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FAQs on the Tetragonopterine/Tetra Fishes

Related Articles: Tetragonopterines, Characoids/Tetras & Relatives,

Related FAQs:

How small can I go? 12/3/10
Hey gang, looking for help picking a freshwater fish. I would like to set up a tank of schooling predators, active, swarming, shiny, greedy little fish. The challenge that I'm setting for myself is a using a very small
tank. Probably a salt water style Nano tank, (primarily for aesthetic reasons), I'm thinking 14-20 gallons. Can you recommend such a fish? I have already ruled out Exodon paradoxus as probably to big (am I wrong?).
Thanks for being awesome
<Your best bet would be Serpae Tetras. These have a true "feeding frenzy" behaviour which is why they can create such mayhem in community tanks. Keep at least eight specimens, and preferably one per gallon of water, with 15 gallons being the minimum tank size. These fish are insanely nippy sometimes, and will bit chunks out of each other at feeding time. They were the first fish I ever kept, and in part the subject of my first ever TFH Magazine article on ten fish aquarists shouldn't keep. But I suspect you'll find them just the thing. They're hardy, nicely coloured, and look amazing in tanks with lots of Java moss and Java ferns, which shouldn't be hard to do in a small tank. Exodon paradoxus is a great fish, but you do need much
more than 20 gallons for them, realistically, 55 gallons would be about right for a school of ten, which is the smallest number at which they won't eat each other. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: How small can I go? 12/9/10

Thanks man, very helpful. My LFS guy, offered Aphyocharax paraguayensis as a solution as well. Do you know anything about them? Seems to be little info.
As always thanks very much.
Warm regards,
<Hello Rob. Aphyocharax paraguayensis isn't much traded, particularly when compared to the very popular (and hardy) Bloodfin Tetra, Aphyocharax anisitsi. Compared to the common Bloodfin, Aphyocharax paraguayensis is a little over half the size (3-4 cm) but otherwise pretty similar in terms of care and personality. It's a peaceful schooling fish, but nippy, so best kept with species able to avoid fin-nippers (i.e., not angels, fancy guppies, Bettas, Corydoras, etc.). Water chemistry should be soft to
moderately hard, acidic to neutral, and the water turnover rate should be fairly brisk as these are active swimmers, so aim for turnover rates from 4-6 times the volume of the tank per hour. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Where did these babies come from? 11/4/10
Good afternoon Neale, just thought I would send you some pictures of those beautiful Diamond Tetra's in their 125 gal. They are growing up and I believe they are spectacular with their long flowing fins and sparkle.
Thank you so much for all your help back in July, it was very much appreciated. Hope your having a wonderful day. Karen
<Hello Karen. Some very nice pictures there! Definitely one of the nicest tetra species, and an under-appreciated gem. Cheers, Neale.>

Attacked female guppy... Serpae Tetras 2/5/10
Hello, I have a 30 gallon tank with a large variety of fish. I have to female guppies who are always swimming around untill recently they have been hiding In the temple for a few days. This morning I was looking for them and one was finally out and I shook the temple to check on the other one. He came out but his fancy tail Is almost all the way chewed off..
Could this be from the other female because I don't have any males? The only new fish I have Introduced them to are three white clouds, Three tetra Longfin seep, and three tetra bloodfins. Are any of these to aggressive for
the guppies?
<What's with the bizarre use of capitalised "I" all over the place? Is this some new thing teenagers do to annoy people? In any case, the Serpae tetras are almost certainly to blame here. Serpae tetras are notorious fin nippers. The fact you're keeping both Minnows, Serpae and Bloodfin tetras in groups of less than 6 specimens makes things even worse. Out of frustration, any one of these species could go rogue. Do read on the needs of fish prior to purchase. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: attacked female guppy -- 2/5/10
Ok thank you.. My spell check must have made the caps. The people at Petco said three of each would be fine.
<Ignorance on their part, and a reminder why you should read about a fish before buying it.>
Do you recommend getting rid of the guppies or getting more Serpae tetras?
I noticed there are a few red eyes nipped also.
<Serpae tetras will nip everything given the chance, including each other (long-finned versions usually look very raggedy). So while colourful and extremely hardy, I find them rather useless fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Re Rosy Tetra Following - Please Help (RMF, any better guesses?)<<Mmm, no>> 11/28/09
Hi again,
<Hello Chris,>
Please see photo of my rosy tetra, attached. As a follow up to my last email (below), I'd been having concerns about my Rosy Tetras. Since then I've been watching and have seen no bullying, the three have been hanging out together and eating well, though still their colouring was lighter than usual.
<Usually a bad sign with these fish. Like a lot of South American tetras, Rosy Tetras have colours that can change with mood and health.>
Last night all 3 seemed okay, all ate and were swimming fine. This morning one was dead, with a thick white band on its body. I looked at my other two and am upset to find that a second looks like he is in bad shape. He has a white band as well (see photo). It is also protruding but that is hard to tell in the photo. He is swimming but didn't eat today.
<Likely sick.>
I am also starting to see what looks like the start of a white patch on my third though not as advanced. He is eating and swimming fine. My other fish are showing no signs of this thankfully.
<May be specific to the Rosy Tetras, e.g., a virus or protozoan parasite. A parallel could be made with Pleistophora hyphessobryconis, what we call Neon Tetra Disease although it can affect related small characins as well.>
I have a 4 gallon quarantine...should I move both fish to it using cycled water and filter medium, and if so, is there anything you can suggest I do to help them (temperature, medication?).
<If this is something analogous to Pleistophora hyphessobryconis, there's no real cure beyond removing (and euthanising) sick fish to prevent cross-infection. Typically Pleistophora hyphessobryconis works its way through all the Neons (or whatever) in the system, and then dies out without harming unrelated fish (catfish, livebearers, etc.).>
Any idea what this is? And should I move both of the tetras (concerned about bullying in such close quarters by the healthier one).
<I'd destroy any sick fish that aren't feeding; they're unlikely to get better.
I do weekly water changes, Nitrite and Ammonia are 0 and Nitrates are between 8 and 10. As below, it is a 20 gallon tank.
Thanks so much! Chris
P.S. One thing I noticed is that my tank temperature has gone from the usual 78 to 75, though I would have thought this might help since they like cooler water. I am trying to regulate the temperature now, as this fluctuation has never happened before.
<Can't see relatively small temperature changes like this causing problems.
Sorry can't offer anything more helpful. Cheers, Neale.>

Follow up - It's wide-spread now - Please Help 12/2/09
Hi Neale/Crew:
Well, things have gone from bad to worse. Since writing the email below on Saturday, I've lost all 3 of my Rosy Tetras but it doesn't stop there.
<Oh dear. This really does sound like some type of highly contagious pathogen akin to Pleistophora hyphessobryconis.>
When I came home yesterday one of my red phantom tetras seemed to have pop eye in his right eye, just starting. I watched every fish closely last night and everyone ate and was full of energy, even him.
When I came home tonight I went to check on the red phantom with pop eye and found another red phantom had died (had no pop eye, no visible symptoms). He had appeared 100% normal last night. I was then shocked to
also find a dead swordtail - again, 100% normal and pushing his way around to get food last night as usual - very active and nothing unusual on his body.
<Oh dear.>
Now two of the four remaining tetras appears to have pop eye. The other two seem okay. I have two remaining black skirt tetras that appear okay.
<Oddly, Pleistophora hyphessobryconis doesn't affect all tetras, even while it *can* infect distantly related fish such as Angels and Goldfish. So you can get some very odd situations were Cardinal tetras don't get Pleistophora hyphessobryconis, but Neons do. It may well be that your Black Widows are resistant, unlike the Rosy tetras. I'm not 100% sure that you're dealing with Pleistophora hyphessobryconis -- though the loss of colours, swelling, and then death are consistent -- but there may be some other, highly contagious Sporozoan at work here.>
Six Cory catfish appear fine, one (Elegans) is appearing sluggish tonight.
My Farlowella and 5 little Oto cats seem okay.
<I would be surprised if your catfish succumb to the same thing, but as stated above, distantly related species have been infected with Pleistophora hyphessobryconis even though it's normally considered a disease of Neons. That said, I've found Corydoras elegans to be one of the more delicate species in its genus.>
I did my weekly water change last night because I was concerned about the pop eye, tested water levels an hour later and they are still great.
Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrates around 8. That is constant for my tank.
Water temperature did not change, and I used chlorine remover in the water as always.
It hit me that a while ago I introduced 2 elegans Corys to my tank. One was lethargic from the get-go, the other was very active but died two days later. I had assumed at the time they died from the stress of travel. I think what I've learned is a very painful lesson in not quarantining, unless there is something else in my water that I should test for. I also introduced a plant about two weeks ago but not sure if that can cause problems?
<Right... this may well be the issue. My experience of Corydoras elegans was not dissimilar, having "rescued" two lonely looking specimens sitting in a tank at my local garden centre. A few days after buying them, they were both dead. I do wonder if this species is a host for some type of microbe that, under certain circumstances, can cause problems. I will add though that even though they shared a tank with some Peppered Corydoras, those Corydoras remained perfectly healthy; indeed, I still have them and every year they present me with another batch of baby catfish. So whatever it is that Corydoras elegans may or may not carry, it doesn't necessarily affect other catfish. As you say, quarantining is always important.>
Please help...I know that I will likely loose more fish by tomorrow if not sooner. Should I medicate the tank, and if so with what? I am very concerned that medication will hurt or kill my catfish (Corys and Farlowella).
<So far as I know, Sporozoans are very difficult to cure. Your best bet is to remove any infected fish on sight, and humanely destroy them. Done ruthlessly, this can sometimes stop the cycle of reinfection.>
Thanks as always for any help you can provide - I am at a loss.
<These sorts of infections are rare but always frustrating. I can't begin to tell you how many Neons I've lost (or seen others lose) because of Pleistophora hyphessobryconis. For all my (supposed) skills at fishkeeping, Neons are the one species I've never been able to maintain. In other words, usually what happens is you let the infection burn itself out, removing any infected fish and adopting a wait-and-see approach towards the others.
Typically, the fish that survive are resistant, so no medicating is required. It's debatable whether the pathogen can remain dormant in a tank with no suitable hosts, and if it can, for how long. But I'd tend to err on the side of caution and not add any more specimens of any species that succumbed in the past.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Follow up - It's wide-spread now - Please Help 12/2/09
Sorry, a bit more info if this will help.
<Fire away.>
I checked PH just now and it is right where it has always been (in the "ideal" range).
<Which is? For most community fish, around 7 to 7.5 is the ideal. Below pH 7.5, biological filtration works less effectively, and below pH 6.0 it doesn't work at all. So I tend to recommend people keep the pH just above
7, even in situations where acid-loving species are being kept *unless* acidic pH levels are critical to their health (as with Ram cichlids for example).>
I don't know what else to test - everything is fine. I think my Elegans is okay, as he is active now. I might have caught him during a rest.
My two red phantoms definitely have pop eye but are active. I have noticed the one who had pop eye last night seems to have it a bit worse today.
<Would isolate these in another tank, and realistically, euthanise them.>
I've just examined every single fish and there is not a single symptom I can see. No loss of colour, fins are not clamped or torn, no white spots, no fungus. Nothing is visible other than the two with pop eye. All are active and eating.
<For Pleistophora, and perhaps other Sporozoans, the main transmission mode is when healthy fish peck at weak/dead fish, so it's important to isolate sick fish from the healthy ones.>
That is also how it was last night which is why I'm shocked that my sword and tetra, who appeared in perfect condition and were active and feeding were dead today.
I should also mention that none of my fish was dead for very long, in fact most of them that had died in a breeding trap.
<Would not use a trap. When isolating these fish, you absolutely should isolate them: another tank, and with nothing moving between this tank and the display tank. Euthanasia is often more practical.>
If one looked bad in the evening I would place him in the trap so the others couldn't consume the body in the event he died overnight. I had hoped this precaution would prevent any further contamination.
<It won't; circulation of water through the trap into the tank will allow pathogens to spread.>
Finally, my tank is well established and I have had no real problems with water quality or fish loss in the 2+ years it has been running.
I hope this additional can help you help me! Thanks again for your thoughts.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Follow up - It's wide-spread now - Please Help 12/2/09
Hi Neale,
Thanks very much for the prompt response.
<Not a problem.>
As expected, when I checked the tank first thing this morning I could barely tell apart the 4 remaining red phantoms from the 2 black skirted because all have lost all colour. They are essentially transparent now. I have moved them to another tank.
<Sad news.>
I've noticed that the tail of my remaining sword has a tiny little bit of raggedness on the tip (barely visible) which wasn't visible last night so I'm watching him closely.
<Do so; while I'd be surprised if he caught the same pathogen as the tetras, it's not impossible. The symptom you describe sounds more like physical damage, or possibly Finrot, though this latter isn't common in well run tanks.>
Otherwise he was happily devouring a catfish pellet this morning and was active.
Thankfully all Corys, the Farlowella and the Oto cats seem great, in fact they seem to be enjoying the new-found space.
<Also good news.>
The only positive in this is that the fish seem to be succumbing very quickly - it doesn't appear to be a slow decline so hopefully they aren't suffering too much.
<This is actually a typical characteristic of Sporozoan infections: by the time symptoms are visible, the fish is days away from death.>
One question - should I be doing 10% water changes more frequently than once/week to try to remove the pathogens, or keep to the weekly schedule?
<You aren't going to "dilute" the pathogens, so for the sake of simplicity, I'd stick with the usual 25% water changes per week.>
Thanks again, Neale!
<Sorry I can't offer anything more helpful. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Follow up - It's wide-spread now - Please Help
Thanks again, Neale.
Even though the news isn't great, your support is very helpful. I'll focus now on hoping the remaining fish survive.
<Good luck with it! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Follow up - It's wide-spread now - Please Help 12/3/09
Hi Neale/Crew:
I am probably taking a shot in the dark here but I'll ask anyway, regarding my ongoing saga of fish dying (see below and recent emails with Neale).
My six remaining tetras are still translucent with no colour whatsoever but they are eating and otherwise seem okay. They are in a separate tank. I don't hold out much hope but I see no signs of distress at the moment.
But I just witnessed something in my 20 gallon tank (which was the source of the significant fish loss recently - see past email thread). I have 5 Oto cats in that tank that have been there for roughly 4 weeks...not too long after I introduced them did I discovered the rosy tetras starting to decline.
I have never seen them bother with the other fish...however just now I put an algae wafer on the bottom and the Corys scurried over to eat. I saw two of the Otos also go to the wafer. Then one of the Otos tried to suction on to one of the Corys and was successful for a moment! He then tried to do the same with my sword who swam away. This is the first time I've ever seen one of the Otos interact with the other fish. The other fish seemed scared and went to hide.
<Unfortunately, this is very common behaviour. I have seen it myself, and I've mentioned it repeatedly here at WWM. The problem is that Otocinclus view the mucous on the flanks of fish as potential food. Whether they do this only when starving, or do it regardless, is not clear to me. But slow moving fish are targets, and this is one reason I keep telling people to shy away from Otocinclus, despite the sales pitch that they're "ideal small algae eaters". They are nothing of the sort!>
Wondering if this behaviour was just competition over the algae tablet...or is it possibly that my fish have been dying because of this?
<It can cause physical damage, and that should be obvious. I my case, the poor Awaous flavus goby had its flanks torn up, and a bacterial infection set in similar to Finrot.>
I know that there can be confusion between certain algae eaters, some being more aggressive than others, but I didn't expect that from Otos and hope they weren't the cause of my fish loss!
<I wouldn't expect Otocinclus to parasitise tetras.>
Again, a shot in the dark, I know, but thought I would ask.
Thanks again!
<Cheers, Neale.>

What is it ? 11/27/09
Hi guys,
<Lesley... you've sent this post three times here, each w/ more than 10 megs of pix... We ask that folks limit these files to a few hundred Kbytes....>
Lesley from Scotland here, its been a while since I was in touch, my planted community tank now nearly 4yrs is doing great!
My daughter has a small tank now and we purchased some Endler's. I have a male in my community tank and one in my daughters along with what I thought was a female. They are very hard to come a cross the females and I thought what a stroke of luck that this wee female was swimming around with all the males so we took her home.
After looking on line she looks a bit different to the ones that I have seen on the web she is dark in colour with a neon red speckle on the rear end of her body, is she an Endler? Sorry for the bad photos but she is such a flighty little fish.
<These images are too blurry to be of any use. Bob Fenner>

what is it, Characiform 11/28/09
Lesley from Scotland here again,
Sorry about the influx of repeated mails, anyway I have taken a better picture. Can you help identify this wee fishy, she was swimming around in our local garden centre with a whole load of male Endler's. I assumed she was a female, but she looks a lot different to the pictures on the net.
Thanks for all your assistance once again.
<Hello Lesley. The fish looks to be Hemigrammus hyanuary, or something very similar. Small, harmless schooling fish from South America; adaptable, but don't keep in hard water. Now, please do note that *again* you sent along big photos, 5 MB in total. Our e-mail server bounces back e-mail once the
account reaches 10 MB in total, and that means that messages like yours can cause other peoples' messages to be bounced back to them. That's clearly not fair. We do very explicitly ask for photos around 500 KB in size. If that means you have to set aside another 10 seconds from your life to resize the image in iPhoto or whatever, consider that the "coin of the realm" around these parts. Actually, what it's about is politeness: it's what we ask, and it's what we need to be able to help everyone, not just those people who don't care to read the rules. Hope that this clarifies things. Cheers, Neale.>

Are there such a thing as Serpae tetra subspecies? 05/25/09
Hi all,
Firstly thanks for all the help with the SAP, plus the website is amazing! I just picked up another Serpae tetra today (I miscounted the last time and
only had 11) so the total is now up to 12. This new tetra looks identical to the other 11 tetras in the school--except s/he is lacking the black dot located behind the eye. At first I thought it was stress-related but the fish has adapted well and is eating... but no spot. Is there such a thing as subspecies?
<The "subspecies" concept does indeed exist, humans for example being a subspecies of Homo sapiens, Homo sapiens compared with Neanderthal Man, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.>
The 11 Serpaes look like this:
And the new Serpae looks like this:
<The problem here is that what the industry calls "Serpae Tetras" can be any one of multiple closely related species in the genus Hyphessobrycon.
While Hyphessobrycon eques is probably the most commonly traded member of the Serpae Tetra Species Complex, other species of Hyphessobrycon may be traded periodically as well. Even within Hyphessobrycon eques there is substantial variation between geographical populations, and artificial varieties further muddy the waters. The absence of the black spot above the shoulder (called a humeral spot) could easily be explained by any of these reasons. This variation has probably meant that what people report when keeping "Serpae Tetras" has been very variable over the years. True Serpae Tetras -- Hyphessobrycon eques -- are noted for being aggressive feeders and have a feeding frenzy behaviour very similar to that of large, predatory characins such as Piranhas and Exodon paradoxus. They are also distinctly nippy, and will take bites at slow-moving fish such as Corydoras, Platies, Angelfish, Guppies and so on. Personally, I do not recommend them as community fish at all. In fact they were my first ever tropical fish, and the species with which I learned not to trust without verification anything the pet show owner said! After I added some Angelfish and Gouramis to my tank, I was shocked to see the carnage, and from that point onwards have been much more critical about the information casually

Sexing Neon Tetras 8/16/06 Hola to all, I want a female neon tetra but how do I know it is a girl? Thanks, Anonymous <Not easily done... there are folks who claim there is a color difference twixt the sexes of Paracheirodon innesi... but about the only way I've been able to tell is when they're large-enough and the females egg-laden... Bob Fenner>

Re: How many Neons would live healthy and happy in a ten (10) gallon tank, - 04/19/2006 with proper filtration and a heater. Tank is fully cycled too. Don't want to overload. <You can probably do 1 per gallon...they are tiny fish and like to school :), IanB>

Platy & Guppy Questions... and Neons in the mix 2/22/06 I'm new to the hobby, but your site has been quite helpful. I have a couple of questions about the health of my fish and I hope you can help. I have a 10 gallon tank this is well filtered, heated to about 79 F, and planted as my main tank and a 2.5 gallon hospital tank. I have 7 guppies, 2 male and 5 females; 3 Platies and 13 platy fry that are 2 days old and doing very well; 3 neon tetras, a Chinese algae eater and 2 bamboo shrimp. I know I have a bit too many, but water quality seems to be pretty good and I test it at least every other day and I have another 10 gallon being shipped. When I first brought the Platies home, one had a white rectangular wound on her back so she went straight to the hospital tank where she is now, and gave birth 2 days ago, and the white stuff has spread around her a little, but its not spotted like Ick is and appears to have some trouble swimming in the main tank. Also in the hospital tank is one of the Neons who has some gill trouble - loss of gills or the cover, <Happens> but it appears to be slowly returning to a more pink color and one female guppy who has gotten progressively worse, she has some raised scales, large white growths. One of the guppies in the main tank also has a few scales that appear almost like a shed skin coming off, but they don't appear to be getting any worse. None of the other fish seem to have any trouble, but I'm not sure what to do about the fish in the hospital tank or the one guppy with the "shedding" in the main tank. Any help or advice you can offer me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. Arlie Hubbard <I would separate (when you get the new ten gallon) the Neons, read re their water quality (softer, acidic, warmer) and the livebearers... and keep their environments to their liking... This is all that is needed here. Oh... and keep an eye on this Algae Eater... often trouble with other fishes. Bob Fenner>

Dying neon tetras 02-05-06 Help! two weeks ago I did a complete change out of my 10 gallon tank, saving off half the water and rinsing the new gravel and furnishings well and added a bubbler. <Better to limit such changes to one quarter if at all possible> The tank is inhabited by 5 neon tetras, 5 harlequins and 1 Pleco. <Too small a tank for the last> the water I added was conditioned by Aquafresh (or something like that) <At least they'll have minty breath> and the original water was replaced as well. for two weeks everything was fine, <Only apparently> but yesterday one of the Neons became bloated and started swimming sideways. I removed it from the tank and put it in another container and it was dead by morning. Today, I've noticed another neon started to exhibit the same symptoms. The harlequins seem to be just fine. I noticed a rust colored deposit building up on the new furnishings. what is this deposit and what is happening to my Neons? any advice you can give would be splendid! thanks, Chris <The Neons don't "like" your water... or this much change this fast... Perhaps your system is "re-cycling"... also much harder on small characins than minnows... See WWM, fishbase.org re their water preferences. Bob Fenner>

Disease Of Neon Tetra - 11/07/2005 Bob: <Actually, Crewmember Sabrina with you tonight.> Great site. Just found it - will come back OFTEN. <Excellent! Glad to hear of its use to you.> Need help now, though. One of my neon tetras is acting very erratically. It is swimming, head pointed down at a 45-50 degree angle, in quick jerky motions. I think the stomach is also slightly bloated. All other tetras are doing fine. Any ideas????? <Many.... And most prominently, Mycobacteriosis.... often referred to as "neon tetra disease" or "Rainbowfish disease" for these fishes' apparent propensity for contracting it.> I have 29 gallon planted tank, 12 Neons, 6 Glo-light tetras, 3 Corys, 1 Mongolian algae eater, <.... a 'Mongolian' algae eater? That's a new common name to me.> <<So new as to be UNcommon! <giggle>. Marina>> 1 beta, 2 guppies. I just added the guppies (to replace two that died), and two of the Corys (again, to replace some that died). <You might want to consider using a quarantine system for new livestock....> pH is in the 6.6-6.8 range, temp is 76, ammonia and nitrite are both zero. I do 20% water changes once every one to two weeks. <Really, there are far too many possibilities to pin it down on this much info.... But I would absolutely quarantine this fish in a separate system for fear of it passing something nasty along to your other fishes.> Thank you, thank you. <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Keeping Discus and Tetras In Tap Water 11/7/05 Hi! I have a 44 gal tank project. I am planning to place a mated pair of discus with a dozen of Hemigrammus bleheri (red nose) and a few Cory cats. It's not for breeding, just display. There will be automated water changes replacing 25% of the water twice a week. Now I don't want to play with water parameters in this tank and I know people that keep discus successfully in local tap water (hardness 10, ph 7.5). My question is: Can I keep successfully Hemigrammus bleheri (red nose tetra) with those parameters (?): -TEMPERATURE 82-83F (28C) -Ph 7.5 -Hardness 10 Thanks! Dominique < If the discus are tank raised/bred then they will do better than wild discus. Rummy nose tetras are being bred in Asia and these too have been found to better at handling harder water than their wild counterparts. With bi-weekly water changes they should do OK.-Chuck> <<When working the aquatic trade I always found these to be among the hardiest of freshwater tetras, as well as being quite forgiving with pH parameters (as long as there are no large shifts in pH). They also always made for a great display. Marina>>

Mystery Tetra - 08/04/2005 Hello, <Hi, Lynn! Sabrina sleuthing with you today....> You guys seem to be my last hope. I've been to Fishbase, Googled the web and searched your site extensively. I found a fish when I was at one of the local Fish stores, and I decided to come home and research the fish first. There was nothing on the tank other than the common name, and all the fish people were up to their elbows in questions. The name of the fish is the Similan Tetra. On the tank was a note saying that although they look like Neons and cardinals, they are not the same fish. I assumed I would be able to track the fish down on Fishbase, so I didn't bother any of the fish store employees to get the Latin name (last time I do that). <Can you describe this fish in detail? I'm familiar with a great many tetras, and I've got a few friends that are tetra freaks, so among us, perhaps we can figure this out.> I would really appreciate any help you may be able to give me identifying what the Latin name is so I can do more research before I try to add it to my stocking list for my brand new Tetra tank. The fish store is 2 hours away, so I can't just run over there and ask. My tank is cycled and my quarantine tank will be up this weekend (sponge filter in the main, cycled tank) all per the guidelines y'all have on your website. <Excellent!> You guys are my only hope on identifying this Tetra! I've delayed stocking any fish for the last week while I tried to track down this fish. Thank you for any help you might be able to give me with this question. <None, without a very detailed description.... If you write back, put my name in the subject line.> ~Lynn <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Mystery Tetra - II - 08/07/2005 Sabrina, <Hello again, Lynn!> Sorry for not describing the fish. It looked like a neon tetra, but with Blue and Green stripes (kind of blended together) instead of the red and blue. The ones they had were between a tank on Neons on the left and cardinals on the right. I don't know the ages of the fish, but the Neons were smaller and the cardinals were bigger than the Similans. The Similans were under an inch long maybe .75 inches or so. Other than that, they pretty much looked like neon tetras with green & blue bodies. <Mm, a number of possibilities, here; take a look at Paracheirodon simulans, the "green neon" tetra - http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=12394&genusname=Paracheirodon&speciesname=simulans . Also Boehlkea fredcochui - http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=12341&genusname=Boehlkea&speciesname=fredcochui . Be sure to do Google image searches on the Latin names. P. simulans' species name does indeed suggest it might be a match.> If I can figure out what this little guy is, and if he is compatible, I would like to house him in a 55 gal planted tank. I'm thinking about stocking Clown loaches (3 for snail control), <Any chance you would consider a smaller species of loach? I find that Botia striata are one of the most efficient snail eaters I've ever met - and they top out around a couple inches. Clowns are slow growers, but I've seen 'em well over a foot in length. Just something to consider.> Otos (6 - start with 8 with one or two heading over to the Betta Tank when it starts looking green), Corys (4- start with 7 because 3 will move over to the Beta tank in a month or two) false rummy-nose tetras (8), black neon tetras (8), neon tetras (8), and maybe these little green/blue mystery guys (8). <To be quite honest, I would assume these mystery fish are quite compatible and have similar care requirements. P. simulans should be a fine addition, if that is what they are. Worst case scenario? Take 'em back to the store if they don't work out. I normally do NOT advocate purchasing something you know next-to-nothing about, but when faced with a brand new fish I've never, ever seen in stores before, I often will start rearranging tanks so I'll have a quarantine for them. ;) > Thanks Sabrina for your help! <You bet! Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Neons vs. cardinals 7/21/05 Hello, wondering if I could get an opinion on these tetras. I'm planning on a 108 gal. community and want to have either neon tetras or cardinals as the main schooling species. What would be your recommendation with these fish for overall color, adaptability with other community fish and most of all hardiness? I know both require the same water conditions. That's it. Neons or cardinals? Appreciate any input on this subject?..........Regards, Craig P. <Mmm, am a big fan of both species, but will side with the Cardinals... for bigger size, greater longevity, relative hardiness. Bob Fenner>

Re: Neons vs. cardinals 7/22/05 Mr. Fenner thanks for your response and the cardinals sound good to me as well. I received a response from you on the Hagen lights for my tank last week; again Ty. I realized that your name was familiar and dug up one of my FAMA magazines from years past and found your article. Showed the e-mail I sent you to my son and then your picture and he was really impressed!! "Dad he's an expert", <Heeee!> were his words. He's 11. I've been in the hobby for about 10 years now and still enjoy it very much...... just ask my wife, lol. It's good to know expert advice is a click away.......... Thanks again. I live in the province of Newfoundland Canada and the hobby has really taken off here this past few years; both fresh and saltwater, but I find staff with any knowledge are few and far between. Anyway, I had to drop you this note to let you know, it's great to get advice from the "expert"..................... much regards.....Craig P. <Hmm, whenever I hear the term, I always think of "ex spurt"... as previously married and flow under pressure... Thank you, Bob Fenner> Neon tetra breeding 7/17/05 I am trying to breed my neon tetras (yes I know this is difficult but that's why I am trying). I have three tanks set up, one for my males, one for my females, and a breeding tank. I've done a lot of research, and have access to every scientific journal, but there is more I seek. I am curious as to your opinion of the best technique to sex neon's and in particular the 'candling' method where you shine light through them and look for ovaries (I have yet to try this myself). <There are slight coloring differences between the sexes... handling them, moving them to where a bright light can be shone behind is not recommended. The folks in the orient who breed this species just condition, time the spawnings...> Also, regarding water GH. For the right breeding conditions I need to get my water down to about 1-2 dGH. <Yes, the lower the better> I have yet to get below 3 dGH and I'm using RO water with 1tbsp/10 gal. salt added back <Leave the salt out> and tetra black water extract (We have pretty hard water in our area). I'm also using a phosphate free acid buffer to help with the pH which works very well. Any advice is appreciated. <The 3 dGH should not be a problem. What has been your difficulty thus far? Getting the fish to spawn? Raising the young, growing sufficient food? Bob Fenner> Jeramie Abel

Re: neon tetra breeding 7/18/05 Thanks for your quick reply. My difficulty thus far has mainly been with the dGH. In just about every literature I've read it suggests dGH of 1-2. But if you say 3 should work I will try. <Not much difference in the hardness between 2 and 3> Sexing them so I can separate them will be accomplished once my second tank is done cycling (still have high ammonia at this point... waiting for the bacteria to become established through fishless cycling). I have not tried any of the subsequent steps although I've had females become gravid, I just haven't tried to separate them into the breeding tank because it too has not been ready yet so if they have spawned, I have not paid much attention to it because I knew I could do nothing with the eggs and they would be eaten. Currently I have a gravid female who is hiding out in an ornament (covered stump that is pretty secluded) but I haven't seen any mating rituals, however I'm not sure I know exactly what to look for with Neons. <You will see... there is a discernible fixed action pattern of orientation, dance, release, separation...> My plan, should I see some behavior that is unmistakable, is to move the male and female to the breeding tank with a nice piece of java moss and turn out the lights. My conditions in the breeding tank are pH=6.4, temp=74, dGH=3-3.5, ammonia & nitrate =0, no gravel, and it has an established sponge filter. I plan to feed newly hatched brine shrimp at approximately 3 days old or when the yolk sacs are depleted but at this point I've yet to get the opportunity to try and raise any fry. Thanks for any advice. Jeramie Abel <Artemia are too big for a first food... do read re "Infusoria" culture... on the Net, in "old" aquarium books... Look for the name William T. Innes. Bob Fenner>

Sexing Gymnocorymbus To Bob F Hi Bob it's me Louis again. I wanted to know how to tell the gender between a white skirt tetra, if you can try to show a picture other websites make no sense. <At size, maturity, females are much larger, shinier... males darker, smaller with longer un-paired fins. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/tetragonopfaqs1.htm and search WWM, the Net under the names: Black Skirt Tetra, Gymnocorymbus ternetzi. Bob Fenner>

Dull Neons... Hi there, I was wondering if you could give me some advice on my neon tetras. Today I noticed that they are looking very dull in colour and not swimming about as much as they usually do, also one of them is bloated. I thought this could be neon tetra disease, do you think this is the case? If so, should I carry out euthanasia? < If the disease is only affecting one fish then I would get rid of it. If it looks like it is going to spread to the other fish then I would treat with Nitrofuranace of Myacin. Make sure you follow the directions on the package.-Chuck> Thanks Fran

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

Tiger Barbs and Black Neon Pregnant Questions Hello. I really enjoy reading your site and I can only marvel at the dedication (and politeness) of your crew in answering questions to help out people like us. I wrote because I have a question on breeding. I am trying to get my tiger barbs to breed. I do have a separate tank and tried to follow what I have read on various websites on how to breed them but nothing seems to be happening. Is it absolutely essential to separate the male and female? Is it ok to leave the males in the main tank, put the female in the breeding tank, and when she's ready, that's when I put the male in? How do I even know if she's pregnant or just fat? I am also concerned about the female being kept too long in the breeding tank. When I first placed her there, she looked miserable. When I added two companions, she perked up. I also have black neon tetras. I think they are females and they look like they are going to burst in their bellies. I am not sure if they are fat or pregnant, or if that is even possible since I don't have male black Neons. They eat fine and I feed only once or twice a day. Do I leave them like that? They swim fine but I'm not sure if it is healthy for them to look/be that fat or pregnant. < When tiger barbs get ready to breed the female will fatten up and the male will be paying lots of attention to her. If you see the two side by side making runs at bunches of plants then they are getting ready to breed. The Neons do a similar motion but don't make the runs at the plants. To get egg scatters to breed I feed the fish heavily with live food for about a week and then heat up the tank to 80 to 82 degrees F. I clean the filters and do a large 50% water change with soft to medium hard water. This usually gets them going but creates another problem. The eggs become scattered all over the tank and they now become a food source for the adults. To separate the eggs from the adults old timers lined the bottom of a bare breeding tank with marbles and allowed the eggs to fall between the pore of the marbles and then remove the parents from the tank. A coarse mesh suspended an inch or two off the bottom of the aquarium will do the same thing. It is nearly impossible to get the tiny fry out of an existing community aquarium. Females may become ripe with eggs without a male being present and will absorbed the eggs after awhile without spawning.-Chuck> Mei

STUPID NEON TETRA? I have 5 zebra Danio 5 neon tetra 2 Cherrie barbs and a Bloodfin tetra in a 10 gal. tank. But the one neon tetra stays with the female Cherry barb and darts through the school its supposed to be in breaking it up and returns to the female. Is this normal or is it just stupid. This has been occurring for 2 days now so please help. < Normally fish school together for protection. It could be that their is a dominant male tetra in the school chasing away a rival male. The rival male does not want to be left out because in the wild that usually means it will soon be somebody's lunch very soon. So it has probably tried to school with any fish that will tolerate it while trying to break up the other males happy harem.-chuck>

What this? Blackskirt The nice man at the pet shop told me this was a "Blue Widow", but it seems that he was the only person on the planet that knows this species by that name. He also seemed to think s/he was a great addition to my tank set up - but needless to say I'm beginning to doubt his word. What is it? S/he's no more than an inch and a half long, and flat like a Silver Dollar - and an awful lot prettier that my crummy picture suggests! <Actually a very nice pic... of a xanthic variety of a Black Skirt Tetra, Gymnocorymbus ternetzi... you can look these names up on the Net, Fishbase.org, WetWebMedia.com... a very nice aquarium species.> Superb website, by the way. An unbelievable wealth of information. Melinda <Thank you for being part of it. Bob Fenner>

Angel Finds Neons a Tasty Treat (4/22/04) Hello - I cannot thank you guys enough for the awesome website! <It's an honor to play a small part. Steve Allen here tonight.> I've had a planted 29 gallon freshwater tank running with only an Angel (about 4 inches) and a balloon bellied molly for quite a while. All of the other fish died of velvet and these two were the survivors. Today I decided that the tank could use some new inhabitants and I really wanted small schooling fish. I purchased a 3 pack of neon tetras and finished acclimating them about 2 hours ago. Unfortunately my 3 pack is now a 1 pack and my Angel fish now has a pot belly, so he got a very colorful snack. <Tasty too.> I really want to keep some sort of schooling fish in this fairly small tank. My question is if I buy more of the neon tetras will they have a better chance of survival in a bigger school (maybe 6-9 of them to create confusion) or am I just buying an expensive snack? <Number two. The Angel will pick them off one-by-one in that small tank.> Are there other small schooling freshwater fish that are better at escaping or a bit bigger so they wont fit in the angels mouth? <Not small ones. You could put maybe 4 or 5 somewhat larger tetras such as Lemon or Serpae. These ought to be OK, but since your Angel is already rather large, start out with near-adult size ones. Another possibility would be Golden or Cherry Barbs, but these could get a little too big. The angel will continue to grow somewhat bigger, so you need to be careful not to put too many other fish in there.> Thanks in advance for the advice :) <Hope this helps.>

Blind Cave Tetras and Algae Hello, love your site-- <Thanks for the kind words!> I'm planning a single species, blind cave tetras, 46 gal bowfront, and have a couple questions. What would be a good filtration system? I was considering using two Whisper 30-60 Advanced--the kind with the bio-sponges--or would I be better off with something else? <You may be able to get by with just one such filter. Two may offer too much flow for the tetras. You could certainly try it, and see how they do with the added water flow. My own personal preference in power filters is with Marineland Penguin and Emperor filters, but the Whisper will do quite well for you, too. Not to mention, the bonus of being able to remove carbon - the Marineland filters unfortunately do not offer that ability, unless you get creative with scissors.> Also, I say single species, but should I get something for algae control? <Well, that certainly depends on your tastes on lighting, in this case! The tetras don't need a huge amount of light for obvious reasons. Though, I don't see any problems with peaceful algae eaters, like Ancistrus Plecs or any of the various algae-eating shrimp. Lots of options for you. Sounds like a fun setup!> Thanks, Les <Sure thing. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Big Neon Tetra - Big Lack of Info help my neon tetra she got big eyes is something wrong. she looks full of eggs <If there's any way you can tell us more about your fish and setup, including information like water parameters (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH), tank size, what other fish the tetra is in with, how long you've had it, how often/how much you change water, we'll be better able to help you. As it is, the information you've sent us (big eyes, possibly distended belly) isn't a whole lot to go off of, and I really can't recommend a treatment without knowing more. The best I can do for now is suggest that you follow this link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm and read through any of the articles there pertaining you your fish, your system, etc. Please be sure to take a look at the FAQs linked to those articles, as well, as there is a great wealth of information stored here. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Tetra issues Hello, <Hi, Glenda - Sabrina here> I have a 10 gallon freshwater tank, submersible pump w/air filter. All levels are good. <Could you be a little more specific about water parameters? What are your readings for ammonia, pH, nitrite, and nitrate?> Temp is a steady 82'. Fish include 1) redeye tetra , 1) Bloodfin tetra, 1) fantail tetra and 1) nice orange tetra w/ black fins. I have had these fish for about 1 month now, do weekly water changes and vacuum the gravel. I do use aquarium salt in the water <I've learned not to assume this - so I'm going to just briefly mention, only add salt when you remove water and replace with new, never when just topping off - salt does not evaporate, and adding salt in the top off water will just add to the salt already in the tank> and feed granule Tetra Min 1 to 2 times per day depending on hunger. My problem is the little fantail tetra, she (or he) is now just sitting on the bottom most of the time (2 days now), eats okay but I have just noticed (what looks to me) string type feces that I have seen twice today. Is my little guy sick? <Hmm, could be.... do be certain that your ammonia and nitrite both check out at zero, do water changes if necessary to fix. But yes, this could be an illness of some sort, possibly internal parasites, possibly dropsy. Does the fish look bloated? Anything else amiss with him/her? I'd also like to mention, I don't know of 'fantail' tetras.... can't even find it in a Google search.... do you know any other common names for your fish?> What can I do for it? <If it is not related to environmental conditions (water quality), it may help to try feeding with Pepso food (made by Jungle), or perhaps try feeding a frozen (thawed) pea.... the former may help with internal illnesses, the latter is rumored to help with constipation> Also how can I tell if one of my guys is pregnant? <Well, first off, don't expect any young since you only have one of each species. But a female with eggs will be much more rounded in the belly - kind of "U" shaped when looking head-on. I'd also like to mention here that tetras are schooling fishes, and really ought to be kept with others of their own species. In larger tanks, many schools could be kept, but in a tank your size, I'd suggest to pick the two species you like best and get a couple more (three total) of those species, and find homes for the other two if you can (I know that would be difficult - it's easy to get attached, and I understand that - but do try to accommodate each species to the best of your abilities)> I 've grown to adore these little fish, and am fairly new dealing with aquariums. I do have a pond that has done very well, but the aquarium is a whole different situation. <Indeed.... Two separate worlds entirely, it seems, sometimes.> Thanks in advance, I am looking forward to your response. I've just spent the last two hours reading things on your website and found very much useful information. Sincerely, Glenda

Neons, Frogs, & Snails Hello to all at WWM, I have a few questions. First I have a 10g established tank with three neon's. I wanted more so I went to the pet shop and bought 3 more neon's, a blue mystery snail and 1 African dwarf frog. They assured me this would not overcrowd my tank (but they have given me bad advice in the past so I thought I would ask you guys) <This should be fine as long as you don't add anything else to the tank. Also make sure the tank is fully covered so your frog can't escape.> I am getting very conflicting info on the frog. They told me at the pet shop that it would eat fish flakes but what I've been able to find on the web suggests otherwise. I guess what I need to know is what's some really good food to feed this little guy. <This site http://allaboutfrogs.org/info/mypets/dwarfs.html has a lot of information and suggests frozen bloodworms as an excellent food for them.> They also suggested frozen brine shrimp when I asked about frozen treats for my neon's. Your site said these are junk food and when I asked if there was anything else that would be suitable for my neon's they said no. <As a treat once in a while brine shrimp will be fine, just don't count on it providing much nutrition. Frozen Daphnia is also small enough that your Neons should be able to eat it too.> Another question do I need to buy special food for the snail? <Nope, he'll eat stuff that's in the tank.> One last question, the new neon's I got are a lot bigger than my original ones. One of my original neon's is hiding out in the weeds. It has done this on and off since I have had it (about 3 months) and seems fine but just seems to be hiding more since I added the others. Do you think they could be bulling it since they are bigger? <The bigger one might be bullying it but probably not. The original one is probably just nervous and will come out more as he adapts to the new critters in his tank.> Thank You So Much for all your help. Amy <You're welcome! Ronni>

Help with my brackish water tank Bob <Amanda> I read your recommendations on plants for brackish water and I just wanted to see if what you thought about my situation... I recently introduced bumble bee gobies to my formerly VERY happy fresh water tank ... now after some research I am learning they need brackish water... <Yes> ok I don't want them to die... but the tank is doing so well ... I have some Japanese shrimp, vale, Sagittarius, and neon tetras... plus the new bumble bee's will everyone be ok with a little more salt? <Actually... most all, but not the Neons. I would put them in a system with softer, more acidic water... with no added salt. Bob Fenner> Thank you Amanda

Re: brackish water question... Here is my problem... I recently bought five bumble bee goby's even more recently I learned they need brackish water... (no one at the pet store said a thing) <Mmm, must be the same tank, Amanda> The tank they are in is my favorite - it is well planted with fast growing Val and Sagittarius... there are two Japanese shrimp and about ten neon tetras... will adding a small amount of salt for the bumble bee's harm the others? <Just the Neons> I am hesitant because the tank is so well balanced I never have to clean any algae ... just remove the Val when it starts to take over... Thank you so much for any ideas.... Amanda <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Re: neon problem Hello to all at WWM, <Good morning! Ronni here with you today.> I have a question about one of my Neons. I have 3 along with 3 mollies in a 10g tank I've had them about a month and so far everyone is still alive. Tank is finally cycled and water quality is good. My problem is one of my Neons has a colorless eye. I don't know if it has always been there or just happened. I hadn't noticed it before. It seems to be fine, playing, schooling, eating, and its color is good. From what I've read it doesn't sound like pop eye. The eye isn't swollen. I'm wondering if you know if this is just genetic or some sort of infection or what. Thank you so much for all of your help. <Is they eye cloudy? If so, it could be an injury of some sort. Keep watching him to see if it gets better or stay the same. If it gets worse, you'll need to isolate and medicate him.> Thanks, Amy <You're welcome! Ronni>

Black Widow Tetra Hello, <Greetings> Maybe you can help, <Will most certainly try!> We have a 55 gal tank with a few fish, among them we have 4 black widow tetras, one of them is getting "fat", so just in case we isolated the fish in a plastic floating tank designed so the eggs fall in the bottom and cannot be eaten. <I would venture the guess that this fish is just getting fat and is not actually pregnant. I have about 30 of these fish and certain ones remain fat all the time while others are fairly slim looking.> Here is the question, I read a lot of stuff about how long it takes the eggs to hatch, but what we want to know, is how long we have to wait for the female to lay the eggs? Or should we let her go w/the other fish, and if so, will they eat the eggs? <I would go ahead and let her back into the main tank. If you don't have plants in there, maybe add a few so that if she is going to lay eggs she has a place to do so.> Thank you for your help. Patricia <You're welcome. Ronni>

Black Skirt Tetras I have a 50 Gal. Freshwater I have had 3 black skirt tetra in the tank for about 5 months. They have started to turn gray because of age. The larger one lost half of its back fin about 6 days ago don't know why it also has a large belly. Why the large belly? Also just noticed one had a large black bump on its side. Can't figure that out any ideas? <Hard to tell without a picture, maybe pregnant, maybe sick, the bump could be a tumor or something similar.> Also one last Question I bought 3 smaller ones yesterday they all got along fine yesterday. But today the smaller ones are constantly like picking on the older ones mostly the bigger one with the big belly. They chase him all over the tank mostly up by his head. Any idea why they are doing this? <They could just be trying to establish dominance, or if the older one with the large belly is sick, they may be picking on him because he is weak.> I took the new ones out and put them in a breeder basket <I would test my water to make sure the parameters are good, and maybe add some more decorations the tank to provide hiding places for the fish that are being picked on. If you add the new fish back into the tank the beatings should stop in time. Best Regards, Gage>

Going To School Will cardinal tetras school with neon tetras? What other types of tetras will school with Neons? <Well- as far as schooling "with" the Neons, any tetras of similar size could join up. However, I have seen Neons school with Cardinal Tetras, Glowlight Tetras, and even Rasboras on a few occasions, so anything is possible. Usually, in my experience, anyways, the Neons seem to school with Neons, Glowlights with Glowlights, etc. Keep an eye on these little guys- their behavior is very interesting! Enjoy! Scott F.>

School's In Session Long story. I have a 5gal tank, for lack of expenses, though I have heard that 20gal is better. Last week, out of compassion or whatever, I tried to save some goldfish some people on my college campus were not treating right. Oops. Found out later that they are not good starter fish. Well they all died within a few days. I had not given the tank enough time to cycle. I was told that I could get a couple fish to put in here for starters. Three days ago I got one Serpae tetra and one black skirt tetra. The man at the pet shop said they were his favorites to use. Later that day, I found out online about the schooling fish, and that they need to be in groups of six minimum. What do I do? They seem healthy so far, active. <Well, I would give your tank a little more time to finish cycling, then you might want to add maybe two more of each. Not exactly a school, but small groups> I realized yesterday that I was overfeeding, so I have cut back to once a day, smaller pinch. Water is clear, but there is a smell, reminds me of urine. No other way to put it... Here are my questions. is the smell something bad? how do I get rid of it? <Well, if it smells like urine, it may not be a good thing. A healthy tank has an "earthy", pleasant smell, not an ammonia-like smell. What kind of filter are you using? If you are not already (and assuming your filter can accommodate it), try using some activated carbon. That will help remove discoloration and odor. And, of course, in a small tank, you should be diligent about regular water changes! Acquire some test kits: ammonia, nitrite, nitrate. By regular water testing, particularly in the early stages of your tank's existence, you can really get a handle for what's going on.> Would the two groups work good together, or do I need eventually to get a separate tank? <I think that they will work with diligent attention to maintenance, but you will eventually have to get a larger tank to accommodate these fish at full size. Maybe neon tetras would be a better choice for the long run?> To add fish, how big a tank do I need for a good number? <Maybe a 10 or 20 gallon tank. This would give you more flexibility> Don't have the gages yet, but will be getting them soon. Any help will be so appreciated. Thanks for everything. I've been reading and it's good info. Amy <Keep reading and learning! You're doing great! Scott F.>

My fish (Tetra color change) Hi My name is Krystal and I want to know about black skirts I have notice that their fins change colors. Why? <Black Skirt Tetras fins do become clear to glassy with age, growth... this is their genetic disposition... that is, their natural development. Perhaps by having part of their bodies transparent, it makes them harder for predators to detect. Bob Fenner>

"OSCAR" 08-2000 - 02-2002... rest in peace O.K. I'm crying about a fish.. My little red eye tetra (his name is Oscar) I've had since I started my tank died and I am just overwhelmingly sad.. I need to know if it was my fault.. I noticed he wasn't looking so hot the other day.. He wouldn't eat and he was not swimming well and God bless her, the head light tail light tetra (Ginger) was trying to help him by nudging him around the tank.. I started treating him with Melafix fix <a nice move... I like this tonic just fine> and by the time I got home tonight he was floating and barely breathing so I am euthanizing him now in the freezer. Before a couple of days ago he was one of my fastest fish.. Him and Ginger and my Tiger Barbs would chase each other all over the tank. I had had some fish disappearing and found out through my pet store that the catfish I had were the likely culprit, so they have been traded in.. I also got some great advice from y'all and have been trying to adhere to it.. Water conditions have not changed. Ammonia, non existent, ph 7.5, temp 78 20-40% water change every 2-4 weeks. I fed a diet of shrimp pellets, micro pellets, Tubifex and blood worms alternating and being careful not to overfeed.. I did get a nitrate tester on the advice of my pet store and it said my nitrates were high, but I called their advice line and they said that that is normal in a tank w/ biological filter and actually healthy and not to worry about it.. They said they are finding it is common in home aquariums.. He did look a little beat up. (bottom side of body somewhat red, so were gills.. Looked like some scales were missing) Could he have gotten in a fight w/ the catfish or the barbs? <possible, but old age is more likely. Most tetras only live a few years and you bought him as a young adult, no doubt... indeed two years is very good for some tetras> He did seem to chase the barbs a lot, but they seemed to get along.. Of course when he started swimming slow, one of the barbs nipped his fin. not bad though, just a little nick. He was a year and a half old and I read his life span should be five years. I'm really upset because he is one of my original fish.. Now I'm worried that the head light tail light tetra won't fair well, because they were always together. I have a 20 gal tank now w/a silver tip shark, three barbs, 2 common Plecos and a rhino Pleco a green Severum cichlid and the tetra and up until today Oscar, the red eye tetra *sniff* Do you think I have room for one more tetra to be the survivor's tank mate or does she need one? and why did Oscar die? *sniff* <honestly.. I don't think any tetras belong in your tank... the Severum and rhino Pleco grow to be monsters! You need to pick a theme for the tank and stick with it, my dear> Sorry for the long email.. Trying to avoid going to the freezer and disposing of his remains. Anyway, even though I'm bummed I love my aquarium. I love to just sit and watch it and want to make sure I take care of it.. I am sending two pictures if you want to see them.. <a lovely and fun little fish. May I suggest that if you are sensitive to such losses that you stick with cichlids like your Severums... they can easily live more than ten years! Kindly, Anthony>

Oscar 8-2000 to 02-2002 II Thank you so much.. Feeling much less emotional today. Perhaps not a good idea to send an email right after you've scooped the fish out of the tank *grin* I am going to take your advice.. I originally got my two tetras to see if I could care for a tank properly as they are pretty hard to kill.:) <indeed...lovely and hardy fishes, albeit naturally short lived> and have been moving up to more difficult fish.. I really like the fish I have now and think I may end up getting more barbs, couple of cichlids, my shark and my Plecos when I get a bigger tank. Does that sound good? <absolutely... as long a space allows> Of course I'll read and research each species before adding them <you do yourself and your charges a great service and respect in so> (learned my lesson on that the hard way!) Anyway thank all you guys for answering all my questions.. YOU ROCK!!! <a pleasure. Kindly, Anthony>

Sick black skirt tetra I have had a group of 5 black skirt tetras in my 37 gallon community for about 6 months. One of my tetras has developed some sort of growth (tumor maybe?) on it's tail. the tail itself is completely intact, but there is a growth, a couple mm in diameter, that is red with white spots and protrudes about 1 mm from each side of the fin. I am very confused about this as I have seen quite a few common fish diseases, and this seems to match none of them. At this time I have isolated the fish in a 2 gallon tank and am feeding antibacterial food. Do you have any ideas as to what this growth might be? <Good description. This may well be a tumor of some sort... could be a "worm" parasite like one of the many Trematodes of fishes... other possibilities of internal parasite groups... My best guess, perhaps a Lernaeid (crustacean) called "Anchorworm"... You might try "teasing" the area with a sharp forceps, needle with the fish underwater, light low, in a net... to see if the mass can be easily removed... then topically treat the area with a daub ("Q-tip") of antiseptic (the mercury-based ones for humans: mercurochrome, Merthiolate, Merbromin... will do). Bob Fenner> Ariel

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