Possible revamp of my 120g, brainstorming stocking options - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 30 Old 05-18-2012, 07:21 AM Thread Starter
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Possible revamp of my 120g, brainstorming stocking options

Hi, I'm new here!

I have a 120gal that I am thinking about revamping for Christmas this year (so I have time to brainstorm! LOL)... I MIGHT downgrade a bit, but I'm not sure yet, so far we're leaning towards keeping the 120 for now. Main goal is making the tank into something more active and colorful that the kids can enjoy more.

I've thought about it for a little bit, and talking it over with a friend, but for now it's all kinda up in the air... Here is my basic idea for now...

I want to go low light planted.

4-6 Angels (not my first choice, but only decent sized, mid-level, least aggressive showpiece fish)
4-6 GBRs (Hoping for 2 pairs... although I wouldn't be opposed to an extra female or two)
6 Kuhli loaches
8ish Platties
20ish tetras (glowlites and black neons likely)
3 BN plecos (1M 2F)
Misc... shrimp and snails

I'm also considering setting up 2 smaller tanks. My ideas for those are as follows:

20g long, also low light planted.

3-5 ADFs
6-8 Celestial Pearl Danios
6 Otos
6ish guppies
Misc... shrimp and snails

And last but not least...

4-5gal, also low light planted.

Male betta
Misc... shrimp and a snail or two

So what do you all think?
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post #2 of 30 Old 05-18-2012, 08:48 AM
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Id worry about angels getting at the black neons. Rummynose is another option! Glowlites would be like target practice for the angels with the bright colors I think (:

What kind of plants are you thinking? You would need something pretty thick or the angels will kill all the shrimp. You should look into crypt tanks, I have seen some really good ones in the past and theres various plants that will fit into each area in the tank (fore, mid, back)

And welcome to the forum (:

2 FW & 2 SW
+ 2 cats, a boy, 2 kids, a dog, and 3 bunnehs
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post #3 of 30 Old 05-18-2012, 09:14 AM
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Welcome to TFK!

The site here has profiles for a lot of the fish you mention, you can get all kinds of information on them from care, to behavior, to water parameters. The link is on the top blue bar, second from the left. There are even plants in there so you can get information on them too.

Do you know your tap water pH, GH, and KH?

I ask because you have some mixed parameter fish. The majority of what you list are soft, acidic water fish but the platties (like all live bearers) need medium-hard to hard, and alkaline (basic) water.

Angelfish will eat any small torpedo like fish, so they should be avoided if keeping Angels. You can get these in a yellow color, a hint of blue color (these are kind of new to the hobby I think so hard to find), and some have a splash of orange like koi fish. You can also get black, white, marbled, and silver with horizontal black bars (zebra). The 'zebra' ones are more like what you would find in the wild.

The Bristlenose Plecos will need driftwood, so be sure you have some, along with some cave like areas to set up territories.

You mentioned wanting colorful tanks, but I thought I would mention that it's best to have a dark substrate, either black or a natural stone color. It brings out the fishes color best, and also is natural for the fish. With loaches sand is ideal because they like to dig and burrow. Avoid while sand, it will be very bright to the fish and create stress.
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post #4 of 30 Old 05-18-2012, 10:12 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the imput... I am new to the forum, but not at all new to the hobby... I've kept all the fish on this list in the past, besides Kuhlis, and bred a few of them as well. At one point we had 17 tanks up and running LOL... I think that's when I got the 'crazy fish lady' title LOL. Although when I got the 220gal, people really thought I was crazy! LOL I miss that tank! :( It was seriously maybe 10" from being on the stand when it got dropped... I still get sick thinking about it... especially since I was hugely pregnant and saw it slowly falling and had to stand back and do nothing but scream... ugh...

I do admit I'm not that informed on the angels, I've never liked them much, I've only had them twice. I had a couple dyed (ugh!) angels when I was a kid and they killed EVERYTHING and then turned on eachother... and I had a nice pair of jet black vieltails I got with a planted 150gal I 'adopted', they did well and I liked them, but then they just up and died on me... although this guy had them forever, so I guess they could have just been old... I don't know, but that's all my experience with angels...

Would the angels really be that hard on black neons and glowlights? The veiltails I had were fine with neons and cardinals that they came with. Ugh, I really don't like angels much... I wish I could find something better... Any ideas? LOL I only picked angels because everything else I like is more aggressive or bigger, etc... but I really want a mid-level fish that draws the eye in... It's a big tank for the biggest fish to be 3-4", I was hoping to find something a little bigger... Maybe even one big guy? That's something I hadn't thought about before... a single big fish instead of a few... now I have to go look at ideas with that in mind and see if there is anything... I'd be half tempted to keep my favorite Oscar... he's a WIMP anyway... I honestly don't think he'd even bother glowlights LOL... Although hubby might get mad if I keep my oscar and not his LOL. But they're paired, so keeping them both would mean once in a while they would get mean... when they spawn, his big girl gets kinda nasty all around and my boy guards the eggs like a hawk...

My water sucks right now, but we're going to have it professionally tested and we're looking into different options to fix it. We have issues with bathing and laundry and appliances and such as well from it, so it's a big issue... We're on a well and our water is SUPER HARD, we have a softener, but it's not working correctly, so maybe getting that fixed or replaced is all we need, but we're also looking into whole house filtration or we might spring and connect to city water... so it's all up in the air right now. One of the reasons we're waiting until Christmas.

I do go for natural tanks, when I said colorful, I meant the fish. I do not support the use of clown puke gravel! LOL I have never done sand, but I do love the look and was thinking about trying it this time... maybe a mix of sand and natural gravel... I'm still working on the idea of the setup. More driftwood and rocks for sure... I don't have much now because I have large fish, so everything is big and roomy... I might go with eco complete in the smaller tanks, but I can't afford to use it in a 5' x 18" tank! LOL...
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post #5 of 30 Old 05-18-2012, 10:52 AM Thread Starter
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Ooo.. ok, since I still can't think of anything to replace the angels, what if I replaced the little tetras with Columbian tetras?
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post #6 of 30 Old 05-18-2012, 11:34 AM
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I guess I'm opposite ;)

Angelfish are one of my favorite.

They are somewhat picky though in that they do not handle stress well at all. They should live at least 10 years, so they are a somewhat longer living fish. Most tetras and such are half that.

You can read up about them by clicking on the shaded name for Scalare Angelfish, that's the most common ones you'll see in fish stores. They have to be kept in a group, unless you buy a mated pair (can't just buy a male and female and expect them to pair). Keeping one, or two that are not a pair, ends like you described. When stressed, fish can either turn aggressive, or get depressed and just give up on life and keel over (angels are somewhat famous for going on a hunger strike).

Columbian Tetras are not a good choice for Angelfish, they nip fins. Angelfish are very slow and sedate fish, and need to be kept with similar slow peaceful fish.

Honestly, if you want colorful fish I would really recommend African Lake Cichlids or go with livebearers (molly, platty, guppies, endlers, etc), they do very well in hard water. Some Rainbow Fish are also good in hard water (for example Boeseman Rainbowfish). To keep soft water fish, if you have really hard water, will require you to mix tap with RO/DI (or rainwater) to decrease that. You can not use water from a household water softener as it will contain salts that are very harmful to the fish.
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post #7 of 30 Old 05-18-2012, 12:46 PM Thread Starter
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LOL Opposite we are! LOL Angels are definitely wayyyy down the list for me...

Like I said, I'm definitely not new to fishkeping, but I'm not big on angels. I did check out the profile, didn't really tell me anything I don't already know, but it does suggest congo tetras as tankmates? Are they less nippy than columbians? I looked at them first, but the columbians are SA, so I thought they would be a better option...

I've BTDT with Africans, I love the color and activity level, but I'm not looking to start an African setup right now, I want plants and relatively peaceful fish and I want a variety of types, not just rocks and bright colors. I don't want a tank full of livebarers either... I think that would be insane...

My water's current condition isn't really what I'm looking to match since it will be changing... if we go with a whole house filter, our water would be basically RO water, if we go city water, well I don't know what the water is like here since we have a well, but I'm sure it's not nearly this hard LOL. I can help decide what changes to make to our water based on what I need for the tank.

I'm a SA girl to the core, so I'm always going to favor the SA fish and I'll try to make my water favor that biotope. I don't know what all my options are though.

I did talk over the water softener issue when we moved here in 2010, with some very knowledgeable people in the hobby and I was told that it shouldn't be an issue for most fish, but could be an issue for some, like knifefish, etc... that are more sensitive to that kind of thing... my oscars and pleco don't seem to mind our water... I have also heard that there are saltless water softeners out now... I'll have to look into that option as well... I've never heard of them, so that's got me curious too...

I'm half tempted to just give up on having a big fish (or a few big fish) and just deal with the little guys... I'm trying to figure out why I'm trying so hard to fit a fish in the tank that I don't even like...
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post #8 of 30 Old 05-18-2012, 01:17 PM
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Congo Tetra can work with Angelfish, but only in 5+ foot tanks. They are an active swimmer and need the room. Without the Angel's, a 4 foot tank works.

Your city will have a water quality report, most have it online somewhere, otherwise you could call them. Ask/look for pH, General Hardness (GH), and Carbonate Hardness (KH).

Without knowing those three numbers it is kind of pointless in selecting fish. Putting software fish into hard water won't instantly kill them. It won't even kill them over a couple months. But it does greatly reduce their lifespan, there is no avoiding that. Salts from a softener add to the TDS (total dissolved solids) which is best if kept minimal. GH is only a measure of Calcium Carbonate, and not a measure of the total dissolved solids.

I'm not sure how a 'filter' could reduce the hardness of water without being an actual reverse osmosis system? If you have something like that, you'll be fine. You'll actually have to add in minerals to keep plants, getting your GH up to ~4-5 dGH as a minimum.

Most fish are carnivores, or omnivores, so you will not see big/larger fish listed as a 'community' fish because, by nature, they will eat fish who will fit in their mouths (Angelfish are no different).

Some Gourami get largish and some can be peaceful if kept as an individual or in a harem. Snakeskin Gourami, Pearl Gourami, etc. They come with the same restrictions as Angels though, no fin nippers.

There are also Bichir which get long (12"+) and can be peaceful ... to fish who won't fit in their mouth.
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post #9 of 30 Old 05-18-2012, 03:05 PM Thread Starter
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My tank is 5' long.

I know I can get the city water report, I just haven't looked into it too much because that's kind of a last resort as it would cost thousands of dollars and we'd still need to invest in filters, although probably on a smaller scale... I will have to figure out the best options for us, but I will always keep fish, so I will be making the decision with that in mind... Either way, I'm going to do what makes the water suitable for the fish and us. The whole house filter we were looking at is basically a big RO system...

I thought about Gourami, but hubby doesn't want to try that again! LOL We had a big beautiful opaline that was MEEEEAAAANNNNN!!!! LOL I tried moving him to a more aggressive tank, but when he almost killed my green terror... we gave him away!! LOL Hubby hated him... LOL

I'm really thinking I might just opt out of the larger fish all together and get some of the larger small fish (if that makes sense? LOL) I'm still looking and I'll have to talk it over with hubby too... hummm...
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post #10 of 30 Old 05-19-2012, 10:20 AM
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I concur with what's been said already. I find "large" fish in tanks with small fish are difficult to get right so my larger tanks are all full of small fish. The male Bolivian Ram is the largest fish in my 5-foot tank, and he is not really "large." If you click "Aquariums" below my name on the left you will see my tanks with fish listed and photos, they may give you some ideas.

Water parameters is crucial, not all fish can adapt much when it comes down to it. And I agree with your caution on water softeners, they can do more harm than good depending how they operate.

Last, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum. Glad to have you with us.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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