20 Gallon Neon Tetra Stocking Ideas

GenerationTech

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HI everyone! I’ve been doing tons of research lately because I have never been a serious fish keeper before. I know quite a lot about the ammonia cycle and filters as well as heaters. I’ve decided to start a 20 gallon tank soon. I’m still relatively new to tank maintaining a tank so I will probably use artificial plants so I do not have to add external carbon dioxide. I’ve looked at some stocking ideas and have decided that I definitely want neon tetras in my tank. I also want to add some other fish but I don’t really know of any good tank mates. Many sites have said to use the rule of thumb, but I don’t really trust it as each fish has their own needs in terms of space. Any ideas including colorful and peaceful fish are welcome!
Thanks!
 

Otocinclus13

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Welcome to the fish world! Nice job on research. It sounds like you've been very thorough.

If your mind is set on a 20 gallon tank, my suggestion would be to get a 20 long (as opposed to a 20 tall... actual dimensions can be found online). It has a lot more horizontal swimming space and gives you a wider range of fish options to choose from. I would honestly recommend going with a 30 gallon though. Larger tanks are generally more stable in terms of safe water parameters, and don't take much more maintenance. There is an increase in start-up cost though, but on the other hand, the species that are available to you open up a lot more, and with more space you can get bigger schools of fish and watch more natural behaviors! There's nothing wrong with a 20gal tank, I'm just throwing in my two cents.

Neon tetras are great fish. They do tend to be overbred and very fragile if bought from a poor breeder, so it's worth finding a really good local fish store near you that carries quality stock! In a 20 long I would stick with one schooling fish, one bottom feeder species, and one centerpiece fish. In a 30, you could do one large school or two small schools, one to two centerpiece fish, and one to two bottom-dwellers.

Possible tank-mates for neons:
Honey gouramI (centerpiece)
Dwarf gouramI (centerpiece, but medically fragile and can be bullies!)
Pearl gouramI (centerpiece, but can be shy)
Bolivian ram (centerpiece- do best in pairs)
Apistogramma cacatuoudes (centerpiece- only get one as they get mean when breeding!)
Rubbernose or bristlenose plecostimus (bottom-dweller)
Corydoras (bottom-dweller, schooling fish)
Habrosus corydoras (bottom-dweller, dwarf corydora, schooling fish)
Kuhli, java, or dwarf chain loaches (bottom-dweller, schooling fish)

Also, there are lots of plants that don't need CO2. I have java fern, anacharis, anubias, baby tears, sword plants, and a banana plant in my tank, planted in pool filter sand with an old-school fluorescent hood light. A little fertilizer every now and then and they're thriving! Nothing wrong with fake plants though if that's the route you want to go.

Good luck in your fish journey!
 

imba

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A 20 long would be perfect for a group of neons.

14 neons tetras
2 Bolivian rams
8 otocinculus
 
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GenerationTech

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I think that a 20 long with some Neons, one Honey Gourami, and one or two Rubbernose Plecos is good. I’m just scared of overstocking. How many of each do you recommend? I also think that I’ll stick to artificial plants for now and maybe upgrade to live plants in the future. After all, this IS my first serious tank and I haven’t owned any fish since those goldfish at the carnival as a toddler.
 

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GenerationTech said:
I think that a 20 long with some Neons, one Honey Gourami, and one or two Rubbernose Plecos is good. I’m just scared of overstocking. How many of each do you recommend? I also think that I’ll stick to artificial plants for now and maybe upgrade to live plants in the future. After all, this IS my first serious tank and I haven’t owned any fish since those goldfish at the carnival as a toddler.
I would just stick with one rubbernose pleco as two would be a lot for a twenty gallon
 

Otocinclus13

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Sounds like a good plan to me. Aquadvisor is a pretty good resource for stocking levels, once you've done individual research on care and comparability of your species. I like to stay on the low end of stocking personally, but to each their own. To get you started:

AquStockImage (4).png
 
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GenerationTech

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I read that Rubbernoses like medium currents and heavily planted tanks. Are they hard to feed and care for? Any easier alternatives if so?
 
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GenerationTech

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Also, some people say that Honey’s should be kept in groups while others say that one is fine on its own.
 

Giul

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If you’re worried about a rubbernose a bristlenose pleco is another alternative that would be suitable for a 20. IME honies do well alone or in a group. I started with one and he was fine but I ended up getting another just because I liked him so much
 

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GenerationTech said:
I read that Rubbernoses like medium currents and heavily planted tanks. Are they hard to feed and care for? Any easier alternatives if so?
Rubbernose Plecos come from fast flowing, rocky streams with very little to no aquatic vegetation. I think you're fine. You don't really have to worry much about the water current situation in the aquarium either. Many fish come from fast flowing rivers, and most do just fine with just a filter output.
 

imba

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Giul said:
If you’re worried about a rubbernose a bristlenose pleco is another alternative that would be suitable for a 20. IME honies do well alone or in a group. I started with one and he was fine but I ended up getting another just because I liked him so much
I keep one solo in a 20 gallon with CPDs, he seems to do alright. Colours up well, eating well and mixing well with the other inhabitants
 

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I have 2 honey gouramI and 8 neons in my 20g, I also used to have red cherry shimp, they look great in a tank together
 
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GenerationTech

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I’m looking at one Honey GouramI and one Rubbernose pleco with maybe 10 Neons. This good or could I have more neons?
 

Otocinclus13

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Bubblers disturb the surface of the water which increases oxygenation, so they are beneficial. Do you use an HOB filter? A sponge filter uses a bubbler system and increases oxygenation while also adding extra filtration at the base of the tank where gunk likes to collect. It uses bubbles to draw water from the bottom of the tank through a sponge that is the perfect home for additional beneficial bacteria, then during water changes you just swish the sponge in the old tank water to get the gunk out. It's like a bubbler on steroids, and it's either DIY or relatively cheap.
 
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GenerationTech

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I use a hob filter but I am looking for a backup filter if the power goes out. So sponge filters can plug into air pumps?
 

Otocinclus13

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Yep, if you get a battery-powered air pump you have filtration if the power goes out! You can use it in addition to your HOB the rest of the time so the beneficial bacteria stays alive. There are diy videos on youtube if you're interested.
 

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