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FAQs on Freshwater Livestock Selection... Criteria, Examples

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),   Livestocking Freshwater, Freshwater Livestock, FW Livestock 2, FW Livestock 3, FW Livestock 4,

You must investigate enough to find out the individual temperaments, foods/feeding, size, and growth rate of all species you intend to stock... Couple this with the space you have, water chemistry, the type of gear... and your willingness/ability to maintain the system

water chemistry, FW... as relates to fish lvstk. sel. and planted system CO2 maint.    7/6/10
Dear Crew,
Thank you for the assistance that you provide us fellow hobbyists.
<Kind of you to say so.>
My question is related to water chemistry. I am currently in the process of setting up a 29 gallon freshwater planted tank. I have tested my tap water in the hope of determining the most appropriate water for various moderate to high light plants for my community tank. The tank will probably house Nerite snails, cherry shrimp, a couple Otocinclus and a school of tetras, probably Rummynose or cardinals though I understand cardinals don't like a lot of light ( 2 62 watt T5HO's).
<Okay. Well, for this mix you're after soft water. Cardinals require warmer water than Otocinclus, so they're poor companions. Yes, Cardinals are "photophobic" which is why they always look so terrified in Amano-style tanks! Fish school tightly when scared, and if you've ever seen a photo of an aquarium where the tetras are all bunched up, it's because they're frightened. One of the reasons I'm not a huge Amano fan is precisely this, that the need to create an aquarium that looks good in photographs trumps the needs of the fish. Stream-dwelling fish like Danios would be better for a tank like yours. Danios do well in the cooler conditions Otocinclus and Cherry shrimps desire, and don't mind open water at all. You aren't limited to Zebra Danios by any means, and with a bit of effort you should be able to find Glowlight Danios, Leopard Danios, Pearl Danios, and others. Minnows might work well too, both White Cloud Mountain Minnows and Vietnamese Cardinal Minnows are brightly coloured and thrive in relatively cool, bright conditions.>
My question is in regard to my tap water. I live in Arizona and my home has a water filter in the garage that is attached to all water coming into the house. The only thing that I know about this filtration system is that it has a prefilter and the water is filtered through carbon. I used API test kit for KH and GH. The tap water measures 6 drops for KH and I stopped trying after 30 drops for GH.
<Liquid rock. Perfect for livebearers; terrible for tetras. Your Cardinals would be dead within a year, likely 6 months, in such conditions.>
I then mixed the tap water 50/50 with RO water purchased from the local Wal-Mart Culligan system and the mix resulted in GH 14 and KH 4.
<This is moderately hard water; too hard for Cardinals in the long term, but fine for Danios and Livebearers, as well as the hardier Barbs and most Rainbowfish.>
I am afraid to use this mix as I was planning on using CO2 DIY and don't want the pH to crash due to the unstable KH of the mixed water.
<You will have to dose the CO2 carefully depending on the carbonate hardness. If you don't understand the relationship between pH, KH and the required CO2 concentration -- READ before even thinking about proceeding.
Please start here, with our friends over at The Krib:
I cannot stress too strongly how much easier CO2 is if you use a semi- or fully-automatic dosing system.>
Please advise my on how this carbon filtration has affected my tap water
<Filtering through carbon has no real impact on water chemistry at all; it removes some toxins, but that's about it.>
and if you think it would be wise to use straight tap with such a high level of GH and low level of KH.
<If you choose hard water fish like Guppies, sure. There are numerous plants that love hard water, and these usually don't need CO2 since they use bicarbonate in the hardness as their carbon source. Vallisneria and Elodea are two classic examples.>
The pH of the tap measured 7.4 and was the same with the 50/50 mix.
Thank you,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Rules of thumb/ FW stocking   1/4/10
Dear Crew,
Is using eight gallons of swimming space for six fish too much for a ten gallon. I used the one inch one gallon rule but am afraid it is too little for the fish.
<Well, the one-inch one-gallon rule isn't a great one to use -- there is so much else that factors into stocking! Also, what types of fish are these?
What type of filtration are you using? What is your tank maintenance schedule, and what's your Nitrate level?>
Thank you once again for your help I appreciate everything you do
<You're welcome. I wish I could give you a better answer, but without knowing what type of fish you've got plus other basic information on the system, it's hard to say. Please write back with a little more information.
Dear Melinda,
First of all, thank you for replying! <No problem!> Secondly I have 4 zebra Danios, 1 dwarf Gourami, 1 black molly, and one ghost shrimp. <This sounds like a semi-okay stocking list; bio-load wise.> I know that the Danios and Gourami are not well together, trying to get that fixed.
Anyways, I have an Aqueon Power Filter for the ten gallon tanks, very good filter I must say!! <Okay, but what is the Nitrate level? Tank maintenance? You'll need to keep an eye on Nitrate in a tank this small -- it's not as toxic as Ammonia or Nitrite, but it is still toxic, and should be kept below 20. If your Nitrate level is over 20, even though you're doing regular maintenance, then the tank is overstocked, or you're overfeeding, or both. So, knowing this number will help you determine if your tank is overstocked or clue you into other problems that may be going on.
thank you once again!!!!

1 Inch per Gallon Rule   9/23/09
Excuse me,
I have a ten gallon <Hat? Tank?> and now have six fish in it. I have heard of 1 inch of fish per one gallon of water. But I have heard that rule is not accurate? How many fish can I put in a ten gallon tank and is that rule usable??
Thank you,
D. Gulla
<Hey D. This rule is generally considered accurate, with one major exception: the cubic inch-size of fish (including the tail) must be measured, not simply the length. Ultimately stocking depends on a number of variables, including fish size (a 20 inch fish obviously can't fit in a 20 gallon tank), surface area, aggression, aquascaping... It definitely
depends on the individual tank. Really, the best way to stock is by monitoring nitrates; only stock fish to a level that maintains about 20 mg/l nitrates or less per week. Have a nice day! Will N.>
Re 1 Inch Per Gallon Rule  9/26/09

Good morning Bob,
"Really, the best way to stock is by monitoring nitrates; only stock fish to a level that maintains about 20 mg/l nitrates or less per week. Have a nice day! Will N.> "
Geez, I do not agree with that statement. Why would one want to expose his/her system to a potential algae problem. Many moons ago, I was guilty of overstocking to some extent, and constantly battled nuisance algae
problems due to nitrate levels of 15-20mg/l . The use of a protein skimmer and frequent water changes did not help much as the nitrate source was never controlled. He/she may stock a tank until such parameter is reached, but what happens as the fish grow and increase the waste load. A level of 5mg/l would be much more reasonable and manageable. I know many authors state a level of 20mg/l in a FOLWR or FO is acceptable, but why set the
stage for a potential algae problem, an ugly picture in a once beautiful display.
Just my viewpoint.
<And I thank you for expressing it/this. BobF>
Re 1 Inch Per Gallon Rule  9/26/09

<Really, the best way to stock is by monitoring nitrates; only stock fish to a level that maintains about 20 mg/l nitrates or less per week. Have a nice day! Will N.>
<<Geez, I do not agree with that statement.>>
May I make an observation here? In Will's defense, there is a strong argument in favour of determining some critical water quality parameter rather than going by these, often highly context dependent, inch-per-gallon rules. Personally, I never cared for that inch-per-gallon rule anyway, because it ignore surface area, and assumed a tall, thin tank could hold the same number of fish as a broad, shallow tank, which is clearly wrong.
The rule used in the UK when I was starting out was to allow an inch (of small fish) per 10 square inches of surface area, an estimate that took the shape of the tank into consideration rather than the volume. But obviously there's a shortcoming there, since volume is an important issue. In other words, there are arguments to be made against all these "inch per..."
rules. If lab work suggests that nitrate concentration becomes a critical issue before anything else, what biologists would call a limiting factor, then using setting an uppermost value makes sense. The 20 mg/l nitrate value has been around since forever, and in many cases works just fine.
Yes, lower values would be better, and you could argue prototypically low nitrate values would be best, since that's what marine organisms have evolved to deal with. But I think Will's point here, that there's a measurable value above which aquaria won't work well holds true. The precise value might be argued over, but the principal, that's better than any of the "inch per..." rules, is a sound one. Cheers, Neale.>
<<Thank you for this valuable additional input Neale. BobF>>
Re 1 Inch Per Gallon Rule 09/26/09

"Really, the best way to stock is by monitoring nitrates; only stock fish to a level that maintains about 20 mg/l nitrates or less per week. Have a nice day! Will N.> "
Geez, I do not agree with that statement. Why would one want to expose his/her system to a potential algae problem. Many moons ago, I was guilty of overstocking to some extent, and constantly battled nuisance algae problems due to nitrate levels of 15-20mg/l . The use of a protein skimmer and frequent water changes did not help much as the nitrate source was never controlled. He/she may stock a tank until such parameter is reached,
but what happens as the fish grow and increase the waste load. A level of 5mg/l would be much more reasonable and manageable. I know many authors state a level of 20mg/l in a FOLWER or FO is acceptable, but why set the
stage for a potential algae problem, an ugly picture in a once beautiful display.
Just my viewpoint.
James "
<James: first of all, I do appreciate your viewpoint and input. However, I did automatically and perhaps incorrectly assume that this was a freshwater system. 6 fish in a SW 10 gallon would already be ridiculously overstocked.
In SW I definitely agree, 5 mg/l is much more appropriate. But in FW, and this is perhaps because I have almost always had planted tanks, 20 mg/l has never caused any problems for me. Obviously, lower nitrate concentrations
are always preferable, and I am a big proponent of understocking. And this is admittedly a controversial topic, especially as the hobby evolves and new principles are put into place.><Will N.>
<<Agree, and thank you for your viewpoint, Will. James (Salty Dog)>>
My intent was in no way meant to condemn Will, but to state my viewpoint on the subject. I also agree that Will is not wrong with his reply, I just prefer keeping nitrates much lower than what is considered acceptable. And to Will, welcome aboard!
James (Salty Dog)

Re 1" Per Gallon Rule  10/5/09
My intent was in no way meant to condemn Will, but to state my viewpoint on the subject. I also agree that Will is not wrong with his reply, I just prefer keeping nitrates much lower than what is considered acceptable. And to Will, welcome aboard!
James (Salty Dog)
<Thank you James. BobF>
Sorry I didn't reply to this sooner, I've been up to my eyeballs in work. I didn't take offense at your opinion at all, and appreciate your viewpoint on the subject.
Will N.
OK Will. Thanks.

10 fish in 200 litres and one bad fish... FW? Species?    2/4/09 Hi We have ten fish in 200 litres and one of them is displaying aggression constantly. It will chase one fish in particular, regularly and a couple of the others every now and then. Once the aggressive fish has cornered the fish that has been its main focus it begins the shake or vibrate. When the aggressive fish has finished chasing or vibrating it will spit stones and this is a daily activity. The bullied fish sometimes looks for a bit of peace and swims over the wall into the weir where all the other fish can still see it but not reach. How do I stop the aggression or what should I do? <What species of fish are we talking about here?>

FW Stocking, 2/2/09 Howdy! <Hello> I know that freshwater fish are a little more lenient on water quality than saltwater fish, but I'm not sure how lenient. <Depends on the fish, many FW fish are much more sensitive to water parameters than some salt water fish.> I would like to keep 4-6 neon tetras and 1-2 gold dust mollies in a 10-gallon aquarium with live plants, but I have read that the tetras prefer a pH of 5-7 and the mollies a pH of7.5-8.2. <These fish are not compatible, and neon tetras are quite sensitive to conditions, not what I would consider a beginner fish which I gather you are. Also mollies, while practically bullet proof in brackish conditions are often difficult to keep in fresh water tanks, also not something I would recommend for someone just starting the hobby.> Is there any way to meet a balance and keep both types of fish in one aquarium, or is this not realistic? <Not realistic in this case, while there is often some wiggle room, these two fish are at opposite ends of the spectrum.> If not, then do you have any other fish recommendations? <Countless possibilities.> Because I would like to keep more than one species of fish in the aquarium. <May be difficult in such a small tank.> I am considering a bubble-eye goldfish; would this behave better with the tetras or the mollies? <Goldfish should not be kept with tropical fish, and need a much larger tank.> Thank you so much for your time, Michelle <Welcome> <Chris>

Stocking of 20 gallon fw tank 12/22/08 Hi Neale, <Mark,> I'm considering myself as a moderately experienced aquarium hobbyist. I've kept for years NW cichlids, Plecos, various tetras. Now I'd like to try something new. I have well planted 20 gallon hexagon tank (not the best choice, but I have to safe space). <OK.> My water is very hard with pH around 8.0 <Nothing wrong with that!> My plan for stocking is: gudgeon peacocks (about 4), <Lovely fish, but like gobies generally, can be fussy feeders.> dwarf puffers (about 5) <Not really community fish. I'd sooner put Carinotetraodon irrubesco in a community tank (with care) than Carinotetraodon travancoricus.> school of ruby nose tetras (10-12) <Do you mean Hemigrammus rhodostomus, the Rummy-nose Tetra? That's a species that gets quite large and needs lots and lots of swimming place. Even a 60 cm-long 20-ish gallon tank would be borderline; a tall tank like a hexagon is right out. Look more at things that scoot about from perch to perch. Cherry barbs, for example, or even Neons, which don't actually move about much.> What is your opinion for this kind of stocking? Would be gudgeon peacocks and dwarf puffers coexist? <Doubtful; Gudgeons generally are slow moving. My Peacock Gudgeons just about manage getting food in a tank with Limia and Corydoras. Anything more aggressive would, very likely, steal the meaty foods (bloodworms for example) that they like.> Thanks for your help, Mark <Cheers, Neale.>

Wal-Mart... poor treatment of aquatic life period... responses   12/14/08 Howdy WWM! <Frank> This isn't really an aquarium-related question, but I was wondering how to get Wal-Mart out of the fish business. Every time I walk by the displays the Bettas are either sick, dead, or dying. The fish in Tanks look marginally better? <Mmm, my values and yours are in confluence here... I wonder the same... how to discourage such poor practices...> I am also going to write to PETA (Wow, never thought I would say that!), maybe some of the animal-rights groups can be useful for a change. Aren't there laws that prohibit companies from selling animals if they neglect them? <Not fishes as far as I'm aware... but... there is still value in writing PETA, others...> Argh, this really is starting to bug me! Sincerely, Frank <Perhaps the DA in your State... even the local "Fix it" folks in the papers, television... Definitely to Wal-Mart corporate... stating your duress, misgivings re the sale of inappropriate species, the bad PR that such pathetic displays "costs" them... Either in-store comment cards or direct letters. I would address such letters to their merchandising/purchasing dept.... I assure you, the folks involved WILL see, have to sign off on having seen these "comment cards". Bob Fenner>

Scarlet Badis, sel.  12/10/08 Hey guys! I've been looking for this fish at my LFS and no one seems to carry them much less heard of them but I was hoping you guys could help me. I'm looking to purchase a few FW Scarlet Badis (Dario Darios). These are really beautiful fish. Do you have any ideas where I can order them? I would be in your debt if you can help me! Thanks! <Nick, apart from the green-blue Chameleonfish (Badis badis) none of the Badidae is common in the trade. Most species come from India and Burma (Myanmar) rather than Southeast Asia, so if the retailer in your part of the world doesn't get fish from South Asia, you're unlikely to see them. That said, they do turn up in the better aquarium stores. Here in the UK places like Wildwoods carry them reasonably regularly. Indeed, a quick look at the Tropical Fish Finder database of stores shows no fewer than seven UK stores with Dario dario in stock right now. A couple of them deliver fish by mail order, so if you're lucky enough to live in Her Britannic Majesty's wet little island, problem solved! There may be equivalent web sites in other parts of the world, but I confess to not being familiar with the trade outside of England. If all else fails, have your retailer place a special order: most decent stores will do this, and while it may take a few weeks for the fish to arrive, at least you'll get some. You have presumably done the research on the family Badidae; while not difficult to keep in terms of water chemistry requirements, they are notoriously fussy feeders, and 99% of the time are best kept in single-species, not community, tanks. Even the common Badis badis is an amazing little fish, and hardly qualifies as "second best". Microctenopoma ansorgei is an unrelated, but equally attractive African fish with a similar niche and ability to change colour. It is a little more widely traded and a bit easier to maintain. Cheers, Neale.>

Stocking a 3-gallon tank   11/25/08
How are you today? I do a lot of reading on your site and I see the 3 Gallon Eclipse is given the okay for Bettas, given proper maintenance of course. I have a three gallon Eclipse tank on hand, having only used it in the past for quarantine and Triops. I know Paradise Fish are Anabantoids, but some information I find says to definitely care for them like Bettas (minus the high temps) while others seem to say they should definitely be cared for like Gouramis, requiring a spacious habitat and kept in groups. Can you tell me which information is correct? I know people do keep them in bowls, but people do all kinds of things?. Should Paradise fish be fed Betta food?
What I'm looking for is a fish around Betta or Paradise size, so being a fish that is sizeable and perhaps not given to constantly darting around, a fish that can be easily seen by someone that is visually impaired, and can be healthy in a well maintained three gallon Eclipse (a good size for me to have flexibility as to getting it set at a really comfortable viewing place in my home for both the vision impaired person and a quite elderly person). They strain to get a good look at my aquariums of small schooling fishes and critters and would really appreciate the chance to look at a pretty fish, eye-to-eye.
Thank you for your advice!
<You're in luck! Go read this month's Conscientious Aquarist, wherein you will find an article all about stocking small tanks.
As you will see, a 3-gallon tank is not suitable for anything other than Bettas (just about) and small shrimps and snails. Paradisefish cannot possibly be kept in a tank this small. They are big, active, need subtropical and well aerated water, and tend to be fairly aggressive. In terms of care, you're looking at a well planted 20-gallon tank maintained around the 20 C/68 F mark, a little higher in summer, a little cooler in winter. Please understand any tank under 10 gallons is a CON -- the pet shop is selling you a cheap bit of plastic with no practical value. None. Zip. Nada. If I could, I'd ban them, because it's the less experienced hobbyists who buy them, and end up wasting money and, in all likelihood, fish lives. Anyway, have a read of the article, and if you want to discuss more, get back in touch. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Stocking a 3-gallon tank... Petfish is as petfish does 
Thank you for the reply. I thought that would be the case with Paradise Fish, despite some online sources saying otherwise.
<It's a good idea to read web sites, but to rely on books, or at least web sites written by book authors (such as this one!). To paraphrase Forrest Gump, web sites are a like a box of chocolates, you never really know what you're going to get. Some are excellent, filled with hard-earned experience and useful insight. Others are thrown together by folks who've kept fish for a week and think they're experts. Books and magazines are edited, and have a baseline in terms of quality you can trust.>
Oh yes, I agree with your comments on little tanks. I will sometimes find them at second-hand shops, etc., and although they are probably death-traps for fish they work good for insects, garden snails, plants, etc. The 3 gallon Eclipse is the only CON tank I have ever bought new J , and I've been satisfied with it as far as an attractive quarantine tank and a Triops tank.
<Sounds dandy, used thus. Triops are fun, and 3-gallons will keep them happy enough.>
I've kept a few freshwater fish for several years and I've never kept any fish in less than 10 gallons. I am familiar with snail, shrimp, etc. options but it looks like a Betta will be the only large, easy to see fish that will be an option for my friends to enjoy in my 3 gallon.
I have never kept a Betta although I think they are very attractive. They are just so trendy and so crammed into cups that I have never felt good about purchasing them.
<Would tend to agree with you! I'm more a fan of the wild-type Bettas that aren't so over-bred. But fancy Bettas are inexpensive, colourful, easy to maintain, and widely sold. So for folks who just want a splash of living colour, and are prepared to give at least a reasonable amount of care, I have no problems recommending them.>
I'll do some research about how to select a Betta and I may eventually wind up with one. Or I might just get one of those magnifying portholes to put on the side of my current tanks! Hey, I didn't think of that before....
<Sounds fun!>
Thank you again, happy fishing!
<Cheers, Neale.>

The Responsible Fishkeeping Initiative (RFI) 11/24/08
Hi Bob --
This is the project/crusade I have been working on for the past year, and it has finally become a reality. I hope that you can give us your support, and also of the many enterprises you are involved with.
As every fishkeeper is well aware, there are certain fish which really should not be kept by home hobbyists. The three fish that make up 90% of the problems (in terms of being 90% of the fish that hobbyists look to "donate" to local fish stores and public aquariums) are the red tailed catfish, the Pacu piranha and the iridescent shark. All three of these fish get much too large for any but a very few dedicated hobbyists to properly care for. The problem is that when the hobbyist finds out that the LFS and public aquarium also do not have any room for these huge fish, often the hobbyist's solution is simply to let the fish loose in a local body of water. The release of non-native fishes and plants into local waters has become a real problem, and if the hobby and industry do not address the problem it will eventually be dealt with by folks who do not have much concern about our hobby/industry, and their "solution" will be simply to ban all non-native fishes and plants.
There have been a number of "educational" campaigns trying to get people to realize these problems, and to not release anything in the wild -- unfortunately, they have not really worked, as these fish are still being sold, kept and eventually released. Therefore, a group of concerned individuals and companies in the aquarium industry have gotten together to start the Responsible Fishkeeping Initiative (RFI). Stores that join the RFI agree to take the "pledge" that 1) they will not sell the 3 biggest problem fish -- the red tailed catfish, Pacu piranha and iridescent shark, and 2) if any hobbyist has any fish that they can no longer take care of, they can bring that fish into their store. The store will try to find the fish a good home, but if they cannot rehome the fish they will humanely euthanize the fish and dispose of it properly.
It is the second part of the RFI Pledge that is most important -- since even if every local fish store stopped selling these three fish tomorrow, there still would be many of them out there that will eventually get too large for the hobbyist to care for. The second part of the pledge is also what makes it so different from all of the educational projects, in that it provides a real solution to the problem of what to do with these fish when they can no longer be kept, rather than the hobbyist simply "freeing" the fish into the local lake, stream or river.
I hope that you will support the RFI, and towards that end I am enclosing a flyer, that is 8 1/2" X 11" explaining the RFI and how folks can join. The flyer has space left at the top for you to put it onto your letterhead, which I hope you will do, and that you will distribute flyers to as many folks as you can. Thank you in advance for your support. I am confident that the RFI is the best way that our hobby/industry can demonstrate our responsibility, and that we can solve the problem of unwanted fish being released into local waters before legislators solve it for us.
In addition to the enclosed I am going to send you an RFI poster.
Take care,
<Thank you for this notice David. I am in agreement with the aims presented here. Bob Fenner>
 Please support the RESPONSIBLE FISHKEEPING INITIATIVE (RFI) please go to http://fishchannel.com/rfi.aspx David Lass 781.581.1788Northeast Field Manager Resident FishheadNexPet -- A Group for Independent Pet Retailers THE BLUE ZOO Internet Talk Show www.NexPet.com www.BlueZooRadio.com

Re: RFI 11/24/08
Hi Bob --
Thanks -- I'm glad you agree with the RFI. Please pass it along to as many folks as you can, and I will keep you updated as things progress.
Take care,
<Promoting the purchase, keeping of "appropriate life" is a long-standing campaign of mine as well... and not releasing anything non-indigenous to the wild ditto. BobF>

Re: RFI   11/24/08
Hi Bob --
Yes, I know your stand on keeping appropriate fish -- your recent article on marines was excellent.
When we have the freshwater side of the RFI going strong, we are planning on starting the marine RFI. This will consist of local fish stores agreeing not to sell those marine fish that simply do not survive in the aquarium -- the ones you wrote about in your article. Cleaner wrasses, Moorish idols, ribbon eels, obligate corallivorous angels and butterflies, etc.. If you would like to lend your name and clout to the RFI-Marine, please let me know. We will probably be starting shortly after the new year.
Take care,
<Sounds good. There was a young fellow whom I tried to help a year or two back who had an idea of placing small paper doc.s in tank set-ups, what have you, identifying the better/worse marine fishes for aquarium use... Don't know what became of this project. Will gladly assist your efforts. Bob Fenner>

What would you do? Stocking 20 gal. 9/9/08
Hello Crew!
<Hello Audrey,>
I am in need of some guidance. We have recently upgraded our tank to a 20gal. We moved the plants and snails to the new tank. After a while, we decided to get some Pseudomugil Furcatus. We brought home 6 of them. All was well for the first 36 hours or so.
<Lovely little fish; hitherto very rare in the trade, but thankfully starting to appear a little more often.>
After about 36 hours I found fuzz on one of the males - not ick, one big infection spot. The fish was still active and eating at that point so I moved him to a treatment tank and treated with what I had around (Furan - supposed to treat mouth fungus, cotton wool and infections so I thought it would work). I found him dead the next day. I examined the body and saw a big red zone, an injury under the fuzz, so I think he died as a result of a mechanical injury, either in transit or at the store (they're too small and fast to do a thorough exam at the store).
<I'd be treating with a combination Finrot/Fungus medication such as eSHa 2000 or Maracyn. This should handle the "big three" -- Fungus, Finrot, and Mouth Fungus -- all of which are possibilities here.>
The day I found the injured male dead, I also found a dead female in the main tank, this one with no visible sign of illness or injury.
<Do check other issues: water chemistry, oxygen, temperature. It is possible they simply travelled badly, but still, for the sake of your peace of mind, check the tank.>
Now I am left with only four fish. I think they would be much happier in a bigger group. I'm also worried because I have a trio and a solo, and, although the lone female comes out for food, I have a feeling she'd be more happy if the dominant fish had more fish to chase away.
It has barely been a week and, while the other 4 fish seem happy, I'm worried they'll die suddenly like my female.
<Always a concern when you're keeping an apparently delicate species for the first time.>
Now, this is my dilemma. This LFS where we bought or fish is the best close to us, they're the only serious, specialized fish store around, but we haven't been happy with the fish we've bought there so far. There is a pet store that has healthy-looking, vigorous fish, but their selection is limited, and they don't have any Furcatus. There is also a very new fish store a little further away who insists heavily on the virtues of wild-caught fish - I'm weary of them because the seller told me I was crazy to have a heater for my Betta (another tank), and was rambling on some nonsense about UV sterilization. I know this doesn't mean they have bad stock, but I don't know if I can trust their husbandry. I also don't know if they have Furcatus in stock.
<You pays your money and you takes your choice... In this case, I think you need to focus on the matter at hand, grabbing a few more female Blue Eyes. Get them from whichever store has them, or online if you prefer.>
So, do I wait a few weeks before I get new fish until I'm certain enough my current 4 are going to make it? But if I do that, should I worry about my lone female?
<Depends on the price. If getting another batch only sets you back a few dollars, then go for it. I'd be looking to see that my existing stock are settled in and feeding. I'd like them to have nice rounded bellies -- and just for once, I'd perhaps overfeed slightly with live daphnia or whatever just to be sure. If this was all in the positive, I'd order/buy some more Blue Eyes.>
If I do get more fish should I go back to our usual LFS and risk buying another half-dozen, and hope those make it?
<Ask if he can get a batch in just for you, and you pick them up when they arrive before they're unboxed. Otherwise, buy a decent size group, factoring in a certain amount of attrition. Maybe get twice as many females as males, just to be on the safe side.>
My other choice is mixing the Furcatus with long-fin rainbows (those are easy to find) - would they even interact, given they're not the same species?
<Not even the same family, so doubt they'd have any meaningful interaction.>
What would you do?
As usual, I appreciate your guidance. I have options, I just don't know where I should go from here...
Thank you,
<Good luck, Neale.>

Re: What would you do? Stocking 20 gal.  9/10/08
Hello again,
I'm including the previous correspondence below for reference.
Well, things didn't work out. I lost another male a day after I wrote you, then yesterday night one of my remaining females pineconed (I euthanized her when she started swirling). I have two Furcatus left. I'm wondering if I should put my misfortunes down to bad stock or bad husbandry.
<Maybe both...?>
My tank is 20 gal standard, with Fluorite substrate, plants (Bacopa, Anubias, Amazon chain sword, Dwarf Hygrophila), two Coralife T5 bulbs. pH is steady around 7.4-7.5. Temperature was a bit high, hovered around 80 but is now going down with the cooler weather coming in, is now steady around 78 - this is with the heater set on low, if I remove it, it goes down to 70-72.
<In summer I have to confess I tend to switch the heaters off; leaving tanks to daily fluctuate slowly from 68-78 F is entirely in keeping with the wild, and nothing most tropical fish can't handle. Overheating, and the resulting loss of oxygen from the water, is more critical.>
No detectable ammonia, nitrite or nitrate (the algae must use it all). Filtered with two Aqua-Clear Minis (each rated up to 20 gallons), with sponge. One with added ceramic media, the other with carbon (I know what you think of carbon - I'll explain myself later). We were good in the last few weeks and did weekly water changes, about 25% each time. Not much vacuuming because the plants were new and there were only three snails in the tank. We had a problem with BGA these last few months, but with the new substrate, new plants and new lights it's slowing down radically. We still remove it manually.
<Very good.>
The first thing we tried keeping was Mollies, but they all died of Camallanus over the course of a few months. They were in brackish water too. We now know the tank was too small anyway.
<Ah, yes, Mollies can be sensitive. Camallanus is not common among the (Asian) fish I see in the UK; it seems to be more of a problem with (perhaps) the Mollies bred in Florida?>
The Amano shrimp lasted a long while (several months), and we used to have Cherries also. At some point, they started dying too. The only thing I changed was that I stopped using carbon, so I put it back. No luck. Our new batch of Cherries didn't make it past two weeks either. The Apple snail seemed to fare better, he's been with us for about 6 weeks and seems happy.
The Nerites, though, are with us since the beginning and growing at a steady rate. The beginning was when we got our Betta, over a year and a half ago. He's his usual increasingly-grumpy old self, in another filtered, heated tank of his own.
<Interesting; Nerites are quite good "bellwethers" and will climb out of the tank if oxygen drops or they get too warm. So if they're happy, the tank can't be seriously hostile.>
Basically, even if we know that Bettas are resilient, I'd be surprised we kept it this long (even neglected it at some point along the way) if our husbandry or water was this bad. And snails are sensitive to contaminants, or so I hear, but they seem to be doing fine. But we seem to be serial shrimp and fish killers.
<Well, shrimps are sensitive to copper. Snails are to a varying degree, but shrimps usually react immediately and fatally. But as you say, this mix of fatalities and survivors is interesting.>
What is our problem? Did we start with bad stock?
<Always possible. Fish are often bred to a price rather than a standard, and couple that with ropey husbandry in some stores, and the track record of many species is poor. None of the fish you're keeping is "delicate" by default, so poor stock is certainly something I'd consider.>
Or are we doing something wrong?
<Difficult to say; if you're doing things by the numbers, keeping on top of water quality and feeding issues especially, I can't imagine you're doing anything fatally wrong.>
Can you point us in the right direction?
<The first thing would be to leave the tank as it is for a couple weeks. Don't do water changes. Every 2-3 days, do nitrite and pH tests. Keep a record. Ditto water temperature. Try and develop a picture of how the aquarium is operating in terms of environment and stability. By the end of two weeks you can return to your normal maintenance schedule. Slight variation in pH over time is normal, but if it's great (e.g., from 7.0 to 6.0) then you may have a problem there. Carbonate hardness is often overlooked in this regard.>
What would be your absolutely easiest, sturdiest, non-plant-eating, compatible with inverts, non-aggressive, easily available fish for a 20 gal tank?
<Many options. Depends what you're after. At the moment in my 10-gallon tanks with shrimps and snails I have peacock gobies, Aspidoras pauciradiatus catfish, bumblebee gobies, and Limia nigrofasciata. Wrestling halfbeaks are also good, being able to adapt to a very wide range of water chemistry values.
Most of the smaller tetras should be good too, though they usually prefer soft water. If you have hard water, then the smaller livebearers are better choices. Endler's Guppies for example should be easy to obtain and tend to be quite robust. Don't overlook "feeder Guppies"; these are much hardier than fancy Guppies and have added benefit of more natural colours.>
I doubt we'll have the heart to try Furcatus again any time soon.
We're at the point where we barely glance at the aquarium anymore because we always expect to see some tragic event taking place. This is supposed to be a fun hobby...
<It IS fun... but sometimes it seems otherwise. Once a tank is stable and working, and provided you haven't added too many fish or the wrong type of fish, they're pretty much autopilot things that need little maintenance. Do be patient, and go slowly, leaving things to settle for a while before rushing out to buy some more livestock.>
Thank you for your guidance,
<Good luck, Neale.>

The Responsible Fishkeeping Initiative 6/4/08 Hi Bob -- Just like you, I am very concerned about the future of this hobby that we all love so much, and I am about to launch a program that I would like your support on. Similar to your CA on your website, the Responsible Fishkeeping Initiative is something I am very concerned about on the freshwater side. I have enclosed here the description of the program, and the posters that we are in the process of designing for participating stores. The thrust of the RFI is to get stores to agree not to carry Pacu piranhas, red tailed cats or iridescent sharks, the three major problem fish in the hobby, and also to agree to euthanize any fish that cannot be rehomed, hopefully ending the release of non-native fish into native waters. Would you be willing to lend your support, either as an individual or through WWM.com to the RFI. I am not asking for any money, just that we put your name/WWM.com on our literature and posters as a sponsor, and that you would put a link to us on your website. I really hope you will support this effort, as it is a major problem in the industry, and unless we do something about it from within I am really afraid that we will wake up one morning and find out that they have passed a law making it illegal to keep any fish that are not native to each area, and the entire industry will be ended in the blink of an eye. Hope you will come aboard. Thanks for your time and consideration. Take care, David <Please do send the entire document along for reading. I am of a very similar mind here. Thank you for your efforts. Bob Fenner> >Hi Bob -- The description and the layout for the posters is all that I have right now. We are working on the piece that will go out to stores soliciting their participation, as well as the copy for the BowTie pubs to use. Hope you will join us. Thanks. Take care, David<

You inspired me to write a companion piece... 3/1/08 Hi Bob,  I like it! Very nice. The one addition I'd make would be to the Plants section: those slow-growing species have no impact on algae-control;  indeed, they're veritable algae-magnets in my experience, quickly get covered with the stuff. <Mmm, even Crinums? If the water isn't too nutrient laden...>  So I'd *highly* recommend adding something fast growing alongside  them. And what could be better than Indian Fern? Ceratopteris  thalictroides is in fact found in Africa despite its common name, and  the Pantodon will love having the shade. Ceratopteris cornuta is, I  believe, native to Africa. Floating plants do well where there isn't  much water current -- just like the Knifefish and Pantodon! Cheers, Neale <I do like this genus of plants to the extreme... and will add this note and suggestion. Cheers, BobF>

Mixing Discus, rams, Apistos tetras and Corys. -02/25/08 Hi Bob, Found the site Glassholes.com and liked the recent information on dwarf South American cichlids. I have been keeping rams and Apistos in 6.3 PH and 6 GH. This has been a challenge given our local water is 7.8 PH out of the tap. Needless to say most everyone including LFS here are into African cichlids so I don't find much advice. <I bet.> I have been maintaining two 75 gal tanks. One has three 2.5" Discus ,1 adult Angel, an Apisto Agassizi trio (1 M and 2 F), 2 yellow Rams, 1 Bolivian ram, 3 neon, 2 black neon and 3 Glowlight tetras and several species of Corys. The water maintains at 82-85 Fahrenheit. <Surprised all those fish are doing well: that's way too warm for most Corydoras, and somewhat above what Mikrogeophagus altispinosa and most tetras want.> The other has a male German ram, 2 adult male Apisto Algedons with several juvi fry, a male cacatuoides, 2 Nannacara, 3 Angels, 2 dozen cardinals and Rummynose tetras and several species of cories. The temp of water is 80-82 Fahrenheit. <Ditto. I'm not a big fan of mixing fish from different thermal regimes: at least some of those fish will be suffering. Whether they actually get sick because of it is an open question. But they'll certainly be shorter lived.> I want to combine them into a 135 gal adding 5 more discus a couple pair of Apistos and a female German ram. I do not plan on keeping it planted but I will have some fake plants and driftwood. I will keep one of the 75s for Angels, tetras , and probably Nannacara. Can I mix all the Apistos, Rams, Discus, cardinals, Rummynose and some of the Corys in a new 135 tank I am setting up without asking for trouble? <Other than the fact the temperature will be wrong for half those fishes, these fish are likely compatible in terms of pH, hardness, and social behaviour. The one exception is Mikrogeophagus altispinosa, which does actually prefer water on the neutral rather than acidic side.> Thanks, Jim <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Mixing Discus, rams, Apistos tetras and Corys. -02/25/08 Neal, Thank you for your quick response. I have a snail problem in 1 75 and am going to introduce several Botia striata till they have cleaned up most, then I will do move. <Do be careful mixing Botia with Discus and suchlike... Botiine loaches tend to be, at least, boisterous. Even the supposedly peaceful species like Clowns and Striata.> I understand the temp issue <Good.> 2 last questions then. <Yes?> 1. What can I get to be bottom cleaners with discus, Apistos, cardinals and Rummynose and German rams? Or do I need to put Apistos in 75 with those in question 2? <There's no such thing as a "bottom cleaner" beyond you and your siphon. Everything else makes it dirtier. Basic physics here you can't escape. If you want to add a catfish of some kind, fine, but don't imagine for one nanosecond you need to or that it would somehow make the tank cleaner. It most certainly will not (more fish = more faeces + more uneaten food + more ammonia). Anyway, that said: Corydoras sterbai are the classic "Discus Tank" catfish, but I'm sure you know that already. Besides them, I'd think any of the medium-sized Rineloricaria whiptail cats would be worth trying. They're omnivores but unlikely to go for the flanks of the Discus in the same way as the more robust Hypostomus-type things. The common Ancistrus Bristlenose is also a safe bet for the Discus tank, as would Farlowella spp, though it is a pure algae-eater and completely useless as a "scavenger". From the other side of the world, Kuhli loaches would be worth a shot, though some species are touchy in excessively warm water, so watch them. Over here in the UK there have been some interesting Kuhli loaches on the market, including the extraordinary silver and black Pangio sp. "Panda". Horseface Loaches would be a possibility I suppose, assuming you had a sandy substrate and made sure you avoided the more aggressive look-alike species Acantopsis octoactinotos.> 2. Will 75 be big enough for 6 angels, Bolivian ram, 2 Nannacara, about 15 Corys, Botia striata, 2 small leopard Plecos, 1 6" Bristlenose and 13 Bleeding heart, Black neon, neon and Glowlight tetras? <Yes, will be fine except of course there are no "small" Leopard Plecs, only baby ones, and a pair of Angels might decide to take over half the tank in which the other Angels might need to be moved.> Thank you for your time, Jim <Cheers, Neale.>

pH Level While Using Red Sea Florabase 11/07/07 Hi, I have recently set up a new 72gal FW tank. I have had water in it, Rena xp3 filter, heater, and Corallife 65watt x2 for lights. I presently have 15 goldfish in it to help with the cycling. <<A poor idea. Too much stress and likelihood of parasitic infestation... RMF>> My ph level has been at 6.0 from the start. I am using red sea Florabase, that's all, as I have a planted tank. I am wondering how to raise the PH level to at least 7.0 for the types of fish I want (I have a 10gal that has been established for 2 years now & I would like to take those fish and move them over to the new one, that PH has been 7.0 - the fish in the 10gal is neon tetra, black skirt tetra, 2 Danios and 1 Chinese algae eater). Is there some sort of PH up that I can use safely? I do have several kinds of plants. My ammonia, nitrites and nitrates are all within the proper range & are great. Thanks Kim <Hello Kim. Two things here. Firstly, what sort of fish do you want to keep? An acidic pH of 6.0 is actually very good for a wide range of species. Most South American fish will thrive here, as will most of the fish from Southeast Asia. Secondly, you need to clear up the difference between pH and hardness in your head. Fish don't "feel" pH directly and don't really care about it all that much; what matters is how much mineral content the water has, because this is what has an impact on osmoregulation (how they balance salt and water in their bodies). So, what you want to check first is the hardness of your water now, and the preferred hardness of the fish you want to keep. I'm guessing your water is quite soft (i.e., a low hardness around 5 degrees dH). That's fine for tetras, angelfish, Gouramis etc. But if you want to keep livebearers or Rainbowfish, they need a higher level of hardness, at least 10 degrees dH and ideally well above that for livebearers especially. Once you take care of hardness, then the pH will adjust itself pretty well automatically. Hard water tends to have a high pH, and that high pH is pretty stable. There are various ways to raise the hardness. The simplest is to incorporate some calcareous material into the filter. Crushed coral is one such medium. As the water washes past, the coral dissolves, raising the hardness. Periodically you clean the coral to wash away slime that coats it, and maybe once a year replace it with a bunch of new coral. There are other methods too; any aquarium book should discuss them, but if you want some more ideas, let me know. Cheers, Neale.>

Which one is my aggressor? 10/04/2007 Hello-we are "missing" fish and aren't sure who the culprit could be. We have had a rainbow shark and a Pleco from the very beginning of this 30 gal. tank (They were moved into this, both from another tank, about 2" in size). Then we added 2 ghost catfish and about 6 tetras (neon and scarlet). About a month after the last tetra was added we put in 2 gouramis- a striped and I believe a sunset. Pretty soon we started losing small fish. First a tetra was gone-just gone, no sign of it, then about a wk later we found another floating and pretty much dead. A little while later, we found a ghost catfish the same way, with the other just disappeared again. The timing tells me it's maybe the gouramis but everything I read say they are non-aggressive. Any clue? Thanks! Deena <Deena: it's almost certain the your fish aren't killing each other. While rainbow sharks are notoriously aggressive non-community fish, they buffet things to distraction rather than kill and eat them. Ditto, while a Pleco is totally unsuitable for a 30 gallon tank (the common Pleco grows to 45 cm/18 inches) it doesn't kill fish, though it happily eats their corpses. It is almost certain in my mind that you have either water quality or water chemistry problems, and your fish are simply dying because of that. Corpses will be disposed of quickly by the Pleco. Net result -- vanished fish. So, review your stocking (some of those fish will HAVE to go) and review water chemistry/quality. Reflect on your purchasing methods too -- tetras should always be kept in groups of 6 or more, and glass catfish simply pine away when kept singly or in pairs. Schooling fish SHOULD ALWAYS be kept in schools. Keeping fish isn't like choosing candy from a pick-and-mix bar: you need to respect their biology, and act accordingly. If that means 6 Neons instead of 2 Neons, 2 black widows and 2 tiger barbs -- then that's the way it has to be. Anything else is cruel and ultimately pointless, because unhappy schooling fish die quickly. Hope this helps, Neale>

My poor catfish!! Corydoras dis., use     8/22/07 Good morning, we are fairly new aquarium owners, we have 2 gravel cleaner Corydoras and one of them has a very swollen belly, we thought it might be pregnant but today it is finding it very difficult to swim and keeps going to the surface. Sometimes it falls back down to the bottom like its dead but then will swim back up. Not keeping it's balance very well. The other one looks fine and is sat on the bottom as normal. Please could you give me some advice on what to do. I can't seem to get a clear enough picture but will try if you really need one. They are a grey colour with a pinkish tone, about 2 inches long. Thank you so much Sharon <Hello Sharon. Corydoras aren't "gravel cleaners" -- that's your job. Indeed, forcing catfish of any kind to root about dirty gravel causes infections to set in, typically associated with eroded barbels (whiskers) and, in serious cases, reddish sores on the belly. A photograph will help, but my assumption without one is that your catfish are suffering from poor water quality. In a new aquarium the ammonia and nitrite levels quickly reach toxic levels. Catfish will try and mitigate the problems by gulping air, which is the dash to the surface your catfish are doing, but eventually the ammonia and nitrite cause damage to the fish, which is the odd behaviour. Even in the short term, prolonged exposure to nitrite and ammonia will kill them. Using your test kits (which I hope you have!) ensure the ammonia is 0 and the nitrite is 0. If this is not the case, do a 50% water change. Repeat the water test and, if required, 50% water change every single day until you get 0 ammonia and nitrite for two or three days on the trot. At that point, you can scale things back to 50% water changes per week. Cheers, Neale>

Re: my poor catfish!!   8/22/07 Thanks for the reply, the poorly one has got a red sore on his belly. The other one is fine, sorry about the gravel cleaner thing, that's what we were told at the shop we bought them in and we certainly don't force them to feed from the bottom and we clean the gravel with a suction thing (haven't quite got the hang of that task properly yet!!) Can't get a decent photo as he is laying on his back at the back of the tank but is still moving. Water test levels are as follows ammonia and nitrite are at 0ppm ph levels are slightly high at 7.4 and nitrate is in between 0 and 5 ppm. Tank is about 3 months old now and we have a variety of fish including mollies, tetras, a Betta, Plecos, silver shark, clown loaches and one of our guppies has just given birth to 18 fry ( which are in a nursery tank) all other fish are fine we have only lost two Tetras (one zebra tailed and one gold) since we started. Thanks Sharon <Water chemistry/quality sounds fine. pH 7.4 is perfect for Corydoras. Your selection of fish is a bit random though, and likely to cause problems in the long term. I personally don't like keeping Corydoras in tanks with gravel; they are much happier in tanks with sand. But clean gravel shouldn't cause Corydoras to die. Do check the water quality once or twice more today. Ammonia and nitrite can "spike" after feeding, while dropping down to zero a few hours later. Also check the other fish for signs of problems. If they're all healthy, I'd be tempted to just sit back for a month and not add anything new to the aquarium. Leave things be. Only afterwards, once you're happy the sick Corydoras was "just one of those things" consider adding more fish. Cheers, Neale>

Re: my poor catfish!!   8/22/07 Hi again, I think the poor little thing has finally given up the ghost and has passed away, i have read these are social fish so should i go and get another partner in case the one left gets lonely!! Any other advice would be greatly received. Thanks again for all you help so far Sharon <Corydoras do indeed need to be kept in groups, but I personally wouldn't add anything else to your tank for another month. Let things stabilise, and get a sense of how the tank is working out (or not, as the case may be). Ultimately, keep at least four Corydoras, preferably six. Ideally all one species, but they do often mix quite well, so you could get three of one kind and three of another. Cheers, Neale>

Re: my poor catfish!!   8/23/07 Hi Neale, thanks so much for all your advice, to be honest we just went for the fish we thought nice to look at, obviously we checked if they were suitable to be in the same aquarium as each other. If you've got time could you possibly tell me where we might be going wrong with the choice of fish. We have got fine gravel in our tank, would it make the bottom feeders happier if we bought a bag of sand and put that over the top or should we replace the gravel completely? As I said we are fairly new to this and are going on advice from shops and other people really. Oh by the way the Corydoras that I have left and the clown loaches still forage in the gravel is this normal if not how could i possibly stop them from doing so? Thanks again Sharon <Hello Sharon. I just went over your stock-list... mollies, tetras, a Betta, Plecos, silver shark, clown loaches and guppies. Right? OK, here's the low-down. Mollies and guppies need hard, alkaline water. Mollies 9 times out of 10 do better when the water also has a little marine salt mix added too. Tetras, on the other hand, almost always prefer soft and acid water. So right out the box you have fishes that need mutually exclusive water conditions. Bettas aren't great community fish because of their long fins -- they can't swim well, and end up starving or being nipped. Plecs (plural!) are large (typically at least 30 cm long, often 45 cm) and territorial fish. When kept in confined spaces they can and do fight, to the point where the aggressor will literally scrape the skin from the weaker fish. Yes, they're skinned alive... nasty or what? Oddly, they form schools in the wild. But for whatever reason this doesn't happen in the average aquarium. Silver sharks are also big fish (30 cm or so). They aren't especially predatory, but they're not stupid either, and if a small tetra or guppy swims in front of a 30 cm silver shark, that tetra or guppy stands a good chance of becoming dinner. Clown loaches are sociable and big (30 cm). They're also extremely sensitive to medications used to treat things like Whitespot. What do I mean by "sensitive"? If you're unlucky, they die. This isn't to say that your aquarium is doomed to disaster, but these are some of the issues you're going to have to work around as time goes on. Now, as for the gravel. It's fine. If you have plants, the gravel needs to be about 10 cm deep. If you don't have plants, keep only enough gravel to cover the glass. Either way, clean the gravel regularly by siphoning across it with the hose pipe. Some folks like to use those "gravel vacuum cleaners" but I don't use them. I prefer to siphon the sand, stirring the top level with a stick if need be. Up to you. Sand is preferable, in my opinion, to gravel in tanks with loaches and catfish because these fish simply enjoy digging into it. But sand is definitely an "advanced" substrate because there are some possible problems to using it, so for now, feel free to stick with plain gravel. I hope this helps. Cheers, Neale>

Leporinus fasciatus... Potentially HUGE fish in Small Tank 8/15/07 Hello again, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I recently purchased a Leporinus fasciatus, <Grows to a foot, minimum tank size 70 gallons.> as well as a Pangasius catfish, <Grows to 4 feet! See: http://www.planetcatfish.com/catalog/image.php?image_id=5186 These fish do not belong being sold to the general public.> for my 29 gallon tank. They are in there with a small Columbian shark <A brackish schooling fish that grows to 18".> and a plecostomus. <Common Plecos grow to 18".> Recently I noticed the Leporinus has torn skin [a large white/clear piece hanging off one side]. I caught him in the net to have a closer look, and that piece fell off as soon as I did. After letting it go, I removed the carbon from my two filters, and added a dose of Melafix and some StressZyme. Now there just seems to be these white blotches on that one side. I'm wondering if maybe the catfish and Leporinus are fighting, since both seem to like this one corner of the tank. Or maybe there is something else wrong. I do know that the Leporinus is a brackish fish, <Not true.> and I do keep the salinity at a constant level. <Only helpful for the Columbian shark. Most folks assume a "little aquarium salt" is brackish but this doesn't make brackish water. None of your other fish will appreciate salt in their environment. If you're not using marine salt & measuring it with a hydrometer, it won't make much difference to the shark anyway. Even low-end brackish water would require around a cup of salt/5g.> I'm hoping you can shed some light on this problem as I do not want him/her to go belly up on me anytime soon! Thanks! <My take on this is: The Leporinus is a very skittish, active fish (needs a tight-fitting cover, to prevent jumping), that needs a lot of swimming room, as is the Columbian shark & the Pangasius catfish. I think they are running into each other trying to swim in a tank that is too small for them & running into things. Please check into the adult sizes of the fish you plan on purchasing, before you buy them. I think you have BIG problems ahead. Until you can return or rehome your fish, Melafix & water changes should heal the wound. ~PP>

Water problem is overwhelming... FW mis-mixed livestock  7/9/07 Hi! <<Hello, Kim. Tom here.>> I wrote someone about 5 months ago about molly in way overcrowded 10 gallon tank for daughter. <<Im the someone.>> We fixed molly and went about our business for a few months. We put contents of tank in my cycled 46 gallon bow front tank. We woke up one morning and found the larger Cory attached to the intake of the filter. <<Not a good sign, as you might imagine. Healthy fish don't get captured by filter intakes.>> Went to scoop him off and he swam away. So, put him in the 10 gallon to rest. <<Okay.>> Then, the molly became aggressive (chasing every fish in the tank) and so the day before yesterday put her back in the 10 gallon tank. We now have 2 cories, a Dalmatian molly, and a female Betta in that tank. <<Kim, not that you need to add to your list of ongoing issues but, you've just described three species of fish that are completely incompatible with one another regarding water conditions. Mollies are considered to be brackish water fish falling between FW and SW conditions. Bettas and Cories are FW fish but Cories cant abide the temperatures that Bettas need nor can they tolerate the salt levels that Mollies like.>> Last night we noticed Cory was just laying there breathing very heavy. I thought he was having issues with the tank temp (80 degrees), so I put a small ball thing that makes bubbles (have old age going on right now... Can¹t remember what those are called). <<An airstone? (Don't worry, I've got old age going on most of the time!) :) >> This morning he¹s on his side. I figured it was the end, but he was still breathing. Put him in a small container with a little water and stuck him in freezer. <<Id ask you to tell me that you didn't really do that but Many think this is a good method of euthanizing fish. It isn't. Please look at this: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-most-humane-way-to-euthanize-a-fish.htm.>> After 15 minutes the top of the water was frozen, but he was still breathing. This made me feel like crap, so I took him out and he moved around the cup. I eventually put the cup back in the 10 gallon tank (I figured he didn¹t want to die). I think he¹s barely clinging right now, so I took a water sample and tested: Ammonia = 0.5 <<Lethal.>> Nitrites = 0.25 <<Ditto.>> Nitrates = 40 <<Toxic at the very least.>> pH = 8.0 (comes out of the tap at 8.0) <<Well have to live with this one for now.>> So, now I¹m overwhelmed. How do I fix all these problems at the same time? <<To start, a MASSIVE water change! You must get the ammonia and nitrites down to 0 ppm. The nitrates will get cleared up by the water change, anyway.>> Should I take all fish out and put them back in bigger tank? <<Absolutely. Like, five minutes ago, Kim.>> Thanks! Kim <<Okay, lets see where were at here. In my opinion, turning the 46-gallon tank into a brackish system isn't the way to go unless you intend to stay with Mollies and other brackish water species. (There are a number of these but you have to do some hunting.) So, once your confident that the 10-gallon tank is back where it should be, purchase some Marine salt (not aquarium salt) and an inexpensive (~$10) hydrometer. Move the Molly back to the smaller tank and slowly begin raising the salinity (specific gravity to be more accurate), via water changes with the salt added to the new water, to 1.011, or so. Should be over a period of a couple of weeks, anyway. 1.015 would be about right but isn't really critical as long as your at, or above, 1.011. Keep the Betta and Cories in the larger tank with the temperature no higher than 78 degrees. (The Betta wont really appreciate this but will fare a little better than the Cories will at higher temps.) The 46-gallon tank is going to look really empty but research fish that your interested in before making any purchases. For example, you might think that Neon Tetras are little cuties. (They are!) But, they require soft, acidic water, i.e. low pH levels (5.0-7.0). You don't have that available so these fish would not be an appropriate choice. Likewise, there are species that are notorious fin-nippers. The Betta wouldn't last long. I think you see where Im going. I hope this helps, Kim. As always, feel free to write back if there are other issues/questions that spring up. Best regards. Tom>>

Re: Water problem is overwhelming...(additional info)   7/10/07 Hi Tom - <<Hello again, Kim.>> Maybe I should tell you what I have in the 46 gallon. I'm thinking I need another tank or two - this hobby is getting WAY more expensive than golf! <<Not if you keep putting Titlist Pro Vs into ponds, woods and, generally, OB like I do! :) >> 2 dwarf blue gouramis, 1 dwarf fire Gourami, 7-8 Danios (mixture of zebra and blue long finned), 1 neon (how it's still around I don't know), 3 red eye tetras, 1 upside down catfish (the coolest fish ever!), 1 Cory, and 2 marble mollies. How will the Betta work with these? <<Not well, unfortunately. The Gouramis and Betta will be extremely problematic with the Betta drawing the short straw.>> I read on many posts that you can put molly and Corys in with Betta - I actually did this because daughter was insistent on getting Betta and I didn't like the idea of an unfiltered bowl... Water got cloudy in that thing after 3 days. <<Many folks consider, and house, Mollies as strictly FW fish. This can work but its not something that I personally adhere to. This animals tolerance for a wide spectrum of conditions is often the cause for its downfall in aquariums. Tolerating isn't thriving which is why I try to recommend brackish conditions for Mollies. That said, your Mollies will fare better in FW than your Betta will with the tank mates you've mentioned. In fact, you be better off doing the massive water change we discussed and leaving the Betta in the small tank alone. This is actually a great size for her, anyway. The fact that this is a female Betta might change the complexion of the situation somewhat in the big tank but I wouldn't risk the fish's life on a hunch.>> I'm sticking all fish in 46 gallon tank as time is of the essence here, but I don't want other issues by doing this... Thanks! Kim <<Thanks for the follow-up info, Kim. Definitely makes me re-think/alter my original suggestions. Stay the course! Tom>>

Re: Water problem is overwhelming...(additional info)   7/12/07 Hey Tom - <<Greetings, Kim.>> It's a bummer, but Betta and Dalmatian molly died yesterday! Now I have another problem, I know you have the answer to :). <<Sorry to hear about your pets, Kim. Lets see if we can do better this time.>> I live in the Seattle area where's it's freaking 100 degrees out there today. This is not a normal phenomenon, and houses do not come with air conditioning here. <<Two bummers back to back, Kim, and so early in the morning. :) >> I have a story that goes with that, another time... <<Okay.>> Anyway, I turned off the heater in the 46 gallon tank this morning and the water temp is now up to 86. Is that going to kill the fish? <<Not outright but it's going to stress the bejeebers out of them.>> How do I lower the temp? I'm guessing a MASSIVE water change, but is it necessary? <<Simple enough. Place a small fan a cheapo will do just above the surface of the tank and direct the airflow across the top, i.e. parallel with the surface. (If the lid is a tight-fitting one, provide a small gap.) This will increase evaporation and cool the tank. Keep the tank lighting, if any, off, of course. Take some of the water out of the tank, as well, so that the output of the filter agitates the surface more so than usual. Warm water holds less oxygen and, along with the higher temperatures (until they come down), will stress the fish further. Resist the water change here. Fish are more tolerant of somewhat rapid increases in water temperature than they are of rapid decreases. For example, an increase from 76 degrees F. to 82 F. can be accomplished over several hours while a shift from 82 F. to 76 F. should be done over a couple of days, perhaps longer.>> Thanks! Kim <<You're welcome. Should help the fish but Id find some a/c if I were you! Cheers. Tom>>

Compatibility? Mixing Species With Different Water Needs, African Cichlid, Oto, Dwarf Puffer...  6/10/07 Dear WetWeb crew, I was wondering if Neolamprologus brevis (brevis shell dweller), an Oto cat, and an Indian dwarf pufferfish would be compatible. Thank you in advance for your reply. Sincerely, Abby < The shell dweller comes from Lake Tanganyika with a very high pH and hardness. The Oto cat is an algae eater from South America that prefers soft acidic water. The Indian dwarf puffer may be brackish or freshwater depending on the actual species you are asking about. The puffer and the shell dweller may go together but the Oto probably won't be able to handle the hard water.-Chuck>

Need suggestions for new fish, FW    3/4/07 <<Hi, Mandy. Tom with you.>> Right now in a twenty gallon tank I have 3 tiger barbs and 3 Cory catfish. I am getting rid of all my tiger barbs because they have killed 4 of my other fish. I don't know who the culprit is so I'm getting rid of all of them. <<Going to a nice home, I hope. When someone says that he/she is getting rid of fish, it makes me a little nervous. ;) >> I would like to get some more catfish and an algae eater and some top and middle swimmers but I don't know what kind or how many.  Please help me. <<Getting more Corys wont present a problem in a 20-gallon tank. Three or four more would be fine. As to the algae eaters, there are only two varieties that I would recommend for this size tank. You could go with two or three Otocinclus (Otos) catfish or a couple of SIAMESE algae eaters. Please note the emphasis on Siamese. Chinese algae eaters (you may see these listed as Golden algae eaters) should not just be avoided, they should be shunned! You may have to do some hunting to find either of the two species I've mentioned since they're not always readily available at even high-end fish shops but they're well-worth the effort. Middle/top dwellers are going to be pretty easy to find, depending on your tastes. Most any of the Tetra varieties would do well as would livebearers such as Platys and Swordtails. Should you decide to go with Platys or Swordtails (avoid Mollies as these require salt that your catfish wont really appreciate) make sure you stick with one male per two to three females. This will keep the stress the male places on the females spread out. Whatever types of fish you have your eye on, research before you buy. If you go to the store armed with knowledge about what type of fish you be interested in, your far less likely to get misdirected by an employee who doesn't care about anything but a sale. Stick with fish whose adult sizes are around two-three inches in length and don't add more than a few fish at a time (not sooner than every two weeks, or so). You don't want to compromise your water quality by overloading the tank with more fish than your beneficial bacteria can deal with all at once.>> Signed, Confused Mandy Leach <<I don't think your confused, Mandy, just a little overwhelmed at the number of choices you have available to you. Be patient and don't purchase a fish that you know nothing about. One tip on researching fish is to seek out several, or more, sources of information on them. Once your comfortable that three or four different sources have provided similar information about a fish, you can be confident that your not going to make an ill-advised purchase. Best of luck to you. Tom>>

3 Gallon FW; What to add?   2/25/07 Hello crew! <Hi.>   I would like to set up a small tank in my son's room, and the Eclipse 3 gallon setup seems to fit the bill, size-wise (can't really go any larger in the space available). <Okay.> Can you give me some suggestions on appropriate fish and what numbers I could put in it? <For a tank of this size the only things that I would really suggest would be a trio of white-cloud minnows or perhaps a single male beta.> I would really like to put a goldfish or two in there, but everything I've read here seems to say this tank would be too small for them. <Affirm.> There seem to be a million different types of goldfish out there <Well artificially yes....some very "disturbing" strains out there from selective breeding.> -- are there *any* at all that would be suitable for this tank?   <No even **if** they did stay small they just create far to much mess.> If goldfish of any kind are out of the question, I know a single Betta would work, but am not sold on that just yet <Ooh....you haven't seen the **nice** ones yet.> -- what other options do I have? <The white-clouds are really cool....killifish are neat though relatively short-lived.> Some small tetras maybe?   <There are some that may be suitable size-wise, however most are a bit sensitive, water quality wise...and that may be an issue with this tank.> How many would I be able to add to this tank?  I just want to be sure I don't overload this system... (and I would rather do weekly, or preferably every 2 weeks maintenance if possible, rather than every other day water changes, etc...) <Weekly water changes for sure my friend.> Thanks for any help.   <Of course.> Meg <Adam J.>

Q: What can I put in a 2 gal. tank? A: Not much...    2/16/07 Hello all, <Hi there - Jorie here.> I recently purchased a 2 gallon tank. <Quite a small tank - won't be able to keep many fish in here...> I have already put it through its fishless cycle... <YAY! I'm so happy when people choose this option for cycling - much more humane...> ...and am wondering what fish to  put in. I was thinking of  three platies (as suggested by the person at my LFS). I decided to wait until tomorrow to get the fish and when I got home was looking around your site and saw that someone had already emailed in about this.  I am having second thoughts about it. I have a heater and if it means platies or no platies I am willing to buy them a filter. <Any fish should have a filter, in all reality.  3 platys in a 2 gal. tank is pretty crowded...perhaps 3 fancy male guppies instead? (i say male because their finnage is generally more attractive than females, and 2 gal. is too small for a mixed-sex tank, as male livebearers relentlessly pursue females...plus, you'll soon have loads of fry that you won't have room for!) Alternatively, a single male Betta fish is a perfect match for a filtered, heated 2 gal., and these fish are quite lively and will interact with you...they are very "pet-like"! Your input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again, Harry P. P.S. If the platies are not a good option then what types of fish are, and how many can I safely put in the tank? <You really don't have many options. And, as stated above, you should invest in a filter.  If you're a first-time fishkeeper, keep in mind that "bigger is better", in the sense that the larger the tank, the more stable the water quality, etc. Here's a good link for you to start with - http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwset-up.htm Small tanks can be some of the most challenging.  I recommend going with the Betta, but if you are set on livebearers, I'd suggest a couple of guppies.   Also, I like to recommend a book by David E. Boruchowitz called "The Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums" - it does a really nice job of explaining the basics, and providing various stocking schemes. If you go the Betta route, here's a couple of my favorite Betta websites - http://www.bcbetta.com/ http://www.siamsbestbettas.com/ And, for fancy guppies, here's a good link: http://www.guppys.com/ Good luck, Jorie>

Mixing Coldwater And Tropical Fish, Not A Good Plan - 02/09/2007 Hi guys, sorry to bother you. <Not a bother - Jorie here today.> I have read some of the articles on the site about male platies being aggressive but its generally toward other platies. My little guy however is being aggressive to a larger fish. <Not uncommon - I had a molly who bullied a knight goby more than 3 times his size; eventually, the two had to be separated. Livebearers can be quite territorial.> I have a jumble of a tank that has being working well until this latest addition of a comet. I am obviously a beginner, putting tropical and cold water fish together but until the comet all was going well. <You've gotten lucky.  You truly cannot keep tropical and coldwater fish together, as one (or both) species will end up suffering in the long run.  Now that you know better, you owe it to your fish to separate them into appropriate habitats.> In the tank I also have a 2 year old Shubunkin, an albino paradise fish (male) and 3 zebra fish. <How large is this tank? You've got a fair amount of fish, some of which are big waste-producers. And, as mentioned above, these are not all compatible. What temperature is this tank kept at?> I previously had several more platies but these have died and I put that down to stress (we recently moved). <Could be stress, could just be that you aren't providing a proper environment for them. Read here for some info. their needs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/poeciliids.htm . And, goldfish: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/goldfish.htm > All of these jumbled fish seem to live fine together. <Obviously this isn't entirely true...> We recently wanted to add a couple of new fish to the tank to replace those that died so we bought a sunset platy (female I think) and the comet. <Quarantine? Not to mention, again, these two fish don't belong together...> The comet is at least 3 times the size of the platy (which may be a dwarf as it never grew like the others and is much smaller than the new sunset) but that hasn't stopped the little guy chasing the comet constantly and taking bites. <Yet one more reason to separate the two.> It originally looked like the platy was trying to mate with the comet, until the aggression began. The aggression is spreading with the paradise fish now showing interest in it. Should I remove the comet or will the aggression subside? I don't have another tank. <Well, you need to set-up a second tank - one for tropicals, one for coldwater. There's no way around it. And, obviously, this would solve the aggression problem as well. If you cannot acquire another tank, then you need to chose - do you want tropicals, OR do you want the coldwater fish? Once you've made your decision, then you need to find alternative arrangements for the fish you can't keep...> Sorry for the long winded question! <That's OK. Take a look at David E. Boruchowitz's "Simple Guide to the Freshwater Aquarium" - it's a very handy read for the beginning aquarist, and will give you more suggestions on how to setup appropriate environments for the fish you have.  When selecting fish, pick 1 species that you really want, then plan the rest of the tank around what will be compatible with that one fish.  If you only have one tank and the fish in question aren't a "match" environmentally, behaviorally, etc., well, then, move on and select a different fish. Good luck, Jorie>

Over/Mis-stocked FW Tank - 1/25/07 Hi,  we bought a tank (10 lt) and a few fish (2 Neons, 2 guppies, 1 bumble-bee goby and 1 Dalmatian molly) 2 weeks ago. <Yowza! Approximately 2.6 US gallons -- you're overstocked by about 5 fish, not to mention the brackish nature of the bumblebee goby!> I've noticed that the Molly has become really fat and in the last 24 hours has become very aggressive toward the other fish in the tank, and she seems to be eating a lot.  Does this mean she's due to have the "unwanted" babies some time soon?   <Is a good chance, livebearers do seem to be perpetually.. Erm... bearing live.> Our tank is not even close to being big enough for baby mollies!   <Honestly, your tank is not even close to big enough for the fishes you have, my friend. This doesn't even begin to factor in the poor mix of fish here; the Neons come from very different waters than any of the others, the goby is a brackish species, and the mollies do better in a brackish setting as well.> Also, I found a web site that said that you should do a daily 20% water change, is this correct?   <Normally, I would recommend 20% weekly, but in a tank as small (and overstocked!) as yours, 20% daily is likely a necessity here... almost as much a necessity as either a larger aquarium, or removal of several fish...> Should the water be heated prior to putting it into the tank?   <Yes, the temperature should match the tank's as closely as possible.> Also, how long before the babies are born? <Can't help you on this one; only you can see them! Read here for more info on mollies and pregnancy: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollyreprofaqs.htm and the linked files in blue. Furthermore, I urge you to thoroughly research the fish you currently have, and determine if you are willing to provide for their PROPER care, from now through the future. If the response here is no, I implore you to return the majority of your fish stock here. Do realize that your aquarium is incredibly overstocked, and will never find a proper balance, either in waste buildup, or aggression issues, due to the small size of the tank. -JustinN>  

Stocking FW   12/16/06 Hey again your site is a great source of information. Okay time for  the questions I have a extra ten gallon tank and I was thinking about  stocking it with Neons or some other small fish could you recommend  some fish for my ten gallon. Thank you ahead for all the  information. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm RMF>

Balas, Bettas and Catfish   9/2/06 I just bought a Bala shark and two pictus catfish. I was thinking about getting a couple of the big goldfish too but the guy wasn't sure if they could all be together in the same tank. Would they all be ok in the same tank? < Goldfish are actually cool water fish. At the elevated tropical temperature needed by your other fish the goldfish would not do well.> Or if not how about a Betta fish? < The other fish you have chosen get to be pretty good size. The Bala sharks get up to 18 inches and the pictus cats get at least 6 inches. At that size the cats would eat your beta while the big Balas sharks would knock him around.> Would the Bala shark be better off by itself or with another one? < I believe that the Bala sharks don't mind company and may be schooling fish.> How about the catfish? < When they are smaller they are better of in a school. When they are larger they can go as a group or as an individual.> Are they better off being just two of them or should there be more? < Two is fine.> Because that guy at the store said they like to be in groups of 3's. < That works for smaller schooling fish like tetras and not as much for these cats.> About how long would it take for the Bala shark to reach it's full grown size? < A couple of years depending on the environmental conditions.-Chuck>

Fish Flashing and Stringy Feces in Some Tanks at LFS - Is this Common for LFS's or Should I Buy Elsewhere?   8/2/06 Hi Crew, <Cindy> I have been fish keeping African Cichlids a little over 3 years now.  I've grown from one 50 g. tank to a total of 6 tanks.  I get my livestock from a local high end independent retailer.  As my hobby has grown, I find myself spending more and more time at my LFS buying supplies.  I'm there once or twice a week.  I enjoy looking at the fish and visiting with the fish guys while I'm there.  Every time I've been there, over the past 6 months, I've noticed problems in a few of their fish tanks.  I'll see several tanks that have fish flashing, maybe a tank with fish rocking, and I always see a few fish here and there with stringy feces more than triple their size that won't seem to detach.  Is this common of all fish stores? <Way too common, yes... There are myriad, continuous health issues in retail and wholesale settings in the aquatic livestock business... too much "mixed" life that goes un-rested, un-quarantine, untreated and mis-treated...> Am I just becoming more aware, or should I be looking for another store for future livestock? <I strongly encourage you to "shop around", to take on all aspects of providing preventative measures wherever you purchase new livestock> I see this store occasionally take back large fish that have outgrown someone's tank and immediately after temperature acclimation, release them into tanks with breeder livestock.  I realize they only have a limited number of backroom quarantine tanks, but I would expect fish coming from someone's unknown tank conditions to be quarantined before introduction to other livestock purchased from distributors. <This source of trouble pales in comparison with the weekly coming and going of shipped wild and distant-cultured stocks... there are seasonal and permanent pandemics that one can identify in our interest...> I heard it can even be dangerous for a LFS to mix livestock from multiple distributors. <Yes>   The fish from one distributor have been exposed to and built immunity to certain bacteria while the fish from the other distributor have been exposed to different bacteria. <One way of viewing, stating this... it's more "their" systems that have expressed immunity if you will... akin to "A boy in a bubble"... Realize that almost to a one, more than 100% of all the stock goes through any given wholesaler/jobber/distributor's systems weekly...>   When you combine the fish, and the bacteria they carry, you risk illness as they cross contaminate each other with bacteria they have no built in resistance to. <Nor much chance/opportunity to develop/acquire such> What should someone look for when selecting a good LFS to purchase their livestock? Cindy <The bazillion dollar question. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdis3setsfactors.htm and the linked files above... Much to state here, and thank you for this prompting. Bob Fenner>

BW Fish, FW Fish & Iodine Q  7/3/06 FW sel.... I have put this one of the forums that you have on your web site already...  Not to sound too blonde, but when I posted it (originally) I was actually trying to send the question to ya'll...  Anyway here goes the question, please let me know if you can help.  Thanks sooo much the awesome site!!!  I have really, really enjoyed reading it!!! I have a 37 gallon brackish water tank. In the tank resides a green spotted puffer fish (T. nigroviridis), a blue crayfish, three Bala sharks, three zebra Danios and four neon tetras. <What exactly do you mean by brackish?  There is only 1 brackish water species in there--the puffer.  None of any of your other fish would appreciate living in true BW.  As far as the amount of MARINE salt your puffer would need in it's tank, a rough estimate would be around a cup of salt/5g (& that's just when it's young).  As it matures, marine conditions are recommended for a GSP.> I know that it is a really weird combination, they kinda go together like stripes and polka dots. I also know that you have reservations about puffers and crayfish living together or puffers and anything living together for that matter. My puffer, Calypso, is about 1 1/2 inches and my crayfish, Cozumel, is about 2 inches in length. <There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that your puffer will eventually maim/eat the Cray, in addition to the neons.> My Balas, Marga, Rita and Ville seem very happy they are apprx 2 inches in length. There is plenty of room for them to swim. <They will eventually grow quite large.> My crayfish has even started to come up to me when I'm at the tank!!  She and Calypso have gotten along very, very well. As long as I keep them both fed and plenty of hiding places. I also have a snail breeding tank, for Calypso and Cozumel, which they just love the escargot treats!!! Okay so I do actually have a point. I have yet to find this anywhere, but not that Cozumel is having health problems, but just incase for whatever reason she may come down with something in the future, and I do give her the iodine treatment (Kent marine, one drop per every 10 gallons of water). Could this somehow affect Calypso or any of my other fish, also could it maybe affect the snails that I use to feed Calypso and Cozumel. I know that the snails are in my tank for only a short time before Cozumel and Calypso can smell them. Even so, would the iodine affect the snails and therefore in return affect Calypso and Cozumel after consuming the snails??? Like I said before, things are really good and my water is not off balance but if something were to happen this may help in the future... Thanks for your help, if you can. <As long as dosed as instructed & not overdosed, it should be OK to use.  I'd rethink your species combo seriously though.  ~PP> Also most of all thanks for the kick butt site!!! Not only is it informative but it is also fun to read!!!- - Arlyn

FW Stocking Questions  6/20/06 Hi again :) <<Hi, again, Donna. Tom with you this trip.>> You guys/gals are an awesome resource, and I actually feel confident using the advice you give (compared to other forums).  So, I had couple more stocking questions for you... <<You're flattering us, Donna. We like that. Now let's see if I can help.>> In my 10g tank, I use a new Penguin BioWheel 100 (good up to 20g) and have 3 platies and 2 Otos.  I used to have an Amano shrimp...but it recently died. <<Sorry to hear that.>>   I was thinking of adding either another Amano shrimp or a cherry fire shrimp.   Is one of these shrimp a better choice over the other?  Also, do you think it would safe or a good idea to add 2 panda cories? <<Either of these Shrimp choices would be good though I might personally find myself leaning toward the Cherry Fire Shrimp (Caridina serrata) if only for the coloration. As for the Panda Corys, I would advise that these little guys can be a little more "delicate" than other varieties of Corydoras. Just a "heads up".>> In my 35g tank, I use a new Penguin BioWheel 350 (good up to 75g) and have 2 Pristella tetras, 1 white tetra, 10 neon tetras, 10 harlequin Rasboras, 3 platies, 3 mollies, 1 Pleco, 4 Otos and 1 golden snail.  I was thinking of adding between 2 and 6 panda cories (supposedly, they're better in groups??) and either a Singapore Flower Shrimp or a Cherry Fire Shrimp.  What is your advice on these additions? <<Again, on the Shrimp, it's a matter of personal preference though, as you know, the Flower Shrimp can grow to, perhaps, twice the size of the Cherry Fire Shrimp. Something to think about regarding the size of your tank. The Panda Corys will "group" more so than most. Generally, once the fish feel secure in their new home, the tendency to school, or shoal, seems to disappear since they, typically, do this for safety, i.e. security in numbers. No threat? Everyone for himself/herself! This will be less evident with the Pandas, however. A couple of additional thoughts here. Plecos come in a variety of types and sizes. Not all are content to ignore other tankmates particularly if competition for food/territory becomes an issue. Something to be aware of. Second thought? Your Mollies will likely benefit from salt in the water. Not an "absolute", necessarily, but it's a pretty good bet. Some thrive, for example, in full marine conditions. (Go figure.) That said, even your Pleco and future(?) Corys will tolerate some salt. No more than one tablespoon per five gallons of water, though. If you choose to add salt, remember that your 35 gallons is a "gross" calculation, not "net". In other words, everything inside your tank displaces water and subtracts from the gross amount. Better to err on the low end, say five tablespoons of aquarium salt at the maximum.>> Thanks! Donna <<You're welcome, Donna, and good luck with your new additions. Tom>>

Advice... Raising RMF's Blood Pressure, Joshing? Super crowded incompatible FW mix/es    6/14/06 Dear Mr. Fenner, <Steve> Hi, I hope you don't mind me emailing you, I saw your address on WetWebMedia and thought it wouldn't hurt to try anyway :) <Ends up here anyway... just takes more time generally> After about a 16 year break from keeping tropical freshwater fish I have recently bought an 84 litre tank, plenty of plants and twelve fish consisting of two black ghost knives, two small Plecs - not sure about their names, two Reedfish, <Yikes... all in twenty or so gallons?> two silver sharks, <... Pangasiids... get more than twice the length of this tank in size!> two upside down catfish - Synodontis mal...? <Likely S. nigriventris... these fishes all "like" very different water quality... Are you pulling Bob the Fishman's fins here?> and two Dutch rams - one of which is going back to the shop as he is way too aggressive. Before I bought the Dutch rams I bought one of the Reedfish and a Siamese fighter <...> - boy was he aggressive, I thought he might be okay in a peaceful environment as the one I had years ago was fine but it didn't work out with this one. Anyway, I took him back and went for the two rams. Whitespot soon developed despite doing everything by the book e.g. <... no quarantine...> feeding them every other day with no more than a pinch of flakes and some live daphnia or bloodworm. Once the disease broke out - on both rams and one of the sharks I turned up the temperature to 28 C and did a 25% water change then I purchased Protozin and have just started the treatment tonight after yet another high % water change. Please could you pass on to me any pearls of your wisdom and summarize for me the ideal soft / hard water / temp conditions for each of the fish I have described. <Is posted on WWM. Go, read there> I appreciate the Plecos will be harder since all I can tell you is that they are greenish, small, have light brownish bands on the rear end of their tails, lol. Oh, I have also just added the phosphate remover and also used one of the friendly bacteria restoring free medicines that came with the tank set-up kit. I appreciate any help you can give me. Many thanks, Steve. <... Steve... I wish we/you could start back at having just purchased this tank... You have too much, too incompatible a mix to keep here... The present treatment is/would be good... if you had these fish in three or four different (water condition, quality) tanks... Read my friend... and quickly. Take back the "sharks", separate these animals into "water" and "temperament" groups, decide what you want to do, either get more tanks or return the animals you can't have. Bob Fenner>

Advice... Raising RMF's Blood Pressure, Joshing? Super crowded incompatible FW mix/es  06/14/2006 Dear Mr. Fenner, thank you very much indeed for your help, with the greatest of respect to the shop I obtained my fish / kit from - if they had given me the right advice then I wouldn't be in this pickle :( <Yes... this is not an uncommon situation...> I am going to take back the sharks as you advised along the Dutch rams and then sort out in my mind what I want, probably will go for a scavenger catfish or maybe look into keeping my ghost knives... time to get reading as you rightfully said. <Ahh! Thank you for this follow-up... I really did think your message might have been a "practical joke" foisted by a friend... Bob Fenner>

Re: Advice... Fish water conditions / temp.s   6/16/06 Hi crew, As I am now using your resources to educate myself better I thought I'd just run through the fish types I have, any advice very much appreciated : Black Ghost Knives 2, water - soft / acidic ? so therefore 6 -7?, temp 24 - 28 C <... Please read here: http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=12220&genusname=Apteronotus&speciesname=albifrons > Silver / Bala Sharks 2, now realize my tank isn't big enough - thanks Bob, water = middling ph = 6.5 - 7.2, temp 12 - 25 C? that's the temp I read...12? <Okay> Reed Fish 2, once again NO where near big enough tank, saddens me to think they let me buy this fish and not properly advise me, my fault too for being ignorant. One of them is already between 6 - 8 inches and its a 18 - 19 gallon tank! Water = 6.5 - 7 , temp from 75 f to mid 80s. <Yes> Synodontis nigriventris 2, ph - 7 - 8 or 6 - 8 ? , at last a fish that may just like my water, temp 22 -26C. <Yes> The next two types of fish I have got, Dutch Rams 2, and 2 small Plecs (just don't know their name) are harder for me to find the temps / ph for, even harder for you to know what Plecs I have. <This is so. Most "enjoy" softer/acidic warm water> Please advise on ph / temps. I'm starting to get a picture that could look like : Synodontis and / or Plecs, and / or ghost knives. Silver sharks <Are these... Pangasiids... too large: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/pangasiids.htm or a minnow shark: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/minnowshks.htm> and Dutch Rams (why I want info for rams if they are going back I don't know) <Here?: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/rams.htm> and Reedfish to go back to shop due to space rather than anything else. Is this a sensible approach? <A beginning> Thanks as always, will keep in contact as in your help I can trust, where as in the shop I go to I think its a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing - despite being nice enough folk. Cheers, Steve. <Bob Fenner>

Re: silver sharks / freshwater minnows called sharks? Ongoing tribulations from poor blindly accepted advice   6/17/06 The two silver coloured sharks are the minnow ones, just thought I'd add that since starting the Protozin treatment both black ghost knives have died, could have honestly cried when I first saw the state of them, and one of the silver minnow sharks is on the way out. <... very sorry to read, hear> This is particularly distressing - as it appears to be suffocating to death and there is nothing I can do. The shop said to expect deaths and the only other thing they said was to give 6ml for the first 3 days then a day off then two more medication days followed by a 40 % water change - presumably later on the last day of medication. I did do a 25% change before I started. I have a filter attached to my mains water supply that gives me two options : 1, filtered, hard water with no impurities - filters finer than a blood cell. 2, soft water with impurities that are 'legal' like fluoride or chlorine which I can of course sort out with a dechlorinator tablet / liquid or something of that nature. <The, your source water is not "the problem", or much of one... the over-mis crowding, toxicity of the medicine... is> One of your colleagues said that it probably would be okay to feed them on one of the medicine days 'free', a relief as one or two of the fish were clearly very hungry. I've been feeding them every other day and only once a day since I started about three weeks ago - under instruction from the shop. I would have emailed the crew email address but during your last email back to me you were trying to clear up whether I had the minnow sharks or the bigger ones...panglas....? <Pangasiid catfish...> As always - many thanks Bob, Steve, Sorry I didn't say  hello at the top of this email, wasn't trying to appear rude. <No worries. Do read as much as you can before any action, purchase, please. Bob Fenner>

Crayfish, Sturgeon, Stingray, and Unfortunate Tank Size - 05/26/2006 Hi - We have a 28 gal fresh water tank with a blue lobster & crawfish. <These are both crayfish, actually.> Along with them are a sturgeon, flower stingray & a few  goldfish.   <You have got to be kidding.  I mean, sturgeon are ENORMOUS animals that need ENORMOUS amounts of space.  Pretty cold water, too.  If this were a 2,800 gallon aquarium, I might think you were serious about keeping a sturgeon.  This tank is grossly inadequately sized.  Uhh, the stingray as well, even if it's a very small juvenile, should be in 100 gallons at a minimum, with some serious surface area.  Even then, it will eventually outgrow the tank.  They get *big*.  And those few goldfish - in this small tank, they will foul the water quickly.  Your sturgeon and stingray are utterly doomed in this space.  I recommend returning these to the store urgently unless you happen to have the money and space it will take to appropriately care for them.  You really, really need to sit down and do a bit of research, here....> Do we need to provide a closed shelter for the lobster & crawfish to  molt?   <This is the least of your worries, believe me....  But yes, the crayfish and lobster (again, is also a crayfish) need safe places to molt.> We had (2) crawfish, and we found a piece of a shell, but now there  is only one crawfish. We're not sure what happened to it.   <One of the other Crays probably consumed it after it molted.> Thank you <Please think about the livestock in your system, and learn to research before making a purchase.  The animals you have will not survive long in your aquarium.  Research first, and then make a conscientious decision about what animals are suitable for your system.  You'll save yourself a lot of heartache.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Stocking A 75 Gallon FW Tank  - 05/22/2006 < In the center of the tank would be perfect. The Cory's would occupy the lower areas while the Gouramis occupy the upper levels. The intake would not interfere with either in the middle.-Chuck> Thanks Chuck. How many of each do you recommend for 75 gal.? Thanks again...DR < This is a big tank and can easily handle a dozen Cory cats and a dozen blue Gouramis.-Chuck>

Tank Compatibility  - 05/21/2006 Hi there, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I am new to this site and I have to say I learned a LOT from reading over various questions from other users and such, so THANK YOU for having such an informative site and for volunteering to help others out! <You're very welcome!  Glad to hear you're doing your research.> Anyway my question is this (well actually a couple of related questions): I currently have 2 tanks, a 29 gallon with 2 dwarf Gouramis, 5 silver dollars, 2 Plecos (one chocolate at about 5 inches, and one snowball at about 3 inches), 2 African dwarf frogs, and two small Bala sharks (about 2-3 inches); <Hmmm... (maybe not enough research?) hopefully they are all tiny juveniles & you are planning on upgrading them to at least 100g.  Silver dollars will grow as large as your outstretched hand, Bala sharks around 10", chocolate Pleco also 11", snowball Pleco 6 1/2".> and a 20 gallon tank with 6 rosy barbs (2 males and 4 females) and one blue lobster (which will be going in it's own tank soon, as I hear they like to catch and eat small/slow fish, though no incidents yet). What goes well with rosy barbs and do I have room for other fish for my 20 gallon tank? I also plan on getting either a 55 or 60 gallon tank, possibly bigger if need be because I am really interested in acquiring some discus (about 4 of them or so), and some blue rams. Are these compatible? If so, I was also thinking of adding my bigger Pleco to that tank. Does this sound reasonable for a 55-60 gallon tank? <I'd forget about the discus & start saving for a much bigger tank for the fish you already have.  Please research the adult sizes of your fish, before you buy them.  ~PP> Thank you for your time, I appreciate it! Lindsey

Columbian Sharks, Use, Wal-Mart, Humanity Sigh, <<"Sigh", Patrick? Tom here and, we haven't even started yet. :)>> As someone else mentioned in your FAQ for Columbian Sharks I went to Wal-Mart and bought four of these beautiful creatures on a whim. <<Never a good idea to buy on a "whim", Patrick, unless you're familiar with the fish you're buying.>> The display said they would grow to be six inches in length.   <<Virtually none of the Columbian Sharks sold at Wal-Mart will ever live long enough to be six inches long because few, if any, of their employees know enough about these fish to educate the customers about them. The signs are deliberately mislabeled because only advanced aquarists are going to buy an animal that will attain 13-14 inches in length, perhaps more. (Thank you, Sam Walton, for yet another despicable business practice.)>> After reading a lot about them tonight I finally landed on this website.   <<Glad to have you with us to share your experience.>> As of reading all of this I have decided to return them to Wal-Mart.  I wish I could keep them because they are so beautiful but I do not anticipate having the capabilities to purchase and maintain a suitable environment for them.   <<Then you're doing the most responsible thing that I, or any of my fellow crew members, could ask of you. Understand, Patrick, that these fish are going to die. Someone who hasn't taken the time to research, as you have, will purchase these fish - provided the store doesn't kill them first - and their ignorance about keeping these fish will lead to their demise. If that doesn't sicken everyone who reads this posting, it certainly should.>> I have also written Wal-Mart an e-mail urging them to change the information on their displays.  I realize that this will do little to nothing but it's a start.   <<My hat's off to you, my friend!>> <Please do write corporate, RMF> Thank you for the information that you have provided.   <<No, Patrick, thank you. I'm only along for the ride on this one. You've provided everyone who reads this with an example worthy of emulation. I only hope others follow it!>> I'm very sad to lose these sharks as they are so beautiful and I have been very excited about getting them.   <<There'll be another day, Patrick. You know what's required for these fish and I'm betting that, in time, you'll have the resources available.>> This e-mail is obviously not a question but a thank you for the information that you have compiled. <<Consider this response a "Thank You" from all of us at WWM!>> Sincerely Patrick Steiner <<Tom>>

Wal-Mart addy, prompting  - 05/13/2006 I read on your site that you were urging your readers to contact Wal-mart to ask them to stop carrying, or train their staff to care for the fish they carry.  Bravo!  But the address would be helpful. Wal-Mart Corporate Headquarters 702 S.W. Eighth Street Bentonville, AR  72716 479-273-4000 If every one of your readers took the time to send a letter, we could make a difference.  If nothing else to alert the "powers that be" that they loose more "product" (translation money) by not caring for their fish than it is financially (in bottom line sales) profitable.  Also, not buying fish from such a place would go a long way to convincing them not to re-order this product.  If you sell glass, you invest in a lot of bubble wrap.  If you sell fish, you should invest in training sales staff to care for them. One letter is worth 500 in store protests, by the way. <Outstanding. Thank you for your interest, help here. Though there are (of course) many fine people, and even some admirable business practices at this largest of U.S.-based (for now) endeavors, I am given to avoid their establishments out of personal disregard for some aspects... the lack of fair representation, health benefits for employees... Some incidental information I've been party to re their adventitious stock/pricing policies... and more to the point here, the lack of regard for the livestock assortment, apparent lack of training of personnel in their "aquarium departments". Am also cc'ing old friends Nevin and Tom Bailey, who supply much of this mass merchandiser with life... to urge their further input. Bob Fenner>

Freshwater Seahorses?  No.... - 04/22/2006 Hi Mr. Fenner, my name is Danny, <Hi Danny, Sabrina here in Bob's stead.> I am looking to get freshwater seahorses for one of my tanks. <Good luck!  There are no such critters.> Where would I be able to find some? <There once may have been a species of freshwater seahorse in lake Titicaca, but it is long extinct.  There are, however, a handful of freshwater Pipefishes in the world, though they are VERY rarely available in the hobby.  Take a look at http://www.fishbase.org for information, species names....  and then seek out a store in your area that can special order one of the species you are interested in.  Remember, though, that they will eat ONLY live foods, and can be extremely difficult to care for as a result.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

FW livestocking  4/18/06 Hello <Hi there> I am the new owner of a 30 gallon freshwater tank. I have a planted aquarium with a Fluval 3 filter. I have three fancy guppies, two Otos (midget suckermouths), 3 ghost shrimps and a lot of unwanted snails.   <Heee!> Everything seems to be going well (water testing is normal).  I have had the tank for 1 month now and I would love to add more fish. I would love to add an angelfish, a yoyo loach and a bumblebee goby <... the Angel will probably not be compatible in time... the goby is a brackish water animal...> plus a few other assorted community fish (tetras, guppies etc). Can I add all of these types together safely and how many of each should I be adding? <Better to put together a long-er range stocking plan here... add the smaller, easier-going species in your ultimate list first... a few at a time> I was reading that I should always add loaches in pairs or in threes...is this true? <Depends on the species, but yes, these are social animals> How many fish can I add at a time and how long should I wait in between adding fish and which types should I add first? <See above> Can you suggest any other colourful fish that would be suitable with this combination of fish? Thanks for your time and what a great website. Chandi <Are listed... on the WWM site. Start that list, add notes re likely largest size, how fast the choices will grow, their compatibility, feeding, systems requirements... Bob Fenner>

Some very specific freshwater questions .. stkg. mostly  04/17/2006 Hello. How's the WWM crew? <Mmm, am okay m'self... is this part of the above stated specifics?> Its been a year or so since my last email. Anyway, I got some questions, and I would truly appreciate your groups prompt reply. <I'll give you mine> I currently have 2 clown loaches, 1 albino rainbow shark, 1 rainbow shark in my 75gal tank, and Ill be transferring them to my newly setup 90gal tank once it has fully cycled. The tank was setup just yesterday, and in it are some green Cabombas, and what might be Vallisneria or Sagittaria or Eleocharis (LFS forgot its exact name, but it looks a lot like a clump of tall green grass. Got the names from looking at WWM pics). Next week, Ill be buying some water sprites. Tank also has 5pcs of old bog woods (I bought this 3yrs ago) w/c I haven't used in a long time (like for 2yrs). The filter is Resun 808 canister filter with a pump output of 1500l/h and filter circulation 800l/h. The tank is situated by the window and receives direct sunlight in the afternoon. (By the way, I live in the tropics Philippines actually. Ave. temp. is 29 C. <Toasty!> Im planning to add some more fish into the tank. I really have my heart set on some cyprinodonts like platies, mollies and swordtails. Question is, are they going to be compatible with the loaches and rainbow sharks with regard to behavior and water parameters? <The minnow sharks might go after the slower livebearing toothed carps... only experience can/will show> I know the livebearers love hard alkaline waters. I've no idea for the loaches, and rainbow sharks. <Their ranges for water quality overlap here> Also, is it okay to have bogwood in their tank? <Mmm, yes... along with regular water changes (20-25% a week)> I know bogwood lowers ph and makes water soft, but I just love the aesthetics of it.  But, if it would be detrimental to my fish's health, I will remove them. My fish comes first. LFS and fish breeders tell me to add rock salt to a livebearers tank. Will the loach and rainbow shark tolerate that? <Enough to make a difference, yes. About a maximum of a level teaspoon per ten actual gallons of system water. Replaced with water changes per volume changed out> While Im at it, I plan to buy some tiger, rosy, Sumatra, and one spot barbs as well. I might throw in some serpae, black skirt, and red cross tetra too. What do you think? <The Tetras are not likely a good mix here... for reasons I suspect you're aware of> Would that be too diverse a community tank? <IMO, yes... I'd stick with a theme of similarly tempered animals, plants, that "enjoy" similar water quality, or better, these characteristics and biotopic considerations> Thank you so much for taking time out to answer my questions. More power! Paul <Indeed! Thank you for writing/sharing. Bob Fenner>

Keeping Monos with Freshwater Fish  4/14/06 Hello Bob, how are you?   <Bob is great, you've got Pufferpunk here today.> I wanted to put a few monos in my 75gal and was wondering if the current fish I have in my tank will withstand brackish water?  The fish are as follows:  6 tiger barbs, 2 rainbow sharks and a clown loach.  I have read that they should be slowly acclimated to full concentration seawater as they age, but for now I wish to keep them in my FW tank (and later transfer them to my SW tank).  Can I do this with the fresh water selection of fish that I have? <None of your fish will appreciate salt of any kind, especially the amount you will need to even start out keeping monos.  We're talking about at LEAST 1 cup of salt/5g for juveniles.  Also monos grow to around a foot & are schooling fish (5-6).  This means at least a 300g tank for all of them.  ~PP> Thanks

Ramblings re FW livestocking    4/14/06 Hi,  I have 2 - 75 gallon tanks.  In the latest one we have 2 clown loaches, a knife, <What species, family at least?>   a cat, a Pleco, and a Severum (very gentle)  and a few dwarf gouramis.  I like fish   with lots of movement or play and color;  not just the typical;  any suggestions. I have fun watching the clown loaches as they seem to play "tag" together. All the   fish are very well acclimated to each other and do very well.      The second large tank has 3 Pacu that I am presently searching for a home for   so that tank will be clear to restock - more suggestions - I have seriously been   considering discus. <?> Or,  can the discus be added to the aforementioned tank?    <Not practically, no... have different temperaments, water quality needs>   I also have in another tank 3 Oscars that I am selling.  For a while I had a   smaller live bearer tank but just enjoyed more of a variety of fish and the   larger tanks are the best so that I can put fish that can grow somewhat.      I just sold 2 - 55 gal. tanks so am now down to the 2- 75, 2 - 10 and one   30 gal.  Lots of fun for my husband and I.  We built a special cabinet that   house the smaller tanks recessed inside and the larger ones on top -   a one wall unit..........      Please respond,   Sincerely,   Nelwyn Mills      do you notify by email your responses? <Yes... and post. Bob Fenner, a bit confused with what you're looking for here. The basic requirements (Systems) and Compatibility of these and many other freshwater organisms are posted on WWM. Please, go read there re. Bob Fenner>

Cool water Companions - 04/04/2006 Hi, <Hey, Nate!> I am looking for some companions for some white cloud minnows.  My tank is currently about 68 degrees.  I have a heater, but I understand the white cloud minnows don't like anything above 72.   <Right, best to keep it cool.> Right now I have a 75 gallon with about a dozen minnows, so I have room for more fish.  I was thinking of maybe adding another dozen minnows.  For other cooler water companions.   <Indeed!> I understand I can add guppies, swordtails, platies and mollies (should I bump the temp up to 72 for these guys?)   <Actually, I'd skip on these and go for something a little "cooler" (pun heavily intended) like Goodeids or Skiffia.  Don't mix species from the same genus (for example, Ilyodon xantusi can mix with Ameca splendens, but not Ilyodon furcidens).  You can find a number of Goodeids available on http://www.aquabid.com now and often through local aquarium clubs.  In fact, if you're in the SF Bay Area, I know where you can get a few different species pretty easily.  Goodeids are big, beautiful livebearers that not only prefer but ultimately *need* the cooler temperatures that you're working with.  You could probably be okay with some of the less heavily inbred swordtails, maybe mollies as well, but the best bet for fun fish is the Goodeids.  You can also swing something like giant or zebra Danios, as these fare quite well in cooler water.> Are there other fish that like this temperature range (maybe a few bottom dwellers).   <Bottom dwellers - yeah - try to locate Etheostoma species, if you can; these are North American natives, kinda goby-like and very cute.  Some are *quite* colorful.  I believe there are a number of North American natives available at http://www.jonahsaquarium.com .  For something more "common", your basic weather/dojo loach will appreciate the cooler temps, as will some of the more delicate and bizarre "Hillstream loaches".  There are even a few Loricariids that can be found in cooler streams.> I am most interested in hardy, colorful fish.  Thanks. <Ilyodon xantusi, Ameca splendens, zebra Danios and weather loaches would make fine additions for active, colorful, fun critters.> Nate Terry <All the best to you,  -Sabrina>

Hard water system choices for livestock    3/29/06 My parents have a 55 gal. aquarium with 2 serpae tetras, 2 silver dollars, one 9 in Pleco and their water is hard well water. I'm trying to switch them over to fish that handle this water better , but I am also looking for fish that are peaceful. I'm not there to watch these fish all the time and my parents just want to look at a pretty aquarium and don't pay attention to any problems that may arise. I've been looking into rainbow fish and I am not sure what kind to get or if there are even better choices for  these circumstances. Do you have any suggestions? <A Rainbowfish system... perhaps with some SAE's and relatives (see WWM re) would be very nice. As might be a larger livebearer (Swordtails, Mollies) display... And must plug my favorite... some large fancy goldfishes... There are many more such themes that might be employed. Bob Fenner>

Aquarium stocking, FW   3/15/06 Good Afternoon, <And to you> Great site!!  Its always on my to read list while I eat my lunch at work. <It's my first thing in the AM... to get it done/over!> Seeing as you provide such great advice, I thought I would pass some plans I have for my two tanks (both are cycled, and ready to go) by you and get your reaction/thoughts. I have a 20 gallon tank that is well planted on one half, and open on the other half (with a few ornaments/cave/driftwood).  I have one dwarf Gourami in it, as his tank mates died about a month ago (other Gourami died of a bad infection of some kind, and clown loaches caught ick). I isolated this tank, raised the temp to 86 and treated with salt to clean it of any further infection.   I plan on getting another dwarf Gourami, a Gold Gourami, a Pearl Gourami and about 6 Harlequin Rasbora for this tank (and probably 1 snail). <I'd stick with just two Gourami species here> I have a 10 gallon tank that I would like to use for a livebearer tank. I plan on having 3 fancy guppies and 3 platies. There are the usual plastic plants and ornaments in this tank.  I plan on using a ratio of 2 tablespoons per 5 gallon of sea salt in the tank. Do these set-ups seem reasonable?  I don't want to over populate, and make the space stressful for the fishes. Thanks Adam <Should work. Bob Fenner>

Reviving and Stocking FW System   3/14/06 Thanks in advance for taking my question.  I've tried to look through the FAQs for answers, but I haven't had any luck.  I keep a 6 gallon Eclipse at work.  Until last week, I had a male Betta and a Platy.  They had done well (enough) together in a 1.5 gallon tank with an aerator but no filter.  But I decided that they would be happier with more room and some filtration, and upgraded to the 6 gallon tank. < Goo Idea> The tank was looking a little empty with just the two of them in there, so last week I went to the pet store and got a guppy and a Dalmatian molly. When they got home, the guppy started eating immediately but the molly wasn't too perky.  The molly was close to dead the next morning.  He'd stay really still, and then freak out for about 5 seconds and swim in spirals. Then he'd stop and fall back to the bottom of the tank and lay on his side. I removed him from the tank and put him in some fresh water, but he was dead within about 15 minutes. Since the guppy seemed to be working out ok, I went back and replaced the molly with a second guppy.  The next day, I came in and the original guppy was dead.  His fins had been bitten off, and I don't know whether that happened before or after he was dead. I've now come back in to work after the weekend and the 2nd guppy and the original Betta are dead.  The platy seemed pretty weak, but alive, so I quickly put the old 1 ½ gallon tank back together and got him into fresh water over there (I keep bottled water for the fish in my office so that its the same temp).  He perked up within a few minutes and is now eating and active. Im thinking that something foul came in with the new fish. < That is why we always recommend a quarantine tank for new fish.> I was back in the pet store over the weekend, and almost all of their freshwater tanks are empty (they were all full and had new arrivals on Friday). < Should have asked where all the fish were.> I had checked my water quality right before everyone started dying, and everything but iron was in normal range, and I think that's just for the plant anyway. My question (finally!) is what to do now with the tank.  I've done about ½ a water change and have it cycling now, but should I dump the whole thing and clean it out? < Let the tank sit for a week with no fish. Most parasites will soon die off without a host. Check the water. Ammonia and nitrites should be zero and the nitrates should be under 25 ppm.> Is there something I can do to make sure that in the future new arrivals don't bring the fish plague in with them? < Make the older smaller tank a quarantine tank. Search the WWM website for details.> Whatever this disease was, it took fish from being fine and active one day and killed them overnight Id rather just keep the platy alone in the small tank if there's nothing I can do to keep from being the fish version of Typhoid Mary in the future. Any advice you have will be appreciated Im very new at this. Thanks, Jen <Instead of buying brand new fish at the store over the weekend try buying you fish on Thurs. before they get a new shipment in. This way the fish have been in the store nearly a week. Most of the weaker fish will die off at the store and not in your tank. If they do get sick then the store will have to treat them and not you. If you do this and quarantine the new fish this will greatly reduce your problems in the bigger tank.-Chuck>

Large FW aquarium stocking  2/6/06 I have been asked be our local hospital to take over their 300 gallon tank.  About 10 yrs ago I had set it up for them and made it an African Cichlid tank.  I then got sent to 6 mo of training out of state and transferred the account to a LFS.  They promptly pulled out all of my large specimens and sold them in the LFS and replaced it with a juv. They typically put in red zebras so they ended up with a tank full of red zebras which everyone thought were comets.  (It is actually kind of fun to listen to all the fish experts working in the hospital explain that the tank is having problems because goldfish are such dirty fish, when its a tank full of Africans).  The administrator wants nothing to do with cichlids now, and that was usually my standard for a large freshwater tank.  I have some good ideas for filling that tank up, utilizing schools of little flashy guys like neons and such, but thought I would see what you guys thought since I have been away from tanks for quite a whale <Thar she blows!> and you play with this stuff daily.  Any suggestions?  His only demands are that it be colorful, active and have lots of variety...and no red zebras.  Thanks. <... some sort of theme... biotope. Show some pix to whoever really makes the decision here... Something suited to the prevailing water (tap) quality. Bob Fenner>

Stocking A Large 300 Gallon FW Tank   2/7/06 I was thinking on adding the following: Top water: Hatchetfish, Zebra Danios, Pearl Danios < All very active and look good in schools. The hatchets tend to jump when spooked so may not be a good choice for a very active area. Mid: Cardinal Tetras, Neon Tetras, Harlequin Rasboras, Rosy or Bleeding Heart Tetras, Kribensis or rams. < All good fish as long as they are all going to be about the same size.> Bottom: Cory cats, Pleco, Clown loach, Kuhli loach, Otocinclus <Some Plecos get big. Go to planetcatfish.com and get a species that will not get too big for the other fish. Clown loaches get very big over time and can be aggressive. Go to loaches.com for a smaller more suitable species.> I ran across this combo in one fish book a long time ago.  Any thoughts about adding guppies, mollies, swordtails? < They really prefer hard alkaline water to look their best but larger ones will go after smaller fish.> I have always shied away from these and leaned more towards the African cichlids as it doesn't seem like their home aquarium that way.   Also, I was wondering if gouramis or a Betta would do well.  I wasn't sure if all the quick little tetras would pester them too much.  Also wondering if you could put both in, or if the Gourami is to Betta-shaped and would get attacked? <Bettas have these nice long flowing fins that other fish can't seem to resist. Soon the fins are ragged and the fish is hurting. Gouramis have these little ventral fins that have been transformed into little feelers. Other fish always tend to pick these off and they never regrow right.> Any input as to species you would add or omit? < The cardinals would look great but need soft clean soft acidic water to thrive.> How many individuals would you recommend for a 300gal? < Many factors involved like water changes, filtration etc... I think your biggest problem will be disease control. I would quarantine all fish in a smaller tank for at least two weeks and add each species slowly over time. This will allow you to see how each are adapting to the new tank. Nothing causes more trouble in a public aquarium than sick dying fish and green water.> Would you use plastic or live plants? < Live plants in the areas that get light and plastic in the darker corners.> Either way, in a 300gal it is going to take a lot.  I wasn't sure if the live plants would look nice enough for a display tank.  I have seen some live planted home tanks that look stunning, and some where the plants look shredded.   I haven't done much with live aquarium plants, and will definitely have a test tank at home either way. Thank you.  The site is great.  Lots of good information in there.   I wish I had accessed all this information years ago.  I learned everything the old-fashioned, expensive way - Whoops, that didn't work.  Better go back to the pet shop. < Good luck with the project and thank you for you kind words.-Chuck>  

20 gallon tank - How many fish?!?   1/10/06     Hello!    <Hi there>   My boyfriend and I have just set up a 20 gallon tank with 4 plastic plants, a small cave and a small rock. I have a bubble curtain set up in the background which seems to help the water circulation considerably, and of course I have a good working TopFin Filter set up. I use a water heater to keep the temperature between 76-78 degrees. I heard that it is better to add half the fish you plan to have to your tank first, and then add the other half later, for adoption reasons:    <Yes>   So, today we went to a tropical fish store <Wait! How long has this tank been up and going? Has it cycled?> and purchased a male swordtail and a female swordtail, two Bala sharks, <Get way too big for this size system...> and 6 zebra Danios. I tested the water before they went in and all levels are stable (nitrite, nitrate, pH, alkalinity, etc.) so right now all of the fish are looking extremely happy and energetic, but the tank still looks really bare. We were thinking of adding 1 Angel fish (because i also heard that you should either put one angel in or more than 3 to prevent bullying), 2 gouramis and 4 glass cats. <I would hold off on adding more fish/es till this system has been running a few weeks more> I am hoping that would fill the tank just fine, but i wanted your advice (since you seem to answer everyone's questions so well!) on whether or not you think this is overload for my tank and whether or not all of these fish are compatible with one another and the ratios for each separate species of fish seem okay. <The Angel/s are a wild-card... may work out fine or be agonistic> I still have a lot to learn. I have been doing research on the web, and so far it seems as though they should be compatible, but desperately want expert advise!    <Best to proceed slowly... especially at first, and in making stocking selections>   Thanks so much in advance for all of your help!   Jaime and August from Baltimore, MD <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

"Freshwater Lionfish"   1/7/06 Hello I have had trouble learning what the species requires I searched your site an your crew says its a Sculpin or something but here is the fish that I have. This is the scientific name Batrachus trispinosus.  This is a picture of the fish your pictures weren't the same thing. There are numerous common names as with all fish, but I get the best results on Google using the name Freshwater Lionfish. >> Sorry I hit send too early my cut and paste is all garbled by Word: Batrachomoeus trispinosus (current valid name) comes from Brackish water, in the Mekong and around Indonesia. There is a very similar fish from the North and Atlantic coast in the mangroves of South America called Batrachus surinamensis, also found around the mouth of the Amazon in Brazil and points south. As suggested they will need some salt in the water. They get quite big, I have seen them over 16 inches. Other than that they have the same requirements as marine species in the group. <Thank you for this. There are indeed a few species offered as "FW Lions"... almost all are brackish to marine animals. Bob Fenner>

FW Community Tank Recommendations  - 01/03/2006 We have a 55 gallon freshwater community tank.  Right now we have five Rummynose tetra; two Congo tetra; two hatchets; two swordtails; one dwarf Gourami; one Raphael cat; one whiptail cat; one dragon fish; one Cory cat; a golden algae eater; an African butterfly fish; and a baby whale.  We're shopping now for a royal Pleco. We're rapidly running out of space but still want to add a few more things- looking for something interesting that would occupy the middle of the tank. Any ideas? Thanks Dan. <With thousands of freshwater species available it is difficult to know what fish are available in your area of the world. The Royal Pleco will get big. I would recommend a different type of Pleco that stays smaller. Go to Planetcatfish.com to research other types of Plecos. Your dragon fish may eat smaller slower bottom dwelling fish. There are two ways to go. You could go with the small fish/big school effect. This is like adding 20 more rummy nose tetras and the big school moves as one unit and can be pretty impressive. The same for your Congo tetras. The other way is to add bigger fish. Bigger fish tend to pick on and intimidate smaller fish. Angelfish would work but might pick on the feelers of the Gourami. Cichlid wise keyhole cichlids or Festivums are very peaceful. Odd ball fish would include Headstanders, glassfish, glass catfish, transparent Knifefish. Schooling fish like rainbows are both colorful and have a very cool habit of "flashing" neon colors from their forehead area. Celebes rainbows have long fins that they use to display to one another an is very interesting to watch. Go to aquabid.com and check out the other fish that may be available to you.-Chuck>

Small Tank, Big Problems  12/15/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> My young son has 7 gallon glass tank with 50 watt heater, Whisper filter with carbon and a fancy in the tank aerator. We usually have a centerpiece (ship, castle, coral) and 1-2 larger plastic plants and a couple smaller.  About an inch of gravel in bottom. The occupants are a zebra Danio, black phantom tetra, red phantom tetra, glow eye tetra, a Gourami, Ã� Cory and a tiny algae eater. <That's a lot of fish for such a small tank.  If you are trying to follow the  1"/gallon rule (used only for small fish), then you have to account for their adult size.  In that case you have well over 10" of fish, depending on what species your Gourami is & the "algae eater" (if it's a Pleco, they can grow over 18").  Also, most of your fish are schooling fish (tetras, Danios) & you only have 1 of each species.> We have lost some fish over a period of time (3 platys, a Bloodfin) and had to return an aggressive molly. <They can be pretty mean!.> The fish we presently have seem to get along pretty good although tend to hide most of the time with the exception of the Danio. <Probably because they are uncomfortable not being able to school.> The Cory recently developed some white growth on his side and then a large bubble appeared on his forehead and burst. He started moving around crazily and we find him in strange places such as top of the heater or alongside it. <Sounds like bacterial infection, due to poor water quality.  Cories are usually fairly hardy.> The water temp is about 80. At first I thought it was outgassing from too much aeration, but then I noticed one of his eyes bulging and his sides seemed protruding. The conclusion with the local Petco was dropsy and we have been treating it for a couple days now. He seems to be improving. <That's good.> I removed the aerator from the tank when we thought of the outgassing and I wanted to clean it as it was pretty algae caked. <Probably not necessary to remove, but if your filter has good water flow, the extra bubbles aren't really needed.> I now notice the tank rapidly increasing in algae on all the plants and there are some dark black spots growing on the glass. <Could be from overfeeding & not enough water changes.> I clearly have a sick tank. I know I should be changing 20% of the water weekly but its probably been more like every 2-3 weeks. <Aha! I was right! 50% weekly water changes are what I do to maintain a healthy tank.  Especially one that is overcrowded.  Be sure to clean the gravel too.> I was going to put the aerator back in but then I noticed an article/discussion on your site about sponge filters.  Since it appears that carbon is only effective for a short time, what do you think of my using a correct sized sponge filter for bio and aeration reasons along with the whisper filter for particulate and carbon filtering? <Carbon isn't needed.  I only use it on freshwater tanks to remove medications I may have used in a hospital tank.  I love Aquaclear filters.  They have a sponge (for mechanical filtration) & BioMax ceramic rings (for biological filtration) & I like to put about 1" filter floss in between (for polishing the water crystal clear).> I do not have a test kit (a problem I plan on changing today) but I clearly need to get more in tune with the water issues and change the 20% weekly. <Great! Test for ammonia & nitrItes (should be 0 at all times), nitrAtes (should be <20) & pH (should be around neutral, 7.2 or close to what your tapwater is).> Finally, I bought a Hydor Ekip 250 awhile back liking the all in one idea. But it was a bit noisy for my son¹s bedroom. So I kept using the whisper. What do you think of this filter design? Is the sponge my best bet for the bio reasons? <I am not familiar with this system (although just looked it up on the net).  It looks as effective as most other filters, for a small tank.  Be sure to leave your existing filter on your tank for at least a month after you buy a new one, so the bacteria have time to establish in the new one.> Thanks much for your timely reply. His fish need you! <Good luck & remember--water changes, water changes, water changes!  ~PP> James

Coldwater Fish Tank Stocking  11/15/05 Hello, I am very impressed with your site, it is very useful. <Thanks> I am 15 years old and in my bedroom I have a 6.6 gallon coldwater aquarium with a filter but no heater. The tanks dimensions are 24 inches x 8 inches x 8 inches. At the moment I have six white cloud mountain minnows and two Garra garra taeniata.  I am interested in either getting rosy red minnows - will they school with the white cloud mountain minnow or will they create two separate groups? Or a trio of guppies for breeding (two males and one female) or zebra Danios (are the long finned or short finned species better? what is the minimum number of these I can have in my tank to keep them content?) What would be the best mix or either guppies, red minnows or zebra Danios to go with the fish I have at present? How many would you suggest? Thank-you very much for your advice, Joe < Go with the Danios. If they are all the same size they will probably school together. The fins of the male guppies may get picked on by the other fish. Get about 6 of each for a schooling effect and to make them feel more comfortable. Check the nitrates and do your water changes often to keep the nitrate levels down.-Chuck>  <<Mm, I think Chuck mis-read the size of this aquarium - this is far too small for six of each of these groups....  -SCF>>

Moving Fish Around  10/20/05 I have two tanks with too many fish in them.  In one, the fish just got way too big, and the other way too friendly.  I have two more tanks...a ten (well 2-10s actually--but parts for one.) and a 30 X 12" tank (long) I would like to shuffle my fish, and get two of the black tipped shark/minnows.   The "sharks would go in the 30 X 12 tank, and I would like to move out several female cichlids to the ten gallon tank. I would like to move one of the goldfish (they are so pretty-fantails) to the longer tank too--with the sharks (and maybe a few Neons?)  Can or should I take water from the old tanks to set up the new tanks to keep from shocking the fish.  They all seem really healthy and happy--but crowded at the moment, and I'd just like to alleviate the crowded part.  Thanks <It is more important that you use some of the old gravel from the established tank to be used in the new tank. It contains bacteria that will be needed to convert fish waste into less toxic compounds. Try not mixing goldfish with tropical fish. Goldfish like cooler temps than the tropicals. Somebody will get sick over time.-Chuck>

Not The Greatest Mix, and Maybe Velvet - 10/18/2005 Hi and thanks for a great site! <Good morning, and thanks for the kind words!> I have a screwy tank population and I need advice on how bad it really is and if I can intro a livebearing species into it.  I have a 29 gal long tank with an AquaClear 200 filter and a heater. For livestock I have 2 Plecos, 1 banjo catfish, 1 dwarf frog, 1 Kuhli loach (sp?), <Kuhli> 1 Oranda, <Does NOT belong in this tropical mix at all.> 6 tetras (maybe serpae or phantom) , 5 small mystery tetras-3/4 inch white with 2 red spots on fins, and 6 Cory cats. I had a school of black sailfin mollies-about 9 as well. <Too many fish, including the mollies.  Mollies prefer harder, more alkaline water than the tetras, banjo, loach, Plec, Corys....> I keep the tank at 78 degrees, I add 1tbsp of salt for every 5 gallons and I test it every 2 days. I do a 10 gallon water change 2-3 times a week <Slow down there, turbo, that's a bit too much changing of water!  Kick back and enjoy your tank a bit.> and the ph is always around 7.8, <Too high in my opinion for the most of your fish - BUT - a stable pH is what's important, NOT a precise pH....  I would keep this as-is, if it's working well for your fish.> ammonia zero, nitrites and nitrates negligible. <Mm, nitrites should not be "negligible", but zero.> Half of the mollies were a new intro and I think they stressed out the original mollies. After 2 days together I saw one male start to lose weight and move to the bottom of the tank and start shimmying. <Not a good sign, at all....> He died. Another one became sick the next day and I took him to the pet store for advice. They said he was going to die so I left him there. <Could be salvageable - I have seen these symptoms in plenty of livebearing fishes before; in my case(s), it was always Oodinium ("velvet") - a pretty communicable parasitic complaint.  Uhh, you really, really should start employing a quarantine tank for new livestock....> I came home and Moved the 5 new mollies out of my 29 and added a little more salt. The new mollies are doing ok-1 fatality and all of my original mollies are dead. Before they die they develop a faded cast on the back half of their body. What went wrong? <Yes, I imagine you saw some sort of protozoan parasitic disease.> What should I do? <In all honesty, I did have some great success treating exclusively with food medicated with Metronidazole - but there are more effective methods of treatment, to be sure....  just none I would comfortably use in the presence of your scaleless catfishes and sensitive tetras.  Oh, actually, I take that back - elevated temperature and salt (perhaps bringing the specific gravity of the water up to even 1.003) would likely bring about a cure, and though somewhat irritating to the catfishes, is certainly better than dying.> I lost my little girls pregnant molly in this mess and she's very upset-can we get another livebearer? <I would not, not in this system.  Too differing in water preferences....  Why not set up a small (say, 10g or so) tank for her for a few platies?  If you have the space, time, funds to do so, of course.  I would keep such a tank salted a bit more than your current tank, and perhaps even buffer the water with a little bit of aragonite sand or crushed coral in a filter sock in the filter to keep the pH a little high and stable.> And if so-what do you suggest? Thanks so much! Any advice is appreciated. Lynn Fish <All the best,  -Sabrina>

Lack Of Quarantine, Bad Mix, Ich - 10/17/2005 I have a 37 gallon tank with 5 assorted Rainbows, 2 Congo Tetras, 1 South American Puffer, 1 Silver Dollar, 1 Pleco and 1 Clown Loach. Until recently, it also had a few Furcata Rainbows.  <Not really a great mix.... Schoolers without schools, aggressive fin nippers with very delicate animals, fish that will outgrow this tank....> 2 weeks ago, I added one of the Rainbows, the SA Puffer, a BGK and a Buenos Aires Tetra.  <The knife does not belong with fish that nip fins.... or in a 37g tank at all for that fact.> The BGK died 4 days after purchase (and no, I did not stick them into a quarantine tank), <Bad move, man.> and just 2 days ago, I noticed the Rainbows and the Silver Dollar all had chunks of their fins missing. The SD also looked like it had developed Ick.  <....and now you realize the vital importance of quarantining new livestock?> I observed the tank and noticed the Buenos Aires Tetra nipping at the other fish <To be expected.... learn about your animals prior to mixing them, and keep schooling fish in schools.> and removed him to our 10 gallon tank with our Blue Lobster and Goldfish.  <....you do realize he's likely brought ich to your goldfish now, yes? Furthermore, do you think he'll be any kinder to the goldfish than the tropicals? No. He also should not be in with cool water animals.> I turned off the bio-wheel filtration system and added an Ick medicine I had used in the tank last year called Metronidazole by Seachem.  <Not the best or most effective choice at all....> The fish were eating fine until tonight. They ate very little (including the SA Puffer who loves his Bloodworms) and I noticed several of them had the white spots. <Hope that didn't come as a surprise to you, and I hope you've read our information regarding ich: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm .> I removed all of the fake plants and ornaments and rinsed them off. Next, I gravel vac'd the tank and removed 25% of the water. I turned the filtration system back on because the water was still a little cloudy from the water change (which is done every 3 weeks) and I wanted to clean it up a bit. I have been reading all of the responses for ick and I am completely confused since I have a wide array of fish. Please help! <Much to think about here, for the long-term health of all the animals involved. Do please read the article linked above, and also search the 'net about treating freshwater ich with salt. I would likely treat with salt and elevated temperature for these fish, and begin considering what sort of fish/system I want.... and plan.> Sincerely, Steven M. Doctors <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Livestock Selection I love your site. It has been instrumental in our growing love and knowledge of aquariums and saving the life of our daughter's goldfish a couple of years ago. Sally is now 3+ years old and thriving (Sally is the goldfish, not the daughter). <Heee!> This summer we moved beyond goldies and now have a 50 gallon FW community aquarium. It has been up for about 10 weeks, cycled, and occupants added in stages to include: - 5 red serpae tetra (Hyphessobrycon eques) - 5 Otos (Otocinclus affinis) - 5 zebra Danios (Danio rerio) - 5 Cory catfish (Corydoras trilineatus) (labeled julii by LFS but definitely three striped after reading your and linked articles) Reading your FAQ's has greatly helped in our selections so far and narrowed our list of others, but I would appreciate if you could comment on the short list of future possible additions. We definitely won't add all of the ones listed, but would like to add some contrast to complement our other family members. - dwarf Gourami (Colisa lalia), pair - glass catfish, pair - Gold Barb, 3 or 5 - silver hatchets - Cardinal tetras - Harlequin Rasbora, (Rasbora heteromorpha) <All good choices> The wife and daughters really like angelfish and pink kissing Gourami, but I've ruled them out due to size and aggression. <Good> Any other compatible suggestions for a centerpiece pair (vs. the schoolers we currently have) would also be appreciated. Finally, do you know if the "Gold Barbs" typically offered are Puntius sachsii or P. gelius? <The former is what I believe is almost always seen> Fishbase.org has the common names as "Goldfinned barb" and "Golden barb" respectively for these species and they look similar. <Mmm, yes... common names twixt science (FishBase) and pet-fish can be problematically confusing> Thanks so much for all your help, both directly and via the FAQs. Rob <There are many choices for "centerpieces" here... at all levels of the aquarium... for today I suggest some bottom dwellers... perhaps a couple, three loaches... even Clowns, Botia macracantha. Bob Fenner> 

Stocking a 90 Gallon  9/26/05 Dear WetWebMedia Crew, Thank you for taking time to help with my question. I have written a few previous times and always been very satisfied. My question is that I have a 90 gallon that has been running for five or six months now. My list of livestock includes: 3 tinfoil barbs 2 black convicts 1 electric blue jack Dempsey 1 Brazilian cichlid 1 Firemouth cichlid 1 green Texas cichlid 1 Pleco 1 spotted Pimelodus cat All of them are doing fine together so far and are still less than an inch long. My fear is that I have overstocked my tank. How soon do you think before these fish outgrow this size tank? Will they all be able to get along when they are fully grown? Thank you for any insight you can give. Dan <With the fish being so small you're OK for now. But I would move the Tinfoil Barbs before they get too big. They can go over a foot. And let's be honest, compared to the cichlids they are a little lacking in personality. Next problem will be the Convicts. Number one on the Most Aggressive List. If you have a pair and they spawn, all the others will be attacked. I would find them their own tank. That would leave you with four rather large and impressive cichlids, the Pleco and the Prim. Not bad, Bio load-wise. Just keep up with the water changes. With a good varied diet they will grow quickly to their full potential and be nice display fish. I think the increased bio load from the barbs and the aggression from the Convicts would prevent this. You are correct in thinking the bigger challenge may be keeping the peace. No promises. When stocking large cichlids it is often more about personality than species. With the exception of the Convicts, they're plain mean. But the rest of yours, except the Brazilian (not sure what this is), are Central American. So a good mix, IMO. Don>

Fish for unheated 3 gallon bowl  9/16/05 Dear Crew, I have a new unheated 3 gallon fish bowl with an undergravel filter. I have two white cloud minnows and would like to add some more things to the bowl in about a month. What else could I add? I was thinking maybe 2 more minnows or some other fish. I would also like some ghost shrimp and a dwarf African frog. Would a Betta be unhappy in my bowl because the water is unheated? Is there any way to heat a bowl under 5 gallons? Thanks. Victoria Gardner <Three gallons is really not a lot of space so you don't want to over-crowd the bowl and your white clouds will get to be an inch and a half.  You could probably get away one dwarf African frog or one Betta and nothing else or you will be in danger of too much bio-load in the tank and poor water quality.  If your bowl is room temperature somewhere around 70 degrees F then you don't need a heater for these fish since they tend to be pretty hardy.  Good luck! ~Heather aka LinearChaos>

Online Freshwater Livestock Store? - 08/19/2005 What is a good web site to order freshwater fish/snails/crabs online? <As far as fish are concerned, you might try http://www.liveaquaria.com/ .  Crabs - please keep in mind that there are NO truly aquatic, freshwater crabs available in the hobby in the US, to my understanding....  ALL are brackish to marine animals, or absolutely require a land mass....  For some pretty neat fish and inverts, http://www.franksaquarium.com/ .  Some really awesome North American natives can be found at http://www.jonahsaquarium.com/ .  Hope you find what you're looking for!  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Shipping fish to US <from Canada> 8/7/05 Hello :)  Has anyone had any experience with shipping live fish from Canada to the US?  If so, what is the procedure/requirements...Any info is greatly appreciated. Thanks! l. >>From the Canadian side it is very simple if the amount is under $2000 (if above you need to fill in the B13 export paperwork). From the US side it is a nightmare. The US side will have to get in touch with USFW and likely buy an import license. Then there is also an inspection fee and the fish have to enter at a designated port, of which there are few. There has to be a 48 hour notice when the shipment will arrive and you have to fill in the USFW form, invoice and AWB at that time. When the fish arrive they have to be inspected, and you also have to clear customs. Good Luck, Oliver

Small Tanks, Small Fish? - 08/04/2005 Hi, WWM crew!   <Hi, Jennifer!  Sabrina with you, today!> Since becoming a devoted fan of your site, ;-) <Yay!> I have upgraded the size of all of my tanks to a 10 gallon minimum.  I'm now wondering if the old tanks (a 2.5 and a 5 gallon) can serve any purpose aside from be used as hospital tanks.   <Oh yes, absolutely.> What is your opinion regarding the ethics of keeping a fish (or other creature) in a tank this small?   <Provided the creature in question is suitable for a small tank, my opinion is quite positive.> I enjoy having life on my desk at work, but fear it's quality of life will not be very good if it is confined to such a small place.   <Understandable.> Am I being overly sensitive?   <Nope.  Just a conscientious aquarist!> I would greatly appreciate your opinion!    <Alrighty....  *Assuming* we're talking freshwater, here, you have PLENTY of options.  I would urge you to consider the 2.5 gallon tank for a mini planted aquarium....  They *do* make fluorescent lights for 2.5g tanks, and plants suited to this would be java moss, java fern, Bolbitis fern, and Anubias sp. (A. nana or A. nana "petite" would be a good choice for a very small tank).  For livestock, cherry shrimp would be ideal.  These are becoming more and more available in the hobby, so hopefully they would be somewhat easy to find - they will even breed in a tank of this size.  Otherwise, many people keep a Betta in a tank of this size, and they do indeed often seem to be quite content.  Another fish option would be scarlet Badis badis (actually Dario dario, now), as these fish don't grow much larger than a centimeter in length.  Heterandria formosa are a tiny livebearing fish that do well in relatively small tanks - great for the 5g, but maybe not the 2.5g.  I have also kept and bred peacock gudgeons in a 5.5g tank....  no other fish with them, though.  Trichopsis pumila is a tiny Gourami that, in a well planted 5.5g tank, does quite well.  Really, there are a lot of tiny options out there for ya!> Thank you! -Jennifer <And thank you for writing in!  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Overstocked? - 07/16/2005 Okay, I know I write you guys all the time but I need to find out if my aquarium is over stocked if so how much? I have:  4 mollies [2 male ,2  female], 2 minnows <"Minnows"....  best find out what, exactly, these are.  Some "minnows" turn into quite large, substantial fish.> 2 African dwarf frogs, 3 neons, 2 harlequins and one bottom feeder that I do not know the name for( it is very long and skinny w/ a pointy nose.) <Very many possibilities here, as well - again, try to find out what it is.> My tank is a 10 gallon but I also have a little 3 gallon I could use. <I would not recommend stocking a ten gallon tank this heavily.> I'm pretty sure I have too many but ammonia and everything else seems fine. <If by "fine" you mean ammonia and nitrite are ZERO and nitrate less than 20ppm, you're probably okay for now.  Remember, though, as these fish grow, you'll probably need a larger tank, and more frequent water changes.  Test nitrate often to see how often you will need to be changing water.  Keep it as close to zero as possible.> most of these fish were just given to me and would have been flushed had I not taken them, so you might understand my dilemma. <Indeed.  I would also urge you to explain to the would-be flusher of the fish that he/she could have returned them to the fish store and possibly even received store credit for them.  Flushing a fish is NOT acceptable, and quite possibly causes a great deal of pain and suffering before the animal finally dies....  A quick trip to the fish store with a container of fish ensures that the animals at least have a chance at a healthy, happy life....  Additionally, if you fear your tank is overstocked, you might consider which fish you are most inclined to keep and then return some to the fish store yourself.> I also want you to know that I really appreciate your website and have learned a lot from it.   <I'm glad to hear this, thank you very much for your kind words.> Thanks, Angy <Wishing you and your fishes well,  -Sabrina> Eels or fish Hi, I am a resident of Delhi. I wanted to buy an eel or exotic fish but cant decide whether it will be suited to this climate. Could you please advise me on which fish or eel to buy keeping in mind that I have never had a pet fish. Thanks <There are a few ways to approach your ends... I would try using fishbase.org and search by country... India, and freshwater fishes... look in turn at the species listed for information re their habitat, water conditions. Bob Fenner>

Goldfish and tropicals non-compatibility, poor grammar Hi I hope you can help me I have had goldfish for a few years now which vary in size and colour I also have these small fish (guppy looking but for cold water) not sure of the name and they all get along fine with none bothering the other. <Not a good idea to mix these> But yesterday while in buying some fish food I decided to buy a blue Oranda for a bit of colour and a Plec which is going about it business great but I have just seen a bit missing form one of the gold fish the one with a long fine tail and also one of the guppy looking fish has turned up half eaten <Where are your periods, commas?> So with out to much thought I'm thinking this Oranda is the guilty party and have moved it to another tank on its own for the time being It was just to see if you have any ideas of what the problem could be or if I may be well off the mark and you can set me straight So do Orandas have a history of eating other smaller fish and ones with long tails ?? I hope you can help me thanks All help appreciated .. Kevin <Separate these two different types (temperate/tropical) fishes. Bob Fenner>

Freshwater "Inches-per-Gallon Rule"--The Fish Grow Ya Know (6/14/05) Hi guys, great site and it's helped me tremendously (moving my fish across town in a week or so... keep your fingers crossed!). I know you're probably pretty busy with all these Q's, so I just have a non-pressing concern. I've read over other visitors' descriptions of their tank sizes and contents and have a general idea of how stocked a tank should be.  At all the pet stores I've been to since setting up my tank, I've been told, "An inch of fish per gallon is a good rule of thumb". <No it's not. Six one-inch Neon Tetras make a lot less metabolic waste than a single 6" Oscar. The body volume of the fish is much more predictive than its length.> I just want to run my setup by you guys, since you seen way more knowledgeable than those guys... I've got a 29-gallon tank with: - Five angels, all pretty young: two are about 4" tall (fins included... maybe 2" without?), one is about 3", and two are tiny, maybe 1".   - Four tiger barbs, maybe 1.5" each or less. - Three platies, same as barbs. - Three female Bettas, about 1" each. - Then I have two Plecos, about 3" each, and in a small sectioned-off (maybe 1 gal.) area, I've got a 2" (w/ fins) male Betta (side note: is this enough room?  I feel guilty.  I let him swim free the other night, keeping a close eye on him, and he seemed aggressive towards the females, but no more so than the other fish are towards each other!). <Your Tiger Barbs will eventually nip the Angels' fins to shreds.> Now, it seems to me that I've got a little more than an inch a gallon. <You seem to be forgetting that fish grow! You need at least 3 times as many gallons down the road. The Plecos grow to over a foot. The Angels grow to 5" (length), even the Tiger barbs will grow to 3" each.>  My tank doesn't seem / look overcrowded and I keep up with the maintenance (I use an undergravel filter and an over-the-top filter, small amount of gravel, @20% water changes about once every 2-3 days). My nitrite levels are very low, my pH is around 6.8 to 6.9, my water is a little on the hard side (just barely), and alkalinity is just a tad short of ideal. <Angels will do much better in very soft water. Platies do not like the pH range you have, but the Angels do. Platies and Angels come from very different waters and water conditions that enable both to thrive do not exist.>  Nitrates are about 30ppm, a little high, but all of these stats have been stable and constant since I got the tank about 6 months ago (w/ the exception of alkalinity, which has dropped a bit in the past month or so). <Angels want very low alkalinity. They come from the soft, acidic waters of the Amazon.> Temp fluctuates a few degrees; I try to keep it around 81. <It does not need to be that high.> Sorry if I'm rambling. I just want to know: in your opinion, can I safely keep this many fish in my current tank? <Absolutely not.> I am willing to put in any extra effort necessary to do so--I'm just worried about psychological stress, though they all seem to get along remarkably well. <For now. Tiger Barbs and Angels do not mix well. Barbs are fin nippers. You should worry about the stress of this mix. A tank your size can only accommodate a pair of Angels. You need to spend more time thinking and learning about the needs of your fish. The Plecos should go. You would be much better off with several Otocinclus as algae-eaters. You could have a couple of Corys as well. If the Angels are your favorites--they were always my favorite FW fishes--then chose tankmates that thrive in the same water conditions.> The angels were constantly bickering when there were only 2 of them, but now they've calmed a little (still nipping, but they keep hanging by each other and it seems playful). <For now--they will likely have problems as they grow and feel crowded.> Thanks for taking the time to read my letter, and for any help you might be able to give me. Again, great site, thanks for all the info you've given all of us amateurs! :) ~Des <You're welcome. We're all amateurs, just more or less experienced ones. Think carefully about your the physical and psychological needs of your fish. By taking these into account and providing the conditions they need to thrive, both you and your fish will be happy long-term. Hope this helps, Steve Allen.>

One sick Betta... actually mis-placed I have a 6.5 gallon (25Litre) Tank. I had in it 2 Female Betta, One female Albino Kribensis and One male Kribensis. <This system is too small for these cichlids> today i put in 5 Lemon tetra, and One male Betta. All got along well except the male Betta and the male Kribensis, the Kribensis attacked the fins of the Betta and then the rest started attacking the Betta so i took him out and put him in a tank of his own he is just lying on his side on the bottom. i Put a little bit of food in with him but he doesn't seem interested, is there anything i can do or simply sit tight and hope for the best? <What?> Would i be better off getting a separate tank for the Betta or the Kribensis? <Ah, yes... these fishes are not compatible, nor the system large enough for the Africans> If so what fish would suit the 6.5 Gallon tank? It is at around 26 degrees and is still settling down as the water is reasonably new, i have put a dechlorinator in it. Thanx, The Dude From Australia... <Dude, take a read on our freshwater subweb and read re Betta Systems, compatibility, and Kribensis... all is posted there that you're looking for. Bob Fenner>

Big fish With Big Problems I have several tanks of aggressive fish.  Apparently I am doing something right because I now have 2 Pacus that are 4 months old and 8 inches long. Someone told me they were both males (good thing, I don't want more) and they should be fighting.  They do sort of fight but it's more like playing and they love to sit in the water facing the BioWheel and let the water go over the top of them like they are swimming upstream.  My problem, it's a 50 gal tank and waaayyyyy too small.  They bump the sides all of the time and if they get spooked!  I'm surprised they haven't hurt themselves already.  I can't afford a proper home (250 plus aquarium) do you know of any alternatives? < Fish stores should take back fish that they sell knowing all to well that the fish will out grow a normal sized aquarium. Then they wouldn't sell Pacus, red tail cats and many other fish. Try and find a store that will take it. Sometimes public aquariums will accept donations but not if they have to many already. DO NOT release the fish into any local waters! It will get caught and the media will go into a big piranha scare. This will be detrimental to the entire aquarium industry.> Will they do well outside? < You may have a difficult time keeping an outside pond at 80 degrees for any length of time.> I do not have an aversion to digging a pond in my backyard if that will solve the problem. < You may have a problem with you energy bill though.> Next, 3 Oscars (big, medium, and small) in a 25 gal tall aquarium.  They were fine until about a week ago.  Now the big one (which is an albino and supposedly one of the more peaceful types) < Never heard of this before.> has decided to bite chunks out of the green one (medium) and the small one has taken to hiding behind the filter.  I took him out and put him with the Pacu.  He terrorized them.  I removed him from there and now he just lays on the bottom of the new tank, propped against the wall.  What do I do?  He's so aggressive I don't want to buy another fish to torture, but loneliness is setting in. < Once again you need a bigger tank. get rid of the Oscars and get smaller fish more appropriate to your 25 gallon.> I have 3 dwarf convicts that are the most aggressive fish I've ever seen. They were sold to me as albino tetras and I knew within a week that is not what they were.  I like them even though I didn't plan on them.  They occupy a 10 gal tank and seem to be doing well.  Last time the albino Oscar lived with them for a week he cowered in the corner of the tank.  Do I dare try it again?  With a larger tank? < Your convict cichlids will tear apart the Oscar. get rid of the Oscars and put the convicts in the 25 gallon.> I can't afford $5000 for a proper home for all three of these groups but a large pond might do it.  Do you know of anyone that has done this and been successful? < Only in Florida.> What do I need to do besides dig, buy a big filter and heater, etc Rochelle <I see you live in the central valley. Call Capitol Aquarium in Sacramento and beg them to take your Oscars and Pacus. They will give you some good advice on what you can keep in your 25 gallon tank. You may be able to keep fish outside this summer but the PG&E bills would cost a fortune in the foggy cold winters.-Chuck>

FW Community selection Hey Crew, How are you guys? I had a question regarding stocking a new aquarium. Now, I know  <Not>  to do my stocking piecemeal, but I wanted to inquire about the combination I had in mind. Now I'm fairly new to the hobby so my first thought was to have all sorts of freshwater fish in my aquarium.  <You are wise here to realize this> Here's what I had in mind: Gouramis, an angelfish, cichlids,  <Delicious gum> livebearers such as mollies and swordtails, a Kuhli loach and maybe an African dwarf frog and a pair of Corys. I tried to research the compatibility issue of these fish and found that generally, most of these fish will pretty much be peaceful. <Uh, no> I do remain confused though on the issue of compatibility among the angelfish, Gourami, and Cichlid. Please help me to clarify this issue. Are there certain types of gouramis/cichlids that are more peaceful that others types? <Ah, yes> Are these fish just completely un/compatible? <The mix you list, yes> Are there any other factors that would prevent me from successfully keeping such a selection? <Yes... most importantly the size of the system... the bigger, the less likely aggressive acts that will result in damage> Thanks in advance for any help you guys can offer! I appreciate it greatly! -Chris <Keep reading my young friend. Make a list... of these species... scan WWM, fishbase.org, books, what you will for notes you'll make on size, growth rates, temperaments... Bob Fenner> 

Trying to Avoid Irresponsible Fish Breeds/Species Greetings Folks! I've recently won a nasty battle with many forms of algae and other water quality issues, and am starting to plan for new fish and other additions to add to my freshwater tank. (once I am sure everything is stable and safe for more fish). I am favoring neon tetras and Japanese shrimp, but am still researching other species. But I want to make sure to avoid fish such as Painted Glassfish and other dyed or similarly altered species. The problem is, I am having trouble figuring out exactly which fish are treated like this, and therefore unsure which to avoid in the future.  Thanks for your time -Hans  <<There are really not that many irresponsible fish sold in the market. If you want to avoid artificially coloured fish stay away from the painted glass fish as well as colour injected Corydoras, iridescent sharks, parrot fish (cichlids) and gouramis. In my opinion anything "balloon" is deformed so you should count out balloon mollies, cichlids and other fish - but that would also include most fancy goldfish and some popular aquarium fish. If breeding has produced a fish that can no longer swim and behave the way the original form does you could argue that it is irresponsible. To take it one step further I must say that fish with artificially bred long fins can often not swim naturally and are considered by many people to be irresponsible. This would/could include long-fin Corydoras, Ancistrus and to a certain degree veil-fin angels and even guppies. Since there is no actual guideline I would advise you to go with fish that closely resemble the natural form, or that keep the colour and shape that you see if they breed. The painted glassfish for example would still produce babies that are the common gray glassfish many of us love, despite the fact that they have been tattooed in garish colours. Good Luck, O. >>

Fish Selection: O-No or O-K ?? Hey Crew, great website you have here. I'm kind of new to the hobby and need some guidance here on deciding on a group of community tank fish. I've been doing a fairly good amount of research in regards to the compatibility of the ones I have chosen and it seems like it may just work out. Here's what I had in mind: pair of mollies, pair of swordtails, pair of Cory cats, single Kuhli loach, and finally a small angelfish. How does that sound? Will they all get along fine or will I end up with a "tank war"? I was also interested in an African dwarf frog because my little cousin likes them, but from what I have gathered, I'm not too sure it would mix. Please advise on or approve my selection when you get the chance. I would appreciate it tremendously! By the way, what's the minimum tank size you would perceive for such a selection? Again thanks for your time (you guys are really something for putting your time in to help newbies such as myself)! Always, Chris <Just a few small problems. The mollies usually do better with salt in the water, Corys and loaches do not. You may end up with some health problems over this. Plus Corys and loaches do better in groups. And although you may buy a small Angelfish it will not stay small for long. A full grown angel will need a 55 gallon tank. If you are set on the angel this is the smallest I would buy. And even a small Angelfish will take any fry that are born. Soooo, I would drop the angel and mollies, and add a few more Corys and loaches (same species of each) and a few more female swordtails. Always better to have the ladies outnumber the men. This spreads out the breeding aggression. four each of Corys, loaches and swords will fit in a 29 gallon. But bigger is always better. Make sure you do a fishless cycle before stocking. Read here for more info. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm  Don>

Fish Recommendations for a Large Tank Crew, I have a large Silver Arowana in a 215 gallon tank with a Clown Loach, Pleco, a Tin Foil Barb, and a Red Hook. I am looking to add a couple more fish. Can you suggest any "companion" fish? Thanks! Regards, John Boyle Port Aransas, Texas < Lots of possibilities. Too many to list here. Check out you local shops for recommendations or Fishbase.org. Check back with a list of fish you like and can find in your area and we can narrow it down for you.-Chuck> 

New 29 gallon tank Good afternoon.  I have been going through your FAQ's and am finding your site quite useful.  Like many, I am new to the aquarist hobby but have been fortunate enough with our first tank.  It's a 10 gallon, using a power filter and submersible heater.  I would consider it medium planted with fake plants (at some point, I would like to go to real).  We had four tiger barbs and a Chinese algae eater and just recently purchased a fifth, along with a blue ram.  All fish seem to get along great, with the exception of the algae eater chasing the barbs at times. <Natural, normal> I am in the process of setting up a 29 gallon and was wondering which fish to move to the new tank.  I am planning on purchasing a female for the blue ram.  The way I see it, I have three options at this time.  Option 1: move the barbs to the 29 and leave the rams in the 10.  Option 2: leave the barbs in the 10 and move the rams.  That way, I could add threadfin Rainbowfish or maybe some Rasboras.  My thinking with these options is to have a semi aggressive tank and more of a community tank.  If I go with option 2, I would like to add threadfin Rainbowfish, Rasboras, a Betta (for my wife) and maybe some lemon tetras along with an algae eater. <Mmm, the Betta would be better without the Algae Eater... it may ride him> The third option would be to move the barbs, rams and algae eater to the 29, since the barbs have yet to pester the ram and a bigger tank would give them all room to roam.  If I go this route, I would still like to add the Rasboras and lemon tetras.  Any input on the pros and cons of these ideas would be greatly helpful.  I am not in a situation that requires an immediate response but the sooner, the better as the 29 will be set up in a week. Thank you for your help. Sean <A clue... use WWM, fishbase.org to ascertain which of these fishes prefer hard, alkaline, cooler water... and which like soft, acidic, warmer... I would leave the Rams in the ten... Bob Fenner>

Fresh Water Problems WWM FAQ Crew wrote: Stop shouting! Please re-key and re-send your message NOT IN ALL CAPS!  I was not shouting. Do sharks, angelfish, swordtails and mollies or platys go in a tank together? < Depending on the type of sharks you have, the rest should go together ok. Check out your sharks at fishbase.org and see what they say.> Also, how long do you treat ich.? < Depending on the directions on the medication and the temperature I would treat ich for at least three days and maybe up to seven depending on the dosage.> If my sharks have Popeye will the rest get it? < Pop eye is an internal bacterial condition that is usually brought on by stress and waste pollution. I would recommend a 30% water change, vacuuming the gravel and cleaning the filter, prior to medicating with Metronidazole. It is usually not associated with being contagious but if the tank conditions are similar then you can assume others will get sick too.> I have a 55 gallon do you have to put salt in the aquarium? < Absolutely not. This is an old time medication that provides and additional slime coat on the fish but healthy fish don't need it.> I am having a lot of problems please help. < That is what we are here for.> I have a algae eater and am using ick medications now. Thanks <Cleaning the tank will help. After the ich is cured I would add Bio-Spira by Marineland to re-establish the good bacteria to break down the fish waste. I would generally recommend that you feed your fish only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes once each day. Do a 30% water change once a week and either clean the filter of vacuum the gravel during the water change. By just doing these things will greatly improve your success rate with your aquarium. You are not alone and there are already numerous answers to questions like yours that already exist on the web site. Take a little time and search through the site for lots of helpful info.-Chuck> 

The Old Fish per gallon Rule  Thanks for the reply Chuck, I have followed your advice and now I have in my 55 gallon I have 4 Keyholes, and 2 male Kribs. I did that with the Kribs so there would be no fighting... Here is another question for you though,.. I know there is the rule about a gallon per inch but dealing with a 55 gallon tank, and meaning I am now allowed 55 inches of fish, when buying something as big as an Oscars or something that size you cant keep them in something that small, you need something larger like 100 gallons. Here is the question at hand... a normal aquarium is a rectangle shape, example 55 gallon current shape is, 48 x 12 x 18... however if you were to buy a corner aquarium that would be one side 38 x 2 sides 28 x 20 high, does that still hold true with the keeping of the fish cause now they have a bigger area to swim around and not up and down nor back and forth? You take a 12 inch fish and he can hardly turn around which is why it would not make sense to have him in a long narrow tank, but put him in one with more room to turn would that work? I am not overly interested in getting Oscars my self, I don't want to make em suffer, but if I where to get another tank for my current cichlids that will wind up 5.5 inches or so, would they be happier in a tank long and narrow or one that is more open across the top? Just a thought... what do you think? < Forget the inches of fish per gallon rule! That was a rule of thumb 50 plus years ago!  Go with the longer tank for cichlids. They like the long straight tanks better than the squatty tanks. The surface area only matters if you are providing no aeration at all. Very tall narrow tanks provide some problems but those are freaky tanks not usually kept by true aquarists.-Chuck> A Flurry of New F/W Tank Ideas - Stocking Hey Wet Web Media Crew. You guys RULE!!!! Anyway, I'm soon buying about a 20-30 gallon tank and I am sure that i want to keep 2 male mollies. How many females should I have so the males won't chase and stress them? <About two to three times as many as the males> Also what other fish can you recommend that are compatible with mollies? <Most all easygoing tropicals... platies, swords, small Danios, Rasboras, barbs...> Can I keep tiger barbs? Should I keep them in a shoal as I have read around? <Yes... small odd numbers are best> I really like zebra Danios and I know they live in unheated tanks, but can they breed in unheated tanks. <Depends... on ambient temperature...> Also, can a breeding pair live and breed in a fish bowl of about 1 gallon in size? Probably not but I'm just wondering. Thanks! James, 15 <Not likely in this size system. Bob Fenner, who when he was younger would have gone crazy with all the one gallon containers he now has.>

BiOrb redux Hi, <Hello> I have a BiOrb aquarium which I haven't used for a while since my fish died about nine months ago. Firstly, what range of fish can I put in the BiOrb size wise? I don't mind just having one or two larger fish, which in fact, would be preferable. <This is a very good question... know a few things here... that surface area is important as issues of adequate volume... And that larger systems can more steadily sustain larger numbers, densities of aquatic livestock> Secondly, and it might seem a stupid question, but when I put food into the bowl, how can I make sure that both fish have an equal amount to eat? I ask as I had one goldfish which seemed healthy and ok, but when I added a second, the problems arose as one of them became too buoyant and couldn't get below the surface of the water after a while. The second fish died within a week although I'm not sure what of ... it was lying dead on its side when I came down one morning. Having read up on it, I think one of the deaths was due to over feeding. <And/or perhaps the system being "uncycled"> Many thanks Paul Osborne <Paul, goldfish are often (mis)considered as "easy" fishes to maintain... even "bowl" fishes... they are decidedly not... and the BiOrb and other small volumes will not keep them in good health. I encourage you to consider keeping some of the hardier semi-tropical fishes in this unit instead... Perhaps some small livebearers like Platies, Endler's, Mollies, Paradisefish, Corydoras catfishes... Bob Fenner> 

Minimum Tank size... Hi all, What would the minimum tank size be for: 2 Red Bellied Pacu, 1 Tiger Oscar, 2 Blood Parrots, 1 Polypterus Senegalus, 2 Motoro Stingrays, 1 Clown Knifefish, 1 Siamese Tiger fish, and Wolf Fish? <About three hundred gallons> Are all of these fish compatible with each other? <No... some will eat each other, others will starve through competition>> Same water chemistry? <No... hard/soft, alkaline/acidic, fresh/brackish...> What should I not put in? <... try using fishbase.org, making a list of sizes, water quality of these animals... you'll see. Bob Fenner> 

Big Fish Setup What is the minimum tank size for 2 Red Bellied Pacu...1 Oscar, 2 Blood Parrots, and 1 Polypterus? Would a F/W stingray fit in there too? <To keep these fish for their entire life will require the largest tank you can fit/afford. 150 gallons at very least. Much larger would be much better. The Pacu and Polypterus can hit 2 feet. The cichlids a foot or more. If you want to add a stingray you will need a tank with a large footprint. At least twice as wide as the max size of the ray. You will also need very heavy filtration to handle this volume of water and the vast amount of waste produced by these large fish. Don>

Are These Fish Brackish?  1/17/04 <Hi Chuck, Pufferpunk here> Can you inform me if my Semiprochilodus insignis and Dianema longibarbis can thrive in a brackish water environment? <Neither of those fish are brackish, nor will they appreciate the high pH hard water that is brackish.  Both prefer soft, acidic water.>   I am thinking of switching my fresh water aquarium over. Thanks in advance. Chuck <If you want a BW aquarium, you must stick with existing BW species.  It is not a good idea to force a FW fish into BW.  ~PP>

I won a fish at a fair....now what? (9/4/04) I won a fish at a fair, <Congratulations ....I would assume either a Goldfish or a Betta > and it seems like it's breathing more rapidly that it should be. I have it in a container 6 inches wide and 10 inches across, and 8 inches high. There is gravel at the bottom of the container and a plastic palm tree and a little house. <Fish breath rapidly for a couple of reasons....one is lack of oxygen and another is disease. I would start by adding a small power filter to that tank or at least something to ripple the surface of the water for some gas exchange until you can get a filter . You need a thermometer to get some idea of what the temperature of the water is.> Is there enough for another fish or 2 more??? < Probably not it depends on what type of fish it is .... before you think about additional fish you should do some research, get this one comfortable and make sure it is not ill......start here..... Your New Aquarium: Tips for Beginners http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwtips4beginners.htm Your First Aquarium http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwset-up.htm FAQs on Freshwater Maintenance/Operation 1 http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintfaqs.htm HTH, Leslie> FW Stocking Plan Hi all, first, thank you so much for the awesome FAQs and help you give us inexperienced mortal hobbyists. I can't say how much your site FAQs has helped me! Now, to the questions. Since I started my aquarium I have made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot how to do things the right way from you. So, I've decided to get your ideas on stocking my tank so I do it well and don't have to do a whole lot of fixing things later. I am phasing out my goldfish, who have over grown my tank, in favor of tropicals. I have a 15 gallon, 11x20x18high tank with an eclipse one BioWheel system that circulates 170g/hour. I have a quarter-inch (on WetWeb suggestion!) smooth gravel substrate for looks. I have already decided I wanted some mollies, so I have in my 10 gallon quarantine tank right now: 3 black Lyretail mollies I want to add one of each species in these color groups (If any in the list eats molly fry, I really don't care, either way). Can you suggest which one species in each group would be best? blue: 2 dwarf Gourami or <These hang around the surface, their "Feelers" are often picked off.> 2 killifish or < Killifish usually require live food and have a tendency to jump.> 3 Rummynose tetra and green/purple: 4 green fire tetra or 4 purple emperor tetra < Male emperor tetras tend to fight so keep just one per tank.> and yellow: 1 julii Cory cat and red: 1 red flower shrimp or 2 cherry fire shrimp< You need to set up a place where the shrimp will be safe from the fish when they go to molt.> Also, what do you think in general of this stocking plan? < So far so good with the suggestions above taken into consideration.> My water here has a 7.2 pH, 75 GH and 80 kH coming out of the sink (no chloride or chloramines). Finally, can I keep any live plants with this plan, or would it be too much? < You don't have enough sand to support rooted plants so try some floating plants like hornwort.> Which ones would work well with these fish, in an 18 tall tank? < Not enough sand and a deep tank with no lighting info still makes me think that floating plants are the way to go. Go to your local fish store and see what they have to offer.> Oh, and how much, if any, aquarium salt should I add to the tank, given the chosen combination of fish? < Not much. The Corys will not like the salt while the mollies will love it. You might have to make a choice here on which fish to keep.-Chuck> Thank you so much! I can't wait to move the mollies in so I can get and quarantine the next species. Leticia  

Fish as Gifts?  7/18/04 Hi Bob, <Hi, it's Pufferpunk here tonight> Bit of a weird question this but I hope you'll be able to accommodate me. I know nothing about puffers but Im visiting a friend in London, England who's mad about them. He keeps six or so salt water specimens. I will be visiting him this Summer and would like to take him a gift. There's no way I want to take a live fish on the plane so want to buy him one there. I don't want to ask my friend where he gets his as it might spoil the surprise. Do you know of any suppliers in England who could help. Really appreciate it, Terry Prop. <I'm so glad you wrote.  Never, ever, ever, ever, give any pet of any kind as a surprise gift!  Puppy, kitten, bird, frog, fish or even a hermit crab.  Many fish do not get along with each other.  A lot of stores will not take the return of fish.  Many puffers are very aggressive, sensitive fish that cannot go with many other fish, or even with each other.  How about a gift certificate from his favorite fish store?  Or get him to take you there to pick out a fish & tell him your going to pay for it.  Sound better?  ~PP>

Fish as Gifts?  7/19/04 Hi PP <Hello again!> You are (of course) so right - I didn't think. Thanks for the great advice. I'll take him along to the store with me. <Sounds great!> I would still like to keep it a "semi" surprise though by taking him (blindfolded :-) to a place where I could let him choose a good one before his birthday lunch - do you know of any stores in London or the south of England that stock these little critters so I wont have to ask him in advance? <Might I suggest after his lunch?  Unless he just wants to pick out the fish & you pay for it, then go back after lunch to pick it up.  It would be too stressful for the fish to sit in the bag any longer than necessary.  The temp will drop & toxic ammonia will build up inside the bag.  This shop has been highly recommended to me: http://www.homemarine.net/> Again thanks for putting me straight. TP <That's what I'm here for!  Let me know how the surprise goes & what he picks out.  ~PP>

Cory Catfish problem        Hi, I want to get some Cory catfish and I read that they could not tolerate any salt in their aquarium, but I also want to get platies or mollies. < Cory cats come from the Amazon river basin where the water is very soft and somewhat acidic. The mollies and platies come from Central America where the water has more minerals and salts. > I read that platies and mollies need some salt, so is there any that I could have both in the same aquarium? < I have found that platies are pretty tolerant of a wide range of water conditions and may be worth a try in your situation. Try and get half grown ones as they may be able to adapt to a wider range of water conditions. Mollies I have found truly do like some salt added to their water or they end up "shimmying" in the tank. There are a whole group of tetras worth looking at. Just try and get the ones that don't get too big. Barbs are fast moving fish that are fairly hardy but tend to be fin nippers, especially with your female Betta.> If not, what are some other fish that would substitute the platies and mollies that would go well with female Bettas? Thanks for any information. < Check out the Rasboras too. These fish are from Asia and are attractive , don't get too big and will not bother the Cory cats. -Chuck>

Suggestions? Hello. I have a 55 gallon tank that is almost through cycling. I am currently housing three Swordtails (2 males, one female; I know I need more females), four Bloodfin Tetras, and one Clown Pleco. I have been doing research for some time now trying to decide what other fish I want to (and more importantly, what I CAN) put in after I'm done cycling. I plan on adding three more Swordtails (all female) and four more Bloodfins. I would also like to add some Otos to help with the algae eating. Aside from that, I am open to anything that will work in a peaceful community situation. I would like to have something interesting to act as the "centerpiece" of it all. Any suggestions? My setup: 55 gallon freshwater pH around 7.5 Medium hard water 78 degrees constant 1 AquaClear 300 power filter Small natural color pebble substrate < This material has a very large pore space to allow uneaten food and fish waste to accumulate. Make sure that you gravel vac this material often.> Am adding plants slowly, currently have some sprouting Aponogetons bulbs, Java Fern, Java Moss, Water Sprite and some floating Riccia.   Stacked some rocks to create some caves Plan to add driftwood for the Clown Pleco < Look for fishes that occupy all levels of the aquarium. Stay away from catfish with long whiskers because they usually prey on smaller fish. Also stay away from fish that get too large like Oscars. Bettas are pretty but will constantly get harassed in a community tank. Some fish, like most Killies, require live foods and are best kept by themselves. Other than that you have many choices and that is half the fun picking new fish for the aquarium. I would recommend an isolation tank for your new fish . This would be used to hold them for a few weeks to make sure that there will be no pathogens introduced to the main tank. -Chuck> Thanks for your assistance. David 

Freshwater Compatibility Questions  Hello. <Hi! Ryan with you> I have a 55 gallon tank that is almost through cycling. <Great> I am currently housing three Swordtails (2 males, one female; I know I need more females), four Bloodfin Tetras, one Clown Pleco and four Otos. I have been doing research for some time now trying to decide what other fish I want to (and more importantly, what I CAN) put in after I'm done cycling. <I would wait an addition few weeks after everything is cycled before adding anything else> I plan on adding three more Swordtails (all female) and four more Bloodfins. Aside from that, I am open to anything that will work in a peaceful community situation. I would like to have something interesting to act as the "centerpiece" of it all. Any suggestions? <So many options! It's personal preference at this stage of the game. I am a big fan of schools of Clown Loaches, some of the less sold tetras.>  My setup:  55 gallon freshwater  pH around 7.5  Medium hard water  78 degrees constant  1 AquaClear 300 power filter <You'll need to stock lightly- I believe this filter is rated for 60 gallons max. Try and overshoot the rating by about 2x>  Small natural color pebble substrate  Am adding plants slowly, currently have some sprouting Aponogetons bulbs, Java Fern, Java Moss, Water Sprite and some floating Riccia <Very cool>  Stacked some rocks to create some caves Plan to add driftwood for the Clown Pleco  I'm setting up a 10 gallon quarantine tank for my main display but there are some things I'm confused on. Mainly, I'm unsure about what sort of light source to provide. But first, allow me to describe my current set up.  I have a 10 gallon tank, bare bottom, with some plastic pipe fixtures (PVC-like) for hiding spots, heater, thermometer, hood (WITH NO LIGHT FIXTURE), spare net, gravel vacuum, etc. You will notice I did not mention a filter. I originally bought a small Whisper power filter but returned it after reading about the benefits of a sponge filter in this situation. So I will be purchasing that at first opportunity. My plan is to run this tank only when I need it (i.e. after purchasing new fish, sick fish, etc).  So here is a question regarding that, and then I'll get to the lighting issue. If I am only running this tank occasionally, how do I keep it properly cycled when it is functioning? <Lots of water changes, make sure to soak the sponge filter in the display tank for a few days before starting back up the QT> Now, I've read about placing filter media in the main tank and then moving it to the quarantine when needed, but I have set up my display tank how I prefer it and don't want to have an unsightly sponge filter taking up space constantly (with my set up, it cannot be hidden well). I have no problem leaving it in there for a week or so in order to cultivate the needed bacteria, but I prefer it not to be a permanent fixture. How long would it need to remain in the tank to be ready to go? <72 hours is plenty> Say a week is a preferred time frame, fine, but that only works if I plan ahead as to when I want to get fish (which, of course, I will). But what happens if I find a sick fish and need to remove it immediately into the quarantine tank and the filter is sitting in a box in the basement? <A fish won't get sick if you quarantine all newcomers properly. Some may become injured, but I'm not sure if removing injured fish them from the display is in their best interest, unless they're being bullied.>  Back to the lighting issue. I plan to set this up in the bathroom in my basement because it is out of the way and I can make a mess without hearing from the wife (at least, I think so...). Of course, the basement bathroom has no outside windows. My hood has no light fixture. So the only possibility for any light at all is either the overhead (which is not all that bright, I must say), or some sort of lamp that I would have to purchase (or, I suppose, I could just buy a hood with a light fixture). In all that I have read, I have not been able to clearly determine how much light a quarantine tank should have. I read "subdued light" but what does that mean? Will my overhead light be sufficient? If fish have to be in there for 2 or more weeks, will they be negatively effected by not having a consistent and sufficient light source? <Nope> My plan, assuming I use the overhead light, would be to turn it on in the morning, and turn it off in the evening upon getting home from work. That would be about 11 hours of light. Need more, less? <If you keep the lighting constant with your display, it's one less thing they'll need to adapt to upon entering the real tank>  I appreciate any assistance you can provide as I want to make sure I get this right from the beginning and do my best to have healthy and happy fish. Thanks. <You'll have a great aquarium- just take it slow, and research your fish before purchasing. You wouldn't rent out an apartment without doing a credit check, would you? ;) See ya, Ryan>  David

Bio overload and bad mix of fish? dear Mr.. Fenner and prodigious crew members, In the limited vocabulary of man, or in my personal limitations with  communication, it is impossible for me to express the virtuous good of this site and its creator/contributors. It is a great honor for me to be in contact with you all and provides me with a feeling of security regarding my fish. I only hope some way I will be able to give back what I have taken. Perhaps one day our paths will cross as we explore the depths, you never know!  And now for the pearls of wisdom. I have 4 tanks, 3 fresh, 1 marine FO, it's a constant learning  experience both directly and indirectly. I am concerned with one of my fresh tanks. I have a 30 gallon and I consider it pretty much loaded biologically. I was wondering what you think of the mix of fish I have. I have 2 common tetras, 6 neon tetras, 2 red eyed tetras, 2 small horse faced loaches, 3 coolie loaches (so cute!), 1 glass catfish  < The glass catfish is a shy cat from Africa and really likes to be in schools. I think the barbs will eventually pic off the feelers if they have not done so already>  3 small tiger barbs, 1 Corydoras and 2 "Chinese Plecostomus" ( is that the real name? I have searched and found nothing, they kind of look like tiny rays and are always on the glass on smooth rocks, what are they? again they really look like tiny rays)  <Try looking under Chinese Hillstream loach. They come from fast moving streams in southeast Asia.>  Do you think this mix will last?  < The group you have is very reasonable. As some fish grow the temperament may change.>  It sounds bad, (number of fish vs. size of tank) but the tank is established (1 year) and I do considerably large water changes . I have a hang on, a reverse flow UGF, 2 powerheads for flow, and lots and lots of air!! The water is agitated and aired out to the max. I do strict weekly maintenance that must never be neglected or problems arise fast. I know it seems like much fish but when you look in the tank you will only see a few of them. I have lots of hiding places and aquascape. DO you think I am pushing it with this many fish and this mix of fish all in a 30 gallon or is it just me.  <One way to tell if your tank is overcrowded is to check the nitrate with a test kit. I am sure that your filters are working well and the ammonia and nitrite are being converted to nitrates. So check the nitrates and make sure it is around 25 ppm or less, 50 should be the max. If the nitrate levels continually exceed that then your system can't keep up and you will need to do more water changes or reduce the number of fish.-Chuck>  I have the gut feeling I am pushing it but so far it seems to be ok save the barbs having so much energy to spend chasing other fish, even the ones bigger than them, they seem to leave the Neons alone for now but I fear one day they may have to go. Thank you very much for taking the time to assess my list.  Again thanks, thanks and thanks...

Roman Style Aquarium Hi! I am looking for some information on an aquascape that I would like to do. I am very new to aquariums. What I would like to do is have a Mediterranean theme  for my tank, however I am going to be doing a freshwater aquarium. Are there fish & plants in the Greek/Italian/Spanish area that would work for this? Or should I just get my ancient ruins decor and be happy with whatever I can find? Thanks for your help! <<Hello :) I honestly have no idea which fish are native to Greece/Italy or Spain, now that you mention it :P You could do a web search for those countries, and check into their local fauna to find some fish names. However, you may end up simply using the Greek decor, and adding the fish you can find more readily at your LFS. I cannot even BEGIN to imagine the difficulties involved in creating a Spanish species tank. I've heard of Asian, South American, African, even North American biotopes, but not Greek. Hmmm. Interesting! -Gwen>>

Bowlfish?  3/16/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here tonight> Hello I have a small plain gold fish bowl and was wondering what other animals or fish I could put in it instead of a gold fish, something more interesting. <You don't mention how large the bowl is?> If you could let us know what could survive in the bowl with out a pump. <If it's at least 2 gallons, you could keep a beautiful Betta in there, although you'll have to keep it in a warm room, because they are tropical fish.  How about a fiddler crab, or a dwarf frog?  Both are interesting to keep.  Keep the water levels down at least 1" for either of those animals or they'll come up missing.  I just lost 4 dwarf frogs that way.  If you do get a frog, make sure it is a dwarf species, there is also an African clawed frog that gets as large as your fist.  Also, give them a plastic plant to rest at the surface on.> Many thanks, Alec Hendry <Your welcome & have fun with your new pet!  ~~PP>

Source of FW fishes Dear Sirs, We need your help. Can you advise where we can make contacts for exporters of the following fishes to Singapore 1.     Arapaima - 2 feet length 2.    Cichla temensis - Peacock Bass - 8 inches - 10 inches <Oliver Lucanus at Belowwater.com. Maybe Belowwater.com. Oliver travels to South America many times per year and can handle all you import and export needs. -Chuck> Regards, Quek Siew LIang Greenic-Tech Pte Ltd 194 Pandan Loop, #07-01 PanTech Industrial Complex Singapore 128383 Tel: (65) 6873 0500 Fax: (65) 6872 5585

Gar fish I thought about what you said from the last e-mail and i just want to go with one gar fish. I just need some basic knowledge about them first. <Unfortunately I wasn't the person who had answered your previous email.  So, I'm not sure which Gar you are referring to.  There are many different species.  Just to be on the safe side I'll give you a run down on the typical ones found in the aquarium hobby. Gars appreciate the following water conditions: a pH between 7.0 to 8.0, slightly hard water, and temperatures between 70 to 80 ºF (23 ºC).> What size tank would I need? What should I feed it? What diseases should I look out for? <Short Nose Gar (Xenocara dolichopterus) grows to about 2 feet long in the aquarium, I've read that they are found as long as 4.5 feet in the wild.  so they need a tank that can accommodate a long fish.  They like the temperature of the tank to be 75-80 degrees.  They do fine in small schools and are not to difficult to care for. These are surface dwellers, and will only eat tankmates it can fit in it's mouth.  Other fish are said to be okay with it.  These are hard to get to eat anything but live foods. Alligator Gar (Lepisosteus sp.) These get to be very large (±8 feet).  I have seen these be as long as 15 inches in the home aquarium, and were still growing.  If you should go to any fishing website you will be amazed to see some of the monsters that people catch while fishing.  These need massive tanks when they are adults.  These will snack on fish in the tank unless they are as large as it is.  I have seen them with Large Oscars and Snake heads.  They seem to leave Plecos alone.  Alligator Gar are much more likely to eat frozen and prepared foods than others.  These are much easier to care for, the only problem is you need a large tank with nice filtration. Needle Nose Gar (Xenocara dolichopterus) These fish are the smaller Gars, and are readily found in the aquarium hobby.  These get 12 inches long when full grown so they need a smaller tank than their cousins.  These are surface dwellers and will feed on live foods such as guppies, They are harder to get to eat the dry foods but with persistence they are said to take krill.  They do well in groups and can be kept with fish of similar size.  They also like the warmer water conditions.> Anything else that you can throw in will be helpful too. Thanks <They are interesting fish, but not very active.  They often times are just floating near the surface waiting for food.  Good luck. -Magnus>

What fish for my tiny tank? 1/13/04 Hi, Pufferpunk here> I bought myself a small (2 gallon) aquarium for my dorm room. <Perfect size for that purpose.  I am always shocked at the size tanks some students get.  I am always getting questions on how to move tanks or how to feed fish when students are out of school.> I have set it up with treated water, gravel, a couple small silk plants, and the air bubbler that was included with the aquarium. I treated the water with Amquel and TLC (some sort of bacteria thing). I haven't bought a fish yet, as I am waiting for the water to settle in, and I am having a hard time deciding on what kind of fish to get. I have had success with Bettas before, but never in a tank like this. Would the movement of the bubbler bother one? <I don't think so, the fish may even play in the bubbles.  A Betta is the best choice of fish for a tank that small.> Could I get a snail to live with the Betta? <Sure> The guy at the pet store recommended a goldfish, but after some research, I think that a 2 gallon tank without a filter is entirely too small for such a big, messy fish. <I completely agree.  Goldfish are not "blowfish".> I like tetras and some of the other small fish at the pet store, too, but they seem like they would be crowded in my tiny tank. Any advice? Stick with the Betta & a snail would be nice too.> Thanks so much for a wonderful and informative site! <You're welcome!--Pufferpunk>

Plants, Fish, and Information for a New Beginner - II Sabrina and the rest of the crew, I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful info! <You are quite welcome.  I am delighted that you find it useful.> I'm going to get my plants soon. I do hope to get a larger tank soon also, hopefully at least a 55G. I just have to find room for it first! <Sounds wonderful!  I'm sure you will have great fun with that.> Now that I have found your site, I promise to research any new fish I would like to bring home. I've learned a lesson there! :) <Such a relief to hear!  That's probably the most often neglected, and easiest to correct, problem that new aquarists encounter - and so often refuse to learn.  I am thrilled that you understand the importance of this now!  But don't rely on us solely, there are lots of other great recourses on the Web as well.  Please take a look at our "Links" page for links to many, many other 'sites, and also check out www.fishbase.org which may become a staple for you in learning about sizes, feeding requirements, etc. of your fish.> All the fishies say "Merry Christmas and Thank You!" <>< Heather <And to you and your fishes, a Merry Christmas as well!  May your holidays be bright and cheerful.  -Sabrina>

Packin' em in - and unpacking I chatted with Sabrina last time in reference to my 30 gal. being over crowded and she said there was waaaay to many fish in it. So I'm asking for a good set up for my new 20 tall; fish, how many what kinds etc... <Hello again, Dena!  Lets recap, here; you have a 30g tank with: 4 angels, <These really do grow too large to be in a 30 gallon with community fish; if they try to breed, you'll have a disaster> 2 neons, 2 black neons, 2 rosy Barbs, <Excellent candidates for that 20g!!  Especially considering that they'd be food for the angels once the angels have grown up some> 3 black skirts, 1 Red Eyed Tetra, <These tend to be a bit nippy, and should most certainly not be in with a Betta's long fins - so into the 20g they should go> 4 Zebras, <I assume zebra Danios?  These are usually a bit more mild-mannered, and likely won't harm the Betta or angels, but would be fine in with the tetras as well.> 1 Plecostomus, <I assume the 'common' Pleco?  If so, please be aware that this animal is capable of growing well over a foot in length.  Very sad to see them offered so readily.  Fortunately, however, they are very slow growers, so you're okay for now.> 1 large snail (maybe an apple snail), <Keep the Plec in the 30g and send this snail to the 20g to help with algae there.> 1 dojo, <Fun critters - I love these fish.  However, they're schoolers and really like to be in the company of others of their own species.  You really don't have room for more of them, though, unless you get a larger tank....> 1 male Betta <Just keep him away from those ever-nippy tetras....> 2 Silver Dollars, <Oh my.  These will get far, far too large for a 30g (roughly six inches in length)....  Far too much of a chance of aggression, too.  Note that these are related to the piranha and Pacu; not at all safe with the smaller fishes.  I certainly wouldn't risk them in either tank.  Please reconsider these altogether.  Okay, so that takes us to four angels, a Plec, a Betta, and a dojo loach in the 30g.  This will be okay until the angels grow larger or start to pair up; at which time, I'd really recommend moving up in size.  Perhaps a 55g tank, if possible.  You could get a couple more dojo loaches at that time, as well, and get a chance to observe those awesome fish in a group.  And that leaves 12 small tetra-type fish in the 20g, along with an apple snail.  Sounds like that'll bring your stocking levels to a manageable area.  Please do make use of the WWM site to learn more about your different, wonderful fish - and have fun, Dena!  -Sabrina>

Mystery Fish Hello,   <Hi there, Sabrina here> We have a pond (approximately 400 gallons) in our back yard which we set up about 6 months ago.  We are extreme novices but the 5 goldfish we have seem to be doing very well.  We have a pump/filter going, two algae eaters, <I assume by this you mean Plecostomus?  Might work out quite well in a Florida pond.> some pond lilies, and I try to treat the water to keep the ph and algae under control.  Anyway,  the whole family was out last night feeding and watching the fish.  We were looking for a new addition (fantail we bought last month) to make sure he was adjusting okay.  To our amazement we not only spotted him but three other small fish which are definitely NOT goldfish.  They also do not look like algae eaters.  They are small greenish fish like you find in a natural lake.   <Can you get a picture of these fish?  How big are they?  What shape?  Any markings?> We are not even remotely close to any other lakes or ponds.  We live in central Florida in a scrub oak, pine forest area.  We did have some frogs and tadpoles recently but I could understand how that happened.   <Frog eggs often will get hauled in stuck to birds' legs, other things like that.  'Course, frogs can go quite a distance trying to find a suitable place to lay their eggs, too.> The only thing I can think of is that we received the pond lilies from a friend's pond but all of his fish had died but one.    <Could be the origin of both the frogs' eggs and the fish eggs.> I am dying of curiosity as to where these fish came from.  Any ideas?   <I've seen lots of cool things pop up in ponds, from crayfish in the middle of a city to small fish, again, likely brought in by birds or some such.> Thanks for your input.

Looking for Gars -- Hello my name is Valentina Di Biase and I work at University of Pennsylvania as researcher. I need Lepisosteidae to study, l but I do not know how to get them. Do you know how I can find them? Thanks Valentina <Mmm, I would contact some of the State Fish and Game government groups in the areas that contain the species you're looking for. Bob Fenner>

- Freshwater Livestock Selection and Lighting - What's Shakin'. <Not a whole lot - JasonC here...> I'd like your opinion on a setup that I am considering. <Ok.> I have a 120g tank that is 4x2x2.  I'm planning on putting an ornate Bichir, black ghost, butterfly fish (you know the brown surface skimming variety) and a tire track eel together.  I want to use a large piece of driftwood in the center with various live plants.  Would sand be a good substrate? <Mmm... you'd be better of with something a little more coarse that would lend itself to easy cleaning/vacuuming.> I'll be using PC lights from my old reef setup.  220W total. What spectrum of bulbs? <Daylight would be fine, but the majority of your livestock choices might not appreciate the intense lighting, you might consider cutting back and keeping this tank dimly lit.> I also want to use an Eheim Wet/Dry filter.  Would that be enough? <If you use their large one, I think so... but you should check Eheim's specifications.> Do you think all the critters will get along and tolerate similar water parameters? <Most likely, but you might want to house more than one angel, just to keep aggression against the other fish down to a minimum.> Many thanks and handshakes in advance. Mike <Cheers, J -- >

What size tank do I need? Hi, last year I bought a 44 gallon tank, 2 red bellied Pacu, and 2 Oscars (1 tiger and 1 red) all from PetSmart.  I was told that they could live happily together in that tank, but now they are all huge and seem very sad about their small living area! One Pacu is 12 inches, the other is 10, my red Oscar is 6 inches, and my tiger Oscar is 9 inches.  I buy all of my supplies at PetSmart, but no longer trust the advice given by the employees there! Could you please send me an e-mail telling me the appropriate size tank I should buy for my babies?!?! <I hate to be the bearer of bad news but to comfortable hold these 4 fish when they are full grown you are going to need at least a 300-400 gallon tank and even that is going to really be pushing the limits. The Pacus can reach sizes of about 3 1/2 feet long each and the Oscars can reach about 18 inches each. Ronni>

Red Gills?  4/14/03 Hi,<Hey Kevin, Phil giving a hand at the freshwater questions tonight.> I have 3 Bala sharks in a quarantine tank. I bought them three weeks ago.<HEY EVERYONE READ OVER THIS!!!!!  KEVIN USED A QT FOR HIS NEW FISH!!!!  Good job!>  I notice when them swim past,  the inside of their gills are red.  Is this normal and healthy?<Hard to say.  What do you mean there red?  A reddish color is normal as the gills are tissue, and need blood.  Is this red on the outside of the gills?  Are the fish swimming normal?  Can you give me more info on your tank?  Thanks!> Thank you in advance for your comments,<No problem!  Please get back with me!> Kevin<Phil>

Re: Clown Loaches & German Blue Rams... I've really enjoyed your website and have a question for you regarding water parameters for my Freshwater Aquarium.   <Thank you, Ill do my best to answer> I live in Northern New Jersey where we have relatively hard water and I'm trying to keep my German Blue Rams and my Clown Loaches comfortable.  I have read that both the Clown Loaches and the Rams prefer softer water.  I have a 55 gallon tank with 3 German Blue Rams, 8 Clown Loaches (four 6" loaches, two 3" loaches, two 1 to 1-1/2" loaches). In addition I have two 5" - 6" Pink Tailed Chalceus, four 4" Iridescent Sharks, three 2" tri-color sharks, one small Pleco, and 3 small Cory cats.  I am planning on upgrading to a larger tank in about 6 months knowing that my sharks are probably going to outgrow this one. <Yes, you'll definitely need a larger tank very soon. Your Clown loaches could reach sizes of 12 each and the Pleco can get around 20.> My Tank: PH - 7.6 Ammonia - 0 Nitrites - 0 GH - 9 KH - 4 I have recently put some of Fluvals Peat Granules into my Fluval 304, hoping to soften the water and lower the PH levels.  I have been doing small (10%) water changes weekly.  And I have provided ample hiding places for the Clown Loaches (there is a house/cave on either side of the tank for them to hide in, as well as plants and rocks for additional cover).  So my question is what can I do in addition to the Peat Granules in my filter, in order to give my Loaches and Rams better water quality (Softer - Lower PH).  I am currently just using tap water with conditioner to do my water changes and would like to provide the ideal environment for my fishies. < The peat should help and really there's not a lot else you can do that isn't going to cause fluctuations. The best thing to do is provide a stable environment. They'll be much better off in a stable but slightly hard condition than in a fluctuating softer one.> Any suggestions or information you can offer would be much appreciated!!! Thanks, Stephanie Ward <You're welcome! Ronni>

Ignorance re livestock purchases, catfish care I looked at this web site and did a search but they don't look like him.. Help !  What else do they eat please. <I suggest checking with your dealer (whoever sold you this animal) re this fish, its requirements... and studying re the husbandry of life you take into your care AHEAD of its acquisition. As previously stated there are catfishes that are filter feeders, particulate feeders, whole animal feeders, parasites... there is no way to tell what you have from here! Bob Fenner>

Freshwater Stingrays and Eels Hi, my name is Alex <Hello!> I just recently bought a 75g fish tank.  I have purchased an aqua clear 500g/hr filter, and a 15 inch oxygenator tube.  It came with an enclosure made of pine wood and a nice fluorescent light.  I have used rocks to build caves, and caverns traveling upward in one corner.  In the other corner is the heater which is at 80dF; everything is well hidden.  One area of the tank is well open, while the other has the rocks.   <Sounds very nice. You might want to lower the heater just a tad, should be set around 78.> My question to you is this: I will be purchasing 2 FW sting rays and 2 FW eels.  I would like some input as to how to keep them in the best of health and keeping my tank in the best condition.  48hrs prior to adding the feeder fish, I used a bacteria enzyme designed by Marine Labs; it's supposed to be a 24hr fix making the aquarium inhabitable.  I would greatly appreciate some professional advice. Thank you Alex <Read http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwstingrays.htm and the related FAQs and also these and their related FAQs http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwstingrays.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmorayeels.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/matacembelids.htm - These should give you a ton of info. Ronni>

Re: compatibility hi, i have a 180 gallon tank (freshwater) with 2 moray eels (snowflake 12-18 inches), tiger Oscar (3 inches), red parrot face (5 inches), speckled African lungfish (10 inches) stingray (hystrix 6 inch dia.) and an Arowana (jardinei 4 inches). My question is will my Arowana accept his other tank mates or will he go after them. I am thinking of replacing the jardinei with a silver Arowana. Right now nobody is aggressive towards anybody everyone gets along. <You should be OK as long as the silver is small when you get him. Be aware, you need a good cover on your tank as these guys are jumpers. For more info on them, go to http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/osteoglossiforms.htm> My last question is my jardinei has beautiful colours on his tail fin (like a rainbow), will these colors eventually go away or stay, thank-you      <These colors should stay. Although I've never seen them in person, the pictures I've seen of larger specimens all show the colors in the tail. Ronni>

Classroom tank Thank you! Right now my 50 gallon aquarium is all African cichlids, but I think I'd like to have a community tank for my class room. I'd like some fish that are energetic and not so shy that they hide most the time. I'd like them to be fairly visible. Any suggestions? <Many, but very dependent on what size tank you are going to have! Do check out the articles and FAQs linked here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm ...I'm presuming you're referring to a freshwater tank, as you mentioned earlier. --Ananda>

Re: New FW Tank Setup You undoubtedly have the best site for FW aquariums on the web.  It is a source of lots of info for all levels of expertise - and here I am with none, and am knocking at your door for help!   Here goes: <<Thank you!!>>    I was given a 38 gal (2'hx36"Lx12"deep) aquarium.  After thoroughly cleaning it (no soap), I applied adhesive to all the joints.  It is now curing.  I purchased a lighted hood, water filtering device, heater, thermometer, pebbles, chlor-out and will use them when the adhesive is cured (48 hrs) on Feb 5.  I will then go purchase some test fish (the LFS -30 min away- will test my water for me) and I am sure, will be thrilled to sell me whatever is needed to make the water healthy for a community fish tank.  Gads...that's a lot of background - so far am I ok? <<Sounds good so far. You will most likely want to go with just a few goldfish to cycle the tank and then trade them back in when it's fully cycled. Also see if your LFS will give you a bacterial start. This can greatly reduce the time needed to fully cycle your tank and will help prevent huge spikes that may harm your starter fish.>>>>    The real question - I like bright lively fish.  I have a penchant for specimen fish, but have almost decided on a community tank instead,  UNLESS there is a specimen fish that can live peacefully within a community tank.  I am starting with a clean slate so would appreciate what you would see as a well inhabited tank for this size.  I am a novice and not familiar with most fish types so therefore have no preferences other than what I mentioned above - what would you recommend for fish and plants?  Please keep in mind I would like a low to medium maintenance tank.  I truly love your site and know my questions are repetitive from some already answered, but mistakes at this point - or any point - can be costly in both time and money.  With much appreciation, Rosalie <<Well, my personal favorites for community type tanks are Tetras. Stay away from neons and cardinals, they can be pretty touchy. But instead go with Black Skirts, Bloodfins, False Rummynose (these can be a bit on the touchy side), Penguins, etc. The colors of these lean more towards the grays and blacks but the Bloodfins will add a splash of red and so will the Rummynose. I stayed away from these for the longest time because of their drab colors. A friend of mine gave me a couple of black skirts when she turned her tank into a salt tank and since then I've been hooked. They school constantly and are always in motion. When you get small schools of several different kinds it's really a pleasure to watch. Another option if you're set on a bit brighter colors is to go with Platies. They come in orange, blue, red, speckled white, and probably a few other colors I can't remember. I've never seen these school the way the tetras do but they are neat fish. These are livebearers so they will breed in your tank. The parents will eat most of the fry unless there is a lot of cover for them. With both Tetras and Platies you can add quite a few fish (but only a few at a time) to your tank because they all stay fairly small. With the Tetras (and probably the Platies) you can also add bottom dwelling fish such as loaches and Corys. These are very fun fish and if you get clown loaches they'll add some more color to your tank. Plants depend on what you're looking for. There are lots of FW plants available. Leafy plants like Anubias look nice, so do the finer plants like Elodea and Anacharis. Elodea makes a great hiding place for fry. Good luck and have fun! Ronni>>

A mixed bag of used fish <Ananda here today answering the brackish questions...> i am going to buy a second hand aquarium with all the fishes size 5'9'' by 2' <Hmmm...how tall is this aquarium? Do get help to move it and set it up -- more info at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/movingaq.htm and the linked FAQs, underlined in blue at the top of the page> fish: 2 silver dollars <See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/serrasalminae1.htm and the linked FAQs>        1 mono <See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/monos.htm and the linked articles and FAQs>        1 puffer<small> <See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/fwbracpuffers.htm and the linked pages>        2 silver sharks <See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ariidcats.htm and the linked FAQs>        1 scat <See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Scatart.htm and beyond>        and others i do not know <Danger, Danger Will Robinson! You should always know which fish you are buying!> 1st question is it true that monos and scats are brackish fish??? <Yes. And the puffer is possibly a brackish fish, also, and one that may nip the fins of your other fish. More brackish info here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/BrackishSubWebIndex.htm> 2nd can i make Oscars with those fish???? <Oscars are not brackish fish. Whether or not they would be okay with your other fish, I can't say, as we don't have your entire fish list yet.> 3rd what is the best ph???????? <That varies with the type of fish, and should be available on the pages listed above. --Ananda>

Re: fish for a 5 gallon tank, FW Hi my name is Heather and I have a 5gallon tank with the filter heater conditioned water and the whole bit... Only question is I don't know what fish will survive in a small aquarium. I'm extremely interested in a rainbow shark but could one survive in a tank if not then what species of fish can??????? and how many???? Can you help Me????????? please, desperately seeking... please help <Hello, 5 gallons is kinda small, but with a filter and heating and a weekly water change routine I could see a few smaller fish in there.  I would not go with the rainbow shark.  If it were me I would go with a few White Cloud Mountain minnows, one of my favorites.  Please check out the articles below.  Best Regards, Gage> http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwtips4beginners.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2ochgs.htm

Little shop of horrors <bunk retailer in the UK> Hi (Anthony)  - I still need to photocopy you the Phil Hunt articles - I will do when my photocopier starts working (we are still awaiting new child though). <No worries bud... we keep busy here :) > OK, his weekend I went to a nearby retailer which I don't often visit because whenever I go there I am appalled.  A true little shop of horrors! What can/you say or do?   <my guess is little... the shop is in that condition for reasons bigger than education. Who knows why the owner/management has let it slip... personal, financial reasons, etc. If the chap in charge is willing to listen, some polite schooling would be in order. Gentle suggestions on improved husbandry at first. Some early suggestions too with ideas for improvements that will make them more money. Indeed... increased profits is a strong motivator for improvements <G>, and as empathetic aquarists, we won't care what motivates them to run a better shop, right? If that doesn't work... vote with your feet: leave and never come back. If enough people do they will simply go out of business> Lots of dirty tanks, sick fish.  Gross overcrowding of very large fish, obviously suffering.  It breaks my heart to see angelfish , a Centropyge and a juvenile Pomacentrus, gasping at the surface.  Frankly the trade in Europe will be hit by legislation from the EU eventually, and I'm not so sure that's a bad thing. <actually... it is a VERY bad thing. The industry should have the good sense to police itself. Legislation will only hurt the good hobbyists> One thing that adds to the pain is that many of these fish are returns - example, 2 Pacu (large) and a juvenile (30cms) red tail cat in a 55, 25 cm.s Geophagus in a 10, lots of similar examples.  This sort of this says to legislators - 'Yes ban this, fish like this  are NOT suitable for sale without a license'. <indeed... it is a point for my case... a responsible retailer should recognize that few customers have aquariums large enough to comfortably house Pacu and red tail cats. They shouldn't be made available to casual aquarists for impulse sales... but they should be available for the dedicated aquarist that have the accommodations to fairly keep them. Of course... the burden is not only on the retailer to be responsible... if consumers had the good sense to research their pet and its needs before buying it, the result would be the same. Retailers only want to sell desired products... and Pacus sell because people (!) buy them. Both retailer and consumer need to be responsible or they risk having their privileges to do so legislated away. We should be smarter as hobbyists and merchants> Comments, many thanks for an exceptional website <thanks kindly for sharing/inviting> Wayne Oxborough Stavanger <best regards, Anthony>

What fish would you recommend for a new tank? We (me, my mom, and my brothers) just set up a new 55 gal. tank a couple of days ago. The pet store recommended  mollies, swordtail platies, and a >couple of others. They said we shouldn't get guppies (what we were going to >get). So we bought 2 tuxedo mollies,2 marble mollies, and 2 swordtail platies. They said we should get 6 fish at a time every two weeks until we had as many as we wanted. Yesterday one of them had babies. Now we have 9 little orange tadpole looking things. What should we be feeding the babies. I have been feeding them crushed fish flakes, and a little hard boiled egg yolk 3 times a day. <keep up with the crushed food, I would leave out the egg.> We have about four plants, gravel, air pump, and a box filter that were recommended by the pet store employee. The temperature stays at 75. Today both the swordtail platies died. One of them had a white spot on it. Around 10 min. before they died they started swimming upside down doing weird flippy things and acting really strange. They both died within an hour of each other. The babies and the mollies are all doing fine. Do you have any idea what killed the Swordtail Platies? Should we go to a different store (we went to PetSmart). Thanks for any help you can give us. Aimee <Hello Aimee, IMO/IME PetSmart is a gamble, the quality of the fish varies from store to store.  This is why quarantining of new fish is so important.  You should get your water tested to make sure ammonia, ph, nitrite, and nitrate are all within an acceptable range.  These live bearing fish like their water a little harder and more alkaline.  I would also add some Aquarium salt to their water.  Check out our FAQs on live bearers below, there is some good information there.  Best Regards, Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/poecillidfaqs.htm  >

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