30-45 gallons; Not too big, not too small

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jm1212

Pterophyllum scalare
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Jul 22, 2006
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Jon
Tanks that are from 30 to 45 gallons aren’t too big, or too small. There are plenty of fish that can live quite comfortably in them, and many that will not thrive in smaller tanks such as ones under 30 gallons. These tanks are the bridge between the small tanks under 29 gallons, and the large ones over 55.

These tanks are great for people that are new to the hobby, for they are easy to stock with attractive species and are relatively stable, and for advanced aquarists, who may be looking to breed fish or for fish that can be challenging to keep.

As with stocking other tanks, keeping a tank from being overstocked is an important priority. Overstocking a tank will cause problems that would be normally avoided in a tank that has been smartly stocked, such as aggression, water quality problems, or disease outbreaks.

The tanks listed here are the 30 gallon, 36 gallon, 40 gallon breeder, and 45 gallon. All four offer a wide variety of available stocks and fish, and with a bigger tank grants more species that may not have been available in the smaller sized tanks.

Every time a new fish or invertebrate is introduced, there will be a bit of general information on the species. There are hundreds of stocking combinations; if a fish is listed in a smaller tank, keep in mind that it can be kept in bigger tanks.

30 Gallon Tanks
30 gallon tanks offer much of the space as the bigger tanks, but also can be put into a small room such as a bedroom without taking up to much space. While they are "big" enough to support tall fish such as angelfish, standard 30 gallon tanks are just too short; a 29 gallon would be better for fish such as angels.

Stocking 1
3 platies, 1M, 2Fm- Platies are small livebearers that are all around good community fish. They are very peaceful and do not nip the fins like other livebearers may, and are easy to breed. They come in many colors, and there is no color difference between males and females; to tell them apart, look at the anal fin. Female platies will have a fan-shaped anal fin, while a male's will be rod-shaped. Males will reach about 2 inches, while females will grow a little larger. The gestation period of platies is about 28 days.
12 neon tetras- Some of the best known of all tropical fish, neons are great schooling fish and can be found pretty much at any LFS. They are easy to feed and keep, and have very vibrant colors. They stay very small, about 1½ inch, and are interesting to watch. They have a red and blue stripe and are very easy to feed, accepting everything from flake food to frozen bloodworms.
5 peppered corydoras- peppered corydoras, and corydoras in general, are peaceful fish that like the company of their species. It is best to keep them in groups, and doing so will allow for better colors and more activity. Peppered corydoras will get to 2½ inches long. Other corydoras only get to 2 inches or less, while other will reach 3½ or even 5½ inches long. Corydoras will need supplemented foods just like the other fish in the tank and sinking pellet food is a good choice. Corydoras are easy to keep and will make a great addition to a community tank setting. NOTE: when other species of corydoras appear, they will only list the adult length of the species; refer to here for care and feeding unless otherwise noted

Stocking 2
1 pearl gourami- Pearl gouramis are great centerpiece fish for a 30 gallon tank for they do not get very large and are very cool to look at. They are peaceful additions to a 30 gallon tank. They will get to 4 inches in length, and to tell males from females, simply check if their underbellies. Males will have a rich, orangish underbelly, while females will be plainer. They will accept many prepared dry foods, but a varied diet is the best for them (and all of the other fish listed).
12 lemon tetras- similar to neon tetras, they have a transparent body with a distinct yellowish tint. Also very peaceful like neons, they grow to almost 2 inches and are pretty good schoolers. Care is very similar to neon tetras.
4 Schwartz's corydoras- these corydoras get to 2-2½ inches long

Stocking 3
4 sailfin mollies, 1M, 3Fm- large livebearers, they can easily attain a length of 4 inches or more. Male sailfin mollies have been known to be territorial with other males if there are not enough females in the tank, so keep them in a 1 male to 3 female ratios to minimize this aggression. Keeping them this way will also help keep them from nipping the fins of the other fish in the tank. They are very prolific like platies, and will have babies every 28 days or so. The fry are big enough to accept crushed flake food once they are free swimming. Swordtails can be substituted
8 black skirt tetras-similar to lemon tetras and neon tetras in terms of care, black skirts are a bit tougher in disposition. They can be nippy on occasion, but when they have enough space and enough of their own kind, most, if not all, of that nippiness is concentrated in the school. Black skirts will get to 2½ inches long.
4 panda corydoras- get to 2 inches long, and can be a little more sensitive than other corydoras


Stocking 4
1 breeding pair of Bolivian rams- Bolivian rams are dwarf cichlids that attain a length of 2 inches long. They can be sensitive to water quality and pH, but not nearly as much as German Blue or Gold rams. They will breed and defend their fry like other cichlid parents, and then let them go and spawn again if they are ready. Bolivians are a grayish color when out of breeding colors, but when they are breeding the males can take on a red hue to the edges of their fins. Sinking cichlid pellets are best for them along with live foods every now and again.
16 cardinal tetras-see neon tetras for care get only a small bit bigger than neons do.
5 panda corydoras

Stocking 5
1 breeding pair of German Blue Rams or German Gold Rams- Both are the same species, and can be very sensitive to water conditions. Keep the pH low, less than 7. Adding driftwood to the tank will help greatly with this. As with Bolivian rams, sinking cichlid pellets are best for them, along with live/frozen foods. Keep GBR/GGRs with peaceful fish that won’t out compete them for food.
12 rummynose tetras-a bit like neons and cardinals, they get to 2 inches long and are super tight schoolers. Keep them in a sizeable school to see the best colors and activity. When the water quality isn’t where they would like it, they will "turn off" their red noses.
5 panda corydoras

Stocking 6
6 zebra danios- Zebra danios are among the toughest of all aquarium fish. They are easy to feed, keep, breed, and are interesting to watch. Don’t keep them with slower moving fish like angels or discus because their hyperactivity can stress the angels or discus. Zebra Danios will get to about 1¾ in. long.
12 harlequin rasboras- These are some peaceful, small rasboras that make a great addition to a community aquarium. They are relatively hardy fish that have a black, triangular shape on their sides that characterizes them. Harlequins will get to around 1¾ in. long.
5 Juhli corydoras- they get to about 2-2¼ inches long

36 Gallon Tanks
These are taller than 30 gallon tanks, so they are open to angelfish and other tall fish that normally wouldn’t be comfortable in a 30 gallon. There is also more space available, and the tank will be more stable because of the extra volume.

Stocking 1
1 angelfish- Angelfish are cichlids that reach a length of about 6 inches long, and are very tall. They can be territorial when breeding, and will eat small fish like neons and cardinals when they are fully grown, but angels can be kept with larger tetras such as diamonds or lemons. This is another fish that will accept pretty much every food given to them, and they will eat very greedily. Angelfish will often come to the front of the tank when people approach. A 29 gallon is a good tank size to start with for a pair.
12 diamond tetras- diamond tetras get a little bigger than other tetra species, getting from 2½-3 inches long. Both males and females will have a diamond like look to their scales, which is where they get their names; the way to tell them apart is males will have much longer fins than females, which will be rounder.
5 bronze corydoras- these get much larger than other corydoras, for they can reach 3½ in. long.

Stocking 2
6 zebra danios
8 black skirt tetras
8 white skirt tetras- same as black skirts, except they are an albino form. Having a school of both can be interesting to watch
4 panda corydoras

Stocking 3
16 tiger barbs- tiger barbs are very boisterous fish for their size, only reaching 2½ inches. They are prone to fin nipping, so do not keep them with fish that have long fins, like angels or some gouramis. 6 is a minimum if they are on their own, and 12 is a good place to start if you want to keep them with other fish. Tiger Barbs are very aggressive eaters and will take anything that is provided.
6 zebra danios

Stocking 4
1 male pearl gourami and 2 female pearl gouramis
12 harlequin rasboras
5 kuhli loaches- kuhli loaches, like other loaches appreciate the company of their own species. Kuhlis are different from other loaches by the fact that they are eel shaped, and will often twist and turn through plants in the aquarium and borrow in the sand. Sinking foods are best for them. They will bury in the sand and through the plants, and get to 4 inches long.

Stocking 5
6 least killis- these are some of the smallest livebearers available, and are very peaceful and easy to keep. They are prolific breeders, and are very small, with males only reaching ½ inch and females only reaching 1 inch. They are easy to feed as long as the food is small enough to fit in their mouths
20 neon tetras
8 pygmy corydoras- one of the smallest corydoras, pygmy corydoras will get to around ¾ in. long.

Stocking 6
1 male dwarf gourami and 2 females- dwarf gouramis are very colorful, small fish that are great for smaller tanks. They only reach about 2½, but they have personalities that exceed that by a mile. Normal dwarf gouramis will have alternating bands of red and blue, but there are also solid color forms of each. Lately, there the quality of these solid colors has been questionable, but the normal color strain remains fairly hardy. Add them to a fully established tank. Dwarf gouramis will readily accept prepared food.
16 rummynose tetras
4 panda corydoras

Stocking 7
1 breeding pair of cockatoo dwarf cichlids- these are similar to rams in terms of care and water quality needs. Sinking foods are best. Males will have longer, more colorful and pointed fins than a female, who will have shorter and more rounded fins.
18 neon tetras

Stocking 8
10 Tanganyikan Shell-dwellers- these tiny cichlids do as their name states- they live in discarded shells. Provide them with plenty to keep territorial aggression low, with at least three snail shells (that are big enough) per cichlid.


40 Gallon Breeder Tanks
These tanks are pretty balanced when is comes to tall vs. long. They are great for breeding fish in as the name states, but also for having tall or numerous schools of fish.

Stocking 1
8 glass catfish- these shy fish are totally transparent. They are extremely tight schoolers and should be kept in groups of at least 6, with more being better. Other wise, they can waste away in a tank. Glass catfish should not be kept with fish that are boisterous of fish that will out compete them for food; these fish are almost too peaceful for their own good. They get to 4 inches long and will accept frozen and lives foods.
12 cardinal tetras

Stocking 2
1 firemouth cichlid- male firemouths have a bright red throat patch that will often extend into their mouth and gill areas. They will reach 5 inches when they are fully grown and will accept cichlid pellets as their diet. These fish will flare, but it’s mostly a bluff compared to other, more aggressive cichlids. Provide them with a cave to hide out in.
16 black skirt tetras

Stocking 3
2 male platies and 4 female platies
12 rummynose tetras
5 flagtail corydoras- not often seen, these corydoras have an alternating pattern of white and black on their caudal fin. Flagtail corydoras get to 2½ in. long

Stocking 4
1 breeding pair of rainbow cichlids- these cichlids are not as aggressive as other cichlids when they are breeding, because they stake out a fairly small territory, only 2 square feet. The male will have long, pointed fins and a golden body, while the female will have shorter, rounded fins and a duller body. Males will get to 5 inches, and the females a bit smaller. They will accept many foods, but high quality cichlid pellets are best
12 black skirt tetras

Stocking 5
6 zebra danios
18 harlequin rasboras
6 dwarf loaches- these guys are similar to kuhli loaches, they stay a bit smaller, only 2-3 inches long. Dwarf loaches like the company of one another, and keeping them in groups will allow for more activity and better colors. Providing them with cover from caves and plants will also help them feel secure. Feed dwarf loaches sinking foods.

45 Gallon Tanks
The final step between the small tanks and large ones. 45 gallon tanks are great for species tanks or breeding tanks, like the 40 gallon.

Stocking 1
25 tiger barbs- a school consisting of all three varieties can make for an interesting display

Stocking 2
1 male sparkling gouramis and 3 females- these small gouramis will only reach 1½ inches long. They can be a bit sensitive to water quality, so add them to a well established tank. They will take frozen, live and prepared foods.
20 cardinal tetras
12 panda corydoras

Stocking 3
1 male moonlight gourami and 2 females- moonlight gouramis are similar to pearl gouramis, except they get to 6 inches long and have a silvery look to them. Provide them with plenty of plant cover. Moonlight gouramis will eat many commonly available foods.
16 bleeding heart tetras- true bleeding heart tetras can be shy, so keep them in schools that are larger than most other tetras. They also will appreciate more plant cover. Bleeding heart tetras get to 2¾ inches long and have a red spot on either of their sides, and a dorsal fin that has a distinct curve that ends in a point.
6 flagtail corydoras

Stocking 4
1 breeding pair of kribenesis-these African cichlids will reach 4 inches long. They are normally relatively peaceful, but when they are breeding they can become aggressive. They will accept everything from cichlid pellets to live brine shrimp.
12 zebra danios

Stocking 5
1 angelfish
6 marbled hatchetfish- these oddly shaped fish are excellent jumpers, so a tight lid is necessary. They have very powerful pectoral fins that will easily propel their wedge shaped bodies out of the water and into the air. Feed those floating foods, and provide some cover with floating plants.
12 lemon tetras
5 panda corydoras

Stocking 6
1 festivum- festivum are peaceful cichlids that grow to 5-6 inches in length. Festivum have a black stripe running down the length of their bodies, and have extended, filament like ventral fins. They will readily accept many types of food.
12 rummynose tetras
4 porthole catfish- cousins of corydoras, porthole catfish are more slender and spend more time swimming around the middle of the tank. They appreciate the company of their own kind, much like corydoras, and will leave the middle of the tank to feed on the bottom.

Stocking 7
1 male Calvus Cichlid- this African cichlid comes in a variety of color forms. They grow to about 4 inches long, and appreciate lots of rockwork in their tank. Having to many caves is better than having to few. Keep at least 3 females, preferably more, per male in a tank. They are piscovorous fish.
5 female Calvus cichlids



These lists should be able to provide ideas or inspiration to those who are looking to stock their tanks. There are many options and combinations when it comes to stocking a tank.

Good luck with your tanks, and make sure to post plenty of pics of them!


Sources:
http://fish.mongabay.com
Aquarienfische by Ulrich Schliewen
 
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Xavi

Sillyboy
Mar 11, 2007
169
0
0
Worcester, MA
Just a note about Calvus cichlids.

You could keep a pair in a smaller tank, 30+ gallons is good for a pair.
These fish are also piscovores, not herbivores as the article states.
 

GirlieGirl8521

Planted Tank Collector
Dec 21, 2006
883
1
0
Alabama
I'd bump the Cories up to atleast 6 in the 30g tank stockings...6-10 is a good range.
 

jm1212

Pterophyllum scalare
Original poster
Jul 22, 2006
23,651
8
89
27
Chicago
Real Name
Jon
Just a note about Calvus cichlids.

You could keep a pair in a smaller tank, 30+ gallons is good for a pair.
These fish are also piscovores, not herbivores as the article states.
ill ask for it to be changed.

many of the fish can be kept in smaller tanks, but every possible stocking was listed with every fish that would live comfortably in there, the list would be a mile long.
 

severum mama

is a big bowl of wrong.
Dec 30, 2006
2,177
0
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39
North GA
Just a note on Bolivian rams- these fish can easily reach 3-3.5 inches. Mine always had red edging on the fins, but never bred- good stock will show these colors all the time.:) I kept Bolivians for a few years, and I would add that they are often less shy and more personable than GBRs/GGRs, at least in my experience. I'm glad that you included this species in your article because it's a great choice for a 30 gallon centerpiece fish.
 
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