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18 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
:help: Hello All, I'm new to aquariums and I have a few questions
(I swear I tried to keep this brief.... it didn't work)

Yesterday I bought 5 new fish, 3 Neons and 2 Cardinals, I thought they would look good together and was mistaken that they just different breeds of the same species before I did my home work.

So before I go further here are my main questions;

1: will they school together?

2: How many of each species are needed for them to be healthy and happy?

3: If I do need more is it safe to stock more fish in my aquarium.

Here is the story;
I bought 3 neons then had to drive to another store to get 2 cardinals, then I drove home, floated them in bag, poured some tank water in, netted and released them into their new home with my other fish, and added my stress coat dose, and apx 1-2 ml of ich treatment.
I noticed one of the cardinals behaving strangely swimming at the top next to the glass, as if he wanted to escape... poor guy.

After feeding them some frozen blood worm I had to rush to my side job.
When I got home about 13 hours later, I discovered that one of the Neons had died and was belly up next my Peacock Fern.
I performed his last rites, and will soon give him a proper fish funeral in the garden bed, allowing his/her body to return to nature.

I did some research before going to sleep, and discovered they where 2 different species of the same genus, and that many people recommend having large schools of either of them, and not keeping them in small numbers.
I was quite sad about the death of Mr/Mrs Neon, and now very worried about my other new guys.

When I woke up I was so happily surprised to see my neons and cardinals appeared to be schooling together.
I will post more photos after my tank details, please tell me what you think,
are they really schooling with eachother?

If so is 4 a good school for them? or do I need more?
Being that there are 2 of each and they appear to be schooling should I keep their numbers balanced? would it imbalance their dynamic to have more of one than the other?

I want my fish to be healthy and happy, and to produce good emulsions for my aquaponic system I am about to set up in the next few weeks, which will fertilize the plants for my horticulture business.

I believe I have 30 gallon tank(see stats), and the lady at petco who has been helping me goes by the 1 inch per gallon rule so she says I am at my limit now.
Is this a good rule to go by, I have read that it is too 2 dimensional and that a more 3d approach should be taken ie cubic inches per gallon.
Also note that in the next few weeks my aquarium should be part of an aquaponic circuit, as in on the east side water will be pumped out of my tank and sent through a solid waste filter then to a resevoir, then pumped at periodic intervals through a series of PVC pipes into Drip Lines, Aeroponic Nozzles, and Hydroponic Ebb & Flow Chambers, before being pumped through another filtration system and reservoir and then back into the Aquarium on the west side, thus completing the circuit of life :)

I am not sure wither or not this means I can keep more fish as the emulsions will be harvested for fertilization via the aquaponic system, and the extra filtration, also I may put a gravel filter in and harvest the fish excrement if my research proves it beneficial and safe as a fertilizer.

However I do not want my fish to be crowded, I want them to be happy little fellows.

I got a great deal on 2 tanks with all parts from a friend of a friend, they even through in test strips and treatments.
There where even rocks, gravel and deco, though being the meticulous and procedural person I am I won't risk using them, plus I took a different aesthetic approach.
I thoroughly cleaned the mystery size tank and all parts with apple cider vinegar and thoroughly rinsed everything, filled the tank and put new gravel.
The 70 gallon tank is waiting till I relocate this spring.

Here are my Aquariums details and stats:

Current Date 13-3-2015

*Tank Capacity*
-Liters/Gallons Unkown

*Tank Dimensions(measured via outside)
-Length 610 mm (24")
-Width 313 mm (12&1/2")
-Height 420mm (16&1/2")

*WC log
-Tank Filled on apx 27-2-15
- apx 5 tbs bacteria added on apx 1-3-15
-1st Fish(2 glo fish tetra) Added on 4-3-15
-Last(&First) Water Change on apx 10-3-15

* Chemical Levels

-Last Ammonia Reading(12-3-15) = 0

~ Last 6 in 1 reading 13-3-15 @ apx 13:30 CST (GST - 6) *
(please note readings may not be precise as I am not the best at matching the stick colors to the chart colors)

- Nitrate = 10
- Nitrite = 1.0
- Hardness = 100
- Chlorine = 0.3
- Alkalinity = 90
- PH = 7.4

* Temperature (steady) = 26-27° C. / 78-80° F.

* Equipment
- 1 15 watt 18" T8 florescent tube light above tank
- 1 Tube Heater
- 1 External Digital Thermometer Strip
- 1 Top Fin Filter Pump with balck diamond active carbon filter
(no bio filter wheel or any bio filter yet)
- 1 LED Bubbler Bar submerged horizontally (lights used occasionally, aerator used rarely)

*Fish Stock

- Paracheirodon axelrodi (Cardinal Tetra) = 2

- Paracheirodon innesi (Neon Tetra) = 2

- Gymnocorymbus ternetzi
Black Skirt Tetra = 1
High Fin BST = 1
(Glo Fish) :alien:
"Sunburst Orange" = 1
"Moonrise Pink" = 1
"Cosmic Blue" = 1

- Corydoras aeneus (Cory Cat Fish)
Albino = 3

That brings me to a total of 12 fish

* Aqua Flora Stock

- Rotala rotundifolia (Green Rotala) (transplanted 4-3-15)
- Selaginella willdenowii (Peacock Fern) (transplanted 12-3-15)
- ? (one of my bulbs that sprouted[see photo left side)

Germinating ("planted" 4-3-15)
- Aponogeton ulvaceus
- Crinum thaianum (Thai Water Onion)
- Nympheae Sp. (Water Lily) (more added 12-3-15)

[I bought two packs of bulbs one had 5 bulbs of those 3 species, of which one has sprouted, which I have yet to positively identify, the other pack had 3-4 Water Lilly bulbs. So I have 3 species of live plants(4 sites), and 7-8 bulbs awaiting germination. ]

*Substrate Stock, Decor, and Fishy Chill Spots

- 9 kg Blue Aquarium Gravel via petco
- 2.26 kg # 5 Green Glo Fish Gravel
- 7.9 g Multic Color Glo Fish Gems / Accent Gravel
- 1 Glow In The Dark Hollow Hiding Spot Rock
- 6 Moon Rocks with Hiding Spots and Glow in the Dark Edges.
- 2 Round Hollow Hiding Rocks
- 1 Obsidian Polished Gem Stone
- 1 Amethyst Polished Gem
- 1 Aquamarine Gem Stone
- 1 Rose Quartz Polished Pyramid

* Food Stock
(I like my fish to have a nice variety of food to enjoy)

- Omega One ~ Veggie Pellets (Fatty Acids, Color, Immune support)
- Tetra Pro ~ Tropical Crisps
- Tetra Min + ~ Tropical Flakes
- Tetra Color + ~ Tropical Flakes (Color enhancer)
- Glo Fish ~ Special Flake Food (Glo Enhancer)
- San Francisco Bay Brand - Frozen Blood Worm (protein, freshness)
(Next I'm going to get the frozen variety pack for them with the shrimp, bloodworm, etc)

I'm also considering feeding them live mosquito larvae in when it warms up, however I am not sure if there any risks as far as infections or such.

Any How here is a few photos of the tank, the Cardinals and Neons appear to be schooling together, even more so than my 5 Gymnocorymbus ternetzi.
Is this really the case? they are the same genus...

3,261 Posts
:help: Hello All, I'm new to aquariums and I have a few questions
(I swear I tried to keep this brief.... it didn't work)
You should have tried much harder.

Schooling just means swimming in the same direction, like how dinosaurs and humans will run in the same direction when they are chased by a Tyrannosaurus rex. But when they aren't being chased, they shoal, which means hanging out at the street corner loitering.

Fish will huddle/school for various reasons. One reason: bad water quality.

The tank is not cycled. The fish will suffer.

18 Posts
Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
yes those bulbs will take some time to germinate.
Ive read that cardinals and neons like allot of flora, so I know I need allot.
However Im not sure how many aquatic plants to add, as I need plenty of emulsion to fertilize my non-aquatic plants via the aquaponic system.

1,431 Posts
I will have to remedy that.
water changed on 3/10
tested 3/13 ;1 nitrite.
Change at least 50%.
Strips are not most accurate method of test.
The difference in appearance of neons to cardinals is very little.
The difference in what they prefer is larger,you need to research fish compatability BEFORE purchases.
Your tank is still cycling by the nitrite so neither the neons or cardinal will be happy.
Nitrite should not be allowed to go above 1ppm and is ideally zero.
Test daily/feed light till cycle is completed.
Change water to keep nitrites under 1ppm.
Tank is 20 gallons(24x16x12 called 20 tall).

18 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Change at least 50%.
That will be great for fertilizing my plants, but won't that be harsh on the fish?

Tank is 20 gallons(24x16x12 called 20 tall).
Yep. I found a calculation site
Wow with 12 fish in a 20 gallon I hope I'm not crowding the little guys.

Long story short, some unexpected turn of events hit my business and the aquarium was a rushed process, as the aquaponics system was overdue.

This 20 gallon will have to do until I relocate the operation.
Even if that means the aquaponics won't cover all the fertilization, some plants might just have to be fertilized with less natural methods.

11,721 Posts
For the oxygen and waste, go by the full volume of all the water in the system. That is, your whole aquaponics set up.
For example, if there is 100 gallons in the whole system (aquarium, plumbing and grow beds) then you 'ought' to be able to keep 100 inches of fish in this system, going by the 1" per gallon guide.
This is a ridiculous number of fish for a 20 gallon tank, though. If your system is currently limited to the 20 gallon tank, then that is all the bio filter you have. Picture shows no (or almost no) plants. Test results show the bacteria are still growing.
Go by the test results. As your system matures ask yourself:

What is the least amount of crops that will be in the grow beds? Are you overlapping crops so there is always something growing? Or are there times when you totally strip everything out and the grow beds are empty?
The grow beds are your bio filter. Bacteria and plants are removing the nitrogen and other wastes. However much they can handle, when there are the fewest crops growing, that is the limits of your fish, or bio load from the point of view of the chemistry part of the picture.

While the system is still maturing (growing bacteria) you will see some ammonia and nitrite. This is not good for the fish. How fast can you add more plants? If you can get some floating plants this will use up more nitrogen the fastest. Cover the surface of the tank with Frog bit, Water Lettuce, Water Hyacinth or other plants that have some leaf surface in the air. Add beneficial bacteria. Read the label and get Nitrospira species of bacteria. Do not waste your money on anything else.

Social issues of the fish:
Fish that school ought to have a dozen or more of ONE species.
You have a couple each of half a dozen species. None are enough to be a good school.
You have fish that are incompatible. Cardinals are warm water fish, thriving in temps in the upper 70s and even into the low 80s. (80*F = 26.7*C)
Neon Tetras thrive at the cooler end of tropical, the low 70s. (72*F = 22*C)
You do the research about your other fish. (planet catfish is a very good resource for catfish, including Corydoras)
There is not room in a 20 gallon tank for more than one mid-tank schooling fish. Pick one species, and keep a dozen of them. Then get a few fish that live elsewhere in the tank, for example, a small school of Cories for the bottom. Cories are plump fish, so perhaps 6 is plenty. They will behave better with a minimum of about 5. Fewer than that they tend to hide more.
That is your tank. That is it. A dozen Neons OR Danios OR... If you like the skirts, then just keep half a dozen. They get bigger than Neons. If they are dyed fish, do not support this cruelty. Add half a dozen Cories (pick one species). If you find your whole system can support a few more fish you could think about a few more skirts or Cories.

Visually, also, a 20 gallon just cannot handle more fish. You already have it so garish that the fish do not stand out. Maybe you like having it that way. I prefer the substrate and decor to be more natural, subtle shades of tan and grey, or black, and the fish to be the most colorful things in the tank. Many fish show up better, their colors are better, brighter when the background (substrate, decor) is darker.

If you want more fish then either get a bigger tank, or get more tanks. Keep the fish in social groups according to species.
More active fish need more room for swimming, too. Though they are relatively small, a good sized school of Cardinals looks fantastic flowing over driftwood and between plants. They cannot do that flowing school effect in a small tank. They just hover. I would return the Cardinals or get them a tank at least 3' long.

What temperature is optimum for the crops in the aquaponics section? What water chemistry is optimum for these crops? High mineral levels/hard water? Soft water? High or low pH?
Get fish that thrive under those conditions.

18 Posts
Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Thanks for the replies. Sorry it took so long to get back online.
I have allot of religious ceremonies during this time of year.

All the Neons and Cardinals died within days, except for one Cardinal, I call him the Lone Ranger.

I plan to stick with the Skirt Tetras and Coreys, and once the cycle is complete I will get them more school mates.

I wanted to go for that particular look and paradigm with this tank.
I have 70 gallon waiting until I relocate my business.
The 70 gallon one will be used to replicate a natural ecosystem; media, flora, fish, other life natural to that ecosystem and beneficial to the plants.

Maybe in the future I will also do 2 more tropical tanks, 1 for Neons, 1 for Cardinals, and use them for plants that grow in those environments.

This year not allot of time was able to be put into research before implementing the system. However research should be made this year for next years projects, ie new aquaponics, Top priorities now Are Maintaining/sustaining all current systems(which includes finishing the aquaponics system) and Relocation.

As far as the Auqaponic system goes, I do not have the money to set it up yet, but it will consist of 2 Aeroponics Chambers, 3 Hyrdroponic Chambers, and 2 Drip Lines.

One Aero Chamber will be "Dedicated" and will be for more permanent plants, the other will be for propagating plants that will be potted and sold.
One Hydro Chamber will be "Dedicated" and the other two for propagation, both will be capable also of holding my 72&36 Cell Inserts for Fertilization Rotation of plants in propagation before potting, This year they will both be used heavily for that, and next year only one will be used for that.
Because of this I will be using solid waste filters on both Input and Output.
The Drip Lines will be for a Fertilization Rotation of potted plants, the water used on them will not be returning to the circuit.
So in essence there will always be at least 1 Hydro and 1 Aero chamber running with plants, which is about 1/4th of the system.

1,568 Posts
At most local fish stores they sell bunches of anacharis. These are great floaters and grow well. You just rinse off the brown parts and take off the metal clip and rubber band. Cut any dead parts off and toss in the tank. They will grow into long vines and give the fish a sense of security.
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