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FAQs on Freshwater Livestocking 2

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 3, FW Livestock 4, FW Livestocking 5, FW Livestocking 6, FW Livestocking 7, FW Livestocking 8, FW Livestocking 9, FW Livestocking 10, FW Livestocking 11, & Stocking Small Systems, & FAQs on: Freshwater Livestock SelectionCommunity Tank Livestocking,

FW Fish Compatibility II Thanks, I can't seem to find a suggestion from anyone so I guess I'll leave the big guys out. Y'all rock. Or, as they say here in Pittsburgh, yinz guys rock an' 'at. < Thanks for the kind words. As far as stocking your tank goes, I would recommend that you find a fish species that you really are interested in keeping. Make sure it doesn't grow too big, need special water that you can't provide or have any special foods that you are not ready to provide. Once you pick out that species then we can steer you in the right direction for compatible tank companions.-Chuck> 

A whacky mix of marine/brackish/freshwater fishes I am moving my 2 Atlantic Stingrays <As in marine?> to a 240 gallon tank and already have a school of 4 silver dollars in the tank with the pair. My Question is this, I've been looking at the Leopard puffer or GSP that is listed on WWW, would one of these fish be okay in a tank with my rays and silver dollars? <Mmm, neither. Too likely to be outcompeted for food by the Dollars, and need different water chemistry> The Atlantic stingray's and everyone else get along great and they never bother any of the fish in the tank but I've heard that the Puffers are nippy however the 3 LFS have all told me that they would do fine in a large tank with the rays and silver dollars. I'm concerned because I don't want any of our fish to get hurt. Thank you in advance.. Chris Fortune <Please send along the species name of your Rays, look up all these fishes requirements on fishbase.org or WWM. Bob Fenner>

Sm. FW stock plan I was wondering if this community would be okay in a 12-gallon tank: 1 Betta (Should I get male or female?) <You'll likely want a male> 3 Corydoras Catfish 6 Neon Tetra Thank you for your reply! <Mmm, do make sure the Neons are larger than "Betta mouth-size"... if the tank is cycled, heated... should be a very nice assemblage. Bob Fenner>  

FW fish to buy Hello. I am new to breeding and thanks to your site my molly gave birth to 30 healthy babies with only one unfertilized egg!! I have a question. I am upgrading my tank to a larger tank and could you recommend any easy fish to breed but a bit more difficult than mollies, platies, guppies etc. where you don't really have to do anything to get them to breed. are there any easy breeding egg layers? <Mmm, yes... though not as simple "to do" as livebearing toothed carps... Some of the often bred Danios, Rasboras, small barbs, the popular bubble-nest builders (Gouramis, Bettas)... all pretty easy> Also with the types of fish you recommend, could you please recommend any plants to provide hiding places for the fry? Thank you. Kate <All sorts of plants to go with these fishes... many are discussed on WWM: http://wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/AquariumGardenSubWebIndex.html.  Am very happy to read your mail, consider that there are folks with inquisitive, adventurous minds/spirits in our interest. Bob Fenner> 

GOOD BEGINNER FISH Thank you, Chuck. I have talked to a friend who has several large aquariums and is willing to give me a heater and filter for a low price. Could you suggest some fish now? (my Betta is not in my tank, I have moved him to a bowl since Bettas can live inside them. Heather <Good beginner fish that I like are the barbs because they are active, colorful and not too particular about water requirements. Danios would be another good choice.-Chuck>

A Myriad of questions From a Loquacious 12yo HI WWM people. This is Josie and I am 12 years old, I have been with almost every kind of pet all my life. I have had a pet sitting business since I was 7. Here's the situation -I have a ten gallon tank with a catfish, small Pleco (don't worry this only grows to 4 inches), 50? itsy bitsy snails, 2 zebra danios,2 female guppies,1 male guppy, Whisper filter, heater (at 80 Fahrenheit), and 5 guppy babies(1 cm each) in a separate 2.5 gallon tank also at 80 degrees. (Back g round info) Question 1: Does the temperature of water that pregnant female guppies are kept at affect the gender of soon to be baby guppies? I have heard that the warmer the water the more girls you get and vice-versa for the males. < I have looked at several sources and found no evidence to support that claim. In cichlids that have no sex chromosomes unlike guppies that do, their sex can be determined by water temp or pH.> Question 2: If I don't want to too many babies should I hope for more girls or more boys?  < If you have all boys you won't have any babies at all.> Question 3: Can fish that are related to each other mate such as brother & sister; daughters& fathers....? < Sure no problem.> If they can, then a lot of my new guppies will be having babies along with the original moms (Ahhhhhh craziness!) Question 4: Is it cruel to let the babies get eaten by other fish because I'm not trying to raise a guppy ZOO ( I don't want a million and two guppies is what I'm trying to say) < There is a reason many guppies are referred to as feeder fish. In nature most of the fry would be preyed on anyway.> Question 5: I want to add some colorful fish to my tank because right now it is kind of bland with one colorful fish (male guppy). Do you have any suggestions on how many I should get and of what kind? < You could always add more male guppies. They come in so many different colors that you could have a whole kaleidoscope of color. You could probably get a dozen while doing weekly water changes.> I'm open to frogs, shrimp whatever (doesn't have to be fish). <Small African frogs or filter feeding shrimp would work too.> Here is a list of the fish that DON'T work in my tank (in parenthesizes is the # of fish they killed.) Oh yes- don't even try to tell me to ask the fish store because they are the lunatics who suggested these fish. Dalmatian Molly(1) Paradise (4) Long fin Gold rosy Barb(2) (yes, that is the real name) < The long flowing fins of the guppy are to tempting for many fish to ignore. Other fish to consider would be cherry barbs or smaller Rasboras..> There are more that I just cant think of right now. I do know that these are the murderers. As soon as I could I returned these mean fish to the store. I am sorry about all the questions, I am just really eager to learn and plus I like to talk a lot and ask a lot of questions (like I am doing right now).  Your web site helped me a lot, but I just couldn't find these answers. It's the caring people like you who take time out of their life to help others that make the world that much better.  I would greatly appreciate it if you responded within the next 2-3 weeks. Thanks for the taking the time out of your busy schedule to read my email. < No problem, that is what we are here for.-Chuck>

Unsure of Overcrowding Hello. <Hey, Mike G here> I am a fairly new fish keeper and a hopeful breeder. My problem is that I am unsure if I am overcrowding my tank as I don't know how many gallons it has. All I know are the measurements: length: 45cm, width: 23cm and height: 22cm. How many gallons is that? <Your tank is approximately 6 gallons, 5.9 gallons to be exact> I have one neon tetra, 1 male molly, 1 pregnant female molly in a breeding box thing. And two angelfish which I can sell when they get too big. Am I overcrowding my tank? <Well, to put it simply...yes, you are. 6 gallons of water is hardly anything at all for a fish tank, in my opinion. I would consider you fully stocked with the tetra and two mollies. Sell the Angelfish now, not only do they push your tank well over the stocked point, it is in no way responsible to keep them in such cramped conditions. Please, do your homework before bringing home a fish, it will avoid much future heartache.> And with a possible 10-30 baby mollies. <Well, that just won't work. I'm trying to imagine your tank with 30 baby mollies, 2 adult mollies, a neon tetra, and 2 angels. A can of sardines keeps popping into my head.> What should I do? <The solution is simple enough. Sell the angels, and the molly fry once they are born. keep up with your water changes and keep your water quality high, and you will enjoy a successful fish tank. I wish you the best of luck, Mike G> 

HOW MANY FISH? I have a 38 gallon FW tank, which recently finished cycling. In it I have 5 Bleeding Heart tetras. I would very much like to add 4-6 rainbow fish as well as several Cory cats. 1. I understand that overstocking is best tracked by following the nitrate levels, but if you think that this configuration will lead to obvious overstocking, then I will select other fish 2. I was told that Tetras and rainbows are both midlevel schoolers and therefore would not be compatible. Is this true? Dawn  < As long as you can keep the nitrates under 25 ppm in between water changes you should be fine. Mixing two different types of fish should not pose too much of a problem. The fish you have selected are not very aggressive . When you add the new fish there will be a pecking order for awhile but it will settle out over time.-Chuck> 

FISH COMPATIBILITY One more question! I have a 265, 150, and 30 gallon tanks with a bunch of fish I have and want. The fish I have are 2 Red Bellied Pacu, 1 Oscar, 2 Albino Festivums, 2 Blood Parrots, and 1 Polyp. senegalus. I want to know which fish I should sort into which tank and which fish that I want. I would like a Clown Knife, 2-3 Hystrix Rays, 2 Shortnose Gars, a Silver Arowana, 1 Datnoides Pulcher, a Zebra Shovelnose (or just a Sorubim Lima), and a few Geophagus Surinamensis. I was thinking that I should sort the fish like this: 30 gallon: 2 Albino Festivums, maybe a breeding pair(s) of German Blue Rams < If the Festivums breed they will pick on the rams. The rams should get along OK with the Festivum.> 150 gallon tank: 2 RB Pacu, Oscar, 2 Blood Parrots, Polypterus senegalus < These fish all get big. The Pacu can get up to 4 feet long but can go with the others for awhile. The rest are fine.> 265 gallon tank: 2-3 Hystrix Rays, Clown Knife, 2 Shortnose Gars, Silver Arrow, Wide Bar Dat, 3 Geophagus Surinamensis/Jurupari, Zebra Shovelnose/Sorubim Lima... < All these fish get very big (3'+) with the exception of the cichlids. I think I would swap the cichlid in the 265 with the Pacus in the 150.> Does this list sound alright? If not what should I change? -Thanks- < Looks like you will be changing about 150 gallons of water per week to keep your fish healthy. I have seen almost all these fish as donations at the Steinhart aquarium in San Francisco. When the fish become too much to handle you may have a serious problem finding homes for them.-Chuck> <Editor's note: if fed a good variety of foods, including fruit and insects, this fish is good eating.>

Stocking Levels Your site has great info and helped me figure out what kind of setup I wanted. However, there seems to be a lot of conflicting info everywhere about stocking levels. I have a 30-gallon tank that's approximately a 21" cube. It's been running for about 4 months and I stocked slowly over a couple of months. I perform water tests weekly and everything seems fine. I currently have 4 black Neons, 7 Glowlights, and 4 lemon tetras. They all swim around together without any conflicts. I would like to build up the black neon and lemon tetra schools. Do you think my tank is full now or is it big enough to hold some more fish? Thanks a lot for your help! Pete S. <One of the best things we can do for our fish is keep the stocking level low. You have 15 small fish in a 30 gallon tank. Not bad at all. I think you could handle another five or six small tetras. Or three or four Corys for some bottom action. But not both. Just realize that increasing the bio-load of the tank means more water changes. Make sure your nitrates stay below 20ppm and you should be fine. Don>

Minimum Tank Size What is the minimum tank size for 2 Red Bellied Pacu with no other tankmates? What is the minimum tank size for 2 Motoro/Hystrix stingrays w/no other tank mates? <For either pair about 240 gallons... two feet wide minimum by an eight foot long minimum system. Bob Fenner> 

F/W Stocking Question Hey Bob I need help with my 20 gallon tank. It already settled and I had it for at least 1 year. I packed it with: 2 Plecos 1 jewel [cichlid] 4 convict pairs Is this a little too crowded but it feels it does. <This is not a little too crowded, it is very crowded for these fish. Both the jewel and the convicts will get quite large for this size tank. There are too many nutrients in the system because of this, and this is what's causing your green water. Either get a larger tank (55 or more), or find homes for the jewel and convicts.>  Anyway the water started getting greener and greener! I always turn off the lights at 9:00p.m then turn it on at 7:00a.m and it did cycle and it still got dirty! Water changes didn't work so help!  <You don't need lights on for 14 hours, this is just adding to the problem. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks  <You're welcome> 

BIG induced troubles in a new FW system Hello thank you for helping other people with there fish problems. I'm not really new at fish but I just started a few months ago. I have a 20 gallon with the following fish. 1.red devil 3.convicts(black) 2.red tiger Oscars 3.pacus 2.plecos <Yeeikes! This system is WAAAAY overcrowded... psychologically, and soon physiologically> But really they are all still small. Soon all the other fish started to breath very fast!! Soon one of the Oscars started to go to the top and stay in that very spot!! But still I don't get it! They all still eat and they flare at each other but it just does not seem normal. I used to keep two big Firemouths in there they had babies then that going to the top thingy started then the Firemouths died and it went back to normal! Then it started all over again and that's when I turned to you for some advice or answers to my problem. thanks- Mike <Mike the system may not be cycled: please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and it has definite issues with the types/species of fishes present... My real advice is to return all your fish livestock but the Convicts and Plecos... NOW... and if you want the other livestock... wait till you have a MUCH larger system (hundreds of gallons) to accommodate them. Bob Fenner>

Stocking a 60 Hey, I am planning on starting up a 60 gallon tank soon and I was wondering what other kinds of schooling fish I could put in my tank. So far, I want to put Neons, rummy nosed tetras, zebra Danios, and marble hatchets. I also want to add Corys and Bristlenose Plecos. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks. <Nice mix. I would just add more of each. Especially the Neons(15+) and Corys (6, all the same species). Just get a single Bristlenose. Don>   

How many fish can a 5-gallon carry? Hey...I been reading around on your site and found it most informative. At the moment, I keep a sapphire blue Betta in a 5-gallon Marineland Tank with Eclipse lighting and filtration [bio-wheel]. Now, through your site, I've learned about the many other types of fish I can opt to include with the Betta. I plan to maybe put some Corydoras catfish in my 5-gallon with my Betta. <A nice addition> Yet, I think I've heard/read somewhere that Corys are community fish... but with a 5-gallon, I could only accommodate so many fish at a time. <A couple of a smaller species will do fine> Yet, as I've mentioned, I'd like to put some in with my Betta to enhance my aquarium setup. So, if possible, could you please advise me as to exactly the number of fish (Corys, in particular) that I could put in a 5-gallon with my Betta? Thanks in advance for your answer!!! <Depending on the species of fishes... a handful of smaller types could be added... as long as they're of easygoing temperament. Bob Fenner>

Guppy and Scissortail Compatibility Hello I recently set up a 33g FW tank. Once I had it fully cycled I add 5 guppies (4 female male).  Then about 2 days ago I bought 5 scissors. I was wonder is this ok for now? <Hey, Mike G here. I see no problems with your current fish mix. A word of advice: please try to always research a fish fully before you bring it home. You got lucky with the Scissortails, but who knows what would have happened had you brought home a baby Oscar.> Thanks Lena

New 265 gallon tank Greeting WWM, I have just received a 265 gallon (86x12x30) soon-to-be freshwater tank. I currently have in a 30 gallon tank 2 Blood Parrot Cichlids, 2 Severums, 1 Jack Dempsey, 1 Oscar, 2 Pacu, and 1 Polypterus (All juveniles about 1").  <Yowzah! You need this new tank... plus!> I am very aware of the size of the Pacus and other fish will attain, which is why I have bought this 265 gallon tank. Please tell me if there is anything from the following which I am doing wrong. I plan on cycling the tank with the Severums and Blood Parrots (I hear they are hardy and good cichlid cycle fish). <Mmm, I wouldn't do this... just move a good bit of the water, perhaps... Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm >  From there, when I match the chemistry from the 2 tanks and when all is cycled, I will put the rest of the tank in the 265 and put the Severums and Blood Parrots in the 30 gallon tank with a Discus and a school of cardinal tetras. <Uhh, not a good idea... not only are these fishes incompatible, this is too crowded...> I would also like to put in the 265 gallon tank: 1 Clown Knifefish, 1 Tiger Shovelnose Catfish, 1 African Tiger Fish, and however many Motoros will happily fit. I keep all of the pHs at 7.0.  Does this seem alright? <Nope> Are all of this fish compatible? <Negative> How many Motoros will safely fit? <Zip> Is this tank big enough for all of these fish? <Bingo... not a bit> What other oddball fish will be compatible with this tank? Please tell me anything I'm doing wrong.  Thanks for the help your site is AWESOME! --Zach T.-- <Zach... you remind me of myself... we would be better off siliconing a glass panel over the house door and filling our homes with water! Honestly, you need even MUCH larger tank/s to put all you list in... Do reconsider your (over)stocking plan here... or be prepared for real troubles subsequent to your jamming in too much in these aquariums. Bob Fenner>
Re: New 265 F/W gallon tank
Bob, <Zach> I wrote to you yesterday about my new 265 gallon overcrowded Pacu tank and just received your response. Would it be ok if I just kept the same fish I have now and put them in the 265 gallon tank without adding any new fish or is this still too overcrowded? <Will eventually... a year or two... be overcrowded as is... in the meanwhile the large cat... will eat some of the other fish> What would you say is the minimum size with all of my desired fish? Which of these fish incompatible (Oscar, Dempsey, Pacu, Blood Parrot, Severum, and Polypterus)? What would you suggest I do about all this? --Zach T.-- <Study... on WetWebMedia.com and fishbase.org is the information you seek... on size of these species, compatibility, housing. Bob Fenner> 
Re: New 265 gallon tank-- Last Letter I PROMISE
Bob, <Yo> My mistake. In the letters I've sent to you regarding the overcrowded 265 gallon Cichlid/Pacu tanks I meant to say Red Bellied Pacu instead of just Pacu (Black Pacu). I know the size difference between the two is tremendous and maybe now the tank would not seem as crowded as it did before...?  My apologies, --Zach T.-- <Still crowded... I know it's hard to imagine... with the size of your tank, and the current less-than-maximum size of the fishes in question... you will have to make some adjustments as the months, years go by. Bob Fenner>

Freshwater stock list Hi I own a 10 gallon tank with two gold fish and am starting a second 10 gallon heated tank and want to know if its safe to combine the following fish: 2 neon tetras, 1 molly, 1 guppy, possibly a snail, and 1 platy (I have chosen exact types yet of anything but the tetras) is this OK? Thank you Logan <These should all get along fine in your new ten gallon tropical tank. Bob Fenner>

I'm Trying to Find a Balance (for Tank) - Freshwater Planted Setup Hi everyone! I am writing in hopes that someone might be able to help me. I have a 72 gallon planted tank. Currently the inhabitants are 4 Corys, 1 flying fox, 2 angelfish, and millions and millions of guppies! The water is on the hard side of things, and I do add salt (I know that is not preferred by the Corys... we won't go there for now). Anyway this tank has always been intended as a "guppy" tank but I'm sure you know the problem with guppies is that they breed insufferably! I bought the angels on a recommendation that they might be likely to eat some of the very young guppies. I do see that they are going after the young, although I also notice that angels are not the fastest fish in the world so we'll see how they fare against the gups...  Anyway my goal at this point is to re-invent my livestock to include a few things that might eat some of the smaller guppies and thus keep the guppy population to a minimum. AT the same time, I don't want anything that will tear the fins off the bigger gups. This is getting tough now, I know. I plan to add some Celebes halfbeaks (If I can ever get my hands on the stinking things!!! Argh).  I'd be so happy to receive any other recommendations on 1 or 2 other species of fish I could add that might meet my needs here. I do not want to eradicate the gups, just kind of cull the population by a few hundred fish or so, and I'm not really keen on flushing them live. I kind of see this as pseudo- balance here, the guppies providing an interesting food source for other species of fish, and the other fish keeping the fish population at a reasonable number. I love the guppies and want to keep them, just not quite so many of them. If you can make some educated suggestions I'd be so happy! < There are many fish that would be very happy to be feeding on your excess guppy population. Basically there are a couple types of predators types to choose from. One is the ambush predators. They look like a rock or stone or some other object. The guppy swims by not realizing that it is a fish and is quickly inhaled by the larger fish. The others are chase or pursuit predators that chase the smaller fish around until they are caught and eaten. The ambush predators are not very flashy but are interesting to watch. The others are usually better colored but cause extreme chaos in the tank that all fish get harassed. Dwarf pike cichlids, some types of leaf fish and freshwater flounders would be worth a try. Ask your local fish store what they have then run their suggestions past us for a second opinion.-Chuck> 

New Tank Questions Hi Crew! Thanks again for the awesome work you do here.  I currently have a 55 gallon planted aquarium stocked with  2 Ghost Angels (Silver dollar-sized bodies) 1 Common Pleco 1 CAE [sic] (Chinese algae-eater) 1 Marbled Angel (Same size)  1 Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami 4 Zebra Danios 2 White Minnows 4 Red- Eye Tetras  4 MM Platies [sic] (Mickey Mouse) 7 Serpae Tetras  14 Neons   and 6 Corys.  I know that the angels will soon become to big so I am setting up a new tank.  I found a great bargain on another 55 gallon, so I bought it used. I want to move the 2 ghost Angels into the new tank as well as add some other fish. With the removal of the two Angels from the above tank, and the trading in of my soon-to-be too big Pleco for a Clown or Emperor Pleco, will I be ok on stocking? < Depends on how often you do water changes and how much water you change. If your nitrates are kept below 25 ppm before you do any water changes then you stocking is fine. If the nitrates exceed this number then you will have to do more frequent water changes or reduce the number of fish.> I was hoping you might give me some suggestions on suitable tankmates for the new tank's 2 ghost Angels. I was thinking about doing Rainbows as this tank will be the centerpiece of my living room. I would like a lot of color, and largish fish. I was thinking about Clown Loaches, but they get so big. Are the Smaller Skunk loaches as funny and active as the clowns? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. < The smaller more active loaches would be fine. In the wild angelfish can be found with Festivums or discus. Any medium sized tetra or rainbowfish would also be fine.> And finally one last question. I recently bought the new Penguin BioWheel 350B (what a great filter--2 Bio-Wheels and very quiet). While I was seeding that filter, I kept my old AquaClear 500 on the tank. Now that the Bio-Wheels are seeded, can I move my established AquaClear filter to this new tank, and have an instantly cycled tank? < You tank will be instantly cycled. Go easy at first until you check your water quality confirmed.-Chuck> Thanks again for your help!  Angel  

Freshwater Questions: Diet, Compatibility, etc. Hi I recently got a new tank for Christmas (110 gallon) I have 25 fish right now all about an inch to almost 2 inches, all my fish are African cichlids except for the Plecos I have. I' am wondering what to feed them when they get older and as they grow, maybe feeders I was told? Currently I'm feeding them 'African cichlid attack' they seem to be liking it but just let it sink to the bottom then go for it, when I come back after ten minutes its gone. I have 4 electric yellows, 2 Kenyis - one male and one female, 2 male jewel spots and 2 female jewel spots, 2 Venustus, 2 black ps acei, 2 dickfeldi, 2 J regani, 2 C. borleyi, 2 Plecos, I have also have a orange fish not sure what it is at all, it is all orange (no other colours to it) and is and African cichlid, I also have 2 blue fish that look exactly like the black ps acei but are blue.  Can you u help me find out what they are?  I was also wondering if any of my fish will breed like the Kenyis and the jewel spots, I was also wondering how a needle nose fish would do in a tank of cichlids?  I have lots of hiding spots about 15 they are all rock hideouts, and about 6 plant hideouts and about 4 log hideouts, the male Kenyi has already taking over one of the spots and the female has too, is this a sign of pregnancy or not? I have a huge log piece with two holes in it and the female jewel spots have taking those over but sometimes leave and go to rock hideouts. I have 4 thick plants that the other fish like to hideout in and some small real plants. I hope this is enough hiding spots but if not I can get more and build more hiding spots, my pockets are very deep when it comes to my fish. They seem to get along just fine around the tank and at feeding time but when they go back to there hideouts they sometimes fight to have it. Thanks for your time and have a great day! I was also wondering if a red tailed shark would go ok with African cichlids? < Africans cichlid will do well on a mainly vegetarian diet. Feed Spirulina flakes, pellets and wafers.> Other fish need to be fast and pretty tough to get along with a cichlid tank. Every time you add fish you need to move the rocks around to break up the territories.> My other fish in the other tank - I have also a 40 gallon fish tank with 4 four and a half inch tinfoil barbs, 3 silver dollars (2.5 inches), one clown loach (1.5 inch), 2 blue Gouramis (2 inches), and one zebra guppy (1 inch), one long tailed zebra guppy (1 inch), and one neon guppy (1 inch) and my favourite fish a black ghost knife (5-6 inches), I was wondering if the tinfoil's will ever breed I have only hade the fish for about a year maybe less... <Tinfoil barbs get up to 12 inches so you will need a really big tank to breed them> ... and will the Gouramis or silver dollars ever breed and if so what are good conditions and how to I know if they are males or females? < Silver dollars also get big and require lots of soft acid water. You have a good chance of breeding your Gouramis. The male has longer fins. They are Bubblenest breeders.>  And do they keep there eggs in there mouths or do they give birth like humans? I have a very good cave for the ghost knife and 4 other hiding spots, I was also wondering if I can feed my tinfoil barbs and ghost knife and silver dollars and possibly the Gouramis feeders? < Feeders are actually a poor food source for your fish. A good quality flake or pellet food would be better. The black ghost should get some live black worms or brine shrimp.-Chuck>  I was told to try it out from a fish store and I thought I better ask you guys to see what you said. I know that the ghost knife will eat feeders because they were feeding it feeders at the fish store I bought him at. I am feeding them all 'TetraMin Tropical Flakes' right now and the ghost knife brine shrimp and some of the other fish get some too. I thank you very much for your time! And try to get back to me A.S.A.P, thanks again and have a good one!  Jordan 

Easy Tank Hi, I need to start an aquarium that's as easy to care for as possible. We'll be happy with an aquarium containing only one species of pretty fish. Reading leads me to believe that the easiest fist to care for are platies. But platies reproduce, making their care more difficult. Males by themselves, I read, become aggressive. So, what would be the negatives, if any, of an aquarium housing only (well-loved) female platies? Or would you suggest another route for "an aquarium that's as easy to care for as possible"? Thanks for your help. Francis <Hmmmm. Well there will be a level of care needed to keep any tank properly. You will have to do water changes, clean, service filters, and so on no matter what species you keep. It also depends on the size of the tank. A 5 to 10 gallon tank with a filter and heater would be a good home for a Betta and a few Cory catfish. Without a heater you could try White Clouds. Please read up on cycling. Much less hassle to do this before you stock. Don>  

Suddenly Stocked Tank I just wrote you guys 2 days ago and have not got a reply, I know its that time of the year, and we all are trying to have fun, AND HAPPY NEW YEAR. Well anyway my friend dumped the rest of the fish on me and I'm worried. I have a 55 gal. FW setup with a Emperor 400, his old Bio-wheel (just 1) and 5 gallons of his water, a bubble wand, heater (holding 79 Deg.), Multiple plants (fake), 25lbs. fine gravel, and some hiding rocks (that the tetra and loach are sharing one, the Plecos fight over the other. I know I need more, and planned on having). Well I'm worried because I've had the tank set-up for 5 days, on the 2nd day the tetra and Gourami went in, and planning on doing the rest in a few weeks slowly. But my friend just brought them all over. I'm freaking out. They were all in a nasty tank with very little water changes, excuse me they all are:  a 9" Plecostomus, 7" Plecostomus, 1" Loach, 3" blue Gourami (I think), 8" Black Knife Ghost fish, 1" frog, and a 1" Tetra (I think). So now my tank as now got a lot going on. I'm worried. The knife fish found a spot between a rock and a plant and will not move, (the only cave type thing I could come up with is mason jar, but he will not use or go in) The Plecos will not eat (I tried algae wafers, my friend had not fed any of them for a few days, I am so scared for them), and the smaller loach seems to be beating up on a tetra 3x its size. What is happening, all my water levels are normal for now but they just got in there a few hours ago, well my questions are, Is this alright? <No> Will it be? <Yes> what kind of water changes should I do? <Keep ammonia and nitrite at zero, nitrates below 20ppm> Is there anyway to treat water immediately out of the tap without aging? <Yes, a good dechlorinator> Is this to much fish? <Loose one or both Plecos and you're understocked. Add a group of 4 or 5 Corys.> I don't have a light (am using Saran wrap as a cover for now) how important is that? <More for your viewing> Should I have 2 Plecos in one tank? <Not this size fish/tank> and I have an Emperor 400 running on 1 bio-wheel. How bad is this (it is an established bio-wheel)? <Not good, but better than nothing. You can get another at most Pet Stores or online at the Marineland web site.> What does the black knife like? He won't eat anything? <Try frozen blood worms, fed at night.> Should I be using fish salt? <No, your fish do not need it> Please help me I am scared for my newly acquired fish (most are 1 year old except the loach, tetra and Gourami) Your site is amazingly helpful and if I had the choice my tank would not have happened like this, but he just dropped them off in bags with NO AIR IN THEM (they all seem to being doing fine after a 2 hour acclimation). But I am still worried. Is there something I can do to better my chances of all these fish living. By the way I have yet to do a water change because my levels all have stayed down. Thank you James <You can make this work with a test kit and lots of water changes. Test daily for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Do however many water changes it takes to keep the first two at zero. When they stay at zero without a water change and nitrates are rising you filter is cycled. You can then slow the water changes to keep nitrates below 20ppm. Normally this would take about 6 weeks. But as long as the bio wheel did not dry out you may have retained enough of the old bacteria to control the water quality. The test will tell the tail. Let the results set your water change schedule. Good luck. Don>  

Suddenly Stocked Tank pt 2 Thank you very much, you have calmed my nerves quite a bit. I tested again today and levels were down. I did a small water change, just because.  I will keep doing water changes 1-2 a week. Until things get established. I have decided that I am going to get rid of the Plecos, where would I be able to get rid of these? Thank you again, James <Just take the Pleco to your LFS. Donate them. Large Common Plecos are not worth a lot of cash. If you can swing a deal, go for it. Be careful of that 1 to 2 water changes a week schedule. It may be fine, maybe not. Again, let the tests set the schedule. Ammonia and nitrite must stay undetectable, nitrate below 20ppm. If that means daily until you're cycled, that's what you're doing. If you can find a product called Bio Spira you can get out of most of these water changes. Expensive and can be hard to find. But it is the only product that will instantly cycle your tank. Don>   

Suddenly Stocked Tank pt 3 My LFS won't take them, <Plecos> I don't know what to do with them. They really got me PO'ed, they said to flush them. Any other suggestions. I will just keep doing tests and water changes as needed. Thanks for your expertise. And could you let me know what kind of fish these are? My friend said they were a blue Gourami, and a tetra (don't know what kind). I'm very interested in knowing my types of fish. And the smaller Pleco had his left front fin bit off (don't know if it was the other Pleco or knife fish), should I take any action? Thank you again for calming my nerves. James <It can be hard to find a good home for large Plecos. A little underhanded trickery I have used is to show up Sunday afternoon with the fish. The owner or manager will be home watching football. Hand them to the clerk and say "Bob told me to drop these off". Then leave. As to what type of fish you have, I have no clue. If you attached a picture, it did not come through. Do a Google search. Don> <<Hee hee! This Bob would love to have them... can barely see into my African Cichlid tanks toward the end of the week before water changes. RMF>>

Stocking Advice I read on WWM that Silver Dollars get six inches long and that the tank should be 6 times the length and at least 2 times the width.  My aquarium fits those requirements but apparently those requirements are wrong.  I won't get a Parrot fish, and if the Tigers are small when I get the Neons will they still eat them? Also, how big does the Gold Nugget Pleco get and should/could I add some other bottom dwellers with it?  Can you suggest a possible larger schooling fish in lieu of the silver dollars?  Thanks for your help and have a Merry Christmas. Ty <Like many formula recommendations the "6x2" works with some fish but not all. Due to their shape a 6" Silver Dollar is much bigger than the average 6" fish. And they can get even bigger. See here for a wild caught Silver Dollar. They are big, messy fish. Depending on who you talk to, there are either two or three different types or species (the jury is still out on their status as separate species or regional types) of Gold Nugget Pleco. They range in size from 7 to 14 inches. Go to www.planetcatfish.com and search the Cat-e-log. If you sort by common name you will see the three fish. They can be aggressive towards other bottom dwellers and downright mean to one another. Only get one and give him a cave to live in. But it at one end of the tank and landscape to block his view of most of the tank bottom. He will drive away any other bottom dweller he can see from his doorstep. He'll cause no problems with any other type of fish. Small Tiger Barbs will not be able to eat a full grown Neon, but will chase and nip. Best kept with other aggressive fish of the same size or larger. Don>    

Stocking a 55 Hello. My name is Dayna and I have a silly question for you. I have a 55 gallon aquarium (with a penguin 330 bio-wheel filter, 2-100w heaters,2 power heads attached to the UGF, and of course the thermometer) that has been set up for a little over 3 months now. When I fist started introducing fish, 2 months ago, I put in several feeder comets, getting up to 12,  just to get the tank cycling. 2 weeks ago I started adding new fish (replacing the feeders) as the cycling was complete. PH a little low @ 6.0, Nitrate @ 20, Nitrite and Ammonia @ 0 and all staying steady. I got rid of all but 2 of the feeders, but I like how they keep the waste cleaned up, as I am super scared of the ammonia getting to high and killing all my wonderful fish. My question is, are the feeders okay to keep in the tank indefinitely? One of my friends told me that feeders produce more ammonia than other fish and will turn the water yellow. Is this true? And if it is, can you recommend something else that will help keep the waste to a minimum? Again, because I'm scared of the ammonia. I already vacuum, but sometimes it's hard to get it all up. Oh, also, I was wondering if you could tell me if I am wanting too many fish for my tank? So far I bought 2 Boesemanni Rainbows, 3 Red Iran Rainbows, 3 Honey Gourami, a 12" Pleco (that we received from the neighbor cause his fish were killing it), and a blue "lobster". I still want 2 Pearl Gourami, 3 Congo Tetras, 2 really tiny algae eaters that stay that way,  and 1 more Boesemanni Rainbow. I want to know if you think that's too many so I don't overload the tank. Thanks a bunch for your help! Dayna <Hi Dayna, Don here. By "feeder" I assume you mean goldfish. Yes, they produce a lot of waste. But nothing compared to a foot long Pleco! You need to find a new home for all of the feeders and the Pleco. The goldfish because they like colder water and the Pleco is just to darn big! He produces as much ammonia as all the other together. I don't like the idea of the lobster, really a crayfish, either. Keep him well fed on sinking foods or he will try to hunt down a fresh fish dinner. Don't add any bottom fish, like Corys, while you have him. As to stocking levels, assuming that the goldfish and Pleco go away, your plan should be OK. But I'm not a Rainbow kind of guy. IIRC those Iran Reds get pretty big. If so, you may be near your limit now. As to your set up and fear of ammonia. Just test for the ammonia. If it's zero, nothing to fear. If you have some, do a water change. Still not a big problem. I would suggest you remove the UGF and add another 330. The Bio Wheel is far better at removing ammonia and nitrite than the UGF. Waste builds up under them that is impossible to remove. I like the idea of overkill in biofiltration and current, coupled with the use of a gravel vac. But then I am a Pleco kind of guy. If you do this, let the new filter run for a month before you remove the UGF plates. Increase testing at this point and do water changes to correct until everything settles down>      

Stocking a 10 Gallon Hey crew. I just found your site the other day, and I have to say, it's definitely the best! I guess it's a good thing I found it, as my fish started acting rather peculiarly today...I actually have two major issues that I need some help with!  I couldn't find my question on your pages, so my sincerest apologies if these have already been answered. First off, I have a 10 gallon tank that's about 2 months old. It's cycled, ammonia and nitrite is zero, nitrates are about 30ppm (with a partial water change scheduled for tomorrow). Hardness is about 300ppm, total alkalinity is around 200ppm, pH is stable, somewhere between 7.8 to 8.4, and temperature is about 79 degrees F. The tank's original inhabitants (after initial cycling, as the originals didn't survive the break in, unfortunately) were 2 sunset fire platys and 2 tiger barbs.  The barbs never exhibited any aggressive behavior toward the platys, and everybody got along marvelously, so I guess I got lucky in that department from what I've heard could have happened. A few days ago (probably 2 weeks or so after the platys and barbs started calling the tank home) I added 2 neon tetras and 2 Glo-lite (?) tetras.  Everybody's very small at this point, and I'm planning to upsize my tank as soon as I graduate from college and get a job, which should be in a few months if everything goes according to plan :).  Until then, 10-15% water changes at least once a week, and I make sure water quality is good with regular testing.  As long as nobody grows too fast, overcrowding shouldn't be an issue, right? <As long as water quality stays high you should be OK. But overcrowding also cause stress, something we can not test for> My first question is this: prior to the addition of the tetras, the barbs were pretty active, and although they were buddies, they were also somewhat independent, swimming around on their own every now and then. At feeding time, they'd rush out and dart around everywhere to eat as much as possible. Now that I've added the tetras, they seem to stick together like glue in the back corner by the heater, never leaving the other's side, and they barely pick around when I put food in the tank (usually regular crushed flakes, occasionally dried bloodworms). Could this be because they're not the dominant group in the tank? If so, should I add one or two more barbs, and keep a closer eye on water quality?  Should I try to return the tetras to the fish shop? I never thought a problem like this would show up, since the barbs and platys got along so well.  I really like all my little guys, but I have neither the space nor the money at this point to invest in a larger tank. <Adding a few more barbs would be an option in a larger tank, but not in a ten. I'm not sure why your tigers are in the corner, but I doubt it has anything to do with the Neons and tetras. The barbs are pretty aggressive, the tetras very peaceful. I assume the barbs are unaware of these facts right now. Give them a few days.>      Second question: I can't really tell for sure if my platys are male or female, but I have a suspicion that I've got one of each.  The smaller of the two seems to be getting fatter by the day and has very strong color intensity - could it be a pregnant female?  I don't see any evidence of a gravid spot, however (on a side note, if she is pregnant, my tank obviously can't handle a whole new group of fish, assuming the fry survive. Should I get a breeding net?  Will a fish shop accept the fry?  I know of nobody that would be able to take them in this situation.)  Anyway, my immediate question is this...as of feeding time this evening, the platy I suspect is a male wouldn't allow the one I suspect is female to eat.  Every time "she" would swim to the top to grab some food, "he" would chase her until she went into hiding.  Also, every time she gets close to him, he begins to chase her around. They've never shown this behavior before, and I don't know what to make of it.  I now know the preferred platy ratio is 1 male to at least 2 females (thanks to your site!), so would adding another female be a feasible solution, assuming this is the case?  I don't want the one to die of starvation or stress, but I also don't want to overcrowd, so any help would be appreciated! <Sounds like a pair. To be sure look at the anal fin. Fan shaped in a female, tube-like in a male. The chasing is normal and there is little you can do to stop it except add more females. But again, not in the ten as it is currently stocked. It is quit possible for him to harass her to death. Maybe trade in the barbs for a pair of female platies. Or trade in the platies for a few more barbs. Which, BTW, will torment the Neons and take any fry. I do think you're going to have to forget about raising fry until you can get another tank anyway. Your best chance for fry would be to replace the barbs and tetras with more females platies and a few Corys. Add a lot of plants. Then let nature take it's course. Hopefully some fry will hide away and survive> Thanks for the help, and sorry for the length of this email! -Melissa <No problem. Good luck. Don>

Overstocked Tank Started a 10 gal aquarium 8 weeks ago...started out with a tiger barb, catfish, an African frog and a couple other that I can't remember the name of. Everything seemed fine the pH was a little high but started treating right away. Then one morning my catfish seemed to lose his equilibrium...that is he, I don't know it was a he, just assumed I guess, started floating upside down in the tank but was still alive. Would make attempts to swim, but failed, the water from the filter would blast him to the bottom and then the other fish would nudge him around. I remove him from the tank and quarantined him and about 5 hours later he died. Everything has been fine since then, that was about 1 month ago, 10 days ago I added two new fish.  I can't find where I wrote the name of the fish down at but I know it was described as a good fish for a beginner, very hard to kill, but now it is doing the same thing my catfish did. I test the water regularly for nitrate, nitrite, pH, salinity and hardness. Please tell me what is wrong with my fish? Kimberly <Hi Kimberly, Don here. Are you testing for ammonia? It sounds like you put all these fish and the frog in all at once when the tank was new. Ammonia will build up to toxic levels very quickly in these conditions. I'm not sure how many or what types of fish you have, but it looks like you have far too many in a 10 gallon. Start doing 20% water changes daily and read up on "cycling". Do not clean the filter. Make sure the pH's and temps match. Which brings me to your changing the pH. Why? What was it? Unless it is very high or low, it is far better to get fish that like the conditions of your source water without tinkering with it. Most fish will adapt and do fine even if the pH is not ideal for that species. It's a sudden swing in pH that causes problems>

Stocking Questions I did a lot of searching on your website (among others) and found yours very useful. I still couldn't find an answer to my question at all.  Here is my situation: I have a very underdeveloped 10 gallon aquarium with 3 minnows and 2 Zebrafish, all of which are between .5-1". I want to know which fish get along with minnows and Zebrafish. I also would like to invest in some small frogs. Is there any way that they can coexist in this same aquarium? Please get back to me if you have the time, thanks! -Caroline <Hi Caroline, Don here. If your aquarium is heated there are too many small fish you could keep to list. A few small Corys would work. If you do not have a heater look at White Clouds, also a type of minnow. But be careful of adding too many more fish to this tank. Some minnows can get a too big for a 10 gallon. It is far better to keep only a few fish, but keep them very well and healthy. Overcrowding can kill. And with small fish you really need another tank to keep frogs. Most frogs will eat any fish he can catch>  
Stocking Question Two
Hi, Would a Freshwater Butterflyfish eat a Blue Ram. I have a 30 gallon, planning to upgrade in a year or so. It contains: 4"-Black Ghost Knifefish 4"-Pictus Catfish 2"-Silver Angel Planning on getting a pair of blue rams and another angel ASAP. Could a butterfly be ever introduced? If I didn't have angels or rams would a freshwater puffer fit in. Jahner <Hi Jahner, Don here. The only problem I see with the mix is the Ghost. At 4 inches you'll be OK for a while. But forget the puffer. Most are very aggressive fin nippers with sharp teeth>

Bad Start First of all, great website. I have read many of the sections, but have not seen a section on what to do when it's too late. <Yeah, we need to add that one> Me and my wife started a 29G tank 4 weeks ago. We set it up with an undergravel filter with approx 2" of gravel. <UGFs are a poor second to a power filter with a bio wheel or pad. I would suggest replacing this ASAP. They collect a ton of waste under them and are next to impossible to clean.> We filled it with tap water and added Kordon Amquel+ to dechlorinate, and added Nutrafin Cycle, both per the bottle directions. <OK, now were going to do a fishless cycle, right? 'Cause 'Cycle' simply doesn't> After testing <Good>and all was zero <What was at zero?> with a PH of 7.6 <OK> on day 3, we followed by adding 3 Tetras, 3 Penguins, 1 Clown Loach, 2 clawed frogs, and a Bala Shark (needless to say we jumped the gun). <That was not a gun. It was a cannon! Not only is it far too many fish, it is a very bad mix, IMO. The loach will grow slow, but reach a foot! The shark will hit 14 inches. The frogs are great escape artists. If any are missing in the morning, look on the floor. And if any of the tetras are missing, look in the frog. They'll eat anything they can catch and fit in their mouth.>  All went well, we added the Cycle per bottle directions and after a week of having the fish, we added 3 more Tetras, 2 more Penguins, 2 more Clown loaches, 2 glass catfish, and a rainbow shark. <That Rainbow shark will become very aggressive. Far too many fish> Now we have had the fish for about 4 weeks and the water is cloudy, <To be expected in an uncycled tank> but the fish seem to be fine. <They are not> Ammonia has worked it's way up to 3, <Deadly, you do have a major problem brewing> but dropped and re-rose after adding a touch of the Amquel as I knew it would. Nitrite is still 0 (went to .25 on week 3 before Amquel). Nitrate has been around 5 since a week after putting in fish. <Nitrite and nitrate will not start to rise until the first stage of the cycle kicks in.> I just did a 10% water change. <Good practice. Now do a 50% water change. Do them daily, or more, until the ammonia is at zero.> So we have 6 tetras, 5 Penguins, 3 clown loaches, 2 frogs, 2 glass catfish, 1 Bala shark and 1 rainbow shark in a 4 week old 29G tank.  One of the glass catfish is kinda not so glassy anymore with little white splotches in them. Other than that, all the fish seem good, but the water is still cloudy (white specs floating around). From what I've read, I'm lucky to have a single living fish, much less to have them all, but after reading so many horror stories, I am worried and was wondering what I could do to save my tank <I'm warming up for this> if there is an inevitable fish kill coming. <If you do not act, yes> Would an extra 10-20G Hanging filter help out? <Even bigger> Would a bigger water change help? <Yes, much larger> Am I in for a bunch of the fish dying? Thank you for any help you can give me. <First of all there is no way you can keep all these fish in one 29 gallon tank. You are going to have to return some. No way around it. In fact I think you really need to return them all and start over. I would remove the UGF. They collect tons of waste and are impossible to clean. They do a poor job of bio filtration compared to a modern power filter. Get one rated for a tank larger than the 29. Look for one that pumps around 200 gallons per hour. I like the Marineland line with a "Bio Wheel". Then do a fishless cycle by adding a raw shrimp. After ammonia and nitrite have both spiked and crashed, and nitrate starts to rise, you are cycled and can start to slowly add fish. Plan on 3 to 6 weeks for this to happen. Please research the adult size of any fish before bringing it home. No Clown Loaches or Sharks. Bio Spira is the only product that will instantly cycle your tank. It's hard to find and expensive. It is the two actual living bacteria cultures needed to convert the ammonia first to nitrite, then nitrate. It must be kept cool, so most LFS do not carry it. But even if you find it, it will not allow this many, or this mix of fish to live a full life in a 29, especially with a UGF. Upgrade the filter, find the Bio Spira and you could keep the Penguins and Tetras and add some Corys. Don>

Ten Gallons, Stuffed To The Gills - 10/10/2004 Greetings. <Salut.> My name is Nicole. <Sabrina here, this fine Sunday afternoon.> I have a ten gallon tank, containing one of each: blue Gourami, golden Gourami, tiger barb, goldfish, bottom feeder, Cory cat, upside down catfish, albino African clawed frog, giant snail. <Uhh, are you kidding?  I mean, this is really, really, REALLY overstocked....  And some incompatibilities, as well....> (I tried to keep them in groups but between the frog and the Gourami I've found this near impossible). <Not quite sure I understand what you mean by keeping them in groups.> I'm writing to you concerning the catfish.   <The upside-down cat?  or the Cory?  or the "bottom feeder" - I suspect this is a Plecostomus (many thousands of "bottom-feeding" fishes).> In the past several days I haven't see him at all, but didn't worry at first since he prefers dim light and mostly came out at night. <I'm suspecting we're talking about the upside-down cat.  My first comment on this fish:  this common name is used for any of several different Synodontis catfishes; some of which top out around four inches, some of which can reach a couple feet in length, and all of which are capable of eating small-ish fishes.> However I became especially concerned when I couldn't find him in his normal hiding spots. At first I thought he was dead and figured that the frog had probably found the body and had eaten it. <Uhh.... oh.  I had hoped we were talking about a "dwarf" frog.  The "real" African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, gets big, and will absolutely make meals of many of your fish.> This was not the case.  I found him this morning floating on the top and thought that he was dead until the other fish started pestering him and he would feebly swim away. The only outward symptoms I can see is the fact that he seems unusual thin and that he's not swimming in his usual manner. There are no signs of ick, fungi growth, or any of the usual illness that homeowners can typically diagnosis. Do you have any idea what it could be?   <Many, many possibilities....  First and foremost, I would suspect that ammonia or nitrite is at play; with such a bioload, I would be extremely surprised if the water quality was good.  Please test your ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH; ammonia and nitrite must be *zero*, nitrate ideally less than 20ppm.  Other possibilities as to the cat's diseased state - perhaps lack of appropriate foods, or just plain not enough food (unlikely to be the case, I'd think - but have you actually *seen* him eat?), possibly internal bacterial or parasitic infection....> Since I'm writing I might as well ask if there are any other illness that come with the symptom of white spots. <I assume you mean as opposed to ich, yes?> I've seen some on the golden Gourami and the goldfish but none on the others. <Several possibilities, here.  Without knowing great detail on what the spots look like, where they appear on the fish, how large they are, etc., it will be very difficult to give even a vague answer.  I can tell you that male goldfish, upon maturity (four or five inches, likely), will get sort of a "zitty" appearance on their operculum.> All the fish (with the exception of the catfish) have shown no changes in their typical behavior: they still eat, swim, etc. Plus the spots have decreased in size. <Again, too little info to formulate any kind of an idea as to what these spots are.> Also my bottom feeder is an albino sucker fish and has lately displayed purplish spots (like bruises) on its side, but like I said no change in behavior. <Possibly of great concern....  But without knowing what the animal is, again, I can't know.  If it is a Plecostomus, as I assume, and if the fish is a recent acquisition, and if the fish's belly is starting to get a little caved in, I would suspect bacterial infection.  Often, recently imported Plecs will show a bruised appearance on the belly, and waste away from disease.> Should I be worried about any of this? <Uhh, the biggest concern here is most certainly the overstocking of the tank....  I'd like to address this briefly.  The two Gourami, both different color morphs of the species Trichogaster trichopterus, will get around six inches, and increase in aggression as they grow.  They will become bullies, essentially.  The tiger barb is a schooling fish, and should be kept with others of its species, lest it feel constantly insecure.  Also, this fish is an avid fin-nipper, and kept alone, may end up doing some considerable damage to other fishes, in such extremely close confines.  Goldfish are coldwater animals, and are quite incompatible with tropical fishes, as they really require significantly cooler water than the tropicals can tolerate.  This fish will not thrive in tropical temperatures.  Moreover, common "comet" or "feeder" goldfish can, and do, grow to be eighteen inches long, over time.  In just a couple years, the fish can reach six or eight inches.  Truly, a ten gallon tank is FAR too small for a single comet alone, even.  The "bottom feeder" is still a mystery to me.  You could be referring to any of thousands of fish, for all I know.  If you could supply a picture, or a link to a picture on the web, or anything like that, it'd be a bit easier to give you advice on the fish.  If it *is* a common Plecostomus, as I fear - this is a potentially two-foot-long animal.  And they don't ever just stop growing.  The Corydoras catfish is another schooling animal, best kept in groups of at least three.  Many, many different species of Cory are available, and range in size from less than an inch to over two inches.  A good fish for a ten gallon tank, for sure.  The upside-down cat, as above, can be any of several different fish, all of which grow too large for a ten gallon tank.  Some of the species won't even *fit* in a 10, shoehorn or no.  The giant snail I assume is an "apple" snail.  While these do better in cooler water, it should be okay in your tank.  And lastly, the clawed frog....  Not a critter suitable for a tank housing any fish at all that are smaller than it, and they do GROW.  And their appetites are AMAZING.  My strongest recommendation to you would be to either upgrade in tank size very, very soon, to something on the order of 55 gallons, or to pick what kind of fish you want and redo your tank on that basis.  For instance, if you like the Gourami, and they are not both males, then you could keep the Gourami, the Cory (and get the Cory a few friends) and the snail.  My own opinion is that a 10 gallon tank is simply too small for this species of Gourami, but it can be done.  Or if you like the tiger barb, keep him, get a few friends of his species, a couple more Corys, and the snail.  And again, without really knowing what the bottom feeder is, I cannot advise about him.> Please let me know your thoughts on this. Thank you.  Nicole <I'm very sorry to have brought you such negative news, but I hope we can help you turn it into a positive thing for you, with the result of a happy, healthy tank with compatible residents and much less risk of illness and death.  Please do feel free to write back to us with regards to the white spots (really need more detail) and the bottom feeder and his bruising.  Please try to include size of the fish, how long you've had them, and great detail on the problems.  Also please try to include your readings for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH.  Wishing you the best on this journey,  -Sabrina>

Tropicals, Goldies and Frogs Thanks for such a quick reply. <Thanks, but wasn't me last time, Don here> I love the fact that you are very specific and use the scientific names. <Sounds like Sabrina!> I'm not at all upset about the amount of negative comment <Must have been her> as I hope to be a "fish" vet and criticism is always welcome. I've done a little research in order to be more clear as to what type of fish I have. I was actually incorrect in the naming. I do have one blue Gourami (4in, female), a feeder goldfish(2in), a snail, an albino African clawed frog (yes he has grown since I've got him, however he's male so I hope he doesn't grow too big:), one tiger barb (1in), and a Cory cat (Sterba's Cory). The "gold Gourami" I mentioned earlier is in fact not. I think he might be more of a gold barb (1 1/2 in) since he resembles a rosy barb but gold, with a series of black spots in a line along it's back orangish tipped fins and a red glint to the eye. <You want to remove the goldfish from this mix. They need cooler temps than the rest and are big waste producers.> The bottom feeder is not a Plec. It is in fact a albino algae eater (4in), possible a Chinese albino algae eater (that's what he resembles). <CAE's are all wild caught. An albino would be very rare. I have never heard of one. The most common albino bottom feeders are Bristlenose Plecos and Corys.> I've had this tank set up since Mar 04 and am as surprised as you that it's doing as it is. The only recent entries have been the goldfish <Bad move> and the tiger barb.<Can be a fin nipper. Watch him. Both your Cory and the tiger barb would prefer to be in groups if you can fit them>. I've had barbs in the past but they died over the summer. There were once three barbs since Sept 04 but the blue Gourami killed them and the frog then ate them (that is what I meant when I mentioned trying to keep them in groups/schools). I'm currently afraid to introduce any more fish incase the Gourami tries to kill them or the frog tries to eat them or that the tank is simple not good. <We can make the tank well. We can't change the temperament of the killer Gourami or frog, if that is the problem. I would remove them.> I will advise my roommate to get her own tank to put the goldfish in. <AH! OK, Sorry. Don't have the last email> I would like to get a larger tank, however I have restrictions as I am in college and only have limited amount of space. I've been considering starting with an all new set up, but I feel bad simple flushing them. <NO!!! Take them back to the pet store. Never flush a living fish. EVER!> There for I sit and wait. <For?> I've been waiting seven months now and they're still swimming. <Usually a good thing.> Now all I want to do is make sure the specific water levels and such are good and that they don't get sick. Thanks to your advice I shall go and get the appropriate equipment so that I can test their water on a monthly basis. <Great, but test weekly.>The algae eater appears healthy. There are no changes in its eating behavior or swim pattern, in fact its been more active these past few months. The only thing new are the purple streaks I've noticed on its sides near the dorsal side on the left side (one) and sporadic near the back dorsal and tail on the right side (four). <Normal coloring under good light> There is no sign of the belly "caving in". The goldfish does not contain these white spots on it's operculum rather they are on the dorsal, anal, and tail fins. The "gold barb" had these on the dorsal and tail fins but closer inspection show's that they are nearly nonexistent now. <If this is ich then loosing the spots is not the end of the problem. the parasite drops off to reproduce. It will be back stronger.> Also the upside catfish is dead. I believe you were right in diagnosing it with a bacterial infection. The spots on the goldfish are a little hard to describe since the fish won't stand still. From what I can tell there are one on the dorsal and anal fin, along the front edge that appears raised, small and white. The ones on the tail appear more flat and sparse. They aren't in a "dusting pattern", do not look like "chicken poxes". The fish still eats, swims, and grows (it has grown at least twice its original size since late Aug). I hope to put it in its own tank soon for it is constantly picked on by the blue Gourami (although not as much since originally). I'm am curious to if constant "gaping" or opening of the mouth is an symptom for anything. The goldfish tends to do this a lot and I was  wonder if I should be concerned. <Could be ick on the gills>  The spots on the gold barb are hard to describe. They originally looked like the spots on the goldfish, but are really no longer visible. My tank includes about an inch and a half of gravel, a plastic pipe, gargoyle, and plant. There is a bubble bar, a filter large enough to accommodate a 15 gallon tank, and a heater (which hasn't been on since lately since the water has been too warm). <How warm? The goldfish wants water around 68. All the others want around 78. The Cory 82> There are two lights, one green the other yellow (I've been looking for fluorescent lights since the color combination makes the tank look sick). <Ah, yeah! I would think so.> My thermometer has recently ripped off so I am unsure of the exact temperature, I've check it using a direct hand method. <Less than $5. You need this. Don't use the heater until you get one.> I feed them twice a day using TetraMin tropical flakes, TetraMin variety wafers, and occasionally freeze dried blood worms. They get about two pinches of flakes and three wafers. The frog, thankfully, keeps his appetite mostly on the wafers, flakes or worms. (I have seen the upside catfish eat in the past). I have a container of Jungle Aquarium Salt which I add in a teaspoon or so either weekly or whenever needed. I hope some of this is helpful. I wish I could describe better or at least offer a picture, but alas I can not. Thank you for your quick replies. You can be sure that I shall keep in touch. Thank you again. Nicole P.S. This really has nothing to do with anything but...do you know if there is a way to specialize in marine animals in the vet career? I can't find much information on it. <I think this would be Grad work, but there may be specialized classes within the normal courses. A vet school should be able to explain. Or maybe Bob?>

Ten Gallons, Stuffed To The Gills - II - 10/14/2004 Thanks for such a quick reply. <Thanks, but wasn't me last time, Don here> <<And enter Sabrina, stage Left, at the request of Don>> I love the fact that you are very specific and use the scientific names. <Sounds like Sabrina!> <<Blushin', here.>> I'm not at all upset about the amount of negative comment <Must have been her> <<Aw, shoot, I hope I'm not *that* bad....>> as I hope to be a "fish" vet and criticism is always welcome. <<Delighted to hear this.  I, too, hope at some point to hit the books again, in the general direction of Fish Pathology.>> I've done a little research in order to be more clear as to what type of fish I have. I was actually incorrect in the naming. I do have one blue Gourami (4in, female), <<Whew!  Females are FAR less aggressive than males of this species....>> a feeder goldfish(2in), a snail, an albino African clawed frog (yes he has grown since I've got him, however he's male so I hope he doesn't grow too big:), <<He will, I fear.>> one tiger barb (1in), and a Cory cat (Sterba's Cory). The "gold Gourami" I mentioned earlier is in fact not. I think he might be more of a gold barb (1 1/2 in) since he resembles a rosy barb but gold, with a series of black spots in a line along it's back orangish tipped fins and a red glint to the eye. <You want to remove the goldfish from this mix. They need cooler temps than the rest and are big waste producers.> <<Agreed wholeheartedly with Don.  I would also relocate the frog with the goldie.>> The bottom feeder is not a Plec. It is in fact a albino algae eater (4in), possible a Chinese albino algae eater (that's what he resembles). <CAE's are all wild caught. An albino would be very rare. I have never heard of one. The most common albino bottom feeders are Bristlenose Plecos and Corys.> <<I know next to nothing about CAEs, as I don't much like them.  Just personal preference, really.>> I've had this tank set up since Mar 04 and am as surprised as you that it's doing as it is. The only recent entries have been the goldfish <Bad move> and the tiger barb.<Can be a fin nipper. Watch him. Both your Cory and the tiger barb would prefer to be in groups if you can fit them>. <<Agreed, and agreed.>> I've had barbs in the past but they died over the summer. There were once three barbs since Sept 04 but the blue Gourami killed them <<You *sure* that's a female?>> and the frog then ate them (that is what I meant when I mentioned trying to keep them in groups/schools). <<Again, this is all due to simple incompatibility....  easy to rectify, if you are willing to part with some of the animals.>> I'm currently afraid to introduce any more fish <<Indeed, do *not* add any more fish to this already far-too-heavily stocked ten gallon tank....>> incase the Gourami tries to kill them or the frog tries to eat them or that the tank is simple not good. <We can make the tank well. We can't change the temperament of the killer Gourami or frog, if that is the problem. I would remove them.> I will advise my roommate to get her own tank to put the goldfish in. <AH! OK, Sorry. Don't have the last email> <<Glad to hear the Goldie's moving.  I'd send the frog to room with him, provided the Goldie's not eating size.  From there, you can work on deciding if/how to restock your tank.>> I would like to get a larger tank, however I have restrictions as I am in college and only have limited amount of space. <<AAAAAAAAGH!  Ack, Oi!  Bringin' me back to my freshman year, when I was told verbally I could have my 40 gallon tank, then at the start of second semester, told me I could have only a single 20g....  !!  My fix was to move out of the dorms....  I don't recommend that, at ALL.>> I've been considering starting with an all new set up, but I feel bad simple flushing them. <NO!!! Take them back to the pet store. Never flush a living fish. EVER!> <<As Don says.  I'm sure your local store would be glad to take them in trade.>> There for I sit and wait. <For?> I've been waiting seven months now and they're still swimming. <Usually a good thing.> Now all I want to do is make sure the specific water levels and such are good and that they don't get sick. Thanks to your advice I shall go and get the appropriate equipment so that I can test their water on a monthly basis. <Great, but test weekly.> <<Yup.>> The algae eater appears healthy. There are no changes in its eating behavior or swim pattern, in fact its been more active these past few months. The only thing new are the purple streaks I've noticed on its sides near the dorsal side on the left side (one) and sporadic near the back dorsal and tail on the right side (four). <Normal coloring under good light> <<Don's 'da man', I don't "do" CAEs>> There is no sign of the belly "caving in". The goldfish does not contain these white spots on it's operculum rather they are on the dorsal, anal, and tail fins. The "gold barb" had these on the dorsal and tail fins but closer inspection show's that they are nearly nonexistent now. <If this is ich then loosing the spots is not the end of the problem. the parasite drops off to reproduce. It will be back stronger.> <<Yes, watch this closely, and be darn careful what you medicate with, should you choose to do so - you have scaleless animals, there.  Also, the frog cannot be in the tank if you medicate.  Too harmful.>> Also the upside catfish is dead. <<So sorry to hear this.>> I believe you were right in diagnosing it with a bacterial infection. The spots on the goldfish are a little hard to describe since the fish won't stand still. From what I can tell there are one on the dorsal and anal fin, along the front edge that appears raised, small and white. The ones on the tail appear more flat and sparse. They aren't in a "dusting pattern", do not look like "chicken poxes". <<Does indeed sound like ich, Ichthyophthirius multifilius.  Google that name, and you should find lots of info.  I know our fearless leader has written some stuff in the FW index.>> The fish still eats, swims, and grows (it has grown at least twice its original size since late Aug). <<And he'll keep goin' till he's more like a foot or more.  At least it'll take a long time ;) >> I hope to put it in its own tank soon for it is constantly picked on by the blue Gourami (although not as much since originally). I'm am curious to if constant "gaping" or opening of the mouth is an symptom for anything. The goldfish tends to do this a lot and I was  wonder if I should be concerned. <Could be ick on the gills>   <<Or high nitrates, or ammonia/nitrite....  or just bein' a goldfish.  Test the water, observe extremely closely re the white spots.>> The spots on the gold barb are hard to describe. They originally looked like the spots on the goldfish, but are really no longer visible. <<Still thinkin' ich, here.>> My tank includes about an inch and a half of gravel, a plastic pipe, gargoyle, and plant. There is a bubble bar, a filter large enough to accommodate a 15 gallon tank, and a heater (which hasn't been on since lately since the water has been too warm). <How warm? The goldfish wants water around 68. All the others want around 78. The Cory 82> There are two lights, one green the other yellow (I've been looking for fluorescent lights since the color combination makes the tank look sick). <Ah, yeah! I would think so.> My thermometer has recently ripped off so I am unsure of the exact temperature, I've check it using a direct hand method. <Less than $5. You need this. Don't use the heater until you get one.> <<And get the type that goes *in* the tank - more unsightly, but FAR more accurate than those stick-ons.  I've seen the stick-ons be off by more than five degrees.>> I feed them twice a day using TetraMin tropical flakes, TetraMin variety wafers, and occasionally freeze dried blood worms. They get about two pinches of flakes and three wafers. The frog, thankfully, keeps his appetite mostly on the wafers, flakes or worms. (I have seen the upside catfish eat in the past). I have a container of Jungle Aquarium Salt which I add in a teaspoon or so either weekly or whenever needed. <<Whew, be careful of this.  Salt does not evaporate, and Corydoras don't like salt much at all - I wouldn't have more than a tablespoon or so per ten gallons with a Cory.>> I hope some of this is helpful. <<Greatly - I hope you have found our help, uh, helpful, too.>> I wish I could describe better or at least offer a picture, but alas I can not. Thank you for your quick replies. You can be sure that I shall keep in touch. <<So glad for this!>> Thank you again. Nicole <<You betchah.>> P.S. This really has nothing to do with anything <<Everything has something to do with something.  Uhh....  I'm really starting not to make much sense.>> but...do you know if there is a way to specialize in marine animals in the vet career? I can't find much information on it. <I think this would be Grad work, but there may be specialized classes within the normal courses. A vet school should be able to explain. Or maybe Bob?> <<You can indeed go into fish pathology....  or aquariology....  or marine biology....  My guess is that your interest is in fish pathology, if you're lookin' to fix sick fish.  This is a passion I share with you tremendously.  One good place to look for some ideas/people/what-have-ya is here:   http://www.fishdisease.net .  Otherwise, start talking to your biology instructors, start looking into periodicals in the science of fish, etc.  I wish you the best in this - and hope to do the same, myself.  -Sabrina>>

New Tank Queries Hi all, <Hi Thonoir, MacL here with you tonight.> Just a few quick questions really. I'm brand spanking new to the hobby (though I've been interested for some time) and am in the process of setting up my new tank. <welcome to the madness> I've done some research - I have too much free time in work and have actually compiled all the documents and whatnot I downloaded into a database which is now over 25 Mb - and am fairly confident but would still like some advice if at all possible. I bought a Fluval setup and currently have the following: Tank size - 24x12x15 (approx 17 gallons if I remember correctly) Fluval 2+ underwater filter Thermal compact heater 2x digital thermometer (one on the side by the thermometer and one on the opposite pane - I figure this would give me an advance warning of possible heater problems) Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH instant test kits (Interpet) 1 1/2 inch fine sand substrate with some gravel (gravel is 1/2 inch deep at planting areas) 2 decorations - one 10 inch piece of wood (soaked for 4 days - water changed every 12 hours) and one 2.5 kg stone (slightly honeycombed and inert) I have not run any tests as yet as I have only had the tank setup for four days and have been using Cycle (as supplied with the setup) to establish the bacteria. I'm intending to keep the tank fish - free for at least another five days and I plan to run the tests in the day before I hope to get my piscine friends. <My biggest piece of advice to you is to add very slowly to the tank.  Just a few fish at a time.> Does this sound like a good plan? Should I let it cycle longer (the store I bought it from  - Maidenhead Aquatics who seem pretty established in the UK - recommended a week)? <The cycle is ongoing, the tank goes through an adjustment every time a fish is added.  If you add fish slowly you give the tanks natural bacteria time to increase in your filtration.> I'm going shopping for greenery after work today as I'm intending to have a well planted tank (I've got pretty green fingers) and was wondering if you could give me any advice as to good plants which do not overgrow too much. I've had a look at some books and websites but I'll be honest - it's a little daunting. I'll be looking for a few taller, sword leafed plants (max 8 inches), some smaller 'aqua-shrubbery' (max 4 inches), a small, good looking plant for the mid ground to plant behind a small rock cave (around 2- 3 inches) and some moss for the wood. I realize I could ask the store all this but your answers always seem to be more concise, immediately helpful and to the point. <Well my very favorite of the swords is the Madagascar lace but it gets very wide and does have a down season where it dies back. A nice Amazon sword will probably get the job done.  And I really like the Vallisneria. Remember that the plants put a lot of oxygen in the tank during the day but can draw from the tank at night so you need to count your plants in your total tank volume of animals.> Lastly, I have a vague idea of the fish I would like but I am acutely aware of overcrowding. The fish will be bought in stages over a two month period anyway so I can monitor their impact on the aquarium. Could you give me advice on my proposed population? 1x Bristlenose Catfish (Hypostoma punctatum) <Lovely choice but don't get it until you have algae for it to eat otherwise it might starve> 3x Panda Corydoras <Love love love panda's> 5x Neon Tetra - my girlfriend's choice that <Very pretty fish, add them or the white clouds first.> 5x White Cloud Mountain Minnows (I was considering zebra Danio) <These guys make good tank fish> Is this a good base population? Would there then be room for two larger (and I'm only talking a max of 2.5 inches) fish and are there any you would recommend if there is room? I'd like a couple of larger fish (possibly a cherry barb?) but do not want to cram things in. <I think you could add a pair of cherry barbs, I think I'd probably put in three of them.  In my experience they tend to work better in three's.> Thanks for reading my essay. Sorry about the length. <Take it slow and good luck, please let us know how it goes, MacL> Anthony Hallam

Marine Aquarist Eye For The Freshwater Guy (Well...Gal)! Scott:  Your opinion, please.  My nitrites stay between 0.00 and 0.15 in my 39 gallon freshwater tank.  Whenever I see the aqua moving towards violet on the tests (I test VERY frequently as my tank has only been in operation since June, so it's still a relatively new tank), I set up a water change for the following day.  So far, I'm doing about a 15 to 20% change every 6 days. <Good to test regularly, and I admire the water changes. It might be so much easier to simply set up a regular schedule of water changes and stick with them. As to the lingering nitrites, they need to be addressed by either allowing the system to "settle in" on its own, or review your stocking, etc. Use of activated carbon, good circulation, feeding, and other sound husbandry techniques will work. There is also the possibility that your test reagents are expired or otherwise inaccurate.> I tried strenuously to get compatible fish that would occupy different levels of the tank, plus I tried to plan for the size they would eventually get to.  My other WWM advisor, Chuck, told me that the old rule of an inch of fish per gallon was more of an adage in the beginnings of the hobby(50's), and said that as long at the nitrites stay under 0.25 that I'm okay on my stocking. <I concur with Chuck that the old stocking philosophy has certainly changed. I wonder if he was referring to nitrATES, not nitrite? Since I am mainly a marine guy, I've become accustomed to undetectable nitrite as the measure of success, and I believe that is the same in freshwater systems. I think that's what he was getting at. Of course, another one of the real measures is the response of your fishes. How does everybody look? Are the fishes healthy, active, and responsive? That's half the battle right there...> I would like to know if you concur, and if you think I'm going to run into problems eventually and have to move them to a larger tank.  I REALLY tried to plan things so this wouldn't happen, but the frequency with which I need to do water changes makes me wonder.  Here's my tank: 4 Blue Neon Tetras 3 Diamond Tetras 5 Red-Eye Tetras 2 Red Swordtails 2 Gold Dust Mollies 2 Black Mollies 1 Giant Danio 3 Glo-Fish (Neon Zebra Danios/regular sized) 4 Baby Julii Coris 1 Rainbow Shark 1 Plecostomus I should mention that the fish seem happy and content (as much as fish living in a glass box are, I suppose), although I think the Giant Danio might prefer a lengthier tank, as he semi-chases any fish that moves around in his middle to upper area.  A part of me thinks he likes being the boss, though, and it's just his personality-even if he was in a 100 gallon. <These fishes do like to have some 'room to run", and a longer tank might be best. However, as long as he has plenty of open space to roam in, he should be fine. As you suggest, he's probably just being assertive!> Oh well...any thoughts on my set-up, potential problems, etc. would be appreciated.   Cyndy <Cyndy, it sounds like you have a great mix of really cool fishes in there! I think that your stocking level seems okay. Even though I am a huge advocate of frequent small water changes, I wonder if you are perhaps getting in there too often, and not letting the tank fully cycle on its own. Perhaps the frequency of your water changes is disruptive at this stage of your tank's development. Why not start with a weekly 5% or 10% water change, regardless of your water test readings, and see if that stabilizes things a bit. All in all, it sounds like you're on the right path. Just keep monitoring your tank, utilizing common sense in stocking and husbandry, and things should work out fine! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

New Tank: Fish Compatibility I'm setting up a 29 gallon tank, and thinking about  putting 1 channel cat 1 invertebrate and 2 south American cichlids such as  Oscars, green terror, or convict.  I'm looking for any advice you could give me. Thanks, Turkychees <<Hello. I don't recommend this combination unless you are planning to buy a bigger tank within the next few months or so...this would be a very temporary set-up. The channel cat will outgrow this tank quickly, he will reach an adult length of up to two feet. And the Oscar and green terror will also grow too large for this tank, and begin to beat each other senseless as they reach maturity (or even sooner). As I said, it will do for the time being, but long-term results of this mix will not work. Please realize that fish do NOT grow to the size of their tanks! You may want to consider the convicts or perhaps some jewel cichlids instead, keeping in mind that even they are aggressive and territorial and can only be housed with equally pugnacious fish. Catfish to go along with aggressive cichlids include most members of the Synodontis species, like Syn... eupterus, angelicus, etc. -Gwen>>  

Disastrous 1st Tank!  8/10/04 To make a long background story short, the local pet store approved and sent me home with a disaster of a first fish tank.  They gave me a thumbs-up on putting two sunset platys, two silver mollies, and a green spotted puffer in a new 10 gallon tank.  On their recommendation, I did cycle the water 48 hours before putting the fish in using Cycle and some water conditioner.   <This will not cycle a tank.  that product is a total waste of $$$ & will actually harm the cycling of your tank.  there is dead bacteria that adds to the waste in your tank that the fish are producing.  Read: http://www.piranha-fury.com/information/default.php?id=cycling> A molly gave birth the first night though, and we now have 8 fish in only 10 gallons.  We are about a week into the tank's life and the adult mollies have become VERY active and the puffer has lost a lot of color.  We feed the mollies and platys tropical fish flakes and give the puffer either snails or brine shrimp.  Saline levels are currently around 1.008.  The ammonia level was around 2.0, but after a 35% water change its down to around .75.  The puffer seems slightly healthier now but is still grayish.  We want to let the water reach an established level, but the high ammonia seems dangerous.  What direction should I go now to save these fish?   <I would highly recommend returning the puffer.  They are definitely not community fish & they are not good fish to cycle a tank with (personally, I prefer fishless cycling).  Read this on your puffer: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm> Thanks in advance. <I really would take any advice you get from a fish store with a grain of salt.  Do as much research here in our FAQs as you can.  This is a great website full of good info here.  ~PP>

FW system livestocking Dear Chuck (my new best friend!) Water is now clean and ammonia and nitrite levels are fine.  A question came up today that maybe you can answer.  I've heard two different things. Here's my tank group (38 gallon) 4 baby Julii Corys 1 4 inch bristle nosed Pleco 6 Cochu Blue Tetras 1 Gold Gourami 1 Rainbow Shark (approx. 2 inches now) 2 Gold Dust Mollies 2 Angelfish (Platinum and Lemon babies) 3 Zebra "Glo-light" Danios I have attempted to plan towards the size they WILL grow, as opposed to the size they are now. That said, I would like to add 1 Power Blue Gourami and 2 Swordtails females) tomorrow, which will complete my tank. I may substitute a Red Angel for the Gourami...I know they don't have a proven track record, but they are just stunning to look at...(okay, shoot me, I'm shallow!).  My question: One fish man said that the bottom feeders don't count in regard to that "inch per gallon" ratio, the other fish man said they do. Which is correct? I am referring only to the Julie's and the Pleco when I say bottom feeders and algae eater, respectively.  The rainbow shark stays in the middle ranges, even though I think he's classified as a bottom feeder, so I include 2/3rds of his full size max in my "inch per gallon" count. I ask this because I would like to add all three, but don't want to rock the boat (also, know that I wouldn't plan to add them all at once-I've learned my lesson on that).  I fully expect to do a 55 gallon in the near future, but I'm considering Discus in that tank, so this could be their permanent home. Also, should I consider life spans in this decision? I know some of these fish don't live more than a couple of years.   What a blessing to have someone with your expertise to advise me.  Between you and "my fish guys", I feel extremely lucky.  P.S. I should mention that neither of the fish man listed above works at the store-they are both hobbyists-albeit long-time hobbyists.   < Hate to break the news to you but that inch per gallon thing came in back from the fifties and really has no bearing on how we keep fish today. Here is how you figure out if the tank is too crowded. Check your nitrates once a week. If you can keep the nitrates under 25 ppm on a weekly basis doing your normal maintenance, whatever that may be, then you can add more fish. If you exceed the 25 ppm per week then you need to reduce the number of fish or increase the maintenance to either larger water changes or more often. This is just a general rule of thumb but I find it works better than the inch per gallon rule. Hope this helps.-Chuck> Cyndy

Plecos and Goldfish Hi, I was just given a 12" Pleco that had outgrown it's tank. After three days I noticed it was trailing long ropelike poop. Is this normal? If not what is the cause and what should I do? < This is normal for large algae eating Plecos and requires no attention> Also, I have several large goldfish. Are there any problems keeping them together? < Your Pleco comes from South America were the water is soft , acidic and warm (80+). Your gold fish like cooler water below 70. So if you try and keep it around 75 they will survive but may not thrive. If either becomes ill then you may have to place them in their own tanks with either warmer or cooler water depending on the species.-Chuck> Thank you for your help. Doug

Breeding Fish Dear WWM Crew, I have been to your website many times and was just recently on there looking for some information on breeding fish. I was just wondering if any of you guys can make a short list of the easiest freshwater fish to breed. I have bred livebearers and Convict Cichlids before, but I just want to know what else is out there that I might be able to breed. Also if its helpful at all I plan on using a 5 1/2 or 10 gallon tank to breed them in. Thanks for any help, I really appreciate it. < David it all depends on what you like and if you want to raise the fry. Livebearers are easy as you have already found out. The cichlids like convicts are very easy substrate spawning cichlids. If you are looking for fish that have different methods of reproduction then you may want to try dwarf Gouramis which are bubble nest builders. Mouth brooding cichlids like Egyptian mouth brooders would also be very easy. Some species of killifish scatter their eggs in floating plants while others dive into the soil to lay their eggs and then die in anticipation of their water drying up. After a few months you put the soil in water and the eggs hatch and you have baby fish. Lots of fish out there to choose from.-Chuck> Yours Truly, David

Choosing the Right Fish I have a ten gallon tank and need a type(s) of fish that fits my tank just right...and easy to take care of...any ideas? <<Hello. Is the tank heated? It might be a good idea to go to your local fish store, and see what they have available for you. Tell the salesperson that you have a ten gallon, it's a new set up, and whether there is a heater or not. Species you can keep in an unheated tank include white cloud minnows, Danios, a Betta <<Mmm, should have a heater IMO. RMF>>, or one small fantail goldfish. In a heated ten gallon, you can keep some of the hardy, small tetras, like Pristellas, Glowlights, black Neons, black phantoms, also cherry barbs, flame Gouramis, etc etc...just don't overstock the tank, and start slow, add TWO fish for the first couple of weeks, and get your water tested often to prevent ammonia problems while cycling. And so some reading! -Gwen>>

Choosing the Right Fish Thanks for the fish info., what do you mean a heated tank? how warm does it have to be, guess I'll have to do some reading. <<A heated tank means a tank that has a heater added, which you can buy at any Local Fish Store :) The temp for the average tropical fish is 78F. This temperature is fine for most community fish, but all fish have preferred ranges, so when you see a fish you like, ask your favorite LFS employee for info on the fish in question. It's their job to know, so ask away :) And yes, you might want to do some reading. The Internet is crammed with tropical fish info, have fun :) -Gwen>>

Water quality, FW fish incompatibility Hello- Being a newbie at fishkeeping, I have kind of made a mess of stocking my tank and now need some advice on the best route to take to slowly correct the problem.  I have a 55 gal with an Aquaclear 300 filter, medium amount of live plants, gravel substrate, and an airstone for extra aeration.  My water is the big problem.  Its well water and really suitable for rift lake cichlids which of course is not what I put in there. (The only ones I've seen that I might like are Tropheus duboisii and I assume they would eat all my plants.)  I do weekly 25% water changes.  The water is well water and has a pH of 8.5, ammonia is zero as are nitrites (in the tank I mean).  Nitrates consistently measure 40 ppm by the end of the week.  Hardness is over 300 and I forget the exact measurement for alkalinity but its basically off the charts too.  The inhabitants are 2 gold Gourami, 5 pearl Gourami, 2 mollies, 4 Otos, 6 Corys, 2 rosy barbs (bought to eat hair algae which I later learned to control with SeaGel), and more platys than I can count.  Now I know that almost none of these poor fish should be in this hard and high pH of water but I am stuck with them and they with me for now.  My options are to continue with weekly water changes and increase the amount (50% maybe) or do more frequent changes but then I would have to acclimate them to water from a water softener which I understand is bad too. Which do you think would be most beneficial? <You have a couple of problems going on. The first is the hard alkaline water. The water is actually very typical of water found in the south western US. As you have said it is great for African cichlids. Too bad you haven't seen any you like. Many fish that are commercially bred really and don't require the soft acidic water that they originally came from in the wild. Your local fish store probably has similar water so fish that are doing well at the store should do well in your aquarium. The other problem is the high nitrates. Ideally they should be around 25 ppm or under. In many areas of the country that get their water from wells, they soon find that the first aquifer that they get their water contains high nitrates levels from years of nitrogen fertilizers being leached into the water. Some areas have as much as 50 ppm nitrates coming out of the tap! The solution to both problems may be found in an R/O or D/I unit. Basically these filters absorb/filter minerals like calcium and magnesium out of the water as well as others and leave behind pure H2O. This is too pure for fish and can be blended with your tap water to almost any range of alkalinity. The other good thing about these filters is that they will reduce the nitrates to almost nothing. Go to Marineland.com and look under Dr. Tim's library and you will find all kinds of info. on the subject.> The other problem is how to keep the platys from procreating!!! < There are lots of predatory fish available to eat your baby platies. Look at the freshwater gars. They will eat the babies first and then the smaller males. Then you will only have female platies. Trade the gar back to the fish store. If the store is not interested in the gar then ask him what type of fish he would consider taking back after it has feed on all that live food.-Chuck> None of my LFS will take them and I don't really want to feed them to my friend's Oscar.  I was thinking I could get an angelfish or two to eat the babies and in a year or so, voila no more platys!  But of course angels aren't suitable for my water either.  Assuming I'm stuck with what I have, what would be your advice as I want the healthiest tank that I can have under the circumstances. Sorry so long but advice greatly appreciated!!!!! Holli

Young Freshwater tank, livestocking issues WWM Crew, I've recently rekindled my 55 gallon tank.  I'm running UGF w/ powerheads and a Skilter 250 (from old marine tank).  I've placed a pair of 3" Rainbows in with a 4" Bala Shark and a 4" Pink Tailed Chalceus, I've also got a 3" Pleco and a 5" Farlowella.  My research told me that this would not be a problem, however the larger Rainbow has taken to chasing and nipping at the smaller Rainbow as well as the Chalceus despite it's larger size (though it never harasses the Bala).  I'm looking into getting a few more fish to round out the tank and am considering removing both Rainbows a) because I don't want it to be overcrowded and b) because of the harassment.  Would increasing the number of Rainbows (to 5-7) in the tank mellow out the one aggressive Rainbow? < If you have one fish that seem to dominate the others then adding more fish would dilute the aggression from the few fish to all the others.> If so, would it be realistic to add a few more fish considering the future size of the fish I have already? < Your rainbows may get up to 6 inches plus. There is a local restaurant in my town where they are 8 inches plus but they are in a huge tank. The Bala will get up to 18 inches while the pink tail Chalceus will get at least 10 inches. So as you can see your tank is already too small if you plan on keeping this fish until they are full size.> In addition I'm looking at some other interesting fish to compliment the tank and would appreciate some advice on compatibility.  I'd like to add a Needle Nose Gar.  I've researched them extensively and am aware of their size and that they are traditionally a brackish water fish. < Too big and too aggressive. They will eat or harass the rainbows. You will find bite marks and wounds on all your fish as the gars attempt to try and eat them.>> I've also always liked Peacock Bass and would like to get a 4"er. < They get up to two feet long and almost always require live foods like small live fish.> I'm also looking at a Black Ghost Knife, any potential conflicts there possibly w/ water preference? < Black Ghosts come from South America and require soft acid water. They like live food like worms and shrimp. Unfortunately they hide during the day and need to be fed at night or else they will starve. They also get up to 18 inches long.> Finally I'd like some sort of roving catfish, there are so many that I don't have a specific species in mind - any suggestions? < Hoplo cats from South America  move around all the time and are not aggressive. The flag tailed porthole cat gets up to around 8 inches and are armored so they cat take some abuse. They are easy to feed and care for.> Oh, I almost forgot, my wife REALLY likes those kisser fish and it's always wise to please The Mrs. how would they do? < Kissing Gouramis are actually pretty easy fish to keep. There are pink and green kissers. They get up about 10 inches long and go a good job cleaning off hair algae of plants and rocks.>   I realize that all of these fish would be a bit much for the tank, but if I were to remove the Rainbows would this combination be feasible? < All the fish you want to keep will get too big for your 55 gallon. If the bass get full size they will eat everything else in the tank.> My final question is regarding feeding.  Most of the fish I listed are not nippers, but will eat anything that they can fit in their mouths.  With that in mind it seems that guppies and eventually small comet/goldfish would be a suitable food source, maybe w/ a sprinkle of bloodworms for the BGK and a splash of frozen brine for some diversity.  Anyway, I've read much about avoiding feeder guppies/fish due to possible disease introduction.  Is there a way that I can tell how healthy the LFS feeders are? < But some feeders and quarantine them for a couple of weeks. Feed them well and treat for diseases. After they have been disease free for a couple of weeks they will be safe to feed to your main tank without too much fear of adding diseases.>   Is it feasible to breed my own guppies? < Absolutely. Place about 10 males to 100 females in a large tank. Make sure that it is well filtered and you change at least 30% of the water every week and feed them well. Keep the water temp around 80 degrees. Add lots of floating plants , could even be plastic to the tank so the babies have some where to hide. This would give you about 100 feeders a day after a couple of months. The bass alone will eat about 500 a day as it gets bigger. Raising the guppies will end up being more work than the original tank.> If so how would I go about it and how many would I need to produce to keep my fish happy and healthy? < This would work for awhile but your fish would get to big to really make this practical.-Chuck> Gosh, turned out to be pretty long, thanks for any advice you can give, you've got a very encompassing website here, it's been invaluable to me. Rob

FW livestock mix query Dear wet web media, I would like to know if I can put together in my 96l tank these following fish: 1 male Betta, 2 ram cichlids, 8 neon tetras and 2 Oto cats. Thank you < The rams may pick on the flowing fins of the Betta, and the Betta may eat the Neons if they are small. Will lots of places to hide like floating plants and driftwood or rocks they should be fine.-Chuck> Dario

How many in a 30g? I have recently come across a problem with my 30 gal. tank. I have a pair of neon swordtails that gave birth to babies last October. I had a lot of friends want some babies, so I saved them from being eaten by their mother. 7 months later, every single one of my friends is "unable to take them." Now, I've grown too attached to them and don't know what I can do. I want to keep as many as I can. I originally kept 6 of them to be in the main display, so along with the other fish I have, that makes 10 total. What is the maximum I can keep w/o overloading my bio-filter? I have an AquaClear 200 along with a 2 inch substrate of fluorite and a few plants. Weekly water changes of 4 gallons or RO/DI water. Thank you very much. ~Ed <<Dear Ed, you can use a nitrate test kit to determine your stocking capacity. Simply test your 30g on a weekly basis. Let's say you want to aim for 20ppm of nitrates. Let's say you just did a water change, you test the tank, it's 20ppm. You wait one week, and test again. Is the level now at 40ppm or higher? That will mean you need to do weekly 50% water changes to keep the level at 20ppm. If you can't keep the nitrates low, say around 20-30ppm with a weekly water change, then you have too many fish. Simple enough. If the nitrates creep too high, you will find yourself doing larger volume and more frequent water changes. It is basically up to you to decide how often you want to do the tank maintenance. If once a week water changes is okay, then stock the amount of fish that the test kit says to. If you prefer once every three weeks, then cut down on the stocking level until you can let the tank go for three weeks without the nitrates skyrocketing. Make sense? -Gwen>>
How Many in a 30g II
Gwen, Thank you very much for your quick reply. Now, assuming that the nitrate levels will remain stable and my biofilter can handle this many fish (right now there are 22 babies with the 4 original fish), what about over-crowding? Is this where the 1 inch of fish/gal comes into play? ~Ed <<Ed, the one inch per gallon is just a generalization we give to people, kinda like the rule for changing your car's oil every 6 months. I personally hate this rule, since it totally depends on how many fish are in what size tank, what species they are, etc. Unfortunately, the one inch per gallon rule is quite easily broken. With goldfish, cichlids, marine fish, for example, you simply cannot use that rule. Goldfish produce too much waste and grow too large, cichlids are territorial, marine fish require excellent water quality and any level of nitrate is too high for them...so basically, the BEST way to tell your stocking level is to test your nitrates on a regular basis. Any other method is simply not going to cut it in the long run. Because your nitrates may NOT remain stable, especially as your fry grow, so testing is the ONLY way to know what the level is and therefore, how often you will need to do a water change. Let's say you do a water change every time your nitrate level hits 40ppm. That could happen after three days, or three weeks...depends on how many fish are in the tank and how fast they are growing. If you are tired of doing water changes every three days, remove some fish! Your biofilter should be able to take care of any reasonable amount of fish, given time. Adding too many large fish at once to a stable system can even cause ammonia spikes, so be careful. -Gwen>> 

Fishy selection for 25G Hello and thank you for your help in the past, I am quite new to the hobby and am waiting for my tank to cycle, it's 25G with some live plants, coupla rocks and piece of driftwood. While I wait (very impatiently!) I am researching the fish I would like to keep. My pH is around 7.8. I was thinking of this combination and would like to know if it's too many/not the right combo of fish. 6 zebra Danios 2 platys 2 dwarf Gouramis 3 spotted Corys or Otos and maybe a couple of shrimp?< Sure> My other question is that on fishbase.org the temp range for the dwarf Gourami starts at 77F whereas the temp ranges for the platys end at 77 and the others around 75. Can these fish work together and if so what temp do you suggest I keep the tank at to keep everyone happy? If the Gourami is not suitable can you suggest another fish that is interesting?< The Gouramis are ok, the Danios may start to nip at the long ventral feelers.> Thank you very much, us newbies really need all the help we can get! (well I do anyway :)) < Your list seems fine and the temperature recommended may be ideal but fish actually have a pretty wide range that they can tolerate. Anywhere from 76 to 80 would be fine. -Chuck>

FW Livestock Grouping it is a little different.   I was wondering about selection of fish and if i am overstocked. my tank is 48 inch by  17 inch  (90 gallons, bc it si quit tall) currently I have a large selection of fish: 2 African mini frogs (not fish) 4 albino cories (3/4 inch) 1 suction cup cat fish< Some Plecos get big. watch out if it gets too big.> 1 sword tail  (little over an inch) 5  zebra tetras 2 angel fish (a little smaller than a silver dollar)< The angle fish will pick on smaller slower moving fish. May get to be a problem when they get bigger.> 1 yellow Gourami (5-6 inch)< Watch that the ventral fin feelers don't get picked off by the faster moving fish.> 1 blue Gourami (.50 inch)< Same as above.> 1 kissing fish (1.5 inch) 2 mollies (little over an inch) 1 red hook (5 inches long and 4 inches tall)< These fish will eat all kinds of live plants and get big 6-8 inches.> 1 Bala s hark (6 inch)< Also gets big , Up to 18".> 3 rainbow fish (Melanotaenia boesemanni  i think) (1.25 inch) 2 clown loaches ( little over an inch)< It takes a long tome but these will get up to 12 " over time. Large ones are very cool.> 1. red Gourami (2 inch) 1- cichlid look alike ( but not) and it is about 2 inch < Some leaf fish types look like cichlids watch out for smaller fish.> 2. barbs yellowish with white stripe .75 inch) i have not had any problems with fighting or anything but i was wondering if this is too many fish i have a 110 gallon filter aqua clear, plus a bubbler with 2 outings and it is attached to 2 large water bubble strips (the blue ones) there are also plenty of hiding spaces for all the critters. thanks < Check the nitrates. If they read below 25 ppm then it is alright. If it is higher than you need to do more/larger water changes or reduce the fish load. -Chuck>

Tank Stock questions Hey Everyone!  First and foremost, the site has been wonderfully informative!  Thank you :)   <No Thank you!  we are glad to help.> I currently have a 5.5 gallon tank that is stocked with three platies ( 1 male, 2 female).  I won't be adding any more fish to the tank, because if I do my math right... for a tank this size, three is already pushing it.   <You are correct.  I wouldn't add any more fish to the tank either.> I want to upgrade to a larger tank, either a 10 or 15 gallon tank (I live in a one bedroom apt, so room is an issue, but leaning towards a 15 gallon hexagon tank). <They are quite nice and will work well for platies.  Adding plants for cover seem to spur these fish to spawn more frequently.> The water where I live tends to be horribly alkaline (that's why I went with platies... besides, they're cute and mine have great personalities). <I agree, they are very fun fish, I often wish I kept my large tropical tank going.> I try to keep the pH at around 7.2 but it tends to average somewhere between 7.2 and 7.6 no matter what I do.  Now, my question is, when I upgrade, what kind of bottom feeders are compatible with the water parameters I have?  I'm not worried about looks.  I just want a 'janitor' of sorts that can get the job done :) I also don't want to get something that schools (I've read that the Otos tend to prefer groups) because if the Platies breed, I need some room for the fry. <Otos are great fish, but if you have ever seen a "school" of Otos you would see a handful of inch long fish somewhat hanging around together.  having a couple Otos in the tank are rarely even noticed.  But, my suggest for you to get are apple or ram's horn snails.  These are great animals, not only clean the gravel but do a great job on the glass itself.  They don't add much to a bioload, and my tanks look spotless all the time thanks to my snails.> Thanks in advance! Megan <Hope that helps.  good luck with the platies. -Magnus>

Everybody To The Limit! - 04/13/2004 I purchased a knife clown about 5 days ago.  He's about 3 to 4 inches long.   <Aww, just a little baby!  Just to check, you do realize that these beauties get over four feet long, yes?> I have him in a 30 gallon tank with 2 gouramis, 2 tiger barbs, 2 angels, a large Pleco, a 4 inch silver dollar, a small Cory cat, a small tetra, and a kuhlii loach.   <Uh, and a partridge in a pear tree??  This is, nicely put, a little much for a 30 gallon tank, I'm afraid.> I realize knife clowns grow rapidly and that I will not be able to keep this one in my tank for long.   <Or any tank....  A few hundreds of gallons would do for a couple of years.> However, I have fed him fish flakes, freeze dried plankton, freeze dried Tubifex worms, brine shrimp and feeder guppies, and he has exhibited little to no interest in any of these.  I have yet to see him eat, though he swims around freely during feeding time.   <Try frozen bloodworms, pieces of krill, squid, prawn/shrimp.... and skip the feeder guppies, unless you breed them yourself; they run a *terribly* high risk of giving your fish disease.> All the other fish chowed down.  I have also noticed that his fins are nipped.   <Uh, not to be cruel or anything, but what do you expect?  A thirty gallon tank is not suitable for the sheer volume of fish you've got, and *especially* not suitable for a knife capable of growing taller than your average school kid.> I have noticed the silver dollar nip at him a couple of times.   <I would not doubt it.  The barbs are undoubtedly to blame, too.> Any suggestions?   <First and foremost, I would forget about the knife for now.  I hate to be harsh, but there is just not a place in your tank for such a fish right now.  If the stress from the crowd doesn't kill him, the barbs and silver dollar will, I'm afraid.  Then I'd recommend focusing on how to hone down your bioload some; characins are schoolers, and need to be with others of their kind to thrive; you might consider doing a separate tank for the silver dollar, and get him a couple pals, and include the barbs in that tank, and the tetra with some friends, too.  That would take you down to two Gourami, two angels, a Pleco, a Cory, and a Kuhli in your 30g.  The Plec will be next to need a bigger home, if he doesn't already; you implied that you planned on moving the knife to a bigger tank - perhaps instead, you could upgrade, and move this batch (Gourami, angels, Plec, Cory Kuhli) into the bigger tank, leaving the characins in the 30g?  I'd add a couple more Corys and a couple more Kuhlis, too; they, too, are better in groups.  Then, after that's settled, you might like to consider Xenomystus nigri, the African Knifefish, for your larger tank.  This is really the only knife available in the trade that will not grow far too large for the average tank; they top out at about eight inches.  Here's Fishbase's rundown on 'em:  http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=5065&genusname=Xenomystus&speciesname=nigri .> I am at a loss for what to do next. <There is really nothing you can do to make the current mix work....  I do not foresee the knife surviving in the current scenario.  I hope that this has been of assistance to you....  Please forgive the "nagging"; I only have the interests of you and your fish in mind.> Thank you in advance, Mariella <Wishing you and your finny pals well,  -Sabrina>

Question about compatibility and over-crowding I recently set up a brand new 55 gallon freshwater tank (standard shape) and am currently cycling it with 3 Tiger Barbs, 4 Bloodfin Tetras and a Platy. I've been doing some research regarding what I want to stock it with when that process in complete and have come up with a list. I was wondering if you could simply take a look at this and let me know if there will be any compatibility issues, as well as whether or not it borders on (or goes beyond) over-crowding. By the way, the numbers I provide refer to how many of a certain species I would like to have, total:  Platy * 4  Bloodfin Tetra * 6  Tiger Barb * 5 <Fast moving, may nip fins on slower species>  Golden Otto * 2  Kuhli loach * 3  Brown Spike-Tail Gourami * 3  Dwarf Gourami * 5< ventralis will get nipped by tiger barbs>  Blue Ram * 3< The rams like to be around 80 degrees>  Glowlight tetra * 6  To give you an idea of my set-up, I am running one AquaClear 300 power filter and one 200-watt Ebo Jager heater (temperature at a steady 77 F). I have created a decent-sized formation of rocks (with river rock that I purchased from a landscaping company) that provides a few caves here and there. I am also working on adding some live plants. My water has a bit of a higher PH, around the mid 7's and is medium hard.  < The fish you have chosen would prefer a pH closer to neutral but could still be OK. Watch out that the river rock doesn't leach out any minerals that could kick your pH up. The term river rock makes me think that it may be a sedimentary rock that was formed under water and is cemented together with calcium and magnesium. These two ions will kick up the pH. You may be saving money on rock but causing yourself some extra stress on you and your fish.-Chuck>  Thank you for this wonderful website, David (Ohio)

Question about compatibility and over-crowding Thanks for the quick response. I have been monitoring the pH often since putting the river rock in my tank and there has been no noticeable change, thus far. I will remove it if it becomes a problem but it seems to be pretty much inert. To be more specific, the rocks were labeled as Montana flat rock and river skip, if that helps at all.  I have read that having larger schools of Tiger Barbs will lessen their aggression towards other fish. I currently have three. Would I be smart to stay with just those or should I add the two (or more, even) to get to my target of five? Or perhaps I should just trade them in to the LFS, although I have become quite attached to one of them.  < If you like the tiger barbs then by all means keep them. Add more if you like. I think as you add more to the school they become more interested in each other rather than the other non-barbs in the tank.>  Will raising the temperature of my tank to appease the Blue Rams upset the other fish I have mentioned?  < At 80 degrees they should all do fine. Make sure there is plenty of aeration for the more active fish like the barbs.>  Is there a happy medium that would work? Or should I not try to put rams with the other species I have listed?  < Rams are great little cichlids and should do fine with the other fish.-Chuck>  Thanks, David

How Do I Know If My Tank Is Overstocked? Is a 10 gallon tank enough to hold 3 swordtails, 7 platies and 2 Cory's or is that overcrowded? if so please tell me if this would effect breeding the swordtails oh yeah (2 males 1 female) though one male is about an inch so he can't breed? And also could you recommend a size tank if overcrowded? <<Hello. The swordtails will grow bigger than one inch. Same with the platies. Same with the Corys :) The Otos will stay around an inch. So, if we count the swords and platies and Corys at two inches each, you would be way overstocked according to the "inch per gallon" rule. I dislike that rule, because it is too flexible. But it gives a good generalization. The best way to know if your tank is overstocked is to test it for nitrates on a weekly basis. Let's say you decide that you want to do water changes of 50% every two weeks. Let's say you also decide you need a nitrate level of around 20ppm to keep your fish healthy. So, you test the nitrate level on the day of your water change, and it's 20ppm. You will wait two weeks, then test again, and see how high the nitrates have gotten in that time. If they have climbed higher than 40ppm, then a 50% water change will not be enough to bring that level back to 20ppm. You would have to do the water changes more often. So let's say you test after one week, and the level goes up to 40ppm. Then, a 50% water change brings it down to 20ppm, where you want it. Higher than that, and you are overstocked! That is basically how a nitrate test kit can help you figure out how many fish to keep in a tank, and how often to change the water. Hope this helps :) -Gwen>>

Novice Help Hi guys. I am a novice and have just started keeping fish. I bought a bio-orb to start and intend to move upwards in terms of tank. I have recently had a bit of a scare. I have 2 Honey Gourami (did have 3 but one passed away) 5 zebra Danio, 2 leopard Danio and a Siamese fighter. I recently looked into my tank and noticed what looked to be some sort of insect larvae. One of my Danios (please excuse the graphic nature of this) was floundering and had no fins or eyes left. I removed him from the tank and he went on his merry way to his maker. I did a thorough water change (if in doubt get the old water out) and this seemed to get rid of the larvae. However, i think that someone or something is nipping my Danios fins. My fighter and Gourami are unaffected. All fish seem healthy and my water is fine. Anyone have any ideas??? Thanks Smidge > Hello Smidge, yes you do need help :P First, I need to ask you some questions, what is the size, in gallons, of this Bio-Orb? I am unfamiliar with this. I looked it up on Google, and found a goldfish bowl. Is this it? It looks like it holds around 2-3 gallons of water. From what you mention, you have overstocked this bowl. I would not be worried about larvae, I would instead be worried about two more important things: one, you have too many fish in a new tank/bowl, and your ammonia readings will be high enough to kill them all pretty soon, if you do not remove some fish and take them back to the store, and do daily partial water changes to keep the rest alive.. You should buy yourself some test kits for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates, or have the store test these for you. It's better to buy your own, as test kits are easy to use and will save many fish lives. You have 12 fish in there! You SHOULD start with two or three, and eventually you could keep 5-6 small Danios in there. OR one Betta and two Danios, it depends on the size of the bowl and what your test kits tell you. The second problem you have is aggression. You are keeping fish together that should NOT be kept together at all. The Danios will shred your Bettas fins, your Betta will fight with your gouramis, and they will all succumb to ammonia poisoning soon, so please do a water change, and decide which fish you want to part with. You should also tell the store you bought all these at, that they have sold you too many fish for a new tank, and they have sold you incompatible fish, in short, they have given you some pretty bad advice! -Gwen<< Dear Gwen, Thanks for your really prompt and detailed response. My tank holds 32 litres which (if my math is good enough) is approx 8.5 gallons of water. My fish have been living together in relative harmony since November when i bought the final addition (the Betta). It is only over the last few days that i have had these problems. They seem to have sorted themselves out and the only thing i am concerned about now is the fact that i have one or two Danios swimming around with chunks out of their tails. It was Pets at home who sold me the fish and they said that i could have up to 9-10 fish in this tank. Obviously they were wrong. I have had my water tested and the ammonia levels are ok (as is the nitrite and ph). The only time my Betta has ever shown any aggression was when he was first put in the tank. I thought he might be a problem but he has since settled in nicely and there seems to be a nice community there now. I have heard that a Betta would be sensitive to the water condition so i watch him carefully. What might this larvae thing have been? Why do you think i ended up with a Danio with missing eyes and fins? Thanks again for your support. >>Hello again :) You're welcome. I am happy to hear this has worked so far. I would recommend one more thing in terms of water testing, though, and that is nitrates. You mention you tested for ammonia and nitrites, which, in an established tank like yours, should be at zero. The "good" bacteria will turn the ammonia the fish produce into nitrite, and in turn, nitrite into nitrate. So, in order to see the levels these are now at, you must test for nitrates. This will tell you how much "converted" ammonia and nitrites there are in the tank, and basically, how often to do water changes. Your tank is 8.5 gallons, minus displacement for decorations, let's say 8 gallons (I'm being generous :P) then you are allowed around 8 inch long, slim fish, which is considered "fully stocked". This would require around a 50% water change PER WEEK in order to prevent long term problems. As I mentioned, your nitrate test kit will help determine how often to change it. By the way, your Danios that are missing pieces of fin are being aggressive. As I mentioned before, Danios WILL chew the fins off other fish. In  normal circumstances, they will not harm each other, but in your overstocked tank, the aggression level will be higher, therefore the fact that they are chewing on each other is not surprising. And no, I am not dismissing the larvae, but in general, larvae do not attack Danios. Usually we feed larvae to our fish to eat. If it is not larvae, it could be hydra, or perhaps something else, I cannot tell without seeing it. But even hydra will only bother fry, baby fish, and adults are not harmed by it. Given the nature of Danios, I would blame them long before blaming any larvae. Perhaps you can take a pic of your larvae and send it along to us, maybe it will help if we identify the little beastie. -Gwen<<

Problem solving before there's a problem! (02/26/04) Hello! <Hi! Ananda here this afternoon....> First off may I quickly state that since Christmas of this year I have been re-educating myself in the proper maintaining of aquatic life (man, things sure have changed since I was 15 & kept fish!) <My goodness, I can only imagine.> and your site has been invaluable to me! <Yay!> I have found in fishkeeping that every source of info (net, books, friends, LFS etc.) all have a way to do things, all seem to think THEIR way is the right and ONLY way, and all opinions are different! LOL!! It really makes it difficult to figure out what IS the right way! <Read, read, read, and make your own decisions.> Now on to the point of this email ... On Christmas I was gifted with a 10 gallon aquarium setup which was just enough to jump start my (years previous) fish obsession! I quickly outgrew it (meaning I *wanted* a bigger tank the 10 gallon stays as is, its perfect!) & added a nifty new 55 gallon. I equipped it with an Emperor 400 filter, live plants, gravel, one large piece of driftwood, various rocks forming caves as well as a heater. I filled it with conditioned water (AquaSafe) seeded it with a few handfuls of gravel from my established tank and headed to my LFS for advise on what to do next. I was advised to add BioSpira (which I did) wait 24 hours (which I did) then add fish. To the tank I then added 4 Cory Cats, 3 Blue Rams (1 male, 2 Females) 1 Angelfish, and 1 Gold Severum. All fish are Juveniles at this point and getting along swimmingly! <Keep an eye on those blue rams. Once a pair forms, they are likely to pick on the remaining female.> The Severum & the Angel although respecting one another's comfort zone pal around together the majority of the time. The male Ram divides his attentions equally between the lady Rams. <Sounds like he's still trying to make up his mind!> The Corys of course pal around all the time. I would like to add some sort of colorful (no fin nippers!) shoaling/schooling type fish that would enjoy occupying the upper portion of my tank in perhaps a month or 2 as well. Is this possible? Any suggestions (pretty please)? <Well, they may not win the schooling/shoaling contest, but platies or perhaps swordtails (*not* both; they will hybridize) would work well. Normally, the numbers of fry they produce would be a concern, but you already have other fish that will take care of that issue.> Could you please let me know what I have done wrong so far? (lol) <Not much, as far as I can tell. Putting the more aggressive fish in before adding the colorful/schooling/shoaling fish may not have been the best idea, so you may want to add any new fish after lights out to avoid some problems. (After you QT the new fish, that is.)> As much as I try to research things properly beforehand, one will still heed the wrong advise & make a mistake, right? <Entirely possible.> My first and foremost intentions are to have a clean, healthy, SPACIOUS environment, where I can enjoy watching my fish interact & not just exist ... but thrive. <A laudable goal!> Thank you in advance for sharing your knowledge & experience with a "trying to get it right" semi-newbie! :-) Sandy <Sounds like you would really enjoy the gang who frequent the freshwater forums at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk !! --Ananda>

Off-colored Ghost Knife and Oscars with Angels - 02/22/2004 Magnus... <Sabrina, today, hope all is well> Thought I would update you on my ghost who lost his color. I put him in my 5gal guppies tank.  Thought that would be best - no one to intimidate him.  Of course, he loved the old car for his home, and as expected, the baby guppies all disappeared.  Had to make a decision of sacrifice to hopefully keep him alive.  I noticed a bit of black coming back (due to fresh "sea food" I'm sure...), <And you'll surely have more baby guppies in the future, no worries.  Good that they have contributed to your ghost's well-being, a worthy cause, IMO.> but he has outgrown the little tank, <Heh, to be expected!> so I moved him to the 38gal.  This tank consists of Parrots, Tiger Barbs, and a handful of misc.  The red tail shark is probably the most aggressive, but lives in harmony with the others usually.  Once in awhile he'll chase the barbs around.  So far the ghost has found an ornament to hide in and seems to being doing okay. <IMO, all of these are too aggressive as tank mates - do keep an eye on him, watch closely for splits in his fins or any other signs of distress.> Another question....I have a 60gal octagon with two Oscars, two tins, <Hmm?  Ahh, tinfoil barbs, yes?> two fire mouth cichlids and two angels and a silver dollar.  All is well with the combination at this point, but as the Oscars grow (one is about 6"), do you think the angels will be okay?   <Not at all, not in this size/shape tank - I would consider all tankmates grossly at risk of harassing/harming one another as they "grow up" - the Oscars will likely require a tank of their own, if they're getting on well, they've likely paired.  Removing them to their own space will give you some wiggle room for the rest, and the Tinfoils are the next biggest worry - topping out at about fourteen inches.  Fortunately, they are durable, and slow growers - I would remove them with the Oscars.  A tank that is big on surface area (er, not a hex/octagon/tall tank) will do best for the four.> One angel is quite large, the other only about 2 1/2 inches.  I know there is not always a rule to go by, but do you think I should move the angels? <The Oscars and Tinfoils will need a larger tank in the long run.... not so much larger in gallonage as in usable space.> FYI-my "herd" has gone down in numbers.  I have been very blessed to have had 6 adoptions in the past two weeks.   <Wonderful!!> Down to 13 dogs-seems so quiet.   <Sounds like you're doing quite well.> Thumbs up to your girlfriend for helping the shelters and rescues-wish she was here! Have a wonderful day.  Ren <You, too.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Arowana, Clownknife, Oscars and Silver Dollars I have a 125 gallon tank (length is 4') which currently hosts 2 12" Oscars, 2 6" Silver Dollars and a 10" Silver Arowana.  Water circulation is better than 6 turns per hour and filtration is through a wet/dry system with bioballs.  The tank cover is well-secured and year-round temperature 78-82F. Just yesterday, on impulse, I bought a 5" Clown Knifefish which I have in quarantine; but having read your and other articles, I am wondering if I made a bad mistake.   My concerns relate to size, compatibility, feeding differences etc.  For instance,  I do not feed my Oscars or Arowana live food nor meat, just cichlid-type pellets; but I am getting the impression that live food is a must for Clown Knifefish. Your comments would be greatly appreciated. >>Hello. First, may I ask your nitrate level? I would be interested to know. This tank seems a tad overstocked. Adding a clown knife may wreak havoc with your water quality. It just seems a tad much, to me. The Oscars should be alone in that tank. Is that a silver Arowana? Second, the knife will outgrow this tank, they can attain lengths of up to three feet. If you want to keep the knife in quarantine (by the way, a q-tank is an excellent idea) you can see what he is eating, and perhaps train him onto the pellets while he is in there. Since he is alone, letting him go a few days without food will help encourage him along those lines. Please get back to me with the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in your 125g. Thanks -Gwen<<

Arowana, Clownknife, Oscars and Silver Dollars Yes, it is a silver Arowana. So far my nitrate problem is not a problem; currently it is at 10 mg/l and I try never to go above 20 mg/l.  My approach is very simple.   I don't use any mechanical filter material that I cannot wash out easily and regularly; once the nitrate gets to 10mg/l I do a 33% water change the next weekend; I feed lightly; use 2.5 gallons of bio balls and very high water flow (>6x) though the trickle filter.  I have no readable levels of ammonia or nitrite, but for extra protection I plan to add more bio balls. >>>Hello again! :) Thanks for getting back to me on the nitrate level. Do you test ammonia and nitrite also? I hope you will keep testing your tank for nitrates on a regular basis, as there is NO doubt in my mind that your tank is too small to keep these large fish in it for any length of time. Silver Arows grow to a whopping four feet long, and yes, I have seen them that size in aquariums. Your nitrates will start getting exponentially higher, as the fish grow. I'm sorry if I sound negative, but I have seen too many Oscars with HITH and lateral line disease to be optimistic. None of your fish will be able to grow normally to their adult size in a 125g. Adding bioballs is always helpful. However, that won't cut down on the nitrates, since bioballs create nitrates, that is their purpose. Please consider parting with some of your fish, or buying larger tanks for them in the not-too-distant future. I think your fish will be healthier in the long run. Have you been feeding the Clownknife anything not alive, and if so, how is he responding?  -Gwen<<<

New Hobbyist, Stocking Plan - 02/02/2004 Ok, so my daughter got a 10gal for Christmas (from her uncle).  Now I'm hooked!  In doing my research on this COMPLETELY NEW hobby, I have a question concerning clams and crustaceans.  This is what I'm planning as far as population... 5 Danios 6 Black Phantom Tetras 6 Green fire Tetras 1 Tiger Pleco 1 Redtail Shark <This one may become very aggressive with age; for a slightly friendlier substitute, you might want to consider a "rainbow" shark, Epalzeorhynchos munense or E. frenatum.  You may still have to remove the fish due to aggression later on in life.> 1 Cobalt Blue Lobster <Creatures sold under this name are almost invariably crayfish, but there are a couple blue Macrobrachium shrimps I've seen under the name "lobster".  Either way, this animal is best left in a tank of its own, as it can and will eat fish.  I know it's not a great substitute, but if you like the large inverts like this, perhaps a few Singapore/wood/flower/bamboo shrimp (all common names for Atyopsis moluccensis) would tickle your fancy?> 3 Freshwater clams <These often fare poorly in aquaria.... our tanks are simply too clean for these filter feeders to obtain food.  You might be able to make it work by removing the clam on a daily or every other day basis into a small cup of Green water algae.> My question :  Is a 55 gal tank going to be large enough for this array of aquatic life?   <I believe so, yes; with the concerns mentioned above.> Do the lobster/clam inches-to-gallons guide apply here?  If so then the numbers say it's all good.   <Mm, the "inches per gallon" rule is bunk anyway.  Things to take into consideration are waste output, swimming space needed, and any other special needs of the animal; for example, one ten-inch Oscar can *not* survive properly in a ten gallon tank.... even a 50 gallon tank would be pushing it.  But ten one-inch tetras would have a far better chance.  The fishes you have selected will make excellent inhabitants for your tank.> Suggestions? <Just as above.> Thanks for your help...Rick <Any time.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Aquarium Ideas-tankmates Your forum has been very helpful to a new freshwater aquarium owner like me.  After reading the other postings, I don't think I have overcrowded the 46 gal. bowfront tank, but would like your opinion as to whether it is possible to add an additional colorful fish or two.  So far, I have: 3 clown loaches 2 Cory cats 2 Otocinclus 3 female velvet swordtails, 1 male pineapple sword (maybe a neon swordtail - I didn't buy these, they survived as fry from an additional swordtail that has been living in the hospital tank with salt in the water) 2 dwarf gouramis I have a Brite light power compact (96 watt) with : 2 healthy Amazon swords lots of Anacharis that grows like crazy 1 holey Vallisneria 2 strong curling Crinum 1 half eaten Anubias  Small pebble (creek stone?) substrate, a fake piece of drift wood, and a few larger rocks formed like a cave.  If there is room for additional fish, I am considering 2 pearl gouramis, or a few Boesemanni rainbow fish. I am partial to larger colorful fish.  The tank water is pretty hard, the ph is 7.0, and the nitrates occasionally reach 5, even though I do 25% water changes every week to 10 days.  Are there any additions you would recommend without creating an overload?  Thank you for any help you can offer. >>Hello :D I am more partial to the pearl gouramis than the rainbows, unless you go with the dwarf rainbows. If you choose the Boesemann's, you could also add a black phantom tetra or two for contrast, and a small school, say four or five, bleeding hearts or long-finned Serpae tetras. Rosy barbs are nice also. If you can tolerate a bit of nipping, try 5 or 6 green tiger barbs. Lovely fish. -Gwen

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