20g Kit Stocking Ideas


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Thought it might be fun (and helpful) to create a thread with sample stocking plans for a standard 20H kit, you know, the usual TopFin, Marineland, or Aqueon all-in-one setup you can get at PetSmart, Petco, Walmart, etc.

I'll start with an Asian one:
1 dwarf gourami or 2-3 honey gouramis
6-8 harlequin rasboras or cherry barbs
6 kuhli loaches

Nerite snails or amano shrimp work great for algae cleanup in a tank this size.

Java fern, anubias, moss, crypts, and hygrophila/temple plant can do ok under the LEDs in these stock kits.

Who wants to throw up some more sample plans here?


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I'll play, and take it from a slightly different approach to keep it interesting (for me anyway). I love a 20 tall for appearance in a smaller tank.

-Gotta have some corys! :) I love corys. A half dozen would be best, You could get by with a couple less if you need to.
-Gotta have a school of tetras. So many choices but smaller ones clearly best in a 20T.
-You need a showcase fish. Lori's gourami is good advice. I love angels. Get a single juvenile and grow it up. Sure it will outgrow the tank but not real soon. Give it away if you can't buy a larger tank a year from now. Don't fill your tank up with inappropriate fish of course but it's OK to bend the rules a bit if you have the willingness to adjust when it's necessary. Good excuse to buy the 55G you really wanted anyway. Enjoy the hobby! That's what it's about.
-a 20T has to have a couple plants. It's just not optional :) You can buy a real respectable light for under $30 shipped.

Just my opinion.


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I grew the plants mentioned above for months in my 20H kit. They didn't grow fast, but they lived and did grow! So it can be done with the cheap LEDs!


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Im not really good at stocking threads because I dont follow the "rules," per say. But, that's what experience, a good filter, and lots of water changes will allow you. That old saying, "you have to know the rules before you can break the rules"!
But, that said, I think tetras are a rewarding, easier fish for newbies to start with.
Also, I would suggest, in a 20 gallon to keep it to only three species. The more different species you have in a smaller tank of this size- the less any particular fish will stick out and the fish will not exhibit their natural behaviorism. Visually it looks unappealing and the fish become stressed by so many different temperaments in such a small space.

I would do a dozen either Rummy-nose tetras or cardinal tetras.
6-8 of the smaller size pencilfish, like the beautiful Nannostomus rubrocaudatus
And 6-8 warmer water corydoras like adolpho, duplicareous, or sterbei.

And, for this set-up: need to add low-tech set-up with plants, fine sand substrate, and some driftwood.


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I definitely agree on sticking with three species. You might possibly be able to get away with four, but it's pushing it. I have seven in a 6' tank and that feels like a lot!


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I definitely agree on sticking with three species. You might possibly be able to get away with four, but it's pushing it. I have seven in a 6' tank and that feels like a lot!
You could add one of the beautiful colored/patterned pleco's that stay under 3 inches. Or, their are some very nice Oto's that you may add a little later once your tank becomes established.


Chune the Smiter
Staff member
3 schooling species are feasible, but folks are going to want centerpiece fish. Bolivian rams would be lovely. Keyhole cichlids come to mind as well for SA species.

My stocking would be:

7 panda cories
m/f pair Bolivian Rams
11-15 Diptail pencils OR pygmy hatchetfish for the top.

If I was feeling the need for a flash of color in the middle, I'd find a nice small tetra and lower the number of pencils/hatchets.
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A 20H isn't my favorite, but I could definitely make do with it. I'm also not a fan of traditional bottom dwellers, so I will not include them. I'd make it a warmer tank too, because that's what mine are lol.

7 glowlight tetras (I have them. Active, but not as much as some other tetras. Not too big either)

6 endler's livebearers

Either a solo or M/F pair of GBRs or one of their color morphs.

Plenty of color and action, plus a traditional centerpiece. I'd plant it too.


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I like the look of a lot of small fish in a tank this size. I'd stock something like:

10-12x corydoras habrosus
10-12x nano fish - maybe ember tetras (love their look against black substrate), male endlers, dwarf emerald rasboras, chili rasboras, etc.
Centerpiece: single male or a m/f pair of a dwarf cichlid (my choice would be apistogramma borellii)

I've always found the nano fish to be quite shy, requiring a larger number than "the magic 6." I feel they are more comfortable in larger groups. Although most can be kept in a 10 gallon tank, there's not always enough room to house a "comfortably-sized group" (comfortable to the fish) in such a small tank. I prefer the nano fish in at least a 2 ft tank like a 15 gal or 20 gal high. Just my 2 cents! :)


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I like biotopes...so...

S.E. Asia
8 Kuhli Loaches
8 Espei Rasboras
3 Chocolate Gourami

2 Blue Rams
8 Cardinal Tetras
1 Clown Pleco