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New to planted tanks, had a few questions.

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Alright, so I'm only in the planning stages of my 5 gallon planted nano tank. I hope I don't overwhelm anyone with my mass of questions but I refuse to build a tank without doing my homework first and creating the best possible environment for the plants and fish. Just for reference, I'm considering Otocinclus catfish, sparkling gourami, rili red shrimp, and gold ring danio for the tank, because everything I've read about these fish/invertebrates claims that they are peaceful and none of them surpass 2". Also, all of these fish are available at my local fish store. Okay, that being said, here are the things I'm wondering about:

What is considered maximum bioload for a 5 gallon? I've been researching for a while and can't really get a straight answer since it differs based on waste and size of the fish. How many (or few) of the fish I listed can I keep without crowding or putting stress on the animals?

I know that all of the fish I listed are better in groups, so which one, if any, of the species I listed should I eliminate from my plans in order to adhere to the maximum bioload? (If I can't do all of them I'd probably just stick with the rili red shrimp as a single species tank).

Final question. Is there any specific order (once the plants take root and I allow the planted tank to mature a bit) that I should introduce the shrimp/fish to allow them to better acclimate to their new environment? I read that the shrimp shouldn't be introduced until the plants have been in the tank for at least 6 months. Is this accurate? Does it matter?

Sorry for the long post. Just trying to do this right with the fish's best interest in mind.
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Welcome to the forum!! As far as your stocking list goes, I personally feel that it's overstocked for a 5 gallon. I'm not too sure about the sparkling gourami, but gourami's in general including the dwarf strains need at least 10-20 gallons. Otocinclus cats are pretty sensitive to water quality, and the danios are a schooling fish, and usually with schoolers you want to count on having a minimum of 5. Why don't you up the tank size to a 10-20 gallon? They are not that much more money, gives you more room to aquascape, it's a lot easier to control water quality, and if you went with a 20 gallon you could stock these fish with a little room to spare.
 

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On the stocking that seems a bit much. There was the "inch" per gallon rule I remember which I always thought was on the far light side for fish. My fish tank "mentor" said maybe think square inches of fish.

If it were my 5 gallon I'd ditch the gourami, might be too big for the 5. I'd do 5 danios, half dozen shrimp, couple ottos. Even then keep up maintenance.

Maybe someone else can chime in
 

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I wouldn't house shrimp with a gourami unless you're okay with them being occasionally picked off. Have you thought about a shrimp only tank? I love my 3 gallon shrimp only tank.

The nano tank board has a sticky that lists fish for nano tanks.
 

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Sparkling gourami will do just fine in a 5 gallon, they're really inactive and you can keep one by himself. Just be prepared for some of your baby shrimp to get eaten. You also won't see him a lot, sparkling gourami are SUPER shy. They're like a cat that hides under the bed all day and only comes out to eat. They are really pretty though when the light catches them just right.

Skip the danios, they are way too big and WAY too active for a 5 gallon.

I've never had luck with ottos so that makes me think they need a much bigger tank with stable parameters. They also like to be in groups.

Depending on what your tap water is like, there's a bunch of tiny fish you can look into that you might be able to find locally. Try scarlet badis, endler's livebearers (males), pygmy cories, ember tetra, celestial pearl danios, and of course bettas.

You don't need to wait 6 months to add shrimp, and rili shrimp should be really hardy. Just wait 4-6 weeks for your tank to cycle. And if you plan on keeping fish with the rilis, just make sure you have tons of moss and hiding places in your tank. Moss is really good at hiding the babies so they don't become fish food.

Hope that helps!
 

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I wouldn't house shrimp with a gourami unless you're okay with them being occasionally picked off. Have you thought about a shrimp only tank? I love my 3 gallon shrimp only tank.

The nano tank board has a sticky that lists fish for nano tanks.
+1 to a shrimp only tank <3 my lil shrimpies!
 

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I just re-read your post and saw that you are considering a shrimp only tank. Awesome! Like I said, I love mine to pieces, I watch it more often than my bigger tank.

I think having your tank planted for 6 months before adding shrimp is a little excessive. You must cycle your tank, however. Shrimp are sensitive to ammonia and nitrites (all fish are, really). If you don't know what cycling is, read up on fishless cycling. It is a good idea to allow the tank to mature a bit before stocking the tank. Maturing the tank for a month or so will allow the biofilm and algae to build up (shrimp eat it). Planet inverts is a great site for info on all kinds of inverts.
 

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Like some others said, if possible go with a bigger tank. Easier to take care of being more stable, and you could have a few more fish.

If you stay with the 5gal, I would think you need to keep to 1 of the species you listed, with the shrimp only being the best idea. Shrimp are very entertaining. And this way they would breed and babies would not get eaten. Shrimp are a little more sensitive so you want to establish the tank, and make sure its fully cycled before you start. Here is a good link for starting a tank, including info on the nitrogen cycle which is very important....

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showthread.php?p=1960797#post1960797

6 months is a bit long, but could be done in 1 month maybe. Are the shrimp you are looking at Red Rili shrimp or more common cherry shrimp? I don't know of too many fish stores that stock rili's but cherries are very common. They are both related to each other, as rili's just have a clear mid section with red head area. May be easier to start with some good brighty colored cherries as they will be easy to keep and are good starter shrimp. Check around on prices too, some ppl sell good cherry shrimp here on the forums in the swap/shop section. Also can find good deals on aquabid.com (ebay for fishkeepers).

I would start first with selecting your tank and getting the water cycling, then you can decide what to put it in when the cycle is complete and ready for inhabitants.

Welcome to the forum, you are in the right place. Whatever you decide do your research, as knowing what to do before you start will save you time and money in the end. Lots of good info for you here at the plantedtank.
 

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Cool, never seen a LFS with those. They are basically the same as cherries, just a little fancier, but will live in similar water parameters. Get your tank going when you can so it can start getting the water and bacteria going to be ready for them when you get them.
 
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