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FAQs on Freshwater Livestocking 15

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Stocking soft water tank    9/17/17
Hi there,
I've been reading lots of your FAQs this afternoon, but still feel I need to run my questions by you. I have a 109 litre bow front tank (24" long, 19" deep), with a deep layer of soil and sand substrate growing low light plants without CO2.
<Sounds nice.>
We have naturally soft acidic tap water and I keep it at 80F. Obviously not a huge tank, but I just want some peaceful living fish to watch in my retirement with no plans of expansion. I have tried a number of Amazonian
fish, with some but not complete success. I've had some losses due to water quality, but I think I've corrected some of my mistakes.
<Understood. In fact, Amazonian fish can be relatively adaptable if you choose the right species and avoid the known troublemakers! While some communities of fish will be exposed to very soft, very acidic water all the
time, other communities are in more variable areas>
At the moment I have only one Corydoras paleatus (lost two), and four Emperor Tetras (one male, three female). I did have a school of ten, but I did not realize they could be bullies, and I've lost about three males and six females. My surviving male is still bullying the others, and I'd like to trade them in, leaving an empty tank but for my Cory.
<Unusual for things to get this bad, though yes, the males are mildly territorial. It may be that your tank was too small for them, or the initial ratio of males to females was off. A single male alongside three females should be fine, so I'm a bit surprised you're still have problems. This species is usually quite good.>
Don't want to overstock the tank, but I want to replace the Cories. Should I stick with the same kind or would it be ok to switch to Dwarf Cories, for the sake of space? Or switch to Corydoras sterbai because of the warm
<I'd avoid the teeny-tiny Corydoras such as Corydoras habrosus and Corydoras hastatus as these are best kept on their own or alongside nano species like Ember Tetras. But otherwise Corydoras do mix reasonably well, so if you have 3-4 of one species, you certainly can add some others, and they'll coexist happily enough. That said, a single species in a large group is probably the best option. Corydoras sterbai is the classic hothouse flower among them, and will be much happier in warm (28-30 C/82-86 F) conditions.>
I wanted to try a couple of Angels, but from what I'm reading, my tank is too small for the minimum six. I hate to buy just one, but would one be happy on his own and is it risky to put two in the tank?
<A singleton Angel will be fine, and assuredly the best option for a tank this size.>
I've always liked to stick with one biotope, i.e.. Amazonia, but now I'm thinking maybe I should forget about that and get a couple of Pearl Gouramis instead of the Angel(s). Remember my main objective now is peace!
<A single Angel will usually be peaceful, friendly, even entertaining, as they are intelligent and learn quickly to recognise their owner.>
I've tried Frogbit a number of times (for the Gouramis), but it doesn't survive - could it be because I use a hanging over-the-back filter?
<Possibly, but normally the problem is water droplets on the leaves (because of too much splashing or humidity) alongside the heat produced by the lights (in which case the leaves burn). Ensuring adequate ventilation, while turning down any water flow so there isn't much/any splashing will help. Do also check nobody is eating their roots! This is a great species for reproducing Amazonian pond conditions, and since most of the fish you want to keep prefer slow or still water conditions, that'll suit them too.>
Last, I'd still like to have a school of tetras and my two absolute favourites are Rummynose and Cardinals. Choosing one or the other, could I still have the Angel or Gouramis, and have a school of ten tetras?
<Yes. Both species are excellent companions for either species. Rummynoses do tend to be a bit more expensive, but in large groups look stunning.>
I love the Rummies because of the way they swim together, but I have a feeling you will tell me the Cardinals are the better option.
<Not really. Both are regularly kept alongside Discus, which are very similar to Angels in terms of requirements.>
I'd really like to make the right choices this time and let this tank go into a long-term phase of maintenance only. Please be brutally honest and thanks for your advice!
<Hope this helps!>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Stocking soft water tank    9/17/17

That's a great help, Neale; thank you!
I'm going to go with the single angel, and hold off on the rummies or cardinals until I see if the emperors will finally settle down.
<Sounds wise.>
I'll add a few Corydoras sterbai, and give the frog bit another go; maybe if I keep it in a 2 gal. tank on its own to see if it will establish, then move it into the community tank.
<Definitely. I've found this plant very easy to grow in some tanks, but where it gets pecked or nibbled, it eventually peters away to nothing.>
You guys provide an unparalleled service to us amateur aquarists!
<We're all volunteers here, and appreciate your kind words.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

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