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Old 12-31-2016, 08:23 PM   #1
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Newbie- 20 gallon tank stocking question

Hey guys-

First post here as I am in the process of stocking and cycling my first tank. My plan is below and my questions are
1) whether a 20g tank will be sufficient size for these fish;
2) If the fish breeds will get along okay;
3) if the timeline is appropriate for allowing the proper cycling or too fast

Tank info: 20g; side hanging Aqueon quietflow power filter; heated to 76-78 degrees; ph has been steady around 6.5; ammonia at 0 and plan to check every day or two along with nitrate and nitrite; GH sitting around 150ppm & KH quite low around 60ppm; will change 10-15% of the water every time the ammonia levels rise to 0.25-0.5

Bought the tank a week ago and have let it run for a week before adding fish just today

I added 3 Zebra Danios with a plan to add one or two more in a week to complete a small school (don't want to go to 6 due to size constraints)

Wait another week or two before adding a male and female Dwarf Ram Cichlids (4 weeks out from tank set up at this point). From what I have read they will be okay with the other fish so long as there is a male and female together

Wait another week or two before adding 3 Oto catfish (Otos prefer a small school right?)

That is what I am thinking at this point, but I have been vacillating a ton.

I have read some places that this pace would be too fast, and other places that it would be fine. So thoughts there are appreciated.

Also, will the Rams breed a ton? I am not sure I am okay with that.

Thanks for the help!
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Old 01-01-2017, 08:08 PM   #2
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What you're doing is a fish-in cycle: the danios are supplying the ammonia to feed the growth of beneficial bacteria. I don't use this method myself, so others will have to comment on how to know when the tank is ready. The key is not the time from set up, but whether any ammonia added to the tank gets processed through nitrites to nitrates within 24 hours.

Regarding stocking:

A 20-long can easily accommodate 7-9 zebra danios, and you'll want that many so that they work off their energy chasing each other, and not the other tank inhabitants -- they're very active fish.

I'd be very wary of adding Dwarf Rams (I assume you mean German Blue Rams, here) to a new tank for several reasons. They can be delicate, and your tank will still be fairly new. I'd wait longer until your sure your nitrogen cycle is well-established. Or perhaps consider Bolivian Rams, which are also attractive and hardier than German Blues.

Otocincluses can also be delicate at first in new tanks. I didn't add any to my 20-gallon until a good crop of algae had grown on the side and back walls of the tank. So far, they've done fine. They also like to be in groups, so, I'd go for four.

Good luck with this, and keep us posted on the progress!
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Old 01-01-2017, 09:01 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Barliman View Post
What you're doing is a fish-in cycle: the danios are supplying the ammonia to feed the growth of beneficial bacteria. I don't use this method myself, so others will have to comment on how to know when the tank is ready. The key is not the time from set up, but whether any ammonia added to the tank gets processed through nitrites to nitrates within 24 hours.

Regarding stocking:

A 20-long can easily accommodate 7-9 zebra danios, and you'll want that many so that they work off their energy chasing each other, and not the other tank inhabitants -- they're very active fish.

I'd be very wary of adding Dwarf Rams (I assume you mean German Blue Rams, here) to a new tank for several reasons. They can be delicate, and your tank will still be fairly new. I'd wait longer until your sure your nitrogen cycle is well-established. Or perhaps consider Bolivian Rams, which are also attractive and hardier than German Blues.

Otocincluses can also be delicate at first in new tanks. I didn't add any to my 20-gallon until a good crop of algae had grown on the side and back walls of the tank. So far, they've done fine. They also like to be in groups, so, I'd go for four.

Good luck with this, and keep us posted on the progress!
Thank you very much for the response.

Would you say 7 Danios, 4 Otos, and a Bolvian Ram or two would be okay in a tank that size?
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Old 01-01-2017, 11:22 PM   #4
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I would wait to add any more fish until your ammonia and nitrite stay consistently at 0 and your nitrates start to show 10 ppm when you test. Although it is hard not to want to add more fish, if you do it will be non stop water changes. Be sure to shake/hit the nitrate bottle before testing, I had issues getting anything to show up unless I shook it thoroughly.

Once you have the parameters consistent, you can add a couple more fish. I normally add 2-3 fish at a time and then wait a month or so. This will give your beneficial bacteria time to multiply to handle the new amount of waste. If you add too quickly, you could have issues especially in a smaller tank.

Also, I would add the Otos last so you have time for algae to grow. They are awesome fish, but eat non stop. I have 5 in a 90 gallon and they keep my plants spotless.

Best of Luck!
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Old 01-02-2017, 05:43 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Spaullba View Post
Thank you very much for the response.

Would you say 7 Danios, 4 Otos, and a Bolvian Ram or two would be okay in a tank that size?
Yep. That sounds fine. If you get two Bolivians and the pair is m/f, be aware you'll likely get spawning.
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Old 01-02-2017, 08:11 PM   #6
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Yep. That sounds fine. If you get two Bolivians and the pair is m/f, be aware you'll likely get spawning.
Do you think a single Ram would be happy and not aggressive?
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Old 01-02-2017, 08:15 PM   #7
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I would wait to add any more fish until your ammonia and nitrite stay consistently at 0 and your nitrates start to show 10 ppm when you test. Although it is hard not to want to add more fish, if you do it will be non stop water changes. Be sure to shake/hit the nitrate bottle before testing, I had issues getting anything to show up unless I shook it thoroughly.

Once you have the parameters consistent, you can add a couple more fish. I normally add 2-3 fish at a time and then wait a month or so. This will give your beneficial bacteria time to multiply to handle the new amount of waste. If you add too quickly, you could have issues especially in a smaller tank.

Also, I would add the Otos last so you have time for algae to grow. They are awesome fish, but eat non stop. I have 5 in a 90 gallon and they keep my plants spotless.

Best of Luck!
Oky, thanks! One thing I just now thought of too is yhat I have a gravel/smooth pepple substrate. Some people say otos are okay like this, some say no. Should I go with a snail instead? See the picture of my substrate.

Thanks!
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Old 01-02-2017, 08:26 PM   #8
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The otos should not have any issues with the substrate depicted. They spend a good deal of time attached to surfaces other than the substrate and are not known to burrow or dig.
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Old 01-03-2017, 02:19 AM   #9
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Okay, last question.

My fiancee was hoping to add some white skirt tetras in too. Would this set up be okay?

5 Zebra Danio
5 White Skirt Tetra
4 Otos
1 Dwarf Gourami
?

According to AqAdvsior my tank is at 99% filtration and stocking level only 73%
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Old 01-03-2017, 01:34 PM   #10
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I don't see much of a problem with this.
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