Help me stock! 235G South American Planted Community

PseudotropheusKenobi

Here goes my plunge into a massive planted aquarium. Rough dimensions: 80x24x30”.

I want this to be an extremely relaxing tank to look at, so peaceful fish only for the most part.

I’m thinking
Marbled Hatchetfish
Bulgarian Seal Point Angelfish
Cardinal Tetras
Bolivian Rams or Keyhole Cichlids
Sterbai Corydoras
Royal Farlowella Catfish

How many of each? I’m struggling to find a balance between it (mentally) looking extremely overstocked and it looking empty.

Are the species appropriate? Anyone I should or shouldn’t do? Any alternatives?

Rules:
Must be plant compatible
Must be relatively peaceful
Must be South American
Nothing that requires above average temperatures e.g. Discus

Let me know!
 

A201

Maybe consider larger relatively peaceful Cichlids such as fancy Severums & a Choclate. A 235 gal. tank has a lot of space to fill.
I keep two Chocolates with Diamonds & Columbians as well as a few varieties of Barbs.
I know you favor South American Tetras, but look at Denison Barbs & Odessa Barbs. Beautiful colors, peaceful, tight schools. In my opinion a lot more pop & much more active than Hatchets & Cardinals.
Here's pics of my Chocolates & Denisons.
 

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Rye3434

I like the stocking, although I'm not personally a fan of hatchets because there is often weak stock (as they are pretty much all wild caught) and because of their jumping

Id love to see the tank when it's set up, I really like south american stockings
 

TClare

A201’s suggestions are nice, but not really suitable for a well planted tank and some are not South American.

I think the original suggestion is pretty good, though angelfish can be very aggressive depending on individuals and if they pair up. With them the tank will not be as peaceful to watch as you want. I have a large planted tank with six large angelfish and two pairs of Laetacara but there is a lot of chasing going on. There is also a risk that the cardinals might be eaten by the angelfish, though my angelfish coexist with neons and pencilfish. I have found festivums (Mesonauta) to be very peaceful compared with angelfish, but others have found them aggressive as adults and some say they eat plants. You could have a fair sized group of keyhole cichlids, they are about the most peaceful SA cichlids I can think of apart from Uarus which need warmer temperature and definitely eat plants. With the keyholes you could have plenty of plants and more smaller fish such as pencilfish to complement the hatchetfish and cardinals. You might be able to include some Apistogrammas, which can be aggressive but on a smaller scale and probably would not cause much trouble in such a large tank.
 

SparkyJones

Wow, Wish I had a 235g! ....And someone else to maintain it of course though! hahaha.

in my opinion, settle on your centerpiece species, the single fish species you most want to keep, and build around that including tankmates. If no centerpiece species in particular.......
if a planted tank is your goal for it and fish secondary to the planted tank, then get cleaners and stuff that fit the scape and will help maintain the tank and then stock it with community type fish that aren't aggressive or territorial that will compliment the home you've built for them.

Just my opinion, but I wouldn't do seal points, I wouldn't do any of the hobby bred angels for a tank this monumentous. I'd do wild pattern scalare, altum, or leopoldi, if I went with angels. I would not do any of the selective breeding color versions or finnage, but that's just me.
I'd do top end wild coloration examples of Angelfish, I'd really like to do Leopoldi since it's rarely seen in the hobby.

I'd love to do Uaru personally and I certainly could with a tank that size. but they are kinda big though. kinda "cichlidy". angels are kind of aggressive and territorial also at maturity and with a mix of males and females. Rams and keyholes same story but it's a big tank and they are small. Cichlids, even the peaceful ones get aggressive and territorial if spawning can happen, and that's the end of the peace. Cichlids are territorial or aggressive or both.

the rest are pretty peaceful.

I'd say if the goal is a relaxing peaceful planted tank, and fish not so important, Just worry about the planted tank, and cleaner type species first that will help to take care of things, and then add peaceful community fish, even small ones that shoal or school in batches, as they catch your eye until it gets to the activity level you want, and you can always remove them at a step if it's not going in the direction you wanted it to, just not working out for whatever the reason.

if the goal is a centerpiece species, build around that.

if the goal is a specific biome then learn that particular biome and get all the residents of it and build towards that. plants, fishs, inverts, all that jazz.
I'd say South America is a big place, and maybe narrow it down a little. LOL!
 

TClare

I have a 220 gallon South American cichlid tank and actually it is much more peaceful than the (approx 150 gallon) planted tank with angelfish and Laetacaras. It has festivums, 2 uarus, a severum, two Cichlasoma amazonarum and a blue acara as well as some tetras a BN pleco. It is not a planted tank primarily as I assumed plants would not be compatible with these fish, however it does have some Vallisneria which manages to survive despite having some of the tops bitten off by the Uarus, and the surface is covered with water lettuce that no one eats. It is more of an Amazonian biotope. In this tank the severum has spawned several times but only keeps the other fish away from a relatively small area. Also the blue acara has paired up with one of the Cichlasomas and they keep spawning repeatedly (they always lose the eggs after 2 days) but again only defend a relatively small area so other fish can easily keep out of the way. It might be different if they got to the fry stage. The festivums and uarus are totally unaggressive, but are not breeding of course. On the other hand the angelfish are always bickering amongst themselves, even though I think they are all males, and the Laetacaras defend quite large patches very vigorously. I do agree that wild angelfish would be much more attractive in the large tank, but they are just as aggressive, or maybe more so, when they mature.

I have also kept keyhole cichlids in the past and they are very peaceful, even when pairs form they don't cause too much trouble. I think in that size of tank it would still be quite peaceful if you had a group of them, even if some breeding occurs. And yes, cleaners for plants are a good idea, I have 7 Otocinclus in my planted tank, I find them very interesting, peaceful and undemanding. In a large planted tank there is plenty of biofilm and no worries about feeding them. I also have some ramshorn snails, but the population never gets too big as I think the cichlids eat the small ones.
 

PseudotropheusKenobi

Maybe consider larger relatively peaceful Cichlids such as fancy Severums & a Choclate. A 235 gal. tank has a lot of space to fill.
I keep two Chocolates with Diamonds & Columbians as well as a few varieties of Barbs.
I know you favor South American Tetras, but look at Denison Barbs & Odessa Barbs. Beautiful colors, peaceful, tight schools. In my opinion a lot more pop & much more active than Hatchets & Cardinals.
Here's pics of my Chocolates & Denisons.
I was led to believe Severums will consume plants, so I’m not sure? I really want a planted tank as it’s been some time.

Honestly, I don’t know where or how this started, but I’m really inclined to keeping fish together from the same area. Not really a biotope, but at least the same continent.

I may well leave the Marbled Hatchetfish, but my thinking was they’d really complete the top level of the aquarium off. Mainly because it’s 2.5ft tall.
I like the stocking, although I'm not personally a fan of hatchets because there is often weak stock (as they are pretty much all wild caught) and because of their jumping

Id love to see the tank when it's set up, I really like south american stockings
I’d have a lid on, but I’m unsure whether they’d handle my hard water if they come in wild. I will need to discuss with my supplier if they are wild’s or TB.


A201’s suggestions are nice, but not really suitable for a well planted tank and some are not South American.

I think the original suggestion is pretty good, though angelfish can be very aggressive depending on individuals and if they pair up. With them the tank will not be as peaceful to watch as you want. I have a large planted tank with six large angelfish and two pairs of Laetacara but there is a lot of chasing going on. There is also a risk that the cardinals might be eaten by the angelfish, though my angelfish coexist with neons and pencilfish. I have found festivums (Mesonauta) to be very peaceful compared with angelfish, but others have found them aggressive as adults and some say they eat plants. You could have a fair sized group of keyhole cichlids, they are about the most peaceful SA cichlids I can think of apart from Uarus which need warmer temperature and definitely eat plants. With the keyholes you could have plenty of plants and more smaller fish such as pencilfish to complement the hatchetfish and cardinals. You might be able to include some Apistogrammas, which can be aggressive but on a smaller scale and probably would not cause much trouble in such a large tank.
Would you recommend one over the other between Apisto’s, Bolivian’s and Keyholes?

I’m equally happy to cut a group of bottom dwellers out and just up the numbers of either Cory’s or a Cichlid group.

Thank you! I will catch up with the newer messages when I get a chance later today.

I appreciate it!
 

TClare

I was led to believe Severums will consume plants, so I’m not sure? I really want a planted tank as it’s been some time.

Honestly, I don’t know where or how this started, but I’m really inclined to keeping fish together from the same area. Not really a biotope, but at least the same continent.

I may well leave the Marbled Hatchetfish, but my thinking was they’d really complete the top level of the aquarium off. Mainly because it’s 2.5ft tall.

I’d have a lid on, but I’m unsure whether they’d handle my hard water if they come in wild. I will need to discuss with my supplier if they are wild’s or TB.



Would you recommend one over the other between Apisto’s, Bolivian’s and Keyholes?

I’m equally happy to cut a group of bottom dwellers out and just up the numbers of either Cory’s or a Cichlid group.

Thank you! I will catch up with the newer messages when I get a chance later today.

I appreciate it!
If it is a choice between these species I would go with the keyholes, they are naturally social so work nicely in a group and are generally very peaceful. The Apistogrammas actually may not be seen that often in such a big planted tank, I have never kept Bolivian rams but they would probably be fine also. I would probably skip the Corydoras in favor of the cichlids, but then I have always been cichlid oriented! In your large tank though a small group of Cories would probably be fine together with the keyholes.
 

Huckleberry77

You definitely need a Flagtail Prochilodus!! Also some Pinktail Chalceous❤️❤️❤️
 

TClare

You definitely need a Flagtail Prochilodus!!
It will eat all the plants.
 

Huckleberry77

It will eat all the plants.
I have heard mixed information about whether they will eat the plants. I’ve heard some people say they’re awesome algae eaters. Here’s a thread with a guy who says that he has one in a planted tank and he’s great. I have never kept one but I have always had them on my wish list!

75 Gallon planted tank with Flagtail Prochilodus
 

TClare

I have heard mixed information about whether they will eat the plants. I’ve heard some people say they’re awesome algae eaters. Here’s a thread with a guy who says that he has one in a planted tank and he’s great. I have never kept one but I have always had them on my wish list!

75 Gallon planted tank with Flagtail Prochilodus
Well, I am prepared to believe it could possibly work in a densely planted tank with quick growing plants that can keep up with the grazing. After all I have read that it would not be possible to keep anything green with severums and Uaru and that has proved not to be the case.
 

PseudotropheusKenobi

Wow, Wish I had a 235g! ....And someone else to maintain it of course though! hahaha.

in my opinion, settle on your centerpiece species, the single fish species you most want to keep, and build around that including tankmates. If no centerpiece species in particular.......
if a planted tank is your goal for it and fish secondary to the planted tank, then get cleaners and stuff that fit the scape and will help maintain the tank and then stock it with community type fish that aren't aggressive or territorial that will compliment the home you've built for them.

Just my opinion, but I wouldn't do seal points, I wouldn't do any of the hobby bred angels for a tank this monumentous. I'd do wild pattern scalare, altum, or leopoldi, if I went with angels. I would not do any of the selective breeding color versions or finnage, but that's just me.
I'd do top end wild coloration examples of Angelfish, I'd really like to do Leopoldi since it's rarely seen in the hobby.

I'd love to do Uaru personally and I certainly could with a tank that size. but they are kinda big though. kinda "cichlidy". angels are kind of aggressive and territorial also at maturity and with a mix of males and females. Rams and keyholes same story but it's a big tank and they are small. Cichlids, even the peaceful ones get aggressive and territorial if spawning can happen, and that's the end of the peace. Cichlids are territorial or aggressive or both.

the rest are pretty peaceful.

I'd say if the goal is a relaxing peaceful planted tank, and fish not so important, Just worry about the planted tank, and cleaner type species first that will help to take care of things, and then add peaceful community fish, even small ones that shoal or school in batches, as they catch your eye until it gets to the activity level you want, and you can always remove them at a step if it's not going in the direction you wanted it to, just not working out for whatever the reason.

if the goal is a centerpiece species, build around that.

if the goal is a specific biome then learn that particular biome and get all the residents of it and build towards that. plants, fishs, inverts, all that jazz.
I'd say South America is a big place, and maybe narrow it down a little. LOL!
It will definitely be a fish tank before it is a planted tank if that makes sense, but I think the Cardinal Tetra’s are non-negotiable inhabitants for me. I’ve never kept them and they are what get me into this hobby in the first place.

The Bulgarian’s are also definite inhabitants too, seeing as I’ve already bought them (and like them too).

I definitely think I want the 235G installed and with mature growth from the plants before I stock it, so fish will be added in batches.


I have a 220 gallon South American cichlid tank and actually it is much more peaceful than the (approx 150 gallon) planted tank with angelfish and Laetacaras. It has festivums, 2 uarus, a severum, two Cichlasoma amazonarum and a blue acara as well as some tetras a BN pleco. It is not a planted tank primarily as I assumed plants would not be compatible with these fish, however it does have some Vallisneria which manages to survive despite having some of the tops bitten off by the Uarus, and the surface is covered with water lettuce that no one eats. It is more of an Amazonian biotope. In this tank the severum has spawned several times but only keeps the other fish away from a relatively small area. Also the blue acara has paired up with one of the Cichlasomas and they keep spawning repeatedly (they always lose the eggs after 2 days) but again only defend a relatively small area so other fish can easily keep out of the way. It might be different if they got to the fry stage. The festivums and uarus are totally unaggressive, but are not breeding of course. On the other hand the angelfish are always bickering amongst themselves, even though I think they are all males, and the Laetacaras defend quite large patches very vigorously. I do agree that wild angelfish would be much more attractive in the large tank, but they are just as aggressive, or maybe more so, when they mature.

I have also kept keyhole cichlids in the past and they are very peaceful, even when pairs form they don't cause too much trouble. I think in that size of tank it would still be quite peaceful if you had a group of them, even if some breeding occurs. And yes, cleaners for plants are a good idea, I have 7 Otocinclus in my planted tank, I find them very interesting, peaceful and undemanding. In a large planted tank there is plenty of biofilm and no worries about feeding them. I also have some ramshorn snails, but the population never gets too big as I think the cichlids eat the small ones.
I was leaning towards captive Farlowella’s as I have pretty hard water and I’m unsure if a shoal of wild Oto’s would be happy in my water. I don’t know of any captive bred ones yet.

I’ll probably add 2x Brisltenose Pleco’s too, as I currently have 5 juveniles growing out too.




If it is a choice between these species I would go with the keyholes, they are naturally social so work nicely in a group and are generally very peaceful. The Apistogrammas actually may not be seen that often in such a big planted tank, I have never kept Bolivian rams but they would probably be fine also. I would probably skip the Corydoras in favor of the cichlids, but then I have always been cichlid oriented! In your large tank though a small group of Cories would probably be fine together with the keyholes.
I’m thinking the same! I think Corys would be more rewarding on their own or in a smaller setup where they are more visible.

I’ll stick to Keyhole’s on the bottom with a clean up crew. Now I just need to get an idea of the number of each species.

You definitely need a Flagtail Prochilodus!! Also some Pinktail Chalceous❤️❤️❤️
I’ll need to read into the Pinktail’s, I’ve never heard of them! What are they like?
 

SparkyJones

I’ll need to read into the Pinktail’s, I’ve never heard of them! What are they like?
it's a predator characin, similar to the freshwater barracudas...... Huckleberry basically gave you a fish that will destroy plants, and a fish that will destroy smaller fish that it could fit in it's mouth....maybe more mixed information. Pretty fish though!
 

PseudotropheusKenobi

it's a predator characin, similar to the freshwater barracudas...... Huckleberry basically gave you a fish that will destroy plants, and a fish that will destroy smaller fish that it could fit in it's mouth....maybe more mixed information. Pretty fish though!
No wonder I hadn’t heard of it!
I think I’d prefer to leave the larger fish for a future SA cichlid tank or something of that nature.

I’ll have an 175G African Cichlid tank opposite this one, those fish are plenty big enough for me to not want lots of size in this tank.
 

MacZ

Marbled Hatchetfish
Bulgarian Seal Point Angelfish
Cardinal Tetras
Bolivian Rams or Keyhole Cichlids
Sterbai Corydoras
Royal Farlowella Catfish
Ok. Let's do this.

I'm ignoring almost all that has been said in the thread to properly focus on the task at hand.

- Carnegiella are probably too small and skittish (read jumpy) for such a tank. Toracocharax or Gasteropelecus species would be the better option. Or go with Pyrrhulina or Copella.
- Angels: Go bigger - P. altum (though not safe with smaller characins)
- Paracheirodon. always a good choice. Additionally I'd probably go with Iguanodectes or bigger Hemigrammus or Moenkhausia species. Or Hemiodopsis. A high-backed Hyphessobrycon e.g. the H. erythrostigma-species group would also fit.
- Mikrogeophagus and Cleithracara are rather timid... How about smaller Geophagus? Or Biotodoma or Crenicara?
- Corydoras sterbai... A bit standard maybe.
- Instead of the Farlowella, how about bigger Loricaria species?


Edit: Just realized something that makes or breaks any of my suggestions:

What water parameters are we talking?
What substrate is planned?

Edit #2: And another thing. Since it's supposed to be planted: When planning the plants remember that all the catfish and cichlids, besides angels, mentioned in this thread need access to the substrate for feeding, behaviour and/or health reasons and most will require leaf litter additionally. So plants should leave room on the bottom for these fish.
 

Huckleberry77

It will definitely be a fish tank before it is a planted tank if that makes sense, but I think the Cardinal Tetra’s are non-negotiable inhabitants for me. I’ve never kept them and they are what get me into this hobby in the first place.

The Bulgarian’s are also definite inhabitants too, seeing as I’ve already bought them (and like them too).

I definitely think I want the 235G installed and with mature growth from the plants before I stock it, so fish will be added in batches.



I was leaning towards captive Farlowella’s as I have pretty hard water and I’m unsure if a shoal of wild Oto’s would be happy in my water. I don’t know of any captive bred ones yet.

I’ll probably add 2x Brisltenose Pleco’s too, as I currently have 5 juveniles growing out too.





I’m thinking the same! I think Corys would be more rewarding on their own or in a smaller setup where they are more visible.

I’ll stick to Keyhole’s on the bottom with a clean up crew. Now I just need to get an idea of the number of each species.K I’m


I’ll need to read into the Pinktail’s, I’ve never heard of them! What are they like?
it's a predator characin, similar to the freshwater barracudas...... Huckleberry basically gave you a fish that will destroy plants, and a fish that will destroy smaller fish that it could fit in it's mouth....maybe more mixed information. Pretty fish though!
Lol Well I’ve never kept either one of them so I cannot speak from personal experience. However, I have read online that some people keep the pinktail chalceus in a community tank without problems. Although I do admit that they seem likely to eat those cardinal tetras. But so will the angels! I blame the angels if they disappear

link to related thread-

Tell me about the pink tail chalceus

The pink tail Chalceus have gorgeous huge silver scales and a beautiful pink tail. They are torpedo shaped and super interesting! I would be willing to try mixing one in with full grown large Rainbowfish and Dennison Barbs if I had a 6’ tank!
 

TClare

I think the cardinals will be Ok with the angels, but get the cardinals first and get the angelfish as small juveniles. Biotodoma or Crenicara are a good idea, I have not actually kept them myself (would like to) but I think they are less likely to dig up plants than other eartheaters, but I still think the keyholes would be good too, I don't think they would be too timid in a group situation, but I could be wrong.
 

PseudotropheusKenobi

Ok. Let's do this.

I'm ignoring almost all that has been said in the thread to properly focus on the task at hand.

- Carnegiella are probably too small and skittish (read jumpy) for such a tank. Toracocharax or Gasteropelecus species would be the better option. Or go with Pyrrhulina or Copella.
- Angels: Go bigger - P. altum (though not safe with smaller characins)
- Paracheirodon. always a good choice. Additionally I'd probably go with Iguanodectes or bigger Hemigrammus or Moenkhausia species. Or Hemiodopsis. A high-backed Hyphessobrycon e.g. the H. erythrostigma-species group would also fit.
- Mikrogeophagus and Cleithracara are rather timid... How about smaller Geophagus? Or Biotodoma or Crenicara?
- Corydoras sterbai... A bit standard maybe.
- Instead of the Farlowella, how about bigger Loricaria species?


Edit: Just realized something that makes or breaks any of my suggestions:

What water parameters are we talking?
What substrate is planned?

Edit #2: And another thing. Since it's supposed to be planted: When planning the plants remember that all the catfish and cichlids, besides angels, mentioned in this thread need access to the substrate for feeding, behaviour and/or health reasons and most will require leaf litter additionally. So plants should leave room on the bottom for these fish.
Before I reply about the species you mentioned, it’s best I tell you what parameters we’re working with.

pH: 7.4
KH:11
GH: 16

Hard water essentially. That’s why I’ve been thinking to stick with standard, captive bred fish, one’s that have been thoroughly bred in different water conditions.

Substrate: coarse sand/gravel, about 2-3mm.
I think the cardinals will be Ok with the angels, but get the cardinals first and get the angelfish as small juveniles. Biotodoma or Crenicara are a good idea, I have not actually kept them myself (would like to) but I think they are less likely to dig up plants than other eartheaters, but I still think the keyholes would be good too, I don't think they would be too timid in a group situation, but I could be wrong.
I will research into the two you mentioned, thank you!
 

MacZ

Hard water essentially. That’s why I’ve been thinking to stick with standard, captive bred fish, one’s that have been thoroughly bred in different water conditions.
Allright, I read it later but it got late so I didn't post anymore last night.

I do not agree with the theory that tankbred fish generally have a better adaptability to water parameters anymore. I used to, but meanwhile experiences and closer researching habitats of origin and breeder practices took me to the conclusion that that's a misinterpretation of certain observations. Many of the species falling in that category are either not as picky with their water as has been thought in the first place or they still show general health problems if captive bred, mostly in the form of gene defects and superficially problem free, but shorter lives. You can't breed certain adaptions to water parameters out within some decades. The only thing that you can do in that time is narrowing the genepool in captivity down to those with relative (not absolute) adaptability and then ruin it by copy-paste-breeding. Inbreeding problems have risen in most softwater species the past decades.

Paracheirodon are actually a good example for that. Tankbred fish of that genus are just as sensitive to bacterial infections as their wild blackwater counterparts and the tendency to fungal and ectoparasitic infections seems even bigger. The only thing the breeders do after spawning and raising them in blackwater for a short time is to acclimate them to harder water early on so losses from acclimation at the retailer and following that the customer are minimized.

So the sensitivities to certain diseases and parasites don't change, the adaption to harder water stays superficial and as a side effect, many real blackwater species end up infertile if raised in too hard water at the farm. That's why many attempts to breed certain tetras fail even in perfect conditions.

I do not say that with careful selection and no commercial pressure to get the fish multiplied it is impossible to get an indeed hardier fish. Worked with discus of all fish. But I would not look for it in the standard mass-produced fish trade. Those are disposable "single-use" fish, basically.

My workaround would be to look for the naturally adaptable species. Which takes us largely (exceptions: whitewater rivers like the Rio Madeira, Rio Branco or Rio Solimões/Upper Main stream of the Amazon) away from the lowland Amazon and Orinoco basins south to the Rio Paraguay, Pantanal and other southern savannah rivers, to the coastal waters like the Rio San Francisco and up the mountains into Peruvian Hillstreams. Those have moderate hardness anyways and so the species from there would work much better with your water. Otherwise species that are widely distributed, like in the whole of South America and across wide ranges of water parameters would also be a good alternative.

All that said... cardinals are not in those categories. Which bums me out right now, because I would love to offer a solution for those.
Also I'm not saying you should go for wild caught. Tankbred is fine. Just be aware that tankbred does not have to mean adapted to hard water. So even for tankbred fish, try to get species that fit the bill by nature.

Here again the species list I gave above, this time marking the species that could still work in bold.
- Carnegiella are probably too small and skittish (read jumpy) for such a tank. Toracocharax or Gasteropelecus species would be the better option. Or go with Pyrrhulina or Copella.
- Angels: Go bigger - P. altum (though not safe with smaller characins)
- Paracheirodon. always a good choice. Additionally I'd probably go with Iguanodectes or bigger Hemigrammus or Moenkhausia species. Or Hemiodopsis. A high-backed Hyphessobrycon e.g. the H. erythrostigma-species group would also fit.
- Mikrogeophagus and Cleithracara are rather timid... How about smaller Geophagus? Or Biotodoma or Crenicara?
- Corydoras sterbai... A bit standard maybe.
- Instead of the Farlowella, how about bigger Loricaria species?
Hatchets and Copellids are out, instead widespread Nannostomus like N. unifasciatus or N. beckfordi might work.
Instead of the Erythrostigma-group the Eques-group of Hyphessobrycon should work, as do H. anisitsi and H. columbianus. To a degree H. herbertaxelrodi might do too.
Moenkhausia are a dominant genus in the southern habitats so M. sanctaefilomenae and the like are good choices too. Iguanodectes and Hemiodopsis are widely distributed, there should be no problems with them either.
Cichlid-wise this is tricky. Bigger whitewater-Apistos like A. macmasteri and A. trifasciata, are possible, some Biotodoma as well. Certain tribes of Heros are also found in rather turbid hard waters. I have to admit, when it comes to cichlids I tick them off as "not my thing" the moment I learn they are not softwater species.
Corydoras are really widespread, there are for sure some interesting species that are adapted to hard water in nature. Have you looked at Scleromystax barbatus, yet?
Loricaria are often whitewater as well.

Hope that helps. :)

Otherwise: When doing your research look for whitewater species.
Substrate: coarse sand/gravel, about 2-3mm.
Rather do finer sand 0.5-1.5mm
 

PseudotropheusKenobi

Allright, I read it later but it got late so I didn't post anymore last night.

I do not agree with the theory that tankbred fish generally have a better adaptability to water parameters anymore. I used to, but meanwhile experiences and closer researching habitats of origin and breeder practices took me to the conclusion that that's a misinterpretation of certain observations. Many of the species falling in that category are either not as picky with their water as has been thought in the first place or they still show general health problems if captive bred, mostly in the form of gene defects and superficially problem free, but shorter lives. You can't breed certain adaptions to water parameters out within some decades. The only thing that you can do in that time is narrowing the genepool in captivity down to those with relative (not absolute) adaptability and then ruin it by copy-paste-breeding. Inbreeding problems have risen in most softwater species the past decades.

Paracheirodon are actually a good example for that. Tankbred fish of that genus are just as sensitive to bacterial infections as their wild blackwater counterparts and the tendency to fungal and ectoparasitic infections seems even bigger. The only thing the breeders do after spawning and raising them in blackwater for a short time is to acclimate them to harder water early on so losses from acclimation at the retailer and following that the customer are minimized.

So the sensitivities to certain diseases and parasites don't change, the adaption to harder water stays superficial and as a side effect, many real blackwater species end up infertile if raised in too hard water at the farm. That's why many attempts to breed certain tetras fail even in perfect conditions.

I do not say that with careful selection and no commercial pressure to get the fish multiplied it is impossible to get an indeed hardier fish. Worked with discus of all fish. But I would not look for it in the standard mass-produced fish trade. Those are disposable "single-use" fish, basically.

My workaround would be to look for the naturally adaptable species. Which takes us largely (exceptions: whitewater rivers like the Rio Madeira, Rio Branco or Rio Solimões/Upper Main stream of the Amazon) away from the lowland Amazon and Orinoco basins south to the Rio Paraguay, Pantanal and other southern savannah rivers, to the coastal waters like the Rio San Francisco and up the mountains into Peruvian Hillstreams. Those have moderate hardness anyways and so the species from there would work much better with your water. Otherwise species that are widely distributed, like in the whole of South America and across wide ranges of water parameters would also be a good alternative.

All that said... cardinals are not in those categories. Which bums me out right now, because I would love to offer a solution for those.
Also I'm not saying you should go for wild caught. Tankbred is fine. Just be aware that tankbred does not have to mean adapted to hard water. So even for tankbred fish, try to get species that fit the bill by nature.

Here again the species list I gave above, this time marking the species that could still work in bold.

Hatchets and Copellids are out, instead widespread Nannostomus like N. unifasciatus or N. beckfordi might work.
Instead of the Erythrostigma-group the Eques-group of Hyphessobrycon should work, as do H. anisitsi and H. columbianus. To a degree H. herbertaxelrodi might do too.
Moenkhausia are a dominant genus in the southern habitats so M. sanctaefilomenae and the like are good choices too. Iguanodectes and Hemiodopsis are widely distributed, there should be no problems with them either.
Cichlid-wise this is tricky. Bigger whitewater-Apistos like A. macmasteri and A. trifasciata, are possible, some Biotodoma as well. Certain tribes of Heros are also found in rather turbid hard waters. I have to admit, when it comes to cichlids I tick them off as "not my thing" the moment I learn they are not softwater species.
Corydoras are really widespread, there are for sure some interesting species that are adapted to hard water in nature. Have you looked at Scleromystax barbatus, yet?
Loricaria are often whitewater as well.

Hope that helps. :)

Otherwise: When doing your research look for whitewater species.

Rather do finer sand 0.5-1.5mm
Thank you so much for providing this information. My SA knowledge is very limited, so I highly appreciate you taking the time to write all this information.

I've been doing some research and I think I have compiled a list of fish I believe will live comfortably in my parameters.

Nannostomus Beckfordi 'Red'
Moenkhausia Sanctaefilomenae
Pterophyllum Scalare (Already own)
Apistogramma Boreellii 'Opal'
Coryodras Eques
Loricaria sp. Red
Ancistrus Cirrhosus (Already own)

How does this sound? Do you know if I could do any (appropriate) bottom-dwelling cichlids that shoal instead of the Apistogramma?

Edit: The sand I was planning to use was actually 1.5 - 2 mm. The finer option for this would be 1.0 - 1.6mm.
 

Huckleberry77

No wonder I hadn’t heard of it!
I think I’d prefer to leave the larger fish for a future SA cichlid tank or something of that nature.

I’ll have an 175G African Cichlid tank opposite this one, those fish are plenty big enough for me to not want lots of size in this tank.
It seems the PinkTail Chalceous could do well in either a cichlid or community tank. That thread on monsterfishkeepers is pretty detailed with firsthand reports from people who have kept them longterm with smaller fish. The general consensus is that they are insectivores and don’t bother other fish, except possibly conspecifics if you keep a small number together. People seem to grow very fond of these fish! I recall seeing a large specimen at a LFS and being wowed by their striking appearance. The LFS employee described them as peaceful but requiring a larger tank than I had so I didn’t buy one despite being very intrigued.
 

MacZ

How does this sound?
Sounds good so far.
Do you know if I could do any (appropriate) bottom-dwelling cichlids that shoal instead of the Apistogramma?
A. borellii are a bit small though. Not much bigger than 5cm fully grown usually. But on the other hand... with your footprint you could keep a whole colony of them. Even male-only would be possible with them. Laetacara could be an option, maybe ask TClare about them. Otherwise... medium sized and ok with hard water... I have to pass there.
Those are new in the hobby, though. I have no idea whether they will work or not.

And then there are the Ancistrus sp. I mean... you bred them already, so you know to only add females to a tank like this, otherwise they'll overrun you in 6 months. Because getting fry out of a tank like this... no way.

Also if you absolutely have to add the angels: Add them late and definitely after the Nannostomus. Otherwise the pencils become toothpicks.
 

Huckleberry77

it's a predator characin, similar to the freshwater barracudas...... Huckleberry basically gave you a fish that will destroy plants, and a fish that will destroy smaller fish that it could fit in it's mouth....maybe more mixed information. Pretty fish though!
Here are some cool pics of Flagtail Prochilodis in planted tanks I would not rule out their ability to behave in a planted tank. The plants in these pics look pretty delicate. Such a cute fish and people rave about their peaceful personality and ability to keep your tank algae free!!

Mod edit: images removed for copyright issues
 

MacZ

Here are some cool pics of Flagtail Prochilodis in planted tanks and a link to the thread in Monster Fishkeepers. I would not rule out their ability to behave in a planted tank. The plants in these pics look pretty delicate. Such a cute fish and people rave about their peaceful personality and ability to keep your tank algae free!!
a. You are aware that linking other forums is against the forum rules? Let alone posting pictures without copyright.
b. Sorry, but the pictures only show a snapshot of the tank and the plants actually look a bit roughed up in them. Just a picture of a Semaprochilodus in a ... somewhat... planted tank is not proof of it.

And the word of somebody on another forum nobody may know here is not very reliable. If a reliable source (not a random anonymous forum user somewhere else) confirms this, ok. But this way...
 

Huckleberry77

a. You are aware that linking other forums is against the forum rules? Let alone posting pictures without copyright.
b. Sorry, but the pictures only show a snapshot of the tank and the plants actually look a bit roughed up in them. Just a picture of a Semaprochilodus in a ... somewhat... planted tank is not proof of it.

And the word of somebody on another forum nobody may know here is not very reliable. If a reliable source (not a random anonymous forum user somewhere else) confirms this, ok. But this way...
No I am sorry I wasn’t clear on that rule. I thought the rule was to give credit to whomever created the photo and by linking it, it gave credit. Like a citation in a paper. I am sorry and no harm intended. If the mods need to delete or want me to remove I will do so. I just read the rules again and I don’t believe my post is in violation based on my reading of the rules.
 

PseudotropheusKenobi

It seems the PinkTail Chalceous could do well in either a cichlid or community tank. That thread on monsterfishkeepers is pretty detailed with firsthand reports from people who have kept them longterm with smaller fish. The general consensus is that they are insectivores and don’t bother other fish, except possibly conspecifics if you keep a small number together. People seem to grow very fond of these fish! I recall seeing a large specimen at a LFS and being wowed by their striking appearance. The LFS employee described them as peaceful but requiring a larger tank than I had so I didn’t buy one despite being very intrigued.
I’ve been reading up on them, interesting fish. I read they can hit 10”, I think a shoal of them would look really out of place surrounded by fish mostly 2/3”. I think it’s best I leave them for a future cichlid tank. Thank you though!
Sounds good so far.

A. borellii are a bit small though. Not much bigger than 5cm fully grown usually. But on the other hand... with your footprint you could keep a whole colony of them. Even male-only would be possible with them. Laetacara could be an option, maybe ask TClare about them. Otherwise... medium sized and ok with hard water... I have to pass there.

Those are new in the hobby, though. I have no idea whether they will work or not.

And then there are the Ancistrus sp. I mean... you bred them already, so you know to only add females to a tank like this, otherwise they'll overrun you in 6 months. Because getting fry out of a tank like this... no way.

Also if you absolutely have to add the angels: Add them late and definitely after the Nannostomus. Otherwise the pencils become toothpicks.
With Laetacara, are you referring to L. Curviceps? Haven’t been able to find what level of the tank they occupy, do you know?

Maybe more Loricaria is a better alternative to Loricaria & Ancistrus sp.? I think less species but bigger groups always gives a nice natural look.
 

MacZ

No I am sorry I wasn’t clear on that rule. I thought the rule was to give credit to whomever created the photo and by linking it, it gave credit. Like a citation in a paper. I am sorry and no harm intended.
It's fine, just wanted to make that clear before you get into trouble.
Thing is in the first (unedited) iteration of your post you just named the forum and posted screenshots of the pictures without the username. You also require that user's permission otherwise you are only allowed to link to the thread (going by most copyright laws) and that, again, is against our local forum rules.
And a citation in a paper requires much more than just the URL.

With Laetacara, are you referring to L. Curviceps? Haven’t been able to find what level of the tank they occupy, do you know?
90% of southamerican cichlids and especially dwarf and mid-sized species are restricted to the lower 3rd of the water column.

Maybe more Loricaria is a better alternative to Loricaria & Ancistrus sp.? I think less species but bigger groups always gives a nice natural look.
I'd go with Loricaria or Rineloricaria. Every backwater dweller with a fishbowl has an Ancistrus. They are omnipresent and superfluous.
 

PseudotropheusKenobi

It's fine, just wanted to make that clear before you get into trouble.
Thing is in the first (unedited) iteration of your post you just named the forum and posted screenshots of the pictures without the username. You also require that user's permission otherwise you are only allowed to link to the thread (going by most copyright laws) and that, again, is against our local forum rules.
And a citation in a paper requires much more than just the URL.


90% of southamerican cichlids and especially dwarf and mid-sized species are restricted to the lower 3rd of the water column.


I'd go with Loricaria or Rineloricaria. Every backwater dweller with a fishbowl has an Ancistrus. They are omnipresent and superfluous.
Thank you for all your help MacZ, I’m confident I know what I will be stocking. I’ll figure out the density as I go.

Anything I should keep in mind as I work towards the 235G with these fish? The journey begins with a 250L growout, whilst I wait for the tank.
 

MacZ

Anything I should keep in mind as I work towards the 235G with these fish? The journey begins with a 250L growout, whilst I wait for the tank.
Last time I had a tank that size was 20 years ago... I'd definitely leave room for emersed and floating plants. Monstera or Pothos are a good idea to keep the tank in balance. Just as leaf litter.
 

TClare

With Laetacara, are you referring to L. Curviceps? Haven’t been able to find what level of the tank they occupy, do you know?
There are several species of Laetacara. The one I have is L. araguaiae. I have soft water, but this species is quite widely distributed in clear water Amazon rivers, so will probably adapt OK to rather harder water. They do spend most of the time near the bottom of the tank like most cichlids. They do not hurt plants. Not really a social species though. I bought four juveniles in March 2021, within a month they had formed two pairs and staked out their respective territories in the tank which has a footprint of 160cm x 60cm. So they frequently chase each other and occasionally fight, but with no serious damage done. They will also nip at the angelfishes if they get too close but the angelfish and not particularly bothered by this and again no serious damage is done. For a long time the pairs were breeding non stop and they do become very territorial, but in this size of tank its not really a problem. They many times got the young to free swimming but would lose them soon after, they have never successfully raised a brood in the community tank, so no worries about excess fry. I twice took some fry out to rear separately. Lately they don't seem to be breeding as much but still go round in pairs and defend their territories. They are quite big for dwarf cichlids, especially the males which get much deeper bodies and humped heads as they age. Not a great shot but here is one of my pairs.
.
IMG_7585.jpeg
But, if you want a cichlid that is more social (when not breeding), then Cleithracara, Crenicara or Biotodoma would be better. Though I am not sure how the last two particularly will adapt to hard water.

Also if you absolutely have to add the angels: Add them late and definitely after the Nannostomus. Otherwise the pencils become toothpicks.
Agreed. I have Nannostomus beckfordi in the same tank with my big angelfish. Amazingly (unlike the Laetacaras) they have produced a few surviving fry, as have the emperor tetras. I had the pencilfish before the angels and the angels were very small juveniles when introduced. As you already have your angelfish, don't put them in the big tank until the smaller fish are established there.
 

PseudotropheusKenobi

There are several species of Laetacara. The one I have is L. araguaiae. I have soft water, but this species is quite widely distributed in clear water Amazon rivers, so will probably adapt OK to rather harder water. They do spend most of the time near the bottom of the tank like most cichlids. They do not hurt plants. Not really a social species though. I bought four juveniles in March 2021, within a month they had formed two pairs and staked out their respective territories in the tank which has a footprint of 160cm x 60cm. So they frequently chase each other and occasionally fight, but with no serious damage done. They will also nip at the angelfishes if they get too close but the angelfish and not particularly bothered by this and again no serious damage is done. For a long time the pairs were breeding non stop and they do become very territorial, but in this size of tank its not really a problem. They many times got the young to free swimming but would lose them soon after, they have never successfully raised a brood in the community tank, so no worries about excess fry. I twice took some fry out to rear separately. Lately they don't seem to be breeding as much but still go round in pairs and defend their territories. They are quite big for dwarf cichlids, especially the males which get much deeper bodies and humped heads as they age. Not a great shot but here is one of my pairs.
.
IMG_7585.jpeg
But, if you want a cichlid that is more social (when not breeding), then Cleithracara, Crenicara or Biotodoma would be better. Though I am not sure how the last two particularly will adapt to hard water.


Agreed. I have Nannostomus beckfordi in the same tank with my big angelfish. Amazingly (unlike the Laetacaras) they have produced a few surviving fry, as have the emperor tetras. I had the pencilfish before the angels and the angels were very small juveniles when introduced. As you already have your angelfish, don't put them in the big tank until the smaller fish are established there.
Thank you for your insight, I was thinking about the Cleithracara too, but I was unsure how they’d adapt to hard water. Though I do think they would make for better additions for my personal setup than Laetacara.

Would Keyhole’s be appropriate? MacZ
 

MacZ

Would Keyhole’s be appropriate? @MacZ
Actually a blackwater species... your call.
 

TClare

Yes Cleithracara is a blackwater species, as are cardinal tetras, but I believe that the keyhole cichlids have been bred in captivity for many generations so may be OK in harder water if not wild caught? I was thinking for this reason they would probably be more adaptable than Biotodoma or Crenicara perhaps? As all the species you want are really soft water fish, would you consider using an RO unit?
 

MacZ

I believe that the keyhole cichlids have been bred in captivity for many generations so may be OK in harder water if not wild caught?
Seems to me the theory isn't working out, but I am glad about every case that might change my opinion.

As all the species you want are really soft water fish, would you consider using an RO unit?
I wasnt't even going to ask or recommend that, because with that tank size this is going to be a really high water bill.
 

TClare

Seems to me the theory isn't working out, but I am glad about every case that might change my opinion.


I wasnt't even going to ask or recommend that, because with that tank size this is going to be a really high water bill.
Yes I was just about to edit my post to say that its probably not practical for a large tank
 

PseudotropheusKenobi

Yes Cleithracara is a blackwater species, as are cardinal tetras, but I believe that the keyhole cichlids have been bred in captivity for many generations so may be OK in harder water if not wild caught? I was thinking for this reason they would probably be more adaptable than Biotodoma or Crenicara perhaps? As all the species you want are really soft water fish, would you consider using an RO unit?
As said by MacZ, using RO on a tank the size is far too costly. I think I’m at around the 1000L mark in terms of water volume, give or take. If I installed a RO unit I’d be going straight to SW setups.

I’ll see how things go, I have a very long lead time on the tank. 6-8 months after purchase, so not in any rush at all. I’ll be focusing on growing some fish out in 70G (ish) for now and assess how my current stock is doing in my tap water.

Good idea though! I’ve used RO for smaller setups when I had a wild’s from Indonesia.
 

MacZ

I don't know whether you have looked at it, but there is another, similar project going on here on the forum, maybe you two connect.

Also a recommendation I did not give yet: Look at footage from the habitats in nature. There are tons of videos on Youtube. Just without or with minimal commentary.

I can recommend these Youtube channels:
Ivan Mikolji
Project Piaba
Biotopia
Below Water
 

PseudotropheusKenobi

I don't know whether you have looked at it, but there is another, similar project going on here on the forum, maybe you two connect.

Also a recommendation I did not give yet: Look at footage from the habitats in nature. There are tons of videos on Youtube. Just without or with minimal commentary.

I can recommend these Youtube channels:
Ivan Mikolji
Project Piaba
Biotopia
Below Water
Thank you for bringing this to my attention, I was not aware. I’ll check this out tonight.

Thank you for the recommendations, I could sure use some brushing up on SA habitats!
 

MacZ

Thank you for bringing this to my attention, I was not aware. I’ll check this out tonight.

Thank you for the recommendations, I could sure use some brushing up on SA habitats!
You're very welcome.
 

SouthAmericanCichlids

To find what fish live in certain rivers, a cool site I found is this one, people take pics of fish and general terrain of the area along with people who’ve done biotopes of the area:

https://biotopeaquariumproject.com/bap-map/
 

MacZ

To find what fish live in certain rivers, a cool site I found is this one, people take pics of fish and general terrain of the area along with people who’ve done biotopes of the area:

BAP-Map: BIOTOPE AQUARIUM Project Map
They got quite a paywall. Otherwise you only get a picture or two. Mostly of a tank, not the actual habitat. Nothing against Heiko Bleher who seems involved in the site, but right now, as a recource... a feeble stock of information. Maybe in a year or two when they have expanded and offer useful information for free.
 

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