What's the Best Nano Fish for a Self Sustaining Tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-21-2019, 03:10 AM Thread Starter
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What's the Best Nano Fish for a Self Sustaining Tank

Recently I set up a riparium for my daughter's kindergarten class. My goal was to create a tank that would survive over the summer break with little to no support (no feeding, no water changes).

The tank is heavily planted (with green water added) and the back of the tank (20gal high) is walled off with a screen to create a refugium. My hope is that adult organisms in the refugium will be trapped there and reproduce steadily while their offspring will be small enough to fit through the screen and enter the main area where they can be food for the fish.

Organisms I intend to put in the tank (some are already in there) snails, gammarus, moina, dahnia magna, black worms, ostracods, copepods and other micro organisms collected from a local pond.

The main inhabitants of the tank will be cherry shrimp both in the main tank and in the refugium.

For fish I was thinking a couple of otocinclus and about 5-8 small fish. The fish I'm considering are White Clouds, heterandria formosa, and Celestial Pearl Danios.

They are all small fish with heterandria being the smallest followed by the danios and then the white clouds. They are all relatively hardy too with the White Clouds and heterandria being seemingly indestructible and the danios being just a bit more demanding but still an easy fish to keep happy.

It seems like they are all omnivores although I did read something specific about the danios enjoying shrimp fry.

Reproduction seems to be an important factor as I don't want the tank population to explode and then crash due to starvation. The heterandria seem to be very prolific live bearers and they don't eat their fry. This worries me and pretty much rules them out if it is true. White clouds also apparently don't eat their eggs or fry which again worries me. The danios on the other hand will eat their eggs and fry. In the worst case a few fry make it into the refugium where they will grow unmolested and then can be given away or sold.

So right now I'm leaning towards the danios for their size, hardiness, eagerness to eat shrimp (my main large food source), and their self regulating behavior regarding offspring.

What do you think? Are there other fish I should consider? Do you have experience with these fish that contradicts what I've read? Which one would you go with?

Here's some photos of the tank so far. I have a large order of java moss coming which I intend to use to cover most of the divider with as well as put in the refugium. I also collected some pond plants and leaves that I'm culturing right now for ostracods and other infusoria. I'll add all of it to the refugium after the culture has developed a bit. The cloudiness in the water is the green water I added that came with the scuds. There's no filter in the tank just a small powered head restricted down to create the slightest of currents. I seeded the tank with a generous amount of filter sludge from my home tank that has been running for about 10 years.





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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-21-2019, 09:59 AM
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Personally I'd avoid the otos - they seem more finicky from my experience, and what I very often read about them. Also, aren't they more tropical than WCMM?
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-21-2019, 12:11 PM Thread Starter
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I agree otos are more delicate. Also now that I think about it I actually want algae in the tank so having an oto will only mean less resources for the other organisms and less oxygen because algae is a great oxygen producer. So no otos! Thanks for the suggestion.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-21-2019, 01:36 PM
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I would do amanos instead of otos, they don't wipe out the algae and are decently hardy guys. They do ok with any of the nano fish u are thinking about. They also can't breed in freshwater so no worries about over population.

I like the CPDs but not sure if they would work for your situation. They will eat any babies they make for the most part.


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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-21-2019, 02:29 PM Thread Starter
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Ironically with all the microfauna in the tank I'm now thinking that algae is a plus. I like amanos but I don't need to waste algae resources to have one. I need the algae for my cherries too. I need them to reproduce to feed the fish.

Bump: Please tell me more about why CPDs don't seem like a fit. What are your thoughts? Thanks
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-21-2019, 08:08 PM
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CPD can be pretty reclusive - I'd go for something bolder if you want it easy to spot when a group of kids are gathered around the front. I'd be tempted to go for male endlers. They are small with a bold attitude plus have some good colour for kids to spot. If you go male only they won't over populate. I guess you could go male only with the heterandria formosa (not kept those) too, but endlers have enough variation kids could pick out individuals which will help catch their interest.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-22-2019, 03:05 AM Thread Starter
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Excellent point! I haven't kept CPDs for quite sometime and I do remember them being shy. Kids love to crowd around this tank so a brave fish is necessary. I've never seen Endlers before but a group of just males seems like a great idea. Thanks so much for the recommendation. Endlers is now my front runner.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-23-2019, 05:30 AM
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I dont know where you guys get these shy CPDs, every time I get near my tank they are out center stage in full force. Ofcourse they act like they are starving all the time lol.

Like to add the only reason I am not sure of a fit for them is because I dont know how they will do with not being fed over the summer. I dont have the experience in this situation to really say for any fish what will work to be honest. Other then that I think they would be good its just hard to visualize how quickly or if they would deplete the food supply. Ofcourse thats not just CPDs but any of the nano fish you are thinking about. Going to be some trial and error and be interested to see how it goes.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-24-2019, 11:44 PM
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I think CPDs would be a good choice. I like that they are more subdued colors which lends itsself to an educational purpose rather than guppies/endlers/etc that feel more artificial in color. I do think that you will come back to see many CPD fry in the refugium. I have neglected some eggs and the fry do surprisingly well and are able to survive in a tank with others by hiding in plants.

I also would be investigating isopods as an option. They aren't as nice to look at as shrimp, but should do well in this type of setup. You could house the adults in the refugium and let the young get eaten.

Honestly my biggest concern would be nitrates. If your plants grow fast enough to keep it low, they will easily take over the tank over the summer. If they grow slowly, they may not keep nitrates low enough. I would place greater emphasis on the plants exposed to air since they will not crowd out the inhabitants.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-25-2019, 01:37 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your comments.

You make an interesting point about the "artificial" colors. Something for me to consider. I guess I could also just put male CPDs in to avoid the reproduction problem. Hmm

The "Mixed Crustaceans" I ordered from Carolina Biological has ispods. Very happy with the diversity in this. It should arrive this week.

I had been hesitating to fill the other two caddies with plants for no good reason. I could add more anthurium pretty easily. Is there another plant that would be even better to deal with the nitrates?
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-25-2019, 04:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rakali View Post
Thanks for your comments.

You make an interesting point about the "artificial" colors. Something for me to consider. I guess I could also just put male CPDs in to avoid the reproduction problem. Hmm

The "Mixed Crustaceans" I ordered from Carolina Biological has ispods. Very happy with the diversity in this. It should arrive this week.

I had been hesitating to fill the other two caddies with plants for no good reason. I could add more anthurium pretty easily. Is there another plant that would be even better to deal with the nitrates?

The artificial color thing is mostly in my head. Kids especially like the bright colors. If guppies or endlers are the right choice, I wouldn't let color deter you. If it gets them involved with the rest of the project, all the better. In my head it just feels like tossing glo-fish into a blackwater tank or something, very different aesthetics.
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-25-2019, 05:42 PM
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If you want more subdued then go for a wild type endlers. They have some pretty colours but not the exaggerated tail/rainbows of a domestic guppy.
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-26-2019, 12:17 AM Thread Starter
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LFS was raving about Pencil fish and suggested I look into Rice fish also. Anyone have any experience with them?
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-26-2019, 12:32 AM
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No amanos. They should be named after Houdini instead. IMHO, just the shrimp would be best. No snails, just shrimp.

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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-11-2019, 02:06 PM
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If you want more subdued then go for a wild type endless. black orchid betta male
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