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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, I'm new to the hobby so...

I'm planning to get a 20 gallon fish tank, I'm also wanting to set up a community freshwater tank. These are fishes I'm planning to keep:

8x (Neon) tetras
6x Red cherry shrimp
3x (Livebearer but which one will be compatible?)
1x Dwarf Gourami

According to aqadvisor:
The temperature, ph and hardness range are all suitable
Stocking level = 61%
Water change = 22% per week
According to AqAdvisor, my 20 gallon fish tank is 61%.

Few questions,
1. Is it highly overstocked? As in very hard to maintain.
2. Which of the livebearer, mollies guppies or platies?
3. As a beginner should I use artificial or live plants?


The tank will be filtered with a decent filter and will also get an air pump too. Tank will also have a water change every week.


Does it all seem fine?

Tips are very much appreciated,
Thanks!
 

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Many times, fish will have overlapping temperature, PH, and hardness requirements; however, that doesn't mean that the conditions are equally good for all of the fish. Tetras typically prefer softer, acid water to thrive and live bearers need harder water with a base PH to be at their best. They might be able to tolerate other conditions but, it isn't really good for them. It is best to aim for a community that shares, as closely as possible, a similar middle range. With live bearers, unless you get all males, you could become overrun with babies before you know it and then your tank is over stocked. Take a look at the fish profiles provided here on the site. They are very good.

I would also suggest taking a look at the tank cycling articles here. That might help you decide whether you want artificial or natural plants.
 

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What is your tap water's ph, gh, and kh? This can help ascertain what fish may do best in your water.

I also agree with fishmonger, livebearers do prefer a harder water, while tetras (neons in particular) prefer acidic water. Depending on your source water you would do better to go with one or the other.

Also, you may want to be wary of the dwarf gourami iridovirus, which is an incurable wasting disease that unfortunately affects a considerable number of this species.

Make sure to provide lots of hiding places for your shrimp (you'll soon have many more than 6, they breed like rabbits, lol), as the gourami may try to snack on them.
 

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Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.:wave:

I concur with the previous members, but just wanted to say "hi".

Byron.
 

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I missed the part about live vs artificial plants. Personally I love live plants, and the benefits they give your fish are amazing in terms of water quality. If you decide to go with live plants you may have to alter a few pieces of equipment (what type of lighting do you have?) and obtain fertilizer (many here use Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Plant Supplement), but if you have lots of plants (fast growing ones especially) they render the cycling process null. If you do decide to go with live plants, check out the Plants section of the forum, there is a lot of good advice there. It's all your decision though, and what you're comfortable with :) Plants really aren't hard to maintain, although I know at the beginning it may seem like it! :)

I also personally do water changes of 50%, no matter the stocking in my tanks. Water changes have a lot of benefits for fish, and honestly the larger the better IMO, but it's what you're comfortable/able to do. I use a 15ft piece of tubing to drain the water from my tank into the bathtub, and it has an attachment on the end that lets me be able to fill the tank straight form the tap. This enables me to do water changes as frequent and large as I'd like.

EDIT: Also, just as a random bit of advice, think very carefully about what substrate you intend to have (gravel or sand/color/etc). Speaking from experience, it's kind of a pain to remove it and put something else in, lol :)
 

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Welcome to the forum and the hobby! A 20 gal is a great started tropical community size. It's not too big and not too small. A neat little trick about this forum is if you see a fish or plant name highlighted, then you can click on that to read more about it. Like glowlight tetra, Betta splendens, and amazon sword! Try them out!

Others have already covered the points I'd make about the fish. I just wanted to add that an alternative to the dwarf gourami is the honey gourami. They are slightly smaller and come with a greatly reduce risk of the wasting disease dwarf gourami iridovirus as Jen mentioned. I have one, and he is just full of personality!

I would say a definitive YES to starting out with live plants. Looking back years ago I wish I had, and now that I have found them I will never go back. You will probably have to upgrade your lighting to a plant-friendly bulb and buy fertilizer, but they are a drop in the bucket compared to the benefits that plants bring. As Jen mentioned they will help with establishing your nitrogen cycle and help keep the water cleaner, but they won't eliminate the need for weekly water changes. Plus, the ambiance they bring to a tank. You can really make a little jungle in your room with them! If you're worried about how to arrange them try looking online for aquascapes. You'll see the artwork that some can create with planted tanks!

Also: Jen isn't kidding about the substrate swaps. I've done 4 of them and they a HUGE pain.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Any recommendations on substrates?

What could I replace the live bearers with that could be compatible with
8x Cardinal tetreas
6x Red cherry shrimp
3x (Anything)
1x Honey Gourami

Changed my list due to your help, thanks.
 

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You could add a substrate fish, like cory catfish, but you'll find that a large number of small tropical fish do best in schools of at least 6 in number, but larger is better.

So look into maybe 6 dwarf cory's, make them all the same species.

For substrate, especially if you go with cory's, I would use sand. Go with a natural brown color, or black.

have you bought the tank yet? If not, go for a 20 gallon long rather than tall.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
You could add a substrate fish, like cory catfish, but you'll find that a large number of small tropical fish do best in schools of at least 6 in number, but larger is better.

So look into maybe 6 dwarf cory's, make them all the same species.

For substrate, especially if you go with cory's, I would use sand. Go with a natural brown color, or black.

have you bought the tank yet? If not, go for a 20 gallon long rather than tall.
So you're saying that I should keep the following species in a 20 gallon tank:

8x Cardinal Tetra
6x Dwarf Cory's
6x Cherry Shrimp's
1x Honey Gourami

Even though supported by a decent filter and an air pump, isn't that a bit overstocked?

I'm still quite confused on what substrate to choose from factors such as live plants.

Thanks.
 

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With corys, sand is best substrate.

You still have not told us the GH and pH of your tap water.
 

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If you haven't gotten your tank yet. Do yourself a favor and get a 55 gallon set up. I got a 55. But I decided to set up a smaller tank to begin with, so I got 29 gallon setup to start with, but it's just too small.

I'll be setting up my 55 as soon as school gets out.

Good luck with your tank and have fun. Keeping tropical fish is a great hobby.
Carl
 

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Discussion Starter #12
With corys, sand is best substrate.

You still have not told us the GH and pH of your tap water.
I'm not sure of my water parameter but I will add the pH supplements to rise or lower the level of water. I just want a variety of fishes compatible with eachother.

Thanks.
 

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I'm not sure of my water parameter but I will add the pH supplements to rise or lower the level of water. I just want a variety of fishes compatible with eachother.

Thanks.
NO. This can be very dangerous for fish. The pH is of slightly less importance than the GH, and the GH and especially KH will affect the pH. Adding chemicals to adjust the pH usually fails, and causes considerable stress to fish.

You can read about the relationship here:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/freshwater-articles/water-hardness-ph-freshwater-aquarium-73276/

You need to know your GH and KH of the tap water. These will not change much if at all in the aquarium, and GH affects fish.

Byron.
 

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So you're saying that I should keep the following species in a 20 gallon tank:

8x Cardinal Tetra
6x Dwarf Cory's
6x Cherry Shrimp's
1x Honey Gourami

Even though supported by a decent filter and an air pump, isn't that a bit overstocked?

I'm still quite confused on what substrate to choose from factors such as live plants.

Thanks.

Dwarf Corys may be a bit difficult to find depending on the stores near you, so I wouldn't have that as a 'concrete' stocking option. I also thought you were doing Neons, not cardinals? Just curious.

In regards to stocking, you can get away with a bit 'heavier' stocking if you have a well planted tank, as they help keep the water more stable for the fish. And most of the fish you've chosen are quite small, so there's that, too.

With plants, you don't need an 'enriched' substrate, which is what I think may be causing your confusion. I personally have Flourite Black sand (an 'enriched' substrate) in 2 tanks and regular old rinsed Quikcrete playsand in my third, and I haven't noticed much of a difference with plant growth. I personally love black sand (Flourite Black Sand and Tahitian Moon Sand come to mind) as they make the fish colors 'pop' and the fish can be more comfortable over darker sand, but it is personal preference.
You can use playsand (the safest option is Quikcrete Playsand) or 'aquarium' sand. Carib-Sea sells several different colors of sand, at around $20 per 20lb bag.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Dwarf Corys may be a bit difficult to find depending on the stores near you, so I wouldn't have that as a 'concrete' stocking option. I also thought you were doing Neons, not cardinals? Just curious.

In regards to stocking, you can get away with a bit 'heavier' stocking if you have a well planted tank, as they help keep the water more stable for the fish. And most of the fish you've chosen are quite small, so there's that, too.

With plants, you don't need an 'enriched' substrate, which is what I think may be causing your confusion. I personally have Flourite Black sand (an 'enriched' substrate) in 2 tanks and regular old rinsed Quikcrete playsand in my third, and I haven't noticed much of a difference with plant growth. I personally love black sand (Flourite Black Sand and Tahitian Moon Sand come to mind) as they make the fish colors 'pop' and the fish can be more comfortable over darker sand, but it is personal preference.
You can use playsand (the safest option is Quikcrete Playsand) or 'aquarium' sand. Carib-Sea sells several different colors of sand, at around $20 per 20lb bag.
Can you please help me with stocking and the reason I chose Cardinals because apparently there are more hardy than Neons. Anyways, I'm completely new, I've ordered my tank and I'm planning to heavily plant it aswell. If not the Corydoras, any other suggestions?

Thanks.
 

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If you can look up the ph, gh, and kh of your water it would be very helpful for looking at stocking options :) If you live in a city, you can usually just find the water information on your cities website, or google to find who supplies your cities water and look on their webpage for that information. If it's not clearly stated, you can link the page here and one of us can take a look at it and decipher the parameters of your water :)

Did you order a 20 gallon kit? Or just a basic empty tank? I'm asking because we may have to look at altering your lights, as most kits come with lights incompatible for plants, but that's okay! They can always be modified or swapped :)

I'm sorry if this seems really confusing, it's a lot to take in at first, I know! But once we have your tap waters parameters we can go from there :)

Fish have different preferences for water, and depending on the hardness of your water alters what fish will thrive and live long happy lives in your tank.

Just as an aside, while you're obtaining the supplies you need for your tank (heater, filter, etc) don't forget to get a testing kit :) API Liquid Master Test kit is what many of us use here, and it's only about $20 on amazon, and it will last for a very long time and is very helpful to successfully keeping fish :)
 

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Byron makes a really good point about knowing what your Kh and Gh is before you stock, and you'll find that many members here will be a bit leery of offering suggestions without knowing this basic information. It's easier, cheaper - and safer for the animals to to stock your tank based on the water that you already have coming out of your faucet than to try doing things the other way around. Even if you then choose to make adjustments to it, you'll at least have a starting point, and we can discuss the best way to go from there.

Chemicals like 'ph up' and 'ph down' often just drop the ph for about a day, and then it rockets back up/down to where it was (due to gh and kh), and this rapid change adversely affects fish, and can even kill them.

Many members alter their water by a more natural means (which can take a lot of effort), but your water may be perfect as is for the fish you intend to keep. Even if it isn't, there are many different species of fish, and some of the ones we may suggest for your water, you could fall in love with! It's all a mystery until we know the numbers :)

If you absolutely can't find the info online (you may even be able to call your cities water supplier), API does have a liquid test kit for gh/kh, and their liquid master test kit comes with a ph test. Please don't use 'test strips' as many of our members are leery about the results they have being inaccurate :)
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Not having any luck with finding details about my water supply. I'll call them up tomorrow and if still left unanswered I guess I have to conduct a test.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Just called my water supplier and they said that the pH can vary from 6.5 to 9.5 depending on which area and time which isn't what I wanted. I guess I have to test my water tap using liquid as I've just come to know that strips aren't exactly accurate.

Thanks.
 

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Just popped in a shop to purchase API Test Kit and apparently they don't sell API Test Kit as they're inaccurate. I'm not completely convinced but they also said that it doesn't matter what pH level it is as long as it's in a range of 6.5-8. They said that the change of pH is what matters the most as it stresses the fish out. So a few questions here. What effect will adding driftwood or rocks have on the pH? Should I be too concerned about my pH level as long as it's in a range of 6.5-7.5?
 
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