I am cycling a 15 gallon planted tank. I was thinking of doing Checkerboards. How many should I get, a pair?, and also is there any dither or schooling fish that go with them? Any suggestions appreciated.
FP is 24 1/4 x 12 1/2 x 12 3/4. The tank would be pretty planted with some driftwood. The water is my only concern, but in past of keeping Checkerboards I have collected rainwater, and been able to keep a pretty low pH, that seemed to work fine for the fish.
I had a trio going pretty strong in my 36 gallon bowl front, well planted, etc but I lost the male and the smaller female when I had to leave for two weeks and the filter broke during that time. However, they really are hardier than you might expect. As long as you keep up with water changes and feed them high quality food you should be fine. I had mine with 10 celestial pearl danios, 5 true rummy noses, 5 dwarf cores, and a few ottos.
The sole remaining female is coexisting well with a new German blue ram that I bought to replace some of my fish that died off during the filter malfunction. You should be fine with a pair and a school of 8 or so rummy nosed tetras in a well planted 15 gallon. Don't expect the checkerboards to be out and about too often though, if you're looking for a centerpiece dwarf cichlids.
I would go for four or five in a 15, they are not a highly territorial species and seem to be more comfortable with a small group. Two pair, or two females and three males. Males are not the territory holders in this species. In fact, once she has eggs, the female will chase him off - sometimes before he can fertilize them all. Extra males ensure a better chance of the eggs being fertilized. I once watched a reverse trio breeding in a 10, it was almost funny. She'd chase one male, and the other would slide up and fertilize some eggs. She would come back, chase him off, lay some more eggs, and one of the males would try to approach again, repeating the play.
As for Tetras for tankmates, no Neons. Neons require much cooler temperatures than the Dicrossus. Ember Tetras, Hyphessobrycon amandae, are a very small species that I've had breed spontaneously in soft, acid tanks with lots of plants. They max out at less than an inch, so up to a dozen would be fine. Rummynose are also good, though a 15 is a bit small for them to school well. Paracheirodon simulans, which looks like a pale Cardinal, is sometimes sold as Green Neon, I'm guessing that's the fish they're talking about; another interesting choice, though my experience has been that they are harder to keep than the Dicrossus.
Hello all, I went ahead and got 12 ember tetras. Thanks for the replies. The LFS is trying to get me checkerboards. To be honest, I just love the fish. I am not necessarily looking to breed them--with that being said, does that change anything? How about a trio? If sexable, what sex should I get with a trio, or with 4, or with 5 (which would be my max) Thanks again for the replies. Greatly appreciated.