I'm new to the field and new to this site, so thanks to everyone for all of the incrediby helpful advice (the "If you could do it all over thread" has been super helpful!).
As requested, I've been doing lots of research (Boruchowitz's The simple guide to freshwater aquariums) and think that I have narrowed my choices down. Based on his suggestion, I am going to go with a 55 or 75 gallon tank. Per his instructions, I'd like to stock it with the following:
One thing I'd like to do, is possibly add a couple of dwarf gouramis. I love the way they look, and they seem like fun. I'd make sure they have plenty of hiding space and a floating plant or two.
1) Do you think this is an ok original combination?
2) Do you think that adding a dwarf gouramis or maybe rasboras would be ok?
3) Any other suggestions on fish that would fit in well with the original 3?
Your list seems ok. I'm not familiar with Angels as cycle fish.
However, you could also consider as cycle fish:
- zebra danois
- white clouds
- I think harlequin rasboros are also hardy enough for cycle... if not, definitely make them part of your 2nd batch.
- cherry barbs: prolly the least aggresive compared to the fave tiger barbs.
I would not cycle with a dwarf gourami... I think they're less hardy than the regular sized ones too. However, they can be part of your 2nd or 3rd batch as you should slowly stock your tank over the next couple of months.
I agree with the fishless cycle. It will be less strain on the fish IMO.
As for the angels, in my experience swordtails and gourami's like to rip their fins off. This is just something that has happened to me and is why i no longer keep them. Also, when it comes to angels ... i would hold off on getting them for about 6 months to a year. The reason for this is because it has been my experience that angels prefer a semi or fully mature aquarium. In the past when i added them to a newly cycled aquarium, the angels always died off.
Lunchbox ... "i'm a man, but i can change, if i have to, i guess"
Tankless ... for now ... until i find what i really want (and what the wife lets me get!)