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Stocking Advice For A New Planted 240L Tank

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Offline jade

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Stocking advice for a new Planted 240L tank
« on: December 04, 2018, 01:16:34 AM »
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Hi,

I currently own a newly set up fully planted Fluval Roma 240L tank, currently holding 200L when measured whilst filling up (accounting for plants and substrate). I am still currently cycling and I am measuring parameters (Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate and pH) daily using API master test kit.

I am struggling to put together a peaceful medium community tropical freshwater stocking list as I have been reading a lot of conflicting information regarding water parameter and temperature requirements, aggressiveness and compatibility. This is a list of the fish I have researched and feel I would enjoy keeping. However, I am unsure of which combinations to put together and don’t want to create a tank in which any of the inhabitants are stressed and are in danger of being the focus of aggression or seen as a source of food.

I am keeping a temperature of 25 – 25.5 Celsius. Current pH is 6.6 – 6.8 (due to CO2 injection) and water hardness is: GH 8 (241ppm) and KH 4 (71ppm).

I have typed my wish list below and, to clarify, I do not intend to keep all of these fish in my tank at once, I just want some ideas on the best combinations and group sizes for each fish so that I can work out a safe stocking level. Also I am unsure of stocking levels for a tank of my size.

Thank you for your time :) .

Kind Regards,
Jade

Catfish
I am using a fine dark grey substrate (almost sand) with Seachem fluorite planting substrate underneath. I was hoping to keep catfish and loaches and don’t want to damage barbels so I hope this is suitable.

Bristlenose Pleco 1 or 2? Although I have heard they eat plants.
Clown Panaque 1?
Corydoras Species: Corydoras sterbai, trilineatus, adolfoi or panda. 6?

Loaches
Kuhli Loach – What fish will these be suitable with? Also I have a basket on filter intake so it couldn’t escape into there and a large gap between water and aquarium hood. I’ve read 5-6?
Ladder Loach – 4?

Gourami
Pearl Gourami - Keep 1 male to 2 female ratio, or keep singly?

Barbs (Cyprinids)
Black Ruby Barb – 6 – 8?

Characins
Congo Tetra – 6 – 8?
Diamond Tetra – 6 – 8?

Cichlid
German Blue Ram – Keep a pair, male and female?
Bolivian Ram – Heard more peaceful than other rams. Also pair?
Angelfish – What is the best group size for these or should they be kept singly?

Other Questions
Any recommendations of other species to consider, as I am a complete novice?

Offline Sue

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Re: Stocking advice for a new Planted 240L tank
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2018, 10:44:04 AM »
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I have read that fluorite is quite sharp so although you have a layer on top of it you need to avoid fish that dig as they could go through the top layer. I think that rules out kuhli loaches, though kuhli owners may be able to correct me on that. I know that my stiphodons would - they excavate under things  >:(
My instinct says bristlenoses are the ones to go with, but I know one member on here @Littlefish had problems with a male/female pair breeding incessantly so she had to separate them. Maybe a single bn or one of the other small plecs.


If you go for angels or gouramis of any species, you need slow swimming, peaceful, non-nippy fish with them. But if you want fast swimming, boisterous fish, you need to avoid slow swimming fish with long fins such as gouramis and angelfish. This is the first thing to decide - which type of fish do you want. There are plenty of slow swimmers that are fine with angels & gouramis, you just have to pick the right ones.
And an angel/gourami mix is not not advisable.



Shoaling fish. These live in groups of hundreds in the wild but it is thought that 6 is where they lose count which is why you read everywhere that the minimum number for shoaling fish is 6. However, they do better in bigger groups. So whenever there is space for them, always get more than 6.
There are two approaches to stocking a tank - minimum numbers of lots of species or big shoals of a few species. Newcomers tend to favour the first, I know I did. But after 20 odd years I am now in the second group as I have just 2 shoaling species in a 180 litre tank (though there are also a few remains of shoals from a tank I had to close)

Black ruby barbs are not a problem for slow swimming fish - their recommended tank mates include anabatids (gouramis etc). You need 6 to 8 minimum.

Congo tetra are fast swimmers which may upset fish like gouramis and angels. Though they are not known as fin nippers.
Diamond tetras should be OK as they can be kept with anabatids.


Other shoaling fish to think about besides tetras and barbs are harlequin rasboras and their slightly smaller lookalikes Espe's rasboras and hengel's rasboras; and pencilfish. The golden (beckford's) pencilfish is in the fish profiles on here and there are several other species sold in shops as well.




Personally, I would avoid rams, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, in all its colour forms. I know that these fish have been commercially raised for many fish generations, and can be kept in wider conditions than their wild cousins, but it is not unknown for breeders to use wild fish in their breeding tanks to widen the gene pool. The offspring of these wild fish for the next several generations need soft water in the upper 20 C temp range.
Bolivian rams (M. altispinosus) are a different matter. They have a much wider hardness range and lower temp range than rams. The only difficulty with them is telling males from females, especially as the fish in shops are juveniles.
Angels aren't exactly shoaling fish but they live in loose groups in the wild. Strictly speaking they should be kept in a group of about half a dozen in an aquarium, but very few people have tanks big enough for this. The alternatives are a single angel or a bonded pair. Just any two angels can be problematic.

Rams of both species and angelfish need to choose their own mates. We cannot buy any male and any female and expect them to get on. Two females usually co-exist with no problems. With 2 males, one will usually kill the other. And a non-bonded male/female can results in one dead fish as well.
There are two ways of getting a bonded pair. One is to buy half a dozen juveniles, wait till two pair up then rehome the rest - but where to? Some shops will agree to taking 4 back especially if two of those have also paired up as they can sell those on easily. The other way involves watching the shop tank for anything up to half an hour without moving - you have to wait till the fish forget you are there and start behaving naturally. The males will charge at each other. They don't usually make contact but they are quite obviously warning each other off. The females will just be getting on with life, which for fish means scouring the tank for tiny bits of food. If a male allows a female to remain very close to him without chasing her away, they are likely (though not guaranteed) to have bonded. When shopping for fish like this, always take someone with you. Send them to get a shop assistant while you keep your eyes on your chosen fish.

Or get cockatoo cichlids (Apistogramma cacatuoides) instead - in 240 litres you could have 1 male and up to 4 females.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Stocking advice for a new Planted 240L tank
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2018, 11:08:33 AM »
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@Sue is correct about my bristlenose plecs. The majority of BNs in shops are juvenille, and when I put my two together I didn't know what mix of sexes I had. When they matured the male had very obvious bristles, and the female didn't have any at all. All was fine until they started breeding, then they laid a batch of eggs every month. I had to strip down the tank to remove the fry, and separate the adults.
I'm a big fan of catfish in general. I'd suggest getting just one of whichever you go with. Mine happily share tanks with corydoras and tetras.

As for stock levels, have a play with the community creator (link at the top of the page), as this will give you an idea of how various options may/may not work.  :)

Offline Helen

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Re: Stocking advice for a new Planted 240L tank
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2018, 03:53:32 PM »
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Hi.

I have kuhlis in my 240l tank and a single bn plec. Although the kuhlis do move the sand around (they filter it through their gills), I'm not aware of them digging into the substrate. But, I don't know where they go when I can't see them!

I'm not aware of my bn plec ever eating plants, but if there is a plant with large leaves that has a lot of the right algae on it, Bertie will eat the algae off it. So I can see how that might look like he's eating the plant. It is also a really good idea to have bogwood in the tank with a bn, as apparently the roughage is good for their digestion. I know mine has survived some serious neglect and that my bogwood (his favourite haunt) has changed shape.

I have kept pearl gouramis in the past. They were fine with the bn plec and the kuhlis.

I have heard that it might not be a good idea to keep territorial south american or african substrate dwellers with kuhlis. Although the kuhlis are not described as territorial, my two do seem to have their own preferred zones in the tank and that has made me hesitate buying anything like kribs or apistos.

I have also read that angelfish might try to peck at kuhlis. Again, it isn't something I've witnessed, but it stopped my buying angels because my kuhlis are my favourites of my fish.

I have also had bronze and emerald cories in my tank with the kuhlis. I wasn't aware of any particular issues between the species, but I don't think the cories thrived in my tank. (Not sure why)

Like Sue, I am also in the category of larger numbers of few species of fish.

Have a look at the Gallery board and other people's tanks in there if you are looking for ideas about compatible fish and set ups. I've more than once bought a fish species, or changed my tank layout after being inspired by someone else's tank!

Edite to add: just when you are happy with your tank @Littlefish will indulge her MTS and you're left with serious tank envy and be found with a tape measure in hand!

Offline Matt

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Re: Stocking advice for a new Planted 240L tank
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2018, 07:13:13 PM »
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Just a quick note from me on Bolivian Rams as I noticed yesterday that seriously fish have the same hardness range for Bolivian and normal rams...

Offline Sue

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Re: Stocking advice for a new Planted 240L tank
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2018, 07:30:42 PM »
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I wonder if they've changed it in light of most rams being commercially bred rather than wild caught. Interestingly Fishbase gives rams as 5 to 12 dH which seems rather hard while they give Bolivian rams as "10 - ?" which does seem rather on the hard side for any south American fish  ???

Most websites, particularly those specialising in cichlids, say that rams need very soft acidic water while Bolivian rams should have hardness less than 10 dH.

Offline fcmf

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Re: Stocking advice for a new Planted 240L tank
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2018, 08:00:34 PM »
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As for stock levels, have a play with the community creator (link at the top of the page), as this will give you an idea of how various options may/may not work.  :)
Yes, https://www.thinkfish.co.uk/article/community-creator is really good, as is this article
https://www.thinkfish.co.uk/article/stocking-levels-for-tropical-aquarium-fish for background reading.

Offline daveyng

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Re: Stocking advice for a new Planted 240L tank
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2018, 11:12:01 PM »
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I have Diamond Tetras and they are beautiful when mature. They are also peaceful with the other tank inhabitants.
I have 1 BN Plec (male) and he tends to dig a bit on occasions in the non planted areas of the substrate. Apart from that he pays no attention to the other tank inhabitants.
I have Bronze Corydoras which have managed to breed on occasions.
I tend not to keep Cichlids in my current setup as I have shrimp as part of my cleaning crew.

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