Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources (
-   Beginner Freshwater Aquarium (
-   -   Advice For Coursework Project (

vonster 03-11-2014 01:20 PM

Advice For Coursework Project
Hello there! I’m studying an animal care diploma and my current module is fish. I’ve always liked fish, but cannot even begin to explain the amount I have learnt and the appreciation I have gained for these amazing creatures – and I’ve barely even scooped the surface water in the ocean of fishy knowledge!

I’m now onto my last essay of the unit, for which I have been given a scenario. I have been supplied with (an imaginary) tank that is 120cm x 50cm x 50cm. This is 66 UK gallons and 79 in US gallons. I have to make the aquarium ‘as visually interesting as possible’ while providing a suitable home for the fish, and choose several species to live within it (as well as explaining how to care for them, all equipment required, maintenance, etc.).

According to the AqAdvisor tool, my stocking list below fills the tank to 70% and the recommended water change schedule is 22% per week. I am happy with these numbers and would like to understock to 1) allow the fish to plenty of room, 2) have some room for fry once they are old enough to join the tank (note I will be writing about the need for a breeding tank too!).

However, I don’t want to completely rely on the tool, and would like some advice please.
  • Do you think my stocking list is suitable?
  • Have I got an appropriate amount of each fish to keep them happy?
  • Have they got enough room?
  • Can the two types of cory cats live in harmony?
  • Are there any other fish you would rather choose?
I have chosen…
  • 5 common hatchets (is there are a male to female ratio for these guys?)
  • 4 mollies (not sailfin. 1 male, 3 females for the 1:3 ratio)
  • 16 guppies (4 males, 12 females for the 1:3 ratio)
  • 6 peppered cory cats (4 males, 2 females for the 2:1 ratio)
  • 2 bearded cory cats (1 male, 1 female)
I wanted fish that were relatively simple to care for, require similar water parameters, and are peaceful for a community tank, as well as of varying shapes and sizes in order to display how different fish can be.

Any suggestions and advice would be much appreciated :-D Thank you for your help!

jaysee 03-11-2014 02:03 PM

Welcome to the forum

Aqadvisor is a very conservative stocking tool. 100% is still understocked by many peoples standards. Many people have tanks that are over 200%.

I would stock the tank very differently. In an essentially 4 foot tank, you could do a school of 8 corys (one species) and another 10 kuhli loaches. I know that seems like a lot of fish but it's really not. For the hatchets, I wouldn't do less than 10. They really need numbers to feel secure. Sex ratios are not important for any of these fish.

I would do either the guppies or the mollies, but not both. Too, if you did 16 guppies you would be over run with them, and you don't have any fish on the list to eat the fry.

So I would have corys and kuhlis on the bottom, and hatchets on the surface. That leaves a lot of room in the middle of the tank. I would go with the mollies over guppies, and would add some kind of a barb like cherry or golds. They will occupy the middle of the tank. Again, school of 10. Again, sex ratios are not important because of the school size. I would also do a school of black neons, for the top middle of the tank.

Again, I know that that seems like a lot of fish, but that's well within range of what the tank can sustain, and it provides activity and life at all levels in the tank.

rsskylight04 03-11-2014 02:21 PM

live plants will add greatly to the visual interest of the tank. Lots of people prefer not to keep them , but i think they greatly increase the beauty of any tank. Your coursework concerns fish though, so maybe not appropriate? i would also add interesting stones and driftwood if possible.

I agree with everything Jaysee said- hes the best. While i prefer to keep my tanks lightly stocked, for visual interest you'll want to have quite a lot of fish in a 4' tank.

Sounds like a very interesting and rewarding career you are preparing for.
Good luck!

jentralala 03-11-2014 04:36 PM

I think plants also add to 'visually interesting' and also add more of a natural habitat for fish and can also help keep water parameters stable. So it's up to you, but I think including live plants in your paper would be an interesting bonus!

Have you also tested your tap water for ph/gh/kh? That plays a role in selecting suitable species.

vonster 03-11-2014 07:13 PM

Thank you to each of you for your advice! I posted my questions on another couple of forums and have spent the evening re-considering my stocking list based on your responses. A guy on another forum suggested biotopes, so I looked at a few and decided on a South American blackwater as I’d rather go for a more natural look (and I really didn’t think about the livebearer math very well, did I? Oops!). I’ve kept the hatchetfish in my line-up (I’ve also switched from Common to Marbled), and will include a minimum of 10 as suggested.

Briefly researching fish from the blackwater list, I decided on four which seem to work well.

Now I'm thinking of...
  • (at least 10) Marbled Hatchetfish/Carnegiella strigata (topwater, 2", 74 - 81⁰F, pH varies between sources but optimum appears to be 6.5, 5 dH approx.)
  • (at least 6) Rosy Tetra/Hyphessobrycon rosaceus (midwater?, 1.5”, 75 – 82⁰F, pH 6.5 optimum, soft)
  • (1 male and 1-3 females) Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid/Apistogramma cacatuoides (midwater/bottom, 2.5 – 3.5”, 73 – 82⁰F, pH varies again but optimum appears to be about 6.5, soft)
  • (at least 6) Emerald Catfish/Brochis splendens (bottom, 3 ¼ “, 70 – 82⁰F, pH 6.5, 2 – 30 dH)
I assume I have massively understocked the aquarium…approximately how many of each fish would you choose? I would like to raise the Tetra number to 10 and Catfish to 8 as suggested by Jaysee, but if I can get away with adding a few more, I might as well.

rsskylight04 and jentralala; I will definitely be including information about live plants and rock/wood etc., but will do that after I’ve finalised my stocking list and researched the fish in great detail first. This is going to turn out to be more of a novella than an essay…

Thanks for the good luck wishes, rsskylight04 :) I’m hoping to work with any animals, preferably starting with domestic and eventually ending up with really wild (bring on the bears!). I’d be happy working at a little rescue shelter, but if I have the opportunity to go round the world working with all sorts of animals, I’m going for it!

jaysee 03-11-2014 07:20 PM

8 brochiis is good for your bottom dwellers - they are considerably larger than their Cory cousins.

In a nice big tank like that I'd do 10 of the other species.

Now for the cichlids - your best bet is to get 8 and let pairs for naturally. Hopefully you can get a couple of pairs out of the 8, and return the others.

jaysee 03-11-2014 09:17 PM

It's been brought to my attention (by a very helpful member :-P) that the apistos are not pair forming cichlids like other dwarf cichlids, so my advice about getting 8 to get some pairs is not exactly right. I think you could still get 6-8 though, 2m and 4-6f. I would check our profile on apistos for some more detailed information on keeping them. My experience with them is limited.

vonster 03-13-2014 11:04 AM

Thanks for the advice! I’ve upped the stocking level to the numbers you suggested. They’re roughly the numbers which have been suggested on other forums, too. I’ll definitely be searching the forum for advice on care, and I will probably be asking for advice on filters and heaters sometime next week, as it’ll probably be better if I compare a couple of specific products rather than just say ‘I need this kind of filter’.

I really appreciate you all taking the time to respond on this thread – your advice has really helped me develop a focused project. Thank you! :D

RSVBiffer 03-13-2014 02:24 PM

Like the switch and just so happens that you have pulled in three of the species (Marbled Hatchet, Cockatoo Cichlid and the Brochis) that I am currently in the middle of stocking in an Amazonian Blackwater biotope of roughly the same gallonage. Your stocking is very light but then that isn't wrong for a true Amazonian Blackwater biotope as this should be around 25% to reflect fish densities in the wild .... Not that anybody ever sticks to this (I certainly won't be!)

To be true to type, you should include plenty of wood, leaf litter and planting should be sparse although some areas are quite densely populated with plants (as in the oxbow lakes / floodplain pools). Rocks/stones are very rare and should be omitted. Floating plants help create the effect of floating leaves, will give cover for the likes of the hatchets and all Blackwater fish tend to show better colours in lower light levels. The colour change in our Cardinals has been dramatic in just two weeks since moving from the tank at our supplier to here. Tannins should be allowed to stain the water which will also help to soften it, drop the pH and again bring out the colour of the fish. pH in Amazonian Blackwater is frequently around 4 and can drop even lower (hence the rarity of plants).

I would say your numbers of tetra should be increased quite a bit, 6 in a tank that size are going to look quite inconsequential and certainly bump up your number of Brochis. As you are going for a biotope you should really avoid any ornamental strain of Apisto, going for the wild form instead.

RSVBiffer 03-13-2014 02:50 PM

I forgot substrate which should ideally be either peat or similar but sand tends to be more practical. I tried peat, and if I am honest, it looked fantastic but was a nightmare due to how easily it stirs up and I decided to remove it and replace it with a playsand-black Sansibar mix.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:45 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome