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Discussion Starter #1
Hello to all! I need help finding the best mix of fish for my future 20-23 gallon tank. I'm hoping to get a long glass. The tank will have a Tetra 10-30i filter, lots of real plants (marimo ball, water sprite, java moss, and so on), heater, and decore. I keep my tank clean and my pwc up (I actually do more than necessary).

The Betta will all be sisters that I'm raising together (they are one month old atm). They are VT and expected to be a little small because of mom's size. I know for sure that I want at LEAST 5 Female Betta and 5 Kuhli Loaches in this tank. I also know that besies Bettas and Kuhlis, Otos are the only other fish I would add to the mix because of their cleaning ability and small size.

So my question boils down to numbers. Considering all the factors, how many Betta and Kuhli can I keep in this tank? Also, should I include otos and if so, how many?

*Additional Question: What sand substrate (type and brand) would work best with this setup?
 

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If I remember correctly, you should keep kuhli in groups of 6 or more and ottos in groups of 3-5. For Kuhli, I would definitely use sand (all seems the same to me) but because of that you may have to compensate for plant nutrients with root tabs and/or water column ferts. You may only be able to stock this many fish closer to the 33 gallon mark. Good luck!!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hey Bni! Kuhli need a minimum group of 5 which is why I put that. And I'm using liquid fert once a week in my 10gal already, so I'm familar with it all.

I'm thinking sand too, but what kind and brand?!? PFS, Playsand, Aquarium Sand, or what? And then there are all the brands and types and colors and such. It's all very confusing :-/
 

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Use the softest sand you can find. And you definitely have room for all these fish! I set up an NPT the other day that is going really well with an inert sand cap over soil. I have kuhlis, cories, Endlers and female bettas - the kuhlis are amazing little fish!

A note: kuhlis and otos will both be happier in soft, acidic water, so if you have harder or alkaline water, they may not be ideal.

The sand I used is an aquarium specific one called silver sand - extremely small particle size, very soft, completely inert and very clean.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
So yall are leaning more toward Bettas and Kuhlis with no Otos? Okedokey. What do you think would be a good number of each bomb? And where ddo I get that sand? Any compacting problems?
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I'm not sure where you would get the sand in the US, unfortunately - I'd call around and see if any petshops have what you need. However, make sure you are talking to someone who actually knows what's what, not your average assistant who will probably give you gravel.

As for numbers, if you just go for the kuhlis and bettas (remember, you need soft water with a pH under 7!), then I'd have 8 of each, minimum. :) If you want to otos too, I'd have 6 bettas, 8 kuhlis and 6 otos.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the numbers guys. And I do have very soft water with a pH of about 6.5 so they are gonna be hapy. I'm still debating on rather to have 2 or 3 species, but at least I have numbers now.

Any more substrate sugestion for me to look into? I want smooth sand that wont get in the filter or small smooth gravel that the loaches can still dig in. Also, any good plant suggestions?
 

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I use the CaribSea Black Tahitian Moon Sand from Petsmart and I love it. It's fairly soft but I don't find it gets into my filter too much. With any sands you will need to churn it every now and then anyway so get whatever you like best. I usually churn a part of my 33 gallon sand after the water change on Saturdays and then move to a different section each week so if there are toxic gases, I'm not releasing them all at once.

There are so many options for plants but we need to know light specs for that, also will you be doing any fertilizers. Some of the more easy plants are Java Fern, Anubias, Anacharis, Water Sprite, Water Wisteria, Vallisneria, and Dwarf Sag.
 

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AQadvisor is a great site, too--you can put in the numbers and species and your tank and filter, and it will advise you of any problems you might experience.
 

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I use regular old play sand. Occasionally i buy pretty aquarium sand, but play sand or pool filter sand works fine as long as yoi rinse it well! Certain sands are quite sharp-!i can't remember if tahitian moon sand is or isn't, but be wary of this and get something safe for your bottom dwellers
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The one I use is pretty soft and my Cory's never had a problem with their barbels which is good :)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Oooo, silica based? They caused me problems before because I have low pH. I ended up having a TERRIBLE brow algae diatom break out. I tried for 6 months to get t under control. Changed everything short of the substrate. Once I did, it became much more manageable.
 

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Are you talking the Tahitian Moon sand? If so, it's not silica based, at least not from any readings I've done on it. I also have low pH but I've never had problems with it.
 
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