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combray 12-02-2010 01:50 PM

Pygmy Cory in a 5 gallon planted?
This morning I purchased a 5 gallon tank setup (size: 16 L x 8.5 W x 10 H). Included are the following: Aqua-Tech 5-15 filter with cartridge, incandescent light hood with bulb (15 watts, I think), AquaSafe water conditioner (I use DeChlor in my other tanks). I will add a heater as I keep my home rather cool in the winter.

Originally, my plan was to do a planted tank with a 1 soil substrate (plain top soil purchased at Lowes) with a layer of gravel atop that. Then add a single male betta and a few cherry shrimp.

My new conundrum is that Ive fallen in love with pygmy corys! My understanding is that they should be added only after the tank has matured for 3 or more months, but would they work eventually in this setup? I prefer Corydoras habrosus, but the Corydoras pygmaeus I believe is available locally.

If the pygmy cory would work, how many could I get? And what might be some appropriate tank mates? A Betta, Mosquito Rasbora, Ember tetras, and dwarf puffers are all appealing to me.

I do not have the fish yet, so I could do a fishless cycle, but would prefer fish as this will be well-planted (plan to include: water sprite, 1 Anubias, 2 crypts, java moss and perhaps a dwarf sword if I can find it locally).

After reading other posts and being a relative newcomer, Im now leaning toward a gravel-only substrate. But Ive also read the corys prefer a sand substrate? Perhaps a combination of sand and gravel would work? I was thinking of having one corner of the tank with a rock cave with sand under that section and then gravel in the remainder of the tank?

My other option is to put pygmy corys in my mature planted 10 gallon (only after I move my 4 ghost catfish to their larger home. I am learning not to purchase fish on a whim anymore).

The 5 gallon will be near a south-facing window with filtered light. I can shade the window if algae becomes a problem.

I was going to leave out the carbon and add some gravel from my mature tank in the filter. Is this okay?

I apologize for this rather long rambling post.


combray 12-02-2010 02:23 PM

My current thinking is 6 ember tetras and 5 pygmy corys in the planted 5 gallon. However, that sounds as if it may be too many fish?

Byron 12-02-2010 06:26 PM

I had a group of 7 Corydoras pygmaeus in my 10g for severalmonths, along with 9 Boraras brigittae and a couple shrimp (that arrived with the corys so there they stayed). Thinking of this setup, I would not want them in a 5g, but with lots of plants and good maintenance (30% water changes weekly) I think it is workable. I would recommend 6 corys, and 7-9 of one species of the upper fish whether a Boraras species (there are several similar species), Dario dario (a stunning little fish), Celestial Pearl Danio, or Ember Tetra. I would not have puffers in this, I think one of the other cyprinid or characin species would be better. And I actually had a dwarf puffer in my 10g setup too, another stow-away, but I moved it. One issue with puffers--you will not have any snails in the tank, they are voracious snail eaters; and snails in this type of aquascape are very beneficial for helping to control algae and consuming waste, important issues in small tanks.


burnsbabe 12-02-2010 08:22 PM

I'll be the first to admit, I am not a cory specialist or anything. I just know the basics, but even before I read Byron's post I was leaning the same way. Ember Tetras, Mosquito Rasboras, or definitely take a look at the Celestial Pearl Danio before you make up your mind along with a group of five of the Pygmy Corys.

Good luck with this. Stunning little desktop tank.

combray 12-03-2010 08:36 AM

Celestial Pearl Danio: what a stunningly beautiful fish in such a small package. I believe that is what I'll go with if I kind locate some. Again and again, thank you for the suggestions.

I decided to go with the soil substrate. I thought the 5 gallon would be a good size to experiment with rather than the 55 gallon I intend to build soon.

I planted the tank last night (perhaps even over-planted). I'll try to get some photographs. I have lots of Hornwort, an Anubias, crypts, a dwarf sword I believe, and lots of a rather long lanky plant I've forgotten the name of already.

This morning the water is quite murky though. A large water change will hopefully reduce the cloudiness. Hiding places are currently in abundance though. After everything has a chance to settle in, I'll test my water before adding in any fish.

If I decide to add the pygmy corys, I will do that after the tank has matured. I could house them in the 5 gallon and then move them into my 20 gallon if any problems arise. At the moment the 20 gallon has one male betta only.

Thank you both for the input,

burnsbabe 12-03-2010 01:22 PM

I think it's worth noting that you don't really want to be cycling your tank with the CPDs. They're not SUPER hardy like say a Pristella Tetra or something. Also, not the cheapest.

redchigh 12-04-2010 11:41 AM

If you set up soil substrate with lots of plants (50% of the substrate is covered with plant material when viewing from above) then forget the cycle. There won't be one. The plants will absorb all of the ammonia.

I would add in some faster growers... Anarchis, Hygrophila, Hornwort, and Ludwigea come to mind. You can always move them to another tank after a couple months, but fast growing plants are crucial in the first few months of a tank.

Stock slowly and test parameters before adding more fish. (Add a danio/tetra, wait a week or two. Add another. etc.)

combray 12-04-2010 01:05 PM

I'd say I have probably at least 60% of the substrate covered, lots of Hornwort in there. The plant I wasn't sure about is Moneywort and there is plenty of that too.

I have the master API kit so I can keep a close eye on the tank parameters. Also, I have a mature 10 gallon and a very understocked 20 gallon that I could temporarily house fish in if there was a crisis.

I still don't have any fish in the 5 gallon yet. I really really like the CPDs though.

I did another 50 % water change and it is clearing up quite a bit. Boy, I love the look of the tank with lots of plants. I need to add more to my other 2 tanks.

redchigh 12-04-2010 01:10 PM

Yea, hornworts a great oxygenator.

Some soil tanks are dun filterless, but with cories, a filter is required. (They like water movement and oxygen. An air-driven sponge will be plenty.)

SmallTankGal 12-05-2010 09:14 PM

Hi Combray -

I have 5 sparkling gouramis and 9 pygmy corys (C. pygmaeus) in a 5 gallon planted tank. The water quality is stable and I don't have a problem with the nitrate level (this is my largest tank and requires fewer partial water changes). It is planted with a sword, a fern, wisteria and java moss, and two pieces of driftwood. The gouramis hang in the wisteria while the corys mostly use the bottom half of the tank. The pygmy corys definitely do better in a larger group - I had four in a smaller tank but moved them to this one, added five, and they shoal together.


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