In planning stage; need direction
So I got a 77g tank. 47"x16"x24". It came with a Fluval 405 (rated 100g), a heater, and a hood with with 2 40W T8 bulbs. I know the filter is really not enough, but it is what I have right now. I am on well water, and am not yet sure of pH or hardness, but I have a mini master liquid test kit (Nutrafin brand) and will be using Prime to account for any heavy metals. Substrate is river-rock (smooth) style gravel: 50 lbs small and 25 lbs medium-ish size. I will be putting in driftwood, and plant it with lots of plants (plastic at the moment since I am still a n00b). I am in the process of planning the fish to go in the tank, once I have cycled it using Lady Hobbs fishless cycling plan (learn it, live it, love it, right? ). I will also be adding fish slowly, over the course of a number of months, starting with a hardier type like danios, and waiting for the tank to mature before adding, say, a BN pleco.
So I have a list of fish that I like or appeal to me. I want my tank to have one or two larger schools of fish, bottom dweller(s), and maybe one (or 2?) individuals. Here is my list:
Black Phantom Tetra
I won't be putting all of these fish in the tank! My question is this: if you had my set up, and the water quality was ideal (cycled, fine pH...), how would you stock my tank? I have been over to aqadvisor for help (mostly to show limits of stocking re: filtration) but I need more guidance. What would make an attractive, interesting tank? Are there other fish that may work for a beginner's tank that would look great in there too/instead?
Hopefully, I am not too vague. I appreciate any suggestions!
You sound like you're off to a great start. Very sensible too.
Your stocking list looks decent...but I'm not sure if any of those fish will peck at shrimp. Have you considered Buenos Aires Tetra? I had a school of 20 in a 72" tank and they were awesome. Soooooo fast and active. Great at feeding time. They never hassled any of the other fish. I had an earth eater in there too which was a very friendly, peaceful individual...and beautiful too.
Green severums? They are gorgeous looking and change colour quickly depending on their mood (in my experience).
Thanks firefly for the words of encouragement. I'm a "ounce of prevention>pound of cure" kind of person, especially when it comes to taking care of animals I really have no experience with. You should have seen me when I got my first cat!
The Buenos Aires Tetras are very pretty! Must look into them a bit more. I have the idea in my head that cichlids are "hard" to take care of. I don't know if that is true or not, though. The earth eaters are really cool looking, and I think I am going to have to look at them a little more too!
Thanks for the suggestions; I really appreciate it!
I haven't really found cichlids to be difficult to keep if you do your homework - as you obviously are doing. I think, honestly, with enough research and reference - anyone can keep fish well.
I've kept some South American species of cichlid like the earth eater and a few convicts and I found both straightforward with the right environment and feeding. Maintenance routines are very important with all fish but it's easy to become slack on it so make sure you're disciplined in your routine.
I've also kept mbuna (Malawi) cichlids. VERY aggressive but not hard to keep if you have a big enough tank and get your stocking right. Tanganyikan cichlids was my last tank which was successful for a few years. I'm now back on barbs.
To be honest, the bigger the tank the better for a beginner. Any mistakes you make will be lessened by the size (like slight overdoses of meds or feeding) - much more critical to be accurate in a very small tank.
Actually, I quite sure somebody around here has that very sentiment in their sig: anyone can take care of any fish as long as they do their homework.
The one thing that steers me slightly away from cichlids are some of their requirements: I have gravel, not sand, don't have enough filtration...
Originally, I was looking at a 55g. The pet store had the 77g, and hubby encouraged me to get it, saying, "Bigger is easier to take care of, right?" I love my hubby.
I have Giant Danios and like them very very much... BUT they are a very active fish (so are the zebras) compared to many other types of tetras. Even after lights out they are moving like the white rabbit through wonderland. While they are rather gentle giants... because they are so active that may be unsettling for a more shy tankmate.
So you may want to consider how much fish movement you want to see. They also get quite large, so you will fill up your school space quicker with fewer specimens. You can fit more 2 inch fish in a tank than you can fit 6 inch fish in a tank.
You've been doing your homework, I see. Good for you. Since you are using river rock, you could easily just get java fern and anubias and tie it to the driftwood with fishing line. That way you will have the appearance of plants in the tank but just not have them in the substrate. Anubias is a very cool plant and comes in numerous species from the small leafed type to the more bold, larger plants. This also allows you to have some cichlids that might tear apart a planted tank.
(Is leafed a word.) LOL
If you cycle the tank first before adding your fish, you can also start with more fish and it shouldn't take you months to stock. But adding those bottom feeders last is always the best way as they have little to eat in new tanks.
This is so exciting because you are starting out with a nice big tank from the get-go. You have the option of a whole bunch of smaller fish in big schools or a couple south american friendly cichlids and still be able to have larger tetra's with them.
I like everything on your list but danio's of every kind and gourami's of every kind. LOL Glad to see you have no livebearers on that list. *shudder*
Thanks for the replies!
@Trillianne: Thanks for the tip about the Giant Danios. I certainly don't want a frantic tank, just one that is a bit easier to watch. As well, I would certainly like to have a school of 20-25 smaller fish (better for them and more stunning) than 6-8 bigger fish.
@Lady Hobbs: Just a few questions, I hope you don't mind.
I would love to have real plants in my tank! Should I put them in before cycling? After cycling? How will that affect cycling? I haven't looked too much in to them either because, again, I thought they would be too difficult to deal with. And, yes, "leafed" is a word. Lol.
Next is about the fish. Once cycled, could I put, say, 25 zebra danios in? Too much bioload? Not enough? As well, are your thoughts on danios and gouramis an aesthetic thing (kind of like that I don't like Telescope Goldfish, their eyes just creep me out!), or a "I don't think they'll work in your tank because of x,y,z". Just curious. For me, livebearers kind of look all the same (hangs head in shame). I know they aren't, but they just don't appeal to me, ya know?
Again, thanks for the feedback, it is greatly appreciated.