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FAQs on Characoids/Tetras & Relatives Compatibility

Related Articles: Characoids/Tetras & Relatives,

Related FAQs:  Characoids/Tetras & Relatives, Characoid Identification, Characoid Behavior, Characoid Selection, Characoid Systems, Characoid Feeding, Characoid Disease, Characoid Reproduction,

Some Characoids are decidedly "eat  'em uppers". Serrasalmus rhombeus (Linnaeus 1766), formerly S. niger. The Black or Redeye Piranha.

Bloodfin tetra aggressive          4/7/15
Hi,
I recently added to my medium sized aquarium
<?>
 4 neon tetras and 2 black widows
<Keep your eye on these.... better to have in a larger group; as they'll chase and nip each other rather than tankmates... given a large enough system...>
to go with my 2 Bloodfin tetras.
<These too>

The thing is, the biggest Bloodfin tetra (I’m pretty sure it’s a girl) is bullying the other fish and I have to drag food down to the bottom at feeding time. is this normal?
<Not unusual. Again; IF you have room, add more individuals>
should I wait for a while to see if things should settle down, exchange my tetra or get more tetras to settle her down?
<Ahh! The latter>
thanks for your help!
<And you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
A.N
Re: Bloodfin tetra aggressive       4/8/15

Hi again,
My tank is around 1 metre bye 40 cm. Is it large enough to hold more fish?
<S/b>
Thank you!

Bloodfin Tetra school bully    3/24/12
Hello Crew,
 A wonderful and very helpful forum you have.  Thanks so much for the service you provide.  I have read many hours here, soaking up as much as I can, while planning and setting up my freshwater aquarium.  The information I have acquired has been invaluable, and no doubt spared me many pitfalls I might have encountered if not for the resource you have provided.
 <Ah good>
About two months ago, I set up my 25-gallon tank (approx. 24"x12"x20"h), and planted it moderately fully on the sides and back, and placed a large piece of driftwood, some river rocks, and some Java Moss-covered pieces of wood around the center.  It is filtered with the Aqueon hang-on power filter which came with the aquarium.  After fully cycling the tank, I have steadily stocked it with fish over the last week or so, checking the water daily to make sure I was not outstripping the biological filtering capabilities which have been built up.  The water maintains the following numbers: ammonia 0, nitrites 0 , nitrates below 5ppm, GH and KH both approx. 30-50 ppm, pH 6.8, Temperature 77 deg F.  Having soft tap water, I chose mostly Tetras.  It is currently stocked with (6) Black Neon Tetras, (6) Lemon Tetras, (6) Bloodfin Tetras, and (3) Otos.  Almost all of the fish seem spry, happy.  They alternately school, and spread out, sometimes in the open and sometimes among the plants.
 <So far, so good>
The only problems I have are two of the Bloodfins.  One of them (the smallest one) tends to always hang out near the surface, close to one side of the filter.  He appears healthy in all respects, and eats greedily, so it seems to me that he is only hiding.  I believe he is hiding from one of the other Bloodfins, who frequently sits in the middle of the tank, and chases away any other Bloodfin he sees.
<The most likely explanation; I agree>

  He doesn't always do this, and will actually school with the other Bloodfins, as for security, when spooked by someone walking up to the tank.
 But he is a pestering bully frequently enough that it kills my sense of peace, not to mention his fellow Bloodfins' sense of peace.  He pretty much ignores any of the other fish species, and they ignore him.
 I am considering several options to deal with the situation.  I hope you can help me choose which of these is best, or perhaps another option I haven't considered.
Option 1 - Take the bully back to the store and either exchange him for another specimen, or stay with only (5) Bloodfins.
Option 2 - Add one or two more Bloodfins to the tank (maybe bigger than the bully) to increase the school size try and coerce him to be more sociable.
Option 3 - Do nothing as long as I don't see any real blood on their fins, because maybe it is a natural part of their social interaction.
 <Another option; try feeding more frequently, small amounts of foods>
Please, what would you advise?
 <#1 if the bullying is overt>
Thanks again for your help!
 Larry
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Freshwater Angelfish not getting to eat    1/28/12
Hello:
<Hi there Judy>
I have a juvenile angelfish in a 29 gallon with 5 lemon tetras and 5 black neon tetras. When I put food on the surface the tetras zip to the top and have it eaten in no time. I've had this angelfish for a couple of weeks now and do not understand how it is getting any food. This morning the tetras ate everything and afterwards the angelfish came out of a terracotta pot after the frenzy.  I am wondering if it was a bad idea to get a juvenile with these fast tetras?
<Might be...>

The only other tank I have is a 10 gallon
<Too small for an Angel>
 with a Betta. Would this angelfish still be getting some food or is there any other way to feed it. Thank you!!
<I'd be trading the Angel in. Bob Fenner>

Sickness... Tetras and Mollies mixed together...    6/29/10
I have 6 fish in a 10 gallon tank. Four are Red Minor Tetras and two are Balloon Belly Mollies, one male and one female.
<Mmm, these fishes/species can't be mixed successfully. The Tetras like softer, acidic water of higher temperature, the mollies enjoy harder, decidedly more alkaline water that is cooler...>
I got them and two of the tetras on Monday.
<... is this system cycled?>
All four have been eating excessively while my other two tetras are hardly at all. The male molly has been eating the most out of them all. When I first put the mollies in the water they kept going to the top and blowing bubbles. They aren't so much now, especially the female.
She keeps sitting at the bottom of the tank and only moves when the male darts up and chases her. I have a little cave thing that she keeps going in and sometimes she squeezes herself into the corner behind it. Yesterday I found her in the cave with my Black Snail so I picked up the cave in case she was stuck. Is there something wrong with her? Is she possibly pregnant?
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/charsysfaqs.htm
and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm
and the linked files above. What you have here won't work. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sickness... not following reading...
It won't work? The lady at PetSmart didn't say anything and both species are listed as community fish. Do you have any suggestions in case I can't get a separate aquarium?
<... return one or the other species, read where you were referred to... fix the environment to suit the remaining>
By the way, I've heard about a disease thing that causes white gunk on fish. My tetra have white on their bottom fin things, but I can't tell if it's part of their color or not.
<B>

Tetra compatibility/sel. w/ Corydoras  2/4/2010
Hi guys and gals, just a quick question for Neale if I could. I've started a 29-gal FW and am wondering what type of schooling tetras would share the same temperature range as Corydoras? I'm not terribly interested in "same-old" Neons. Something along the lines of Bloodfins or Rummynose would be really nice, if they'd work. Others that are readily available locally would be something like Glowlights or silvertips.
Thanks,
Scott
<Hi Scott. The big surprise for many people is how many South American fish actually enjoy quite cool conditions. Besides Neons, other good choices for temperatures between 22-24 C would include Bloodfins (Aphyocharax
anisitsi), Dragon-fin tetras (Pseudocorynopoma doriae), Blue tetras (Boehlkea fredcochui), Black Widows (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi), Silvertips (Hasemania nana), Buenos Aires tetras (Hyphessobrycon anisitsi), Flame
tetras (Hyphessobrycon flammeus), Loreto tetras (Hyphessobrycon loretoensis), Black Phantoms (Megalamphodus megalopterus), Red Phantoms (Megalamphodus sweglesi), Red-eye Tetras (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae), Penguin tetras (Thayeria obliqua), Darter tetras (Characidium spp.) -- to name just a few! In fact about half the South American fish we see in the trade prefer relatively cool conditions, and there's a clear distinction between the fish from relatively cool streams and the fish from much warmer habitats like the llanos pools and some of the rivers (the Rio Xingu being notorious in this respect). Rummy-nose tetras and Cardinals do prefer
somewhat warmer conditions, so aren't ideal Corydoras companions. Hope this gives you some ideas! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Tetra compatibility 2/4/2010
Thanks, Neale. Is there a larger single fish that would go with a school of tetras and a group of Corys to complete the "look"? An angel would do the trick for me, but I'm guessing that it wouldn't work here.
Scott
<Many of the cichlids we call "Acaras" come from the same relatively cool waters, and thrive between 22-24 C. These include Aequidens pulcher, Cichlasoma portalegrense, Cleithracara maronii and Laetacara curviceps, to
name but four of the more widely traded species. Cichlasoma portalegrense in particular is an under-appreciated species that used to be very popular because of its hardiness and tolerance of cool water, but has been much
overlooked in recent decades. Cheers, Neale.>

Weird behavior? (Serpae Tetras, no surprises)  -- 10/13/08
Hello,
I am a new to this hobby. I have a 30 gal hex tank with a heater (78 degrees) and bio filter. Listening to the guys in the aquarium store I cycled my tank using a male Guppy and two Sunset Variatus (one male one female). Everything was going great, and finally after one month I got my water tested by the store and they said I could add more fish. They suggested another male guppy and three Serpae Tetras.
<Bad community fish; Hyphessobrycon "serpae" (in fact a variety of Hyphessobrycon species is a known fin-nipper. They are schooling fish that need to be kept in groups of at least six and realistically 12+. They have a feeding frenzy behaviour, and will attack anything in range when feeding, including each other. Bullying is a problem with this species. Under no circumstances should this species EVER be added to community tanks with slow or long finned species such as Guppies.>
From the moment I added the new fish my original Guppy began to act strange. What once used to be an active fish swimming all over the tank turned into shy fish hiding in the plants (fake). The new male Guppy seems to be bullying all the other fish (including the Serpae Tetras who I thought were supposed to be more aggressive).
<Male Guppies will certainly be aggressive towards other male livebearers (such as Platies) given the chance. All livebearers should be kept in groups of one male to every two or more females to reduce this problem. I heartily recommend against keeping different livebearer species because of differences in behaviour and aggression level.>
This morning (the morning after I added new fish) my original Guppy's tail fin is about half the size.
<Attacked by the tetras.>
He is laying on the ground and only moved to get food and then returned to the ground not moving at all. What is going on? Will my fish die? What can I do?
<Obviously the Serpae tetras must go. Please read an aquarium book BEFORE purchasing new fish. The fact these are [a] nippy and [b] schooling fish is no unknown and will be revealed by any decent aquarium book. I happen to like (and rate highly) Baensch's Aquarium Atlas, but there are lots of others.>
Thanks in advance for your help,
Dan
<Cheers, Neale.>

Glowlight Tetra & Betta Compatibility  7/29/08 Dear Crew, First, I would like to thank the crew for their efforts put forth on the WWM website and to the aquarium hobby/profession in general. I always enjoy reading the articles, FAQs and especially the Conscientious Aquarist Magazine. OK, now that my nose is properly browned, I have a question. <Thanks for the kind words.> I have a 5 Gallon tank set up with at last count 10 Red Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina heteropoda). About a week ago my wife's friend moved out of town and I agreed to take their Betta (Betta splendens) . Since they were housing the poor fish in a little reptile carrier (no heater, no filter, maybe held 1 quart of water) I decided to upgrade his living quarters. He's been living happily in my 5 Gallon shrimp tank for the past week. <Sounds ideal really.> He eats well and explores the tank with great interest. Unfortunately he has also taken an interest in the shrimp. They range in size form 1/8 to over 1/2 inch and I'm pretty sure the Betta has been eating the smaller shrimp. <I'd not worry too much about this too much as you can quickly end up with more shrimps than you know what to do with. I started with six, and must have a hundred now.> Now the larger shrimp hide during the day and I never get to enjoy them. <I see. How well planted is the tank? Stacking the thing with Cryptocoryne, Java moss and other low level plants will provide more cover for the shrimps. Mine live with halfbeaks, and these predatory fish only get the odd juvenile shrimp that comes to the surface -- the others seem to survive to sufficiently large size they're fine.> My question is, can I put the Betta into my 10 Gallon tank with 7 Glowlight tetras (Hemigrammus erythrozonus)? <In theory, yes, but even the best tetras sometimes go for Bettas.> I have read on your site that Bettas can get picked on by Neon Tetras, but I didn't know if the Glowlights would pose a similar problem. <Not beyond the realms of possibility.> If so, how long should I wait considering the Betta has not shown any outward signs of disease (I know I should quarantine him, but for how long)? <If the Betta has lived by himself (or with invertebrates only) for 6 weeks or more, he's fine to be moved immediately.> Would it be better to move the shrimp into the 10 Gallon with the Glowlights? <Yep.> Ultimately I would like my shrimp to breed and multiply and I'm not sure that will happen if I house them with the Tetras. <Not much; I kept them with Cardinals and STILL got plenty of babies. Java Moss is, I feel, the key, as it provides ample cover for tiny shrimps.> Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Evan <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Glowlight Tetra & Betta Compatibility  7/29/08 Please forward to Neale, thanks! Neale, Thank you for your quick reply. <Most welcome.> Currently the 5 Gallon is lightly planted with several sprigs of Java Fern, a small sprig of Anubias nana and a small patch of Java moss. There is also a piece of driftwood that had several knots/holes in it and I have a coconut cave that is too narrow for the Betta to enter (but he still noses at it) and the shrimp have made a make shift cave in the space between the bottom of the sponge filter and the substrate (just gravel). <I've noticed female Cherry Shrimps will hide in coconut caves while brooding their eggs.> I imagine that I am providing enough cover for the shrimp to survive, however, since they are constantly hiding I never really see them. <All sounds pretty good for the shrimp rearing business really!> Would I be better off planting the 5 Gallon more densely? In your estimation, if I were to move the shrimp to the 10 Gallon (which is similarly outfitted as to planting, decor, etc.) would they be more outgoing or do you think the Tetras would bother them as much as the Betta currently does? And again, would denser planting in the make the shrimp more bold in the 10 Gallon? <My shrimps certainly didn't hide when combined with Cardinals, and aren't at all reticent with juvenile Limia, Aspidoras and whiptail catfish, or various small gobies. The tanks involved are in the 8-10 gallon bracket, so match yours closely. So my feeling is that what you propose will work well. You could try adding more shrimps: they are "schooling" animals, and perhaps the more you have, the more outgoing they become?> Thank you again, your advice is greatly valued. Evan <Kind of you to say so! Neale.>

I need help/advice; Poecilia, compatibility   7/29/08 hey! umm.......well, my oldest guppy's tail is being nipped at. His tail looks pretty bad. Could this be a case of tail rot and I do not know about it? or is a species of fish in my tank picking on him? in my tank I have: Guppies Zebra Danios Rasboras neon tetras red eyed tetras glow light tetras mini catfish I have two gigantic zebras and two smaller ones. I put the big ones in my breeding trap to separate them from Flame (my old guppy). but, they have been ing there for about a week and his tail is still getting nipped at piece by piece. Before I had the big zebras in the breeder, Flame's tail had gotten nipped all the way back to his body. It has grown back some. but I can still see that his tail is getting torn up. oh, I have had Flame ever since October. -Sarah <Short answer is that Flame Tetras (Hyphessobrycon flammeus), Glowlights (Hemigrammus erythrozonus), Rasboras and Danios are rarely fin-nippers. But Red-Eye Tetras (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae) are known fin-nippers. I have no idea what "mini catfish" are so can't comment on them! You will need to treat with a Finrot/Fungus medication promptly to PREVENT a secondary infection: untreated, your fish can become infected and sicken. Something like Maracyn (popular in the US) or eSHa 2000 (my preferred option here in the UK) would work well. Avoid salt or Melafix -- these have little useful function against Finrot. Cheers, Neale.>

Fish inquiry... Tetra, small Characin sel., comp.   7/15/08 Dear Crew, I'm pretty new to the fish keeping hobby but I have been researching online. Here is my dilemma. I have a tank with serpae tetras who keep to themselves (thank god), zebra Danios, a rubber lip Pleco, and platys. <A "courageous" combination to say the least. Serpae tetras aren't my recommendation for the community tank, as you seem to realise.> I need a somewhat larger fish to be the so-called "attraction" fish but I don't know which kinds will live peacefully with my other fish. <With Serpae tetras, not much! The obvious choices -- Angelfish, Gouramis, etc. -- will simply be pecked to death.> I have a 26 gallon tank, its pretty tall and its a bowfront. I've been deciding between some kind(s) of gouramis, freshwater angels, or silver dollars. <No, no and no respectively. The Gouramis and Angels will be nibbled to pieces, and the Silver Dollars get far too large for a tank this size.> Which species is best suited for my tank and well get along with the tankmates; and if you have any other suggestions about other species please let me know. <To be honest, I'd not bother. I'd either up the numbers of the species you already have, or perhaps add an interesting catfish of some sort that can keep out of trouble. Serpae tetras for example look their best in big swarms of dozens of specimens, when their feeding frenzy behaviour becomes quite something to watch. Of course any catfish that avoids trouble, like a Synodontis, isn't going to be showpiece fish you're after.> Also, ever since I transferred a red wag platy over to the bigger tank, it has constantly been hiding even though none of the other fish harass it. <Almost certainly it has been nipped by the Serpae tetras and is keeping a low profile. Serpae tetras don't just bite the fins from other fish but also the scales, and such damage can be difficult to see.> Is there any way I can solve this problem? <Not really, no.> Thank you, Pierre <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: fish inquiry  7/15/08 Thank you for that info. Do you think there are any tetras that I could replace the Serpaes with that would get along with angels or gouramis? I might decide to take them back to the pet store. Pierre <Angelfish will simply view very small tetras, such as Neons, as food, so you have to be careful. Certain other tetras, can be just as nippy as Serpae tetras and will nibble on the Angels and Gouramis. Black Widows (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi) and some of the other Hyphessobrycon species fall into this category. My honest recommendation would be to replace the Serpae tetras with more Zebra Danios. Here's the thing: if you have one big school of a schooling fish, it looks so much better than two small schools of different schooling fish. You would then have one species at the top (the Danios), one in the middle (perhaps a pair of Angels or a pair of Lace Gouramis) and then your catfish at the bottom. Instead of a jumble, you'll have an nice ordered arrangement. Otherwise, consider X-Ray tetras (Pristella maxillaris), Diamond tetras (Moenkhausia pittieri), or Lemon tetras (Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis) are excellent community tank tetras and the right size for your aquarium. But as I say, better to have twelve schooling fish of one type than six of two different types. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: fish inquiry (Dwarf Gouramis, Angelfish, selection)   7/15/08 I'm going to exchange my Serpaes this evening. I think I will most likely go with the large school or Danios and either dwarf gouramis or angelfish. I'll let my little brother pick. Thanks so much for all your help! Pierre <My advise to anyone is don't get Dwarf Gouramis (Colisa lalia, including fancy forms like "neon gouramis", "robin gouramis", and so on). Unless wild-caught or locally bred, which the ones in shops most certainly are not, these fish are extremely likely to carry an incurable viral disease known as Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus. One estimate by vets puts the incidence at 22% for Dwarf Gouramis exported from Singapore. Because the virus is extremely contagious, you only need one infected fish in a batch to ensure all the others get sick too. The number of Dwarf Gourami e-mails we get would astonish you, and they really are a complete waste of money. Almost every retailer I know dislikes stocking them because so many die in their tanks, but there is sufficient demand among newbie aquarists who don't know better that they remain profitable. It's a shame, because twenty years ago they were quite good little fish. Nowadays, you're better off with the hardier (if slightly bigger) Colisa fasciata and Colisa labiosus. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/dwfgdis.htm If you buy Angelfish, do remember these are territorial cichlids. You cannot sex them. But if you have two males, in a small aquarium they are very likely to become aggressive towards one another. If you buy a singleton, then there's an increased chance that Angelfish will "go rogue" and attack other fish in the tank, so that approach is not without risks. The standard way to keep Angels is to buy six specimens, let them pair off as they mature, and remove the four surplus fish when the time comes. Because Angels are such popular fish, rehoming adults is not difficult and any half-decent aquarium shop will take them off your hands. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: fish inquiry (Dwarf Gouramis, Angelfish, selection) 7/17/2008 Can the dwarf Gourami virus spread to other species of fish or only the ones in the Gourami family? <This is a complex question. The short answer is yes, the virus can spread to other species in other families. But so far as I know, the only scientifically documented example is where Dwarf Gouramis Iridovirus appears to have infected Maccullochella peelii, and Australian perch-like fish belonging to the Percichthyidae family. There are no reports that I am aware of where the virus has caused problems in other species of Gourami though. Hence my recommendation that Colisa fasciata and Colisa labiosus are safe, reliable alternatives. Yes, they aren't quite as colourful, but they are still lovely fish and much, much more likely to live long and happy lives. If you want a small, non-aggressive Gourami for the community tank, these are the ones to go for. Cheers, Neale.>

Got Prob. -Goldfish/Tetra compatibility 05/31/2008 Hello Dear Neale, <Please be a friend to Wet Web Media and don't send messages all in capital letters!> All my fish are doing well but Neale, I got a problem that I got two tetra fish in which one is doing very well, but the other one is in problem because it never comes up to eat and never moves freely in the aquarium until, unless the light is off. <Most tetras are schooling fish: they are only happy when kept in groups of 6 or more.> And all my other goldfish, they have recovered a lot from Finrot but their tail seems like a small Tetra has bitten its tail, but I studied the goldfish can live with Tetra.  <Some tetras WILL bite the fins of other fish. In particular Gymnocorymbus ternetzi (called the "black widow tetra" in England) and the various "serpae" tetras in the genus Hyphessobrycon, such as Hyphessobrycon eques. But many other tetras will bite fins given the chance. In the wild, these fish eat the scales and fins of other fish -- so there's no way to stop them biting big, slow-moving fish. It's in the genes! So no, you cannot keep Goldfish and tetras.> And why my one Tetra is scared always even doesn't eat anything. <Likely scared, shy.> Thank you Neale ALI ZAHEER <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Got prob. - 05/31/08 Hello dear Neale, <Hello!> Firstly I want to apologize for my mistake that you mentioned, thank you. <Not a problem.> I am very happy that you answered my questions. Neale one of my tetra is Gymnocorymbus ternetzi. <Ah! A very VERY bad fin-nipper!> But other is different so should I remove both or just one? <I would remove them both. Regardless of their behaviour in this aquarium, all tetras are happier in GROUPS, so please do keep them that way.> and please can help me which small size fish would be better to keep with my goldfish. <Really best kept alone, or perhaps with Weather Loaches (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus). Some people keep them with Zebra Danios (Danio rerio) or White Cloud Mountain Minnows (Tanichthys albonubes). Both these species do well in subtropical tanks (18-22 Celsius) which is ideal for Goldfish. Peppered Catfish (Corydoras paleatus) would also do well in a subtropical aquarium. All three of these species are SCHOOLING fish; keep Danios and Minnows in groups of at least 6 specimens; and the Catfish in a group of at least 3 specimens.> Take care. Thank you Ali <Cheers, Neale.>

Another with stocking problems, Wrong Tetras For Cycling a New Tank -- 09/08/07 Hello, I did the right thing and did a lot of reading on the web. I did the wrong thing and listened to somebody who sounded like they knew what they were talking about in the store. I have recently acquired a 125 g tank. Since I do not understand H, I will tell you it is 5ft long and 2 ft high. It is decorated with driftwood and slate and I have been adding plants as I go along. I has been my intention to get angels at some point and perhaps a variety of the more placid chilids <Spelled Cichlids> (yes, I know angels are chilids too). So the tank cycling was competed with zebra Danios and I was ready to add another schooling fish. I knew tetras would be good as long as it was not one of the smaller varieties. So I bought a really, pretty larger tetra, 8 to be exact. Turns out I may have made an error. These darlings are Buenos Aires Tetras. I self defense, I would like to add that this particular variety does not seem very popular and is often absent in tetra lists. I did not know there was an aggressive tetra. Now of course I know my plants may be doomed and perhaps the "Angel Plan" if I keep these active fellows. However, I have also read that kept in a group they tend to interact primarily with each other and leave others alone, thereby reducing the occurrence to fin nipping behaviour. What is your take on this? Should I express my unhappiness to the store and see if they can returned? I like them but hey, fin-nipping was not in the plan. Cheers Aileen <These tetras are like a pack of wolves and probably won't go well with any fish. I would recommend returning them unless these are the only fish you want in your tank.-Chuck>

Re: another with stocking problems. Aggressive Tetras   9/9/07 Hello again, And thanks for the quick response, it allowed me to begin to take action quickly. Sorry if I gave you the impression that these fellows were cycling the tank. They are not. The tank was cycled fishless but because I did so without either fish or a testing kit I ensured it was o.k. with zebra Danios for a couple of weeks. The tetras are in fact the second school introduced. The ammonia remained at 0 but in fact the nitrite did spike for again for a couple of days.......but everything is fine now, and was before the introduction of the tetras. I called the store yesterday when I got your response and they did not seem so eager to accept the fish, in fact the guy on the phone insisted that he had never had aggressive ones????? They might take to odd nibble from a plant but would not destroy them and if feed well and kept in a school would not bother the other fish. This too is information readily available on the internet. < These fish might be OK alone or in a small school. The larger the school the tougher the group. These fish are well known in fish clubs. They can be right up there with Exodon paradoxus. Don't let the word tetra fool you. Piranhas are closely related to tetras.> I feel like I am in a bit of a rotten position here, but really do not want to experiment. I am considering packing the troop up and going up to the store with them and regardless of refunds, leaving them there. What are the fair and responsible practises of stores in the fish trade? < As the store what fish you can place with your tetras. Buy something that you like and place it with the existing school of tetras. If the new fish get killed then tell the store you expect them to credit you with another fish that will go with the tetras, because they said they would go together. Eventually the tetras may or not kill most of the fish that they recommend. If they are smart they will take back the tetras and let you buy new fish.> Should they be expected to accept returns in this situation? < The aquarium hobby is very slow this time of year and they are probably glad to be rid of those fish. They will probably resist taking them back but I am sure they will take them for free. If you flat out don't want them any more then give them back and go to another store with more knowledgeable personnel.-Chuck>

Question about Mollies & Tetras  9/7/07 Hello, <Ave,> I have a 30 gal. tank with only 6 fish in it. There is a Blackskirt tetra, a silver sail fin molly, a Plecostomus and two Platies. <Not a good selection. The Blackskirt tetra (by which I assume you mean Gymnocorymbus ternetzi) is [a] a schooling fish and [b] a notorious fin-nipper given that wild fish feed partially on the scales and fins of slow-moving fish. Plecs (in your case, likely Pterygoplichthys sp. rather than Hypostomus sp.) are massive fish that easily reach 45 cm in captivity and consequently need an aquarium around twice the size of yours to be kept safely. Finally, mollies are just plain easier to keep in brackish water, which your other fish don't want.> All of them are male, I think, but I had two females (one a platy and one a molly) that I had to give to a friend because they were constantly breeding. <Absolutely no way you can sex the tetra or the catfish.> Recently, the silver molly started chasing the tetra around the tank, getting in front of him and displaying his upper fin in his face, kind of like a screen. <Mollies are aggressive, and in the wild, adult males dominate patches of water, driving off other, weaker males and monopolising access to the females in the area. In short, yours is doing what comes natural. It is entirely normal for them to chase other species. I've seen this myself between mollies and Rainbowfish, for example.> It's gotten so bad that the tetra doesn't seem to want to eat. So, I went to PetSmart and asked what to do. They told me to add another Blackskirt tetra because the molly is displaying his 'dominance' as the tank king. <Garbage advice. As a rule of thumb, anything quoted by a big-chain pet store is more likely to be wrong than right. They tend to employ casual rather than expert staff, don't train them beyond selling and customer service, and have no investment in anything other than you coming back to buy more fish. There are exceptions I'm sure, but on the average if the person you talked to looks like a student working a Saturday job, best avoid.> So, I added a new tetra, and now the molly is going crazy chasing both!!!! <Quelle surprise.> What should I do? <Up to you. If it was me, I'd decide on what sort of aquarium I wanted. Do you want a school (i.e., 6) Blackskirt tetras? Do you want a school (i.e., 6) Platies. Do you want to keep mollies? The catfish has to go, I'm afraid, keeping it would be wrong. Me, I like mollies, and I'd go buy 2-3 more females to go with the male. I'd then convert the tank to a brackish system by adding a small amount of marine aquarium salt mix (not aquarium or tonic salt) with each water change (3-5 grammes per litre will do). I'd then add some gobies or flounders to the bottom of the tank. The mollies will ignore these completely, and they'd make for a fun, quirky aquarium. You could keep the Platies in this tank, too, as they do fine in slightly brackish water. The tetras, though, would have to be removed.> I really do not want to add any females because I do not have that much room for the fry. And the last time they were breeding, I had to isolate all the fry (because I didn't want them to be eaten!) and it was just a huge mess! <Just let them get eaten then. If you kept a couple of knight gobies (Stigmatogobius spp.) believe me, they'd get eaten! Otherwise, remember that you can always sell on young fish. That's what I do. If you have lots of real/plastic plants in the aquarium, at least some baby fish will survive. Having a separate tank to rear them in works well, and means that you cut down costs on things like food by trading in baby fish each time you visit the pet store.> Any advice would really be appreciated! Thank you, Crystal <Cheers, Neale>

Re: Question about Mollies & Tetras  9/7/07 Hello Neale, <Hello Crystal,> Thank you so much for your reply! I really appreciate it. The two tetras are sticking together and it seems that molly is leaving them alone, he displays his fin once in a while, but it seems the two tetras are ignoring it more and the older guy ate last night! :) <Very good.> I plan on getting a larger tank, I have been saving up for one, so I could keep the baby Plec ( a friend told me they grow fast) the one I'm looking at is a 50 to 60 gal, do you think that might work? <Sounds great.> I plan to keep the smaller tank in another part of the house, do you think I can convert it for a brackish system? I was wondering what other fish normally get along with mollies (+they would have to live in the brackish system) and is it okay to keep them all male too? <Converting to a low-end brackish tank would be easy. Lots of fish would work well here with the mollies -- bumblebee gobies, glassfish, wrestling halfbeaks, knight gobies, crazy fish, orange Chromides, flatfish... Have a read around the Brackish section here at WWM and see what's small and tickles your fancy. A brackish tank isn't any more difficult to run than a freshwater one, and in some ways easier because the marine salt mix tends to make disease less of an issue and buffers against water chemistry changes. You only need to add 3-5 grammes of salt mix per litre of water, so it isn't expensive, either.> And what other fish get along with the tetras, since I plan to get more of a variety of color for the larger tank. <Blackskirt tetras are best mixed with tetras, barbs, and Rainbowfish in the middle of the tank as well as active bottom dwellers like catfish and loaches. The things to avoid is anything slow or with long, trailing fins. Bettas, angels, fancy guppies, gouramis, etc would all be bad choices. So it's really not difficult to mix them with other fish, you just need to be a little more picky than normal.> Your advice is much appreciated, the only pet store near me is a PetSmart and I do agree-it seems like I'm constantly buying something there and they never really answer my questions! <I'm sure they mean well, but a store is a store, and largely interested in making a sale. My grandfather used to say about doctors that they had no vested interest in making you healthy, since healthy people don't need doctors. They just didn't want you to die because then they lost a customer! A lot of pet stores are run the same way... so long as you keep coming back to buy replacement fish and new bottles of medication, they're happy.> Thank you, Crystal <Good luck, Neale>

Black Skirt tetras, nippy beh.   8/8/07 Hello, Yesterday I did a water change and added 4 new fish to my 20 gal. tank, an algae eater and three red spot phantom tetras. This morning I noticed my four black skirt tetras frantically chasing each other, they haven't stopped for hours. I only have 13 fish in the tank, not over crowded, and have had the black skirt tetras for over a year and they have always been fine. The water temp. is about 82 deg. and the rest of the stats fall into acceptable parameters. Do you know what could have triggered the sudden change in the tetras' behavior? Jon <Hello Jon. Black skirt tetras -- Gymnocorymbus ternetzi -- is probably in the top 5, if not the top 3 fin-nippers in the freshwater aquarium hobby. They should always be kept in groups of 6 or more specimens; any less, and the behaviour you describe is almost inevitable. Some people may have experiences to the contrary, but they are in the minority. As a rule, these are fish that should only be kept with fast moving tetras and barbs, and NEVER mixed with angels or gouramis, because these poor fish get nipped mercilessly. Why have they just started? Perhaps they have reached a certain age and have become sexually mature? Who knows. But the simple answer is that what you have described is not in the least unusual, and no, there isn't a cure, beyond adding a few more specimens so that aggression is diffused out a bit more evenly. The "chasing" seems to be about hierarchical positioning in the school; the bigger the group, the more quickly they settle down. Pretty normal schooling fish behaviour, and you'll see something like this with Danios, barbs, all sorts of schooling fish. Hope this helps, Neale>

Aggression in Congo Tetras 7/9/07 Greetings, Crew! I wish this site had been available to me 35 years ago, when I first started keeping fish...this is hands-down, the most helpful source of aquatic information that I have found. Thanks for all your caring and hard work! I've been a long-time "lurker", but this is my first time asking a question. I had a group of six Congo Tetras that I purchased locally about four years ago. They were juveniles when I bought them; it turned out that I had two females and four males. <Greetings! Congo tetras are among my favourites.> Everything seemed fine until recently, when I lost the females and one of the males over the span of about a month. There would be a "sudden death"...no warning, no strange behavior, water parameters were stable, and right on. (125 gal tank, Eheim 2028 canister filter plus a Tetra 60 hang-on, plus the weekly use of a Vortex diatom; ph 6.8, temp. 78, ammonia and nitrates 0, nitrate 5.0 or under. <Interesting. Conditions sound perfect.> Mixed fake and real plants, driftwood, sand, gravel and pea-gravel substrate. Tank inhabitants: 6 giant Danios, 7 red serpae tetras, 6 Glowlight tetras, 7 red-tailed Rasboras, 1- 4" Pleco, 3- 3" clown loaches, 1- 6" striped Raphael cat (he's been with me for at least 6 years), 2- 8" banded Leporinus and most recently, 3 Koi angel fish that were about the size of a quarter, but are about double that now. <Some "courageous" choices as we say in England. Angels and Serpae tetras are usually a VERY bad combo, because Serpae tetras nip slow fish with long fins, and Angels are slow fish with long fins. Leporinus fasciatus are famous for being aggressive and having huge teeth that can shred pretty well anything. I have known experienced aquarists who describe them simply as "evil"!> Quarantine tank used religiously, water changes of about 20% twice a week. Foods are various Tetra brand flake and granular, Spectrum pellets, peas and frozen blood worms) <All sounds very good.> After the first Congo turned up dead, I started to watch the tank dynamics more closely. There has always been a good bit of excitement around feeding time, but the Congos were actually beating each other to death! About a half-hour after feeding, the Congos would start displaying and slamming into each other, sometimes so violently that there would be scales knocked free. None of the other species of fish took part, or were targeted by the Congos. <Well, the obvious thing to do would be remove some of the males and add more females. A school of 6-8 specimens should work, and certainly did for me.> I'm now down to the remaining three males, and it seems that they have come to a truce...I've seen no more violent behavior. I would like to add a few more of these beautiful fish, but I'm hesitant to do so, fearing that the new ones may suffer the same fate, or that the new introductions may spur a whole new round of violence. <The best solution might be to re-home the 3 you have, at least temporarily, add 6 more Congo tetras, and once they're settled in and sufficiently large, add the other 3 back.> Can you offer any insight? I've done some researching of these fish, and don't find any mention of this belligerent behavior. Thank you. Tracy G. <The social dynamics of schooling fish can be very variable, and I've seen similar things to this in a variety of supposedly schooling fish, from Danios to archerfish. Generally, the bigger the group, the less problematic, so adding more will be your best chance of fixing things. To some degree, all schooling fish use bullying to establish a hierarchy. I'm watching the Asian glassfish in my aquarium here right now, and these fish are constantly dive-bombing one another. While this adds to the fun-value of schooling fish, if the numbers are too small this jostling of position can lead to damage or death, as you've discovered. Adding 6 more Congo tetras should be fine, as the three left will not be able to harass these too much. Since you have a big tank, adding more fish shouldn't overwhelm the filter. Good luck! Neale>

Glowlight tetras not compatible with goldfish; need to read before keeping any fish  1/9/07 I am sorry about the last E-mail. <Not sure what the problem/issue was, but let me try to help you with this one.> I have 2 Glowlight Tetras in a tank with 2 small goldfish, it has no heater. <That's not good. What's the temperature of that tank? The tetras you refer to are indeed tropical fish and require a steady tank temperature of 72-82 degrees F. Goldfish, in contrast, are a cooler water fish and thrive in conditions anywhere from 50 - 68 degrees F, again, provided that the temperature is kept stable.> I was wondering if Glowlight Tetras normally live in coldwater. <They do not.  Keeping them in non-appropriate conditions will only weaken their immune systems, rendering them more susceptible to disease, thus shortening the lifespan...need to research and provide a proper environment for these, and all fish you are keeping.  Do read here for some basic info. on the fish: http://badmanstropicalfish.com/profiles/profile62.html I moved them over because some of my tropical fish were eating them. <I'm afraid to ask, but what were you housing them with? And, in how large of a tank?  Please do your fish a favor and read up on the proper conditions and requirements of any and all livestock prior to purchasing... Here's a great place to start: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm Regards, Jorie> Dylan

Re: Glowlight tetras not compatible with goldfish; need to read before keeping any fish- PART 2    1/10/07 Hi Jorri, <Jorie...you're close!> I was keeping the Glowlights with silver sharks, they got massive and 2 clown loaches and 1 yoyo loach. The Glowlights have been in the coldwater tank for about a year now and there going fine. <OK, I'm glad to hear all is "fine"; I am now a bit confused about your original question, then, which asked "I was wondering if Glowlight Tetras normally live in coldwater...>. If everything's been going well for 1.5 yrs., why do you all of a sudden ask this question? In any case, as stated before, goldfish and Glowlight Tetras truly have very different requirements... Regards, Jorie>

Betta Compatibility with Neon Tetras 1/7/07 Hi, <Hi> Great web site. <Thanks> I am in the process of starting up the first cycle in my 30 litre heated BiOrb with 2 neon tetras and 1 algae eating shrimp. <Neon tetras are pretty sensitive to water quality, keep a close eye on it.> So far so good and I am now planning ahead to see which fish I would like to add and when. Could I add a male Betta/fighter in a month's time? (when chemical levels are good etc..) <Not a good mix, have seen Bettas try to eat little Neons, plus their water quality needs are pretty different.> If so and if he is settled could I then add more neon tetras at a later date? Thank you very much in advance, Rob <Chris>

Serpae Tetras Badgering Cory Cat   8/1/06 Hi WWM Crew! <<Hi, Stella. Tom here this morning.>> Hope you all are doing well. <<We hope you are, too!>> I have a 10-gallon freshwater aquarium with 5 small serpae tetras, a small bronze Cory and 2 small Otocinclus (everyone's around the same size of "small" except the Cory is more block shaped). <<Sounds fine.>> I introduced the serpae tetras about a week ago and they have been a complete terror with the poor Cory, nipping his dorsal and caudal fin to pieces. <<It would seem that I spoke too soon.>> I was hoping they would eventually adjust to the tank and stop the nipping but they aren't and the Cory isn't able to recover. I've decided to move the Cory to another 10-gallon tank that I have but is currently empty. <<He/she will be happy for the relief, I'm sure.>> My question is whether I should move the Cory before the tank has cycled or wait the 3-4 weeks for the new tank to cycle completely. <<It doesn't sound to me like those juvenile delinquent Tetras are going to leave the Cory alone long enough for the other tank to completely cycle.>>   My current tank is well cycled with no trace of ammonia or nitrites and nearly zero levels of nitrates. <<This is going to help.>> Which is the least of two evils: fin nipping or uncycled tank? <<The fin-nipping is the lesser of the two but five against one are odds that no fish should have to contend with. The Cory's stressed and likely injured (to an extent) which is going to make it a prime target for an infection of some description. That alone would likely mandate the move so let's look at the options. The first I would recommend is doing water changes in the QT with water from the cycled tank. Since we're not dealing with a pathogen issue in the older tank, this shouldn't be a problem and may, in fact, help us along. If you have a source for BIO-Spira (Marineland), you'll be able to eliminate this dilemma altogether but it's not always easy to come by locally. If you have a good fish store nearby, you might give them a call, or visit them, to see if they have this specific product in stock. Beyond these two, the best counsel I can share is to keep an eye on both the Cory and, certainly, on the water conditions until this tank settles out.>> Any advice would be appreciated.   ----Stella <<Wishing you the best of luck here, Stella. Tom>>

Re: Serpae Tetras Badgering Cory Cat - 8/10/2006 Thank you so much for your quick answers, Tom! <<You'll make me blush, Stella! You're very welcome.>> I just wanted to let you know that the Cory is happily swimming about in his very own nearly cycled tank. Doing the water change with water from the already cycled tank really did the trick. <<Neat trick, isn't it? :)>> I will probably get him a companion Cory soon as I've read that they like to be among their own like kind. <<Oh, they don't do bad by themselves, Stella. When you get a chance, post again and I'll give you the brief rundown on "schooling" fish. They don't "school" as much as some would like us to believe... Corys are a good example.>> Sadly, one of the Otocinclus is now getting slightly nipped in the tail as well. Are these serpae tetras just bad seeds, or is there something I should be doing to prevent this behavior? <<Not "bad seeds", just little pains-in-the-butt (if you'll pardon the expression). Pretty fish but are somewhat notorious fin-nippers.>> I've placed a small glass jar in the bottle <<bottom?>> of the tank to serve as an Oto hideout which I think has helped some, and there are a couple of plants (plastic and real) for cover as well. <<Mine have, finally, lost their love of nipping at everything that comes across their "plate". Still rambunctious but not nearly as bad as they used to be. When they discover that your Oto is faster than they are, they should lose interest.>> Thank you for an advice you can give.    ---Stella <<Nice to "talk" to you again, Stella. Tom>>

Tetra Tantrum  - 05/29/06 Hi Bob, I've been reading tons of articles on WetWebMedia and I finally gained the courage to write in. I'm pretty new to this great hobby but always wanted to have a tank. I currently have a 10 gallon tank that has been cycled. the nitrite and ammonia levels are at 0, ph is somewhere between 7.2 and 7.5 , although it may be higher. The KH is greater than 200 and the GH is round 100. In the tank is stocked with 10 green neon tetras, 5 gold tetras, 2 Nannocharax occidentalis and 2 tiger shrimps. Recently the tetras have been acting up. Being aggressive to each other and the Nannocharax. They nip at  tail fins. They have also stop schooling as much as they have in the past. I was wondering if this was a common behavior. I was thinking that it may be something to do with the higher pH levels because I know they like to sit a bit on the acidic side. I've been trying to lower the pH using discus buffer and neutral regulator but with no success. Should I really be lowering the pH? Am I over analyzing this situation? Jon Lorenz < As you attempt to lower the pH the tetras are beginning to think about breeding. Males are staking out territories and keeping the other fish away. Nannocharax occupy the lower areas of the tank and may be considered a threat to eat the eggs. Lower the water temp to about 77F and see if things calm down. I wouldn't really worry about the pH unless you were serious about breeding.-Chuck>

Blind in a cave, characin comp.  - 04/14/2006 Hi, <Hello> This is a wonderful site. <Thanks.> I have been in the  aquarium hobby for a while, and I figured I should introduce my younger sister to the wonderful world of fish keeping! <Good for both of you!> She has her heart set on Blind Cave Tetras (I think they are the ugliest fish out there! lol) and Silver Tip Tetras. Could she keep 6 of each in a 10 gal. aquarium? <This would be pushing it. Both species can be a little aggressive. I'm sure you'll make your sister aware of the importance of water quality/conditions for her pets but, specific to your question, I'd prefer to see her go with no more than three, or four, of each in this size of tank.> I would give her plenty of  plants from my tanks. <The Silver Tips would probably appreciate this. The Blind Caves won't really care.> She also wants to add driftwood, etc. <Keep in mind that decorations, plants and substrate affect the effective volume of the tank. Once you've set up your "10-gallon" tank the way that's pleasing to the eye, the effective volume left for your fish can be reduced by, perhaps, one quarter. In other words, your ten-gallon tank may be reduced, practically speaking, to about eight gallons. Maybe less. Something to keep in mind. ;)> I will also  give her a heater and filter, as well as a light. (It's her birthday) Is this an okay setup? Is there anything special we should know about them? <You'll be fine. Wish your sister a "Happy Birthday" from all of us at WWM.> Thanks in advance, Anthony <Tom> Thanks, I'll tell her to keep 3 of each! Thanks Again, Anthony <Any time, Anthony, and good luck. Tom>

FW livestocking, mixing Hi! <Hi, Melanie. Tom here> I have at 29-gallon tank with five Mickey mouse platys and four Opaline gouramis (they are all the same size for now), and I was wondering if I have enough room in my tank to support 2-3 bleeding heart tetras.  Any assistance will be helpful and, also, do you think they will do well together?  They seem to be doing fine so far. <Two or three of these Tetras shouldn't pose a problem at all. I would recommend keeping the pH level at about 7.0, though. This will be a little on the high end for the Tetras and at the low end for your Platys and Gouramis but all should acclimate well. As you already know, keep up on good water conditions and everyone will do fine.> Thanks, Melanie <Always happy to help. Tom>

New head and tail light tetras comp.  - 03/11/2006 Hi I was just wondering after the ammonia bloom is done would be able to put head and tail light tetras in a 15 gal. with a Festivum and 2 Corys?? <? Is this an ongoing query? You need to include previous correspondence if so. You don't want any detectable ammonia in a stocked aquatic system, and not a good mix to place the Festivums/Flag Cichlids here. They get too large for a fifteen gallon and would likely eat the small tetras. Bob Fenner>

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

Fading Serpae Tetra  - 2/15/2006 I recently bought 2 Serpae Tetras about a week ago.  They are in a 10  gallon tank with 2 fancy tail guppies. <Like different water...> All are doing fine, but noticed this  morning one of the Tetras looks like it's fading.  He's not the bright  orange and black he was before.  What do you think could be the  problem?  Thanking you in advance..... Jenny~ <The Tetras "like" soft, acidic, warm water (80's F.), the guppies, hard, alkaline, cooler water... Bob Fenner>

Single Flame Tetra   2/8/06 Hello,   I'm having trouble deciding what kind of fish to buy to  stock my tank. Here are the specs to my aquarium: 10 gallon tank Light hood Whisper 20 Power Filter Tahitian Moon Sand (black) Mini Easter Island figure <A long or short ear?> 3 medium fake plants 8 small fake plants Bubble wall Thermometer Right now I have 2 Corydoras paleatus (had another 2 but they died) and 3 panda Corys. I bought 5 flame tetras a couple months ago and all but 1 died. I was planning on buying more flame tetras but the pet stores never had them in stock since then. What other kinds of fish would be compatible with my single flame tetra and my Corydoras? <Some other S. American Characoids/tetras, small barbs, Danios, Rasboras... many other choices> I'm afraid that another type of community fish would pick on my flame tetra since there would only be one of him. I really like flame tetras because of their color but since they pet stores hardly ever have them in stock, I'm thinking about trying other types of fish. Wayne <Look to other Hyphessobrycon species... perhaps some Bleeding Hearts... will likely school/associate with the Flame. Bob Fenner>

Red Eye Tetra/Molly mix    1/19/06 Hi there, <Morning> My husband recently set up a 10g aquarium to which we introduced 3 red eye tetras. We thought at first that we had two females and a male, but now it seems more likely to be one large female and two smaller males. They seemed happy enough, so two weeks later (three days ago) we brought home three black Lyretail mollies, two females and one male. The introduction seemed to go off without a hitch... However, now the one female tetra chases the two smaller male tetras quite a lot, and I think the male molly might have Ick! To top things off, my daughter and I just noticed 6-10 molly fry darting here and there. So my dilemma is that I don't know what problem to see to first! Should I go and pick up another female tetra (or two) to balance out their need to school, <Two would be my choice... an odd number... ones of about the same size... and may not work. But hold off till there is no ich problem> and will treating the Ick when the spot falls off of the male molly harm the molly fry? <Possibly, yes. Mmm, you should know that the two species you have do not share much overlap in water quality preferences... the tetras like warmer, softer, acidic water, the mollies, hard, alkaline cooler water... with some salt content... which the tetras don't appreciate... Would be much better to have these in two separate/different systems...> I don't want to introduce too many fish, nor too soon, but will the minor aggression I've noticed just continue to escalate? <Yes, likely> I also believe that the mollies will be happier with a few more females, but since there are fry, I'm hoping that at least one or two will survive without any special care. (So far they seem to be ignored by all the adult fish) I would appreciate any advice you can give me on what course to take and when. Thanks so much for your help....great site!! Cathy <Thank you my new aquarist/friend. Do seek out a "less toxic" treatment for the ich... My fave: Aquarisol and elevated temperature... to the low eighties F. Good luck, life. Bob Fenner>

Re: Red Eye Tetra/Molly mix, ich  1/20/06 Thanks for getting back to me! <Welcome> Unfortunately, I had the chance to make things worse before I heard from you... I went and picked up another black molly to try and calm the male down, and three more red eye tetras to try and calm the female down! <Not with the ich in the system? And odd numbers, a surfeit of females are better...> It's made a small difference in temperament, but I've most likely gone and overcrowded my 10g tank now. (6 tetras-all different sizes and 4 mollies, 1 male, 3 females...and don't forget 11 molly fry, 2 days old! Ahhhhhh!) Now I can see that I've created a bit of a mess, but I can't correct it until I treat for ich, right? <Correct> Thanks for the recommendation (Aquarisol), I will pick some up ASAP. Should I treat immediately, or wait for the spots to fall off of the male molly? <Treat immediately> I've only detected two so far. I read that the things in the spots must be "free swimming" to be effected. (more bad advice?) <Is so, but one cannot see these other stages... and you need a therapeutic dose present at all times to eliminate them then... otherwise multiple generations become established... covered on WWM> Luckily my husband has agreed to setting up another 10g aquarium (bless him) so that I can separate the mollies and the tetras and add some salt for the mollies. The one I brought home last night looks a more vivid black than the ones I've had a few days, and it was bought from the same tank. I really like both species and don't want to get rid of either. <Good> I thought I was doing so well researching all of this on the net, but I guess I found out the hard way that not all advice is created equal! (Including the stuff they tell you at the pet store!) <Amen... have found some quite contrary and insufficient information re other topics, fields...> Thanks so much for your time, it is much appreciated! A fumbling newbie, Cathy <You have a good, discerning mind. Take your time here and you'll do fine. Bob Fenner>

Baby red eye tetra... comp.   2/7/06 Hello, <Hi there> I have searched the internet to no avail and would really appreciate an answer to this question.  I have a 10 gallon tank with 2 red eye tetras and another tetra of similar size (though I do not know the type.) The tank has marble like glass on the bottom, and is well planted with artificial plants and coral (lots of hiding spots.)  Several months ago, I noticed a tiny little fish in my aquarium, with the characteristic red above it's eyes.  I bought a small breeder contraption and put it in the tank, to allow the little guy his own space and keep him safe.  He has grown to about an 3/4 inch long, but is still thin and tiny compared to the adults in the tank.  My question;  when is it safe to return him to the main tank with the adults?  I am so amazed by him and don not want him hurt by the adults! Thanks for your help, Faith <Good question... a lot depends on the size, make up of the system... as many small tetras/Characoids can be quite nippy. I suspect that this fish at three quarters of an inch is ready... Would just keep your eye on it/them for possible too-much nippiness. Bob Fenner>

Mixing Tetras With African Cichlids   1/13/06 I was wondering if it were possible to put a 2 inch silver dollar and a 2 inch bleeding heart in with African cichlids? Please write back as soon as possible. Roger. <  Besides having different water requirements, the African cichlids would soon have the tetras pretty torn up in no time at all.-Chuck>

Murderous Red-Eye?  1/1/06 Four days ago we set up a 20 gallon fresh water tank with a filter, heater, bubble stone, fluorescent light, and some Cabomba.  After a day, we introduced 4 Zebra Danios, a Black Skirt and a Berry Tetra, 2 Red Eye Tetras, 2 male Dwarf Gouramis and a glass catfish. <It seems wrong to add 8 fish to a tank that has not cycled yet, actually it is wrong> Initially, the Berry Tetra swam near the tail of the Black Skirt and seemed to want to school.  After a day the Black Skirt went from cool to aggressive towards the Berry, darting and nipping at it whenever it approached. Also, the two larger Zebra Danios chased the smaller two and the larger Red Eye chased the smaller one and occasionally chased the zebras. <IMO black skirts can be real tough guys> The smaller Red Eye began to hide in a corner behind the Cabomba, with the glass catfish. I added three pieces of Texas Holey Rock to break up the space and give the fish more places to hide.  This seems to have increased the territorial behavior.  The smallest zebra began hiding in the corner with the smaller Red Eye, who occasionally would chase it out.  Since then, the larger Red Eye has chased the smaller one out of the corner and taken it as its own, and mysteriously last night the smallest of the zebras lost its tail fin and ended up belly up in the tank.  At this point it seems like I should segregate the larger Red Eye for a day or two in a bucket.  It seems too early to add more fish -- the tank hasn't cycled yet and ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are still undetectable.  In a month or so, would adding more fish help with the mix?  I have read that tetras are less aggressive towards each other in larger groups, but would I be setting the stage for some kind of gang warfare if I added more?  < No more, let the tank cycle> Also, crowding can by itself bring out aggressiveness in fish, and I don't know if I'm already pushing the limits on crowding.  Another issue -- the tank's pH is now 8.0, almost certainly because of the limestone.  It was 7.4 prior.  I love how the aquarium looks and really don't want to take out the rocks, but I don't know how my fish will do long-term is such an alkaline environment.  Any advise would be appreciated. < Please read here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwset-up.htm keep a careful eye on your fish, read as much as you can, there is much to learn > -- Jennifer McDermott <regards, Joanne>

Adding Buenos Aires Tetras to An Existing Community Tank  12/9/05 Hello-I have a 55 gal. tank with Pearl Gouramis, Gold Gouramis, one croaking Gourami, one Rosy Barb, Clown Loaches, Panda Corys, Spotted Corys and a few Otos. I also have 7 Buenos Aires Tetras taking up a 20 gal. long all by themselves. The friend I got them from says they killed some of his "more peaceful" tetras and a Cory in his tank. I'd like to put them in the 55 but I wonder if that would be a safe idea for all the other inhabitants?  They don't look that vicious!  <<But piranhas sure do, and they are related.  Marina>> Also, the 55 is a planted tank but mostly tough plants like Anubias and Java fern. I'm just looking for a professional opinion as to whether it would be ok to put them in the 55 or best not to. Thanks for your help! Holli < Bad Idea. They come from an area in which they compete with big cichlids so they have learned to hunt like a pack of wolves. They are tetras like piranhas so don't get fooled. They would tear you fish to shreds in no time at all.-Chuck> 

Lemon Tetras, Nipping, Behaviour - 11/28/2005 Dear Sabrina, <Hi, Taya! Sabrina with you again.> First, another round of thanks to you and the rest of the crew for keeping this site going. I'd be lost without it... :)  <And again, thank you for these words of inspiration.> I have follow-up questions on the fin-nipping Lemons (see original correspondence below), as well as a few unrelated queries.  <Cool.> For reference, on both tanks described below, ammonia/nitrites are 0, nitrate runs around 10 ppm just before the 25% weekly water changes, temp is 78-80, and pH is 7.8. Assorted plants and bogwood in both tanks; Marineland Bio-Wheel 125 on the 15 gal, mini on the 10 gal. Fish are fed small amounts (as much as can consume in 20 - 30 sec) twice per day, rotating through Hikari micro-pellets, TetraMin flakes, freeze-dried bloodworms, and frozen (thawed) brine shrimp. Hoping to add in some fresh veggie matter as soon as I figure out what form it should take.  <Sounds great.> Lemons first: shortly after receiving your email, I brought home 5 more Lemon Tetras from LFS. Unfortunately, the addition did nothing to resolve (or even disperse) the destructive behavior.  <Ahh, bummer!> I merely had ten nippers instead of five!  <Yikes.> After a week and a half I couldn't stand it any more, and moved the five worst offenders to a 10 gal hosp/QT tank that I'd started up in the meantime. (For better or worse, I can keep track of which tetras are which due to the individual patterns of chomps and tears in their fins. *sigh*)  <Ouch.> Things calmed down slightly after that, but not as much as I'd like. The five in the hosp/QT tank are schooling a bit more, but still actively harassing each other as well, and one seems to get particularly harassed around feeding time - I'm not sure he's getting much to eat. The five that remain in the 15 gallon tank have settled into territories of sorts - four hide behind various plants and logs, and defend their small quarters, while the fifth keeps the majority of the center tank to himself and takes on all comers, as it were.  <Sounds like the tank may just be too small for these guys to school comfortably.> (They're all still completely ignoring the Rosy Barbs, and vice versa.)  <Ah, good. At least there's that.> I tried adding more plants to rearrange/erase territories; I now have a more attractive tank, but it didn't change the fish behavior at all. This is NOT what I'd had in mind when I acquired what I thought were fairly mellow schooling fish! (This based on reading in various fishy books, prior to discovery of WWM. Though in searching here, I haven't found any mention of this much aggression in Lemons...)  <In many tetras, it's not uncommon.> Is there any hope that once I've got them in the 60 gallon tank, the Lemons will calm down, re-grow their pretty fins, and behave themselves?  <It is entirely possible. At that point, you could even try further increasing the school - but I, personally, would go with a different species entirely. Uhh, just for my own personal preference, really. I don't like watching little fish beat the crap out of each other.> Or should I try to take them back to the LFS before any more time elapses, and try again with something else?  <I would, but you can certainly try with the larger space and see how it goes.> Did I have the misfortune to happen upon a particularly psycho bunch of fish?  <Stranger things have happened! <grin>> I'd like to make this work, if I can, but I'm not really interested in an ongoing battle in my tank(s). Related query: Your original reply makes it sound like some/most tetras are fairly nippy critters. Is my hope for a peaceful group of schoolers doomed?  <Mm, no.> My only prior experience with tetras is a group of 5 or 6 Diamond tetras that I had in my childhood tank. I recall them being very well behaved. If you think I should re-home the Lemons and try again, can you recommend some peaceful tetras?  <Sure.> Would Diamonds be a good choice, or am I misremembering how peaceful they were?  <I've never kept them, so can't speak from experience.> I'd prefer something medium-sized (for a tetra), with a silver or yellowish body and perhaps a little bit of color on the fins. My fish books (Baensch Atlas and others) are no help - pretty pictures, but describe nearly all tetras as "peaceful schoolers."  <My personal preference goes toward, in this order, "green Neons", "flame" tetras, Rummynose tetras, then Neons and cardinals.... None of which really fit your bill. If you look hard enough, you might find gold Congo tetras.... These GORGEOUS African fellows are moderately sized (2-3", or thereabouts) and have a lot more gold/brassy color than their more common, more blue counterparts. "Regular" Congo tetras do have some yellow to their mostly blue/silver bodies and really do grow into beautiful animals. Their finnage is excellent, as well, and they're not very nippy. Do please look into Congos, gold or otherwise.> <<I must second the suggestion for the Congo tetras.  They are truly beautiful in a way few photos capture.  They are peaceful enough (though a wee bit jumpy at times) for most hatchets, and other flighty fishes.  Marina>> On to the other questions:  (1) The tap water here runs at about pH 7.9; my tanks are at 7.8 after the fish-plant-bogwood balance has equilibrated. After researching things, it seems like stability is generally preferable to a specific pH point, but 7.8 still seems a bit high for the fish I want to keep.  <Stability is, in fact, key.> I'd like to get it down to somewhere closer to 7.0, and am hoping to approach this via adding peat to my filtration system.  <It'll work - and quickly. Be cautious of how much peat you add, and go at this slooooooowly.> The owner of LFS, while well-meaning, is no help; he tells me this is unnecessary, the fish will do "fine" without it, and I shouldn't "complicate matters." ("I own fish, sir. Matters are already complicated.")  <Heh! True enough!> At this point, I don't know how alkaline our water is, and I understand that the buffering capacity makes a difference, but in general, will peat filtration offer any hope of getting near this goal? (And if not, what should I do?)  <It very likely will. Again, be slow and cautious about it.> If so, how do I introduce this most safely, given that I already have fish in the system and don't want to shock them with a rapid change? Can I start with a very small amount of peat in the filter and increase it over weeks/months?  <Yup.> I have no idea what quantity of peat effects what sort of pH drop.  <It will depend upon the age of the peat, the buffering capacity of the water, etc. Also, it can change (slowly) over time.> (I'm going to have to do this "on the fly" in the aquarium: storage/water aging containers, as well as the 60 gal tank, are awaiting the end of a remodel.)  <Exciting!> Also, assuming I can achieve a stable, lower pH, what do I then do when I (inevitably!) buy more fish, given that they will be accustomed to the higher pH of the store tanks? (It's the *only* LFS with good stock within an hour's drive - can't just switch suppliers.) Is the typical "float the bag in the tank and then gradually add tank water to it" method going to avoid shocking them?  <Nope.> Instinct tells me no, and I don't have the resources to set up a "pH acclimation" tank.  <Anything less than a few to several hours' acclimation will be worthless in regards to acclimating to pH. Very seriously, it's better just to "dump" the fish in after acclimating for temperature! Your best option, here, is to do a "drip" acclimation in a bucket - type "drip acclimation" into our search bar on the WWM homepage and you'll find loads of information. That should get you all set.> (Can't do a bunch of fluctuations in the hosp tank, because it may have a semi-permanent resident. Which brings us to...) (2) My finless clown loach.  <Ouch!> The 60 gallon tank I'm about to have (T minus 45 days and counting) is an old tank of mine currently under the care of my parents. Sole occupants: 6 clown loaches, about 3" each. For reasons unknown (likely a combination of stress due to poor water quality, infrequent cleanings, and perhaps fishy psychology beyond my ken), <And mine> five of the loaches have mercilessly bullied the sixth. I found out (Arrgh) that the poor thing has spent most of the past year hiding in a log, without fins/tail. I mean completely, totally, nipped away down to the body. Gone. Nada. <Wow, and again, ouch!> (All other loaches are happy, healthy, and normal-looking.) Oddly enough, the bullied loach (when brave enough to leave the log) still gets around adequately, if awkwardly, has a good appetite, and seems otherwise okay. (Mom says if she feeds during the day, it's the first one out at feeding time, and comes up to say hello - but if the other loaches come out, it flees immediately.) All this revelation resulted in an immediate cross-state fish transfer (couldn't stand the thought of the fish being subjected to any more harassment), and it is now in residence in my hospital tank (along with the five Lemons, who ignore it).  <Ah, good.> Spends most of its time hiding (still adjusting from the move), but when it comes out, seems okay, if a little washed out - and of course, completely without fins. I've looked pretty closely, and don't see any evidence of fin rot, ich, or other disease. My question (after that long-winded introduction): what's the prognosis for this guy/gal? Given a stress-free place to recuperate, decent water quality, and no competition for food, is there any hope of those fins growing back after being gone for a year or more?  <Hopefully, but in all honesty, I couldn't be sure. It will depend upon the extent of the damage.> If so, what's the expected timeline?  <Quite a long haul, I fear.> Should I be treating with something?  <I probably would.... but am uncertain whether you should or not. If you do, I'd use Nitrofurazone, if possible.> If fin regrowth is unlikely, can a finless fish be a happy fish? (I'd think not, even without competition/aggressors, but...) Is it kinder to put it out of it's misery?  <If it's eating, and can get around.... well, you're the best judge of it, as you have contact with the animal, and I don't.> I want to do the right thing, but I have absolutely no idea what that might be. Addendum - yes, I realize that if the loach pulls through, it can't stay in the 10 gal for too long. I'll deal with that if/when we get there. Fins first, additional tanks later. :)  <Of course.> (3) About those storage vessels for aging water prior to tank changes... I've seen Rubbermaid containers recommended. Will new containers, with a thorough rinsing, be adequate, or should they be lined with something?  <Unlined containers are fine.> If so, what? I worry about plastics (either the containers or liners) leaching things into the water, particularly if I'm heating the water.  <A good thing to be concerned over. I have used Rubbermaid and Sterlite products with no problems. I would clean these thoroughly with a diluted bleach/water solution and allow to air-dry for a couple days, maybe even soak 'em for a couple days and discard the water.> Thanks in advance for your time and help!  <You bet.> Anxiously awaiting advice, -Taya <All the best to you and your finless friend, -Sabrina>

Lemon Tetras, Nipping, Behaviour - II/III - 12/01/2005 Dear Sabrina, <Hi again, Taya.> Thanks for all of your information and advice. Sounds like the finless loach will be hanging out in the hospital tank for the duration - at least as long as it's happy and healthy. <Ah, good.> I talked to the LFS about returning the nippy tetras, and they'll be happy to take them back for store credit. (Bless their hearts...) I spent quite a while looking at their Congo Tetras, and I agree they're pretty, but I'm afraid that they're going to wind up being a bit bigger than what I'd like.  <They grow kind of slowly.... half a dozen or so would look great in that 60g....> I would really like to try Diamond Tetras again, but after the experience with the Lemons, I'm a bit gun-shy.  <Try 'em.... quarantine, and observe - be sure to have some cover (plastic plants and the like) in the quarantine.> I was wondering if you could pass this around to the rest of the WWM crew and find out if anyone had any experience with Diamonds, and if so, where they fall on the nippy/aggression scale.  <I have discussed this with Crewmember Gage (another freshwater geek) and neither of us can clearly recall aggression in this species - but can't guarantee one way or the other, either.> Also, I'm starting to plan out the community for this upcoming 60 gal tank, and wanted to run things by you. The things that will be in the tank for sure are: (5) 3 or 4 inch Clown Loaches (these come with the tank) (3) male Rosy Barbs (already have these) (2) Otocinclus (already have these) (10) tetras, Diamond or otherwise (to be acquired after more research) <All good, for now> I realize the loaches will eventually get quite big and may need to be re-homed someday, but they haven't grown substantially in the last 5 years, so they're going at a slow rate.  <Right. Good plan, for now - and then you can get a bigger tank <grin> > I'm also a little concerned about the Otos and the loaches - specifically, the latter picking on (or eating) the former. LFS says that in a tank of that size, with plenty of hiding places (there will be LOTS of plants and bog-wood), it shouldn't be a problem.  <I tend to agree.> I'd like your thoughts on loaches/Otos, as well as the general compatibility of all of the above. <I think you'll be fine with these.> The other fish I'm considering (not planning to get all of these, I'm just playing with ideas): some female Rosy Barbs (really only if you think it would make the males happier - I don't want to breed, and the males get along fine as it is) <Up to you. It certainly won't hurt for 'em to get some action with the girlies.> Dwarf Gouramis (Colisa lalia) male and female (again, no plans to breed - but I like the coloring of the males, and he might not want to be alone) <Agreed - best to keep 'em paired. But I'd avoid any other males; just the one.> perhaps a school of another kind of tetra, or more Diamonds 6 or so Hatchetfish (probably Marbled/Carnegiella strigata or Common/Gasteropelecus sternicla) <One of my very, very favorite schoolers!!> I'm concerned that there would be too much action in the tank for the Gouramis and the Hatchetfish... Thoughts?  <Honestly, I think they'll be okay.> Other fish that might make good additions? <I think this would be a nice, well-rounded tank.... Action at the top, schools in the middle, buddies in the bottom.... Sounds nice.> As always, thanks ever so much! <And thank you again for your correspondence.> --Taya <Happy Holidays to ya! -Sabrina>

Overcrowding?  11/20/05 Hello. I have written to you guys before and you were very helpful, so I thought it would be smart to check with you before I made a new addition to my tank. I currently have a 10 gallon tank with 2 sparkling Gourami, <Trichopsis pumila?> 2 black skirt tetra, and 1 threadfin rainbow. They are happy and healthy and have been for a few months now. The water parameters in the tank are stable. I would like to add two more tetra of a different kind (possible true Rummynose) to the tank and I was wondering if that would be too crowded. All the fish are pretty small (no bigger than an inch and a half) and I plan on getting a larger tank within the next 6 months. Thanks a lot for your help! Jessica <I do think you should be okay with this addition behaviorally and physiologically. Bob Fenner> 

New Planted Tank and Fish Death 10/11/05 Hello, The crew has given me solid advice in the past, and I want to share a recent experience with you all. I help my parents set up a 75 gal planted community aquarium. We went fairly low tech: no CO2 injection, low light, 2 Penguin Bio Wheel 350 power filters. All the planting was done immediately. We then cycled the new setup using established aquarium water and sponge squeezings from a mature filter. We were able to observe the complete nitrogen cycle.  After our nitrite readings were zero, we added fish. The complete cycle took a little over 3 weeks. The initial stocking consisted of 40 Neons, 24 Rummy Nose, 5 Siamese algae eaters, and 5 Amano shrimp. All the Neons died over a 5-7 day period, a few every night. All but 3 of the Rummy Nosed died in the same period. 3 of the Siamese died also during this period. None of the shrimp perished.  During the week of death, we continued monitoring all water parameters. There was never any change in ammonia, nitrite, pH, or nitrate. I am wondering if we stocked the tank too fast. If that was the case wouldn't there have been an ammonia/nitrite spike? Is there more to an established aquarium than just the nitrogen cycle? Are there other organisms that add to the bio-balance of a mature aquarium making it more suitable to life? Once a tank is cycled, is it mature? Or does that take months? I am trying to figure out if we received some bum fish, or the tank wasn't ready for the new fish. Any thoughts? <I'm sorry you and your fish had such a rough week. I have a few thoughts/questions. What did you use for your ammonia source when cycling your tank? Fish food? Ammonia from the grocery store? Since you had cycled your tank, I assume your ammonia or nitrites were down to zero. What was your pH? Nitrate level?  Tetras are known to be touchy when you put them into tanks. Did you test the fish store water's pH? Maybe they experienced a dramatic change in pH. I'd consider a mature tank one that's been up for about a year or so. It does have its own collection of microfauna. Levels of trace elements have evened out.  I think you probably stocked the tank a bit too fast -- the fish may have died before they were able to create an ammonia spike. Since your shrimp didn't die, you might have had some fish disease that wiped out most of the tank. Shrimp are very sensitive to ammonia, indicating that your test kits are speaking truth. You could have just had some bum fish, but your death levels are really high.  I'd suggest adding about 10 tetras at a time for a little while. What is going to be the final composition of the tank? You could start with your hardiest fish. You might want to consider a quarantine tank -- introducing a disease into a 75 gallon would be a nightmare to clean up.> Thanks, CW  <Anytime, Catherine W> 

Tetra Question... Hello, <Hi there> I have a ten gallon aquarium and recently stocked it with all new fish. I traded in two goldfish that were outgrowing the tank for several small freshwater fish. The following are what I stocked it with: 1 - Black Molly 1 - Mickey Mouse Platy 1 - Albino Cory Cat 1 - Panda Cory Cat 1 - Fancy Guppy 1 - Red Eyed Tetra 3 - Cardinal Tetras I have two questions. First, I keep the water very clean and still have a little bit of a cloudy looking film on the top surface of the water. How do I get rid of this? <With dipping a pitcher in at an angle... or wicking an all-white, unscented paper towel...> Second, I found the half eaten remains of one of the Cardinal Tetras this evening and then while sitting watching television and the aquarium later in the evening I literally saw the Red Eyed Tetra chasing and finally eating another of the Cardinal Tetras so now I have only one of those left. I want a happy aquarium environment. What should I do? Am I not feeding them enough?  <The Red-eyed tetra is a menace... remove it> The fish are all relatively small and similar in sizes. Can you give me any advice on my two problems? Thanks. Trish <Bob Fenner>

Leporinus fasciatus and (yummy) plants My problem is maintaining plants in my aquarium. Research has lead me to believe it is my Leporinus fasciatus. My aquarium is a 44 gal, 36" bowfront with undergravel filter and a penguin BioWheel 170. Other livestock are a rainbow shark, 3 glass catfish, 3 Hatchetfish, 3 ghost shrimp, and a Pleco. No fish additions for about 3-4 years, no fish deaths in about 3 years-all these are 4-6 years in my care. The Leporinus is maybe now 7 inches- initially harassed by the rainbow shark until it outgrew it-now usually the shark gives in (maybe 5 inches).  Tank is 8 years old, Leporinus was moved in about 4 years ago when it was getting big for a smaller tank it was in. Single 36" fluorescent. I did okay with plants (avoiding high light requiring plants) until then. Since then I cannot maintain decent plantings (I also suspect he may have took out my snails). Java Fern has done very well and now has patches throughout the tank, Cryptocoryne wendtii has survived for 2 years but is a little chewed on. Nothing else have I been able to maintain. I admit I have quit changing the bulb in the last 2 years as nothing does well anyway, but prior I changed the bulb every six months with aquarium full spectrum fluorescents. <Does need to be changed about this often> I cannot find anywhere on your site compatibility listings, and would like more options in what I can grow, and am tired of spending money on plants that don't survive. Are there ones you can suggest that would survive or do I need to consider finding another home for him. I really ultimately would like a well planted tank. Thanks for any suggestions. SMS <It may be that your minnow shark and Pleco are contributing to your lack of success here as well... as the Pencilfish and lack of photosynthetic active radiation... Other tough plants like the Crypts, Anubias... or very fast growing ones like Vallisneria americana, Crinum species might do... You really need to add more light and change the lamps for same as well though. Perhaps another system w/o plant eaters...? Bob Fenner> 

A Betta to the Mix? Hey crew. Do you think a male Betta could peacefully live with my 9 neon tetras and my 3 platys in my 10 gallon freshwater planted tank? Thanks! <Nope, sorry but two problems here. The dozen fish you have now are about the limit of a 10 gallon. And the Betta will turn a small Neon into lunch. A big (?) Neon will just get harassed. Maybe to death. Don> 

"Freshwater" "Lionfish", Red Belly Piranha I was just wondering if that you can put a (fresh water) lion fish in with a fire belly piranha. <Well, unfortunately, the "freshwater" "lionfish" is actually a high brackish to fully saltwater animal, and will not last long (if at all) in freshwater.  Beyond that, it is not a lionfish at all, but a toadfish.  The one most commonly available in the aquarium trade is Batrachomoeus trispinosus.  More on this fish here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/batrachoididae.htm and here: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=10747&genusname=Batrachomoeus&speciesname=trispinosus .> The piranha is about 8.5" in length.  Who would eat whom? <Provided that the lion survived long enough to be eaten, I'd name him "dinner" and not get attached, to be on the safe side.  But really, I would absolutely not try to keep this saltwater fish in fresh water.> The fish tank is a 33 gallon tank. <Yikes.  This tank is too small for the piranha alone, in the long run, as it grows to be at or over a foot long.  I would *certainly* not add any fish, compatible or not, in this tank.> Also how can you tell between a male and female piranha. Please send pics, if you have any. <You can find the WetWebMedia article and photos on piranhas here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/serrasalminae1.htm .  Sexing this fish can be difficult to impossible.  Upon maturity, the females may be more robust in the belly, and males may have slightly more blunt heads.  I would recommend using http://www.fishbase.org/search.cfm to find out more about this and other fishes.  Here is their info on the red piranha, Pygocentrus nattereri: http://www.fishbase.org/Reproduction/FishReproSummary.cfm?ID=4501&GenusName=Pygocentrus&SpeciesName=nattereri&fc=102&stockcode=4699 They have quite a great deal of information on this fish, please be sure to make use of the links at the bottom of the page.> Thanks,  Travis <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> 

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