It's been a few weeks since we partially stocked our 27 gal
Marineland cube. We have 8 harlequin rasboras and a dwarf powder blue gourami who seem very happy and are getting along well. The water parameters have been stable...0, 0, and 20 to 40-ish (we live in a rural area with high nitrates in the tap water, so getting down to 20 is the best-case scenario). Our water is also really hard...8.4...but we got our fish from a LFS
who assured us that their fish are well acclimated to our crazy-hard local water. We have a relatively smooth natural gravel substrate and fake plants.
Our original plan was to have another small school of Cardinal Tetras to hang out in the lower half of the tank. We'd also hoped for some Corys but everything I've read since has discouraged me from that plan. So we scratched the Corys and have been trying to find some other, less-sensitive bottom scavenger (shrimps?). Still not sure what direction to go there but we're not in a hurry. I realize that most of those critters like a more mature tank anyway. But we'd really like to add some more fish soon. The problem is that our LFS
doesn't have Cardinal Tetras. I asked to be put on their waiting list for whenever they *do* get some in stock but...I dunno. They're a very nice store and their tanks and stock look immaculate and well cared-for. But the employees are sorta....ummmm....jerks. Like, they obviously are very passionate about "cool" fish but they don't have much patience for beginner aquarists who just want more common freshwater fish. I've been in the store at least 6 times in the past two months and everyone I've dealt with has been similarly brusque with me. I get perfunctory yes/no answers to questions that really deserve more detail. I get vague replies when I ask for specific suggestions. Even when I'm the only person in the store, I can't get anyone to talk to me for more than two minutes.
So, I'm stuck. They're the only LFS
in my area. I could drive about two hours to a bigger city, but that seems a little ridiculous to just buy some tetras. Petsmart has a tank FULL of them, of course. But I'm scared that big box store fish are going to import disease into my lovely clean aquarium. I started fishless cycling a small quarantine tank about three weeks ago but, as of today, nothing is happening in there. Zero nitrite/nitrate. *sigh*
My question for you guys is whether there is some comparable small, schooling fish that is good in a community tank and would be compatible with the things I have in there already. I'd like to walk into the indifferent LFS
with a list of possible options, so there might be something on the list that is actually in stock.
Any suggestions? Or should I just wait for my quarantine tank to cycle so I can get my tetras anywhere and tell the hipster fish geeks at the LFS
to go soak their heads in their totally awesome piranha tank?