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Discussion Starter #1
My friend has an empty 30 gallon aquarium that will (eventually) be mine. I'm planning on doing sand substrate, and possibly live plants. For now I'm just brainstorming possibilities. One idea I had is doing a coldwater tank with dojo loaches and a big school or wcmm. What other coldwater fish are there(besides goldies)? That's just one possibility though, I could easily do a heated tank and have more options. I'm looking for some really unique and entertaining fish. Any ideas? Thanks a ton!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Oh yes, I also have pretty hard water. If I did the coldwater thing I might include some shimp for algae?
 

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Dojo loach get pretty big, too big for a 30 gallon.

Some corydora are colder water fish, but that depends on how cold you are going and how cold you can keep it in summer. There are smaller loaches too.

What's "pretty hard" in numbers (ppm or dGH)? do you know the pH? Someone is going to ask, might as well get it over with now.:roll:

Jeff.
 

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Minnows are nice, but loaches tend to prefer softer water, as a rule. JDM is right, though - most people here tend to be leery of advising on stocking without knowing exact numbers on how hard your water is. :) API makes a GH and KH test that sells for around $7, and the Master Test Kit includes a Ph test. If you don't have theses, you can try calling your local water supplier, they should be able to give you the numbers you need.
 

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A few thoughts while I am waiting for a phone call here.

It is worth noting, only because I am seeing it now in my tank, hardness can reduce in the tank by, so far, as much as 25%. For me that means going from 23dGH to 17dGH in a week or so. I attribute this to the plants so it is not something that you can count on without some testing and I don't know how much of a factor my particular tank setup and stocking might play in this.

Once you have the numbers it is only a matter of going through the fish profiles here fish by fish. Choose the ones that you really want first and check that they work. Eliminate the fish that need tanks larger than yours first, then eliminate the obvious out of parameter fish (needs softer/harder/colder/hotter etc). Then go through others that match tank and water parameters and read the temperament to be sure that they are compatible with your favourite fish.

Be ruthless with this. It serves the fish better to not be stocked in a marginal situation for their health than trying to "squeeze" one in under the wire. A common one is to have fish temperature tolerances that overlap by a degree or two. Say a catfish that is good for 71F to 82F mixed with a cichlid of 80F to 86F. 81F puts them both near the edge of their tolerance already so anything else that is also not ideal just adds to the fish stress level and you are asking for problems.

Oh, watch for numbers of fish. Most corys need groups of 6 for example, and more are better. Some fish should be bonded pairs or single fish only. I think that this is as important a factor as any as the fish will not behave naturally, not that they really do in a tank anyway, but, again, too few fish can cause other sorts of stress. For schoaling fish I went with double the minimum being my minimum as long as the tank can handle it... at the very least a few over as eventually there may be die off reducing the numbers to less than optimum.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
um... as for the hardness of the water, I'm not quite sure, but i have A TON of mineral deposits on my tank walls from it! The last time it was checked, it was quite high, but I can't find the paper with numbers. Also, I've added more live plants since then and didn't take that into considderation.
My tank, unheated would be in the 70's summertime, and 60's in the winter.
But, heating can be adjusted, as can hardness(using shells or leaves etc...).so, Water parameters aside, what are some really interesting fish? Some factors that make a fish interesting to me are:
Unusual behaviors
or
unusual look: not your basic 'fish shape'
or
extreme friendliness
You know, that kind of thing. If you have a common kind of fish, eople see it and say- oh, you have fish. And you say- yup. But if youhave a fish like shellies for example who live in seashells and defend their territory, not just swim back and forth, that is a more cool fish! ( I don't actually want shellies though, but you get the idea right?)
 

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um... as for the hardness of the water, I'm not quite sure, but i have A TON of mineral deposits on my tank walls from it! The last time it was checked, it was quite high, but I can't find the paper with numbers. Also, I've added more live plants since then and didn't take that into considderation.
My tank, unheated would be in the 70's summertime, and 60's in the winter.
But, heating can be adjusted, as can hardness(using shells or leaves etc...).so, Water parameters aside, what are some really interesting fish? Some factors that make a fish interesting to me are:
Unusual behaviors
or
unusual look: not your basic 'fish shape'
or
extreme friendliness
You know, that kind of thing. If you have a common kind of fish, eople see it and say- oh, you have fish. And you say- yup. But if youhave a fish like shellies for example who live in seashells and defend their territory, not just swim back and forth, that is a more cool fish! ( I don't actually want shellies though, but you get the idea right?)
It's nice if you don't have to adjust the hardness, makes water changes easier and more likely to happen, and as I found out, easier to deal with water emergencies quickly and effectively.

I think that if you are interested in particular fish, get what you like, don't worry about what "people" might like.

I am happy watching our barbs chase each other around and defend their territory from each other. I thought they were going to be a typical schooling behaviour fish and they are not at all. People come over and really don't see the intricacies that you imagine them to. They see fish and say "ooo, fish". They see interesting fish and they still just say "ooo, fish".

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
JDM;1402491 I think that if you are interested in particular fish said:
Yes... but I see those intricacies. It's not so much about what other people like so much as what will keep me fascinated for a long period of time. One of the reasons i love the dojo loaches is they fit ALL my interest zones. They don't look like ordinary fish, they have unusual behaviors, and they don't mind handling or extra attention.
So, any ideas?
 

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Yes... but I see those intricacies. It's not so much about what other people like so much as what will keep me fascinated for a long period of time.
I am finding that the whole interaction between fish, plants and water fascinating.

If you don't mind the hassles these guys are fun, interesting and smart. My daughter really wants them until I showed her their preferred diet.

Dwarf Puffer or Figure 8 Puffer.

There are so many interesting fish to choose from. If you like cichlids, the cockatoo dwarf cichlid would let you have a group of 1male and three females. Water is pretty average.

There are some cool looking catfish but I don't know about personalities of any other than the ever popular corydoras. Upside down catfish are cool and fit.

The loaches are popular but most get too large for a 30 gallon, your dojo loach needs 48".

African butterfly fish ... you could have two of those with some cats or Cory's for the bottom.

Just surf the profiles here or do some online searches for freshwater aquarium fish and see what catches your eye, then research it a bit. It's not hard to find information but I have found what is here to be among the best quality.

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Wow! great ideas! I have a dp allready in a smaller tank though. love him!How many upsidedown cats could i fit in a 30 gal if I did just them? Can you keep other fishes with the butterflies, because it would be kind of boring to have JUST those guys, cause they only use the very top. All the things you rreccomended are very cool! exactly what i had in mind!
 

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I also like dojo loaches but don't have the tank space for them. You might want to look into kuhli loaches instead. They have very similar body shapes and the same amount of quirkyness. But, they are softwater fish. All are wild caught and won't do the best in hard water. That and they don't like temps down in the 60's; you would need a heater with them.

Honestly it sounds like you want some kind of minnow or native fish (assuming you're in North America). Darters are awesome, but some need specialized flow. Check out that avenue and see if anything appeals to you.
 

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How many upsidedown cats could i fit in a 30 gal if I did just them? Can you keep other fishes with the butterflies, because it would be kind of boring to have JUST those guys, cause they only use the very top.
This is all in the profiles, but I'll paraphrase as I've been through them so often now I know exactly where and what to look for.

Upside down catfish about eight, if that is all you are going to have you might be able to go to 10 for a variety of reasons but I'd suggest adding 5 at a time and see how the first batch go. If they are readily available it is easier to add a few at a time past 5 but sometimes you might not get that luxury.

African butterfly fish 2 is it, and they would go well with between 6 and 8 emerald catfish in water temp at 79f and average hardness up to 15dGH if you can keep the pH near 7. Many bottom feeders that fit your tank require cooler temps than the butterfly, the emerald happen to be one and they are a decent size and interesting in their catfish way.

You'll need plants for that tank though, keep that in mind as i see many people don't like plants for some odd reason.

Read the profiles and get an idea of what the fish are like.

It would be good to get your water parameters and see what you are starting at. As easy as it may seem to adjust the hardness, the pH is not so easy and can affect which fish you can keep. Puffers, being in brackish water, gets around some of this. You may find fish that suit YOUR temperament and your water and that is still easier than adjusting it.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Ok, heres an idea, what about a heated, planted, catfish only tank? Here's what cats would be in it:
5 upsidedown
5 glass
4 cory
4 oto
Catfish usually do good with harder water right? my current otos seem to be thriving. Would these all get along ok? According to AQ calculator it is not overstocked, and it gave me no warnings, so I'm thinking it would be fine. All those fish seem pretty unusual to me and have cute personalities right? What do you guys think?
 

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Ok, heres an idea, what about a heated, planted, catfish only tank? Here's what cats would be in it:
5 upsidedown
5 glass
4 cory
4 oto
Catfish usually do good with harder water right? my current otos seem to be thriving. Would these all get along ok? According to AQ calculator it is not overstocked, and it gave me no warnings, so I'm thinking it would be fine. All those fish seem pretty unusual to me and have cute personalities right? What do you guys think?
I don't think that would be good. It's one thing to have that many fish according to the volume but the other consideration is the area of the bottom. You would now have all fish competing for bottom space. Pretty much need to half and half it with bottom vs mid/top water fish. You could probably get away with maxing the fish for volume if they were all the same species but I still wouldn't recommend it.

Those, depending upon the cory selected, say, Bandit cory ,would work in soft water (less than 10dGH) and about 75F not withstanding the first comment

I think that you would be better entertained by a larger group of one species of bottom feeder, I would suggest the cory or upside down cat. The cory because they seem very popular due to their habits and social tendancies and the upside down cat due to it's unusual behaviour. While the glass cat looks cool in pictures, not so cool live and in person as they are very hard to see easily. Oto's are pretty small too.

You really need to do more reading as all of this is available in just the profiles here, with the exception of the bottom area vs total volume issue I suppose.

Jeff.
 

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Agree. Adeally in a community tank you want the action to be spread out - a type of fish that prefers the upper levels of the tank, a type that hangs in the middle, and a speceis that prefers the bottom.

The options and possibilities for stocking are nearly limitless. It's up to you to check the profiles for different types of fish that you find interesting, and to double-check their preferences. Ideally, you need fish that prefer the same water hardness, temperature, dwell in different areas of the tank, and can get along peacefully in a community with the others you're considering. I have found that it IS easiest (as has been previously stated) to choose fish that match the water hardness in your tap.

Looks like you have a lot of reading and research to do! Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Actually, upsidedown and glass catfish dwell and feed in the upper levels of the aquarium. However, I am realizing that these fish are extremely disease prone wich i don't want to have to deal with.
Here's another totally different idea. Going from the bottom up;
sand and plants
8 kuhlis
lots of shrimp- or otos- for algae
14 hatchetfish
15 tetras (neon or rummynose)
These fish seem compatible, and my stocking level would be ok and spread over levels. The kuhlis are very cute. The hatchetfish definitely have unique shape and behavior (truly flying fish!). The tetras aren't really the type of fish I had in mind, but they add color and I love the tight school they form.
How does that sound?
 

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Now you're talking! These fish should do well together, they will require softer water (unsure about the shrimp) and a well-planted environment, including floating plants for the hatchet fish. You'll want to be sure to cycle your tank before hand, as none of these guys are tough enough to withstand a cycle, so you'll want to be sure to do that before adding them, or you'll lose a lot of lives. Kuhli loaches are some of my favorites. Ever. I have them in my 55g, and love love LOVE them. The only thing is that Tetra DO NOT form tight schools! Not sure who told you that, but they're shoaling fish - not true schoolers. Meaning that they go every which way they please, but won't be happy unless they're in a group. There are a lot of different species of Tetra available - even among the 'torpedo shaped' ones, so if you aren't keen on the two you mentioned, dig a bit further! Another option to look into as far as small shoaling fish are the Rasbora. . . but you WILL need to be sure you know your water parameters first :) Soft water fish won't appreciate it if you put 'em in harder water!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Really? the neon tetras at my petstore are always swimming around super close together as one uniform body! Maybe theyschool tighter in bigger groups? That's ok if they don't even shoaling is ok, the bright colors flittingaround will still look nice. I think my water is 7 or 7.5, that's the only number I remember. I'll test it again, because that might bealkalinty, not hardness... If it's too hard, I'll have a TON of live plants- I'M going for a heavily planted look- that should help. I can even add peatmoss and driftwood if neccassary. Thanks so much!
 

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Agree. Pet-store activity is RARELY indicative of how any fish will (or should) behave in a well-maintained, ideally suited, home aquarium. You're looking at very stressed and frightened fish. Tetra bunch together in a 'swarm' when they're upset or nervous. Remember that the fish you're seeing are most likely to have only just been shipped in from wherever, dropped into EMPTY plant-free tanks with wholly different water parameters than they're used to, bright lighting, and the bustle and noise of customers - often with random other types of fish. NOT the best place for a little fish to be.

As Tetra become comfortable in their environment, provided there are enough of them present for that to happen, they will spread out and take over a tank. It's a beautiful sight to behold. . . I have a shoal of 20 Tetra that were wild-caught and more or less fresh off the boat from Africa when I got them - I've seen all of this first hand. You need to hit the books, my dear. :) A lot to learn before buying your fish friends.

7 or 7.5 is likely to be your Ph, which is usually regulated by your city water supply to be in that range in most areas. Ph, though related, is entirely different from the hardens of your water - and you really do need to know your Gh. If you have hard water, it's going to take some work to make conditions ideal for the fish you're currently looking at. Adjusting Gh and Kh in the tank isn't as simple a thing as you seem to think, and it's FAR easier to harden water than it is to soften it - and simpler still to stock fish that are suited best to what you already have on tap! Just CALL your water supply company. At least then you'll have some idea of where to start...
 
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