Planning a 20gal tank with kuhli loaches & neons

Discussion in 'Freshwater Aquarium Builds' started by 18cineole, Jun 17, 2016.

  1. 18cineoleNew MemberMember

    Hey FishLore Folks!
    Long time lurker, first time poster :) Not a first-time fish keeper, but I've had a large goldfish tank and small betta tanks in the past. Looking at my first "real" freshwater tank.

    A friend gave me this neato 20 gallon tank and I'm pondering what to put in it. My favorites at the pet store are the kuhli loaches (absolutely delighted with them), and from other people's comments & the articles on this site and others, it looks like I could successfully keep them, if I'm careful about cycling before bringing them in.

    I was hoping to put 3 kuhli loaches and 5 neon tetras together in this tank (=19.5 inches of mature fish, compatible at 75-85F, pH 6.2-6.8, dH 5-10). I had thought about introducing my betta into the tank too - spice up his lonely life? - but he's pretty well settled in his own little 3-gal space and I don't want to take away from the school size for the kuhlis & neons.

    I was also reading up about cycling. I kept goldfish for about 10 years in a 20 gal tank before, but they're hardy and I don't remember cycling for them (just a *lot* of siphoning poo & upgrading filters!). My plan was to cycle for like a month with 4-5 platys or guppies (livebearers are tougher?) in the 20 gal until water quality readings are stable, then transfer them to a new 10 gal of their own. But, I'm seeing that both those species like a higher pH and hardness than the kuhlis and neons, so it seems like I'd get the tank started on the wrong track. Plus, I'd like to avoid setting up a second tank at the moment, but I'd do it if everyone will be healthier that way and I'm sure I'd end up enjoying it.

    Finally, I haven't kept live plants in an aquarium before, beyond some duckweed(?) and young spider plants floated in my series of betta tanks over the years. Looking for something easy to start with, unless it's incompatible with the loaches, which are obviously the whole point of keeping fish :)

    So, my questions for you nice folks:
    - Does 3 kuhlis + 5 neons in 20 gallons sound reasonable? Will these fish find true happiness in such a tank? Am I better off with all kuhlis, so they can have more friends?
    - Suggestions for cycling? Can I start with the neon tetras, or are they too sensitive? I understood I should add my lovely kuhlis last because of their more sensitive skin.
    - Suggestions for plants? Is it important to add them during cycling, or can I add plants one-at-a-time to a stable tank? I was planning on a sand substrate for the kuhlis to burrow in, so plants that are good with that.

    Ok, lemme know what you think! THANKS, GUYS!

    -- 1,8-cineole
  2. FallenOwl

    FallenOwlWell Known MemberMember

    I would do 7-8 Kuhli loaches and 6-10 neon tetra
  3. OP

    18cineoleNew MemberMember

    Whoa, FallenOwl, is that really a good idea? What about the rule - 1 gallon per inch of fish? Kuhli's get to 4" and neons are 1.5". We'd max out at just 5 kuhli's. Unless we can cheat? I've heard you can get a little leeway with the clean-living species...

  4. FallenOwl

    FallenOwlWell Known MemberMember

    The inch-per-gallon rule doesn't always apply to all fish and tanks. Kuhli loaches have a low bio-load, they don't contribute as much waste as some other fish. They also need more "buddies" if you want to see them out and about.
    I also would not add the neons to cycle your tank, as they are too sensitive.
    What kind of plants are you looking for?
    If your still concerned about the stock i suggested TexasDomer can help
  5. aliray

    alirayFishlore VIPMember

    I agree with the khuli loaches 8 to 10 and school of neons would be fine and still leave room for a single dwarf gourami of1 to 3 honey gourami. The inch per gallon rule is useless in that it doesn't take into consideration the bioload of the fish, the activity level, the temperament of the fish the schooling number required for schooling fish, temp required. Another way to think of it is to picture a 20 inch fish trying to live in a 20 gal. Welcome to the forum and glad you joined us... Alison;)
  6. OP

    18cineoleNew MemberMember

    Ah, thanks for the explanation. Ok, I can see how that works. Cycle with a livebearer species and transfer them out? Or cycle without fish?

    I'm open to any low-maintenance plants. I guess I was thinking some plants would be sensitive to the kuhlis burrowing around in the sand and disturbing their roots, but I can see if anyone's already discussing it.

    Thanks a ton for the pointers so far! :)
  7. OP

    18cineoleNew MemberMember

    Ooh, gouramis are super cool... and looking compatible on water quality & temperature. Thanks!

    I'd love to pack a bit more in the tank, of course, but I was being super cautious. Coming from the poop-filled world of goldfish, the one-inch rule has always been pretty firm in my mind, lol. Thanks again for the clarification.
  8. FallenOwl

    FallenOwlWell Known MemberMember

    Discussing plants,
    What size are you looking for?
    Water wisteria, Java moss, Java fern, Amazon fern are all good low-maintenance plants.

    Never cycle a tank with a fish you don't want. If you don't plan on keeping the fish, I would just cycle without fish.
  9. OP

    18cineoleNew MemberMember

    Ok, sweet - I'll read up on those plants, and also on cycling without fish.

    I thought cycling with fish was a bit safer, and of course I'd go ahead and house them in a second tank of their own after (retrieved an old 10-gal from my parents' house), just not my favorite plan if it's safe to cycle without.
  10. FallenOwl

    FallenOwlWell Known MemberMember

    If you want to keep the fish after u cycle the tank with them, then go ahead. I was just saying not to use them to cycle the tank then rehome them.

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