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FAQs on the Needlefishes

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mystery Caribbean fish  4/9/12
Hi Guys!    I don't even know if you do this sort of thing, but I thought I'd give it a shot! We were recently in Vieques, PR waiting by the ferry for our ride when we saw the most extraordinary fish cruising around the bay. Shapewise it looked like a cross between a barracuda and a dolphin...but had the most amazing colors! It had a pinkish snout, baby blue middle, and darker sort of greenish tail area. It was fairly large..at least 3-4 feet long. It swam slowly around, and my first thought was "he's looking for a handout!". We even snapped a picture because he was so cool (attached). Was wondering if you could ID???   Cherie
<I think this may be a Flat Needlefish, Ablennes hians... Is greenish on the back... about this size. Do feed near shore at times in shallows. Bob Fenner>

Re: mystery Caribbean fish    4/10/12
Yup...that's it! Colors were different though...it was definitely pink in the mouth area-then baby blue on the head. Thanks Bob! I LOVE wetwebmedia.com!!    Cherie
<Ahh! Thank you mon Cherie! BobF>

Pimelodus sp. ID, Xenentodon hlth. 2/8/10
I have written to you a couple of times before. You are always a great help, and I thank you for that. Today, I was in our "fish store."
Actually, a lawn and garden store, but other than Wal-Mart, that is the only place to obtain fish within two hours of our home. They had an unidentified fish in the tank with their Pimelodus pictus. (They had no idea what it was either.) This fish looked similar to a Pimelodus blochii, except that, while the markings were similar, they were very clear dots, instead of lines. However, the body style was very similar to the Pimelodus blochii that I have seen. I tried to get a picture of him on my cell phone, but he was nervous, and wouldn't hold still. I looked on Planet Catfish, but I didn't find anything that was an exact match to him.
However, I did notice that under the identification of Pimelodus blochii, they mention that many color variations exist,
and that other color variations may be separate species, or subspecies.
<This is so as well>
Do you believe that this fish is a subspecies of the Pimelodus blochii, or is there another species that sounds more correct to you?
<Can't tell from here>
I also thought that maybe this fish was some sort of hybrid.
<There are such hybrids (human made) in the family Pimelodidae, but as far as I'm aware, these are restricted to more expensive, much larger species.
"Pictus" cats are all wild-collected thus far>
I know it is at least very difficult, if not impossible to ID a fish without a picture, I just wondered if you knew of anything off the top of your head.
Also, I had a question about one of our Needlefish. (Xenentodon cancila) We have two, and we are going to add a third, once we can find a suitably healthy, similarly sized individual. Ours are doing fantastic, they are completely weaned onto frozen foods and eat very well.
<Ah, good>
We feed a large variety of frozen foods, and also supplement with crickets approximately weekly. There is no ammonia or nitrite, and nitrate stays below 20.
<I'd try to keep NO3 even lower>
We do weekly water changes. However, I have noticed that the first, slightly smaller Needlefish has a slightly downwards curved back. He seems to be able to straighten it out, as I have seen him do it. Most of the time however, he keeps it somewhat curved. It isn't very extreme, in fact, I probably wouldn't have thought anything of it if we didn't have the other one with the completely straight back. In every other way, he seems very healthy, and his back doesn't seem to bother him. I am just worried that it may be a spinal problem or some sort of malnutrition problem. Thank-you for all of your help.
<Again, I cannot determine much from what is presented. I have seen specimens that had the apparent deformation you describe and have wondered at times if this was due to being in too small confines; but nutrition, even psychological matters may be at play here. Thank you for your well written query, input. Bob Fenner>

How often should I feed my needlefish? 4/14/2009
Hello again, thank you for your help with my ID "shark" and JD! They're getting along great!
I have another question for you, I bought a needlefish and I've been feeding it guppies and he's been eating them but all of a sudden he hasn't been eating as often or as much so I was wondering how much/often a 6inch needlefish eats?
<Xenentodon cancila is not a fish eater.
Virtually everyone on the hobby gets this wrong. Wild fish feed almost entirely on crustaceans, and in the aquarium they will eat all kinds of live foods, and with training, dead foods too. Now, let's start by stating
that you shouldn't be using "feeder guppies" from the pet store; these are parasite time bombs. Think about it: if you're a fish farm going to breed fish cheap enough to sell as food, how much care would you take over
healthcare? Obviously not much. Given Needlefish are delicate at the best of times, it would be insane to feed them store-bought feeder fish, especially given that they'll eat other things too. Focus instead on their
wild diet, and try to match that. Live river shrimps are excellent foods, and at least here in the UK, estuarine river shrimps are cheap and easy to buy, and carry minimal risk of introducing parasites to freshwater fish.
Expert fishkeepers routinely train Xenentodon cancila to take dead foods once the fish has settled down and learned to take food from its owner (that's why your start with shrimps, earthworms, crickets, etc; so it
recognizes you as the food source). Throwing lancefish into the water current such that they look alive seems to work; otherwise, use long forceps to wiggle the food enticingly. Amazingly enough, some Needlefish eventually take pellets, but don't bank on this! One last thing: they are schooling, nervous fish; singletons almost never settle down properly, and certainly not when combined with aggressive fish. They'd be happier in groups of 6+ specimens, and certainly I'd not recommend keeping less than three specimens. Do remember they are open water fish, and easily damage themselves (fatally) in small tanks. They jump into the hood or bash themselves in the glass. Maintenance in slightly brackish water can be beneficial. Do see here for more:
Thank you!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Needle Fish Will Not eat We have a needle fish we have had for a few months now we were feeding all the time and was told by the Pet Store to fed him 5 feeders every few days. He is in a 30 gallon tank with 5 small Tiger barbs, 1 Severum cichlid and 2 Dojo's which are about 8 inches each. About two months ago our cichlid( SEABASS) got ich we treated him and all was fine. Now our needle fish (STANLEY) is brown Has not eaten for over a week. Can you give me any ideas on what his problem could be? Thank You. Donna Slawson < Needle fish are mostly a brackish fish. I would recommend a teaspoon of sea salt per 5 gallons of water. Your Dojos will not like the salt and may become ill.-Chuck>

- Reading FAQs and Other Issues - Dear Bob & Crew: I submitted an e-mail to you yesterday pertaining to two questions that I had. I have finally discovered the first part of my question under the live rock category on your site. It is funny to see another person's perspective on explaining such a strange looking organism. The problem I had finding the information was the words I was using in the search varied from what it was in actuality. Anyhow, I do apologize for any inconvenience I may have caused you in replying to my inquiry on the first part of my question. <No worries.> However, I'm still awaiting the answer to my second question. It has barely been a day since I submitted the question, so I do not expect an answer soon. <And certainly, with a chunk of the crew off to IMAC, it may take a while.> Just figured I might be able to save you time in responding to my first e-mail. Or maybe I'm just trying to prevent seeing this on your post/reply: <<Hey, XXXX, if you have read our FAQ section properly, you ill have realized it said to thoroughly check for answers on our website!>> <Understood, although I often think that, I would never say it in public. Some folks just find it better to ask questions first, read later... the reason they are called Frequently Asked Questions is because they are asked frequently.> Your website and reading material that you provide to the public pertaining to aquatic life is priceless! <Glad that you find it so.> I am a novice to this hobby, recently started a 45 gallon tank, and have used the content on your site repetitively. I have yet to find better content available online. For reference, this is my first e-mail: I have completed numerous searches pertaining to my 2 questions on your site and others and cannot find anything. Maybe you can help shed some light on these issues ?: Question 1 ) I have Florida Live Rock in my tank and I have noticed when the lights are turned off at night a mysterious entity spreads a translucent web from the live rock. It appears to be about 20 individual elastic strands that extrude from the rock. Each strand is about 8' to 12' in length and translucent and has additional translucent branches that stem off of it that are each only a couple centimeters in length. Each strand almost resembles a translucent feather that floats around in the water. The most amazing thing to me is that when the lights are turned on each strand/feather contracts and bundles up against the surface of the live rock. It does not retreat into a hole. Do you know what this enigmatic entity is? <I think it's a spaghetti worm.> (I have 192 watts of light on a 45 gallon tank, 96 watts Actinic & 96 watts 10,000K) Question 2 ) In retrieving water from my tank from the Atlantic Ocean, I unknowingly caught a tiny little needle fish that is about an inch in length. He has been in my tank now for about a day or two and seems to be quite healthy swimming along the surface of the water in the tank. Do you have an idea of what type of diet these fish have? All the research I could find online mentioned that larger fish love to eat them, but not what type of food they eat. <Probably plankton... I'd try to get your hands on some Cyclop-Eeze or daphnia... these are sufficiently small that this fish might go for them. There is also Zoe's Sweetwater Plankton which is a little larger but generally well accepted by all fish.> Please help me feed Spike! Thank you, Jon M. <Cheers, J -- >

How often do aquarium needle nose gars eat I moved mine away from the guppy tank Monday and it died on Saturday. I had been planning to return it on Sunday for feeding. <Once or twice a week is about right... A jittery, nervous fish in captivity that needs to be carefully tended to. Bob Fenner>

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