Looking For Advice Setting Up And Stocking A 30-gallon

speedburner

Hello everyone, I'm in the process of setting up a 30-gallon (30"x18.5"x12.5") tank, which will be my first serious attempt at fishkeeping.

The tank is not filled yet, and I am awaiting the arrival of my water test kit so I can test the local water. I've already purchased an Aqua Clear 70 filter that I'm planning on running with the stock foam insert, a layer of polyfill, a layer of Matrix, and then the stock Biomax on the top. Heaters have not been purchased yet but will probably be two 50W Eheim Jager heaters with a controller. Lighting is going to be USA Satellite LED, substrate is going to be Floramax Classic. Plan is to fill it this weekend once everything arrives, most likely plant it, and cycle it at least through the end of July, longer if necessary, before stocking.

I am intending to set it up as a low-tech planted and most likely keep it simple with anubias, java fern, java moss, and potentially amazon swords. Other decor will likely be plastic caves and cichlid hollow rocks, with maybe one or two moss balls. I don't feel like gambling with driftwood quite yet.

As for stocking, I've got kind of a few different ideas based on either going tropical or coldwater, though I've heard mixed messages about coldwater being counterintuitively harder for a beginner. Regardless, I'm looking for ideally a good mix of fish and inverts.

Stock Idea 1 (Coldwater):
This one is based off of suggestions I believe from this forum as to WCMM tankmates:
10 x WCMM
8 x Zebra Danio
8 x Panda Cory
3 x Platy
8 x Amano Shrimp
3 x Nerite Snail

AqAdvisor puts this one at 74% stocking level.

Stock Idea 2 (Tropical):
8 x Glowlight Tetra
8 x Black Neon Tetra
8 x Peppered Cory
3 x Platy
10 x Ghost Shrimp
2 x Mystery Snail

With this one I've considered swapping out the Black Neons for 4x Guppy. Avoiding regular neons since I keep on hearing about how most neons nowadays are exceptionally sensitive, while I've heard repeatedly about how hardy glowlights are. This one is 74% with both types of tetra and 75% with 4 guppies.

I've also considered a tropical setup with a male betta as the centerpiece fish, and with ideally much of the same tankmates, but I am honestly not sure what the best potential combo for that would be.

Please let me know what you all think, both about the equipment, tank concept, and stocking ideas. It's been very tricky doing research for starting out new like this, and honestly just posting directly here seemed like a much easier option than trying to process the bazillion different websites and articles out there.
 

EbiAqua

Stocking looks OK on both, though for the tropical setup I would pick either the glowlights or the black neons and not do both, and bump up the school numbers to 12. Also instead of peppered corys, I would do bronze or emerald as they are more tolerant of higher temps. A betta could potentially work in the tropical setup, but I wouldn't put the betta with platies as the betta may take out his aggression on them. It depends on the bettas personality and temperament though.
 

Hunter1

I like the second with the modifications suggested by Fahn.

If you do bronze corys, you could mix in a few albinos too if you wanted.

Instead of a betta, how about a pearl gourami?

I have a 29 with 12 glow lights, 1 platy, 6 bronze and 2 albino corys and a single pearl gourami.

They are all fine. The tank is moderately planted and the glow lights school nicely.
 

speedburner

Thanks for the tips. Definitely will keep an eye out for bronze or emerald corys at the various LFS, I know for some reason the albino ones seem oddly popular at the stores around me. Will also look into a pearl gourami once the tank is properly established.

If I went with the 12 glowlights, 8 cory, 3 platy, and the inverts, would the guppies be too much? I'm just trying to brainstorm what will keep action in all the layers of the water column, though I think the platy might fill that niche.
 

EbiAqua

Thanks for the tips. Definitely will keep an eye out for bronze or emerald corys at the various LFS, I know for some reason the albino ones seem oddly popular at the stores around me. Will also look into a pearl gourami once the tank is properly established.

If I went with the 12 glowlights, 8 cory, 3 platy, and the inverts, would the guppies be too much? I'm just trying to brainstorm what will keep action in all the layers of the water column, though I think the platy might fill that niche.

Not telling you to overstock, but heavily planting your tank can stretch out your stocking capacity as the plants can pick up the slack in the added bioload. However, it is better to slightly understock, and even if you heavily plant your tank I'd still stick to the current stocking plan pick either platies or guppies, or consider doing one or the other in another setup in the future.

Even a few livebearers have a surprisingly high bioload. If you get platies or guppies, make sure they're all male unless you want a never-ending supply of fry!
 

speedburner

I filled the tank today. After testing the local tap water, it's free of ammonia, nitrites, or nitrates, but notable for a relatively high pH of 8.0. I'm trying to figure out if this is something that will affect my planned stock or not. I've read that as long as you buy your fish locally where they presumably have been used to the same tap water, it shouldn't be an issue, and also that being stable is more important than being 'correct'. I'm not entirely sure I want to go messing around with pH-adjusting chemicals yet, but we'll see.

So far I've planted one java fern and two anubias, I will probably keep it conservative with plants for a bit, maybe will attempt to add a carpeting plant in the front. The lights are on a 9-hour cycle. Will probably wait a few days before adding ammonia to start the cycle.

Also, for what it's worth, I am planning on getting a proper floating thermometer later, the strip thermometer on the front is an artifact from a previous iteration of the tank that I feel would probably look worse if I tried to remove it.
 

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SegiDream

Dont mess with the ph at this time. The anubias and java fern.. Don't bury the rhizomes in the substrate. Just cover the roots with enough gravel to hold them down. Or you can tie or super glue them to rocks and other decor.
 

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