Some advice for stocking 20 gallon with already existing fish

Poseidontheaxolotl

Hello everybody! I need some advice on my 20 gallon aquarium as I am stuck on what to do next. I have been procrastinating doing this post as I am nervous for what people are going to say. Im afraid there is quite a bit of information but I like to write everything down so its easier for you to understand my situation and also so I can really figure out what I am asking advice for and what specific questions I need

My tank has become very empty over the past few months as a couple of my fish passed away due to different causes (I know why they all died and what caused it) and so it doesn't feel like its full and thriving anymore. I have tried adding new guppies but my gourami is very territorial and she wouldn't let them settle in, so unfortunately they didn't make it ): I have considered rehoming her - although I'm not so keen on this idea because she was the first fish I bought and she is kind of my centerpiece fish, so I would be sad to give her away.

I have asked for advice before on here regarding a similar situation, but I only received one response. People have suggested upgrading to a bigger tank as my gourami and spiny eel will become bigger. However I have researched how big spiny eels get and its about 5.9 - 6 inches. My eel is already around 6 inches, so I'm not sure if he'll grow anymore. I have thought about upgrading my tank however a larger tank is a lot more costly and I wouldn't have any where to put it. It would also take several weeks or maybe even a month to cycle, so I don't think I will be upgrading any time soon.

I may re-home my catfish because I understand it is cruel to keep one by itself in a 20 gallon, however I loved keeping them and they were incredible looking fish, but they were just very fragile, so I don't think I will be getting anymore, but I'll see. I have been thinking of a few options regarding adding new fish. I was considering about rehoming the gourami because hopefully I would then be able to add new fish. If I re-homed her and the catfish I would maybe add several more guppies, keep the loaches, eel and snails and probably add a new species of fish or maybe even two new species. Is this wise? If so what fish would go well with the ones in the tank?

Otherwise my second option is to completely redecorate the tank and add new decor and re-home all fish and do a cichlid tank. I have always dreamed of doing a cichlid tank and my family would love for me to have cichlids. My only problem is getting rid of all of my fish. I don't think I could do it. They are all part of my fish family ): But maybe in a few months or years if I upgrade or if I find myself with a completely empty tank I may do a cichlid aquarium.

How many cichlids can you keep in a 20 gallon, and what species should I put together? I know this is probably highly unlikely but if I wanted to do a cichlid tank but keep only the eel and loaches would that be possible or nah? (Just for an idea and maybe future planning!)

Anyway, I guess these are my main questions to sum that all up:

- What do you recommend I do with my gourami and catfish?
- What new fish would go well with my existing tank mates? (minus the gourami and catfish)
- Would it be possible to do a cichlid tank and if so how?
- Or should I just leave my tank the way it is and see what happens, although a change would be quite nice

While I am writing this I guess I'll throw in one more quick question. I am constantly worrying about if my fish are happy and healthy and I take their actions in the tank seriously, such as gulping for air, signs or bloat or fin rot and odd swimming. Do you know how to tell if your fish are okay or have any recommendations on knowing if your fish are happy and healthy? I just want to make sure they're all fine (;

Sorry for such a long thread and so many questions. Any advice would be appreciated but I am not in any hurry for an answer. Just making sure my fish live their best life!!

Thank you!
Poseidontheaxolotl

Here is a picture of my tank if you need an idea:
 

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Poseidontheaxolotl

Something to add - my sister has a betta in a 10 gallon tank that isn't doing to well, so if he passes away (I hope not), but if he does I could potentially use her tank to keep the gourami in, but it may be too small for her.
 
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Nataku

Okay, you look to have a 20 tall and your stocking is rather all over the place and sadly most of it is not suitable for a 20 tall.
Barred spiny eels can get up to 7" long and thereby need a much longer footprint for a tank. Something at least 36" long.
Gold gourmet? Is this a honey gourmet? gourmet? Sunset thickly gourmet? Or a gold three spot gourami? If it's a gold three spot, it too will become too big for a 20 tall. Also, as you appear to be finding out, they become pretty rough on their tankmates in a small space.
Glass catfish area schooling species, and need at least 6 and preferably more like 10+ of their own kind to school together with and be happy and healthy. Your 20 gallon simply doesn't have room for that many glass catfish, even if you had no other fish in it. Glass catfish kept by themselves tend to stress very easily and die.
Kuhl loaches - an appropriately sized fish for this tank. But, they need a group of 6+ of their own kind, which will pretty well cover your ground space in this tank. Putting them with a banded spiny eel is asking for them to be eaten by the eel one by one.
Best suggestion? Rehome everything but the kuhlis (and the gourami if it's a honey or a thicklip) and work on a stock that's more appropriate to this size tank before the rest of them die from stress/overcrowding.

On the topic of cichlids - which kind?
You could do sheldwellers in this tank, but couldn't house anything else (like loaches) with them. Pretty much all other African cichlids are too big for a 20 tall.
If you went south American you could do a ram pair, or an apistogramma pair. Could keep the kuhlis with them.
 
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Poseidontheaxolotl

Okay, you look to have a 20 tall and your stocking is rather all over the place and sadly most of it is not suitable for a 20 tall.
Barred spiny eels can get up to 7" long and thereby need a much longer footprint for a tank. Something at least 36" long.
Gold gourmet? Is this a honey gourmet? gourmet? Sunset thickly gourmet? Or a gold three spot gourami? If it's a gold three spot, it too will become too big for a 20 tall. Also, as you appear to be finding out, they become pretty rough on their tankmates in a small space.
Glass catfish area schooling species, and need at least 6 and preferably more like 10+ of their own kind to school together with and be happy and healthy. Your 20 gallon simply doesn't have room for that many glass catfish, even if you had no other fish in it. Glass catfish kept by themselves tend to stress very easily and die.
Kuhl loaches - an appropriately sized fish for this tank. But, they need a group of 6+ of their own kind, which will pretty well cover your ground space in this tank. Putting them with a banded spiny eel is asking for them to be eaten by the eel one by one.
Best suggestion? Rehome everything but the kuhlis (and the gourami if it's a honey or a thicklip) and work on a stock that's more appropriate to this size tank before the rest of them die from stress/overcrowding.

On the topic of cichlids - which kind?
You could do sheldwellers in this tank, but couldn't house anything else (like loaches) with them. Pretty much all other African cichlids are too big for a 20 tall.
If you went south American you could do a ram pair, or an apistogramma pair. Could keep the kuhlis with them.
My gourami is a plain gold Gourami, and I have noticed she is quite rough with new comers. I used to have 6 catfish when I first started however as you said they were probably stressed and passed away one by one. I tried to get some more but no stores had them in stock. I could get more kuhli loaches, I have already been considering it. The kuhli loaches are quite big and my eels mouth is small, but I have never seen my eel show any interest in them. They seem to get along very well, so I didn't think the eel would try to eat them.

You say to re-home everything and work on a new stock. If I was to start again, what fish would you recommend to add that would go together without overstocking?

I have very little knowledge about cichlids, but I have heard people have kept maybe 2 or 3 Malawis in a 20 gallon. I was looking more at East African cichlids.

I have been thinking about restocking my tank and I wanted to keep the 3 kuhlis and the eel, and re-home the gourami and catfish as I said before, and maybe get several new guppies and maybe a new species of fish. Would this work for a 20 gallon high? Would it be too overstocked? Thats kind of my last idea I can think of if I want to get more fish.
 
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Poseidontheaxolotl

Here is what I have thought about doing. I think I am going to keep the eel and the 3 Kuhli loaches, re-home the gold gourami and catfish, add maybe 4 more guppies and get a dwarf Gourami. Would a dwarf gourami be a good idea and is it compatible with the fish I was thinking about keeping? I have heard some people say to try to get a dwarf Gourami that is in a tank with other dwarf gourami, as it is more likely to be compatible in a community tank, rather than one that was in a tank by itself.
 
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