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Well... Let's just try this again.

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I was lucky enough to get a 65 gallon aquarium for Christmas, thanks to some wonderful parents, and it was up by January. Wanting a planted tank, I gave it a dirt substrate... Which was a mistake.
Just recently, the tank suddenly started smelling like a cesspool and most of my small fish were dead. Apparently, the dirt (organic compost from a garden center) had manure in it, which had decayed, releasing toxic gases that killed off most of my dwarf cories, pygmy cories, and pencilfish. The dirt has been removed and replaced with slightly under 3" of black aquarium sand, and I'm planning to get this thing started up next week, after our beach trip.
The filter is a combination of a HOB designed for a 75 and a sponge filter. The sponge filter used to be a favorite pygmy cory spot, as it's covered in java moss and probably buggies.
Ph usually hovers around 7.5.
Current decor:
Two pieces of driftwood
A fake waterfall thing that I like
A rock
A cow vertebra
A squirrel skeleton
And a random raccoon rib
The plants:
A bunch of Java moss
Two kinds of Java ferns
A bit each of giant and flame moss
One big anubias
Something like 15 smallish crypts
Animals:
Two ghost shrimp
One African Dwarf frog
Two Julii (possibly false Julii) cories
Two salt-and-pepper cories
One Schwartz cory (soon to be joined by one more) (how do you spell that, anyway?)
Two female bettas (soon to be three)
One Stonehead Sulawesi goby
Two sun nerite snails
One gold gourami
One lonely survivor pencilfish
Here's a few pics:
[qimg]http://imageshack.us/scaled/medium/826/photo3ths.jpg[/qimg]
Full tank, obviously. I apologise for the glare, these are cell phone pics.
[qimg]http://imageshack.us/scaled/medium/833/photo5imv.jpg[/qimg]
The Sulawesi goby. I need more of these guys, they're fun.
[qimg]http://imageshack.us/scaled/medium/811/photo4qrz.jpg[/qimg]
A sun nerite. These were an impulse buy, as they were $1.50 each and I'd never seen them for sale anywhere else. Plus, they're basically mutant nerites, and everybody knows how to take care of nerites!
[qimg]http://imageshack.us/scaled/medium/837/photo6bt.jpg[/qimg]
Boss betta. Her fins are kind of ragged, due to some blind cave tetras I used to have ganging up on her. This little one changes color faster than a chamelion! She'll go from mostly blue to half white, then back to blue, then purple. Not sure how she does it...

What I want to add, over the course of a while, obviously:
Another Schwarts cory
Another female betta
Probably a rubberlip pleco (those are only about 4" long and really funny to watch)
Possibly 6 or so Endler's livebearers
At least 10 more pencilfish
At least 11 dwarf and pygmy cories
A twig catfish
More freshwater gobies. I know a place that sells some nice Stiphodon gobies.
1: Now, I'm starting to consider a school of neon tetras. How tightly will they school in a 65 that's mostly populated by small fish?
2: Let's say I want to have fairly equal schools of pencils and neons, then a big school of dwarf and pygmy cories. How many can I keep, approximately? I was told that I could easily have 30 assorted schoolers in there, probably more, is this correct? I mean, it seems accurate... I'm gonna go see what Aquadvisor has to say about that.
3: Any thoughts on having some Endlers in there? Males only, of course, so I wouldn't have five billion tiny fry. Not that I'd mind fry, but the nearest LFS that takes trade-ins is pretty far away and I can't drive yet.
4: What do you normally see twig cats going for? I don't want an albino one, but I don't care if it's longfin or not.
5: Any tips for keeping a twig cat? What I normally see is to feed them algae wafters if they eat all the algae, to keep them with peaceful stuff, and to put guards on all the heaters. I don't have heater guards yet, but it's Texas summer, I unplugged all the heaters. (which is only two)
6: I'm looking for the big schools/small fish appearance in this tank, as you can see. If I could have 10 or so of each species, what tinies would you reccommend? Not microrasboras, they're just plain too tiny. I also don't want anything that's too finicky or delicate, I want stuff that has at least a little bit of endurance.
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Strange that nobody has replied yet....

30 schoolers of species you have listed is reasonable providing they all get along. You will need a high level of filtration to keep up with the fish waste and mulm. Your plants will help with the bio load, but your single 75g rated HOB will barely be sufficient. You should consider another HOB, canister or some other type of 2nd filtration. Then you shouldn't have any problems keeping that many fish in a 65.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Alright, thanks for the tip. I'm planning to put some sort of substrate in the bottom of at least one HOB and plant philodendrons or wandering jews in it, as I've seen a few people do this, is there any way I could somehow mess it up?
I may be going on a pet store trip in less than a week, and my planned shopping list is:
Plants
Another filter
6 or so dwarf and pygmy cories
Maybe 6-9 pencilfish (the store sells them fairly small)
A few random ghost shrimp
Possibly three endler's.

Is this too much to add at once? The pygmy and dwarf cories they sell barely hit half an inch, and the endler's aren't much larger.

Also, do magnolia leaves release many/much tannins?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Okay, done some stuff. I added a few boiled magnolia leaves, most of which are still floating, and I went to my LFS. Now, I was planning to get some schooling fish, but I got sidetracked by an unexpected discovery. Here's what I got:

This was an attempted shot of some new fish, but they scooted and the goby photobombed. Just thought it was funny.


Twig catfish! He's about 6" long and very healthy. Don't worry, the heater is turned off.


Pencilfish. 5 Beckford's pencils and two Marginatus pencils. You can't see them all in this pic, they're camera-shy and won't let me photograph them. That really big one is exactly 1 1/3" long.


Pygmy/dwarf cory, not sure which. I got two of these, both are 3/4" long, and they might be hybrids. They both have the lengthwise black stripe, like pygmies, but one has a break in the stripe and they both have speckles like dwarves. I'll try to get a better pic of them up later.

I also got a treasure, who won't let me photograph him.
An African pipefish! He's almost 5" long, and eating frozen food! I considered these for a while several months ago, but I read that they won't eat frozen food, so I dropped the idea. Till I found these at my LFS! He didn't seem interested in eating anything right after I released him, but he picked at some frozen bloodworms a bit after a few hours, and he ate a couple. He's really pretty, a nice orange-brown with a red nose.
One of my bigger cories tried to eat his tailtip... It thought he was a bloodworm!
 

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Hey, looks like a pretty cool setup. Can't wait to see it w/o the green tint. I'm being very cautious with my tank right now in fear of the elusive algae! Btw are you running any type of C02? I just read something saying that if you have a high amount of light, c02, nitrates, potassium, etc.... and a relatively low amount of phosphates, phosphates will become the limiting factor for plant growth, and because apparently plants can out compete with algae for phosphates, will keep the algae non-existent or at least under control.

Not sure about the uni-cell suspended algae though.

Keep up the good work!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm not running CO2, it's a fairly low-tech tank. That's actually not algae making it cloudy, it's tannins from the wood. The phone I use to take pics just kind of adds a greenish tint.
It is a really cool tank to watch! It's going to end up as sort of an oddball tank... I know a place that sells some nice freshwater gobies, and I'm looking into the care of halfbeaks.
 

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Ahhhhhhhh okay. Sometimes I really like tanks with a little tannins. Makes them look authentic! PS: I used to have a thing for gobies.... dem some cool fish
 

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I was gonna say, holy green water batman! Still looks pretty cloudy for some reason that may cause you headaches in the future. Do you have a full tank shot? Might get a better perspective.

Those are some interesting fish you have aquired. Not sure if I've ever seen those pencil/pipe fish before. Keep us posted for sure!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The pencilfish are kind of unusual but not rare, however the pipefish (who I still haven't managed to photograph) is rare in the trade. I'd never seen one in person before a few days ago.
Here's a decent full tank shot:

This was taken before the tannins were really in there. Here's one that was just taken:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I got a couple of nice pics.

Finally got a pic of the pipefish! He was out at feeding time.


I saw the twig catfish on a piece of wood near the top and was curious what his suckermouth felt like, so I just sort of scooped him up. He wriggled his fin but didn't seem bothered, so I grabbed my phone and took this. He seemed to think I taste good... In fact, I tried to give him some nori, but he was more interested in sucking on my finger than eating the nori! He's really docile, didn't at all protest being scooped up, just sat there and sucked my fingertip.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'm considering another twig or two... Since most of them is tail, they're actually a lot smaller, bio-load wise, than they look. Mine is about 6 inches long, and the non-tail bit of him is barely 3 inches, not counting his nose-twig thing. I know a place that sells the longfin ones, but they run almost fifty bucks, and I'm not gonna pay that when I can get a shortfin one for ten bucks at a different store.
Hmm... Maybe I can train mine to come eat out of my fingers. He's a cute li'l thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
They're some of my favorites as well. My aim for this tank is a combination of two things; keep a school of pencilfish, and add oddball fish. Pipefish, twig cat, goby, and colorchanging betta are the oddballs I have right now. I'm gonna have get some algae-eating gobies fairly soon to add to the mix!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Took advantage of a sale and got myself some new fish. I ended up coming home with:
Two albino four regular glowlight tetras
One dark blue female betta
Two male Endler's livebearers (will add 4 females soon)
And a small bristlenose pleco.

I've only managed to get a photo of the Endlers, the others are either hiding or moving too fast.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Just went to another store I like, and came back with some really nice stuff. Unfortunately, I can only upload one photo at the moment:

This is a Stiphodon sp. goby, an algae-eater. He's pale because he's stressed, they get nice and dark when they calm down. This species has an odd habit when scared: They dash randomly around, then launch themselves several inches out of the water and stick themselves to the nearest hard surface with their pectoral fins. I really don't know what the point of it is, other than to get them stuck out of water.

I also ended up with two sunset dwarf gouramis, quite possibly a male and a female. One of them hid in a bunch of plants I'd stuck in the acclimation bucket, and after I put the plants back in the tank, I saw him swimming around in there. Silly thing.
My other new fish are a peacock gudgeon and two Bluefin killifish, which are impossible to find anywhere but here!
The place I go to for unusual freshwater fish occasionally gets gobies, darters, or Bluefin killies in with their feeder shrimp, and when they do, they put them in their plant sale tank. Usually they don't sell them as it's nearly impossible to get them out without making a huge mess, but as I'm a fairly regular customer and promised not to mess it up, they let me give it a try. It wasn't very easy, but I did manage to catch the killies. Only $2.50 each for fish that I can't get anywhere else! Bargain! And next time, I'm gonna try to get some of those darters.

One of my new killies.


Wild-variety sunset dwarf gourami


Peacock gudgeon


Not sure what you call him, but he's a different variety of sunset dwarf gourami.


The java fern that gourami hid in.
 

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+1

You are also mixing up some interesting fish, expect some to become food. Tetras need a school, and 4 ain't it. Gouramies and betas usually do not do well together. And you could certainly use more plants :)

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