20 gallon long stocking questions


Hello, I recently purchased a 20 gallon long tank for my son. I’ve had guppies and an African dwarf frog a long time ago but I’m wanting to try something different this time.

I’d love to start with a group of neon tetras once I get everything set up and running for a week or two. I would like to add some cherry shrimp after I’ve had a chance to make sure everything is running well. I plan on doing weekly water changes.

The trouble I’m running into is that I would like to add some other critters in the tank. I don’t want to put to many in the tank and don’t know if the ones I’m thinking of would get along or not besides any differences in temperature or PH they need. The ones I’m considering are kuhli loaches, freshwater pom pom crabs, cory, or female bettas. Are there any that I listed that can be in with neon tetras or cherry shrimp? If there are any I listed that can go into the tank, how many could I have? I’d love any other suggestions too.

I don’t want to over do it. I know less is more. I did order a sponge filter since I had trouble in the past with the others sucking my fish up.

I also forgot to add that my son was wanting a pile o but I know the common ones get too big. Is there any other ones that are smaller and peaceful?


Hi Rammsteinfan,
Welcome to fishlore.
There are many fish available in the hobby that are suitable in a small group in a 20 gallon.
Before you can add fish to the new tank that has been running for a week or two you will need to establish two colonies of bacteria. These bacteria eat the toxic waste byproducts . The process of turning waste ( ammonia) into nitrates is given the name “nitrogen cycle “ . A tank that can turn toxic ammonia into nitrogen is said to have a full working nitrogen cycle. Only then is it possible to do weekly water changes.

A test of your tap water GH and KH will help determine if your tap water is more suitable for hard or soft water species.

Not sure what species your son wants! Was pile o a misprint?

There are two ways to build the colonies of bacteria.
with fish and without fish. Building without fish is the easy way as no fish can die.


I think he/she forgot "fish", as in pile o fish. :D Pretty much what everyone wants!

20 long is one of my favorite tanks, I had one running in my office at work for 10 years. Wish I had pics of it. Enjoy your new set up!


Yes pile O fish make sense,Not a pike then?


Sorry about that. My iPad auto corrected what I had wrote. It was supposed to say pleco. Thank you Flyfisha for the information. I’ll be sure to cycle it.


A bunch of corys would work nicely

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