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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I would love to get some advice on selecting a school of fish for my 180 gallon tank. Ideally something that will spend most of its time in the upper half of the tank. The current residents, M. praecox rainbows, spend most of their time in the bottom half.

Here are some details that might influence the choices:
1) The tank is a 180 gallon 4ft long by 3 ft wide by 2ft tall
2) RODI with a TDS of 90 – 100
3) CO2 injected during the day pH is 6.75 at night and 5.5 during the day
4) EI dosing with 60% weekly water change
5) Tank has been set up for two years and pretty stable. Partially re-scaped about 4 weeks ago.
6) Lights are fairly bright and currently there are no floating plants
7) The tank is set up in a peninsula configuration with returns and gyre power heads directing flow across the top of the tank and returning across the bottom. This would be uncomfortable for species that need calm water
8) The rainbows get rowdy at feeding time. The new guys need to be able to get their share.
9) Temperature is 74 to 75 Fahrenheit

As mentioned the tank currently has 13 M praecox (10 of which are female so not a lot of color), 6 otos and 7 Sterba cories. I would like to find something that schools pretty well and is colorful. Hatchets would be cool but this is an open top tank and jumpers would be a problem.

What do you think?

Here are a few photos

The tank



Here you can see the pretty empty top half



The fish. These guys spend much of the day fairly close together facing into the current



The two big rainbows are hybrids(?)



Thank you!
 

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If you find Haludaria fasciata, get about a 50-60 of them. They are like the fish version of a pack of dogs in the tank. these will school well and will stay at the bottom of the tank except when you feed the. they are also large enough to be "seen"in a big tank.
 

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Part of the question has to involve why fish do some things. Small fish especially do not like to swim to far from cover as they are basic fish food for larger fish, so they have in their genes to stay away from open water. Some may go up to the top of your tank but many will feel better to stay down low and around cover.
Before choosing, I might want to consider how a specific fish acts when they feel threatened. Do they dive for cover , go into a ball, or what?
To get more fish to stay higher, may require more cover like floating plants so they can hide from birds as well as fish.
When you are growing up as fish food, one has to stay alert.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you FishBR, ichthyogeek, Preeths, and Robmcd!

All of these suggestions are spot on. Schooling fish that will do well in my tank - I figured I would get smart feedback from Planted Tank members!

WetSpot has all of these except for Haludaria fasciata. That one may be harder to source. They sound like interesting fish! Rachel O'Leary did a species spot light on Glow light danios and they look really nice. Very colorful, stay towards the top and can take some current. Tight schoolers too. I have heard others recommending black tetras before. Clearly they have fans!

I will definitely post pictures after I figure out what I am going to get. Again, thank you!

Bump: Planted Rich
Excellent observation. My tank is a little bare up top right now!. The Bocopa will grow to the surface on both sides. I have direct experience with that as the rescape was basically removing a bushel basket full of that plant so I could see the tank!. I have a small business and we were hammered by everything covid. Didn't have much time to maintain the tank. Bocopa covered 3/4 of the surface. Pretty purple flowers but it took complete advantage of my absence. It should provide some shelter in the future.
 

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Bump: Planted Rich
Excellent observation. My tank is a little bare up top right now!. The Bocopa will grow to the surface on both sides. I have direct experience with that as the rescape was basically removing a bushel basket full of that plant so I could see the tank!. I have a small business and we were hammered by everything covid. Didn't have much time to maintain the tank. Bocopa covered 3/4 of the surface. Pretty purple flowers but it took complete advantage of my absence. It should provide some shelter in the future.
That's the downside of forums as we often do not get the whole picture of what and why!
A suggestion for what I might try for what I like? I might look at adding a tub full of Java fern, super glued to the parts of wood near the surface as a quick way to get a bit of cover.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
PlantedRich - I do have a bunch of trident. Might just have to try that and see how it looks.

Greggz - I would definitely welcome any info you could provide. I do have a couple of picture showing them in more detail. I will post these tomorrow!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well, no time like the present!

Greggz, here is a picture of the two of them The male has a mostly clear caudal fin and the front most dorsal fin has a white first spine



Here is a not-great shot of the male showing off. He can get almost black with a whitish stripe along his head and back.

 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks Greggz - I thought so but always nice to have a more experienced hand weigh in. The were included with the praecox at the LFS I got them from. That wasn't the only oddball in that group. I also got a psycho-killer blue tetra. It was very aggressive! Took that one back.

Capsaicin...MFK - a second on black neons! To be fair they aren't flashy but they must be excellent in other ways. Are they great schoolers? What would you say makes them a good choice?
 

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Some suggestions. I would pick a schooling fish that is larger that can keep up with the energetic nature of rainbows.

A colorful choice would be Dawkinsia assimilis ( Mascara barb).
A colorful, larger schooling fish- Red Tail Hemiodus (Hemiodus gracilis)
An active, shimmery-blue color schooler, Blue Diamond Congo Tetra Alestopetersius smykalai
 

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Brilliant rasboras swim in the upper water column. Unlike most tetra that shoal, they are true, tight schooler and not nippy. Unlike Danio, they are calm schooler and don’t rush.

Another upper water column swimmers are molly and swordtails, but they only shoal and males can be rushy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hi Discusluv - thank you for those suggestions! I am not familiar with any of them but look forward to researching them later today. The rainbows are peaceful but, as you suggest, can be quite rambunctious at feeding time!

Tiger15 - Another choice I am not familiar with! Every one is giving me thoughtful and well considered suggestions. Really appreciate this!
 

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I've seen it mentioned twice now but I'm gonna also have to chime in with Black Neons. I just picked up some for my tank and they are strong swimmers for a tetra and definitely prefer the upper middle region of the tank. They would be able to snipe food easily enough to feed themselves. I think a big school of them would look phenomenal in there. Black with the iridescent white strip and the red eye on them would definitely accent the rainbows nicely.
 
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