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Thread: Selecting fish for my community tank

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    SCAPE Member Just Planted Tiny_Fish's Avatar
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    Selecting fish for my community tank

    Hello everyone!

    I'm still cycling my new planted tank, so I'm probably not adding fish too soon, but I'm starting to plan what species I want so that I have time to study up on them and their needs before I start buying. I have a 20g long with an Aquaclear 50 filter, Aqueon 150V heater, and NatGeo 24inch light (soon to be replaced with something longer and a bit brighter)


    Here's what animals I'm thinking of (even numbers of males and females where possible):
    Shrimp (not sure what kind yet, maybe blue cherry shrimp?)
    6 Cherry Barbs
    6 salt-and-pepper corys (Corydoras habrosus)
    2 Honey Gourami

    Of course I won't get all of them at once, I'll probably start with the shrimp, then get barbs, then corys, and last the honey gourami.

    Does this seem like a good group?

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    SCAPE Member Just Planted Tiny_Fish's Avatar
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    Also, could you guys please advise me what would be good food to feed these guys? I know they are all omnivorous, but what sort of variety do they need? I'd prefer to stick to dry or frozen food, but I want to do right by my fish. My childhood experience with pet fish involved buying a giant can of flakes at Costco once a year (which I'm pretty sure isn't best practice), so I'm feeling a bit lost in all the other possibilities out there. What would a good basic routine be?


    Also, how to I make sure the corys get enough food near the bottom of the tank, and aren't out-competed by the bolder fish? Is that a real concern or am I making it up?

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    SCAPE Member SCAPEr regormang's Avatar
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    So I can tell you shrimp with those fish is a very bad idea. I'd probably just go with the fish on ur list which is a good amount for your size tank and filter.

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    SCAPE Member Just Planted Tiny_Fish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by regormang View Post
    So I can tell you shrimp with those fish is a very bad idea. I'd probably just go with the fish on ur list which is a good amount for your size tank and filter.
    I was going to get shrimp first, let them multiply for a bit, and then get the fish and hope the shrimp get eaten slower than they reproduce. My tank will have a lot of rocky nooks and areas of dense plants when everything grows in, do you think that won't be enough hiding spots? People do seem to keep shrimp in community tanks - is there a specific species on my list that will pose a large threat to them?


    EDIT: Maybe I could get some Amano shrimp instead? I know they won't breed, but would they be large enough not to get eaten? I'd like to have some invertebrate to act as a cleaner, but I was hoping to avoid dealing with snails since their numbers seem harder to control.
    Last edited by Tiny_Fish; 10-12-2018 at 11:41 PM.

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    SCAPE Member SCAPEr regormang's Avatar
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    I could be wrong about this but bigger fish tend to stress shrimp which would lead to shrimp not reproducing. Barbs especially are known to be aggressive. I've heard of people having some success keeping them together for a little while but very rare. eventually the fish wipe out the shrimp once they get a taste.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiny_Fish View Post
    I was going to get shrimp first, let them multiply for a bit, and then get the fish and hope the shrimp get eaten slower than they reproduce. My tank will have a lot of rocky nooks and areas of dense plants when everything grows in, do you think that won't be enough hiding spots? People do seem to keep shrimp in community tanks - is there a specific species on my list that will pose a large threat to them?
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    SCAPE Member Just Planted Tiny_Fish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by regormang View Post
    I could be wrong about this but bigger fish tend to stress shrimp which would lead to shrimp not reproducing. Barbs especially are known to be aggressive. I've heard of people having some success keeping them together for a little while but very rare. eventually the fish wipe out the shrimp once they get a taste.
    Is there anything then that I could keep as a cleaner species? It seems like most of the fish do this are either too big for my tank, or need to be in a group larger than I can support while still having other fish. Snails don't like soft acidic water, and breed like crazy. What else is there?

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    SCAPE Member SCAPEr regormang's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiny_Fish View Post
    Is there anything then that I could keep as a cleaner species? It seems like most of the fish do this are either too big for my tank, or need to be in a group larger than I can support while still having other fish. Snails don't like soft acidic water, and breed like crazy. What else is there?
    Amano shrimp and otos are my clean up crew. I think that's for most of us here.

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    SCAPE Member SCAPEr stormvisions's Avatar
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    I have a very heavily planted aquarium that includes Cherry Barbs and a Honey Gourami. I have Cherry Shrimp and Amanos. The Cherry Shrimp don't come out in the open much but the Amanos do fine, are very active and have no issues with any fish. I have a bunch of Otos too and they do well - you do want an aged tank with them I think - they graze a lot and I've seen them get thin and even die with too many in new tanks (most Otos are wild caught from what I understand). They (and the shrimp) also seem to like grazing on wood products - like cholo wood and driftwood. I even have a couple pieces cinnamon bark from my spice rack in there and shrimp and Otos graze that too.

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    SCAPE Member Sr. SCAPEr Shawn's Avatar
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    a highly planted jungle like tank with lots of hiding places is possible with shrimp and those fish. i would suggest lower end shrimps that easily breed like cherry shrimps. incase the fish goes on killing spree it wont be as costly since cherries are fairly cheap.

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    SCAPE Member Just Planted Tiny_Fish's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone for your advice! Now I'm wavering between pygmy cories or otos. I originally wanted cories because they are so cute and seem hardier than otos, but otos have cool biology and may be better for my tank. I don't think I could get both, can I? Each of them need a group of at least 5-6 to stay happy, and I don't want to overstock... Either way I won't get them until April, so I have time to think. Which species do you guys prefer?

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    SCAPE Member SCAPEr jayo's Avatar
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    Tiny cories are the cutest.

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    SCAPE Member SCAPEr stormvisions's Avatar
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    If I could only have one I'd choose the Otos but knowing me I'd probably just push it and get 4 of each.

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    SCAPE Member Jr. SCAPEr Barliman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stormvisions View Post
    If I could only have one I'd choose the Otos but knowing me I'd probably just push it and get 4 of each.
    I would choose one or the other: both like being in groups of five or more. As for shrimp and barbs, cherry barbs are not aggressive at all, but they might see smaller shrimp as walking snacks. If any, I would go with amanos.

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    SCAPE Member Just Planted Tiny_Fish's Avatar
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    Update!

    Almost all the Amanos I got seem to be settling in nicely. The smallest of the lot, who I've barely seen since he went in the tank, died this weekend. The other 5 seem to be doing well, although they still spend most of their time hiding, and won't touch any shrimp food or cucumber I put in the tank. However, the bloodworm infestation has almost vanished, and when I see them they are often picking at something on the plants or in the substrate, so I figure they aren't starving.

    This weekend we also got 4 Cherry Barbs - two males and two females. I'm going away for 2 weeks for Christmas, so I wanted to get them well in advance so they can settle in before they're left with only the auto-feeder for company. I'd like to get two more, another male and female, when Petsmart gets new stock (the 4 I got were all they had). The larger male is spending most of his time chasing the smaller male, and the little female is also really active and exploring everything. I'm worried about the larger female, though. She was one of the more active fish at the store, but now she mostly just finds somewhere to hang in the water, usually somewhere sheltered a few inches above the bottom. She joined the other fish in feeding last night, but didn't seem hungry this morning (none of the fish did, to be honest, but at least the others all ate something). She swims fine when she does swim, but she just doesn't seem interested in exploring the tank like the others. I guess all I can do is keep an eye on her.

    The barbs don't seem to be picking on the Amanos so far. They seem to ignore the shrimp when they are sitting, and be cared of them when the shrimp swim around. Maybe the fact that both are the same size right now is helping.

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    SCAPE Member 5000 posts, Officially addicted to SCAPE! swoof's Avatar
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    For cherry barbs you should have at least 4-5 females per male. You'll likely come home to one male and two females. I've kept cherry barbs in a 50 with other fish (including some gold barbs). Any time there was less than 8 females any other males would be killed regardless of how heavily planted.

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    SCAPE Member Just Planted Tiny_Fish's Avatar
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    One of the females died. Really fast, too - she was fine last night, didn't want to eat and seemed slow this morning, and was dead a few hours later. She looked normal, no marks on her, no bloat, no ragged fins. The other fish look fine so far, but I'm nervous now - could it be that the dead shrimp and now the dead fish 24 hours apart is not a coincidence? I tested the water, and everything seemed fine - ammonia/nitrites 0, nitrates below 5. I did a ~30% water change just in case (maybe I overdosed Excel or one of the fertilizers or something?). I'm probably freaking myself out just like I did when we first got the shrimp, but I really hate the thought of screwing up and killing something!

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