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tomtomtom1230 01-05-2012 07:37 AM

Options for my new 15 gallon tank
Hey everyone,
This is my first post on these forums so I'd like to introduce myself as Tom. :)

I'm new to fish keeping but I've done all my homework on what kind of fish I want to keep and about the cycling process.

So far, my tank and filter has been up and running for a day or so just to make sure everything is running as it should and today I began adding a few flakes of fish food as a source of ammonia. I know it takes longer this way but I cannot get hold of household ammonia for love nor money in any of the stores near me!

I'm using the time between the setting up of the tank and the final stage of cycling to find out more about the type of fish I want to keep and this is what I need some advise on really, as I'm unsure on whether my ambition will overstock my tank.

First of all, here are some details about my tank...
length x width/depth x height (approx.)

45cm x 30cm x 35-40cm

... and my current water parameters...

with any luck ammonia and nitrite will be completely zero by the time it's cycled.

pH is around 7.5

ambient temperature is at a constant 26 degrees Celcius, night and day with both lights on (only for around 12 hours - off entirely at night) in a fairly warm bedroom.

I have a few ideas about fish, I really like Harlequin Rasboras and I'd like to keep maybe 6(ish). Peppered Corydoras or Clown Loaches are nice looking bottom feeders and I'd like to keep one or two of those and I'd like a focal fish or something to fill the space between the top and the bottom of the tank! Something like a single (or a pair if the tank is big enough?) Blue ram Cichlid!

What do you guys think?

Tom :)

Thanks in advance, by the way!

Sharni 01-05-2012 08:17 AM

Harlequins would be nice, cories would be ok too, they also like to be in a school of around 4-5

Defiately not Clown loaches though, they get huge and are not suited to a 15gal tank (more like a 70gal and up)

tomtomtom1230 01-05-2012 08:25 AM

Wow, thanks for warning me about the clown loaches, I'll cross those off my list I think!

I didn't realise the cory's liked to live in groups either! I'm not sure it looks as though there is enough 'floor' space for them but that may be just the refraction in the water from the angle i'm looking at it, making it seem smaller than it is.

can you suggest any other bottom feeders suited to a 15 gallon - i've got plenty of (fake, sadly) plants and hiding places under rocks for them when my water is ready.

I'd like something to occupy the mid-water too but as a new-be I'm still fairly unsure about various species of fish and how they would react to being in the same tank as each other.

Thanks for the advice so far.:thumbsup:

tomtomtom1230 01-05-2012 12:37 PM

Out of interest, does anybody know if 6 or 7 Harlequin Rasboras and a minimal amount of small bottom feeders fill my bio load for my 15 gallon tank?

I'm still unclear on what bottom feeders to get - I don't want my tank to be at bursting point; I'd like the fish to be able to have some 'breathing space'. :)

Also, one more issue I'm wondering about is this... I understand I have to introduce fish slowly but will the shoaling fish not be stressed out for about a week whilst I allow 'birthing time' for the tank's bacteria to adjust to the presence of 1 or 2 small fish? If this is the case, can anybody suggest to me a way to minimise this stress or a species of fish that is OK in a community tank but not really bothered by being alone. I would of course need to keep this fish in there by the time I finishing introducing fish to my tank so I can only take what my bio load allows!

Sharni 01-05-2012 04:56 PM

What are you doing with the tank while it is waiting for fish?

You can buy pygmy cories, they would be able to be kept in a small school

Sasami 01-05-2012 05:14 PM

Welcome! :)

The harlequin rasboras should do great. The tank is too small for most cory cat varieties but the pygmy cories as mentioned above would work if you can find them. Unfortunately, they're not always easy to find. As for other bottom dwellers, maybe look into kuhli loaches. They spend a lot of time hiding but are pretty neat to watch when they're out. They enjoy company but don't need a "school" like cories. 2 or 3 would be fine. They're hardy and peaceful.

I would avoid German Rams. I love them but they're sensitive fish with very specific needs. The ones being shipped as of late are also pretty weak...most don't seem to make it. If you love the look of Rams but want a hardier species, research the Bolivian Ram. They look similar to German Rams but are much easier to care for.

5-6 rasboras, 2 loaches, and one ram would pretty much max out your bioload. If it was my tank, I'd just do rasboras (5-6) and loaches (2-3) with some nice live plants. Maybe some freshwater nerite snails or other small inverts, too.

Another idea that wouldn't stress the bioload quite as much would be a betta fish instead of the ram. They usually do fine with rasboras and bottom-feeders like loaches and cories. There are always exceptions but it's an idea :). A betta would add a nice splash of color and would move throughout the whole tank.

tomtomtom1230 01-06-2012 10:10 AM

Fantastic, thanks for all the suggestions. I really like Cories but the colourings of Kuhli loaches are fantastic - as Sharni said, pygmy Cories are pretty hard to find and i think my LFS would have to order some in for me if I was desperate.

I hadn't thought about adding live plants, really! I have smooth, small gravel that blends into a nice fine gravel (a little bigger than sand) which looks cool with some large black/grey rocks (they're pH neutral i think - my pH is steady at 7.5 anyhow). my LFS are unable to obtain the Rasboras but im sure there's a gold variety of zebra Danios if i'm not mistaken?

I only have a 15w white day-time lamp at the moment, too. This weekend I plan to replace the bulb in my blue night-time one (which won't be left on all night for obvious reasons).

My ammonia readings plummeted today to 0ppm and there was also a small increase in nitrites in my water (to about 4ppm - I try to test the water at least once a day - the earlier I get myself into this habit the better I think!) so fingers crossed that this time next week my tank will have done a full cycle!

Betta fish sound like a much better option, now I know that the German Rams are pretty difficult to keep for somebody like myself. A focal fish isn't important to me as happy, comfortable fish are so perhaps it'll be better to leave out a slightly larger fish and add an extra Danio/Rasbora (whichever I end up getting).

I heard that, like Barbs, Rasboras can be somewhat notorious for fin nipping within their shoal?

tomtomtom1230 01-06-2012 10:13 AM


Originally Posted by Sharni (Post 635678)
What are you doing with the tank while it is waiting for fish?

Just adding a few flakes of fish food regarding my cycle and treating it as if it had fish. I don't think i'll do a water change until the morning of the day I introduce fish. :)

Sasami 01-06-2012 06:30 PM

Zebra danios are really active and prefer longer tanks so I usually don't recommend them for tanks under 20 gallons. But there's a similar fish that really thrives in smaller set-ups like yours...the white cloud minnow :). They come in a gold variety, too. They're really hardy and active. Even now, they remain one of my favorite fish species. They prefer cooler water so the temperature could be turned down (and luckily kuhli loaches enjoy the same water parameters).

Harlequin rasboras aren't too nippy in my experience. Barbs aren't always nippy, it depends on the species. Cherry barbs, for example, are one of the most peaceful fish you can get :). They would actually be another good option for your tank if available. The males turn an intense red when kept with females. Are pristella tetras available at your LFS? Those would be another idea. The gold ones are especially pretty. They're not too nippy for tetras, either. They might nip at bettas, though. Mine didn't (I kept them with cories and a single male betta) but the tank was heavily planted which probably helped diffuse any aggression.

Sounds like your tank is cycling quickly :). The next part of the cycle is the longest so don't get discouraged if it takes a while for nitrates to appear and the nitrites to go down.

tomtomtom1230 01-07-2012 04:37 AM

Thanks for the support that you and Sharni have showed me! I'm pretty enthusiastic about keeping fish and I'll keep my mind open to all sorts of different setups!

Yeah, in truth I thought my tank would take 4 or 5 weeks since I'm using fish food (which takes time to release ammonia) rather than neat ammonia. But I'm ok with it if it wants to cycle faster ;)

My brother has taken to keeping fish, too and sadly he's doing a fish-in cycle with zebra danios... I tried to deter him from it but he's a stubborn fool and didn't listen to me :( regardless, he is keeping a very close eye on his water and his fish which I have been encouraging about. He only has 2 zebra danios for the moment as I refused to let him buy any more than that for reasons that are obvious to you and I! I must say though, they are very playful and he - based on what you've told me - has a better tank for danios. It's a 25 gallon tank but it's very long and shallow (maybe about 40cm from base to top I think which is OK for zebra danios since they live in streams and such in the wild unless I am mistaken?), unlike mine where it's slightly deeper and more cuboid :)

One of his danios is about 5mm longer than the other and it chases the smaller one but I told him it'd probably stop when he gets more. Like you and I, they probably get frustrated when you take their social life away from them, even for a short period. The only thing I let him know to watch out for was nipped fins but he'll probably look up some information on the net sooner or later!

tomtomtom1230 01-07-2012 07:10 AM

Just been reading up on my internal power filter that came with the tank as part of a deal they had at my LFS - and the general opinion of it, is that it is crap (to put it frankly)!

I imagine it would be beneficial for me and my soon-to-be fish to replace it with something better and suited to a higher volume of water. My current filter is the Interpet PF2 (I think) and as I said, it's not a popular one when I researched how to properly maintain it.

I guess I just take the cap off, rinse the filter sponges in aquarium water once a week and then rinse the filter media section once a month? The handbook that came with it is actually pretty vague... :/

edit: Saying that, it's working fine for me so far. I won't knock it until I've tried it in a real fish situation :)

Sasami 01-08-2012 01:34 AM

No problem! It's actually rather refreshing to be able to help someone who actually did research and is asking questions before buying fish :). That's pretty rare, unfortunately!

Zebra danios are pretty hardy so they'll probably make it through the cycle. It's far from ideal but hopefully it goes well. The tank sounds fine for them. They appreciate cool, fast-moving, highly oxygenated water. So you can tell your brother not to bother with a heater (unless your house gets really cold) and consider running a power head and/or air stone. Yeah, the nipping will probably calm down once there's a school. Extra hiding spots may also help.

Internal filters aren't the best, no, although they can be ideal in some set-ups (mostly ones involving lower water levels...frogs, crabs, etc.). You can see how it goes for now but consider upgrading to a decent hang-on-back filter. They're pretty cheap and much more efficient. AquaClear and Whisper filters are two popular ones. I've used both with success. I prefer AquaClears overall but my Whisper filters have admittedly been longer lived. The AquaClears are just nice because you can use different filter a canister filter but much cheaper. I've managed to run media in Whispers, too, but that sometimes involves modifications.

tomtomtom1230 01-08-2012 04:51 AM

I have a lid on my tank - will this need removing before I can invest in a hang-on-back filter? :)

tomtomtom1230 01-08-2012 07:22 AM

Do pygmy sucker-mouth catfish have any special requirements or're they OK for a small community tank? :)

Sasami 01-08-2012 03:40 PM


Originally Posted by tomtomtom1230 (Post 635781)
I have a lid on my tank - will this need removing before I can invest in a hang-on-back filter? :)

Most lids have sections that can be popped off to fit equipment like filters. Check to see if that's the case with yours.


Originally Posted by tomtomtom1230 (Post 635785)
Do pygmy sucker-mouth catfish have any special requirements or're they OK for a small community tank? :)

Oto cats are fine in peaceful community tanks but they do have special needs. They need a mature, stable tank with algae to eat. Also, they're wild-caught and tend to be underweight when purchased. They require careful acclimation and a very consistent source of food. Once acclimated and eating, they're fairly hardy. Most deaths occur within the first month or two. It's not a fish I'd recommend for a new tank but a species to look into down the road when the tank has been set up for a while.

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