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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 90 gallon planted tank, CO2 injection, high light, aquasoil substrate. I'm currently using remineralized RO water. The tank is around ~1-2 kH and ~4dkh, 150ish TDS, ~6 pH.

The tank is heavily planted. Currently stocked with 25 cardinal tetras,13 habrosus corys, and a bunch of cherry shrimp.

I'm getting kind of bored with the fish. I was a saltwater guy for 15 years before jumping into planted tanks 4 years ago. I like fish with personality. I'm seriously debating about going back to salt.

I'm really interested in shell dwelling cichlids, but would have to completely redo the tank and wouldn't be able to keep as many plants. Do you think they are worth it?

I've kept dwarf puffers in the past in a 29 gallon and liked them, but they got very territorial and were nipping at other fish. Was thinking they might be less aggressive in a bigger tank. Thoughts on them being ok with the habrosus?

What about german blue rams? This is a fish I've always liked but never kept. Is the higher temperature really that bad for the plants? Do they really need 82F? Also read the shrimps will get eaten.

Also thought about apistos, but their colors aren't as nice as rams. If the shrimp will be gone, i would probably pick the rams.

Any other fish suggestions? Preferably, I would keep the shrimp. I would love something that would reproduce and have a colony.
 

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Gbr definitely require temperatures that can be hard on plants. Shell dwellers (affectionately called shellies a lot) require very hard water which is not going to work with a lot of plants. I want to just suggest kribs. They are pretty and prefer neutral parameters so you have quite a few options for plants. They will definitely go after your shrimp, though, but all cichlids will, but if you're thinking about redoing your stock list anyways they are good with a lot of the larger more colorful and nippy schoolers that don't go well with rams and other more delicate sa/ ca cichlids.
 

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Never be afraid of completely redoing a tank from the top down. You can definitely keep a lot of critters in a 90 gallon, but not necessarily with the fish/plants you already have. You could go partway and do a brackish tank with pufferfish. They have loads of personality but it would need to be a species only tank. Some plants can grow in brackish water but you would need to be careful with your selections.

You could choose to stock the tank with fish/plants from a specific area of the world (amazon, africa, asia, etc). It's a lot of fun researching a specific area and finding what plants and fish live together and then trying to recreate an environment they coexist with.

You could stock your tank with fish native to your area. I did this with a tank and it was fun both catching the fish and then watching their behavior in my community tank with fish that live together naturally. Even included some plants that lived with them as well.

You can go really off the wall and make a tank for critters that are not fish. Newts or crayfish for example. Both have oodles of personality (though they very very clearly do not live together ;P).

Just some ideas.
 

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Hmm...well, the fish with personality that stand out the most for me freshwater wise, are dwarf cichlids and anabantoids, as well as most oddballs. Any tiny solitary predator that may have to do some problem solving in order to get their food, is going to have personality (read: intelligence) to me. The caveat here is that those types of fish are usually pretty good at wanting to eat shrimp for dinner.

How do you feel about pipefish and pipefish-looking fish? Some of the SE Asian pipefish species are adaptable to your parameters. And if not those, Indostomus toothpickfish are cool as well. They're far more drab than saltwater pipefish. But they still do look cool.
 

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A group Dicrossus filamentosus would fit in very well in your set-up. They're sympatric with cardinals in the wild & are full of personality. Plus, they have fairly small mouths & would do minimal damage to adult shrimp.
I would love to be able to find a pair of checkerboards... I would come out of breeding retirement if I could find some locally. Good recommendation!!
 

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I would love to be able to find a pair of checkerboards... I would come out of breeding retirement if I could find some locally. Good recommendation!!
I may pull the trigger and get a group when it warms up. The Wetspot had them in stock a few months ago.

I definitely recommend adding a group of Eques Nannostomus Browntail Pencilfish with the Checkerboard Cichlid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the recommendations everyone. I'm really debating about tearing my tank down for a shell dwelling tank, but I have my hesitations. I dumped a bunch of money into the planted tank setup and I like the variety of plants. They just seem like such interesting fish and I love the idea of a colony fish.

I've kept pipefish in my saltwater aquariums. I've thought about getting one. My issue with them is feeding. I'd prefer a fish that doesn't require live foods and preferably something that would eat dry food.

Never seen Dicrossus filamentosus before. I'll do some more research on them. They could be a winner.

I like small fish in a big aquarium. Hate the look of overcrowded tanks.
 

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Not gonna lie- I'm a huge shelly fan and a tank your size with colonies of shellies with maybe a texas holey rock wall in the back would look really really cool.... But with the investment you've already made I'd give some thought to the checkerboard cichlid maybe other apistogramma species. I think I mentioned kribs before, but they are more neutral and if you give them a few clay pots they'll colonize for you lol and you can keep a planted tank.
 

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Not much can match the color of GBR's but don't discount Apisto's. And getting a harem will add a lot of interest and personality to the tank. And many of the color form bred Apisto's are beautiful and get more and more color as they get older. With long, dramatic looking finnage. They will likely eat shrimp, but depending on how big of a colony you currently have, they may be able to survive. Some of my favorites are:

A. Macmasteri
A. Agassizii (all of the color forms)
A. Baenschi
A. Cacatouides (all of the color forms)
A. Borellii

There are many others, but these are many of my favorite colorful Apisto's.
 

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I'd skip the cockatoo (a. cacatouides). You can keep plants with GBR just be a bit more careful in selection. Kribs are ok but if you are going to with Pelvicachromis genus i'd look at subocellatus or taeniatus. Kribs are amazing parents which is both good or bad; conversely i guess the same can be said of many shell fishes. Kribs are very similar to dwarf cichlid but don't mix them as they don't communicate very well (one being from africa the other from south america) which leads to more fights.
 

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I'd skip the cockatoo (a. cacatouides). You can keep plants with GBR just be a bit more careful in selection. Kribs are ok but if you are going to with Pelvicachromis genus i'd look at subocellatus or taeniatus. Kribs are amazing parents which is both good or bad; conversely i guess the same can be said of many shell fishes. Kribs are very similar to dwarf cichlid but don't mix them as they don't communicate very well (one being from africa the other from south america) which leads to more fights.
Kribs remind me of what I would think a cross between a shelly and a cockatoo would be like lol
 

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Never seen Dicrossus filamentosus before. I'll do some more research on them. They could be a winner.

I like small fish in a big aquarium. Hate the look of overcrowded tanks.
My 75g was 6 checkerboards (with lots of hiding spaces) and 30-ish red Beckford Pencilfish and 15 black tetras. Both the Checkerboards and Beckford made for a very unique tank that most people have never seen those fish.
 
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