Redtail shark is the only fish on her list that is a confirmed troublemaker. Definitely a no on that one, unless she is intent on getting a bigger tank. These are not large fish, but they are territorial and sometimes downright aggressive for reasons that defy explanation.
Why on earth put Large Pleco on this list!? These fish get huge (16")! Smaller loricarids like ancistrus or peckoltias are far better choices for medium sized tanks. Bear in mind, too, that alleged algae eaters and bottom feeders are not mandatory additions. There is no good reason to have them unless you want them. Really really want them. Your tank will not be cleaner, you algae problems will not be fewer, and you will not get a pass on having to do just as much maintenance.
I see it this way:
If the water conditions are softer/neutral/ acidic, concentrate on tetras, cories and possibly even dwarf cichlids.
If water is harder and more basic, livebearers would be the better choice. And probably zebras could be combined here as well.
I would stick with normal shaped and less fancy varieties of mollies, platies and guppies if this is her first tank, and remember that these fish will breed, cross-breed and reproduce with amazing speed, so selection of all males may be a good plan.
What an exciting project! Good luck!