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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
While cycling my tank I’m trying to narrow down types of fish I should get when the time is right (ETA 2-4 weeks from now). I’ve done a fair amount of reading about this, but like much else related to planted tanks, it’s all a bit subjective and confusing.

I have a 17 gallon tank (ADA 60P) with Amazonia v.2 substrate, a HOB filter with adjustable flow, a heater with a thermostat controller, and a Finnex Planted+ 24/7 light. I’m running a small air stone too. Photo below to show how much planting I’ve currently got in the tank – I’m planning to add more floaters and maybe some tall background plants etc. As you see, the driftwood takes up a fair amount of space – it’s spider wood and will provide a lot of hiding places for fish, but it does take up some swimming room and water volume. I don’t have a lid on my tank. I was planning to do weekly water changes of about 50% when I get my fish, though I’m reading that some of the fish I like are very sensitive and do better with smaller volume (20-30%), and maybe less frequent, water changes …

My main priority is to get a group of very small schooling or shoaling fish like chili rasboras, ember tetras, or neon tetras, etc — I’d like to have a big enough group of tiny fish to make them feel confident and secure. I prefer to see them, rather than search for them, so fish that will be hiding all the time aren’t for me. I also plan to have something like pygmy corys, assuming the Amazonia substrate isn’t too rough for them, and maybe some shrimp to help with clean up. I’ve also thought a lot about getting a nice docile female betta for the tank as well, but don’t know if my tank is large enough for that.

So – I really want to get this right. Do you have any suggestions about which types of fish to choose, and how many of each type I could hope to safely house in my 60P tank?

Plant Pet supply Wood Organism Terrestrial plant
Thanks very much!
 

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Are you planning to order from an online fish seller? If you do be aware you will definitely be in for at least 50 dollars in shipping and maybe more. Otherwise your choice in fish will likely be greatly determined by what your local fish store has on offer. This will also change based on their stock. I'd wait till your tank is cycled and then go and see what they have. Additionally you will want to know your water parameters. If you are operating with a ph of 6 you have different options then if your ph is 8. That said, I really like shrimp. I try to keep neocaridina and amano shrimp in every tank I have. If planning a small peaceful fish then consider some shrimp as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks! I am planning to buy from my good LFS. He usually carries all the types of fish I’m looking at. I’m planning to add creatures slowly, starting with some shrimp and then adding either the corys or the tiny fish — not in a hurry, so I can wait for the right fish to come in. My parameters are coming along — I’ve been at 0 ammonia for 2 days and my pH so far is always at 7.0-7.2. So I think I will have parameters that will generally work for the kinds of fish I’m considering. Just trying to figure out the best combination of fish and how many of each type I should get.
 

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The old rule of thumb is an inch of fish per gallon of water. There are a lot of problems with this rule. Some fish need more space despite small size etc, but it's a good starting point for more research. Anyway there is no instant answer to this one because it's mostly about your preferences. You could have cardinal tetras if you like that electric blue line, or ember tetras if you like tiny red fish etc. So what you pick will depend on what you like. Since these fish could be with you for a few years you should pick a fish you really like the look of.
 

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I can recommend that ember tetras are a but more easy to keep than chilis. They also seem a little more confident, though, as with many things in fish keeping, others may have had better luck getting their chilis to hang out in the open more. Both are lovely little fish.

I've kept dwarf cories on gravel without problems; just be sure to keep the tank very clean. They are reasonably adaptable, but do best if water is also fairly consistent. More frequent small water changes have been better in my experience, otherwise they are relatively easy fish to maintain.

I did keep a female betta in my 20g with both embers and hasbrosus cories (as well as 3 otos and a large amano), and they were fine, but betta personality can vary dramatically from very calm to murderous, so have a backup plan if you try a betta. Bettas usually do not mix well with neocardenia.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yes, I hear you loud and clear @minorhero. I guess I’m just getting confused about numbers of different species that will work well together. Plus many folks say a female betta will work with chilis, or with neons, but then elsewhere I see lots of folks saying that’s not a good idea in anything less than 20-30 gallons.

thanks, MissCris — super helpful. Care to venture a rough estimate for how many embers or chilies and Pygmy corys I should shoot for in my 17G tank, assuming I might eventually add a female betta later?
 

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I think you could very easily do 8 cories and roughly 10-12 embers or chilis, and still be ok to add a betta, as long as you are also keeping plenty of plants in there, and you are good about maintenance. It might be possible to stock heavier with chilis, probably 15 or so since they are smaller, but I think they might also be more at risk from a betta.

If you skip the betta, I'd do a dozen cories and 15 embers though, again as long as you are on top of water testing & changes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
MissCris, thanks for that estimate. Really helps me in figuring this out. I kinda don’t even want that many corys! I’ll be sure to get enough to make them feel safe though!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Jack2714 you are so kind to give me such a detailed and thoughtful answer! So thorough and helpful! If you don’t mind I have a couple of questions though.

I have ADA Amazonia v.2 substrate — is that considered a “gravel?” I didn’t think so, but obviously I know little ...

In your stocking options list, am I correct in assuming that the suggested numbers for each species would be reduced if I decide that I might eventually get a female betta?

I notice you didnt mention chili rasboras in your lists — any particular reason?

thanks so much (and thanks for liking my driftwood!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I’m gonna have to think a little more. Definitely some dwarf corys — I might prefer the looks of otos but I know they’re almost all wild caught and hard to do right by. I’ll also get some clean up shrimp. And pretty sure I’ll go with the chilis or some sort of small tetra — neon, neon green, or ember. Whichever seems to have the best chance of staying small and happy in my tank, and preferably schooling more than shoaling if possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
@Jack2714 - That’s hard to say. It’s a new tank and I have nothing to compare progress to. All I can tell at this point is that none of the plants have died and only a couple of the crypts’ leaves have melted. The moneywort is noticeably growing and the other plants are holding their own. Algae is there but not very much, and doesn’t seem to be increasing. I should say that I’m limiting the photoperiod to about 6 hours at about 60% of max intensity, and the heater is pretty low at 72*-73*. I also probably didn’t do it all correctly from the beginning (today is Day 19) — I had the charcoal that came with the filter in it until I switched it out for more ceramic rings after the first week, and I didn’t start adding (slightly reduced) daily doses of ADA green Brighty Neutral K and Brighty Mineral fertilizers until a few days ago. (I knew these fertilizers were more $$ than others I could’ve gone with, but decided to go with them “spur of the moment” mostly to support my great LFS.).
 

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I’ll jump in here- I prefer cardinals over neons. Cardinals are a really classic and beautiful choice. Their red colors are complementary to the greens in your tank. I have a school of 15 in my 60uns tank. they are peaceful, and when I mean peaceful I mean they aren’t constantly chasing each other around or sparring with each other. They are a tight schooling fish and color up really nicely as they age. I find that the sparring can happen with neons, other tetras and cpds to name a few, and it gets to be pretty annoying to watch in a 60p. I also have a small school of salt and pepper corys and otocincli. These fish are great but the first week that you keep them can be a roll of the dice. Not all otocinclus are wild caught, but they are just awesome if you acclimate them correctly. The same goes for the Pygmy Cory. In regards to jumping, If you don’t fill your water all the way to the top you shouldn’t have any real issue with the cardinals jumping if you go that route.

Why are you running an air stone in the tank right now? (Sorry if you’ve already been asked). You don’t need it and it just creates surface agitation which you are already getting with your HOB filter.

I know you said that you are waiting for your tank to cycle, but you really need to keep an eye on your ammonia levels with the aqua soil before you add the fish. I’d actually add more plants to your tank and plant it more fully. The Aquasoil is really helpful kickstarting plant growth in new tanks because it leaches so much ammonia so take advantage of it in the beginning and plant plant plant. It can leach ammonia for up to 6 weeks. So water changes are also important. I think the ADA ferts you purchased are ok, the brightly K is obviously heavy in potassium and lacks nitrogen because they are meant to be used in concert with the aqua soil, not to mention expensive for a container of water mixed with K.

Also you mentioned water changes. I wouldn’t be too concerned with the difference between 50% water changes and 30% weekly water changes and fish sensitivity with the choices you listed. I think water changes in setups like these are very important.

Anyway, goodluck to you and nice job supporting your LFS. The more you get into it I think you will want to change from using the ADA ferts and dry dose your own or mix your own IHMO. Best, el gordo
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for all that, ElGordo. I like the cardinals a lot, but assumed neons or embers would be better in my 60P because they’re a bit smaller than the cardinals — I assumed the tank size and length would translate to a slight improvement in swim length with the smaller fish. I do like the idea of tightly schooling fish. Maybe I should rethink this?

I’m running an air stone simply because someone (not here) told me it is a good idea. Untrue? Should I disconnect it, temporarily or permanently?

I am watching my parameters. Ammonia has been sitting at zero for a few days now; still working through the nitrates/nitrates phases. I’ll keep using the ADA ferts until they’re gone (or until they seem to be detrimental). After that I’ll figure out what else to use instead, whether an all-in-one or dry ferts if that seems better. Would be happy to keep up with weekly (or more??) 50% water changes if that’s not too drastic for my fishies.

thanks for chiming in — I really appreciate it. (And thanks for your separate posts about your DIY acrylic LED light risers — I need somethinglike that for my light fixture!)
 

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Cardinal tetras are brighter than neons, but they also prefer warmer water, so keep that in mind when choosing your fish.

I've kept both, and like them both for different reasons, but fish health is important, so make sure all your fish have a temperature range overlap so that you can set their thermostat at a temperature all of them will flourish in.
 

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Thanks for all that, ElGordo. I like the cardinals a lot, but assumed neons or embers would be better in my 60P because they’re a bit smaller than the cardinals — I assumed the tank size and length would translate to a slight improvement in swim length with the smaller fish. I do like the idea of tightly schooling fish. Maybe I should rethink this?

I’m running an air stone simply because someone (not here) told me it is a good idea. Untrue? Should I disconnect it, temporarily or permanently?

I am watching my parameters. Ammonia has been sitting at zero for a few days now; still working through the nitrates/nitrates phases. I’ll keep using the ADA ferts until they’re gone (or until they seem to be detrimental). After that I’ll figure out what else to use instead, whether an all-in-one or dry ferts if that seems better. Would be happy to keep up with weekly (or more??) 50% water changes if that’s not too drastic for my fishies.

thanks for chiming in — I really appreciate it. (And thanks for your separate posts about your DIY acrylic LED light risers — I need somethinglike that for my light fixture!)
Cool beans. I say scrap the air stone. And yeah any of the fishes suggested could be cool (I wouldn’t do the betta). I love my cardinals in my 60 is a UNS and little deeper than yours. Glad you liked the riser idea. I may be selling mine once the chihiros light arrives.

Cardinal tetras are brighter than neons, but they also prefer warmer water, so keep that in mind when choosing your fish.

I've kept both, and like them both for different reasons, but fish health is important, so make sure all your fish have a temperature range overlap so that you can set their thermostat at a temperature all of them will flourish in.
My cardinals thrive anywhere between 70-82...whatever the ambient room temp is. I don’t use a heater with them and my temp in my house is around 69/70 during the winter and they are fine. Never been an issue. What they don’t like would be a drastic temp change but that goes for any fish. Temp right now is 71 (just checked it and no difference in their behavior. No health issue. Super hardy fish).
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
@Fat Guy, can you explain more about why you’d scrap the air stone? I’m running an AquaClear 30 HOB filter. I think that it has plenty of gallons/hour water turnover, and I’m keeping the tank water level just below the outflow to avoid too heavy a flow — as it is the plants below the outflow take a bit of a beating. I assumed that an air stone would be good to get some water movement on the other side of the tank, since my driftwood sits between the HOB and the air stone.

I’ve read up on this a bit and see there’s a lot of confusion about whether they should/can be used in a non-CO2 planted tank with fish. Some say using air stones in low tank does no harm and may well help increase water movement and gas exchange, while others say that air stones decrease CO2 levels in non-CO2 tanks. What’s your take?
 
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