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Discussion Starter #1
I hope you guys aren't fed up with requests for stocking suggestions, because I have one for you. What makes my request different is that I don't want to use a heater in my tank, which means my tank will be around room temperature.

Call me cheap, but I just don't feel like spending the 15 bucks on a heater and the subsequent power to run it at 50+ watts.

My house is kept at a temperature of 70 +/- 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, and maybe slightly warmer in the summer. I would like a peaceful community tank with bottom feeders, schoolers, one or two other fish that just do their own thing and look cool, and maybe a few snails/ghost shrimp/crab or the like. I'm also looking for species that are fairly worry free as I'm far from an expert :). Also, as I hear that it's best to introduce fish into the tank over a period of weeks, which species should I start with? Can I add the schooling fish all at the same time?

What I have:
  • 20 gallon high with lid and 15w light
  • 10-30i tetra whisper
What I also have that might not be worth mentioning:
  • 3 fake plants and 7 walmart plant bulbs trying to grow
  • 1 decorative fake rock and a few smooth rocks
  • ugly looking red and blue gravel
  • a toddler who likes to communicate with the fish by occasionally beating on the glass
P.S. I don't really want any cichlids or goldfish... any kind of fish that is going to get too big. I'm also not much of a cory fan.

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
To be honest, my current dream aquarium would actually be the fish native to my area (Western Maryland). The problem is, bass and bluegill would easily outgrow my small tank. Also, when I do a native tank I'd like to have native decor as well. My current decor seems more well suited to "pet store type" fish.

I was considering exactly what you suggested, which was minnows or killifish from a local stream, however it's winter and much too cold to catch them. I don't think there are killifishes in nearby streams, and many of the "minnows" (Many are chubs and small species of sunfish. True minnows are actually hard for me to find.) around here actually grow quite large... at least larger than what I'm looking for and aren't all that colorful.

Do you know of any minnows or killifish that are commonly found in pet stores that would suit my unheated aquarium?
Also, as I am looking for a few bottom feeders as well, do you know of any compatible fish other than cories?

I've been doing a little researching, and have come up with a potential combintation:
  • 5-6 neon tetras or 5-6 white cloud mountain minnows
  • male and female guppy(ies)
  • hillstream loach
  • nerites
Are these species compatible with each other and room temperature water?
Are they easily found in most pet stores?
Is this too many fish or should I change the numbers of fish around?
Does my tank really need a bottom feeder?

I greatly appreciate your help and I apologize for my multitude of questions.
 

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Pleco n bn breeder n BOSS
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Bettas need a temp closer to 78 as they are tropical. White clouds can handle the cooler temps, also a lot of killies can, and there are several native killies that you can get hold of online. Guppies I would leave out of the mix also as they are tropicals. Hillstream loaches are a good choice but they do prefer a current so I would suggest a small powerhead added to the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hmmm... okay, that sounds like a pretty good suggestion Susankat. I might decide against a hillstream loach though if they require a current. Another problem I forsee is ordering fish online. Aren't fish rather expensive when you get them this way, like $15 s & h? Would a pet store be likely to order fish for me?

Would neon tetras withstand the temperature range I specified?

I'm looking for as many combinations of fish as possible, so keep the suggestions coming. Thanks!
 

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Pleco n bn breeder n BOSS
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Some petstores will order for you. Online orders aren't to bad, but sometimes shipping can be a different matter because this time of year most will only ship next day. Neons and such isn't a good idea as they are tropicals and to be at their best, need warmer temps.

What I would suggest if you can't get any killies that you like, is to go with about 6 white clouds for now, then when the weather gets warmer add some darters out of a near by creek, just make sure you quarantine them for a couple of weeks. They are pretty amusing to watch the way they hop around the bottom, but they prefer things like blood worms to eat once they get used to eating other than live foods.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'm a little disappointed that I can't keep neons at room temperature, but that's the sacrifice I make for not having a heater. I suppose mountain minnows are a good substitute though.

On the positive side, I just looked at some pictures of darters in my area, and I'm now convinced that I'm getting some when I get the chance. Thanks for the good suggestion! These don't need current like the hillstream loaches, do they? I'll have to familiarize myself with methods of quarantining a fish, because I've never done that before.

I'm still open to suggestions!
 

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you are right its too cold now, the fish well I shouldnt say that, I had a bluegill till yesterday when I went ice fishing, he was consumed immediately by a bass I have in a 500g QT tank at work. It did survive the gill freeze associated with cold weather as well as the transport in literally sub-zero temps.


Good Luck but if you need native advice please PM me, I handle over 30K gallons of warm and cold water native goodness at work.
 

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I'm guessing the number of fish you could potentially lose (unless you go native) with temperature issues will cost you more in the long run, and will be more then the cost of the heater and the small amount it cost to run it. I am not trying to cause problems or be rude but this is an expensive hobby, there are some corners you can cut but if you can't spend $15.00 on a heater this might not be the hobby for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I'm guessing the number of fish you could potentially lose (unless you go native) with temperature issues will cost you more in the long run, and will be more then the cost of the heater and the small amount it cost to run it. I am not trying to cause problems or be rude but this is an expensive hobby, there are some corners you can cut but if you can't spend $15.00 on a heater this might not be the hobby for you.
I understand your point of view and I do realize that aquarium keeping is a hobby. Like all hobbies, aquariums can get expensive. I guess my approach to this hobby is to keep it as cheap as possible. Maybe you are one of those guys that buy a Corvette when they want a fast car. I'm the guy who buys a used Impreza STI, modifies it and takes pleasure out of the fact that I now have an equally fast or faster car for a lot less money. The Corvette may last longer, but my goal wasn't to have a long lasting car to begin with. If I end up having to buy the Corvette, then so be it. I am not trying to cause problems or be rude either, but are you also admonishing everyone who has done a DIY project? Yeah, they could've bought the real deal, but instead they decided to save a few bucks and learn something new at the same time. Consider it as another way for me to enjoy the hobby by taking the cheaper route, as it requires more effort to find compatible fish. In my research, I've found that there are at least several fish common to tropical fish stores that do well in cold water as well, such as the multitude of species listed here: What Fish Species are Coldwater?. My whole problem is that I am a relative newbie that doesn't know which "tropicals" are compatible with other "tropicals," as well as what combination would best suit my tank. It is MY guess that if I choose my fish wisely I will have no fish loss associated with temperature issues due to the lack of a heater, and even the "small amount" of heater operational cost can add up to a large amount over time.

you are right its too cold now, the fish well I shouldnt say that, I had a bluegill till yesterday when I went ice fishing, he was consumed immediately by a bass I have in a 500g QT tank at work. It did survive the gill freeze associated with cold weather as well as the transport in literally sub-zero temps.


Good Luck but if you need native advice please PM me, I handle over 30K gallons of warm and cold water native goodness at work.
What you say is true; it is possible to catch and transport fish this time of year. The trout I've caught in the past is proof of this. I guess what I was saying was that I'd prefer to wait until warmer temperatures before I go wading for minnows with a dip net. :) I appreciate your offer, and when I eventually start my own native tank I have no doubt that I will be coming straight to you when I run into a tough spot.


Thank you all for your advice!
 

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Please do, the biggest fish I keep at the moment for a profession is a 45# flathead catfish

the smallest are fry bluegill from their fall captive spawn( you want to talk about the utmost example of "fish dancing" the bluegill takes the cake( on top of it being pound for pound the strongest fighting fish in the waters.)


I went wading for minnows this morning, water temp was 34 degrees down low and frozen at the top. I just use 2000g insulated waterfowl hunting waders in the winter.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Really?? Now I'm seriously considering a trip to the water to see if I can catch some minnows too, regardless of the cold. I have some neoprene chest waders that should do the trick, but what kind of net do you use? All I have is an umbrella net and a very small aquarium net. Do you catch these minnows in the rapids or in pools? Also, I've made a minnow trap out of soda bottles recently that should do the trick. Have you ever caught minnows in the winter with a trap? If so, what kind of bait?
 
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