04-20-2013, 04:38 PM
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Exotic differs from person to person. Also most exotic fish are difficult to care for. Gotta learn to walk before you can run.
It sounds like you are looking for a barb tank. They are active and come in lots of colors. Cherry barbs are my favorite. If you get a 20 (which is certainly best) you could do 10 or so in there. Harlequin rasbora are another good choice for color and movement. Substrate fish of corydoras or a bristlenose pleco if you want.
As for hardy beginner plants, you'll want low-light plants like anubias, java fern, java moss, and swords. Smaller varieties of swords like the dwarf chain sword will be better than the massive amazon swords; something like that will outgrow your tank. These can all be grown with the same hood that your tank will come with.