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FAQs on Ropefish Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

Related Articles: Bichirs & Ropefish, Family Polypteridae

Related FAQs:  Ropefish 1, Ropefish 2, & Ropefish ID, Ropefish Behavior, Ropefish Compatibility, Ropefish Selection, Ropefish Systems, Ropefish Health, Ropefish Reproduction, & FAQs on: Bichirs 1, & Bichir Identification, Bichir Behavior, Bichir Compatibility, Bichir Selection, Bichir Systems, Bichir Feeding, Bichir Disease, Bichir Reproduction,


Feeding Ropefish and System, Selection      12/4/16
Hello Crew, I've written you before and have gotten lots of help about panther crabs (of which I haven't been successful in breeding yet, but am devising a plan to try in a 40B heavily decorated with driftwood), and I thank you for that. This site is very helpful and informative.
<Good to know; thank you!>
I've been reading a lot about Ropefish on your site, starting with Ropefish 1 and I'm currently on Ropefish Health (going in order of the linked categories on top of the page). I was hoping to finish reading them all before writing you, but I hope to get three Ropefish mid to late next week to house in my 135 gal temporary Ropefish River (the name of this tank build these will be going into) and will buy anywhere from 1-3 at a time after the initial purchase of three. Eventually I hope to house 8 of them (3 males, 5 females, using the finlet count to determine sex - 9 finlets means female, 12-15 means male according to what I've found),
<Something like that. But loss of finlets though predation attempts happens, and some "well endowed" females will have as many finlets as "poorly endowed" males, so some specimens will be difficult to sex. Best to keep an open mind, get a group, and let pairing occur at its own pace.
Sexually mature males have different-looking anal fins, and that might be a safer bet.>
in a 100 gal aquarium with crypts, Val.s, and lots of driftwood set up to look like a root sticking out from the bank reaching into the water (towards the middle of the tank) on one end. I'm thinking of a Val jungle opposite of the driftwood with the substrate banked up to about 4-6" on that end, the crypts in the middle where the substrate starts banking from 1-2" to the 4-6" on the other end, and then the driftwood with epiphytes like Bucephalandra and perhaps java fern or some others. I also will have some water lettuce floating on the surface, and already have an Amazon
sword plant I would like to move to the 100 gal when I get it set up, but am not sure where I'll put that plant yet (possibly near the crypts or on the sloping section of the substrate). I will be employing the Walstad method and will dirt the bottom with mineralized topsoil, though I will use gravel or rocks, plastic mesh screen, and then the topsoil and cap on the end with the deeper substrate. Eventually, I hope to be able to have this set up as a Dynamic Aquarium in the future - an ecosystem in an enclosed system, also known as a microcosm for my size tank.
<Quite so. Rather difficult to do with comparatively large fish though, especially carnivores, because of the need for high-protein foodstuffs. I'm guessing you've read the 'Dynamic Aquaria' book, and would direct you in particular to the Angelfish set-up designed along these lines.>
Now, I would like to have the substrate color the same as what they're used to from the wild, so do you have any idea what color the mud is from the rivers they collect these fine fish from?
<Leaf litter. Thick vegetation on the riverbanks, so we're talking decaying leaves in various shades of brown and yellow.>
I read Bob Fenner has been to the rivers and knows people who actually collect them, so I was hoping to get some advice as to what color to get the substrate - brown, black, red, tan, or white. If I need black, I plan to use Black Diamond Blasting Sand; for white I would use PFS; and for tan I would use Play Sand (which I have employed in the temp 135 gal setup. For the brown and red (if it's applicable) I would need to look further into other types of suitable substrate and advice would be appreciated if the wild substrate is one of those colors.
<I would avoid any type of sand that is not "smooth". Pool filter sand (smooth silica sand) is a good choice. A typical river system will have a muddy substrate virtually impossible to replicate in an aquarium, so aquaria substrates are all compromises to some degree. Smooth silica sand is similar to the sand seen in some rivers though, and the colour, while
bright at first, mellows with age, and most fish seem to be perfectly happy with it.>
I know it must seem I'm going overboard with this, but then I usually do...
I also plan to have a small pump (either a Rio 600 or Aquatop SWP-480, both rated for around 200 GPH) pushing water through pvc behind/near the driftwood so I have some circulation, but am concerned since I read about bacterial issues resulting from poor circulation around the substrate. I was going to have this manifold near the surface of the water, but where would you recommend me placing it?
<Bear in mind these are swamp fish, so minimal water current is the name of the game. You want adequate turnover of course, to keep water quality good, but distributing the outflow of water as far around the tank as possible will help avoid strong currents, which these fish dislike.>
Ultimately, I would like to breed them and want them to be most comfortable in the tank I create for them. I've discovered breeding them usually isn't the issue - raising the fry and keeping them alive long enough to breed is
(since they mature slowly and don't typically breed until 10-20 years old).
However, my only concern is them not having any open space to swim when the crypts in the tank grow in.
<That's not your problem. Keeping Ropefish in a tank at all for 10 years is something most folks fail at! These fish are SUPERB escape artists. You need a system more like a paludarium than a fish tank, with at least six inches of air between the waterline and the bottom of the hood. Anything less than that and they're prone to escaping. It's their natural instinct, apparently, to slither from pool to pool during the night.>
Should I go ahead and just have a small, dense line of crypts near the back of the tank and just use flame moss for the front-ish part of the middle section of the tank? This might allow me to have the sword intermingled with the moss... I've also discovered that it seems they like to breed in Java moss, but I'm hoping flame moss will be a suitable alternative should they choose to breed in my tank at all.
<Any/all of this will work. Their snake-like shape is adapted to sliding through vegetarian, not swimming in open water. Think thicket, and you have the right idea.>
Finally, as for feeding, I am currently culturing Microworms, banana worms, walter worms, and vinegar eels. I also have some Mysid shrimp and bloodworms (both frozen alternatives), of which I will ultimately feed far less bloodworms than I do Mysid or any live food, though I typically feed my fish both in the morning with bloodworms and at night with Mysid shrimp (with these fish feeding at night, if I continue with my typical feeding regime I should be primarily feeding them Mysid shrimp). However, I also realize they need variety, of which I was wondering if these fish might consume Microworms, banana worms, walter worms, and vinegar eels even if these foods are quite small and meant for fry?
<I do suspect anything below, say, 5 mm in length is more likely to end up in the substrate or filter than inside the Ropefish. It's going to be a case of trying things out. They're worm-eaters more than anything else, taking insect larvae, midge larvae, and all those sorts of wormy foods. But not really micropredators as such, so very tiny foods might escape their notice.>
I will also be making a purchase of Tubifex worms, sw copepods, and a plankton mix which has potential to contain Ostracods, daphnia, rotifers, ceriodaphnia, copepods, and amphipods, though they mix the plankton when they receive an order. I hope to separate many of these plankton into separate buckets for better keeping, but may not be able to. Plus, I plan to have a brine shrimp hatchery and culture going relatively soon which I can also feed from. Since they eat small invertebrates in the wild, would all these foods be suitable (rinsing the sw copepods and brine shrimp)?
<Might be a bit small, but they will probably consume Spirulina-enriched frozen adult brine shrimp.>
Oh, and I forgot to mention I also have some red wrigglers and plan to culture white worms as well eventually (and some black worms if my lfs can get them in), as well as fruit flies, bean beetles, night crawlers (which I released into my yard since most of the culture died and I was having no luck with them in a tote culture, leaving only one small worm still alive that was moving like it should), meal worms, and possibly other insects in the future (like crickets or superworms). How often should I feed each of these foods, and what should my feeding schedule look like?
<Earthworms are a favourite, and if you have them, would make a great staple. Mealworms and the like tend to be a tough, and I never had much success feeding them to Ropefish. Their jaws aren't as strong as those of Bichirs, and their diet should be adjusted accordingly.>
Which should be staples, and which should I feed as occasional treats?
<I'd be focusing on small slivers of seafood, ideally vitamin enriched as you'd do with marine aquarium fish. Earthworms are a useful staple, as small river shrimp if you can get them. Frozen bloodworms are useful but a
bit lacking in nutritional value, so more a treat than anything else. Tubifex sparingly, if at all. Gut-loaded brine shrimp on the other hand could be used freely. A "little but often" would be my approach here, to avoid problems with uneaten or regurgitated food.>
I may stick with feeding the white worms and other terrestrial insects primarily when I aim to get them into breeding condition (or try to) since many fish breed with the monsoon and an abundance of insects and terrestrial worms signal such breeding in the wild, though I know worms such as red wrigglers and night crawlers have been recommended as a staple from you to other people who have asked along with tilapia fillets (which I hope to reduce on-going costs by culturing most of the food my fish room will need, so I'm not keen on the idea of buying such filets as a staple food, though I might until I have the resources to culture tilapia as well). Also, do you think the Mysid shrimp have too much Thiaminase for use as a staple (haven't been able to read that link, yet)?
<It's potentially a problem with all plain vanilla crustaceans, yes. If they're gut-loaded or enhanced somehow (e.g., Spirulina enriched) than they'd be a lot better as staples.>
I will also have snails in the aquarium (both for eating food waste [pond and Ramshorn snails] and turning the substrate to reduce dead spots as everything is growing in [mts] so I don't have anaerobic zones) that they will likely munch on from time to time according to what I've read. I realize some of these snails may not be completely compatible, but I
haven't been able to read that link, either.
<If Ropefish eat snails, they do so rarely.>
Is there anything else I should read to help make this fool-proof (or as close to that as it can get)? I will cover the aquarium, and hope the water lettuce will soften the lighting so they come out in the day more, as well as comfort them so they're less likely to try to escape (I've figured out most fish and inverts won't try to escape unless they're unhappy with their environment, or so it seems...).
<True, but some fish are migratory (e.g., Ariidae catfish) while others are amphibious (as with your Ropefish) and these types of fish will always try to escape, and you have to plan accordingly.>
What do you think of all this?
<Ambitious! But in a good way.>
Please realize not all the food cultures are exclusively for these fish (that would be a bit much), but I do plan to keep vampire crabs and will require food for them as well. I hope this will be a great place/way to keep these wonderful fish, and I do hope they breed for me and I successfully raise the resulting offspring. Thank you for your time and advice, as I know this is a very long, intensive email I've written you.
Jacob G.
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Feeding Ropefish and System, Selection      12/4/16

Also, I forgot to ask what should I be looking for when I go to buy these fish? Clear eyes, good fins, no spots that could suggest slime disease or such, but what about behavior-wise? Should they be hiding, swimming, floating? How should they swim and how often? Anything I'm missing?
<A group chilling in a cave, with their heads poking out, watching the world, would strike me as a healthy group worth investing in. Specimens swimming up and down trying to get out might be okay too, as this is normal enough behaviour, but I'd want to check it wasn't be nipped or harassed in some way first. A lethargic specimen just sitting at the front of the tank, alone, neither hiding nor swimming, would not strike me as a normal specimen, and I'd approach such a fish more carefully, looking to see if it was simply stressed, or starving, or suffering from something less easy to fix.>
Jacob G.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Feeding Ropefish and System, Selection      12/17/16

Another question for you, Neale and crew. How many would you say I could keep in the 100 gal Ropefish River aquarium? Would you say eight would be the limit, or could I do 10 to 12 once I (hopefully) succeed in raising some young ones up?
<Easily the latter. Adult size in aquaria seems to be around the 30-35 cm mark, not the 90 cm often seen in books. Indeed, Fishbase seems to report similar lengths in the wild. Given they're quite slender fish with slow metabolisms, I'd reckon them similar in "bio-load" to a chunky 20-25 cm cichlid like a Jack Dempsey, and feel you can stock accordingly.>
Thank you so much for your help and time. It's much appreciated! Although my lfs ran out last weekend, I still hope to get the first three by the new year!
<Good luck with your project. Neale.>

Rope fish feeding       10/30/15
I have recently purchased a Ropefish and have him in a community tank with some platys and sword tails.
<Mmm; may eat these in time>

The other fish always grab the frozen brine shrimp before the rope fish has a chance to even notice them.
<Well; yes; the others are more eager eaters.... Ropes have poor vision, move slowly... Not really "community" fish>
I have fed him a few earthworms and he loved them!
<Ah yes>
My main question is how many worms should I be feeding him and how often?
<Depends on size... but a few, two-three times per week>
My selection of live foods is also very limited in my area and will likely only be able to find things
commonly used as live bait by fishermen. Any other suggestions?
<Oh yes.... READ here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/RopefishFdgF.htm
Bob Fenner>

Ropefish tankmates and feeding        3/21/14
Hello again, everybody!
Along with my 8 Ropefish, I have 1 L-333, 2 rapidly growing Siamese Algae Eaters, and 14 Denisonii. They're in a 125 gallon tank, kept at 75-76F, pH 7.0-7.4; I have a 12-inch bubble wall, an airstone, and two Eheim Classic 600s (#2217). The tank has very good circulation -- the plants in the center blow in the "wind" where the two filter currents converge, and there are spots where the barbs are clearly putting forth a bit of effort to swim "upstream!"
My first question: I am considering adding 6-10 Rainbowfish (I think a Melanotaenia species, like the boesemanni or similar) and 3 Spotted Red Severums (I think it's a variation of the Heros notatus). My LFS thinks these species are all compatible, and that I have enough space/filtration in my tank for all of them; do you agree?
<The Severums in time may prove to be too large and aggressive for some of your other fishes here; particularly should they decide to pair up, spawn...>
If possible, I might also like to get a few more Denisonii, but that's a lower priority at the moment.
My second question is about food. I've started using the Repashy gel pre-mixes, and I'm VERY impressed. I'm ready to do an infomercial on the stuff. The gel medium slows down the feeding enough that the Ropes have a chance to get some before the other fish gobble it up, it's soft enough for the Ropes to tear off pieces, and they LOVE it.
I've never seen them so enthusiastic about their food, even when I fed krill, blood worms, tilapia chunks, garden worms, etc. Now, I know that the Ropes are mostly meat-eaters in their natural habitat, and presumably need a good deal of protein; my Denisonii and Siamese Algae Eaters are omnivores who need some protein, but not too much.
The Repashy "Community Plus" mix (Krill Meal, Alfalfa Leaf Meal, Squid Meal, Pea Protein Isolate, Fish Meal, Stabilized Rice Bran, etc.) is 40% protein, 8% fat, and the "Super Green" mix (Spirulina Algae, Algae Meal (Chlorella), Pea Protein Isolate, Rice Protein Concentrate, Alfalfa Leaf Powder, etc.) is 35% protein, 8% fat. I want to make sure that the Ropes get enough protein, and that the Denisonii and SAEs don't get too much. If I alternate them, how frequently should I use each one, respectively? I tried blending them into one gel with 2 parts "Community Plus" and 1 part "Super Green," which seemed to work. Can the Ropes' digestive systems handle the algae and plant matter in the "Super Green"?
I was also thinking of getting some "Meat Pie" mix (Fish Meal, Krill Meal, Squid Meal, Dried Brewer’s Yeast, Dried Seaweed Meal, Lecithin, Spirulina Algae, etc.) which contains 55% protein and 8% fat, and some "Spawn & Grow" mix (Squid Meal, Krill Meal, Fish Meal, Schizochytrium Algae (Source of DHA), Dried Brewer’s Yeast, Dried Seaweed Meal, etc.) which contains 45% protein and 14% fat. If I use those, where would they fit into my feeding plan in terms of ratios and frequency?
<For the more meat-eating fishes in your entourage, yes>
It's almost impossible to feed just one species at a time. The barbs seem to smell, find, and eat everything, even with the lights off, no matter where I hide it. The Ropes are pickier and will only nibble on the "Super Green" if it's not mixed in with the "Community Plus."
I never feed just one type of food, but I'd like to make this Repashy gel their main staple. They all love it so much that now they swim up and beg whenever I approach the tank -- they're even eating it out of my hand! What's the best way to balance the different "flavors" of gel to maximize the health of all the fishes?
<You'll have to experiment and see>
Thanks so much,
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Ropefish, fdg.    7/13/11
Quick question. I have 3 ropes that are doing great. They do not like tilapia but do love earthworms, beef heart and dried/frozen blood worms, as well as bottom feeder wafers that I feed my other fish. I am going to try some other fishes. I bought some fairly expensive carnivore pellets that are mostly seafood. They are not interested but the other fish love them. Will they do ok with these bottom feeder pellets?
<Mmm, I'd expand the diet more. Read here:
They have for a few months now.
They are Hikari brand and have vitamins added. The shrimp pellets I give them are Hikari brand as well and are vitamin enriched. Do the vitamins included in the shrimp pellets offset the risk of thiamin deficiency such that I can feed them shrimp more than once a week?
<Maybe twice>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

caring for my rope fish, comp., fdg.    1/15/11
I've had two rope fish for a little over a week. As soon as the store receives more, I will be adding a third.
<Excellent. They're lovely fish, but very sociable.>
My tank is 55 gallons. Ammonia 0, nitrites 0, trace amounts of nitrate, pH around 7.2 (it's hard for me gauge exact numbers when I'm looking at little colored pads). I've been keeping the temperature at about 80 degrees F.
<All sounds fine, but try lowering the water temperature a bit, 25 C/77 F is fine.>
In the tank with them are 5 Filamentosa barbs. After spending a fair bit of time reading on Wet Web Media, I will giving those back to the fish store, as they seem to be really aggressive eaters, and I want to make sure the rope fish don't starve. What would be a good alternative? Ideally, I'd like something active and colorful that spends time in the middle/top area of the tank.
<I'd look at strict surface feeders, and on top of that, species that won't nip fins. Among the widely traded stuff, Congo Tetras, Penguin Tetras, Bleeding Heart Tetras, Australian Rainbowfish, Madagascar Rainbowfish, Silver Hatchetfish, Golden Wonder Killifish, Queen Danios and Giant Danios would all be good choices. Really anything along these lines.>
In the meantime, I've been feeding the rope fish by hand: tilapia (cut into strips while fresh, then frozen), wet-frozen krill, and occasionally wet-frozen bloodworms. When the ground thaws, I'll try to find some earthworms. (Ick!) They'll typically take 2-3 chunks quite eagerly, then stop; even when I put the food right up to their noses, they just turn away. Are they stopping because they're full? (I didn't think fish EVER stopped when they were full.) They are between 7 and 9 inches.
<Yes, these fish are best given a little but often. I'd feed them nightly.
They aren't particularly "greedy".>
Their bodies/bellies get lumpy after they feed. I hope that's normal! The lumps are usually gone by the next day, and I've been feeding again only after they're gone.
<That's absolutely ideal.>
All spaces and gaps in the tank are well-sealed with sponge, modeling clay and duct tape (well above the water line).
<Planning ahead!>
I hope they're happy. They SEEM happy; they glide around, and sometimes they rest at the bottom. One in particular is very friendly. Whenever I put my hand in the tank, it swims up curiously and will let me pet it a little.
Any pointers would be greatly appreciated!
<Sounds to me you've got everything well in hand. Well done! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: caring for my rope fish   1/20/11

Thank you so much for the input!
<No problem.>
The third rope fish was finally released from quarantine (standard with incoming shipments for at least two weeks at my local fish store) and able to come home. He had a rather buoyant tail for a few days - internal air bubble? - but it went away.
<Hmm'¦ they are air-breathers so it's possible they get air in their digestive tract sometimes.>
It's so cute to see the three of them stacked up together with their faces peeking out of their tunnel!
<Yes indeed! They love company. Just imagine how sad they are when kept singly.>
I gradually lowered the temperature to 77 F and returned the Filamentosa barbs. (THAT was exciting. One of them jumped out of the bucket in my car. It wasn't looking so hot by the time I pulled over, found it, and put it back in the bucket, but when I finally reached the store, it was swimming around like nothing had happened! Amazing.)
The store recommended four "red-tailed Bala sharks" (Cyclocheilichthys janthochir) as a replacement, saying they would be even more peaceful than the Bleeding Heart Tetras I had in mind.
<True, while Cyclocheilichthys janthochir is peaceful, even shy, they do get rather large. Expect a good 15-20 cm under aquarium conditions.>
I can't say I'm thrilled with them so far. They do ignore the rope fish and the rope fishes' food, to their credit, but they seem to spend most of their time cowering at the bottom of the tank.
<They will get over this once settled. But they are big, open water fish for tanks with a good water current, and if they feel "cooped up" they might never settle down. Congo Tetras and Bleeding Heart Tetras are both excellent choices for Ropefish, and frankly, even Penguin Tetras should do because Ropefish aren't predatory beyond stuff the size of Neons and less.>
They were poor eaters at first, and they appear to have lost some weight, looking a little pinched along the bottom. I've offered flakes, brine shrimp, and blood worms. Things seem to be improving. Slowly.
<They're a nice fish, worth fattening up. They are more or less carnivores, so whilst I'd give them Spirulina flake regularly, I'd concentrate on meaty foods -- krill, brine shrimp, tilapia fillet, etc. Colour-enhancing food will be useful, especially if you don't offer enough whole crustaceans.>
I'm having difficulty finding much information about the species. I'm not even sure that "red-tailed Bala shark" is the correct common name. Any suggestions?
<Do search for Cyclocheilichthys janthochir and you'll find a lot more data.>
Thanks again for all your help,
<Cheers, Neale.>

My rope/reed fish... in w/ goldfish? Fed guppies?  10/10/10
I bought a rope about a week ago that was in a tank with large Oranda gold fish. I found this fish to be very interesting and since it was in a tank with gold fish, I bought it because that is what I have at home.
<Your first mistake. Pet shops will often stick all kinds of fish together in one tank, and for a few weeks that might be fine. But what works at home is often very different!>
I also bought an Oranda that was in the tank with him so he would have someone familiar.
The lady told me she fed him guppies everyday;
<The lady at the pet store is taking full advantage of your ignorance. You should never, EVER use feeder fish bought from a pet shop. Sure, they sell them, but there are folks who sell crack cocaine too, and that doesn't make it safe. Please do some more research and less shopping!>
so I bought 10 feeder guppy's for him. In two days 8 were gone. 2 remained for almost a week.
<Indeed. But feeder fish are then #1 way of getting diseases into your aquarium. So unless you want to make your fish sick, don't use them. Secondly, Ropefish aren't really fish-eaters. They mostly feed on insect larvae and other small invertebrates. In aquaria wet-frozen bloodworms and krill make good staples, augmented with small pieces of tilapia fillet, cockles, occasional prawns, and earthworms.>
I started to worry that he was not eating. Then I noticed my Oranda's left fin was tore up like it was nipped at.
<Oh. Could be the guppies, could be the Ropefish. Hard to say. In any case, fancy Goldfish should not be kept with other sorts of fish. Yes, Orandas are social and need companions, but much better to choose another Oranda.>
The store told me it could have been the rope. This makes no sense to me because there were still 2 tiny feeder guppy's.
<What's that go to do with it?>
Well, the Oranda's fin began to get infected so I quarantined her. I later read that ropes like to be in groups and tend to eat better that way.
<They are certainly social and should be kept in groups of three or more.>
I went back to purchase another and they had just got a shipment in. I had two choices, a larger rope that flipped and flopped everywhere or the smaller rope that seemed calmer.
<I'm sure the bigger one was healthy, merely very unhappy. Your retailer doesn't sound like she knows anything about fish.>
The store also recommended me to stop giving guppy's and make them adjust to shrimp pellets. I added the new rope and he didn't really swim around like my first did in his introduction but, I gave him the benefit of trying to figure the new home.
By the morning I saw that he found the cave he chose and one of the two guppy's were gone. Don't know which one ate it but was glad to see one eat regardless but still concerned of eating habit because 1) I don't know if they are really eating the pellets and 2) It has been 4 days since the second rope was added and all four days he stayed in his cave; even at night-I check several times.
<Ropefish do not eat pellets. So stop using them. They need foods as listed above. Can't supply those? Then don't keep Ropefish.>
Today he came out but swims weird. He will position his body vertically with head down and spin in circles while staying straight and vertical. By the evening he is now floating at the top of the tank with his body in a circle and floating in a circle.
This behavior is very different from the other and he occasionally swims from one side of the tank to the other while my first rope continues to hang out at the bottom as usual and sits at top time
<Not sure what you mean here.>
there is still one guppy there and I don't know if they are eating at all and don't know if they are really eating the shrimp pellets plus my gold fish try to eat the pellets even when I shut the light off at night.
<They will eat a range of live, fresh, and wet-frozen foods. They WILL NOT eat freeze-dried foods including pellets and flanks.>
Is the second rope sick or is that just his personality and how long do they go without eating?
<Usually they starve to death when people try to give them the wrong foods. My guess here is that yours will be dead in a couple of months. You seem to have made no attempt at all to research the needs of these very unusual animals.>
My tank is a 65 gallon breeder with two power filters that each filters up to 70 gallons. Nitrates and nitrites are good and yes even with my gold fish the ammonia is maintained with chips and remover and test shows safe and the ph is 7.0.
<"Good" means nothing to me. Ropefish need 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite.>
I have inspected everyone's body and fins, everyone looks good except the Oranda which is quarantined and being treated and yesterday one of my black moors had the same fin problem so he is with the Oranda now getting treated before his infection could even get started. I read the ropes like to bundle together and they don't even go near each other.
<They're stressed and unhappy, and I'm fairly sure trying to escape. Since they WILL escape given even half a chance, I suspect the next part of this sorry story will be a dead, dried-out Ropefish on the carpet.>
Any thoughts, comments, suggestions and advice.
<Read. There is nothing mysterious about the maintenance of Ropefish. But you are doing everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, wrong.>
If it helps, each rope is about 5 inches,
<Seriously? That's tiny.>
the Oranda is about 4, 2 black moors are 3in, and one fancy tail is 2 and 1/2, the other fancy is 1 and 1/2, and 3 comets are 2in. You are probably thinking this is too many fish but these fish look tiny compared the this tank and the 65 breeder is just a temp home and looking to get a tank over 100 gallons maybe 200 to accommodate the ropes adult size and the 3 comets were for my uncles tank but when I brought them I did not add them to his tank because his current one fish had slim and sickness all over it so I placed them in mine till his gets better. Oh yea, I had a snail but he disappeared today, can't even find the shell.
<Sometimes Ropefish eat small snails, if the snail can fit into their mouth.>
<Do read, Jessica:
and linked articles. Cheers, Neale.>

Questions Regarding Rope Fish, hlth., fdg., sys.     8/3/09
Dear Sir / Madam,
I hope all is well !
My name is Kush and I'm from India.
I have 6 Rope Fishes in a 3 Feet ( 40 Gallon Tank ) with plenty of hiding caves and pipes for them. Just wanted to request you to kindly guide me on a few questions that I have regarding these wonderful fish.
<Fire away.>
Sir, one of the Rope Fish that I purchased recently, seems to have a eye problem. I can't say that its eyes are cloudy, but it looks more like a "white dot in the center" of both the eyes.
<Often mechanical damage. These fish are burrowers, and in tanks with gravel can injure themselves. Smooth silica sand is better. But smooth gravel usually works okay, too. In any case, treat as for Finrot, and hope for the best.>
All other ropes that I have, have clear and beautiful eyes. Is this some kind of an eye disease ? If yes, how do I treat this. Somebody suggested to use Tetracycline in the tank water, as this could be a Bacterial Disease - just wanted to know if this is safe and effective, and how much dosage is recommended. Also the only Tetracycline I get here are Capsules labeled as Oxy tetracycline - is this the same as the normal Tetracycline ?
<An antibiotic should work safely, but observe the fish, and if possible, treat it in its own quarantine tank.>
Another of my Rope Fish has a few White Spots on its body. They look a little (very little) protruding (like very tiny ulcers) - I have a feeling that its Ick (White spot disease) - I have raised the Temperature to 31C
and added a little salt. The fish seem to be comfortable but they still have the white spots. Kindly guide me on treating this.
<The salt/heat method should work well. Ropefish live in slightly brackish water sometimes, and they have a good tolerance for salt. 2 to 3 teaspoons of salt per gallon (3.75 l) of water should work well. It will take 1-2 weeks to wipe out all the parasites.>
Regarding Nutrition for my Rope Fish, I feed them Live earthworms everyday, and they really eat them well. Just wanted to know if this is ok for them as a standard diet.
I'm not able to 'train' them to eat anything else. I fed them Chopped prawn meat and pellets, but they don't even touch them.
<They will eat chopped prawn and other seafood eventually. They hunt by smell, mostly at night. So offer the food in the evening, and if necessary, starve them a couple of days before adding these foods.>
I worried that they aren't getting any vitamins in their diet and wanted to know if there is any way, I can make them ingest some vitamins.
<Variety is the key! If you have earthworms, prawns, mussels, bloodworms, squid, and small piece of white fish (such as tilapia) you have a nice, varied diet. These fish will eat most fresh or wet-frozen foods, though
they have little interest in dried foods or pellets.>
Will adding some vitamins directly to the tank water be effective ?
Lastly, Just wanted to know if my current tank ( 3 feet - 40 Gallons ) be enough to house these 6 Ropes that I have or do they need a larger tank.
<Should be fine. These fish rarely get above 45-50 cm in captivity. Your main issue is escaping: these fish VERY COMMONLY escape from fish tanks. A secure lid is essential. In the wild they move across land at night, from one pond to another, like eels. They are very, very good at squeezing through tiny holes. Be careful!>
Kindly guide me on the above questions, Sir - I really have nobody else to guide me. Thanks for reading and for caring, Lots of Regards and Wishes, Kush
<These are wonderful fish. Do see here:
And follow the linked articles for more. Good luck with them! Neale.>

Re: Columbian Shark help!! (follow-up question). Ropefish fdg., comp.  3/16/2007 <<Hi, again, Andy.>> Great idea, thank you for your assistance!  I did as you suggested last night and it already appears to be helping. They ate last night for the first time in 3 days!!   <<Glad to hear it, Andy.>> One more question for you.  In this tank (55gal in the process of being transferred to brackish), there are also 2 spotted puffers, 2 Dalmatian mollies, and one Ropefish (Yes, they all get along!).   <<Still a good idea to keep a watchful eye here.>> The sharks, mollies, and puffers gobble EVERYTHING I put in there for food rather quickly.  I'm afraid the Ropefish won't be able to get any food and will eventually starve as he doesn't seem to come out at all during feeding (I know he's nocturnal).  My question is this: Is there any foods that are specific to Ropefish or anything I can put on the bottom that he'll find when he comes out at night? <<Unfortunately, Andy, the Columbians are going to be every bit as interested in whatever foods you select as your Ropefish would be so, it might be more a matter of 'when' than 'what'. Live foods are preferred by both but I would offer that you should stay away from small feeder fish of any description with your current stocking arrangement. (We almost universally advise against this anyway from a nutritional standpoint, however, it can/will 'trigger' predatory responses in both of these fish that the other fish, particularly the Mollies, don't need awakened.) You might try a food like sinking shrimp pellets later in the evening. These make it to the bottom rather quickly and might not get 'picked off' on the way down by the others. The Sharks, as you know, are scavengers but changing up feeding times may give the Ropefish a chance to feed while the others are less active.>> Thank you again for your assistance, I love this website and you guys are a HUGE help! Andy <<Thanks, Andy. We certainly appreciate that. If I may, while you've just recently 'upgraded' your tank, you'll need to keep in mind that your Columbians will need even more room down the road. These guys grow very large and the typical recommendation is about 50 gallons per fish. I suspect you are already aware of this but I like to point this out when the opportunity presents itself for our other readers. Keep up the good work and good luck with your new tank. Tom>>

What Should I Feed My Ropefish?  9/16/06 <Hi Cera, Pufferpunk here> We recently were sold a bunch of fish from a crappy pet store owner. A blue lobster ate an angel fish already and snipped the fin off the tail of a Bala shark. <Ouch!> I'm wondering if the fin will grow back or not. He seems to be ok. <It should be fine.  Add Melafix to the water.> Also he sold us a rope fish and told us it eats flakes. About a week later we noticed he wasn't moving & wasn't eating. Looked him up on the net and found out it eats live worms and fish. <Correct but I'd stick with the worms.> We fed it worms we dug up and he bounced back quickly. <Be sure there are no pesticides or fertilizer being used, where you're digging up the worms from.  Best to get black/bloodworms from a reputable shop.  Be sure to rinse them thoroughly in a brine shrimp net.  You might want to put them into a cone worm feeder, so they don't all crawl into your gravel.> The pet store owner insists we shouldn't feed it worms only tropical flakes. What is your opinion? <I think you have figured that one out on your own...> Any advice would be greatly appreciated. <Be sure to cover any & all openings in the top of your tank & never leave the top open.  Every single Ropefish I've ever had (even with taping up all openings) has figured it's way onto the floor & dried up.  They also like the company of other Ropefish.  As far as your Bala shark, they grow quite large & are schooling fish. ~PP> Thank you, Cera H

Oh no!  Maybe it wasn't dead!! Ropefish, the lack of utility of "vacation feeding blocks" 6/29/05 Hello, I'm writing on behalf of my husband.  He's really the aquatic enthusiast.  I've spent the last hour or so reviewing your site and reading over the BichirFAQ's.  Before I get to my dilemma, I want to commend you on a spectacular and informative site. <Welcome> Also, I am glad to see someone demand better grammar in their postings.  This is the first time I've ever taken the time to post on any site as I am usually quickly turned off by the sheer volume of grammatical errors.   <Me too... err, I as well!> My husband and I were on vacation about two weeks ago and had my mother in law come to feed our pets.  Because his mother would not be able to feed the fish for the first weekend we were away, we purchased a 7 day feeder for the fish. <Mmm, most of these are bunk nutritionally... as well as caustic to water quality> He has a Bala shark, two bottom feeders, and two other semi-aggressive fish, but I'm not sure what they are.  Until we went on vacation, he also had a rope fish approximately 12 inches in length.  This was by far my favorite fish.  A few days into our vacation, his mother called and said that the fish appeared dead.  She said it was floating on the top with its head down and the fins were not moving.   <Perhaps just "natural behavior"> After reading the information on the site, I am astonished at what hardy fish they are!  I am afraid that my husband's rope fish was not in fact dead, but simply ill.  Is there anything you can tell me that would indicate if this was the behavior of a sick rope fish? <That it did not move at all... would not respond to the top being lifted, being prodded... That (ultimately) white, reddish marks occurred on its body> Tragically, she removed the fish from the tank and disposed of it, so it's too late now to save it, but we are trying to replace it and wouldn't want to have a repeat performance.  I was hoping you could tell me the likelihood that the feeder was the culprit. <It was at least a contributor, I agree> The feeder made the water very cloudy.  We changed the filters right away and this seemed to remedy that problem.   We usually fed it frozen bloodworms and pellets.  Is it possible it didn't like the new food and starved?   <To some extent, yes> The other fish all seem unscathed. <They likely just went w/o food as well...> My husband is very upset because he has only lost one fish in over two years.  He also changes the water and vacuums about once a month. Thank you for your help. Danielle       <A lesson learned re "feeding blocks"... I will post your input... know that you have saved many other organisms through your writing. Thank you, Bob Fenner>

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