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FAQs on the Smaller/Dwarf Barbs: Golds, Checkers, Cherries

Related Articles: Barbs, Danios & RasborasA Barbed Response; Wrongly maligned for being fin-nippers, barbs are in fact some of the best fish for the home aquarium by Neale Monks

Related FAQs:  Barbs, Danios, Rasboras 1, B,D,R Identification, B,D,R Behavior, B,D,R Compatibility, B,D,R Selection, B,D,R Systems, B,D,R Feeding, B,D,R Disease, B,D,R Reproduction, & Tiger Barbs 1, Tinfoil Barbs, Rosy Barbs, Zebra Danios 1, Harlequin Rasboras, Scissortail Rasboras,


A humongous specimen of the most common "Gold Barb", Puntius sachsii

Golden Barbs Bite each other, Why?     6/4/17
We have a 190lt tropical tank. We have various fish in it including 6 Golden Barbs.
Recently they have started to bite the sides of one of there own. Why do they do this.
<Mmm; best guesses, gauged by long experience, reading... territoriality, reproductive interaction, perhaps nutrient deficiency>
It isn't always the same fish being attacked.
There sides get very red and sore.
Is there anything we can do to stop them?
<May seem counterintuitive, but adding more of this species to break up the dynamic, diffuse it; and/or adding another "dither" species in a school to distract them>
Hope you can help,
Beverley.
<Hope this does. Bob Fenner>
Golden Barbs Bite each other, Why? /Neale      6/5/17

We have a 190lt tropical tank. We have various fish in it including 6 Golden Barbs. Recently they have started to bite the sides of one of there own. Why do they do this.
<Evolution! A school of fish is an odd tension between accessing resources (best done on your own) and keeping safe (best done in a group). To get the most out of your "society", a social fish wants to be in charge -- thereby
getting the best mates and the most food. Such a fish will bully any other fish it can, in the hope that weaker fish will end up lower down the pecking order. Low status fish get fewer chances to mate and will be the last to get to the food, and in all likelihood being smaller and weaker they'll be the ones predators eat rather than the big, strong dominant fish. So whenever we talk about schooling fish, it's important to remember they aren't "friends" but rivals, all the time trying to get the best deal they can. Over millions of years, such social behaviours as schooling favour those fish that bully their rivals to varying degrees. In really big groups, like they'd have in the wild, it is very difficult for a single fish to bully hundreds of others at the same time, so it's more like a crowd of humans on a busy shopping street. They're jostling a bit for the best spot, but actual violence is avoided. On the other hand, keep just a few social fish, and it's more like a small group cooped up on a ship or in a prison. With fewer rivals, it's much easier for the bigger fish to be super-dominant, and inevitably inside an aquarium there's less space for the weaker fish to hide. Indeed, weaker fish might not even think about hiding because that makes them more vulnerable to predation. "Better the devil you know" in this case -- it's not much fun being the weak fish in a small group, but in the wild a single barb or tetra could quickly end up someone's dinner!>
It isn't always the same fish being attacked.
<Indeed not. They'll also try to be in charge, and sometimes you'll see one fish getting bigger -- or at least some fish staying smaller than the others through lack of food.>
There sides get very red and sore.
<Quite so.>
Is there anything we can do to stop them?
<The classic solution is simple: add more!
As stated, bullying within groups of social fish is not natural in the sense it would rarely happen in the wild. Doubling the number of Golden Barbs is unlikely to overtax the filtration system of a tank your size, assuming it was appropriate to this volume of water to begin with. Sometimes adding another, more disruptive species can help by being interpreted as a predator. A good example is something like a Red Tail Black Shark (though adult specimens of this species might be a bit big for 190 litres). While harmless enough herbivores, they are territorial and keep other fish moving. The barbs will put a premium on being defensive, so bullying dies back a bit as the individual barbs cooperate more for their own (perceived) safety.>
Hope you can help,
Beverley.
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Golden Barbs Bite each other, Why?      6/5/17

Thank you for such a quick response.
We will try one of your suggestions and let you know what happens.
Thanks,
Beverley.
<You're welcome and good luck. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Golden Barbs Bite each other, Why?      6/5/17

Thank you for your quick response.
Will try one.
Thanks.
<Real good Bev. Cheers, BobF>
Re: Golden Barbs Bite each other, Why?     6/19/17

Hi Neale,
<Beverley,>
We bought 4 more golden barbs last Saturday. It seemed to work to start with and the bullying stopped.
<Sounds good...>
The two fish that were being bullied at the time started to heal. All redness gone, only white patches left where they had been bitten.
<Excellent.>
On Thursday we noticed that the small Golden Barbs were biting the weaker of the large ones that were being bitten, and also the big ones were having a go too. It doesn't look as bad as it was before. Will they calm down when the little ones get bigger.
<Probably.>
We were told we couldn't have a red tailed shark because we have three silver sharks already. Would appreciate your advice on this matter.
<That is probably good advice, bit does depend a bit on the size of the tank. Silver Sharks are big, over a foot long fully grown, and not
especially good aquarium fish, being schooling fish ill-suited to anything less than, say, a couple hundred US gallons; they are mildly predatory, but neither aggressive nor hyperactive, so good tankmates for peaceful jumbo fish like Plecs and bichirs;
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/bala_sharks.htm
Red Sharks, on the other hand, are medium-sized (4-5 inches is typical) and strongly territorial under aquarium conditions, and given to "dive-bombing" fish it considers to be potential rivals. While unlikely to harm adult
Silver Sharks, I wouldn't combine them with similar sized Silver Sharks except in really big tanks. They're great companions for Danios, Barbs, Tetras and other hyperactive species able to keep out of their way. I'd reckon them better "target fish" than Silver Sharks, but given you have the Silver Sharks, you may as well stick with them for now.>
We have a large Plec, 2 Cory cat fish, 5 black widow tetra, 2 clown loach, 1 Golden Gourami, 1 Opaline Gourami, 3 Silver Shark and of course 10 Golden Barbs.
Thanks,
Beverley.
<I would simply be hoping for the best for now, perhaps adding a few more Golden Barbs if you have space, or isolating bullies for short periods (a few hours, say) in a time-out box such as floating breeding trap to see if that helps reset the dynamic of the group. Cheers, Neale.>

Cherry Barbs; spot concern    2/21/15
Hi!
<Heather>
I have a thirty galleon tank with two little Plecs
<Mmm; have to ask that you check which species these are. Some get VERY large>
> <Mmm; have to ask that you check which species these are. Some get VERY
> large>
Yeah, these are the ones that get pretty big, but our local pet store has said that once they get bigger/too big (they're about 5cm from face to tail just now) they'll buy them back and sell us smaller ones as long as we let them know. They'll make money on it and it meant they won't get stunted/crowded.
and 13 cherry barbs in it. We have cycled the tank and ammonia, nitrate and nitrite are at zero because we also water change frequently. We had seven cherry barbs and recently added six more (all at once). One cherry barb has a little white bit between his eyes. I know all cherry barbs have a lighter stripe but I'm paranoid this could be white spot. Is it likely to be white spot due to new fish if it only affects one fish with one spot so far?
<Not likely to be this parasite; no>
Could t be any thing else and is it worth treating ASAP to be sure?
<Not worth treating if this is the only symptom; no. Just stay vigilant watching for changes in behavior. The one fish likely got bumped, like with a net, and the one-spot is a result>
> a net, and the one-spot is a result>
Okay, thank you so much!!
I hope this isn't a waste of your time or a stupid question.
<There are no foolish questions. We are glad to help you understand your situation, options.>
Best wishes,
Heather
<Best fishes! Bob Fenner>
> <Best fishes! Bob Fenner>
> Hahah exactly!! Thanks!

Re: Need help with Ghost Knife Fish; now Gold Barb beh., stkg.       1/1/15
OK so another question.....so today I went and purchased a gold barb as a friend for the gold bard I alrdy have....he seemed to be lonely glass surfing like crazy all the time so I got him the friend...the newer barb is half the size of the older barb I have...now the old barb seems to be beyond ecstatic that there's another of his kind in the tank...his face is twitching which I've never seen happen with him before and he keeps swimming around the little barb and like bumping him and rubbing up against him....it doesn't seem to be aggressive...is this normal?
<Yes. Reading fish behaviour is difficult if you don't understand the context. On the one hand, schooling fish feel secure in groups. But on the other hand, within that group exists a definite hierarchy, and it turns out that individual fish are actually stressed by living so closely with others! It's a strange tension but logical. The worst threat to any fish's survival comes from its own species, since its own species wants the same food, living space, access to mates, etc. Predators are occasional problems most prey species avoid most of the time. But their own species is constantly consuming things the individual wants, 24/7/365. Yet for schooling fish, living in groups also provides benefits: a little minnow doesn't have to swim faster than a big predatory fish, it only needs to swim faster than the slowest minnow in the group! There's a social tension in the group, each fish in the group being bullied by stronger fish and in turn bullying weaker fish to get the best deal in terms of benefits
(primarily security) against costs (having to share access to food, for example). Draw your own analogies to human societies if you want! Now, when it comes to fish, the bigger the group, the less stress each individual fish, on average, experiences. In very small groups, 2-5 specimens, one fish often gets to call the shots because he or she is able to harass the other ones sufficiently frequently to keep them in check. But the more fish in the group, the more the stress gets diffused out, and the less often each weaker fish is individually bullied. The magic number of specimens varies from species to species. It's rarely fewer than 6, sometimes at least 8, and may even be 10 or more if you want to minimise risks of problems (that's the magic number with Tiger Barbs for example, which may school together in groups of 6, but will still be nippy unless you have 10
or more). I'm not saying fish can count, but rather these numbers give you an idea of how many will probably need to get to reduce aberrant social behaviours. In short: schooling fishes aren't friends, but actually rivals or even bullies, and you won't see normal behaviours until you keep enough of them. Make sense?>
Also I have a single female swordtail who's been getting along just fine with the old gold barb...but now she seems a bit irritated by the new audition and is chasing them around nipping them....I don't understand they were all getting along before
<Do read above. Avoid trying to think of fish as mini humans, but as social animals that operate in their own way. Barbs are social, and to some degree, so are Swordtails. Both are "tuned" to a tension between bullying and being bullied, and this exhibits itself in various ways. Add one extra fish and the group has to rearrange that social order, the pecking order if
you like, and if the number of specimens isn't right, they may never settle down the way you want them to. Almost always, getting social fish to behave properly involves adding more specimens of the offending species, and doing this until you get the right number for them to settle down. If you try to solve this in terms of "friends" or "happiness" you'll never get anywhere because fish simply don't work that way. And that's important for them, because our standards would be lethal to them in their environment. If you live in a school of fish, the social contract involves you maximising your security while minimising your risks. You want to get the benefit of having lots of eyes looking for predators, while ensuring the weaker fish are the ones that kept away from food when food is short and are at the edges of the group when a predator turns up. Yes, that's what's going on in the mind of a Barb, Guppy or Tetra...!!! Cheers, Neale.>

Cherry Barb With Potential Swim Bladder Problem.      11/18/14
Dear Crew,
<Stephen>
I believe one of my barbs (male) has the above complaint. I noticed yesterday that he seemed to be having a 'private party', and was hanging in the water (mid to upper mid level of tank) at an angle - head facing down
around 35 + degrees.
<Mmm; what do you feed? Oh, I see this below>
So far, I have attempted to feed him with frozen peas (minus the shells), and some dried bloodworm.
<Cut this last... implicated in problems>

I've also heard that Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate?) should be added?
<Yes; possibly a good idea
; and not much potential downside. Read Neale's work on WWM re>
I've also heard that live daphnia or bloodworm would be best?
<Depends on cause. IF you use flake food, DO stop this>
Parameters :
ammonia 0
nitrite 0
nitrate (around 50)
<Zoinks! THIS is trouble...
NEEDS to be under 20 ppm. SEE WWM RE and fix>
GH 6
KH 10
pH 7.6
I have recently switched over to the salifert testing kits, and it's surprising how much more accurate they are.
<Ah yes>
The API test suggested I had nitrates of around 10 - 25 (maybe 20 at a push), where as my new kit says otherwise. Maybe I need some more plants.
Water changes are two 10 - 15% changes per week, and I have also switched from Aquacare's water conditioner to SeaChem's 'prime' instead.
<Much better>
Please could you advise me further. :)
<Uhh, simply search, read on WWM Re>
Many thanks.
Kind Regards,
Stephen.
<And you, Bob Fenner>

Cherry barb with big belly     11/11/13
Hi there,
<Lor>
I have two Angel fish (female and male), 2 striped Raphael Catfish,  5 cherry barbs and 5 bleeding hearts, they all get along fine, I have had them for one year, 11 months now.
About a month ago, one of my female cherry barbs has been showing a big belly, she swims vertically pretty often
along the corner of the aquarium, or some of my plants, then she goes down to the bottom like the weight pulls her,
and then she goes up again, sometimes she swims normal, but her belly is huge, its been a month or more so
I don't think she is pregnant, but I believe she is uncomfortable, how do I help her?
<Mmm, if the above is all you have livestock wise, I'd add a bit of Epsom/MgSO4... Search, read on WWM re. Bob Fenner>
Also, we -had- 5 bleeding hearts now we only count 4 (today we did a water change) is there a possibility the
Angels or Raphael ate it? :(
<Not likely; no>
thanks a lot,
Lorena.
Re: Cherry barb with big belly     11/11/13

Hi thanks for replying, yes 2 Angel Fish and 2 Raphael the four of them have been with us 1 year and 11 months,
the 4 bleeding hearts and 5 cherry barbs for probably 15 months.
Can you please be more specific? I did a search re: Bob Fenner at the WWM site and found lots of things about lots of topics, can you point me exactly to what you suggest I read?
<... about Epsom...: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/SaltUseFWArtNeale.htm
thanks a lot,
Lorena.
Re: Cherry barb with big belly     11/11/13

thanks a lot! one more question, if I use the Epsom salt it won´t harm the other fish?
or do I have to isolate the Barb?
<Keep reading
regards,
Lorena.

Neale: Cherry barb with big belly    11/12/13
Hi! is there a way this can be addressed to Neale? he has helped me very thoroughly in the past a lot with all my aquarium issues I am attaching pictures of my Cherry Barb who has been living with a huge belly for more than a month now,
<Indeed. Could be gravid, constipated, or somewhat bloated. Is she still feeding and active? If so, then the news is good! Add 1 tablespoon Epsom salt per 5 US gallons/20 litres, and raise the water temperature a degree or two if possible. Run like this for a week or two, and if you do water changes don't forget to add Epsom salt to the new water (so if you take out 5 gallons, then dose the 5 new gallons with the 1-3 tablespoons needed) so the concentration stays steady. Epsom salt is a good muscle relaxant, all you need now is a laxative. Cooked peas or spinach are ideal, but failing interest in these, live or frozen daphnia and/or brine shrimp work quite well too.>
my questions:
how do I treat her?
<See above.>
do I have to isolate her?
<If as above, no, Epsom salt is safe.>
I don't have another tank, will a glass to divide my tank suffice like I've said below, I have:
my 53 gallon / 200 liters community tank:
2 Angelfish
2 striped Raphael Catfish
4 Bleeding Hearts
5 Cherry Barbs
I've had them for more than a year and a half.
I received a reply yesterday suggesting me to "Search, read on WWM re. Bob Fenner"
<Ah, yes.><<Aye ya. Confusing, confused>>
I did but I can't find anything related to a bloated cherry barb or if the other fish in the tank will be affected or the quantity of Epsom salt I should add, etc.
<He likely wanted you to see this article:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/gldfshmalnut.htm
And maybe this one too:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/SaltUseFWArtNeale.htm
Together they should provide links to FAQs relevant to your problem.>
I would appreciate if someone can help me! I attach two pics where you can see my affected fish trying to swim upwards and with huge belly,
thanks,
Lorena.
<Welcome, Neale.>


cropped and not

Re: Neale: Cherry barb with big belly      11/13/13
Neale, as always, thanks for your thorough response and help!, bad thing is in Mexico its not easy to get Epsom Salt, I found an online vendor and its going to take 10 working days :(
<Oh dear. I'm surprised. Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) isn't anything fancy. It's widely used for all sorts of things.>
I hope she makes it. I really think she is uncomfortable, I dropped 3 peas last night but none of my fish has nibbled at them. Also, I  can´t find daphnia or brine shrimp here in Mexico, any substitutes?
<I bet you can find Daphnia in local ponds! Look for bodies of water without fish in them. Garden ponds for example. But you can also buy Brine Shrimp eggs online, and these are easy to hatch. Freeze-dried Daphnia might work as a substitute, but sometimes freeze-dried foods make constipation and bloating worse.>
Last question, I had 5 Bleeding Hearts, but with this last water change I noticed I only have 4 now, what do you think it happened, definitely it didn´t jump because my tank has a glass cover, do you think the Angelfish or the Raphael ate it?
<More likely one died, and the Raphael consumed the corpse. Bleeding Hearts are quite big by tetra standards, and tend not to be eaten by small predators like Angels.>
they don´t leave a trace when this happens?
<Quite so.>
I am perplexed,
<I'm not.>
thanks and best regards,
Lorena.
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Neale: Cherry barb with big belly; et use of Epsom f'   11/21/13
Hello Neale,
<Lorena,>
I finally got the Epsom Salt 2 days ago, as you instructed I dosed the water (1 tablespoon Epsom salt per 5 US gallons/20 litres). She is still the same.
<May take time... if it's going to work at all.>
Question, till when do I dose it again?
<No need to add more, except when adding (the correct) amount to any new water. Stir well into the bucket, using the appropriate number of spoons per gallon of water in that bucket, then add the resulting water to your aquarium. So at our recommended dose of 1-3 teaspoons per 5 gallons, if your bucket contained 2.5 gallons, you'd add 0.5-1.5 teaspoons of Epsom salt.>
None of the fish not even the Catfish have eaten the peas, I removed them otherwise they will rot in the water.
<Fair enough.>
I feed my fish with TetraMin Pro tropical crisps and my Striped Catfish with Tetra Veggie Alga Wafers, I´ve tried dried mini shrimp (like the ones you buy for turtles) but they never eat them.
<Indeed.>
How can improve their diet?
<Try raiding the fridge! Tiny bits of fish and seafood are usually popular with fish, as are lettuce, cucumber and cooked spinach. Hard boiled egg yolks often go down well, but use tiny amounts at a time! It's very rich and messy. Otherwise, what you're using should be fine.>
Other question, next time I dose, do I dilute the salt in water previously or just pour it directly in the tank, this made me a bit nervous, since all the fish were very attentive to the salt going down,
<Do not add regular salt or Epsom salt, EVER, to the aquarium directly. If dosing the entire tank, then dissolve in warm water (a jug will do for this) then pour, perhaps in stages across an hour, into the tank. If replacing water during a water change, stir the appropriate amount into the bucket.>
thanks!
Lorena.
<Welcome, Neale.>
Re: Neale: Cherry barb with big belly    11/22/13

Again thanks a lot Neale, just one maybe dumb question, fish and seafood, should be cooked or raw?
:-/
<Either. Raw probably has more/better vitamins, but cooked is fine if used alongside other, traditional fish foods.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Neale: Cherry barb with big belly      11/29/13

Hi again Neale, hope you are well, now one of my male Cherry Barbs is showing the same bloated belly and looks like its hard for them to swim upwards. Both of them have their dorsal fin bent down, do you think it's another thing the Epsom salt won't cure? Can I treat them?
Thanks,
Lorena.
<Hard to know. Did any of the other barbs recover? If they did, then use the Epsom salt plus high-fibre foods treatment. Yes, there are several diseases that can cause abdominal swelling including oedema-type conditions ("Dropsy") that may or may not be treatable depending on the cause. A general purpose antibiotic treatment is probably the most cost-effective
approach with small, inexpensive fish and has the added benefit of treating any other fish not yet showing symptoms. Yes, you can use Epsom salt alongside. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Neale: Cherry barb with big belly    12/2/13

Thanks Neale, no, the other barb has not recovered at all. This week I will do water change so I will add the proportionate amount of Epsom again.
About the antibiotic, *any* antibiotic?
<The Maracyn 1 and 2 combination is popular for this kind of thing in the US. Alternatively (and often better) is to talk to a vet, and follow their instructions. Of course finding a fish-vet is often difficult/impractical.>
can you help me with the dosage?
<Refer to the packaging. Do remember to remove carbon from the filter if used. Excessive detritus (dead/decaying organic material) in the filter and aquarium will also reduce the impact of such drugs.>
won't harm the Angels or my 2 Raphael Catfish right?
<It should be completely harmless to them.>
thanks.
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Red spots now Re: Neale: Cherry barb with big belly     1/19/14
Hello Neale,
<Lorena,>
so my male Cherry Barb recovered perfectly with the first dosage of Epsom Salt, his belly and swimming pattern is fine now,
<Sounds good.>
the female though, I believe she is worse, now there's a tiny red round thing protruding from her "chest", and also there is some red around her gills, kind of transparent, as if there was something red underneath her skin, kind of translucent. She still has a big belly and swims upwards most of the time surrounding a live trunk with live plants I have in my planted aquarium. How can I help her, it looks like those red things are painful or harmful, any idea on what it could be?
<Really difficult to say. I would isolate if possible (even a floating breeding trap can be useful) and without any other signs or symptoms, I'd medicate as per bacterial infection. Adding a little salt may help too; see here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/SaltUseFWArtNeale.htm
But otherwise medicating without any clear diagnosis is often risky and frequently a waste of money.>
thanks,
Lorena.
ps. I didn't use antibiotic since the male recovered I was giving her some time and a second water change, but as I said, now she has this new thing.
<Possibly worthwhile now if a bacterial infection is at work here. Cheers, Neale.>

Chain loach and Cherry Barb? (salt tolerance question)    11/14/12
Hi Neale,
<Jill,>
I'm wanting to start up chain loaches and cherry barbs.
<Two very nice and versatile species.>
I read your article on loaches,
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_2/loaches.htm
I read other articles too at various sites and I asked this question at several fish stores.  There was a difference in opinions.
<Indeed?>
I heard the loaches (chain loach) don't tolerate salt, though one article and one fish store said theirs tolerated minimal salt.  But since they are saying something different from everyone else, I figure I should get your opinion and trust that first. 
<Depends what sort of salinity you're talking about. Like all freshwater fish, they will tolerate very low salinities, around 2 gram/litre, across short terms, e.g., a week or two, for the purposes of treating Whitespot.
Using salinity in this way is much safer than using copper- or formalin-based medications. On the other hand, routine addition of salt isn't necessary when keeping these or any freshwater fish, and elevated salinity levels as you'd need for brackish water fish will stress most loaches. One or two species naturally inhabit brackish water habitats, for example the Horseface Loach, and can do well around the 3-4 g/l salinity level, but I'm not aware of any loach that prefers brackish water or does well in even middling-salinity brackish water. Oh, and the idea that loaches are "scaleless fishes" and therefore more sensitive to salt is a myth perpetrated by folks without biology degrees! Moray eels are fish without scales but live in the sea, as are of course sharks. On the other than, there are plenty of fish with scales (such as Rift Valley cichlids) that come to obvious harm when salt is routinely added to their tanks (Malawi Bloat being the commonest problem). Salinity tolerance is all to do with the osmoregulation, in particular organs that conserve or remove salt and water. For sure some groups of fish are less tolerant of salt than others, but it's not as easy as simply saying that if the fish has scales, it's more tolerant of salt.>
I have a 29 gallon....I'm switching the fish that are there to another one as they neither eat snails nor share water type with those that do!  
Currently the 29 tank has 1 tbsp aquarium salt per 5 gallons.  
<An unnecessary addition.>
Could the Cherry barbs tolerate that amount initially?  I suspect they will but I just want to be sure.
<As with the loaches, so too with the cyprinids. A handful of barbs tolerate low-end brackish conditions indefinitely, such as the Ticto Barb and Olive Barb, but most are strictly freshwater fish and shouldn't be exposed to salt across the long term. Again, short term usage of 2 g/l salinity levels are fine.>
I will change a third of the water, adding more water with no salt before I add them.
<Very wise.>
How many water changes should I do before the water will be fresh enough to add chain loaches? 
<One tablespoon is 3 teaspoons, or about 3 x 6 = 18 gram salt (but check with your own kitchen scales). 5 US gallons is about 19 litres, so you're adding 18 grams of salt to about 19 litres of water, so barely 1 gram per litre. That's a trivial salinity level, and won't do even these fish any harm across the short term. On the other hand, it won't be doing much good either; it's too little to treat Whitespot, and there's always the risk that across months, years such usage of salt can interfere with the osmoregulation of freshwater fish. I'm not a big fan of routine use of salt in freshwater tanks.>
Do Cherry Barbs cycle ok, as I don't have very many fish in there now, plus they're tiny?  (I'll be adding 6 so it will probably cycle.)  I'm hoping to find small ones.
<Cherry Barbs are quite hardy, so all else being equal, they can get through the cycling process, though I'd strongly recommend maturing the tank beforehand, or at least adding some live biological media from another tank.>
I plan to add driftwood too, and more plants once I add the chain loaches. 
The reason for the switch is I learned the hard way about snails. So future plants in other tanks that I wish to keep clean will either be certified snail free (yeah, PetSmart sells those!) or rinsed in a solution.
<Do the latter; dip the plants, then put in the tank. Be careful with the dips though: used at high concentration as a dip, potassium permanganate at least can kill plants if used for too long.>
Also, is it really necessary to change water weekly for chain loaches?!??
<Depends entirely on stocking density and how often the fish are fed. If the tank is understocked and you feed sparingly, then you can probably go 2-3 weeks between 20% water changes. But most community tanks are fully stocked, if not overstocked, so water changes are crucial to keeping the fish healthy.>
I'll be adding more plants, a longer strip of a bubbler, and there will be 6 each cherry barb and 6 chain loaches in 29 gallons.
<That's an understocked tank.>
I usually change water every 3 weeks.  Should I change to weekly or every 2 weeks?
<If you want. Keep an eye on the fish, and do pH and nitrate tests every couple weeks just to be sure, at least for the first 2-3 months. If pH drops a lot, or nitrate is way above the ambient level in your tap water, then you may be doing too few water changes.>
One more thing... Sometimes the house temp gets to 79 or 80, is that going to make the water too hot?
<Unlikely. Evaporation tends to keep fish tanks a bit cooler than the room.
In any event, providing the tank only gets warm in the day, but cools down at night, then these are tropical fish after all and will adapt to such things.>
I probably need to lower the heater for the loaches.  I can barely read the thermometer but it's in the green safe zone for tropical fish.
<Set the heater around the 24 C/75 F mark, and see what happens. If the fish are heat-stressed, the loaches will gulp air and the barbs will be close to the surface all the time.>
Thanks Neale!  I'm very new to this hobby, and your articles are always helpful.
<Thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Chain loach and Cherry Barb? (salt tolerance question)
Thank you.  Great info!
<Welcome.>
I look forward to getting these fish.  The male barbs have a nice colour
<As ever though, be sure to get as many females as males, if not more -- with more females to display to, the males develop better colours without fighting all the time. Unlike plain vanilla barbs, Cherry Barbs are somewhat territorial.>
and I've always liked the little chain loaches.  They're active and interesting.  I hope they all get along without bullying.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Chain loach and Cherry Barb? (salt tolerance question)    11/17/12

Just curious, Neale, About Mollies I'd heard this answer is "no," and that they're NOT a sociable fish, that they merely "tolerate" other fish due to not being true schoolers.....(I've misplaced that article). But then I saw an article today that you'd written on them that begs to differ on their sociability: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/mollies.htm
The pet store clerks also speak highly of molly sociability. And their tanks are heavily stocked.  But here I'm thinking of going to loach and barb due to that my mollies were so unfriendly. Would increasing the number of mollies make them less inclined to bully?!??!!
<Yes indeed. Like cichlids, if the Molly males are numerous, none can become overly dominant, and none will be bullied too much. That's the theory anyway, and on the whole, it works, as you've likely seen in your retailer's tank. It's when you have one male Molly and he chases all the other livebearers around that people realise how aggressive male Mollies can be. Furthermore, if you keep just a pair, then unless the tank is large and well-planted, chances are the male will harass the female endlessly.>
1st I understocked them.  I had 5 females and 1 male in a 29 gallon, then I added a female, then I added a male.
<Two males will create a dominance structure, with the strongest male likely chasing the other all the time. But if you had, say, 5 males, then this isn't likely to happen. On the other hand, if you wanted females as well, then you'd have to have 10 females to those 5 males, and that's a lot of fish for the average community tank (though as the heart of a Molly aquarium around the 55 gallon mark, they'd be lovely).>
I had thought I was doing good to have a low stock. The bullying was primarily done by females, and it would leave the weaker ones cowering in a cave or behind the many plants looking ill.
<It's unusual for females to be aggressive, but I guess it does happen.>
I became known as the lady who'd bring mollies back in a day or so and I'd trade them. Once I even tried having 3 males to 3 females as an experiment....and it was no better.  (A pet store clerk suggested that!)
((( Off topic-  Also, if one's water is quite hard like an 8, it's still advisable to do low end brackish, correct?)))
<Hmm… "8" what? 8 degrees dH is not especially hard. What's the carbonate hardness? If that's high as well, say, 5-8 degrees KH, and the pH stays around the 7.5 to 8 mark, then you might be fine without salt. Nonetheless, I'd always choose Molly companions that I knew could tolerate salt, just in case you needed to use it because the Mollies were always getting sick. Horseface Loaches, Brown Hoplo Catfish, Ticto Barbs, Blue Acara and most Rainbowfish are examples of fish that don't need salt but will tolerate 2-3 grammes per litre without complaint, and this can be just enough to keep Mollies hearty and healthy.>
I was going to switch species and see if using driftwood and heavily planting would bring it to steady 7.5 for changing over to the loaches and rosy barbs...and if that didn't work then I was thinking to try peat filtration and have diamond tetras and rummy nose if that worked, what the heck anyway if it's that much trouble--have the sparkly beauties!!!
<Both Diamonds and Rummynose Tetras are lovely fish, but as you realise, not good companions for Mollies. While you don't need to go out of your way to create very soft water for them, you certainly do want to be aiming for between 2-12 degrees dH, pH 6-7.5 for them.>
But I love the mollies, and the only reason I'm switching from them was I didn't enjoy the evil junior high schoolyard scenes they put on daily!  (Which altered their health).  (True, my water had been salted according to popular Mollie lore, and I understand now I must use marine salt if I do them again.)
<Hmm… do also research Liberty Mollies (Poecilia salvatoris). They are extremely pretty fish, silvery with red, white and blue markings, but a mean disposition, so not good community fish. But in large groups they work well together, and if you feel like trying something special with Mollies, they're great fish. Oh, and do also look at Ameca splendens, a Goodeid with lovely colours and a very feisty personality, but in a group of 3 males and 5-6 females, I had not the least trouble in a 180-litre aquarium. My point is, livebearers are more aggressive than people realise, so big groups help.>
Thanks again...   if you tell me a stock number will probably erase my ills I'll even do water changes bi-weekly for them and low level brackish.  If they're just plain ornery, I need to let Go!!!!!    But I sort of feel like giving them one more try if I can find some advise.
<Mollies are definitely worth keeping, but as you realise, the bigger the group, the easier.>
Jill
P.S. This guy suggests isolations, which I was doing (using a 10 gallon) and it helped.  But it was a pain in the blank to have to constantly be switching out bratty females.  (I wonder if a 2.5 gallon like he used would be more effective in that it's really no fun!)  http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/livebearers/help-aggressive-female-molly-61201/
I'm mainly just wondering if the aggression was a stock issue, or maybe I needed to move the current ones out into the 10 gallon and rearrange things before adding new and put everyone in at once?
<Isolation works as a one-off, but it's hardly practical in the long term.>
or do I just need to switch to a more amiable species of fish?!  I'm sad as I love Dalmatian and black mollies.  It's popularly reported that black ones are the most frequently aggressive.
<I've not really noticed this to be honest. Big male Sailfins seem far more boisterous and aggressive. I guess "popularly reported" may mean than more people keep Black Mollies, and many of those people keep them in communities with smaller fish like Guppies and Platies, and I'm quite sure Black Mollies can, do bully them. On the other hand, keep Black Mollies in a brackish water community with Scats and Monos and they're right at the bottom of the pecking order.>
I just don't like fish dying from bullying.
<Indeed not.>
A little harmless posturing wouldn't bother me.
<Which in a sense is what the fish want to do -- it's normal social interaction of the kind we tend to prevent with most other pets. So long as the fish can avoid being bullied and hurt, then threats and displays are all part of their normal lives.>
And I don't recall if I fed them once or twice a day, I wonder if that was an issue.....if they needed more food and were grouchy.
<With Mollies, 12-hour a day algal grazing is the ideal. Failing that, a little but often. Oh, and one tidbit of relevance here: male livebearers in the wild are often far less aggressive because they don't have the time, they need to spend much more time feeding on algae. Why? Because algae provides little energy, so without feeding for many hours a day, they would starve. In captivity we give them all the energy they need in 30 seconds' worth of flake -- so they have all the rest of the day to fight. Maybe create a tank with strong lighting and lots of flat rocks, so algae grows rapidly and profusely. Minimise your feeding, let the Mollies feed themselves on the algae (which is what they evolved to do, and why they have very distinctive mouths). Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Chain loach and Cherry Barb? (salt tolerance question)    11/17/12
Thanks Neil.
<Gill,>
My tank is fine for algae!  That's why the mollies are fun to watch....They're picking around on the bottom or among the plants and even the walls of the tank.  They seem to have more personality than some of the other types of fish. I'm thinking my 29 gallon is too small....  unless it's ok to stock only females?
<Yes.>
Or does that cause fights?
<No.>
If I need both sexes than definitely having 10 female and 5 male fish x 3"  (sorry, Americans and their inches!) is overstock. If it's alright to do only females, I could increase the number of mollies without going over....I could do 10 females. I'd only house mollies with other brackish....   I'd go to low brackish. The stuff about driftwood and peat is only if I give up on keeping mollies and switch to loaches! It seems though, that it would be easier to work with what I have which is hard water!
<Likely so.>
Regarding snails again:
I read this blog this morning and it sounds like if I have too many snails it's possible the tank isn't biologically balanced and possible I need to feed the plants too.  The person said snails are no big deal at all in his/her planted tank!!!
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/freshwater-tropical-fish/snail-eating-fish-wont-eat-shrimps-75752/
<Snails aren't a problem in my planted tank. I'm sure there's 100s of them, but I hardly see them, and they don't the plants any harm. In any event, healthy plants generally aren't damaged my Physa and Melanoides-type snails, though Apple Snails and their relatives may eat them.>
I didn't feed my plants or use special substrate because I read so many things suggesting 1) you don't need to feed low light plants in a low light tank,
<Hmm… not sure this is necessarily true, though I hardly ever fertilise my planted tanks, and they are stocked with mostly undemanding plants (Anubias, Crypts, floating Indian Fern, Aponogeton hybrids, etc.).>
and 2) fertilizer is Harmful to many fish and assassin snails too
<Used as directed, fertilisers shouldn't cause any harm.>
and 3) fertilizer increases algae increases snails.
<Possibly, but snails are just as likely to eat fish food and fish waste as they are algae, so there's probably not much in this either way.>
Do you agree with this, or should I use better substrate and or feed the plants?
<I do like to use rich substrates, but again, lots of people don't, and have first-rate results. A lot depends on the plants you're growing. For the slow-growing epiphytes like Anubias and Java fern, these ignore the substrate any way, so a little fertiliser added to the water will help them. On the other hand, Amazon Swords and Crypts do seem to enjoy a good substrate, or at least a suitable alternative, like fertiliser pellets pushed into the gravel around them every once a month or so. I'm a big advocate for choosing plants that suit your style of fishkeeping rather than trying to change the way you keep fish so your plants are happy, but each to their own.>
I have fine natural gravel and it seems to have materials in it and the fish stores all said it was good enough.
<Plain vanilla gravel is inert, and contains virtually no nutrients of any kind. Over time bacteria cause some degree of fertilisation inside deep gravel beds (a couple inches or more) so that certain nutrients, including nitrate and phosphate, are produced from the fish wastes and other sources of decay. No real surprise there. But iron and magnesium are two nutrients that are often lacking, and if your plants have yellow patches on otherwise normal leaves, it's a clue that these sorts of minerals are missing. On the other hand, if your plants look okay but grow slowly or outright fail to thrive, limited nutrients aren't nearly as likely a cause as the wrong environment (typically not enough light).>
Plants with roots are all potted in the gravel, and the other types are attached to rocks.  But the plants have been nibbled down by snail babies and look very scrawny now.   :-(
Plants: java ferns, Anubias, Crypts, and sparce hornwort...it mostly died out or perhaps was eaten as the others.  I've seen snails on it.
<If snails are damaging plants, it's almost always the case the plant was failing anyway. As noted above, the small pest snails don't normally harm healthy plants.>
I attached a picture so you can see the plant scrawniness.  They were much larger at purchase.
<My guess is that the problems here are mostly to do with lighting. How many strip lights do you have across the top of the tank? One? Two? If only one or two, forget about anything light green and fast growing, such as Hygrophila or Rotala or even Amazon Swords. Instead, focus on Anubias, Java fern, Java moss, and potted hardy Cryptocoryne species, especially Cryptocoryne wendtii. These plants are undemanding. Don't ram Anubias or Java fern into shells or anywhere like that; instead, simply use black cotton to gentle tie them onto (ideally) bogwood or chemically inert stones (like slate or lava rock). Buy some floating Indian Fern for the top of the tank and leave it there. Hornwort might work if this tank were coldwater, but this coldwater plant "speeds up" in tropical tanks, and needs very strong lighting if its food production (photosynthesis) is to keep up with its metabolism (growth). Do also try and buy reflectors for the tubes, so all the light goes towards the plants; if that isn't an option, then aluminium foil stuck to the inside of the hood works okay. Indian Fern provides not just shade but also helps suppress algae. Oh, and all the plants I've mentioned as suitable are salt-tolerant, so they're good choices for Mollies.>
((WOW, I just cleaned the tank last week and I scraped partially the other night, and yet the picture is showing algae again on the glass.  It isn't visible in low lighting but it's obvious in my photo!))
Thanks Again.
I really hope to come up with a final decision this weekend of which direction to go now with this tank.  I super appreciate your input.  I know you know what you're talking about and helps me sort through the often conflicting opinions in some of the other forums and sources.
Jill
<Glad to help. There are some great planted aquarium forums out there, so do peruse and solicit second opinions from those who know more about plants than me! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Chain loach and Cherry Barb? (salt tolerance question) - 11/17/12
Thanks Neil,
I'll try feeding the plants and use better substrate in the pots.  I bought rough/porous pots to discourage snails.   I'll buy a rougher stone like lava to attach the javas to. I have all the low light plants... Maybe the store will have Indian fern.
<Do be sure to buy the real thing, Ceratopteris thalictroides. Numerous other ferns are pushed onto casual aquarists by unscrupulous retailers.>
I'm going to see if the fish store can help with reflectors too or do a makeshift one like you suggested. The pet store lady suggested little black Kuhlis that get to 4 inches, they are super cute too, however....my water is 300 hardness, alk 180, ph 8.4!!!  The scary thing is they're keeping theirs in the same water.
<Can do okay in hard water… but not recommended, no.>
Another guy at the pet store said skunk loaches are amazing for snails, and tolerate hard water, but I just read they're awfully aggressive.
<Skunk Loaches, yes, semi-aggressive. Okay with barbs of similar size, but not with smaller fish.>
 I hope I can get the plants happier before the snails win!!  It sounds lime that's the solution. by, have a nice weekend.
<Real good. Cheers, Neale.>

Barbs too small?     7/8/12
Hi Neale, hope you are well,
<Yes, thank you.>
so I returned my 2 black Angels. remained with the pair and my two Raphael catfish in the new 55 gallon tank, last Saturday we got 6 Cherry Barbs one was tiny and was never part of the school he was always lonely swimming at the surface then he started doing weird things, swimming erratically and even resting in a sponge I have to cover the new filter, I was going to separate him but next day couldn't be found.
<Likely eaten.>
Not sure if it was the Angels or the Raphaels but he disappeared
<Indeed.>
Now my remaining 5 Barbs, are always hiding in the leaves, always, or in a sunken ship where one of my Raphael lives, I can´t locate two Barbs now, but I´ve learned they hide well and kind of get lost in the big tank, so maybe they are ok, could it be that my former fish are eating them?
<Could be. Angels can/will eat fish up to about the size of Neons, and Raphael Catfish about the same. Adult Cherry Barbs should be fine, but juveniles…>
I wouldn't want that! Should I return the remaining barbs? they are not very big, 4-5 cm.s :(
<Ah, now, these should be big enough unless the Raphael Catfish are very big (20 cm/8 inches is about the maximum for this species.>
please advise, also if we return them for their safety or get around 15 more so they are a tight group? or other kind of fish that´s not threatened by my cat or Angels, my Angels are always hungry lately,
<Deep-bodied Tetras or Barbs are often the best bet if you suspect someone is an opportunistic predator: X-Ray Tetras or Five-Banded Barbs would be two obvious choices, the first species being hardy and bold, the second species pretty but shy. But most anything else this size, shape will work.>
confused!!!
Lorena.
<Cheers, Neale.>

+ Cherry Barbs, comp.       6/25/12
Thanks Neale,
<Welcome.>
my catfish are still less than 5 inches. So the decision is  tomorrow we'll remove the 2 black Angels, we'll keep the marble Angel and the white Angel (the couple) and of course my 2 catfish.
<I see.>
A while ago when I asked you how could I add a hint of color to my aquarium, you suggested Cherry Barbs, so with the above community 2 Angels and 2 catfish, how many Cherry Barbs can I introduce, 5? 6 still the magic number?
<Six or more, please. As with any barb species, smaller groups don't always work. If you must have 5, go with two males and three females. It's the males that squabble and are somewhat territorial. Fortunately, while the males have the vivid cherry red, the females are far from unattractive with their peachy colouration.>
Also, last Saturday we acquired the 55 gallon tank and all 6 current fish are doing fine do I have to wait in between the blacks removal and the Barbs adding? or can I add them tomorrow too?
<Yes you can add them tomorrow.>
One last, 2 of my Mystery Snails got stuck in my new AquaClear filter, it was very sad and stressing, they didn´t make it, I still have 3 left, what should I do, I've read the sponges are not a very good idea,
<Mystery/Apple snails are far less easy to keep than many suppose. Air-powered sponge filters should be 100% safe for them, but any powered filter can cause problems.>
thanks and by the way, how much I owe you for such wonderful counseling!!!
cheers,
Lorena.
<Real good, Neale.>

Gold barb with not much tail remaining  2/24/10
Hello,
<Hi there>
It is late and I've been keeping my eye on a sluggish barb in our aquarium.
We have 2 of these
<Ahh, such "picky" species are best kept in larger numbers>
along with 3 tetra Neons. The quiet one often hangs out by himself.
Tonight I noticed that he is struggling to stay horizontal and much of his tail is missing.
<Likely chewed off by the other>
At the risk of sounding like an idiot, I assume there isn't much hope.
<Yes... fishes have remarkable powers of regeneration. I'd isolate the "winner" here... in a floating plastic colander likely>
I hate to see him struggle and suffer - it doesn't seem like it is able to feed. It is having a hard time steering and maneuvering. Also, I noticed from your web site that you recommend a larger school of this type of fish.
<Yes!>
Maybe that would have helped prevent the problem of this one's tail being attacked. What is the humane thing to do? I hate when my husband travels.
I'm a huge animal lover and this is hard for me to deal with. Thanks, Amy
<I'd hold out hope myself. A pessimistic mind might suggest euthanization.
Bob Fenner>
Re: Gold barb with not much tail remaining -- 02/24/10

Thanks!! I'll try to isolate him and hope that he can pull through. I had no idea that they may be able to regenerate a tail!!
<If not bitten too far back... to/beyond the hypurals...>
I can flush a dead fish, but I just can't flush this little guy. If he dies on us, then I'll know it was nature, not me. Amy
<Life to you Amy. BobF>

Fish Diagnosis Problem, Gold Barb hlth.  9/29/2009
Hello WetWeb crew,
<Hello,>
Thanks again for the advice you provided a few weeks ago re: starting up my freshwater planted tank, everything was great up until last night.
<Oh?>
I had come home and could not find one of our three Gold Barbs. This is fairly normal since they like to hide in the log we had placed in the tank.
After a little bit of looking, the fish was definitely missing. I popped the lid and checked the filter compartments and the fish had gotten into the compartment with our media rack in it and was lodged (underwater) between a part of the rack and one of the media bags.
<Ah, this sort of thing does happen. Barbs are "jumpers" and will hop into anything they can.>
I slowly removed the media basket cover and media and got it back into the main tank. It was swimming sluggishly, was having slight buoyancy issues (its body seemed to prefer vertical), and its gills looked to be visibly reddish which I attributed to probably not having enough O2 and being very stressed. I turned off the lights for the night once I had put it back and had planned to leave them off today. When I checked this morning, the fish has a few rather large white-grey spots that have a rough looking texture.
<Physical damage. Likely damaged/dead skin, and a few lost scales. Should heal nicely by itself, but if you're worried, the use of a mild antiseptic such as Melafix wouldn't be a bad idea.>
After looking at many ich pictures it doesn't look much like those. Also, there aren't any visible lesions or fin problems with the fish either. The fish seems to be swimming more actively than it was after it had come out
of the ordeal. Thanks very much,
Steve
<Do check the make sure this kind of thing can't happen again! Cheers, Neale.>
Fish Diagnosis Problem (part2) 9/29/2009

In my hurry in writing this.. I forgot to ask my question! The first question is what might an accurate diagnosis for a stressed fish with strange scale conditions like this be.
<I suspect, merely physical damage.>
And the second question is how should I treat it.
<Time is the great healer, here.>
Thirdly, I've read about stress coat type treatments for after handling/moving fish. Would something like that be beneficial in this situation?
<If you wanted to use one, then fine. Ordinarily though, if maintained in clean conditions and getting a balanced diet and lots of oxygen, fish heal things like missing scales and damaged skin very quickly.>
Thanks!
Steve
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fish Diagnosis Problem (part2) 9/29/2009

Neale, thanks very much for the quick reply.
<You're welcome.>
The one other question I have is we've noticed she's not swimming in a group with the other two barbs at all. Does this just mean she doesn't want to be bothered since she's stressed and/or healing?
<When Barbs are kept in groups of less than six, their strong hierarchical instinct tends to manifest itself as bullying, or at least bickering over who's top dog. In this case, it's possible that the weaker fish isn't able
to "run with the pack" properly, and so gets left out of things. As the fish gets stronger, this may change, and they'll start getting along once more. Still, upping the group to six specimens would help.>
With her swimming regularly I don't want to disregard it but she seems fine aside from the discoloration.
Steve
<Cheers, Neale.>

2 questions. Glass shrimp repro., gold barb comp.  7/13/08 Hi guys. I noticed that my ghost/glass shrimp had eggs the other day!! I'm excited about possibly having babies! Unfortunately I have not found a lot of info on raising the fry. I have a 1gal tank with a bubble filter and some gravel to isolate the moms and babies (my nursery!) I noticed tonight when I was trying to catch the moms-to-be that there was a "bug" floating in my tank. I fished him out and discovered to my delight that it was a shrimp fry!! So he is now in my nursery. What can/do I need to feed the fry? I don't want to starve them to death. I put some algae pellets and 1-2 fish flakes, is this enough for the fry? <The American Glass Shrimp is Palaemonetes paludosus, a species with a planktonic larval stage (albeit quite a brief one). As such, it is virtually impossible to breed in aquaria. The mother will carry the eggs for a period of weeks, but once they hatch the fry float about in the water column feeding on microscopic organisms including algae. Unless you are able to both feed them and make sure they don't get sucked into the filter, the fry will die. The Amazonian Glass Shrimp Palaemonetes sp. is similar. Only those shrimps that produce fully-formed juveniles (such as Cherry Shrimps) are breedable in aquaria -- and how! Cherry Shrimps will multiply almost as quickly as snails under the right conditions.> And one question not shrimp related. I have one more too. I have a Gold barb in an 2.5 gallon tank because he didn't play nice and killed 8 of my other fish. <Did it have any tankmates of its own kind? Most Barbs tend to be aggressive and/or nippy when kept in groups smaller than six, and though it sounds odd, they become more peaceful the bigger the school. In any case, this tank is far too small for what I am assuming is Puntius semifasciolatus.><<Likely Puntius sachsii. RMF>> I did a water change and went home for the weekend and came back to find him in horrible shape. His fins were almost gone, and he had some red/bloody patches on the front of his lip, and at the base of his tail. He was very "twitchy." <Surely poor water quality. In a tank this small, maintaining the essential zero nitrite and zero ammonia at all times will be next to impossible given the size/activity of this fish.> I tested my water, and everything was normal, except for the water being hard, the pH about 7.8, making it alkaline. I treated the water I researched it and everything matched up with fin rot. <Would agree.> I got him some Melafix.... <Garbage; use something that actually works, e.g., eSHa 2000 (in Europe) or Maracyn (in the US). Melafix appeals to some aquarists and retailers because it is "homeopathic" and cheap. But it isn't tested either, and doesn't pass anything like the standards required by proper veterinarian drugs.> ...and it seemed to start to work, and the twitchiness decreased. Today he has some new open sores. He has a small in tank filter, 2 plastic plants and a decoration to hide under. Could he be "scratching" against his hiding spot? Or have I misdiagnosed him? He's not my favorite fish, but I don't want him to die a slow painful death. I can send a pic of him. <First of all, treat him appropriately. Then monitor water quality, and act accordingly. He can't possibly live in a 2.5 gallon system, so moving him to another tank is essential. If he is aggressive with your other fish, that's likely because he's bored. Barbs are intensely social, and like humans, become cranky and unpredictable when kept "in solitary". Consider six specimens the minimum number, and ten or more the ideal.> Thanks guys. Michelle <You're welcome, Neale.>

Barbs, comp. Child   11/06/07 dear WWM crew. I have emailed you about the guppies a lot .I figured that out but just want to know how to cure something that seems like fin rot. also I have read online that you need to keep 4 to 6 cherry barbs together. are there any other barbs that you can put with a cherry barb to make up the school of 6. thanks. <Greetings. When creating groups (schools) of a certain species, you have to use the same species. That's the whole point. If I put you in a motor car with a chimp, a gorilla, and a gibbon, there wouldn't be a group of people in there. There'd be one person plus three different kinds of ape. So if you need a group of six Cherry Barbs (Puntius titteya) then you need to buy six Cherry Barbs, not two Cherry Barbs, two Tiger Barbs and two Spanner Barbs. All this said, I've never considered Puntius titteya a schooling species; it seems to be more of a territorial loner. So unless your specimens are obviously unhappy (e.g., not eating, or very shy) then I wouldn't worry about it. As for curing Finrot, the cause and the cure are usually quite simple. Finrot is caused 9 times out of 10 by water quality issues. Check especially nitrite and, in the case of Guppies, hardness. Guppies need nitrite/ammonia-free water and the water must be hard and alkaline. Cheers, Neale>

Cherry Barb Dear Mr. Robert Fenner, <You got Ronni today.> I am writing to ask your advice. I have a 3ft community fish tank with Zebra Danios Lemon Tetras Black Neons Neon Tetras Pearl Gouramis Platys Silver Tips I have seen some Cherry Barbs in the shop, do you think they would be O.K. with what I have already got? <Temperament wise they should be fine as long as you have enough room.> Because I have heard that all barbs are fin nippers, also would white clouds be O.K. with them? <Some Barbs are horrible fin nippers but many are very peaceful. Cherries can be either way, the ones I have are peaceful but I've heard of others who nip constantly. White Clouds prefer a bit cooler water than your current fish but they can be and often are successfully kept with many of the species you currently have.> I am looking for a peaceful community tank. <Looks like you have it with maybe the exception of the Gourami's. They can sometimes be quite aggressive but if they're not causing any problems yet I'd keep them.> Would be grateful for all your help. Thank you Robbie <You're very welcome.>
Re: Cherry Barb
Thank you for reply. I found your advice most helpful. Really appreciated. Cheers <Glad to be of service. Ronni>

Pregnant barb I am adding my address for a response.  t.k.lewis****.   I have what I believe to be a pair of gold finned barbs, and it appears that one is pregnant.  Now I want to try to let them lay the eggs and hatch out, but do I leave them in with the eggs?  I am going to put a divider in the 20 gallon tank so no one else will eat the eggs or hopefully babies, but will the parents? And this may seem like a silly question will a female barb produce eggs without a male in the tank with her? Thank you and hope to hear from you soon. Theresa <There's a good article on breeding gold barbs at http://www.aquariacentral.com/articles/goldbarb.shtml and it should answer all of your questions. Ronni>

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