Hello, Stocking Philosophies

Maonaqua

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Hello,

I just have a quick, but potentially deep question: How would each of you describe your stocking philosophy with regard to freshwater tanks? That is, are you a pragmatist, do you always put the fish's needs first, do you have a rule for knowing what overcrowded is vs. isn't?

Maonaqua
 

FredBjammin

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Not so much as putting the fish needs above everything else, but more along the lines of always trying to find the perfect balance of the tank, i.e. Water conditions, nutrition, species of fish/plants/snails that complement each other and serve a purpose in the tank.

I guess that would be my philosophy in a nut shell.
 

Aquarist

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Hello Maonaqua and Welcome to Fish Lore.

I'm an aquarist from wayyyyy back Long before the Nitrogen Cycle was ever mentioned and access to the internet did not exist.

It was trial and error for me. Trying to find a fish that would survive in the water that I have to offer with routine water changes and tank/filter maintenance.

I like to start stocking with bottom dwellers, then middle and then top. Some fish of course, are everywhere.

As Fred stated, it's about finding the balance for the tank over all.

Overcrowding: Remember your fish need room to grow. They need room to swim and be able to feel secure in their environment. Not every tank has to be stocked to 100% capacity.

Ken
 

LyndaB

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The health and well-being of the fish are my utmost consideration. If I cannot provide the proper environment for them, then I do not acquire them. The reasons are varied but include compatibility with the other species, tank size, temperature and other parameters and the school needs of the particular fish.

If I got every fish that's on my "wish list", I'd be tremendously overstocked, even with another 10 tanks in the house and I'd have fish dying left and right. Just as with my other pets, I need to make the right decision for the species involved. Then my tanks have good karma and so do I.
 

Kunsthure

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Welcome to Fish Lore!

I'd say my stocking philosophy is pragmatic but complex. I look at five things: actual size of the fish, swimming level, activity level, social needs and bioload.

Making sure a fish has enough room is important but that's where swimming level and activity level come into play. A betta isn't very active and despite the fact that it is comparatively large, it is fine in a 5g. Conversely a guppy is small but it needs a lot of swimming room so it needs to be in at least a 10g.

Swimming level is also important. Let's say you have 12 fish that all swim in the middle of the tank, things are going to be crowded so you would have to keep fewer fish. But if you have 6 bottomdwellers and 6 middle swimmers, you could have more fish.

Social needs are another aspect that you must consider. A neon tetra is small but needs to be kept in a school of at least 5-6 so you'd need a larger tank to accommodate all the fish you need to make sure they're happy.

Some creatures have a really high bioload, like goldfish. So they need to be in a larger tank to compensate, at least 20g for one fancy goldfish. But a dwarf shrimp has almost no bioload so you can have hundreds in that same 20g tank.

A sixth aspect that I take into consideration when offering stocking suggestions here is the dimensions of the tank. A 20g hex tank, a 20g long tank and a 20g tall tank all have the same volume but the footprint is drastically different. You'd be able to have the fewest number of fish in the hex because there isn't a lot of swimming space; you could have the most fish in the 20g long because of all the swimming space and the 20g tall would fall somewhere in between.

If only it were as simple as the 1"/gallon "rule" that gets thrown around a lot...

-Lisa
 

bolivianbaby

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I have an addiction to cichlids, so when researching a new species, tank size is of the utmost importance. If I don't have the proper sized tank to house the fish at their adult size, I won't buy them.

I also use weekly parameter testing as a guideline in addition to watching my fish and verifying swimming space. If my nitrates are high weekly before a water change, I won't add more fish to a tank unless it's a "lifesaving" tank swap.

In regards to tropical community tanks, I do stock at different levels so there's plenty of action and swimming space.
 
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Maonaqua

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Hmmm...

Just to play devil's advocate, then what is the best stocking rule if the inch per gallon rule is inadequate? Does anyone actually have a cohesive theory that consists of more than "it depends"?

BTW, thanks for the warm welcome and contributing to this thread. I know that this is a subject that comes around a lot, but I like to see what people have to say about various stocking ideas/theories.

Thanks,
Maonaqua
 

Jaysee

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Hmmm...

Just to play devil's advocate, then what is the best stocking rule if the inch per gallon rule is inadequate? Does anyone actually have a cohesive theory that consists of more than "it depends"?

BTW, thanks for the warm welcome and contributing to this thread. I know that this is a subject that comes around a lot, but I like to see what people have to say about various stocking ideas/theories.

Thanks,
Maonaqua
Stocking is more art than science, IMO. I don't follow the 1 inch/galon rule, but I did when I started.
 

TedsTank

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WELCOME TO FISHLORE!!!!
Again I'm with Aquarist...started keeping fish in the 60's...doesn't mean that I know what I'm doing!!!...but:

I've learned to stock your tanks slowly.

I believe in keeping like habitat species only. I'm a South American fish fan...so that is all I keep in my 55 gal.

When judging how many fish at least do it based on their adult size...not the babies you often see at the stores.

I actually rarely ever stock my tanks based on "how many"...I base it on what has the most comfort for the fish and what I find attractive. Of course if it is schooling fish I would never get less than 3, while planning to add at least 5 more in the near future.
Ex: I started with 6 neons and a month later added 14 cardinals...they all stick together.

I also pretty much let my plants go wild, then if too many, I thin enough to give good swimming areas and hiding/rest places for them.

It's an ever changing process and I do all changes in planned groups...I not too long ago did a make over, and the fish and I were all stressed...lol, it did work but I could have done it over 3 days too.
 
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bolivianbaby

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Hmmm...

Just to play devil's advocate, then what is the best stocking rule if the inch per gallon rule is inadequate? Does anyone actually have a cohesive theory that consists of more than "it depends"?

BTW, thanks for the warm welcome and contributing to this thread. I know that this is a subject that comes around a lot, but I like to see what people have to say about various stocking ideas/theories.

Thanks,
Maonaqua
That's a good question. The best I've come up with is some bases to start with.

In a 20g tank, I won't stock any species that gets larger than 4"

In a 29g tank, I won't stock any species that gets larger than 6"

In a 55g tank, I won't stock any species that gets larger than 12"

In a 75 tank, I won't stock any species that gets larger than 16".

Natural behavior, such as schooling behavior and necessary territories, makes an excellent stocking tool.
 

jetajockey

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Hmmm...

Just to play devil's advocate, then what is the best stocking rule if the inch per gallon rule is inadequate? Does anyone actually have a cohesive theory that consists of more than "it depends"?

BTW, thanks for the warm welcome and contributing to this thread. I know that this is a subject that comes around a lot, but I like to see what people have to say about various stocking ideas/theories.

Thanks,
Maonaqua
take a look at this thread



My personal philosophy is that a fish never have too much space.

And WELCOME!
 

Kunsthure

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There are no rules when it comes to living creatures.

I think the 1"/gallon works decently with small fish of the same species, or different species at least close to the same size and having similar needs, if they are going into a tank appropriate for them. I'd put 6-8 platys in a 20g. I feel good with the 4 platys and 3 mollies in my 20T. Of course, it'd be so much easier if people could agree on fish sizes. When one site says a platy is 2" while another says it's 3" and a third says it's 1.5" how can a rule be created based on size?

But when all else fails, I ask Jaysee.

-Lisa
 

jetajockey

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I agree and have seen this evidenced in fish keeping as well as fishing. Larger fish in general can tolerate varying conditions and stress much better than smaller ones. When doing catch and release I have had a near 100% success rate with larger fish (2ft or more) but with smaller ones using the same type of rig I would lose 1 out of every 4 or 5 while trying to revive/return. This varies dramatically depending on the species of course, but its a general thing that I have noticed.

Honestly, I think once the formulaic approach is taken this far that it starts to move out of the realm of hobby.

I don't use the inches per gallon rule, cubic or lengthwise. I take the fishes own personality into account, basic guidelines about the fish, biological and mechanical filtering capacity, and actual swimming space, and then plan accordingly.

Guidelines are just guidelines in the end, I think we all end up going with what works for us.
 

Butters

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In the case of smaller fish (under 3 inches) If the fish have enough room to swim comfortably and aren't bumping in to each other... and as long as you can keep up on water changes then you can get away with a good number of fish in a smaller tank, (just look at my 20 long, and I'm adding more.)

However larger fish are a different story as they produce more waste etc. etc.

I found the 1 inch per gallon rule to be pretty bogus.
 
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Maonaqua

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Okay, are there any studies out there that actually include data from normal aquarists? That is, is there any cohesive stocking project out there that even tries to address the stocking density issue?

Maonaqua
 

pinksprklmonkey

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I don't know of any and I'm not sure one can really exist. With so many different fish with different needs (temperature, temperament, food needs, male:female ratio, personalities of individual fish, ect) it would take hundreds of pages to cover everything. I think we all search for an easy answer when, really, there isn't one.
 
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Maonaqua

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Granted,

I did not say that such an undertaking would be easy. In fact, I imagine it would be quite the contrary. My question is whether or not there is anyone willing to tackle such a huge undertaking and create a definite theory/algorithm? I know of aqadvisor, but that site is based on a retroactive model (changes to match user expectations) and does not have a single underlying theorem (that I can see, at least). I applaud such efforts, but I wonder if more can be done.

Maonaqua
 
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