180L Stocking suggestions?
Hi, I have recently bought a 180L tank and was looking for stocking ideas. The tank isn't set up yet so params can be changed and it is to go in a school so i am looking for bright, interesting fish with relatively low maintenance. I plan for the tank to be medium to heavy planting and also with lots of cover. As for filtration i will have two large canister filters on it with a sump. There will be medium flow however this can also be varied.
Any suggestions/ideas would be much appreciated!
That's a whole lot of filtration for not that large of a tank.
Two canisters plus a sump? With that much flow, I would look at river fish that prefer a heavy flow. Your plant selection might be a bit smaller, some do no do well in a high current but information on plants typically don't mention flow at all so you might have to experiment. Java Fern is one that seems to really like a strong current.
My advice is always to pick a 'must have' fish, and then stock around it with fish it will be compatible with. For example the Hillstream Loach.
Are you going for a river effect?
If not, my advice is to cut back the filtration to a single canister, or just a sump. I like canisters because they are quiet, but a sump can increase your total water volume if that's necessary. In planted tanks, the plants do the filtration of nitrogen (they use ammonia instead of bacteria, commonly called the biological filtration). The need for a filter in a planted tank with the more typical forest fish is just to keep the water clear of floating particles (mechanical filtration), and to provide a gentle water flow to keep nutrients spread evenly, and the temperature even.
Over filtering will not provide better water quality. X fish produce Y ammonia which results in Z nitrate. A 50 gallon tank stocked with a single filter rated for 50 gallons will have the same water quality as an identically stocked tank with a filter rated for 200 gallons.
I know that it is overkill on the filtration but i already had a filter and the tank came with one so i thought rather than just leaving it in a cupboard i should put it to good use :-P. The pumps on the filters aren't actually that strong and could be controlled so I don't think flow rate should be an issue. Also, one of the filters was being used instead of a powerhead for the sump rather than as an additional filter so it all sort of comes as one. I thought the sump would be good as it would increase overall capacity and mean changes in water quality happen more slowly. The additional filtration was mainly for mechanical filtration, as you say, however i thought it would be beneficial if the nitrates can be kept as low as possible - the obvious way to do this (or so I thought!) was through extra filtration. I haven't really decided on a theme, I was just looking for hardy fish that look good as I want it to look attractive in a school. Lots of movement, or bright colours, to keep it interesting for students to look at.
Filters will not remove, or lessen Nitrates. The beneficial bacteria takes Ammonia -> Nitrite -> Nitrate and it stops there.
A heavily planted tank with lots of floating and fast growing plants can keep Nitrates lower than normal because the plants will use Ammonia as their nitrogen source, they'll use it before the bacteria can.
However, weekly water changes are still required. There are a lot of wastes in a closed system that the filters do nothing to remove (urine, pheromones, etc) so the only way to remove them is through water changes.
Freshwater community fish are typically not all that colorful when compared to marine and cichlid fish. A lot are silver with black, some with reds, a few yellows, a few with blue. Check your local stores, they might have more rare varieties. Neon Tetras are probably one of the most colorful community fish I have seen, but they are small so all your other fish must be small too.
Key will be knowing your water pH, GH, and KH. That will dictate what kind of fish you can have.
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