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Starting a 30 gallon planted tank. I want to have a semi low maintenance tank ( root tabs and water column ferts < Flourish Comp. > but no CO2 ) I was thinking of having some sort of schooling fish like Rummynose Tetras ( I dont want Neons or Cardinals because Ive currently got Neons and they are the only fish Ive had problems keeping alive ) and some bottom feeders like Sterbai or Julii Corydoras and a few Otos and then some sort of small-to medium centerpiece type fish.

Substrate will be black sand and gravel with root tabs or Jobes sticks throughout. Filter will be a Fluval or Eheim canister. I dont know if I will need a spray bar or a power head yet--I have been doing research on the 30 gallon since it is 36" long--not sure about filter flow. Lighting will be around 1.5:1 watt:gal ratio flourescent lighting---flat on the glass top of the tank. Water is city water-I use Prime during water changes and the pH is 7.6 in my other tanks. Not sure of water hardness or things like calcium etc. Ive only got an API master test kit.


Schooling fish ideas ?

Endlers --good part is they are attractive---bad, they make babies and might cause me headaches with overstocking or excessive work.

Neon Tetras--- good ; attractive fish--- bad ; drop like flies in my tank--one or two deaths every couple of weeks so far.

Cardinal Tetras---beautiful fish but Im afraid they will be dead like my Neons. dead fish= bad.

Serpea Tetras--pretty fish but too nippy--I had some in a previous tank and they drove my other fish crazy-that was a small tank with a low number of fish though. Ive heard they do better in larger groups.

Rasboras--Ive seen several Rasboras that I liked--not real familiar with them though---thoughts?

Tiger Barbs--not sure if these are a good idea or not--they are cool looking though.

Open for other suggestions--was thinking of a decent sized school--maybe 10 or more?

Bottom dwellers ;

Julii Corydoras, Sterbai Corydoras, Otocinclus affinis, shrimp ( I know nothing about shrimp--would have to do some research or go on suggestions from here. ) Im sure there will be snails---build it and they will come...7 or 8 Corydoras too many? Im leaning more towards the Corys since the Otos hide all day from what Ive read.

Centerpiece fish or pair ;

I was thinking about one or two German Blue Rams--again, I need to do some research and I am open to suggestions. I was also thinking about some other Cichlids--the only problem there is the pH of my water is too high from what Ive read. The other option would be to move my Rainbow Shark from my 29gal into this tank so he would have a little more room--albeit only 6 inches longer.

I want to have harmony in my tank. I dont want to have feeding time issues. I dont want fish fighting over space/territory. I dont want fish overcrowding my tank and causing general nasty water conditions.
 

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For schooling fish, try looking through any of the blue eye rainbow species; pseudomugil spp. Black darter tetras are pretty neat as well.

GBR's have been spoiled. Buy from local breeders or wild caught only; do your homework. Someone has ruined the genetics on these fish, and 3rd world fish farms are pumping out sickly rams in antibiotic hormone baths. If anyone knows which fish farm(s) supply Africa Northwest Wholesale Pets & Suplies with their rams, then we'll know who to blame.

As an alternative, I've found many apistos easier to keep than commercial rams. These fish are very similar, very colorful, and if you do the right things with your water they're easy to spawn. If you don't want to adjust your pH, the heartier species will live in water pushing 8pH/9KH if they've been adapted for it.

You could also try the newer Cobalt Blue Rams. Despite their color, they seem to have healthy genetics, though they are a bit steep in price.

For shrimp, I find their relationship with rams and apistos touchy depending on the species. RCS aren't too picky about water, but they end up as food some times. Amano's of a decent size seem to stand up to apistos and rams well enough, but they're prone to committing tankacide by jumping out when they're smaller/newer to the tank.

-Philosophos
 

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I got a school of 14 red eye tetras to serve as dither fish for my red hook silver dollar and absolutely love them. They are very striking fish with their extra shinny bodies and the red eye stands out a lot. The red eyes stand out amazingly in dark substrate/background aquariums. Very recommended! haven´t seen any aggression towards the red hook at all, they chase and nip each other on ocassion
 
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