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FAQs on Freshwater Livestocking 5

Related Articles: Stocking 5, 10 & 20 Gallon Freshwater Aquariums by Neale Monks, Freshwater Livestock by Neale Monks, Freshwater Livestock Selection by Bob Fenner, The Ethical Aquarist; Freshwater Fishes to Avoid by Judy Helfrich Acclimation of New Freshwater Livestock by Bob Fenner, Fishes, Amphibians, Turtles

Related FAQs: Mis-stocking issues (incompatibility behaviorally and/or environmentally),   FW Livestock 1, FW Livestock 2, FW Livestock 3, FW Stocking 4, FW Livestocking 6, FW Livestocking 7, FW Livestocking 8, FW Livestocking 9, FW Livestocking 10, FW Livestocking 11, & Stocking Small Systems, & Freshwater Livestock SelectionCommunity Tank Livestocking,

How should I sort my fish? - 06/29/08 I have recently inherited 2 - 10 gal. aquariums and some fish, but I am a novice. There are 7 guppies, 3 black tetras, 5 serpae tetras, 2 hatchet fish and 2 apple snails in one tank, and a Pleco, 2 dwarf Gouramis, 3 platies, 2 swords, 3 Rasboras, and 4 mollies in the other. Is this the best way to group them? Should I get certain species of fish to help keep the tank clean? If so, what kind? Thank you for your time, Laura <Hello Laura. Probably the single best thing you could do is buy/borrow an aquarium book. All the species you're keeping are "common" species, but they each have very specific needs/characters. Black Tetras (which I assume are Gymnocorymbus ternetzi) and Serpae Tetras (Hyphessobrycon eques) are both "fin nippers", meaning they tend to attack slow moving fish or fish with long fish. Mixing them with Guppies for example, or Apple Snails, would be a very dangerous idea! I'd keep those two species alone in their own tank, or possibly with the Plec, assuming it is a small species. An adult Plec of the common species (Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus) gets to 45 cm/18" in length, and won't even FIT in a 10 gallon tank, let alone be able to live in one! It will need, minimum, a 200 litre/55 gallon system. In fact all your fish would do better in a 75 litre/20 gallon tank or bigger. Personally, if this was me, and I have a couple of 10-gallon tanks to populate, I wouldn't keep ANY of the species you've got, except maybe the Apple Snails. The Swordtails need a big, long tank because they are semi-aggressive, open water fish that need swimming space. Mollies are similar, but potentially get even bigger (some species to 15 cm/6"!) and need very hard, very basic water of perfect water quality as well. I'd argue -- strongly -- they really need to be kept in brackish water, not a freshwater tank. Platies are a bit less demanding than Swordtails, but all the livebearers (Swordtails, Platies, Guppies, and Mollies) need hard, basic water. By contrast, your Rasboras and Hatchetfish will need soft/acid water in the long term. While this is also the ideal for Serpae and Black tetras, those two species are so nasty I wouldn't mix them with anything as gentle as Rasboras or Hatchets. Dwarf Gouramis are frankly hopeless fish that I don't waste my time on. But you have them now, and presumably they don't have Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus or they wouldn't have lasted this long! Anyway, healthy specimens (which are damned rare!) are nice fish, but a bit slow and stupid, and easily nipped by Tetras, so don't mix them with anything nippy. Fancy Guppies are even more slow and even more stupid, and also get nipped. Fancy Guppies are best kept in their own quarters. Now, as for "cleaner fish" -- that's you, my friend. No fish, REPEAT, NO FISH, keeps your tank clean. All of them make the tank dirtier. Statements to the contrary are only EVER made by retailers trying to SELL you a catfish or loach. Filtration and water changes (and perhaps the odd wipe of the glass and stir of the gravel) is the way to clean a tank. Do start at WWM by going to these two sections, reading through the first boxes on each one for info aimed at beginners: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsetupindex.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlivestkindex.htm I hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Several Questions regarding Discuss/ Quasi-Amazon tank and more... Not ready for anytime "aquarist", reading  6/25/08 Several years ago I started a 30 U.S. Gallon tank with a Discus, <... needs more room than this... and Symphysodon are social animals> a Pleco, 2 Rainbows, <... unsuitable water quality wise> 3 Kerri Tetras and 3 Bloodfin Tetras. All was well for about 1 1/2 years until I moved apartments and transferred those fish into a 55 Gallon tank. It soon developed a bad case of Blue-Green Algae. Not realizing what it was, I tried to limit the amount of light, which caused most of the plants to die as they became covered in the green slime, and my discus and Pleco both became sick and died. <Bunk!> After finally identifying the algae and killing it with amoxicillin. <...> I began buying some new plants (mostly swords) and bought an Angel and another Pleco. After a few months, I bought two new Discus, which were very skittish for about 3 weeks, then started bullying the angel (even though it was roughly the same size) <Not a good mix... and you'd know this had you followed our directions and read before writing...> for a couple weeks until they all settled into a pattern of coexistence. I also added 3 purple passion Danios, and at some point mysteriously lost one Kerri tetra and one Bloodfin tetra. Last month, one of my discus got hole-in-head disease while I was away, and by the time I got home, he was gasping for his last breath. Even though the other discuss appeared healthy, i treated the tank with a hole-in-head medication <...> as a precaution since I worried that the other discuss might get it too. After a few days, the tank appeared normal again, but I noticed that the remaining discuss suddenly became very skittish again. Though he used to eat very aggressively, this stopped and he rarely seemed interested in food. Then, last week we had a sudden heat wave, breaking all previous records and making the tank rapidly rise to 90*F (from its normal 84*). The discuss did not look healthy (very dark coloration) and stopped eating. I tried to increase water changes to maintain lower temps, but discuss died rather suddenly. All other fish remain healthy. <... please, stop> Tank conditions are 84*F, PH of 6.5, KH of 150, GH of 25. I perform weekly 30% water changes, using Deionized water <Fish, plants won't live just in this...> since I have had phosphate problems in the past. Tank has two filters, 1 Penguin 350 and 1 Penguin 200. Lighting is compact fluorescent and equals about 3.6 watts per gallon. Current plants include 2 Amazon Swords, 2 Brazilian Swords, 3 Vallisneria, 4 Rotala Indica, 2 Anubias congensis, and several Sagittaria subulata (which are all doing significantly better now that I've stopped making them live in black water since the death of the discuss) Current fish include 1 Angel, 1 Pleco, 2 Rainbows, 2 Kerri Tetras, 2 Bloodfin Tetras, and 3 Purple Passion Danios. I've cured the blue-green algae and when not on vacation I can cure the hole-in-head, but I'm still rather frustrated, especially since I lost the last one to an unknown cause. (I suspect the sudden heat spike led to increased stress, which didn't help right after he became skittish and began eating less, but I'm not sure exactly what that was about, so I'm a bit confused, any ideas or general thoughts?) <... that you should read> So now that you have the past 4 years of my tank's history, here are my questions. I'm thinking about adding two Blue Rams to the tank, a couple more Kerri or Bloodfin tetras, and possibly a couple pencil fish. Would adding the Blue Rams prevent me from getting another one or two discuss in the future? <... Forget Symphysodon... you're not sophisticated, nor disciplined enough to care for them. Really> Speaking of discuss, I'd like to find ways of improving my chances of keeping them for more than 1 or 2 years in the future. Would getting a Diatom Filter or UV sterilizer be helpful in this regard? <... no> I've been pretty lucky when it comes to Ick or other diseases ever since I stopped getting fish from Petco many years ago, but perhaps these items would make the water better in between my weekly water changes? <... try another "hobby"> Water changes during the week are not usually possible because I work very long hours, so increasing frequency is difficult, which is why I'm looking to other possibilities. <Again...> Lastly, I'm curious whether any inverts would be able to live in this setup. It appears as though Amano or Atyopsis shrimp might be able to handle the temp and ph, but I'm not sure if they would be bothered by the Angel, Pleco, or potential future discuss or blue rams. Thoughts? <...> Thanks in advance for all of your help and advice. I've read a lot of your other articles and found them very helpful. - Mike <... Mike, go to the library, read on the Net... stop killing the life in your care. Getting along in the universe by stumbling, reading, reacting after you've caused yourself, your livestock troubles... is the reverse route to go. Bob Fenner>

Re: Several Questions regarding Discuss/ Quasi-Amazon tank and more... PLEASE! Read before writing us... or you'll get "... and your uncle smells of elderberries...". 6/25/08 I must say that I am a bit bewildered and disappointed in the "advice" I just received in response to my questions. I own several fish tanks, reptiles, and amphibians that have never had any problems, but have lost 3 Discus and 1 Pleco over the past 4+ years all in the same tank, so I was looking for some advice. Instead, I was told that I am not sophisticated enough to care for fish, told to just "stop", and chastised for previous mistakes (including some which remain in open debate on your and other online forums, such as housing discuss and angels together, which my LFS said was fine if watched closely and provided with hiding places). <Some of your writing (the bits on plants esp.) shows careful examination...> Everything I've read lists soft water with a ph of 6.5 for these fish. <Not Melanotaeniids...> The 84*F temp was for the discuss, <Please... Discus... not discuss...> and have been told that the angels and tetras can adjust to this fine. Since I've had no problems with them now for a couple years at these levels, I'm not sure why you've said that the fish will all die in my water. Explanations would be more useful than curt responses. <... agreed, but... this is a two way expressway... We ask for folks to search the site before writing us... there are tens of thousands of "you" per day... only a handful of "us" here... for free> I realize the Rainbows are completely out of place and should have died ages ago, but I've had them for over 4 years and can't move them to any of my other tanks because they would be more out of place there (African Cichlid and Brackish tanks). <So... perhaps another tank?> Anyway, I was hoping for a bit of advice, which usually comes in the form of reasoned and articulate explanations. Instead, I'm told to "stop" to "read" and to "find a new hobby" (even though I've only lost 4 fish in 4 years while caring for roughly 50 total). I thought you guys tried to help people? Disappointed, - Mike <We do. Do keep reading. B>

Re: Several Questions regarding Discus/ Quasi-Amazon tank and more  6/27/08 I have done extensive reading on your site, and received answers to most of my questions that way. Still I have a couple questions since deciding not to follow your advice to "stop" and "find a different hobby". <Mmm, I would not do this> I will consider starting another tank so that I can move the 2 Rainbows, and 3 Purple Passion Danios into cooler conditions. <Ah, good> Water temp is now at 82F, with PH of 6.5, and the water is soft (hardness around 6), though it looks like I previously (and accidentally) gave you a rather "hard" number for my general hardness. From what I've read, blue rams are compatible with my tank and would not prevent future additions of a pair of Discus. I am left with two specific questions that I hope you can answer. <I'll try> 1: Will two Blue rams (*Microgeophagus ramirezi)* be bothered by either my Angel (roughly 5 inches) or the common (snow king) Pleco (roughly 7 inches)? <Likely not too much... there are always individual differences... and the more crowded, the greater likelihood of agonistic troubles, but...> 2: Will angel and/ or Pleco eat any potential shrimp (*Palaemon pantanal, **Atyopsis moluccensis, or **Caridina japonica)? <Perhaps... I give you good odds though> *3: Since death of Discus, I have stopped adding peat/ black water extract, making plants much happier and better at fighting off black brush algae. Would Blue Rams benefit from the black water or should I continue to not bother? <Mmm, with the water quality measures you've given, I would skip> Tank has 2 rocks, 2 large pieces of driftwood (28"), <Very nice!> 3 medium pieces of wood (12"), and 3 small pieces (8") for hiding, along with previously mentioned selection of plants. I understand that you receive many questions and have limited time to answer each request, but I would appreciate some guidance related to these 3 remaining questions. Thank you - Mike <Thank you for sharing Mike. BobF>

FW fish Compatibility  6/11/08 Hello. I just purchased a 156g tank for my fishes; 2 2-spot Gouramis, 2 angel pictus catfishes and 2 blood parrot fishes and I would like to know what other fishes I could put with them. Thanks a bunch! Jo Anne <The list is long indeed... of major groups of fishes that are relatively available, get along with what you currently have, span the range of water quality... FW Angels, other medium sized Gouramis, many Rainbowfishes, some small to med. Characoids, medium sized barbs, Danios, Rasboras... many other useful catfishes... Best to go through fish books, websites of size, making a prospective "want list"... seek further input to hone this down, visiting stores... Bob Fenner>

29 Gallon Stocking, FW, comm.  5/13/08 Ok I will be upgrading a 10 gallon tank in a few days to a 29 gallon. <Ah! Some upgrade!> I will be using some of the water and filter pad from the 10 gallon to hurry along the 29 gallon cycle. <Good> Anyway, currently in the 10 gallon there are 2 dwarf gouramis (paired), 2 male guppies, and 5 female platies What else would go great with these fish in a 29 gallon aquarium? <Perhaps some Corydoras sp. catfish... some small Danios, rasboras...> I do not want anymore platies separated the males from the females they breed way too quickly lol. And I do not want any Neon Tetras (I already have a 45 gallon tank devoted to those) <Many choices are available... I'd be scanning books, the Net, your fish stores for ideas, possibilities... Bob Fenner>

Fish Stock Question, Loaches and Eels and Butterflies, oh my! Reading, FW hardness, CAE, stkg. period    4/24/08 Greetings crew! <Alex> I am not sure if you received my last e-mail, so I thought I would try again. <Thanks... I don't recall seeing this, and I put most all away> If you did, I apologize for any typo's or grammatical errors it contained, as I sent it via cell phone from my LFS >^..^< So, here it goes. I currently have a 5ft long 120 gallon tank with 2 250W Stealth heaters, 2 Emperor 400 filters, 100lbs of fine gravel, a handful of live plants (Anubias, Amazon Sword, and some green Myrio), some Mopani wood and a number of hiding places, both PVC and decoration. The tank has been running for about three months now, and my water seems to have cycled well. Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate about 20 or so, and PH at 7.6, with hardness the only thing I am unsure of (should I make myself sure?). <Mmm, not likely necessary... let's continue...> I started out treating my water with Prime, but my LFS recommended Neutral Regulator to soften things up and bring my ph closer to 7. <Mmmm> May I ask your advice on this? <Again, not really an issue in the vast majority of circumstances, livestock assortments> from reading, 7.6 seems a hair on the high side for my stock selection, but not too sure. Should I possibly add more Mopani or other fish safe wood? Also, are my two emperors fine, or should I start looking for something more? from what I have read, you can never have too MUCH filtration! <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwhardness.htm and the linked files above. Some excellent, succinct points made by NealeM> As far as my stock goes, my current residents include 2 Flying Foxes (both young and can separate as needed, have a second tank), 1 Rainbow Shark, my survivor Firewag Platy (long story), 3 Yoyo Loaches and a Chinese Algae Eater (I think). <I would "ditch" the Gyrinocheilus... issues gone over... on WWM> May I please have your advice on my shopping list for the future, as well as a recommended time frame to keep from shocking my bioload? <Sure> 6 Clown Loaches, as I find myself turning into a loach fiend 7 more Yoyo Loaches to make 10 total, for the same reason as above 1 Fire Eel, I love the way these guys look and don't see too many problems, how do they like current? <Mmm, not so important... but this fish gets very large...> 2 African Butterfly Fish, some top fish that just look awesome. I have a glass top, and the tank is next to my stairwell. ooh, butterflies in the tank! current will be kept low in the tank if I can manage it right... <Needs live food...> 12 Tiger Barbs... or not... heard they don't do well with the butterflies, but are otherwise a good addition to the clowns. I like the way they look, but donut want to loose any appendages off other fish! <Are fine> 5 Rainbow Sharks, read they do well solo or in groups? <Fight quite a bit in close confines... will a bit here in time> It wont break my heart to omit them though. Any further selections you would recommend? I am leaning away from the Tiger Barbs due to their potential pestering of the butterflies, but I would like some mid level action or some other "Dither Fish". <Good idea... many choices... I'd look into Rainbows, mid-size Danios.... Characins> Thanks for the awesome support and I am looking forward to seeing more good things in the future! -Alex <You'd do well to follow directions and search, read on WWM before writing us. Start now. Bob Fenner>

Fish stock question... from ayer, still not reading, FW   4/25/08 Greetings crew! I have read through your q@a's a few times and i love what I have read so far. What I am requesting is more of a yea nay as to what my current idea is for stocking, as well as a good timeline for the additions so I don't overload. My equipment is as follows: 120H gallon (60w x 18d x 30h), 2x emperor 400's, 100lbs fine gravel substrate, and 2x 250w heaters. Anything else you need I may have forgotten? <Mmmm...> My stock currently includes 1 rainbow shark, 2 flying foxes (young and can relocate one as needed), and 3 yoyo loaches, with some random live plants. What i wish to add is as follows: 7 more yoyo's 6 clown loaches 2 African butterfly fish (slightly worried about fin nipping?) 1 fire eel <I answered this ayer... this Mastacembelid will grow too large... Read re these species on WWM...> Was thinking about 12 tiger barbs but I understand they WILL nip the butterflies fins... Any ideas for a suitable replacement for these guys that wont get eaten, or should i just forget them? <See WWM re... other fish groups...> My "prize" fish that i would like to maintain are the loaches, the eel and the butterflies. <The Spiny Eel will eventually (a few years likely) have to be transferred out...> Ps, my tank water is currently 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 20 nitrate. Ph is a lil high at 7.6 but I am treating with neutral balancer <... I would not. As stated yesterday... Please don't re-send the same simple questions w/o following directions, searching, reading before writing us... and worse, writing back w/o having read where you were referred to> to bring it down a tad, don't have a GH tester as of yet but i suspect tap is just as bad as my ph. <The species you list are fine with such a pH... is more beneficial to be a bit alkaline... READ> Tank has also been in operation for a little over three months. Any advice on keeping this a happy and healthy tank would be appreciated! Newly addicted loach fan, -Alex <And reading fan I hope. BobF>

Starting a soft water tank, need help on choosing inhabitants, order of addition 4/15/08 I am working with my wife to set up a soft water tank. It is a 55 gallon tank. I am mixing RO/DI water with dechlorinated tap water. There are plenty of artificial plants as well as driftwood and some rocks. The centerpiece will be dwarf rams. We also plan to have some Cory cats and a schooling fish. <Hmm... be careful: Mikrogeophagus ramirezi require warmer water than most Corydoras species, and warmer water than many tetras appreciate. If you keep these other fish at the required 28-30 degrees C, they will be stressed and potentially experience a much shorter lifespan. Among the Corydoras, Corydoras sterbai is the only common species that does *really* well in warm water aquaria, and is routinely kept with Discus. Do also remember Mikrogeophagus have been reported to bite the eyes from Corydoras catfish; they are not a recommended combination. My experience of Corydoras is that they are absolutely hopeless at learning about territories, and this makes them difficult to keep with territorial cichlids.> We are trying to decide on what schooling fish to keep . . . Neons, cardinals, or zebra Danios. Reading over the site, it looks like the Neons prefer cooler water than the rams, and carry the risk of neon tetra disease. How significant is that risk? <Danios and Neons definitely need cooler water than Rams; around 20 C is ideal for Danios, and around 22 C for Neons. So neither is a viable option. Cardinals do well as 28 C, so make the ideal choice. Another good choice would be the Lambchop Rasbora Trigonostigma espei (as opposed to the cooler water Harlequin Rasbora Trigonostigma heteromorpha). Finally, consider the Marbled Hatchetfish Carnegiella strigata, which also enjoys quite warm water.> On the other hand, reading about cardinals, it seems they tend to be difficult to get acclimated, but they are hardy once successfully introduced. Is that a correct impression? If so, what are your suggestions for successful acclimation? I believe the article on your site recommends a drip acclimation. Is that recommended? <Cardinals are generally hardier than Neons once acclimated, and a thousand times easier to keep than the terribly poor quality Rams on the market these days. So I'd worry more about the Rams than the Cardinals! In any case, if you are adjusting fish from maintenance in hard water aquaria (e.g., at the shop) to soft water in your home aquarium, then yes, a drip method acclimating the fish across an hour or so would work. Even better would be keeping the tank medium hard, neutral pH while you stock it, and then soften it across a week or two using water changes once you're done. A month or so as a medium hard water aquarium would do your fish no harm, especially if the temperature and water quality are optimal.> If the cardinals and tetras are too likely to perish, we will probably go with the zebra Danios instead. <Not a good choice at all; Danios come from fast, cool water environments.> What do you recommend for stocking? I was thinking 8 Corys, 12 schooling fish, 6 rams. Could we or should we add more of the schooling fish or Cory cats? Are odd numbers or even numbers preferable for any of the fish we plan to keep? <Numbers sound fine. Corydoras and most schooling fish behave themselves impeccably once decent numbers are kept, so don't worry too much about odd/even numbers. As for the Rams, do try and keep more females than males, but failing that, don't overcrowd and ensure everyone has their own hiding place.> Finally, is there a preferred order of addition? I was considering schooling fish, followed by the Cory cats, with the rams added last (after I know I can maintain the water at the appropriate conditions). <Sounds fine.> Thanks in advance for the help. Rick <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: starting a soft water tank, need help on choosing inhabitants, order of addition  4/17/08 Thank you for your response. We have plenty to think about. <You're welcome.> I have some more questions, now related to water quality, not stocking. <Okay.> As mentioned, I am using a mixture of RO/DI water and tap water. The blend has a hardness of 6 KH, but the pH is above 7.6 (the upper limit of my low-range test kit). What is the best way to lower the pH? Should I use a buffer? Should I consider peat? I am targeting a pH of 6.5. <6 degrees KH is fairly hard water; don't try messing about with pH unless you can lower the carbonate hardness. I simply cannot make this clearer: your job is NOT to change the pH, but to stabilise it, and instead you should use more softened water and less tap water until the carbonate hardness drops to around 3-4 degrees KH. At that point, the pH should be around 7, and you can safely use peat to lower the pH by adding organic acids, and then a pH buffer to "stabilise" the pH between water changes.> Today, I am going to see what the parameters of the LFS water are, and will adjust accordingly. However, for my final parameters, if I stock with the Rams, Corys, and Cardinals, are pH 6.5 and 6 KH hardness good? <The carbonate hardness is still to high for what you're after.> Also, you mentioned the difficulty in finding quality rams. Any suggestions on where/how to get good stock, other than being looking carefully before I purchase them? <Mikrogeophagus ramirezi simply isn't worth buying retail. These cichlids need very warm (28-30 C) for their health to remain solid. Specifically, their immune system weakens as temperature drops. So in the standard issue retail aquarium around 25 C, they are "chilled" and pick up every disease going around. Some bacterial infections and protozoan infections (such as Hexamita) may be latent and not causing any harm for weeks or months after the fish catches them. But sooner or later, the fish sickens and dies. Here in the UK, there are mail order companies specialising in dwarf cichlids. These maintain wild-caught Mikrogeophagus ramirezi in the warm, soft water they need, ensuring very high quality stock. I'd suggest locating a similar outfit in your corner of the world. Failing that, a local breeder is another option; your local fish club may be able to put you in touch with the relevant person. The attrition rate of mass-produced Mikrogeophagus ramirezi is simply so high I find it difficult to recommend them. They are a total and utter waste of money. You might (wisely!) opt for another dwarf cichlid such as Apistogramma spp., many of which thrive in similar conditions but don't need so much warmth. Apistogramma spp. therefore "travel" better than Mikrogeophagus, and assuming they're in reasonable condition when you get them, can be quarantined and fattened up without too much fuss. Cheers, Neale.>

Tank Troubles, Mixed tropical and Goldfish sys.  4/9/08 I am an experienced saltwater fishkeeper and I have set up a freshwater tank at my place of employment. It is a 55 Gallon with an oversized BioWheel filter and carbon media, it is only about two months old. I sped the cycling process along with "used gravel and filter media" from my LFS. <Very good.> The water tests at 0ppm for ammonia, nitrite, chlorine, about 15ppm for nitrates. I have an African Clawed Frog that I hand feed ReptoMin pellets and a dojo loach that eats a sinking shrimp pellet everyday. <Fine, but do vary the diet and use (wet) frozen foods like bloodworms as well, or even live foods or chopped seafood. Plain dried food seems to cause problems with constipation, and in any case most animals get bored with it.> Finally I have 3 fantail goldfish approx 3" each, I feed fresh blanched spinach and zucchini as well as sinking goldfish pellets every other day. I feed sparingly, I am a big fan of fit fish. <Great!> Anyway the crux of my issue, I have had a few fish deaths which I find strange. I had one goldfish pass, he grew weak and unresponsive until his death. My boss added two guppies and three platies ( against my better advice) and one of the guppies and two of the platies have passed away. They acclimate fine they seem healthy and active, and eating. Then I will find them dead within the next couple of days. <When a random selection of fish die within a short period, it's almost always an environmental issue. So check temperature, pH, nitrite at once. Fish have varying demands in terms of temperature, and outside their preferred range quickly develop immune system, dietary problems. The pH will give you a quick handle on whether water chemistry is stable, and the nitrite will tell you about the filtration system.> No apparent disease is at work, there is no outward sign of it anyway, the goldfish and the guppy and platies all appear healthy. Is there some water parameter that I am not taking into account? <Not sure. Which parameters have you considered thus far?> I realize that guppies and platies are tropical fish but can't they also acclimate to subtropical temperatures? <Not as such, no. While it is true that one Platy species, the Variatus Platy fish Xiphophorus variatus is a subtropical fish, the fancy Platies sold are hybrids that require completely tropical conditions. Guppies are tropical fish, period.> The temperature of the tank is a steady 67 degrees F. <Too low.> Please let me know if there is something I am missing or if a certain number of fish deaths is normal...I haven't lost any of my SW fish in many months, and years. So I am a bit perplexed. Thanks so much in advance. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: 55gal FW Re-stock question  4/7/08 Thanks Neale! I do keep an eye on the Serpaes. So far they've been relatively "good" little fish. The Danios are all happy chasing themselves around and seem oblivious to their neighbors, and the red lines mainly play with themselves in the plants we have. The fun starts when the loaches start to "play" and try to include the Serpae group, which then scatter with a "What the" moment. Only two Serpaes had survived from the original group, and have been ok thus far since adding 3 more. Just want to make sure the schools are all at a decent size for everyone's social well being. Course, ID on tetras is relying on our own research as the LFS in the area aren't always the best in that regard. Rachel <Hello Rachel. All sounds fine. There are some look-alike fish that are sometimes sold as Serpae tetras, and they are less trouble. In any event, Serpaes are worst towards slow moving fish like Gouramis and angelfish, and that's my objection to them as community fish. They are lively and colourful though, so in the right system can be fun little fish. I'd certainly up the numbers on all these tetras though. Often we don't realise that in the wild these tetras are living in groups of dozens even hundreds of specimens. I've kept, for example, groups of twenty cardinal tetras and the difference in their behaviour is remarkable. They move as a single unit and look very much more dramatic than otherwise. Loaches are gregarious, and I once visited a fishkeeper who had 50 Clown Loaches in a single tank. Let me tell you these were amazingly happy fish! Really a sight to see. Cheers, Neale.>

55gal FW Re-stock question  4/6/08 Hi WWM crew! I'm back again with another question. This time it's for our 55 gal freshwater tank. Current stock is as follows: 6 Zebra Danios (Danio rerio) 5 Serpae tetras (Hyphessobrycon serpae) <Horrible fin nippers, so will be interesting to see how you make out with these little terrors.> 4 Red-line tetras (Hyphessobrycon amapaensis - not 100% positive I've ID-ed these guys right) 3 Yoyo loaches (Botia almorhae - love these guys!) 1 Pleco (we have no idea which species, working on that one) <Unless sold deliberately as a Bristlenose Plec, then most likely one of the GIANT Pterygoplichthys species.> Tank has been up and running for 5 months now (I'd uh, have param.s for you but testing kit ran out and haven't made it to the store yet this week), and I'd like to bring up the numbers of the Serpae and Red-lines if possible (a few of our red-lines ended up as "midnight" snacks for our 3 Sciades seemanni during their short visit in January while their brackish tank finished cycling up). I always get lost on exactly how much room per fish in mixed company. <In a 55 gallon tank, schools of ten or more specimens of all these fish, save the Plec and the loaches, would be entirely in order and actually sensible. Loaches best in groups of 5+, Plecs almost always solitary.> I'm looking to add 3-5 more Serpae, and 4 more Red-lines if there's room still without over-loading our tank. Filtration is currently a Whisper HOB with bio-sponge inserts and those lovely carbon pouches. Yes, I know totally worthless here, but it's what came with the tank and the husband likes it so -- yeah, have to pick my battles carefully on this, working on getting switched over to a canister filter system this summer hopefully. <Cool. Nothing to stop you having BOTH filters. Dedicate one to chemical/biological filtration, and the other to mechanical/biological. I've routinely kept tanks with more than one filter, and it gives you a cushion in case one fails or needs maintenance.> Think that should do it for this round, will sign off before I start rambling for no good reason. =) Thank you! Rachel <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Stocking & quarantine 03/26/2008 Hi there, I do have a few questions and hoping you have the answers. I have a 55 gal. tank with an AquaClear "70" filter system. Right now I have 15 fish 5 zebra Danios 1 gold Gourami 3 swordtails (1 male -2 female) 6 Australian rainbows (3 male -3 female) I want to add more fish and wonder if adding 3 more female swords and 3 more female rainbows would be all right for now. I want more color in my tank and thinking of a different species of rainbows. Any other suggestions would be appreciated. <With schooling fish, adding more of the same species INVARIABLY improves the aesthetics. A common mistake beginners make is to take a couple of these, a couple of those, and a couple of the others. Different shapes and different colours. Throw them into the tank. Result: a jumble. None of the fish behave properly. They don't school together. So instead of a synchronized group of ten Neons playing follow the leader (when they look fab) you get five Neons hanging about all over the place looking nervous. So, before adding NEW species, think about adding MORE of the same. Adding more Danios should be a no-brainer. A dozen would have hardly any effect on the capacity of your tank, while the resulting social cohesion will dramatically increase their value in terms of entertainment. Adding more Swordtails would be another good move because the more specimens, the less aggressive the males will become.> My next question concerns the quarantining of fish. I guess I've been very lucky in that I've never done this before but the more I read the more I think I should be doing this especially if I get a sick fish and not know it until it's too late. <Quarantining is indeed valuable.> I am a bit confused as to the set-up: bare bottom, diffused lighting, heater, thermometer and sponge filtering. It's the sponge filtering I'm not sure of. How do I get this sponge seeded and what kind of sponge is it? What kind of filtering is needed and does the sponge filter go into this system? Where and what is the sump on my AquaClear filter? <You basically set up a smaller version of your regular freshwater tank. Don't fuss about lights, the sort of filter, decorations, etc. I'd recommend grabbing some filter media from your existing tank and stuffing that into the air-powered box filter or small internal electric filter of your choice. Instant cycling! If the tank needs to be empty for more than a few days, don't forget to add some "food" for the bacteria in the form of a pinch of flake every 2-3 days.> One other thing-what does dip/bath mean? <Not particularly important for freshwater, so don't worry about it.> Thank you very much for any assistance you can give me. <Cheers, Neale.>

Population Questions; FW; Stocking Issues (Platies and Danios)   3/22/08 I currently have 11 Mickey mouse platies, two peppered Corys, and one zebra Danio living in my 20 gallon tank. I was wondering if that was too many fish. <<Well it depends on the dimensions of said twenty gallon (is this a long variety or the standard or even worse the 'tall' variation?) Also what type of filtration are you using, how many times per hour is the volume of the tank turned over? Last what is your maintenance (water change regime) and what are your chemical parameters? I would say based on the number of platies alone you are overstocked, Poeciliid Fishes (livebearers) are relatively messy (waste production) fish and when you consider the adult size of the platies and their eager mating behaviors, this a temporary arrangement at best. As far as the Corys, please ensure that they are receiving the proper nutrition and not getting lost in the sea of platies.>> Also, how important is it for Danios to live in schools? <<Here is a quote from one of Bob's articles; - '1) Number: Remember that most of these fishes are schooling species; they only feel at ease and act naturally when housed in a large enough system in groups. Three individuals is an absolute minimum, with larger, odd numbers being better.' Having said or quoted that, you are in no position to add fish to your system at the moment.>> I've read that they should be in groups of three or more, but since I don't have a quarantine tank and am worried about population, I haven't added any more. <<Yes for the time being, I would begin thinning out the platy population, as well as implementing some aggressive water changing to keep the dissolved organics in check for the time being.>> Thanks, Lori <<Welcome, - Adam J.>>

Your suggestion... Reading, re FW fish sel.  -- 03/20/08 We currently have a 20 gallon tank that has the following fish... 2 Neon Tetras 2 Bloodfin Tetras <Small tetras are better off in larger numbered shoals> 1 Male Guppy 3 Female Guppies 1 Bala Shark <Needs much more room> 1 Redtail Shark <Too often becomes problematical behaviorally... See WWM re this minnow sharks...> 1 Cory Cat 1 Rasbora <Another schooling species...> 1 Female Lyretail Molly (pregnant) 1 Male Lyretail Molly 1 Female Red Wag Platy 1 Male Red Wag Platy We bought a 10 gallon tank & it is currently cycling. When the time comes, which fish would you suggest that we move to the 10 gallon tank. Thank you for your help. Melissa <Read re the fish species listed above period... I'd be moving the softer/acidic, more tropical species OR the harder/alkaline cooler water ones... and trading in the sharks... READ, don't write. Bob Fenner>

Upgrading Tank/Adding more schooling/shoaling fish, FW  -- 03/18/08 Hello WetWebMedia Team! I've been reading your site off-and-on for a few years now, but recently have been reading the FAQs daily (as well as other documents on your site) in preparation. I have been recently upgrading my aquascape as my old 20-gal tank sprung a small leak - it lasted 20 years and thankfully wasn't seriously harmful, but enough to warrant upgrading. Now I've got a 47-gallon freshwater "column" tank that I've recently set up with some of the water and filter from the previous tank, as well a number of new plants (I've been aiming for a more natural tank this time around, and it's looking gorgeous so far, the plants are already sprouting new leaves). I recently moved the entire fish community to my new tank and I'm going to wait until things settle down before adding more fish (at least another month or so, I'm keeping an eye on all the chemical levels which are within safe ranges and no casualties so far, fingers crossed), but I wanted to ask you for some advice. Of the fish I have in my tank, which ones would you recommend that I add more of so that they are less-stressed? I am aware that I have a number of grouping fish, and would just like to hear your thoughts. 3 Golden Barbs <Too few, likely to become nippy or aggressive.> 2 Pineapple Swordtails (They were labeled Platys in the store but I can't find "pineapple platy" online, they look like swordtails) <Regardless, the males are very aggressive, so if you want zero hassle always keep one male to at least two females. I'd recommend only a single male per aquarium. People ignore this advice all the time, but then e-mail us with stories of one male Platy/Guppy/Swordtail/Molly beating seven bells out of the other males in the tank. Your move.> 2 Zebra Danios (probably my oldest, these guys are hardy!) <Need 4 more, at least.> 3 Galaxy Danios <Groups of 6; in any case these need subtropical conditions, so aren't compatible with fish that need warmer than 24 C, for example Cardinals. Also need hard, alkaline water, so you can't keep them with Cardinal tetras, for example, which have a short lifespan in hard water.> 4 Cardinal Tetras <Need to be kept in big groups to stop being shy and actually develop full colours; I'd recommend at least a dozen.> 1 Fancy Guppy (Male, I believe) <Incompatible with Cardinals; totally different water chemistry and also prone to nipping.> 4 Lyretail Guppies <Ditto.> 3 Ghost Shrimp <Fine.> 1 Green Rocket Shrimp <Fine.> 1 Zebra Nerite Snail <Fine.> I guess the other question is this - when I do get more fish of the same species to fill-out the schools/shoals, will introducing the same fish to the tank allow them to school together, or will they school in separate "packs"? <Will coalesce into single schools.> Or would it be recommended to add similar, but not identical, livestock (such as Cherry Barbs, or Cherry Shrimp)? <nope.> Thank you very much for your time! <Not a problem. For what it's worth, I'd probably sit down and think about which way you want to develop this tank. You have a bunch of species with different water chemistry/temperature requirements, and so at least some of these fish not be at their best. Decide what you want to concentrate on, and optimise the conditions. A subtropical/cool-tropical tank around 22-24C would be great for Danios and shrimps, and you could easily add barbs and loaches, and then stabilise the water chemistry around the neutral to slightly alkaline level.> Sincerely, Jason <Cheers, Neale.>

Minor stocking question, FW    3/17/08 Crew: With thanks for all the info your site has provided: I have a minor stocking question. In one room, I have a 30 gallon FW tank set up last fall to combine an overstocked 10gal and a 20 gal. It houses mostly tetras and Corys with a few ' left-over' individuals that I had no place else to keep. (No disrespect to the fish intended, they have been here for several years.) <OK.> In another room, I have a new 29gallon currently inhabited only by 4 young keyhole cichlids (about 1 inch each) introduced as soon as nitrites were at 0 - about 3 weeks ago. <Nice fish.> They are doing well. My intent was to move three green swordtails from the 30g to this one, (see question re water chemistry below) to add some upside-down cats and possibly another pair of dwarf cichlids and a banjo cat (wish list, but probably not a good idea) as soon as possible. <Skip the Banjo Cats; they're difficult to keep in standard community tanks and often starve to death. They need a soft sand substrate (they are burrowers) and only feed at night (so lose out in competition with more aggressive feeders, including Synodontis. By all means keep with tetras and Rasboras in a tank without other nocturnal fish.> The swords are almost impossible to catch without dismantling the entire tank. I have tried a few ploys (feeding first as a distraction, etc.) but they are faster than I am. <Yes, Swordtails are high-performance fish, and that's why I object to keeping them in small tanks.> An alternative would be to move a 'left-over' Koi angel who currently dominates the 30 gal. He hasn't harmed anyone, not even the Glowlight tetras but he is rigid about who can go where or eat what and he basically tells me when feeding time has arrived (or at least tries to). <Normal Angelfish behaviour. They tend to dominate community aquaria.> So it occurred to me to buy 2 young angels, put them in with the keyholes and, after a day or two, move this guy over. Your site advises that if one is to keep more than one angel in the same tank, it is necessary to introduce them all at the same time. <Correct.> Would it make a difference if I put the new ones into the tank first and then moved this one? He is definitely easier to catch than the swords. <He'd likely attack any new angels, regardless of the permutations or calculations. Possibly if you dumped five adults his own size he'd be fine, but don't bank on it.> If I did this, would there still be room for the cats and another pair of dwarf cichlids at the bottom? <In 30 US gallons? No.> Both tanks are planted with varying arrangements of bogwood/driftwood, rocks, petrified wood, sand substrate, tapwater (I have separate questions re water chemistry which I will get around to asking below), but there are more rocks, fewer plants in the 29g. They both have HOB filters plus mature sponge filters, get 50% WC per week, Prime-treated. I realize that 3 angels might be a bit of crowding and suspect that adding these would send the tank into recycling. I treat with Prime and could do almost daily water changes on the one tank for the next week or two if that would be sufficient. I'm not even sure that moving the swordtails was a good idea anyway. We are talking about fish of incompatible water chemistry which is why I mentioned the question earlier. As I say, I use tapwater (hard though it is). I have always been assured at local stores that they keep all FW stock in the local water, that tank-raised fish are accustomed to it regardless of what their wild cousins may have preferred - so, not to worry. Anyway, by playing with tests and mixing small amounts of water, I have determined that I could lower over-all pH to the mid 7's (currently 8.6 or more - hard to be sure I've read the colour chart accurately) without lowering carbonate hardness below 120 (not sure of units, this was determined with Hagen drop tests). Would it be advisable to do this - slowly, of course - in either tank considering that most of these fish have been living in this water all their lives? Other inhabitants of the 30 gal.: 5 serpae tetras - over 3 years old 4 Glowlight tetras - over 2 years 2 Rummynoses - 'left-overs' - not sure of age 6 Corys - pandas - vintage varies 2 Farlowella - adults - not sure how old but they are quite active and compete with the Corys for food at bottom (I drop pellet food here) 1 moonlight Gourami - 'left-over' - not young 1 blue strawberry platy Variatus - 'left-over' - male, several years old 3 green swordtails being discussed 1 Koi angel being discussed 1 Pleco - about 6 inches or so who lives under a big piece of Mopani wood. Yes, I may have to rehabit him in time but he has been here for several years in a smaller tank when he was smaller than now, the sponge filter addition is helping keep the water clean. Without the 2nd filter, this one needed 2 WC per week. He is rapidly devouring all of my Hygrophila but I'm still postponing doing anything else with him. Anyway, he seems healthy and content for now. The Farlowella try to fight with him over boiled greens if I drop some into the tank but he tolerates even them. Anyway, if you have any thoughts on how I could best rationalize these two tanks (water and fish) before the keyholes think they own that one without making any damaging errors, it would be appreciated. Totally unrelated question: there was some suggestion on one of your faq's (if I didn't misunderstand) that the depth of the substrate could influence the size the fish attain. By what mechanism? <No idea. I wouldn't agree with this conclusion at all.> Rosemarie <Your tanks are pretty well filled already. I wouldn't go about adding more livestock just yet. Thin the stick you have, buy another tank. Your move. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Minor stocking question   3/17/08 Thanks, Neale: I appreciate what you say. Another or bigger tank may come later. <Good.> Meanwhile, the keyhole cichlid tank (4 babies) requires some thought. I don't want to wait until they have grown and decided to take the whole place over. <Angel would likely ignore the Keyholes if the tank has LOTS of plants and hiding places... but there's just no guarantees. They're temperamental fish once they've decided to take over. Like almost any other cichlid, they're territorial. Keyholes might be ignored... but then again, they might not.> Would the swords (I would like to free them from the domination of the angel) be better there in that they could have the whole top to themselves? Would they be less oppressed in their movements or am I just sending them to more of the same? <Are we talking about moving them from a 10 tom a 29 gallon tank? If so, yes, that's better. I wouldn't expect Angels to cause serious harm to Swordtails.> I could catch them but it would require an afternoon of dismantling the tank and don't want to do it if not to their advantage in the end. <Surely not that hard. Use two nets: drive the fish with one net towards another net. If you must, half empty the water from the tank.> If not, do you have other suggestions re tank mates for the keyholes. <Midwater dither fish (Danios, Rasboras) plus Corydoras are the classic combos for small South American cichlids.> Would lowering pH be useful to these fish at this point - more comfortable once done? <Only if you lower the hardness too. By itself, pH isn't that important. Too many inexperienced aquarists concentrate on pH without understand that general hardness and carbonate hardness are what matter. So if you're saying you're going to lower the general hardness to 10 dH and the carbonate hardness to 5 KH then sure, that's great for Angels and Keyholes (though unacceptable for Swordtails). If you're asking me about dumping some "pH down" chemicals into the water, then no, don't do this because you likely don't understand about water chemistry yet and should read up on the subject before you stress your fish with random pH changes. Have a start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsoftness.htm Cheers, Neale.>

Overwhelmed by choices/numbers, Re: FW lvstk. sel.   3/6/08 Hi Crew, I have been doing much research for my new 20 gallon tank and I have picked some fish I think will do well together some of which Neale had suggested). I would just like to get some confirmation on compatibility and numbers, if that is ok. I have a twenty gallon tall tank I am in the process of cycling, so I really am still in the research stage. It has aquarium gravel in the bottom along with a waterfall ornament with hidey hole in it and also a hollow log with several holes in it for hiding in. I also have a small terra cotta pot in it on its side. There are various plastic and silk plants roughly 8) Still plenty of swimming room in the center. It has a Top Fin power filter of which I am not too sure I like. No Bio wheel or anything, just a cartridge. Will this filter suffice? <Mmm, you may want to add something more here... perhaps an inside power filter... for redundancy, when you clean one, don't do the other... to retain biological conversion capacity> I would like to put in 2 Dwarf or Blue Gourami's <Mmm, not the Dwarfs... see WWM re> 3 Platies and 4 leopard Cory cats (Corydoras julii). I think according to the 1 inch rule this would about do it. I have read these fish will be compatible together, but honestly everything you read has so many suggestion of "this OR that" with several different groupings it is very overwhelming. I would just appreciate another opinion on my proposed tank stock and I certainly do not want to overstock. Thanks so much ahead of time, I appreciate all of the good information on your site and could read for hours-Aaahh if only life would let me. I have not been able as of yet to find here or pretty much anywhere else "lists" of suggested beginner tanks, to include breed number and introduction order. Something like this would be fabulous for beginners to choose a grouping from to start them in the hobby. As we learn and grow we could branch out from there. If you do know of any kind of resource such as this could you please let me know? I do apologize if I have over looked it on your own website-I have used the search feature extensively to no avail:-( Regards! Debbie <The Trichogaster/Blue Gouramis and Corydoras will do very well here, together... and you might want to add something more for color, excitement... Perhaps some Xiphophorus helleri/Swords... there is room, compatibility behavior and water-quality wise... Bob Fenner>

Oddball tankmates... GSP, brackish, Danios... What?    2/27/08 Hello, I have a green puffer, Sailfin molly, and a small Danio in a 7 gallon bowed out tank. <Please tell me this is a joke. PLEASE!> The green puffer is still a baby and will be moved to a larger tank when he starts to get bigger (about a year or so from what I've heard). <Not just a larger tank (at least 120 l/30 gal) but also a brackish water one maintained around SG 1.010.> The Danio kept harassing the puffer until I decided to section him off for about a week. <Doesn't work this way. Danios aren't smart enough to learn you're cross with them. All the Danio knows is that he is a schooling fish that spends his life scrabbling with his school-mates to establish a position in the pecking order. Kept by himself he is bored out of his mind because all his natural behaviours are being frustrated. This is not on the table for discussion: Danios are schooling fish that need to be kept in groups of at least 6 specimens and in tanks at least 60 cm/2' long so they have room for swimming. Anything else is animal cruelty, willful or otherwise.> When I released him, he seemed to want to school with the puffer instead. He doesn't bother the molly, and if he does, the molly can handle it. <Again, Mollies are not suitable for a 7 gallon tank. Even a tank three times that size would be borderline.> I dumped some freshwater salt into the tank to get rid of the ich because the general cure did very little. <"Dumping" salt isn't the way forward here. Have you asked why the fish are getting Ick?> I also have been treating with Melafix to help with the ich repair the puffer's fin damage from when I first bought him at Wal-Mart. <Long term, outside of brackish water, this pufferfish will not stay healthy.> Is it odd that the Danio wants to school with the puffer? <Absolutely typical when Danios are kept incorrectly.> Also, I heard that mollies can handle marine like conditions. So when I start to increase the salinity, will the molly be ok? <Both the Molly and the Pufferfish will do perfectly well in brackish or even marine conditions. I'd aim for SG 1.005 while they are young, and once the Puffer is upwards of 8-10 cm, gradually raise the specific gravity over the next few weeks to SG 1.010. Obviously the Danio cannot be kept in such conditions.> It appears that my tank is a bit small considering the fish I have, <Never a truer word spoken!> until I get a bigger tank, if the water parameters don't stay within a healthy range, can I add more oxygen and a stronger filter, on top of making more water changes until I can get a new tank? <Good money after bad. There is no way you can redeem this aquarium, it is simply too small.> (I already have a bubble stone and a pretty powerful filter meant for a 5 to 10 gallon tank). <Neither here nor there.> The puffer starting swimming around frantically and swimming near the surface when I fed him some flakes this morning. <Flakes are not the right food for this fish. Long term you will cause constipation and overgrown teeth. Lots of articles here at WWM about puffers: read them!> I tried burping him, but no air came out (he bit me the first time though), he seems to have recovered, but I'm not sure what made him do that in the first place. <Does happen. Try to avoid though, because sometimes puffers swallow air, cannot expel it, and eventually float so long their gills dry out and the fish dies.> I found something that works if you don't have a net. Small bubble wrap can be used to "section off" the tank to watch a fish more closely. I think all of the reflections in it chill out the fish. <Fish don't "chill". They are either happy or terrified. Not much in between. A fish confronted by thousands of reflections of itself is unlikely to be happy.> It worked wonders when I rubbed the stomach of the puffer, he didn't bite this time. <Very good. Anyway, I'm sure you are very fond of these fish and I can sense you want to do the best for them, which is great. But right now you are not even close to having a balanced, viable aquarium. Green Spotted Puffers are not reliable community fish, and often end up being kept alone. The Molly is potentially viable in a community with the Danio, though I usually recommend Mollies be kept in slight salty water, and ideally a brackish water aquarium. Danios must be kept in tanks that are long (I'd honestly recommend a 20 gallon tank) and in groups of 6 or more. Do sit down and read about these fish, and then plan your fishkeeping accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>

Marine Aquarium Qs, set-up... conv. from FW  -02/24/08 Hello, I have just one main question. I am interested in starting a new tank. I would like to have at least 30gal. I am interested in the percula clown fish, and cardinal fish in a fish with live rock and eventually adding an anemone after I get the basics down. <If you want to keep an anemone, I'd suggest a larger tank (at least 55g).> I was wondering if you could give me some set-up advice as well as the types of equipment you would recommend. Also do you know of any aquarium kits that would be good for a first timers. <These are all good questions to ask your LFS and other local aquarists. It's also good to read about these things on your own (make use of the search tools -get a good book or two). A lot of it is personal preference.> I have two freshwater aquariums I have had them since September and are running fine and think that it is time to upgrade to a salt water. <Upgrade? Salt water aquariums aren't necessarily "better" than freshwater ones. Again, it's a matter of personal preference. I've seen some professionally set up planted freshwater aquariums that could put the average home marine aquarium to shame.> My fresh waters are a 29H with three goldfish 1 fancy tail and 2 feeders that I put in to cycle the tank, two Cory cats, 1 red tail shark that the 5 from the 10gallon they were picking and his fins were torn to pieces and a plecomus. My other is a 10 gal with 5 red tail sharks 2 tiger barbs and plecomus. <Ugh, it seems you have a lot to learn still about even freshwater aquarium keeping.> Thank-you for your advice and time <Sure, but please do be prudent and read as much about marine aquarium keeping as you can before starting one.> Brett <Best, Sara M.>

Freshwater Tank Qs, lvstk. sel., cycling...  -02/24/08 "My fresh waters are a 29H with three goldfish 1 fancy tail and 2 feeders that I put in to cycle the tank, two Cory cats, 1 red tail shark that the 5 from the 10gallon they were picking and his fins were torn to pieces and a plecomus. My other is a 10 gal with 5 red tail sharks 2 tiger barbs and plecomus. <Ugh, it seems you have a lot to learn still about even freshwater aquarium keeping.> Thank-you for your advice and time <Sure, but please do be prudent and read as much about marine aquarium keeping as you can before starting one.> Brett <Best, Sara M.>" hi I was just wonder if you could elaborate on you answer to having a lot to learn about freshwater aquariums? <<1) you used 2 "feeders" to cycle a 29g tank--not the best way to do things for a lot of reasons. 2) You have 4 "red tail sharks" and 2 tiger barbs in a 10g tank?! Unless you like watching fish slowly kill each other, this is a stocking nightmare. Tiger barbs are fiercely aggressive fish. The red tail sharks get to be up to 6in long and even ONE of these would need a lot more room than 10g. These are the two biggest reasons I think you have a lot to learn about freshwater aquarium keeping. But I don't mean to pick on you. Certainly, these are mistakes a lot of people make. However, if you're not the type of person who likes to do much of your own homework and reading, these kinds of mistakes will cost you even more in marine aquarium keeping.>> and all of my LFS are lame I have to drive at least 1 hr to an 1 1/2 hrs to get to one that has any variety of any live plants or any one who has any knowledge. My 10 gallon and occupants was recommended by my LFS <<Oh, I can easily believe that. Unfortunately, many LFSs give a lot of bad advice when it comes to livestock selection. They're better for knowledge about dry goods (IMO). Fortunately, for knowledge on livestock and livestock selection, there are a lot of other good resources... books, websites, etc. Again, best to research before you buy, before you even set up the tank. Here's one place to start: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm>> thanks again <<De nada, Sara M.>>

Freshwater Tank Qs -02/24/08 thank you very much. with your advice I better slow down and do a lot of research before I start which I plan to do starting with your site. <awesome> I have been reading it all day and it is very informative thank all of you for your time and patience. could you give me any other web sites that sell marine kits that you would recommend thank you again and I will have to do something about my tank right now I agree I didn't do enough research before I bought but I will do my homework on the marine setup seeing how the price is so much more <Yes, considering marine aquarium livestock run about (at least) 10x the cost of freshwater, this is a wise plan. As for marine "kits," even though it's far away, I would still start with a "local" aquarium/pet store. It's nice to be able to see these things in person before you buy them. For anything you can't find in the store, I'd recommend Salty Critter (but only because I'm familiar with them-- there are likely many other such LFSs with a corresponding online store). Good luck and happy reading :-) Sara M.>

Old Tank, FW stkg.   -02/20/08 Good afternoon to whoever answers. And all of you actually. I have a ten gallon tank that has been stored. I would like to bring it into use again and have two questions. How do I do the recycling? I kept the old filter material and the water filter but have washed the stones and tank ( no bleach). Do I start it like a new tank or would it be ok to use the old filter material? <You can certainly deep clean sponge and ceramic media (hot water, lots of squeezing and rinsing!). There's not much point re-using chemical media (carbon, Zeolite) or filter floss.> I would like to have more than one fish (greedy) and would like to know if there is such a fish for a ten gallon tank. Or should I just make a Betta very happy? <Either. In the February issue of TFH I have a WHOLE article about stocking 10 gallon tanks, so try and grab a copy of that if you can. It's not in shops anymore, but you might find your local public library or fish club has a copy. Failing that, let me give you some general advice: almost all the standard community tropicals need more than 10 gallons to do well. What you want are small (ideally 2.5 cm/1" or less) fish that are neither very active nor very territorial. Ideal choices include Neons, dwarf Mosquitofish, pygmy Corydoras, Kuhli loaches, Cherry shrimps, and Nerite snails. Most everything else, including guppies, barbs, cichlids, etc. are all too active and/or aggressive for such a small tank.> Thanks so much. Linda <Hope this helps, Neale.>

New Freshwater Tank, lvstk. sel.    2/19/08 Greetings, Crew, I have a 180 (acrylic) tank with overflows and sump, that I have set up as a FW tank. It has just finished cycling, and has a couple of 10-year-old Plecos and 4 small (5 year-old) clown loaches. I would like some mid and upper tank fish. Especially, I would like fish that wouldn't nip at or pester the loaches. <Really not too difficult. There are a few nippy fish to avoid: Gymnocorymbus ternetzi, Hyphessobrycon serpae and its relatives, Puntius tetrazona, to name the most egregious fin-nippers. But most Danios, tetras, barbs, Rasboras, Rainbowfish would all work well.> I read about giant Danios and rainbow fish on your site; both sound fine. <Indeed. Giant Danios (Devario aequipinnatus) are hyperactive and in a large group (say, 10 or more) put on a superb show. They are predators though, so be careful if you decide to add anything smaller than they are later on. Giant Danios also prefer slightly cool conditions: 22-24C ideally, and no more than 26C, and even then with strong water currents to ensure good circulation of oxygen. Kept too warm they simply "burn out". Rainbowfish are excellent all-around fish for medium to large sized community tanks. They will do well even in quite warm water up to about 27 or 28C, though closer to 25C suits the Australian species best, while the New Guinean species might do well a little warmer. Again, they look their best in largish groups, when the males will display to one another. An important tip: make sure you get equal numbers of males and females -- though females are sometimes less colourful in some species, the males won't get their best colours without them. Also, do remember Australian Rainbowfish are often drab when young, and only get their best colours when a year or two old. Most species live quite a long time, 5+ years, so can be excellent value. I happen to like the warm water species Melanotaenia boesemanni from New Guinea.> Would a school of rainbow fish be OK with the loaches? <Yes.> Could I mix the Danios and rainbow fish? <Yes, if each was in a decent sized group and the Rainbows had some shady areas to hide in: Giant Danios can be boisterous.> Any other suggestions for fish that might complement what I already have/am planning for? <In really big tanks, you have the option of keeping a really big school of fish, and I suspect you'll find that the best way to create a visually stunning view. Twenty mature Melanotaenia boesemanni would be an unbelievable sight. So do think carefully about the balance between lots of different species versus larger numbers of just one or two.> Thanks for your help and for a great resource. Water here is moderately hard. I keep tank at about 80F. <Water would suit either fish, but perhaps slightly too warm for Giant Danios.> tom <Cheers, Neale.>

Tank Diversity... I'll say! And a partridge in a pear tree?! 2/18/08 Hello and thanks in advance. <Hail.> I've jumped in feet first here and I feel slightly overwhelmed. I am trying to be as conscientious as possible and want to offer the best environment possible for the animals I've chosen to support. <For the love of God, please tell me this is research *prior* to purchase. Obviously these animals won't get along. One is big and aggressive, one is soft and easily damaged, and the other is a land animal that drowns when it falls into deep water. No chance whatsoever of these animals coexisting in an vivarium.> I have a new 29 gallon tank with a very young Red-Eared slider turtle, a Fire Belly Toad, a Hermit Crab (species unknown to me). <Oh dear.> I have the tank divided into three distinct "zones"; I have a tall pumice stone which offers a place to climb and explore and where I deposit the food for all of the animals. In the middle I have a 2-2 1/2 inch deep area intended for swimming. And finally I have a raised, dry, sandy area for the turtle to bask and for the crab to burrow/bask. I've also planted a few small aquatic plants throughout each "zone". <Water area too shallow for the Terrapin, but fatally deep for the Hermit Crab.> I have a new UVB light and a new infrared light which keeps the humidity and temperature within nominal limits and I regularly test in each of the three respective areas. I have a new 140 gph filter and a heater in the swimming area. I am using decomposed granite and aquarium gravel as substrate in the wet areas and washed play sand in the raised "beach" area. <Hermit Crabs need moss or coir (Coconut fibre) to burrow into when resting. Sand doesn't hold moisture so well. In any case, the crab can't be kept in this enclosure.> I have been reading as much as I can about the animals and believe that I have provided an ample environment for each of them. While I understand that a new environment and new "roommates" can be intimidating, how do I ensure a good quality of life for the inhabitants? <By keeping each in a tailor-made environment specific to their needs. Firebelly Toads for example need relatively cool water less than 24C, but this is too cold for Terrapins. Conversely, while Terrapins appreciate a gravel substrate for resting on while basking, Toads can swallow gravel and die, and should NEVER be kept in enclosures with gravel. They need bare glass or pebbles in the water side of their tank, and damp moss 5 or 6 cm deep over the gravel on the land side of the system. Again, terrapins are hugely polluting animals that dump a lot of ammonia in the water; toads are highly sensitive to ammonia, developing the amphibian equivalent of Finrot, known as "Red Leg".> I've never seen a tank divided like this and believe there is no reason why it can't be successful. <Many, many reasons. Too numerous to list here, but even a quick read of the literature on each species should make these immediately obvious.> Please give as much detailed information as you can afford. ~ Joel <Separate these animals into their own systems, or else return two of them and specialise on just the one. There is no way these animals can be kept together. Cheers, Neale.>

Newbie to freshwater seeking some help. Stkg. mostly, maint.     2-9-08 Hello there, <Hello, Merritt here today> Thank you for such a helpful and precise website. I've spent a long time reading through some very useful and informative information that doesn't seem to be found elsewhere on the web. I'm new to the world of freshwater fish keeping so please bear with me; I have three questions to put to your experts. After cycling our tank for three weeks (which was a painfully long wait when I was so keen to start buying fish!) we finally had the right conditions to stock our 54litre (10 UK gallon) freshwater tank. It's fitted with a filter, light, heater, and some plants. We've started off with 2 sunset platys and three male guppies. We hope to add a further selection of fish over the next few weeks as long as water conditions permit it. We've been testing the water daily with kits, (today's readings showed ammonia at 0, Nitrite at 0 and Nitrates at 20ppm) the fish seem happy and healthy and things are coming along nicely. Hopefully by next weekend we can get some more fish added. However, I have some concerns over our platys. We were lead to believe they were both female, and from what I can see (them both having fan shaped fins at their bases) they are indeed the same sex, but we've been finding fry in the tan; four or five over the last two days and we're confused as to how this has happened given they're both female and supposedly kept in an all female tank at the store? Currently we're not sure what to do with the fry as we weren't expecting to have ANY babies! How long could our platys be giving birth for? Is there any way of knowing? <You might indeed have two females, but it is possible that they could have gotten pregnant at the store. It is known that some families of live bearers are able to store sperm for later use, and your platys could be utilizing it now. Your platys are already done with the birthing process due to it only taking a day or two for all the fry to be born, and most likely some fry were eaten soon after birth by the other fish. If they are utilizing the sperm storage they should stop giving birth when the sperm storage runs out but that could take awhile. Some sperm storage only lasts for one complete ovulation/cycle, just keep an eye out for any babies and call your LFS and see if they would accept the fry for free. I had a similar problem with guppies and my LFS took them for me.> My second question(s) relates to stocking. We initially had set out hopes of adding the following to our tank: Two dwarf gouramis and a shoal of 6 harlequin Rasboras to the tank also. Along with our 2 platys and 3 guppies, will this be adequate stocking for our 10g tank? And how long should I wait after maintaining correct water parameters should I consider adding them? <You will be over stocking your tank with the addition of all these fish. You should only add the harlequins or just the gouramis.> And thirdly, I found a snail in my tank today. A tiny one but a snail none the less. I thought I'd removed all the snail eggs from the plants when we got them but clearly not. Is it worth attempting an anti-snail product yet or should I wait and see if it becomes a big problem first? I'm unsure as to whether snails are helpful or not to an aquarium but while the tank is still new I don't want to add another biological load to the tank. < I personally love snails because they keep the algae down in my tank without the use of an algae eater or chemicals that could potentially harm my fish. I would doubt that a snail would increase any of the bio-load in the tank, keep it and if the population gets to large you can purchase some anti-snail product if you really don't want any.> Thank you so much for reading and for any information/advice you can give. :-) <Hope I helped!> Sarah xx <Merritt A.>

Discus not eating... poor mix... no data re water quality or reading  -- 02/07/08 Hi there, I am Dan and I have a few questions. First off, I really like your website. It is very informative. Anyway, I recently bought a neon blue discus which is in a 40 gallon tank with a Firemouth, Pleco, tetras, tiger barbs, and a puffer. <Uhh... trouble with this mix> Everyone gets along great. <No> There is no aggression and they seem perfectly healthy. <The key word here, "seem"> However, my discus is not eating. I just got him 2 days ago and he is not eating. <Oh! Two days is not much time to settle in...> I tried feeding him bloodworms, flakes, and pellets, none which he seemed interested in. What could be wrong? <Likely the company... though water quality could definitely be an issue...> He seems healthy and doesn't have any signs of illnesses except for not eating. The tank is fully cycled and I do 50 percent water changes weekly. <Mmm... this is more water changed... please see WWM re frequent partial water changes> Do discuses NEED other discuses or will they be fine alone? <Are social animals> I really only wanted one because I don't have much room and discus are really expensive! So what do you think the problem may be? None of the fishes seem to be bullying him and nitrite, nitrate, ammonia are all fine. Is he just getting settled in? If so, how long will it take for him to fully get used to the tank and start eating? Please help. Thanks, Daniel <Please read on WWM re the species you list. Obviously you have not. Symphysodon require higher temperature, perhaps softer, more acidic water than some of your other livestock. The mix you list can't be made to work... Bob Fenner>

http://wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm -- 02/07/08 Sorry, I sent the message by accident, I have one more question. Will my discus starve? Will he know he needs to eat? Or will he go on a hunger strike and not eat? Also, how do I make my water softer, and can you give me some species of cichlids that need hard water so I wont keep them together? Last, is there a way to test the ph without keep on buying test strips? Thanks again WetWebMedia. Sorry for the late message. Thanks again, Dan <All of this is posted. Please learn to/use the indices, search tool, as we instruct folks to before writing us. B>

Re: discus not eating      2/8/08 Sorry to bother you Mr.. Fenner, but wanted to know why my tank is a bad mix. Also what should I do?. Thanks again, Dan <Hi Daniel. The problem with your selection of fish is that you picked species you like, rather than ones that get along together. Just like you can't keep cats, dogs, and mice all cooped up in one cage, you can't expect a random selection of fish to automatically get along. Just because they're all on sale in the shop doesn't mean they're all suitable for the one aquarium. So let's take this step by step. A 40-gallon tank is a nice size, but it isn't huge. It's perfect for a school of Tiger Barbs, for example. But Tiger Barbs need to be kept in groups of six (at least) or they become aggressive towards other fish. Not always, but often enough for them to have a "bad" reputation among experienced hobbyists. They're also fin-nippers. This means that sometimes (not always) they bite the fins of other fish, maybe for food, maybe because they're bored. In either case, you wouldn't mix them with slow moving fish. Which brings us to the Firemouth. The Firemouth cichlid is a big, slow moving fish with long fins. It is a sitting target for Tiger Barbs, literally a moving buffer they can nibble on whenever they want. Firemouth cichlids also have very specific water chemistry requirements: they need moderately to very hard water with a basic pH; 10-15 degrees dH and pH 7.5 is about right for them. But Discus want the complete opposite. They want water that is quite soft and slightly acidic. There's not really any overlap between what these two fish need, so if you make one of them happy, you'll make the other sick. Moreover, there's a big difference in temperament. Discus are shy, sociable fish that do best in big tanks that allow them to swim about in groups of half a dozen. Firemouth cichlids, on the other hand, are territorial and somewhat aggressive once mature. Again, this is a disaster waiting to happen. As for the Neons, Neons want quite cool water, around 22-25C, and when kept too warm don't live for very long. They simply burn out. Discus, on the other hand, want the reverse: they need water around 28C, and if kept any colder get sick very easily because their digestive and immune systems aren't working properly. So any temperature warm enough for the Discus will be dangerously hot for the Neons. Now, saying you have a "pufferfish" covers a lot of ground. The most common species sold in the hobby are the Green Spotted Puffer (actually two different species) and the Figure-8 Puffer. Both of these are brackish water fish, and do not do well in freshwater aquaria. By the time you'd added enough marine salt mix to the tank to keep these puffers healthy, you'd have killed most of the rest of your fish. So again, there's no overlap here between what these different fishes need. So what you basically have is a bunch of fish that can't be kept together. They're all lovely fish in their way, and excellent additions to tanks set up for their needs, but put together -- they're a disaster! So what can you do? The simplest solution is usually to ask your retailer if you can return the fish and change them for some others. Some stores will do this. Some stores will even take back fish they didn't sell you, giving your a certain amount of credit against new fishes. Now, once you've done that -- don't buy any fish! Visit a library or bookstore and find a nice aquarium book with lots of fishes. Read up on what different fishes need. For example, if you wanted to keep the Firemouth cichlid, you could keep it alongside Platies or Swordtails, for example, which thrive in the same hard water conditions. Australian Rainbowfish would be good, too. If you like the Tiger Barbs best, then good companions for these are other fast-moving fish. Loaches, Glassfish, Bleeding Heart Tetras, and Rainbowfish would work well with them. Avoid anything slow with long fins. So no gouramis, Angelfish, etc. There's really no magic to this, it's simply a case of sitting down with a book and reading up on water chemistry and social behaviour. If all else fails, send us an e-mail and say "Hi Guys, I saw this fish X and want to know if it'll go with my existing fish Y." We'll give you an honest Yea or Nay, and of you go! Simple as that. Good luck, Neale.> <<Thank you for this Neale! RMF>>

Re: discus not eating    2/8/08 Thank you. Dan <No probs. Now, just read some more and try and fix the mess you made. Your poor old fishes are rather depending on you! Neale.>

A double check before I do it... FW lvstkg.   01/22/2008 Hi Crew! <Shana> I want to thank you so much for the help you gave me when I started this deal and for your wonderful website. I have scoured the pages and think I have a pretty good plan, but I really want to double check with you before I do it. (I have returned so many fish to the store I'm afraid they will start locking the doors when they see me coming! lol). <Ok!> I have a 29 gal., bio filtered, heated tank that has been cycling with 2 fish for about 5 weeks (after I got all of the other fish returned and lost my eel). The two fish are an Angel and a Betta, but the fish store wouldn't take the Angel back because we weren't having an aggression problem at the time....... we are now, so the Angel is on his way back too. It isn't serious aggression yet, they mainly just dart at each other, no nipping yet. They tend to stay on opposite sides of the tank and the Betta has some floating foliage to get in. I've given them a few time outs which helps for a bit, but I can see we might have a problem in the future. The tank centers around the Betta........ if they don't get along with him, they aren't staying, lol. <Good> So, the tank seems to be doing pretty good. I have done partial water changes 2x a week and 3 massive water changes (80-85%) 3 times, the last time being tonight. I can't give you good numbers right now because of that water change. I tested it a few days ago and the ammonia was at .05. All other measurements on the test strip were in the "safe" range (I know you probably hate test strips, <Not hate... just know that they're not particularly accurate> but those are all I have). Temp. is at 82 degrees. I had it at 80, but the angel was hugging the heater, so I turned it up a bit. So, to the plan: I want to get some Corys, but am unsure as to how many. <Posted...> I have seen everything from 3 to 6 to start...... for a 29 gal tank and for them to be happy, how many do you recommend? <About this number> I've also seen that gravel is not the best for them, but that is what I have. Will they do ok with it? <Likely so> I also wanted to get some balloon mollies again. I've read they don't really need a shoal, so how many of those would be a good number? <... I'd be reading re: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm> Lastly, my Betta doesn't seem super aggressive, he does flare and charge at the angel once in awhile, but spends more time running than chasing. He didn't bother any of the other breeds of fish when we had them in there, including the fancy guppies. I really liked those little fish, but would it be better to fore go those just in case? <See WWM re Betta compatibility...> Lastly, let's say: 1 Betta, 6 Corys, 4 mollies............... <I'd sub something else here...> is there room in there for platies? <Like these> (I would rather have the guppies than the platies, but we do what we can). Those are also a good Betta tank mate, right? <Likely so> If so, how many? <Posted... a few more females than males...> I have quite the credit available at ye olde fish store, especially if I return the angel. Oh! And all of the fish I buy (if sexing is possible) will be male. I know they are more aggressive naturally, but I don't want breeding and they are the more aesthetically appealing, IMO. I haven't read anywhere that this is a problem with these particular fish, but thought I better add it just in case. I'm being stubborn....... I refuse to buy another aquarium for the Betta; but I refuse to give him up because the tank was bought specifically to have a Betta in; but it is really stupid to have a tank that size for one fish. LOL. So, whether he requires them or not, he is getting room mates! :D <Okay> Thank you guys for all of your help and patience. You are an island in the storm for some of us! Shana <Mmm, better ways to cycle tanks than with livestock present... all posted on WWM... Be chatting, reading. Bob Fenner>

FW Livestocking  1/20/08 Hello. I have a stocking question. I have a 45 gallon tank with 5 albino Buenos Aires, I also have a Firemouth cichlid, 1 blood parrot, 1 Bristlenose Pleco, 1 clown loach, 2 balloon mollies and 1 jewel cichlid. Is this overcrowded? <Yes, and a bad mix of fish anyway. Mollies do best in hard, alkaline water, preferably with salt added. Clown loaches are sociable and are very unhappy when kept alone. Plus they get to enormous sizes eventually -- at least 20 cm, and potentially up to 30 cm. Jewel cichlids are adaptable enough, but Firemouths are classic Central Americans that need hard, alkaline water and a soft substrate of sand. Tetras, on the other hand, want neutral to slightly acidic conditions. Do please read books about what fish need BEFORE buying them.> I wanted to get an electric blue johanni, would this be okay? <No.> Also is it true they are extremely aggressive? <Yes.> Will it be dangerous even if I keep it with fishes over 4 inches long? <Yes.> Thanks for all your help. I really appreciate it. <Happy to help, Neale.> sorry, I meant a clown Pleco not a clown loach. Would it still be overstocked? <Clown Plecs (Panaque maccus) are fairly small; maximum size around 10 cm/4". So they're ideal for a 45 gallon system. Cheers, Neale.> I will also be moving my mollies to my other ten gallon tank. Is it possible to put my Danios, platies, and mollies in the same ten gallon tank? <Mollies and Platies get along very well, the Platies appreciating hard water and tolerating slightly saline conditions well. Danios would not be my first choice for tankmates because they are not salt tolerant, and the odds are good with Mollies that sooner or later you'll have to deal with Fungus or Finrot, both of which just aren't a problem when Mollies are kept in brackish water. Ideal tankmates for Mollies include Guppies, Limia spp., Glassfish, and other salt-tolerant fish.> Also, how do I make my water harder? <Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2oquality.htm > Will my ten gallon be overcrowded then? <Mollies cannot be kept in a 10 gallon tank. They are [a] too sensitive to nitrate; and [b] too big when fully grown; and [c] the males especially pester the females and harass other Males. To a lesser extent I'd argue Platies are fish for 20 gallon, not 10 gallon, tanks. I have an article in February's edition of TFH magazine all about stocking 10 gallon tanks. Please read this to understand the limits to 10 gallon tanks and what your options are.> I will be putting 5 platies, 2 balloon mollies, and 5 Danios into it. <The Danios are categorically a no-no. Danios are hyperactive, open water fish that do not do well in 10 gallon tanks (for example: the dominant male will batter all the other fish in the school to death). No-one in their right mind puts anything as big or as fast-moving as a Danio into a 10-gallon tank. A 'long' 20 gallon is the minimum. For a 10 gallon tank, you want non-aggressive, inactive fish such as Neons and Kuhli loaches. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: FW Livestocking 01/21/2008 Sorry to bother you once more Neale. But, would my tank still be overstocked because I have a clown Pleco instead of a clown loach? Thanks again. Cheers (haha), David <Your tank has, if I recall correctly, 5 albino Buenos Aires, 1 Firemouth cichlid, 1 blood parrot, 1 Bristlenose Pleco, 2 balloon mollies, 1 jewel cichlid, and now 1 Clown Plec (Panaque maccus). In terms of simple bio-load, this is basically fine in a 45 gallon tank. My worries here are [a] behaviour and [b] water chemistry. Jewel cichlids can be very aggressive, and neither the Firemouth nor the Blood Parrot are robust enough to survive in a tank with an aggressive Jewel. In particular, the Blood Parrot is a hopeless mutant (from the cichlid behaviour point of view) and may go looking for fights but can't possibly handle itself well once it gets into a fight. Firemouth cichlids aren't particularly aggressive, and their highly modified jaws (evolved for sifting sand, which is how they feed) are easily dislocated when other cichlids fight with them. So none of these cichlids would be on my list of fish to live in this one tank. As for water chemistry, you have a mix of fish than need soft water (Tetras, Clown Plec), fish that need hard water (Firemouth, Blood Parrot), and fish that need brackish water (Mollies). In other words: while your community may work, I can see several potential problems in the long term, so would definitely advice careful observation as well as further reading. Cheers, Neale.>

FW stkg. and good maint. advice  -- 1/18/08 Greetings Sultans of the surf, <Hello!> First off thank you for such an amazing library of knowledge! I have some questions that I have searched for on your site and various others. I sincerely hope I have not overlooked their answers. Well here it goes. I have recently bought a 25 gallon long aquarium with stand, filter and some fish. <Sounds good. But do remember 25 gallons isn't a huge volume of water (esp. US Gallons!) so be careful choosing fish.> First for the fish. The tank is inappropriately stocked with one large ( maybe 7 inches!) African cichlid, one rather large tiger barb ( owner said he had a school but the rest were eaten, how sad to leave that one barb in there) and one small Pleco. <Apart from the Barb, entirely unsuitable for this tank.> All are and were healthy in behavior, very active always hungry. I have given the cichlid to a local fish store but they wouldn't accept the tiger barb or Pleco. He said they are too inexpensive and because of their injuries (fins are almost complete gone) are too prone to disease and thus a risk to his livestock. <Who is eating who? The Tiger Barb? Or the Cichlid?> What do I do with these two? the Pleco gets way too huge for this tank and the barb worries me because he is massively aggressive towards the Pleco ( separated for now with breeding net) thus would be aggressive towards new tank mates unless I had a barb tank which doesn't excite me. <Your best bet is to find a Fish Forum online, visit the "For Sale" section, and ask for takers. You could also look for a local fish club. Do also look for other fish shops. Obviously you'll need to heal the fins on these fish a bit first.> I want to turn this tank into a community tank. My last fish was a Fahaka puffer in a 110 gallon ( had him for 7.5 years, water changes galore) that would rarely let my hand in the tank none the less a tank mate. <Pretty typical of this species. Not my favourite fish, though I admit they do have personality. A psychotic thug personality, but personality none the less.> So the thought of one species for this tank kinda bores me. <Me too.> Secondly the stock plan I have going so far I fear is overcrowded/incompatible at least from a water chemistry stand. Here it is... 1x Siamese algae eater, Crossocheilus siamensis <Nice, though redundant with the Nerite snails. A bit hyperactive in a small tank, and possibly territorial.> 3x Swartz's Cory cat, Corydoras schwartzi <Double the number and you're laughing.> 2x (M+F) Golden lyre tail Panchax killifish, Aphyosemion australe <Fine.> 2x Betta (F), Betta splendens <Probably not with the Killifish; I fear a little nipping and/or chasing.> 1x Flame dwarf Gourami, Colisa lalia <Total waste of space: avoid. Too sickly.> 3x Olive Nerite snail Nerite Sp. <Good, provided you get the true freshwater sort, not the brackish water ones.> Feel free to add, subtract and multiple! I was going to shoot for a Chao Phraya river tank but it seems like that area is mainly catfish per fishbase.org. <Looking at species lists can be misleading; there may be dozens of species of catfish, but in terms of numbers and mass, I'm sure things like cyprinids (barbs, etc.) are far more important.> Unless you know of native Chao Phraya fish that I can add. If not can you suggest a schooling small fish. I was worried Danios would prefer much cooler temps and that Rasboras and tetras would fin nip or be fin nipped. <Correct; Rasboras and Danios essentially come from different habitats. What the Danios want is fast flowing, neutral water with moderate temperature. Rasboras come from more blackwater streams. Your Bettas and Killies inhabit still waters, largely.> My selection is limited to 25 gallon, I now live in an apartment that allows big dogs but small aquariums! Now for the filter section of my question. The tank came with only an under gravel filter. <Nothing wrong with a properly maintained UG filter. Limits the range of plants though.> I took nearly all the water and kept the filter submerged. other then a brief nitrite hiccup the conditions are now zero other then 40ppm nitrate which I suspect were from few water changes, improper water supply, overfeeding, under vacuuming, overstocking and the UGF. For the time being I have added a small power filter with a mechanical sponge, Kent nitrate sponge absorber and bio-wheels. I don't remember the exact gallons it is rated for because it is old but it is obviously way too small and must go asap. I want to use an Eheim 2229 with the wet/dry feature but I am worried that the bio area is in the first compartment. If that is true wouldn't just become a mechanical/bio with emphasis on the mechanical? Canister is the only suitable type of filter as it must be quiet and be viewable from front and back. <I'm not familiar with this particular filter, but I'd trust Eheim filters to do the job well.> Any other suggestions? Also when I add a new filter and remove the UGF should I just take the whole thing out and cycle or perhaps break it and remove it periodically to leave as much bacteria in the water as possible? <I'd break down the entire tank and cycle it from scratch. That'll give you more options in terms of substrate choice.> I do plan to add plants later on after the filter changes are made, cycling is totally complete and I buy the proper lights. Fish will be added also after cycling is done and slowly. <Sounds good.> Just a few statements I have learned over the years and have read on WWM a thousand times ( if I may) to any new hobbyist. Nanocubes are hard, expensive and not for the beginners no matter what anyone says. <Pretty much.> Hagen's "Cycle" does not substitute for a natural cycle. <No it doesn't. But there are other products that do. But I simply grab some filter media from an established tank, and off you go: instant cycling.> Tried to start a cycle for my friend's tank using this, nitrites were off the scale for a month ( only 1 small comet, 20 gallon tank, whisper 400 filter) at least followed by massive nitrate problems. Last but not least a good water change schedule is cheaper and more effective then any additive or cool new gadget you can buy. Thank you all for your time! <Happy to help.> Ed ( recent transfer to Colorado, love those mountains) <Cheers, Neale.>

Freshwater Newbie!   1/12/08 Hello All, <Hello Tom!> Please be patient with me as I am just getting into the relaxing (at times) world of freshwater tanks. I went and bought new 60Gal with a cascade 1000 filter. The tank looks beautiful with some fake plants, speckled gravel and lots of hiding places (pottery and rocks). I'm ready for fish! Unlike most, I am taking my time in the selection because I want to make sure no fish are sacrificed and my family can enjoy this experience. Here is what I have narrowed my fish selection down to: <Ok...> First Group: (1) Chocolate Cichlid (1) Jurupari (1) Green Severum <Fine in terms of behaviour, but these are BIG fish, and a 60 US gallon tank will feel very crowded. While they might live in this space, they could just as easily end up fighting or suffering from problems such as hole-in-the-head thanks to high nitrate levels. Satanoperca jurupari gets to about 18 cm, Hypselecara temporalis to about 20 cm, and Heros severus about the same. A 60 US gallon tank is really better suited to cichlids in the 10-15 cm size scale.> Second Group: (1) Iridescent or albino shark (catfish) (1) Clown Loach (1) Upside down catfish <Pangasius hypophthalmus reaches a maximum length of 130 cm, which is obviously way too big for your tank. Clown loaches are sociable and easily reach 20 cm if adequately cared for, and nearer 30 cm is well cared for. In other words, you really need a tank suitable for 5-6 Clowns, which is more than 60 US gallons will accommodate. So again, not a great choice. Yes, I know people keep single Clown loaches -- but trust me, those loaches are UNHAPPY, and SHY, and NERVOUS. If you want to enjoy these fish, and let these fish enjoy their lives, you need a group of them. Synodontis nigriventris is an ideal size for your aquarium. Maximum size is about 8 cm, and they are sociable too, and in schools become great fun. I have some in the tank next to me, and they scoot about chasing one another and generally putting on a good show. A superb aquarium fish.> Third Group: (1) Red Oscar (1) Tiger Oscar (2) Pleco <A mated pair of Oscars will be happy enough in a tank this size... but two random Oscars dumped in a tank this small (or really any size short of a public aquarium) can end up fighting once they mature. Oscars are, of course, impossible to sex as juveniles and practically impossible to sex even as adults. Do remember these varieties are all the same species. As for the Plec, yes, most Plecs will do fine in a 60 gallon system.> I decided to get the fish in three groups because the first and second group need a chance to grow and make themselves at home in the new tank. I wanted the first group to start growing at least a little bit before I put the baby Oscars in the tank. Obviously, the tank would not need the Plecos until later on anyway. <You don't "need" a Plec. It will do nothing to stop algae (quite the reverse in fact) and cichlids are plenty good enough to clean up leftover food by themselves. By all means add a Plec if you want one, but it has nothing to do with "need".> So with all this being said, here are my two questions: 1) Is this tank going to be overcrowded with 8 fish and 2 Plecos? <WHOA!... you mean you want ALL THESE fish in the same aquarium?!?! NOT A CHANCE. I thought these were three possible options, which is bad enough. All of them in one tank would be a disaster.> I know Plecos are fish too, (I don't want to upset anyone or any fish) but they don't need a huge amount of space from what I was told. <Whoever told you this is talking rubbish. Plecs produce a massive amount of waste and are very territorial in their own right.> Should be about 40 - 50 inches in a 60Gal <Length of fish per gallon only works for small things: Danios, Neons, Guppies, etc. Big fish are entirely different. For a start, oxygen/filtration requirements are related to mass (volume) not length. Volume goes up as a cube of length. So an Oscar may only be 12 times the length of a Neon, but it is 12 x 12 x 12 = 1728 times the volume! It's a little more complex than this because bigger animals have slower metabolic rates than smaller animals, but even allowing for that an Oscar is producing many times more ammonia than, say, 12 Neon tetras, and using many times more oxygen. You also have to allow for bigger fish having territorial demands. A sexually mature Oscar will hold a territory 1-2 m in radius. That's obviously far larger than your aquarium. So should an Oscar decide to become pushy, the other fish will be in DEEP TROUBLE.> 2) More importantly, have I not picked the correct tankmates? <Sorry, nope. Back to the drawing board. Be a little less ambitious, and look at fish around the 10-15 cm mark. You will be able to safely stock a nicer variety, and those fish will be much happier and more likely to exhibit interesting behaviours.> Thanks, Tom <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Freshwater Newbie!   1/11/08 Thanks Neale! That's why I'm doing my research. I thought a 60Gal was a big tank. I guess it's all relative to the fish it's stocked with???? <Precisely so. And there's a difference between a glass box into which a fish can be wedged, and a tank around which swim and entertain you. A bored fish makes for a boring aquarium.> The local pet shop doesn't care because they said I would be able to fit all of these fish in a 60Gal. I suppose they just want the money and don't care for the welfare of the fish. <Quite possibly.> It also seems like people are overly cautious at times. My friend has a 29Gal with two Oscars 6 - 7 inches and an iridescent 8 inches for over 5 years. He said they grow pretty much to the tank size and in his setup they seem very happy. <Hmm... fish don't really grow to the size of the tank. That's a myth. While it is true that few iridescent sharks actually get to 130 cm (that's maximum in the wild, and mostly quoted to scare you!) zoos and public aquaria are overwhelmed with large specimens 30 cm upwards donated by home hobbyists who couldn't care for them any more. As for those Oscars, they're still babies, surely? In 5 years, I'd expect an Oscar to be more or less full size. Conservatively, that's at least 20 cm, up to over 30 cm when kept really well.> Thanks Again, <Better we make the mistakes on paper. Do take a look at a cichlid book, especially one containing things like Tanganyikans or Dwarf Cichlids. I suspect you'd fine a tank with a harem of shell-dwelling Lamprologus at the bottom and some rare livebearers at the top a lot more fun than a few big, boring fish. Or a rocky reef with a bunch of Neolamprologus or some of the dwarf Mbuna. Or a harem of Apistogramma with some tetras at the top... lots of options!> You guys are awesome and I will definitely take the advice and start my thinking process over again. Back to the drawing board!!! Tom <Good luck, Neale.>

Plants and fish... stkg. both   1/5/08 Hello. <Ave!> I have a 55 gallon aquarium and got my water tested. ammonia = 0 mg/L nitrite = .25 mg/L nitrate = 40 mg/L pH = 8.4 alkalinity = 300 mg/L hardness = 75 mg/L chlorine = 0 mg/L temp = 78 F <Nitrite still too high... only add very hardy fish at this point. How are you cycling this tank? If using a "no fish" method, then carry on cycling another week or so before adding fish.> I have a few ideas on what plants and fish I want, but am wondering if they will all be compatible. I am wanting to get assorted kinds of platies, mollies, and Danios. <I'd nix the Mollies because they do infinitely better in brackish water tanks than freshwater. But Danios and Platies will both do well in your water chemistry and can be considered excellent fish for a new aquarium. Do remember both are sociable: I'd add a school of six Danios first, let them settle in, and only then think about a second species. Do also remember schooling fish look better the bigger the group. A school of 20 Danios will be an amazing sight, and far more rewarding that small numbers of half a dozen species. Trust me on this. Schooling fish only school in big numbers, and when they do, they put on a shimmering display of co-ordinated swimming.> I also want an eel of some sort, like a dinosaur eel or peacock eel kind of thing. <Hmm... "Dinosaur Eel" is, I assume, one of the more silly common names given to a Bichir, likely Polypterus senegalus, the Grey Bichir. A superb community fish in many ways, and not difficult to keep, but remember two things: It's a predator, and will eat small fish even though it gets along with other fish of similar size (20-30 cm). Secondly, it needs chunky, meaty foods like prawns and mussels, and won't eat flake or pellets. Peacock Eels are typically species of Macrognathus, such as Macrognathus siamensis. A very difficult species to maintain in aquaria. Must be kept in well-planted tanks with a SAND, NEVER GRAVEL substrate and lots of hiding places. Quite sociable, so keep in groups of at least three specimens. Will try to escape from tanks if unhappy. Only eats wormy foods, and CANNOT compete with other nocturnal fish, so never mix with catfish or loaches unless you want it to starve to death. 99.999% of the spiny eels purchased by aquarists die because most people can't be bothered to work around this essential requirements. When cared for properly they are lovely animals though.> Are there any that are possible to live with the fish I want to have and the planted aquarium. I want a fish that will make my aquarium unique, like a different kind of fish to spunk it up. <Lots of options here, but not all of them go with Danios and other small fish. Spending some time with a decent aquarium atlas such as Baensch's Aquarium Atlas is likely the way forward. Failing that, a medium-sized Loricariid is usually a safe way to add a community oddball, since these catfish tend to be harmless loners. I also have a fondness of Halfbeaks, which would do well in your water chemistry and generally ignore everything below the surface of the water. Glassfish are great community tank oddballs, too, but a bit fussy about diet. You can't go wrong with a school of Kuhli Loaches either. In big groups they form real tangles, with their heads poking out of their chosen cave. A variety of new species are available, all similar to the standard orange and brown species usually traded.> Right now I have 2 Corys and an African dwarf frog, but I might move that to another aquarium. Any suggestions would be great. <Some more Corydoras would be a start. They're schooling fish and are unhappy kept in groups of less than six. The more you keep, the more fun they will be. In a 55 gallon tank, you have no excuse to be stingy here. Get half a dozen more, sit back, and enjoy.> The plants I am considering are Java fern, Anubias nana, possibly some java/willow moss, Cabomba, Wisteria, Water Sprite possibly, Amazon Sword, Anubias barteri, and Dwarf Hairgrass. Do these work with my water parameters and fish? <Should all be fine. Loricariids are sometimes a bit hard on Anubias though.> If you have any suggestions, I'm open to all. Thanks. <Hope these help. Cheers, Neale.>

About the size of my aquarium  12/30/07 hai, <Hello!> I have 3 gold fish , their size is 2 inches . 1 gold fish having a size about 3 inches . 6 Koi carp ,their size is 3 inches. two tiger barbs , their size is 1 cm. six angel fish, their size is 3 inches and a sucker fish about more than 30 cm. my tank size is 55 gallon . <That's a lot of fish! Those Koi and Goldfish will get pretty big eventually, and really need a pond. Koi carp can get to 60 cm/2' without much bother, and Goldfish half that. "Sucker Fish" covers a lot of ground. If it's a Hypostomus/Pterygoplichthys-type catfish, then that's another 30+ cm/12+" right there. If it's Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, then that's not only 30 cm/12" of fish to deal with, but a species with a very nasty personality when mature.> is my tank too small . <Yes.> what should be my tank size according to you . <Goldfish and Koi need a pond really. The other fish may be okay in a 55 gallon tank PROVIDED you are doing lots of water changes and have good filtration. Tiger Barbs will nip the fins of the Angelfish and the two species SHOULD NOT be kept together. As for the "sucker fish", well, if it's the catfish, they're fine with Angels. Gyrinocheilus isn't really safe with anything other than robust catfish, aggressive cichlids, big loaches, etc.> I added tiger barb in my aquarium b'coz somebody told me they eat anchor worms ,is it true. <The anchor worm parasites Lernaea spp.? No, Tiger Barbs will not eat them.> should I remove tiger barbs. <I would.> do u think it's a good idea to add a three inch albino red fin shark to my aquarium. <Albino Red Fin Shark -- Epalzeorhynchos frenatum -- are aggressive and territorial towards similar fish, and will fight with (and be creamed by) Gyrinocheilus aymonieri. So don't combine these. Otherwise, Epalzeorhynchos frenatum generally works out tolerably well in community tanks with fast, active fish.> would it be dangerous to other fishes and lastly what kind of food should I give to my sucker fish <Depends on what your "sucker fish" is. But algae wafers, blanched lettuce, Sushi Nori, sliced courgette/zucchini, sliced potato, sliced carrot, tinned peas, bloodworms, bits of seafood will all work.> thanks ..........good site <You're welcome, Neale.>

Puffers/Turtles/Overstocking=Doomed Tank  -- 10/24/07 Yeah, I'm new with the whole "fish thing" and I have 2 turtles, one soft (size of a 1/2 dollar) and red eared (sized of a quarter), I also have two fiddler crabs, 13 tiger barbs, 2 Gourami, 2 fire mouth cichlids, 7 pretty feeder fish and a fat guppy, 2 Chinese sucker fish, and 2 zebra Danios.... <OMG! Not all in the same tank with the 3 GSPs?!!!><<Jen... a jokester. RMF>> I know, I have WAY too many fish, and my LFS said it would be fine (obviously) to have all these fish (except put the turtles in a giant aquarium or kiddie pool when they get bigger.... <You know but you do this anyway? I don't get it. Turtles eat fish. They need to be removed. Anything that takes a bite of those puffers will die. > I definitely cannot afford to get a bigger tank. <Well, you already know the turtles need a huge tank.> or even any size to put the other fishes in. I can't sell them back either because I love them. What should I do? Are they all just going to die? <Yes, everything in your tank will die from being poisoned by their own waste (No amount of water changes can keep up with what you are housing) or eaten by the turtles & puffers. Forget about how much you "love" them (if you truly loved them, you would have researched their needs first) or whether the shop will give you any money for them. Return the puffers, feeders (do not belong with tropical fish), turtles, crabs (they need some land), at the minimum! ~PP>

Fish room 10/21/07 Hi, I have two Jack Dempsey's, two fire mouth cichlids, 1 Zig Zag eel, 1 red crayfish, 1 Chinese algae eater and 1 rocket gar. I have them all in a 75 gallon tank and they are doing wonderful. I was just wondering though, if it could be possible to place an African clawed frog in the tank also. I have had one before but I wasn't sure if adding another one would work. Thank you for your time and effort. <Greetings. I'm surprised the Chinese algae eater (Gyrinocheilus aymonieri) and the JDs aren't causing havoc yet. Zig-zag Spiny eels (I assume Mastacembelus armatus or Mastacembelus favus) is large but peaceful, and the Rocket Gar (Ctenolucius hujeta) is very nervous and easily scared (and then damaged as it flings itself about the tank). So long term I'd be waiting to see casualties. But if things are working out, fine. But no, adding a frog of any kind to this tank would be foolish. If nothing else, the Chinese algae eater will probably try and suck their skins, and frogs have very, very delicate skins. Chinese algae eater become steadily more aggressive as they mature, and once about 20 cm or so, most specimens become completely hostile to everything in the tank. JDs are also very territorial, and anything slow and clumsy like a frog could be easily bullied. Bottom line, mixing fish and amphibians is generally not a good idea unless you have a specific combination that you know will work. So rather than trying to add random animals to your tank, why not just keep the fish you have *better*. Ctenolucius hujeta is a schooling fish: best kept in groups of 3-5. So if you're going to add more things, why not bump up their numbers, so they're happy instead of lonely? I'd honestly get ready to move out the Chinese algae eater. Cheers, Neale.> 

29 gallon, FW... temp. high and Ram and plant sel.... algae-eater sel.  10/21/07 Hi, I have had the same 29 gallon aquarium since 1993 when I received it as a birthday gift from my dad when I was 12. Since that time I have evolved quite a bit in my knowledge of fish keeping! I recently moved, giving me the opportunity to completely overhaul my tank to become a planted aquarium. I purchased a 50 watt cable heater from Aquarium Designs (but it has no thermostat?!) which I sandwiched between a thick layer of sand on the bottom. I then spread a thin layer of Eco Completer, a thin layer of Fluorite, and finally mixed the rest of the two substrates with my original gravel to bring a good 5-6" layer for rooting. The problem is, with no thermostat, the water is a steady 84 degrees. Too bad 29 gallons is too small for Discus.? I started the cycle with black mollies, Cory catfish, and a Chinese algae eater (I hate them, but didn't want to buy another Pleco that would quickly outgrow the tank and uproot everything ~ I can't find any dwarf Pleco's locally and the shipping is quite high on my budget for online ordering). I have several large pieces of wood, and a small (but growing) collection of plants. <Hmm... I think you'll regret the "economy" of a Chinese algae eater. Since you don't need an algae eater (the idea you do is a myth) better to just go without. Ancistrus sp. catfish make a better alternative, and as 2-3 cm "kittens" they are usually easy to obtain and very cheap.> Would Blue Ram's be ok in water this warm? Are there any plants that thrive in warm water that you would suggest? <84F (29C) is just about perfect for all Mikrogeophagus species, so this shouldn't be a problem. However, most Corydoras *hate* water that warm, and in some cases (e.g., bearded, peppered, panda and bronze Cories) they will die prematurely from heat stress (those species are subtropical fish). Mollies are fine in very warm water. If you can, swap out the Corydoras for something else, or at least make sure you have true tropical Corydoras species (like Corydoras sterbai and Corydoras adolfoi). At 84F (29C) you're basically running things at "Discus temperatures" and need to make allowances for the fact relatively few tropical naturally endure such temperatures indefinitely. Likewise with the plants. Good choices tend to be things like Cryptocorynes, Java ferns, Anubias, Echinodorus bleheri. Coldwater plants, like Elodea and Eleocharis, tend to do not so well. Subtropical and low-end tropicals, such as Vallisneria, are somewhere in between. To some degree, you'll need to experiment, but going by the temperature guidelines in an aquarium plant book would be a sensible way to start.> Thanks, Ben <Good luck, Neale>

New tank stocking, FW  10/14/07 Hi crew, I've got today new 20 gallon hexagon tank. I'd like to make it planted and I'm thinking about fish stocking. Top: thick-lipped Gourami (2-3) <Good call. Nice, hardy fish. Try and keep one male though, just to be on the safe side. Males have stronger colours and a long, tapering dorsal fin; females have a shorter, rounded dorsal fin.> Middle: cardinal tetra (6-8) <Great in small tanks because they don't move about much!> Bottom: blue ram (3-4) <Wouldn't be my first choice. Rams are pathetically variable (often poor) in quality and many (most?) people have little success with them in the long run. Mikrogeophagus altispinosa (the Bolivian Ram) is altogether hardier and easier to keep, though less colourful (in the eyes of some, anyway). Actually, by default I'd not mix cichlids and gouramis in the one tank. They just don't seem to "get" each other, and one often ends up bullying the other. Besides, the gouramis will spend more time at the bottom of the tank than the top, especially if that's where all the plants are.> Are they compatible? Is it too many? Are they all carnivores? Any suggestions. <Gouramis are omnivores, and will eat all sorts of things. A mix of algae-based flake food plus suitable meaty foods (like bloodworms) is the ideal and will ensure optimal health and colouration. Cardinal tetras are mostly insect-eaters in the wild, but mine seem to eat anything, including algae-based flake food. Bloodworm is usually too big for them, but daphnia, brine shrimps, etc. are all happily taken. Overall, feeding shouldn't be a problem.> I'm also new for planted tank. What kind of plants could you recommend for the beginner with this kind of stocking? <The golden rule for planted aquaria is to put the needs of the plants first, and add the fishes as the "icing on the cake". Low stocking densities are standard among "underwater gardeners". Often you'll see big planted tanks that contain just a handful of tetras and shrimps. I'd recommend spending some time researching the topic before you get too fixed onto this idea, because planting a 20-gallon Hex isn't easy. Plants need light, and unless you're able to get 2 watts per gallon of water, your choice of plants will be limited to a few, slow-growing species like Java moss, Java fern, and Anubias. These three are great plants, but their needs are totally different to "regular" plants -- they are epiphytes, so you attach them to rock/wood rather than dig them into the soil. One other bit of advice: many of the inexpensive plants sold in pet stores as aquarium plants aren't aquatic plants at all, and die more or less quickly if kept underwater. You absolutely HAVE to know what plants you need for your tank, and then go shopping for them either in person or via mail order. Just "hoping for the best" and buying what's on sale will often end up a waste of money. Have a read of Bob F's planted aquarium primer here at WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/groplts101.htm . There are plenty of planted aquarium articles elsewhere, as well as numerous books.> Thank you for your help. Mark <Good luck, Neale>

FW Lvstk. sel., comp. - 10/07/2007 Hello, I have emailed the crew before in regard to a tank set-up. I'm am strongly considering setting up a tank about 55-75 gallons max. I would like to place about 2 to 4 parrots in the tank with 1 or 2 Plecos and/or Cory cats. But I would like to seek the advice of the crew on some schooling fish to add to this community of fish. I was considering gouramis but I've noticed that they get fairly large. <Mmm, the True Go/u/rami does...> Could you please send me some kind of list of interesting schooling fish to place in this tank or another set up with parrots along with other fish. Also some interesting structures for the schoolers to hide in and out of. Thank you very much <Such a list would be long... perhaps some of the larger barbs, Danios, some of the non-piranha Serrasalmines... Like Red Hook, other Metynnis... I'd keep reading... BobF>

Stocking questions...55 gal. FW...   9/30/07 <Hello "?". Andrea with you tonight.> Hi I recently bought a 55 gallon fish tank, that measures 49 by 13 inches. I was wondering if I could get two pike cichlids, 2 convict cichlids, 1 albino frog and a rope fish or a moray eel. I'm not sure which between the moray eel or rope fish, but I plan on getting one or the other. I will be using a Whisper 60 gallon filter. I was just wondering if they would have enough room and still get a fairly good size. You can email me back at _xxxx@aol.com_. Thank you very much for your time. <The short answer is no. Please use WWM's google search tool and read up on each of these kinds of fish, their husbandry, aggression, and maximum size and also on stocking guidelines. Some of these animals are also not compatible. Also, you would need FAR more filtration to keep these animals.> <Andrea>

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