Have a smaller tank with an "odd" number of gallons?

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jm1212

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Jul 22, 2006
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There are plenty tanks with an "odd" number of gallons. 3,6,7,12,15 and 25 are just some of them.

Some, such as the Eclipse System 3, 6, and 12, are bow front tanks. Bow fronts can be very nice tanks to have, but some, especially the eclipse systems, need to be stocked sparingly. The way that the tank itself is shaped can limit the stocking. With these tanks, there is a lower amount of surface area that there would be in a normal, rectangular tank. With a lower surface area comes lowed gas exchange, which means lower O2 levels, which limits the stock. This does not stop them from becoming very nice tanks though.

Others are hex tanks, like the Eclipse Hex 5 (see this article) and Hex 7. The Hex 7, which is listed here, is a much taller version of the Hex 5, and stocking is similar, but it can still support more because it has more volume, but not much more, because of the shape of the tank. Hex tanks also cannot support as much fish as rectangular tanks, but again this does not stop them from becoming pleasing tanks.

The other tanks, 15 and 25 gallons, are both regular rectangular tanks. They are not as common as 10, 20, 29, or 30 gallons tanks, but are seen every once and a while.

When stocking, some places will often advertise an "inch per gallon" rule to use. This "rule" is not accurate when it comes to stocking tanks, for the very reasons stated above. Some "odd" shaped or tanks with an "odd" number of gallons cannot support as much as standard tanks, and if are stocked the same can cause issues later one as the fish grow. Also, using the "rule" does not take into account any behavioral issues that may come into play. Overstocking the tank can cause issues with stress, aggression, disease, and water quality. Under stocking is much better than overstocking, especially in small tanks where water conditions are fairly unstable.

As species are listed for the first time, there will be some short, general info 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.

3 Gallon Tanks
Being only 3 gallons, most stockings will be limited to single fish or pairs, but the amount of inverts such as shrimp that these tanks with support is pretty good for their size.


Stocking 1
1 male betta- Bettas can survive in a wide variety of tanks, but to really thrive, 2½ gallons is a minimum. They come in many colors and fin variations, with males have much longer finnage than females; females are still available in the same amount of color forms and finnage forms though, just not as extravagant as the males. Keep only one male betta per tank, and don’t put male and female bettas together. Being very territorial, they will fight, especially in smaller tanks. Multiple females can be kept together, but with caution. 4 is an absolute minimum, and they must have enough room. Bettas will reach 3 inches in length normally and will accept all of the high-quality pellet and flake betta foods that are available.

Stocking 2
1 female betta- see male betta

Stocking 3
4 male Endler's livebearers- these are very small fish, usually one getting to about ½ inch for males. Females will get to 1 inch though, so males are better suited to be in groups in a 3 gallon setup. They are relatively peaceful fish and will accept pretty much any food you can give them, but make sure it is small enough to fit into their mouths. Crushing up flake food a bit will help.

Stocking 4
3 male least killifish- similar to Endler’s, but they are a bit stockier. Males will get to ½ in. like Endler’s, but least killis can be harder to find. General care is very similar to that of Endler’s livebearers.

Stocking 5
6 cherry shrimp- while they are not fish, a tank of shrimp can make a very nice display. Cherry shrimp are just that: they have a red body. Cherry shrimp are pretty small, but in a group they will breed often if conditions are right. Make sure to keep water conditions in check, inverts (besides snails) have been known to be sensitive to ammonia and nitrite. To feed them, you can use flake or pellet food that drops to the bottom, but be careful not to overfeed. Cherry shrimp constantly are scurrying around the bottom of the tank, sifting for food. Ghost shrimp are also a good alternative and are relatively inexpensive.

Stocking 6
2 African Dwarf Frogs- African Dwarf Frogs (ADFs) can be very interesting to watch. They stay very small, and are perfect for 3 gallon tanks. ADFs have a habit of holding their breath, foraging for food in the substrate, and waiting until the very last second to swim up for air, so keeping them in tall tanks can pose a problem. They’ll need to be hand fed blood worms.

6 Gallon Tanks
The Eclipse system 6 has very efficient filtration for such a small tank, as does the systems 3 and 12. Still, it should be stocked sparingly because of its exaggerated bow front shape. In these tanks, you can move from one species of occupants to two, such as with a school of fish and shrimp. With a 6 gallon, there are also fish available that would normally not be comfortable in a 3 gallon.


Stocking 1
1 dwarf gourami- 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.
6 cherry shrimp

Stocking 2
6 neon tetras- neons are also small, colorful fish. They are schooling fish, and should be kept in a group of six or more. neons will get to about an inch and a half long, and will accept every food given to them as long as it isn’t to big to fit in their mouths. Some can be relatively hardy, while others a not so in any respect. Cardinals are very similar, but get a bit bigger.
6 ghost shrimp

Stocking 3
1 male OR female betta
2 African Dwarf Frogs

Stocking 4
1 honey gourami- Very Similar to dwarf gouramis except that they only reach 1½-2 inches long.
4 least killis or Endler’s

Stocking 5
1 male and two female Badis badis- these small fish are often called "chameleon fish" because they have a habit of changing their color drastically with their mood. They get to 1¼ in long and will eat live or frozen foods.

Stocking 6
2 male fancy guppies- fancy guppies are much like Endler's, except they have more extravagant finnage and brighter colors. Guppies will breed readily in any aquarium, and females will drop their fry every 28 days or so. As with all livebearers, the easiest way to tell a male from a female is by looking at the anal fin; a females will be fan shaped, and a males will be rod shaped. Male guppies also have longer fins and are more colorful than females. Being aggressive eaters, guppies will take virtually any food presented to them.


Stocking 7
2 female or 2 male platies- platies are stockier fish than guppies, but are very similar in terms of care. Platies are also some of the most peaceful fish, and come in pretty much very color imaginable. There is no color difference between males and females, so the only way to tell them apart is by the anal fin.


7 Gallon Tanks
The most common 7 gallon tank is the Eclipse Hex 7. The Hex 7 is essentially a much taller version of the Hex 5, and should be stocked in a similar way; but because of the Hex 7's higher volume, it can support a bit more than the Hex 5. Hex 7 tanks are great for having a few fish with very tall plants or a tall center decoration.

Stocking 1
1 dwarf gourami
6 cherry shrimp

Stocking 2
2 male guppies
6 ghost shrimp

Stocking 3
1 male or female betta
6 amano shrimp-very similar to ghost and cherry shrimp except the fact that they are a bit harder to find and keep, for they can be more sensitive

Stocking 4
5 male Endler’s livebearers
4 ghost shrimp

Stocking 5
6 least killis
4 ghost shrimp

Stocking 6
3 male or 3 female platies

Stocking 7
3 male guppies

Stocking 8
1 honey gourami
6 amano shrimp


12 Gallon Tanks
The Eclipse System 12 is the most common 12 gallon tank. Even though it has 2 extra gallons over a 10 gallon tank, it should be stocked similarly because of the surface area of the tank. There are still plenty of fish that will be more comfortable in a 12 gallon rather than a smaller tank listed here.

Stocking 1
1 male dwarf gourami and one female dwarf gourami
6 cardinals- see neons

Stocking 2
1 honey gourami
6 lemon tetras-very similar to neon tetras, they have a transparent body with a yellowish tint. Lemon tetras will get to 1¾ in. long, and will accept many foods.

Stocking 3
12 neon tetras

Stocking 4
8 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.

Stocking 5
5 least killis
5 pygmy corydoras- one of the smallest corydoras, pygmy corydoras will get to around ¾ in. long. Feed them sinking food that are small enough for them to eat.

Stocking 6
1 male betta
6 pygmy corydoras

15 Gallon Stocking
15 gallon tanks fill the gap between 10 and 20 gallon high tanks. Most 15 gallon tanks will have the height of a 10 gallon, but the foot print of a 20 gallon high. This opens up many new fish that could not normally thrive in smaller tanks.

Stocking 1
1 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.
10 neon tetras

Stocking 2
1 pair of German Blue rams-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.
10 cardinal tetras

Stocking 3
4 male guppies
6 red eye tetras- being very tight schoolers, red eyes appreciate being in groups of six or more. In terms of care, they are similar to other tetras such as lemons. Red eye tetras will get to 2½ inches long, and will accept many foods

Stocking 4
1 male sparkling gourami and 2 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.
8 lemon tetras
6 amano shrimp

Stocking 5
1 male honey gourami and 2 females
6 rummynose tetras
4 salt and pepper corydoras- this species of corydoras requires the same care as the others, and grows to 1 inch long. They are very similar to pygmy corydoras, but get a bit bigger. Salt and pepper corydoras (Corydoras habrosus) should not be confused with peppered corydoras (Corydoras paleatus), which reaches 2½ inches long.


25 Gallon Tanks
The biggest of the "small" tanks with an odd number of gallons, the 25 gallon tank is even taller than a 20 gallon high.

Stocking 1
1 male swordtail and three females- swordtails are very similar to platies, except they reach 4 inches opposed to 2 that platies grow to. Male swordtails have been known to be nippy if there are not enough females in the tank to distract them, so keep 3 females for every male in the tank. To tell males from females, especially at a young age, check the anal fin, as with all livebearers. As males age, they develop a "sword," which is an extension of the caudal fin. They will accept pretty much every food presented to them.
6 black skirt tetras- black skirts are tougher than other tetras, and require the same basic care. They will reach 2½ inches long.
4 Schwartz’s corydoras

Stocking 2
1 male sailfin molly and 3 females- care is similar to that of the swordtail. Sailfin mollies will get to 5 inches long and males have a very tall dorsal fin. These fish can be kept in a wide range of water chemestries: pure freshwater, brackish, or full marine settings.
6 red eye tetras
4 Juhli corydoras- care remains the same as with other corydoras. Gets to 2½ inches long. Has a spotted pattern

Stocking 3
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.
12 cardinals

Stocking 4
10 serpae tetras- these little orange fish can be very nippy with other tank mates if they are not in a big enough school. Serpaes will grow to 2 inches long and will accept most commercially prepared foods.
4 Schwartz’s corydoras

Stocking 5
8 Endler’s
12 cardinal tetras
6 slat and pepper corydoras

Stocking 6
1 pair of German Gold Rams- see German Blue Rams
12 rummynose tetras

Stocking 7
4 platies
8 harlequin rasboras
4 skunk corydoras- grows to 2½ inches long and has a black stripe down its back

Stocking 8
1 honey gourami
10 glolite tetras- same care as other tetras, it has a characteristic orange stripe down its body. Glolites get to 2 inches long
4 panda corydoras

Tanks with an "odd" number of gallons can be just as interesting as other tanks, but stocking them right is the key!


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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