Attempting to start my first tank, a little help?

  • #1
I've been trying to look around to get at least some general idea of what I'm interested in but I haven't been having much luck. My father has had a 10 gallon tank in the past and has offered to let me have it but to be honest, that's kinda small. He only ever had a few decorations and with a handful of neons (I think that's what he called them) and they still looked cramped. Maybe I'm going about it the wrong way but ideally I'd like to have a colorful tank with live plants and a little rarity of fish. Sadly, for my price range (and room) right now I'm looking at a 20 gallon tank, smaller than what I'd like but good for my confidence level I think. I've found a nice starter 20 gallon tank at petsmart but I'm looking more for a corner tank and I'm having no such luck findine on locally or on-line. Is it worth tracking down my ideal tank or should I just go with the starter tank I've already found (and for a fairly decent price) and deal with it? I can't really say I'm in a hurry because I want to make sure I do my homework before buying anything.

I do have a few other questions. I've looked around the site and tried taking notes on small easy to care for freshwater fish. From what I understand all the ones that jumped out at me a pretty peaceful and as long as they are kept in groups of six shouldn't cause any problems. I'd like to have a little rarity so I'm just not sure if the combos I'm thinking of will go together or if their temp/pH differences will cause much of a problem. The average temp is about 74F but for the ones that's really caught my eye have a temp range of 45-70F. I know I want to go with live plants but I figured its best to wait until I know what fish I want then try and pick out what plants will be best.

From what I've seen on the site I like the Otto Cats, Ghost Shrimp (saw some at one store, very cute heh), White Clouds, Serpae Tetras and Cherry Barbs. I know I won't be able to have all of them because I don't want to overcrowd but I'm not really sure what a good number would be. I've heard 1in of fish per gallon? I'm assuming that's after the gravel has been added (1-1.5lbs per gallon?) I read that White Clouds, Serpae Tetras and Cherry Barbs really should be kept in schools of 6+ but I didn't see anything about Otto Cats or Ghost Shrimp.

I'm sorry if that's not enough infomation to point me in the right direction. Any advice, suggestions, opinions, anything at all would be very helpful right now.

  • #2
Welcome to the site and the Hobby.

Finding odd shaped tanks can be difficult, especially as a starter kit. Most starter kits are either rectangular or sort of hexagonal or octagonal. If your really set on it, Id say keep looking, but understand that if you can find it it may not come with any supplies which means you'll have to buy al the accessories (hood, lights, heater, filter, etc.). So you'll have to weigh what's important to you.

From what I know of the fish you mentioned they are all fairly peaceful and could live in any combination. White Clouds might be a bit of a problem as they like colder water than the rest. And as you said, groups of 6 or better. Ottos are also schooling fish and would like groups to be at their best. Id say 3-4 would make for a healthy and happy group. Although just to warn you Ive heard that these guys can be a bit touchy. Supposedly once you get through the first month you're golden, but youve gotta get their. Ghost shrimp are pretty much freebies as far as the bio-load goes. Dont even count them as they produce so little waste and clean more than their fair share. Anywhere between 6 and 10 should be fine. Serpaes and Cherries are nice fish, can get nippy Ive heard, but in groups of 6 they should be fine, not to mention the fact that you don't haven't mentioned any fish they would be interested in nipping, like angels or guppies.

Finally as far as space goes the 1 in rule works well mostly, just remember its 1 in of ADULT fish per gallon, not what they are now. Alot of people seeem to misunderstand that when they first start and get a tiny Oscar (which grow 12+" and put him in a 10g, saying, "but hes so little". And most petstores do nothing to dissuade you from buying unsuitable fish. Also keep in mind that if you want an odd shaped tank that the taller it is the less fish you can have generally, because the most important factor is surface area, swimming room.

Well that's all Ive got for now. I'm sure some other people will chime in with more (and probably better ;D) advice. Have fun!

  • Thread Starter
  • #3

I'm not really worried about getting a starter kit, it would be nice since its a few less things I have to worry about but I wouldn't mind having to save a little more to get everything. I feel better knowing I'm not completely insane for wanting a certain size tank, thanks ^^

Thank you so much for everything! At first I thought I'd like to go with guppies since they are rather pretty but I don't think I'd care much for their behavior.

I'm pretty sure the sizes I was looking at were for the adults, I think anyways. At the store the ones I saw were a lot smaller than what I was expecting. I'll have to make sure I get the right sizes. For some reason I never thought about surface area. I know with birds you've got to be careful but it never crossed my mind. I guess I better see for myself the exact dimentions of a 20 gallon corner just to be sure. If it really comes down to it I can wait a few more months, shove a bookshelf in the closet and see if I can find a larger corner tank. I want them to have plenty of room but have plenty of hiding spaces as well.

Thanks again, everything you said was very helpful! I'll be heading to the library shortly to check out a few more books. Really wish it were possible to get a tank and fill it up right now (I know I can't but that's how excited I am hehe).
  • #4
Welcome! Lots of good advice there from badger I think, like he said, the key thing is keeping them in large enough groups to be happy. All those fish are very small, 2" at the largest, and they will stay peaceful in groups of 6 or more. 20" of fish...

6 cherries/white clouds/serpaes = 9"

3 otos = 5.1"

You could probably be ok with two schools of 6 cherries/white clouds/serpaes and 3 otos. I'm not experienced myself, but as far as I know that should work fine with good filtration, regular water changes etc.
  • #5
I would get a school of 8 serpae tetras, 3-4 otos, and some ghost shrimp
with good filtration, and regular water changes, you should do just fine
I like this site for info on fish
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
Sadly my plans have taken a sharp turn. My father brought up a good point about keeping it in my room (he likes the idea though). Since I'm probably not going to be able to stay patient enough to hold out for a 20 gallon corner we've agreed a rectangular 30-40+ would be nice to have in our fireplace room (the way the room is set up and the location we're thinking for the tank there shouldn't be any problems with temp). Since the room is more of a large hallway there will be plenty of traffic to keep the fishes company ^^; Having seen some of the aquarium pictures I'm feeling a bit better about our decision and the fact that there will be plenty of room for everyone makes it easier for me (I really wanted that corner). Ya for goodnews!

I'm not going to worry about adding more fish since I think having the two schools and 3 Otis will be plenty to start with, once it gets time to start buying them I'll make sure I have a nice long talk with the store owner to get his opinions and make 100% sure I'm doing things right. Thanks for clearing up the sizes for me Bill ^_^ I appreciate it!

Um, I am curious though if there is a max (assuming space isn't a problem) to how large schools should be? Should schools generally be about the same size, even if these are suppose to be peaceful to avoid any chance of conflict? Are live plants more forgiving when it comes to filtration?

Thanks again, I do appreciate everything ^^

Edit: Just goes to show how slow I am when it comes to typing. I almost forgot about the Ghost Shrimp! Thank you very much ^^ Still browsing around the site but I really like it so far, thanks again!

  • #7
Generally, small fish like Neon Tetras, Cherry Barbs, or White Clouds do not produce as much waste as larger fish do. For example, 6 Neon Tetras won't produce as much waste as one adult Angelfish will. When buying fish, always consider their adult size.

You say you like White Clouds, Cherry Barbs, Serpae Tetras, and Otos. White Clouds are very peaceful and grow to be around 1 - 1.5". Cherry Barbs - also very peaceful and also grow to around 1 - 1.5". Serpae Tetras, on the other hand, grow to be around 2" and I think they may nip at fins of fish with fancy fins (such as Guppies or Angelfish). If they're kept in larger groups, they're less likely to nip at other fish's fins. And lastly, Otos, grow to around 1.5" and are very peaceful. They also should have very clean water as they can be rather delicate. They should be in a tank that is not overstocked.

All of these fish should be in groups in order to be healthy and feel secure. Generally, a group of at least 6 is OK. I am afraid you can't have all of these species in a 20 gallon tank if they're to be in groups. I'd personally go with 6 Cherry Barbs + 6 White Clouds + 4 to 6 Otos. I choose Otos over Serpae Tetras because they're algae eaters, which you will need at some point. A group of Serpae Tetras would take up too much space in a 20 gallon tank if you still wanted to keep the other 2 groups of White Clouds and Cherry Barbs.

6 Cherry Barbs + 6 White Clouds + 4 to 6 Otos would be the maximum for a 20 gallon tank for me. Even this may be too much ... but with regular water changes and good tank maintenance, you should be OK If you like live plants, consider adding some to create a more natural habitat for your fish. Plants will also provide lots of hiding spaces for your fish. Most easy to grow plants in my experience are: Water Sptite, Anubias, Hornwort, and Java Ferns. They do OK under standard lighting.

P.S. I've never seen a 20 gallon corner tank. Maybe they are sold somewhere, but I haven't seen them anywhere so far. I've only seen tanks 50 gallons and up that have the corner models.
  • #8
If you're looking at getting guppies, Dino (who has about 3.7 million fish ) had some fancy guppies available in trios and still might have some.

check: for pics I found of fancy guppies, including the ones he's selling. They're on our list of fish to buy after an upcoming move. Just (like Isabella said) don't put them in with fin nippers.
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
Picking up a 55 gallon starter this weekend! Mostly an /very/ early birthday gift but all the same I'm very excited about getting it set up.

First off. Thank you everyone! I love how everyone (throughout the forum) pretty much goes over everything a few times, it does help with making sure all the infomation is accurate, making it so much easier to understand. I appreciate everything and it makes me feel a little more confortable asking questions, everyone being very nice and helpful!

I defiantly want to go with live plants. I'm still making a list of what plants I might be interested in (instead of having to go back and forth I figure if they aren't busy, a good dealer won't mind answering questions and offering advice). Thanks for the plant suggestions ^^ both Anubias and Java Ferns are on my list. One plant I'm really looking at is the onion plant? It gets kinda big (book says 5ft ???) but once it starts growing its suppose to be great for algae feeders due to the large leaves. The more I look up the more Otos I want heh. I'll probably go with at least 4 Otos but would say 8 be too many if I go with 6 each of Cherry Barbs, Seprae Tetras and I'm thinking of Neon Rainbows? I haven't been able to find too much infomation on they yet but what I found says they only get to about 2inches and are good with other peaceful tank mates. After that tank is done cycling, is it okay to start with the Otos (and Ghost Shrimp) or should I try and find a hardier fish to start with? I've heard a few things going each way on Otos so I'm a little confused.

Hm, well, that would explain why I can't find any. I could of swore I've seen a few small corner tanks in the past but I've only been able to find 70g+ corner tanks. They are no open corners downstairs so I'll have to abandon any plans for a corner tank until a move.

They are very pretty but since the fish I'm looking at are fin nippers, I'd rather not risk it right now. Thanks for the links - you've got my father trying to give me the last of his fish so he can go with guppies.

Oh! And that does bring up another question. My father has four fish that just won't die (the others all died off over the coarse of a few years a year ago). I know one of them is a zebra danio, one is some sort of orange/gold tetra and the other two are some sort of "sucker" fish that I think might be Cory Cats. They're about 1.5-2inches. I'll have to change my plans around a little but given the age and the fact they've been rather solitary for so long, would they fit in with a new school of danio and tetras? If they bottom two are Cory Cats, would they be alright just the two of them with Otos? I'd like to put them in my tank since we only have an extra 10 gallon and that's not exactly enough room (I'd hate to separate them, they've been together for over two years).

Edit: Just ran into a site and the two I thought were Cory are actually Panda Cory. The black is a bit faded my on father's but its defiantly them!
  • #10
I don't think 8 would be too many otos since unfortunately, the odds are that they won't all make it past the 1st month.. just keep track of how many inches of adult fish you'll be putting in the tank to keep a good bioload. the otos probably would be good to add last.

with the danio and tetra, the closer in size they are to new fish, the better the chances of them fitting in but it is a maybe thing and just would depend on the fish. the 2 panda cories you could add in after the other fish and before the otos. they are sensitive to water conditions, but a little hardier than otos.
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
Hm, when it comes time to adding the Otos I'll just try and stick with four, once they all make it past the first month I'll try adding the rest and see how it goes from there. The danio is a little big so that might be a problem finding some close to his size but he seems pretty energetic and if the tetra isn't in the caves it looks like he's trying to keep the tetra some company. Awe, I hope everything goes well for these two little guys. Thanks a ton!

Once I figure out exactly what kind of tetra we have, add them first then the danios, cories, and otos? If they all get along nicely it'll be time to add add one of the schools I'm interested in. Thanks again ^^
  • #12

Similar Aquarium Threads

  • Locked
  • Question

Random Great Page!



Top Bottom