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New 30g tank - substrate and fish recommendations?

Discussion in 'Central and South American Cichlids' started by Helaurin, Nov 1, 2018.

  1. Helaurin

    Helaurin Registered Member

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    Hi all,

    First post for me here. So, quick background - I had a slew of tanks when I was a kid, through high school, but the largest at the time was a 29g who had a large Tiger Oscar as the showpiece fish. Another tank had killifish and kribensis. Then I got out of the hobby (went to college, etc.)... anyhow... all that was a few decades ago.

    About a year ago, I got back into it with my daughter. We've been doing pretty good with our current tanks - 65g, 10g, 3.5g, 1.5g. The 65g is primarily a community tank with a pair of breeding angels (they lay eggs every few weeks, some hatch, then the fry get scarfed up by the other fish). The 10g is mostly a live-bearer tank - platy fry that are growing up. The 3.5g just has a Betta and a small cory in it, and the 1.5g has a gourami that was beating up other fish too much, so now he's basically in solitary confinement. All our tanks have live plants.

    My experience is that I'm generally okay with somewhat overstocking a tank IF: I have a decent filter; have plenty of live plants; do appropriate water changes.

    I'm setting up a new 30g tank (approximate dimensions are 36"x18"x16"). I'd like to try small dwarf cichlids, primarily Central/South American, that are not too aggressive, as a semi-community tank. Right now, I've got the tank about 75% filled with water, and nothing else.

    So my questions now -

    1 - What specific substrates would folks recommend? I know that the fish I am thinking about prefer sandy/fine gravel, and dark in color.

    2 - Fish I am thinking about, with my hoped-for eventual total quantities (no, I would not be getting and adding all these fish at once)
    Kribensis, quantity 2, bottom-mid tank dwellers
    Red Fire Dwarf Gourami, quantity 2, middle-to-top tank dwellers
    Dwarf Flag Cichlid, quantity 2, bottom-mid tank dwellers
    Bolivian Ram, quantity 6, bottom-mid tank dwellers
    Checkerboard Cichlid, quantity 10, bottom-mid tank dwellers
    Millenium Rainbowfish, quantity 7, middle-to-top tank dwellers
    Red Coral Platy, quantity 6, middle-to-top tank dwellers

    Originally, I was going to go with a lower quantity of Checkerboards, but saw articles suggesting that they need to be kept in groups of 10+ of their species.

    My plan is to:
    1 - solicit advice on substrate, purchase and set that up.
    2 - solicit advice on aquarium plants - was thinking several amazon swords for sure, and probably some other smaller plants for the foreground
    3 - get plants and decor (rocks/caves) situated
    4 - cycle through the tank with just the plants for a couple of weeks
    5 - start with the platys as they are usually pretty hardy
    6 - add in other species as I find them (depending on availability in the LFS and based on advice).

    As a note, the 30g tank is being set up in our basement family room - no natural light in their whatsoever.

    Thoughts? Thanks in advance.
     
  2. DefJ123

    DefJ123 AC Members

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    Way to much cichlids for one tank. These fish all need territory, which you wont get with your tank foot print. Pick one species of cichlid and go with that.

    I would probably go with this:

    Pair of bolivian rams
    The platys
    Rainbows
    Gouramie

    Skip the kribs for sure, they are aggressive little buggers. Not a fan what soever.

    For plants, it will depend on what you intend to do for lighting. Once you state that, appropriate plants can be suggested. Keep in mind you will need lighting that can sustain plants , ie proper light color.
     
    fishorama likes this.
  3. Helaurin

    Helaurin Registered Member

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    Thanks! We had kribs when I was a kid,and don't remember them being aggressive, and I think we had them with Angels and a few community fish. But that was.... many... years ago, so maybe I just don't remember, or maybe we just got lucky that time regarding that breeding pair's temperament :)

    Do you think I could have more than just one pair of Cichlids in the tank? I'm not necessarily interested in breeding them, so I'm not averse to having a few different singles of various species, if that might work to provide more variety and interest in the tank. But I've always liked to try to have a couple of each fish. Even in my other tank, which has the breeding pair of angels, it has a handful of loaches, some corys, a few female bettas, platys, mollies, etc. I'm kind of thinking that the Cichlids should be the last of the fish added to the tank, so that all of the more community-type fish should already be settled in.

    I do intend to do a fair bit of "landscaping" inside, so that there are lots of hidey-holes, shallow caves, plants, so that fish can more easily define territory. The tank isn't set in a corner, which means we'll be easily able to view it from either short side as well as the front.

    I was planning to design the interior in such a way that there would be at least one cave or cave-like structure facing out towards each of the 18" short ends of the tank, and then at least two or three caves facing towards the 36" long front. I'm also thinking possibly that the various cave-like structures may not all be situated exactly on the flooring of the tank, but that I might be able to create one or two on a slightly-raised shelf within the tank.

    Good point about the lighting. I'll have to check what plant-supporting bulbs are available to fit in the light fixture.

    Thanks!
     
  4. authmal

    authmal Pseudonovice

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    Filtration is an issue with overstocking, but man, that seems like a lot of space eaten up by bodies, and not a lot of space to move around in. Fish need more than just clean water. They also need adequate space for the size, shape and activity level. For instance, most would not recommend a tiger oscar in anything less than a 75, because when they get to full size, they're going to have a hard time turning around in a tank that's only 12 or 13 inches deep.

    It's why I won't get a flagtail prochilodus. I think they're great looking fish, but they're just not going to be happy at full size in my 55, which is the biggest tank I currently have set up.
     
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  5. DefJ123

    DefJ123 AC Members

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    I personally wouldnt. Cichlids need space and your foot print doesnt offer a lot unfortunely. For example, in my 55g, I only have one German Blue Ram and one Angelfish. Between them, my pleco and the rest of the fish, space got taken up real quick and I have less fish then you planned for the 30g. In my 65g tall, I have a pair of severums and thats it for stocking. Even then, the two of them are a slight bit much for the tank. Lot of water changes required.

    Check amazon for LED lighting. I purchased 2 current USA satellite LED bars for my tanks and my plants grow really well with them.
     
  6. the loach

    the loach AC Members

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    Light color (color temperature) is mostly just for humans, not plants. For plants it is about Lumens (intensity). Go for 6500-10000K if you want it to look good. If you don't mind the fish look like they're swimming in apple juice, the cheapest h/w store bulbs will do... You don't need special bulbs, that is just marketing. Half a century ago, people even grew plants with normal incandescent bulbs just fine.
    Do not get sand but the finest gravel (2mm-3mm) you can get. It makes a big difference with cleaning and burrowing fish are just fine with it.
     

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