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Stocking Small Setups

Smaller aquariums, those in the range of 10 to 20 gallons, are the ideal size for the seriously interested beginner. Not only are the economical, but they are also compact enough to take up minimal space in your home or office. When stocking your small aquarium, keep the idea of scale in mind. For instance, a community of tiny, active and colorful tropical fish can make even the smallest setup seem larger than it really is.

It's all about balance. Selecting the fish that makes up the community depends on compatibility, behavior and physical appearance. Choose fish with a peaceful temperament; also keep in mind that each type may prefer a different diet, swimming area and activity level. This diversity may take some getting used to and should be accommodated as necessary, but it also creates balance for a healthy community.

The majority of the community should consist of schooling fish of the same species. Schools create repetition of pattern and color, harmony of movement and the physical illusion of several fish acting under the control of a collective mind. The effect is both calming and dramatic. Fish that are fit appropriately within these parameters are Rasboras, Danios, White Cloud minnows, and small Tetras.

To create contrast to the unity of schooling fish, add one or two fish that will stand out, in both appearance and behavior. Dwarf or Pygmy Gouramis make interesting choices for small aquariums.

The tank should also include species that will eat algae and detritus, serving as a community clean-up crew. This will offer a new personality to the environment and also ensure a clean and clear aquarium.

Remember to research the specific requirements for each fish you choose, including water conditions, habitat, compatibility, and diet. Regular, partial water changes and frequent testing are especially important in compact ecosystems.

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