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FAQs on Odessa Barbs, Puntius padamya

Related Articles: Barbs, Danios & RasborasA Barbed Response; Wrongly maligned for being fin-nippers, barbs are in fact some of the best fish for the home aquarium by Neale Monks

Related FAQs:  Barbs, Danios, Rasboras 1, Barbs, Danios, Rasboras 2, B,D,R Identification, B,D,R Behavior, B,D,R Compatibility, B,D,R Selection, B,D,R Systems, B,D,R Feeding, B,D,R Disease, B,D,R Reproduction,


Puntius padamya health; water chemistry issues; was: Thorichthys in community tank -- 11/09/11
thank you for a primer in water chemistry in your email, along with your comprehensive articles on this site. I've read up properly and realise with some sadness I won't be able to keep loaches in London water. I'm honestly a little curious as to why the fish shops stock so many species that won't survive the local water -- hard to imagine the average hobbyist buying RO water/collecting rainwater?
<It's a bit more nuanced than this. Yes, you can keep soft water fish in hard water. And that's why fish shops sell them. The problem is that they generally don't live as long as they do in soft water. Neon Tetras are the classic example, and these commonly live only a year or so in London tap water, compared to 4-5 years in soft, slightly acidic water conditions. To be fair, there are some soft water fish that seem to adapt just fine. Corydoras catfish, for example, seem to do well in hard water provided other parameters, i.e., water quality and temperature, are acceptable. Other tropical fish have been farmed for so many generations that they've become adapted to a wider range of water chemistry conditions than their wild ancestors. Angelfish are the classic examples, but Discus are also a lot more tolerant now than they were originally. Some of the more adaptable loaches would fit into this category too: Weather Loaches and Yo-Yo Loaches are the two that spring to mind. Nonetheless, there remains a very large selection of soft water fish that are risky investments if you have a hard water aquarium: Neons, Cardinals, Harlequin Rasboras, Dwarf Gouramis, etc; most of the other commonly traded ones are soft water fish too, including Clowns and Kuhli Loaches. Now, the better aquarium shops in London do indeed have soft water sections, for example Wildwoods in Enfield, probably the store with the biggest variety of freshwater fish anywhere in the area. Most of the Maidenhead Aquatics stores I've visited seem to work the same way, keeping the more difficult soft water fish in soft water tanks. Even if you don't want to invest in an RO filter (they are expensive to buy and run) then rainwater isn't all that difficult to collect and store. That's what I do, and apart from the water butt and a couple of 5-gallon buckets with lids, it's a free and easy way to do things.>
Now for another question: I've got a school of Odessa barbs in my tank, and they're doing so-so. I bought them in two batches, six specimens in the first batch. Two of them got very listless already a few days after purchase. They stopped feeding, were only kind of twitching on the spot in a dark corner for a couple of days, got darker in colour and then died. I noticed the dead fish had become quite dark. Two more of that first batch are now hiding, twitching and darkening. I expect them to die as well.
<Not good.>
Any idea what could be the matter with these fish? Shall I remove them to avoid contaminating the rest? Anything I can do to help them?
<Puntius padamya is generally not a problematical species. Water chemistry isn't a major issue with this species, so assuming your tank has the same sort of water as the retailer's tank, that shouldn't be a cause of trouble. Copper and/or ammonia in your tap water might be issues, so do check your water conditioner neutralises them, alongside Chloramine and chlorine. Next, check water quality in your aquarium; as always, you want 0 ammonia and nitrite. Look to see that your filter is providing adequate circulation; these fish inhabit streams and dislike oxygen-poor water. Try lowering the waterline by a few cm, so that there's plenty of splashing. Clean out the filter too. See if the combination of better aeration and faster water flow helps. I wouldn't buy any more of these until things have settled down. You might have a bad batch. Do visit your retailer: are the specimens there looking healthy or off-colour?>
I removed the pesky single Glowlight Danio, to try and diminish stress on the Odessas.
thank you! Fredrik
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Puntius padamya health; stocking 180 l   11/13/11

thank you again for your detailed reply. Three out of the first batch of six Odessas have died and a fourth one is hiding, not feeding, going darker. She keeps opening and closing her mouth rapidly, and her belly is swollen.
<Not good. Does sound like environmental stress of some sort, or perhaps poisoning. Hard to be sure, really.>
Her scales are not protruding. The second batch of ten Odessas appear healthy and happy, so maybe I got a bad first batch?
I increased aeration. My nitrate readings have become slightly higher, between 30 and 40 ppm. Ammonia and nitrite consistently 0. I downloaded a detailed water quality report from my council (see attached), can you see anything I should try and eliminate? I use Tetra AquaSafe water tap water conditioner.
<Water quality is excellent in terms of drinking water, but you do have standard London "liquid rock" and you need to choose species accordingly. While I doubt this is what has killed your Odessa Barbs in such a short period of time, it's a factor you can't exclude in terms of long-term care.>
As soon as the Odessas have stabilised, I'm would like eventually to add some Swordtails following your advice. Beautiful fish that suit my hard alkaline water.
<Correct. Since you're in London, check out both Wildwoods and Wholesale Tropicals. Both of these get oddball livebearers, for example the excellent Xiphophorus alvarezi, the Spotted Swordtail.>
Current stock (180 l planted):
2 x Ellioti cichlid
13 x Odessa barb
2 x Bumblebee goby
1 x Bristlenose Pleco
1 x Apple snail
Would swordtails be suitable tank mates for them? How many could I add? How many males/females?
<Swordtails can be "nibblers" on Apple Snails, but are otherwise fairly good, if aggressive, community fish. Keep at least two females per male, and keep either one male or at least 3; if you have two males (alongside four or more females, of course) you'll probably find one male bullies the other continuously.>
Would the Swordtails be better "dither fish" for my big bully Ellioti? He doesn't seem to care about the tiny Odessas, so Ellioti jr. is getting all the heat at the moment'¦
<Swordtails are first-rate dither fish. But that doesn't affect bullying by one of your two cichlids. It's "target fish" that do that. Classic choices are medium-sized, territorial, fast-moving midwater cyprinids like Red Tail Black Sharks, but I wouldn't recommend one of those for your aquarium. It's too small and the water chemistry isn't ideal.>
many thanks, Fredrik
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Puntius padamya health; Ellioti chasing... Odessa Barb hlth.  11/16/11

Hi WWM again,
update on our sick Odessa: her belly has now swollen up even more, still no obvious pine-coning. She is hiding behind plants and not feeding. Shall I better remove her from the tank to avoid her infecting the others? Is there any treatment I can try?
<Honestly, I'd euthanise this fish, unless you have a completely separate aquarium where you can treat it.
In all likelihood, she has a systemic bacterial infection, and these are difficult to treat in small fish. 30 drops of clove oil stirred into 1 litre of aquarium water will create a bath that painlessly kills small fish.>
All other Odessas appear healthy and happy.
<Good. May be a one-off.>
I have lowered the tank temperature from 27 to 25 degrees and I would say the "alpha" Ellioti is slightly less aggressive than before. Could this be the case?
<Yes. Cichlid aggression is very sensitive to temperature. In short, cichlids become aggressive mostly when they're about to breed. In the wild they typically breed when the water is warm, and during the cooler part of the year they are quiescent. Varies, of course, but as a general rule, if you lower the water temperature, you'll find cichlids cause fewer problems.
Do be aware of the minimum temperature requirements for a cichlid species though. Too cold, and they'll get sick.>
thank you,

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