Help 14 Gallon (52 litre) tank stocking ideas?

owenhlewis

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Hi all,
So after a nasty case of Columnaris & Fungal infection (likely due to overstocking), I lost most of my tank friends.

I have given it a few weeks after treatment of Pimafix (for fungal) and Tri-Sulfa and then completed a couple of large water changes to what I think is now a nice clean (and hopefully disease free tank) with water parameters of:

pH - 7.0
Amm - 0
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - 5

I don't want to overstock this time around, so looking for suggestions as to what I might be able to do, keeping in mind i have a few fish in there at present.

Image of tank attached.

Currently have:

3 x male guppies
3 x platys

Would love any suggestions on what else I could add.

My daughter had a dwarf gourami (which passed), that she really loved. So ideally one of those, and a few bottom feeders to take care of the algae (green spot here and there) and the waste on the floor.

Instead of a gourami maybe interested in a school of cardinal tetra's or something like that.

Appreciate your help!
 

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SharkBaitOohHannah

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Sorry about your losses!

I've heard of people successfully keeping dwarf gourami and cardinals in a tank of that size. Do you know the sexes of your livebearers and if they are breeding? You've already had them for a bit, so you might already know their breeding patterns, but it's good to take note of. If you decide to do cardinals, I might suggest letting the tank re-stabilize for a while before introducing them. I've heard that they can be a little finicky, but they might be a good option as they are a smaller but beautiful tetra.

If it were me, if I'd probably go with a dwarf gourami as I think that will look less crowded, and they have a lot of personality. (But, Dwarf Gouramis are my favorite fish, so maybe I'm partial.) You might also consider some kind of bottom feeder to balance the look of the tank, as livebearers do tend to swim more around the top, but those are not my expertise. Good luck with your tank! :)
 

FishGirl38

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Hello and Welcome to Fishlore!

I'm afraid in a 14 Gallon tank it may be hard to stock all of that without overstocking...and you CAN overstock, but you can't overstock too early and it's much harder to maintain in smaller volumes of water.

Right now we've got a total of 6 fish in the tank and it is cycled. Essentially, the (old school, out dated rule of thumb) is 1 in of fish per every 1 gallon of tank water so...technically you could add about another 6 or 8 fish to the tank....BUT....that may not be 100% true or correct...it depends...

I think you could definitely add another dwarf gourami, but technically he should account for at least 2-3 inches, so that leaves room for about 5-6 more (less than 1in max size) fish....its technically not enough space for bottom feeders and a SCHOOL of tetra.

Now, all of my tanks are overstocked. I'm not saying you can't do it, but it's more risky the more you add. I would start by adding the dwarf gourami first once you're comfortable to add more. Leave him in there for about a week and a half (maybe only about 5 days - long enough for him to raise the ammonia and the bacteria to lower that again). Then...I would choose either your bottom feeders or your tetra, whichever you want more than the other. I would add no more than 3 at a time and wait the same amount of time for the same reason.

If after that point the ammonia is still staying low naturally, and you feel like there's plenty of space in the tank for more fish without everyone being crowded (and I don't think they will be crowded), than you MAY be able to add more, but I would think you're at your recommended 'threshold' after the gourami and the bottom feeders including the guppy and platy.

What size filter do you have on the tank? If it's something like a 20G filter on a 14G tank, than you'll have better luck with over stocking. If its a smaller size, like a 10G filter on a 14G tank, than it may be harder to maintain.

When you say bottom feeder as well, I would only get otocinclus for your size tank. Even the smaller species of pleco outgrow their algae eating habits, and they end up creating more waste once they're adults, and chinese algae eaters are the same way. Otocinclus stay small (max of about 1.5in) and they ONLY eat algae their entire lifespan. They're great as a clean up crew, and imo would be the best option aside from nerite snails or amano shrimp.

So long as you stock gradually (few fish at a time - no more than 3 and lesser as the tank gets more full), You shouldn't overwhelm the bacteria or cause an unmanageable ammonia spike (that would stress fish). if the ammonia does spike, do a 25-50% water change to dilute the concentration.

As a real life example....I've got a 40Breeder tank right now with a 70G filter on it that houses. *deep breath*...2 9In goldfish, 2 3In goldfish (comets), 3 Adult bristlenose pleco (5-6in), 1 golden nugget pleco (4in), 1 clown pleco (2in), 1 male betta, 10 kuhli loaches, 15 kubata loaches (2.5in), and 1 sterbai cory... Now if you do the math on my situation, I've technically got...like...98 inches of fish in this 40 Gallon tank...with a 70Gallon filter. It IS possible to do and maintain. This tank is comprised of, the left over fish I've had from previous tanks I've had to take down and re-do with different stocks. I didnt necessarily decide to stock all these incompatible fish together, and my situation is way overdone. But each fish has been added a few at a time over a long time frame (the 15 loaches I bought 3 at a time over a 9 month period for ex.) and the cycle has been gradually built.

So....In short, You could do the gourami and some otos no problem, But I believe anything else would be additional and that is totally okay, but you want to be sure you're not adding too many at a time.

To explain more...when you add a bunch of fish at once, those fish are going to put waste into the aquarium and you only have so much bacteria in the filter and gravel bed that can consume this additional ammonia. Sometimes, the bacteria has to breed and multiply to account for the new ammonia added, this is how you build a cycle (and how I've managed to keep all my fish alive in my crazy tank). There is a MAX amount of space you can have for the bacteria though, and that has to do with the size of your filter. Literally the size of the box of the unit. The amount of surface area that is present to house bacteria, the bigger, the more bacterial media, the more homes for more bacteria. SO.....you'll know you've reached your MAX threshold. (the point where if you add anymore fish your ammonia will spike indefinitely) when after you've added new fish, the ammonia doesn't decrease at the regular rate noted, at this point there are no bacteria multiplying because your cycle is as large and as strong as it can get with the size tank/filter you have. I don't think this will happen even after adding a school of tetra if you're careful about it and your filter is large enough (going off of my experience), but if you were to add say, 6 tetra and then wanted to add more - I think then you'd be headed towards problem territory.

The safer option would be to do the dwarf gourami and some algae eaters (if you feel they're necessary). If you don't go with otos I think you could add a small school of tetra to the tank instead (maybe 6-9 of them), I don't think that's pushing it, but I've got a tank that's stocked 200% its 'recommended' limit...

I want to state openly, most other people on this forum will probably disagree with a lot of what i've posted here. Its not recommended to overstock, but this hobby is addictive and it's really hard not to - you seem like you've got the bug too. So I feel its better to explain how you can do it, rather than just agreeing that overstocking is bad.

EDIT: I do WEEKLY 50% water changes on this tank, If I do not, my ammonia spikes. -This is the consequence of having an overstocked tank - more frequent maintenance. Last thing about cardinals specifically, they tend to be more hardy than their neon tetra cousins, but they can also be delicate (doesn't mean the will be, depends on the shipment). Acclimate them slowly.
 
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owenhlewis

owenhlewis

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SharkBaitOohHannah said:
Sorry about your losses!

I've heard of people successfully keeping dwarf gourami and cardinals in a tank of that size. Do you know the sexes of your livebearers and if they are breeding? You've already had them for a bit, so you might already know their breeding patterns, but it's good to take note of. If you decide to do cardinals, I might suggest letting the tank re-stabilize for a while before introducing them. I've heard that they can be a little finicky, but they might be a good option as they are a smaller but beautiful tetra.

If it were me, if I'd probably go with a dwarf gourami as I think that will look less crowded, and they have a lot of personality. (But, Dwarf Gouramis are my favorite fish, so maybe I'm partial.) You might also consider some kind of bottom feeder to balance the look of the tank, as live bearers do tend to swim more around the top, but those are not my expertise. Good luck with your tank! :)
Before disease got to the tank, I had a Dwarf Gourami peacefully live with 8 neons without issue which was good.

All my livebearers are male so no chance of babies!

I'm thinking just a Dwarf Gourami, but I'm trying to work out any bottom feeders, but by the looks of it a couple of Otos Catfish should do it as i want to keep algae in check? The live bearers definitely like around the top, however the Platy's don't mind zipping in and out of plants it's nice to watch
 
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owenhlewis

owenhlewis

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FishGirl38 said:
Hello and Welcome to Fishlore!

I'm afraid in a 14 Gallon tank it may be hard to stock all of that without overstocking...and you CAN overstock, but you can't overstock too early and it's much harder to maintain in smaller volumes of water.

Right now we've got a total of 6 fish in the tank and it is cycled. Essentially, the (old school, out dated rule of thumb) is 1 in of fish per every 1 gallon of tank water so...technically you could add about another 6 or 8 fish to the tank....BUT....that may not be 100% true or correct...it depends...

I think you could definitely add another dwarf gourami, but technically he should account for at least 2-3 inches, so that leaves room for about 5-6 more (less than 1in max size) fish....its technically not enough space for bottom feeders and a SCHOOL of tetra.

Now, all of my tanks are overstocked. I'm not saying you can't do it, but it's more risky the more you add. I would start by adding the dwarf gourami first once you're comfortable to add more. Leave him in there for about a week and a half (maybe only about 5 days - long enough for him to raise the ammonia and the bacteria to lower that again). Then...I would choose either your bottom feeders or your tetra, whichever you want more than the other. I would add no more than 3 at a time and wait the same amount of time for the same reason.

If after that point the ammonia is still staying low naturally, and you feel like there's plenty of space in the tank for more fish without everyone being crowded (and I don't think they will be crowded), than you MAY be able to add more, but I would think you're at your recommended 'threshold' after the gourami and the bottom feeders including the guppy and platy.

What size filter do you have on the tank? If it's something like a 20 gallon filter on a 14G tank, than you'll have better luck with over stocking. If its a smaller size, like a 10 gallon filter on a 14G tank, than it may be harder to maintain.

When you say bottom feeder as well, I would only get otocinclus for your size tank. Even the smaller species of pleco outgrow their algae eating habits, and they end up creating more waste once they're adults, and chinese algae eaters are the same way. Otocinclus stay small (max of about 1.5in) and they ONLY eat algae their entire lifespan. They're great as a clean up crew, and imo would be the best option aside from nerite snails or amano shrimp.

So long as you stock gradually (few fish at a time - no more than 3 and lesser as the tank gets more full), You shouldn't overwhelm the bacteria or cause an unmanageable ammonia spike (that would stress fish). if the ammonia does spike, do a 25-50% water change to dilute the concentration.

As a real life example....I've got a 40Breeder tank right now with a 70G filter on it that houses. *deep breath*...2 9In goldfish, 2 3In goldfish (comets), 3 Adult bristlenose pleco (5-6in), 1 golden nugget pleco (4in), 1 clown pleco (2in), 1 male betta, 10 kuhli loaches, 15 kubata loaches (2.5in), and 1 sterbai cory... Now if you do the math on my situation, I've technically got...like...98 inches of fish in this 40 Gallon tank...with a 70Gallon filter. It IS possible to do and maintain. This tank is comprised of, the left over fish I've had from previous tanks I've had to take down and re-do with different stocks. I didnt necessarily decide to stock all these incompatible fish together, and my situation is way overdone. But each fish has been added a few at a time over a long time frame (the 15 loaches I bought 3 at a time over a 9 month period for ex.) and the cycle has been gradually built.

So....In short, You could do the gourami and some otos no problem, But I believe anything else would be additional and that is totally okay, but you want to be sure you're not adding too many at a time.

To explain more...when you add a bunch of fish at once, those fish are going to put waste into the aquarium and you only have so much bacteria in the filter and gravel bed that can consume this additional ammonia. Sometimes, the bacteria has to breed and multiply to account for the new ammonia added, this is how you build a cycle (and how I've managed to keep all my fish alive in my crazy tank). There is a MAX amount of space you can have for the bacteria though, and that has to do with the size of your filter. Literally the size of the box of the unit. The amount of surface area that is present to house bacteria, the bigger, the more bacterial media, the more homes for more bacteria. SO.....you'll know you've reached your MAX threshold. (the point where if you add anymore fish your ammonia will spike indefinitely) when after you've added new fish, the ammonia doesn't decrease at the regular rate noted, at this point there are no bacteria multiplying because your cycle is as large and as strong as it can get with the size tank/filter you have. I don't think this will happen even after adding a school of tetra if you're careful about it and your filter is large enough (going off of my experience), but if you were to add say, 6 tetra and then wanted to add more - I think then you'd be headed towards problem territory.

The safer option would be to do the dwarf gourami and some algae eaters (if you feel they're necessary). If you don't go with otos I think you could add a small school of tetra to the tank instead (maybe 6-9 of them), I don't think that's pushing it, but I've got a tank that's stocked 200% its 'recommended' limit...

I want to state openly, most other people on this forum will probably disagree with a lot of what i've posted here. Its not recommended to overstock, but this hobby is addictive and it's really hard not to - you seem like you've got the bug too. So I feel its better to explain how you can do it, rather than just agreeing that overstocking is bad.

EDIT: I do WEEKLY 50% water changes on this tank, If I do not, my ammonia spikes. -This is the consequence of having an overstocked tank - more frequent maintenance. Last thing about cardinals specifically, they tend to be more hardy than their neon tetra cousins, but they can also be delicate (doesn't mean the will be, depends on the shipment). Acclimate them slowly.
Wow, thankyou for the detail info that's great!!

My concern is I overstocked previously and even with regular water changes (and water parameters being good the entire time as I tested daily), I still managed to have sick fish that decimated my tank.

Prior to this, I had the following:

4 x Neon Tetra
4 x Glo-light Tetra
1 x Dwarf Gourami
3 x Platys (still there)
4 x Guppys (lost one)
2 x Albino Corys
1 x Bristlenose Pleco
1 x Siamese Algae eater (he was added to tank and then within a week and bit the entire tank got sick)

So as you can see i had a lot, however up until the Siamese Algae eater they all seemed colourful, happy and healthy (although I get told they'd be stressed, it never showed physically).

The filter is a top filter what came with the tank, it's an Aquaone Lifestyle 52 so think it does 450 litres per hour (so 9 times the tank volume per hour).

I want more fish but don't think I'll go the level that I had again as i can't go through another entire tank (nearly) lost as this is my 3 year old daughters tank so had to explain to her what happened to the fishies :(

I guess it's going to come down to a choice between bottom feeders or cardinal tetra's as I want a bottom feeder or two to handle algae/waste etc so thinking 2 x Otos.

So if i get the Dwarf Gourami then that would be it?

Are bottom feeders necessary in a tank, as only algae i get is on the plants and some green algae spots on the tank which i can always scrape off?

I feel I want bottom feeders purely to help keep tank clean.

I'm torn as you can tell lol...............
 

SharkBaitOohHannah

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owenhlewis said:
Wow, thankyou for the detail info that's great!!

My concern is I overstocked previously and even with regular water changes (and water parameters being good the entire time as I tested daily), I still managed to have sick fish that decimated my tank.

Prior to this, I had the following:

4 x Neon Tetra
4 x Glo-light Tetra
1 x Dwarf Gourami
3 x Platys (still there)
4 x Guppys (lost one)
2 x Albino Corys
1 x Bristlenose Pleco
1 x Siamese Algae eater (he was added to tank and then within a week and bit the entire tank got sick)

So as you can see i had a lot, however up until the Siamese Algae eater they all seemed colourful, happy and healthy (although I get told they'd be stressed, it never showed physically).

The filter is a top filter what came with the tank, it's an Aquaone Lifestyle 52 so think it does 450 litres per hour (so 9 times the tank volume per hour).

I want more fish but don't think I'll go the level that I had again as i can't go through another entire tank (nearly) lost as this is my 3 year old daughters tank so had to explain to her what happened to the fishies :(

I guess it's going to come down to a choice between bottom feeders or cardinal tetra's as I want a bottom feeder or two to handle algae/waste etc so thinking 2 x Otos.

So if i get the Dwarf Gourami then that would be it?

Are bottom feeders necessary in a tank, as only algae i get is on the plants and some green algae spots on the tank which i can always scrape off?

I feel I want bottom feeders purely to help keep tank clean.

I'm torn as you can tell lol...............
I think it is likely that the Siamese Algae Eater ilness was from wherever you got it and the stress by of changing locations brought it out, so maybe the stocking wasn't an issue.
I personally don't think that algae eaters or bottom feeders are necessary if you don't particularly like watching them. Platys are actually pretty excellent scavengers and algae eaters in my experience, so I currently don't have any bottom feeders or algae eaters. If your tank was handling that heavy a bioload before the disease became an issue, I don't see why you couldn't support a school of cardinals and a dwarf gourami, seeing as there will not be a growing group of livebearers, as long as the cardinals are big enough that nobody can eat them. :)
 
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owenhlewis

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SharkBaitOohHannah said:
I think it is likely that the Siamese Algae Eater ilness was from wherever you got it and the stress by of changing locations brought it out, so maybe the stocking wasn't an issue.
I personally don't think that algae eaters or bottom feeders are necessary if you don't particularly like watching them. Platys are actually pretty excellent scavengers and algae eaters in my experience, so I currently don't have any bottom feeders or algae eaters. If your tank was handling that heavy a bioload before the disease became an issue, I don't see why you couldn't support a school of cardinals and a dwarf gourami, seeing as there will not be a growing group of livebearers, as long as the cardinals are big enough that nobody can eat them. :)
I'd like to think that I was doing everything right and it was the SAE that did it, as it was the only fish I purchased from a different store to normal!

I kept fish 10 years ago but didn't know a lot, so this time around I've got my 3 year old daughter involved (animal obsessed) so we would test the water every second day, just to be safe and the parameters were always good. Then after I added the SAE the tetra's dropped like flies out of the blue, then the Dwarf gourami got cotton wool fungus, as did one of the guppies, and I also think the bottom feeders ate the dead tetra's so they also went not long after it was disastrous!

Would a single Otos get sad if no other bottom feeders? If not, I'm inclined to do the following (obviously not all at once):

1 x Dwarf Gourami
6 x Cardinal Tetras
1 x Otos

In the previous tank, the Tetra's came before the Gourami so they were big enough not to be considered food so I think I'd do the same.
 

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FishGirl38

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owenhlewis said:
Wow, thankyou for the detail info that's great!!

My concern is I overstocked previously and even with regular water changes (and water parameters being good the entire time as I tested daily), I still managed to have sick fish that decimated my tank.

Prior to this, I had the following:

4 x Neon Tetra
4 x Glo-light Tetra
1 x Dwarf Gourami
3 x Platys (still there)
4 x Guppys (lost one)
2 x Albino Corys
1 x Bristlenose Pleco
1 x Siamese Algae eater (he was added to tank and then within a week and bit the entire tank got sick)

So as you can see i had a lot, however up until the Siamese Algae eater they all seemed colourful, happy and healthy (although I get told they'd be stressed, it never showed physically).

The filter is a top filter what came with the tank, it's an Aquaone Lifestyle 52 so think it does 450 litres per hour (so 9 times the tank volume per hour).

I want more fish but don't think I'll go the level that I had again as i can't go through another entire tank (nearly) lost as this is my 3 year old daughters tank so had to explain to her what happened to the fishies :(

I guess it's going to come down to a choice between bottom feeders or cardinal tetra's as I want a bottom feeder or two to handle algae/waste etc so thinking 2 x Otos.

So if i get the Dwarf Gourami then that would be it?

Are bottom feeders necessary in a tank, as only algae i get is on the plants and some green algae spots on the tank which i can always scrape off?

I feel I want bottom feeders purely to help keep tank clean.

I'm torn as you can tell lol...............
Well, you don't need the algae eaters to keep the tank clean, and...in a 14G tank, I would think you could get away with keeping a dwarf gourami and a school of tetra too, but it technically would then be a little over the 'threshold' of the tank but....You can do that. It wouldn't be too much over.

As far as algae goes, it thrives because of excess light and excess nutrients, so essentially, if you only keep your light on about 8hrs a day (and off 16hrs) and keep up on water changes to keep nitrate and phosphate low (nitrate is the end of the nitrite cycle, phosphate breaks down from your fish food - don't over feed, it causes algae). So, the nutrient is the food source that causes algae, and the light acts like a steroid on them. You can use these factors to moderate the algae that grows in your tank. Keep a nitrate/phosphate remover pad on hand and keep your light low and you shouldn't have algae PROBLEMS. you'll still see some algae but, probably not enough to where you want a fish in there just to clean it up. They're not very wasteful, otos, You could keep a few with the school and gourami just in case - they're good at cleaning the algae off of live plants - fake ones too but my point is they're detail workers too.

As you mentioned, you were able to keep the tank in check until you added that last fish right? it's possible the SAE was the straw that broke the camels back. If you were able to maintain everything before the SAE, than I would think you should be fine to add the gourami with a school of tetra and a few oto cats. It technically IS over your threshold, (but we can push this a bit...as you've experienced) but it's not getting into territory where the cycle is going to be overwhelmed. ESPECIALLY with your size filter.

I agree with above, I think that'd be a fine stocking. I didn't read the additional thread after mine before I wrote this but we both agree. I think it was more the SAE that was problematic than it was the stocking and so long as you build your cycle gradually, you shouldn't have a problem with what you're looking to stock, it is technically a little over that 1in of fish per 1 gal rule, but it's not too much that would overwhelm the cycle - that rule is just a...gauge marker, it's not finite.
 

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