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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am getting close to having my....I mean, my daughter's :wink2:, new 220 gallon tank cycled. I have some driftwood in there with some black diamond blasting sand. I have the lighting and the filtration all up and running (and some seed filter material from a local aquarium aficionado). I am thinking about stocking the tank with the following:

10 Zebra Danios
10 Celestial Pearl Danios (will these school with the zebras?)
20-30 Cardinal Tetra
20-30 Lemon Tetra
20-30 Rummy Nose Tetra
10-15 Cherry Barb
20 Harlequin Rasboras
10-12 Cory Cats (probably Sterba's)
6 Glass Catfish (these would be later down the road after I add all my plants)

My questions are as follows:

1) How do I go about adding them once the tank has stabilized? For example, one group of 10/20/30 at a time with one week in between each group?

2) Is this list too big for a 220 gallon?

3) Will it be okay to add all of these fish, and then add all of my plants afterwards? Should I add half of the fish, then my plants, then the other half?

4) Should I go ahead and add a cleanup crew, and if so, what should I look to get? Would prefer something that isn't going to lay eggs all over my tank, haha!

Thanks in advance to everyone!
 

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Why not just do 100 of 1 species? Or 50 of 2 species for some really cool schooling/shoaling action. But that's just my preference.
 

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CPD's don't school as far as I know. You'll probably never see them in a tank that size and that busy. Like aquaaurora I think larger numbers of fewer species. Personally I lean toward a larger school of one kind of tetra, one kind of rasbora , the danios and cherry barbs if you like(20 of each)
, but that's just me. Also nothing schools better than rummynose. A huge school of them would look stunning.

As far as timing on the stocking........I'd do a fishless cycle with ammonia. That way your biomedia will be ready for a decent load. After the fishless cycle is complete I add a whole school of whatever is least aggressive and work up from there. I'd do a month between each group. Not for bioload reasons, just so you can focus on observing their condition and behavior. Ideally you'd set up a quarantine and you could add the second school to quarantine the day you added the current to your DT.

just my 2 cents though.
 

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I think it would look better with perhaps 3 schools:
Something that schools or shoals on the bottom (20 or so Cories, all one species) and 2 species that look different- taller/ longer, or swim in different orientation (some fish swim in a head-down orientation) or contrasting colors. perhaps 20-30 of each of 2 species. Then a couple of different sorts of fish as specimen fish. There ought to be room in this large a tank for several Honey Gouramis, or some Rams or Apistos (perhaps 3-4 pairs) on the floor.
With so many smaller fish, about 20 Otos and perhaps some shrimp would make a good clean up crew.

I would not do 7 species that are all mid-tank schooling fish.

If you are doing the fishless cycle the way I have posted it so often, then you are growing enough bacteria to add all the fish at one time.
I would do this in this order:

1) Plant now. Give the plants a chance to get some roots going.
2) Finish the fishless cycle.
3) If you are going to have more aggressive or territorial fish, add them last. Put the shiest fish in first, but only by a day or so. In that list in your thread, add them all together.

Here is the fishless cycle:

Cycle: To grow the beneficial bacteria that remove ammonia and nitrite from the aquarium.

Fish-In Cycle: To expose fish to toxins while using them as the source of ammonia to grow nitrogen cycle bacteria. Exposure to ammonia burns the gills and other soft tissue, stresses the fish and lowers their immunity. Exposure to nitrite makes the blood unable to carry oxygen. Research methemoglobinemia for details.

Fishless Cycle: The safe way to grow more bacteria, faster, in an aquarium, pond or riparium.

The method I give here was developed by 2 scientists who wanted to quickly grow enough bacteria to fully stock a tank all at one time, with no plants helping, and overstock it as is common with Rift Lake Cichlid tanks.

1a) Set up the tank and all the equipment. You can plant if you want. Include the proper dose of dechlorinator with the water.
Optimum water chemistry:
GH and KH above 3 German degrees of hardness. A lot harder is just fine.
pH above 7, and into the mid 8s is just fine. (7.5-8 seems to be optimum)
Temperature in the upper 70s F (mid 20s C) is good. Higher (to 95*F or about 35*C) is OK if the water is well aerated.
A trace of other minerals may help. Usually this comes in with the water, but if you have a pinch of KH2PO4, and trace elements like CSM+B that may be helpful.
High oxygen level. Make sure the filter and power heads are running well. Plenty of water circulation.
No toxins in the tank. If you washed the tank, or any part of the system with any sort of cleanser, soap, detergent, bleach or anything else make sure it is well rinsed. Do not put your hands in the tank when you are wearing any sort of cosmetics, perfume or hand lotion. No fish medicines of any sort.
A trace of salt (sodium chloride) is OK, but not required.
This method of growing bacteria will work in a marine system, too. The species of bacteria are different.

1b) Optional: Add any source of the bacteria that you are growing to seed the tank. Cycled media from a healthy tank is good. Decor or some gravel from a cycled tank is OK. Live plants or plastic are OK. I have even heard of the right bacteria growing in the bio film found on driftwood. (So if you have been soaking some driftwood in preparation to adding it to the tank, go ahead and put it into the tank) Bottled bacteria is great, but only if it contains Nitrospira species of bacteria. Read the label and do not waste your money on anything else.
At the time this was written the right species could be found in:
Dr. Tims One and Only
Tetra Safe Start
Microbe Lift Nite Out II
...and perhaps others.
You do not have to jump start the cycle. The right species of bacteria are all around, and will find the tank pretty fast.

2) Add ammonia until the test reads 5 ppm. This ammonia is the cheapest you can find. No surfactants, no perfumes. Read the fine print. This is often found at discount stores like Dollar Tree, or hardware stores like Ace. You could also use a dead shrimp form the grocery store, or fish food. Protein breaks down to become ammonia. You do not have good control over the ammonia level, though.
Some substrates release ammonia when they are submerged for the first time. Monitor the level and do enough water changes to keep the ammonia at the levels detailed below.

3) Test daily. For the first few days not much will happen, but the bacteria that remove ammonia are getting started. Finally the ammonia starts to drop. Add a little more, once a day, to test 5 ppm.

4) Test for nitrite. A day or so after the ammonia starts to drop the nitrite will show up. When it does allow the ammonia to drop to 3 ppm.

5) Test daily. Add ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. If the nitrite or ammonia go to 5 ppm do a water change to get these lower. The ammonia removing species and the nitrite removing species (Nitrospira) do not do well when the ammonia or nitrite are over 5 ppm.

6) When the ammonia and nitrite both hit zero 24 hours after you have added the ammonia the cycle is done. You can challenge the bacteria by adding a bit more than 3 ppm ammonia, and it should be able to handle that, too, within 24 hours.

7) Now test the nitrate. Probably sky high!
Do as big a water change as needed to lower the nitrate until it is safe for fish. Certainly well under 20, and a lot lower is better. This may call for more than one water change, and up to 100% water change is not a problem. Remember the dechlor!
If you will be stocking right away (within 24 hours) no need to add more ammonia. If stocking will be delayed keep feeding the bacteria by adding ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. You will need to do another water change right before adding the fish.
__________________________

Helpful hints:

A) You can run a fishless cycle in a bucket to grow bacteria on almost any filter media like bio balls, sponges, ceramic bio noodles, lava rock or Matala mats. Simply set up any sort of water circulation such as a fountain pump or air bubbler and add the media to the bucket. Follow the directions for the fishless cycle. When the cycle is done add the media to the filter. I have run a canister filter in a bucket and done the fishless cycle.

B) The nitrogen cycle bacteria will live under a wide range of conditions and bounce back from minor set backs. By following the set up suggestions in part 1a) you are setting up optimum conditions for fastest reproduction and growth.
GH and KH can be as low as 1 degree, but watch it! These bacteria may use the carbon in carbonates, and if it is all used up (KH = 0) the bacteria may die off. They use the carbon from CO2, and this is generally pretty low in water, but can be replenished from the air and from carbonates. Keep the carbonates up to keep the pH up, too.
pH as low as 6.5 is OK, but by 6.0 the bacteria are not going to be doing very well. They are still there, and will recover pretty well when conditions get better. To grow them at optimum rates, keep the pH on the alkaline side of neutral.
Temperature almost to freezing is OK, but they must not freeze, and they are not very active at all. They do survive in a pond, but they are slow to warm up and get going in the spring. This is where you might need to grow some in a bucket in a warm place and supplement the pond population. Too warm is not good, either. Tropical or room temperature tank temperatures are best. (68 to 85*F or 20 to 28*C)
Moderate oxygen can be tolerated for a while. However, to remove lots of ammonia and nitrite these bacteria must have oxygen. They turn one into the other by adding oxygen. If you must stop running the filter for an hour or so, no problem. If longer, remove the media and keep it where it will get more oxygen.
Once the bacteria are established they can tolerate some fish medicines. This is because they live in a complex film called Bio film on all the surfaces in the filter and the tank. Medicines do not enter the bio film well.
These bacteria do not need to live under water. They do just fine in a humid location. They live in healthy garden soil, as well as wet locations.

C) Planted tanks may not tolerate 3 ppm or 5 ppm ammonia. It is possible to cycle the tank at lower levels of ammonia so the plants do not get ammonia burn. Add ammonia to only 1 ppm, but test twice a day, and add ammonia as needed to keep it at 1 ppm. The plants are also part of the bio filter, and you may be able to add the fish sooner, if the plants are thriving. 1 ppm twice a day will grow almost as much bacteria as 3 ppm once a day.
 

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I would personally grow alot of plants that will attach to driftwood/stone and get a group of 6 geophagus, they are beautiful fish and they are nice and large. Combine that with larger tetras and some rainbows or denison barbs. In a tank that large, I personally would have larger fish in it and more of one species. I feel it will be too busy and not enjoyable to look at with all the different groups of fish.
 

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Justin there's no reason you couldn't have most or all of those species in the tank if you prefer. All are peaceful. I imagine your daughter would get a kick out of all of those fish. You'd be hard pressed to see the same fish twice in a sitting lol. As long as the species are compatible and you keep them in the right size group you'll be ok. Have you considered the cost of feeding that many fish? Also, it most likely will take extra work to make sure all the fish eat as well as diligent maintenance to keep the water quality steady with the overfeeding you'd likely have to do.

There's something to be said for the other suggestions as well. Fewer, larger fish may lead your daughter to more of a personal connection. Naming them and such. It's alot easier to connect with a larger cichlid than it is with a tiny Danio that's in a school. I chose keeping a tank as a form of connecting my children with nature. I had a big tank with fewer larger fish and a smaller tank with many smaller fish. I failed the choice between the two lol.

Seems like your numbers may be slightly high. Here's a link to a site that can give you an idea of what you can and can't keep together and how many. You just input your tank size and filters. It's a guideline more than a rulebook.

http://aqadvisor.com/AqAdvisor.php
 

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This is just a thought I've held regarding larger tanks (maybe 100 gals and larger?). These tanks give you an option smaller tanks don't. That is the ability to comfortably house larger fish. This is certainly a personal preference thing but I think it should at least be considered given the opportunity a tank this large presents. You can do things that aren't possible in a smaller tank. The scale of a large tank works better to me with at least some larger fish. You can still have the ability to observe "individual" behavior that gets lost with very large groups of smaller fish.

Ideally to me a mixture of different size fish and larger and smaller groups, given they are compatible along with having fish that use different levels of the tank is desirable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
First, thank you all for the comments. I did go through and read each one twice! I'm at work though, so this will be a shorter response trying to cover all the replies, haha!

1 - A lot of you used the magic words "my preference". Not to sound defensive, but both my daughter and I are partial to smaller fish. When we go to the pet stores, she loves staring at the tanks with 50+ fish in them, as opposed to the ones with a few larger fish. I also for whatever reason, do not like cichlids (don't shoot me!) so those are out.

2 - My daughter is still pretty young, so I actually would prefer not to have fish she gets too attached to and names, just in case fishy heaven requests one of them. Plus, I would eventually run out of space in the yard for the formal burial ceremonies, if something major happened, haha! Easier to replace one or two that go missing, without her noticing.

3 - Sounds like the Celestial Pearl Danios may not be the right choice for this tank, so I am going to nix them from the list. Maybe I will setup a smaller species tank down the road when I have more experience with the planted tank, as I really like the color of these fish (remind me of tiny rainbow trout).

4 - Also seems like my overall numbers might be a little high (solchitlins, thanks for that calculator link!), so here is the new list:

10 Zebra Danios (And only because I already have 6 in there. They are doing great so far.)
20 Cardinal Tetra
30 Rummy Nose Tetra
10 Cherry Barb
20 Harlequin Rasboras
10-12 Cory Cats (probably Sterba's)

6 Glass Catfish (these would be later down the road after I add all my plants)
10 Lemon Tetra (Going back and forth on these. I may nix them)

Here is what the calculator says, and recommends a weekly 17% water change.
 

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I would get the plants going before the fish. Once you got it up and running you could add 50 fish at a time no problem. But then any time after that your going to have to quarantine the next batch or you will risk the fish all ready in the tank. I just set up a 180 and pour bacterial and then change out 30 to 40% water every day for couple weeks. It's a cichlid tank and there pretty hardy but never had problem.

Like other have said I would keep my school fish to three different species. I like the 100 Cardinal Tetra
20-30 Lemon Tetra & 100 Rummy Nose Tetra. The rummy are the best schooling fish. I have also kept the CPD in a 75 gallon with lots of other fish and if you like them add them but you won't see them for a couple months. My problem with them is the only ones I see for sell are small fry. Like 1/2 to 1/4" very small. As far as cory's you could keep two sets of them with 25 to 30 per group. I have heard of people with your size tank keeping 100 of them. If there are no large fish in the tank over time you will have that many wither you want them or not.

It's your tank and the list you have will work it may just be top busy.
 

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Looks like you are getting pretty close to what you and your daughter are going to be happy with. At 76% stocking level you still have a lot of flexibility. With a 225 gal tank you can think of the remaining 25% as 50 more gals worth of stocking if you are going all the way to 100%. I'm not recommending that, just pointing out you still can add to an existing group you end up really liking or add something new that you would like to try.

Do you have some type of quarantine tank set up or planned for new additions after you get some fish in the main tank? Adding new fish in batches will allow the main tank to gradually adjust for the bio-load and the new group can be quarantining in the meantime.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Looks like you are getting pretty close to what you and your daughter are going to be happy with. At 76% stocking level you still have a lot of flexibility. With a 225 gal tank you can think of the remaining 25% as 50 more gals worth of stocking if you are going all the way to 100%. I'm not recommending that, just pointing out you still can add to an existing group you end up really liking or add something new that you would like to try.

Do you have some type of quarantine tank set up or planned for new additions after you get some fish in the main tank? Adding new fish in batches will allow the main tank to gradually adjust for the bio-load and the new group can be quarantining in the meantime.

I think a 75-80% stocking level is about as high as I will go. I don't want to push the 100% limit, although I'm sure my daughter would not argue with adding more fish! I don't have a quarantine tank, but if I hide it in the stand, the wife will never know I bought ANOTHER tank, haha! I guess all I need is a little light, a small heater, and a small hang on filter? Probably run carbon in that one? Thanks!
 

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Oops, That reminds me, bought a new tank secondhand tank this morning, better go was it before the missus comes home. That way she won't even notice a new one.
 

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Have you considered endlers livebearers? They stay small and there's some really good looking color combos out there. They're behavior is the best thing about them though. Alot of personality. A few male and female duos and you'd have a self stocking tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Have you considered endlers livebearers? They stay small and there's some really good looking color combos out there. They're behavior is the best thing about them though. Alot of personality. A few male and female duos and you'd have a self stocking tank.
I don't know why, but they just don't seem "natural" to me. Kind of like the fancy guppy's with the weird colors. They just don't do anything for me. Now if I could find some small tetras that bred like they do, I would be in business!
 
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