Need Suggestions To Complete My Stocking Plan

bigpdamonsta

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Hi everybody! First post here on fishlore, I look forward to all the answers you'll provide me with after having lurked these forums for months. I am in the process of assembling my first ever fish tank, after receiving a tank, stand, and starter kit as a gift. I am planning to take this on very slowly; so far, I am assembling some driftwood and rocks and thinking about a scape, while also making a stocking plan before I start cycling (which I am quite familiar with, being the owner of a red-bellied cooter for over twenty years lol). Anyway, the first thing I am asking for help with is my stocking plan!

So, the tank I was gifted is, I believe, a 26g bowfront: about 30" long, 10" wide, and 18" tall. It came with a fluval C3, which is a more than adequate filter according to my noob research (please correct me if I am wrong). Here is what I've been thinking:

-A pair of dwarf cichlids: my girl loves these, so they're close to non-negotiable. First I was thinking rams, but after reading more I think Apistos may be better, specifically cacatuoides, as people say they seem to be the most adaptable to higher pH, relatively hard water.

-8 Neon Tetras: I debated between these and cardinals, but I figured since Neons are smaller I could have a bigger school.

-And this is where I need help. I think this tank could use one more species, and I'm kind of stumped. My first idea was a single male dwarf gourami, but the disease they potentially carry and the fact that so many of them turn out to be bullies turned me off. Then I looked into pearl/opaline gouramies, but it seems as adults they're just a little too big to be happy in this tank. I've debated a single male lyretail swords and mollies (might be too big, may or may not NEED salt???), a 1M2F platy trio (prefer water maybe just a little too cold compared to the others optimal temps), a betta (not going to risk it). So I need suggestions about how to finish this stock; ideally a larger, centrepiece type fish, but if not, a small something nice and colourful to complement the other two species I've chosen.

Thanks a lot for your help and for reading this way too long post
 

Mick Frost

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South Africans (Apistogramma, Rams, Auratus, etc) come from waters that are naturally 7.8ish PH and over 200ppm GH. they lose color in stores from being in soft water.

Cardinals would be a better choice for temperature, and they're still quite striking in a smaller school.

You'll probably want to QT the cichlids together so they can bond before letting them loose in a community (Apistos are usually more docile, but there's always a chance).

Mollies will keep the algae down, and salt isn't always required (running dirty helps), but they don't really fit in with your theme IMO.

You may want to consider an Oscar, or a pair of Gudgeons.
 
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bigpdamonsta

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Thanks for the response! That info about about dwarf cichlids’ natural water is news to me! But it makes me feel even better about it whuchvys good.

I did not realize cardinals tolerated higher temps well, so I’ll use them instead... i suppose hue many I can fit depends on the last choice of fish. 6 is the minimum suggested amount for schoolers like that right?

I hadn’t heard of Gudgeons before. I like the look of these peacock gudgeons, you think a pair of those would work well with the other two species? What part of the tank do they usually hang out in?

Ps I’m surprised to hear you say Oscars, those things are huge and I imagine they need a way bigger tank than my 26 gallons
 

Mick Frost

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Thanks for the response! That info about about dwarf cichlids’ natural water is news to me! But it makes me feel even better about it whuchvys good.

I did not realize cardinals tolerated higher temps well, so I’ll use them instead... i suppose hue many I can fit depends on the last choice of fish. 6 is the minimum suggested amount for schoolers like that right?

I hadn’t heard of Gudgeons before. I like the look of these peacock gudgeons, you think a pair of those would work well with the other two species? What part of the tank do they usually hang out in?

Ps I’m surprised to hear you say Oscars, those things are huge and I imagine they need a way bigger tank than my 26 gallons
An Oscar will eventually outgrow a 26, yes, but my Oscar (rescue) was the entire reason I started into this and now have hundreds of gallons of water in my living room. He took up a 29 almost all by himself for quite a while before I got a 90 for him and some friends. The guy I got him from had him in a 29 for a long time crammed in with a bunch of Malawis before his tank cracked.
Gudgeons are small freshwater Gobies, and they have the attitude to match. They will need a cave, and will need to be bonded, but they don't usually mind new additions (they're mostly defensive, and kinda shy). They are a wonder in their own right. Any territorial issues can be mitigated by constant redecoration until they figure it out.
Any which way you go, there is going to be the possibility of issues. Fish rebel against the websites that tell you what their temperament and compatibility is supposed to be. Stores try to sell you stuff under the wrong name. Store employees give out bad information. This is far from being a paint-by-numbers obsession we have.
Probably the easiest way to pick would be to take your girl to the LFS and make a list of what she likes, then spend a couple evenings shortening that list until you find something that should work.
 

shutterbug13

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South Africans (Apistogramma, Rams, Auratus, etc) come from waters that are naturally 7.8ish PH and over 200ppm GH. they lose color in stores from being in soft water.

Cardinals would be a better choice for temperature, and they're still quite striking in a smaller school.

You'll probably want to QT the cichlids together so they can bond before letting them loose in a community (Apistos are usually more docile, but there's always a chance).

Mollies will keep the algae down, and salt isn't always required (running dirty helps), but they don't really fit in with your theme IMO.

You may want to consider an Oscar, or a pair of Gudgeons.
I think you have apistos and rams mixed up with something else. They are South American and come from soft water with a low pH.
Mikrogeophagus ramirezi – Ram (Apistogramma ramirezi, Papiliochromis ramirezi, Microgeophagus ramirezi)


Definitely don't do an oscar, they get WAY too big.
I agree on the cardinals though, they would be a better fit temperature wise.

OP, you could do something like this:
3x honey gouramis
8x cardinal tetras
6x sterbai OR bronze corys
2x apistos
 
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bigpdamonsta

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Definitely not considering an Oscar at all lol, though I’m glad you rescued and provided a good life for yours Mick.

Shutterbug, I originally planned on cories, but I thought I’d like to provide most of the bottom of the tank to the apistos... the two species you listed seem to get to 2-3”, would six fish that big take up a lot of real estate at the bottom of the tank. Honestly, a trio honey gouramies seems to really check all my boxes other than the fact that I think they’re kind of ugly (the ones at my LFS, at least)
 

Mick Frost

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Sorry, you're right, they're South American. So 72-82, 7.0-7.5 PH, GH between 80-150ish (not "soft"). The Victoria River is pretty close to those conditions as well, and Malawis would do fine for the most part.

Most Gouramis will color up a lot nicer with GH over 50ppm as well, most stores use in house RO so the fish lose a lot of color from mineral deficiency
 
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bigpdamonsta

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UPDATE

My girl and I went back to the fish store and she decided that she would prefer to have a nice little school of neons! The cardinals at our store kinda look like **** (not colourful) so she definitely wants neons, which is good for me because I feel like it maybe opens up a few more options. But this all depends on the best temps for neons, which seems a little unclear. Is low 70s really optimal, or is 75-76 low enough for them to thrive?

My first instinct was to pair them up with Kuhli loaches, I’ve always loved the look/idea of them. If the temps allow for it (low end of their range seems to be 75, not sure if they thrive or just survive at that though), how many can I have in my tank? Footprint is 30x12. I was hoping for maybe a group of 8, and then somewhere between 8-12 neons depending on what you guys think my stock is like
 

Mick Frost

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Neons are fine at 75, though 72-74 seems to be the sweet spot. The cardinals are probably just mineral deficient (most stores use in house RO, and a lot of them don't remineralize). I'd upload what they're supposed to look like, but I can't get them grouped up anymore. Can't advise on the Kuhlis.
As you go lower, most common options include Danios and Barbs, some catfish species. Attractive subtropical tanks are actually more difficult to put together. I know some Botia are subtropical but aside from Hillstream I don't know which ones.
 
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bigpdamonsta

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I’m definitely really hoping the loaches would work, so I hope someone with some experience can chime in about that.

Otherwise it seems like a nice group of cories would complement the neons well and hang out in the bottoms half in the tank, so what are the best species to keep at mid to low 70s, and how many could I stock? Pepper cories like states above?

Would platties work at those temps/with those fish?

Also, do you guys think some shrimp/snails could also work?
 
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bigpdamonsta

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I’m going to bump this because I’ve put some more research/thought into this and have a proposal:

8-10 kuhli loaches
12 neon tetras
3 male guppies

Does that seem overstocked to you guys? If so, I could either take the guppies out or make remove a few of each school. Temp wise, I’d be looking at keeping the tank at 75. That is the lowest I’m seeing for the loaches on sites like this and seriously fish, though I have read many more anecdotal posts all over claiming to keep them around 73-74, which would be even better for the neons.
 
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