Stocking: Bowfront Tanks

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Pterophyllum scalare
Jul 22, 2006
Real Name
Bowfront tanks differ from standard tanks in two distinct ways;
they have a bow-shaped front rather than a flat one, and they should be stocked slightly different than rectangular tanks. While the bowfront does add some volume to the tank, the surface area that is added is negligible; such tanks should be stocked as tanks with the same surface area, minus the added surface area from the bowed-front. Various sizes are available, and some tanks have a bowed front and back.

The most common sizes that will be covered here are:
1, 2½, 5, and 7 -the All Glass Brand line of small tanks- as well as 16, 26, 36, 46, and 72 gallons. Bowfront tanks will easily surpass 72 gallons, but for length reasons the lists will be limited to 72 gallon tanks. Stocking lists can easily be expanded to meet the needs of a larger tank. There are also tanks that are 3, 6, and 12 gallons- Eclipse Tanks- that are covered in another article here. Each will be given a series of stocking lists that is suitable for the tank. Also, if any further information is needed about the fish, please refer to my other articles as well as here for plenty of great information, much of which was taken into consideration for this article. Fish that are not listed together may or may not be compatible with one another, more likely not, so feel free to ask questions in the Freshwater Forums.

As with standard tanks, the inch per gallon rule does not apply in the least.
Always cycle your tank before adding fish, preferably through fishless cycling.
This article is designed to be a companion article to the "standard tank" articles.

All Glass Bowfront Tank Series

1, 2½, 5, and 7 gallons
This series tanks are essentially the same model, just subsequently larger versions of the other. Each contains similar filtration setups, with the exception being the 1 gallon tank which employs an under gravel filter setup.

1 gallon- 1 gallon is truly not enough for fish to live in. Some hobbyists do not even believe that 1 gallon tanks are capable of holding any kind of aquatic life, invertebrates included. There are a few organisms that find a 1 gallon a suitable home. The most suitable is the tiny cherry shrimp, but keep in mind that a few will quickly become many if conditions are right.

Stocking 1
2 cherry shrimp is the best way to stock a 1 gallon, if at all.

2½ gallon
- 2½ gallons still is not much room to work with, and there are few fish that will be comfortable in such a tank.

Stocking 1
1 betta- Some consider this the minimum tank size, but others say 5 is a minimum.

Stocking 2
3 least killifish- Truly tiny fish, these livebearers will to fine in a 2½ gallon granted it is well taken care of and their own population is strictly controlled.

5 gallon
- Still more room than the 2½ gallon, and therefore more stocking options.

Stocking 1
1 dwarf gourami- Popular, colorful, and personality-packed, dwarf gouramis reach about 3 inches and will do fine on their own in a 5 gallon bowfront. NOTE: recent stock in stores has been weak. Look for singly owned LFS's for the best stock, or even local breeders.

Stocking 2
1 honey gourami- Similar to dwarf gouramis, these orange fish are a bit hardier.

7 gallon-
A 7 gallon bowfront brings more room; enough room for small schooling fish.

Stocking 1
5 ember tetras- These tiny tetras are orange in color and are a bit smaller than neon tetras. Keep them in schools

Stocking 2
5 neon tetras- The well known blue and red tetras that reach 1 inch long, perfect for small tanks such as the 7 gallon bowfront. NOTE: recent stock has been weak. I have had the best luck with neons from Petsmart, rather than the other chain stores of LFS's.

Stocking 3
2 platies- Platies are the perfect community fish; peaceful, colorful, and hardy. They breed readily, so keep them in groups of one gender. For a 7 gallon, females would be the best choice; don't worry though, they have the same vivid coloration as males.

Stocking 4
3 male guppies- Male guppies are small compared to their female companions, and therefore they can be kept in smaller tanks or in greater numbers. Plus, three is really a minimum for a group of males to create a suitable pecking order.

Stocking 5
3 sparkling gouramis- These small gouramis should be in groups of one male for every 2 females, and reach about 2 inches long.

Other Common Bowfront Tanks
16, 26, 36, 46, and 72 gallons
Much more space than the All Glass line of bowfront tanks, these tanks hold much more potential and stability than the smaller tanks.

16 gallons- More room than a 10 gallon tank, stocked similar to a 15 gallon, but smaller than a 20 gallon. 16 gallons holds the potential for a number of smaller schooling fish.

Stocking 1
1 dwarf gourami
6 harlequin rasboras- Small schooling fish that reach 2 inches and have a black pork-chop shaped mark on either side. Keep them in schools.
4 panda corydoras- Gregarious, grows to 2 inches, and peaceful, panda corydoras are perfect bottom feeders for a 16 gallon bowfront. Keep in mind that all other corydoras species share similar descriptions to the panda corydoras, aside from the size that they attain.

Stocking 2
1 honey gourami
10 neon tetras
6 cherry shrimp

Stocking 3
10 ember tetras
4 pygmy corydoras- Tiny catfish, reaching one inch for the biggest specimens.

Stocking 4
4 multis- These small, shell-dwelling cichlids should have a tank with rockwork, as well as plenty of empty snail shells, for them to live in as their name suggests. Keep one male in a 16 gallon.

26 gallons
More stability than a 20 gallon, but for those that dont really have the space for a 30...

Stocking 1
1 pearl gourami- Similar to dwarf gouramis, but reach 4 inches long and have a more angular shape.
6 red eye tetras- Tight schooling, 2 inch tetras that have a yellow sheen and red ring around their eyes. Keep them in nice-sized schools.
4 peppered corydoras- 3 inches is a good size

Stocking 2
1 pair of bolivian rams- These dwarf cichlids grow to about 3½ inches and appreciate good water quality. Feed them sinking foods to make sure that they get enough to eat, but also keep them with peaceful fish.
8 rummynose tetras- Also tight schoolers, rummynose tetras reach 2 inches long and also appreciate good water quality.
4 platies

Stocking 3
1 dwarf gourami
18 neon tetras
6 pygmy corydoras

Stocking 4
1 pair of German blue rams- Smaller and more fragile than bolivian rams, these dwarf cichlids attain a nice blue hue as their name suggests. Keep them with peaceful fish that can live comfortable in the high temperatures they need, at least 82ºF.
8 rummynose tetras
4 Schwartz's corydoras

36 gallons
A whole new group of fish opened up to the hobbyist by a mere 10 gallons...

Stocking 1
6 zebra danios- These little hyperactive fish are top-dwellers and are super hardy. Try not to keep them with fish that are slow moving and have long fins.
12 serpae tetras- These tetras are nippy, so dont keep them with long-finned fish. Otherwise, in a large school they should be fine to keep with other fish.
5 yo-yo loaches- These boisterous little loaches are a great addition to any tank.

Stocking 2
1 male and 3 female Calvus cichlids- Piscivores, or fish eaters, Calvus cichlids get to 4 inches and are a great choice for a species tank. Provide plenty of rockwork and good filtration.

Stocking 3
1 angelfish- These cichlids easily reach 6 inches long and are available in many different color and finnage forms. Don't keep them with neons, cardinals, guppies, or otos though, as they will easily be gobbled up.
10 rummynose tetras
4 bronze corydoras- 3½ inches is a common length

Stocking 4
1 festivum cichlid- Similar in disposition to angelfish, these cichlids are a bit smaller, 4 inches, and are less likely to eat smaller fish.
10 lemon tetras- These 2 inch tetras are almost entirely see-through but have a subtle yellow hue to them. Keep them in nice big schools.
6 Schwartz’s corydoras

46 gallons
- 46 gallons is a perfect tank for those that want a big tank in a 3 foot space without going custom

Stocking 1
1 angelfish
10 bleeding heart tetras- These guys reach 3 inches long, but can be skittish, so keep them in large groups in a well planted tank.
4 porthole catfish- Similar to flagtail catfish and relatives to corydoras, portholes are peaceful and a great addition to a South American biotope. 4 inches long is the average size.

Stocking 2
12 tiger barbs- These boisterous barbs should be kept in large groups with plenty of space. They are hyperactive and will nip at other fish. Dont keep them with long finned or slow moving fish, such as angels or bettas, even if they are in a large school.
6 zebra danios

Stocking 3
1 male sailfin molly and 3 female mollies- Mollies are much like larger platies or guppies, but are a bit more territorial. To avoid this, keep them in a one male to three female ratio. Dont add salt; mollies are freshwater fish.
10 black skirt tetras- Tougher than most tetras, they'll reach 2½ inches for males and 3 inches for females.
6 Juhli corydoras- 2½ inches is the average length.

Stocking 4
6 marbled hatchetfish- These fish are strictly-surface dwellers, and be carful, they are great jumpers. They'll get to about 1½-2 inches long, and are schoolers.
12 diamond tetras- Similar to red eye tetras, diamond tetras get their name from the iridescence that is given off from their scales. Males will adorn long, extravagant finnage, while female have shorter fins. Keep them in large schools to see the best colors.
6 Green Bronchis- These catfish are commonly labeled "green corydoras," but are in fact members of the bronchis family, but are close relatives. They'll get much bigger than corydoras though, easily reaching 4 inches.

72 gallons-
The biggest tank covered here, a 72 bow opens up many possibilities for "monster" fish

Stocking 1
6 silver dollars- These large schoolers can be timid, but dont keep them in planted tanks. Any plants will be eaten as soon as they hit the water. 6 inches is the norm for common forms of silver dollars. Red hooks will reach 8 inches. Keep neither with long-finned fish.
8 giant danios- These active fish can act as dithers, but also as a nice schooling addition to a community tank. They'll reach 4 inches, but watch out- they are real jumpers.
1 gold severum- A large, peaceful cichlid that can still hold its own against other nastier cichlids, severum are a great addition as a centerpiece fish for tanks with larger schoolers.

Stocking 2
1 angelfish
6 marbled hatchetfish
12 diamond tetras
5 porthole catfish

Stocking 3
6 discus- Discus are considered the "kings of freshwater fish." They need excellent water conditions and a variety of foods. Multiple or a very large canister filter is recommended, as are water changes at least 2-3 times a week. They like softer water, but since more and more are being commercially bred, it is possible to keep them in higher pHs. Discus will grow to over 8 inches.
12 red eye tetras
6 peppered corydoras

Stocking 4
1 Jack Dempsey cichlid- these guys can be aggressive, but give them plenty of space and they’ll be fine with larger tank mates.
6 giant danios

If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, feel free to ask!

Good luck with your tank!

- Jon

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