here are some answers to those questions:
1. I will go with 4 cherry barbs at least then, 3 female 1 male to start
2. I have a fair amount of plants, rock, and driftwood in the tank to provide less current for the cherry barbs. The powerhead is backed down on flow quite a bit. I was told Danios and hillstream loaches loved current, hence the set up.
3. As far as I know, all of the fish I have should have no problem with 70 degree water temperature...I read hillstream loaches do ok in up to 75 degree water temp, is that false? I don't want to get the fish if it wont be happy and healthy in my tank.
4. I am using fertilizer, but I do not have a CO2
injection system. I can drop the lighting down if that will help the fish and plants. should I cut the time that the CFL's are on down to a few hours a day to start?
5. I keep the tank clean by hand, the only reason I mentioned the algae was because I read that the hillstream loaches liked algae and were less adaptable to pellet foods.