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Great info, thanks. What about plecos? Do you think a few dwarf or other small species of pleco might do well instead of ottos?

So if I do 9ish amanos, 9ish snails, and either a few plecos or more amanos, how much room would that leave me for a group of neon/cardinal tetras? I am reading about 10 can go into a 10-gallon, but I am not sure if that is on top of the bioload of the clean up crews. Plus, plants and that big driftwood piece is taking up a lot of swim room...maybe I'm safer starting with 8 or so?
I've never used plecos, from what I've heard they have a pretty high bioload. Amanos and the clithons have super small bio loads. What type of filtration are you running? At the end of the day, if you have great filtration you could probably get by with 5-10 schooling fish, but I think in a small tank like you've got, it would detract from the scale of the scape if you have too many fish and are leaning more towards the overstocked side. I used to also be obsessed with the big schools of tetras you see in some of the larger aquascapes, but I think with smaller tanks its much more effective to have 2 or 3 non-schooling fish that add color/contrast. A Beta could be an option, or a gourami
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Oh I like that idea. I definitely don't want to overstock and I agree it adds a nice element of nuance if you have to, at least sometimes, search to find the fish. A couple non-schooling fish is a good idea.

My filtration is pretty good, I am running an Oase filtosmart 100 canister filter with 160 GPH. I did turn the flow down quite a bit but it should be more than sufficient I would think.
 

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A small pleco would most likely put you over, even smaller plecos are quite bioload heavy and they truly aren't that good at cleaning algae. Most will either want to eat wood or more fish food. They are more omnivorous than anything. Just my 2 cents.

*Edit didn't catch the last 2 posts on this- reception is messing with me- ignore this post, my apologies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 · (Edited)
3-week update:

Everything is growing in quite nicely -- I even see new Eleocharis runners popping through the soil! I did what was suggested and re-planted the new submersed growth for Rotala and Ludwigia. The Bacopa I originally planted to the left of the driftwood was not doing much (not enough light?), so I removed it and put it in a grow out tank.

It's early, but I have had virtually 0 algae issues so far, which is nice. I'll credit that to a conservative photoperiod (5 hours/day for the first 2 weeks, now up to 6.5), staying vigilant with water changes, and it seems people are right when they say to plant heavy from the start!

As of yesterday my ammonia and nitrite were virtually 0. Curiously, my nitrate was also close to 0, which is not what I would expect at this point in cycling, but plants look healthy so I'm not too worried about it. Should I add some ammonia artificially and make sure it and the resulting nitrite get eaten up quickly before I consider the tank cycled? Either way, I should be ready to add livestock in the coming days (in addition to the 2 little hitchhikers that made their way in and have been cruising laps on the glass for 3 straight weeks 🐌). I'm still a little torn on that subject, but I'm thinking some combination of:

6 Neon tetra or chili rasbora
1-2 Sparkling or Dwarf Gourami
9 Nerite snails
9 Amano shrimp

If I can manage it, I really do want a small group of schooling/shoaling species and then a couple solo accent fish. The tank is 11.4 gallons and I don't want to overstock, but I also have pretty good filtration. Will take any suggestions anyone has!

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3-week update:

Everything is growing in quite nicely -- I even see new Eleocharis runners popping through the soil! I did what was suggested and re-planted the new submersed growth for Rotala and Ludwigia. The Bacopa I originally planted to the left of the driftwood was not doing much (not enough light?), so I removed it and put it in a grow out tank.

It's early, but I have had virtually 0 algae issues so far, which is nice. I'll credit that to a conservative photoperiod (5 hours/day for the first 2 weeks, now up to 6.5), staying vigilant with water changes, and it seems people are right when they say to plant heavy from the start!

As of yesterday my ammonia and nitrite were virtually 0. Curiously, my nitrate was also close to 0, which is not what I would expect at this point in cycling, but plants look healthy so I'm not too worried about it. Should I add some ammonia artificially and make sure it and the resulting nitrite get eaten up quickly before I consider the tank cycled? Either way, I should be ready to add livestock in the coming days (in addition to the 2 little hitchhikers that made their way in and have been cruising laps on the glass for 3 straight weeks 🐌). I'm still a little torn on that subject, but I'm thinking some combination of:

6 Neon tetra or chili rasbora
1-2 Sparkling or Dwarf Gourami
9 Nerite snails
9 Amano shrimp

If I can manage it, I really do want a small group of schooling/shoaling species and then a couple solo accent fish. The tank is 11.4 gallons and I don't want to overstock, but I also have pretty good filtration. Will take any suggestions anyone has!

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Go for the chili rasboras with sparkling gourami pair.

Scrap the neon tetras (they need a 20g long anyways as theyre active) and the dwarf gourami idea (dwarf gouramis can reach 3 inches in some individuals, theyre quite large for a 10 gallon, and are likely to die from dwarf gourami disease anyways. They usually do best 20 gallons and up as well... add in most sold are male, females hard to find, and 2 males in same tank will fight).

With a smaller tank and such a lovely scape, you will want smaller tank mates that don't take away from the scape, while still giving a spacious home for the fish themselves.
 

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I love your setup and plant choice! For a Nebie as you say, you've done a terrific start. I was reading through and alot of people gave sound advice.

Only thing I can contribute to this threat besides saying it looks fantastic is this:

If you want your carpeting plant to thrive and take off much faster separate to 3-5 blades each and then replant spacing out all over the areas you want. If you have good lighting it will really flourish...I don't use co2 in any of my tanks and I have lush thick hairgrass and monte carlo. In my tank with low light it never thrived.

Looking forward to the next update!
Ps. If you like the look of the rocks and sticks, keep em. This tank is all about what you find visually appealing and the health and happiness of your fish/critters.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Go for the chili rasboras with sparkling gourami pair.

Scrap the neon tetras (they need a 20g long anyways as theyre active) and the dwarf gourami idea (dwarf gouramis can reach 3 inches in some individuals, theyre quite large for a 10 gallon, and are likely to die from dwarf gourami disease anyways. They usually do best 20 gallons and up as well... add in most sold are male, females hard to find, and 2 males in same tank will fight).

With a smaller tank and such a lovely scape, you will want smaller tank mates that don't take away from the scape, while still giving a spacious home for the fish themselves.
Good to know about the neons. I didn't realize they were on the more active side. Chilis are tiny and colorful and I think will make a great group for my tank!

I also didn't realize the "dwarf" gouramis weren't the smallest of the gouramis! Will definitely be going with the sparkling, if I can get my hands on some. Would you recommend a male and female pair? Or two females? I've read they've been known to jump out of the tank, but I really dont want to add a lid...

Is there any benefit to adding all the fish at once, or can I add the rasbora, let them settle in, then bring in the gouramis?
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
I love your setup and plant choice! For a Nebie as you say, you've done a terrific start. I was reading through and alot of people gave sound advice.

Only thing I can contribute to this threat besides saying it looks fantastic is this:

If you want your carpeting plant to thrive and take off much faster separate to 3-5 blades each and then replant spacing out all over the areas you want. If you have good lighting it will really flourish...I don't use co2 in any of my tanks and I have lush thick hairgrass and monte carlo. In my tank with low light it never thrived.

Looking forward to the next update!
Ps. If you like the look of the rocks and sticks, keep em. This tank is all about what you find visually appealing and the health and happiness of your fish/critters.
I appreciate the kind words! It's been a long but fun experience and I am already looking for a spot in my house for the next tank (or 3)!

Good to know about the hairgrass. Luckily, the areas I am trying to cover are pretty small, so it shouldn't take too long for it to grow in. And even if it does, I can wait :) But that's reassuring that you have had success in low tech setups, even with monte carlo! I love the look of that stuff. Do you use aquasoil or does it grow for you in other substrates?

And I agree about the rocks and sticks. Like anything else, scaping is pretty subjective -- I tend to like the extra little details and elements of scale, especially in smaller tanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Also, does anyone have any ideas why/how my nitrates are 0? Does that just mean my plants are absorbing ALL of it? Anything I should be concerned with?
 

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Good to know about the neons. I didn't realize they were on the more active side. Chilis are tiny and colorful and I think will make a great group for my tank!

I also didn't realize the "dwarf" gouramis weren't the smallest of the gouramis! Will definitely be going with the sparkling, if I can get my hands on some. Would you recommend a male and female pair? Or two females? I've read they've been known to jump out of the tank, but I really dont want to add a lid...

Is there any benefit to adding all the fish at once, or can I add the rasbora, let them settle in, then bring in the gouramis?
Add the chilis first, then the sparkling gouramis. Go for either a male and female or 2 females. Can be hard to sex them, look at them back-lit.
2 males will fight.

Also, does anyone have any ideas why/how my nitrates are 0? Does that just mean my plants are absorbing ALL of it? Anything I should be concerned with?
If you dose ammonia and test after, is everything 0? If so, then essentially this is called a "silent cycle" where the plants are controlling your parameters instead of bacteria in the filter. If you notice it's staying 0 after adding ammonia, and your plants are growing well, then you can start by adding the first group of fish, monitor closely.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Add the chilis first, then the sparkling gouramis. Go for either a male and female or 2 females. Can be hard to sex them, look at them back-lit.
2 males will fight.


If you dose ammonia and test after, is everything 0? If so, then essentially this is called a "silent cycle" where the plants are controlling your parameters instead of bacteria in the filter. If you notice it's staying 0 after adding ammonia, and your plants are growing well, then you can start by adding the first group of fish, monitor closely.
Well, turns out the problem is not 0 nitrates, but my reading comprehension. I was reading the API kit instructions wrong and didn't shake the solution #2 bottle. Nice. Did that, retested, and now I see ~20 ppm. That's more like it.

Ok, now, the question: should I wait for nitrates to go down a bit? Or is 20-30 ppm safe for fish/shrimp?
 

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Well, turns out the problem is not 0 nitrates, but my reading comprehension. I was reading the API kit instructions wrong and didn't shake the solution #2 bottle. Nice. Did that, retested, and now I see ~20 ppm. That's more like it.

Ok, now, the question: should I wait for nitrates to go down a bit? Or is 20-30 ppm safe for fish/shrimp?
20 is safest upper level, do a water change when it reaches 20
 

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3-week update:

Everything is growing in quite nicely -- I even see new Eleocharis runners popping through the soil! I did what was suggested and re-planted the new submersed growth for Rotala and Ludwigia. The Bacopa I originally planted to the left of the driftwood was not doing much (not enough light?), so I removed it and put it in a grow out tank.

It's early, but I have had virtually 0 algae issues so far, which is nice. I'll credit that to a conservative photoperiod (5 hours/day for the first 2 weeks, now up to 6.5), staying vigilant with water changes, and it seems people are right when they say to plant heavy from the start!

As of yesterday my ammonia and nitrite were virtually 0. Curiously, my nitrate was also close to 0, which is not what I would expect at this point in cycling, but plants look healthy so I'm not too worried about it. Should I add some ammonia artificially and make sure it and the resulting nitrite get eaten up quickly before I consider the tank cycled? Either way, I should be ready to add livestock in the coming days (in addition to the 2 little hitchhikers that made their way in and have been cruising laps on the glass for 3 straight weeks 🐌). I'm still a little torn on that subject, but I'm thinking some combination of:

6 Neon tetra or chili rasbora
1-2 Sparkling or Dwarf Gourami
9 Nerite snails
9 Amano shrimp

If I can manage it, I really do want a small group of schooling/shoaling species and then a couple solo accent fish. The tank is 11.4 gallons and I don't want to overstock, but I also have pretty good filtration. Will take any suggestions anyone has!

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View attachment 1032214
Hi there! I am trying to sell my chili rasboras. I live in Central MA and I have about 7-8 of them if interested. I paid 5$ each. Willing to sell for 4$ each:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
6-week update:

I ended up initially stocking with 6 chili rasbora, 1 sparking gourami (couldn't find a pair), 4 zebra nerites and 5 cherry shrimp. After a week and realizing just how tiny the rasbora are, I went back for more...and ended up coming home with 6 celestial pearl danios instead (a fish store is a dangerous place). I've been monitoring behavior closely and testing water parameters, and so far all fish seem good and bioload is under control. Long term plan is to build the CPDs an enclosure of their own because they are full-on psychopaths and their social dynamics I think call for a bigger group in a bigger enclosure. They are non-stop chasing each other around the tank, wiggling around in the hairgrass, and are always front and center. I am pretty sure they are already spawning, which is providing my gourami with plenty of fresh caviar...

Also added some floating plants to help with nitrate uptake (still hovering in the 15-20 ppm range, even after a water change).

Only issue I have had is with the shrimp -- 3 of the 5 died somewhat mysteriously, and the other 2 are always hiding. I did see an exoskeleton the other day and the male darting around the tank like a madman that entire morning (in response to female molting pheromones, I assume?), so it seems like the water is ok. I am thinking maybe the other 3 were already sick when I brought them home. Any other ideas?
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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
I don't know anything about shrimp, so I can't help you with that. I did want to say that the tank looks great. I love how you have the driftwood set up. It looks really unique!
Thanks! it makes scaping really easy when you find an amazing piece of driftwood :)
 

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for carpeting in my 30 gallon planted aquarium, I went with Taiwan Moss which you hear less about than Java Moss. Hey it's cool to not always do the same thing as everyone else. The Taiwan Moss is known to be able to be slightly better to be controlled than Java Moss. I attached the Taiwan Moss over time onto stainless steel pads and in time it grows like grass and it makes for nice carpeting. My Java ferns, crypts and Anubias have all been doing remarkably well but I do inject CO2 as well.
 

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Welcome to the aquarium side 😁👍 just from personal experience- carpeting plants are difficult to impossible in low tech settings. There are plants that can be used on place of true carpeting plants that give a similar look but don't fill in the same and take longer than high tech. Mosses can be trained to look like carpets and they've done well for me giving the looks of ground cover in low tech/ no tech settings. Just my 2 cents.
How do you get moss to carpet? What kind of substrate are you using?
 
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