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FAQs on Freshwater Livestocking 1

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 2, 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,

So cute when small... gets 3-4  feet long!

What Can You Cram into 5 Gallons? (1/9/2004) Hello, <Hello. Steve Allen tonight.> I received a small 5-gallon tank filled with only 4 swordtails, 2 black mollies and 2 iridescent catfish sharks as a gift.  I'm very new to fish and aquarium maintenance and would like to keep things simple and easy. <Would that it could be so.> I don't want anymore fish <Good, because you have to many for this tiny tank already. What is the scientific name of you iridescent catfish? If they are Pangasius sp, thy ill grow to several feet in length. Ever read the kid book "A Fish Out of Water?" It was one of my favorites.> but would like to know if this tank is big enough for the fish I already have. <No> Also, I realized I have a noisy air pump.  I heard I could use a Whisper Power Filter without needing an extra air pump. <An external power filter should help aerate the water. Several good  brands are available.> Is this possible?  Last, do I need anymore stuff besides gravel and a few fake plants? <A heater. A good beginner book on freshwater aquaria. I like "The Simple Guide to Fresh Water Aquariums" by David E. Boruchowitz. Please reply. Thank You, Marisol B. Delin <Hope this helps>

Gouramis and Oscars Hi I don't know if you answer peoples questions, but i have Cichlids Oscars, catfish, dollar fish mainly all Cichlids. <Of course we do, that's what we are here for.> I have just been given a new tank which has Gourami's in it. There is also a dollar fish in there that looks a bit worse for wear.  My Question is can i put Cichlids in with Gourami's? Both my tanks are 4ft tanks. <Depending upon the type and the size of the Gourami there is a chance that it might be ok, but I would be willing to bet the Gouramis would be damaged and or killed.  The Oscars and Dollars will grow to be very large.  Gouramis can get huge as well depending upon the type.  See if you can identify the type of Gourami using fishbase.org, they will have the max size of the fish listed.  Best Regards, Gage> Thank you Sue

Guppies (12-18-03) I love guppies but am not so fond of other livebearers. Can you suggest some fish I can put with them? I have a 55 gallon.<You should be able to find lots of fish choices here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm.  Cody>

Fish Communities, II Two things, firstly, I'd like to thank Sabrina for her wonderful words of wisdom. <Sure thing, I'm always willing to help.> Second, I'd like to know what fish would work with tiger barbs and a rainbow shark. <Well, you said a "ten to twenty" gallon tank - provided the tank is large enough to house the shark (or that you get rid of it as it grows too large), there are tons of options.  I'd suggest sticking with durable schooling nippers, like Serpae tetras, skirted tetras, phantom tetras, other tetras of that nature, zebra Danios, harlequin Rasboras, *so* many colorful options for you.  My two personal favorite fish of this temperament are rosy barbs and Rummynose tetras, very attractive little beasts.  One interesting approach might be to do mainly just tiger barbs, of the different color varieties, regular, green, and gold.  Perhaps some quick moving bottom dwellers, if the occasionally territorial rainbow permits, like Kuhli loaches or smaller Botias.  You have gobs of options available to you.  Get a feel for what you like, research fish you're interested in, observe the animals firsthand at stores and in others' tanks.  If you're in a metropolitan area, consider  getting involved with the local fish clubs (*never* too young for that!)  I wish I'd known about them when I was younger - folks to share my fish addiction with and learn from would've been *divine*!  And above all, learn, love, and respect the animals in your care - and enjoy!> Thanks Brenda <You bet.  -Sabrina>

Fish Communities I'm thirteen years old and have gotten a ten to twenty gallon tank (I'm not sure which, my mom bought it at a garage sale) <You can figure out the capacity of your tank (in gallons) by multiplying (in inches) length x width x height and dividing by 231.  The difference between ten and twenty gallons is pretty significant, and will in part determine what you can put in there.> and have cleaned everything and it is set up with the tests and chemicals and heat all right. I put in it 3 Tiger barbs and 3 red wag platies. I realize that the barbs are aggressive and that my platies could be hurt, but they are fine together, right now. <Tiger barbs are indeed quite good at nipping fins.  Platies are resilient fish, but you should certainly rethink this if they show signs of stress/damage from the barbs.  Watch them, their interactions, very closely.> Later I will put in a rainbow shark and 3 neon tetras. <Caution, here: rainbow sharks grow up to five or six inches (depending upon species); that's a bit large to be kept in a 10g tank.  Perhaps a bit large for a 20g, even, ultimately.  Also, in the case of the Neons, it is unfortunate that these fish are so often suggested for newly setup aquaria; they are extremely delicate (often wild-caught) and tend to be very prone to illness, and are very sensitive to water quality.  These could be very stressed by the active, nippy barbs and a rainbow shark, but would probably fare quite well with the platies, once the tank has been established for a while.  If you go that route, I would suggest more than three, as they really do find comfort in numbers.> The tetras will most likely get eaten, <Not eaten, just stressed to death.  Or rather, stressed to the point of disease, and *then* death.> but this is merely an experiment to see if this book I have is correct on the whole point. <Mm.  *Merely* an experiment.  To prove a book wrong.  So, if the book said that you would likely get hurt if you jumped off a building, would you try, just to prove it wrong?  My point here is that, although books are not always full of truths, there are definitely some compatibility issues that you obviously know you can avoid, so *why* would you risk the lives of the fish, risk introducing disease to the healthy/unstressed fish in with them, on such a whim?  I'd also be interested to know what statement in what book you're trying to invalidate.  Perhaps there is a less hazardous way to go about it?> All I want to know is if the tetras and platies do end up dying if I can get a Betta and a few more tiger barbs for my tank? <Tiger barbs would rip the fins right off a Betta.  I've seen it happen in fish stores.  It's not pretty to see, I assure you.  My best suggestion to you is to rethink your stocking scheme, once you determine the size of your tank.  There are countless hundreds of combinations for stocking a small community tank - so many, many different fish available to us - I'm confidant you can find something that will work well, with a bit more research, studying the fish firsthand at the fish store, talking with other fellow fish nerds (local clubs, message boards, etc.)....> Thanks, Fish Lover <You're welcome.  -Sabrina>

Overloaded I have 2 established 30 gallon tanks.  The first tank is about 1  year old and has 10 small asst tetras, 2 albino Cory cats, 3 striped Kuhli loaches, 2 black Kuhli loaches, and 4 Otos.  It has a AquaTech 30-60 Power filter.  The second tank is about 2 months old.  It has 9 tiger barbs, 2 zebra Danios, 1 red-tailed shark, 1 skunk loach, and 1 small common plecostomus.  It has a Whisper 30-60 Power Filter.  My friend was moving her tank and shattered it.  Most of her fish were rescued to my tank.  I now have 2 small clown loaches, 2 upside down catfish, 1 julii Cory, 2 male dwarf gouramis, and one 8 inch Pleco added to my first tank.  I put them in the first tank because I didn't know how they would mix with the semi-aggressive fish in the second tank, especially the shark.  However, this is too many fish for the first tank.   <Yes, definitely....> My friend has decided not to replace her tank.  I do not have room or money for another tank setup.  I do have a 10 gallon uncycled quarantine tank, not in current use.  I live about 100 miles from the nearest LFS.  Our Wal-Mart does not carry fish tanks bigger than 10 gallon.   <But they do carry Rubbermaid containers, I'm sure, which will do as makeshift fish holders in a pinch - perhaps you could use something like that until your next fish store trip, at which time you can trade in some of those fish....> I guess my question is how do I divide these fish between my tanks and still have harmony. <First and foremost, those upside down cats, depending upon species, are likely going to pick off any small fish they're with; I would consider the small tetras *extremely* threatened, at this point.  The two Plecs may fight, so keep them separate.  Keep the julii Cory with the other two cories, and possibly put the two clown loaches in with the skunk loach - BUT - watch out with that red-tailed shark.  The two Gourami would probably do best in the tank with the Danios, as it seems that that tank has the lower bioload, but again, *watch it* with that shark.  Do realize, please, that you'll have to do more frequent and/or larger water changes than usual until you can get some of these fish off your hands, and you might consider getting the upside down cats out and away from the rest of the fish - perhaps in that 10g you've got.  If you do that, maybe send the Gourami along with 'em.  Hope all goes well,  -Sabrina>

Overloaded, part III Sabrina: Thanks for all of your advice.   <Sure thing.> You all have a picture of these catfish posted on your site under Synodontis nigriventris.   <When they grow up a bit, they might very well pick off small fish.> I have already found a home for the 8 inch Pleco.   <Excellent!> As soon as I get through treating a clown loach, I am going to put the gouramis and upside down catfish in the hospital tank until I can afford a bigger set up.   <Sounds like a beautiful plan.> I do appreciate all of the information.  Thanks, Donna <Any time, Donna!  Hope all goes well,  -Sabrina>

Back To The Future...(Starting Over Again!> Hi, I'm just getting back into keeping fish after a 30 year layoff! A lot has changed, for sure. <It sure has! And the Chicago Cubs made it to the World Series, er...Oh- I guess they didn't...Some things still have not changed...But hey, the Undergravel filter is no longer the state of the art, anyways! And I miss those metal-framed tanks, as I'm sure you do! Scott F. sharing useless commentary with you tonight...> Not only in the actual hobby, but in the amount of available knowledge. I've spent the last month or so getting myself up to speed while starting a new fresh water tank. Your site has been very helpful. <Glad to hear that! We sure have a lot of fun learning and sharing experiences together!> Here's the set up. A 55 gallon tank filtered with an Emperor 400 with duel bio wheels. I installed a small pump at the rear of the tank and at the opposite end from the filter. It jets the water along the rear glass towards the filter inlet. I put a small bubble wand along the side wall, on the pump side. Substrate is about 1/2" of natural, dark pebbles, small "half pea" size. No UGF, I use a vacuum to do my water changes. Landscaping consists of 2 pieces of driftwood and about 10 slate caves. No live plants, but 3 plastic to hide the hardware. I added 13 Zebra Danios to start the cycling. 3 died during the process, but the other 10 are very active. <Glad to hear that. I love Zebras- just great all around fish, and fun to watch!> I do 10 gallon water changes twice a week. This keeps the nitrates well below 20 with the small bioload now in the tank. <Love you...> I added one small algae eater, an Otocinclus species. Ammonia and nitrites have stayed at zero since the cycle completed. I'll increase the water changes if needed as I slowly add QT'ed fish. (See, even old dogs can learn!) Water tests at 120 ppm for hardness and a ph of 6.8.   <Sounds good!> Plan is to house a breeding colony of one of the small Plecos on the market today. Nothing over 5" or so. The Queen Arabesque (L260) for example. 3 to 5 adults. I'm not looking to go commercial, but I feel strongly that it is better to breed than capture when dealing with any wild animal. <Whenever possible! I agree> So I want to give them everything they need to breed and hopefully pass the genes along. <Excellent> Of course this is going to be one boring daytime tank if that's all I put in it, so my question (finally) is about tank mates. I would like a group of colorful, active fish to liven up the tank. I was thinking livebearers, but a thought occurred to me. Would the Plecos benefit from an egg scattering species that would supply them with a protein rich "live" food? If so, can you recommend a common species? (Remember the "pass the gene thing"?) It would have to be a type that would be unlikely to turn the (dinner) tables on the Plecos should they breed. Just seems to me that if I'm going to be feeding them, they might as well help feed and condition the Plecos. Just like keeping guppies or swords with small cichlids. Of course I would not count on it as a steady food supply, just a supplement to the meaty diet I would supply.  Don C. <Well, Don- I'm not overly confident in them supplying a food source to the Plecos, which are essentially herbivorous, but there certainly is no reason not to have some small, colorful fishes to bring some life to your tank. Sure, livebearers will fit the bill, but I am a big fan of tetras and Rasboras. If you can get some nice Cardinal Tetras and/or Harlequin Rasboras, you'll get some great small fishes that will add color and interest, and-who knows- maybe a spawn or two! Yep- these little guys rock, IMO! Good luck in your venture...Welcome back! Regards, Scott F.>

Restaurant Aquaria Hello! I am working with the owner of a new restaurant who wants to install a couple of aquaria. One tank will be about 150 gal. and the other is probably about 75 gal. (we'll likely have them custom built, so they won't be standard sizes). Our question is can you recommend some good fish for us? The tanks will be freshwater, possibly planted. I was thinking that the fish should be eye-catching (colorful or interestingly shaped/patterned) and about 4-6 in. at adult size (or else really slow growing). Ideally, there could be a mixture of sizes and shapes of fish. I'm a little wary of cichlids because of their aggressive natures- it might put some people off their dinner to watch one fish eat another! The only thing I've seen in the local fish store that looks like it might suit are the gouramis, but I would still want to mix them with something else for visual interest. Can you help us? Thanks so much! <Hmm.... there are *so* many ways you could go with this.  I would first recommend that the two tanks be vastly different from one another, so there's reason to look at both.  If you're not completely turned off of African cichlids, you could do a gorgeous, very rocky display, even plant less perhaps, for contrast (the rift lakes have very little vegetation, by nature), and have a nice mix of brightly colored, beautiful cichlids.  I personally don't much care for them, but they are certainly eye-catching with great diversity in color.  You would need to provide ample space and territory with large rockwork, providing caves within the rock for them to stake out their spaces, and you would need to find out who is compatible with whom.  One great reference for this:   http://www.cichlidrecipe.com/cichlidchart/noflashchart.htm  I really think this would make for a beautiful, colorful display, and be great contrast to a large planted aquarium.  Being that I am partial to plant tanks, I'd make the 150 the plant tank (but that's just my crazy taste talking!).  For the plant tank, if you want larger (and thereby visible) fish, you must certainly avoid herbivorous fish.  You could go with angelfish, but you'd then be limited on your Gourami to only the pearl Gourami - they're the least aggressive of the large-ish Gourami.  Corydoras, though small, are active, fun, and eye-catching.  Clown loaches, though very delicate, get large, and are also active and fun.  However you go for the planted tank(s), I will strongly recommend that you get some algae eating shrimp and/or Siamese algae eaters (SAEs), more for the tank's benefit than the guests - unsightly algae will not be welcome in your tank(s), I assume.  Hmm....  y'know, there are just so many different things you could do with these tanks....  there are so many directions you could go.  My thoughts are purely that, just my thoughts, and it's all going to boil down to the tastes of yourself and the owner as to what you wish to keep (and can realistically care for).  So many, many options....  -Sabrina> Sincerely,  Sarah O.

Overstocked? (10/21/03) Hi .. <Hi! Ananda here this afternoon...> I have an approximately 130g Tank ( 180 x 65 x 50) <Are those measurements in cm? If so, that's about 157 gallons.> ... I have in it about 49 fish .. mostly mollies ... guppies and similar sized fish ( I have about 15 species ) <Oh, my... even without a detailed species/numbers list, I still think you have too many fish in this tank.> I also have 2 small Parrotfish .. and four 3 inch comets .. ( they are <Sorry,  the last part of this evidently got lost somewhere in the net... but these are in addition to the 49 above? If so, you are definitely overstocked. Comets (and koi, and goldfish) are especially "dirty" fish. And those comets can get to be dozens of cm long.> I want to know if this is so much on my tank .. if not .. how much more can I add ? <Well, I would not add anything...except perhaps another tank in your house, one just for the comets. Or perhaps more tanks, and spread the bio-load out a bit.>   Thanks a lot in advance .. and I hope to hear from you soon. <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Compatibility question <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> I would like to know if I could keep a Ctenopoma, Fire eel and a few Mono sebae together. I will be setting up a 90gallon tank. <That combination would not work, long-term, as the Monodactylus species need to be in brackish water and then full-strength saltwater as they age. The Ctenopoma I looked at on Fishbase are strictly freshwater fish. Thank you for asking about these *before* you got the fish! --Ananda>

- Jelly Bean Parrot Fish - I just got a new jelly bean parrot fish today.  It has a tear in it's fin I just noticed, and won't swim around.  It stays near the heater, but the water temp is ok at 80 degrees.  What should I do? <Give it some time to make the adjustment - often times new additions are a bit out of sorts when they get to a new place.> Please help. <Cheers, J -- >

Lots of fish, lots of fish waste, and lots of algae - continued Ok, so how many fish should I remove to lighten the bioload and which ones? Thank you! <Well, Thomas, this is really the part that I don't like to be too instructing on.  I know very well how dear our fish can be to us, and suggesting to remove something is never a comfortable issue.  First off, do please double check your nitrate test against another, see if yours is off; I'd really expect it to be more than zero.  So let's recap, here; you have: 8 Leopard Danios, 2 German Rams, 2 Bolivian Rams, 3 Dwarf Gouramis, 2 Angelfish, 2 American Flag fish, 4 Lyre tail Swords, 4 Platies, 4 White Clouds, 6 Neon Tetras, 2 Albino Plecos, and 6 algae eating shrimp in a  58 gallon tank.  My first qualm is with the angelfish in with Neons and white clouds, which will eventually be lunch for the angels, as may the Danios, eventually.  Also, a pair of angels will be likely to try to breed eventually, and will kick the butts of your other fish when they do.  Another point is that platies and swordtails will breed and make tons of little ones for you to deal with (or allow the other fish to eat).  It's really for you to decide what stays and what goes, and depending on what you choose to let go, the number of fish will be different.  Whatever route you take, I'd recommend keeping the Plecs, the shrimp, and the Flagfish, who will hopefully help with the algae.  Again, let me reiterate that I hate telling you to remove some of your fish - I know how attached we can get.  Cutting down on feeding and using canister filtration instead of UGF will also help (this last bit with nitrates and plants in mind).  Wishing you and your tank well,  -Sabrina>

Packin' 'em in.... Howdy,, new here at your site but am very impressed.. <Thank you for the kind words!> I have a 30 gallon.. And It has been set up now for a long time.. Months. Maybe even a yr.. Anyways.. Wanting to know if it is overcrowded. I have 4 angels, 2 Neons, 2 black Neons, 2 Silver Dollar, 3 black skirts 1 being long fin, 1 Red Eyed Tetra, 2 rosy Barbs 1 being long fin, 4 Zebras 1 being gold long fin, 1 being long fin leopard, 2 being short fin zebras, 1 Plecostomus (sp?) sucker fish, 1 large snail (maybe an apple snail), 1 dojo, and 1 male Betta.. <Oh my, yes, extremely over crowded.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but yeah, waaaay too many fish in there.  -Sabrina> Power head, whisper cartridge filter # 4.. Please answer ASAP. Thanks, Dena in Indiana..

FW Livestocking Hello, <Hi, Chris!  Sabrina here, today> I'm new to this hobby and after reading various sites and books, sometimes contradictory, I decided to seek your advice on the matter of stocking my aquarium. I currently have a 10 gallon aquarium that I set up approximately two weeks ago, it's population currently consists of three black phantom tetra (1 female, 2 males) and four ghost shrimp. After it finishes cycling, I am considering adding the following: another female black phantom tetra 2 panda Cory catfish 1 male Betta <Skip the Betta - the tetras will obliterate his beautiful and oh-so-tasty finnage> 2 African dwarf frogs <Honestly, I don't know a whole lot about dwarf frogs other than the fact that they WILL try to find an escape route - ALL holes in the lid, no matter how small, must be covered, or you'll be missing your frogs.> From what I've read, it appears all of these species should be able to get along with each other. My main concern would be that the tetras might harass the Betta, or beat it to the food.   <Well, the Betta's fins would definitely feed the tetras, and I'm sure the Betta would not appreciate that!> As an alternative, I was considering placing the Betta, frogs, and some (or all) of the shrimp into a five or six gallon tank (one of the local stores has Eclipse Six tanks on sale this week), and instead placing a few platys in the ten gallon. Which of these two plans would you advise? <Let's modify that just a bit - just the Betta, and possibly some (or none, or all, doesn't matter) of the shrimp in the 5-6g tank.  Or even one of the 3g eclipses would do.  The frogs would probably fare better in the larger water supply, as I understand they can be sensitive to water quality issues.  So you'd have the four tetras, the two frogs, the two Corys, and some ghost shrimp in the main tank.> If you believe the separate tanks to be a better idea, are there any plants you would recommend for the five gallon? (the ten gallon currently contains dwarf hairgrass, Anacharis (Egeria densa), a dwarf Anubias, and a banana plant).  I apologize for the length of this e-mail, thank you in advance for any help you are able to provide. -Chris <The hairgrass and banana plant will suffer in inadequate lighting of normal output fluorescents, the Anubias will thrive, and the Anacharis will do well, but be munched upon.  Other good plants for normal outputs are java moss (Vesicularia dubyana), java fern (Microsorium pteropus), Val or 'jungle' Val (Vallisneria sp.)-though it gets quite tall, Anubias sp., some of the Cryptocorynes are okay with moderate lighting, Aponogetons can deal with it, too - really, a lot of options.  Good luck, and enjoy!>

Small Aquarium Stocking Hi, I have a question about using a small fish tank in a college dorm room. I want to have  a small aquarium, and I would prefer to have a shark living in it. Are there any specific shark varieties that would do well in a small aquarium? What size aquarium would be better a one gallon or a 2 and a half gallon tank. I am not looking to set up a huge aquarium, but I would like to know if there is any kind of shark I can get that would do well in this small of a tank. Also, I know a Pleco would be much too large of a fish to have in the tank, but would there be any other algae-eater that you could recommend? Thank you so very much!  Jammi <Hello Jammi, unfortunately I am not aware of any shark or shark looking fish that would live in a tank that small.  I would definitely go with the 2.5gal over the 1gal, the bigger the better.  The Otocinclus is a great algae eater that stays small.  http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/otocinclusart.htm You might want to look into the Eclipse systems, they are compact, good looking, and the filtration is in the hood.  I have a 3gal Eclipse with a Female Betta, Otocinclus, and some plants (Java Moss on a rock, and Anubias).  As far as fish go, you might consider some (3) small Tetras (maybe Neons or Cardinals).  The White Cloud Mountain Minnow is also an excellent small fish.  Or maybe fancy guppies?  Check out fishbase.org for information on all of the above fish.  The picture of the White Cloud on Fishbase does not do them justice.  I hope this helps to get you started, Best Regards, Gage>

Which of these fish could I put in the same aquarium <in a large enough aquarium (55-75 gallons) they should pretty much all get along (except for the white clouds-they need cooler temperatures (68-72)degrees F.. sometimes barbs (tiger barbs) can get a bit nippy lol..> white clouds Danios Rasboras barbs Cory cats rainbow fish tetras and which of these fish would be the easiest to take care of and keep alive <all these fish are relatively easy to care for, just make sure they have good water quality nitrites and ammonia=0 and nitrates less than 40ppm, Good Luck IanB> thanks Brian

They're small now... <Hello! Ryan with you today> I have a 55 gallon tank for now. I am planning on getting a bigger one once they start growing bigger. the Severum is no larger than a 50 cent piece right now. the clown loaches are the size of a pinky and the shovel nose and black ghost are about the size of a space bar give or take. <OK> are they all ok together?? <This is a bad mix...Sorry to be the one to tell you, but unless you plan on upgrading to 200+ gallons, you're going to have to make some serious adjustments.  The Clown loaches and the Severum are pushing it in a 55 alone.  Even if you bought a huge tank, I still would avoid putting a predator such as the Shovelnose in this setup.> oh and I do happen to have another question that I hope you can help me with. today I have noticed that my knife fish has been in the same place for the past few days. I didn't think anything of it since they like the dark. but I just happened to lift the castle up to see if it has been eating as the black ghost finally came out I had noticed that his face was all pale instead of black and the sides of his body were grayish. well after he came out he just kinda of laid down sideways, still breathing and just laid there for about a half an hour. I put some food in there but he wasn't eating it...just laying there. the grayish color disappeared and so did the paleness of his face, but he was acting as if he had no energy. I'm not sure if he was stuck in the castle and couldn't get out or what. <He's stressed, and his natural instinct is to avoid attention.  Far too finicky a fish for this setup.>  but later on today he started swimming around and has hid in a cave we have. but as I was cleaning the water out tonight I moved the cave to clean under it and as he came out he started to lay on the ground again. do they ever rest or do the always swim in one spot. <They're nocturnal, and many people buy special clear caves in an effort to see their fish!  Laying on his side is NOT normal.  You need to carefully observe this fish for other odd behaviors, and search the FAQs accordingly.  Give him a thorough examination for evidence of disease.>  ever time I look at him he's swimming straight upward in the cave. how do I tell if he's actually eating? is he getting sick or just tired?? <Something is off, certainly.  Water test results would be helpful!  What kind of equipment are you using?  Good luck! Ryan>   what should I do??         thank you           Lindsey

Large Fish Compatibility I have recently bought a striped shovelnose and a black ghost together and the pet store said they were compatible, which they are. they don't bother each other. later on I bought a gold Severum and 2 clown loaches, which the pet store said that the Severum and clown loaches would go good with the black ghost knife fish and the shovelnose. nothing has happened yet because they are all pretty small. but I was telling someone what I had in my tank and they said that I shouldn't have listened to there advice because the black ghost knife fish would be fish food sooner or later. so I was wondering is that true? I do know that the Severum is compatible with all the other fish but I couldn't find any information on the black ghost fish. if you can help I would much appreciate it.         thank you          sincerely, Lindsey <Hi Lindsey, I am scared to ask what size tank you have.  These are all fish that get really large.  The shovelnose can get close to 2ft, and the Ghostknife will not be too far behind.  In a large enough tank you might be ok, I personally do not trust large catfish with smaller tank mates, they have a tendency to eat them.  You can find more on the Ghostknife at the links below.  Best Regards, Gage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/knifefishfaqs.htm http://www.mongabay.com/fish/knifefish.htm  >

Tropical with Coldwater fishes? 7/13/03 there has been many rumors about the idea that you can mix tropical fish with gold fish is this true? <while there are a limited number of specific fishes/species that have a wide range that extends into the limits (often seasonally and almost exclusively saltwater species)) of temperate and tropical regions... dedicated species from either cannot be mixed now... and never will. One of the two will suffer. It is not recommended. Anthony>

Sharks and Cichlids ok I have a 30 gal tank, under gravel filter with a large powerhead and aerator, and a 150 GPH charcoal/mesh filter on back of aquarium ph 7.8 no ammonia or nitrates or phosphates to speak of <normally for Africans like higher pH around 8.0-8.5, and sharks like the pH around neutral-these species of fish are best kept in their own species aquariums> went to PetSmart and got some hardy bottom feeders to help clean up after the cichlids, everything is wonderful, everyone loves everyone, and all that (3 female Kenyi cichlids, 1 male Kenyi, 3 silver tipped sharks) and now I decided after I bought these guys, hey, lets learn a little, well lo and behold they're brackish fish and the guys at PetSmart didn't breathe a word <yes, most of them are considered "fish experts" and in essence know very little to nothing about fish or aquatic life, there are many fish that are sold as freshwater species that are actually brackish fish. They usually fair better in brackish water but do alright in freshwater aquariums> right now I have no salt added to the aquarium, I have access to lake Malawi rift salts, don't recall the brand, just the product, and was wondering what you would recommend as good parameters for my tank, <ammonia-0, nitrite-0, nitrate-under 40ppm, and pH for these fish varies... I don't recommend mixing Africans with other species of fish> I have fairly soft water, but I don't know exactly (the only other stock I have had before were the .69 cent Danios) <ok> if I need to I will get a testing kit, I didn't think the species I got were all that sensitive <they are pretty tolerant of poor water quality...but that doesn't mean you should slack off on maintaining your aquarium-not saying you do, but just stating that> I have to go on deployments so the tank wont be monitored extremely close, just water changes/additions and maybe tested once a month if I'm lucky and can get a friend over <ok> on another line, what types of vegetable supplements would you recommend, I have tried lettuce and celery with little to no luck, they tasted it but didn't seem too interested, neither shark or cichlid <would just feed them African cichlid food and add vitamins to their food-make sure the food has good supply of vegetable matter in it, IanB>

Freshwater Stocking Plan Hey guys, <Hey Hey> I am setting up a tank for some relatives, 50 Gallon I think, nobody seems to know.  I measured it to be 12.5" x 19.5" x 48". <Yup, right around 50  LxHxW/232=gallons> Well it has been running empty for about a week now with an Under Gravel Filter and Heater @ 78 F.  I was wondering if my choice of fish would be appropriate for the size of tank it is and if any of the following will have problems being friends.  Here is what I was thinking. 3 Bala Sharks 1 Rainbow Shark 4-6 Sunshine Platys 3 Plecos, Zebra if I can find them... Possibly a Betta or some other bright schooling fish if I haven't already exceeded my capacity. <Sounds good for a while, but the Balas are going to outgrow this tank, full grown they get pretty big (35cm).  I might also substitute the platies for a couple schools of some brightly colored Tetras.  I would also recommend 1 Pleco per tank, some Plecos can be fairly aggressive towards each other as well as growing very large. I personally do not like Bettas in community tanks, there fins are way to tempting to fin nippers.> I appreciate your advice and taking your time to help me out :) <The pleasure is mine, this is soooo much better than work.  Also check out fishbase.org, it is a great tool for information on specific species. -Gage> -Daniel

New Tank Possibilities Hello, my name is Adam, I am a 13 yr-old avid fish fanatic.  I currently have a 55 gallon aquarium stocked with fancy goldfish (a Pearlscale, a comet, a red-cap Oranda, a common goldfish, and a veil-tail bubble eye) and I am about to start a 75 gallon aquarium (48x18x20).  The only problem is, I can't decide as to whether to get a freshwater or saltwater tank. <Hey Adam.  You came to the right place> If I got a freshwater tank, the fish would be as follows: 2 Tire Track Eels (Mastacembelus erythrotaenia) 3 Bala Sharks (Balantiocheilus melanopterus) 1 Black Ghost Knife (Apteronotus albifrons) 1 Oscar (Astronotus ocellatus) Would this work in a 48x18? <hmm...  might work for a while but I see problems down the road> I have done my research and have found that the Tire Track Eel gets to be twenty inches maximum, the Oscar twelve inches, the Balas fourteen inches, and the black ghost can get 16 inches.  I am also aware that the pH for a tank stocked with these fish would be best if it were around 6.8-7.1, and the temp. around 78 degrees.  Is this any good?  Could I do this tank? <Here is where I see problems, the Black Ghost Knife is a timid fish, and the Oscar is anything but.  There would need to be sufficient hiding places for the ghost, plants are a definite bonus.  Oscars get a kick out of destroying and uprooting plants.  Some floating live plants would be nice.  Full grown Balas will need a larger longer tank.  If you set this tank up I would definitely recommend a small Oscar to start with and some medium to larger sized Bala sharks.  The Oscar will grow faster than the Balas and would be happy to make a meal of them.> If I got a saltwater tank, the fish would be as follows: 1 Zebra Eel 1 Snowflake Eel 1 Humu Humu Trigger 1 Volitans Lion Would this work in a 48x18?  I do realize that the Zebra will get around 2-3 feet in captivity, the volitans lion around 16 inches, the Humu Humu around ten inches, and the snowflake also about 2-3 feet.  Is this any good?  Could I do this tank? <I would go with the freshwater setup over this one, these fish are too big and too messy for this tank.  Another thing to consider while you are deciding between a freshwater or marine tank is additional equipment and the cost of that equipment extra filters, skimmers, quarantine tank, etc.> I am no amateur fish keeper, I'm actually quite experienced.  Anyway, which would be better?  Any way to change either one to make it better? <Your chances for success are far greater with the freshwater plan.  Best Regards, Gage>

Small aquarium with potential GIANT FISH... Sorry to bother you, but I had a question.  I currently have a 110 gallon <way too small of an aquarium for these large fish> tank with 3 mid-size Oscars (two tiger and one albino), a mid-sized Managuense, a huge red-bellied Pacu, a foot long algae sucker, and two rope fish.  I would like to be able to keep a separate tank of feeder fish for them to reduce my costs of constant supply. <feeder fish are a poor choice of food, they can/will introduce all types of disease to your fish>  The last few times I have tried this, my feeder fish died, regardless of good ammonia levels and 75 degree tank temp. <well you should cycle the aquarium before you put these feeder goldfish in it>  I was hoping you might be able to give me specs on long term keeping, and breeding of feeder goldfish.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks, <have enclosed some links for you to look at. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/estcycfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/feederglds.htm, good luck, IanB>

Re: Stocking Question Hello again, and thank you for an excellent resource. <Thank you for visiting us and for the compliments!> I had a question with respect to stocking a 240 gallon freshwater tank.  The reef ready tank is 96" x 24" x 24" and utilizes a pre-filter, 2 Little Giant 4-MDQX-SC pumps (1225 GPH @ 3') and a 25 gallon wet/dry sump with bio balls for filtration.  Right now, we have one red Oscar that is about 5" long, one green terror that is about 3" long, one royal Pleco that is about 7" long, a Bala shark that is about 6" long and two clown loaches that are about 3" long.  I was wondering if I could add two more Bala sharks and another clown loach to the tank so they would have more friends.  I understand all of these fish can get between 8" to more than a foot long and I don't want to make them miserable. <Wow, I really appreciate your concern and taking the time to make sure your fish are going to be happy! Right now your fish are in no danger of being overcrowded and even if you add the additional fish, they'll still have plenty of room. If I may make a suggestion, instead of adding just one more clown loach, add about 4 more, you have the room and the loaches will be much happier. These fish are notoriously slow growers and rarely reach their full size in captivity but they do best in groups of at least 5-6 of their own kind and can be downright hilarious to watch.> Thank you again for all of your efforts! <You're welcome!> Take care, Joe <You too and I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Ronni>

Territorial Fish Re: please help Yoshi Already, it's obvious what needs to be done.  Does it make a difference at all if the delhezi was in the 30 gallon first?  I mean as far as a territorial dispute goes.  So far, I haven't seen any problems, but I do not want to risk it.  Thanks for your help. Erin <The safest way to avoid territory disputes is to remove the fish from the tank, rearrange the tank, add the new fish, and then add the old fish. This messes up their territories and greatly helps reduce aggression. Ronni>

What size tank do I need? Hi, last year I bought a 44 gallon tank, 2 red bellied Pacu, and 2 Oscars (1 tiger and 1 red) all from PetSmart.  I was told that they could live happily together in that tank, but now they are all huge and seem very sad about their small living area! One Pacu is 12 inches, the other is 10, my red Oscar is 6 inches, and my tiger Oscar is 9 inches.  I buy all of my supplies at PetSmart, but no longer trust the advice given by the employees there! Could you please send me an e-mail telling me the appropriate size tank I should buy for my babies?!?! <I hate to be the bearer of bad news but to comfortable hold these 4 fish when they are full grown you are going to need at least a 300-400 gallon tank and even that is going to really be pushing the limits. The Pacus can reach sizes of about 3 1/2 feet long each and the Oscars can reach about 18 inches each. Ronni> Re: new tank Have set up 46 gal bowfront aquarium, freshwater. Please tell me how many fish I should introduce initially to cycle aquarium and also whether it is necessary to wait for aquarium to cycle before installing UV. Am intending to keep Angels and wonder what fish can be introduced now that will, if they survive, be compatible with them. What about Serpae tetras? I sort of like them. <Tetras can often be quite touchy when it comes to cycling a tank. I would recommend using 4 or 5 feeder goldfish and then trading them back in once the tank is cycled.> Thank You <You're welcome! Ronni> Fish Compatibility Hey I have just got some fish and I would like to know if they are compatible the fish are 4 mollies(2 sail fins 2 regulars) 1 cichlid 6 neon tetras I think 2 guppies. <Depending on the size of the tank these should do fine together. Mollies do prefer more brackish water than the tetras but they will do OK in freshwater also. Ronni>

Re: aggressive fish compatibility I have recently purchased a small, 10 gal. freshwater tank...it is stocked with mostly aggressive fish (crawfish, crayfish, glass catfish, snail, figure 8 puffer, cichlid, upside down catfish, dojo and briefly a Betta).   <Whoa! This is way too many creatures for this size tank!> I have since separated the beta...it was being nipped by the cichlid.   <I'm sure, the Betta is actually a quite docile fish and does best when kept by himself.> I had a couple fish die and then were eaten by the two "pincher" fish.  Evidently, due to excess feasting, the crawfish created quite an appetite!  Upon returning home from work the other day he had eaten or nibbled on EVERYONE except for the crayfish.   <A common problem, these guys will often pick on or kill anything they can catch. And in this size system, there's not much room for the others to get away.> I am getting rid of the crawfish (obviously) but would like to restock what I had before with the exception of the cichlid. Could I do this?  If so, can the beta be reintroduced to the tank?   <Unless this is a dwarf Cichlid, even he is going to outgrow this tank. The puffer alone could be kept in here or possibly the puffer and one companion if you can find one that he doesn't kill when he gets a bit bigger. I wouldn't recommend adding the Betta. Do some research on the fish you want to keep. Good ways to start are by searching http://www.wetwebmedia.com and http://www.fishbase.org > I have the tank already acclimated with the correct temperatures, chlorine and light salt.  Thanks, Sabrina <You're welcome. Ronni>

Hazy water I set up my tank about 3 weeks ago, the water was clear for the first 2 days then it began to get cloudy. I have a 10 gallon tank with a Penguin 170 Bio-wheel power filter. I've been doing 25% water changes 3 times a week and feeding the fish once a day. The water is still cloudy. I am aware the tank is still building up bacteria to consume the ammonia. Is it possible I started out with to many fish, there are 11, 2 catfish, 1 Suckermouth catfish, 2 white kissies, 2 Gouramis, 2 Tiger barbs, and 2 tetras. I also tested the PH, its neutral; the ammonia is also at an acceptable level approximately .03. At this level shouldn't the water be clear?  I even tried adding Acurel F, it didn't do a thing. What can I do at this point? Should I continue the water changes? What about the number of fish? <Good morning! Ronni here answering your questions today. I think your problems are indeed coming from an overstocked tank. At full grown sizes, depending on the species of your Gouramis and Catfish you have a fish load of somewhere between 30 and 60 inches and you really shouldn't have more than about 10 inches. You need to eliminate some of the fish and I think you'll see a major improvement in your water quality, you ammonia will go down to 0 where it should be and the water will clear up. What fish you keep are up to you but you might do some research on their adult sizes at http://www.fishbase.org to help with your decision. You may eventually have some problems with the Tiger Barbs, they are notorious fin nippers unless kept in schools of at least 5-6 of their own species so those might be ones to remove. You will need to continue with the water changes as long as there is any ammonia and as long as you have this large a fish load. Once you reduce the fish load and the ammonia/nitrites read 0ppm then you will be able to reduce the frequency of your water changes to once every couple of weeks.>

Am I Overcrowding I would like to thank you all for the quick and useful information you provide in your responses.  And of course, I have yet another inquiry.  I believe I've reached a combination of fish that makes me happy. Remember I have a 29 gallon tank, but it's run on a Fluval 304 (good for 70 gallons) so if it seems I have too many fish, maybe this excess filtration can permit the overcrowding.  Let me also say that this combination is co-existing in absolute harmony! (Even though the little puffers and tiger barbs are notorious for being a little too touchy feely)   These are my children: 5 Cories of different types 1 small Pleco 1 upside-down catfish (thinking about adding another for company) 2 dwarf puffers (these guys are great) 3 swordtails 3 mollies 3 zebra Danios 7 Neons 5 tiger barbs 1 small red-tail shark (a beauty and my favorite fish) 3 fiddler crabs (these guys and the crayfish are great for aerating and cleaning the substrate) 1 electric blue crayfish I made a point to buy all these fish small and young (but HEALTHY of course) because I read if young fish grow-up together they will be less aggressive towards one another, as opposed to adding older semi-aggressive fish to an already established community tank.  So far I must say that this has worked, either by luck or because of the actual effectiveness of this "age acclimation technique". The tank is planted (not heavily, unfortunately), and I also have a piece of driftwood. My question is am I going overboard, and will this amount of fish pose a problem.  TRUST ME...I'm dying to UPGRADE to a 55 gallon tank, but I am BROKE, BROKE, BROKE, and won't be able to do the upgrade the correct way for a while.  Can I maintain my load or should I unwillingly lose some fish? P.S. I know what the rule for fish quantity is, but I ask for your personal opinion, and also do you have any suggestions at all for an improved tank, since you are the experts. Thanks!!! Jean-Pierre <Hello Jean-Pierre! Thank you much for the wonderfully kind words! Unfortunately, I do feel this tank is way overcrowded and needs to soon become less crowded. The extra filtration is great and it will help with your water quality but it won't help with the physical problems that result from overcrowding. Your plan to upgrade to a 55 gallon tank is a good one, right now you have about a perfect fish load for that size tank so you're at about double what you really should be in the 29. So if you can't get a 55 right now I would definitely be removing some of the fish, even though that's always hard to do. :o( Ronni>

Re: Info on "community 10 gal. tank" please Thank you Ronni for your quick reply. I am new to WWM's site and find it an ENORMOUS help. All of the FAQ's I have read written from different staff assure me that you ALL know your stuff. I will be visiting it often. Thanks to all of you for having such a terrific site. Keep them fishies swimming! Michelle <Thank you very much for the kind words Michelle! We're glad to be here to help out! Ronni>

Inconceivable (as in the Princess Bride) stocking "plan" Ananda, I wanted you to take a look at this, as brackish tanks were never my specialty.  If I'm off base on any of my advice *please* let me know, ok? Marina >Yes I was just flipping through your website and by the time I was done had found that I had read just about everything listed. Thank you for such a helpful info. source. >>You're quite welcome. >I have just recently purchased a 55gal. tank and am wondering what would be a good mixture of cool looking fish?  So far I have managed to acquire one 1 1/2 inch green spotted puffer, one 2 1/2 inch red bellied Pacu, one 3/4 inch clown knife and four convicts, two regular and two albinos ranging in size from 1- 2 1/2 inches. >>You will find rather quickly that your tank is overstocked, my friend.  The puffer is a brackish fish, our resident brackish expert, Ananda, will be able to help you learn more about them. >I didn't really have the intentions to have all aggressive fish but since the first fish I bought was the puffer it kinda panned out like that.   >>C'est la vies, yeah? >I am aware of the extremely large sizes some of these fish get but I am planning on another larger tank (100+) in the future. >>Whew!  The *near* future, I hope. >They're all doing fine In the brackish right now (1 1/2 salt tsp per 5 gal. water) with a temp. of about 78F.  I am feeding them feeders, frozen brine shrimp and freeze dried plankton, all of which was recommended to me by the pet store where these fish were purchased.   >>Get rid of the brine, nutritionally deficit.  Plankton is not a freshwater feed.  Substitute with bugs (mealworms and crickets--yeah!), daphnia, bloodworms (the freeze-dried cubes can be stuck on different stations of the tank), the occasional non-goldfish feeder, and a good staple flake for freshwater fish. >The filtration consists of an undergravel filter (an 802 powerhead in each corner) which blows a current making the water circulate through the tank.  A Whisper 2 power filter, and a clear Bio filter tube that is about 16'' long, sand in the bottom, and hangs off the back of my tank which water gets circulated through. Any advice? >>I happen to love canister filters as well.  Fluval gives a good combination of price and quality. >Should I add or take away any filtration devices? Maybe as to what fish to get rid of, keep, or maybe to purchase for my tank in the future? >>Yeah!  Get rid of the convicts as soon as you can!  Unless you're terribly attached to them.  The only brackish fish you seem to have in that tank is the puffer.  So, if you want to go with a brackish tank I'd keep the puffer, get rid of everything else and go with Monodactylus and scats (as a start).  All of these fish get to appreciable sizes. >I am a newbie to this whole aquarium hobby so any advice would be appreciated. >>This is the best I can do for you.  I'm going to kick this to Ananda, as well.  Marina 

Fish or family counseling?  Hi,    Thank you for your help that you have been providing me for long now, I am grateful to you. <It is a pleasure to assist you.> Sir my brother is impatient and he has over crowded the tank. Right now there are 18 fishes in my tank because according to him cycle is completed. <This may be too many fish for this tank anyway, Shahrukh. Also, these fish have different requirements, feeding and maintenance needs. Not good to mix goldfish with tropicals.> It also include tropical fish like angel, albino, silver and rainbow shark temp is 26C. There are also gold fishes in it. They are all fine but sharks do not come to the surface when it is feeding time and as a result I have to cut my feed into pieces and spread it on to bottom where they seem to be grazing it.  Also albino shark does not have the mouth big enough to take feed into his mouth.  What do I do with this problem. <I don't know what to tell you Shahrukh, someone needs to be the primary caretaker that makes all decisions about the aquarium. It is very difficult to have a healthy aquarium and fish if your brother will not listen. You know you have too many fish of different requirements and needs all together in a new tank. There are several ways to solve this, return the fish, sell the fish or get another tank to hold the goldfish or give to your brother so he leaves your tank alone. You need smaller food of the correct variety for the Albino Shark. I can help with fish, but I can't help with your brother. That seems to be the problem.....  Good luck, Craig> Re: Heater & Temperature Good evening Ronni, <Good morning Rosa!> This got bounced back-- Please disregard other emails on heater. <OK!> I cleaned tank tonight and one of the Otos got to algae on the heater button (I could never get it clean) and I saw that it was 50, not 25 watts. <Should be about the right size then. The 25 would have been a bit too low.> So I have had this in new 15 inch, 15 gallon tank, 78-80. Is it too high for rasbs, white clouds, Otos, Amanos, and plants. <All of your fish except the White Clouds like the warmer temps but the WC's like the cooler temps. Compromise by setting the temp at 76-78 and they should all be fine.> So sorry about it, but hey, I guess brain cells are dying off faster than I thought... Best, Rosa <LOL! I think mine all disappeared years ago! Ronni>

Re: fish for a 5 gal. Good Morning!   <Afternoon now but I hope yours has been a good one!> I'm new to this fish thing but am quickly getting hooked.  I've found some conflicting info and was wondering if you could help.  In Dec. my daughter was given a 5 gal. tank kit.  The LFS sold me 5 platy's using 1" per gal. as a rule. <OK> We, of course, did everything wrong - mostly not researching first.  Then I found your site.  Incredible!  Well, anyway, what we did wrong - no QT, didn't allow it to cycle, overfed, too cool temp., there's more I'm sure.  After researching because everyone had Ich, I started daily water changes, regulated the temp at 78 deg, and am very careful with food.  I discovered that we are way overstocked so I've now picked up a 10 gal for QT and a 30 gal to move these fish into. <Very good. You caught your errors and quickly worked to fix them.> My LFS said my water tests "OK". <Be sure to ask them what they're calling 'OK'. Ammonia and Nitrites should both be 0ppm. Some stores will tell you they don't have to be at 0 but this is not true.> I've added 1/2 tsp. aquarium salt (gradually) and the Ich has been cleared up for 2 months with no losses.  Am still doing a 10-15% water change 3-4 times a week due to the overstocking. <Actually, 5 Platies is a bit too much but not too awful bad for a 5g tank. However, once they start to multiply (and it won't take them long!) they'll be very cramped.> I will be buying my own water test kit along with a good book next.   <Wonderful!> Now my questions ...  what can I keep in the 5 gal? <I would take a couple of the Platies and put them in the new 30g with some other fish and leave just 2-3 Platies in the 5g. Try to leave ones that are the same sex in there so they aren't always spawning.> Everything says min. 10 gal tank. <There are many fish that can be kept in 5g tanks, just in much lower quantities.> My daughter loves these fish - they follow her finger all ready. Would it be wise to keep a couple in this tank or are there other bright colored fish that would be "friendly" to my daughter?   <See above> Also, what can I put with them in the 30 gal?  My PH is 7.5 and water is a little on the hard side here or I'd go with tetras. I'd rather stick with what can deal with my current water conditions. <As long as they're properly acclimated Tetras can be kept in hard water. My Ph in my Tetra tank is around 8.0 and my water scores a 9 on the hardness scale. My Tetras are very healthy and happy and I've had a bunch of them for several years now.> I also have a Betta in a 2 gal. tank which I wouldn't mind putting in the 30 gal but am not sure if it's too much room, if that's possible.   <He's probably better off in the 2 gallon. The room wouldn't be a big issue but Bettas don't always mix well with other fish.> I would like to put some live plants in the 30 gal when I set it up but need to do some more reading first.   <Very good idea. There's a ton of info at www.wetwebmedia.com on fish and plants.> I would appreciate any help you can give me and my apologies for the length.   <No worries about the length. Hope I was of some help! Ronni> Thanks in advance! Laura Schurter

Bubble wand - is it necessary? Hi <Greetings> I have 3 questions for you guys: a bubble wand; adding fish to tank; and a question about dwarf Otocinclus. <OK> I have a 15 gallon, 15 inch deep tank, with an Eclipse 1 system- has a bio-wheel and 2 15 watt bulbs. I had a six gallon Eclipse but it 'exploded' and moved fish over into this new tank. It's just finished cycling. Right now it only has some plants, (Hygrophila polysperma, some dwarf sag, java ferns, Bacopa monnieri) 2 harlequin Rasboras and 2 white cloud minnows. <I'm sure the fish were very happy with this move.> The BioWheel moves lots of water, since this is an improved system. Do I need a bubble wand- does it do any good for fish to aerate water further? The flow from bubbler is too much so I've rigged it with a 2 escape valve to regulate flow of bubbles- it's a soft stream. But if there is no need for it, I would rather not use it. What is your advice? <Nope, it's not really necessary. Many people like the looks of the bubble wands but with the filtration and circulation you have, you'll be just fine without it.> Also, have a nice piece of driftwood as centerpiece with 3 smaller pieces on floor- they have java ferns attached. I am thinking of adding 2 Otos, 2 Amano shrimp, and maybe 5 neon tetras (not all at once!) I do weekly water changes and check nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, GH, KH, ph, levels. Add Kent pro plant, flourish 2x week, and flourish excel daily. Will the Otos be alright in tank with driftwood or do they prefer open floor space with no driftwood. <Wonderful! I love seeing a great maintenance schedule like this! Adding Otos should be no problem at all. Mine have always plastered themselves to the tank sides and decorations more than the substrate anyway and the driftwood will give them hiding places if they want them.> Lastly, instead of 5 tetras, would 2 cherry barbs and 2 rummy nose tetras have a 'better fit' with the fish I already have? <My personal preference would be the Cherry Barbs and Rummy Nose but it's just that, personal preference, either those or the Neons would work fine for you.> Thanks a lot- look forward to response. Rosa <Thank you! Ronni>

RE: Bubble wand- is it necessary? Hi Ronni- thanks so much for quick response!! <You're very welcome!> Two more questions, ok? <Sure!!> Since this is new planted tank for me, first time at it, can you think of any other plants I can add before I start with fish? Vallisneria Spiralis? Pennywort or maybe a Java Lace Fern? I want to add some height and more room for fish to swim through plants.... <Some of my favorites for adding height with easy to grow plants are Anacharis and Crinum 'Onion' plants. The Anacharis is rumored to be a little tough but I've tried it in numerous different situations and it's always grown wonderfully. It can easily reach heights of 2 feet. The Crinum is my absolute all time favorite FW plant. Mine have reached lengths of over 5 feet and swirl on the waters surface. They are pickier about light but will live in even poor lighting and grow very rapidly in high light. Anubias is another very hardy plant that can grow fairly tall. Java fern and Corkscrew Val would be good choices for you also, just be sure to stay away from java moss as it can rapidly spread and take over a tank.> With water changes and plants--do I still 'dig' into the gravel? Seems harder now with the plants, especially since they are not established. Any tips on that? <You should still vacuum the gravel but probably not as frequently. Just kind of work your way around the plants, being careful not to disturb the rooting process. These plants are all pretty tough though.> Last, should I add fish first and then Otos and shrimp? I am worried that since plants are not established there will not be much for them to munch on. I know I can give algae wafers but I read that if I do that too often, they get lazy and don't eat algae--any truth to that. <I've never had this problem, I supplement all of mine with wafers and they still keep my tanks sparkling. But with the fish you have, it wouldn't go hurt to go ahead and wait. You shouldn't have any aggression problems even if you add these guys later.> I liked the idea of barbs and rummy tetras- I think they are cuter. What about a five banded barb instead of cherry barb? I read they are less likely to 'fin nip'. Would they be a better choice than the cherry barbs? <I don't have any experience with the Banded Barbs but I have 3 Cherries in with my Tetras and have no problems with fin nipping. If you go with the Cherries, do try to get them when they're young and this should help. The young ones are a bright red color, the older ones fade to a brown with stripes.> Thanks SO VERY MUCH for quick response. I am off for fish store tomorrow and will let you know how it all works out. I'm glad I found your site- have gotten a ton of 'bad' advice so far and would like to keep the fish I have.... Best, Rosa <Do keep me posted. It sounds like your tank is going to be similar to my 60 gallon. It's a beautiful setup and never fails to get compliments. I'd also love to see some pictures of it once it's completed. Ronni>

Cichlids, Danios, & Tetras Hi there ! Adam here... <Greetings, Ronni here'¦> I am setting up a 178 litres display, heavily planted, with an external mechanical/biological/chemical filtration system and intending to do a 20% weekly water change. I have this in mind -  07 Zebra Danios, 07 Black Widow Tetras and 05 Corys. <Sounds great so far> My questions are - 1. is this too much? <Nope, not at all> 2. I am thinking of getting a pair of any of dwarf cichlids - I read that they are quite intelligent and this set-up could use something like them - what would you recommend ? I read that Blue Rams are known to pluck the eyes of Corys during the spawning period while the female Nannacara Anomala gets aggressive towards the male after spawning. I like what I read about the Keyhole cichlids but they get to six inches. <Hmm, the info I'm finding on the Keyholes (I'm not familiar with them) says they get to around 3 inches. If they stay this size you should be fine as they're also listed as a non-aggressive species. However, in my experience, all Cichlids get at least semi-aggressive if they're spawning.> 3. If I don't get the cichlids, what about a pair of dwarf gouramis - would they fit in well with the crazy Danios ? <These should be OK too as long as you don't get the ones that get real big. I'd personally lean more towards the Cichlids though.> Thanks a lot - Adam <You're welcome!>

Re: Wild fish in aquarium Hello, I was wondering about putting some of the freshwater fish into my aquarium.  I was thinking about bass, maybe a couple panfish.  I have a 55 gallon tank, but I live in Ohio. Will I disrupt the fishes natural cycle by putting them in 70 degree water year round? <The fish should live OK in this until they outgrow it but you will need to check your areas laws concerning transport/captive keeping of the fish you are interested in having. Some states have strict laws concerning what wild caught species can be kept. Ronni>

Wild Fish Aquariums Dear Crew, No question this time, just a comment.  I have seen more than one post on WetWebMedia regarding the keeping of "wild fish" i.e. bass, bluegill and the like.  It is my understanding that these fish are actually classified as "game fish" and, as such, have their own set of rules and protection under the law.  In some States it is illegal to maintain game fish in an aquarium without a permit of some sort.  I would suggest that anyone planning to keep these fish contact their local game and fisheries department. Respectfully, Barry <Good info, thanks Barry.  -Gage>

New Aquarium: Am I on the right track???? Hi: <Hi! Ananda here today..> I just bought my first tank, a 20 gallon, and set it up on Superbowl Sunday. I first stocked fish last week and yesterday, staggering them.  I believe I've now reached capacity, or maybe overcapacity:   <Definitely over capacity!> I have 2 silver dollars, <these get to be 6" long> 2 blue paradise Gouramis, <these get about 4" long> 2 dwarf flag cichlids <these get to be 6" long> and a pictus cat.  I know that the pictus cat gets big, and I believe that the pet store gave me bad advice when the told me that the size of my tank will stunt the pictus' growth.   <Argh, I hate it when fish stores do that. But this is actually one of the smaller fish in your tank, growing to about 4.5".> As far as the cycling, the ph is perfect (about 6.8 to 7), the nitrites are zero, and the ammonia is .25.   <Do a water change ASAP to get that ammonia out of there.> However, the water has been a little cloudy for about 3 days now.  I assume that this is new tank syndrome, but I'm not sure.   <Not necessarily. Sounds more like "too many fish in the tank" syndrome, along with "too many fish added in too short a time" syndrome and perhaps "inadequate biological filtration" syndrome. Do take any advice from that fish store with a very large grain of salt, and research your fish first -- easier on your fish, your wallet, and you.> Does this all sound normal??? Am I on the right track??? <You're on the right track if you're realizing you've overstocked the tank...I'm glad you wrote and asked. Do consider a 55 gallon tank for this bunch of fish. --Ananda>

Re: 55 Gallon Set-up Tank Mates Inquiry Dear People: Thank you for maintaining such an excellent website.  I have read many of the freshwater articles and FAQs, but am hopeful you would give a little guidance still to a hobbyist whose been away for long enough to be questioning my own judgment. <<Thank you for the compliments.>> After not having a fish tank for almost 15 years, I recently (3 weeks ago) set-up a freshwater 55 gallon acrylic aquarium as follows:  I have (2) Aquaclear 402 powerheads running reverse flow through the undergravel filter.  I also have an Eheim 2215 canister filter with the standard media set-up.  Visi-therm heater with water temp at 76 degrees.  Standard fluorescent strip light.  Aquascape is approx. 60 lbs. of dark brown, medium grade gravel,  several large pieces of igneous daisy stone from Canada, and large groupings of plastic plants (horrific I'm sure) along the entire back wall of the aquarium.  PH from the tap is 7.48 with no adjustments (prefer not to have to adjust either).  I tend towards weekly water changes of 10-20 percent. <<Your PH should be fine. Very good on the water changes and excellent filtration!>> The tank has 6 Giant Danios (approx. 1.5 - 2 inches) that have been in place for 2 weeks tomorrow.  I would like the tank to be lively and interesting for both guests as well as my 2 year old son.  The Question:  Can I add a Bala Shark, and if so 1, 2, or 3?  Or would I be better off with possibly Silver Dollars or Tinfoil Barbs?  Again how many?  Or should I stick with some smaller barbs like tigers or golden?  I'm afraid to go too small for fear that small fish could get sucked up against the reverse flow intakes. <<You could safely go with any of the above but I would lean more towards the first three you mentioned. I can't see any problems with the Balas, maybe add just a couple.>> Please advise your thoughts knowing that I'm interested in hardy fish based on my water quality and maintenance regimen.  Please also advise based on your estimated fish load for this set-up.  Your comments and recommendations will be most appreciated. <<Fish load should be based on the adult size of the fish you choose and should be no more than 1' of fish per gallon of water. 1' per 1.5 gallons is better.>> Brian <<Good luck! Ronni>>

Re: Tiger Barbs and Algae Eater I am a college student who is only allowed to have a 5 gallon or smaller Fishtank.  I have a 2 or 3 gallon tank (one of those all in one BioWheel/filter deals). I love tiger barbs because they are active and interesting, and originally had 3 small tiger barbs and a small Chinese algae eater in this tank.  They got along well for 6 months or so, and didn't seem cramped, with the CAE staying to the bottom and sides of the tank, and the others chasing each other around. Winter break came and I was forced to find a way to bring them home with me on the 5 hour drive back to my home town- we purchased an adaptor so that I could plug in the filter and heater to my mother's van. However she forgot to bring this along and ultimately all but one of my fish died going home.  I know that barbs are schooling fish and that I should really have more of them, so I purchased an albino tiger barb that was about the size of my other one.  The woman at the pet store told me that I should get a Siamese algae eater, and that these fish would be ok together in my small tank.  After a couple days, the tiger barbs were getting along well, and the SAE is completely crazy. He chases the other fish incessantly, and is often jumping up out of the water (luckily there is a lid on the tank).  Basically I have a few questions, if you could please answer them, because I can't find good advice anywhere.  Am I crazy for having these fish in such a small tank... would getting a 5 gallon help or is that still too small?  Can the SAE hurt the tiger barbs? I was much happier with the CAE who was smaller and less aggressive than the SAE, but I've heard that changes with age... Should I forget about having an algae eater and just get more tigers, since they are schooling fish?  I really love my tiger barbs, but I don't want to be cruel to them.  Basically.. Help me! ~Gail <<Your fish would definitely be better off in a 5 gallon tank but if you stick with just the 2 tiger barbs (pairs are fine for these guys) they'll be fine in what you currently have. I would definitely get rid of the SAE and would probably just go with a very good maintenance schedule instead of getting another algae eater at all. This will include frequent water changes and most likely a frequent scraping of the tank walls to remove any algae. Ronni>>

- Questions about inches of fish per gallon - Hi, <Hello again.> Thanks for the reply. I have one more question after reading your email. My tank then is definitely overcrowded. I had read that a good rule is one inch of fish per gallon. <Oh heavens no... by that rule you could put a 24" fish in a 24 gallon tank. That wouldn't work for much more than a week.> I would assume that you mean the fishes full grown size. So would a 55 gallon tank be fine with 10 fish that reach a size of 5 inches, or are there other factors that go into it. <Many more factors. How much and what types of food they eat; how social the fish are; what their care requirements are; what type of filtration you are using - the list is long and varied. These types of 'rules of thumb' are very poor guide and cause more problems than they are worth.> Anyway I think it is great that you guys are taking the time to help people like myself and i really appreciate it. <My pleasure.> thanks a lot!!! <Cheers, J -- >

New 15 gallon FW tank Thanks Craig! I set up the tank already. I'm off to get one or two small fish to start the bio filtration up. Your responses helped me out, but I don't think I was clear on one of them. <Okay> I know to add fish slowly, over the period of a few months and always start slow and upgrade slow. I am also very aware of the limitations of my tank. My only question was when I was ready to, and if the tank retained the capacity for more fish, what would you recommend? I also dumped the Wardley's and bought a bottle of Kordon Aquarium Am-Quel. I don't have a car, nor a reverse osmosis machine, so that's the best I can do for now. I got it at my LFS, and it looks (and smells) a lot better than all the other ones at PetCo PetSmart etc. Anyway, much thanks!  Victor <Great! The fish you listed in your previous post would be suitable depending on your water conditions and the result of adding your driftwood.  The reason I hesitate to suggest specific fish is your individual water parameters and your tastes in fish. This is more than be answered in an e-mail, that's why I suggested the FW stocking pages of WetWebMedia.com.  I would also search on each fish in the Google search engine at the bottom of WWM.com. This will send you to the specifics of each inhabitant, their needs, temperament, etc. The choices are limited unless you stick to smaller fish in a 15.  I hope this helps.  Craig>

FW set-up, cichlids I'm setting up a 65 gal fresh water tank with overflows and a oceanic 75 trickle filter, I have a 30 gal tank that I would like to transfer over without killing anybody and still have some sort of biological filter setup from the old tank if possible.    also what type of gravel or sand do I need to put live plants in the tank.       also I need to find a white decorative rock for the tank that wont screw up the ph. <Not to worry re re-establishing biological cycling if you're moving the water, gravel, filter media from the old system to new. Re live plant substrates please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/substraags.htm and the linked FAQs (at top, in blue) beyond> I have 6 tiger barbs,6 rasboros,2 German rams,2 yellow cichlids,2 albino cichlids,1 blue zebra cichlid,1 pleco,1 albino catfish, <The Blue Zebra and albino cichlids and possibly whatever yellow cichlids are may have to go in a separate system... they're far more aggressive than your other fishes> also i didn't know that cichlids are a brackish water fish i added aquarium salt to tank is this going to give the other fish a hard tank surviving in that type of water? <Not all cichlids tolerate salt in their water. I hope you didn't add much. Depending on the make-up of your source (tap) water, you may not want to add much of anything. Definitely the Rams and albino catfish do not appreciate it. Bob Fenner>

FW Livestocking Thanks, Gage, <Not a problem, I'm here to help> I don't have any of the fishes yet nor do I have the tanks set up. <cool, a fresh start> I think I will be stuck with the 29g <Dang!> so I guess my jurupari is out for the time being. <it is probably better this way.> :o(  I'd hate for him to be overcrowded.  Can't imagine living stuck in one room myself!  Might give the pair of Kribs and the dwarf Gouramis a try with some Corys.  Would it be better to have one male and two females of a single species or one each of three different species or maybe two pairs of different species.  My greatest fear is fighting. <It depends on the species, with the Kribs you might be better off with a couple of females.  If you add a pair and they decide it is time to try their hand at parenthood, they will take over the majority of the tank.  Of course the courtship and the parenting are one of the most fascinating things about these fish.  With the Gouramis I would go with at least 3 of them, so a male and two females would be the way to go if possible.  The Corys will not make a difference either way, I have yet to see an aggressive Cory. -Gage> I've had plenty of that before and I ended up having to return fishes to the store in order to save lives.  Can't they all just get along?  ;o) Thanks again, Jen Charlotte, NC

Loaches and rams Hello guys, <And gal...Ananda here answering the freshwater questions tonight...> I'm currently running a 46 gallon bow front freshwater aquarium.  A month ago, I developed a snail problem.  Snails had always been present, but not at a high level.  The snail population seemed to be growing exponentially.  I purchased a Yo-Yo loach to help control the population.  He's done exactly that.  There is a very small number of snails left in the tank.  I'm concerned he may not be getting enough to eat.  He doesn't seem to actively feed.  He's shown no indications of any problems, I would just like to know if I should buy any special foods to make sure he getting enough food.   <Nope, these guys will eat just about anything, even coming up to the surface to eat. If he hasn't done that, he still has enough snails.> I also have always been fascinated by gold rams.  I have a tank with small schools of Danios, platies, & Cory cats.  Assuming overstocking is not a problem, could gold rams (male/female) be an acceptable addition to my community set up? I know cichlids are very different fish with very different needs.   <Platies prefer hard, alkaline water, with a pH of 7.2-7.8 (and possibly even higher in some cases.) Danios and Cory cats do well with neutral and slightly acidic water. Gold rams need soft, very acidic water, with a pH in the 5-6 range.> Thanks for your advise. Jeremy <You're quite welcome. --Ananda>

FW livestock mix in Vegas! Hi Bob, I recently bought 3 Bala Sharks, 2 Clown Loaches and 2 Shark Catfishes.  All are babies (2-3inches).  I have them in an established 60 gallon tank (I traded in my Cichlids - they had overpopulated the tank).  The store that sold me these new fish assured me the fish would be fine in the water from the tap where we live (Las Vegas), because we have very hard water.  Please let me know what you think.  Based on what I've read on your site, I've been mislead and the fish may be fine for a short time, but in the long run will have different needs.  Your expert advise please!!! Thank you! Beverly Vance <Actually... other than you having not much to see in "the middle" of the tank... Balas at top, loaches and cats at the bottom... and going broke trying to get food to the loaches while the cats eat everything... these fishes should be fine in the LV tapwater and get along well enough. Bob Fenner>

New fish questions Really, I thought the Shark Catfish required brackish water when they got to be 5-6 inches in length while the others required fresh water. <Mmm, yes... to an extent. All will tolerate hard, alkaline water, some salt... enough to satisfy these Ariids likely (spg of 1.005 or so). Bob Fenner>

Will They Cohabitate Peacefully? Hi There, I've been reading your FAQs and Articles and I'm very impressed with your knowledge.  I hope you can help me as well.  I'm just wondering if these fish will live (happily) together: Geophagus jurupari, Kribensis, Corydoras, Gouramis (suggestions on species?) and perhaps a small shoal of Rainbowfish (Boesemanni or Reds?)  In reading your site I've figured out that some Gouramis can be aggressive.  I've had a Blue Paradise fish before and she sure was a mean little thing.  Maybe because she didn't have a boyfriend.  She was in a tank with a pair of Kribensis and one jurupari, so I definitely won't be getting another like her.  Also, will this be too many fish for a 30 gallon tank?  If you say 'yes' I might be able to talk mom into a 55 gallon!  ;o)  Oh, and one more question:  Will the excavations of the jurupari be too much for an undergravel filter?  I really prefer them with two powerheads to the filters that hang over the back.  Thanks for any and all advice!  Jen <Hello Jen, this may be a tight squeeze in the 30 gal.  I would probably go with a pair of Kribs, a few Corys, and a few dwarf Gouramis.  If you already have the jurupari I would strongly advise the upgrade to the 55.  Tell you mom that you don't just want it, you need it, and Gage said pretty please. If cost is the issue see if you can find any aquarium clubs/societies in your area, someone usually has a used tank for sale.  The jurupari can grow to about 7in and will out grow the 30 gal.  The excavations will cause problems with the UG filter, the gravel needs to stay relatively even for the UG to function properly.  I would go with the hang on the back models, or a canister filter.  Best Regards, Gage>

What fish would you recommend for a new tank? We (me, my mom, and my brothers) just set up a new 55 gal. tank a couple of days ago. The pet store recommended  mollies, swordtail platies, and a >couple of others. They said we shouldn't get guppies (what we were going to >get). So we bought 2 tuxedo mollies,2 marble mollies, and 2 swordtail platies. They said we should get 6 fish at a time every two weeks until we had as many as we wanted. Yesterday one of them had babies. Now we have 9 little orange tadpole looking things. What should we be feeding the babies. I have been feeding them crushed fish flakes, and a little hard boiled egg yolk 3 times a day. <keep up with the crushed food, I would leave out the egg.> We have about four plants, gravel, air pump, and a box filter that were recommended by the pet store employee. The temperature stays at 75. Today both the swordtail platies died. One of them had a white spot on it. Around 10 min. before they died they started swimming upside down doing weird flippy things and acting really strange. They both died within an hour of each other. The babies and the mollies are all doing fine. Do you have any idea what killed the Swordtail Platies? Should we go to a different store (we went to PetSmart). Thanks for any help you can give us. Aimee <Hello Aimee, IMO/IME PetSmart is a gamble, the quality of the fish varies from store to store.  This is why quarantining of new fish is so important.  You should get your water tested to make sure ammonia, ph, nitrite, and nitrate are all within an acceptable range.  These live bearing fish like their water a little harder and more alkaline.  I would also add some Aquarium salt to their water.  Check out our FAQs on live bearers below, there is some good information there.  Best Regards, Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/poecillidfaqs.htm  >

Re: 55 gallon tank Hi-- <Mornin> I am beginning to set up a 55 gallon tank. <Awesome, good size to start with http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwtips4beginners.htm> I purchased the starter kit from PetSmart and also bought an air pump and airstone.  I am not interested in having any really large fish <Great idea> I would like to have a lot of smaller ones.  I was thinking mollies, Neons, Bala sharks and fancy guppies.  I would also like some critters like lobsters or crabs.  Is this possible and, if so, what would you recommend?  Do you have any recommendations on the fish? Thanks-- Terri <Hi Terri, the fish that you mention above need different water conditions.  Be sure to search on our site for the above mentioned fish to learn about the water conditions they prefer.  fishbase.org is also a great resource.  In my experience crabs will not stay in your tank, they are amazing escape artists.  Crawfish would be more than happy to eat any fish they can get their claws on, but shrimp, shrimp are always good.  Maybe some Japonica shrimp.  A group of Bala sharks will eventually outgrow this tank.  Let us know if you have any more questions. -Gage>

Freshwater Mix  Hello Folks, <Hi there! Scott F. here for you tonight!> I'm glad someone had the idea of inventing Google, or I'd never have found this site.  It's been quite helpful in the first 20 minutes of reading over it.   <Hopefully, it will be for the next 20 minutes...or more!> So, here's my situation.  I'm new at aquariums, first of all.  I have a 10 gallon tank with a 3 swordtails, 3 platies, 3 black mollies, a blue, Gourami, a gold Gourami, and two kissing Gouramis.   <Wow! That's an awful lot of fishes for a 10 gallon tank! Those Gouramis get decent-sized, too> The blue Gourami was there before the others by a week or so.  Now he harasses the gold and kissing Gouramis, but no one else.  The gold Gourami has started picking on the kissing Gourami's as well. <There is a definite pecking order in this tank. Blue Gouramis tend to be a bit "Chippy" at times, and in the confines of a small, crowded tank, they can make life miserable for whoever they take a disliking to.> But the strange thing is that one of the black mollies follows the golden Gourami around picking at it.   <Fish do the strangest things....> >The only reason I got the other Gouramis was because I got the idea somewhere that Gouramis were community fish that liked being around more of their own kind.  I can't remember where I got that idea, but before the blue Gourami just stuck himself in the corner and did nothing.  At least he's active now. So, any suggestions? Thanks. <Well, you really need to have a larger tank to house this many fishes, particularly Gouramis, which sometimes display aggression towards other Gourami species. You may want to try to keep just one species and see if that reduces some of the aggression. But do consider a larger tank in the very near future for the long-term health of all of your fishes! Do a bit more reading on the wetwebmedia.com site for more information about Gouramis, community tanks, and stocking. Good luck!>

Re: Baby Whales Anthony, Thank you sooooo much for the wonderful response on baby whales. <my pleasure> Tell me about setting up a new aquarium just for the whale and maybe one other tank mate, possibly a Gourami or whatever type of fish you recommend.  What would I use to cycle the tank because I don't want to keep the cycle fish in the tank?   <you could begin by simply running one of your intended filters for the new tank on the established tank for a month first to get it seeded (a good sponge filter or power filter with large foam blocks, a canister filter, etc)> How long would I have to wait before I could add the baby whale? <perhaps just one month> What would be best for the bottom, gravel or sand? <very fine gravel or sand (better)> Should it have an undergravel filter and a box filter? <no undergravel with sand and box filters are inferior. Sponge filters are very inexpensive and extremely efficient. Tetra makes an excellent sponge filter> My daughter is still crying for a new fish and I want to make her happy. Her birthday is soon. My husband says no more tanks but oh well!! <Ha! I love that attitude <G>> I'm the one that cares for them. I don't have a quarantine tank to treat for internal parasites. I think a quarantine tank would be a complete system with heater, filter, etc. Am I correct? <sort of... but needs to be inexpensive and bare bones for sterility: just a tank, glass cover, heater and sponge filter... that its! No gravel, no light, nothing else except maybe an easily sterilized piece of PVC pipe for the fish to hide in or behind. This is a cheap set up with a 5 or ten gallon tank... maybe $50> Would I have to treat for internal parasites? <with wild fishes it is recommended at times> Are there any symptoms of internal parasites? <yes... stringy white feces passed> She fed the whales from her fingers because she enjoyed the contact with them plus she did a really good job taking care of them. <great to hear> They seemed to eat good but I understand I will have to add live foods. Sometimes they would bite her. Maybe they thought she was food. I think some new info has opened up for me. I also had a powder blue Gourami in the tank. He was best friends with the most recent baby whale. <hmmm...not a great tank mate, but glad it worked. Gouramis get nippy with age> They always swam together and would always eat together. The Gourami died 6 days after the whale, also with out any signs of illness. <hmmm... curious> Both fish ate the worms as the others would eat flake food. We would occupy the others with the flake food and then feed the whale and the Gourami the worms. The other fish might get an occasional worm or two but most were eaten by the two fish.  Yesterday I used the same medicine dropper I used to sometimes feed the fish to draw water from the tank to test my water and there was lots of stuff floating in my sample tube. <Yikes! clean thoroughly after every use please> I repeated the procedure and had the same problem. I filled a Ziploc bag with aquarium water to take to the pet store and there wasn't anything floating in my water. When I took the dropper apart the syringe was full of junk on the inside. Maybe I gave the fish a bacterial infection from the dropper not being clean. <I must admit it is possible... especially with the meaty foods fed> I feel very bad about this. I threw the old dropper away and bought a new. I would like to try to set up a tank for my daughter. Hopefully with all of your help we will be successful. Thank you very much for all of your help. Chris Brooks <it is our great pleasure... keep reading, learning and enjoying. Kindly, Anthony>

Petrocephalus bovei: FW "baby whale" I am looking for all of the information I can find on baby whales. I have a 30 gallon, been set up for 8 months. <for starters, this is a delicate fish for advanced aquarists most only. They live in groups but need very large aquariums because of their echo-location (electric impulse) feeding strategy (like dolphins). They need a constant supply of live foods like small chopped earth worms, live micro and white worms (never brine shrimp please... they'll starve to death on it). They are best kept in a species tank only with few or no other fishes. Grow 5-8" and like neutral pH and water temps under 82F> I cycled the tank with 2 Rasboras, 2 white clouds and 3 hi fin black tetras. <all peaceful fishes... no complaints here> I slowly added new fish. I still have all of the original fish plus 4 long fin Danios, 1 guppy, 3 diamond tetras, 3 red Serpae tetras, 4 hi fin white tetras, 3 black phantom tetras, 3 silver tip tetras and 2 Cory catfish. <again peaceful but too much activity for the baby whale... it may become stressed and not feed well. Too many fishes> They range from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches. I have lost only a few fish. I have a penguin filter and I do water changes every month by siphoning from the bottom. The temp is 78, ph 7.0 and no trace of ammonia. <all good> Every time I have had my water tested at the pet stores, they tell me that the nitrates are fine. After the tank was set up for 3 months, my 9 year old daughter got a baby whale. We got him a ghost house and fed him frozen blood worms. <also good for a staple but daily live food is critical if the fish is going to live more than a year or two> We would feed him once or twice a day. He would eat the frozen cube right from her fingers. Sometimes we would thaw the cubes in a little cup of aquarium water and put them in his ghost house with a medicine dropper. <awesome, my friend! Bless you for this very empathetic approach. I have great faith in you as an aquarist!> He seemed to be eating fine. He was very active and not shy. One morning when we woke up he had died. <all too common with this species in a community tank... they really need a quiet species specific tank and live food or they bail in less than a year for most> My daughter was heartbroken. The next day we got a new baby whale. We had him 5 weeks and the same thing happened to him. They showed no signs of being sick. <I'm not sure if you know much about their ability to produce mild electronic impulses to sense prey, but this strategy of "echo-location" is easily stressed and disturbed by the unnatural crowding of fishes in home aquaria... so much more than the fish would see in the wild> The only thing I can relate to both fish is that the night before they died, we fed them 2 cubes of blood worms. <no harm, there> The other fish would also enjoy the worms. <agreed... a fine food> I have been trying to learn as much as I can because my daughter asks every day for a new baby whale. <no more baby whales please without a dedicated aquarium> I have been told that I have under fed them, <twice a day is pretty good... the lack of live food was key though> that since they are caught in the wild a lot of them have internal parasites and that frozen food can spike the ammonia for a short period of time. <that part is inaccurate> All of the other fish in the tank are doing fine. I really want to get my daughter another fish. Do you have any suggestions? <yep... tell the wife we need a second aquarium <G>.> Do you know anything about the medication Pipzine, made by Aquatronics? <yep.... Piperazine citrate is a deflaggellating drug targeted at internal parasites. Should be used in a separate quarantine tank on new wild caught fishes like  the baby whale for 4 weeks in isolation> Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much, Chris <there is not a lot of good info out there on this species... much is anecdotal or even inaccurate. Use this scientific name: Petrocephalus bovei  to do keyword searches on the internet for more information from which to draw a consensus beyond our advice. This is just one of tens of pages I saw with a key word hit on the Yahoo search engine: http://www.aquariacentral.com/fishinfo/fresh/bwhale.shtml best regards, my friend. Anthony>

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

long skinny worm/snake thingy I have a fairly new (2 months) 46 gallon freshwater aquarium  <congratulations and welcome!> with about 43 inhabitants  <wow... a lot of livestock even if small! Sheesh> (actually I did use a portion of my pond water from my Koi pond to start it, besides adding bacteria). It has no heater yet, is 68degrees and  <Ughhh! Please add a heater ASAP for stability. House temperatures fluctuate between day and night and can easily cause diseases like Ich for it> 7.5ph. I bought a heater but am not sure if I need to add it or not.  <yep... and right now... go... stick it in... don't even finish reading this e-mail! <G>> The fish are pretty happy. I think my water must have some salt content, though I haven't bought a salt test kit, because I have a water softener.  <Ughhh again... no water softeners please for community aquarium creatures. 1) the salt softeners impart chloride ions that accumulate and irritate fishes (enlarging the olfactory pores on the skull) and 2) you have hard water fishes! (Mollies, swords, platys, guppies, etc. At any rate... hardened water is more stable and safer for community fish tanks> My fish are various platys, swordtails, and mollies, a few fantail guppies (who haven't bred yet) with a Plecostomus, 3 Cory cats and a couple other striped flatter catfish. I have a lot of fresh plants brought in from my Koi pond, though they were all sprayed vigorously in my kitchen sink to try to rid them of aphids!!!! I have both floaters, and underwater plants. I seem to have "good" water conditions, because I have 4 baby platys, about a month old. Yesterday, however I did buy a small bunch of another floater, which MAY be where my new worm-snake thing came from....which is my actual reason for writing to you. It is really loooooong, longer than a brand new pencil, but only as thick as a pine needle! At first I though it was piece of root or a really long fish poop, ha! It has a black head, and if my eyes are working right, may have a v shape on its tail. Hard to tell, as it is so skinny. It is light pinky-tan. Its body is round, not flat. It swims with an "s" movement, doesn't seem to bother my fish and just uses the plants to hide in, doesn't' seem to eat them. It constantly sticks its head in between the gravel rocks as if scavenging. Is this a worm, or a baby snake, or what??  <indeed likely a worm or insect larvae... remove before it morphs/hatches and eats the family dog. Put it back into the pond please> Is it something I should get rid of quickly, or just enjoy?  <Ahhh... lets play it safe and remove it. I'm not sure what it is without a picture, but still... not looking good> Will it grow bigger?  <yes... if it drinks its milk like a good little boy> I looked and looked through the FAQs on your site, but only read about half inch long worms.  <Ahhh... you've read the WWM crew bios. Best regards, Anthony> [name removed as per request]

Nitrogen Cycle has me going in circles <Hi Judy,> I am trying to cycle my tank. It's not going very well and I could sure use some help.  Uh oh, this happens quite a bit.> Here are the stats: 10 gallon fresh water tank (will eventually be used for quarantine tank.  <You won't regret having a QT.> My real tank is a 30 gallon which will remain empty until I get this cycling thing down (right), bare bottom, air stone, sponge filter, heater. Tap water aerated and heated in tank for 5 days before adding 3 fish (platys). I count the day I added the fish as day 0. Today (OCT 18) is day 15. Here are my baseline and current water parameters: From the tap (baseline) : pH = 7.2, ammonia=0 ppm, nitrite=0.5 ppm, nitrate=5.0 ppm. On day 15: pH = 8.0 (just got the high range kit today, I know I need to lower pH), ammonia between 0 and 0.5 ppm, nitrites 5.0 ppm (steady for the past 5 days), nitrates 10 ppm (steady for the last 5 days). Last fish died 14 days after being put into the tank. I will NOT subject any more fish to this process. It is certainly stressful for the fish, but it has been quite stressful for me as well and I feel awful about this. <I do understand. Unfortunately far too common experience.> Do these water parameters seem reasonable for the amount of time the tank has been operating?  <Yes, they are to be expected.> What should I do now, clearly the cycle isn't complete. Should I dump out the water, clean the sponge and start again (this time I will do a fishless cycling)? Can I salvage anything from these last two weeks?  <Leave running as is, heated to 78-80F w/o fish until ammonia and nitrites test zero. Rinse sponge in old tank water to preserve biocapacity, reinstall immediately. Perform water change to reduce nitrates, and proceed with stocking plans.>  Am I supposed to vacuum away the mess on the bottom of the tank that is a mixture of fish waste products and rotting food or is that in someway beneficial to the Nitrobacter and Nitrosomonas I am trying to culture in the sponge? <Yes, will hasten process some. There is plenty fish waste to complete process.> What do I use to lower the pH?  <Water changes with pH 7.2 replacement water.> If I ever do go through a complete nitrogen cycle, can I use some of the water, as well as the sponge filter to start the cycle in my 30 gallon tank? The sponge filter will stay in the 30 gallon tank until I need to put the 10 gallon tank into service (I HAVE been reading your FAQs). My main filter in the 30 gallon will be an Eheim canister filter. Any guidance you can provide will be most appreciated. Judy <You are almost there my friend, don't despair! Yes, sponges can be seeded from an establish tank and used to filter a new aquarium. Yes, water containing fish waste can be used instead of fish if desired. Make sure additional sponge filtration is established and left in place to filter the original tank when removing a sponge to start a new tank. Continue to check out the FAQ's, they're updated every day! Craig

fish help (FW, stocking, maintenance) Hi, I recently set up a 55 gallon freshwater tank. The tank was set up about two-three months ago. I recently added 3 cardinal tetras, 3 leopard Danios, 2 kissing Gouramis, and 3 Mickey mouse platies <A bit of a strange mix. The tetras and platies being very peaceful, the Danios and Gouramis much more nippy, the tetras preferring soft, acidic water, and platies hard, alkaline water with a bit of salt, the Gouramis and Danios in between.> to the tank. The tank had 3 rosy barbs, 2 fancy guppies, 3 zebra Danios, 1 ghost shrimp, 2 Bloodfin tetras, and 3 painted glass fish, and two snails prior to the new fish. <This is less of an odd mix, but ideally the guppies should be separated.> The old fish had been living well and health for about a month so we decided to add some more (the ones I listed first). I should mention that the snails started acting weird and one of them died a week prior. <Ok...> I thought it was because there was not enough algae. <Possible or the temperature, some of these are pond types that tend to do poorly in tropical aquariums.> The pH is 7.0 and the ammonia is near 0, <The ammonia should be zero, not near.> the temperature is around 78. We put the fish in and everything seemed fine. A day or two later in the morning all but one of the painted glass fish were dead, the tetras were gone, and one guppy was dead. The bodies left floating were missing most of their fins <Hard to say if they were killed by the Gouramis or just nibbled on later.> so I couldn't tell if they died of a disease. Nothing else has dead for the last couple of days. HELP! What happened, and what am I doing wrong? <It is hard to say for sure. I would definitely rethink your stocking plan. It is also possible the new fish brought in some disease. Please take a look through the freshwater sections of www.WetWebMedia.com for further guidance.> Thanks, Tod Sullivan <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Stocking a tiny freshwater system Dear Mr. Fenner!!!! I've been trying to find out about keeping a small 5 gallon freshwater tank!!! I live in a tiny ranch/bungalow...not a lot of space...anyway, I bought this little tank, and I don't want to make ANY mistakes!!!! I would like to know if you could tell me what types of SMALL fish with relatively LONG lifespans I could put in?? I would prefer to have all the same type...maybe tetras?  <Some of the small minnows would be better... White Cloud Mountain Fish, Check Barbs, Gold Barbs, perhaps some Danios that are smallish. Maybe platies... These all "like" typical hard, alkaline water... but it is advised to make up and store your make up and water-change water ahead of use (one gallon water jugs will work good here)> those cute little neon ones?  <Mmm these are harder to keep in small volumes generally... they like constant tropical, soft, acidic water conditions...> I read up on them and they seem to really dig hanging out in gangs...(oh, schools, that's the word!!!) would my little 5 gallon be sufficient????? I am aware of problems relating to over-feeding and the AMMONIA problems....when I lived in bigger quarters, many moons ago...I had bigger tanks, and kept them running quite well...I had catfish.......and cichlids....(convicts) (separate tanks!!!!!) So now I'm yearning for fish again...plus it would supply my 6 cats with LIVE CAT-TV!!!! <Yes!> Don't think the dogs will watch... <They're better at dreaming> any info you could give me on how many I can safely keep in this tank would be greaaaaaatly appreciated......(HOWL!!!!) sorry it's a full moon tonight....thanks TONS !!!!!! BlazinDee <AhWoooooo! Sorry, do keep looking, reading over WetWebMedia.com on the freshwater index. Bob Fenner>

Oscars I want to get two Oscars but I need to know if they can go in a 55 gallon tank <No> or how big of a tank do they have to have? <At least 90 gallons, preferably larger.> Thanks, bye <Good night. -Steven Pro>

little clear worms in freshwater aquarium <<Greetings, JasonC here...>> well I got a issue in my tank that is really bothering me. It doesn't seem to be bothering my fish at all but I've never seen anything like it. There are hundreds probably even millions of little what seems to be clear worms but they seem to be white but with the light they seem clear on my glass cant see them in my gravel or on plants but anything glass they appear there really tiny visible by placing a light on the opposite of the tank. I looked at them through a microscope under 200x and they seem to have a rounded head and a pointed tail that was all visible and you could also see smaller creatures inside of them. any info is appreciated. <<Perhaps they are one of these: http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/pond/worm/oligo.html - an Oligochaete worm.>> I have a 55 gallon with 10 gallon inside of that which has 4 tetras a Siamese fighting fish and 3 red claw crabs. in the 55 I have 3 Oscars 2 parrot fish and a blue crayfish. if this helps any. hope you can help me. <<I used Google and put the phrase 'freshwater worms' to come up with that link. I didn't read every page, but many that I did made a direct link between pollutants and/or organic matter and the size of the worm population; the higher the dissolved organic matter in the water, the larger the population of worms. This shouldn't come as a surprise... three Oscars all by themselves could easily pollute themselves out of existence in a 55g tank, with or without a 10g tank inside it. I would look seriously at increased filtration and water changes on this tank in an effort to bring the worm population under control.>> thanks mike <<Cheers, J -- >>

Another Beginner Whilst the WWW gives out a massive amount of information, it gets a bit confusing when the information from various web sites (and local pet shops) conflicts with each other. As a beginner, I intend to keep my first aquarium reasonably basic & have decided that I would like to stock it with platies, guppies & Dutch rams. <A strange mix, platies and guppies need salt and alkaline water the Rams will not enjoy.> Using the various rules of thumb, & info taken from the WWW, regarding how many fish I can keep, the answers vary from 15-35. <Yes, there are really no hard and fast rules that can take into account for all the various fishes, their metabolism, sizes, and shapes.> Also some information tells me that loaches, Corydoras, freshwater crab & shrimps should be included in the head count, whilst some information tells me they shouldn't. <You have to count all the fish for sure, while you could leave out the shrimp from your count. The crabs, you should leave out of the tank. They will kill and eat your fish.> My questions to you therefore are- 1) In a 35 gallon tank what would be an ideal mix of platies, guppies & Dutch rams? <Why don't you swap the livebearers for some small tetras and then you could keep at least 20 approaching 30 depending on which tetras.> 2) Regarding the loaches, Corydoras, freshwater crab & shrimps, what & how many of these should be added so as to do their job? <For algae control, Otocinclus catfish would be a good choice. 1-2 added after a month or two.> Thanks & congratulations on an excellent web site. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

New FW Set-Up Hello Mr. Fenner, <Cheers> I received a 75 gallon aquarium from a friend and have set it up with an undergravel filter plate covered with 2-3 inches of gravel with one bubble/carbon cartridge lift tube, a Whisper 4 power filter, and two aerated penguin 550's with one spraying down and one across the top connected by lift tubes to the undergravel filter plates. I have a 48" strip light that I leave on for 12 hours or so a day with a "aqua flow?" bulb. I have had it operational for three weeks now, and have treated the water with Kent ammonia Detox per the mfg. recommendations. I also have a large leafy plant in the middle. I have 3 diamond tetra's, two cichlids, two black and yellow striped tiger fish???, an iridescent shark, a striped Raphael catfish, a ghost fish, a knife fish, two moonlight Gourami's, two pictus cats and two red tetra's. <wow.. a peculiar and admittedly incompatible mix already. The yellow striped tiger fish are hopeful only tiger barbs (and not predatory tiger Datnoides). The iridescent shark is peaceful but grows very large (12"+), The Knifefish will also grow too large for this tank possibly, the cichlids could be anything (what species?), the pictus cat is outright predatory, and the tetras are likely food for all of the above in the long run. My advice is to pull the tetras and possibly the tiger barbs if you like larger fishes> All of these fish are very small the largest is perhaps two inches long with the exception of the knife (3-1/2"). <and will grow in time> The pictus cats, the knife, and one of the red tetra's have died in the last few days <any symptoms?> I bought an aquarium pharmaceuticals dry-tab master test kit and my ammonia level is 0, my pH is around 7.4-7.8, but the nitrite and nitrate levels are off the scale. <hmmm...interesting about the nitrates... do test your tap water. Assuming that it is very low, please do a large water change or two> I changed about half of the water in the aquarium today, and replaced all of the filters leaving the aerobic frame on the whisper. <excellent> I bought some Tank Safe special treatment bacterial/enzyme tablets the allegedly convert ammonia, nitrites, and chlorine into harmless products and have put one tablet in today. They recommend 1 tablet a day for 4 days. My questions to you are am I doing the right thing? <overall (with the fishes small) it sounds quite reasonable (set up and maintenance)> What else can I should I do (except for not add any more fish) to balance this system out? <watch closely for signs of disease> I also have what appears to be ich on a couple of the fish and have bought Nox-ich but haven't used it today as I wanted to let the system run overnight with the new water first. <actually... most of your fish cannot be medicated with Nox-ich. It is a good medication but quite harsh on scaleless and small scaled fishes which you have all of except for the barbs and Gouramis. The catfish will overdose promptly!> Just one more question for now-How long should I remove the carbon filters for when I introduce the ich-ich, or is there a better product or technique I should use to stabilize my system. <a separate quarantine tank is required for the medication. Quick Cure and a little salt in the water would be appropriate (1 TBN salt per five gallons)> I am new to the aquarium scene and have never had more than a goldfish before in my life, but I am confident that I'll learn as I go and be able to enjoy many years of bliss watching and caring for these creatures I have placed under my charge. <agreed my friend. Do keep reading and learning. It is a wonderful hobby! Look up a local aquarium society too... many benefits> I have asked 10 people questions and have gotten 12 different answers. I am sorry for the length of this note, but I have tried to explain my situation as well as possible to you. I can send you high quality digital photo's of my setup if you so desire and at your request. I found your web site by accident and you seem to cover the gamut and I would most certainly appreciate any help you might be able to provide me with. Respectfully, Dave S. <best regards, Anthony>

Freshwater Fish for new aquarist Hey, I'm Tyler I'm 13..... and have a question about my freshwater fish? I have: Black Goldfish swordtail 4 mollies (2 males and 2 females) back and tail light tetras <great problems with this mix, my friend. You have three very different types of fish here with three very different needs. Some of these fish are going to suffer and die eventually because of it. The goldfish is a coldwater fish... enjoying water temperature under 75F and somewhere around neutral in hardness and pH. The Swordtails and especially mollies like hard and alkaline water with a bit of salt in it (necessary for the Mollies!), and the Tetras are n the opposite end liking soft and slightly acidic water with little or no salt at all> I have a 55 gal tank And I wont to put a big fish in it because I have all small ones I want a freshwater shark do u know what kind I can put in with my other fish?  <yep... the iridescent shark grows to be a gentle giant and would be my best recommendation> And do you have any suggestions of any other large fish that would work in my aquarium. <it is generally a bad habit to mix fish of such great differences in size. And because of your impossible mix already... I would advise you to spend your next dollars on a good book about fish compatibility... many good beginner books out there. Or if you merely choose from an atlas or sight at the store... please reference species on this site before buying an animal with unknown needs that may be incompatible with your current group> Thanks Tyler <best of luck, Anthony>

Unusual Fish Source Hi, I ran across your web site on rainbows. I have been keeping and breeding rainbows for a number of years now. I am always looking for new sources for hard to find fish. Any leads you can provide on suppliers would be great. <Try http://www.alloddballaquatics.com If they do not have what you are looking for, they should be able to steer you in another direction.> Thanks, Mark Burdette <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Tank stocking from fussy person! Dear Crew, <Cheers, my friend> You kindly advised me some time ago about some freshwater shrimp that I had who were preying on our Neons. We returned the shrimp and now have 5 beautiful Caridina japonica (I think) red claws in with our 3 Corydoras sterbai, 3 Corydoras julii, 10 Cardinal Tetras (1 Neon, the sole survivor of the shrimp massacre), 4 Otocinclus and 6 Black widow Tetras in our lovely planted 240 litre tank.. We are just starting to look for another species which would fir in nicely with the south American community we have. Because I work in the zoo industry I am keen to only get captive bred species, and would like something else interesting from the region that would be happy in our very soft, slightly acidic water. Our tank is almost fully planted and has 2 large chunks of bogwood. Is there anything that you would recommend? Discus look a little specialist for us! <the discus fish are really not difficult at all...they are just a lot of work (frequent water changes to maintain water quality which they can be quite strict about). If not discus... how about shoals of lovely harlequin HET Rasboras or gold/brass tetras? They would make a lovely contrast in color to your present mates. Both are farm bred too.> Thanks again Nicola <kindly, Anthony>

red snakeheads Hello I have a 55 gallon tank and it is about a month old and I put my red Oscar in it and two red snakeheads and about a week later one of my snakehead died. The PH was acid but there was no signs of illness for the snakehead, <Strange. These are very tough fishes> I use to have one before the other two but it jumped out of my tank and I didn't survive it fast enough.  <Very common. Good jumpers> Is there a site that I can go to so I can research the red snakeheads? <A few. Start with www.FishBase.org and try different search engines on your computer under the common name and the family, "Channidae". e.g.: http://www.snakeheads.org/ Bob Fenner>

new tank Ok, I've been a good girl and followed ya'lls advice.  <so in the context of this charming opening line... I have to wonder if you are a southern bell or a 400 lb Steelworker with an alternate personality... I'm hoping the former> I am actually researching fish before adding them to my tank now and I have finally talked my husband into upgrading me from a 20 gal to a 37 gal which we will buy this weekend..  <very cool... kudos to you for responsible aquarium research> I have a couple of questions. The reason I finally talked my husband  <Ahhh... southern bell it is <smile>> into a new tank is because I do believe my silver tip shark was eating all my fish. (the reason he's named Mack the Knife) I threatened to trade him in and my husband decided to take the 20 gal and put it in his computer room.. My question w that is he wants to add a Bala shark and an Oscar and in my research, I am getting everything from that would be cool to maybe (The silver tip is about 7-8" long and a little over a year old). What do you think?  <the species are likely to be compatible in a large enough tank, but these fellas do grow large and won't last long in even the 37 gall. Oscars can reach 12" in 18 months!> Also, the final straw w/ the silver tip is that I found one of my Plecos eaten down to a skeleton the other day (pretty dad gum disturbing if you ask me).  <yes... that would be the worst kind of disturbing short of ding dang> Now I thought it odd that the shark would eat a Pleco and I've gotten everything's from yep he did to maybe.  <I'm leaning hard toward maybe or not at all... very out of character if so> She was absolutely not sick. The night before she died, she was up to her usual hijinx which usually entailed swimming upside down mid tank as fast as she could go. swimming regularly (right side up) and swimming upside down waiting on food at the surface of the water sticking her tail and head out of the water intermittently ( she was an odd fish ) She was about 1 1/2 years old and had grown about a half an inch in the last month. So, did the shark eat her?  <as you suspected, IMO only if she was sick or injured in the night> Also, for my new 37 gal tank, I will be putting in my Rhino Pleco, <also grows too large for this tank in the long run> common Pleco, two barbs (tiger and a green tiger) and my green Severum cichlid (yes I know she will get big, but I plan on keeping her until she starts to get too big got her due to bad advice at a fish store) <actually, with the two Plecos reaching 8-12" or more each plus the Severum, this will be overstocking and honestly a bit irresponsible. You need to pick smaller species or a bigger tank. These fish won't live comfortably for even one year in this tank> After the tank settles, I was considering adding about three more of the less aggressive type barbs a flame dwarf Gourami and a neon blue dwarf Gourami. Do these sound like wise choices?  <all excellent without the catfish or cichlids> Also, I was told it would be ok to trans 50 % of the water and all the gravel + new gravel to my new tank add new water and let it filter for a day and a half and put the fish in it while putting new gravel in the 20 w/o it causing a prob..  <not a bad idea to help the cycling but do go very slow on adding new fish and check ammonia weekly for the first 4-8 weeks> O.k. so now I've written a book, I'll be anxiously waiting a reply.. Thanks.. Y'all ROCK!!!!! <thank you, dear> Oh yeah, p.s. One other thing.. I test my water parameters weekly and recently started testing my nitrates.. My ammonia is non existent, ph about 7.5 to 7.8 but my nitrates are very high like off the charts high.. I called the advice number on the box (tetra people) and they said because I have a biological filter, I should expect that  <do try to temper it with water changes and careful feeding> and it's no big deal, they have found freshwater fish like it.  <that is a pile of crap that I can smell from here.. hehe. Most every fish that you will ever see or keep will live healthier with little or no nitrate in the water> Then of course I have other people telling me it's bad. Who's right? <overall it is undesirable. Anthony>

Re: new tank Thank you so much for your advice.. Yes, I am definitely not a 400 lb steel worker w/ an alternate personality!! :)) I am a Texan Southern Bell (only because I was born and partly raised in deep west TX, but have lived in Louisiana for quiet some time!)  <hehe... I recognized the e-mail addy but thought to kid you anyway <smile>> One other question.. how do you get nitrates down... I do my suctioning, etc should I do more often than 50 % once a month? I know 25 % weekly is optimal, but the stinking siphon I have takes 50 % of the water whether I like it or not, so I was worried about doing big water changes too often..  <larger water changes done properly are quite good for fishes (dilution is the solution to pollution!) But more than 50% is not usually necessary. Is possible that you are a bit generous with the feeding of the fishes? Regardless... keep up the good work with the water changes> Oh, and completely off the subject, where the heck are you that you actually answer my email at 12:30 am??!! I have an excuse.. I'm at work! :) <The WWM crew is a well oiled machine... Bob is in a completely different time zone (in more ways than we have time to discuss) and floats through the day answering mail. Steve is steady morning and late afternoon shift. I mid afternoon and nite owl. Nearly 24 WWM service and all for free <. kindly, Anthony>

Critter Identification Hello Mr. Fenner. <<JasonC here, filling in for Bob while he's out diving>> Love the website! You seem like you might be busy person so I will get straight to the point. I looked everywhere for information about a strange growth in my 55 gallon tank needless to say no info) It is everywhere, on the plants, on the sides of my tank and on the filter. They are small, I would say about 1/4 the size of this letter 'O'. They are white. They look like small individual bushes or leaves. They also move like a flag in the wind when the circulation gets hold of them. Seems like my feeder fish<goldfish> are eating them. WHAT is it??? It is driving me crazy, I have tons of chemicals waiting to dump into the tank, Please tell me this isn't Ick or some other sort of parasite.  Robert Edouard <<doubt seriously that this is Ick or any of the other standard parasites. Most likely just small invertebrates who are enjoying your tank conditions. Perhaps check through the following web links: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/invertfa.htm  http://www.tcnj.edu/~maughme2/faq.htm  Cheers, J -- >>

What kind of fish for mosquito control? Hi, I have an open air pond about 22 cu feet. Could you give recommendation on the type of fish that would help keep the pond clear of mosquito eggs and such like? Many thanks, Hamid <it depends on where you live and if you need winter hardy species. Most common pond fish will do a fine job though. Goldfish are great, many of the minnows (rosy reds and the like), Tench, native killifish... really too many fish to mention here. Please do yourself a favor and get a great education researching the archives on this topic beginning with the WetWebMedia homepage. Kindly, Anthony>

Seeking your expertise! <Greetings, Lisa. Anthony Calfo in your service eating Zoanthids because I fear the mushrooms are poisonous> Hi! Hoping perhaps you might be able to give me some advice. Seems to me that most people in the fish industry don't seem to know as much as they should...that is why I am writing to you. I have 2 tanks. One is 46 gallons with 3 large "jelly bean" cichlids, 3 small Danios, 1 platy, 1 molly, and a Pleco. They all get along great (although I was told the cichlids would pick on the small ones...they don't at all!). The cichlids even eat out of my hands. My small tank is what I have a question about. It is only a 5 gallon tank, but I have taken great care to keep up with it and my tank values stay consistent.  Currently, I have 2 dwarf puffers and 2 rather large (2 inch) African frogs.  <Yowsa! Not even one of these creatures should be in there with consideration for their long term health and growth> The 2 puffers are very tiny, and from what I've heard will only be about an inch. Are the frogs in any danger?  <the puffers can be quite aggressive, but the frogs grow faster and will eat them within six months...but possibly die for it because of the puffers toxic flesh! Furthermore...puffers are brackish...you do add salt, right?> I was thinking that the puffers would be quite the fin nippers in the large tank, so I'll keep them where they are but I just wanted to make sure that they won't eat the frogs. Any input would be appreciated! Thanks! Lisa <honestly an impossible mix from go. The puffers need a specialized tank (brackish) and the frogs are pretty much compatible with anything that they cannot swallow whole. kindly, Anthony>

Freshwater Fish Selection I wish to start a fresh water tank ( my first one) and need to know a few things... First off are all these fish FRESH Water fish (tropical)? Cockatoo Apistogramma, Dwarf Cory, Dwarf Otocinclus/ Otto, Neon Dwarf Gourami, Siamese Fighting fish/Beta, Kuhli loach/Myer's Loach, Queen Botia Guppy, Dwarf Otocinclus/ Otocinclus affinis / midget Suckermouth Ram cichlid/butterfly cichlid, Cherry barb Harlequin, zebra Danio, Sailfin Molly, Neon rainbow <yes, all fresh> Second, Can they go together (I won't have them all but could they)? <Overall a lot that will work... If you remove the livebearer's (guppy and mollies liking more alkaline and salted waters) all could work in a big enough tank. However... you may also want to exclude the Botia for its aggressiveness and keep an eye on the Danios for fin-nipping> and lastly is the Thailand onion plant a good plant to start off with?? (if you are referring to a Crinum species... yes, a very hardy plant although they grow tall>

Re: Sourcing Livestock, FW Do you any where that i can buy a white molly? <Contact your local stores... or the etailers on WetWebMedia.com Links pages> What's a good site to buy brackish fish? <Need to look about. Ask the folks on our Chatforum: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ Bob Fenner> thanks

Number of Fish Dear Robert, For a 5.5 gallon tank, how many fish could be safely contained in it? I have 2 balloon mollies in mine, and I am reluctant to add anymore fish. The ammonia and nitrite levels are at 0, and I'd like to keep it that way. Won't adding even one more fish disrupt the "equilibrium" I have attained? If adding fish is a possibility, which species would you recommend? <Mmm, maybe some smaller Corydoras catfishes: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/callichthyids.htm Also, read the areas over on WWM re Danios, Rasboras, other livebearers... This tank is very confining in terms of stocking due to its small size. I would place no more than six small fishes total. Bob Fenner> Thanks. -James Kim

Aquarium setup too much? I have a 10 gallon aquarium set up with a cave large which creates an upper ledge with ivy planted around the ledge for hiding places for the smaller fish. Now do you think my aquarium is overcrowded? I have the following fish: 1- 4 inch catfish that hides in the cave all the time. 1 - 2 1/2 inch petus <pictus> catfish that tries to hide in the same cave. 1 - 1 1/2 inch crayfish or crawfish what ever they call them (found him at the creek) 2 - 1 inch ghost shrimps (found them at the creek) 1 - 1 inch looks like a Japanese swamp shrimp (found it at the creek) 5 - 2 inch silver fish with a dot on the beginning of the tail (found at the creek) @10 - 1/2 inch minnows (found at the creek) 1 - waterdog or dogfish about 4 inch long. <Sounds like a neat collection, but yes, you/they do need a larger system, at least twice as big, but a thirty gallon or bigger is what I'd try to get> I got the minnows for food for the catfish and dogfish, but what are those silver fish with the black dots on their tails?  <Hard to say... you might try the "local" fish and game for your State, by placing the name "Texas Fish and Game" in your search engine/s and see where this leads you. For your State, there is likely a list of known species of fishes, perhaps descriptions... or you can take likely species names and plug them into fishbase.org on the Net and see if their descriptions, pix match what you have. Likely some species of minnow, perhaps native "killifish", many other possibilities.> And the fish that looks like a Japanese swamp fish... how did he get into Sulphur creek in Lampasas?  <Perhaps it is a native... hopefully someone didn't "let it go" from a fish tank...> Also how did the ghost shrimps get into our creek? Are they common in Texas? <I think so> The fish seem at ease in the aquarium the minnows stay at the top, the waterdog wanders around, the catfish hide, the crayfish has his little spot next to the cave and the little silver fish school around the middle. I have two pumps working full time, one large 10-20 and the other is a small 5-10 or something like that. The water smells fresh and the fish are healthy. Any suggestions on what I should watch out for... besides the crawfish defending his territory by fending off the bigger fish with his pinchers? <I'll say... crayfish/crawdads can do a number on plants and fishes alike. Here's my take on them: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/shrimpfw.htm Wes

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