Fill My Tropical Fish Tank

So, tomorrow I am taking a trip to the local shops and purchasing some fish for my newly acquired tank. What would you suggest I get?

The tank is smallish, 3’x2’ ish, 26C (and has been for several weeks), 3-4 inches of gravel and a scatterring of rocks and real plants. Apparently the plants are the hard to die variety…

I would ideally like to steer clear of Tetras as eveyone has those, substituting lovely little Pencilfish. I believe they were called Hockeystick pencilfish or some such. Perhaps 8-10 of those?

Angel fish have a place in my heart. if I were to get I’d be looking at 2. Are they particularly grumpy? With each other and with other species?

Couple of bottom feeders would be nice too.

So. Guppies? Barbs (heard they were a little brutal)? Loaches? Something else.

Main thing to bear in mind is that this is my first go at keeping fish. The guys in the local shop are very knowledgeable and wouldn’t let me mix potentially catastrophic clashing fish (band name!). Reasonable amounts of natural light plus a good light source supplied. Nice and quiet room (my study). Purely for my own pleasure.

Thanks for any help you can give.

I’m a big fan of angels, but they get quite large. Not sure how large your tank is (I presume it has a 3d dimension!), but it sounds like no more than a 20-30 gal or so. Which would be on the smallish size for a pair of adult angels. Also, the angels will generally eat whatever they can fit in their mouths.

If you are not really into managing the environment you provide your fish and plants, you definitely want to lean towards the hardy (and inexpensive) species. Platies, swordtails, mollies, and guppies are attractive, cheap, and hardy. Dwarf gourami are another option.

For bottom feeders, I think cories add to most tanks. They tend to be happiest in groups of 3 or more. A dwarf bristlenose pleco and some otos will help keep the algae in check. You can also consider inverts, such as snails and/or shrimp.

One big choice you are going to want to make is whether you want small schools of a couple of kinds of fish, or 1-2 each of several species. Personally, I prefer the schools, but it is essentially a matter of personal taste.

You will find that some fish are hardier than others given the specific conditions you provide. I always recommend sticking with those species, instead of trying to tweak your set-up to accomodate more finicky fish.

Danios, especially zebra danios, are small and give lots of movement. They tend to stay in the upper thrid of the tank.

Dwarf gouramis are also good - another top water fish.

Beware of Baja sharks (aka tri-color sharks). I love them, but they can grow very large. Not aggressive, though.

Barbs are all over the place in aggressiveness. You might also consider rasboras and rainbowfish.

eta: Don’t overfill your tank! Keep lots of space available.

Terrarium. Then you can have poisonous frogs instead of fish, and scare hell out of visitors.

Thanks. Just the kind of advice I’m looking for. I promise not too overdo it. I’m leaning towards schooling option.

Would the dwarf gouramis and either guppy or pencilfish work?

Angel Fish will have to wait a while I reckon. Can’t have the risk of them chewing their way into next week. Plus I read they prefer tall tanks.

Definately going with 3 cories too.

Edit: Doug My cat routinely brings frogs and toads into the house. This could be an interesting exercise…

It’s been a along time since I had a fish tank, but I remember a rule of thumb was one inch of fish for every gallon.

Dwarf gourami are really peaceful. Will do fine with guppies. i have no experience with and know nothing about pencilfish. The guppies will most likely breed - you can either float a breeder net for the young, or just let the parents eat their babies.

Not sure why you are set against tetras. There are so many different kinds.

As GO says, a general rule is 1" of fish per gallon. But only a very rough rule, as different fish create different bioloads. Also, make sure you calculate for adult size.

You didn’t mention whether you have cycled your tank yet…

Dwarf gourami, as Dinsdale said, are peaceful. Some regular gourami, while not really aggressive, can be nuisance fish. Stay away from anything called a ‘kissing’ gourami. Gourami aren’t really a schooling fish, but they can add a lot of color to your aquarium. Danios, rasbora, tetras, barbs, guppies - these all do well in schools, and most of them get along with others.

Cycling a tank adds the bacteria that breaks down toxic fish waste into non-toxic substances. When I first started, I would use feeder guppies, as they were cheap. Today, you can buy bottles of the bacteria, shortening the cycling time. It is good that the tank has been running. Keep your tank out of direct sunlight, and away from any room heaters.

I’m interested in hearing about your setup. What will be your filtration? Like many other things, this affects how many fish you can put in. You said you have live plants, so stay away from any fish that says cichlid - even the peaceful ones.

Almost. You have to remember they grow ,so you have to leave extra room.

I love dwarf gouramis, but I have never had success at keeping them in a new tank. Establish your tank first with other fish and let it go for at least a year, I’d say, before introducing them.

I can’t remember who it was, but a fellow Doper here suggested that I get clown loaches. I LOVE THEM. They’re great little omnivorous bottom-feeders, and extremely playful with tons of personality. You’d need a pair of them at bare minimum; they get very depressed and reclusive if alone. They’re also scaleless fish, so they need a slightly longer introduction time and would do best to be introduced after other fish.

We’ve had Kribensis in a tank with live plants without any trouble.

They’re a good choice for beginners, I’ve found. Very easy, beautiful, and fun to watch with their babies so long as you have something in the tank that will eat their babies so you don’t end up awash in Kribs.

Clown loaches can get large, tho they are slow growing.

Kribs are neat fish and fine for a planted tank. Can be aggressive to some other species, especially when breeding. I’ve always found it easy to turn kribs’ breeding on/off by simply providing/removing a cave.

Would still like to hear exactly how large the OP’s tank is. I can’t think of a whole bunch of tanks with 3’ and 2’ dimensions. Two feet tall or deep would suggest a pretty large tank. A quick google suggested nothing other than a 65gal, which would be a sizeable tank for someone to start off with. And of course, the larger the tank, the more options you have in terms of species and number of fish.

Another thought - don’t add all of your fish at once. Each time you add fish it changes the water chemistry. Best to initiate such changes gradually - especially in a smaller tank. A good practice would be to add 2-3 fish, then wait a couple of weeks before adding a couple more.

Also, since you don’t have a quarantine tank for new purchases, be sure to try to get healthy stock from a reputable breeder/dealer. One sick new fish can crash an entire established tank.

discus are unbelievable! I don’t know what other fish they can or cannot mix with, so some research is required. But the magnificent thing about discus is that they start out one color as juveniles and then change in weird, wonderful and beautiful ways as they get older.

We loved our fish tank full of discus in Jakarta. I’m sad we don’t have a fish tank anymore. :frowning:

Discus are pretty, but I’d be very leery of them for a beginner. My husband has a ton of experience with aquariums and used to manage a fish store and he still won’t go for discus. He considers them a difficult fish.

But experiences definitely vary!

I agree. Tho discus are nowhere near as difficult as some folk maintain (at least if you have good local water), in no way would I recommend them for a beginner fish.

Here’s another way to look at it for a beginner - don’t buy any fish that costs so much that you’ll be upset at the financial loss should it become a floater! :stuck_out_tongue:

I like the mollies, and swordtails are cool too. Probably not the best choice in Northern Ireland*, but the orange swords look great with the black mollies, imho.

  • Yes, that was supposed to be a joke. I name all my mollies “Maguire” and stick them in with a bunch of orange fish… Is this thing on?

Concur. They are also large, and like angels, do better in a deeper tank.

BadBadger, I swear by external filtration tanks, like those by Eheim and Fluval. I usually supplement this with an airstone, though that’s more for looks than for need. They move great volumes of water, and provide excellent 3 stage (4 stage if you use a pre-filter) filtration. I’d use them for anything more than 10 gallons.

I also use canisters on all of my tanks larger than 3 gal. Especially valuable in planted tanks - which all of mine are. Have had good luck (and good prices) with Rena Filstars. Eheim is the gold standard, tho pricey. No personal experience with Fluval.

The cardinal rule: A fish will eat any other fish that can fit into his mouth.

Thanks so much for the comments folks.
My tank is a mere 32" x 14" x 18" it turns out (something to do with me being a bloke I spose ;P)

The tank has been running for a long time now, sadly devoid of little fellows. As such it hasn’t been ‘fixed.’ I like the idea of a couple of feeder guppies for a while, with subsequent testing until I’m happy.

keep em coming. The one thing you have done is convinced me not to rush into it. But I can still plan.

The tank isn’t in direct sunlight and is about 10’ from the window. Theres a single filtration unit and thermo (thermometer reads a constant 26C), don’t know what brand, came with the tank which was a lovely birthday present. I feel that it is in reasonably good shape, about 4 ferns and three or four other hardy plants. Although one of them is looking decidedly unwell… okay its on the way out. There is no “flowing” water, just the constant filtering. (I thought strong flowing water is a different setup like a marine tank). Theres a large rock which I thought could be home to some nice bottom feeders and a rather nice lump of wood. Thats about it.

So we have a nice clear area at the top of the tank and a populated though not dense bottom.

On the whole its rather fetching.
Thanks again and please keep giving me any advice you can,