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How many rainbow fish in 55gallons?

13594 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Seattle_Aquarist
Im still undecided as to what type of rainbow fish I'm going to go for.

My tank is in the living-room and I want a few big colourful fish in there.

Can I mix species? How many can I comfortably fit into my tank? What tank mates would be good?

My tank only has 4 ottos in it at the minute, fully cycled, its planted heavily, but needs a while more to "fill in".

I have 2 hob filters, an aquael 1000uv led and a stingray 15. I really cant afford to buy a canister at the minute.

Thanks for any help
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Hi Racie Gracy,

Rainbowfish are great in a planted tank; they don't typically damage plants nor bother other species of fish. I have a 45 gallon that has Melanotaenia lacustris (Turquoise Rainbowfish) along with Gold Angels and Rummynose tetras (along with cleaning fish). Depending upon the species of Rainbowfish and the number of other species you chose (if any) I could see up to 9 or more of a larger Rainbowfish species.

BTW, my wife and I have visited Ireland, your countryside is beautiful (reminds me of Washington state without as many trees) and the people were the friendliest we ever encountered in our travels. Nothing like a pub lunch and a Black and Tan on a beer mat!

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Hey there

First off, here's the link to the European rainbowfish forum Its worth exploring.

Most large rainbows aren't going to get more than 3.5-4inches in a tank that size if you only feed them what they need. I have a 90 and most fish don't bigger than 4 inches, although i do feed them sparingly. Using the inch per gallon rule you can get away with about 12, provided things are filtered well.

Just when getting rainbows keep in mind that they really do look better in bigger groups. When I started I wanted to get a pair of x, another of y, etc. You're better off investing in good quality fish and getting a couple species with 6 fish per group or so. I'd really look into whats out there species wise first. There's so many bows out there aside from the commonly available ones its worth putting the homework time in.

I don't know what the fish store stock is like in Ireland, however, here in the U.S its terrible, and hence i posted the forum link above. You're often significantly better of trying to get your stock directly from someone who breeds them, they are significantly better quality fish - esp. colorwise, and are often cheaper than fish store stock.
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Inch per gallon guide is not valid for fish over 2". A 4" long fish produces 8 times the waste (ammonia, CO2) of a 2" fish.

15 might work, but that is overstocking, especially when you add in a few other species. If there is ever a power outage you would have a very hard time maintaining the tank by hand power.

Most Rainbows are not too aggressive, they will just display to each other and some minor chasing. The major exception to this is Melanotaenia praecox. The males will chase each other and the females to death. I would skip these and select perhaps other 2 species and then get 2 males and 3-4 females of each of those 2 species.
Some rainbow can hybridize. If you have a mixed tank and they produce fry make sure you tell any buyers that they may be hybrids.
+1 for zimbo's comments. Gary Lange (Rainbowfish explorer and breeder that lives in St. Louis, MO) did a great talk for our club on Rainbowfish; quality fish look fantastic. I have visited that forum often, they offer great fish and and advice. Sometimes you can even buy the eggs of species you don't see offered commercially and raise your own school of rainbowfish.
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