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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm making plans to start up a 20 gal long, heavily planted freshwater tank. I'm obsessed with catfish, so here's the list:

6 Sterbai Cory Cats (2.5 inch each)
3 Oto Cats (2 inch max)
...and possibly 1-3 Upsidedown Cats (4 inch max)

My main concern regards the Upsidedown Cats. I've read that they shoal. I don't want to overstock my tank though. Is this plan too overcrowded? I've considered only getting one Upsidedown Cat, but I don't want him/her to be miserable. Is there a better catfish alternative?

I really wish I could get a bigger tank, but unfortunately the dorms won't allow anything larger.

Advice or suggestions would be wonderful. Thank you.
 

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I'm making plans to start up a 20 gal long, heavily planted freshwater tank. I'm obsessed with catfish, so here's the list:

6 Sterbai Cory Cats (2.5 inch each)
3 Oto Cats (2 inch max)
...and possibly 1-3 Upsidedown Cats (4 inch max)

My main concern regards the Upsidedown Cats. I've read that they shoal. I don't want to overstock my tank though. Is this plan too overcrowded? I've considered only getting one Upsidedown Cat, but I don't want him/her to be miserable.

I really wish I could get a bigger tank, but unfortunately the dorms won't allow anything larger.

Advice or suggestions would be wonderful. Thank you.
You can go to aqadvisor.com and plug your stuff into their stocking calculator as a guide. IMO its better to have more of 1 or 2 species than fewer of 3 or 4 species.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
You can go to aqadvisor.com and plug your stuff into their stocking calculator as a guide. IMO its better to have more of 1 or 2 species than fewer of 3 or 4 species.
I have that site bookmarked. It's a great resource. :]
I'd like to hear some people's opinions though; I don't entirely trust computers.

I agree, but a tank comprised only of Cory and Oto cats would be a little too bland for me.
I want a statement fish to bring some movement to the middle/upper part of the tank.
 

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I have that site bookmarked. It's a great resource. :]
I'd like to hear some people's opinions though; I don't entirely trust computers.

I agree, but a tank comprised only of Cory and Oto cats would be a little too bland for me.
I want a statement fish to bring some movement to the middle/upper part of the tank.
I see. Sorry thats out of my experience range. Good luck.
 

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Those numbers looks fine to me but you would want a minimum of 5 otos, if you were to go with a planted tank you wouldn't have any issues at all with what you want minus the upside downs, maybe look for a 29 and call it a 20 :3 most people cant tell the differance. Upside downs get pretty large so I would avoid them until you can get a larger tank in favor of maybe some dwarf loachs or if you can find them pygmy corydora both are mid level shoalers and If I could find them around here they would be at the top of my list
 

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What kind of statement do you want to make? I have a tank devoted to loaches, but because they are nocturnal and small, I have a school of tetra that swim in the column in the daytime. It gives the tank a much more "alive" appearance. Do you just want to add some activity to the tank? Color?

I'm also assuming that you know your water hardness and pH and know that these fish can live comfortably in that water.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
What kind of statement do you want to make? I have a tank devoted to loaches, but because they are nocturnal and small, I have a school of tetra that swim in the column in the daytime. It gives the tank a much more "alive" appearance. Do you just want to add some activity to the tank? Color?

I'm also assuming that you know your water hardness and pH and know that these fish can live comfortably in that water.
Yes, I wanted to add some movement to to middle/upper part of the tank. Color is nice, but most catfish aren't colorful. I was hoping there was a medium sized catfish that can be kept as a single that also swims in the middle/top.

Yes, I own a kit that tests many water parameters. It doesn't do hardness, but I've spoken to the LFS.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Those numbers looks fine to me but you would want a minimum of 5 otos, if you were to go with a planted tank you wouldn't have any issues at all with what you want minus the upside downs, maybe look for a 29 and call it a 20 :3 most people cant tell the differance. Upside downs get pretty large so I would avoid them until you can get a larger tank in favor of maybe some dwarf loachs or if you can find them pygmy corydora both are mid level shoalers and If I could find them around here they would be at the top of my list
I thought about getting the 29, but I was too nervous that the university would make me downgrade, or even ban me from fish keeping if they somehow found out.
I've already purchased the 20 gal. xP
Also, the only dimension that changes is the height. I wanted to make sure that the Corys had plenty of oxygen at the bottom of the tank. Additionally, I figured it would be easier to grow plants like dwarf baby tears in a shallower tank since the plants are exposed to more light.

Why should I have a minimum of 5 otos?
 

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Yes, I wanted to add some movement to to middle/upper part of the tank. Color is nice, but most catfish aren't colorful. I was hoping there was a medium sized catfish that can be kept as a single that also swims in the middle/top.

Yes, I own a kit that tests many water parameters. It doesn't do hardness, but I've spoken to the LFS.
Most cory catfish are rather adaptable and will be comfortable below 12 dGH as will oto catfish, but you should really double check the hardness (GH and KH) with your local water treatment plant. Many people are surprised to learn that their water is either harder of softer than they believe.

If you just want some color and movement, I think your best bet is to get a school of easy tetra or rasbora like pristella tetra, glowlight tetra, or harlequin rasbora. Or a trio of honey gourami. You might be able to find a catfish that fits your wants, but it's not going to be a common or easy to find (which often means difficult to care for) fish. I'm not too sure if you can search by swimming position or color, but if you're looking for catfish profiles Planet Catfish is probably your best bet.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
From what I've heard otos are all wild caught and will waste away if you don't give them enough of their own kind to shoal with. I had another idea for you - How about an African Butterfly fish? Not really a catfish but looks very similar and VERY unique.

Freshwater butterflyfish - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Unfortunately, I think a 20 gal long tank wouldn't provide enough surface area for it to thrive. :c
It is an awesome looking fish though!
 

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My lfs has one that I've been eyeing and it never moves much, its a wait for prey to come by hunter, you can feed them live crickets and watch them snap it up... I think it would eat my rasboras in one tank and I think my malabar danios would stress it to no end in the other u.u its sad because its really cool
 

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A 20 long will be plenty big for a butterfly to just sit around... Cause that's all they do. They are not active fish. I wouldn't put one in less than a 30 inch tank though. While cool looking, it's the most boring fish I have.

A 20 long is not tall enough to support more than a few species. Taking into account substrate and the air gap at the top, the tank has only 8 or 9 inches of usable height. While height isn't usually a problem, it is with a 20 long as the fish will literally be on top of one another.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Ok, I've been doing some thinking and I would be happy with 2 species.
I've tossed the 3rd species idea.

My two ideas now are either:
a) 7 Sterba Cory & 7 Oto Cat
b) 15 Dwarf/Pygmy Cory & 7 Oto Cats
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Sorry for being a noob, but is there a way I can edit my original post?
I know I could before, but do you loose the ability after a certain amount of time or something?
 

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If that's what you are looking at for stock then I think you could certainly add a surface dwelling fish like a butterfly or two. Just be sure to have a lid without gaps or it could jump out.
 

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My only concern would be small cories and butterfly fish.. Since cories love to dart up for air, I think a butterfly fish could be able to catch one, the pygmies and dwarfs are pretty tiny.
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I've kept mine with corys, but not pygmy corys - that could be a cause for concern.
 

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Yea, the sterbai should be fine.
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