Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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KPainter 06-12-2012 09:22 AM

Just getting started - 16 gallon bow front
Hi all! I'm new here and fairly new to keeping fish, but I've been doing a lot of reading on the site and hopefully am doing this right. My tank is up and cycling and while that's going on, I'd love some input on my plans.


So far I'm thinking 5-6 dwarf corys, another 5-6 tetras, 2 centerpiece fish (gouramis maybe) and some ghost shrimp. How does that sound? I'm totally open to suggestion.


I don't have any plants yet, but plan on getting some. Just not sure what. Tank lighting is florescent. Am thinking along the lines of java moss, anubias, java fern, wysteria, maybe some spiral valisneria. Again, open to suggestion!

Geomancer 06-12-2012 10:13 AM

Hello and Welcome!

I wouldn't add the Gourami, there isn't room. They can also be aggressive with each other. Stay with the school of Cory's and a school of Tetras.

For plants those are fine, make sure you get a daylight bulb (6500K color temperature). The fish you have picked though are soft water fish, and Vals don't do too well in soft water, they like at least moderatly hard water.

Do you know your GH & KH? That dictates your options for fish, and somewhat on plants.

KPainter 06-12-2012 10:22 AM

I have an API Master test kit ordered so I'll know those answers shortly.

I'd really like to have more than two schools of fish in the tank. Is there something besides gouramis I can add? Just one or two of them. Swordtails maybe?

thekoimaiden 06-12-2012 10:41 AM

Welcome to the forum and the hobby! Unfortunately your tank is too small for two schools of column-swimming fish. There just won't be enough physical space. Swordtails would get too big for your tank anyway. In a tank that small, you're limited to the smaller species of tetra and corydoras. Once we know your GH and KH we will be better able to suggest species of fish. You can often find your GH and KH online through your local government's website. It's usually listed under the local water quality report.

KPainter 06-12-2012 10:55 AM

What do GH and KH mean exactly? Trying to locate this info on a website, but not coming up with much.

Geomancer 06-12-2012 11:13 AM

GH is general hardness, and KH is carbonate hardness.

The general hardness is in a nut shell a measure of how much minerals are disolved in the water. The KH is what buffers the pH, the higher it is the more it will resist being changed. Typically both GH and KH are fairly close to each other.

Soft water is 8 dGH or lower, the d stands for degrees. 1 dGH = 17.848 ppm GH

The API Master Test Kit does not contain a test for GH and KH. Those numbers don't change from your tap water, so there is little need to do a test more than once. That's why if you can get it from your water supply utility you'll save yourself the expense. If they don't know, you can take a sample to a pet store for them to test, but they'll probably use strips which are not very accurate. You'd at least get a ballpark number though (make sure you get the number, not just 'fine' or 'hard' as those words have no meaning without actual numbers).

KPainter 06-12-2012 11:21 AM

Thanks for the explanations!(I tried to find a glossary of terms and abbreviations for this site, but couldn't.) Does it matter that we have a water system on the house? I would think that would alter the numbers.

This is what I found for our area:

What is the water hardness? 6-7 grains of hardness equals 103-
120 milligrams per liter total hardness.

What is the PH level? 8.7

Nothing about General Hardness or Carbonate Hardness.

Geomancer 06-12-2012 11:54 AM

You would want to use the water before the water softener, the softener as you've stated just adds salts to the water which isn't good for the fish.

mg/L is the same as PPM. "Grains per gallon" is close to degrees. 1 gpg = 17.12 ppm.

You have 5.8-6.7 dGH water (assuming that number is your tap water, not after your softener), which is on the upper end of soft, but still soft. If your KH is similar you can expect that 8.7 pH to drop over time. That's a high pH though.

KPainter 06-12-2012 11:58 AM

I'd have to buy water since the system treats the whole house and that's not practical since I'm not going to buy water every time I have to do a water change. This is getting a lot more complicated than I anticipated. Starting to get frustrated. Especially since I can't even have fish until the water is cycled!

redchigh 06-12-2012 12:05 PM

I disagree that your tank is too small for 2 schools of fish, but the ideal fish will be quite hard to find.

3-4 pygmy cory or dainty cory are a good choice for the substrate. You could also go with 4-5 pygmy loach.

For the fish, I'd go with a school of 6 Dario Dario, Badis Badis, Ember Tetra, Flame Tetra, or even endler's livebearer. I don't think you'll have room for a centerpiece fish though.

Alternatively, you could go with the cories, 3-4 Endlers, and a single dwarf gourami.

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