Picking species…

So, I was a little impatient and started looking for plant and fish stock… and of course, I grabbed the plants when I saw them (also made arrangements for more species in a few weeks) which means I should spill my ideas about now. I will be using mainly scientific names because many fish have various common names associated with them and some are common between different species.

Various fish species prefer different areas of the aquarium, so unless one is careful about filling all the levels, soma parts of the aquarium may end up being completely empty, while the fish concentrate in others. There are three main levels to consider:

These are fish which either spend much of their time at the surface because they are surface feeders or breath through labyrinth organs. Most common of these are gouramis, Bettas, hatchetfish and some killifish. These fish often have superior mouths.
Mid-water schooling fish are most common, they are usually found in groups of a few hundred to many thousands, in the wild, which is why they do best if kept in groups of 6 or more, but even better in groups of 10 – 20 or more. Some examples of schooling fish are barbs, danios, rasboras and tetras. Other mid-water fish also include many livebearers and cichlids. These fish usually have anterior mouths.
Bottom and surfaces:
These fish are often grouped together, but make up two quite distinct groups: fish which live towards the bottom of the aquarium and those which live on surfaces and the bottom itself. The first group include earth eating cichlids, some loaches and some Corydoras, while the latter consists mainly of plecos, shrimp, the remaining loaches and Corydoras. The large majority of these have inferior mouths, although some do have anterior ones.

Because the aquarium is only 60 by 30 cm, it restricts me to only the smallest species, as I want my fish to have enough space to turn around and interact with their environment. So, I am restricted to about 30 mm for active schooling fish and 50-75 mm for fish which have low levels of activity. I am going to go for the standard configuration: one group of schooling fish, one group of “bottom feeders” and a couple of centrepiece fish.

First, I need to decide on which fish I wish to focus. As I have not kept loaches in the last five years, they are one of the species I want to look at. Also, living in Germany, has given me access to many unusual species, such as Boraras, so this is starting to look like an Asian themed aquarium. Asian leads me to thinking about gouramis and Bettas, my LFS currently had some Betta channoides, B. strohi, Parosphromenus deissneri, Pseudosphromenus cupanus and P. dayi. So I do a search of all these species, first on Fishbase then read the first ten search results for each, as the internet is not exactly renowned for the accuracy of all information. Average results show me that all species are suitable. I already happen to have a pair of Pseudosphromenus dayi, so they’re going to fill my “centre piece” and “surface feeders” slots.

Now, that leaves me with need for a “bottom feeder” and a “mid-water schooling” species. I start searching through Planet Catfish for small catfish and find Erethistes jerdoni and Erethistes maesotensis, from some experience and conflicting search results, I know that Erethistes and Hara are used interchangeably. I haven’t decided if I really want to go for catfish and loaches, so I’ll just keep these in mind for now.

So now I start looking at loaches, for which, unfortunately, there is no good species resource like Planet Catfish, and come across Yunnanilus cruciatus and an unidentified Y. sp. ‘rosy’ (also known as “Tuberoschistura arakanensis”). After some more searching and enquiries, I decide that Y. cruciatus is on the too large side, and Y. sp. ‘rosy’ is about right. Both of these small loaches are schooling fish, and tend to swim mid-water.

Last, but not least, I looked at the schooling fish.. I was originally planning to go for a Boraras species, but I discovered that Danio margaritatus are from the same location as Y. sp. ‘rosy’. I generally prefer to aim for biotope or at least the same continent or water type, and I have been wanting to keep D. margaritatus for many years now. When this species was first discovered, their habitat was almost destroyed by the greed of fishkeepers everywhere, and the wholesalers falling over themselves trying to collect the species. It has now been a few years, but I will still not buy these fish if they were wild caught, so I am now searching for captive bred specimens. I would also like to mention another interesting species of the same size is Danio erythromicron, it is also very unusual, but an excellent find for a small aquarium.

I will continue with numbers of each species, stocking order and plants in the near future…

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