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Stocking feedback for 29 US gal?
November 20, 2015
8:37 am
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fae
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Hi,

I have a stocking plan for a US 29 gallon (30 inch x 12 inch x 24 inch), and I was wondering what everyone thought of the stocking levels and potential conflicts. I'd also like to know if there are any cool oddball fish you think I should put in there.

-6 or more diamond tetras (I'd really like to keep these)

-6 or more odessa barbs OR a different colorful schooling/shoaling fish that will complement the diamond tetras

-ONE pair of kribensis or ONE halfmoon plakat or a pair or trio of some sort of betta species, such as imbellis (I'm leaning towards getting the betta first, then transferring him to a 10 gallon and getting a pair of kribensis once I feel more confident in my fish keeping skills)

-a pair or trio of darter charachins (Nannocharax). I'm a little worried about these guys since I'm really favoring kribs in my final stocking plan. My tank is tall so other fish should be alright, I think, but they're bottom dwellers and I haven't really found out enough info to know if they'd be bullied by nursing kribs.

I'm also interested in rosy loaches, small pleco species, and kuhli loaches, as well as top-dwelling fish, but I'm not sure how feasible that will be. I'd like to keep my stocking level at eighty percent max. I haven't bought a filter yet so that's only an issue if it creates too much water current for the fish.

My pH is 7.2, and my GH is 30 ppm mg/l (which does concern me a little).

November 27, 2015
7:01 pm
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Byron Hosking
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First, on the parameters...why does a GH of 30 ppm (= mg/l) concern you?  So long as you stay with suitable soft water fish this should cause no issues; my tap water GH is less than this, at 7 ppm, and I add nothing in seven tanks to raise the GH.  Assuming the KH is also low, the pH should lower slightly below 7 naturally, which is ideal.

Now to the stocking, which has some issues, so I will begin by saying that there are many factors involved when mixing species in a community tank.  Water parameters is one, water flow another, the decor (substrate, wood, rock, plants, etc), activity level of each species, and obviously temperament/compatibility.  Many focus on the latter but ignoring the others will lead to problems.  So with that in mind...

The barbs I would forget.  This species, like most all of them, are quite active fish, and this means not only more length to swim but the effect this has on sedate fish, like the Bettas and even the cichlids.  The Diamond Tetras are getting close here too, but as you really like them I think you can build a community around them in your 29g.  A group of 6-7 should be OK.  I am sort of conceding here, as personally I would want this species in a longer tank.  I have had them for many years, always in 4 or 5-foot tanks, and there are fry in the group.

The Nannocharax brings with it the need for stronger water currents, and this is something the kribs will not appreciate, and the Diamonds may not be too pleased either.  You are wise to have not selected the filter until you decide on the fish species, as there are variances as you can see, and a 29g tank is not large enough to have "one size fits all," so to speak.

The rosy loaches should be fine, but I would not add kuhlii loaches.  Combining different loaches takes some thought.  The loaches are very social species, so groups always, but they can be territorial.  Not much is known of the rosy loach yet, though Loaches Online says it is active.  I would just mention here that if kribs do enter the tank, and if you intend spawning with successful rearing of fry, this is not likely to occur with substrate fish that are very adept at eating eggs and/or fry during darkness.  And yes, in reverse the kribs will not take kindly to any substrate fish poking into their territory; I have seen this with corys, loaches and the SA Characidium (similar to the African Nannocharax).  Even without a female present, my male Dicrossus hounded the Characidium mercilessly, and I have observed similar toward corys and whiptails from Apistogramma females and Mikrogeophagus.

I won't suggest other species until I have a better idea of which way you intend going with the above.  Hope this helps get things started.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA Vancouver, BC Canada
December 2, 2015
10:47 am
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fae
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Byron Hosking said
First, on the parameters...why does a GH of 30 ppm (= mg/l) concern you?  So long as you stay with suitable soft water fish this should cause no issues; my tap water GH is less than this, at 7 ppm, and I add nothing in seven tanks to raise the GH.  Assuming the KH is also low, the pH should lower slightly below 7 naturally, which is ideal.

It's actually at 7.2 and seems to be fairly stable, though I'd need to double check it. The GH only concerns me because the profile on here for diamond tetras recommends a minimum hardness of 5 degrees, which is higher than 30 ppm. However since you've been successful in keeping them, perhaps I shouldn't worry so long as I acclimate my fish properly.

It also looks like softened water to me. The landlord doesn't even know what a water softener is, though, so it's a bit of a mystery.

Now to the stocking, which has some issues, so I will begin by saying that there are many factors involved when mixing species in a community tank.  Water parameters is one, water flow another, the decor (substrate, wood, rock, plants, etc), activity level of each species, and obviously temperament/compatibility.  Many focus on the latter but ignoring the others will lead to problems.  So with that in mind...
The barbs I would forget.  This species, like most all of them, are quite active fish, and this means not only more length to swim but the effect this has on sedate fish, like the Bettas and even the cichlids.  The Diamond Tetras are getting close here too, but as you really like them I think you can build a community around them in your 29g.  A group of 6-7 should be OK.  I am sort of conceding here, as personally I would want this species in a longer tank.  I have had them for many years, always in 4 or 5-foot tanks, and there are fry in the group.

Usually I use the profiles here since they seem to err on the side of caution much more than many people and websites that I've found.

I was leaning towards the diamond tetras over the barbs myself, so that's fine. Not sure if there's another fish that I can think of to substitute... I like red eyed tetras, but those seem to need more space, not less.

The Nannocharax brings with it the need for stronger water currents, and this is something the kribs will not appreciate, and the Diamonds may not be too pleased either.  You are wise to have not selected the filter until you decide on the fish species, as there are variances as you can see, and a 29g tank is not large enough to have "one size fits all," so to speak.
The rosy loaches should be fine, but I would not add kuhlii loaches.  Combining different loaches takes some thought.  The loaches are very social species, so groups always, but they can be territorial.  Not much is known of the rosy loach yet, though Loaches Online says it is active.  I would just mention here that if kribs do enter the tank, and if you intend spawning with successful rearing of fry, this is not likely to occur with substrate fish that are very adept at eating eggs and/or fry during darkness.  And yes, in reverse the kribs will not take kindly to any substrate fish poking into their territory; I have seen this with corys, loaches and the SA Characidium (similar to the African Nannocharax).  Even without a female present, my male Dicrossus hounded the Characidium mercilessly, and I have observed similar toward corys and whiptails from Apistogramma females and Mikrogeophagus.
I won't suggest other species until I have a better idea of which way you intend going with the above.  Hope this helps get things started.
Byron.

No darters, got it.

I was actually thinking of adding locally bred GBRs instead if I could find them because they're less aggressive, but it sounds like they would be more intimidated by the diamond tetras. Still possibly worth considering I guess?

I suppose that makes it

-6-7 diamond tetras

-a top dweller or a top and middle dweller, IF the diamond tetras don't frequently hang at the top of the tank. Otherwise it doesn't have to be a top dweller (or if needed I can just drop it altogether). I don't really know what to add here. I already have a silver fish so I don't want silver hatchetfish or lampeyes. Marbled hatchetfish are supposed to be shy... Daisy's ricefish look like they go to the top (I don't really know... I have trouble finding schooling topdwellers, I think), and the Trichopsis genus seems like it could fit as well? They're small so maybe a little breeding wouldn't hurt too much. I'd need to look into it.

-A pair of kribs or GBRs. (I want to watch parenting behavior and kribs are more forgiving, so they might be the better choice overall? The rams at the store seem more personable though.) I would like any cichlids I add to spawn, but I don't have a grow out tank, just a quarantine. If that's okay for the fish, then I might drop both the loaches. If not, it'll be either one cichlid, cichlids and egg eaters (I'm pretty hesitant on this since I can see it going very wrong), or substitute a labyrinth fish or some other centerpiece for the cichlids altogether.

-I would like a small pleco or other solitary catfish, but I can see this also being an issue with them eating cichlid eggs and having a lot of waste. With another centerpiece, I'm more likely to get one. I'd also, again, go back to having a loach... Which species depends on how much activity I want and where, I suppose. Unless you had a reason not to add kuhlis besides not mixing loaches? (If it's either loaches OR catfish, that's fine too.)

The order of adding would be diamond tetras first, possible other groups and anything else next, centerpiece last.

As a side note, I was thinking of adding leaf litter to my tank. I suppose that would effect the parameters. Also, I'll probably have a mixture of live and silk plants in there to provide cover.

I'm trying to find something stronger than a sponge filter that still has minimal noise and current... I can probably buy something pretty nice if I wait until after Christmas. I just don't know what... High GPH canister filters create a lot of current, right?

I'm planning to grow at least one type of live food, so if a fish needs to be fed live (unless it's wingless fruit flies or snails), I can do it.

(Oh gosh, sorry that was so long!Embarassed)

EDIT: I've read varying things about the minimum temperature requirements of rams. I will be keeping it in mind if I choose them.

December 4, 2015
12:14 am
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Byron Hosking
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It's actually at 7.2 and seems to be fairly stable, though I'd need to double check it. The GH only concerns me because the profile on here for diamond tetras recommends a minimum hardness of 5 degrees, which is higher than 30 ppm. However since you've been successful in keeping them, perhaps I shouldn't worry so long as I acclimate my fish properly.

It also looks like softened water to me. The landlord doesn't even know what a water softener is, though, so it's a bit of a mystery.

The pH may lower naturally in the aquarium once it is running with fish.  I assumed this 7.2 is the tap water, since this aquarium is not running yet (?).  When testing tap water for pH, remember to out-gas the CO2.  Tap water on its own won't lower much, unless it is lower naturally (the source of the water) and the water authority is adding something like soda ash, as this can be temporary.

I would definitely check into the softener; these can be bad for fish, especially if they use sodium salts.

On the GH for Diamond Tetra, this is not so much a difference that I would worry.  The data in our profiles is highly reliable, though sometimes a profile may be "out of date" or in need of revision, and I don't know about this particular one.  When it comes to GH, with soft water fish I tend to be much more concerned with the upper end of the range.  I tried to find the parameters for Lake Valencia, the habitat of this species, but couldn't.

I was actually thinking of adding locally bred GBRs instead if I could find them because they're less aggressive, but it sounds like they would be more intimidated by the diamond tetras. Still possibly worth considering I guess?

EDIT: I've read varying things about the minimum temperature requirements of rams. I will be keeping it in mind if I choose them.

Difficult to be exact, but I wouldn't see the Diamonds bothering the rams much, if at all.  In the 29g they are not likely to be swimming very actively.  But even in my 5-foot tank, the Diamonds are not rambunctious.  On the temp, yes, I would suggest 27C/80F as minimum (I know the profile here has it very much lower).  It is my understanding that at lower temperatures they will not live more than a couple years, not their normal average of four years.  The Bolivian Ram is different; my latest male lived into its eighth year, and it too has a four year normal lifespan.  I have had M. ramirezi, the common blue ram, twice, but they did not live much beyond a year; in hindsight (it was several years ago) I suspect the temperature was the issue, as both times I had them in a community aquarium around 77/78F.  If you have a local breeder, check with him/her on the temp they maintain the aquarium normally (they may raise it for spawning).

-a top dweller or a top and middle dweller, IF the diamond tetras don't frequently hang at the top of the tank. Otherwise it doesn't have to be a top dweller (or if needed I can just drop it altogether). I don't really know what to add here. I already have a silver fish so I don't want silver hatchetfish or lampeyes. Marbled hatchetfish are supposed to be shy... Daisy's ricefish look like they go to the top (I don't really know... I have trouble finding schooling topdwellers, I think), and the Trichopsis genus seems like it could fit as well? They're small so maybe a little breeding wouldn't hurt too much. I'd need to look into it.

I personally would not combine any gourami [Trichopsis] with active fish, and here the Diamonds are active by comparison.  I have six T. pumila in my 33g, and I rarely see them; they remain among the thick Java Ferns most of the time.  They have spawned, but so far no fry have managed to escape predation, as there are a number of fish (rasbora, dwarf loaches) in this aquarium.

Marble hatchetfish (Carnegiella strigata) should be OK.  I have a group of 21 in with the Diamonds and other characins in my 115g.  The only uncertainty here is that with a smaller space, the Diamonds may not conform to what I see in the larger space.  This species is quite sedate (all the species in this genus are), compared to the larger silver species in Thoracocharax and Gasteropelicus. 
I have all of these, and the latter two are now in the 115g with the Diamonds.

The Beckford pencilfish (Nannostomus beckfordi) is worth considering.  I had this species in this tank as well, and had to remove the hatchets because the Beckfords spend a lot of time near the surface (you must have floating plants) and they take unkindly to competitors.  Unlike most of the pencilfish species in Nannostomus, this one is much more active and robust, and rather beligerent.  But a nice and colourful upper fish when combined with other peaceful but somewhat active fish.

-I would like a small pleco or other solitary catfish, but I can see this also being an issue with them eating cichlid eggs and having a lot of waste. With another centerpiece, I'm more likely to get one. I'd also, again, go back to having a loach... Which species depends on how much activity I want and where, I suppose. Unless you had a reason not to add kuhlis besides not mixing loaches? (If it's either loaches OR catfish, that's fine too.)

Small loaches could work, but as you said, with any of these (loaches, catfish) survival of cichlid eggs is very unlikely.  Kuhlii loaches, or corys, if cichlid spawning is not relevant.  Another nice catfish oddity is the Whiptail, Rineloricaria parva [not the much larger "Royals"].  There are the colourful "Red" variants as well as the normal natural species.

I'll end with a comment on centrepiece fish...I find this difficult to do in a small aquarium.  Small fish are better alone in small quarters.  And given their size and the tank, the Diamonds will be centrepiece on their own.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA Vancouver, BC Canada
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