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20 Gallon Tall. Stocking Ideas!


Lillypad
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Hi all!

I got a new 20 gallon tall aquarium, and am trying to think of cool ideas. I’ve kept  many beginner fish, and am looking for something a little more next level. 
I can set up the tank according to the species I decide to keep. It can be a species only, or a community-type thing


Any ideas welcome!

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Congratulations on the new tank. 
Some more information would be helpful. 

Mainly what are your tap water parameters ph and gh  some fish thrive in hard high ph others thrive in low ph soft water.  I would like to give you suggestions for fish that will easily thrive in your water  

What are your interests? 

Examples:

Though I think schooling fish are pretty their schooling behavior does not interest me. 

I enjoy breeding fish that require a bit of attention on my part and occasionally hatching eggs on my own or display parental care. My big requirement is a high level of social dynamic for the fish to really be interesting to me.  Some folks just like watching babies with no work so livebearers would be good for them. Others do not want a high chance of breeding or offspring so livebearers would not be a good suggestion. 
 

My friend just likes cast color schemes. 
 

What do you like and what is most important to you?  How much breeding do you plan or do you just want to watch or maybe get babies but only a few that may survive on their own. 

Planted tank or hardscape only tank?  
 

Congratulations again. I have tons of interesting common and less common fish recommendations. I just need a touch more info to recommend things that will be best for you. 🤗
 

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Hi! Thanks for your input! Here is some more information:

my tap is right about 7. I like planted tanks with driftwood, but could do artificial decorations and crushed coral substrate for fish that like harder water. Ammonia and nitrites would be at 0, and nitrates around 10-20.

I like schooling fish, but would rather have something a bit bigger perhaps? I know nothing to big can go into a 20 though. 
I will research any fish that are recommended here to maintain their proper habitat.

I am currently breeding and raising bettas at the moment. I don’t mind fish that will breed, but I will not be able to raise the fry, as bettas are lots of work.

I like cichlids, because of their interesting behavior, so apistogrammas and the like. 

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On 7/25/2023 at 2:20 PM, Lillypad said:

Hi! Thanks for your input! Here is some more information:

my tap is right about 7. I like planted tanks with driftwood, but could do artificial decorations and crushed coral substrate for fish that like harder water. Ammonia and nitrites would be at 0, and nitrates around 10-20.

I like schooling fish, but would rather have something a bit bigger perhaps? I know nothing to big can go into a 20 though. 
I will research any fish that are recommended here to maintain their proper habitat.

I am currently breeding and raising bettas at the moment. I don’t mind fish that will breed, but I will not be able to raise the fry, as bettas are lots of work.

I like cichlids, because of their interesting behavior, so apistogrammas and the like. 

The serpae tetras that I recommended above should be okay in your water, but since you said you were thinking of something a little larger and liked cichlids you might look into Bolivian rams.  My experience with them is limited, so do your research.  I'm not 100% sure they don't need a tank with a larger footprint.  A 20-gallon long would probably be a better option for them, but if you already have the tank, or don't have room for the larger base, you have to work with what you've got.

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@Lillypad I am as jealous as a person can be for your neutral water. I can recommend an Apistogramma pair. 
I have caucatoides. They are insanely good parents. My dad does not eat babies and when mom is done guarding them dad takes over. They are incredibly smart and have complex social behaviors. Girls “talk” by changing color and stripe patterns rapidly. You can see her “talking” to the other fish real time. Very fascinating cichlid. Very hardy. They are not really beginner fish so you’re wanting something next step up these are fantastic and a 20 g is the perfect size for a pair. Circumstances ended me with a trio in a 20 long.  I dont recommend a trio.  Apisto are easy to rehome and sell for a fair price.

These are mine 

I recently got a group of African dwarf frogs. Grindal and white worms are their food  this provides you the opportunity to step into easy to culture live foods. These frogs have enchanted me far beyond any fish I’ve kept  I’m newer to them do have no first hand breeding knowledge *YET* 😁

My frogs 

 

Badis badis blue chameleons are fun  they also require worms.  With no help from me I have had 5 babies show up.  They are more reclusive and dont like bright light.  They change color based on their mood  

I recently acquired Sewellia lineolata hillstream loaches I find adorable fun and personable  they are not the suckermouth hillstreams  They require a bit more attention than beginner fish and appreciate live food but it’s not a requirement.  My friend breeds these without raising fry separate. She sets the tank with lots of moss. Sadly mine are both boys so I’m in search of girls when the weather cools.  

 

Here are just a few I find really fun that I can have babies without raising them outside if birth tanks. 
 

 

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I’m really considering the apistogramma pair, based on all the things you’ve said about them. I currently have African dwarf frogs in a smaller tank, and a little bit ago I actually bred them. I didn’t raise the fry (tadpoles I guess) though. I think I’ll do the tank with hillstream loaches and an apistogramma pair. 
do you see any problems there? Maybe also something like clown killifish for the top as well.

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Hey Lily, 

As you are looking for more interesting options, here are my suggestions.

1) Blackwater tank

Cool driftwood piece/branches, some rocks, lots of leaves and botanicals, plants that can handle low light light anubias and some floating plants. One apisto as a centerpiece fish that can go in those blackwater type setups and can do okay with 7.0 ph. sounds awesome to me. 

Besides the apisto, some green neon tetras or pencilfish as dithers for the apisto. I am thinking out loud about these two because I've never kept any of these two fish. Maybe a small school of kuhli loaches, and tank-bred otos(after some time of settlement)

Blackwater aquariums | Aquarist tips | Blog | Garnelio EN

image.png.eaded0907b86de5c00d17961847e1aed.png

 

2) Weird one, But a vampire crab paludarium!

Just giving this idea to check maybe you'd be interested in these cuties, and they would be something interesting for sure 🙂 but not a fish

I have a yellow witcher vampire crab bioactive paludarium going on. I have  I have 5 crabs, they are just adorable. Maybe you can keep like 2 there instead in that tank size, if you are looking for some options other than fish? 

image.png.250b6fb8a3f464271ef0199ed8d8cb8b.png

 

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Would the clown killifish or the hillstream loaches eat the apistogramma babies?

Hmmm, I didn’t think of crabs. Very interesting, I’ll have to research some more about those. I do like black water tanks as well. I have two empty 20 gallon talls, but one is reserved for a giant betta, so if you have any interesting options for that one as well, that would be great!

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On 7/25/2023 at 11:21 PM, Lillypad said:

Hmmm, I didn’t think of crabs. Very interesting, I’ll have to research some more about those.

If you need any help, I can try my best based on my experience.

Here I'm dropping a great channel for vampire crabs. He has tons of videos of them. His channel helped me A LOT back then

 

Just a small warning in advance, you will see when you search further, there are soo many beautiful looking colors and species available, but it is not a good idea to mix them in one setup. That is something important to keep in mind

 

Edited by Lennie
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On 7/25/2023 at 4:12 PM, Lillypad said:

I’m really considering the apistogramma pair, based on all the things you’ve said about them. I currently have African dwarf frogs in a smaller tank, and a little bit ago I actually bred them. I didn’t raise the fry (tadpoles I guess) though. I think I’ll do the tank with hillstream loaches and an apistogramma pair. 
do you see any problems there? Maybe also something like clown killifish for the top as well.

With Apisto I recommend no other fish. When the girls have eggs or fry they kill whatever comes into their nursery territory. My nerites do great with my Apisto. 
 

I would love to know your setup that your frogs bred in and whatever you can tell me you did to get them to breed.  I don’t want to sidetrack your thread but if you get time direct message me please 🙏 

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Ok! No tank mates for the apistos then. Any suggestions for tank mates for a peaceful giant betta?

The vampire crabs sound very interesting, and I may set up a 5 gallon or something for one? Would this be enough space?

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Livebearing snails are fun. I breed white wizard snails and piano snails. It’s so neat to see the babies. The Wizard babies are brown when born the turn white. They also have the cutest blue snoot. The pianos have a beautiful brown mottled foot and the longest snoot I’ve seen. 
 

Filopaludina martensi adult and baby wizard plus Sewellia photobomb D3230CB2-C8EB-4163-88A2-ECC35D48F80E.jpeg.04c8c2b4fe580f1ce65ca44f48c97056.jpeg

Taia naticoides piano snails. Aspidora spilotus babies photobomb 0F993EA1-05A4-428E-AF4A-E3529FB843FE.jpeg.1cf42c6733273d5e5b4da7928f94ba27.jpegB880CA84-585F-4027-BFE1-1084B5CA3CE0.jpeg.95e6668746f5c9210e22eb80f09eb31e.jpeg

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On 7/26/2023 at 12:11 AM, Lillypad said:

The vampire crabs sound very interesting, and I may set up a 5 gallon or something for one? Would this be enough space?

I think it would be super hard to fit in a filter to the water part to keep the water cycled in a 5g, considering tanks must be %80 land and %20 water. But if I have to be honest, I really don't know.

I have 5 in a 110cmx50cmx25high shallow tank. I have 5 endlers in the water part too, they have good enough space to swim around, and keep the water part cycled also. I also have orange isopods (porcellio laevis) and springtails to keep it bioactive. They help with uneaten foods and molding issues.  I am using a filter that are mainly built for shallow tanks like turtle tanks. You can see the cable going behind the big lava rock "island" from the pic below.

This is the filter I use:

Aquawing AQ780 Yatay Filtre 5W 880L/H Fiyatı - Taksit Seçenekleri

These are some pictures from my paludarium:

image.jpeg.9b47cf0e20ae20385a35c4f07a020328.jpeg

crab king and his island

image.jpeg.8f7457ce4302238954cc5dc5af8b119d.jpegimage.jpeg.c953f52c57eeb33c44ac309bb514a319.jpegimage.jpeg.6e2b4b0e5a89beb94d781100d8a45188.jpeg

The water part was blurry here due to sand but it cleared up once the fine sand settles. This pic was taken right after I was done setting it

image.jpeg.9c6d8735ac596c2fd000298f6f08ff10.jpeg

I have a stretch film covering all the top to keep high humidity and prevent them from escaping.

Edited by Lennie
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I would use a small sponge filter, with some giant duckweed.

can you put succulents (the non spiky ones) on the land part? What are plants that are dangerous to them

And then I might have some shrimp in the water? The water would be about 2-3 inches high?

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On 7/26/2023 at 1:12 AM, Lillypad said:

Or perhaps one of those orange isopods. They seem to stay pretty small.

Isopods will need fairly a good amount of land space again, I keep wet sphagnum moss at one corner of the tank. You will need driftwood and different leaf litter for them to snack on. And even tho isopods are fairly good as a clean up crew, they are fragile agains molding and stuff. where springtails comes to the scene. Isopods and springtails help each other a lot in this regard, to my knowledge. Isopods usually need a lil bit dry and wet spots they can utilize in their tanks.

this guy has A LOOOT of isopods. I followed his info and my oranges and dairy cows do very well in their tanks. I am spotting some cute little babies lately.

On 7/26/2023 at 1:06 AM, Lillypad said:

can you put succulents (the non spiky ones) on the land part?

I believe they would just die as succulents would not really be able to handle such  high humidity environment and having their roots being wet all the time.

On 7/26/2023 at 1:06 AM, Lillypad said:

And then I might have some shrimp in the water?

I haven't tried this one. But the vampire crab guy I shared above seems to have a video on it

 

P.S: if you wanna add isopods, have some sort of a small colony going on at least. I saw one of my crabs snacking on one before. So they may end up as food obviously.

Edited by Lennie
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Ok! Thank you for all of your information! Based on the videos you sent me, and some other resources, the paludarium would be something like this:

Equipment:

5 gallon aquarium with sponge filter in the water; water would be 72 degrees.

a light layer of sand in the water portion

what do you recommend as a good soil/diet for the land part, that, even when it gets in the water, is not harmful to the water inhabitants?

assorted terrestrial plants such as: banana plant, orchid, carpeting moss

A lid to keep the crabs and moisture in.

algae wafers and pellets, along with live fruit flies and crickets.

How does this sound?

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On 7/26/2023 at 1:54 AM, Lillypad said:

algae wafers and pellets, along with live fruit flies and crickets.

I would add a calcium food here to help with their molting and calcium needs. I use Hikari crab cuisine and JBL novo crabs from time to time for that.

I sprinkle NLS community formula 0.5mm pellets and Tropical's Insect Menu pellets/flakes around the tank too. And from time to time I provide blanced veggies/fruits.

I don't worry about leftovers thanks to isopods and springtails.

Oh also they snack on isopods rarely it seems. That is their overall diet for me.

image.png.9783eba7eca9102cf6afbd75aeed7490.png

I don't think they will like algae wafers much but you can try I guess? Idk. Also I don't think fruit flies will make a good food option for them. I cannot see them hunting them down. In a 5g it sounds likely a cricket ending up jumping and drowing in the water part and fouling it. Maybe a better idea to try in a bigger sized tank? It is about testing. Practice makes perfect :')

 

On 7/26/2023 at 1:54 AM, Lillypad said:

hat do you recommend as a good soil/diet for the land part, that, even when it gets in the water, is not harmful to the water inhabitants?

Ive mixed organic soil and coconut peat for terrariums. I haven't notice any negative effect on my fish and crabs yet.

The thing is, you should set it up in a way that soil does not meet the water. Otherwise, it will constantly be soaked and your plants will die due to having their roots in water.

I personally covered all the bottom side with lavarock and sand mixture to create the height until the point I wanna raise the water level. Then I added biosponge and a thin layer of filter wool on to make sure the soil on top won't join the water below. Then, I added substrate mixture on top of the sponge/filter wool layer.

There are some videos online that don't guide correctly I think, which looks good on day 1 setup but may likely fail later on.

Basically, while designing the scape, keep in mind that your soil level will be higher that the highest point of water level in the tank 👍🏼

 

+ I would also try to increase the 7.0 ph a bit to at least 7.5. I keep mine at 8.0. And have enough gh, My tap is empty so I dose gh plus. They usually go water to molt, so parameters are important for a successful molt.

Here is a molt of mine when it dried 

image.jpeg.6baee35ad59ba9a7f1a8e159ea0071ba.jpeg

Edited by Lennie
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On 7/25/2023 at 3:34 PM, Lennie said:

If you need any help, I can try my best based on my experience.

Here I'm dropping a great channel for vampire crabs. He has tons of videos of them. His channel helped me A LOT back then

 

Just a small warning in advance, you will see when you search further, there are soo many beautiful looking colors and species available, but it is not a good idea to mix them in one setup. That is something important to keep in mind

 

Ok, color me interested... I currently have 3 ten gallons just chillin' under my bed. 🙂 

Edited by Shadow
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I appreciate all the advice about vampire crabs, and will be setting up a 10 gallon for them soon! I set up I different thread for the vampire crabs, as this thread is getting a little off-topic.

Back on topic, interesting stocking ideas for a 20 gallon tall.

Stocking ideas also for a 20 gallon tall with a giant betta.

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Giant betta - it will be a crapshoot if they will except tank mates. I have a galaxy koi with African dwarf frogs, kuhli loaches and a rubberlipped pleco. I have another “classic” Thai flag colored giant who doesn’t allow anything in his tank - he’s killed green neon tetra, bristlenose, kuhli loaches, snails - nerites, ramshorns and mystery snails, shrimps neos and amanos, and exclamation point rasbora. Have fun and good luck! 

Also my vote would be a pair of apistogramma or trio of another dwarf like kribs sis along with a top dweller like rocket killis, wrestling halfbeaks, or a dwarf hatchet. 

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I would second the recommendation for apistogramma.  I got a pair of cacatuoides from @tolstoy21 and they are fabulous.  Not sure if he has any available.  He is also  a good resource on apistos.  I’d disagree about not having other fish in the tank with them but I have them in a 29 vs a 20.  I wouldn’t have any corydoras with them or a few other types of bottom dwelling fish but most other fish will get the hint and stay away from their turf when they get feisty.  You can do two females with a male but not sure if 20 is big enough for that but something to look into.

German Blue Rams are a good next step up fish as well and may be good to check out.

 

 

 

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On 7/26/2023 at 7:05 AM, _Eric_ said:

German Blue Rams are a good next step up fish as well and may be good to check out.

 

I agree. 

Rams are puppies. And they are more exciting to keep compared to apistos in my opinion. They are never shy, always follow you around when you come near the tank. But from my experience;

1- you really need to stick the 1m:1f situation after they pair up if you want some breeding action. Because they tend to kill the other rams. My pair killed 2nd female in the tank full of huge driftwood lots of plants and rocks. They chase all tank length long and don't stop. The tank is 100cmx40x40 and their territory is behind the driftwood and at the end of the tank, so not even close to middle section.

2- they are just horrible at parenting in general I believe . Mine have eaten their second batch free swimming fry on their 4th day of free swimming... I know I will be removing the babies next time, even though I really like the family picture I see. It does not go well :') It makes you sad even you wouldn't expect babies.

 

If you want to try interesting stuff, don't keep a pair of anything. They will be tank bullies and you are gonna have to keep them as a pair only. Instead keep one male apisto or one male ram as a centerpiece fish. And this way, you can try more interesting choices as tankmates you haven't tried before. You already mentioned you are not looking for a breeding tank. My rams lay eggs around once every 10 days. You can see how many @Guppysnail's apistos spawn. So when you keep a pair (or 1m:1f for apistos), it will be a huge task if I must say.

I would instead pick one as a centerpiece and use the tank height around them with a combination of centerpiece fish (I would go for rams rather than an apisto)+ bottom/mid/top dwellers to utilise the height.

You will definitely need a heater with a GBR and gotta choose tankmates that will like its temperature, but It is very worth it. They are very cool fish that recognise you directly. Also offers lots of colors. Golds, Electric Blues, Blacks, their normal color is amazing as it is, and there is more "wild" form which are more pale.

 

Also, maybe I was lucky but, I don't think keeping them is as hard as people make it sound to be as long as you provide that juicy hot temps they want.

Edited by Lennie
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