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FAQs on Livestocking Small Freshwater Systems (@ 10 gal.s or less) 1

FAQs on: Stocking Sm. Sys. 2, Stocking Sm. Sys. 3, Stocking Sm. Sys. 4,

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:  FW Livestock 1, FW Livestock 2, FW Livestock 3, FW Stocking 4, FW Livestocking 5, FW Livestocking 6, FW Livestocking 7, & Freshwater Livestock Selection Community Tank Livestocking,

The onus/task is upon you  to study regarding the life you intend to keep, or rescue, do right by the biota you've joined together.

Winding down a community tank       1/16/16
I have had a 10 gal community tank for many years, but am currently letting it wind down, in anticipation of moving long distance in about 3 years time. All current residents are rather elderly for their species. I have 3 ember tetras, 2 Cory cats (1 panda and 1 peppered), and 1 Endler's guppy--all the survivors of once-larger groups--along with a half dozen Amano shrimp and some Nerite snails. The tank is live planted. Everyone seems to get along. I have two questions for you: (1) For the schooling fish, is there anyway to make it easier on them as their school-mates die off and they're left alone?
<Mmm; other than replacing them or giving away survivors... I would relate to you and browsers that a ten gallon is a small world... a fifteen gallon much more than "twice as good" for stocking, maintenance>
(2) Given another 3 years, are there any small, colorful, short-lived fish I could add as the final generation?
<All sorts here>
I was thinking of more guppies, but a little reading shows they are not the calm and easy fish that pet stores would have one believe. Or should I just let my geriatric residents finish out their time with the tank mates they know and, if not love, at least tolerate?
<Up to you really... for me, three years is a good long time... I'd keep the system, re-stock it>
I asked my LFS these questions and got shrugs in response, so any answer more articulate would be appreciated.
<DO read here for ideas, inspiration:
Bob Fenner>
Winding down a community tank /Neale       1/19/16

I have had a 10 gal community tank for many years, but am currently letting it wind down, in anticipation of moving long distance in about 3 years time. All current residents are rather elderly for their species. I have 3 ember tetras, 2 Cory cats (1 panda and 1 peppered), and 1 Endler's guppy--all the survivors of once-larger groups--along with a half dozen Amano shrimp and some Nerite snails. The tank is live planted. Everyone seems to get along. I have two questions for you: (1) For the schooling fish, is there anyway to make it easier on them as their school-mates die off and they're left alone? (2) Given another 3 years, are there any small, colorful, short-lived fish I could add as the final generation? I was thinking of more guppies, but a little reading shows they are not the calm and easy fish that pet stores would have one believe. Or should I just let my geriatric residents finish out their time with the tank mates they know and, if not love, at least tolerate? I asked my LFS these questions and got shrugs in response, so any answer more articulate would be appreciated.
<If you want to break down an aquarium, I'd suggest just letting the fish live their lives until they're gone. You can put the word out you have some spare tetras and such, and oftentimes at work you'll have colleagues with a community tank that could house a few more fish. Local fish clubs are another avenue you might look into. In a quiet, calm aquarium where the
fish have been for years, a single old tetra or whatever won't be too unhappy. It's not perfect, but not the end of the world either! Cheers, Neale.>

Community fish recommendations     10/1/15
<Surprised our mail program didn't auto-delete your message. You've over sent our required file size by an order of magnitude>
Good afternoon!
I currently have a 10 gal tank in which I have a male Betta, a pygmy Pleco and 3 pictus.
Since the time of purchase, I have realised that the catfish will not be suitable for my tank and will be returning to the LFS. I was not aware of how big they get and even with the 20 gal tank that I plan on purchasing today or tomorrow, they still wouldn't be suitable . . . aside from the fact that they're eating me out of house and tank. (The LFS has a commitment to taking back fish that have outgrown the tank as long as they're in good health.)
<Good of them>
My tank is a planted tank minus the "ivy" that's on the driftwood. Everything else is natural plants. . . which the catfish
have seemed to take a liking to as well. (Please see attached photos)
The reason for my writing today is to ask this: I enjoy seeing the catfish and their antics and they do a quite good job of cleaning up the bottom of my tank. So much so, that I think that the Pleco is probably not getting enough to eat as well as watching the catfish "hoard" their wafers. They seem to have learned that taking the wafers to their hiding places is a
good practice. They will actively seek out the wafers, pick them up and return to their caves/hiding places. I rotate their foods daily: frozen brine shrimp, freeze dried baby shrimp and krill and sinking wafers, veggie wafers for the Pleco, frozen broccoli and peas.
<Good re this last... add to it occasional zucchini et al. squash pieces, and egg plant>
. . and they eat like I've never fed them before.
<Ah yes; Pimelodid cats are big, vigorous eaters.... however, not so much vegetable fare>
I stray from the topic however. Could you advise me on what fish might be compatible with the beta and the Pleco so as to not take all the food but yet do a good job for the bottom of the tank?
<.... Just read on WWM:
and the linked files in the series, above; and
Am a big fan of Corydoras groupings for such small systems>
A 20 gal tank is about my limit as I live in a second story apartment building of indeterminate age.
A larger tank is just not really feasible for me.
While I am here, however, can I/should I use the water from the old tank or start a whole new cycle?
<The former>
In the mind of someone fairly new to the world of aquaria, it would seem this would be a somewhat logical thing to do but I
don't want to harm my fish . . . even if those darned catfish are going back to the LFS. lol
I really appreciate all you folks do for the community and the hobby. It makes a great deal of difference to us newbs out there to know that someone sincerely cares and will advise us how to care for our creatures so we can provide the best life possible for them within our means. Thank you for all that ALL of you do!
<Ah, welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Community fish recommendations; plus Betta beh.      10/4/15
My apologies for exceeding the attachment amount on my last communication.
I assure you, it's not the case today.
Thank you very much for your previous reply about community tank mates for my beta. He really is a docile creature for the most part and only seems to assert dominance on any new residents. Once they learn their "place" in the tank, he leaves them alone if they leave him alone. I took the pictus back to the LFS and the first response they had was, "What fat catfish those are!" Yes, yes, they were since they ate everything!
<Ah yes>
My purpose for writing today is that every since adding the 6 Harlequin Rasboras and 3 Otocinclus Affinis, the beta has been getting more and more lethargic to the point that yesterday and the day before, he just lies on the gravel in the bottom of the tank as if he's bored or depressed. He doesn't have anything physically wrong with him that I can tell . . . no velvet, no ick, no super red gills, no laboured breathing . . . just nothing.
<What temperature is the water here? Bettas are "just slow" movers most all the time; only get up and going when they perceive another Betta>
Tank numbers are straight on right now: 0 ammonia, 0 nitrates/nitrites.
Just for kicks since it's in my kit, I checked pH as well and it's a touch higher than previous readings but I don't think that's an issue. Two days ago, I did a 30% change, day before yesterday, another 30% change and yesterday, a 50% change just to ensure that water quality wasn't an issue.
I used Prime for the dechlorinator. I have buckets specifically designated for this task so they're not used for house cleaning or anything else.
This tank is about 3 weeks old and knowing that it's still cycling,
<Shouldn't have fishes in it then>
I've been keeping up on numbers and water changes. (I know now about fishless cycling and have a 20L in the works right now for these guys once it's done.) Tank temperature is about 80.
<Ah, this is fine for all>
I have a TopFin 10 power filter on this tank. (The 20L has a Marineland Penguin 100 power filter.)
I feed rotating foods same as detailed before with the exception of the carnivore wafers. Beta has also decided that feeding from the bottom is a good way to go. He started this behavior when I first obtained Pleco and started dropping sinking veggie wafers. He's also decided that he likes Pleco's broccoli as well and attacks it vigorously . . . well, at least previously he did. Now, he'll come up for food if he knows it's there and is a vigorous eater but then just goes back and lies on the gravel again.
He swims up for air and goes and "lays down" again, so to speak. It's almost like a bored teenager just flopping in whatever position (s)he happens to land in on the bed.
I've been reading (lectio) and have come across a couple examples of "lethargic betas" but this seems to typically be the beginning of an illness which, unless it's internal, I've not observed in this one.
Another article I read on WWM said that betas can actually get bored with their settings and sometimes rearranging the furniture might help. Whenever I've changed things in the tank, he's one of the quickest to adapt to the new settings, to be sure. Could it be as simple as this?
<Really just their nature>
My other thought is that he's upset because the Rasboras feed on the same strata that he does but everyone certainly gets enough (at least I feel so, especially since betas can go every other day for food.)
I know you folks aren't fish psychologists but any insight at all would be greatly welcome. Thank you for all you folks do and I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend.
<You might want to try placing a reflective device (mirror or such) periodically, every now and then... in or outside the tank. Bob Fenner>

My Tank; stkg. sm. FW        9/22/15
I have a 10 gallon tank with an African bumblebee catfish
<Which one? Microsynodontis batesii? A small, somewhat sensitive riverine fish.>
and a Pleco ( I know the Pleco gets too big, I'm putting it in a bigger tank when it grows).
<I'll say! 75 gallons if you want clear water; 55 gallons absolute minimum but that'll be a tank with fish faeces all over the place.>
Could I put two Figure 8 puffers
<Brackish water fish; will not live long in freshwater.
By the way, I don't care what the guy in pet store says about them being freshwater fish. They're not. Sadly, decades ago this species got mixed up with another species (that looks nothing like it, called Tetraodon palembangensis).
Since that time a few books said the Figure 8 was a freshwater fish, but everybody now knows it isn't, except people trying to sell this fish.
Shame, but that's business I guess.>
in there with 2 Corys as well?
<Not in 10 gallons, no. The fish you have don't belong in 10 gallons; or rather, while Microsynodontis batesii might work in a biotope tank this size, that's only alongside other "nano" species such as, for example, Ember Tetras or Endler's Guppies.>
Sent from my iPad
<Sent from my computer. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: My Tank     9/23/15
It's actually a South American bumblebee catfish
and it just stays in a cave...
<Makes sense. More common in the trade. Various species sold under this name though. Microglanis iheringi is the commonest. Quite small (5 cm) and very shy. Tends to starve unless you provide suitable food at night. I wouldn't force it to compete with substantially larger nighttime catfish such as Plecs.>
Also if I put the figure 8 in freshwater until December would that be okay.
<Possibly, but why bother? You could keep Polar Bears in the desert for a while, but why not keep them somewhere icy instead? Same issue here. Figure-8s are always kept on their own. They're nippy and territorial. So set up a 15+ gallon tank for a singleton, or a 20+ tank for three or more, and keep them properly from the start. You're going to have to eventually
or they'll sicken and die. Brackish water isn't expensive; buy a box of marine aquarium salt and use at 10-20% the amount stated on the package for a specific gravity around 1.001 to 1.003 (3.5-6 gram/litre).>
And yeah my cousin has a 100 gallon tank so I'm giving him the Pleco when it gets bigger, and I'll buy another small one and continue that process.
<Why not just get a Bristlenose Plec that stays small, 12 cm/4 inches, it's entire life? Your approach doesn't make a lot of sense.>
I don't have cories yet just the Pleco and bumblebee. Thank you
<Welcome. Neale.>
Re: My Tank    9/24/15

My Pleco died sadly.��
<Indeed, sad.>
Now i could probably just make it brackish if all u need is salt.
<Marine aquarium salt mix. Not cooking salt or "aquarium" salt sold for freshwater fish. I have written much on this here, elsewhere; but could start here...
Maybe pivot over to the Figure 8 Puffer articles elsewhere on WWM, such as here...
Follow the links; maybe join up with the (serious) pufferfish folks over on ThePufferForum.com for example.>
Thanks for all the help.
<Welcome. Neale.>
Re: My Tank      9/26/15

I ended up with a 6 gallon brackish tank with a figure 8 puffer. I love it. Thanks for all the help.
<Sounds good. Do bear in mind you'll need a bigger tank in time... 15 gallons maybe? Cheers, Neale.>

Zebra Snails and Plecos; mis-mix in wrong env.        4/6/15
<Hello Elliot,>
I have a 20 litre
<Really? 20 litres? As in 4.4 Imperial gallons?
Did you mistype 200 litres perhaps? 200 litres makes sense; 20 litres would be an act of animal cruelty.>
coldwater tank in my kitchen.
<Coldwater? Yet one of your fish is a subtropical, the other tropical. What gives?
Why this incorrect mixing of species?>
I have 2 fantail goldfish, 1 Chinese Algae Eater and (used to have) one Stingray Pleco.
They were all doing fine,
<No, they really weren't. They just weren't dead yet. But let's continue...>
until one day we did a full cleanup of the tank, as it was getting green and dirty on the bottom. We took all fish out easily, part from the Pleco. He kept staying onto the side of the tank. Eventually, about after 20 minutes, we got him off and into the temporary bucket. We did the cleanup and put all of the fish back in, but the Pleco wasn’t very well. He stayed to the bottom with his tail up and barely moved.
One day, I purchased a Zebra Snail to help clean up the algae, and he seemed to fit in well, but the day after we put the snail in the tank, my Pleco sadly died.
I was just wondering whether this was a coincidence
or the snail did something to kill my Pleco.
<Probably the environment, lack of food, insufficient oxygen. Let's be clear, the Stingray Pleco is neither a stingray nor a Pleco. It's a Hillstream Loach,
one of a group of Asian fishes adapted to subtropical, fast-flowing mountain streams. Their lifespan in community tanks is dismal, though they make excellent aquarium fish if you set up a biotope tank. They need lots of water movement (we're talking 10-12 times the volume of the tank per hour) which makes them completely incompatible with fancy Goldfish, or even regular Goldfish, though mixing them with Danios and White Cloud Mountain Minnows works quite well. The Zebra Nerite would probably be okay, too. But basically, a lack of research on your part led to the inevitable death of this fish. The next victim will either be the Chinese Algae Eater or the Goldfish. Why? Because the Chinese Algae Eater (neither from China nor much of an algae eater when mature) becomes a big fish (35 cm/14 inches) that needs tropical conditions and robust tankmates (they're notoriously aggressive when mature). So a coldwater tank that measures 20 litres (5 US gallons!) will eventually become such a cesspit the poor thing will die. On the other hand, should you mean 200 litres, which is still too small for the Chinese Algae Eater, chances are that this fish will harass (and suck the mucous from) your poor fancy Goldfish, leading to their deaths.>
I would like to know so none of my other fish get harmed or die.
<I wouldn't blame the snail here, Elliot. The fault, as the poet said, is not in the stars (or snails) but in ourselves.>
Thanks for your time,
<Most welcome.>
<Hoping that this is a belated April Fools to be honest! But if not, lots to digest here Elliot, and time to go a-shopping. Cheers, Neale.>

Transferring FW "bottle ecosystem" school project to new aquarium     11/25/14
Hi WWM crew. I'm looking for some advice on how to handle a "bottle ecosystem" project my fifth grader just brought home from school. The converted 2 liter bottle contains 2 feeder guppies, three snails, some elodea, gravel substrate and a good bit of cloudiness from algae. The system has apparently been set up for about three weeks, I don't think with any water changes as in theory it's a closed system.
<Indeed. This is one of those examples of a school trying to get a point across (ecosystems cycle nutrients) without getting it right (you'd need massive amounts of plant growth under intense lighting to offset the waste produced by the fish, and even then, nutrients are also exported from ecosystems, which can't happen here). As a reef keeper, you'll be aware of this and how it's managed in saltwater tanks, even with the magic of live rock at your disposal. In freshwater ecosystems, nutrients are exported in all sorts of ways, from amphibious animals (such as ducks and frogs) consuming aquatic organisms but pooping on land, and probably most significantly by the transient nature of freshwater habitats as they gradually silt up and move across a floodplain or whatever, leaving fertile mud behind. In any event, you simply can't keep Guppies (for long) in just two litres of water. On the other hand, you could keep a few Daphnia for example, and such a system might be stable for many months before it collapses.>
My son wants to keep the fish (and snails I assume), and to my mind, the existing system of less than 2 liters is doomed in the not-too-distant future.
<Spot on. As an experiment, the teacher and kids have created something here that *looks* like a miniature pond or lake. So as a learning exercise the point is got across. Sunlight stimulates plant growth, animals eat the plants, animal waste is recycled by the remaining plants to create more plants. But in reality without heat the Guppies will die; without water changes the dissolved nutrients (nitrate, phosphate) will accumulate to toxic levels; and without space, the fish will eventually grow too big/consume the available oxygen and die. For Guppies, you want a heated, filtered aquarium upwards of 15 gallons/60 litres (you can keep Guppies in 10 gallons/40 litres, but it's hit-and-miss, especially if the males become aggressive). Don't forget male Guppies pester females, so if you're keeping just two, two females is the easiest option (two males often end up with one bullying the other).>
My plan is to buy a small aquarium with conventional filtration (gravel bed, biobag filter), jump start its cycle using some of the substrate from the bottle system and a commercial product like Dr Tim's One and Only or FritzZyme, then transfer the critters to the new system after normal drip acclimation.
<Sounds workable.>
Am I on the right track here, or is the "ecosystem" a better bet on its own? Any advice appreciated.
<Your track is indeed the right one. The "ecosystem" has many/most of the microbes needed, and as a way of "seeding" a new tank, it'll do nicely. Upscaling the aquarium to, say, 15 gallons will give you plenty of space for any moderate peaks in ammonia and nitrite to be diluted down to safe levels, especially alongside regular water changes.>
Thanks in advance,
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Stocking microdevarios to avoid aggression    8/7/14
Hi there,
This is my third time or so writing in. I love your site and you guys give great advice. So here I go again, and forgive me if this is a bit long of a write up.
<Fire away.>
So, I have a planted nano tank aka "bucket", capacity of just over 8 US gallons.
<A small tank indeed.>

After cycling it, I purchased a group of 10 Microdevario kubotai for the tank. Fish colored up and seemed to be doing well for a long while -- about 2 months. I did notice that they chased each other and nipped each other's fins, with one or two of them always having small bites in their fins.
<Not uncommon among Danios to be honest. Adding more help. It's the males, presumably, that fight, but sexing them isn't easy/possible depending on the species.>
Filter is a (sadly not manufactured anymore) Marineland Duetto 50, which is kind of like a mini canister filter rated up to 10 gallons.
<Have a similar "Duetto" filter in one of my aquaria. Not the most reliable filter out there (have replaced motorised part at least twice already) but as you say, it's small and fits into nano tanks nicely.>
I keep it at maximum flow, because I read that these fish need strong current.
<Somewhat, but more running water habitats than torrential Hillstream habitats, so don't go crazy.>
I also have the outflow agitate the surface so as to provide more oxygen dissolution (no CO2 in this tank). There were also a few cherry shrimp in there as tankmates. All ammonia, nitrite tests I did turned up 0, with 5-10 ppm nitrate.
<Sounds good.>
Well, about two weeks ago, I made a very bad decision. A friend in my local fish club gave me eight wild caught Otocinclus, which are actually either peppered Otos or small Hisonotus catfish. They are a bit longer than typical Otos. So I put 4 of the new Otos in the nano and the other 4 in my main tank, as both tanks had decent amounts of green algae and diatoms. The Otos did a great job on the diatoms and green algae in the nano, but I started testing the water in the nano two days after adding them, and started detecting ammonia. Then all but one of the shrimp suddenly died -- not good.
<Indeed, but one dead shrimp does not a massacre make...>
So, after about a week of no reduction in the ammonia readings (was waiting to see if the biofilter could grow enough new bacteria to pick up the load), I moved the Otos into my main tank, where they could join their brethren. That was a few days ago.
<And then what happened...>
Today I was looking in the nano, and noticed a sad sight. The most-picked-on Kubotai has very ragged fins, and he had what looked like a white film on one side of his body. He is swimming ok, but was noticeably thinner than the other Kubotai. His stomach isn't concave, but neither is it convex. The next-most-bullied fish wasn't looking so great either, with a small white patch on his caudal fin, but not his body. So, I immediately dosed Nitrofurazone and have my fingers crossed. It could be the illness making him thin, or he could just be bullied so badly that he can't get enough to eat, which of course made him more susceptible to illness along with the ammonia spike.
So here is my question-- if he (guessing it is the weakest male) dies, which he very well might -- or, for that matter, even if he lives--should I replace him with one or more Kubotai?
I'm afraid that if he dies, the next weakest one will get then picked on and/or starved to death. And so on and so on.
I wonder if getting, say, 2 or 3 more M. Kubotai for that tank, the aggression will be better dispersed so as not to result in more bullied or sick or nearly starved fish. I know that Danios are very social. But I
also do not want to overstock the nano (again).
<Indeed so. But in this case, I think you'd be fine with, say, a dozen specimens or more in a tank this size, assuming good filtration and modest feeding.>
Please let me know what your thoughts are, and thanks so much.
<See above. Danionins are hierarchical and often squabble. Big groups help.
Run the tank for at least a week before adding any new fish. Maybe overfeed -- very slightly -- for a few days to see if the filter is in good condition before adding new fish. Sometimes medications knock the filter bacteria back a bit, and it can take a while for them to settle down.
Cheers, Neale.>
Odd number of Danios -- why?    8/7/14

I also worry that if he dies, the aggression will get more concentrated among the 9 remaining. But then I read on your site that it's better to stock zebra Danios and the like in odd numbers. Why is that?
<<Defuses aggression best: "Odd man out" sort of theory... while pairs are antagonizing/challenging each other... the "spare" has a chance to escape, rest up. RMF>>
<No idea. I'm skeptical. Bob F's a fan. Whether it's true or not I can't say and I've no idea if there's any science behind it. Can fish count? Do they understand odd numbers? What is definitely true is that the bigger the group, the harder for the bully to harass any one fish all the time. The more fish, the smaller the (theoretical) amount of time directed at any one weaker fish. In practise this doesn't always hold true -- bullies sometimes target one particular fish, ignoring the others.>
Will having 9 M. kubotais be better than having 10?
<11 would be better than 10, but 9 less good.>
After reading about the odd-number recommendation, I'm wondering now if I ought to humanely euthanize this fish if he doesn't improve from whatever illness is attacking him.
<A personal decision, but if the fish clearly has no chance of recovery, then yes, euthanasia (e.g., via Clove Oil) makes sense.>
Even before my water quality issues, he typically had bites taken out of his caudal fin and sometimes dorsal fin.
<Indeed. But as in your previous email, this doesn't preclude the next smallest/weakest becoming the target. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Stocking microdevarios to avoid aggression     8/7/14

Oh my, I had no idea that message went through. My cat pawed my iPad just as I was finishing it. I guess he must have sent it! Sorry, I sent a briefer e-mail this morning (American East Coast Time) that asks about the same problem. Please forgive the duplicate submission.
<Not a problem. Have answered both. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Stocking microdevarios to avoid aggression      8/8/14

Well, I have a sad update. I had to euthanize the poor little M. Kubotai this morning. I woke up to find him near the top, struggling to swim, and with bloody streaks on his abdomen. He had been improving after I started treating with Nitrofurazone -- the film on his body disappeared, though his fins still had white edges where they had been bitten. I wonder if the abdominal bloodiness was due to the illness or just him getting attacked by the others?
<A little from column A, a little from column B. By this I mean that systemic bacterial infections (even the notorious Mycobacteriosis) are often latent in aquaria, but become problems only when fish are stressed (or, as a medic might say, their immune system no longer works properly).
Teleost fish have a remarkable immune system, different to ours in important ways (less adaptive, but with stronger non-specific responses) that explain how fish can heal themselves from wounds with no help from us -- when they're healthy, at least. But if you think about it, they're swimming about in a Petri dish -- warm, wet conditions with lots of bacteria. So as good as their immune system is when they're healthy, if their immune system shuts down because of physical stress, poor diet, wrong environmental conditions, then they're quickly invaded and overwhelmed by pathogens floating about in the water.>
Fingers crossed that the remaining 9 do OK until I can get 3 more.
So, one question for you -- do I continue with the antibiotic treatment even though none of the other fish is obviously ill? I'm thinking yes, just because I don't want to risk increasing antibiotic resistance.
<Exactly. On principle, unless you're a medic or a vet, you should always complete any/all courses of medication. An exception would be made where there's a "contraindication" -- i.e., the medicine is making the fish sicker than they are. But otherwise yes, finish the drugs. This is a good idea for humans, too!>
All the other fish look pretty good...for now at least.
<Good luck, Neale.>

Tank Sizes and Pond Goldfish Age    7/1/14
I used to keep my 6 neon tetras, 2 guppies, and 5 ghost shrimp in a 6 gallon tank. I rehomed them in a new 10 gallon tank yesterday (picture above).
Here is all the information I have on the new tank:
Aqueon 10 Gallon Starter Kit
Aquarium Dimensions 20" L x 12" H x 10" W
10 gallons (kit says it was supposed to be 10 gallons)
Rectangular, glass
MarineLand Perfecto glass top, 24" L x 12" W (replacing kit's original incandescent hood)
8 watt fluorescent, Marineland, natural daylight t5 bulb and lighting system, 12" (replacing kit's incandescent lighting)
1 watt per gallon, lowlight plants only.
Aqueon QuietFlow 10 power filter, gph 100
air pump, none
airline tubing, none
Tetra Whisper, 50 watt, submersible heater, for 2-30 gallons, glass, 5.2" x 1.6" x 3.5", electronic thermostat, constant 78 degrees Fahrenheit
black marbles, smooth gravel, black pebbles substrate
double sided background taped on
1 plastic BiOrb grass ornament
1 plastic grass arch ornament
1 plastic flowerpot (white plastic)
1 sticker thermometer
current plants 1 Anubias petite, hornwort
current fish 6 neon tetras, 2 guppies
5 ghost shrimp
2 tadpole snails
1 light timer
1 automatic feeder, large, battery powered
ph 8
Mixed Media series 10 Gallon Stand
This unique 10 gallon aquarium stand. It is made of Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF) with a beneficial water resistant feature and unique overall strength. The Ready-To-Assemble Construction results in increased strength and stability by using Metal-To-Metal locking cam fasteners. The solid top offers greater versatility over the ones with mere "lip only" construction, allowing this stand to be safely used with a variety of tanks, or other pet habitats.
10 gallons
21.5" x 11.5" x 27.25"
I also had 1 Betta fish, 1 tadpole snail, and another 5 ghost shrimp in a 3 gallon tank. But yesterday I rehomed them to the 6 gallon tank. Here is the information on this tank:
Aquarium #3
Lee's Kritter Keeper, extra large
Dimensions= 14"L x 9"W x 11.5"H
6 gallons
Rectangular, plastic
Glass top, small
Hydor Mini aquarium heater, submersible, rectangle
Aquarium background stuck on back with tape
Aquarium substrate green marbles and smooth gravel
1 dragon skull aquarium ornament
1 white flowerpot (white plastic)
1 small cichlid stone
15 gallon sponge filter
1 air control valve
airline tubing
12" 22 watt LED light, 3 watt LED Moonlights combination light 2 watts per gallon (low light)
low light plants only in this system: Anubias nana, Anubias petite, common duckweed, north American hornwort.
current plants: north American hornwort, 2 Anubias petite
Current fish: 1 beta fish (male crown tail)
5 ghost shrimp
1tadpole snail
1 light timer
1 automatic feeder, small, battery powered
stand none
Are these two tanks now suitable for the fish that occupy them?
<Can work>
I also wonder if you can tell me how old my baby pond goldfish are.
Pictures of the largest of the 2 babies above. I found them in my pond about a week ago. They are comets. They are brown in color. And they are both around 1 inch long. How old do you think they are?
Thank you.
<About a month. B>

re: Tank Sizes and Pond Goldfish Age    7/1/14
Thank you Bob!:)

Are these tanks close enough to being right? Child.      6/14/14
Just want to check to be sure these 3 tanks are ok with you guys.
<Fire away.>
Tank 1
Aquarium #1
Tetra Crescent Acrylic Aquarium Kits
3 Gallon kit (not enough for a Betta, I know, but it is the best I can do for him)
Desk top aquarium, bow front
Dimensions= 13"L x 7"W x 9" H
Filter: cartridge based filtration, in tank filter came with kit (I replaced this with a sponge filter for beta fish)
seamless, acrylic aquarium
Curved front
Clear lid
Hydor Mini aquarium heater, submersible, rectangle
Pen Plax Small World filter and pump kit, replace filtration unit every 2-4 weeks, up to 5 gallons, FLITER UNIT CONTAINS ZEOLITE, Air Tech 2K0 air pump, carbon and sponge filter combination filter
Aquarium background stuck on back with tape
Aquarium substrate black marbles
dragon skull aquarium ornament
Low voltage 16-LED light
5.3 watts per gallon (low light)
low light plants only in this system: Anubias nana, Anubias petite, common duckweed, north American hornwort.
current plants: north American hornwort, common duckweed
Current fish: 1 Betta fish (male crown tail)
4 tiny pond snails of unknown species (my Betta has not eaten them yet as I thought he might. Do Bettas ever eat those annoying tiny pond snails that hitchhike on plants?)
<Not that I'm aware of.>
ph 8
Stick on thermometer (soon to be added)
<Sounds a good tank for a single Betta.>
Tank 2
Aquarium #2
(Yes, I know it needs some water and an algae cleaning. I will be doing that sometime soon.)
Aqueon 29 gallon kit

Dimensions= 30"L x 12"W x 18"H
28 gallons, long, rectangular, glass tank
Filter: Penguin Bio-Wheel 350, power filter
Gph 350
9 watt uv sterilizer
1 airstone with airline tubing
1 air pump
24 inch, 17 watt full spectrum t-8 bulb
30 inch t-8 bulb lighting system
1.8 watts of light per gallon (very low light)
aquarium background self-adhesive
1 plastic aquarium plant (soon to be added)
1 small cichlid rock, no sharp edges
Pots with smooth pebbles in them (can be taken out if needed)
current plants: 1 Anubias petite plant, North American hornwort, 1 dwarf Anubias (soon to be added)
low light plants only in this system
current fish: 1 fancy goldfish (redcap Oranda)
Stick on thermometer
ph 8
<Bit small, long term, for Goldfish but up to about, say, 12 cm/5 inches should work well. Likely to get a bit murky with bigger Goldfish and water quality unlikely to be the 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite we're after. So thereafter would be better used as a general community tank, for which 20-30 gallon tanks are ideal.>
Tank 3
Aquarium #3
Lee's Kritter Keeper, extra large

Dimensions= 14"L x 9"W x 11.5"H
6 gallons (I know. Not enough for my current fish. I messed up on how big the tank was. Its current size is the best I can do for the poor fish now though.)
Rectangular, plastic
glass top, small
12" 22 watt LED light, 2 watt LED Moonlights combination light
4 watts per gallon, lowlight plants only.
15 gallon sponge filter
air pump, small
airline tubing, 2 feet, 1/4 of an inch id
Tetra Whisper, 50 watt, submersible heater, for 2-30 gallons, glass, 5.2" x
1.6" x 3.5", electronic thermostat, constant 78 degrees Fahrenheit (soon to
be added)
green marble substrate
aquarium background stuck on back with tape
current plants 2 Anubias petite (one sank behind the sponge filter),
current fish 6 neon tetras, 2 guppies
Stick on thermometer (soon to be added)
ph 8 (not good for the neons, I know, but again it is the best I can do)
<I would not use this tank long term for Neons, Guppies. Can be useful for
a nano system, e.g., combining plants with Cherry Shrimps or similar.>
Well, there you have it. Anything that I forgot to cover you think I ought
to know?
<As Bob would say, "Keep reading". Aquarium size is the harsh mistress of
fishkeeper enthusiasm, and something we all have to deal with. Once you
understand the limits of what can be fitted in a glass box of given size,
your fishkeeping experiences will become more rewarding.>
Thank you.
<Welcome, Neale.>
re: Are these tanks close enough to being right?

Unfortunately I am stuck with tank sizes for the goldfish and the 6 gallon
tank. Thank you for your help.
<Da nada, Neale.>

Small Aquarium Questions     6/8/14
Hello. I have a small aquarium. It is made out of a Lee's Knitter Keeper, extra large.
Here is the aquarium's current information:
Dimensions= 14"L x 9"W x 11.5"H
6 gallon
Rectangular, plastic container
Glass lid, small
12" 22 watt LED light, 2 watt LED Moonlights combination light
4 watts per gallon, lowlight plants only in this aquarium.
15 gallon sponge filter
Deep Blue, 60 watt, preprogrammed, submersible heater, 1' long (planned)
current plants 2 Anubias petite (planned)
current fish 6 neon tetras, 2 guppies, 1 mystery snail
Aquarium background taped to the back
Green, glass marbles planned as substrate
ph 8 (too hard for neons, I know now, but it is the best I can do, and I cannot return the neons)
My questions:
Is the filter too strong?
<Probably; if air-powered, bleed off some air to reduce flow rate, if electric, not much you can do unless it has a built-in flow adjuster.
Without seeing the fish and the flow of water, I can't say whether the filter is too strong or not. But if your fish are pushed around, and there's a lot of bubbles in the water, chances are it's too much flow.>
Is the heater too strong?
<Again, probably; the manufacturer will indicate the aquarium sizes suitable for that particular heater; typically heaters in the 50-75 watt range are for tanks around the 20 gallon size.>
Is the tank overcrowded?
Can I put 2 more fish (female guppies) in this tank?
<Do read here:
I would not recommend keeping Neons or Guppies in a 6-gallon aquarium. Both need more space, and male Guppies especially are aggressive towards each other at times and need space to avoid each other. Females are simply much too big; 10 gallons "at a pinch" but realistically 15 gallons is the minimum casual aquarists should use for Guppies.>
Thank you.
<Most welcome. Neale.>
re: Small Aquarium Questions     6/8/14
Thank you for your useful information. I got a smaller 50 watt heater that is rated for tanks 2-30 gallons. The male guppies seem calmer than they were when I first put them in. They are never quite calm all the time, but they are doing much better right now. The tetras seem happy. No one looks overly pale or stressed out. No missing scales or tattered fins. No overly aggressive nipping that I can tell. The water is not pushing the fish around, no air bubbles clinging to anything. Would it be best to leave well enough alone and not add female guppies to the mix?
<Definitely! Six gallons will give the poor female no space at all. Do also remember you need two females per males, so if you have two males, that's four females, not one. Any fewer is cruel (they get chased by the males all the time). Cheers, Neale.>
re: Small Aquarium Questions
Thank you so much Neale! :)
<Most welcome.>

New tank; stkg. sm. FW   10/12/13
Hi there I got your address off Google it's the fist time I've bought a tank what I'd like to know is I purchased a 25 L tank recently how many tiger and moss barbs can I keep in this size tank
<None. 25 litres is about 6.6 US gallons. That would be a nice tank for a single Betta (assuming you have heating and filtration). Alternatively, it could also work well for a couple of Dwarf African Frogs alongside some Cherry Shrimps. Indeed, the ideal use for this tank would be a planted tank with various small shrimp species, many of which are very colourful. But it is virtually useless for any sort of fishkeeping. Much too small, certainly for a beginner. Advanced aquarists *might* use this tank for certain difficult to keep "nano" species such as Indostomus but these are far beyond your level of experience.>
I spoke to my cousin lately and he said I should build a bigger tank dimensions length 1m breadth 450mm height 550mm how much water would a tank hat size hold thanku
<Your cousin is right. For a beginner, the best tank is probably one in the 75-115 litre (20-30 US gallon) size range. Working out the volume of an aquarium is easy. I'm sure you've done this in school. Volume is the three lengths of the tank multiplied together, in your case 100 cm x 45 cm x 55 cm = 247500 cubic cm. There's a thousand cubic cm in 1 litre as I'm sure you know, so divide that by 1000 to get 247.5 litres. In reality tanks don't contain their "nominal" volume of water because of rocks, gravel, the thickness of the glass, the air space at the top, so you can comfortably knock about 20% of that value, so your tank will probably hold 247.5 x 0.8 = 198 litres. That's a great sized aquarium! I have one this size at home, and it offers lots of potential, whether used for small community fish or a selection of medium sized cichlids, catfish and oddball fish. In any case, start your research here:
Various links on each of these articles will take you to many more articles
of use/interest. Cheers, Neale.>

Semi aquatic animals...? 2 gal. bowl in a FW tank...  stkg... confusion/confused    9/2/2013
I have a 30 gallon tank, heavily planted, with a rainbow fish,
<"A" Rainbowfish? Should really be in groups of 6+ specimens, if we're talking about Melanotaenia and other such species..>
small albino Pleco, and a botasia catfish (not sure if that's accurate, looks like a 3 inch bullhead, is full grown)
<Have absolutely no idea what a "botasia catfish" is, and Google offers up "basa catfish", which is another name for the Iridescent Catfish which definitely isn't full grown at three inches. Three feet... maybe!>
I have recently installed a slanted Betta bowl at the bottom of my tank, I have plants and an airline in it, creating an underwater air bubble. I have seen this be done before, and it allows you to house some semi aquatic animals that need land/air.
<Sounds nightmarish! Abnormal air pressure, minimal space to move around, oxygen concentration extremely dependent on efficiency of air pump... yikes!>
I would like to get something that would normally need land so I can keep it and not need another special tank for it. I figure I could get a  crabs, amphibians of some sort, or maybe a turtle. I would forward to hearing your impute.
<Would not do this. The theory sounds cool, I admit, like a science-fiction story with an underwater city or something. But then if you think about why those don't work in real life, even with modern engineering, you'll realise that trying to achieve with a cheap air pump and a glass bowl is a little optimistic. The space would be too small (a few gallons of volume at most, and land area of a square foot, tops) for most animals to be happy, so why bother? Plenty of fully aquatic fish choices for a tank this size and the livestock you already have. Obviously anything amphibious (in the sense of using both water and land) would move in and out of the bubble, and turtles are 100% incompatible with fish, so they're right out. Virtually all amphibians are bad choices, apart from African Dwarf Frogs, and your existing fish are too large for those. Crabs are almost always brackish water animals, so incompatible in that regard. Basically, virtually all of these "mix land animals with water animals" set-ups don't work, and the lifespan of the animals kept this way is invariably less than when kept properly.>
<Hope this helps! Cheers, Neale.>
RE: Semi aquatic animals    9/2/2013

I am well aware that this is not ideal, but I always see newts, frogs, and other various semi-aquatics in tanks with no land at all, rotting away in a pet store in fact, nearly all my pets have been adopted or were the rejects at a pet store. This design at least gives them something.
<Unfortunately, while your intention is good, the result is bad. By buying animals from pet stores who don't care for them properly, the pet store makes a sale and is encouraged to buy some more. Logically, the best approach is to leave badly cared for animals in the store; ideally, you'd pass on your concerns to your local government (who license pet stores one way or another) and you could also contact an animal welfare channel.
Writing to the store manage could be worthwhile, too. Regardless, if the animals languish in the pet store, the retailer won't buy any more.>
This also allows Bettas to live as they require close air, African clawed frogs require air access so deep tanks are not ideal (although I have heard that they go on land),
<Only exceptionally, likely when the ground is waterlogged following heavy rain. Ordinarily, if they crawl out of the water, something is extremely wrong with the aquarium. It is true they like basking within floating plants though, even with their heads poking out. Do bear in mind Xenopus spp get quite big, and are essentially incompatible with small fish.>
some crayfish species require oxygen, a bull frog tadpole could use that to grow up in (but be released or relocated when full grown),
<Releasing a bullfrog from an aquarium into the wild would be very wrong, likely illegal in your area. I'm assuming you're in the US, and you may think that bullfrogs are native so what's the harm. In fact bullfrogs are not found in every waterway in the US, so you could put them somewhere they don't belong, and there may be genetic variation from region to region, and the pet ones sold may carry distinct genes from the ones in your area, and releasing a pet bullfrog allows those non-local genes into your local gene pool. Finally, the big no-no, and likely the legal issue, is pet bullfrogs have been exposed to bacteria, viruses and parasites endemic in the pet industry, and releasing a bullfrog will allow those into your local waterways.>
I could perhaps use it to breed killifish, and most pet store newts have little land anyway, so this is not as foolish as you think.
<Trust me, it's a terrible idea.>
Not to mention that the Betta bowl is a two gallon one, note one of those light bulb sized things, the air line is not cheap at all and I did my best to make the land part cozy.
<Assuming you didn't pay tens of thousands on having an industrial engineer create something that ensures a steady air pressure and balances oxygen and CO2 concentrations properly, the set up you design is simply a bowl with an air pump connected to it. So my reference to "cheap" wasn't a concern about the quality of the products used, which I'm sure are excellent.>
And as for my rainbow fish, it was called a Madagascar rainbow fish yet looks NOTHING like one, I do not know the scientific name and still cannot find another that looks quite like it.
<By all means send a photo and I'll help.>
He was adopted, I've had him for years, and had a mate for him (but he killed her, always was a bit over aggressive) he does not like the company of other rainbow fish or gouramies and the catfish was at a pet store, they said he was full grown and that he is pretty shy.
<Again, a photo would help.>
Other than that most of my fish are still shrouded in mystery. All-in-all you may hate this idea, but who knows, this thing may be worth it after all.
<If you're looking for an expert fishkeeper like me to say, sure, sounds great, that isn't going to happen. You sound like a really sensible, ethical aquarist, and I'd urge you to stick to that path. All this Betta bowl idea does is take swimming space away from your aquarium while creating a sub-optimal habitat for animals that need more than 2-gallons space. Just don't see an up side here at all. Cheers, Neale.>

10 Gallon Tank Problem; stkg.   8/31/13
Dear WWM,
It has been along time since I last emailed you.  I have been experiencing some problems with my 10 gallon Freshwater Aquarium.  Right now my set up is a 10 gallon tank with a heater, Marineland 150 BioWheel and an air pump.  Before all went wild, I had a Crowntail Betta and a Cory Catfish who were both very active and healthy.  The Betta I had for almost two years and the Cory I had for three years.  Before I went on vacation, I noticed that the Betta was starting to hide, eat less and was not active.
<Mmm; may be... "just getting olde"; but, oh, I see your water tests below>
  So I administered a Methylene Blue Bath in a hospital tank and returned him back to the 10 gallon tank.  He seemed to be fine.  When I returned home from my trip he was acting strange again and he had a slight Dropsy.  So removed the carbon, an administered Maracyn-two to the 10 gallon tank because I noticed that the catfish was not acting well either. 
<... something environmental>
I starting checking my water; the ammonia was 0, nitrite was 0, nitrate was 10 and the culprit was my ph, which dropped to 6.0. 
<Yikes; yes; too low>
So I began to add little baking soda day-by-day,
 and continuously checked my ph levels to make sure I was not adding too much.   I think I did more harm then anything.  Maybe I did not maintain my aquarium tank as good as I thought.
<... as well>
Unfortunately, I lost both of them.  I lost the Betta to a bacterial infection, which showed up as Dropsy.  I know Dropsy is just a symptom.  As far as the Cory Catfish I lost him a month or so later.  The Cory Catfish later developed red streaks and bleeding.  For his treatment, I performed a 50 percent water change, checked all my levels and the ph read 7.6.  Again, removed the carbon and I administered Tetra Lifeguard.  On the four day of treatment, he died.
Right now my 10 gallon tank is empty.  I want to purchase one Bristlenose Plecostomus, three Zebra Danios, three Neon Tetras, one Cory Catfish and one male Betta.  I can not stock my tank as of this time, due to the following readings:  PH above 7.6, too high, GH – 30 too low, KH - 80, Nitrite – 0, Nitrate – 5.0.  I want stock first with three Zebra Danios and then purchase at a later time: three Neon Tetra, one Cory Catfish and last the Betta.  Can you please give me advise.  Thanks for your help ahead of time.  Jean
<I would go ahead as you plan... with the Danios first, then the Betta; the neons a month or so later. Bob Fenner>

Questions for crew! Sm. FW stkg., snail control   3/26/13
Hello MY name is Kari. I have a 10 gallon tank and have 1 sunburst platy and 1 pepper catfish... and more snails than I can even begin to count.
 I am looking into buying more fish or even an aquatic frog?
<You could; do read on WWM re... this species requires meaty food/s>
and Im not really sure what kind of fish can go with the 2 I have?
<Oh! I'd definitely get another one or two Peppered Cats... they do much better, are far more active in a group>
 also is it bad to have so many snails?
<Mmm, not really; but you might want to harvest/remove a good deal of them occasionally. They can be attracted to a bit of lettuce leaf or zucchini...>
 I'm looking for something bright and/or colorful it would be awesome if you could email me back! thanks and have a blessed day! Kari
<Many other choices await you. Do read here:
Bob Fenner>

New at this... ): New 10 gal. FW owner - 01/15/2012
Hi. So I recently bought myself a fish tank. Not a very large one, either five or ten gallons.
<Which is it? Five gallons is basically worthless for fishkeeping; 10 gallons allows you to keep a very few species of fish. Beginners should start with systems bigger than 10 gallons -- 20 gallons would be ideal.>
I understand the one inch of fish per gallon rule.
<Which isn't a very reliable rule, so be careful with it. This rule makes some degree of sense with very small fish like Neons, but for bigger species is worthless.>
That being said, I have three neon tetras (two male, one female. I think) and two male guppies.
<Not really compatible species. Neons need relatively cool (around 22 C/72 F) water that is not hard or alkaline. Guppies need hard, alkaline water and are happiest kept fairly warm, 25 C/77 F is good. In other words, there's not much of a happy medium between the two, so keep each in their own aquarium. Next up, Neons need to be kept in groups of at least 6 specimens. Your trio won't do well, and dollars-to-donuts they'll be shy, nervous, and eventually die a death within a few months. Hmm… do read before buying, will make your life (and the fish's) a lot easier.>
One is a Fancy Tail guppy, and one is a Turquoise guppy. I bout them last night. They look healthy, their colours haven't faded and they swim and eat normally.
<Colours fading makes sense on fish that can adjust their colours, like wild-type Angels. It means almost nothing at all on fish we've artificially bred to have bright colours, such as Guppies.>
My concerns are that one looks like he's constipated (he draws his dorsal and anal find back and looks like he's shivering) and the other looks like he's trying to impress himself. He 'dances' in front of his reflection. Is this normal??
<Can be, as male Guppies are very aggressive towards one another. But then there's "the Shimmies", a neurological disorder that Poecilia species including Guppies are prone to.>
Thanks in advance,
<Do start by reading here:
Follow the links on those pages to FAQs on stocking, systems and compatibility. Then have a read here:
Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: New at this... ):- 01/15/2012

thank you for responding. I was actually looking online and asking around for fish tanks. I found 2 55 gal for $130 (usd) and thought that was a good deal. What do you think I can keep with my tetras? I definitely plan to but more. I  had 5 but 2 died shortly after purchase
<Neons get along with all kinds of stuff. Let's assume your water is soft to moderately hard -- 2-12 degrees dH, pH 6-7.5. That's pretty good for South American fish, so good companions for Neons include Corydoras catfish (most of which also like coolish water around 22-25 C/72-77 F) and Bristlenose Catfish (which like coolish water as well). Hardy tetras include X-Ray Tetras and Penguin Tetras, both of which will thrive at this sort of temperature range. You could also add some Danios, which also prefer cooler than average water and do well in soft water. Among the barbs, the best ones for beginners are Cherry Barbs, which have nice colours, stay small, and don't normally nip fins. They're also fun because males and females look and behave differently: females are orangey-pink and school together, while males are cherry-red and are more territorial. Seem like a plan? Cheers, Neale.>

Small Tank Residents-  Betta sys et al.  8/30/12
That (Partial water changes during fishless cycle) is good advice for the 2 gallon,  I will do some partial water
changes.  I was originally going to put a Betta in there.  I have a tiny heater but it's warm enough now without it.
<Two gallons is still a little cramped for a Betta. Should have filtration.
Housing a Betta in a container without filtration can be done, but it requires a lot of frequent and diligent maintenance to keep the resident healthy.
For experienced fishkeepers only, in my opinion.>
But I am still concerned that it may be too small for any fish.  So I've been looking around for other ideas.  I might concentrate on growing a nice plant and getting some shrimp.
<Your shrimp idea is a good one, and a small planted tank with colorful shrimp can be just as entertaining as a small planted tank with fish. Since small volumes are less stable than large volumes, the plants will help keep the nitrogen compounds in check.
In terms of fish, your choices are indeed limited, but not zero. The Least killifish (Heterandria formosa) is a perfect candidate for that size tank.
This fish is not a killifish at all, but a livebearer. In fact, it is the smallest livebearer in North America.  Some species in the Aphyosemion and Fundulopanchax genera of true killifish would also work well, but finding any of the fishes I mentioned requires networking instead of a trip to the store and some research to see if they are a good match for your tap water
chemistry.  Good luck! - Rick>
Re: Small Tank Residents- 8/30/12    9/5/12

Wonderful, thanks.  I will research that fish.  My 2 gallon tank is the Fluval Spec Desktop that came with a pump/filter/light.  Watching the goldfish suffer in there makes me leery of putting another fish in there but then again - it was probably too warm and lots of ammonia in there.  I've learned a lot in 10 days thanks to these great websites and help from experts like you.
<Welcome. Let us know how it turns out. - Rick>

Stocking a new FW aquarium    9/5/12
Hi All,
I've been a long-time reader (and learner).  You all were essential to the survival of my saltwater aquarium.  Since leaving Miami (and moving across the country to Idaho) I've decided to set up a freshwater aquarium as it seems like the LFS stock FW species here.  Go figure ;)
<A new challenge. Not easier or harder, just different.>
My tank (a 10g tank with a Aqueon QuietFlow 10 and 15W fluorescent light, plus a heater keeping it a steady 76-78) is done cycling (yay!) with both ammonia and nitrate being undetectable and the pH at about 7.  Nitrate is plateauing at about 25 ppm and (I think) I'm ready to start adding some hardy fish because, after my SW experience, even if things look great they rarely end up going smoothly. 
<I'd do a substantial water change before adding any residents. With freshwater you have the advantage of using plants to keep nitrates under control.>
Plus, I have no FW experience other than a few neon tetras and an upside down catfish a LONG time ago.
<Fish are fish. Understand their specific needs and provide for them. I'll have some detail on this at the end.>
So, what to add?  I'd like a well-balanced aquarium with "action" at all levels.  After perusing your site and reading about other 10g aquariums I was thinking of the following. 
<First thing to realize is that a 10-gallon tank is very small. In marine, bigger was better--more stable, held temperature better, slower for nitrogen compounds to accumulate, etc. Freshwater is no different in that respect.  The main advantage of freshwater is that most of the fishes can tolerate more (gradual) fluctuation in temperature, which is why I can have a tank at 82F in summer and 72F in winter. Most marine fish need stability because their habitat is stable.>
If you recommend something different (or a specific species when I suggest a group) please let me know!!  Also, if you could recommend an order I'd appreciate it.  I couldn't quite gleam which fish would be best to add first.  Please know that these are the species I'm considering.  I know my 10g tank isn't big enough for all of this, but I thought I'd give you an idea  of the types of fish I'm looking at in case there were any "no way!" or "maybe you'd like this" suggestions. 
<Again, I caution you that a 10-gallon tank is a small tank, and this list will grossly overpopulate the tank.>
- Corydoras (2 or 3; I'm hoping to find C. punctatus or C. loxosonus as I have dark gravel. which also leads me to ask if pea-sized gravel is good for these cuties and also if they're hardy enough to be first)
<Corydoras, like many of the fishes you listed, are schooling fish. Groups of five or more are recommended.>
- Marbled hatchet (3; Carnegiella strigata; is my 10g too small for a hatchet?  I'm looking for a surface dweller, but am not a big fan of the halfbeaks. based on looks. my tank is covered)
<Again, schooling fish. Groups of six or more.>
-  Neon tetra (4 or 5; Paracheirodon innesi)
<Schooling fish, but in this case, the fish is pretty small, so you could probably work with this.  More than 5 is better, though.>
- Cardinal tetra (4 or 5; alternate for the neon tetra)
<Schooling, larger than neons, more challenging in the sense they are sensitive to water chemistry.  Neons are too, but neons have been in captivity for so long they seem to tolerate varying hardnesses.  More about this below.>
-  Harlequin Rasbora (3 or 4; Trignostigma heteromorpha)
<Shoaling fishes, 6 or more.>
- Electric blue balloon ram (1 or 2, depending on what's best; Mikrogeophagus ramirezi; this will be my "goal" fish if I can get things running smoothly for an extended period of time, but I'd still like to know what you think of having him/her in the mix)
<Well, since I expect the above mix is going to change, it's hard to say.
However, I think the tank is a little too small for the ram.  Tetra schools and South American cichlids do mix quite well, though. They enjoy similar water chemistry and the tetras will make good dithers for shy cichlids. 
Blue rams can be very sensitive to hardness.>
Once the tanks is set up and fish are doing ok I'll add a shrimp or two to help with algae, as well as a snail. 
<Adding shrimp to the mix won't keep algae under control,. but they make excellent clean-up crews.  They will go after anything edible the fish don't eat.
Are cherry shrimps hardy? 
<I have not kept cherry shrimps, so I'm not sure.  You can always get one and see how it does, then get more later.
And is my tank large enough (and the 15W light powerful enough) for some Anubias (think it is) and Madagascar lace fern (not so sure)?
<Anubias easily, though be aware it must be attached to a rock or driftwood, not with the roots buried in the substrate. The lace fern is said to be extremely difficult to both find and to keep alive.  Now, a word on livestock selection. You mentioned the pH is 7.0, which is good, but if your water is soft, you may need to buffer it to keep the pH there. You didn't mention anything about hardness, and this is important.  If you have soft water, then you have a lot of flexibility because you can use tap water for soft water fishes like the ram and tetras you mentioned, but you have to add buffering agents.  You can also add things to increase hardness (coral substrate) to keep hard water fishes, but all of this involves manipulation of the water chemistry, and that's extra work.  On the other hand, if your tap water is hard, then keeping soft water fishes involves RO water. The ram would need it. But, you could keep livebearers with no problem.  You've kept a marine tank, so you know how much work can go into keeping the water just so. I prefer to simplify things and keep fish that like water the way it comes out of the tap. Believe me, matching the fish to your tap water is far, far easier than matching the water to the fish. 
Since you are beginning with freshwater and have only ten gallons to work with, you are going to have to make compromises.  Most of the fishes found in the big box stores will be able to tolerate various pH and hardness provided the environment is stable, but selecting the fish that prefer the water you have will result in healthier fish.  Regardless, you must be wary of overstocking this tank.  In most of my own ten-gallon tanks, I have five or fewer fish. Without knowing how hard your water is, it's difficult to give any solid recommendation, but based on what you told me so far, I like the Rasboras. If you can find out the hardness of the tap water, I could make better suggestions.>
Thank you!
<Welcome. - Rick>
Re: Stocking a new FW aquarium    9/7/12

Hi Rick,
Thanks for replying so quickly!  I did indeed forget to mention that the GH is 75 ppm and alkalinity is 120 ppm.  I know that this is at the low end of things, but I'm using RO water so I should be able to buy some additives and/or some CaCO3 rocks to adjust buffering capacity as needed. 
<Depending on the KH, you could be okay, or you could be on the edge of pH drift toward the acid side.  A little more carbonate hardness (like 25 ppm) would give you some breathing room. Could be you can get that by blending RO and tap rather than using additives.>
That also answers your question about whether I have hard or soft water; initially it's neither (or should be... the RO water is scientific grade and in fact I'm on a university campus, so I trust it).  Or maybe RO water is soft water due to having so few (hopefully no) minerals? 
<Well, it's going to be soft. But I wonder why you are using RO water in the first place.  If it's because you're used to doing that from your marine aquarium days, you might consider taking some of the work out of the process and using tap water.  Of course, the fishes you pick will depend on that water chemistry.>
Not quite sure about that, but that's what I use.  While cycling I've added some pH and buffering
additives to get it where it is now. 
<Exactly the point I'm trying to make. You are adding to the water and it may not be necessary. Or, you might be able to achieve the same thing by blending RO and tap--a common practice in freshwater. It's free buffering agents if the tap water is hard.>
Figured I'd wait on the fine tuning until I figured out which fish to add.
So, would you still recommend the Rasboras?  And could the tank handle the Rasboras and a solitary cat such as an albino Bristlenose Pleco (or another that behaves similarly)? 
<With that chemistry you can probably do a half dozen Rasboras, or you could get maybe 8 neon tetras. The water chemistry you have now is perfect for tetras. While I absolutely love Bristlenose Plecos, they tend to stir up the substrate and get a bit large for a 10-gallon tank at 4 to 4.5 inches in length. They must have driftwood to chew on, by the way. 
Otocinclus is a good alternative, and you could get three or four of them in addition to the Rasboras or neons, bringing your tank to capacity.  They can be a bit sensitive to water chemistry, but then again, what you have now is nearly perfect for South American fishes in general.  As for stocking, I'd probably put half the Rasboras or neons in, let the tank adapt, then the other half, let the tank adapt, then put in the bottom feeders.  Neons and Rasboras are easy to find, the Otos might be easy or
hard to find. They seem to be stocked in waves in my area. An advantage of freshwater is the livestock is significantly less expensive than marine livestock in general, so you can be a bit bolder with what you try and it's easier to change your mind.>
I plan on adding a few plants to help out with the nitrates. 
<The fish will appreciate the foliage, too.>
I'll pass on the lace fern (one LFS has it, though it doesn't look as good as the Anubias).  <Probably wise.>
Is there another plant that would work well in a small tank?
Maybe Echinodorus or Cryptocoryne?  Or maybe some java moss?
<I love mosses because they are versatile. See if the store has any Christmas moss; I think it's a lot more attractive than Java moss.
Otherwise, just stay away from plants that require CO2 injection and extremely bright light. Java fern is pretty rugged if you get a decent specimen to start with, and it grows slowly. It needs to be tied down to driftwood or a rock, just like the Anubias. - Rick>
Hi Rick,
Thank you!! 
<No problem.>
Re: Stocking a new FW aquarium    9/7/12
Just one more question/clarification.  I use RO water because it's actually easy for me to get (all of the labs have RO taps, just like they have hot and cold taps).  <I see.> And, yes, from my marine days it was a great way to start from scratch.  I was actually worried about using the regular tap because there are signs up about it being non-potable.
<That would make me leery also.>
I figure, if it's not good enough for me to drink (or, at the very least, isn't consistently good enough) then it's not good enough for the fish to live in.  Oh, the tank is at work so using actual tap water (from home) would be a lot of work in terms of transportation.  What do you think?
<I think you're making the right choice.>
Thanks again!  Your answers have made this process a lot easier (and less stressful).
 <A good freshwater book will be worth the investment. Let us know what you end up putting in your tank.>
Wish I'd known about WWM when I'd started my marine tank.
Could have saved me from putting damsels together (LFS said they were a "less aggressive variety and would be fine together in a 12g nano"... I didn't go back to that place) and the loss of a couple of shrimps after learning about how sensitive inverts are to water chemistry changes!
<Whenever I finally decide to start a marine tank, I'll be bothering Bob Fenner six times a day for months on end!
You have been warned, Bob!><<No worries Rick. B>>
< Rick>

10 gallon, stocking almost decided, just need a little advice     7/6/12
I hope it's alright to ask these... I sort of regard you guys as the authorities on all things fishy (that came out wrong), so I thought I'd ask your advice before deciding on my stocking list once and for all.
<Fire away.>
I have a 12 gallon with base dimensions 10x20" (so I'm really just looking at it as a 10 gallon here). It has been set up for about six months, and has long since cycled, but so far I only have driftwood and a few plants as I've been waiting to get my stocking list completely decided upon to add any fish. I just want to make sure that all of these fish will do alright in a ten gallon and that they are compatible.
<Good idea.>
Before I go further, I am using tapwater with the measurements ph: ~7.8-8.0 (can vary slightly by time of year) kH: 4 and gH: 6 It has been a while since I tested kH, so that measurement may be slightly off. (I misplaced that particular bottle) I do remember that it is fairly low, however.
<Possible. But it sounds like your water chemistry is middling, not too soft and not too hard, but on the basic side of the pH scale. Most fish should adapt to this, but do avoid those species that need something specific, whether soft water (e.g., Neons) or hard water (e.g., Guppies).>
First off would be a *single* Kribensis. This would probably be a female as the girls are smaller. I read in your article here
that they should be alright in a 10 gallon. I have been reading various things about keeping them in a tank this size on several forums, so I just wanted to confirm with you that they can in fact be kept long term in a ten gallon, and not just for breeding. I originally had an Apistogramma in this spot here, but upon visiting an lfs that had them I found that I liked the Kribensis' personality more.
<Female Kribs are certainly amusing, not-too-shy fish with lovely colours.
A singleton would be fine in 10 gallons, but do watch water quality (especially water changes) because Dwarf Cichlids are very sensitive to "old" water with high nitrate levels. Do regular water changes and be sure not to feed too liberally.>
Next up is a school of Pseudomugil gertrudae, P furcata, or Oryzias woworae. I am a bit unsure here. I understand that it would be best to choose only one schooling species rather than many, but due to my water chemistry among other things I'm not quite sure which one to pick. (Unless it's possible to have a substantial school of two of these species in a ten gallon?
<I would think a big school of one would look and behave better.>
I've read that they need less space than I'm giving them here.) My first choice would be P furcata, and I believe you guys once told me to treat my water as though it were hard and alkaline due to the ridiculously high ph, but since from my understanding blue eyes have rather exacting water requirements, I'm not quite sure that this is safe to do.
<Actually, I think your water might be okay; Pseudomugil furcatus likes water that isn't too soft and isn't too hard, but has an around neutral to slightly basic pH; around 10 degrees dH, pH 7-8 is about right. Your water isn't too far off that. But this species doesn't like big changes in water chemistry, so adapting them carefully will be important, and then keep the water changes "small, but frequent". This will minimise any stress.>
My second choice would be a mix of P gertrudae and O woworae, but gertrudae needs a slightly lower ph as far as I know
<Possibly, but Pseudomugil gertrudae has proven to be somewhat adaptable, and provided extremes are avoided, the farmed variety (as opposed to the wild-caught ones) should do okay in your water too.>
and I can't find anything reliable on O woworae's requirements other than that it's "adaptable".
<Indeed. Like some other freshwater Ricefish, so long as you avoid extremes, this fish will tolerate most conditions perfectly well.>
I considered Iriatherina werneri but I don't feel comfortable putting them in with a Krib, as I feel they would be very easy to pick on.
<Possibly, but my Iriatherina werneri are getting along fine with a Dwarf Gourami. This species is delicate when introduced, and tolerates water chemistry changes poorly, but once settled in, it's quite robust.>
Finally, and space provided, I was thinking of adding a male killifish:
most likely Fundulopanchax gardneri or F nigerianus, which from my understanding prefer the mid to surface areas and are fairly hardy and adaptable in terms of water chemistry.
<Often so. But do review the fact many Killifish do best kept slightly cooler than other tropical fish, and they're also territorial and/or predatory. I would not keep even an "easy" species like Fundulopanchax gardneri alongside any surface-swimming tankmates.>
I briefly considered replacing the killifish with a paradise fish as I'd read that they were compatible with Kribensis and can be kept in tropical as well as subtropical temperatures, but something tells me that they'll have a hard time avoiding each other in a twelve gallon no matter how heavily planted it is.
<Agreed; these would be a poor combination. Paradisefish are very much species for single-species set-ups, end of story. They're aggressive, nippy, and opportunistically predatory. You might get away with, say, Giant Danios in a big tank, but why bother? Macropodus spp. look best in their own, well-planted aquarium.>
Anyway, that's my basic stocking list. As you can see it needs a bit of polishing up...
Thanks for your help.
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: 10 gallon, stocking almost decided, just need a little advice     7/7/12

Thank you for your advice! For the fish I mentioned, what would you say would be the ideal number to start with? I was thinking either 2m:4f or 3m:7f would be the best ratios.
<Ricefish are pretty mellow, so provided you have a reasonable number of males and females and plenty of floating plants (that's where they like to hide) then I wouldn't worry too much about the precise ratio. When I buy them, I get two males to four females, and that seems to work fine. Pseudomugil are schooling fish, so even numbers of males and females are fine, though as ever, slightly more females would be a plus. For Killifish, it's best to keep twice as many females as males, and to also be aware that males can be aggressive, so allow about a square foot of surface space per male.>
I don't think I should get more than 2-3 males to start since my tank is fairly small and I want to avoid any extreme, long-term territorial issues, but having at least two males and several females will allow me to observe the most natural behavior.
I didn't know that about the killifish. For some reason I thought F gardneri and nigerianus would do alright in higher temperatures…
<It's not they do badly in warmer water, but that they're very short lived anyway, so keeping them cooler lengthens their lifespan. SeriouslyFish.com is very good for getting precise water chemistry, temperature values; the site owner is very into these sorts of small, tricksy fish species and his information is top-notch.>
If they only eat the fry and not the adults, then that's actually a convenience to me as there isn't really and LFS around here. I'm actually a soon-to-be college student. I've already checked out the dorms and there's no room for a fry tank (I'm hopefully getting a quarantine soon but even that's pushing it), so culling excess fry one way or another is really my only option.
<For sure.>
I could ship them out occasionally, but I won't have the time nor resources to do that very often. I'm not saying that I want them all to die, but if more than a few are consistently making it to adulthood then it could prove to be a problem.
Unless they aren't very prolific? In that case, the Krib may be enough. (?)
<Ricefish are prolific in the sense of laying dozens of large eggs across a month, from which hatch large fry (smaller than Guppy fry, but still big enough to take powdered flake foods like Hikari First Bites). Even if left with their parents, a few survive, and marginal extra care ensures lots survive. That's why Ricefish are so popular as lab animals -- they were actually the first vertebrates bred in space! Rainbowfish and Killifish are much less easy, and while Killies in particular may lay eggs, rearing them requires an effort on the part of the aquarist.>
If they are prolific, then could you perhaps recommend a fry eater better suited to my tank, maybe even a different Killie or a even dwarf Gourami -- the latter assuming I can find a breeder on the West Coast?
<Regular readers will know I have a love/hate relationship with Dwarf Gouramis. On the one hand they're beautiful fish that do fine in tanks as small as 15 gallons. But yes, getting good, disease-free stock is tricky. You may want to take a flutter on a healthy-looking farmed specimen you find locally. Provided there aren't any other sick Gouramis with it, and the retailer generally maintains their fish very well, you probably have a better than 50/50 chance of getting a good specimen. But do understand what to look for -- avoid specimens that appear inbred, that are unusually fat or skinny, that have any damage to their fins or skin, or don't seem alert and active. The wild-type Dwarf is perhaps the better bet compared to the artificial forms (Cobalts, Neons, etc). Ideally, you'd find a singleton specimen kept on its own with fish of dissimilar type, like Tetras, so the risk of exposure to sickly Gouramis would be substantially less.>
Though I think the Gourami might get a bit to territorial... Would prefer a wild-type fish to, say, a fancy guppy or platy (although I must admit a certain strange attraction to Redtail Dalmatian platies, there are more interesting fish out there).
<For sure. There are some great oddball livebearers out there if you can find them -- Micropoecilia parae "red melanzona" and Micropoecilia picta to name but two of the low-end brackish species that'd do great in a smallish tank with a little salt added.>
Wild type livebearers are certainly more than welcome, however. (I'll probably be keeping it around 76~77 degrees F. Does that sound about right to you? I have temperatures a little higher right now since there's a few plants I couldn't quarantine and I'm trying to make any possible Ich die off before I add fish to my setup.)
<Okay. But if you don't have fish in there, using a commercial Whitespot treatment would be safe, as it breaks down in a few days after usage. Use carbon for a couple weeks afterwards if you're worried, and then add some Red Cherry Shrimps if you like, to get the biological filter working a bit harder. Shrimps are good "canaries" for water quality problems, including leftover copper or formalin, so if the shrimps are happy, then delicate fish species should be too.>
Again, many thanks.
<Real good, Neale.>
Re: 10 gallon, stocking almost decided, just need a little advice 7/10/12

Hi again! Thanks for all your help. Just a quick question, would a commercial Ich treatment kill of the beneficial bacteria in my tank?
<Shouldn't do if used as instructed.>
Which would be the safest?
<I use eSHa EXIT, widely sold in the UK. Salt/heat is another safe option.
Salt/heat normally works well and is harmless to freshwater fish, plants and bacteria.>
It's pretty well established right now, I think (and I bought the last plant around 3 weeks ago and have been keeping the tank at 79~80 degrees, though I'm not sure if three weeks is long enough), so if the treatment would ruin my cycle then I'm not sure it would be worth doing that over just waiting longer to add fish.
<Quite so. But unlikely a risk.>
(Oh, and also, mostly out of curiosity though there's the off chance I will wind up getting one, what IS the largest adult fish I should worry about gardneri Killies eating?)
<Hmm… anything up to about 1/3rd their size… so about 2 cm or so... small Neons perhaps, subadult male Guppies, that sort of thing. Cheers, Neale.>

Some examples of suitable tankmates for micro fish, please?    5/1/12
Hi there!
I'd be grateful if any of the Crew could suggest some suitable fish to complement my existing colony, as I'm having a hard time trying to decide for myself. I've seen plenty of fish that I like the look of, only to discover that for one reason or another they're not compatible.
I have a well established, heavily planted 100 UK gallon/455 litre freshwater tank kept at 24C with a pH of 6.8 - 7, and about 10 dGH. It has terraced hardscaping (a mixture of slate and bogwood) with fine gravel in the upper regions and an open, sandy beach in the foreground. In some areas of the tank there is a gentle current, in others the water is slow-moving to almost still.
The occupants are 15 Ember Tetra (Hyphessobrycon amandae), 15 Microrasbora kubotai (Microdevario kubotai) and 7 Pygmy Cory (Corydoras pygmaeus). There is also an unknown quantity (100, 200?!) of red cherry and tiger shrimp, which breed like rabbits.
The Corys are quite active and spend a lot of their time in the open or at the fringes of planted areas. The tetras and Rasboras will openly shoal for short periods but spend most of their time lurking amongst the plants like beautiful little jewels.
What I'm looking for is something that will complement the existing fish stock, whilst at the same time providing more of a fixed, visual impact.
Ideally this will be a fish of comparative stature that enjoys open water and occupies the middle to upper column. I'm not particularly worried about baby/juvenile shrimp becoming prey as there's generally an abundance of them. My main concern is making the right choice for both the new and existing residents.
<I would look at these: Sparkling Gouramis; Marble Hatchetfish; Silver Halfbeaks (some sort of bred variety of Dermogenys from Southeast Asia, quite small); Ricefish (Oryzias woworae is stunning, but they're all nice); Norman's Lampeye; possibly even Epiplatys annulatus if you read up on its needs first. You might also consider Indostomus paradoxus as an oddball (it's a very fussy feeder though) and also one of the smaller Badidae,
e.g., Dario dario, if you can supply the foods (ideally, live foods) it needs.>
Thank you very much for taking the time to deal with my request - any suggestions would be gratefully received.
Cheers :)
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Some examples of suitable tankmates for micro fish, please? 5/2/12
Hi Neale
Your guidance is much appreciated, these are exactly the sort of fish  I had in mind - some are a little quirky, and all are very  attractive.
<Glad to help.>
I'd already considered Dario dario but I've not seen them for sale locally for quite some time now (there's not an awful lot  of freshwater fish choice in my area, and the two main retailers seem to  favour marines).
<Perhaps ordering online would make sense?>
As for halfbeaks I'd mistakenly thought  they required brackish water, so I'd not even considered them;
<Some halfbeaks do indeed prefer brackish water. But not all, and not the Silver Halfbeak. If you're up for a challenge, there are several Hemirhamphodon species in the trade, some of which are very small (3-4 cm long) but they are fairly delicate and must be kept in at least soft, slightly acidic water (2-5 degrees dH, pH 6), and ideally very acidic water (pH 4-5!).>
I'm also  liking your suggestions for Ricefish and killifish, so there's something else  I'd not thought of. I shall have to do some detective work and see what I  can track down, and at what distance.
Thank you very much, you're an absolute star!
Cheers :)
<And likewise to you, Neale.>

Eyesight of Corydoras and other advice, env. 4/7/12
Hi there WWM Crew,
Your website has been of great help to me when I had a pair of Bettas. I'd never thought I would actually email you to consult some of your wisdom, but here I am.
I am playing with a self sustaining tank (or partially self sustaining).
Actually let me rephrase that, a self sustaining 1-gallon jar.
In said jar, I have
1 Ramshorn snail,
2 Malaysian trumpet snails (and their various off springs)
1 Corydoras aeneus
<Needs more room, filtration...>
3 ghost shrimp
1 large Anubias plant (not sure of the species)
1 Anubias nana
Some crazy elodea that needs constant pruning
<Likely E. canadiense>
Water wisteria (which is also crazy and needs pruning) Java fern hitch hiker that is now growing daughter plantlets a banana lily which I just de-leafed since it was getting lanky banana lily leaf left floating that is growing roots random strands of java moss that probably hitch hiked on the Anubias Various masses of micro fauna (Cyclops, daphnia, other mini crustaceans, worm and Planaria)
Algae that is constantly being munched on 3 seashells as water buffer
The substrate is about a 1/4-1/2 inch of sand + scattering of gravel.
plants are planted in measuring caps (with holes drilled) and gravel, just to keep it neat.
Tank gets 12 hours of light a day from a 100w cfl that I turn on for all my plants. The larger Anubias is sprouting its third leaf in about 2.5 months, probably due to the bright lighting. There is no filtration or aeration.
The lid is kept on the jar at all times.
I have never measured my water parameters, starting this whole thing of as a simple experiment and really just wanting to keep underwater plants. The tank has not had a water change since its setup at around a month ago, and since the ghost shrimps are going along swimmingly, I will avoid putting a hole in this poor students wallet and forgo test kits for now.
The original inhabitants at the top of the food chain were feeder minnows, all which succumbed to fish tb (apparently a local Petco epidemic in their feeder tanks right now, the feeders have yet to be restocked), I removed all three fish from the system after they began to show symptoms (kinky spine, floating to top, skinny but sill feeding well).
After the minnows went, I noticed that the mini critter population boomed, and figured that I need to re introduce a fish. I researched for a small hardy fish. This turned out to be the bronze Cory cat. I was hesitant to get the Cory cat being afraid that it will become lonely. However at Petco the other day, I saw this little one bumbling about, very active and decided I would give it a try.
After a week, he is absolutely fine and bustling about as usual, his barbels are growing longer! =D . but I noticed that from the time of purchase that he doesn't seem to see me when i put my finger against the glass right in front of him. in fact there is no reaction at all, he will simply continue to do what ever he is doing. I know the glass is clear as the old minnows used to greet me when I came past and excitedly rush up and down the glass for their food. Do you think its possible the fellow is blind?
<Yes... environmental...>
In Petco he was kind of a lonely guy and the only one that explored the entire tank rather than just the bottom. I studied his eyes and they look fine and not cloudy. I also noticed that when i drop in a bit of a sinking wafer for him, he doesn't know its there until he finds it with his snout, even though it should be in his line of vision.
Other than that, he seems a happy fish so far. The system seems to be able to sustain him as of now, I'm going to let it run for another month with just him to see how it handles the eventual waste buildup. If the tank thrives, I will take a risk and get him a friend. If it doesn't I'll invest in a 10gal for him and get a few more Corys.
I would love to hear any extra advice you would have for my tank as well!
<A neat experiment... have a friend in Hawai'i who makes sealed glass spheres... w/ naught but a Neocaridina shrimp, algae and a sprig of gorgonian (and seawater, a bit of air space); and have seen sealed systems over the years>
Thank you for your help!
<I encourage you to write up your spec.s, observations and submit them for publication in pet-fish e- and pulp zines. If you'd like, I will help you to offer the work to editors. Bob Fenner>

Re: Eyesight of Corydoras and other advice     4/10/12
Hi bob!
Sorry for the delayed reply, I was caught up with my small mountain of school work.
One night, as I was pulling an all nighter, I neglectfully left the lamp on the tank for 24 hours. The algae grew as if they were on drugs!
<A clue!>
Other than the plants (especially the Anubias) the rest of the tank cant be happier. The Cory cat wont stop eating! you cannot imagine how fat his little pot belly is right now. Im a little worried he might eat himself to death.
Speaking of my boast about my ghost shrimps surviving on month, one died a few days ago, right next to his newly moulted shell. I couldn't figure out the reason of his death. the shell was completely shed and his body was lying right next to it. I left it in the tank anyway to see how the system will handle a death. I did throw in a long stalk of lucky bamboo to help with the ammonia absorption. No problems so far it seems.
<Mmm, needs to be tested>
I also threw in a piece of banana leaf to see how it will impact the system. Nothing so far other than a mildly yellow colored tank.
Thank you for offering to help me with keeping a diary on this 1gal tank but Im not sure if this crazy schedule of mine will permit any reliable updates :( although I am quite excited about how this little jar is going along.
<Ok; perhaps later>
You never answered my question about the bronze Cory. I am just curious about the overall eyesight of the species and whether its possible that this one is blind? (being unreactive to curious fingers again the glass etc)
<Yes, is possible... from environmental stress... the nutrient levels are likely sky high. I'd check Nitrate... as a window here>
Thanks again for reading!
Here's a couple of photos of the system and its inhabitants.
One of the trumpet snails, see if you can  spot the ghost shrimp!
crazy plant needs pruning
The little guy is taking one of his rare breaks
A week ago
<Thanks for sharing. BobF>
Re: Eyesight of Corydoras and other advice     4/11/12

My goodness, fast reply as usual!
Thanks for the heads up on the nitrates, I've read somewhere that plants absorb nitrates slower than ammonia.
<Ah yes; for the most part, this is so... and not widely understood>
 Didn't pay it much heed since I believed that the excessive amount of plants will nuke all ammonia.
<Mmm, no; not necessarily the case>
 will get the water tested soon (at the LFS)  and update you guys with the readings :) Thanks for the advice! maybe the little tank is in need for a water change!
<"When in doubt, water changes". B>

Yes, a glass jar; sealed

Re: Eyesight of Corydoras and other advice, 1 gal....     4/17/12
Dear WWM crew,
Hi again!
Im writing back to update on the water parameters.  Nitrates seems good! This is going to be a long email with lots of new questions, so I'll apologise in advance :( Feel free to tell me off for any existing information in WWM I've missed.
Now, I went to chain store giant Pet*** for a free water test. The guy working there immediately confronted me by saying the water i bottled from my tank an hour ago was too old. He claimed that it has "sterilised" , off filtration too long and all test results therefore will be void.
<Is best tested "fresh"... transporting can change make-up>
Discounting the fact that he was rude and that I told him I had no filter or aeration and made him test it anyway, is there any truth to what he said?
I've never heard of this despite having read excessively on cycling, water param.s and what not. I would believe him if the water was several days old, but an hour seems too short. I couldn't find anything on Google (maybe not searching for the right terms), so I am putting the burden of another (perhaps amateur) question on you guys.
Anyway, back to the water parameters, the pet store guy wouldn't tell me some real numbers
<? why I wonder>
This is the summary he gave me:
PH is between 7.2-7.4,
Ammonia & Nitrites 0
Nitrates "low"
water is "pretty hard". (I have 3 sea shells in tank)
(I've decided after this ordeal that I'm going to order my own test kit today.)
<Ah good>
I saw a second ghost shrimp moult with no problems so would I be correct to say that the previous dead ghostie didn't get enough iodide as opposed to water param.s toxicity?
<Could be an influence>
 I read that they can be fed sushi Nori for nutrients,
<Mmm, dried Porphyra actually has very little nutritive value>
 is there a particular method for feeding them this? I have search extensively on the web for this and opinions seems varied. Some say to drop it straight in whilst others recommend a good soak before feeding it to the shrimps. The Nori I have does seem to have a bit of sodium content.
<Ah yes... processing>
Next I think I need some good old stocking advice. I added RCS into the tank and there hasn't been any bullying amongst the two species. (Yay! Although I must say these new shrimps are a HUGE 1in+) A couple of juvies and fry also came with some moss and are amazingly still uneaten.
Today Im going to drop a berried ghost shrimp in and see if the system has enough to feed the nauplii.
Im starting to feel sorry for the Cory, he's doing well (almost too well) but very lonely. What do you think about adding a trio of Endler's (1M 2F) in his place?
<Try and see>
I was thinking that their tolerance for a variety temperatures will allow them to survive a NY summer and subsequently winter in my heated home. A craigslist ad is selling endler "black bars". Is this a hybrid or just a variety?
<Likely the latter; but perhaps both>
In order to maintain a stable population in the 1 gallon, I am hoping that the Endler's will eat shrimp fries and vice versa (shrimps will eat endler fries.) With what seems to be a sufficient amount of algae and copepods in the tank, what are the possibilities of this happening?
<More likely that the system will crash, the livebearers go first>
One last question before I stop harassing you guys ( Sorry!) I have been wondering about where and how iron occurs naturally in nature as plant nutrition.
 I am looking to prevent any possibilities of an Fe deficiency in the system by ensuring that its integral in the system...I'm not sure if it's possible, but I'm aiming to wean the tank off all external influences (except for light).
<Can be done...>
I'm having so much fun with this experiment, it's such a peaceful ecosystem, and I've spent hours staring into it in awe at the natural interactions of all creatures within ( and falling asleep doing so) It's so much like a living snow globe, very magical...
Sorry for the torturous read! Thank you for your time and wonderful insight.
All the best
<And you, BobF>

Stocking an Eclipse 12, FW choices, choosing     3/25/12
I'm trying to decide on a stocking list for my Eclipse 12 system.
<Very hard to keep small volumes optimized, stable. Oh! I see, this is freshwater, not marine>>
 I did a lot of research...unfortunately, too much research! I now have several stocking lists that I can't decide between. I was wondering if you guys could help, seeing as you've probably kept a lot of these fish. Before I continue, my tapwater parameters are:
gH: 6
kH: 7
ph: 8.0
ammonia: .25 ppm
<Toxic. Don't introduce life here till 0.0>

I have not tested it for nitrite or nitrate.
The qualities I'm looking for in the fish are interesting behavior, interactivity (both amongst themselves and with their owners), personability, intelligence, hardiness and ability to adapt to my water parameters. I am also rather fond of pair bonding fish and fish that care for their young, as well as fish with interesting territorial displays.
Anyway, the socking lists are:
1. Six sparkling gouramis and possibly a giant African filter shrimp
<Mmm, not these gouramis... your pH is too high; prefer 6.0-7.0>
2. A trio (1 male, 2 females) of honey gouramis and a "dwarf red" blue gularis (I think this will be okay, since they occupy different water levels and apparently the "dwarf red" variety is smaller and less aggressive than some of the others... Off topic, but I recall reading something where blue gularis were compared to Oscars)
<Mmm, well... not really compatible w/ small Colisa>
3. Apistogramma cacatuoides, agassizi, or borellii (I am a little worried about nitrate sensitivity though...I know not to feed to much and will be keeping a planted tank...but even so, I keep thinking that they'll suddenly drop dead one day because I forgot to change the water that week or something...)
<A pair of dwarf cichlids would be nice here... not really active though>
4. One male Betta and five dwarf chain loaches (not sure if this is a little overstocked...?)
<I'd stick w/ three>
5. A pair or group of Florida Flagfish (I have no idea if this is even okay, actually...I can't find that much on Killies in general)
<Jordanella would do fine w/ the water quality, but are territorial...>
6. Possibly another cichlid besides Apistos or shellies, though I don't know of any that would fit in my tank
...I think that's it. As you can see, I am WAY too indecisive...
Thank you for your time.
<Best for you to keep searching. Have you read Neale's piece here:
and the linked files above? Bob Fenner>
Re: Stocking an Eclipse 12   3/25/12

Hello again!
It's my tapwater that has .25 ppm ammonia, so I can't really wait until it reaches 0.0...
<Ahh, yes you can... See WWM, the Freshwater SubWeb re>

 I'm using Prime water conditioner and plan on growing plants, so I thought that was enough... Or do I need an R/O system?
How well do peat moss tablets work for lowering the ph?
<Moderately at best... again posted, gone over on the site.>
I'd considered it, but I'm not too sure if I should try it?
<Up to you. I wouldn't>
 I've also heard about filtering water through peat before introducing it to the tank. I just don't know if my kH is too high for this...
Also, out of curiosity, what is the behavior of blue gularis like?
 Are they personable, aware of their surroundings? I'm asking because I think someone compared them to Oscars, and another person likened killifish to Bettas...I'm really curious now!
Or would an American Flagfish be more cichlid-like?
I know their breeding behavior is more like cichlids than other killifish.
It's also variable, which to me is interesting from an ethological perspective and may suggest some degree of intelligence.
Which dwarf cichlids would work in my tank, and would sparkling gouramis be more interesting? If it's dwarf cichlids, what would be the best way to stock them? A pair or a harem? In this small volume I'd think a pair would be better... And what genera should I be looking at? Are there any that naturally pair bond?
I'm very fond of Bolivian rams but I know I don't have the room... If it weren't for the college's stupid limit on gallons...Gah!
Thanks, hope I'm not bugging you...
<Write back after searching, reading. BobF>
Re: Stocking an Eclipse 12    3/25/12

Just a quick question. You said to check "freshwater subweb re"...which I assume is the freshwater section... I tried searching, but I can't find...whatever I'm supposed to be looking for here... Maybe I'm doing something wrong... What am I looking for, specifically?
<Umm... re Ammonia: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm
scroll down to the yellow pane>
Also, in regards to blue gularis, I was referring more to pet like behavior than compatibility...tried Googling and searching the site, but all the info I could find seemed to be on aggression, compatibility...
<This is it... not compatible... either them or something else... B>
Re: Stocking an Eclipse 12    3/26/12

Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. I feel like an idiot now. If my nose wasn't attached to my face I swear I'd never be able to find it.
<Mmm, really?>
So water conditioner is pretty much useless then?
<Mmm, does what it's intended to do; nothing more>
At least that's what I understood from some of the FAQs...
When you say to aerate the water for a week, what exactly does that entail?
<Just setting the water aside for room storage in a chemically inert container really>
Do I need any fancy equipment, or will just a bucket do?
<Just the last>
Would an RO/DI system work just as well to remove ammonia and chloramines?
<Actually, better... but you still will want, need some mineral content... will have to (re) add>
I'm thinking of getting one anyway since it would come in handy in the future, if not now.
Thanks, as always
<Cheers, BobF>
Re: Stocking an Eclipse 12    3/26/12

Thanks for the info, Bob. I think I'll go with an RO unit, especially if I can find one at a decent price...I'll probably do plenty of moving around in the foreseeable future, so if I want to keep any longer lived fish, matching them to the local water chemistry is probably impractical, at best... Not to mention that Olympia has several water supplies, and I may get water from different places at different times of the year, and... Is this normal in cities? It's a pity, since the water is nice and soft
(between 3 and 6 dh)...
<Mmm, then it wouldn't be much a task to just add alkalinity... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsoftness.htm
and the linked files at top>
I'm actually more worried about the water chemistry changes, at this point.
At any rate, I was wondering if you know anything about the company called "Pure Water Club"? They have an RO/DI system for sale for $64, but I've read that people have had some problems with the membranes, so I'm not sure if it's actually a good deal and I was hoping to get a second opinion. I searched the name on your site, but didn't come up with anything.
<Read for now... use the search tool, indices on WWM... B>
Re: Stocking an Eclipse 12    3/28/12

I feel like a jerk...I didn't mean to ask anything that had already been answered, or anything, or...whatever I did... I actually do look at your site during my free time, so...
What level of alkalinity are you suggesting here?
<? Depends on the livestock selected mostly... but there are intermediate/good values... as archived>
 Of the hard water fishes that I can find which I like, I'm afraid the few which I know can fit into an eclipse 12 have certain traits that make them less than ideal...
Is there a small, non- shell dwelling Rift Lake cichlid which would do well as a single "wet pet" in my tank size?
<There are a few species, yes>
Such as one that needs slightly more space than a pair than it does alone?
<? I'd have more than one>
I'd prefer a more interactive one.
At any rate, I'm planning to test my water again, this time after letting it sit out for a week. I'm also trying to figure out how to get hold of someone who can tell me which well(s)/spring(s) the schools receives water from.
<Welcome. B>
Re: Stocking an Eclipse 12   3/29/12

Thanks again for helping.
Hmm...I seem to be getting more decisive instead of less...too many books, videos...I'll have this tank stocked in, oh, say, about five years.
<Take your time>
Anyway, I've changed my ideals for a tank a little bit to more community oriented, though I would still like to keep at least one favorite... So, I'm going to do some more research. Hopefully I can find out more about the college's water parameters as well, and my own water needs to finish aging fir a second test, so I'm holding off on a final decision until those two things can get done. Just two more questions about stocking:
Some Kuhli loaches (3 or 5), 1-3 labyrinth fish (Betta, honey Gourami) and a group of small schooling/shoaling fish (black neons, just for example...or perhaps small barbs, which may work with plakats/smaragdina/imbellis/honeys?) would be a nice display... But I though I think they could potentially get along with proper planning, this is probably too high a bioload. My filtration is 6x the volume, so I suppose adding a second filter and performing large frequent water changes may be adequate... Any ideas/opinions on this?
<Could work... again, you need to find out re these species water quality preferences>
Second, would a peacock blenny work in an single-specimen 11.2 gallon open topped tank with the dimensions 36"L X 9"W X 8"H?
Many thanks.
<Welcome. B>
Re: Stocking an Eclipse 12   4/1/12

I know I said the last questions were my last, but I need some advice really quick. I just tested my ph after a week of letting the water sit for a week, and the reading was 8.2.
<About what we have for tap in San Diego>
Meanwhile, the gH is at 5 degrees/ 89.5 ppm. The latter was, I suspect, due to a mistake on my part when I first tested as it is rather difficult for me to get uniform drops. I managed to do so this time, however.
I suspect that the water at college is likely similar.
This means, on the plus side, that the water (the ph, at least) is fairly stable. However, since most fish seem to appear to prefer either soft and basic or hard and alkaline water, I am now at a complete loss as to what to do.
<Mmm, just use, understand this as hard, alkaline really>
Immediately before testing I had been considering just putting a Betta in and then perhaps adding a shoal of small fish once the tank had become more established (with the understanding that I could return them if it didn't work out), but now I'm not even sure that I can have a Betta. According to seriouslyfish.com, my hardness is at the minimum of their tolerance level and my ph is well above it.
<The Betta (splendens) will be fine>
I'm really at a loss as to what to do at this point. Seriously considering R/O again because my parameters combined with the unfortunate limits that have been placed on my tank size, along with the unfortunate lack of freezers in the freshman dorms, seem to be making it impossible to actually find a fish that I like which will actually survive. Help!!
-Is about to just give up on her current tank and build the one she mentioned a while ago for a peacock blenny in the hopes that a brackish fish may work out a bit better, even though she has absolutely no DIY experience whatsoever
<This would work as well. B>
Re: Stocking an Eclipse 12   4/1/12

Thank you for the swift reply. You've helped me so much! Thank you!
Will Pseudomugil furcatus work well with the Betta? I figure keeping the temperatures around 78~80-ish degrees will satisfy both species…
<Pseudomugil furcatus and most other Pseudomugil species come from fast-flowing streams. While somewhat tolerant in terms of temperature (24-26 C/75-79 F is about right for most) they do need lots of oxygen and a definite current. Obviously, this makes them incompatible with Betta splendens.>
I just need to make sure my water isn't too alkaline and that they aren't fin nippers.
<Pseudomugil spp. are not nippy, but males are feisty at times, and it's important to keep them in a good-sized group, at least 6 specimens, ideally more females than males.>
Perhaps I could mix them with other Pseudomugil spp?  don't mean I'd put them all in -- I'd much rather have one or two interesting shoals than a bunch of small fish that can't even exercise their natural behavior properly -- but I'd like to make sure that if I do put two different species in, there won't be any problems. I'm thinking some combination of P furcatus, cyanodorsalis, or gertrudae would be nice, or just one of the three.
<Can mix Pseudomugil species, but allow at least 6 specimens per species, and assuming water chemistry and temperature is acceptable for the species concerned.>
What numbers are these three species naturally found in in the wild, and are any of them likely to fin nip?
Thanks again!
<Let's cut to the chase here Maggie: Betta splendens is best kept on its own, and in a very small aquarium, that's your only option. If you buy a Betta, don't expect to keep it with tankmates. Even in 10, 12 gallons your options are limited, but relatively inactive, bottom-dwellers like Kuhli Loaches and Corydoras sterbai (a "warm water" Corydoras species) are your best bets. Dwarf Frogs can work too. But that's about it. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Stocking an Eclipse 12 (channeling RMF - "read, don't write")   4/1/12

Hmm... I think for my tank size and temperature, Corydoras leucomelas or Pangio cuneovirgata would work quite well, I think... If it weren't for the issues with ph…
<I agree; both these species will be okay at middling to warm tropical conditions. While the Corydoras should do okay in hard water, this species is a blackwater species and more finicky about water chemistry than the various farmed species like Corydoras aeneus.>
Okay, so I guess it's a single Betta or killifish, maybe a Gularis... Or a Betta sorority?
<This is where Bob F would ask "What WWM isn't…?" The possible combinations of fish possible in 12 gallons is huge, and you'd be better off reading a book about common community fish and seeing what they all need than repeatedly sending messages about this-or-that combination. Here's the bottom line Maggie: Bettas are single-species, single-specimen fish. End of story. We don't recommend you keep them with tankmates, though as mentioned before, if the water isn't too hard or alkaline (i.e., around 2-15 degrees dH, pH 6.5-7.5) you can keep them with peaceful bottom dwellers that tolerate warm water, such as Corydoras sterbai. But really, keep a community tank or keep a Betta -- choose one option. Killifish are much the same, with most Aphyosemion and Epiplatys-type things kept in single-species set-ups. Most want coolish tropical conditions where the water is either soft or slightly hard, and because of their very specific needs and often aggressive personality, few, if any, are community fish (at least, not for casual aquarists).>
Alternately, how big a school of Pseudomugil could I keep? Say, P furcatus and/or gertrudae? From what I've seen they are truly entertaining fish, though a bit sensitive…
<Yes. But if you have the right water chemistry for the species in question, they're lovely fish.>
Still worried about my water parameters...would they do alright in them?
<Yes. All they want is an aquarium of the right size with plenty of water current, lots of oxygen, and the right water chemistry.>
Um... ARE there any combinations of midwater shoaling fish and a single "personality" fish that I could keep?
<Not with a Betta.>
Still in the eclipse 12, same water parameters... My water seems to like making things difficult… I really don't think honey gouramis would work in my tank? Would still have the same problem with compatible schooling fish, anyway…
<Read; don't write:
Plenty here at WWM about choosing aquarium fish for hard water conditions.>
Perhaps I should wait until I move into an apartment to try and keep a community tank, so I don't have to worry about size limits... But I'll have the same issues with parameters... Is RO really that expensive to use? Or did you recommend against it because of the issues with water parameters for beginners (not sure if that makes sense...)? Might try using it in the future when I get more experience if that's the case... Though it should just be chemistry and math, it can't be that bad...(<-- famous last words)
<Again, read, don't write:
Using a mix of RO water (or rainwater) and tap water isn't hard, but you do need to understand what you're doing.>
Um, sorry I keep bugging you! Really!
<Glad to be of help, Maggie, but we've given all the advice we can really. It's up to you now to use what you've learned to make your own choices. The possible options for this tank are huge, but you can narrow things down by looking at what each fish demands in terms of space, temperature, water chemistry, water current and social behaviour. Cheers, Neale.>

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