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FAQs on Freshwater Livestocking 8

Related Articles: Stocking 5, 10 & 20 Gallon Freshwater Aquariums by Neale Monks, Freshwater Livestock by Neale Monks, Freshwater Livestock Selection by Bob Fenner, The Ethical Aquarist; Freshwater Fishes to Avoid by Judy Helfrich Acclimation of New Freshwater Livestock by Bob Fenner, Fishes, Amphibians, Turtles

Related FAQs: Mis-stocking issues (incompatibility behaviorally and/or environmentally), FW Livestock 1, FW Livestock 2, FW Livestock 3, FW Stocking 4, FW Livestocking 5, FW Livestocking 6, FW Livestocking 7, FW Livestocking 9, FW Livestocking 10, FW Livestocking 11, & Stocking Small Systems, & Freshwater Livestock SelectionCommunity Tank Livestocking,

Life is not fair (RMF, any comments on East Asian fishkeeping?) 11/8/2009
<Hello John,>
as usual, thank you so much for taking the time and making the effort to help us enthusiasts out. This time, I don't really have a question, but rather a fascinating case study.
I just got back from Taiwan, where my girlfriend's mother has been successfully keeping freshwater fish for a few years. As far as I can tell, she is breaking just about every rule in the book:
-She is keeping two gigantic angels, four goldfish (sic!), 1 platy, and four medium sized tetras in a 5G.
-The tank does not have a heater, the ambient temperature changes a lot (night/day, AC on/off)
<Double yikes!>
-She does not perform regular water changes, but instead once a month takes out all the fish, water, and scrubs the tank and everything in it top to bottom.
-To save money, she puts what looks like half a Scotch-Brite sponge into the filter chamber, which she replaces monthly.
<Ah, well, to be fair, I have done similar in my time... but still, a risky approach.>
In other words, she keeps completely incompatible species in a tiny tank with wildly fluctuating temperatures and completely kills her biological filtration every month.
<Indeed, would seem a fair summary.>
Yet, all fish seem unstressed and healthy.
<And some folks seem to thrive on cocaine... for a while at least.>
Her two angels and the tetras are over 2.5 years old, her gold fish over a year.
<Well, let's see the Angels get to a dozen years, and the Goldfish 30 years. Then we can say they've had a good life. But having said that, I see your point: by everything we've written about on this web site, these fish should have been dead within weeks of purchase. But they're not. So even if they don't reach a full lifespan, they're still doing better than I'd predict.>
I, in turn, have been keeping extremely nerdy habits since I re-entered the hobby 6 months ago (understocked 37g, compatible species bought at expensive LFS, quarantining for 4 weeks, testing water frequently and keeping perfect metrics), and yet it feels like it's been a constant battle (ich outbreak in the beginning, algae blooms, a hole in the head case etc).
<I understand your frustration.>
Recently, things have gotten a lot better, but I still wonder how this is possible: Are the fish that people buy in Taipei of much better quality (not to mention literally cost 1/10 of what I pay here in NYC)?
<Certainly an element of variation, yes. Let's suppose that the fish shops in Taipei maintain their fish in much the same way as your friend here. There's some survival of the fittest going on, and those fish that survive
long enough to be bought will have been the ones with the right genes to tolerate exposure to ammonia etc. On the other hand, such stores wouldn't be able to maintain anything like the range of species traded by kinder,
gentler retailers. Likewise, your friend here might have luck with Angels and Goldfish, but Discus? Or Pencilfish? Or Tanganyikan Shell-Dwellers?>
Is the water better?
<Water with a high carbonate hardness will resist pH changes for longer, and water with a high pH reduces the toxicity of ammonia and nitrite, so different water can produce different outcomes for the same set of "bad"
water quality conditions.>
Or is it just "one of those cases", like a chain smoker getting hit by a
car at age 95?
<Indeed, that's as good an explanation as any. Maybe even good Feng Shui?>
<Cheers, Neale.>
<<As John mentions, the quality of livestock IS much higher elsewhere... the industry in the U.S. is shipped about the worst... and the U.K. is not far behind, as regards fancy goldfish, most plants, many sources of marines... as these are "cheap" markets (i.e., other places pay more), and other countries are closer, indeed ARE the sources of much of the aquarium life folks employ (the ROC in this case produces all that are shown)... Add to this that their water quality is superior, a lack of poisonous sanitizer utilized, or the consequences of its treatment... BobF>>

New Aquarium + old aquarium questions 10/23/09
<Greetings Alan>
I just found your site. Thanks for all that you've put up on it.
<Pleased to meet you>
Here are my questions:
1 - I have a 20g (fully cycled, long kind) aquarium I am keep 6 diamond Neon Tetras, 3 Flame tetras and 3 Cobra Snakeskin Endler's in it. I want my fish as "happy" as possible, so I've been doing about 3 water changes /wk (25%), my ammonia/nitrites constantly register as 0 on my water tests! Would I be pushing(overstocking) it if I added another 3 flame tetras (and that would be it)?
<Mmm, no... actually, in terms of group behavior, in the case of these Hyphessobrycon Tetras, mis-behavior, it will be better to have them in the larger grouping>
2 - I've gotten bit with a bad case of MTS (multiple tank setup/syndrome), and will be setting up a 55g aquarium. I've decided that I will be stocking a Rainbow Shark (Epalzeorhynchos frenatum)... but don't know what else, I was wondering if it would be safe to put it with 3 pepper Cory cats (Corydoras paleatus), 6 zebra Danios... but that's as far as I've gotten (and yes I will be fishless cycling - would it work if I used canned tuna to help cycle it - when done I could easily siphon out the pieces...?) I've also read somewhere that Rainbows are territorial, so it is best to put them in last, unless this is totally off the wrong end I plan to do this.
Thanks :)
<Should be fine... the Cats are armored... and the Danios fast and smart. Cheers, Bob Fenner> 

55 gallon Tank...4 types of fish 10/19/09
I have a 55 gallon tank at home for my 16 month old little boy, ( he loves the "ishy's"). We have 1 fantail goldfish, 5 head and tail light Tetras, 2 Kissing Fish, and 2 Mollies (1 male Dalmatian and 1 female white molly).
<Quite the collection! For a variety of reasons, I don't recommend people keep Mollies in mixed community tanks. They often -- though admittedly not always -- require the addition of a small amount of salt to the water to stay healthy. While harmless to some fish, particularly Livebearers like Guppies, most other fish will be stressed by this, including soft water fish such as tetras. Do see here:
I've read on the page that mollies and goldfish shouldn't be in the same tank together.
<Not sure why specifically Mollies and Goldfish, as opposed to Goldfish and, say, tetras. But yes, there are good reasons why you wouldn't keep them together. Mollies need warmer water, ideally 25-30 degrees C/77-86 degrees F, and water that has some 3-9 grammes of marine salt mix/litre added.>
My question would be if I were to add one more female Molly to help dispel some of the stress on the lone female in the tank, will it cause problems for the other fish that are there?
<Not in itself, so.>
I've kept Mollies, Guppies and Neon Tetras together before, but never this combination. Thanks in advance for your help!
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Stocking for freshwater aq.  10/19/09
Dear All,
Could you please check my planned fish list. I have currently: 1 pictus catfish,
<Schooling species: groups of three or more please. Predatory; will eat anything that fits in their mouths.>
2 dwarf loaches,
<Intensely social species, groups of six or more please.>
6 Kuhli loaches, 1 female Betta and false SAE.
<Should be fine together.>
Have had them for about 2 years and would love to keep further. They haven't been sick or dying (knock the wood). I am about to start a new 35g tank, and have this list in my head, what do you think? 3 pictus catfish
(4 better???),
6 dwarf loaches,
6 Kuhli loaches, 2 female Bettas, 6 glass catfish, 1 false SAE, 2 platies.
<Two females; a male will harass a female, and two males will fight with each other. If you want mixed sex groups, keep one male per two or more female.>
The tank will be planted. My tap water is soft and pH 7.4.
<Platies do not do well in soft water. Like all livebearers, they are healthiest in hard water, and prone to Fungus/Finrot in soft water. Would leave Platies out of this mix, to be honest.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

New FW Tank, stkg. 10/14/09
Dear Crew, firstly a lot of praise for your site obviously. Your work is beyond value. So many fishy creatures must have avoided an unhappy life (or even worse death) thanks to your efforts.
<Thank you for your kind words.>
My question is regarding my proposed stocking. I am planning a 60 gallon corner tank. There is a small chance I will bite the bullet and go for a larger 85 gallon one, but 60 seems to sit best with the Mrs.
<Either is a good size.>
My rough plan for stocking is as follows:
6 oto catfish
<Tricky fish, and shouldn't be added until the tank is very mature, preferably 6 months old. The problem is that they're usually very underweight by the time they get to your home, and they have something like a 50/50 chance of conking out within a few weeks of purchase. Seriously.
They need a good tank with green algae (and that means bright light) on lots of solid surfaces such as plant leaves. To be honest, unless you have a desperate reason to keep them, you're better off with Cherry Shrimps and Nerite Snails for algae control, plus a Bristlenose (Ancistrus spp.) catfish if you wanted one.>
6 Corys of one species (panda's a favourite)
<Corydoras panda are a good but slightly more delicate than average Corydoras species. I'd recommend you review the temperature preferences of the genus. Most prefer cooler water, up to about 25 C, and only a few, notably Corydoras sterbai, do well in warmer tanks. So depending on the community fish you're keeping, you'll find your range of Corydoras options somewhat restricted.>
10 neon or cardinal tetras
<Again, these have different thermal preferences. Neons prefer somewhat cool water, around 24 C, while Cardinals need warmer water, around 27 C. So decide on the other fish, and choose between Neons or Cardinals as demanded.>
6 guppies
<Now, while wild Guppies are tolerant and thrive across a range of temperatures, Fancy Guppies are delicate and need warm water, around 26-30 C. So these will limit your tankmates, if you want the optimal chances of success anyway.>
+ mystery guests...
My questions are as follows:
If there a happy medium between the water qualities preferred by the Amazonians and the guppies?
<Not really. Guppies will not tolerate soft, acidic water. Neons and Cardinals will thrive in medium hard, slightly basic water: around pH 7.5, 10 degrees dH. Fancy Guppies will adapt to this fine, usually.>
The Mrs. would love a Siamese fighter, but I think that would be a bad idea with the guppies?
<Bettas generally don't mix well with other fish. Usually, their fins get nipped. Neons will nip them, for example. In a big tank with lots of floating plants, you could risk it, but I'd have a Plan B just in case.>
What else should I go for? I think I have space for a group of fishes in this tank and I am torn between: group of gouramis, group of dwarf cichlids, group of rainbowfish...Unless there is something even better suited out there?
<I have some basic thoughts on selecting fish here:
Do have a browse, and feel free to write back.>
I want a central focus for the tank, the real character.. which obviously brings me back to cichlids time and again, but I understand Rams are delicate,
<Mikrogeophagus ramirezi needs very warm, very soft water to do well, that is true. But the Bolivian Ram Mikrogeophagus altispinosus is an altogether more robust fish, and highly recommended for community tanks.>
Apistos may not do well in a grouping in this size tank, Kribs would be too aggressive and things like Firemouths are right out the question!
<Apistogramma cacatuoides is a reasonably robust species available in numerous colour forms. Well worth looking at. Another good species is the Keyhole Cichlid, and if you can get good quality specimens, Laetacara curviceps is a nice fish too. Certain killifish can make neat alternatives to cichlids; consider for example the Florida Flagfish.>
The tank will be mostly planted with fake plants and sand with a couple of live plants thrown in less for the look and more as foodstuff for the guests.
<Would highly recommend at least some live plants, if only because they help with algae control. Indian Fern and Amazon Frogbit are good floating plants, and bogwood roots with Anubias and Java ferns are easy, low maintenance plants to create some quick, long-living greenery. While pricier than cheap stem or bunch plants, they last for every and almost never fail.>
Any ideas?
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: New FW Tank, stkg. 10/14/09

Neale and the crew, thank you for you reply. Sage advice as always.
<Happy to help.>
So the Otos are out the window then judging by your comments. Shrimps and Bristlenose it is. How are Bristlenose with others of the same species? Is there any small Plec's that happily share tanks with their kin?
<Each Ancistrus will expect a cave of its own plus a 30 x 30 cm patch of territory. Provide that, and you're fine. Indeed, if you keep multiple specimens, there's a very good chance they'll breed. The fathers are extremely good guardians of the eggs and fry, and even in community tanks it isn't uncommon for a few of the fry to survive.>
Looking at the preferred water conditions you've put forward, i could mix Guppies and Cardinals in slightly hard water at 27 C?
This would then limit my choice of Corys. I'll check your site, but you've suggested Sterbai for higher temps...
<The species of choice for warm water tanks.>
If I went with either the Bolivian Ram or Cockatoo dwarf you've suggested how would they adapt to these water conditions?
<Both should do fine. While Bolivian Rams are unquestionably the more outgoing and easier to keep, Apistogramma cacatuoides is available in some many stunning colour forms, e.g., Apistogramma cacatuoides "Orange Flash" and Apistogramma cacatuoides "Triple Red", that it shouldn't be overlooked.
In the UK, shops like Wildwoods and Maidenhead Aquatics get these fish in fairly regularly.>
Of should I forget the guppies and just keep it soft water?
<Up to you. If you have soft water, then by all means concentrate on that and ignore the Guppies. You could, for example, add some Halfbeaks to the top of the tank if you wanted a livebearer and didn't mind their violent tendencies. Marble Hatchetfish are another good, if delicate, choice.>
Thanks again!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: New FW Tank, stkg.   10/15/09

Thank you once more for the advice!
<My pleasure.>
So, thanks to your suggestions I am now looking at a tank with the following inhabitants:
2 Bristlenose Plecs (is there an easy way to tell their sex so I can get 1m1f?)
<Easy to sex when mature. Males have longer tentacles on their faces, females have fewer/shorter tentacles. Juveniles identical. Maybe get a group, and remove excess specimens as they mature. They're a good community species, and shouldn't be difficult to rehome. That said, adults can be picked up from the better aquarium shops.>
6 Corys
10 Cardinal tetras
Apistos (how many do you think would be a good group for a 60 gallon corner tank?)
<Since this is a harem species, get multiple females per male. If you had lots of caves, you could probably keep two males and five females without problems. Coconut shells, halved, with a hole or two cut into them make ideal caves. Add some Java moss if you want them to look more natural; black cotton works fine for tying Java moss down to begin with. Anyway, you'll find each male Apistogramma will hold a territory about 30-45 cm in diameter, with its cave in the centre. There may be multiple female
territories in this area, but no males.>
Finally would there be room for some of the dwarf electric blue rainbow fish?
<Sure. Melanotaenia praecox. A lovely species, and a good value alternative to tetras and barbs. Doesn't like very soft water though. As with all Rainbows, males can be feisty, so keep equal numbers of females to males, ideally more females than males. Males are stronger coloured than the females (males more red, females more orange on the fins).>
Saw some today at the LFS and decided the photo's I'd seen hadn't done them justice. I think a fast moving school of maybe 5-6 of these would finish off the tank... How would they get on in your opinion with the slightly hard, 27 C water?
<Just fine.>
Last time I was in fish keeping I had a Malawi 'mob' and soft-coral reef nano. I'm sad to say I was somewhat snobby about what I saw as the "Fisher-price" tropical community fish, but by letting my Mrs. and daughter influence what goes into this tank it's actually opened my mind up to the wonders of colourful schools of fish... now all I want is fish that can be kept in good numbers!
<Much to be said in favour of your point of view. A big school of schooling fish can be remarkably entertaining. Consider keeping just one species in a big group instead of two in smaller groups. In a dark, planted tank at 60 gallons, you could easily keep 40 Cardinals for example, together with some Corydoras and Ancistrus, and a trio of Apistogramma, and the resulting South American "swamp" would look stunning. I'm fond of wild-type livebearers such as Limia nigrofasciata and Ameca splendens, and in big groups they are entirely different fish to the usual "couple of guppies" people add to their communities. You can watch the males display to the females or chase one another, you have a breeding population as well, so often different ages of fish. So while it's a different sort of pleasure to keeping boisterous Mbuna or colourful reef fish, it's a side of the hobby with a charm all its own. And if you can keep the family on-side, so much the better! Easier to justify spending the money, for one thing... One reason pufferfish remain popular I think is that they're such good fish for getting non-hobbyists engaged with the hobby. I know lots of people who couldn't care less about fish, but show them a pufferfish, and it's "Aw, so cute...">
At least as interesting to me now as the rough and tumble of the Mbuna playground, or the typically sparsely populated marine tank.. I think the whole planted/Amano movement has brought a lot of artistry back into the hobby.
<Yes it has. Many good books and magazine articles on this topic. I tend to be a bit low tech here, and choose plants that thrive in the conditions I have, but others can and do spend huge amounts of time (and money) on getting the gear needed to create a veritable Kew Gardens in their fish tank. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: New FW Tank   01/18/09
Thanks again!
<My pleasure.>
One final question, how would the Cory cats get on with the slightly hard water. I was under the impression they preferred soft. I wouldn't want to upset the little guys. Are there any cats that like water on the hard size that would be suitable?
<Corydoras thrive in slightly hard water. Most species do well between pH 6 and 8, 5-20 degrees dH. While I wouldn't keep Corydoras in a Rift Valley cichlid tank, they're otherwise very adaptable fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Rainbow Sharks and Tank Stocking  9/27/09
Hello Crew, hope all is well with you. I have a couple of questions, please. First, I have a 75 gallon fw currently stocked with 7 small to medium angels, 3 gold gouramis and 12 Cory cats. I wanted to know if I
could add 1 rainbow shark.
<Yes, though like all Shark Minnows, they are territorial and can be waspish.>
I had never seen one before until yesterday and was really fascinated with one that had a reddish head and tail along with a white body. I guess this is an albino?
<Yes; albino Rainbow Sharks are fairly commonly traded.>
Anyway I saw on compatibility charts that they were ok to have with my other inhabitants but wanted to check with you to make sure.
<Epalzeorhynchos frenatum is somewhat less aggressive than the more common Epalzeorhynchos bicolor, and makes a moderately good community tank fish so long as there are no other Shark Minnow-like fish in the tank (e.g., Loaches). Still, there are no 100% guarantees with any Shark Minnow, and some specimens (males, perhaps?) sometimes chase other fish too.>
The second question is this: As my angels get full grown and I do not add any more fish (with or without the shark) would you consider my tank to be overstocked at that point?
<Yes, you're probably at the limit. Seven adult Angels should get to about 10 cm/4 inches in length, but they can be territorial once they pair off.
Your tank is nice and big, so unless you were desperate to add anything else, I'd leave it the way it is.>
I always try to avoid that but just wanted to ask. I am using a Hagen AquaClear 110 and have a sand substrate. Thank you for your help.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Rainbow Sharks and Tank Stocking  9/27/09

Hi Neale, do you feel my tank is overstocked at this point or will be when the angels get grown?
<Probably not. Social behaviour will be more of an issue than physical size, but you have a big enough group of Angels that bullying of one specific individual shouldn't happen.>
Should I get rid of one I currently have or not get the shark?
<No; the bigger the group of Angels, the less chance the of bullying.>
Also, you mentioned the sharks chasing other fish if male? Is there a way I can sex them?
<Nothing reliable. On normally coloured Rainbow Sharks, the male is thinner than the female, and the black edge to the anal fin is more pronounced.>
Females might be more docile?
<I assume, but really, I'm not sure. This species is somewhat aggressive, but in a 75 gallon tank you should be fine.>
Thanks again.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Rainbow Sharks and Tank Stocking 9/29/2009

Thank you Neale, I do have one more question please about the shark.
<Fire away.>
Right now all my cories like to rest under a log whose middle is above the substrate a few inches because of the curve in the log. That is their favorite hangout.
<I see where we're going here...>
Do these sharks stake out their own territory or do they sometimes want to take away the resting spots of others?
<Shark Minnows will certainly claim at least one hiding place that they will defend against all comers.>
I don't want my cories to get hurt or killed. Thank you again.
<Provided you have enough hiding places to go around, particularly some small ones the Corydoras can use that are too small for the Shark Minnow, you should be okay in a 75 gallon tank. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Rainbow Sharks and Tank Stocking
Thank you again. Have a great day.
<I'm sure I will, James. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Rainbow Sharks and Tank Stocking 9/29/2009

Hey Neale, sorry to bother you with this again, but if the shark wants the place the cories use as their "territory" will the shark run them off and the cories find another place, or will the shark kill the cories?
<Ah, that's the $64,000 question! Corydoras seem to have no ability at all to avoid territories, which is why even Dwarf Cichlids can cause them so much harm. If you provide lots of caves, then with luck, the Corydoras simply won't encounter the Shark Minnow too often. In a 75 gallon tank, the Shark Minnow should be cruising around the middle level anyway. And as I said earlier, Rainbow Shark Minnows are much less bad tempered than Red-tailed Black Shark Minnows. But there are no guarantees. So, while I'd
happily gamble on this combination working, neither would I be surprised if I found the Corydoras being chased about a bit.>
<Cheers, Neale>
Re: Rainbow Sharks and Tank Stocking 9/30/09

Neale, please tell me what you would do if it were your tank. Thanks.
<I'd risk it! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Rainbow Sharks and Tank Stocking... grading into Pterophyllum stkg.  9/30/09

Thanks, and please tell me if I decided to get rid of a male and female gold Gourami I have if 8 angels would be too much in my 75 gallon along with 15 cories.
<You should be fine.>
I guess the cories do not matter much as to the number of angels though.
<Indeed; wouldn't keep fewer than 6 adult Angels. That's the "magic number" when it comes to keeping the peace -- once they pair off, the resident pair often become bullies and will harass other Angels in with them.>
Again, you always leave me feeling positive after you take the time to help me.
<Happy to help.>
It is good to know there are people around like you who devote their time to help others improve their aquarium keeping skills.
<Kind of you to say so.>
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Rainbow Sharks and Tank Stocking... grading into Pterophyllum stkg.  9/30/09

Thank you Neale, does that mean that I should get rid of 2 angels and only have 6 to avoid problems?
<Not necessarily. Provided you have 6 or more specimens, Angelfish school reasonably well; it's groups less than 6 that sometimes end up with a pair of bullies and a few frightened tankmates!>
Also, is it still OK to have that many angels (6 or 8) even if I keep the gouramis?
<Sure. A 75-gallon tank is pretty generous. Since domesticated (hybrid) Angels don't get as large as true Pterophyllum altum or Pterophyllum scalare, you're essentially housing a group of eight 10 cm/4 inch Angelfish in a 75 gallon tank, and that leaves plenty of space for a couple of Gouramis and a school of Corydoras.>
Thanks again,
<Cheers, Neale.>

What to add to a 37gallon FW aquarium?   8/28/09
I have a 37 gallon [24in (h) x 20in (w) x 18 (d)] freshwater tank that is just finishing cycling [NH3-0, NO2-0, NO3-5]. We live in an area with very hard water and the ph of the tank has consistently been around 8.2.
<Similar to the tap/mains water here in S. California... "liquid rock">
I've changed the water weekly- 10-15 gallons at a time- and added Stress Zyme and Stress Coat each time. It's currently stocked with 4 black skirted tetras, 7 zebra and assorted Danios, 1 neon tetra that was a stowaway with the Danios from the fish store, and a couple fake plants. The fish have all been in the tank since we began about one month ago and appear to be in good health, although one of the Danios has fins that get very red and he tends to swim around a bit manically at times.
<Par for them>
My question is: what do I add next? I've read in various places that I should have at least 5 black skirted tetras and at least 6 neon tetras.
Will this overstuff my tank?
<Mmm, no; will not... but I suggest some other hard, alkaline liking fish species rather than the Neons... Perhaps some other Danios, Rasboras, small Barbs, Platies....>
I originally wanted a Betta, but I'm worried about fin nipping and I'd rather keep my existing fish happy.
<Correct the other way about. Not a good mix with the Black Skirts>
What other fish would coexist happily with my current fish and current ph?
<There are many choices. I refer you to WWM's stocking section:
The first tray>
We are pretty limited for local fish stores in this area- there are 2, one being Wal-Mart which I'd rather avoid.
Barbara O.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: setting up tank and compatibility questions 8/27/09
Hi Neale,
<Hello Rose,>
I haven't written you for a few weeks, and figured it was time to drop you a line. My tanks are fully cycled now, finally.
<Good stuff!>
And, I'm still making an effort to get the fish appropriately placed between them. I think I need another tank, truthfully, to handle the fish that I have now - and make sure things aren't overstocked.
<Often the case, unfortunately. There are far too many wonderful fish in the trade, and few of us are ever able to keep all the species we want!>
For example - I had difficulties with the threadfin school (7 total - w 2 males) who were in the 30 gallon tank with a Boesemanni pair) - so I ended up putting the threadfins into the 12 gallon tank. In order to do this, I had to move the inhabitants of the 12 - so the Flame Gourami male got moved into the 20 gallon tank with the Betta sorority (with an extremely watchful eye). And the 2 serpae who I think I may soon have a new home for - are currently in the 30 gallon and don't seem to be bothering anyone except each other.
<It does help if the Serpae tetras are with other fast fish, and sometimes keeping them in bigger groups minimises aggression towards other species. But truth be told, they aren't a species I consider easy to house, and while beautiful, I'd always prefer to keep them alone, in a group, in a planted tank. Their colours work nicely against dark green.>
So the tanks inhabitants are as such:
12 gallon tank - threadfin only tank. - 7 of them. (some of them are still small - but I wonder if this is overstocked)
<Should be fine. If water quality is good, you might even add a two or three more. These aren't big, messy fish, and given a modicum of care, are fairly adaptable and easy to keep. Wild fish inhabit a very broad range of water chemistry and temperature values, and while active, they mostly hang around the edges of the planted parts of ponds and streams. A couple of decent clumps of, for example, Cryptocoryne or Java fern could create some nice vegetation for them to use as markers, the males "holding position" and displaying to the more gregarious females. Floating Indian fern would be another useful addition.>
20 gallon planted tank - 1 adult male flame Gourami, 4 Betta girls (2 still tiny), 3 cories, 3 zebra Otos.
<Plenty of space for everyone here.>
30 gallon planted tank - 1 juvie girl gold Gourami, 1 juvie girl pearl Gourami, 1 male king Betta (juvie), 2 Boesemanni (m/f) just beginning to show colors, 7 Neons, and 2 cardinal tetras.
<Again, doesn't sound overstocked at all. Upping the numbers of some of the schooling species probably wouldn't go amiss.>
my 5 gallon has 1 very happy half moon Betta.
<A nice size tank for a Betta.>
Now, I most concerned with the 30 gallon tank. Everyone right now gets along - but I suspect that those Neons and cardinals won't be very lucky when the gouramis become 'adult sized'.
<Usually, Gouramis leave small tetras alone, so I don't see any obvious problems on that score. The bigger deal is that Neons prefer cooler water (around 22-24 C) compared to Cardinals (26-28 C) so it's difficult to keep both of them happy in the same tank. While a middling 25 C should work, you're always running a risk doing that. In due course, you might think about setting up the 20 gallon at a cooler temperature, say 24 C, and the 30 gallon at the higher temperature, say 26 C, and running them thus.
Corydoras, Otocinclus and Neons would thrive at the lower temperature, while Gouramis and Bettas prefer the water temperature, as will Cardinals.
Rainbows should do equally well in either, so pick and choose as you see fit.>
As well, the Boesemanni seem to be happy enough as a pair, but aren't all rainbows meant to be in schools?
<Ideally, yes, groups of 5+ specimens are best. If you removed the Neons from the 30 gallon system, I'd expect you could add three more Melanotaenia Boesemanni without much fuss, particularly if filtration was robust.>
But then, I am suspecting that my 30 gallon will be considered grossly overstocked when all these fish mature and I don't want to add any others to the tank - unless I find another tank for those Neons and cardinals... (yes, I admit it - I'm already starting to look on the local craigslist for a new tank...)
<As I say, I don't really think Neons and Cardinals belong together. They come from entirely different habitats in the wild. Cardinals come from warmer, much more acidic (pH 4-6) very soft blackwater streams compared to Neons, which come from cooler, more neutral (pH 6-7) clear water streams.
Soft, slightly acidic water around 25 C should suit both well enough, but you'll not get the best from them, and surely much of the difficulty people having keeping these species alive is down to keeping them at sub-optimal temperatures.>
So the question remains - that if I can move those tiny community fish out - can the 30 gallon support a Boesemanni 'school'?
<Yes; provided the tank is around 1 metre/3 feet in length, you should be fine; adding a strong filter so there's some current for the fish to swim into makes a positive difference, too.>
Or is this tank too small for it? I've read that where larger fish are concerned that one can't go by the inch per gallon rule - is there another rule to follow for discerning tank stocking, then?
<I actually don't like the inch-per-gallon rule for a number of reasons, including the issue of size. It also ignores the surface area of the tank.
Because surface area limits how quickly oxygen gets into the water, a long, shallow tank of equal volume to a tall, narrow tank will always hold more fish. Anyway, if you visit my web site, there's a program called Fish Tank Tool (for Mac and Windows) that calculates stocking based on surface area for any aquarium, and allows you to choose between different sized fish.
Have a play with it, and see if it helps clear things up.
In practise, stocking tanks comes down to experience and experimentation.
But I'd say a 30 gallon tank with five Melanotaenia Boesemanni, a couple of Gouramis, a few female Bettas, and a small school of Cardinals should work fine, especially if you included a robust filter in the mix, one rated at 4-6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour.>
thanks in advance for all your advice and patience.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: setting up tank and compatibility questions 8/27/09
Oh Neale - you've opened up a huge can of worms now (at least in my head).
My tank isn't 3 feet, it's only 2.5 feet - dimensions are 30 inches wide, 12 inches wide, and 23 inches high.
<The issue here is that Melanotaenia Boesemanni gets pretty big, around three inches or so. While you may be okay, you might find they look a little cramped. The fish themselves probably won't mind too much, particularly if there's a good water current.>
My PH for the planted tanks is in the 7.2 -7.4 range. Oh... but I do have soft water... the API test is usually in the 3 - 4 drops range. The stick test shows it between 40 and 80.
<Should be fine for all your fishes; would be a bit too soft for Livebearers, Goldfish, and other such hard water loving fish.>
I have decent filtration, I have Eheim 2232 filters (which is designed for up to 35gal. tanks) on both the 30 and 20 gal. tanks.
<A very good filter, rated at 127 gallons/hour, and should work well on both tanks. On the 30 gallon, you have a turnover of about 4 times the tank per hour (127/30 = 4.2) and the 20 gallon tank is at 6 and a bit times per hour (127/20 = 6.35). For the smaller tank, you might want to use a spray bar to moderate the water flow a bit; some fish find turnover rates above 6 heavy going, particularly those fish that move slowly and have laterally compressed bodies, e.g., Angels, Gouramis, Bettas, that type of thing.>
I also have a Koralia nano running full time on the 30 gal for lower water circulation, but I've stopped using the other nano on the 20 gal because the Bettas are having issues with the heavy circulation that is coming from the addition of that new filter on their smaller tank.
<Indeed. A spray bar and floating plants (or bunches of plastic plants along the surface of the water) will help.>
So - the worry is that the Boesemanni (2 or 5?) won't be satisfied with my tall but thin tank,
<Would be best in a group of 5, regardless, to be honest.>
that the cardinals won't be happy with my high PH.
<Actually no big deal, a pH of 7.5 won't harm them in the least.>
- and that the Neons and their cold temp requirements are plain ol' pains
<Not really a pain: a cooler aquarium costs less to run, and lots of fish prefer such conditions: Danios, Red phantom tetras, most barbs, Corydoras, various cichlids such as Acaras, Loaches... lots of things do best around 22-25 C.>
the things I go through for 'free' fish that came with the fish tank. :)
I can't do downloading at work, but I'll check out your program, happily when I get home.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: setting up tank and compatibility questions 8/27/09
Thanks for the breakdown of my next shopping list.
<Happy to help.>
a spray bar (I'll go shopping for this one, tonight because my Bettas are showing some signs of stressing in swimming on one side of the tank)
<Very good.>
3 Boesemanni - 1 boy, 2 girls? (so that there's 3 girls, 2 boys in the tank)
4 cardinals - to make a 6 cardinal school
I'm wondering, since you said that the Neons would fit well with the cories and Otos, if they would suit to being moved into the 20 gal. planted tank.
<Yes, would do this.>
(inhabitants: 1 adult male flame Gourami, 4 Betta girls, 3 cories, 3 Otos)?
You'd said earlier that this tank wasn't overstocked - would adding 7 Neons throw it over the limit (if compatibility issues are ok)?
<Neons add so little to the loading of a mature aquarium you can (almost!) not worry about them when kept in small numbers. A 20-gallon tank with a good, mature filter should easily hold 10-12 Neons, 4-5 Corydoras, half a dozen Otocinclus, and still have space for some Cherry Shrimps and Nerite 33snails! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: setting up tank and compatibility questions 8/27/09
No luck at all finding an Eheim spray bar in all of Boston and surrounding suburbs. I even tried to find another brand's spray bar that would fit (one of the sale men recommended fluvial) - still nothing.
<Provided the spray bar has the right diameter, it should fit on the outlet pipe from any brand filter. I have a Fluval external canister filter spray bar attached to my Eheim 2217 canister filter.>
Shame, the rare occasion when I go for the instantaneous instead of 'online ordering' route - and I'm knocked to the dirt.
<Oh dear.>
Another sales man told me that it's a great filter and I can try to make my own.
<A spray bar is really just a rigid tube, blocked at one end, with small holes drilled every inch or so.>
So, now I have a lot of research to do, trying to figure out what the spray bar does, and how to go about making one that doesn't look ugly ...
But I began the process of changing my tanks around ... the Neons were caught and moved into the 20 gallon this morning. The Bettas don't know what to make of them, the flame Gourami seems to be ignoring them. The cories are happy for the company. And the Otos are as oblivious as ever.
<Very good.>
Until I find the spray bar, I decided to move the more stressed 'adult' Bettas (2) out of the 20 gallon and into 2 gallon bowls. Of course they're missing the space to swim - but I added some fresh floaters to the top of each bowl and am hoping that they'll chill until I get the 'current' issues resolved on the bigger tank.
<We'll see... A quick Google for "Eheim spray bar" and "Fluval spray bar" turned up a bunch of options in the US. My solution, using the "Spray Bar Kit for Fluval 104, 204, 304, 404" on a Classic Eheim filter is one option, and costs around $5.>
The 2 tiny Crowntails don't seem to be as effected by the current, and they are monitoring the flame's all encompassing travels as well as the new delegation of Neons in their exploration of the well planted tank bottom.
It may not be long before I decide to either give up the flame Gourami or make a new home for my Betta sorority. The flame doesn't chase after the girls, but when he sees them in front of him, he does try to corner and take nips at them. (He's rather a mean fish for all that he's pretty.) - I had received him (free) with those Neons, and serpae.
<You may find things settle down; often the males are aggressive initially, but once they perceive these new fish as being neither rivals nor potential mates, they may learn to ignore them.>
I admit it though - I do like the Neons quite a bit. Their streak of 'glowing bar' among the plants sure is a good addition to a tank.
The 30 gallon - it's such a lonely place without those Neons. My two remaining cardinals are so lost without them - sticking together like glue and swimming from one side to the other searching for their friends.
<Add more Cardinals.>
The Serpae are more aggressive and bickering with each other, now that the added little folks aren't there to confuse them. So, my trip to the pet store tonight will include shopping for the four cardinals first, with the hope that they will bring back the 'feel' of family that is suddenly lacking at the bottom half of the tank.
<Would up the number of Cardinals in the long term, perhaps 4 this weekend, and another 4 in a couple of weeks. The bigger the group, the more impressive they are. Cheers, Neale.>

10 gallon stocking question  8/12/09
Hi Crew,
I have an empty 10 gallon tanks and I decided to set it up as a tropical fish tank. I understand that 10 gallon tank not easy to stock and that's why I need your advice.
<It is indeed difficult to safely stock a 10 gallon tank.>
Currently my tank is going trough a fishless cycling (using flakes food).
My plan for stocking:
Group of cardinal tetra (7-8)
<Good choices.>
Few Corydoras (3-4)
<Yes, but specifically the smaller species. Corydoras hastatus and Corydoras habrosus are "mini" Corydoras that work extremely well in 10 gallon tanks. Keep a swarm of 6-8 specimens, and they'll be lively and outgoing.>
Few shrimps, probably amino (3-4)
<Would opt for Cherry shrimps. Smaller, easier to breed, and much prettier.>
Please give me an advice.
<Cheers, Neale.>

can you identify this species for me? Mis- over mix for a 10 gal. FW... guppy sys. loach sel.    8/10/09
I have recently started a new aquarium, it is a 10 gallon Hagen with the elite lighted canopy, as well as cyclegaurd multistage filtration system that comes as a boxed set from Hagen.
<Sorry to break this to you, but 10 gallon tanks have very limited potential for fishkeeping, and make a very, very bad first aquarium. Do please read here:
I've added an elite submersible 200w heater which keeps the tanks temperature at a constant 78 deg f. with little effort. in this tank i have 6 guppies, 2 are male and 4 are female,
<You may regret this choice. Guppies really need more space. The males are notoriously aggressive, and once the fish start breeding, the tank will get pretty busy. I'd consider Guppies choices for the 15 or 20 gallon tank, to be honest.>
and this loach that was sold to me as a "tiger loach" (not sure the Latin for it).
<Probably Botia striata, a semi-aggressive, schooling Loach. Should be kept in groups of at least three specimens, ideally 5 or more, and needs a tank three times the size of what you have, at minimum. Completely unsuitable for this aquarium. Do read here:
when trying to research care information for the loach, it seems that a "tiger loach" is a larger, different type than this. I've also read mixed opinions as to whether (s)he should be kept in a group of 3 or more, while
some people say that they can be kept alone.
<Singletons tend to be shy, jumpy, and essentially unhappy. So yes, they need to be kept in groups. On the other hand, they are semi-aggressive, and will spend much of their time chasing one another around. Like all loaches they need crystal clear, well oxygenated water that isn't too warm (around 24-25 C is ideal) and with a strong water current (which your Guppies won't appreciate). Loaches are normally kept with robust tankmates: barbs, rainbowfish, cichlids, catfish. They aren't good choices for mini-aquaria or alongside delicate, fancy tankmates.>
I've attached a photo to this email, and i would greatly appreciate any care tips that you could provide me with. Also, i should say that (s)he has a stone that provides him/her with a great hiding place, it is hollow on the bottom and placed directly into the stone at the bottom of my tank. Again, any tips you can give me are greatly appreciated. i would be more than happy to provide him/her with friends or anything to keep him/her happy.
<Save up for a bigger tank, my friend. What you have isn't going to work. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: can you identify this species for me? Botia from ayer  8/11/2009
yeah im getting a 100 gallon tank before the end of the month.
<That's a big tank!>
that way i can separate the male and female guppies, but i want a bigger population species tank of guppies and am using the loach to keep it clean.
<No fish "cleans" a tank. If you believe this, you need to do some more reading. What keeps your home clean? Is it the scavengers like rats and houseflies? No. It's plumbing, sewage, vacuum cleaners. Same here. What keeps a fish tank clean is the filter and regular water changes. Any algae on the front pane of glass is best removed with a sponge or scraper. Every animal you add to any aquarium makes it *dirtier*, not cleaner.>
from what you have said it seems that i should include a population of different bottom feeders in order to keep the tank clean.
<Didn't say this at all. Simply said that Botia striata is a semi-aggressive and gregarious species that needs to be kept in groups and in a fairly big tank.>
can you recommend any that mix well with a guppy population?
<Depends on the size of the tank. In smaller tanks, Cherry Shrimps and Nerite snails are ideal. They will pick up uneaten food and also happen to consume algae. They won't molest newborn fry. Best of all, they're tolerant of brackish water, so if you choose to add a little marine salt mix to the water (a gramme or two per litre can make all the difference with guppies) they won't mind. In bigger tanks, 20 gallons upwards, a school of Corydoras is a good choice. Six Corydoras paleatus or Corydoras aeneus will provide a
lively crew of bottom-swimming fish. They aren't algae-eaters. While they will eat leftover food, they don't "clean" tanks, and need regular feedings of catfish pellets.>
its hard to find definitive answers on the internet or at my local fish shop, where it seems that selling me a higher priced specimen is a priority.
<So read and learn yourself. Or else, e-mail us, outline things like water chemistry, aquarium size, and even what colours you'd like, and we'll come up with some suggestions.>
i intend to place the male guppies in the bigger tank, as they tend to have more vibrant colors and are therefore better "show" specimens. i also understand that a population of 6 guppies where 2 are male and the rest are female will result in a quick and large population of mixed genders,
<Yes, unless you add something predatory. Glassfish and Angelfish, for example, happily eat newborn Guppies, so can act as population control.>
so if i separate the males from the frys and place them in a larger tank i can maintain a fixed number of this species. as for the aggression of the males, i understand that they are mostly only aggressive towards long finned species, and will generally nip the fins and kill them (ie mollies),
<Not quite. Male Guppies are aggressive to one another because they need to fight for access to females. They harass the females too, because they always want to mate, whereas pregnant females don't want to mate at all.
Since females in aquaria are usually pregnant, you can see where the tension comes from. Floating plants help a lot, as will ensuring there are always more females than males.>
but as this is a species tank and the loach is considerably larger than the guppies ((s)he is about 3 inches long) im not very concerned. it seems (s)he is in control of the guppies.
<Loaches are gregarious.>
Are guppies really considered delicate?
<Fancy Guppies, yes. Wild Guppies, no, they're quite hardy.>
i understood them to be fairly hardy which is part of why i chose them for the first aquarium I've set up in about 18 years.
<Unfortunately, they have become much less hardy in those 18 years!>
BTW thanks for your help, but if you don't mind, could you reply at the end of my message instead of mixing it in?
<It's the "house style" I'm afraid.>
im still not sure I've read all you've said lol! TY!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: can you identify this species for me? Botia, stkg. FW  -- 08/11/09
so here's what i want, since i am getting the 100 gallon tank (yeah, its huge! and a great deal too!). i want to have as much color variation as possible (which is why i picked guppies to begin with),
<Guppies will probably disappoint. For one thing, they're far too small to look good in a 100 gallon tank unless you have dozens and dozens of them.
Now, if you get a bunch of varieties, they'll breed, and the results will be "feeder" Guppies, i.e., cross-breeds. I'd STRONGLY suggest you don't do this. Instead, look at the Rainbowfish family. There are lots of colours, and they don't normally breed in aquaria. They're long lived and a good size, from 10-15 cm in most cases. Two species are standouts: Melanotaenia boesemanni and Glossolepis incisus. Keep them in good numbers, and make sure to have equal numbers of males and females, and you'll have some lovely
blue/yellow and brick-red fish to start your community. Another choice might be a *single* variety of Swordtail. While you'd be stuck with one colour, these are big fish, 10-12 cm when full grown, and they are very active and fast-moving. Like Guppies, different varieties will cross-breed, but if you chose one variety you liked, you should end up with a self-maintaining population of these lovely fish.>
and several styles of fish, some round, some tall, some long (id even like to have an eel i think, but i don't know anything about them at all, was planning to research that when the time came)
<On the whole, few eels work well. The best is perhaps the Fire Eel, but it's a territorial predator and very delicate and prone to bacterial infections. Do see here:
but nothing that's overly aggressive, as i would like to breed wherever possible (the fish store i went to says they do buy privately bread fish as long as they can pick them up and inspect the tank they were born in to ensure healthy specimens).
<In big tanks, Malawian Cichlids can be worthwhile. Lots of colour options, very lively. Downsides? Prone to hybridising if you choose carelessly, and aggression between males can be severe, often to the point one fish kills off all potential rivals. Hybrids often dull blue or brown, and the quality of "cheap" Malawians in shops is dismal, so you do need to track down a decent breeder or online retailer.
however it seems now that where i shop they are more interested in a sale than a happy population of fish (else, i think they would have recommended these fish to go in this tank) so perhaps if i was to go with a list of my desirable species, and just have them fill it, it would be better. i do want to keep the guppies and in pretty big numbers as they seem to school really well.
<Yes, this is so. Aggression tends to be less, too.>
my understanding is that a 100 gallon tank can keep about 100 fish happy.
<One hundred small fish, perhaps. But the bigger the fish, the fewer it can hold. Obviously, one hundred Great White Sharks wouldn't fit in your tank!
So be realistic. The inch-per-gallon rule makes sense for small fish, but above, say, 5 cm/2 inches, you need to be conservative.>
so if i where to have around 30 guppies, and want to add 5 more species with numbers of about 10 each (including the loaches), which 5 would you recommend to meet these criteria (ie. varied colours and shapes)?
<Loaches would take care of the bottom, so I'd not add anything else there for fear of aggression. The Guppies will stay mostly at the top in a big, deep tank. So your choices really come down to something for the midwater.
A "pet" fish species that becomes tame is an obvious suggestion. A species that will come to the front of the tank at feeding time. Cichlids make sense in this regard, but you'd have to choose carefully. One of the Acaras might work (for example Blue Acara) or perhaps Severums like the stunning Rotkeil Severum, a fish the equal of any marine Angelfish if you can get a quality specimen. If you are confident in your fishkeeping skills, an Eartheater (such as Satanoperca jurupari, Geophagus "tapajo" or Geophagus steindachneri). Otherwise, a midwater schooling fish like the Rainbowfish mentioned earlier could be used.>
Also, will this loach eat fry?
<Some, perhaps, but only if the fry go to the bottom of the tank. Loaches prefer to feed from the substrate, and target snails, worms, and other such prey. Colin, please do use capital letters in their traditional places next time you write. We do specifically ask for this, and usually bounce back e-mails without them. I'm a nice guy... but even I get ticked off eventually! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: can you identify this species for me? -- 08/11/09
Excellent thank you for your insight. I will keep a copy of this email handy for both research and probably as the source of my fish selecting criteria.
<Glad to have helped.>
As for the capitals I do apologize (while I am loathe to use the symbol I over i to refer to myself). I do have one more question for you at this point in time. Is it possible or likely that an entire litter of fry would
be eaten?
<By other Guppies, if nothing else! Floating plants really are essential, and will give the fry somewhere to hide until you can catch them and put them into a breeding net. I find fry tend to be dropped early in the
morning before the lights come on, so around 8-9 AM I check the tank, and scoop out any baby fish and put them into a breeding trap (or another tank).>
I've noticed that some of my guppies gravid spots have lost a lot of colour, and it makes me wonder if perhaps they had dropped while I was at work and had consumed the entire litter, or if they may have been eaten by the other guppies in the tank.
<Can, does happen.>
Also, I would like to say kudos to you and your staff for providing this service, it must take a lot of dedication from what i can only assume are volunteers.
<We are. And in my case, a volunteer who should perhaps get out more and spend less time working at his computer...>
Keep up the good work folks!
<Thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>

Crazily mis- over-stocked FW sys.... w/ induced prob.s... Crazy! Oh, and HH ID    7/23/09
I was wondering if you could help me out with my Freshwater tank problem.
<Am trying>
I have a 90 Gallon tank. which is home to 3 Aruwans, 3 Oscars, 2 Silver dollars, 1 clown knife fish and a Giant Pink Gaurami.
<Yeeikes! Way too crowded... and only going to get worse... All this, these animals won't live well or long in this small volume>
The tank has 1 External Filter , and two submerged filters, 2 air supply pumps. Gravel Substrate and two tank ornaments.
The water temperature is at a steady 78 deg and changed 25% every two weeks.
<I'd change this amount weekly>
About a week ago I've noticed a lot of tiny white bubble like creatures in the tank, very similar to tiny fish eggs. Now they seem to be moving around the tank and sometimes cling on to my Oscars. Yesterday my clown knife fish died unexpectedly ( No symptoms of being sick or hurt).
<Stress alone...>
These white creatures are now all over the gravel and some on the sides of my tank as well.(Photo attached)
can any one tell me 1).What are they? 2) How can i get rid of them?
<Small crustaceans of some sort... Perhaps Cladocerans... not harmful... Best to "be rid of them" by simple vacuuming, cleaning of the gravel... BUT, you need NOW to move, separate the life you list... READ re the needs of these species. They can't all live in a ninety. Bob Fenner>
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you

Re: mis- over-stocked FW induced prob.s   07/23/09
Thank you Bob Fenner for your advice I will try it.
<Ah, good>
Hopefully I will be able to write back "problem solved" Also I have just setup another tank so will be moving the Oscars out soon.
Thank you once again.
Vishwas Shetty
<Welcome my friend. BobF> 

Re Aquarium planning question Fish stocking and selection.. 7/23/2009
<Hi Mary, Neale is out for a few days.>
OK- had water checked out... everything normal.
Filtration is 4 Penguin 550 power-heads with under-gravel filter. X4 turnover is 580 gallons- do I need to up the power-heads? I have had no problems with the under-gravel filtration so far. The tank has been in operation for about 6 years, I do bi-weekly 25% water changes. Anyway- all the other fish added are doing well.
<Your circulation sounds fine.>
I am really liking the look of the Rainbows, and I think I would like to use them as the main occupants of the tank.
<I have two schools in my 75 gallon.>
Current population is 3 Red Rainbows and 2 Trifasciata (I think that is what they were called),
<Apistogramma trifasciata>
1 dojo loach, and 2 Corys. I realize I need to increase the school size of each of each, and I would also like to add Boesemanni Paradise fish as well, if/when I can find them.
<That should be fine.>
What other occupants would you suggest to provide a nice balanced, colorful community aquarium? And how many of each?
<I like Rainbows in schools of 6 personally. Boesemanni Rainbows are very colorful, particularly when you have both males and females. The Lake Kutubu (or Blue) Rainbow fish are very attractive as well.>
Thanks Again,
<My pleasure.>

Tank Stocking Capacity   7/6/09
Hello Crew, Hope all is going well and you had a great weekend. I have a question please. I have a 75 gallon fw tank and when I take into account my substrate and decorations I figure I have about 60 gallons of actual water. I currently have 12 panda cories. I started with 6 but after one (or more) gave birth the family has doubled.
<Corydoras lay eggs; if you additional ones, they start off as eggs, then fry, then baby Corydoras. Some species do spawn rather readily, but the parents usually eat their eggs. Is it possible someone added some more while you weren't looking...?>
If any more appear I plan on selling or giving away any over 12. I want to add 6 angel fish to the tank that are not yet fully grown. I have read that the general rule for fw fish is roughly one inch per gallon.
<This is only true for small fish like Neons. Think about it this way: 12 Neons and one adult Oscar are the same number of inches, about 18. Which needs more space? Which could fit into a 12-gallon tank? Obviously, the single Oscar needs much more space than the twelve Neons. In fact a single Oscar would need about 55 gallons, or about 3 gallons per inch of body length. So if you put an Oscar at one end, a Neon at the other end, then medium-sized fish like Angels and Gouramis would be in the middle, let's say 2 gallons per inch of body length. Make sense? But also consider the surface area of the tank: a "long" tank would hold more fish than a "tall" one because there'd be more area at the top of oxygen to diffuse in. That's why I keep telling people to buy 20-gallon long tanks rather than 20-gallon tall tanks.>
I have also read the general rule is 10 gallons of water for each full grown angel.
<You can't keep an adult Angel in 10 gallons; a pair will be happy in 20 gallons, yes; but groups need rather more space because they're territorial. I'd say either get a singleton, a pair, or a group of six, the latter requiring at least 55 gallons. That would allow pairs to form without outright war. Contrary to myth, Angels aren't schooling fish ONCE GROWN UP.>
Do you feel that after both the cories and angels get fully grown there would be too many fish in the tank?
<You'd be fine; in fact the combination is a nice one. Get six Angels, let them pair off, and then sell the surplus four specimens and keep the mated pair (selling adult Angels is easy). I'd actually add a school of 8-10 Hatchetfish to the top, two or three Sturisoma whiptails to the bottom, and you'd have a stunning South American display.>
I definitely do not want to overstock because I know the problems that can cause. Thank you for our help.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Tank mates
Tank mates (brackish, freshwater; selection) -- 6/14/09

We have 3 tanks. 55 gallon, 29 gallon, and 20 gallon. The 55 gallon has 2 Plecos, 2 Raphael's, 3 guppies, 4 small regular Gourami's, 5 dwarf Gourami's, 7 small angel fish, 4 kuhlii loaches, 3 horse face loaches, 3
serpae tetras, 3 transparent tetras, 2 red Dalmatian Mollies, 3 common platys, 1 sword tail platy.
<That's quite a collection! I wouldn't recommend mixing Serpae tetras with Angelfish or Guppies though, as Serpaes are notorious fin-nippers.>
The 29 gallon has 1 horseface loach, 1 Beta, approx 20 neon tetras, 5 Glo fish, 3 serpae tetras, 2 common platys.
<Keeping Serpae tetras with Bettas (note the double "t", it rhymes with "better") is another no-no.>
The 20 gallon has 1 green spotted puffer, 3 Dalmatian Mollies, 4 tiger barbs and 1 small algae eater.
<What's an "algae eater"? Do you mean Pterygoplichthys sp "Plec" or a Sucking Loach, Gyrinocheilus aymonieri? Neither of these will live in a 20 gallon tank for more than few months, and Gyrinocheilus aymonieri is infamous for becoming extremely aggressive when sexually mature at around 20 cm/8 inches. Both these fish get to 30 cm/12 inches in length, and even the 55 gallon tank will be cramped.>
We have been slowly turning the 20 gallon tank to brackish water and it's about full brackish now and all of the fish seem to be doing fine, even the tiger barbs and algae eater.
<If this tank is full brackish, the barbs would be dead. So what do you mean here? Adding a teaspoon of aquarium salt per gallon isn't "full brackish". Even at a low level for brackish water fish, say, a specific
gravity of 1.005 at 25 degrees C, that's 9 grammes (about three level teaspoons) of marine salt mix per litre of water, 1.2 ounces per US gallon.
The Green Spotted Puffer will of course get much too big for a 20 gallon tank; adults are around 15 cm/6 inches in length.>
Do I need to move anything from the 20 gallon to another tank?
<Yes; the barbs and the "algae eater" whatever it might be. Nerite snails are (by far) the best algae eaters for brackish water tanks, but Puffers do tend to view snails as food, so this is a risky move.>
If so, which of the tanks would they fair best in? Also, I would like to get a dragon goby to put in the 20 gallon tank. Would this be acceptable?
<Not a chance. Again, Gobioides broussonnetii is a big fish, in fact one of the biggest gobies of all, getting to 50 cm/20 inches in the wild. As such, it needs a big tank, 55 gallons being a fair choice for a single specimen.
It's a poor choice for life with a Pufferfish, given how aggressive mature Green Spotted Puffers tend to be.>
Thanks, Pam
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Tank mates (brackish, freshwater; selection) -- 6/14/09
I haven't just been using regular aquarium salt in the 20 gallon. It's marine salt.
<Good stuff! Don't use regular aquarium salt at all; it's plain cooking salt, and I don't need to tell you the sea (or brackish water habitats) aren't just cooking salt and water! Aquarium salt is specifically for use as a medication for freshwater fish. It has no value in either brackish or saltwater aquaria.>
I will test my water better and get back with you. In the mean time, are you saying the dragon goby would do ok in the 55 gallon fresh water tank?
<Definitely not saying this! Dragon/Violet Gobies (Gobioides broussonnetii)
may last a few weeks or even months in freshwater aquaria, but they invariably sicken and die prematurely. So unless in the very short term -- i.e., a few weeks while you're re-jigging your aquaria to free up the 55 gallon as a brackish water system -- I would recommend strongly against adding the Goby to the a freshwater tank.>
Also, I know the Serpaes don't usually mix with the angels and such, but they have been ok so far. Are you suggesting I should remove them anyway?
<Serpae tetras were my very first tropical fish. I quickly learned that they attacked Angelfish and Gouramis. They actually have a feeding frenzy, and you'll often see shredded fins in tanks containing just Serpae tetras, especially the long-finned variety. I'd recommend only ever keeping them alone, or with things that hide all the time, such as nocturnal catfish or loaches. I honestly don't recommend them at all as community fish. Hardy and pretty yes, but well behaved, often not. As always, your own experiences will vary, but if you see damage to the fins of other fish, or suddenly find yourself having to deal with Finrot because a fish has been nipped, you'll have your answer.>
Also, will the barbs be ok with the fish that are in one of my other two tanks?
<Tiger Barbs tend to be nippy, especially when kept in insufficient numbers (less than ten). So again, choose tankmates very carefully. Like Serpae tetras, Tiger barbs are not a species are recommended, and indeed most aquarium books will state clearly "not with long-finned or slow-moving fish" or words to that effect. On the other hand, Tiger Barbs work great with tetras, barbs, loaches and other fast-moving fish.>
Thanks, for your help. I love my fish and don't want to hurt any of them,
<Jolly well hope not!>
but as you can see, I like a wide assortment.
<That's fine, and in fact part of the fun of the hobby. It's like being zoo keeper who gets to collect all kinds of fun animals. But do review their needs prior to purchase. If you don't have a book to hand, and you can't find anything here at WWM that helps, feel free to ask us about a fish on offer at your pet store. We're not selling anything, unlike the guy at the store, so our advice is as unbiased as can be.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: mixing hard and softened water Now stocking. FW Stocking. 5/22/2009
Hello again,
Coming from a different e-mail address, I know. Today I have actual test result numbers and a couple more questions. Hope you update soon.
<Ahh... very good.>
I vacuumed the 10 gallon tank and added 1 ½ gallons of the natural hard well water. My Dwarf Gourami seems to be doing well again. The PH is now 8.4, Alkalinity above 300 (which is normal for this tank) 0 Chlorine, very hard at 300 (also normal), 0 Nitrites, Nitrates up a bit at 30. ) Ammonia at safe as always. Tank is a little crowded but everyone is getting along well. Hope to move the Dwarf into the 29 gallon soon.
<Sounds good, things will get a little better once you give everyone some space. Your pH is still a bit high, you may want to mix it with some reverse osmosis water to bring the pH down a bit.>
Day 5 on the new 29 gallon softened water tank. (want to be clear that it is not a soft water tank)
<Got it.>
PH is 8.2, Alkalinity at 120, 0 Chlorine, soft at 75ppm, Nitrites 0, Nitrates at 10, (hoping the live plants will help with this) Ammonia down slightly from .05 to .03. Mollies and Powder Blue Gourami doing well.
<Any ammonia is toxic to fish.>
I am obviously new at this so I would like your input on my fish choices for the 29 gallon (after I get the hard/softened issue resolved). I am going for the look of saltwater fish without the expense and difficulty of the tank, hence the Powder Blue and Dwarf. I'd like 2 Powder Blues, a Dwarf, 2 gold Mickey Mollies, and 1 Creamsicle Lyretail Mollie to start.
<I must confess I am not a fan of Mollies in an all FW system. They typically do much better in a brackish water or even a saltwater tank.  That said, your water is essentially liquid rock, which is likely why you are having success with them.>
I love the color and flowy fins in Congo tetras, and I really would like a large school of something silver (I love the silver dollars, but out of the question; perhaps I'll have to settle for Black Neon Tetras)and I like Silver Hatchet fish. The problem with the Congos and Hatchets is a minimum of 6 each is recommended and there goes what space I have! Do you think that 5 Congos and 3 Hatchets would be content?
<Likely so.>
The other problem is that these are all mid to top dwellers. I also want to put some Ghost Shrimp in, and will probably need a Pleco or some other Algae Eater. I'd love to have a Violet Goby Dragon curled up under my driftwood decoration. I also saw a Blue Rainbowfish and I really love the color but am afraid he won't get along with my gentler choices, and he also sucks up 4 inches all by himself,
<All I have in my FW tank is rainbows - They are actually quite peaceful, but need room to swim.>
although I like the interest that the larger fish would add. Have also considered Opal or Blue Gourami for this. Given these preferences, what do you think would give me the result I'm looking for, and how many of these choices can I fit, considering 7 inches of fish will be Labyrinths. (Doesn't that make a difference?)
<No, seven inches of fish is still seven inches, regardless of how they breathe.>
I want to choose wisely because I want to enjoy the full beauty and de-stressing benefit of my tank. (mollies have dirty waste habits I'm not fond of and little things like that will make or break a choice).
<Smaller, peaceful, schooling fish would do better here.>
I think that's it for now. I love that I found this site, and you guys are great to do this. So much info it's overwhelming. 'A little knowledge' you know what they say. Maybe for me less is more.
<Never, keep reading and learning. Try to learn something new every day.>
Thank you.
<My pleasure>
D in Pittsburgh PA
<MikeV, currently in Montreal Canada>

FUTURE TANK!! FW, incl. fish and plant stkg.... issues   5/17/09
Hiya to u all,
Hehe I'm sorry to bother u all but I think I'm going to go crazy if I don't get things straight...... so I've decided to ask u guys ( the best site for advice for an inexperienced aquarist :) ) Well this is my plan: I'm planning to buy a 55+US Gallon tank with a stand and a lid (as my current 20G tank have no lid and my SAE died!). the livestocks will probably be.. 6 platies (2 males, 4 females), 5 SAEs, 5 otos, 6 bronze cories, 4 spotted or whatever types of cories that have spots :). 2 peppered cories (the ones I have now), 20-25 neon tetras, 1 cobalt Gourami, 2 angels (still deciding on this one) and finally 2 pearl gouramis (I'm also still deciding on this one..).
<I'd review this list a little before you did anything else. Neons can/will be eaten by large Angelfish, and Siamese Algae Eaters and Otocinclus will be competing for the same food, and I'd expect the Otocinclus to starve to
death within weeks/months. Cobalt Gouramis (Colisa lalia) are a total waste of money in my opinion, much of the farmed stuff being plagued with an incurable, inevitably fatal virus (something like 22% of them according to
one study). Even without the virus, they're sensitive and delicate fish prone to bacterial infections. Pearl Gouramis by contrast are generally hardy and peaceful, and make superb companions for Angelfish. I'd also suggest keeping at least six of each Corydoras species; only in reasonably large groups will you see them behave properly, and will these catfish be truly happy. Cherry Shrimps are Angelfish food.>
Along with all the fishes I also want to have 10 red cherry shrimps, and some red ramshorns and Malaysian trumpet snails. I'm planning to make my tank a community tank (obviously) and in a heavily planted sort of way...
Well what lighting should I get?
<Depends on the specific types of plants you want. Assuming you want fast-growing, underwater jungle type things like Hygrophila and Vallisneria, you need reasonably strong lighting, a good estimate being 2-3 watts per gallon of water. It's better to overestimate than under, since you can easily provide extra shade for the fish via floating plants like Amazon Frogbit and Indian Fern.>
100Watts? or more? or less? I'm planning to include a couple of DIY CO2 and the substrate is probably going to be Fluorite(2 inches deep) with maybe 1 inch of white fine gravel or sand to cover it up.
<Do check the substrate you want is compatible with Corydoras; many aren't, and the results are eroded whiskers and a greater likelihood of infections along the underside of the fish. Carib Sea Floramax for example isn't suitable fish with soft bellies; refer to the manufacturer for details before purchase (the Carib Sea web site describes this quality as "soft belly safe").>
Filter will probably be an external filter. Now the questions begins :)
First of all do u think my plan would actually work? Will my fish be compatible towards each other?
Especially the pearls, cobalt and the angels. Will my shrimps be eaten by the angels?
Can I keep snails co-peacefully along with shrimps?
Do u think red cherry shrimps are allowed to be shipped into New Zealand? ( I can't find any around my LFS).
<No idea; from my vantage point in England I really can't answer this. Your Department of Fish & Wildlife should be able to answer this though.>
Should I get an external filter? what brand is best suited?
<It's hard to fault a decent external canister filter, with the Eheim ones being universally regarded as the best value in terms of longevity and reliability.>
Should I go for a DIY or a pressurized CO2? Do I even need one?
<You can get great results without CO2 if you're happy with just adding whatever plants do well, and removing anything that doesn't. I find Hygrophila, Vallisneria, Cryptocoryne, Anubias, Java fern, Java moss and all floating plants do perfectly well without CO2. But if you're after something more like a "garden", with a mix of specimen plants like dwarf Echinodorus, Rotala, Myriophyllum and other sometimes finicky plants, then adding CO2 to the mix can make a difference.>
Am I overstocked? Will 20-40% weekly water change be enough for my tank? I know that every1 says that black substrate really brings out the colour of the fishes but I've seen aquariums with white gravel and I simply adore
them! So which colour do u recommend?(white/black?) Should I use sand instead of gravel? Will my Malaysian Trumpet snails be able to 'tunnel' through the sand? Do u recommend Fluorite?
<Avoid white substrate when keeping tropical fish since the brightness tends to cause the fish to "fade" their colours. Other than that, use whatever works for burrowing fish and is available within your budget.
Personally, I use plain vanilla pond soil (basically nitrate-free compost)
mixed with pea gravel for the base, to a depth of an inch or so, and then top that with either fine gravel or smooth silica sand. All of this is very cheap, available from garden centres, and works extremely well.>
Cuz they r quite expensive in New Zealand..($60+ for a bag!!) My plants will probably consist of an Amazon sword (specimen plant planted in the center), 60% stem plants maybe Cabomba, baby tears, some hyperphilas(wrong spelling hehe), some red plants I think its called rotolas, Anubias (foreground), and more waiting to be decided(like star moss, Christmas moss, java moss, java fern, Vallisneria etc). I greatly appreciate ur time and knowledge!
Urs sincerely,
<Francis, do please try and use regular spellings and grammar next time; besides the fact I'm not a teenager and therefore irritated by text-speak, the search engines that make this website usable (and financially viable in
terms of advertising and hits) depend on messages being written in normal English. Put another way, badly written messages don't help us at all, so you're "taking" without "giving" in return. Think of clear English as being the currency people pay us in return for our help. We think that's a good deal; I hope you do too. Cheers, Neale.>

Gyrinocheilus aymonieri (Mostly about stocking tanks; capacity) 4/21/09
Hello, WWM Crew, and thank you for taking the time to read this.
<Happy to help.>
I (personally) am revisiting an old interest; (trying to educate my daughter about the wonders of a home aquarium, and I kept a Tiger Oscar for 3 years successfully in the past), and I have begun to relearn all of the Fish Facts that I once knew. One thing I was never taught by anyone (even my father, who bred Angelfish at home when I was young, kindling the love Aquatic) until I read your site, was how EVIL the Gyrinocheilus aymonieri actually is.
<Not actually a secret; most anyone who's kept fish knows this, and yet aquarium shops keeping selling them...>
I must admit that I own ONE, and only one, and will not own another according to the sage advice I have received from WWM. I am committing a mortal sin (only going by what I have read) with my new starter tank, which has been running SUCCESSFULLY for more than 3 months so far.
Tank Specifications: 10 U.S. Gallon Cap.
1 5-15 Aqua Tech Filter
1 "Elite" 115V 50W Heater
1 "Elite" 802 Air Pump Bubble Wall (Opposable Variety)
Fern Bed
4 Plastic Plants
6" Hollow Clock Tower
4" Aztec Ruin Wall Section
The mortal sin I referred to was the AMOUNT of fish that I have in said tank: M/F Xiphophorus maculatus ("Mickey Mouse Platies") M X. Variatus??
("Green Platy") M Poecilia sphenops ("Sailfin Molly") M/F Poecilia sphenops ("Dalmatian Molly") 3 Paracheirodon innesi ("Neon Tetra") F Betta Splendens ("Betta")ONE EVIL Gyrinocheilus aymonieri ("CAE")
<Not only overcrowded, but asking for trouble. Mollies require fundamentally different conditions that Neon tetras; even if you decided (foolishly, in my opinion) not to add salt, you'd still need much warmer and harder water than Neons tolerate for long.>
Now I know (once again) that my aquarium is overcrowded, and I have seen my CAE in its "aggressive" state, chasing other fish around the tank (it even opened the belly of my M Dalmatian Molly, which has subsequently healed).
Although my tank is full, it is (by all appearances, a healthy and thriving eco-system, as my F "Mickey Mouse Platy" is completing her second birthing cycle ((3 fry survived from her first brood, and not sure of the second, will continue to update as the fry hide in the fern bed to survive)) and my Dalmatian Molly is expecting.
<That livebearers are breeding doesn't really imply good conditions; they'll breed almost regardless of conditions, in the sense that once pregnant, the females can/will produce a number of batches, whether they're healthy or not.>
I maintain a strict schedule for my water quality, performing a 25% water change every 3rd day ( I keep an 18L bottle of water covered with a cheesecloth aside for use, as it dechlorinates as it stands ((Info from my LFS, confirm please!!)),
<Tap water will indeed lose chlorine when left alone for a day or two. But this does nothing at all about chloramine, which is also used widely now, and much more stable. Neither will this approach fix problems with copper (from pipes) and ammonia (from groundwater pollution). There's really no excuse for not using dechlorinator. None. Nada. Zip. And if you are using dechlorinator, or more accurately, water conditioner, you don't need to let the water stand for 24 hours.>
while adding Jungle's "Start Right" with Allantoin, Tetra Aqua "EasyBalance", and NutraFin Waste Control. (I don't use NutraFin Cycle Bio Filter Supp., as I have more than adequate lower level aeration to "lift" the ammonia from the bottom.) Water Temp is kept at a balmy 81F, <Far too warm for Swordtails and Neons! Both of these fish want to be kept around the 23 C/73 F mark. Swordtails live in fast, relatively cool streams, and Neons come from relatively cool waters as well. Cardinals in warm water, Neons in cooler water; that's the rule!>
and light cycle is kept to 12H maximum (although at times I have been caught away from home and forgotten to turn off the hood lamp). I have never had an algae problem in this tank, as I had a Pleco originally (Glyptopterichthys gibbiceps) and it died when I had to perform an emergency 100% water change.
<Not why it died.>
That was when my LFS told me that the CAE was better than a Pleco due to the cost of species (CAE was $3, vs. $11 for a Pleco) and like a noob, I swallowed that hook. D'oh!!
<Hmm... any, and I mean, ANY, aquarium book would tell you not to buy Gyrinocheilus spp.>
What started this whole novel was I am experiencing "hair-algae" in my Betta Bowl (I have a male in solitary confinement, which is how he likes it) and I wanted to know if it was safe to put the CAE in the bowl WITH him. After perusing WWM, I saw that this was a VERY bad idea (as CAE will eat the fleshy parts of his fins) so I removed Betta to a separate bowl (with pre-treated water, of course) and put CAE in to eradicate algae. I will leave said situation overnight and see what CAE can do. Will it alter the consistency of Betta's bowl?
<The idea that fish "fix" algae problems is a silly one. They don't. Think about this for a few seconds... that's all it takes. Algae grow because the environment suits them. Among other things, that includes nitrate and phosphate levels in the water. Every time you add a fish, or replace a small fish with a bigger fish, you are raising the rate at which nitrate and phosphate increase. Ergo, adding any kind of algae eater on top of the fish you already have tends to make the algae grow faster. So instead think about what would make life harder for algae. Top of the list is competition from fast-growing plants. Bizarre as this might sound, the tanks with the least algae are invariably those with the strongest lights because the plants simply pulverise the algae! Whether it's direct competition for nutrients, or something more subtle such as allelopathy is up for debate, but this is certainly what happens.>
Betta has been attempting to construct his "bubble-nest" and I don't want to have to completely change the water in the bowl and completely destroy it (although, while I think about it, its kind of stupid to think that way, because I am not breeding it, YET!!)
I am currently conducting an arrangement to obtain a 30 U.S. Gallon tank, that I will be able to transfer my fish to a larger "world" and allow them to not be so crowded, but I haven't attained that yet. Knowing this, what is my optimal Fish-to-Gallon Ratio?
<For small fish like Neons, it's about an inch per gallon. The bigger the fish, the more aquarium volume you need. But this is only part of the story. Filtration is an issue too: big fish need more "turnover". Small fish can get by with filters rated at 4 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour, but bigger fish will need 6 times, and things like Oscars and Plecs, 8-10 times. Surface area is yet another factor. A tall tank will hold less fish that a shallow tank of equal volume. So it's complicated. A 30-gallon tank would doubtless hold a couple of dozen livebearers of various sizes, some as small as Platies, and some larger ones like Mollies. Keeping Gyrinocheilus in there once mature would be daft, so I won't even comment on that beyond saying that this fish gets to 30 cm/12 inches and would claim that entire tank as a fraction of its territory in the wild.>
I was told it is "an inch of fish per gallon of water" but as I said, my lovelies are happy as clams! (Figuratively speaking, of course!)
<They can't be that happy if fish are dying because of the need for "emergency" water changes.>
And once I know my FtG, I wanted to keep the 10 G tank as my fry tank (especially when I start attempting to breed the Bettas, but please know I wont do ANYTHING in that regard until I know the regimen in my sleep!
<Look, the key thing isn't "how many fish can I cram into a tank this big", but rather, "how much space do I need for this species to do well".
Swordtails for example are fast swimmers, to long tanks suit them very well. But the males are extremely aggressive, so in 30 gallons, a single male together with 3-4 females might be a very sensible approach. Add a few cool water catfish such as Corydoras paleatus or maybe some Cherry Fin Loaches, and you'd have a very nice set up. You could certainly add some Garra flavatra if you really felt the need for an algae eater or three, but Cherry Shrimps and Nerite snails would be better. All these would thrive at the low temperature Swordtails need to live their full life span and show their best colours. Why mess about trying to cram in Neons, Mollies and other such stuff that don't belong? There's no sense to it.>
A link to that info, if available, would be appreciated.) Am I going out of my league here?
<Not out of your league, but I suspect you're not doing your research first.>
I just wanted a nice addition to my living room (something other than the TV to educate and amuse a 2 year old) plus I love to just sit and observe them myself! What fish owner (keeper??) doesn't enjoy the fruits of his/her own labours?
<The fish owner who is constantly fighting against problems of ill health, aggression, overstocking... I mention this because if you keep fish the proper way, with due regard to water chemistry, temperature, aquarium size, social behaviour etc., the hobby is easy. Neglect those issues and choose "one of everything" that catches your eye, the results are often disastrous.>
I have made the best possible attempt to give you the most concise information I could for your assistance in this matter. If there is anything else I can provide, please let me know.
And Thanks!! :)
<Cheers, Neale.>

My little Angel (Community tanks; stocking; mystery deaths)   4/22/09
I'm twelve years old and my parents bought me a 36 gallon fish tank.
<A lovely present! Good for them!>
I did some research and found some fish that would live well together. It's been a year or so and i only have 1 fish left from the original fish that i put in the tank (it's a... shark? i can't remember exactly but shark was in
the name.)
<Likely one of the following: Red-tail Shark (Epalzeorhynchos bicolor); Silver Shark (Balantiocheilos melanopterus); Iridescent Shark Catfish (Pangasius hypophthalmus); Rainbow Shark (Epalzeorhynchos frenatum). Apart from the Rainbow Shark, which is fairly mild mannered and only gets to about 12 cm/5 inches, the others are either too aggression or too big for your aquarium. In the case of the Silver Shark and the Iridescent Shark, they are much too big, Silver Sharks getting to about 30 cm/12 inches, and
Iridescent Sharks at least twice that. Both are schooling fish too, and so are only marginally useful in home aquaria, given the huge amounts of space they need.>
recently i had two sharks (still can't remember) my HUGE angelfish, 1 large petstore sized goldfish, ( i know the goldfish probably wasn't the best idea but my mom got it and i couldn't say no once she came home) two algae eaters, and two small catfish.
<"Algae Eater" and "Catfish" covers a lot of ground, some of it treacherous. Algae Eaters including in particular Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, a 35-cm monster infamous for being highly aggressive, as well as useless
algae-eater when matured; and Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus, a big, filthy animal that is highly territorial towards it own kind (will kill rivals!) and requires a massive (55+ gallons) tank with a huge filter. By the way, I'm giving Latin names here so you can Google them and check the pictures against the animals in your tank. Catfish range from fish measuring an inch to over nine feet, so these could be anything! Corydoras species are the commonest, but they're all schooling fish that need to be kept in groups of 6+ specimens and in tanks that are not too warm (22-24 C is ideal for almost all species, and certainly all the cheap species).>
I did a science fair project on goldfish and had four tiny feeder goldfish.
After the experiment i put them in the larger tank (i know this wasn't a good idea either but i didn't want to kill them, I'm an animal lover)
<Me too!>
and ever since then I've had a slow decline in population. First went the feeder goldfish, then the larger one, then the larger of my two sharks, (still can't remember) and the smaller one might be dead (I'm on my
computer right now and the last I've checked he didn't look so good) I have a real connection with my angelfish and i would be devastated if he died (his name is Henry)
<When multiple species die within a short space of time, it's almost always an environmental issue. If only a single species drops off, one after the other, contagious disease is a factor, but such diseases rarely strike
different species. So review in particular water quality and water chemistry and temperature. For a tank containing Goldfish (which are really subtropical fish) alongside standard community tropicals, you want a low to middling temperature, certainly no higher than 25 C/77 F. Water quality must be good, and because Goldfish are so messy, this is a challenge. You need 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and preferably low levels of nitrate, 50 mg/l or less. Goldfish hate acidic water, so you need to be aiming for a pH of 7.5, and a hardness that is "moderately hard" to "hard" on whatever test kits you're using (10+ degrees dH). Such conditions should suit most other tropical fish without major problems. Now, at least some of your fish are very aggressive, if they are what I think they are. Gyrinocheilus for example will harass other fish, and in doing so, stress them, and potentially create wounds though which infections such as Finrot can set in. So social behaviour is a factor you should consider.>
Here are the symptoms I've notice: The last shark is swimming with a lot of effort, it's doing flips (which i am POSITIVE is not normal) it just falls and rests minutes at a time, and it looks (um...) well it's scales have
white spots on the end and it's fins are frayed (I've never seen it in a fight)
<Fairly generic "I'm dying" behaviour, almost certainly caused by environmental issues. Assuming you haven't exposed these fish to some toxin, such as paint fumes, if you're seeing fish go through this syndrome
repeatedly, my money would be water quality first, and water chemistry second.>
My angelfish's left eye is kind of swollen and his fins are extremely frayed (he HAS been in fights. I used to have gouramis... long story short they're not around any more)
<Three-Spot Gouramis (Trichogaster trichopterus) by any chance? As I've written about repeatedly here at WWM, males of this species can be highly aggressive.>
I'm really worried about him and need help urgently. I know i haven't made the smartest decisions in fishkeeping but i would do just about anything to make sure Henry makes it. (sorry about the fishtank life story but the more background and details the better.)
<There's details, and then there's details. I do, very specifically, need the following (at least): ammonia concentration, pH, and the make/model of your filter.>
Please, Please, Please, Please help me out. ( i thought it wise to mention that many of my fish i obtained when my mom came home from Wal-Mart. Not my favorite fish supplier.) Thank you
A worried angel owner
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Overstocking and compatibility issues 4-24-09
Hello to you all,
<Hello! Merritt here this evening.>
I'm an inexperienced fish keeper that needs your help. I think I might be overstocking my tank/aquarium. I have a 20 gallon tank with 19 fish - 4 x-ray tetras, 6 Neons( originally 16), 2 bronze cories, 1 spotted (the other one died on me), 1 SAE (juvenile), 2 angels (juveniles), 1 cobalt Gourami (male), and 2 balloon mollies.
<You are right, your tank is very overstocked.>
I have a millennium 2000 filter and my tank is medium-heavily planted. I'm currently doing a 20%-40% weekly water change. The mollies and Gourami are new comers. The Gourami shows no sign of aggression but the mollies(both females) are. Every now and then the mollies will follow the Gourami or the angels and they will nip their fins or their body. The Gourami doesn't seem to mind but the angels will show aggression. I know that mollies aren't meant for a community tank and needs to be in a brackish environment so I'll probably return them back.
<Mollies do not have to be in a brackish environment but you are right, they are not meant for community tanks. Good move!>
If I did will my tank still be overstocked?
<Yep, would still be overstocked.>
Oh and one more question.. One of my angels is sort of skinny and isn't growing as much as the other is. But the skinny one is the one that eats the most. Do you think that this might be an intestinal worm infection?
<Since that angel is the one that eats the most but is not gaining weight, then I would assume it has internal parasites and to medicate appropriately. Here are some links on freshwater diseases and cures.
<You are welcome! Merritt A.>

Tank upgrading to a spa. Mmm, Lg. FW sys. stkg.  4-13-09
I currently have a 180 gallon bow front tank with a twelve inch clown knife, five silver dollars (biggest is four inches all the others are about three), a five and a half inch silver Arowana, a six inch black ghost knife, a fifteen inch tire track eel, a eight inch Pleco ("common" don't know exact species), a four inch king tiger Pleco,
<Do watch these two; Pterygoplichthys spp. are highly territorial and known to kill rivals; the Hypancistrus sp. L066 is a (much) smaller fish that may be bullied.>
and a four inch diameter red eared slider. I am going to upgrade to a spa/hot tub that is about 250 gallons. (do you have a link that tells the difference between actual and commercial gallon. I read about that on you
site somewhere...i think).
<Ah, with aquaria, yes, the amount of water held is not the same as the advertised value because of the thickness of the glass, rocks, substrate, etc. Usually you lop off 10-15% of the advertised value. But the best approach is simply this: use buckets of known volume (or a hose pipe with a flow meter attached) and count the gallons needed to fill the tank or pond to the desired water level.>
My question is what fish do you think will be safe to transfer over if I move the clown knife and Arowana into the "spa" while the rest stay in the 180 gallon.
<None of these fish is particularly delicate, with the exceptions of the Black Ghost and the Tyre-track Eel; both of these fish are sensitive to water quality and very fussy feeders. So my gut feeling would be to cycle
the new "indoor pond" first by taking filter media from the established tank and "seeding" the new filter. When the new pond is cycled, add the Black Ghost and the Spiny Eel, and get them feeding properly. After a couple of weeks, add the Silver Dollars and the catfish. Since Arowanas and Clowns are both territorial, and territorially aggressive at that, I'd move them last of all, so that they view the other fish as part of the scenery rather than threats.>
I think the "common" Pleco will be ok, and maybe the turtle
<Not a fan of mixing turtles with fish; their requirements are too different, and waste adult turtles produce makes water quality management incredibly hard.>
but I would feel worried about the black ghost knife because he has grown at a slow pace compared to my other fish. I would be afraid of the tire track eel somehow getting out, even though I plan to take measures to keep it closed, but still with some ventilation.
<If there is any chance of escape the Spiny Eel will escape. Don't underestimate this.>
the tire track eel. I also think the silver dollars would be fine if i kept the Arowana and the clown knife well fed.
<Up to a point, but adult Clowns will be at least 60 cm long, and in the wild 100+ cm, and they will view Silver Dollars as food, given the chance.>
king tiger Pleco will not be safe, he is the smallest and I read that they only get about five to six inches.
Thanks for the site and all the information,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: tank upgrading to a spa. - 4/13/09

Thank you for the fast reply Neale.
<You're welcome.>
Would the black ghost knife be safe in the pond or do you think the clown knife and Arowana would eventually see him as a meal too?
<The Arowana isn't much of a threat, but Clown Knives are unpredictable at the best of times, and territorial (male?) Chitala can, will kill other fish in their quarters, even if they aren't planning to eat them. They are known in the wild to attack animals (including humans) who approach their nests, a trait I believe local fishermen use to their advantage.>
I am trying to see which fish to keep in the 180 gallon, and which fish to move. I don't think a black ghost will out grow a 180 gallon tank, do you?
<Would be very happy there, along with the Spiny Eel and the Silver Dollars.>
Same with the tire track eel.
And if they do I can always upgrade. ( I purchased the 180 gallon tank, stand, and 30 gallon sump for $250 on craigslist!)
<Deal of the century!>
The Arowana and clown would out grow the 250 gallon right?
<Both should be fine in there. Typical Osteoglossum spp. Arowanas get to about 90 cm in captivity, and typical Clown Knives about that or a bit less. Both should be fine in 250 US gallons, assuming your Clown doesn't turn out to be one of the psychotic specimens.>
But by that time I'll probably out of high school and college.
<Good luck with school!>
I do have a temporary plan for that until I can save slot of money to make a BIG tank. The intex above ground pools come in sizes from 200 gallons to 7,000 gallons. And I can add filters and sand and somehow keep them from jumping.
<Ah, the best way to prevent jumping is simply to use some plastic mesh of the type sold for use in gardens, where (at least here in the UK) it's put over ponds to keep cats and herons out. Arowanas are notorious jumpers as you probably know; one of their common names in South America is "Water Monkeys" because they leap several feet out of the water to snap at beetles and other small animals clambering along overhanging trees. Spiny Eels simply escape from anything! Take no chances with them! Your turtle will,
obviously, need space above the waterline to bask under its UV-B lamp, and that's going to be complicating things here. If you insist on keeping the turtle with the fish, you'll need to create space for the "land" where the turtle will rest, while not creating death traps where fish could jump onto or otherwise get trapped.>
Thanks for the speedy reply,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: tank upgrading to a spa. - 4/13/09

If the turtle needs a UV- B lamp in the new spa, does that mean he won't be getting enough from the sun?
<Sunlight is an excellent source of UV-B. The problem is that UV-B doesn't pass through glass. So unless the turtle is physically exposed to sunlight, e.g., in a garden pond, then the sunniness of your locality and house is neither here nor there. Long term denial of UV-B causes major problems to all reptiles, and it's widely reported from turtles kept indoors. UV-B lamps aren't expensive, so fixing this problem isn't difficult. Since water cuts out UV-B just as well as glass, the presence of a UV-B lamp shouldn't cause any harm to your fish.>
The spa is in my backyard, and I live just south of San Francisco (Pacifica) and the weather is fairly good, especially in the summer.<I see. Well, if bright sunlight hits the basking spot above the spa directly for at least a few hours each day, sunlight should be adequate.
Problems occur the moment you put glass in the way!>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: tank upgrading to a spa. - 4/13/09
Thank you. Yes there will be direct sunlight to his basking spot. ( in the 180 he has a UV-B also)
Thanks for all the help,
<Happy to help. Good luck with the move, Neale.>

55 gallon FW Stocking
Sand , Jurupari and Rainbow Questions   4/9/09

Hello Crew and Thank You for a great job.
I'm going to set up 55 US gallon FW tank and have some questions about this.
I want to put sand on the bottom. Home Depot sells sand for "playground".
They do not specify, what kind of sand is that. Do you have any idea if this sand is safe for a fish tank?
<In different areas of the country the sand may be different. Get a small sample and place in it some distilled water. If the TDS or pH changes then the material is leaching minerals into the water and is generally not good for use in an aquarium.>
I'd like to keep in the tank 2 Geophagus jurupari.. I do not see a lot of information about this fish. Some of the internet sites say they are very touchy and require very soft water. I assume my water is very hard (pH=8).
Are they really need soft water like discus or rams?
< Wild Satanoperca jurupari do come from areas of soft acidic water. Most of the fish today are tank bred and do much better in harder water. They may be maintained in harder water but will probably not breed.>
If that the case, I better choose different species. Please let me know, if they will adapt to a hard water.
Also would it be aggression problem between 2 Geophagus jurupari?
< They are not an aggressive species. Keep in mind that any eartheater type of cichlid will constantly be sift food from the sand. If the sand is too coarse or has angular edges then it will be abrasive and cause disease
I also want to keep 6 boesemanni rainbowfish. If I buy 6 juveniles, would it be a problem, if I will get more males than females?
<Rainbows will be fine in a group. Males will show their best colors with some females around.>
I want to plant the tank with different kinds of Anubias, and I want to add gold nugget Pleco. Is it safe to keep this Pleco with Anubias?
< There are many types of gold nugget Plecos with different requirements.
Go to Planetcatfish.com and research the species of Pleco you are looking to get.>
What do you think about this stocking overall? Will this system work?
< The Pleco will probably be wild and may need soft acidic water. The rainbows on the other hand like hard alkaline water. Maybe look at something like Congo tetras if you are going to soften the water or get a
common Pleco that will tolerate the harder tap water.-Chuck>
Thank you, Mark

Algae on ADF? and question about stocking... 3/31/09
I have a 10 gallon tank with 1 male Betta (thought he was white and he is the most beautiful shell pink that changes), 3 tetras (who recently started harassing the Betta, which of course they don't tell you when you get them!),
<Hmm... on the whole Tetras and Bettas shouldn't be kept together, so these will need separating. Don't rely on the pet store telling you which fish will work in your aquarium, any more than you expect the clerk in a clothes store to tell you to buy a shirt that fits. It's up to you to establish such things!>
1 Otocinclus of the small variety, 2 ADFs (one male, little porker, and one female), 5 glass shrimps of various sizes (from little male at 1/4 inch to big daddy at 1 1/2 inch, 3 egg bearing females and 2 males) and 5 mystery snails, also of various sizes (newest one is 4 small turns around and largest is 6 turns, he actually has grown about an inch and a half of shell in the month we have had them.).
<Certainly a busy aquarium...>
I also have 2 fake plants and 18 different live plants (I think some are duckweed, but also "lucky bamboo" (I know, not actually bamboo), some other grasses and something with flat leaves that is thriving.
<OK, the Bamboo will die. So get that out. No point waiting for it to die and rot, because in doing so it will pollute the aquarium. The plant at the front/left is a Dracaena, and again, like the Bamboo, this is a land plant.  It will also die. No question about this. So again, take it out. Please do some reading before spending your money! At the moment you're a retailers dream: buying any old thing! I'd like you to spend your money more carefully.>
My perimeters for the tank are 78 degrees F and (just today, tested last week and had 0) .5 ammonia,
<Too high... will make fish, frogs, shrimps sick>
I just had changed the filter yesterday (the carbon in a tetra whisper filter) and rinsed off the bio-foam (what pet smart said, very torn on whether or not to ever believe them about anything),
<By default, rely on your own reading rather than what the clerk in the store says. Buy an aquarium book or borrow one; read it.>
although probably too much. I have been doing weekly changes of about 2 gallons and pre-treating that with conditioners. I don't have a tester currently for nitrates either.
<Nitrates usually not an issue if you change 25% every week or two.>
I just did a water change today after seeing the ammonia level. (2 gallon change with conditioners.)
Some background on my fish care: I have never owned fish before and was at a "petstore" with my son and impulsively (!) bought an inexpensive bunch of fish. Or so I thought. The girl who sold us the set-up sold us 10 gal worth of fish and a 2 1/2 gallon tank to begin with. Also didn't mention cycling. (This girl almost got fired, apparently they had had multiple incidents like this.)
<Sadly quite common occurrence in "big box" pet stores.>
So I blithely get the crew home and put them in some treated water.  Needless to say that all but 1 frog (originally brought home the 3 tetras, 1 Betta (m), 3 shrimp, 2 snails, and 2 ADFs.) and 1 tetra and the shrimp and snails, were dead in the morning 2 days later.
I rushed to the store (after doing some late night reading, and I know it was really irresponsible of me to not have checked it out first, but these were impulse fish!
<An explanation, but not really an excuse!>
Then I also called my friend in another state who knows a lot about fish for help, I was pretty panicked by then, I have never killed any pet I have ever been custodian of!) and bought a 10 gal and got it cycling. I noticed then though that the remaining frog had fungus, so I treated with tank buddies.
<Frogs do react badly to ammonia.>
This didn't help my frog any, and he still was dead the next day. I decided to treat again (4 days later) and the second treatment killed my young shrimp. (I now know they can't handle that).
<Correct; copper is toxic to invertebrates including shrimps and snails.>
I had the water tested then and it had 0 levels of anything bad, ideal ph (sorry, can't find the paper now :( ), and slightly hard water (I live in Utah). That was about 2-3 weeks ago. At this point I have a healthy fully stocked tank with the 2 new(er) ADFs. The original tetra made it and of course the snails and my one large shrimp.  Currently, I have a question regarding my male froggy. He seems to be growing what looks similar to the algae that sometimes grows on my plants, on his back leg and stomach.
<Not algae.>
The female had this a few weeks ago, but it seems to have gone away. I'm wondering if it was just the effect of changing the filter and some gunk getting stirred into the water because of it, adding to that the slightly elevated levels of ammonia making him sensitive?
I'm not sure if it's harmful or not, although he is plenty active and eats way too much (really good dedicated hunter), so he doesn't seem unhappy at all. I feed the Betta between 6 and 8 pellets a day (depending), the tetras get flakes, and I put in about a pea sized bit of either frozen brine shrimp (defrost them in spoon at top of tank and try to get them spread around so everyone actually gets some) or blood worms once or twice a day (everyone else in the tank also really enjoys both of these), usually around snack time in the afternoons. I put romaine lettuce anchored in there too for the snails and leave a piece floating as they (the snails) seem to like to float upside down and the Betta can kind of hammock on it when he is bored, it also keeps some shade so they can choose what lighting they want. I change the lettuce out every other day, before it starts to break down.
<All sounds fine. But take care not to overfeed; this tank is really much smaller than I'd recommend for beginners, so your margins for error are tiny.>
The water is clear, not cloudy, and the walls are very clean. None of the plants are growing any algae right now either.
<Famous last words...>
I use 2 x 60 watt bulbs and then have a heater as well, so it has been very maintained temp wise since.
<These are incandescent bulbs? Be very careful here; apart from being rubbish for plant growth, they also have a tendency to explode if hot and splashed with water. Certainly wouldn't be a sensible choice around children.>
Generally everyone has been very healthy, the shrimp are shedding successfully multiple times and are visibly growing, as are the snails, and Bert the Betta is very friendly, he only recently started flaring his gills at the tetras in response to their nipping (came out one morning and saw they had split his dorsal fin! It is healing back together, but now he responds to them instead of being passive), everyone eats and the shrimp had their eggs (working on second clutches now!), Ollie the oto is very actively cleaning everything (including the snails!), and the frogs are starting to be less nervous after getting air (used to have to hide after, now just swim back to the bottom. No aggressive behavior on the part of the Betta either, he will come let me feed him from a spoon and will swim around my arm while I clean, so no worries on interactions.
I am hoping perhaps it will go away with the levels steadied back out, and if I should expect it to happen again during filter changes?
<No, it's not normal. Remember, in a basic freshwater tank, carbon is redundant. Even if you want carbon, you have to replace it (not clean it!) every 2-4 weeks, otherwise it doesn't do anything but waste space in the filter. For small tanks, I'd recommend concentrating on plain vanilla biological media; simple filter floss and ceramic noodles are fine. Rinse these off in a container of aquarium water every month or so. That's all there is to it.>
Thanks so much for any advice, I agree with many others on the lack of reliable information out there, and primarily feel I can't trust the "petstore".
<As I say, shops are there to sell stuff, and whether you're buying a coat, a hi-fi, a car, or a tropical fish, retail works best when you already know what you want/need first. This isn't to malign pet stores -- many are very good, and staffed with expert fishkeepers -- but it's best not to expect it.>
Incl is photo of day before yesterday when there was no film.
<Frog looks fine to me. The main things to observe are [a] hollow belly from starvation; and [b] red patches from bacterial infections.>
Couldn't get a good shot of him today. No need to include them in a post... My other quick question is as long as I don't overfeed and am diligent with weekly water changes, is there plenty of room for everyone?
<Within reason. Are these tetras Neons? They should be in a group of 6+, and in a 10 gallon tank that would be fine. Likewise the Betta and the frogs. Apple snails rarely live more than a year in aquaria because they aren't able to aestivate for three months as required in the wild. So they tend to die long before they reach full size.>
They don't seem to have any territorial issues, everyone seems happy all over the tank, so I am mostly worried about the water testing levels being affected. I know that half of them are surface breathers anyway, so...
Thanks again for any help!
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

New 125 high and possible multiple red-tailed black sharks? 03/29/09
Hello WWM crew,
1st of all, THANKS for all the information and your hard work.
<Kind of you to say so.>
I recently, 2 weeks ago, bought a 125 high tank, stand, lights, filters, sand, etc used for $400. The bio wheels on the filters were still damp when I got the tank home (250 miles) and up and running. I added 10 fish that night, 5 Danios, 3 platys, and 2 swordtails. Two days later I added a few fish and added 1-3 more just about every day. My nitrates remain low, have done a 25% or so water change twice in the two weeks. I tested my water only once that showed any ammonia and that was gone the next day. My most recent water test today was PH 7.6, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 5 - 10 nitrates.
<Sounds fine.>
I have 2 red claw crabs (one of which got out and I rolled my chair over it before I noticed. It is doing well, just missing 3 legs on one side) 2 male fiddler crabs the crabs do have places to get out of the water, but not really anywhere to hide when out, other than on the underside of the branches and since the "accident."
<Neither Uca spp. nor Perisesarma bidens are appropriate to this aquarium.  They need BRACKISH water to last any length of time, and both prefer to spend 95% of the time on land. In a standard freshwater aquarium they WILL die prematurely, likely around the time they moult.>
I think I have pretty well covered up the entire top of the tank, was only a little 1/2 inch wide spot where the heater cord came out that the crab could have possibly used and it is now covered.
<The reason they try to escape is they're land crabs, not water crabs.>
1 dwarf African frog (2 have died, not sure why) 2, at least, shrimp, Amano algae eater? (bought 4, have only seen 2 at a time out) 6 Odessa barbs, 6 Danios, 5 zebra, one leopard, (4 of the original Danios died, dunno why)
<Probably too warm; Danios are subtropical fish that need cool conditions, around 22-24 C.>
3 platys (one of the original platys died, the smallest)
1 pair creamsicle mollies
1 pair Dalmatian mollies
<Mollies do prefer brackish water; lifespan in freshwater variable.>
2 dwarf flame Gouramis (had 1 dwarf blue Gourami for a week or so, added another and in about 24 hours both were dead with black bottom fin and huge bulges in side of stomach area, flame Gouramis are doing very well.
<Dwarf Gouramis are largely rubbish fish, widely infected with a viral disease.>
2 pictus catfish
<Highly predatory when mature; also are schooling fish, and best kept in groups.>
1 pair orange/red swordtails
2 Bala sharks.
I did see, in the past week, 3 tiny babies but think they have since been eaten
<No surprise.>
I had a tank when I was a child and had a red tailed black shark that about doubled in size before we moved and got rid of the tank. As a result of that memory* *I have my heart set on red tailed black sharks :) From the reading I have done I might or might not want to / be able to keep more than one in my tank. I did get some rocks and arranged some caves in both ends of the tank with some other driftwood and some plants, couple live grasses that came with the tank and 3 tall fake.
<Red-tail Black Sharks are not good community fish. They are highly territorial, particularly towards other shark-like fish. While you could keep a singleton, I wouldn't keep two specimens because one would bully the other. Three or more might work, but not without a certain amount of violence.>
I want to get some more bottom feeders, oh yeah had one (not sure of name, looking at LFS receipt) Borneo scavenger?
<Likely some type of Hillstream Loach, e.g., Gastromyzon borneensis. Need cool, very fast-flowing water and would be totally unsuitable for your aquarium.>
that died within a couple days of purchase (water was only 2 days old when I put him in) and am thinking about a couple Dojos. I would also like to add a couple more fish before I add the 1 (or more) Red-tailed Black Shark(s) and am thinking a couple of angle fish?
<I have seen Red-tailed Black Sharks with Angels, and the two usually ignore one another. But it's difficult to make guarantees with Red-tailed Black Sharks.>
The filtration I have (came with the tank and was fine for the school of red bellied piranhas that was in the tank with previous owner) are two penguin bio-wheel, one 350, and one 150, I think I need more filtration.
<For small fish like tetras your aquarium needs turnover 4 times the volume of the tank, i.e., 4 x 125 = 500 gallons per hour. For medium-sized fish such as Angels and Sharks, scale up to 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover, i.e., 6 x 15 = 750 gallons per hour. Look at your filters, add up their quoted turnover values, and do the math! It's always better to have
more rather than less turnover.>
What are your thoughts on adding 2 Dojos, maybe couple more shrimp, 2 angel fish, and, given the size of the tank and the amount of cover available, 2-3 red-tailed black sharks? I don't want to overstock the aquarium or overwork the filters.
<In terms of volume, you're fine; look at your filters and check the turnover.>
Thank you again so much for your time, Lloyd PS, the other decoration in the tank is a pretty odd one, maybe even unique lol. Long story short (kinda) I badly damaged a wheel on my truck, drove it for over a year and tire somehow held pressure, no one who sees the wheel can believe it. Time came for new tires, had to get new wheels, on advice from LFS owner, I used 2 part clear coat waterproof epoxy and coated the entire wheel, let it dry and cure and the whole 16" wheel is standing up in my tank. The fish LOVE it, good shelter, lots of holes for them to swim in and out of :)
<So long as the metal is completely sealed off from the water, sounds kind of funky! Do be careful though, some fish scrape away varnish as they graze for algae (big Plecs, Panaque, etc.) so consider that when shopping.
Cheers, Neale.>

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