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Discussion Starter #1
Working on my first planted tank - squee! Going to stick with some simply, hardy plants like anubias, java fern, and java moss, I think. What I really need help with is deciding on fish.

Currently I'm planning on:
3-5 cory cats
5-7 cardinal tetras

I'm interested in:
betta (love a betta in the community tank - so striking!)
silver tipped tetras
danios
pearl gouramis (my parents always kept them with a betta just fine in a 50gal... but I'm worried I won't be able to do the same?)

I'm also keen to hear what your opinions on hardy centerpiece fish are. I'm in love with the idea of a betta, but would forego that for some other fish of interesting size and color? For instance, before I learned how HUGE they got and how voraciously they would devour plants, I was keen on the idea of a few silver dollars - something substantial with some good color and shape, you know? Something that would look good with a few schooling fish darting around and some cories doing their wiggly clean-up dance below.

Seriously, open to anything. Please shout out your suggestions!
 

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Id personally double the schooling shoal of the cories and tetras. As for a good centrepiece fish:
- betta
- dwarf gourami
- small group (2/3) honey gourami
- small group (2/4) sparkling gourami
- ram cichlids (pair) (bolivian or butterfly rams)
- apistogramma (pair or trio, depending on species)
- twig catfish/pleco (they look awesome, and make a good clean up crew
- small shoal of male guppies or endlers
- bristlenose pleco

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Discussion Starter #3
I've been thinking about honey gouramis, actually. Lovely colors!

What about this as a combo:
5-7 corydoras
5 diamond tetras
3 black phantom tetras
2 honey gouramis or pearl gouramis

Still room for cardinal tetras? The tank is pretty tall, actually (thus the hardy, we're ok with low light plants): L 36 x W 12 x H 24
I'd like to think we're layering fish appropriately here so that all levels of the tank will be occupied and everyone will have their own stomping ground.

Every time I've seen betta in a community tank, they keep *right* up to the top... maybe they would be ok with some peaceful gouramis in a tank with this height?
 

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Tetras do better in larger schools. Id personally just stick to one group of tetra, instead of doing multiple smaller ones. Many commonly recommended at least 5, but often the 'true behaviour' shows when you keep in excess of 15 or more. Sp id go with one big school.
Gouramis are also surface dwelling fish, and both the betta abd gouramis can be territorial. Id stick with one species.

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I agree - I would stick to one or two large schools rather than a bunch of little schools. A 45 is pretty tall - in my experience doing almost exactly what you want to do with that tank size, you could get away with 3 schools of 10-12 of small fish. But I’m also on board with Aussies suggestion of one big school, or even two medium schools. I ,also, do not agree with the standard 5-6 fish being sufficient for a school. For me that number is 10, though more is always better.

Moving on, I would look to add a variety of fish types rather than 2 schools of tetras. For example, a school of tetras and a school of cherry barbs for the open waters of the tank, with your corys on the bottom. As for the pearl gouramis, mine were quite happy as a group of 4 (1m 3f)in the 45 gallon tank. I do not think it wise to mix a Betta with pearl gouramis, though that’s something that I’ve done without incident - in a 125 gallon tank.
 
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