36 Gal Tank Ideas

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GoldenOranda97

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Oct 29, 2019
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Hello!
I have a very well established 36 gallon tank that I have had running continuously for about 6 years. It's a tropical tank kept at about 75 degrees, currently with only 3 black skirt tetras, a platy and a horde of trumpet snails. All of these are over a year old. My plan was to get several more tetras to complete a small school, but I wanted to get a few new ideas for what to introduce in the tank. Ive done all of the basics over the years: Mollies, giant danios, guppies, plattys, tetras and even a gourami, kind of your basic beginner fish. I have enough experience and knowledge under my belt that I think I can take it a step up a notch. That gourami was my favorite, he made it to 5 years old and was just a doll. My hope is to get another one of them, and pair him with others that will compliment him. I know they have a temperament sometimes, so keeping to fast schooling, small finned etc. I'd consider myself beyond beginner, maybe intermediate because I don't have the time to check tank parameters every day or devote detailed care to the big tank (I have 5 total now) but I know my stuff. Maybe some otos for the algae, I also wouldn't mind some more colorful schooling fish. So what would the next step up into intermediate care be? Currently my tank is heavily planted with fake plants, but I will slowly convert it to all real plants. Good ideas on what plants to get is appreciated too!
My other tanks are currently: 40 Gal goldfish (2 fancy goldfish) , 2 5 gallon betta tanks (one is real plants), and a 20 gallon cold water community tank of danios, paradise fish and white cloud minnows, with plans of getting cherry shrimp to clean up the plants and logs.
 

The GingerFishman

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Feb 13, 2019
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Fun! I think it's definitely time to step up to a little more different fish! I have a few ideas - how about a school of Rummynose Teteras, they're beautiful, entertaining and school together more tightly than almost any other schooling fish fish, you could prob do about 10-15 in there; or a school of Cardinal tetras.

I would add about 6 Otto cats, they like to school as well and will keep diatom algae at bay.

You need something for the bottom of your tank, a small shoal of Cory cats would be great, but lets step it up and get something with some cool patterns - either Julie Cories, Schwartzi, which is my personal fav, or Aggizzizi Corys. One thing to note here though - I'm not sure what kind of substrate you have but they do best with a sand substrate because gravel will wear down their barbels and the don't grow back.

Then, to add a little flair and character, I would add some dwarf cichlids, either a pair of German Blue Rams or a pair of one of the many types of Apistos - these are both great options in your set up and are a fantastic addition to a tank that size.

You could also add an Angelfish, perhaps some Khuli Loaches, if you don't want a million Trumpet Snails, you could get a few Assassin Snails to take care of that problem. Normally I'd suggest Clown Loaches for that but they need to be in a group and will eventually outgrow a 36. If you got really young ones, you could grow them out and then figure out what to do a ways down the road when they get a little bigger - they do grow slowly but live long and get large.

Other ideas of fish I'd consider in that tank - White Cloud minnows - check out the gold version, they're great looking. Pearl Gourami, If the Platy is female, you could add a male and another female as their best kept in that sex ratio, if it's a male then add a pair of females, another idea, if you can find them in your area, would be Checkerboard Cichlids - these are the best, small, cool pattern on them, the females have orange pelvic fins and the males grow out to have a gorgeous lyre tail, iridescence all over, and some turquoise coloring on the fins.

One last suggestion - check out Aquabid.com - you can scroll through fish by species category, cichlids, livebearers, cypinds, etc etc etc Lots of breeders sell fish on there and you can usually find rare fish and you can get groups of tank raised or wild fish at a lower cost than at the store.

Keep us posted on what you end up doing!
 

GoldenOranda97

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Oct 29, 2019
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Wow thank you so much for the great suggestions! I've heard cichlids a lot lately, and I've always been nervous of then because I've heard they are picky. But maybe I am ready for one now :) the cories look like a great idea!
My trumpet snails started as a way to cycle new tanks, and I do throw 40 at a time in the goldfish tank for some population control. I have a few in all of the tanks for basic maintenance, but I wont be broken hearted if I swap them for a cool bottom feeding fish.
I'll check out that website too! I'll keep this thread updated with my thoughts and plans!
 

The GingerFishman

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Feb 13, 2019
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Wow thank you so much for the great suggestions! I've heard cichlids a lot lately, and I've always been nervous of then because I've heard they are picky. But maybe I am ready for one now :) the cories look like a great idea!
My trumpet snails started as a way to cycle new tanks, and I do throw 40 at a time in the goldfish tank for some population control. I have a few in all of the tanks for basic maintenance, but I wont be broken hearted if I swap them for a cool bottom feeding fish.
I'll check out that website too! I'll keep this thread updated with my thoughts and plans!
Sounds good - I'll be interested to see what you do! You could literally spend hours browsing that site, seeing all sorts of different fish for sale. As for cichlids, they're a logical next step. People who aren't familiar with them tend to think that they're all aggressive, rowdy or difficult to keep - believe me I was one of them a long time ago before I learned a bit more about them. Did you know that Angel Fish are actually a cichlid!? Cichlids are an enormous family with thousands of different suborders spanning across several continents. They're also some of the most intelligent fish with unique personalities.

So here's the deal - cichlids come in all sorts of different temperaments. You've got the Dwarf Species like the ones I mentioned in a prior post which is what I'd recommend starting with as they're generally peaceful, they're only feisty when they're spawning but it's not too bad they're just protecting their eggs/fry. Then you've got the whole Geophagus 'Tribe' within the Cichlid family. These are species that I love and have been keeping for several years. There's so many different types. Typically very peaceful as they primarily sift through the sand searching for food. Very interesting to watch and they have beautiful iridescent colors and colorful fins - these usually get a bit larger from 4-10 inches depending on species. A few other good ideas would be Rainbow cichlids, they're super hardy, stay relatively small and have beautiful yellow coloring, and when they spawn they're very vibrant.

Then you've got some of the larger more aggressive cichlids which you really gotta know what you're doing to house them appropriately - some examples would be the Fish in the Festae group like Red Terrors, who literally can tear everything in the tank apart. Then there's fish like Doviis, Jaguars, Red Devils who re all on the highly aggressive side of things.

Then there's aggressive fish, that can also be peaceful too, so lets say semi aggressive to aggressive - this would be fish like Jack Dempsey's, Green Terrors (aggressive), Oscars (these get huge and can get a bad wrap, but mine never bother anything, they'll just eat anything they can fit in their mouths, however, they're probably the most intelligent of them all and will recognize you, you can sometimes even pat them, give them a ping pong ball to play with, they're often called an aquatic dog), Firemouths, things like that.

Any questions, post em up here!
 

FreshyFresh

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Sounds like a nice setup!

What's the footprint of this 36gal tank?

Just keep in mind, the more you stock it, the more water change volume and frequency you'll need to deal with.

If you've got a ton of Malaysian trumpet snails, you are likely feeding a bit too much.

What type of substrate? Sand or finer, softer stuff is better for cory cats.
 

GoldenOranda97

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Oct 29, 2019
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I decided I loved the look of a big school of neon tetras. I've always wanted to do them anyways. I have 20 now in that tank with 5 black skirts and 2 plattys. I'm worried the black skirts may be bullies. Thoughts? If need be I can move fish around, guppies and danios to the 36 and neons to the 20. A bit over stocked, but I can adjust water changes to accommodate.
 

The GingerFishman

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Feb 13, 2019
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I wouldn't think the Black Skirts would bother your neons. I could see them nipping long fin fish like Angels but the Neons are too small and too much effort to chase around. I like your stocking idea though! A group of Neons that large is beautiful. I'd add some Cory cats on the bottom of the tank now too. I'd do 6. See if you can find Julie or Schwartzi cories - two of the most attractive more common one IMO
 

GoldenOranda97

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Oct 29, 2019
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Would cory cats mind gravel bottoms? I was just reading up on them and I'm seeing they like to dig around and gravel could hurt their barbels. As time goes I could add some sand for a cool effect as I try my hand at aquascaping.
 

The GingerFishman

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Feb 13, 2019
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Would cory cats mind gravel bottoms? I was just reading up on them and I'm seeing they like to dig around and gravel could hurt their barbels. As time goes I could add some sand for a cool effect as I try my hand at aquascaping.
Good to know, yeah don't do cory cats with gravel. It does wear their barbels down over time and those don't grow back. I learned the hard way a long time ago.Honestly, it would be a really minor project, if I were you, I'd scoop out all of the gravel because it gets gross, stuff gets stuck in between the pebbles and it doesn't look nearly as nice as a sandy bottom. Got to your Home Depot or whatever, and buy 1 big bag of Pool Filter sand for a few bucks and you can put each scoop into a big plastic container, hold one hand over the top as you submerge the container and then gently pour in onto the glass. There's youtube vids showing how to add sand easily to a tank with water already. do NOT put sand on top of the gravel. You're just adding another layer of substrate and any gasses in the gravel will likely become trapped under the layer of sand without off gassing which can be poisonous to the fish when they finally bubble out. Just get rid of the gravel, believe me, you will be so happy when you do, the look is so much more natural and then you can get some small twig like pieces of Spider Drift Wood, which the Neons will love swimming through, add a few river rocks and you're going to have a killer looking tank and then you can add a wonderful new dimension to the tank with a small school of bottom dwellers, even dwarf loaches if you want.

Here's the wood I'm talking about and these guys are great to buy from, affordable quick shipping -

 

the loach

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Aug 6, 2018
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Good to know, yeah don't do cory cats with gravel. It does wear their barbels down over time and those don't grow back. I learned the hard way a long time ago.Honestly,
Not at all, it's a symptom caused by bacterial diseases and poor water quality and has nothing to do with gravel. It is hard to treat as it has to do with a compromised immune system due to inbreeding. However if treated their barbels can grow back. Buy them from local breeders and you won't have this problem.
 
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