Stocking soft water tank 9/17/17
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.
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
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
<Hope this helps!>
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.
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.>