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FAQs on Characoids/Tetras & Relatives Behavior

Related Articles: Characoids/Tetras & Relatives,

Related FAQs:  Characoids/Tetras & Relatives, Characoid Identification, Characoid Compatibility, Characoid Selection, Characoid Systems, Characoid Feeding, Characoid Disease, Characoid Reproduction,


Unhappy Tetras?        2/11/16
Hello! I am hoping you can offer some advice!
<Let's see.>
I like to think I am a new, but fairly well researched newbie hobbyist. I finally convinced the husband to let me add an aquarium to our zoo and I love watching my fish!
I have a 20 gallon aquarium that I cycled with fish (4 black phantom tetras), doing daily small water changes etc and the whole time they seemed happy and healthy. *I *read as much as I could re: the nitrogen cycle and Once the water was testing well I began to add new fish (after about a month), a few per week at a time. I am finally at full stock, with now a
total of 6 black phantom tetras (3 males, 3 females), 2 cories and 4 guppies (3 females, 1 male). We are soon setting up a fry tank for the inevitable guppy babies (if any survive) so as not to overwhelm this tank.
I do not have live plants as I was told my lights could not support them but I have lots of fake plants and have tried to recreate as natural looking environment as possible. I have a MarineLand Penguin filter 150 with BioWheel, the water temp is 78.
<All sounds fine, except I'd personally have opted for more of the Tetras and Corydoras... I think your tank can handle a couple more of each, at least.>
The cories were the last addition as I read they could be a bit sensitive and should be the last fish to add.
<Not really. They're unhappy kept in small groups, and don't work with bullying or nippy fish, which perhaps gives rise to the idea they're nervous. But otherwise they're pretty robust animals.>
The guppies are doing their usual curious exploring (they really are quite fearless!) and the cories have added a really fun element to the tank, swimming all over, snuggling up together. I am considering adding a 3rd as I know 3 would be a better number for them but I am not wanting to overstock. They don't seem shy, they have lots of hiding places but are usually out and about and being generally silly.
<Indeed. With a soft sandy substrate they're a while lot funner, but meantime, make sure the gravel is smooth as silk. Rough or sharp gravel can/will cause erosion of the barbels.>
My problem is ever since I added the cories a few days ago my tetras have been acting totally freaked out - spending all their time together in a bunch hiding behind a clump of (fake) plants. They only come out when it's feeding time. (I feed a combination of flakes, micropellets and sinking shrimp pellets (the last ones mostly for the cories but everyone seems to
enjoy sharing them as well). I have recently cut down on feeding for a bit as I have experienced a bit of a slight algae bloom I am getting under control - I think I might have been over feeding a bit.)
<Easily done.>
I am stumped as they had no issue at all with the guppies who often bulldoze right through their school but the cories seem to fit in very well personality wise with everyone else I am not sure what's going on! The cories like I mentioned are a bit silly but certainly no sillier than the guppies so I didn't think the tetras would mind.
<They shouldn't.>
Is this normal?
How long should I wait before I decide they just aren't going to adjust (it's been 4 days). I have a friend with a very healthy and long (2 years) established 100 gallon community tank who I might be able to rehome them to (his school of neons among other fish seem quite happy so I am sure mine would do well) but I would like to avoid it if possible as I am quite attached to these little guys as they've been with me from the beginning and I worked so hard to make sure I didn't lose a single one in the early days.
Any ideas? I would really appreciate any advice you can give :) Thanks so much!
<I would add more Phantom Tetras... yes, they'll be nervous in small groups, and this species is so much better kept in groups of 8 or more. Be aggressive at rehoming surplus Guppy fry and your tank won't be overpopulated. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Unhappy Tetras?      2/12/16

Thank you so much!
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Unhappy Tetras?      2/16/16

Hi Neale (or whoever gets this), I'm afraid I have another question for you! You're site is absolutely wonderful but I'll admit to getting a bit lost in all the information at times!
My tetras have finally come out of hiding, I guess they were just adjusting to the rather boisterous newcomers (2 agassizii Corydoras - soon to be 4 - truly unique and wonderful little creatures). But today I noticed the bottom fin on one of my female black phantoms is looking a bit ragged, almost as though a small piece has been torn off. No sign of the white edge
of fin rot but it's not a clean "bite" either.
<Like a tear of some sort...>
It was my understanding and so far my experience with black phantoms that they aren't known to be nippy and they other than the males displaying at each other they are very peaceful.
<True, but no schooling fish behaves properly if you don't keep enough. How many do you have? Keep at least six, and whenever tetras and other schooling fish misbehave, add more. I'd be keeping 8-10 specimens, at least, in 20 gallons. Try and outnumber males with females.>
Just in case I did about a 30% water change (20 gallon tank, to refresh your memory). I don't have a test kit (I know), but I get my water tested weekly at my lfs. After the first cycling month my water parameters have been stable. Should I be worried about this tetra? Should I be doing anything more than upping the water changes? I'm hesitant to treat if it's not actually rot and disrupt my tanks bacteria balance. All other fish are fine (so far).
<Provided the wound is clean it should heal without the use of medications.>
You're expert advice would be greatly appreciated. I want to provide well for these sweet little fish. (Also: are black phantoms big enough to eat guppy fry? I've 4 guppies along with them - 1 male, 3 females and 2 of them look ready to drop any day. I'm hoping for some "natural" population control lol). Again, thank you for your time and patience! One day I hope
to be an expert but I'm no where near yet.
<Be sure to buy a good aquarium book... many out there, but the Baensch Aquarium Atlas no. 1 was my bible.>
Many thanks,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Unhappy Tetras?       2/18/16
Thank you again for the speedy reply! I very much appreciate it. I do have 6 of the tetras, although they are an equal ratio males/females, so perhaps I need another couple of females!
<Never a bad idea.>
And thank you for the book recommendation!
<Glad to help. Neale.>

Weird behavior? (Serpae Tetras, no surprises)  -- 10/23/08
I am a new to this hobby. I have a 30 gal hex tank with a heater (78 degrees) and bio filter. Listening to the guys in the aquarium store I cycled my tank using a male Guppy and two Sunset variatus (one male one female). Everything was going great, and finally after one month I got my water tested by the store and they said I could add more fish. They suggested another male guppy and three Serpae Tetras.
<Bad community fish; Hyphessobrycon "serpae" (in fact a variety of Hyphessobrycon species is a known fin-nipper. They are schooling fish that need to be kept in groups of at least six and realistically 12+. They have a feeding frenzy behaviour, and will attack anything in range when feeding, including each other. Bullying is a problem with this species. Under no circumstances should this species EVER be added to community tanks with slow or long finned species such as Guppies.>
From the moment I added the new fish my original Guppy began to act strange. What once used to be an active fish swimming all over the tank turned into shy fish hiding in the plants (fake). The new male Guppy seems to be bullying all the other fish (including the Serpae Tetras who I thought were supposed to be more aggressive).
<Male Guppies will certainly be aggressive towards other male livebearers (such as Platies) given the chance. All livebearers should be kept in groups of one male to every two or more females to reduce this problem. I heartily recommend against keeping different livebearer species because of differences in behaviour and aggression level.>
This morning (the morning after I added new fish) my original Guppy's tail fin is about half the size.
<Attacked by the tetras.>
He is laying on the ground and only moved to get food and then returned to the ground not moving at all. What is going on? Will my fish die? What can I do?
<Obviously the Serpae tetras must go. Please read an aquarium book BEFORE purchasing new fish. The fact these are [a] nippy and [b] schooling fish is no unknown and will be revealed by any decent aquarium book. I happen to like (and rate highly) Baensch's Aquarium Atlas, but there are lots of others.>
Thanks in advance for your help,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Silvertip tetra color change  10/5/08
I have a 30g planted tank with 6 Corys 1 German blue ram and 6 silvertip tetras.
<Hmm... do understand Blue Rams (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi) do not live long at the 23-25 C that your Corydoras and Silvertip tetras (Hasemania nana) need for optimal long term health. Mikrogeophagus ramirezi need 28-30 C to survive any length of time, and failure on this count is one of the reasons for their abysmal survival record in community tanks. It's a shame so many shops sell them as "community fish" -- they're not.>
Everyone seems happy and there is no bullying except the occasional exchange between the tetras, but no is damage done. They just seem to be that way.
<Consider adding some more tetras; often tetras are hierarchical, and the bigger the group, the less bullying occurs.>
My question is about the coloration change three of the tetras have gone through. I've had them about a month and a half and three of them have turned a reddish color. They still have the same lines and fins, but the bodies have turned quite reddish. I'm thinking it might be a breeding thing, or just sex differentiation, but I haven't found this described online anywhere.
<There is some variation in colour, but complicating things is that there's also a "copper" Silvertip tetra Hasemania melanura. It has a distinctly coppery colour compared to the typically golden sheen of Hasemania nana. It's entirely possible you have a mixed batch containing both species. One problem with the reliance on common names by some retailers and hobbyists -- if in doubt go with Latin names.>
No emergency, I'm just kind of curious and wondering if I should prepare for babies or something.
<Unlikely in a community tank.>
Thank you,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Largest Neon ever? - 1/24/08 Dear Web guys, Thank you for you assistance with prior questions when I was starting my fish hobby a year ago. One I have not found the answer to (yet) is what the record size is of the largest ever neon tetra? I have one who is larger than some of my mollies, so he's certainly in the running. My search on Guinness Book of Records thus far has failed to reveal an answer. Thanks! Tambra <Hi Tambra. Neons -- Paracheirodon innesi -- can reach 4 cm in length, though that's pretty rare. Cardinal tetras -- Paracheirodon axelrodi -- do get a bit bigger and are a bit stockier as well. The two species are easy to confuse, but Neons only have red running halfway along the body, whereas Cardinals have the red band running all the way from the tail to the snout. Anyway, if you have a Neon bigger than 4 cm, I'd love to see a photo! Cheers, Neale.> Re: Largest Neon ever?  1/25/08 Hi Neale- I will try to get a picture with my camera phone later (will need to borrow a digital camera for high quality) She has outlived many Neons, and I'm sure that's what she is. <Cool. Maybe we're witnessing Evolution in Action! Hurrah! Look forward to seeing the pictures. Cheers, Neale.>

Mixing tetras, reading   1/16/08 Hello WWM crew! I have looked through the FAQs and couldn't see anything that really answered my question so hopefully you guys can help me out real quick. I currently have a 10 gal. tank that simply has 2 neon tetra <Better kept in a larger system, in greater numbers...> and 2 Glowlight tetra <Ditto> , oh and also my little bristle nosed Pleco. <Needs more room...> I've had the tetra since May, and they've been doing very well. They were originally in a smaller tank for the first month or two, and seemed to do a lot better in their school of four in that smaller tank than in this current bigger one. I was planning on putting more tetra in the tank so that a school could help the tetra be less shy and shoal about. I was planning on adding more neon tetra, but my question is: will the Glowlight tetra join this group of neon tetra? <Mmm, may seem to... but not really> Or am I better off trying to make two smaller groups of each so that both types of tetra become more comfortable in the tank? Thanks for your time and continuous great advice! Sincerely, Erica P <Groups of both would be much better... But all in at least a system of at least twice this gallonage (20 plus). Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/charsysfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Tetra buoyancy  10/20/07 Dear Crew, <Hello there! Andrea with you this afternoon.> Today after feeding my Tetras I noticed that 1 of my Neons is floating toward the surface and actively swimming to stay lower in the aquarium. I feed them tropical flake food with the occasional freeze-dried bloodworms. <Sounds delicious...> I hadn't noticed this behavior before today so my theory is that he sucked in some air while eating. My water parameters are as follows: Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate all 0, pH 7.8. <pH is a little on the high side for Neons, but I wouldn't worry much. You might add some driftwood as a decoration to the aquarium to soften the water and bring it down. What does concern me is that the NitrAte is at 0. How long has the aquarium been up? Generally speaking, in the FW world, we want to see a little nitrate, as it lets us know that the tank isn't cycling. You should have something of a reading...5, 10, 15 ppm at least. What kind of test kits are you using? You might take a sample to the local fish store and have them test it. Having zeros across the board usually tells me that either the tank is brand spanking new, or the test kits have gone bad.> I do a 40% water change every 5 days. <Excellent regimen. Keep it up!> I don't feel that it is a water quality issue, he's not listing around or floating head up or down, but when he stops swimming he floats to the surface. <Could be swim bladder dysfunction. It's not fatal, just looks funny. Do a search on WWM for Swim Bladder for more information.> Is there anything I can do or is this just a "wait and see" type of thing? <If he is otherwise acting healthy, stool looks normal, eating well, I'd just let him be. Could be needing a good burp, could be the food is too fibrous, could be swim bladder, could be something else. You might also try giving him some mushed up blanched peas, in case he has a mild case of constipation.> If it is air and he can't expel it, is that a fatal condition? <No, the air will find a way out, one way or another ;-). They are kind of like us in that way.> Also, how long could it take for him to recover from this? <It really depends what it is. If it is swim bladder damage, he might always be that way, and it is just a quirk. If it is something else, it may pass, or it may not. Worst case scenario is he has some problem that is affecting him neurologically, such as a bacterial infection or parasite, but I'd say the chances of that are relatively slim if he is eating and otherwise well. Unless he shows other symptoms, I'd just call him "Bobby" or "Floaty" or "Bouncy" or something cute.> Thanks for your help, <Anytime!> Evan <Andrea>

Hey Bob, Tetra sizes  3/9/07 Hiva, I was looking through some pics on WWM and noticed this page http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/tetragonopterinae.htm, specifically the cardinal tetras listed at length 2.5 cm/2 inches <Mmm, one> ...these are not equal measurements....and Neons lists at 2.2cm...that's not quite an inch...seems quite small to me? <Yes... I just looked... lifted these from fishbase.org... though I swear I've seen bigger. BobF>

Next line-up: The neon tetras.   1/19/07 For some reason, a little guy dies off in this tank. The first to fall I feel died because of shock. The second one I feel ate too much (this one was so quick at eating, he ate all the flakes before the others could get it. then he just went haywire and died.) Last night, the larger of the neon tetras (others about .75 inch) died. He was an inch in length and I thought he'd be able to take care of himself. He didn't seem to overeat and I thought he would have gotten his fair share. I came back and he was dead (the ghost shrimp had their way as he dropped). The water was fine - just tested - no one was attacking him, and he wasn't showing any previous signs of weakness or illness. What could it be? Granted I stepped out to research more on their natural behaviors, I came back and he was shrimp meat. <Likely an internal parasite, disorder> I know the frog is too slow to touch a tetra and the shrimp wouldn't have been able to hold on to a live tetra, so what happened? How long do these guys usually live for and how hardy are they? <Mmm, two to four or five years... Cardinals are a bit longer-lived> I have the worst luck with these (this being the third) and feel like he may have just been in bad shape from the pet store - (they have just passed their first week and a half of captivation with me). I know these guys get shipped in horrible conditions and it stays that way until they find a new home. should I just expect a fraction of the group to die given previous stress? <Likely so>

Tetra Tantrum  - 05/29/06 Hi Bob, I've been reading tons of articles on WetWebMedia and I finally gained the courage to write in. I'm pretty new to this great hobby but always wanted to have a tank. I currently have a 10 gallon tank that has been cycled. the nitrite and ammonia levels are at 0, ph is somewhere between 7.2 and 7.5 , although it may be higher. The KH is greater than 200 and the GH is round 100. In the tank is stocked with 10 green neon tetras, 5 gold tetras, 2 Nannocharax occidentalis and 2 tiger shrimps. Recently the tetras have been acting up. Being aggressive to each other and the Nannocharax. They nip at  tail fins. They have also stop schooling as much as they have in the past. I was wondering if this was a common behavior. I was thinking that it may be something to do with the higher pH levels because I know they like to sit a bit on the acidic side. I've been trying to lower the pH using discus buffer and neutral regulator but with no success. Should I really be lowering the pH? Am I over analyzing this situation? Jon Lorenz < As you attempt to lower the pH the tetras are beginning to think about breeding. Males are staking out territories and keeping the other fish away. Nannocharax occupy the lower areas of the tank and may be considered a threat to eat the eggs. Lower the water temp to about 77F and see if things calm down. I wouldn't really worry about the pH unless you were serious about breeding.-Chuck>

Lemon Tetras, Nipping, Behaviour - 11/08/2005 Dear WWM Crew, First of all, thanks for a fantastic, informative site - it's a great resource.  <Thank you for these kind words.> I've searched and browsed, but haven't found an answer to the following question; apologies in advance if I missed something. I have a 15 gallon freshwater tank that I set up several days ago. The gravel and the filter (Marineland Bio-Wheel 125) were from a friend's established, healthy aquarium, to cut down on cycling time. The tank is at 78 F, ammonia and nitrites are 0 ppm (haven't checked nitrates yet), pH is 7.8, and the tank is furnished with about eight assorted live plants and a few rocks/caves. Water is treated with AmQuel Plus and NovAqua. Fish are fed TetraMin flakes (with some other variety to be added soon). After letting the tank run for a day and a half to stabilize temperature, etc., I acquired from the LFS three Rosy Barbs (all male, one long-finned) and five Lemon Tetras (sex unknown). Within about a day, the Tetras had started to fin-nip each other; they're starting to do some significant damage.  <This is to be expected.... if it gets "bad", you may wish to return the tetras in exchange for a less "nippy" tetra; normally I would recommend increasing the number in the school, but in a 15g tank, that's a bit tough.> The Barbs are being left alone, and seem happy and healthy. Is this likely to be a continuing problem, or is it a transitory establishment of pecking order? If the latter, when can I expect it to stop?  <This is a behaviour normal for many different tetras.> Would it help to increase the size of the school (if so, to what)?  <Perhaps 8 to 10 fish....> I'm afraid that would be pushing the limits of the tank <I agree.> (although everyone will be moved to a 60 gal in about a month and a half), <Ahh! You could aim for 8-10 of them, then, and just be diligent about water quality for now. See if this number decreases the overall damage.> since in two weeks I'm going to be adding a three-inch Clown Loach that needs to get out of his current home. Is the tank just too small for the Tetras? If so, are they likely to survive until I can get them into the larger tank?  <Probably will be "okay" till then. Just watch them.... and be prepared to return or otherwise intervene if necessary.> Are there other factors I've forgotten to take into consideration here?  <Actually, sounds pretty good so far.> Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks so much, -Taya <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Lemon Tetras, Nipping, Behaviour - II - 11/28/2005 Dear Sabrina, <Hi, Taya! Sabrina with you again.> First, another round of thanks to you and the rest of the crew for keeping this site going. I'd be lost without it... :)  <And again, thank you for these words of inspiration.> I have follow-up questions on the fin-nipping Lemons (see original correspondence below), as well as a few unrelated queries.  <Cool.> For reference, on both tanks described below, ammonia/nitrites are 0, nitrate runs around 10 ppm just before the 25% weekly water changes, temp is 78-80, and pH is 7.8. Assorted plants and bogwood in both tanks; Marineland Bio-Wheel 125 on the 15 gal, mini on the 10 gal. Fish are fed small amounts (as much as can consume in 20 - 30 sec) twice per day, rotating through Hikari micro-pellets, TetraMin flakes, freeze-dried bloodworms, and frozen (thawed) brine shrimp. Hoping to add in some fresh veggie matter as soon as I figure out what form it should take.  <Sounds great.> Lemons first: shortly after receiving your email, I brought home 5 more Lemon Tetras from LFS. Unfortunately, the addition did nothing to resolve (or even disperse) the destructive behavior.  <Ahh, bummer!> I merely had ten nippers instead of five!  <Yikes.> After a week and a half I couldn't stand it any more, and moved the five worst offenders to a 10 gal hosp/QT tank that I'd started up in the meantime. (For better or worse, I can keep track of which tetras are which due to the individual patterns of chomps and tears in their fins. *sigh*)  <Ouch.> Things calmed down slightly after that, but not as much as I'd like. The five in the hosp/QT tank are schooling a bit more, but still actively harassing each other as well, and one seems to get particularly harassed around feeding time - I'm not sure he's getting much to eat. The five that remain in the 15 gallon tank have settled into territories of sorts - four hide behind various plants and logs, and defend their small quarters, while the fifth keeps the majority of the center tank to himself and takes on all comers, as it were.  <Sounds like the tank may just be too small for these guys to school comfortably.> (They're all still completely ignoring the Rosy Barbs, and vice versa.)  <Ah, good. At least there's that.> I tried adding more plants to rearrange/erase territories; I now have a more attractive tank, but it didn't change the fish behavior at all. This is NOT what I'd had in mind when I acquired what I thought were fairly mellow schooling fish! (This based on reading in various fishy books, prior to discovery of WWM. Though in searching here, I haven't found any mention of this much aggression in Lemons...)  <In many tetras, it's not uncommon.> Is there any hope that once I've got them in the 60 gallon tank, the Lemons will calm down, re-grow their pretty fins, and behave themselves?  <It is entirely possible. At that point, you could even try further increasing the school - but I, personally, would go with a different species entirely. Uhh, just for my own personal preference, really. I don't like watching little fish beat the crap out of each other.> Or should I try to take them back to the LFS before any more time elapses, and try again with something else?  <I would, but you can certainly try with the larger space and see how it goes.> Did I have the misfortune to happen upon a particularly psycho bunch of fish?  <Stranger things have happened! <grin>> I'd like to make this work, if I can, but I'm not really interested in an ongoing battle in my tank(s). Related query: Your original reply makes it sound like some/most tetras are fairly nippy critters. Is my hope for a peaceful group of schoolers doomed?  <Mm, no.> My only prior experience with tetras is a group of 5 or 6 Diamond tetras that I had in my childhood tank. I recall them being very well behaved. If you think I should re-home the Lemons and try again, can you recommend some peaceful tetras?  <Sure.> Would Diamonds be a good choice, or am I misremembering how peaceful they were?  <I've never kept them, so can't speak from experience.> I'd prefer something medium-sized (for a tetra), with a silver or yellowish body and perhaps a little bit of color on the fins. My fish books (Baensch Atlas and others) are no help - pretty pictures, but describe nearly all tetras as "peaceful schoolers."  <My personal preference goes toward, in this order, "green Neons", "flame" tetras, Rummynose tetras, then Neons and cardinals.... None of which really fit your bill. If you look hard enough, you might find gold Congo tetras.... These GORGEOUS African fellows are moderately sized (2-3", or thereabouts) and have a lot more gold/brassy color than their more common, more blue counterparts. "Regular" Congo tetras do have some yellow to their mostly blue/silver bodies and really do grow into beautiful animals. Their finnage is excellent, as well, and they're not very nippy. Do please look into Congos, gold or otherwise.> <<I must second the suggestion for the Congo tetras.  They are truly beautiful in a way few photos capture.  They are peaceful enough (though a wee bit jumpy at times) for most hatchets, and other flighty fishes.  Marina>> On to the other questions:  (1) The tap water here runs at about pH 7.9; my tanks are at 7.8 after the fish-plant-bogwood balance has equilibrated. After researching things, it seems like stability is generally preferable to a specific pH point, but 7.8 still seems a bit high for the fish I want to keep.  <Stability is, in fact, key.> I'd like to get it down to somewhere closer to 7.0, and am hoping to approach this via adding peat to my filtration system.  <It'll work - and quickly. Be cautious of how much peat you add, and go at this slooooooowly.> The owner of LFS, while well-meaning, is no help; he tells me this is unnecessary, the fish will do "fine" without it, and I shouldn't "complicate matters." ("I own fish, sir. Matters are already complicated.")  <Heh! True enough!> At this point, I don't know how alkaline our water is, and I understand that the buffering capacity makes a difference, but in general, will peat filtration offer any hope of getting near this goal? (And if not, what should I do?)  <It very likely will. Again, be slow and cautious about it.> If so, how do I introduce this most safely, given that I already have fish in the system and don't want to shock them with a rapid change? Can I start with a very small amount of peat in the filter and increase it over weeks/months?  <Yup.> I have no idea what quantity of peat effects what sort of pH drop.  <It will depend upon the age of the peat, the buffering capacity of the water, etc. Also, it can change (slowly) over time.> (I'm going to have to do this "on the fly" in the aquarium: storage/water aging containers, as well as the 60 gal tank, are awaiting the end of a remodel.)  <Exciting!> Also, assuming I can achieve a stable, lower pH, what do I then do when I (inevitably!) buy more fish, given that they will be accustomed to the higher pH of the store tanks? (It's the *only* LFS with good stock within an hour's drive - can't just switch suppliers.) Is the typical "float the bag in the tank and then gradually add tank water to it" method going to avoid shocking them?  <Nope.> Instinct tells me no, and I don't have the resources to set up a "pH acclimation" tank.  <Anything less than a few to several hours' acclimation will be worthless in regards to acclimating to pH. Very seriously, it's better just to "dump" the fish in after acclimating for temperature! Your best option, here, is to do a "drip" acclimation in a bucket - type "drip acclimation" into our search bar on the WWM homepage and you'll find loads of information. That should get you all set.> (Can't do a bunch of fluctuations in the hosp tank, because it may have a semi-permanent resident. Which brings us to...) (2) My finless clown loach.  <Ouch!> The 60 gallon tank I'm about to have (T minus 45 days and counting) is an old tank of mine currently under the care of my parents. Sole occupants: 6 clown loaches, about 3" each. For reasons unknown (likely a combination of stress due to poor water quality, infrequent cleanings, and perhaps fishy psychology beyond my ken), <And mine> five of the loaches have mercilessly bullied the sixth. I found out (Arrgh) that the poor thing has spent most of the past year hiding in a log, without fins/tail. I mean completely, totally, nipped away down to the body. Gone. Nada. <Wow, and again, ouch!> (All other loaches are happy, healthy, and normal-looking.) Oddly enough, the bullied loach (when brave enough to leave the log) still gets around adequately, if awkwardly, has a good appetite, and seems otherwise okay. (Mom says if she feeds during the day, it's the first one out at feeding time, and comes up to say hello - but if the other loaches come out, it flees immediately.) All this revelation resulted in an immediate cross-state fish transfer (couldn't stand the thought of the fish being subjected to any more harassment), and it is now in residence in my hospital tank (along with the five Lemons, who ignore it).  <Ah, good.> Spends most of its time hiding (still adjusting from the move), but when it comes out, seems okay, if a little washed out - and of course, completely without fins. I've looked pretty closely, and don't see any evidence of fin rot, ich, or other disease. My question (after that long-winded introduction): what's the prognosis for this guy/gal? Given a stress-free place to recuperate, decent water quality, and no competition for food, is there any hope of those fins growing back after being gone for a year or more?  <Hopefully, but in all honesty, I couldn't be sure. It will depend upon the extent of the damage.> If so, what's the expected timeline?  <Quite a long haul, I fear.> Should I be treating with something?  <I probably would.... but am uncertain whether you should or not. If you do, I'd use Nitrofurazone, if possible.> If fin regrowth is unlikely, can a finless fish be a happy fish? (I'd think not, even without competition/aggressors, but...) Is it kinder to put it out of it's misery?  <If it's eating, and can get around.... well, you're the best judge of it, as you have contact with the animal, and I don't.> I want to do the right thing, but I have absolutely no idea what that might be. Addendum - yes, I realize that if the loach pulls through, it can't stay in the 10 gal for too long. I'll deal with that if/when we get there. Fins first, additional tanks later. :)  <Of course.> (3) About those storage vessels for aging water prior to tank changes... I've seen Rubbermaid containers recommended. Will new containers, with a thorough rinsing, be adequate, or should they be lined with something?  <Unlined containers are fine.> If so, what? I worry about plastics (either the containers or liners) leaching things into the water, particularly if I'm heating the water.  <A good thing to be concerned over. I have used Rubbermaid and Sterilite products with no problems. I would clean these thoroughly with a diluted bleach/water solution and allow to air-dry for a couple days, maybe even soak 'em for a couple days and discard the water.> Thanks in advance for your time and help!  <You bet.> Anxiously awaiting advice, -Taya <All the best to you and your finless friend, -Sabrina>

Schooling or Shoaling? Hello, I have searched your site until my eyeballs popped out of my head, so I pushed them back in and continued searching but to no avail. <Wow.  Well, glad you got 'em back in alright.  Wouldn't want WWM to be the leading cause of eye loss, or anything!> My question concerns the behavioral function of tetras.  Most sources describe them as schooling though some describe particular species as shoaling.  I know that in a definitional sense they are quite different.  <Mm, as I understand it, a "shoal" is a group of fish, whereas a "school" is a group of fish that swim in tight formation, playing follow-the-leader, and all-around acting like one big fish.> In the stores most seem to shoal but I realize that could be because most store retail tanks are 10 - 20 gallons which may be too small to actually school. <Essentially true.  For some of the larger tetras, *very* large tanks would be needed to get them to school effectively.> What I am getting at is, which species of tetras are true schoolers that swim in tight single directional formations other than Neons? <Well, not having had the opportunity to see them behave in the wild, I would say "most".  In an aquarium, you need a large enough space to allow for enough fish to constitute a school.  Small tetras, like Neons, cardinals, and "green Neons", will school in small tanks, simply because there's enough space to do so.  Get a large enough tank to have twenty or so fish of a larger species, with enough room to travel about the tank, and they'll school for you.  My own opinion for the most stunning display of schooling tetras is, without a doubt, Rummynose tetras.  A large group of these fish in, say, a 55 gallon, heavily planted tank - mesmerizing.  Do consider other schooling fish, like Danios, rainbows, or barbs, if you do not find a tetra that fits you.> Thank you in advance for not only considering this question but to the bounty of effort, time and knowledge that is reflected in your website!! <And thank you for your kind words!  Please continue to enjoy.> I apologize if I missed a similar question that has already been answered. <To my knowledge, there has not.  No apology necessary.  Perhaps others will gain from this, as well.> Thanks,  Corey <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Head and Tail Light tetra My head and tail light tetra, who is about five or six months old, and about one and a half inches in length, has started to hang out at the top of the tank. He/She normally swims close to the bottom or the middle. When he started swimming at the top, he would eat the food, so I thought that he just needed to eat. But about two days ago, he stopped eating and stayed in a corner of the tank(29 gallons). Do you know what's wrong with it? I'm kind of new to the tank thing and he was one of my first fish, so I hope He/She will be O.K. Rachel >>Dear Rachel, you will need to get your water tested for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. Take some of your tank water to the local fish store and ask them to test it for you. Ask them to write down the results, so you have a good idea what is going on in your tank. Your ammonia and nitrites should be zero, if not, there is a problem with your biofiltration. Your nitrates should be lower than 100ppm, ideally around 20-40ppm range. Do some water changes if your levels are too high. -Gwen<<

Head and Tail Light tetra Hey! Rachel again! I did test my water and I forgot to mention it but all of the levels were 0 and PH was 7.3. The tetra is doing better though, he ate a little tonight. My gold dusted molly also had fry. We only caught two, we were at dinner and when we came they were the only left! (I guess she had them while we were gone!) Thanks for the help!!! It's Rachel, AGAIN, my molly had fry while I was out eating dinner, so when I got home there were only two, that I could find! I am new to this fry thing, surprisingly because I have had male AND female mollies since Christmas of 2003- and this is the first batch! Mine are staying on the bottom of the breeding net, Is that normal? How long is it before they eat? I REALLY don't want to kill them- so someone help as soon as possible! Thanks:) >>Hello Rachel :) Hope you had a nice dinner :) Your molly fry might need a place to hide, adding some fine-leaved plants will help, java fern and some floating duckweed, if you can find them at your LFS. They will also feed off the plants. In the meantime, you can feed them crushed flake food. Don't overfeed! And don't be upset if you lose a few, I think your mollies will be having lots more fry, they seem to know what they're doing now :) -Gwen<<

Getting Neons to School (drive them there?) Hi, <Hello> I have a 75 gallon tank with about 18 neon tetras and am planning on getting another half dozen or so.  Currently, I also have 4 peacock gudgeons and am planning on getting a few rams and maybe Apistos. <Sounds like a very nice assortment> My problem is that my Neons are not schooling, at least they don't form really tight looking school.  I have a moderately well plastic planted tank and I think the Neons just feel pretty safe in the tank.  Can you recommend any easy to care for fish that would scare the Neons into schooling. <Mmm, not scare... I suspect some aspect of water quality is at play here... what's your water chemistry, temperature?> Not something that would eat them, but just something to make the neighborhood seem tough enough to rekindle their schooling instincts.  I've thought about discus, but only want to do at most 5 gallon water changes each week.  Any suggestions? Thanks. Nate Terry <Raise the water temperature to the mid 80's F... check that the water is not too hard... Bob Fenner>

Neon tetras that change colour... Hi. I have found your information about neon tetra very useful, but I am confused about "neon tetra disease".  I first got a fish tank two years ago and have kept neon tetras in this time.  It didn't take me long to notice that when they changed colour that this is bad, but the fish did not always die but change back and remain healthy. <Mmm, Neons do change color sometimes due to "mood", time of day, interactions with each other... not always indicative of disease> (I have had one particular neon tetra for 2 years now).  Is this colour changing due to "neon tetra disease" or is it just stress or bad water? <This Sporozoan infection is almost always fatal, and quite distinctive (loss of blue coloring distally): http://freshaquarium.about.com/cs/disease/p/neondisease.htm I don't think your fish have this ailment> I really like my neon tetras and hope that there is something I can do about this phenomenon. Thanks Dani. <Read on. Bob Fenner> New tank, fat Neons Hi there, <Good morning!> I'm 13 and I love fish. I saved all my money and got a 30litre tank. I have done everything right washed the gravel and planted plants and o on. I left it running for a week and have done regular pH level tests. 2 weeks ago I got my first 4 fish, 1 peppered Cory and 3 neon tetra. All is well, until today when I noticed that the largest and 2nd largest of my neon's have very large stomachs!! I am not quite sure what it is , I am thinking pregnant because those 2 seem to spend a lot of time together but I began to wonder if maybe it wasn't so in a panic I searched and this sight looked really useful so here I am!! Do you think you could help me, will it spread to my new ???'s they are half orange and half deep blue, small, smaller than the Neons!! <Mmm, I suspect your "fat" Neons have just eaten a good deal more dried food than they should have... and will thin down (or have done so already) on their own. Do look into using other types of foods (frozen/defrosted, fresh) to keep

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