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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The future 55 gallon is going in the living room. The main goal of the tank is to have a planted freshwater tank. It would need to be stocked with beginner fish, but I would like them to be interesting or interactive. I want the tank to be easy to maintain for my parents, but also nice to look at. They like some of the underwater, bubble river decorations and some of the generic resin decor. I don't know how I could mix that into a planted tank. I'm thinking of having 30+ scissortail rasboras as I've heard from aquariumcoop that if you have a big enough school they will follow your hand. I wanted to do multiple smallish fish schools to create interest, but I don't know how that would work with such a big school of scissortails. I'd like to include an "oddball fish" like a hatchet fish school or, purely as an example, some whip tail catfish. My mom is attracted to the black skirt tetras and some of the more "prettier" looking fish, but my dad doesn't seem to have a preference. Any ideas on stocking, decor, and plants would be greatly appreciated!
 

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Based on the info provided and the questions asked, I'm going with the assumption that your parents are beginners who don't want heaps of maintenance duties with their tank.

An easy care dwarf cichlid would be a fun addition. Stick with just one since a pair might start breeding and then your parents would have to deal with that, but a lot of them become very friendly with their keepers and will follow you and even beg for food. Apistogrammas like agassizi and caucatoides are good choices. A single angelfish will also do that (again, get just one to avoid breeding or agression); my angelfish would eat directly from my fingers.

A small shoal (7-10) corydoras would also be an entertaining addition. They bumble around like silly puppies and are both playful and curious, as well as peaceful with other tankmates. Most species commonly seen in shops are easy to take care of, with bronze cories (and the albino of the same species) being extremely hardy.

For a 55g, you might want to consider getting a canister filter. I've only ever use the Reina Filstar, but a lot of people like the Fluvals (which is the brand I prefer for my HOB filters). You can use a HOB on a 55 gallon (I do on my 60g right now), but it can be hard to position one on a tank that size that will ensure good flow throughout.

Ehiem and Fluval both make decent heaters. I use an Ehiem in my 60g, but Fluval are sold at pretty much all chain shops.

For lighting, what you want to buy depends on what you want to plant. If this is to be a low-tech tank with easy plants, don't get something that will blast too much light into the tank or you're going to have heaps of algae. I have successfully grown low-light/low-tech plants for years with a $40 cheap full-spectrum LED bar from ebay. If you do get a higher-end light, Beamswork, Finnex, and Chihiros are all popular, but make sure it has a dimmer and timer so you can turn it down. Go for LED though regardless, as they produce less heat and don't require regular replacement of bulbs.

For easy plants, good choices in a tank that size would be cryptocoryne (especially wendti, undulata and spiralis) and swords. Neither would require your folks to trim them like stem plants, and they can be fed with just root tabs monthly instead of weekly dosing of the water column. They also take low light well. If the tank is deep and you want something big near the back, a ruben sword has great color (can get 24 inches though), or for something a bit smaller red ozelot and flame swords give a nice color pop and stay around 15 inches. Crypt spiralis gets tall and narrow, making it a good background plant, and undulata will look good near the front at around 7 inches tall; windti is medium sized at up to 12 inches, though there are a number of varieties that are smaller too. Jungle val will also grow well, but it tends to send out heaps of runners and can take over an aquarium if you don't thin it regularly after the first 6 months or so. If you get cryptocoryne, be advised that it is very normal for them to lose the leaves they had when you got them a week or two after they are planted, but new ones adapted to your tank will grow in soon after.

Other good easy plants would be anubias and java fern. Those grow best attached to stones or driftwood, which makes them easy to move out of the way during tank maintenance, but be forewarned that most of the time the java ferns at shops were grown out of the water prior to arriving. The old leaves will turn brown and produce baby plants before dying back all together, but the rhizome will start producing new leaves after a couple weeks. These plants are hardy and easy, but are very slow growing, so the size you start with is the size they will stay for quite some time, especially in a low-tech tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Based on the info provided and the questions asked, I'm going with the assumption that your parents are beginners who don't want heaps of maintenance duties with their tank.

An easy care dwarf cichlid would be a fun addition. Stick with just one since a pair might start breeding and then your parents would have to deal with that, but a lot of them become very friendly with their keepers and will follow you and even beg for food. Apistogrammas like agassizi and caucatoides are good choices. A single angelfish will also do that (again, get just one to avoid breeding or agression); my angelfish would eat directly from my fingers.

A small shoal (7-10) corydoras would also be an entertaining addition. They bumble around like silly puppies and are both playful and curious, as well as peaceful with other tankmates. Most species commonly seen in shops are easy to take care of, with bronze cories (and the albino of the same species) being extremely hardy.

For a 55g, you might want to consider getting a canister filter. I've only ever use the Reina Filstar, but a lot of people like the Fluvals (which is the brand I prefer for my HOB filters). You can use a HOB on a 55 gallon (I do on my 60g right now), but it can be hard to position one on a tank that size that will ensure good flow throughout.

Ehiem and Fluval both make decent heaters. I use an Ehiem in my 60g, but Fluval are sold at pretty much all chain shops.

For lighting, what you want to buy depends on what you want to plant. If this is to be a low-tech tank with easy plants, don't get something that will blast too much light into the tank or you're going to have heaps of algae. I have successfully grown low-light/low-tech plants for years with a $40 cheap full-spectrum LED bar from ebay. If you do get a higher-end light, Beamswork, Finnex, and Chihiros are all popular, but make sure it has a dimmer and timer so you can turn it down. Go for LED though regardless, as they produce less heat and don't require regular replacement of bulbs.

For easy plants, good choices in a tank that size would be cryptocoryne (especially wendti, undulata and spiralis) and swords. Neither would require your folks to trim them like stem plants, and they can be fed with just root tabs monthly instead of weekly dosing of the water column. They also take low light well. If the tank is deep and you want something big near the back, a ruben sword has great color (can get 24 inches though), or for something a bit smaller red ozelot and flame swords give a nice color pop and stay around 15 inches. Crypt spiralis gets tall and narrow, making it a good background plant, and undulata will look good near the front at around 7 inches tall; windti is medium sized at up to 12 inches, though there are a number of varieties that are smaller too. Jungle val will also grow well, but it tends to send out heaps of runners and can take over an aquarium if you don't thin it regularly after the first 6 months or so. If you get cryptocoryne, be advised that it is very normal for them to lose the leaves they had when you got them a week or two after they are planted, but new ones adapted to your tank will grow in soon after.

Other good easy plants would be anubias and java fern. Those grow best attached to stones or driftwood, which makes them easy to move out of the way during tank maintenance, but be forewarned that most of the time the java ferns at shops were grown out of the water prior to arriving. The old leaves will turn brown and produce baby plants before dying back all together, but the rhizome will start producing new leaves after a couple weeks. These plants are hardy and easy, but are very slow growing, so the size you start with is the size they will stay for quite some time, especially in a low-tech tank.
Thank you for the ideas, I'll be sure to look into the fish and plants you mentioned. I wasn't aware that flow would be a concern with HOB filters, so I'll look into that too!
 

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The Oase Biomaster Thermo is a great product. Has a pre filter and a built in heater. I've had the Biomaster 350 for a year now and it's an absolutely fantastic canister filter.
 

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Here is a super simple easy low tech planted angelfish tank. Angelfish are super hardy and easy to car for. This is a 60 Gallon Livingroom show tank I did at my parents house.
 
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