I've known for a while that I wanted cardinal tetra in my 29 gallon softwater community. I'm just waiting to get the plants in and the tank to mature again (removed the substrate). The substrate fish have also been decided on for a while. I love kuhli loach. I also know I want a gourami in there and have settled on a male thick lip gourami.
But while doing some fun research for a potential future amazon biotope, I discovered the lovely black neon tetra. I love that silver stripe and how tightly they seem to shoal. So I decided to amend my original plan and do 9 cardinals and 9 black neons (or 11 of each).
As I've never had schooling fish or done a tank like this, I'm worried it might be too crowded with this many fish. The total number of fish in the tank would be either 29 or 33. I have no frame of reference for this. So does two schools of tetra plus the gourami sound like it might look overcrowded? I'm going to be doing weekly 50% water changes plus the tank has floating plants, so I'm not worried about the bioload.
My next thought/concern/idea is that I really like the look of the farlowella and would like to eventually add one (if I can find one). Again, I come back to the overcrowding issue. I just don't have a frame of reference for this. How many fish would look good in a 29 gallon tank? Am I trying to cram too much in there?
So which stocking plan would look best?
(A) 10 kuhlies, 12 cardinals, and 1 gourami (w/ or w/out the farlowella)
(B) 10 kuhlies, 9 cardinals, 9 black neons, and 1 gourami (w/ or w/out the farlowella)