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FAQs on the Freshwater Minnows called Sharks Selection

Related Articles: Freshwater Minnow SharksBala or Tri-Colored Sharks, Redtail Sharks, Redfin Sharks, Black Sharks,

Related FAQs:  Minnow Sharks 1, Minnow Sharks 2, FW Shark Identification, FW Shark Behavior, FW Shark Compatibility, FW Shark Systems, FW Shark Feeding, FW Shark Disease, FW Shark Reproduction, Bala or Tri-Colored Sharks, Redtail Sharks, Redfin Sharks, Black Sharks,


shark question, the Ariid Catfish, other FW "shark" stkg./sel.    8/19/20
Hi.  Boy have I learned via this site not to purchase Black Fin Sharks from Wal-Mart.  My son fell in love with those particular animals for his 5.5 gallon tank
<Much too small>
however we are now seriously backtracking.  Is there some type of fish out there that will live happily in fresh water, not brackish, that actually resembles a shark and will be content in a small tank? 
<Not really, no>
His heart is set on some type of "shark."  Just fyi, I just formally complained to our local Wal-Mart manager about the poor maintenance of their tanks!  Thank You!  Laura Smith
<Thank you Laura... Do please read here; and or have your son read here if he's old enough to understand:
Bob Fenner>
Re: shark question   8/19/20

I'm so glad that I found this site before purchasing the sharks!  He will be so disappointed!
<Much more and worse so if the organisms damaged/killed one another and died>
  However we take care of all of God's nature and would never want to put something so inappropriate in a 5 gallon tank!  We will take a visit to the local specialty fish store and will make a better choice. Thanks!  Laura
<Welcome. BobF>

Stocking queries relating to <minnow> sharks (RMF, do read!)   4/25/11
Dear WetWebMedia,
<Hello Roger,>
I have recently stocked a tropical aquarium of 75 gallons in size. It is heated and has a large external filter from the aquarium (upon advice from the store.) All the water I used was dechlorinated and tested with test strips. All information here is from notes taken, information remembered from the store assistants and receipts.
<I see.>
A few months back I was inquiring at a local aquatic store about what I should stock it with. I said I was looking for some aggressive fish which would provide an interesting display.
<A contradiction in terms! Aggression is the ONE thing you want to avoid. Hassle is not the same thing as interest. It's like that Chinese proverb about living in interesting times, the meaning being that interesting times are generally not something you'll enjoy!>
While they briefed me, I took a couple of notes down so I could remember the names. They recommended several different fishes - I believe they were 'sicklids',
<Cichlids; not good fish for beginners for a variety of reasons.>
'red belly piranha',
<Indeed; a bad fish for beginners, and really rather dull.>
<Covers a LOT of ground here! Hundreds if not a thousand-plus species.>
<A mixed bag of unrelated fish; nothing to do with the sharks of the sea.>
and 'buck-tooth tetra'.
<A fascinating fish, and actually quite a good choice for a 75 gallon tank, if you like predators.>
I had a look through and I didn't like the look of most of them, but the sharks really caught my eye.
<Most of the sharks make poor aquarium fish for a variety of reasons. Some are insanely large, others need brackish or salt water when mature. Most of the rest are either too nervous or too aggressive to do well without very careful planning.>
I was under the impression that sharks were only marine fish, and it was a surprise to me that there were some types that could be kept in a freshwater aquarium.
<Uh, no. The "shark" part of the name is misleading. Apart from a couple of catfish, most of the "sharks" in the freshwater trade are cyprinids, relatives of the minnows and carps.>
They were selling a number of different sharks (I got these names from the labels on the front of the tanks, the assistant told me that a couple were rare species
so they capitalized codes - the species I noted were 'paroon' shark, 'ID' shark,
<These are Pangasius sanitwongsei and Pangasius hypophthalmus; use Google to look up these catfish -- they come under the "insanely large" heading. Got a few thousand gallons in your aquarium? Then sure, try one out. Otherwise, skip 'em.>
'RTBS' shark,
<Red-tailed Black Shark, Epalzeorhynchos bicolor. Very aggressive. One of these will OWN your 75-gallon tank.>
'albino' shark,
<Epalzeorhynchos frenatus; marginally less aggressive than Epalzeorhynchos bicolor. An okay choice for a tank your size, if you choose tankmates with care and add this species LAST.>
'Bala' shark
<Balantiocheilos melanopterus, not only large but also extremely nervous unless kept in [a] a big group and [b] a huge aquarium; a fine fish, but not suitable for beginners or tanks below a couple hundred gallons.>
and 'redfin' shark.
<Epalzeorhynchos frenatus.>
They told me they were all very easy to look after and were best fed on live food, so I would be required to set up a live food aquarium as well. So, upon their advice I bought a second heated aquarium this time of 20 gallons and stocked it with feeder platies, their recommended feeder fish (I was told goldfish and rosy reds had some form of chemical that kills other fish so should not be used as feeders.)
<Hmm actually, no feeders should be used, ever. But I guess your retailer has some extremely vague understanding of the fat and thiaminase in Goldfish and Minnows. But even store-bred Platies will be parasite bombs, so shouldn't be used to feed fish you want to live any length of time.>
So, I went home, set up the feeder tank (which has an internal filter I believe), cycled with the liquid bacteria and stocked it with 9 adult feeder platies. Upon recommendation I added a couple of plants - a type called java moss. They fed well and I was informed by the store they would breed by themselves.
And indeed, 1 month later I started noticing young platies within the tank. Soon the group started to grow and I ended up with 13. They were quite happy and I fed them on standard Hikari tropical flake.
I returned to the shop and they told me that it would be enough and for the initial months the sharks would be okay on standard carnivore food but not as good as they would be on live fish.
<Idiots. The two Epalzeorhynchos species, the Red-tailed Black Shark and the Red-fin/Albino Shark, are both largely herbivorous. They feed on something called Aufwuchs that contains algae and a mix of microscopic animals. Under aquarium conditions they do well on a variety of prepared foods. Balantiocheilos melanopterus is omnivorous and easily fed on a mix of green foods and prepared foods, plus treats such as bloodworms and perhaps even the odd earthworm. Pangasius spp. have no place in the average aquarium so comments on their diet is irrelevant.>
They recommended I feed frequent frozen bloodworm to the sharks until then.
<Not frequent, but once a week, sure, these are fine treats.>
They also told me that the platies would not be as nutritious if they were not 'gut loaded'. 'Gut loaded' was said to mean fed on a good diet with lots of live food.
<Broadly, yes, but pointless here, not to mention dangerous given you didn't breed the Platies yourself.>
They told me that I had to set up a third tank for rearing daphnia and Cyclops and holding live food until they are fed. They also informed me it was time to stock the main tank.
<Oh boy, they sure saw you coming so how much stuff have they sold you so far?>
They said that before the sharks could be introduced, the tank must be shark friendly. They told me this meant added 'freshwater live sand' which appeared to be some sort of pale yellow sand with small pieces of rock/gravel mixed in with which was said to be teeming with life in the form of aquarium bacteria, algae, daphnia, some long twisted white coned snails, long pink worms, underwater wood lice and also a few unusual round shaped shrimp-like creatures that were curled and would dart around and were about 1/2 an inch long.
<What? Never heard of freshwater live sand. Sounds very dubious, and honestly, I think they're selling you shares in the Suez Canal.>
I was informed that this sand was full of creatures that helped maintain the balance of the ecosystem in the tank. I was told to buy 30 lbs of this wet sand in bags to form the 'substrate' of my tank when mixed with regular aquarium sand. Secondly, I was told that 'freshwater live rock' was also required.
<It gets better!>
This was a type of funny holy rock which had plants clinging to it and algae coating it. It also had the same shrimp-like creatures and daphnia and Cyclops hanging around it, as well as two types of shrimp one proper long 1.5" transparent shrimp and another type of small 1" brown shrimp (this one was far more common than the other) and three types of brown snails attached to it which either had vertical disc-shaped twirl shells, were small, semi-transparent and had black dots on them or were large and had conical shells, though not as long as the ones living in the sand. It was also said to have important bacteria. I was told that this rock was designed as an optional thing for the tropical community tanks but was almost essential if you wanted to keep sharks. They said that all these critters would help filter the tank and eat the fish poop and also help keep the balance and would even serve as temporary fish food should I go on holiday. I was told that more than just a few plants were bad in a shark tank as sharks needed 'cruising space' and the small aquatic ferns attached to my live rock were enough. I was also told that the live rock and live sand creatures required feeding until the fish were added, and that my existing tropical flakes or my new carnivore pellets and bloodworm would do.
So, on that visit I purchased some frozen bloodworm, Hikari Sinking Carnivore Pellets (which mentions sharks on the box of the food as doing well on this diet), Hikari Mini Algae Wafers (which were supposed to be suitable for feeding to the platies along with the standard flake and also for feeding to the daphnia), 10 bags of live daphnia, 3 bags of live Cyclops, 2 packs of daphnia eggs, 1 one gallon tank for keeping live food, a huge bag of aquarium sand, 30 lbs of live sand, 10 lbs of live rock and a ton of weird critters and plants attached to the rock. If you could identify a couple if not all of this critters it would be very helpful.
<Robert, I hate being the one to tell you this, but there's a whole bunch of stuff they're selling you here you don't need. Cycling a tank is easy. Although not the ideal way to do things, your Platies have surely cycled the tank by now. Nothing you're adding, beyond perhaps a few more live plants, will make a blind bit of difference. Yes, there's plenty of live sand and live rock *sold to marine aquarists* but this will ALL DIE in freshwater. In short, if they've been selling you this stuff, you've been had.>
So, I set up the tank, putting the live rock at the back and mixing the aquarium sand and the live sand to put on the bottom of the tank. A day later I returned from work pretty late, and open turning on the light, the tank appeared to be a haven of life. There were several snails visible on the glass of all 3 brown types and the white type was moving around on the sand. The shrimp-like curled critters were hopping up and down amid large groups of daphnia and Cyclops. A couple of brown shrimps and transparent shrimp were also swimming around, looking for meals. Although the live seemed to slow down a lot after turning on the light. A lot of the creatures retreated into the rock and substrate in the next few hours of light in the room. It was an unusual sight.
<I bet!>
I also set up live food tank 2 which had no substrate or rock, and didn't even have a filter. Nevertheless, the daphnia and Cyclops inside seemed fairly healthy. I would feed them with crushed up algae wafers and occasionally would introduce some of the population of this tank to the other one as they were breeding fast.
So, 2 weeks later I returned to the shop, and bought my first fish. Upon recommendation by them, I bought an albino shark, said to be the most hardy shark for an early tank.
<Not really. Albino anything tends to be weaker than the standard form.>
I floated the bag in the tank for 10 minutes before letting the shark in. In the next few days, I am sure the microbial life was disappearing. The brown shrimps and curled shrimp-like creatures as well as the daphnia and Cyclops seemed slightly more scarce, and the transparent shrimp were quickly disappearing - I decided to fish out some of the brown and all the transparent shrimps and add them to the platy tank where they thrived.
<I see. Well, plain vanilla Amano Shrimps and Grass Shrimps should do well in your aquarium.>
The week after, I purchased two more sharks, an RTBS and my personal fave, the paroon.
<Oh boy. Well, the Paroon Shark has no place here at all. Take it back. It's a monster. Plus, the Red-tail Shark and the Albino Shark will not coexist once sexually mature, and will likely fight long before then. All this is well known. If you'd bought a book before buying "stuff", you'd have saved a WHOLE bunch of money.>
Soon after they were introduced, all the true shrimp in the main tank had been eaten or had died out. The numbers of the curled shrimp-like things were low but they could be seen from time to time at night when the other fish were less active. Surprisingly, there were more of the smaller creatures like Cyclops than normal. I was feeding the fish frequently and well, so maybe they had less of a desire to predate the smaller things. In the weeks to come I bought 2 more paroon sharks and 2 Bala sharks.
<Seriously, things are getting out of hand now. Did you research even the Bala Sharks? It's well known these get to about 30 cm/12 inches, so three of them WILL NOT live in 75 gallons! Throw in the Paroon Sharks that should get to about 90 cm/3 feet under good conditions, and you'll have fish literally wedged into a glass sardine can!>
The fish feed well on the carnivore pellets and frozen bloodworm, but I tried adding a bit of the algae wafers and the tropical flake and they didn't mind that either, so that was quite cool. But of course the carnivore pellets are the best diet for the sharks so I do not intend to feed them too much of it. I also fed the first few platies recently. The platy population as of now is 20 or so. I added 3 smaller platies to the tank and the paroons swooped them up in seconds. The RTBS gave chase but did not kill them fast enough. The Balas showed no interest. Is this a problem?
<Depends on what you mean. The problems will likely come from the fish eating the parasite-bomb Platies. Please, please read before you act. Feeder fish usage isn't just inhumane, it's also unwise. It introduces parasites, it spreads diseases, and it increases the risks of aggression. You will notice that NO expert fishkeeper -- i.e., one who gets published -- recommends the use of feeders.>
How do I make it so the other fish have a chance to eat the platies before they are snapped up by the paroons?
<Why would you want to? Sounds as if the Bala Sharks have better idea of a healthy diet than either you or the retailer.>
I should start blogging.
<Agreed; though I perhaps would read your blog for different reasons than you're writing it.>
I wish I could write more in detail about my tank.
<Oh, you've written plenty, let me assure you.>
My problems started a week ago. My RTBS shark viciously attacked my albino shark, tearing fins off.
<Absolutely no surprise at all. In fact I predicted as much a few paragraphs above.>
I phoned the store, and they said it was common for sharks to fight and this would not be much of a problem long term.
But it was, and the morning after, I found my albino shark lying in the tank with all it's fins torn off, being chewed on by both the RTBS and a paroon (which do not seem to be very aggressive so I assume it was just scavenging - unsure though).
The other fish get on very well and display no aggressive behavior. I phoned the store once more and they said it was a territorial conflict and they blamed my tank size. They also said that the albino might have been too dark for the RTBS shark which is black in color which could have led to conflict.
<Uh, no. All the Epalzeorhynchos species are territorial under normal aquarium conditions. Only keep one specimen per aquarium.>
So, this time, I got a redfin shark.
<Ah, another lamb to the slaughter.>
The RTBS has been acting very aggressively towards it's new companion. Why is this?
<Territorial aggression. Do not keep more than one Epalzeorhynchos per aquarium. It's really VERY SIMPLE. All decent aquarium books will state this. Have you read any of them?>
Can I have help with my tank?
<Yes. But it largely involves you taking everything back, buying a book, reading it, and just enjoying the Platies for a few weeks until you can be trusted to go shopping again.>
<You are most welcome, Neale.>
> Do read my reply to "Stocking queries relating to sharks". It's a keeper!
> Cheers, Neale
Oh man! I almost thought this "fish keeper" was pulling our fins, but as I read it dawned on me that he's just being sold bills of goods...
Perhaps he'd like to buy a walkway to Knightsbridge? B
Re: Stocking queries relating to sharks (RMF, do read!)    4/26/11

Hi Neale
I read your response extensively and it appears I've got very wrong here, and my store is giving incorrect advice.
Just to clear things up, I have 3 aquariums. One is the main tank, 75 gallons. That's where the sharks are. The other tank is the 20 gallon with the feeder platies. There are and never were any live platies used to cycle the 75 gallon - they told me the live rock and live sand as well as a bottle of bacteria would do the trick. I didn't even know you could use fish to cycle!
<Fair enough.>
The third tank is the gut-loader tank, 1 gallon. I had another look at the buck tooth tetras and I believe I may have overlooked them.
<Yes, Exodon paradoxus, a fine fish. Genuine feeding frenzy, but readily takes flake, so more fun and easier to keep than piranhas.>
They seem like a much better choice for my aquarium that what I have currently.
<A good choice, but you do need at least 12; in smaller groups you'll end up with just the one! Because their diet includes scales and fins of larger fish, DO NOT keep with anything else, even catfish. But they do look stunning in a shady, well-planted aquarium. They get to about 10 cm long in captivity and have lovely colours.>
I was attracted to 'aggressive' fish as I saw videos of Oscar fish on YouTube and they looked much more exciting than schools of neon tetras and guppies like everyone else has.
<You do need to definite "aggressive" in this context. Oscars aren't aggressive at all except insofar as they're territorial. They are predatory of course, but that's a whole different thing. Most predators are non-aggressive because they need to be ignored and keep a low profile. Most truly aggressive fish are herbivores or omnivores. Mbuna and Damselfish for example include some of the most aggressive fish in the world, yet both feed primarily on algae.>
However, I find Oscar fish ugly - I wanted a balance between beauty and character, and thought I could find that in sharks.
<I see. Do look at the brackish to marine Colombian Shark Catfish, a stunning species with lots of predatory power but the disposition of a pussy cat. 
It's a joy to keep, and probably the most shark-like fish in the hobby.>
However, instead of thinking of more fish I need to focus on clearing up the current problem. It appears I have a mix of monsters in size and monsters in aggression. I am intending to return all the sharks as soon as possible. I saw a couple of pictures on Google of the adults of some of the scientific names you gave me, and I certainly don't have the room for a tank that could accommodate something like that.
<Indeed not.>
I feel incredibly foolish now for not reading up on the topic prior to purchase, but at the time, I was sure that the people in the store (who claim to have had 40 years experience) would be more than helpful. It turned out they were not.
<So it seems.>
The platies and the shrimp living in the 20 gallon are happy right now. The platies and the brown shrimp are both breeding.
The red finned shark is still alive, but badly beaten up and hiding in a crevice in the live rock at the back of the tank. I intend to return him, along with the others, when I visit the store tomorrow, if he lasts until then. I did call the store and complain, but they gave me a generic response that it was my fault that this happened for not feeding the sharks enough, so I gave up.
<They sound hopeless.>
They said they would accept the fish, but they did tell me it was store policy not to accept any money for standard quality fish, even if they were their own, so it appears I have lost quite a lot of money from this on fish and on creating the shark tank in the way they proposed. I also emailed the store manager inquiring about the scientific names and more information on the 'Live Rock' and 'Live Sand' products and they responded. They say it is very different from marine live rock/live sand but uses the same sort of idea.
I'll quote the relevant sections of their email at the end of this one. If you can recognize any scientific names from the list, that would be great, because they could easily have sold me super predator fish eating shrimp, the way things are going now.
<Quite so!>
I will definitely purchase a book on the topic of tropical fish in general and it would be very useful if you could give any suggestions as to which books contain accurate, correct and useful information, unlike that I have received from the aquatic store.
<A few favourites here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/bksfwbrneale.htm
As I've said I'm going to return my sharks and I'm considering either bucktooth tetras or a tank with barbs - did some research by myself and I found that barbs are both interesting and attractive, and easier to keep than the bucktooths.
<Very definitely. Tiger Barbs are basically hardy fish so long as you don't keep them too warm and you take care to keep them in a large group, at least 6, and ideally 10 or more if you don't want nippiness to become a problem. Also, the bigger the group, the better the colours on the males as they each try to impress the females (and yes, you want/need at least as many females as males, though sexing juveniles is nigh-on impossible). They basically mix well with anything that keeps out of their way or can swim nice and fast. I'd recommend some loaches for the bottom (Zebra or Yoyo Loaches would be ideal) and some Giant Danios for the top. Once the tank is settled down, add an interesting Suckermouth Catfish if you want, one of the L-number Plecs, your choice determined by your budget. I happen to like Panaque nigrolineatus as a good all-rounder, but things like Green Phantom Plecs, Snowball Plec and Gold Nugget Plec would all be appropriate choices.>
Here is the email, if you can recognize and provide info on the species it would be appreciated:
<Lots of fun things here: shrimps, flatworms, water fleas, etc.>
Asellus aquaticus
Cyclops sp. 'Unknown'
Daphnia magna
Daphnia pulex
Dugesia sp. 'Unknown'
Eiseniella tetraedra
Gammarus pulex
Hyalella azteca
Lymnaea sp. 'Melantho'
Lymnaea stagnalis
Melanoides tuberculata
<These are Malayan Livebearing/Turret Snails.>
Neocaridina heteropoda
Palaemonetes paludosus
<Both these are shrimps.>
Physa acuta
<Pond snails.>
Planaria sp. 'Unknown'
Planorbarius corneus
Note that Hydra vulgaris sometimes occurs on Freshwater Live Rock but is unintentional and can be removed at your request.
<Hydra is a neat creature and not a problem unless you intend to breed egg-laying fish in this tank.>
Ceratophyllum demersum
Elodea canadensis
Microsorum pteropus
Vesicularia dubyana
Vesicularia montagnei
<All fairly standard plants.>
Freshwater Live Rock and Freshwater Live Sand consist of tufa rock
<Tufa rock can, will raise pH and water hardness, depending on the quantity. Do check the pH periodically, perhaps monthly once the tank is set-up and stable, weekly for the first month or so. If the pH stays at or below 7.5, there's nothing to worry about.>
and silica play sand cultured in two twin 20,000 gallon aquariums which are home to millions of beneficial microscopic algae and bacteria along with a selection of small sub-tropical invertebrates that are considered useful to the maintenance of the aquarium. The species included are specifically selected for their ability to control certain species of invasive algae and general tank detritus, as well as serve as a food source for multiple species of small tropical fish popular in the aquarium, such as guppies and tetras. The rock is wild caught and is absolutely not from wild reefs in the same manner as the marine live rock. However, the concept remains very similar. They are new, innovative products from our standard supplier for freshwater fish and invertebrates and we are glad to be among the first to adopt them.
<Is indeed innovative and fascinating. Basically pond life, but it's neat to see them being sold this way. Do read here:
If you have any questions, feel free to reply and if I am unable to answer anything, I will gladly contact the supplier as well."
Thanks, Roger
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Stocking queries relating to sharks (RMF, do read!)    4/26/11
Hi Neale
I returned all the sharks today.
Today, the manager (the man who I contacted via email - the people on the phone were assistants) was in the store instead of the regular assistants who come on weekends and sometimes in afternoons. He was very surprised that I had been sold this unusual mix of fish from the assistant, who was a teenager or college kid who worked their part time and had never kept fish himself before.
He still used the 'store policy' excuse, but offered me store credit for my troubles so far. I had another look at the Exodon/bucktooth tetras. They seem interesting but I'd rather have a mix of fish. On YouTube I saw a lot of videos of Oscar fish 'mouth-fighting' other fishes which went under the names 'jack Dempsey', 'wolf', 'jaguar' and 'devil', that is why I assumed they were aggressive.
<Yes, these can be aggressive, but do understand aggression is better read about than actually experienced at home! Fighting leads to injuries, and injuries lead to stress and infection, and these lead to dead fish. By all means keep a single territorial cichlid, and try putting a mirror by the tank if you want a bit of fun for a few minutes. But deliberately contriving situations where fish behave aggressively usually ends badly for all concerned. Now, some fish will scrap amongst themselves without doing serious harm; Celebes halfbeaks for example. But these are small fish able to spread out in aquaria, so the males don't usually cause serious harm to one another.>
I read through the article on the Colombian catfish. They certainly seem like interesting fish for a future venture into fishkeeping. However, I am currently quite new to fish keeping and I don't think I'm experienced enough to run a marine or 'brackish' tank - as I would need to purchase new equipment to do so and it isn't really viable in the short term.
<Agreed. But they are fantastic fish!>
As per books, I ordered off Amazon 'A Practical Guide to Setting up Your First Tropical Freshwater Aquarium' by Gina Sandford, 'Complete Aquarium' by Peter Scott and 'Brackish Water Fishes' by yourself, just in case I pursue Colombian Sharks and brackish water fish once I get more experience with aquatic creatures.
<All good book choices. The Peter Scott one is especially inspiring, even if it isn't quite the best book for details on the fish species mentioned.>
They should arrive within 1-3 weeks or so. I Googled giant Danio, tiger barb, yoyo loach, zebra loach and the list of plecs you recommended. They all seem like great fish, and my aquatic store had all but the plecs, but said they could order any of them from the supplier if I requested.
<Very good. Not all are suitable for planted tanks necessarily, so do review their particular needs, e.g., on the excellent Planet Catfish site.>
Out of the loaches, I would say I prefer the look of the zebra loach. Does this fish require to be kept in a group in the same way as the tiger barb or is it a solitary fish?
<Definitely yes; all these Botiine loaches should be kept in groups of 5+ specimens or you're unlikely to have much luck with them. Botiine loaches are an odd mix of feisty towards one another on the one hand, but also rather shy if kept singly or in pairs. You need a biggish group of five or more specimens for their natural aggression to balance out, so no one fish bullies all the others. Kept in a group they'll be bold enough to swim about during the day, which is another good reason to keep a group.>
I found conflicting sources - one saying it was territorial, another saying it liked being in groups. Out of the plecs, I like the nigrolineatus too.
Are they easy to keep?
<Yes, they can be; my specimen is 16-17 years old! They do need lots of green foods and they do destroy most plants. But in tanks with rock and bogwood, they're very easy to keep once settled in and fattened up. Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/panaqueart.htm
Also, I did some research and some sites are saying that plecs grow huge - 20"+, is this true?
<Can do, but seems very uncommon in aquaria. Mine is about 17 cm/7 inches long, 20 cm/8 inches is common, and I've seen a few nearer the 30 cm/12 inch mark, but outside of public aquaria, none that were any bigger than that. There are numerous subspecies and related species, and some do seem to be smaller than others.>
If it grows that big, it would be a bit crowded in my tank. Do barb, loach, Danio and Plec like plant filled garden tanks or rocky styled tanks, or don't they mind?
<Loaches, Danios and Plecs are happy with either, though Royal Plecs will eat most plants anyway, while the other, non-wood-eating Plecs generally ignore plants provided those plants aren't easily uprooted (so nothing too delicate!). Barbs like planted tanks best.>
On the topic of the 'live rock', thank you for identifying some of these creatures. I can see I have some of them. However, when I Googled the 'Neocaridina' shrimp just now, I got hundreds of pictures of various different shrimp. Some red species, some yellow species and some blue species. My shrimp (with the exception of the 'Palaemon' shrimps which I can identify as the clear shrimp I have) are brown. I do not think they are 'Neocaridina', as the pictures don't match.
<Indeed. There are many species in this genus.>
I Googled pond snail and it said they are voracious eaters of plants but also eat algae and it is a hard decision whether I should keep them or try to remove them. Do the pros outweigh the cons here, or the other way round?
I looked up Hydra and I don't think I have any of those in my aquarium. I may be wrong however, I just haven't seen any. When I looked at the images of pond snail however, I found three main types - the small golden dotted one, a curled up brown disc like one and a large brownish conical one, all of which seem to be present in my aquarium. Which 'pond snail' goes with which scientific name?
<Physa and Melanoides don't harm healthy plants. Neither do small Planorbis. Lymnaea may do so, and Pomacea certainly will.>
I Googled 'tufa' and the rock I saw pictures off is very different from the rock I have. The rock I have is a mix of brown and white rocks with big holes in them, not tiny bubbles like the true tufa. I don't think they are using real tufa.
<I see.>
My pH is 8 according to the test strips. My tap water is 7.5 normally. Will the high pH wear off over time or is this a long term problem?
<Could be a problem. Tufa rock is calcium carbonate, and this will, by definition, raise carbonate hardness, and in turn that will raise pH to 8 or even slightly higher. Whether the rock is genuine tufa or some other type of calcium carbonate doesn't much matter. Acid, even vinegar, will fizz if dribbled onto calcium carbonate, so it's easy to test.>
I read through the 'deep sand bed' article. It seems to be remarkably similar to the live sand. I guess 'live sand' is just a brand name to make it sell better. Although the sand bed seems to very deep, hence the name.
This live sand is reasonably shallow. I noticed the article also mentioned the same ideas of 'ecosystem' and also mentioned the Malayan snail as well as flat worms and I even recognised the 'Dugesia' name from the article from the list I got sent by the store manager. The article said that flatworms were harmless, which was helpful, as upon Googling 'flatworm' earlier, I was shocked by an article on water borne parasites instead of aquarium cleaners.
<Indeed, but the free-living flatworms are harmless, except perhaps if they eat fish eggs.>
Also, I am pretty sure I have Malayan snails. They are yellow and live in the sand. I sometimes see them move around at night. But, most of the time I see the vast variety of different 'pond snails' moving about. The live rock and live sand are very interesting things. I had a quick look in the filter today, and it appears more of the critters are living in the filter than in the tank. There are a lot of daphnia and Cyclops and some of the smaller curly shrimp-like things inside. I guess they got sucked in through the filter.
<Sounds jolly.>
For the 20 gallon platy tank, the store manager recommended Otocinclus cat-fish as the best way to control algae. However, Google says that the best way to control algae is to plant a tank well. Is this a good recommendation or just as bad as that of his co-workers?
<Bit of both really. Otocinclus, kept in groups, are viable if delicate catfish that will consume green algae (but not hair algae or diatoms).
Nerite snails are better for green algae and diatoms, and hair algae is something you try to prevent problems with altogether, though a few fish, notably Siamese Algae Eaters and Florida Flagfish, will eat it. In any case, yes, if you have lots of fast-growing plants you're unlikely to have serious algae problems. That's the approach I take in all my tanks, even if, in the case of tanks with plant-eating fish, I'm limited to using floating Indian Fern.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Stocking queries relating to sharks... Now gen. stkg., chatting    4/28/11

Hi Neale
Thanks for all the great info and the useful link about the Plec. Is there any way to make my water more acidic like using a liquid or something or chemical?
<No. You need to soften water before changing pH. If you have hard water, simply adding a pH-down produce will only create unstable conditions. Once of the easiest ways to stress/kill fish! Better to choose hard water fish, or else let soft water fish adapt to hard water -- many can, at least to moderately hard water, say, 10 degrees dH. Do read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwh2oquality.htm
Also, I don't have any 'Pomacea' in my tank, so I don't think I'll need to worry. Thanks for the info on the snails though! If I plant it full of plants, with cheap, easily replaceable plants, do you think a royal Plec will have much of a big impact upon the tank?
<Panaque spp. will destroy almost all plants save floating plants.>
Definitely gonna add a couple of plants to the smaller tank.
<Okay, then stick with other L-number Plecs, e.g., Baryancistrus or Hemiancistrus species that are primarily carnivores (not on fish!) and ignore plants.>
I will look at Nerite snails. I'm probably gonna add some of the snails from the big tank into the small tank. Do the Physa, Lymna or the Planorbis eat algae well?
<Quite well.>
Also gonna look at flag fish and Siamese algae eaters but it's 20 gallon so dunno if they'll fit, they look pretty large.
<Indeed, would not choose either of these for 20 gallons.>
When I do stock 75 gallon I'm thinking 10 tiger barb, 8 giant Danios, 1 royal Plec and 5 zebra loach. And maybe a Krib cichlid later on if it goes well?
<Sounds good.>
I'm unsure. I know you warned against cichlid so that's why I plan on leaving it for a while and getting more experienced first. Do you think Krib cichlid would cause trouble for the barb as both share mid water habitat?
<Kribs are mostly bottom-dwellers and will largely ignore midwater fish.>
I really like barb and may set up an aquarium for them in the future when I know more about aquatics. I saw a lot of nice barb today at the store - golden barb,
<A nice species.>
mossy barb,
<Tiger Barb of another colour.>
Denison barb,
<Needs cool water for long term success; no warmer than 24 C, anyway, and ideally down to 18 C in winter, if not slightly less.>
rosy barb,
<Another subtropical barb that prefers cooler water.>
cherry barb,
<A wonderful and quirky species.>
checkered barb,
<Another excellent species; subtle but very lovely in colours.>
false 8 stripe barb,
<A small, delicate species (Eirmotus octozona) not really suited to communities.>
barbel barb (I think this one was cold water though),
<Barbus barbus? A coldwater fish.>
Indian drape fin barb
<Oreichthys crenuchoides; very pretty, but shy, so don't keep with bullies like Danios or other Barbs. Could do well with Kribs and L-number Plecs though.>
and many others. I know a lot of these are not well suited to my tank if I go by my currently planned stocking, so I will not stock tank with them.
Thanks, Roger
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: New tank, Pangasius hypophthalmus, minnow shark, goldfish... stkg., reading  12/10/08 Hello dear Neale, Thank you so much for your quick response, Neale I am interested to keep a small pair of blue line shark, <Pangasius hypophthalmus? A bad choice. Too big for home aquaria, needs to be kept in groups of 6+ specimens.> albino shark, one red tail shark <Are we talking about albino Epalzeorhynchos frenatum and regular Epalzeorhynchos bicolor? They'll fight with each other. Best kept one specimen of whichever species, or in groups of 6+ specimens.> and one pair of Bala shark <Another big, schooling species. Six or more specimens, please.> with my red cap goldfish. <Nope; Goldfish should be kept on their own, especially "fancy" goldfish. Too easily damaged by other, bullying fish species.> Is this fine and under stocked? Neale how should I make my routine to change the water and what amount should I change and after how many days? <Much written on WWM on this topic. Would recommend 25% every week as a good starting point.> Please recommend me live plants so my aquarium looks more attractive and nice. <Goldfish will eat soft plants, but robust types such as Vallisneria, Crinum, Java fern, Echinodorus, Cryptocoryne ciliata etc should be fine.> Those plants which are not eaten by goldfish and sharks because when they eat they make huge mass. Thank you, Ali <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: New tank... minnow sharks, goldfish comp. -12/11/08 Hello dear Neale, Thank you so much for your time and help. Neale I am very much interested to keep sharks is there any kind which you can recommend me for my aquarium, or any other fresh water fish which is easy to keep and nice. Actually to keep goldfish is very hard job and they make huge mess. They are also very sensitive like fin rot and other diseases. As they take long time to cure the fin rot even after 3-4 months my one red cap is showing the sign of fin rot, I do not how it would end completely. I am very much upset. Although its fine, healthy and active but when I see fin rot sign I become upset. I think shark will be easy to keep as they do not mass a lot, I really do not please help me if you can. Ill be thankful to you. Thank You Ali <Hello Ali, Goldfish are indeed difficult fish to keep well. That is why I explain to people they need big tanks and good filters. Goldfish are excellent pets, and can be intelligent and friendly. But they are much easier when kept as pond fish. I wouldn't recommend keeping any "minnow sharks" (as we call these fish) with Goldfish. Do read over Bob's article on minnow sharks. Some species get big, some are aggressive, and all need good water quality. Until you can consistently ensure perfect water conditions with your Goldfish, then minnow sharks aren't an option. In other words, if you keep seeing Finrot and fungus, your tank isn't 100% perfect. Concentrate on this problem first! When you're happy the water quality is good, I'd recommend looking at other fish species that can live well alongside Goldfish, things like Plecostomus-type catfish and some of the gouramis. Cool water Corydoras such as Corydoras paleatus also work well. Cheers, Neale.> <Forgot to add the link for Bob's piece: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/minnowshks.htm Cheers, Neale.>

Re: New tank   12/15/08 Hello Dear Neale, Thank you so much Neale for time and help. God bless you, I will try to take care of my goldfish more so I could get rid of Finrot. Now they would have a lot of water and space. I hope they will enjoy more. Thank You Ali <Ali, thanks for your kind words, and I am glad to be able to help. Good luck to you and your fish! Once you've settled things down and all the fish are healthy, we can talk some more about companion species. Cheers, Neale.>

FW Minnow Sharks, Pangasiid Catfish Shark... comp. mostly  6/5/06 Crew: <<Paula. Tom with you.>> I was reading your information on the different types of sharks/minnows. Under the Apollo shark it said "best kept singly." Does this mean only this fish in a small tank or only one of this type of fish along with others in a tank? <<These fish don't get along with others of their species or with similar types of fish. Not an uncommon situation with certain varieties.>> Also, will tri-color, iridescent, and Apollo sharks get along without fighting in one tank that holds about 40-50 gallons? <<The Tri-color (Bala) Shark will quickly outgrow this tank. It's active and fast requiring lots of swimming room. Scratch the Iridescent Shark from your list completely. It can reach over three feet in length and shouldn't be sold to hobbyists. The Apollo Shark will probably see the Tri-color Shark as an adversary due to the similarities in their appearances. A 50-gallon tank would probably suffice for the Apollo Shark, however.>> Thanks for the help. Paula <<Please continue your research, Paula. I commend you for doing your homework but there's still much to learn. My best. Tom>>

FW Sharks Thanks for your quick response. When adding fish to a tank this size (90-gal.), what would you consider "slowly." <One...then wait two weeks. Test the water. Add another etc> I want to get a group of Bala Sharks and some compatible fish to make a community. <No such thing as a shark with compatible fish. Please don't try this> I know Balas get quite large eventually. How many should I add right away? <I refuse to recommend/suggest that you buy any Bala sharks or any other species of sharks for that matter. It's a sucker purchase and the likely-hood that it will live long enough to grow large is slim to none. Why don't you "kill two birds with one stone?" 1) Save a fish's life by not buying any sharks and; 2) if you and others don't buy them, stores won't stock them. Now we're saving thousands/tens-of-thousands of sharks! I know they are cool to look at but they don't live.> How big a group is logical to add in the near future? --Thanks, <None, zero, zilch, nada. In Vegas there is a "Shark Reef" that has 6'+ sharks swimming around. Go check it out! Or go to Myrtle Beach South Carolina and check out the shark exhibit at the Ripley's aquarium. They have 12'+ sharks! Leave these creatures in the ocean or public aquariums. I apologize for being so blunt and repetitive but the truth isn't always pretty not is it necessarily what people want to hear. But it is the truth...none-the-less. David Dowless> Charlie

Oops.. I made a blunder I hope you had a good trip Bob. How was Belize? <Unfortunately we didn't go... Our friend/roomie/travel partner Pete was too sick. So Di and I and he traded in our tickets to go to Kona next month. A good cancellation as I was able to get a bunch done here> I wanted to tell you that I screwed up royally on a question last night. A guy wrote in and asked about stocking his tank with Bala sharks. Thinking that he was speaking of a saltwater species (that I hadn't heard of), I responded with the typical answer, "Don't buy any sharks!"...and like a fool...I rambled out my reasons. So now he's written back and I have apologized profusely and I'm feeling really stupid. I hate it when something like this slips through. <No worries David. These happen. Apologize to the querier and go on> I was also wondering...the response went out this morning and I would love for it not to appear within the website. I gave bad information and anyone that's in-the-know will recognize the information was incorrect. It's depressing enough that it will be on the daily facts but I really don't want to take the chance that this response would damage WWM's credibility by being permanently placed on the site. <Not to worry re our credibility. We're human... will place a further comment from you right after> I guess if I had finished the bio that you asked for you would know that I'm not very familiar with freshwater anything. I normally pass on these types of questions. I will finish the bio soon. Thanks for understanding that sometimes everything that can go wrong does go wrong. In the future, I'll be even MORE careful before responding to questions. <Ahh, please do send your bio. along, with the areas you feel most comfortable with. If there is/are difficulties in queries, feel free to move them back to the in-box, or into someone elses folder> Also...remember the New Wave CD Rom (Goemans) that you wanted me to review? I sent the review in and Susan wrote that a review had been completed by Moe and printed in October 2002!  <What?> Would you like to have my review for WWM's literature section? <Yes, will post tomorrow> I'll also tell you that Goemans and I had several enlightening and engaging discourses about this book. He seems like a great guy: very friendly, knowledgeable, loves the saltwater hobby, and willing to accept constructive criticism. He is also very impressed with WWM. I think I saved his final email. I send you a copy. David <Yes, have it. Bob.G is indeed a gentleman... and an actual scholar. Bob Fenner>

Bala Sharks <Craig...would you please help this gentleman out? Thanks. David Dowless> <Absolutely!> 90 gallon tank: I want to get a group of Bala Sharks and some compatible fish to make a community. I know Balas get quite large eventually. How many should I add right away? How big a group is logical to add in the near future? --Thanks, Charlie <Hi Charlie, These fish can reach 14" in length and can be "aggressive".  Compared to the other minnow sharks they are relatively peaceful, but still will chase/nip on occasion so stick with fish of a similar temperament that can stand up under the pressure or that live out of the water column and are also tougher fish. The group of Balas will make any other choices more important. In a 90 you could probably accommodate 3-5 Balas (they are shoaling type fish) and perhaps a Pleco (watch size here, some can become quite large) perhaps a few Clown Loaches. Some of the larger Barbs would likely do alright as well, they are feisty and fast.  It is best to avoid overcrowding (start slow) and introduce the aggressive fish last, concurrently if small, and change decorations/set-up to throw territories off during intros.  Make sure your tank is well covered, Balas are notorious jumpers.  Best of luck, Craig>     

Black Shark Could I maintain a Black Shark, (Labeo chrysophekadion) in a 48"x18"x20" tank, if it was the only inhabitant?  I love this species dearly, and I know that they can get up to around 2', but my LFS buys them from a certain retailer, and they have kept these sharks before, and NEVER had one grow past 16 inches.  So could I do it?  Thanks in advance for any answers! <Could likely go in this size/shape system for a good long while. Other than size considerations, do keep an eye on this fish for its tendency to "get mean" with size. Bob Fenner>

Re: Black Shark Hey Bob (or Anthony, or whomever may read this)! I was told by Bob Fenner (if this is you, than you already know) that I could maintain a Black Shark (Labeo Chrysophekadion) in a 48x18x20 tank for a good long while.  Is it possible for me to maintain this fish in there for its entire life? <Mmm, yes, but it will be a greatly foreshortened life if so. Have seen this fish at close to two feet in length> If not, how big of a tank would I eventually need.  I wasnt planning on upgrading in the future, but if I must, then I will.  Thanks in advance for any answers! <Take a look at the stat.s on this species on Fishbase.org Bob Fenner>

FW Tank Stocking Can you please tell me what kind of shark can I put in my 10 gallon aquarium with my Cory catfish?  thanks!! <Unfortunately there are no sharks, or shark-like fish that will live in a 10gallon, most of the freshwater fish with shark in their name, Bala Shark, Silver Shark, Iridescent Shark, all grow way to big for a 10gallon.  I would stick with a good looking school of Tetras; Neons, Cardinals, Black Neons, Emperors, Lemons, Rummy Nose, Glowlights... the list goes on and on and on and on (seriously) those are just a few of my favs.  Search fishbase.org for tetra, you'll see.  Best of luck, an no overstocking. -Gage>

Where to buy a freshwater shark - 1/17/05 Hi, where can I buy a baby freshwater shark? <Brian, not really sure if you are aware of what you are asking but I think you may be asking about the freshwater minnow "sharks" that are not really sharks at all. In any event, we don't sell anything at this site but any of our online etailers and or local fish store (pet fish store in your area) should be able to assist you. If you are looking for a freshwater shark that looks similar in appearance to a saltwater shark well.....there just isn't anything available but I think you are interested in these: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/minnowshks.htm Hope this helps more than confuses. Thanks for being part of it all. ~Paul>



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