Is this an OK tank setup?
20g hex tank
5 neon tetra
1 small algea eater
Sounds ok but would help to have your water parameters such as pH, as platys prefer higher pH water where your Neon Tetras will want something more acidic, but if you have a neutral pH of close to 7 you should be able to get both to work with out an issue. Only thing else I would worry about is what kind of small algae eater are you looking into? Some that are small when bought will get huge later in life.
BTW welcome to TFK, and as you are new here I was wondering if you know about cycling your tank before adding fish?
Well if you are close to 7 then it shouldn't be too much of an issue and you should be able to get some Platy just as long as its not to far into the acidic side. While 5 Neon Tetras should work, they will probably work better in a group of 6 or more, so you might look at switching the platys out for some more neons.
I would agree with your LFS about waiting a while before adding any algae eaters, after 4-6 months you should have sufficient algae for such a fish to survive. You might want to look into getting Oto Catfish as those will stay under 2" but it is recommended to keep them in groups of at least 3. So you might look at allocating some of the space from the Platys to these guys.
i actually ended up going with 6 tetras and just 5 glofish. am gonna let htem all settle before adding platys. since i had a stowaway snail i figure he can manage what algea there is for now
4-6 months seems long to me but i am new to this...would it be advisable to get an algae eater sooner and supplement its diet with algea pellets from LFS?
You want to make sure there is enough natural algae in the in tank to support your new additions, as at first they may not recognize algae pellets as food and starve once they have finished the natural stuff. 4-6 is optimal you could probably add them at the 3 month mark and add the algae food in daily, removing it if no fish is eating it with in a couple hours so it doesn't pollute the water. And my guess is with only a 20 gallon tank you will want to supplement them anyways as 3 otos will eat quiet a bit, it will help too if you make sure there are alot of decorations or plants in the tank as these hard surfaces is where the algae will grow.
Some types of Snails are another good option for the algae.
An algae eating fish is not a must. In fact, some algae-eating fish (like Plecos) produce a LOT of waste, which sort of defeats the purpose. :)
On a side note... all the Otocinclus (Otos) I ever had were VERY lazy and didn't do much to "clean" the algae. They are quite cute though.
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