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FAQs on Livestocking Small Freshwater Systems (@ 10 gal.s or less) 2

FAQs on: Stocking Small Systems 1, Stocking Sm. Sys. 3, Stocking Sm. Sys. 4,

Related Articles: Stocking 5, 10 & 20 Gallon Freshwater Aquariums by Neale Monks, Freshwater Livestock by Neale Monks, Freshwater Livestock Selection by Bob Fenner, The Ethical Aquarist; Freshwater Fishes to Avoid by Judy Helfrich Acclimation of New Freshwater Livestock by Bob Fenner, Fishes, Amphibians, Turtles

Related FAQs:  FW Livestock 1, FW Livestock 2, FW Livestock 3, FW Stocking 4, FW Livestocking 5, FW Livestocking 6, FW Livestocking 7, & Freshwater Livestock Selection Community Tank Livestocking,


Ummm tough question because even Google can`t answer it... Is there any crime greater than militant stupidity?  3/21/12
Dear whoever reads this,
<... you should follow directions; search, read first>
Well I had two Petco fish (you know where the pets go) but one was a sickly white color. I told      my family it might be Ich but it seemed fine and happy. We had a tank that wasn`t used since 1980 something. No I`m joking maybe since 2009. Anyway my siblings tried to clean it out but it wasn’t really that ... clean. It was an ugly green/white color. One fish died the next day but not the one I thought had the Ich. For reasons un-clear it dropped dead. Literally it just died out of nowhere. It`s in a 1/2 gallon tank
<Stop. This isn't a suitable environment period. Read here:
and the linked files above>
 with some rocks and only one plant and two goldfish. It isn’t crowded. So we thought maybe it was the nasty water that made it die. When we got it out to toss it so it won`t give germs to the other fish. We noticed that its stomach was an odd green. We looked on Google. Nothing. So we put the other fish into a cup like off of Cat in The Hat. I took the tank outside and scrubbed the tank. I cleaned the rocks. Scrubbed each leaf on the plant individually.
And even freaking scrubbed tank and till at night you could see it from the woods behind my house it’s so shiny. Wake up this morning after all that hard work. The fish is dead! I wanted to kill the fish but it was already dead so I can`t! The fish`s stomach is green not like some on it but like its scales are green, only on its stomach. So after all that hard work and 30 cents later, I guess all I have is you to tell me why they died so I can run to Petco - where the pets go - and tell them they cannot sell their 15 cent fish because they will get whatever they have. Then I will go buy myself a Glow Fish those cool Neon ones.
Please Answer,
Anilee B
<No sense. Stop killing these fish. Bob Fenner>

ammonia problem   3/15/12
Hi :-)
Our 3 gallon
<Too small for fish
. Assume this is for shrimps maybe? Or cut flowers? Not for fish, except maybe a Betta, but even then, a poor starting point.>
tested 0 for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates before a 25% water change. A week after, it tested at 1.0 for ammonia. I suspect an increase in the biological filter will help.
<It takes 6 weeks for a biological filter to mature BEFORE you add any livestock. So carry on with your non-fish cycling method -- e.g., adding tiny pinches of flake each day -- and wait until the ammonia and nitrite drop to zero. By tiny pinches I mean about the size of the eye of the fish that would be kept, so in a 3 gallon, that'd be a better, so a single flake 2 mm x 2mm would be ample, once or twice per day. Will take 6 weeks for cycling; don't add livestock before then.>
What do you recommend as the most effective way to do this?
<See above.>
Thank You.
<3 gallon tanks rarely work well, usually kill livestock other than shrimps or Bettas; do understand this. Worthless for any other use. Cheers, Neale.>

Eclipse Quarantine, plants with Corys... FW sm. sys. stkg. f'       2/22/12
First off, I apologize in advance for the insanely long email.
I've finally got my 12g eclipse started (still need to finish cycling....), and I was thinking of buying a second eclipse for the quarantine tank (3 or 5 gal), but I'm not sure which to get. According to my calculations, both the 3 and five gallon tanks have roughly the same amount of surface area, as the 5 gallon is a hex.
I'll be keeping a Betta, and since it's a labyrinth fish I'm not sure if a deeper tank would be a good idea.
<Neither good nor bad.>
Or are the extra 2 gallons more important?
<Yes; volume trumps everything else. The shape of the tank matters as well, but a rectangular 3 gallon tank is still inferior to a 5 gallon hexagonal one. Neither can hold many fish, but for a single Betta, the 5 gallon tank would be ideal even in an hexagonal configuration.>
Also in regards to the quarantine tank, I don't plan on maintaining it when it isn't in use. I hear that in this case, I should keep filtration media in the main tank to "seed", but I really don't think a bright blue filter pad would look that great planted in the middle of the display tank, and there's really no place to hide it. Would it be acceptable to seed the tank each time with a handful of sand or a piece of driftwood from the main tank instead?
<Not really. While bacteria do grow attached to solid objects, and the quantity on feathery objects like floating Indian Fern (Water Sprite) can be substantial, compared to biologically active filter media, they hold far fewer bacteria simply because they don't have the volume. A one-inch square of plant leaf has a certain coating of bacteria, but a one-inch cubed volume of filter media will have not just a surface layer of bacteria but bacteria all the way through. So, adding a plant from a mature tank can certainly seed a filter with bacteria, and thereby speed up the cycling process (ordinarily we rely on dormant bacteria spores in tap water and from the air). But in now way does adding a plant reduce cycling time down to zero, which is what you want for a quarantine tank. Better to take live media from an existing filter, so ideally, install a simple filter (like a plastic box filter) into which you can add ceramic noodles from an external or internal canister filter.>
Also, speaking of Betta fish, I really like Manzanita wood but am hesitant to buy it as it looks very snaggy. Would this be a problem at all, or am I worrying over nothing?
<The latter.>
Does Vallisneria spiralis provide a decent cover for a Betta?
<Not really. It will quickly cover the surface with long leaves, but these tend to get grubby and algae-coated in tiny tanks. Floating Indian Fern would be infinitely better because it grows downwards as well as above the waterline, so if you trim away above-the-waterline growth, you can have four or more inches of floating greenery below the waterline.>
It doesn't look like it would. I'm planting some as a background plant since it has low light requirements and the eclipse doesn't give you much light (just over one watt/gallon).
<Quite so. But Indian Fern should thrive under such.>
Are there any good low light plants for Bettas? Particularly ones with nice leaves to rest on? I like tiger lotus and dwarf water lily, but I don't think I have enough light for those.
<Indeed not. Java fern and Anubias would bother be ideal. Java moss can work well too. All of these are epiphytic, so don't need want to (and mustn't!) be rooted/pushed into the gravel.>
I'll probably be keeping Corydoras habrosus as well. How do I prevent the Vallisneria from encroaching on what I have designating "their" space?
<You can't. In a tank this small, all Vallisneria will take over, given adequate light. In weak light, they'll do little of anything.>
Are there under-the-sand dividers I can use or something? Or do I just keep pulling it up?
<Hardly seems worth it.>
After one Halfmoon Betta and six C habrosus, do I have any bioload left to use up?
<No; badly stocked already. Corydoras habrosus really don't deserve to be kept in a small, deep tank like this. They should be kept in big groups in tanks at least 10 gallons in size, with width rather than depth. They also need cool conditions, 22-25 C, which isn't what Bettas want. So they're terrible choices. Cherry Shrimps or similar would be much better.>
I know I don't according to the "inch-per-fish rule", but I've also read that both Bettas and Corys have a low bioload,
<No more or less than any other small fish. Betta keepers do tend to come up with all kinds of rationalisations for why their fish break the rules of fishkeeping! You can safely ignore most of them, and treat them as you would any other small fish. When I started out it was not unknown for Betta keepers to tell you they were fine in jars of water because they'd evolved to live in hoof-prints of water! Apart from the question of how the fish would get into hoof-prints in the first place, Bettas naturally come from environments just as spacious as many other small fish, including ponds, streams, canals and rice paddies. We've bred them to have longer fins and brighter colours, but because we don't select for hardiness, these fancy Bettas are, if anything, more -- not less! -- delicate than their wild ancestors.>
and the eclipse filter is fairly powerful, not to mention I'm adding plants as well. Would I be able to add two or three Redtail calico platies,
<Not a chance. Platies need at least 15 gallons. The males can be extremely aggressive, and females grow fairly big, about the size of a man's thumb.>
or maybe some marble Hatchetfish
<Extremely delicate fish that wouldn't work with aggressive fish like Bettas; need 10 gallons or more.>
or tetras (or even Endler's livebearers, if I'm lucky enough to get a very peaceful Betta who doesn't mind flashy colours)?
<Again, need more space, 10+ gallons.>
Many thanks,
<Do read about stocking tiny tanks; what you propose doing here isn't humane and will cause serious problems in the long term. Apart from Bettas, no routinely traded aquarium fish should be kept in anything smaller than 8-10 gallons. Lots of people try, and lots of fish die. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Eclipse Quarantine, plants with Corys
The five gallon is a potential quarantine tank I'm looking at. I would never keep Corys long term in a tank that size! (shudders) You're right, it would be downright cruel.
<Ah, good; obviously I misunderstood your intentions here; forgive me.>
The tank I'm talking about stocking/planting is twelve gallons and rectangular. Sorry for the confusion; I tend to jump around a little when I talk (type).
<Real good. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Eclipse Quarantine, plants with Corys
So in regards to earlier… Not sure how to incorporate [floating Indian Fern] into an aquascape...or any floating plant, for that matter. It wouldn't take over the surface, would it?
<Yes. So you need to crop regularly, likely weekly. That's fine, because that's what you want. Every time you remove floating plants, you're removing nitrate and phosphate that would have spurred algal growth.>
The care sheet I'm looking at says it grows extremely quickly. What if I planted it?
<Can be done, but isn't particularly happy there.>
Does it grow in sand?
How easy is it to kill Indian Fern? Because I have been cursed with the brown thumb of death when it comes to gardening (or maybe it's because I stick my plants into obscure corners of my room where I don't even see them, and then forget to water them).
<It's very easy to grow. Read here:
Bob raves about this plant, as do I. Floating plants are among the best species for clumsy gardeners!>
I take it 1.08 watts per gallon is considered weak?
Will it die, or just not grow much?
<It can, will grow, albeit slowly.>
Because I'm perfectly fine with the latter. Better than fine, actually.
So Bettas don't get along with Hatchetfish?
<Hatchets are easily spooked, and consequently aren't good companions for any aggressive surface swimming species.>
That's actually surprising to me, though I'm not really sure why. Cories are out, then? I chose my substrate assuming that I would get some.
<Corydoras can be kept with Bettas, but the majority do have different (cooler) water temperature preferences, so you'd ideally choose Corydoras sterbai, a species that *does* do well at 25-28 C, like the Betta.>
Actually, that's not too bad, I guess. I love the "meadow" look, and if I don't get Corys then I could probably give it a try. Could you maybe recommend a low-light hairgrass substitute? (Both dwarf and giant) I'll be moving the tank to a college dorm at some point... Would that be a good time to change the substrate, or would it be too stressful for the fish?
Or would a Zebra Pleco make a good tank mate? *checks Aquabid* You know what? Never mind.
<They are pricey. But there are some nice small Panaque species, like Panaque maccus, that would be fine with a Betta, assuming a big enough aquarium.>
I take it Endler's depends on the Betta's personality?
<Yes. I'm sure it's been done successfully, but a couple minutes on Google will reveal instances of Bettas harassing make Guppies, either viewing them as a threat, or biting their tails for fun/food.>
Would celestial pearl Danios be better. Those and Endler's are probably my favorite small, schooling fish. I actually have a couple of other questions now...(sorry!) Would a sorority work in a twelve-gallon?
<Just females? Yes, can work, and have done this with a variety of community fish. Hatchets and Guppies could work.>
How many fish?
<Either one or at least three females, because they can be feisty.>
Also, are gouramis as "personable" as Bettas?
<Varies with the species. Most are quite shy. Trichopsis pumila can be fun to watch in small tanks with lots of floating plants and given that sort of habitat will be constantly on view. Being so small you could keep 6-8 in 12 gallons.>
Given my tank size, which makes the best "pet fish" (aka fish that maybe seems to get somewhat attached to you, has personality, provides companionship...acts like an Oscar...I don't have the space for one, but I hear they act like puppies, which I can only assume is meant in a good way as fish don't generally have access to your best shoes)?
<Sadly, apart from Bettas, few small fish are as smart as Oscars, so there isn't much in the 10-20 gallon tank range that will ever become a true pet. About the closest would the (brackish water) Figure-8 Pufferfish or one of the less often seen small freshwater Tetraodon species. But most small cichlids and gouramis are relatively shy, being fish that sit at the bottom of the food chain!>
Anyways, Bettas and Oscars seem to come up the most when I do a web search for "most personable fish",
<I do think Bettas get a lot more credit than they deserve. Without wanting to sound patronising here, a lot of the people who keep Bettas aren't otherwise fishkeepers and don't understand that background fish behaviours. So what they see they imagine is "cute, friendly" behaviour when it's really not much different to anything else similar in size to a Betta. The bigger cichlids and most of the pufferfish are genuinely "smart" fish in the sense of having variable, trainable, plastic behaviours.>
but it occurred to me that a lot of people probably have Bettas who may never keep a lot of other kinds of fish, and this may skew the results somewhat. The other fish I am considering are: wild-type Betta (probably B. imbellis),
<A wonderful fish, as are the somewhat larger mouthbrooding Bettas, if you can find them.>
dwarf gourami,
honey gourami (I've seen people say that the latter is friendlier and/or more peaceful),
sparkling gourami (may be a little too small for a "pet", IMO),
<But in a group, constantly active and fun to watch, and surprisingly curious about the aquarist if you sit quietly.>
moonlight gourami (maybe), and pearl gourami.
<Both lovely fish, but need a fair-sized tank, I'd say at least 25 gallons, and really, 30+ gallons given their maximum length around the 12-15 cm/5-6 inch mark.>
The last (pearl gourami) is one of my favorite non-domesticated freshwater fish. I know it's usually recommended for a larger tank, but if it would work as the only species in a twelve gallon, I'd be willing to do a species tank for it.
Are there any other small, "companionable" fish that I left out which would work? If so, please let me know!
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Eclipse Quarantine, plants with cories    2/24/12

Hi again!
Sorry I keep bugging you. I just want to be really sure about what I'm doing and being a naturally indecisive person…well. How does [control of algae by fast growing plants] work? It sounds fascinating just from what you said.
<The science isn't well understood. But it *does* work. It may be allelopathy, it may be higher plants remove nutrients before the algae.>
The Vallisneria or the Ceratopteris [grow slowly]?
I love the look of Corydoras sterbai, but I worry that 12 gallons isn't enough space. I'm supposed to keep at least six, right?
<5 or 6, yes.>
I love the "meadow" look, and if I don't get cories then I could probably give it a try. Could you maybe recommend a low-light hairgrass substitute?
<Alas, there isn't one. If there was, we'd all be doing that. All those tanks with turfs of short, grass-like plants receive strong lighting.>
(Both dwarf and giant) I'll be moving the tank to a college dorm at some point... Would that be a good time to change the substrate,
<Substrate is trivially unimportant compared to light intensity.>
or would it be too stressful for the fish
How big [do Panaque maccus get]?
<Around 10-15 cm.>
Would celestial pearl danios be better tankmates than (N-class, short-tailed) Endler's? They aren't as...disco-y-colored.
<These need cooler water than Bettas.>
Wouldn't they [Trichopsis pumila] get aggressive with that many?
<Not really, if you have lots of floating plants. Each claims a patch about 15 cm across, at most.>
Or are you talking about a sorority? If the males only posture, it could be interesting to watch, but only if they don't get overly stressed out.
Are there any strains, species variations of Trichopsis pumila? Or morphological differences? Even minor differences between individuals? (If the last, do their appearances ever change even a bit when they grow older?) I'd be worried about telling them apart! (mostly because I name everything...I once named a spider on my bedpost "Jiroumaru"...I think the cat ate him)
<Trichopsis pumila varies very little. It's a beautiful fish the way evolution crafted it; few fish, if any, have been truly improved by human breeding!>
So Bettas are [not especially intelligent]? If so, do you mean just Betta splendens, or all members of the Betta genus?
<No real experience of the mouthbrooding species. But most of the smaller Betta species, like B. splendens, are not noticeably smarter than gouramis or Paradisefish.>
If it is all members, which are the hardiest? Surely not fancy Betta...maybe B imbellis? Or a different species? Or are they all about the same, intelligence- and companionship-wise?
<Much of a muchness. None of the Bettas is especially delicate if given the right environmental conditions for the species. Merely research that aspect first, and stock accordingly. Some Betta species come from cool, fast-flowing streams, others from rainforest streams, others from still water habitats like ponds, and one even comes from slightly brackish water. There are several excellent books on Betta species (and Labyrinth fish generally) so avail yourself of these and read!>
While on the topic of Betta, since I noticed that wild-types are often found in pairs…
<Only while spawning.>
Are there any noticeable behaviors that pairs exhibit outside of spawning?
<Yes; the males drive the females from their territories. These are NOT pair-forming fish.>
Like, do they do things together/spend more time with each other than they would with others (same- or opposite-sex) of their species? If so, it would be fascinating to observe (and if I just got one maybe I could build a closer relationship with it; I know birds pair-bond with humans…it would be interesting to see if the same holds true to fish).
<Birds don't pair-bond with humans; they imprint. A very, very few (e.g. Parrots and Crows) may be smart enough to associate humans with food in the same way as cats, but none socialise with us in the same way as dogs.>
What about Carinotetraodon? Do dwarves/red eyes fit into the "smart fish" category?
<Not really, no. They're pretty shy.>
I don't think a Figure 8 would fit in a twelve gallon (well, I guess technically it would, but I think it needs at least thirty gallons...?).
<20 gallons is about right for a singleton, perhaps kept with a few Bumblebee Gobies.>
Plus, I'm very hesitant to go into brackish water.
<Well there you go. Missing out on an option.>
Most likely. All behavior is the result of a perceived benefit, etc...I'd probably buy a pair [of mouthbrooding Bettas] to watch them breed, then realize that I don't have the resources or time to keep the fry alive. Or are they hard to breed or easy/cheap to rear? They sound fascinating, though.
Could you define "curious"? What is the behaviour [of Sparkling Gouramis]?
<They swim about at the surface among the floating plants, Indian fern for example, and if you sit by the front of the tank, you can watch them explore, and they will even watch you for a while.>
Since I'm in a behaviorist "mood" right now (and really don't know what "curious" looks like in a fish). I have a 24 gallon hiding in the garage, but I can't get it out anytime soon, so I guess that's a no for this one.
<Hmm... do notice I had to reformat your reply quite a lot; it's easier for us if you write a new message with a series of questions rather than adding lines in between previous messages. Anyway, hope this helps, Neale.> 
Re: Eclipse Quarantine, plants with cories  2/25/12

It isn't so much that I don't like brackish water fish, more like I'm terrified of killing them.
<Hmm… wouldn't think like that at all. Assuming you provide brackish water -- which for Figure-8s means about SG 1.003-1.005, 6-9 grammes marine salt mix/litre -- brackish water fish are exceptionally hardy and disease-resistant. Few common parasites can survive in brackish water, and the slightly saline conditions reduce the toxicity of nitrite and nitrate. Marine salt mix buffers against pH changes, so that source of stress is minimised too.>
The 24 gallon I mentioned was a failed saltwater tank from when I was younger (and definitely NOT attentive nor mature enough to maintain a saltwater tank, let alone a nano). I've learned my lesson from that, but I really don't feel comfortable "starting over" with anything but freshwater now. Unless brackish fish are much more resilient than saltwater ones, I don't trust myself with them.
<They have to be much tougher than saltwater fish because their environment is, by definition, changeable, and often changes very rapidly. So brackish water fish have evolved to put up with changes that would kill either freshwater or saltwater fish.>
Also, as you said, I don't have the room for a figure eight puffer (I would if I took the nano out, but nobody in my family can lift it and I might not have room for it anyways). So unless there's a Tetraodon that can fit into a twelve gallon eclipse, I really don't think this is the best course for me, if nothing else than for the fish's sake.
So just to confirm, there's no room for Corydoras sterbai, correct?
<These do need 15, 20 gallons for a group of 5-6 specimens. Some people do keep them in smaller tanks, but I'd reckon 12 US gallons is a bit small for anything other than short-term care, e.g., breeding.>
And wild-type Bettas are as personable as fancies?
<Pretty much all much of a muchness. Bigger species like Betta pugnax seem to vary from quite bold (in the case of farmed specimens) through to surprisingly shy and jumpy (wild-caught specimens). I'd recommend you observe potential specimens in the retailer's tanks to see what you think. Inevitably, adding more floating plants and ensuring the right kinds of tankmates (if any!) will improve your results. Few, if any, Betta species are truly able to hold their own in mixed species tanks, but all can become quite tame when kept on their own.>
As far as Carinotetraodon goes, I really don't think shyness is an indicator of intelligence... In fact, if I kept one as a "pet", I'd see it as more something to work on. I've been told that puffers are food oriented, so that makes the issue of positive reinforcement an easy one to solve, as well.
<In which case I suspect you'll enjoy them. I've kept Carinotetraodon irrubesco, and found them to be shy in small tanks but in big tanks (around the 40-50 US gallon mark) they are so brave and outgoing they worked well with slightly bigger catfish, loaches, characins, and South American Puffers.>
Unless they truly are just stupid/less interested in their owners compared to the other genera.
<Hmm… no, not really stupid. Just shy. When I kept mine in a 10 gallon tank they hid ALL the time. Only when moved to the bigger tank did my group of 4 (2 males, 2 females) truly come alive and become interesting pets. Males would display for long periods, raising their crest and their own reflection, while the females, oddly, exhibits the more territorial behaviours, sometimes chasing the characins for very short distances if the latter approached their caves.>
If that's the case, it's really between B albimarginata (or some other wild type Betta; I think this species is one of the prettiest, personally), a honey gourami, a group of sparkling gourami, or a sorority of fancy Betta.
<All fine choices.>
With the first two, it appears that I would be able to keep some kind of dwarf Corydoras, as the temperature requirements are similar.
<Quite so. There are a variety of dwarf Corydoras species, but the standard one, Corydoras hastatus, is happiest between 22-25 C. Don't keep it any warmer than that though.>
I'm going to assume that I don't have room for the larger mouthbrooding Bettas. Is this correct? Ibcbettas only lists the required space for a pair or a group, and not for a single Betta…
<Varies with the species. Bear in mind Betta pugnax gets to about 10 cm/4 inches, which is about the size of an average Three-Spot Gourami. They're jumpy and predatory as well, so can be difficult to hold in small tanks or alongside small fish.>
Speaking of B albimarginata, is it easy to breed? I'm not planning to do so right now, but it could be interesting to try in the future.
<It's a mouthbrooding Betta, but not widely kept. I'm not an expert on these fish by any means, but Colin Dunlop wrote us a detailed review of a similar species, Betta rubra, that breeds in the same way. Do read:
Inevitably your main issues will be sourcing the fish and providing the right water chemistry. Once you've done that, mouthbrooding Betta species don't pose any particular problems. Cheers, Neale.
Re: Eclipse Quarantine, plants with cories    2/26/12
Hi Neale,
I pressed send by accident before I got a chance to finish (and ask if I could keep a sorority of conspecifics - aka two Bettas and a gourami, two honey gouramis and a Betta, etc - I'm not too sure if anyone's ever done that before…)
<Female labyrinth fish generally get along fine, though it's a good idea to keep either one or at least 3, so that dominance doesn't become an issue. But because female labyrinth fish aren't involved in broodcare and don't maintain territories, they generally aren't hostile to one another. The standard Betta splendens is a bit of an exception because we've bred it to be more aggressive, and for some reason, the females sometimes (though not always) share this trait to some degree. Often they'll be kept in groups of 6+ specimens.>
Anyway I just wanted to thank you for all the help you're being/have been. I know it's in my nature to ask a great deal of rather repetitive questions (stupid Aspergers, I don't really understand stuff that well otherwise...:P), and you've been very patient with that.
<No problem.>
Anyways, I get the feeling that I should stick with my original plan of labyrinth fish. It looks like all the puffers would probably do better with more a bit more space, so I'll keep them in mind for a future tank rather than cramming them in mine. Also, they appear to be more sensitive to water parameters (the small freshwater ones, at any rate). That would probably make them better candidates for a second aquarium, after I have some experience and prove to myself that I can keep up the water parameters (I consider myself a complete novice right now).
When you describe Betta pugnax as "jumpy", do you mean that they're skittish, or that they jump a lot? The context confused me a little.
<Both. They are nervous fish, at least for a while after purchased, and when alarmed, ALL Betta species, including B. splendens, will jump out of an open-topped tank.>
So would you say that one of the larger mouthbrooding Bettas may be more intelligent/personable than the smaller ones? For some reason I get that impression.
<They're more interesting. But more intelligent? Hard to say. None of these fish is smart in the way that a pufferfish is, or a large cichlid. They don't have the flexible behaviour patterns of cichlids or the clear, "searching" curiosity that puffers exhibit when foraging for food. I think a lot of aquarists find them very rewarding because they're unusual and show more "natural" behaviours. But the farmed Betta splendens is, like the Goldfish, habituated to human presence, and may, to some degree, be quicker to learn how to beg for food or whatever.>
Is Betta akarensis more sensitive than some of the other Bettas? Its species profile on Ibcbettas doesn't list it as being particularly adaptable to different types of water (ph), unlike many of the other fish on the site…
<There are indeed some rainforest species that do prefer acidic water. The IBC site is a good place to find out about this, but it is run for, and by, diehard Betta fans who are sometimes a bit more conservative than the casual hobbyist interested in successful maintenance but not breeding. Most Betta species are fairly adaptable, and Betta akarensis for example can thrive in slightly basic, moderately hard water (around 10 degrees dH, pH 7.5). Hmm… do have a look at Matt Ford's excellent "Seriously Fish" site, here:
He's quite realistic about what fish need in terms of water chemistry under aquarium conditions rather than merely listing the water chemistry of the place where they're found.>
Would you happen to know a good source of tank raised, captive bred wild-type Bettas? I'm having trouble finding them.
<In the UK at least, they're not too difficult to get hold of, if you know where to look. Whereabouts are you? I don't know the US market at all, and for that, you'd probably want to work through an American Betta or labyrinth fish society.>
Unfortunately, there isn't too much in the way of LFS around here, at least not that I know of, so my chances of observing captive wild-type Bettas are pretty slim. I have been in one that I found very nice (clean, good atmosphere, good selection, generally healthy fish), but it's not like I can just ask them to order a bunch of species for me so I can decide to buy just one.
Actually, on a side note, that shop was where I first started seriously thinking about getting a gourami instead of a Betta. There were some moonlight gouramis in there, and the way their long "feelers"/modified pectoral fins (there has to be a better term...) were constantly moving was the cutest and most fascinating thing ever to me. (...can you tell I'm easily amused?)
<A great species. These gouramis have pelvic fins covered with taste-buds, so as well as using them as feelers, they're like the whiskers or catfish. They are indeed fun fish to watch, and much underrated because they lack obviously bright colours. They're superb companions for Rainbowfish, the latter providing the colour, while the Gouramis bring the interest..>
What are those feelers used for, anyway? I'd guess to sense the environment, but are there any other functions?
Anyways, again, thank you so much for all your help!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Eclipse Quarantine, plants with cories    2/26/12

Thanks for the link; it's very helpful.
So a Betta splendens sorority should have at least six specimens? Or would five work just as well? Three? I remember reading somewhere about odd numbers spreading out aggression better.
<I'm sure smaller groups have worked on occasion, but six does seem to be the minimum number for reliable, long-term success. A lot depends on the size of the tank. If you had a 55 gallon tank and kept two, I'm sure they'd be fine! But in 10 or 15 gallons, there's little room for them to spread out, so you need to keep enough of them that no single specimen could become dominant and pester the others all the time.>
Do other (especially smaller) gourami use their "feelers" to the same extent that moonlight gouramis use them, or is it particular to that species?
<All the gouramis with feeler-like pelvic fins use them as sense organs.>
If it is particular to moonlight gouramis, how long could a moonlight gourami be kept in a twelve gallon before being transferred to a larger tank? (In other words, how fast does it grow?)
<Quickly; I wouldn't keep a specimen bigger than 5 cm/2 inches in a tank that size. Doing so really wouldn't be fair.>
This question also applies to figure 8 puffers.
<Again, up to a certain size, but after a few months, would surely need a 20 gallon tank.>
Do dwarf gourami females exhibit the same aggressive tendencies as the males sometimes do? (I already know to look for a US breeder should I decide to keep these.)
<No, it's really only female Betta splendens that exhibits substantial aggression. Oh, and maybe female Paradisefish, but that species is snappy anyway, which is why they're not as widely kept today as they were in the past. That's a shame, because they are very pretty fish that can do well in unheated tanks.>
I was wondering...Do dwarf puffers show the same tendency of hiding/shyness in a smaller tank as red eyed puffers do?
<On the whole, no, but they are smaller (so feel less cramped in small tanks) and are rarely mixed with other animals.>
About everything that I've read about them implies that they're fairly bold, at least if given the time…
Also, when you mentioned that your red eyed puffers were bolder in a larger tank, were there other variables besides tank size, such as density of plants?
<Not really.>
Alternately, could it have been due to the number of puffers per gallon rather than the tank size itself (if that makes any sense...)?
<No, it's the bigger tank. This species likes space.>
Thanks again.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Eclipse Quarantine, plants with cories, stkg. sm. sys.   
Hi, thank you again for all the help. I think I've decided on B pugnax.
<Real good.>
From what I've read it's among the best mouthbrooding Bettas to start out with.
<Does adapt well to aquaria; isn't especially demanding.>
Also, you (and some other sources) have described it as interesting, though I'm not really sure if you're referring to breeding (which I don't plan on doing at the moment as it sounds like it could get expensive, time-consuming...)
There is on thing confusing me, though. B pugnax appears to have a great deal of variation within the species, but I've found no information on which localities the different "types" occur in. For example: http://www.ecologyasia.com/verts/fishes/forest-betta.htm
Out of these, I like the first and the fourth one down, but I have no idea how to track down fish with those appearances. Could they just be misidentified? They look morphologically similar to me, apart from the markings…
<Tracking down specific races will be possible only through specialist collectors, which you'd likely contact through Anabantoids clubs. Just possibly, specialist importer-retailers can help; Frank's Aquarium in the US for example, or Wildwoods in the UK.>
Would it be alright to add B pugnax first, especially since I'd probably be getting a female? I'm stuck on cories or tetras for the tankmates right now (I love Congo tetras, but I think they get too big?)
<Would be careful here, because Betta pugnax can, will eat bite-sized tankmates. Corydoras sterbai is the obvious catfish companion, being tolerant of warmish water. In the midwater level, medium-sized schooling fish such as Bleeding Heart Tetras or Dwarf Rainbowfish would be good choices.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Eclipse Quarantine, plants with cories, chatting... other Betta sp., stkg. 12 gal.   3/3/12

Ah, I'd forgotten that Betta pugnax needs warmer temperatures than some of the other mouthbrooders.
The Rainbowfish are shiny…
I'm a bit worried about keeping a two inch long schooling fish in a twelve gallon tank that already will have a four inch long fish in it, though (um, just to confirm, this is enough space for B pugnax, correct?).
<Uh, no. Needs 20 gallons/75 litres.>
On your site, the male and female Dwarf Rainbowfish appear to be quite different colors, with the female being darker and more blue. Is this just the lighting?
<Only becomes apparent when sexually mature. Specimens sold in pet shops are immature and may look all the same. A common issue with Melanotaenia spp.>
I'm now considering Endler's again, but they would get eaten, right?
I'm also not sure I can keep just males without fighting (again, I really don't have the resources for breeding at the present time).
<Males Guppies can be aggressive towards their own kind and similar species.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Eclipse Quarantine, plants with cories  3/3/12

Oh, whoops. Guess I misunderstood something at some point and thought you were recommending B pugnax for my tank.
<Hmm… not for 12 gallons. Merely as an interesting alternative to B. splendens.>
Are there any similar species, which you would say are about as interesting and good for beginners but stay a bit smaller and would fit in a twelve gallon? Thanks.
<Many Betta species, including the Dwarf Mouthbrooder (Betta dimidiata), stay relatively small. Too many to list here, but you can peruse such books as the first two Baensch Aquarium Atlas volumes or the excellent Bettas, Gouramis and Other Anabantoids by Jorge Vierke. These will provide all the information your require (and the latter book is probably an essential purchase for someone with your interests). A few websites describe Betta species adequately well to be recommended, notably the excellent SeriouslyFish.com site, but also Fishbase, though this latter is aimed at professionals rather than hobbyists and doesn't "explain" much, it merely tells you the facts about a given species in the wild.>
If not I'll probably go with just one fancy Betta or honey Gourami and a small school of fish, which was my original plan (probably some celestial pearl Danios for the honey Gourami, or some sort of Boraras spp for the Betta...really I'd just go with the honey Gourami if I weren't thinking of keeping gouramis in a larger tank later).
<Real good.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Eclipse Quarantine, plants with cories... sm. sys. stkg.
 – 3/7/12
Hello! Again...
Um, I really sorry I keep bugging you. Really. Just...the fish is going to live for 5+ years so...it's sort of long term, you know? Although I really am too indecisive...
I'm going to look into the books you suggested (tried to purchase one, actually, but something came up and the payment couldn't go through).
<Do try and get the Vierke book; it's really useful, and second-hand copies cost very little.>
It is true that Anabantoids are generally some of the hardier fishes, correct?
<No. What is true is that labyrinth fish are (mostly) adapted to swampy conditions so they're less fussed by low oxygen concentration. But they aren't especially resistant to ammonia or nitrite, and poor water quality can harm them just as much as any other tropical fish. If they do have an advantage compared to cichlids, it's that they're less sensitive to nitrate and they're mostly less aggressive than cichlids tend to be. There are lots of exceptions though. Pikeheads (Luciocephalus spp.) are among the most delicate fish in the hobby, and Liquorice Gouramis (Parosphromenus spp.) are only marginally easier. Ctenops nobilis is a gourami that is notoriously difficult to get settled into aquarium life, hence its name "Frail Gourami", though at least part of this comes down to the fact it ships poorly and gets further stressed when kept at tropical -- as opposed to subtropical -- conditions. What I'm saying is that *some* labyrinth fish are easy to keep, others difficult, but all need the right conditions to do well -- and in that regard they're no different to anything else. They aren't bullet-proof fish by any means.>
It's part of the reason I want them as beginner fish as apposed to cichlids, which I read are generally a bit more delicate (and I'm fairly certain that most wouldn't even fit in my tank).
<Hmm… not really, no. There are some small cichlids, such as Apistogramma cacatuoides, that aren't especially difficult to keep given the right water chemistry and at-least reasonably good water quality management.>
This is going to sound weird, but do they sell little freeze dried snails for puffers?
<Not yet, no.>
The main thing turning me away from keeping puffers is the live snails they need to eat…
<Can be an issue.>
I would need to quarantine them or raise my own in a separate tank, and it could potentially get expensive on top of the other foods they need...
So are honey gouramis more or less curious than sparkling gouramis? Right now I'm under the impression that honeys and dwarfs are friendlier, and sparkling gouramis are more curious. Is the latter jumpy, or just timid?
<Sparkling Gouramis are small, and they know it, so they tend to be shy if kept with other fish, especially bigger fish. But on their own, or perhaps with Cherry Shrimps, they settle right down.>
Are dwarfs bolder than honeys?
<About the same, though Dwarf Gouramis are junk.>
Are celestial pearl danios easy to care for?
<Yes, if you give the right water chemistry and temperature.>
With six sparkling gouramis in a twelve gallon tank, is there any room for dither fish, and which species would be appropriate?
<I would either go with Dwarf Rasboras (Boraras spp.) or Cherry Shrimps.>
Would it be acceptable to keep only four sparkling gouramis in the same size tank to make room for dither fish?
Thanks. Hopefully I'll stop bugging you for a while after this, ahaha.
<Real good.>
PS What would you say are the most common diseases in aquaria?
<I believe that all deaths are caused by the "human factor" -- environmental stress by the pet owner adding fish to the wrong conditions, in terms of water quality, chemistry and temperature. Do bear in mind that it's when fish are stressed that Whitespot, Mycobacteria, Aeromonas, etc. become established and pathogenic. Well-cared for fish hardly ever get sick. If you think about the fact they're swimming about in a warm, organic material-rich aqueous environment ideal for culturing bacteria, it's astonishing how disease-resistant healthy fish can be. I'd guess something like 95% of the mortalities in aquaria are caused by environmental stress, with old age, bad genes, aggression, predation and simple bad luck being rather rare.>
I'm doing a project on diseases in aquaria in Vet Tech, and I really need to just pick the most common ones. So far I've got Ich, velvet, and cyanide poisoning (not a parasite/disease but the environmentalist in me wanted to cover it anyway), but I'm not sure what to put besides that.
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Fish to add    2/11/12
Hi, I hope you can offer some suggestions.  I currently have 10 zebra Danios and 3 Corydoras in a 10 gallon tank. I would like to move to a bigger sized tank but not too big. 
<Zebra Danios get to about 5/6 cm (a couple of inches) in length and need a good long swimming space, 60 cm/2 ft at minimum, so we're talking a "long" 20 gallon tank or larger.>
I'd like to add 3 Corydoras and one other species that I hope you can recommend.
<Almost anything happy at low-end tropical temperatures could work.>
What types of fish would add some color, be fun to watch (and not hide), and also be very peaceful / easy going?
<If the water isn't too hard, up to 15 degrees dH, pH 7.5, Neons, Glowlights, Harlequins X-ray Tetras and False Penguinfish would all be good choices. In harder water X-ray tetras will still work, as will Platies, Swordtails, Celebes Rainbowfish, Dwarf Rainbowfish and Australian Rainbowfish.>
And what is the minimum size tank I will need in order to add those fish?
<If just the smaller species, then any tank 60 cm/2 ft long; but the bigger species like Swordtails and Australian Rainbows will need at least 90 cm/3 ft.>
I've had some incompatible fish in the past and would like to make the best possible choices now.  Thanks so much for you help.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Hi, i was wondering, how many fish is to many fish for a 10 gallon tank?    2/11/12

<10 Neons and half a dozen Dwarf Corydoras (Corydoras hastatus) would be about right.>
I have a great filter
<Meaning what? An air-powered sponge filter is ideal for a Betta, but a small powered filter would be better for a school of Neons. And how long has the filter been running? What source of ammonia have you used to cycle it?>
and my water levels are good.
<Numbers are what I want. In any case, the right hardness for Neons won't be the right hardness for Endler's Guppies. So saying water levels are "good" is utterly meaningless. Do some reading:
Cheers, Neale.>

Tank set-up and fish advice.   2/7/12
Found your site shortly after I got my fish set up on their tank and thought I might seek advice on a couple of matters. I have a 36L tank (about 9.5gal)
with a beta, Bristlenose Pleco (2.5cm), black balloon molly, golden swordtail and red wagtail platy.
<'¦ and much overstocked, mis-stocked.
I 'think' they're all male, I stupidly forgot to keep track of what genders I was buying. Using fake plants; one leafy plant provides a low dark hiding area and a couple of others. Gravel substrate. 100W lamp set to 25 degrees Celsius and a filter that pumps a max of 350L/hour. I have a pH testing kit and it's hovering around 7.5 with daily testing and adjustment at the moment. I'm feeding them fish flakes and algae wafers. Flakes twice a day and algae wafer once a day. I've had this setup since Wednesday and my fish 'seem' to be doing mostly fine.
<For now. How did you cycle the filter beforehand?
For the first few days ammonia levels won't be much above zero and the fish will look fine. But a week in and ammonia will rocket, and a week later nitrite; both of these are lethal to your fish.>
My bristle nose appeared to lose a bit of colour, and a nearby fish shop suggested I do a partial water change every 3 days for a while.
<And the rest! If the filter wasn't matured for 4-6 weeks before adding the fish, you will need to do 25% water changes every 1-2 days. Trust me on this. Things may look fine, but that means nothing. If you don't do this, your fish will sooner or later start gasping and looking lethargic, and not long after you'll find your first sick or dead fish.>
My platy is currently spending most of his time hiding under the leafy plant and chasing away the swordtail when it comes near. Ignores the other fish.
From reading some of the FAQ's I'm running under the assumption that these could be stress and environmental issues. I don't have an ammonia testing kit (cost is rapidly becoming an issue).
<Get a nitrite (with an "i", not nitrate with an "a") test kit. It's the one kit you MUST have. All the others are optional extras, provided you know your water chemistry -- i.e., if you have soft water or hard water.>
I ran the filter in the tank for a few days before getting the fish, but didn't really understand why so probably didn't do anything and I'm assuming I don't have a good bacterial colony to break down the ammonia, so I'm trying to feed them less and performing the water changes. Using a gravel-vac for the water change. I don't think there's any specific illness as there haven't been any other symptoms I've noticed.
So is this a reasonable diagnosis?
Anything else you would suggest I do to make my fish more comfortable?
<See above; read.>
Also, I'm wondering if it's a good idea to get any more fish. Under the "2cm of fish for 1L",
<No!!!! Far too many fish. The old "inch per gallon rule" works out at about 2.5 cm per 4 litres. But this rule assumes [a] you're keeping small fish and [b] your aquarium is big enough for them in other ways too. Let's take an extreme example of a Great White Shark measuring 4 m, or 400 cm. If you allowed 2 cm for every 1 litre, that's be 200 litres for that fish. Obviously stupid. So, any of these rules is only as useful as the thought the fishkeeper applies when using them. For a 10 gallon tank, your fish are almost all the wrong size and temperament, needing more space -- Swordtails are fast-moving fish that need a tank more than 80 cm long, and Mollies are so aggressive and can get so big that anything less than 100 litres makes no sense at all. Even Platies, though somewhat smaller and less active, need more than 36 litres.>
if all these fish get to full size, then I'll fill half my quota. I'm thinking a small school of some kind of tetra, or one or two larger blue fish (blue to bring a little more colour to the tank). Or I may get some of the same species for company if my fish need it. So any advice on that subject would be welcome.
<For 36 litres, a school of 8-10 Neons and 6 "pygmy" Corydoras (such as Corydoras hastatus) would be about right, perhaps with a few Red Cherry Shrimp for colour.>
Cheers Olias
<And likewise, cheers, Neale.>
Re: Tank set-up and fish advice.    2/9/12

G'day again.
Thanks for your comments. It can always be hard to hear how bad your doing even if you already know it. But I appreciate because it's not my own comfort I'm looking out for here.
<Real good.>
The water had previously been cycled for 5 days with everything but the fish in place.
<It'll take at least 3, 4 weeks for the biological filter to mature --
assuming you're adding a source of ammonia. If all you're doing is running the filter with no ammonia source, then nothing will happen. It's just getting wet! The easiest way to cycle the tank is to add a small pinch of flake food daily. It'll rot and produce ammonia. Use your ammonia test kit; the ammonia level should rise to 1, 2 mg/l, maybe a little higher. But it'll eventually drop down to zero, at which point the filter is halfway to be mature. Keep doing the daily flake feedings another 2 weeks, and the second half of the process (nitrite to nitrate) should be done.>
I've already done a couple of water changes already but I'll bump up how often I do it. I also notice it's difficult to get around the plants and decor with the gravel-vac. Would it be a bad idea to remove the decor before starting a water change and replace them afterward?
<Makes no real difference. Keep the tank clean and remove uneaten food (once fish are installed) and any other organic crud but don't worry too much about cleaning the tank completely every week.>
As to the mis-stocking, ignoring for a moment the tank size, would it have been better if only one of the swordtail, balloon molly, and platy were male and the other 2 female? (I'm beating myself over the head for not checking what genders I was picking up.) Or is it generally bad to keep all those live bearers in the same tank? I see now the molly was a poor beginner choice.
<None of these species belongs in a 30-40 litre tank. Do read the articles linked last time.>
I may have gotten the numbers mixed up and it should've been 1cm/2L which is closed to the inch/gal.
I'll see about getting a nitrite testing kit as soon as I can. In the longer term I'll also see about acquiring a larger tank.
Thanks again for clarification.
<Glad to help, Neale.>

Unhappy Betta? Mis-mixed mystery     1/26/12
Our 10 gallon freshwater tank is about 4 weeks old. The water tests good. 
<Values please>
Our 5 Danios and one Betta got along fine, with the Betta swimming around the tank most of the time and taking food at every feeding.  About 10 days ago we added one male German blue ram
<Mmm, not easily kept... likes different water conditions... very warm, soft, acidic water...>

that swims around and is very peaceful.  At first they seemed to take turns spending time in the castle structure.  It seems that within a day or two after that the Betta stopped coming out to swim.  We spot him hiding out in the castle, sometimes way up in the turrets.  We can't tell if he's eating and almost never see him out.  The ram barely goes in there at all. A couple days later we added a Corydoras (that seems fine.) I'd like to add a female German Blue Ram, too.  2 questions:  1. Have you any advice or insight about the Betta's behavior?
<May well just be "natural"... or something could be deficient here...
environmental, nutrition... but you give no data re
Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/BetDisDiagF.htm
and the linked files above>
 2. Is this a good mix of fish / should the female ram be our last addition?
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/ramselfaqs.htm
and the linked files above...>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Unhappy Betta?, unhappy Bob when people don't follow directions     1/26/12

I can't believe you answered so fast.  Thank you very much!  The story has advanced since yesterday.  This morning the tank was suddenly cloudy so I took another water sample to the store.
<Such samples change w/ time, air mixing...>
  They said the water tested good.
They did say the water was slightly hard but my fish won't care.
<Wrong... read where you were referred. B>

 It's the store that's testing; that's why I have no actual values to tell you. 
Next time I will ask for specifics.  I came home and emptied half the tank, removed the castle (half expecting to see the beta dead inside) but the Betta was ok.  I changed the filter and siphoned the gravel and added conditioned water.  I added two new (fake) plants and left the castle out.
Now they can feel like they are hiding (I hope) but we'll still see them.
The water is 79 degrees and the store told me these fish would all be fine together at that temp.  The more I read on your site, the more I realize store info may not be the best.
So my updated questions: why would the water suddenly get cloudy overnight, and is there anything more I should do?  How should I handle having perhaps a less than ideal mix of fish (5 Danios, 1 Betta, 1 German blue ram, one Corydoras) and what problems should I watch for?  In my 10 gallon tank, can I still add fish and if so, what are some good options?  Also, twice the blue ram's stripes have faded out (now too) -- any idea why that happens?
Thank you very much. My family is new with fish and would like to do a good job.  We appreciate your expert assistance!

Yet Another Question About a 10 Gallon Tank    1/13/12
I know you get a lot of questions about tanks around 10 gallons,
<The most popular, numerous size in the hobby by far>
however after reading the ones I could find I have decided to ask you guys directly. Anyways, I will start off by saying that I, stupidly, bought a 3.5 gallon tank (that was advertised for "guppies, Betta, and other small fish") after deciding that I wanted to get my own tank for my new apartment. I got a couple male guppies and a baby snail, and now I know that guppies really need a bigger tank than this. I feel pretty guilty having my guppies in a tank this small so I looked into getting a tank anywhere from 20~40 gallons. Then, after some further research I asked my apartment manager what the policy was for fish tank in this size range.
Apparently I need to get renters insurance for any tank over 10 gallons.
So, I guess my question is, is it even worth getting a 10 gallon tank or is it fairly hopeless for a new fish keeper to maintain such a small tank?
<Is not hopeless and IS far better than the 3.5 in terms of stability, stocking possibilities, and maintenance>
Are there some 10 gallon fish tanks that will work better than others (like longer ones)?
<Not really... the standard... I think it's something like 20" by 10" by 12"? Is about the best shape all the way around>
My parents advice (they have had a 100 gallon freshwater tank over the years when I was growing up, but the last time it was set up was probably when I was 10ish so I don't remember much about fish keeping) was to stay with my small 3.5 gallon tank for now until I learn how to balance the chemicals and such in a tank, then get a 10 gallon tank or renters insurance and a bigger tank.
<Good advice as well>
However, this seems counter intuitive to me because as far as I can tell from my research the smaller the tank the harder this is to do. Which should I do (or neither)?
<Up to you. Both paths have their merits>
Also, if I decide on a 10 gallon tank what fish and how many could I keep in it with male guppies?
<5-10 depending on individual temperament, size>
I also want to note that thankfully I have found a well stocked LFS with what seem like knowledgeable employees. Unfortunately, this is not where I got my tank and my fish.
<I see; good to give them your business then eh?>
Thank you,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

What fish to get? FW, sm. sys.   10/10/11
Dear Crew
I have been perusing your website and you give some great advice, so I was wondering if you would be so good as to answer my questions. :)
I have a 16.4 gallon tank. It measures 14.5 inches wide, the same deep, and 18 inches high (not a large footprint, but the best I could do in a small bedroom). It is heavily planted (heaps of lace fern, elodea, Ambulia, rush, Rotala wallachi, java fern, violet (not true aquatic, I believe, but doing ok for now), java moss, Anubias, pennywort, Microsword, dwarf hairgrass, duckweed, maybe some other stuff but I can't remember).
<Wow! Lots of plants>
I also have a driftwood cave. It has a Fluval U2 Internal filter, baffled so it produces a low current. The substrate is sand in the centre with a gravel border.
Current stock is 3 panda cories, 6 ember tetras and a large breeding colony
of red cherry shrimp. They get daily 10% water changes. The temp is 80F.
I use Prime as a water conditioner. My ammonia and nitrites are zero, pH 7. I would tell you nitrates, but my kit is broken. Sorry if this is all a bit over-detailed, but I'm taking you at your word when you asked for specifics.
Anyway. A few days ago I lost my beloved female Betta Athena. It may have been dropsy, as she bloated and pine-coned in the last few hours (it was really sudden). None of my other fish are at all sick, though. How long should I wait before adding a new fish?
<A few days>
Secondly, what sort of fish should I add? I have a male Betta, Apollo, in a 5 gallon of his own, but I'm not sure if I want to move him. He had a rocky start in life (his previous owner kept him in a 1.25 litre jar) and has recurring fin rot problems, so I kind of like having him separate, and I'm also not confident that he wouldn't bully the other fish. Also, he is pink and purple, which (and this sounds really silly) just doesn't go with my tank decor. I want a fish that looks as stunning as my gorgeous sapphire blue Athena did. So, if you could advise me on the following options as tankmates, that would be great.
A different male or female Betta (if so, what colour?)
A dwarf Gourami
A honey Gourami
A blue ram (I realise my tank probably isn't wide enough)
A trio of male guppies or male Endler's
<I'd lower the temp to the mid 70's F if going this last route>
Something else you can suggest that I haven't thought of.
<Mmm, another male Betta or Macropodus likely, rather than one of the stated gouramis... or a pair of dwarf Cichlids... Something in the way of a centerpiece>
Sorry that this is really long! I take a lot of pride in my tank and I really want it to look amazing. I also really want a fish that won't eat/harass my tetras and shrimp. Besides Bettas, my fish-keeping experience is really limited. I also want a fish that won't be unhappy in the confines of my 14.5 inch tank footprint, because I realise that this is pretty small.
<Yes; I share your concern>
Sorry to bother you guys on something relatively unimportant, too.
I have asked on various forums, but I'm simply not getting the information I need.
Thanks so much
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Tetra 10 gallon half moon tank stocking and care help needed   9/11.5/11
I started with a 3 gallon led half moon tank, I was just going to house one simple Betta fish in there. I was very quickly addicted, so of course I wanted more. I added two emerald cories. Knowing that this was not enough space, I went and bought the Tetra 10 gallon half moon tank and moved my new babies into it( sadly before doing much research on it and am sick now that I could have had a much larger tank with what I have already spent on the tanks I have). Then I added a very small common Pleco (I know he will grow big… but I have plans for him when he gets even a little bit bigger.. he will be moved to a different tank). Plans are already in the making for a much larger tankan… somewhere between a 30 -55 gallon ( I need to consider weight of the tank as I live in a very old country house not sure if floors would hold up to the weights). However, this will take several months, as I need to space out the purchases for the new bigger setup. I will then make sure I properly cycle the tank before putting any fish into it.
Normal tap water measurements (after water sits for several hours):
Very shallow well water (original hand dug 40 foot well)
alkalinity/buffering capacity=300
total hardness=near the 425 mark
<This is very hard water. Few South American or Southeast Asian fish will do well in these conditions, though there are a few. Central American fish (such as livebearers) and fish from the African Rift Valley lakes are obvious candidates for this sort of water, as well as brackish water fishes, which will enjoy these conditions very much if you ALSO add some marine aquarium salt mix, as little as 3 grammes/litre, depending on the species.>
Numbers From my current 10 gallon half moon shaped tank 8 hrs after a 40% water change tank water was treated with AquaSafe plus
Water temp = 78 degrees Far.
Fish currently residing in the 10 gallon half moon shaped tank. (this tank is taller about 18 inches tall, rather than being long and has a whisper 10 filtration system. Other pert. Information substrate=regular aquarium gravel. Fabric aquarium fake plants. 2 decor hiding places at bottom and a floating aquarium log for hiding.
Houses: 1 veil tailed Betta, 2 emerald Corydoras, and a 2 in common small Pleco.
<Corydoras need to be kept in groups rather than singly or pairs. And, just for the record, it's one Corydoras, two Corydoras. Like sheep. The Latin name is Corydoras, from whence the common name. But what worries me slightly is that Emerald Corydoras are, in the US at least, nothing of the kind -- they're a species called Brochis splendens that gets to about 8 cm/3 inches long but is very chunky and so needs plenty of space. I wouldn't rate them for anything less than 30 gallons. Anyway, the "Common Small Pleco" is either a baby Pleco, usually a Pterygoplichthys species, which will get to 45 cm/18 inches within a couple years, or else a Bristlenose Catfish, Ancistrus sp., which will get to about 12 cm/5 inches and makes a SUPERB choice for aquaria 15 gallons upwards.>
Question #1: Can I add more fish to this tank? I would love to get more emerald Corydoras and perhaps some middle of the tanks swimmers. If I can add more fish, what would you suggest, Keeping in mind that my water is naturally very high in pH and hardness and alkalinity. Is it safe to add some small shrimp like the cherry or ghost shrimp?
<I would not add substantially more fish in the 10 gallon tank. Do read:
Question #2: For when I get my larger tank set up, can you list types of fish that would acclimate well to my water (being it is naturally high in pH, hardness, and alkalinity? I would love wonderful colors of course and I do seem drawn to bottom dwellers (catfish, sharks, loaches, and Plecos) but I know , even in a larger tank, I can only have so many bottom dwellers.
<There are lots of options for hard water. Do read here:
Tanganyikan fish are also an option:
While most are suitable for their own, themed system only, some species mix rather well in community tanks, for example a singleton or paired Julidochromis ornatus will do well in a quiet community tank. Similar the Tanganyikan catfish Synodontis multipunctatus is a colourful, sociable species. Shell-Dwellers are another option, provided you don't expect them to cohabit with other bottom-dwellers. They get on great with things like Guppies, for example. Shrimp are easy to keep, and will thrive in hard water, but they're vulnerable to being eaten by larger fish, and they're also killed stone dead by many medications, including those that treat Whitespot (specifically, copper). So while they're an option, I'd set up your big tank first, then tailor your 10 gallon system for shrimps, settle in a few mini fish like Endler's Guppies, and after a few weeks when you're sure those fish are healthy, add the shrimps.>
Question #3: Since my water is naturally so high in pH, alkalinity, and hardness, should I treat it with something to bring those levels down (either biologically or chemically)? Or do I just get fish that can live within those parameters? Or do I only use bottled water for my tanks? Hopefully, I do not have to go that route as bottled water for a 55 gallon tank would end up getting very pricey.
<Unless you have 2-3 years fishkeeping experience under your belt, and you really UNDERSTAND how water chemistry works, I would NOT change your water chemistry.
On that path lies much confusion and potential for dead fish!>
Thank you in advance for whatever you are able to provide to me.
<Do hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Tetra 10 gallon half moon tank stocking and care help needed   9/11.5/11

Thank you so much for your answers. I have read and reread and reread the links you provided.
<Glad to help.>
Oh boy, I am even more confused than ever. You recommended adding marine salt to the tank for the hardness.
<No, I didn't. Read again. If stocking a brackish water tank with brackish water species (like, for example, Bumblebee Gobies, Endler's Guppies and Limia species) then yes, you add a small amount of marine aquarium salt mix. But if the tank is stocked with freshwater fish, like Corydoras, then salt isn't used and you don't keep brackish water fish. I made the point brackish water fish are an option because there are quite a few nice small species sold, and given you have hard water, they'd likely do extremely well with the addition of a little marine salt mix. So they're an option for alongside your other options.>
Isn't that harmful to the emerald Corydoras
<Yes, very.>
*or Brochis splendens, as you pointed out that is most likely what I really have in the United States*? I am sorry that I purchased them for my tank, the pet store worker told me they would be fine as the pair in my little 3 gallon tank.
<That person was wrong. But even a good shops, it's still a good idea to read up on a fish before purchase. At minimum, read up on the temperature, water chemistry, size, and social behaviour on any given fish. If all else fails, sneak a peak at one of the books in the aquarium shop -- and one thing the best shops have is a fish encyclopedia or two set aside for shoppers. Most libraries will have a few books on tropical fish, and bookstores have plenty, including budget options via Amazon or Half Price and other such discounters.>
But now I have them and don't want to hurt them. So I guess I will speed up the purchase of the larger tank, then I can get the appropriate number for them. But that will still take at a month by the time I purchase and cycle.
<Yes, but you can use live media from the existing aquarium to dramatically speed up the process. Adding a few cups of gravel will speed things up by a week or two by introducing the right kind of bacteria, while adding mature media from the actual filter will add another week or two off the process.
Any mature filter (meaning one at least 6 weeks old) can stand to lose up to 50% of its biological media (the sponges or ceramic noodles) without losing much capacity to clean water. If you're taking 50% of the media from a filter on a 10 gallon tank for a 50 gallon tank you won't be taking enough to instantly cycle the tank, but it sure will speed up the maturation process in the new tank.>
When I asked regarding getting more fish for my tank, I did not mean I wanted to get a bunch more. I will wait for my larger tank to determine what I end up with. I just meant. Could I get 2 more of the emerald Corydoras and maybe a couple cherry shrimp.
<For the 10 gallon tank? Do read the article sent, and at least initially, the old "inch per gallon" rule for fish makes a lot of sense, provided all the fish are no more than a couple inches long. (The rule falls apart the bigger the fish: if you think about a 12-inch fish like an Oscar, it obviously can't live in a 12-gallon tank, and a 55-inch fish like a Shark wouldn't even fit in a 55-gallon aquarium!). Shrimps add little to the loading, so within reason, you can add a dozen to even a 10-gallon tank without dramatically affecting water quality. Once the tank is mature and you know everyone is happy in there, say, six months after setting up, you can increase the number of fish a bit, by perhaps up to 50% more if the fish are all small little things.>
Not substantial adding of livestock. Maybe a middle swimmer (one or two).
I want to make all inhabitants of my current system as happy and healthy as possible until I am able to get the bigger setup. I know I cannot add many more as my surface area on the stupid half moon setup is mostly a waste but was hoping that I could really add the extra Corydoras getting them as close to a school as a possibly can would make them healthier until the new setup is complete.
I should have known, I would never have been happy with these stupid little tanks. Please continue to advise newcomers that these taller tanks, although cute, just aren't that adaptable to maintaining a nice community tank.
Thanks again,
<I did write a piece a while back suggesting 10-gallon tanks be sold with health warnings. Yes, you are quite right, these small tanks are often a waste of money because they're so limiting. The costs come from the heater, filter and lighting, and buying these for a 20 gallon tank isn't much more expensive than for a 10 or 5 gallon tank. So the fact the 10 or 5 gallon tank itself is cheaper is a bit of a pointless economy because you won't actually save much, if any, money in the long run, and your fishkeeping options are much more limited. Factor in sick fish and the cost of medicines, and most people will find starting with a "long" 20 gallon tank BY FAR the best value and the most fun. With all this said, 8-10 gallon tanks can be used for quarantining new fish and as breeding tanks, so aren't completely without use. I have an 8-gallon tank that sits on a windowsill so that it lights up for free, and it's a great place to spawn fish or rear their babies. Other folks use small tanks for just Bettas, or shrimps, snails and aquatic frogs, the latter making a fun "critter" tank with a whole different flavour to a usual fish tank. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Tetra 10 gallon half moon tank stocking and care help needed 9/12/11

Thanks so much for reply. I really wish I would have found this site sooner.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
But like most people, I made the purchase then went searching on the web.
Funny, I do the complete opposite when making other purchases. By the time my new tank is ready to stock, I will have read through most of the site.
I love the African Lake Rift with the Tanganyika recommendation. The fish seem so cool. Will they work with the green Corydoras?
<On the whole, no. But there are a few exceptions. Julidochromis ornatus should work, Neolamprologus brichardi probably will work, given space, and Altolamprologus calvus should work too, but they're predators that will eat bite-size fish. Singletons of all these will be safe, but territorial pairs will be more defensive. Steer clear of Malawian cichlids (what pet stores often label, carelessly, as Mbuna or Mixed African cichlids) as these tend to be MUCH more aggressive than Tanganyikans. Apart from Cyprichromis species, I can't think of any Malawian cichlid that makes a worthwhile community fish. Cyprichromis are charming, colourful fish, but somewhat difficult to keep, so by all means Google them, but approach with caution.>
Can you recommend a good online supplier for livestock. We only have one store : a pet store chain (pet supplies plus) and they do not have much of a selection fish wise and many of their fish don't look all the healthy. In fact, I was there last night and at least 3 tanks had dead fish. Very Sad.
<I really can't offer any recommendations here, since my knowledge of the US marketplace is limited. I suggest asking around on forums, like the WWM Forum, so you can get opinions from other aquarists in your part of the planet: http://wetwebmediaforum.com/
Wanted to let you know, that my fish (the Betta, 2 Corydoras and the Pleco) all seem to be doing ok for now. Although not in the best environment. But I am moving quickly on getting the larger setup. The Corydoras seem very shy after any kind of change to the tank including water changes, but are back to themselves after 24 hours. Is this normal?
<If in small groups, then yes, it's quite normal for Corydoras and Brochis species to be shy and nervous. Keep 5, and they're more outgoing.>
Thank you again, this site and your help has been marvelous. I will highly recommend to anyone considering getting a tank. I will be doing much more resource as I am waiting for next tank to cycle.
<Glad you feel things have improved and you're enjoying your hobby. Good luck, Neale.>

Fish population problem   9/5/11
Hi WWM Crew,
Good morning!
<Fivish here in Fiji; whassup?>
I found your site from a link from Google and started reading fish forums. I really love it and your comments and suggestions are really informative and helpful.
I'm quite a beginner and I wanted to start freshwater aquarium as a hobby.
At the moment, I have a 35 x 21 x 23 cm glass tank filled with the following population: 2 guppies, 5 yellow honey gouramis, 5 cherry barbs, 2 blacktailed Platies, 2 pencil fishes (I'm quite unsure which species of pencil fish it is), 2 silver tetras, each with a horizontal black stripe in the middle (I'm also not sure of their real names), 1 albino Cory, and 4 bottom crawling fishes which similar to the Cory, is just that that they are gray in colour.
<You're overstocked mate>
I would like to ask help because before there are 4 guppies and 2 of them just died today and also found out that their tail fins are having like "chewed" scars by another fish.
I'm not sure which fish/es is/are the culprits.
<Mmmm, my guess is nobody you've listed... likely environmental... "rot"... What re water quality measures, your system's filtration, maintenance... reading ahead of writing us?>
Please give me advices <Is this a word?> and suggestions about which fishes are "ideal" to mix and how can I improve the current setup I have so that I can avoid further decline of population of each species.
<Search WWM re the species you list... and read here:
Thank you very much.
Your prompt reply would be highly appreciated.
Best Regards,
<Right... Bob Fenner>
: Fish population problem   9/5/11

Hi Bob/WWM Crew,
Wow! That was a quick response. Cool!
I hope you're enjoying your holiday there in Fiji.
<So far...>
Here it goes: the tank is currently filled at the bottom with gravel, 2 kinds of live plants (one looks like a grass-type one and the other has a pine tree-leaf like appearance). Then for additional accessories, I've added in seashells wherein the fishes could explore and hide on.
<Hope these are not too sharp or chemically trouble>
The recent ones things I've added in the tank are some glow-in-the-dark plastic rocks.
Regarding your question about the water quality measure, err.... I would say I'm not sure if I'm doing the proper things here. I mainly use tap water. I put the water in a bucket first then I add a capful of blue BIO STRESS water. After that, I also treat it with it a half capful of Myxazin Anti Fin rot before adding it to the tank. I usually do this monthly.
<Mmm, I use just tap water m'self... Why the medicines here?>
For water filtration, I currently have one sponge type filter, but I'm planning to replace it soon because its kinda "sucking" in the small barbs and pencil fishes. I also had a small air pump under the gravel.
The tank is lit a night by a mounted white tube lamp and I turn it off during day time. Fairly that's about it for the tank setup.
You have mentioned regarding environmental factors that have killed the 2 guppies. Would you guys please suggest on how to improve the current environment and setup?
<Please see WWM re... too much to keep restating>
I'm planning to segregate the fishes soon. I'm still quite new to your site and though and I have done some random readings. Any tips for the proper fish groupings for the community I have below?
<These also are posted... Do you see our search tool at the bottom left of each page?>
Thank you so much.
Best Regards,
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: Fish population problem  9/5.5/11

Hi Bob,
<Big A!>
Sorry mate, can you provide me the link relating on how I could best sort my group of fishes.
<Mmm, well... you could wind your way through our various FW stkg. FAQs:
the first tray... but I'd encourage you to at least try using the search tool w/ Darrel's hot tips: http://wetwebmedia.com/Googlesearch.htm
are you familiar w/ the basics of Boolean logic?>
I'm quite having difficulty lookin' for it.
I'll be getting a new 10 gallon tank soon.
<Oh! Then def. see Neale's article on stocking small systems, the related FAQs>
Thanks a lot for your help.
Best Regards,
<Happy searching/reading. B>

Male Guppy Compatibility, stkg. 5, 10 gal.    7/11/11
Hello there. I have 1 male fancy guppy and 3 peppered Corydoras in a 10 g tank. I would like to add more fish, but upon doing research, I can't figure out what will work with the male guppy (I do not want female guppies-no babies!).
<Mmm, small Rasboras, Danios are some good groups to consider>
I tried a male tiger platy, and it seemed like the guppy was trying to mate with him- the guppy would swim backwards towards the platy, and anywhere the platy was, the guppy was hovering over him. Finally the guppy took to "dive bombing" the platy, so I returned the platy to the store.
I was wondering if honey Gourami's would be okay. Either a male and female, or maybe 2 females would be better?
<Colisa chuna is a good choice... pairs or not>
If not, any suggestions? Someone suggested rainbow fish to me, but I don't care for them.
<Are too active, almost all species too large for a ten gallon>
They also said Neons, but I'm not so sure (I have hard water). My other concern is, even with my air conditioning on, since it's summer, my tank stays at 80-82 F. I was considering just re-homing the male guppy, but still concerned what I could have with those temps. It seems like most tropicals, besides livebearers, like it a little cooler, but maybe 82 is still do-able?
<Better in the mid 70's F.>
I was considering harlequin Rasboras, glow light tetras or gold tetras.
<Depending on just how hard your water is... you might do well to mix in some RO>
Also, my mom is setting up a 5 g tank to get a Betta. Besides Corys and shrimp, she was wondering too if honey Gourami's would be compatible with the Betta.
<Not really>
Does the sex of each matter, meaning would it work if they were all female?
Or could a male Betta and 2 female Gourami's get along?
<Not likely in this volume>
She was also wondering about cherry barbs with the Betta.
<These might go... or Endler's>
Thanks for any help you can give!
<Please see WWM re... the Compatibility FAQs files for each species you have in mind... learn to/use the search tool, indices. Enjoy the process.
Bob Fenner>
Re: Male Guppy Compatibility   7/11/11
I just thought of another idea too. Lets say I do get 2 female guppies and the honey Gourami's- would the honey Gourami's pretty much ensure all the babies are
eaten (I hope that doesn't sound too terrible!)?
<It does not, and they may well do so in the confines of a ten gal.. BobF>
Thank you,
Re: Male Guppy Compatibility   7/11/11
Hi again. Thank you for your response. The honey Gourami's I was considering
are Trichogaster chuna.
<Ah yes... the new/est scientific name>
From my research, I've read they should be kept in pairs of 1 female to 1 male, or 1 male to a few females, since the males can be aggressive with one another. I believe Colisa chuna is the same fish.
<It is>
From your response, it seems it's okay to keep just 1?
<Likely so>
As far as the temperature, of course the heater is turned off, it's just the warmth of the room that keeps the tank at 80-82 F, even with air conditioning. I do not know the measurements of how hard my water is, but it's not slightly hard, it's definitively HARD. What is RO?
<... please learn to, use the search tool on WWM... Reverse Osmosis>
I'm assuming that would be for the benefit of Rasboras or tetras, if I decide to acquire them?
<The latter, yes>
From my reading, it seems guppies are okay in hard water.
As a side note, I really like the dwarf croaking Gourami (Trichopsis pumila), but I haven't seen them sold in stores.
<Are a bit rare, sporadically available in the trade>
I have done research on your site, but it tends to get confusing; not every responder holds the same philosophies.
<A good thing I'd merit>
I really enjoy your site
though- everyone is very knowledgeable!
Thank you,
<Certainly welcome. BobF>
Re: Male Guppy Compatibility   7/11/11

Hi, Lorie here again. Well I'm sure the different philosophies are due to everyone's different experiences with keeping fish. I know too you can't always go by what you read in books. I recently acquired two books on selecting tropical fish for your tank (An Essential Guide to Choosing your Tropical Freshwater Fish, Gina Sandford, and The 101 Best Tropical Fishes, Kathleen Wood). Both books say that you can keep a male Betta fish with 2 or 3 female Bettas. But from doing research on your site, this seems like a very bad idea.
<Exceedingly poor>
I suppose sometimes it's a matter of trial and error to see what works, but I wouldn't risk it with Bettas.
Well I believe I am going with the Harlequin Rasboras- they were my first choice anyway. Although no tetras for now, I will look up reverse osmosis to just learn. I definitely don't know anything about that.
<In a world of dwindling water quality, a worthy tool for making water more potable>
Thank you again!
<Welcome. B>

sunset platy active happy sole survivor (5 gallon tank, not cycled, lots of fish dying'¦)    4/20/11
<Hello Julia,>
My boyfriend and I purchased a 22 litre tank over 2 weeks ago.
<22 litres is about 5 US gallons'¦ too little for the fish you want to keep. None of these fish will have much of a lifespan in here. Perhaps you've left a zero off? 220 litres would be a nice big tank, more than 55 US gallons, and a good, if ambitious, starting point for a beginner. But 22 litres, nope, no value in fishkeeping, except perhaps as a home for a single Betta. It's a shame beginners buy these aquaria. They're a total waste of money, and, ultimately, a waste of fish lives.>
We kitted it out with gravel, a live plant, a rock with good hiding potential, and a couple of plastic things to give the fish more to explore and hide in and around then we cycled it, adding bits of fish food every other day to help mature the tank for 7 days, as we researched 5-7 days should be enough for a tropical tank. So the water temperature is 25-26 degrees at the furthest point away from our heater (which is suitable for up to a 30 litre tank) We have used a water conditioner with the cycling of our tank also to reduce traces of heavy metals and such.
<Water conditioner DOES NOT speed up cycling. Cycling only happens once there's a source of ammonia, ideally a non-living source like a small daily pinch of flake food. Let's get back to basics. Biological filtration exists to remove the ammonia excreted by your fish. It works by having bacteria that first process that ammonia into nitrite (which is also toxic) and then into nitrate (which is relatively non-toxic). Without ammonia, the bacteria would "starve" so you won't get an aquarium cycling -- i.e., developing its biological filter -- until ammonia is added. The old school approach was to add a few hardy fish, with the hope that these would survive the inevitable non-zero ammonia and nitrite levels through the 4-6 weeks it takes for the tank to cycle (often called "maturing"). The downside to this was that many fish didn't survive this process, and I'm fairly sure that's why you're losing fish. Finally, let's be clear that water conditioners don't have anything to do with cycling. Even if they remove ammonia, they remove ammonia *from the tap water* only. They won't remove ammonia excreted by your fish.>
So after a week we added 2 scissortail Rasboras (left the bag in the tank for half an hour, then adding bits of tank water in ten minute intervals until an hour has been spent acclimatizing the fish to the new water). The reptile/aquarium shop told us they would be good tank starters.
A couple of days later they were still ok and the water had stayed clean, so we went to get a sunset platy as we researched they were peaceful community fish and not to big for our tank.
<Where did you research this? I assume not in a book. Platies need, at minimum, 60 litres, about 15 gallons.>
We've named her Goldy and she's very active, eats well, poo's well etc..
<'¦etc., from "et cetera", the Latin meaning "and so on"...>
However a few hours after adding her to our tank one of the Scissortails died, and 24 or so hours later the 2nd scissortail died also. Then we researched how they can become stressed if not in a shoal because goldies still going strong.
<Killed by the aquarium; nothing to do with the lack of numbers, though yes, they need to be kept in groups of 6 or more.>
So we left her alone for a couple of days to make sure she survived and it wasn't the tank water and then added 2 neon tetras. The water cannot have been mature enough for these fish because they were dead within 6 hours even though I grilled the aquatic store staff and he was sure they'd be ok.
<Look, stop relying on your retailer. The guy you're speaking to is clearly an idiot or so amoral he's happy to sell you fish he knows will die. Or else, are you telling him accurately the size of the tank, how long its been running, etc.? In any case, read a book. There are lots aimed at beginners. You NEED to read one.>
So we then decided it made sense to get Goldy another sunset platy (since she's taken to the tank so well) out of the same tank in the shop that she came from. Turned out Goldy was female and the other was male when we looked into sexing them. But he didn't pester her, she pestered him a little so he took to hiding in the rock straight away but then he'd come out for food and he'd be out and about from time to time over the next couple of days and they seemed fine.
He always seemed to rest on the bottom a lot though and I found him dead this morning. He also had a white spot near his top fin that I hadn't noticed before.
<Indeed? In any case, also killed by your aquarium and, frankly, lack of planning.>
But somehow in the fishy chaos, Goldy is still happy as a queen swimming about, eating-been in the tank nearly a week. Just don't know what to do next, we'd like more then one fish and was hoping to get a couple of baby angels in a week or so when the tanks matured more, but Goldy's the only fish surviving! Please help!?
<No, you cannot keep Angelfish in this aquarium. MUCH TOO SMALL.>
I've read some of your other Platy queries and suggestions on the website and im going to add floating plants and get a tank tester kit to check nitrate and ammonium-I'm going to add high fibre micro pellets to the diet also. How about trying another female platy with her?
<Not until you buy a bigger aquarium. This one is a death trap. Don't need me to tell you this -- I'm sure deep down you realise this -- but everything you're adding to this tank is going to die. It's too small and not properly cycled.>
Thank you-hope you can help
Julia & Steve
<I hope I can help too. Let me point you in the direction of articles you NEED to read:
Do also have a read of the article in the current WWM Digital on the "accidental aquarist" that gives you some tips on how to look after fish on a budget:
For your ambitions to work, you need 15-20 gallons, a mature filter, and yes, test kits to measure, at minimum, pH and nitrite (with an "I"). Now, I know when I write messages like these some folks take offence and think I'm being mean to them. That's not my intention at all. But unlike the guy in the pet shop, I'm not selling you anything, I'm instead telling you the truth, served straight up. So forgive my bluntness, and instead focus on what you need to do/read to sort things out. I'm here to help if I can. Cheers, Neale.>

Stocking question: small tank, FW livebearers sys. mostly -- 03/20/11
Hi. I'm new at fish ... and I've spent more extra time than I have, recently, browsing your site. I am finding it very helpful.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
So the kids were given a 14 gallon tank a few months ago, and we set it up, and waited, then went to the LFS for fish ... ending up with a swordtail,
<Needs more space than this.>
a lyre tail Dalmatian molly and a balloon molly.
<As do Mollies, though Balloon Mollies, being stunted and deformed, can't swim well and may do OK in a tank this size. In any case, where Mollies need warm water, Swordtails prefer cooler conditions and strong water currents -- their long, streamlined shape is an adaptation to life in streams rather than pools.>
Then came the part with the Ich, and where we did some things wrong and learned a lot, and if the balloon molly hadn't stuck with us I would not be writing this. She has cycled and re-cycled a main tank and also the even-smaller tank I quickly realized we needed for hospital / quarantine / fry (!).
Fast forward to today, where we have the balloon molly, a black molly, a Mickey mouse platy, a red wag platy and two platy fry in the 14 gallon (all 4 adults are female - we were lucky there) as well as five platy fry in a 2.5 gallon. I don't plan to keep the fry long term, but they are cute ... and although I now realize the tanks are small, those aren't changing any time soon.
<Again, Platies come from a cooler environment than Mollies, and do best kept around 22-24 C/72-75 F. Mollies, at least the farmed varieties, thrive best kept warm, 25-28 C/77-82 F. While it isn't 100% essential, Mollies do favour brackish water conditions, or at least aquaria where around 2-3 grammes of (preferably marine aquarium) salt is added per litre/0.25 US gal. of water.>
My question is: is this a stable setup?
<Not ideal, no.>
An ok number of fish, compatible types and could the mollies be reasonably happy in 14g? (I have been reading!) They seem to get along. The balloon molly is the alpha female of algae wafers, although she and the black molly seem to take turns bullying each other, I can't always tell which is the aggressor. I have seen them do laps around the tank. The platies are significantly more skittish overall. I am expecting molly fry to appear at some point (after all, it hasn't been 6 months). Would it help to have a cleaning fish? If so, what?
<If you think a fish will clean your aquarium, you misunderstand. Retailers will sometimes tell you that you need to buy a "cleaner fish" but that's nonsense. Adding any fish will make it dirtier. If you had a live-in maid in your home, your house would actually be messier in terms of sewage and trash. Just the same in an aquarium. Plus, whereas a maid might do some tidying up, fish don't work that way at all, and certainly no catfish or loach will eat fish wastes as some retailers seem to suggest! By all means add some Cherry Shrimps and/or Nerite Snails if you're like some algae-eating animals that won't affect water quality much. Or if you want a catfish, try a single Bristlenose Plec, which will eat a some of the diatoms and green algae that appear in aquaria. None of these animals will "clean" your tank in any meaningful way though, and some algae types, including the ones most common in small and poorly-lit aquaria, like hair algae, aren't eaten by them at all.>
Setup: both tanks are moderately "planted" (plastic) with floating ones for fry (a huge thanks for that suggestion ... those little things are too strong to be siphoned but I managed to scoop them up there where they were hiding), and larger stones creating hiding places on the bottom (where the now-older free main tank fry hang out). Both tanks have heaters and the filters that hang over the side, with carbon filter inserts. Water chemistry seems to be ok and I do partial water changes regularly. I'm having trouble keeping ammonia to 0 probably because of overfeeding ... which is because of the fry ... I do add aquarium salt to the water, the ph is on the neutral to high side and I think last time I checked the hardness is up there too. If I get ambitious, I would try to add some live plants eventually (java fern and Anubias, from what I've read). [notice I changed from "we" to "I" ... who am I kidding, these are my fish :) ].
<Hard, basic water is ideal for livebearers; aim for 10+ degrees dH for Platies, and realistically, 15+ degrees dH for Mollies. If you only have ONE water chemistry test kit in the house, make sure it's the General Hardness one; although pH is easy to use, it's a fairly uninformative measurement, and despite what beginners suppose, fish don't "feel" pH and mostly couldn't care less about pH, provide it's stable. But general hardness, degrees dH, now, that's super-important in lots of ways.>
Thanks in advance for any thoughts on what I could do to help this be successful long term.
<As Bob would say, "keep reading"! There's some stuff you need to know about stocking small tanks, about water chemistry, and about the livebearer family of fish. Have a read of these articles, and if you need more help, let me know.
Cheers, Neale.>

Platies and guppies, unfiltered 5 gal. sys. stkg.   3/17/11
Hi..Attiya again.
How much guppies/platies can be put in a tank of about 5 gallons without an air pump??
Thank you.
<None, an unfiltered 5 gallon tank is not suitable for any fish. See here
for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsetupindex.htm .>

Stocking 10 Gallon Tank  3/11/11
I am currently doing a fishless cycle in my 10 US gallon aquarium.
The aquarium has a heater (preset to 78*F),
<You may need to lower this temperature for some fish species.>
airstone, filter (5-15 gallon Aqua-Tech), gravel, two plastic Amazon Swords, a small patch of artificial grass, several pieces of coral, and a hood with light. I have read through your wonderful sight, but I still had some questions regarding stocking my tank. I am trying to stay away from Neon Tetras (I had 6 die from Ich recently) and any other fairly sickly fish.
So I was wondering exactly how hardy are Glowlight Tetras,
<They are quite hardy in soft water. Not hardy at all in hard water. So a lot depends on how hard your water is. If you have moderately hard water, Glowlight Danios might work better, or better still, Celestial Danios. In really hard water, 15+ degrees dH, then livebearers offer the better options, with things like Endler's Guppies and Dwarf Mosquitofish being obvious options.>
and what are some possible tank mates or "centerpiece" fish that would go well in my tank with a school of Glowlights?
<In soft water, good companions could be Chameleon Perch (Badis and Dario spp.) some of which are exquisitely coloured. In soft to moderately hard water, the Peacock Goby is a veritable jewel of a fish with colours to match any reef tank resident. In hard water, 15+ degrees dH, you might instead opt for Shell Dwellers like Neolamprologus multifasciatus, a colony of which can easily fit into 10 gallons and will coexist beautiful with Endler's Guppies.>
I had contemplated a Dwarf OR Honey Gourami, but they are apparently a bit sickly and picky.
<Junk fish. Or rather, they're lovely fish, but the farmed ones are very delicate, and they do need soft, acidic water that is very warm to stay healthy, and even then, Dwarf Gouramis especially aren't likely to last long in my experience. Honey Gouramis are less disease-prone, but they're even fussier about hardness and pH.>
If these do not seem like fish that would thrive in this tank, what else would you suggest.
Thank You,
<Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>

Too many creatures, not enough tank..  2/24/11
First of all let me start out by saying I am an idiot
and I did not research at all before going on my aquarium spur of the moment purchases.
<I see.>
A friend of mine gave me a 1.5 gallon tank that previously housed a goldfish and gold mystery snail.
<Much too small.>
I took it home and got aquarium happy and ended up purchasing a male Betta, 3 ghost shrimps and 4 snails (whoops). Actually I went to Wal-Mart and got 2 dead looking snails for free because the guy was sure they were dead and didn't want to charge me.
<Don't buy dead-looking anything. Snails, by which I assume you mean Mystery or Apple Snails, Pomacea spp., are difficult to maintain over the long term, and once sick, almost always die, and in doing so massively pollute the tank. I never recommend people keep Pomacea spp. snails alongside fish.>
I figured I'd try my luck and was so impatient I went to another Wal-Mart and bought 2 healthy active snails (both mystery snails, 1 black, 1 gold.. the other 2 "dead" snails are brown.. so I guess the black variety snails) along with the 3 shrimps. I got home and put everything in the tank and stared for a few hours with delight.. To my surprise all 4 snails are alive and well. And now I'm sure it's way too overcrowded with all that life for such a small tank.
<Could well be. Do visit AppleSnail.net for details on Pomacea spp. Their maintenance isn't hard if you provide what they need, but few species do well kept warm all year around, and very few specimens live more than a year in fish tanks.>
I've had it 3 days and have already changed the water once because it was cloudy and stinky. My boyfriend had mistakenly fed the fish 2 algae wafers after I had dropped 1 in already.. so I'm assuming that's the issue. I want to get a bigger tank for all these critters but I only have room for a 5 gallon at the very most.
<An ideal size for a Betta and some Cherry Shrimps, perhaps with a snail or two in the short term. But not Goldfish.>
Probably still too small but I was wondering since that's the only size I can get due to space limits what all would I need to make this work?
<Goldfish need, at minimum, 20 gallons, and really 30 gallons for any sort of happy life, in part because they need company, and two fancy Goldfish will need 30 gallons (regular Goldfish, like Comets, need more space because they get bigger and swim more).>
I don't mind changing water frequently.
<That's not really a solution. Filters remove nitrite (with an I) and ammonia in real time, while water changes lower nitrate (with an A) each time you do a water change. They aren't alternatives, but each is part of the same overall maintenance regime. Here are some things to read:
I have no idea what kind of chemical treatments I would need, filters,
foods I should be feeding and the pet stores weren't much help either.
<Many, many books on sale and in public libraries. Do look here:
"A Practical Guide to Setting Up Your Tropical Freshwater Aquarium" by Gina Sandford is a good, inexpensive, and well-illustrated book that covers all the basics. At one whole cent bought used from Amazon.com, there's really no excuse for not owning this book if you're a total beginner.>
They said I only needed food and sold me all those animals no problem at all saying they would be fine.
<Retailers vary from the good to the bad, like everyone else. But just as if you were buying a car or a home -- do your research first!>
I've done some research but am not finding what I would need exactly to make all of this work in a 5 gallon tank. So far I have the 1.5 gallon tank, Aqueon Betta Pellets Betta Food (the fish doesn't seem to like these),
<Other options, but should eat if water quality is good. If you have non-zero levels of ammonia and nitrite, i.e., you don't have a mature filter in the aquarium -- I'd recommend an air-powered sponge filter by the way -- then fish won't eat. Ammonia and nitrite are poisons, and above zero levels make them increasingly sick. Like us, they go off their food when that happens. Even if they look fine, in a tank without a filter, there's every chance they're already stressed.>
Hikari Tropical Algae Wafers for Plecostomus & Algae Eaters, a fake green plant and a shark decoration. That's it. I apologize if this has already been answered and I'm overlooking the information. I obviously need all the help I can get. Thanks for your time!
<Do read, and read some more! Quick answers are all here on WWM, but a book or two is what you need, STAT. Cheers, Neale.>

My 10 gallon tank, stkg.  -- 02/05/11
Hello everyone!
<Hello Cecily,>
I got a 10 gallon tank for Christmas, and it currently has 3 female platys,
<Not ideal for tanks this small, but at least they're females; males would be too aggressive.>
a mystery snail,
<Generally short-lived when kept with fish, and dead Apple snails cause serious water quality problems.>
and 2 pygmy Cory catfish.
<Corydoras pygmaeus; a good choice for 10-gallon tanks. Like the Platies, this species prefers slightly cool conditions, 22-24 C/72-75 F.>
I know that the pygmies are schooling fish, and I originally had 5, but they were sick when I got them. I'll be getting more when the store fixes the illness (back up to 5 Corys).
<Very good.>
Anyhow, I love my platys; they're tons of fun and so active.
<Can be, but they get a bit large for 10 gallons and may be snappy towards one another.>
I was told that what I have plus a dwarf Gourami would be set,
<A useless fish! Colisa lalia is disease-ridden and often very difficult to maintain; avoid!>
but I'm now wondering if I could just get more platys.
<I would not.>
The platys had fry,
<This is why'¦ before too long you'll have lots of Platies! It'll be a good idea to rear these other ones in their own tank, and take them to the pet shops as soon as you can, in all likelihood, about 4-5 months after they're born. Mixing the offspring with their parents isn't a great idea because the males at least will fertilise their mothers, and then you get inbred Platies, many of which will have deformities.>
so I have another 10 gallon set up cycling for them. For now they're fine in the tank, there are about 10 left. I don't really want to get a Gourami, as I know he will eat the fry,
and that my platys can store sperm and may be having some more babies (they all look pretty pregnant).
<Possibly, but after 2, maybe 3 broods they should have produced all the fry they can from whenever it was they were mated with a male Platy.>
I'll also probably move the mystery snail to the fry tank as I know they produce organisms the fry can eat.
<Something like that.>
My question is, can I just get two more female platys instead?
<You could, but be aware that Platies get quite large, and in a 10 gallon tank they won't have quite enough exercise to feel settled and happy.>
I have an Aqueon 20 filter (for 30 gallons) and lots of live plants. I'm also pretty diligent on my water changes. I'm willing to do the extra maintenance needed for the extra 2 fish, but do you think this would be ok?
My water stats:
pH: 7.7
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 5-10
Thanks in advance!
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.> 
Re: My 10 gallon tank, stkg.    2/7/11

Thanks so much for the reply! I had heard that dwarf Gourami were very sickly, guess that wasn't an exaggeration!
<Indeed not. Colisa fasciata and Colisa labiosa are similar, but much hardier. Well worth keeping, though a 10 gallon tank might be a bit small for them.>
Anyway, we may be getting a 55 gallon soon, so I was thinking of moving the platys to that tank once its up and running. For right now they are only about 2 inches and seem to be doing well in the tank. There is definitely a hierarchy, with my one gold one at the top, followed by the two sunset platys.
<Not an unusual situation. Although the females are schooling fish up to a point, they do form pecking orders, as indeed do most other schooling fish.>
As for inbreeding, I have a divider for the other 10 gallon so that once I can see the sex of the fish, I can separate them. I don't want to breed them, they were just pregnant when I got them, although honestly I'm
enjoying watching the fry grow into fish from itty bitty dots.
<Certainly fun! I will usually keep a couple of the females from each brood, and sell the remainder. That say, I can ensure I've always got more females than males, even when the older females die from old age.>
I'll keep some of the females for the 55 gallon and give the males to my LFS or to my friend with a fish tank. Thanks again for the advice!
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

I have a 24 gallon JBJ nano cube. Not GF  10/23/10
It's empty, I had tossed around SW but I have been there and failed miserably, not going back, to many senseless losses. My experience is in FW, so thought I might try goldfish. The current seems strong in this tank, is that a problem with them? How many can be housed in there safely to adulthood, two? I have had freshwater tropicals for over ten years and still have some of my first fish Angel/gourami, and surprisingly two silver dollars, they are in a 150 gallon. Can I use my 150 water filter media to help cycle this goldfish tank? I have read so many stories of difficulty with these fancy goldfish on your site, I have to wonder if I am even qualified. Thanks, Joanne
<Hello Joanne. This is a real simple question to answer: Don't do it! Goldfish need more space than 24 US gallons. Even if you kept water quality good, the tank would be murky and the fish wouldn't have enough space to exercise themselves. Much better to go with a variety of tropical fish, or else some subtropical species that can be kept at room temperature, for example Florida Flagfish or White Cloud Mountain Minnows.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fancy goldfish  10/24/10

OK great glad I checked. Thanks for the links I did not see those in my travels. I think I'll stick with tropicals, Gourami's are still one of my favorites, friendly. Will steer clear of the larger varieties. Was
surprised to see angels for a 20 gallon though.... My angels are pretty large!
<Hello Joanne. You're preaching to the choir here so far as Angels go; yes, I agree, the bigger the better for them. But a mated pair can be kept in a 20 gallon tank, albeit not alongside any tankmates. Since the average farmed Angel only gets to about 10 cm/4 inches long under aquarium conditions, a singleton might be wedged into a well-maintained 20 gallon community. But yes, I'd always recommend someone with a 20 gallon tank look at one of the dwarf cichlid species instead, such as the wonderful Laetacara curviceps or the hardy Mikrogeophagus altispinosus. With these cichlids you can have all the fun of watching their social behaviour whilst also keeping some dither fish in the form of tetras, Rasboras or Danios.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fancy goldfish 10/25/10
Not that taken with cichlids. Aside from my angels, my last cichlid was a Frontosa, I acquired with a tank. He was like a big Teddy bear.
<A very nice fish indeed; even better in groups! But you really need a pond for that'¦>
Sold him off to empty the tank. I regret that, although I never thought I would. He made a lasting impression.
<Yes, these are very popular fish, and in my opinion, an excellent alternative to the Oscar.>
Seems he acquired a mate though so it was nice for him.
<I bet!>
Thanks for you help, ideas, etc. I Will choose carefully. Very nice of you to take the time. I Have heard/read a lot about you on the FW side of this forum.
<Oh, that's very sweet of you to say. Always glad to chat about fish ideas.>
Best Regards, Joanne
<And likewise to you, too. Cheers, Neale.>

New 23 litre/6 gal tank set-up (male Betta/Siamese Fighter) - catfish additions? 7/28/10
Hello crew,
I recently sent in a query about the endless problems with my tiny 6 gallon Fluval Edge (I'm a beginner, big mistake), and Neale set me straight on a few things. Blunt but fair and very informative, thanks Neale.
<Glad to help.>
My surviving 4 guppies and 2 platys have been re-homed to a new enormous tank, so hopefully they are now much happier and healthier. I spent some time deciding whether or not to sell the Fluval and get something bigger - but I have limited space available, so upgrading to a 90 litre isn't a viable option.
And after 10 months of struggling, I'm hooked anyway! So, with all its design flaws, pathetic size and danger to beginners, I only have the Edge for the time being - I may be able to upgrade to 40 or 50 litres soon.
<Do save your pennies for something larger -- even if that's a couple years down the line. Tanks below, say, 70 litres are really difficult to stock and maintain. Not impossible, but hard.>
In the meantime, after hours of poring over the FAQ's on WWM, I went and carefully selected a male Siamese fighter from my local Maidenhead Aquatics.....Fuzzy (as named by my 5 yr old god-daughter) has a violet and
aqua body, and blood red fins. He's very beautiful and has a strangely expressive face! Based on what I've read so far, a single Betta in a 6 gallon heated, filtered tank is acceptable isn't it?
<Yes, but the problem is that the Edge has a square "slot" at the top rather than the whole top being open. Since Bettas need to breathe air, they have to aim for that small slot each time they want a gulp of air.
Lethal? Probably not. But neither is it ideal, and it's hard to know how successful Bettas will be in these tanks over the long term. It isn't a combination I'd recommend.>
Yes, there is some debate over the effectiveness of gas exchange in this tank, but the design is also very poor in light of the Betta being a surface breather.
So I have left a 5mm gap at the top of the tank, giving the fighter more breathing options (i.e. the whole surface area) rather than just the 7" x 6" open aperture at the back.
With the live plants, air stone and regular water changes, I hope I can minimise the design risk to any inhabitants until I can change the tank.....
<Indeed. Should be viable.>
The Betta is eating well considering he's only been with me 3 days, and he is very active and very curious. I still have two shrimp in the tank (not sure what type, they're about an inch long and colourless),
<Probably an Amano shrimp; I'd have chosen Cherry Shrimps which are smaller and bright red. You can also get blue and orange shrimps, and these are just as hardy as the Cherry Shrimps.>
and I also added a Zebra Snail which is already doing a great job.
<Cool. All nice stock for this tank.>
Maidenhead suggested that I added some Harlequins and Cory catfish, but I'm not convinced;
<Nor am I.>
even if they could all get along with the Betta, I would need several of each to meet their social requirements, and that would be way too many for this tank, right?
<Too many.>
So, what about just a small species of Cory? From what I read, these could be a suitable addition, being armoured bottom dwellers etc....but I do of course have very limited space. I guess 2 would be ok in terms of the tank size, but too few in terms of their preferred group existence? I'm very tempted by the Panda Corys I spotted at the shop, but presumably I cannot support 4 of them?
<Not a chance.>
Even if I could get away with adding only two, is it possible to compromise between their respective preferred temperatures - it seems that the Betta likes 26-28c, but the Corys prefer lower temps of around 22c. Could they all be comfortable at, say, 25c?
<Least of your problems. Do not do this. You have a system now that should work. Accept it for what it is, a Betta aquarium.>
Alternatively, I could go for some different species of shrimp and snails to add variety, if this wouldn't increase the bio-load too much.....any suggestions, as there seem to be a vast number to choose from?
<See above. Shrimps and Nerite Snails would be fine additions.>
Would very much appreciate your advice, thank you.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: New 23 litre/6 gal tank set-up (male Betta/Siamese Fighter) - catfish additions? 7/28/10
Hey Neale, thanks as always....I'm happy to keep it as it is, until I can find some more shrimps and snails! I have noticed a microscopic trumpet snail in my
tank which must've hitched a ride on one of the plants....not quite what I had in mind, but good for the gravel I guess. I keep it all fairly clean, so hopefully I won't find a billion of them one morning.
<Indeed. Or do add one or two Clea helena, the Assassin Snail, to keep populations in check. These are very pretty snails that breed very slowly, and eat leftover fish food as well as snails.>
A different rep at the fish shop yesterday told me he kept 25 dwarf barbs in an Edge with no problems'¦'¦.
<So far.>
but that the lights are rubbish for plants.
<Does depend on the plants, but Java fern and Anubias should be okay, Java moss too.>
Jeez, its no wonder I get confused.
<To some extent that happens, but it's also important to go slowly, be conservative, and wait a few months before adding new livestock. If you add 25 Tiger Barbs all at once, I can guarantee most would die within weeks.>
Stay cool, and cheers for all the expertise.
<Glad to help, Neale.>

Tiny tank and endless problems! Another BiOrb...  7/20/10
Hi, gurus at WWM.....I write as a very humble, freshwater tank beginner!!
<Hello Susie,>
This is my last ditch attempt to save the last of my surviving fish, although I suspect the clue is in the title. I have searched WWM and found some very valid Q&A's - I've studied the responses with interest. I even have an encyclopedia of my own which has been helpful....but as I seem to have a collective, never-ending spiral of fishy disasters, I'm having trouble pulling all the info together, and staying motivated!
<Almost always, this comes down to [a] buying an aquarium that is too small and then [b] adding too many fish too soon.>
I guess I'm a terrible fishkeeper, but I really do care about my fish and I just want them to be well and happy. Would you mind having a look at the story, and pointing me (and my long-suffering fish) in the right direction of a happy freshwater future?!!
<Will try.>
I will endeavour to fill you in on the history......in doing so you will undoubtedly spot some pretty obvious errors, and I have tried to learn from these....but unfortunately I keep finding new ones to make.
I bought a used 30 litre BiOrb from some friends about 9 months ago, but having cycled it and added fish (4 black skirt tetras and 3 guppies - not the best combination, I learnt too late, and lost a guppy almost instantly), didn't really like the tank and replaced it with a 23 litre Fluval Edge (chosen for its aesthetically pleasing small size, rather than its suitability for keeping fish unfortunately).
<Out of the frying pan and into the fire. Volume is important, and going from 30 litres to 23 litres will make a bad problem worse. And yes, while the BiOrb tank is fairly useless as far as surface area to volume ratio goes -- the bit that dictates how fast oxygen gets in -- the Fluval Edge is no better thanks to that weird funnel arrangement at the top. Both are very pretty aquaria that are perfect for holding water but terrible for holding fish. Beginners should make sure they put at least 50 miles between themselves and either of these tanks.>
Its now 8 months on, the Fluval is cycled, and the current set up is a half cm layer of fine gravel (initially I had thick sand, which I replaced with a thick layer of gravel, recently reduced to a thinner layer), three plastic plants, two hideaway ornaments, and a 5 inch "bubble wall" air stone (also recently added).
In the beginning, a second guppy lost a third of his tail to the black skirt tetras, so I re-homed the tetras to someone with a nice big tank, and was left with the two male guppies, one with a big bit of tail missing and one perfectly healthy.
<None of these fish really makes sense in either tank.>
Initially I didn't do any water changes as such (I was under the misapprehension that I would be removing the good bacteria, as I didn't understand the cycling process really), and I assumed that testing for ammonia was something only accomplished experts would bother with - people all around me seemed to be keeping tropical tanks without much effort, pah. But I did take some of my water to an excellent local fish shop, who tested it properly and said the readings were good (and flogged me a proper kit for £35!!), whereupon I purchased and introduced a further three male guppies to the tank. Two weeks later, with good water readings, I went back to the same shop for a further three male guppies.
<Oh dear.>
So in my 23 litres I now had 8 small male guppies. Hmmm....8 x 4 cm = 24 cm in 23 litres - fish shop said this stocking level would be fine, as the Fluval external filter is good, plus with their advice I was going to be doing twice weekly water changes. My subsequent Internet readings suggests that I should have stopped at 5 guppies......and in any case, 6 gallons isn't a great deal of room for guppies I gather??
<Indeed not. Fluval actually recommend 3 litres of water for every 1 cm of the fish's length, and since a male guppy is about 4 cm long, that's 4 x 3 = 12 litres per guppy. In other words, two for your tank. In fact I think their estimate is meaningless, and instead you need to be extremely careful about choosing small, inactive fish that will get by with the very small amount of water. As I say, this isn't something beginners can easily judge. I wrote a piece about this aquarium for another site, and you may want to have a read, here:
In the meantime, the yellow injured guppy sometimes shimmied at the top of the tank looking pale and feeble and not feeding. He rallied with plenty of Melafix and aquarium salt. But a few weeks on, with the yellow guppy quite sprightly, following a 50% water change and major clean of the gravel, one of the more recent additions became lethargic, spending a lot of time laying on the substrate....one morning I checked on them to find him thrashing to and fro across the tank, mostly upside down and crashing into things, with his body grossly misshapen. I had to euthanize him, to my horror.
<Oh dear.>
I went back to the fish shop with my water readings and a worried expression, and they assured me that there was no water issue and that sometimes "these things just happen" - although my big water change and clean may have been to blame. They sold me three freshwater shrimp to help clean the gravel a little, informing me that they scarcely added to the stocking level of the tank???
<Hmm'¦ obviously they add something, they're alive, but they may add somewhat less than a fish of similar size because they're less active. But no shrimp or snail "cleans" anything -- by definition, they're making things worse. Imagine I had a live-in housekeeper. She might straighten up the kitchen for me, but she'd still be using up oxygen, water and food and producing carbon dioxide and sewerage. It's important to understand the difference between tidying up and removing waste.>
One of them vanished inexplicably within a week, that's got to be a record for natural selection.
Next, another of the newer red guppies started to fade away, lethargic and hiding and not feeding. I tried Melafix again, but he just got weaker. Watching him anxiously one evening, I spotted one of the shrimps actively pursuing him around the tank, finally catching hold of his tail and dragging him backwards down onto the gravel!! He lay there exhausted, gasping for breath as the other guppies picked on him and the shrimps tried to feed on him, and decided to put him out of his suffering too.
<Melafix is fairly useless stuff, and without knowing anything about your water quality and chemistry, it's hard to say why these Guppies are dying. Reminder: Guppies need 0 ammonia; 0 nitrite; a temperature around 25 C/77 F or slightly higher; and water chemistry that is hard and basic, 10-25 degrees dH, pH 7.5-8. Fancy Guppies are quickly killed by non-zero ammonia and nitrite, and they will rapidly weaken if kept in soft, acidic water.>
After a few more weeks of no incidents, I noticed that one of the blue guppies looked somewhat "pregnant" and had darker eyes than the others. In fact, all three of the blues were wobbling strangely in the water - sort of waggling their heads from side to side. They also look strangely hump-backed, whilst the red guppy and the original resident sherbet tail are slender and straight. But all of them were feeding okay, so I just kept up my twice weekly water changes and cleaning regime - I vacuum the gravel once a fortnight, clean off any algae from the plants or decorations, and once every 6-8 weeks I rinse the filter media and sponge in tank water - and kept an eye on them.
Nothing much changed over the next few weeks, and a friend asked if I wanted an adult and a baby platy going spare from her tank. I expressed some concern over the health of my tank, but she came and had a look - she's an experienced fishkeeper - and said it all looked perfectly okay to her, and the readings were fine. So the two platys were introduced to the tank (not quarantined first though).
<Platies DO NOT belong in this tank! Take them back! Among other things, they need more space as well as cooler water than fancy Guppies require.>
So I was back to 5 guppies and two platys (one of only 2cm). A week or so later, I noticed that the adult platy was often trailing the dreaded stringy white poo. None of the other fish seem to be affected - even the youngster from the same source - and she has perfectly normal poo in between each episode of the stringy stuff. As its been quite sporadic, I keep putting off buying any anti-parasitic food - I haven't managed to find any on the shelves of the fish shop, although I also plan on searching t'interweb for some.
In the meantime, having done some more encyclopedia and internet reading, I added one live plant (although nitrates within reasonable range). I also noticed that the temperature had stabilised at 20 degrees.....too cold for guppies, it seems. I notched up the temperature, but sadly, error #2053, I didn't do it gradually. I simply turned up the heater, thinking it would solve all my problems, and raised it to 26 degrees over about 36 hrs. Too quick, right?
<Yes. And stressful to Platies.>
After adding the plant, the air stone and increasing the temp to 26, the dark-eyed guppy started looking sickly. He was hanging at the top of the tank and not feeding. After a weekend away, I came home to find him with a clear case of dropsy....his abdomen was very distended, and his scales were sticking out like fur. My reading here indicated that it might be too late for him, but I added Melafix to see if I could get him to last long enough for me to set up a hospital tank and get some Epsom salts, but unfortunately he was dead on the gravel this morning.
Having removed his little blue body, I've done a 20% water change, removed the live plant (it was dropping leaves which were turning black all over the tank), and reduced the temperature to 24 degrees.
Since yesterday - before the blue guppy expired and I did a water change - both the adult and the baby platy have been sitting at the bottom of the tank. Neither are showing any signs of dropsy yet, but the adult female has made some peculiar flashing movements - she swims onto the rocks then flicks her abdomen against them. I have also seen her do a strange spiraling movement twice, crashing into the plants. In between these episodes, she is quite normal. The baby is nestling right down into the gravel and hardly eats a thing - but he has been very shy since he came to my tank, hiding so effectively I sometimes can't even see him. This evening when I fed them, both platys came rushing out, pushed a few flakes of food around without actually eating anything, then slowly sank back to the bottom again while the guppies stuffed their little guppy faces.
<Neither of these species belongs in a tank this small.>
One last thing I've noticed since the deterioration of the dropsy-afflicted guppy, is that the remaining four guppies have become extremely aggressive with one another. The last red one, and the last original sherbet tail I had from the beginning, have been picking fights with the others like teenagers at a party.
<Male Guppies will fight, and if kept in something the size of a bucket, such fights may be serious.>
Current feeding regime - I vary between frozen daphnia, algae wafers, fish "treats" (whatever they are), flake food, dried blood worms and blood worms preserved in jelly. I usually give them a little food once per day, or every other day. I have given them frozen peas, lettuce and spinach, but they weren't that interested! When I first set up the tank, a major UK chain pet store told me to feed guppies twice per day - but upon subsequent advice from a much better fish shop, I cut that down to once per day and have been much more sparing. Funnily enough my apparently rampant algae problem subsided very quickly after that.
<Indeed. Actually, overfeeding isn't a problem for the fish, but for the filter. If you have a mature filter and a big aquarium, "small but frequent" meals is actually much healthier than just once a day.>
Current water readings - Ammonia <0.05, Nitrite <0.01, Nitrate 10, pH 8. That ammonia reading is the lowest my test scale goes (meaning, there doesn't appear to be any such thing as 0??).
These readings have not changed really over the last 4-5 months, although at one early stage my nitrates were closer to 50.
So....apart from the catalogue of obvious errors I have inflicted on these poor creatures, where else am I going wrong? Have I failed to adhere to a fundamental rule somewhere? Are they all destined to shuffle off to fishy heaven, one by one, until I'm left with an empty tank?
<Would be my prediction, yes.>
Shall I re-home the last of this batch to more experienced owners, get two barely noticeable neon tetras and try not to murder them, or simply take up knitting and origami and sell my tank??
<I hate saying this, but both the tanks you bought are, cough, cough, "challenging". In the UK, one of the best value all-in-one tanks is the AquaEL Brillux 60 Aquarium. It gives you 72 litres/20 US gallons to play with, has a plain vanilla rectangular shape ideal for oxygen absorption, includes a traditional filter and heater, and has strong lighting suitable for plants. It costs about the same as the two units you've already bought. I bought mine online for under £85. In terms of simply keeping Guppies and Platies alive, the aquarium you have will never really work successfully. Your tank offers 6 US gallons, and as you can read here, that isn't much:
I'm so sorry this is such a lengthy diatribe of rambling information, just trying to explain the dismal history. Would be eternally grateful for any reassuring advice you can offer.....I have tried posting on various other forums and never get anywhere, everyone just bickers about whether <0.05 ammonia is good bad or indifferent. I met someone last week who had the filthiest tank I have ever seen, and who keeps goldfish in his water butt. And no, that is not a euphemism'¦'¦
Thank you
<I hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Tiny tank and endless problems! (Fluval Edge; stocking 23 litres/6 US gal.) 7/20/10

Thank you very much for your help and advice. I shall dispatch fish to a better home, ditch the rubbish tank, and consider a less worrisome hobby!!
<Susie, I'm sorry you have had such a bad time of things. Honestly, fishkeeping is extremely easy and worry-free. I probably spend more time looking after my houseplants than I do my aquaria. But you do need to start off right, and almost without exception, if you buy a small aquarium, things will go bad right from the start. A 70-100 litre aquarium stocked with something simple like six X-ray Tetras and six Peppered Corydoras really couldn't be any more straightforward. Add some plants and you'd have a nice little piece of the Amazon! It really is that simple. But you have to go slowly. Buy the right tank, cycle the empty tank for about 3-4 weeks by adding small pinches of flake food every other day, do 25% water changes weekly, and then at the end of the month add one small group of fish. Done that way, I can guarantee you'd find the hobby cheap, easy, and fun.
Unfortunately, there are many very poor products on the market that are aimed at inexperienced hobbyists. We're happy to listen to you if you've found hardware or fish you'd like to keep, so if you want to bounce ideas off us, go ahead! We aren't selling anything, so we won't push you towards products you don't need or can't use safely. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Tiny tank and endless problems! (Fluval Edge; stocking 23 litres/6 US gal.) 7/20/10
Thank you Neale....actually your response has made me feel much better!
I do feel a bit piqued that these tanks are aimed at beginners - I thought I was being so sensible starting small, I honestly had no idea.
<Indeed. It's quite the reverse in fact. Beginners should aim at tanks between 20 and 55 gallons, or 90 to 210 litres.>
The tank ought to come with a health warning ("ideal first tank", my ar$e).
I will get shot of it, and if I do it on a large internet auction site, I'll add a caveat! I just hope that any beginner currently Googling the Fluval Edge or the BiOrb stumble across this article.
<Let's hope.>
Thanks so much for this concise explanation of how to start and what to start with - in all my hours of internet reading and studying, as a reasonably intelligent and well-read person, no-one has ever made it sound so straightforward before!
<How bizarre. There are some good books for beginners out there; I happen to like "A Practical Guide to Setting Up Your Tropical Freshwater Aquarium" by Gina Sandford.>
There are thousands and thousands of "beginners" articles, but they vary so widely...I guess its possible to read too much.
<Sort of; most books are pretty reliable, if sometimes dated with regard to cycling tanks, the older books often suggesting you use "hardy" fish. Web sites tend to be all over the place in terms of quality, so you need to take a look at who's righting that web page, and act accordingly. As for shops, they vary. Here in the UK, many of the staff you find in dedicated fish shops are fishkeeping hobbyists, and within reason they're good sources of advice. Some are considered true experts, Emma Turner at Maidenhead Aquatics in Peterborough for example is a loach expert well-known to fishkeepers around the world. But others are less good, and generic pet stores often have staff with little to know interest in fish.>
I have already made some enquiries about a new home for the last of my fish, looks like I've found one luckily. I would like to continue with the hobby, but space is a bit of an issue. Is 50 litres still too small.....there's an Interpet 50 litre tank which would fit my 58cmx58cm space, otherwise I'll have to look for a new cabinet?
<Unfortunately, 50 litres is too little. It's about 13 US gallons/10 Imperial gallons, which isn't much. It's possible, but not easy, to set up a community tank that small. Given the small price differential between a 50 litre tank and one around the 90 litre mark, there's no good reason to get a 50 litre tank. It's not just a question of having twice as many fish in one tank compared to the other. The thing with tanks smaller than 90 litres is you don't have territory and swimming space, you don't have volume to dilute toxins, and you don't have enough volume to slow down temperature changes. Put another way, a 50 litre tank isn't twice as difficult to maintain as a 90 litre one, but four times as difficult. If you start off with 90 litres, and then cycle it for 3 or 4 weeks with pinches of flake and weekly water changes, by the end of that period it should be close enough to being cycled you could add 5 juvenile Peppered or Bronze Corydoras and fully expect them to thrive. Even if the filter wasn't 100% cycled, there'd be enough water there to dilute the ammonia produced by the catfish, so there really wouldn't be much stress on them. That means they won't get sick. A month later you could add a school of 6-8 X-ray Tetras, among the hardiest tetras in the hobby, as well as very pretty. The reason I mention both these species is they're indifferent to water chemistry, so whether you have hard or soft water they'll be fine. So they'd make fine companions for Platies or Guppies, should decide to add them. I'd actually avoid Guppies if you can, but Platies like to same cool 22-24 C temperature than X-ray Tetras and Corydoras enjoy, so again, we've chosen animals that will get along. It's much better to work that way than to choose fish with different requirements, for example Neons and Guppies have totally different requirements, so it's impossible to keep them both in optimal conditions. One species will always be less than happy.>
Thanks so, so much again. I'm sure my four guppies and two platys are eternally grateful!
<Good luck, Neale.>

Platy, Molly and Frog in 1.5 gallons; ooh, surprise, they're dying!  6/1/10
Hello :)
<Hello Kacy,>
I'm really quite new to this owning frogs and fish business.
<Indeed. Do read.
Do a degree, most problems come with keeping the wrong fish in the wrong-sized aquarium in the wrong set of environmental conditions.>
I have two African Dwarf Frogs, a Sunburst Wag Platy, and a Dalmatian Lyretail Molly.
<Mollies are not really compatible with these other animals. While Dwarf Frogs and Platies should get along fine provided the water isn't too warm, Mollies need much warmer water and typically need slightly saline conditions.
If you have hard water and keep the aquarium water very clean -- by which I mean 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and less than 20 mg/l nitrate -- the Molly may be okay. But it's difficult to predict.>
I've only had them for a couple weeks but the very next day after I clean the tank (1.5 gallon)
<Far too small; these animals WILL die in there. The frogs may be viable in 5 gallons, the Platies need at least 15 gallons, and the Mollies 20 gallons+. It's not just about swimming space, though that's important; it's also about social behaviour and their sensitivity to changes in water quality and water chemistry. Very small containers of water expose livestock to constant changes in conditions, and inevitably this leads to death. Me telling you anything else is a total waste of time unless you upgrade this aquarium to at least 20 gallons.>
it gets cloudy and this white, cloudy, cotton like weird stuff forms at the bottom of my tank.
<Fungus and bacteria consuming organic waste, essentially doing the same thing as mould on bad cheese.>
I have no idea what this is and it spreads really fast.
<Because the aquarium is too small, overstocked, and under-filtered.>
Within two days the water in my tank is so bad I can't see through to the other side and I think the nastiness of this mystery substance killed my other Sunburst Wag Platy, though I'm not too sure.
<You are wrong. Rather, the death of the Platy and the appearance of the white mould in the aquarium are both symptoms of the same problem: this 'aquarium' is far too small.>
I change the filter often.
<Meaning? Do you understand that filter media needs to be cleaned, not replaced, and that it takes 6 weeks for cycling to take place before the filter can effectively remove ammonia? Furthermore, in a tank this small, no amount of filtration will save the fish.>
I've tried using a product called Clear Fast by Nutrafin which says it is supposed to make a difference in the water within 3 hours. I've never seen a change for the better.
<Indeed not; you've replace lack of knowledge with blind faith in marketing. The Capitalist Way perhaps, but not particularly useful.>
Also upon reading the question/answers I've seen some people say they only feed their fish every other day.
<Depends on the fish. Frogs need not be fed every singly day, but Platies certainly should receive a small meal of algae-based flake food once or twice per day. Problem is, in a tank much smaller than 15 gallons, any amount of feeding Platies properly will overload the filtration system.>
Am I not supposed to feed mine every day? I feed my frogs little foggy bites from HBH (though they don't often eat that, they do eat the fish flakes). Is that bad?
<Least of your problems.>
Thanks for your time,
<You need to do some serious reading. You ARE killing these animals through ignorance of their basic requirements. Hope this helps. Neale.>

3 gallon tanks? Garbage; not fit for fishkeeping! 4/20/10
Dear Crew,
Can a paradise fish live in a 3 gallon aquarium?
<No. Macropodus opercularis is a fairly large, territorial and quite active species that needs at least 15 gallons. Appreciates plants, subtropical water temperature, and a reasonable water current. A notorious jumper, so needs floating plants and a hood, too.>
I use this calculator:
http://bettacare101.com/howmanyfish/ .
It says I can put 6.93 inches of fish in my 3 gallon. Is this reliable?
<Within reason, yes, allowing an inch of fish per 15 square inches of surface area is one of several guidelines used by hobbyists. But there are limits. Tanks below 10 gallons are too small for virtually all fish save Bettas, not least of all because they lack the swimming space fish require simply to exercise properly and feel psychologically settled. Tanks below 10 gallons are also prone to wild temperature and pH variations. Even for Bettas, 5 gallons is the minimum sensible aquarium size considering the need for a heater and filtration.
In short, a 3-gallon tank is no better than a bucket [and often no bigger than a bucket either]. Don't ever waste your money on such garbage, and any retailer who sells a hobbyist a 3-gallon tank is taking full advantage of their ignorance and/or wishful thinking. Don't buy tanks smaller than 5 gallons for Bettas, or 10 gallons for the smallest, least active tropical fish. If you aren't an expert fishkeeper, then a 20 gallon tank should be your starting point, if you want to succeed; anything smaller is a fool's economy. Cheers, Neale.>  

Proper Plant Fluval 6 Gallon Aquarium, stkg. small FW sys.     04/18/10
Thanks for your recent reply. Purchased 6 gallon Fluval,
<Much too small for the species being kept.>
moderate light, have 4 platys-3 females 1 male. Also have three plants. 2 dwarf type swords and one moneywort, which seems to be fine.
<Both these species are difficult, and need very bright light to do well, at least 2 watts/gallon. I doubt a tank this small has adequate lighting.>
Having trouble with swords, hair like particles growing from the levels of one of the swords.
Leaves seem to be yellowing.
<Inadequate lighting, plus very likely inadequate fertilisation, especially iron.>
Want to replace the swords. What is your suggestion, also what type of plant fertilizer should I use, if any?
<An off-the-shelf tank this small has minimal value for keeping fish, perhaps a Betta, some Cherry Shrimps and some snails. As for plants, because of the doubtless low level of lighting, you're stuck between using shade-tolerant plants -- Java ferns, Java moss and Anubias nana -- but without fast-growing plants algae will be a constant nuisance.>
I want a natural environment if possible.
<Impossible given the size of this tank and the poor choices made re: fish, plants.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

HELP, simple questions, no searching or reading. FW stkg.   4/14/10
I am a new aquarium owner. My 4 year old son was wanting fish in is bedroom. Anyway, I purchased a 12 gallon eclipse tank. Right now I have 2 male guppies, 5 Platies which I thought were all Male, but I believe one of them is female and pregnant. I also have one albino catfish. Is this too many fish?
<Mmm, no>
I have gotten so many different answers. The tank has been set up for about a month now and I added 2-3 fish at a time every week. All fish seem to be doing well, but my water is cloudy.
<Likely a sign this system is not cycled... Read here:
and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cloudywaterfw.htm>
I did a 30% water change 3 days ago and water is still cloudy.
One more question, the female platy...should she be removed from tank?
<And here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/platyselfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Anacharis and Platys or Guppies or Goldfish-Water Temperature    3/21/10
After 29 years, I am back to Tropical Fish. Just purchased a Hagen Fluval 6 gallon tank.
<A lot of money, not a very large volume of water.>
I want to include Anacharis-Elodea as a grass.
<Hmm... could be done, if you're up to frequent trimming... generally grows taller than what I would consider a grass. Please read here and the linked file above the title of the article:
Will the water be too warm if I keep it around 75 using a heater.?
<I think this is a good idea -- the room you mention below, which gets fairly cool, is going to make it necessary to use a heater. Small volumes heat and cool more quickly than larger volumes of water, so I'd place this where temperature fluctuation is minimized. Even if you choose to keep fish generally considered as cool-water, I would still use a heater here to avoid temperature fluctuation, which would cause the fish discomfort and possibly lead to illness.>
Will I be better of just with common Goldfish and forget about warm water.
<Too small for even one goldfish. Please take the time to read on WWM prior to writing...
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/goldfish101art.htm and any of those links above.>
Perhaps Platys and Guppies will tolerate a tank without a heater, even if the room temperature is in the mid 60's during this winter.
<They won't. Please read here on livebearers, and note that this tank is too small for them:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/livebearers.htm and linked pages.
These are tropical fish, and so they need warmer water than what you can offer without a heater, and again, fluctuations in temperature need to be avoided.>
When I was a kid 60 years ago, one spring and summer I kept Guppies in a three gallon tank with Anacharis, no heater or filter; the fish multiplied and the Anacharis grew beautifully.
<I do not doubt that the Anacharis grew, as it is usually referred to as a "weed" (!), but your Guppies surely suffered in this small volume, especially as their numbers increased. In any case, if you'd like to do this "right," it's necessary to do some reading. Please also consider that the fancy guppy varieties of today are no match, in terms of hardiness, for the guppies you kept back then.>
I want to go back to my second childhood! Your help will be appreciated.
<I think your enthusiasm here is great, but unfortunately, you're beginning with a very small volume for keeping fish. There are some really great small tank set-ups that can be done, and they end up looking quite beautiful, but small tanks require extra care when stocking, maintaining, etc. Please see here on stocking small tanks, which is a task which must be done carefully in order to avoid disaster:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/stocking.htm. There are some really nice ideas in this article for stocking smaller tanks. I do not mean to discourage you at all, but I definitely want your first steps back into this great hobby to yield positive results! Please feel free to write back if you have any questions.

10 Gallon Tank rapidly declining  2/24/10
<Hello Kerry,>
I have a 10 gallon tank that currently has a few snails, 2 Mickey Mouse Platys, 1 Neon Tetra, 2 Golden White Clouds, a male Betta, and 2 African Dwarf Frogs. In the last two months, we had 4 Platys, and 3 Danios die
quickly showing no obvious signs of distress until the end. I have had the tank for almost a year and half, and the Neon is the only remaining fish from when the tank was originally set up.
<Now, before we go any further, let's be clear that 10 gallon tanks are [a] poor choices for beginners; and [b] difficult to stock. Few of those animals belong in a tank this small. I'd skip Apple snails for a variety of reasons, not least of which is they don't live long in fish tanks. Platies need at least 15 gallons, Danios the same if not more, and certainly a tank 60 cm/2 feet end to end, simply because they are so hyperactive. Neons and White Cloud Mountain Minnows could be kept in a 10 gallon tank, but in groups, and because they need somewhat different conditions, you wouldn't tend to keep them together, though it's certainly possible. Both prefer fairly cool water, around 22-24 C (72-75 F) and that's much colder than Bettas tolerate, so you can't mix them. Plus, Bettas are targets for nippy fish, and Neons and Danios are known "Betta harassers". Hymenochirus frogs are fine in 10 gallon tanks, but on the whole mixing frogs with fish is risky, and something to approach carefully. Let me direct you to this article about stocking very small tanks like this:
To some extent, what you keep depends on your water chemistry and the temperature. If you had soft water, then Neons would be a good choice. If you had hard water, then Endler's Guppies (a dwarf species distinct from common Guppies) would be sensible.>
To start off, I noticed white "flaky" spots on the Platys before they died (each one got sick and died separately from the others). I did my research and determined this was Ick and treated with QuICK Cure drops.
<Ick looks like salt/sugar. Flaky patches on the Platies are more likely caused by Finrot or Fungus, in which case a different medication will be required. You have said nothing at all about water chemistry and water quality, both of which are crucial.>
This did not help during any of their quick demises, so I would look to make sure I saw no signs of Ick on the other fish, and I discontinued treatment until the next one got sick. This happened for separate times.
<Likely environmental. Without data about the water chemistry and water quality I can't be sure, but I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that you either have poor water quality or the wrong water chemistry for the fish you're keeping. Perhaps both.>
2 of my Danios seemed to just go. I couldn't understand what had happened with them, and Google searches did not help. They each died separately and seemingly unrelated.
<Again, this points strongly at a water quality issue. Do make sure you have cycled the aquarium before adding any fish, and that you test for nitrite every few days to make sure cycling is progressing. The easy way to cycle a tank is to fill it with water and plants -- but no fish -- and add small pinches of flake food every couple of days. Do this for 3-4 weeks, doing 25% water changes once a week. By the 3rd or 4th week, the nitrite level should have peaked and dropped, and once it hits zero again, you can add a few small fish. Half a dozen Neons, if you have soft water, would be appropriate. Let them settle down, test the water every few days, and don't even think about adding any more fish for at least two weeks. Sure, this sounds time consuming, but better 4 weeks of an empty tank than 4 weeks of dying fish. Do read here:
Fast forward to last weekend, I did my normal water change (roughly 20%), I added AquaSafe in as usual, and then I noticed my Betta was VERY lethargic. This Betta was my sister's fish at school, but she found transporting him to and from school during every break was too stressful and gave him to me. He has always been a "lazy" fish, not incredibly active in the tank, and he enjoyed lounging on the leaves of plants. However this weekends behavior
was extremely unusual even for him. I did some research and read about aquarium salt helping to aid fish in better respiration and disease treatment.
<How told you this gem of misinformation? Salt does nothing of the kind.>
I got API Aquarium Salt and according to the directions on the box, added 2 tablespoons of salt. I also purchased Lifeguard All-in-one treatment of parasites including Ick (I was not treating with QuICK Cure currently).
Since Saturday, I have lost a Platy and a Danio.
<I bet. You haven't understood the actual problem here, and your "cures" are only making things worse.>
The Platy died much the same as the others, but the Danio had developed a white thing coming out of his rear (which I only noticed Sunday night).
This morning, the white thing had not changed, but when I got home, he was gone and his anus was SEVERELY inflamed and red. I scooped him out of the tank as soon as I got home.
The frogs seem ok, with the exception that one has become very thin and stays on the bottom of the tank.
<Starving, will die soon. Needs wet-frozen foods like bloodworms and mosquito larvae; won't "scavenge" on fish food, flake.>
The snails seem to be thriving, and I have had to remove several sets of eggs in the last week, and I have discovered 2 new sets today.
<As is their nature, though overuse of medications can kill them, and that means you have lots of rotting snail corpses in the tank.>
The only other medicine I have put in the tank is Clarity, because after Saturday's water change, everything looked cloudy. Also, I have removed my water filter according to the Lifeguard box's directions.
I fear I will lose my entire tank before I figure out what is going on. The water tests are normal, except for a low pH, but that is not highly unusual for my tank.
<I need numbers. For a generic community tank, you're aiming for pH 7-7.5, hardness around 10 degrees dH, and a temperature of 25 C/77 F. Ammonia and nitrite should both be zero.>
I'm planning on doing a partial water change tonight. Any help would be very appreciated.
-- Kerry H.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: 10 Gallon Tank rapidly declining  2/24/10
Thanks for your quick response.
I just went to test the water to send you data, and discovered I used the last strip yesterday morning. I will get more tonight and send you accurate data when I get home.
I'll go in order of my testing strip:
Nitrate - 0
Nitrite - 0
Total Hardness - 150 GH
Total Chlorine - 0
Total Alkalinity - 120 KH
pH - 6.2
<Whoa! This pH is far, far too low. Do understand filter bacteria are happiest around pH 7.5 to 8, and when the pH drops below 7, filtration diminishes. At pH 6, it stops altogether. Moreover, only some fish tolerate acidic conditions. Tetras (mostly) like acidic water, but livebearers can't tolerate it at all. So Platies, Guppies, etc. aren't viable additions to this community. Do read here:
Water temp holds pretty well around 75 F (I do have a heater)
I realized I did not say last night that when I discovered the low pH I put in a "Correct pH" to get it back to neutral.
<Do not do this. Do not use potions of any kind that come in bottles. If the retailer offers you a bottle of magic potion, run. All of these products are notorious for leading beginners into total mess-ups. You need to add a portion of Rift Valley cichlid salt mix, perhaps one-quarter to one-half the recommended dose, to each bucket of water you add. This costs pennies, and the key thing is it adds carbonate hardness to the water, and that stabilises water chemistry. For a mixed community, you're aiming for about pH 7.5, 10 degrees dH. This is acceptable for a wide range of fish including tetras, catfish, barbs and (most) livebearers (not Mollies).>
Should I put the filter back in? Should I change more of the water? I've had all these fish for at least 10 months (if not longer) with no problems, then all of the sudden they're dropping like flies.
<Read the above link. Act accordingly.>
What should I do? I feel like I've been a poor aquarium owner, but I am trying hard to help those little guys...
<Yes, you've made some mistakes. But time to move on. Providing good water chemistry is cheap and easy: all you need is a bag of Epsom salt, a bag of baking soda, and a bag of marine aquarium salt mix.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: 10 Gallon Tank rapidly declining -- 02/25/10
Hi Again Neale,
<Hello Kerry,>
I read the page you sent me while at work, and went out to buy marine salt, new test strips, and blood worms (for the frogs).
<Very good.>
I got home and put in a new filter, did a small water change with the Rift Valley Salt mix, and tested the water. Here is what I got:
Nitrate - between 80-160
Nitrite - 1.0
<Ah, this is lethal; be under no illusions.>
Hardness - 150 GH
Chlorine - 0
Alkalinity - between 120-180
pH - 7.2
I was SHOCKED when I saw this!! My other strips (same brand) must have been duds!
<Can happen. As they say with breakfast cereals, "store in a cool, dark place". It's also fair to say that they aren't especially accurate at the best of times.>
I know that the Nitrate is WAY high, will getting the filter going again help this?
<No; biological filters fix ammonia and nitrite, not nitrate.>
Or do I need to do a large water change?
<Water changes. I'd to 50% today, and 25% tomorrow. After that, the usual 25% weekly should be fine.>
Thank you for your help! So far Indigo, the Betta, is still hanging on!!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: 10 Gallon Tank rapidly declining   2/26/10
Just wanted to write a quick thank you note to Neale!
<You're welcome.>
I did my 50% water change tonight. My water data is much much better!
After the water change:
Nitrate - 40
Nitrite - between 0-.5
Hardness - 150-300
Chlorine - 0
Alkalinity - 180
pH - between 7.2-7.8
Tomorrow I will do a 25% water change.
<All sounds promising.>
Indigo is still here! I can hardly believe it! I hope he will get better
now, but I think I'll just have to wait and see.
<Good luck.>
I did lose another Platy, however.
<Hopefully, as nitrite drops to zero, things should improve. Almost all premature fish deaths come down to either poor water quality (i.e., non-zero nitrite/ammonia) or the wrong water chemistry (most often, the water is too soft for the fish being kept, rather than the other way around).>
But at least I know now to buy another set of test strips if I seem to be getting unreliable numbers when there is stress to the fish.
Thanks again!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Taking Baby Steps, Setting up, stkg. 10 gal., FW   2/16/10
A big hello and thank you to the crew of Wet Web Media,
I have been trawling your site for the last two days, fascinated with your informative articles and especially your FAQ's. I am interested in starting a 'beginners' aquarium to have in my home and have a 10 gallon tank. I know
that you don't recommend this size and would like it to be "prescription only", but it was given to my family as a gift. We have a filter, an aerator and a water heater which were also given in addition to the tank.
We read your article about recommended species for this sized tank, and would like to have an interesting variation of compatible species in a community tank. What would you suggest, and in what ratios?
<With very small fish, the inch per gallon rule holds quite well, so in a 10 gallon tank, around 10-12 Neon sized fish will work nicely. Adding 6 initially, and 6 more after a couple of weeks, is a good approach because it gives the filter time to adjust. This assumes the tank is already cycled, by which we mean not that it's running with water in it, but that it's been running for around a month with a source of ammonia. The easiest way to do this is to set the tank up, add some plants, then add small pinches of flake food every other day. The flake decays, this produces
ammonia, and the filter matures. If you have a nitrite test kit, you'll see nitrite goes up within a week or two, and then by about 3-4 weeks drops down to zero. That's when the tank is ready to accept fish. During this month the plants will grow happily, and it's a good time to tweak the arrangement of plants. I know the idea of an empty tank for 4 weeks sounds a chore, but trust me on this, it beats the heck out of having a bunch of sick fish to deal with!>
We liked the idea of Neon tetras but they seem difficult to keep as you said they are prone to disease... any advice for a beginner?
<Do read here:
Neons are good in soft water, but yes, in hard water they tend to be short lived. Farmed Neons also tend to be bred to a price rather than a quality, and they do seem disease-prone. Cardinals are more robust, but absolutely
must have soft, acidic, rather warm water (around 28 C). Neons prefer things cooler (around 24 C). Glowlights are another good choice, and do well at middling temperatures (around 25 C) in soft water. Hard water fishkeepers will be better choosing things like Celestial Pearl Danios (Danio margaritatus) and Endler's Guppies (Poecilia wingei). Both enjoy hard water and low-end temperatures, around 24 C. Note that these are different fish to common Danios and common Guppies, being smaller and less likely to become aggressive in small tanks.>
We are, I'm sure quite obviously, new to this, and would prefer fish that are "easier" to keep healthy and happy. Thank you so much for your time, and congratulations on providing such a thorough resource!
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Pleco in a bottle  2/1/2010
I was wondering if I could put a small Plecostomus (spelled right?) or Bristlenose Pleco ( I've heard they stay small) could live peacefully with a male Betta in a 1.5 gallon tank.
<No. I wouldn't even put a Betta in this tank, to be honest. After decor and substrate, a tank this small holds about a gallon of water in actual volume -- not viable for anything that's alive, really. The waste buildup would lead to extremely frequent water changes or, in their absence, a sick fish. Please read the following pages on Betta care, and take the information found there to heart, prior to purchasing one of these tiny tanks. They really never lead to anything good, and end up to be disappointing attempts at fishkeeping. Do your research, start with a realistically-sized tank (five gallons for a Betta, at minimum), and you'll be successful here. If you are currently keeping a Betta in a tank this small, please do ensure that you're testing often for Nitrate, and doing water changes to keep that level below 20. For most Betta systems, this is incredibly easy. My Betta's tank, a five-gallon with a large Anubias Nana
on driftwood, routinely tests at 0 to 5 Nitrate with minimal maintenance.
In tanks as small as the one you mention, it's a different story, which is why they so often lead to discouraging results.
Plecos need much more than what you'd be offering here, and I wouldn't place on in any tank under thirty gallons, even the Ancistrus species you mention above. These can grow to six inches, and would quickly outgrow the aquarium you're mentioning. Along the way, it would produce copious amounts of waste, if kept properly, and foul water quality. You need volume to dilute waste. Swimming space is nice, but when we recommend a certain size aquarium for any fish, we are often keeping their waste production in mind. Plecos eat a lot; therefore, they poop a lot, and need a much larger volume than what you're offering. When water quality begins to decline, fish begin to get sick. Remember, in the end, this is supposed to be a fun hobby, and if you take risk after risk, you're only going to end up causing more trouble for yourself, and your fish. It's SO much easier to take care the first time to do things right.
Please write back if you have further questions after reading.

Fish for a 5 Gallon tank 1/26/10
Hello Neale, thank you for your quick responses to my many questions. This one, however, is not about my tanks. About a year and a half ago, my Father decided to set up a 5 Gallon tank in his office. The tank has no heater,
<Limits your options quite a bit.>
and he does water changes roughly twice a year (Not exactly enough to support any fish he puts in it).
He stocked it with 3 white clouds, three penguin tetras, and a single Cory ( I understand they are all schooling fish, I wasn't the one who picked them out). Inevitably, they died off within a year. I plan on buying the fish that he is going to restock it with (originally, it was going to be six Black skirt tetras, but I grew attached to them and wasn't going to let him slowly kill them off with bad water
quality and low temperature). What I'm wondering is if there is something that you could recommend (either a small schooling fish, or a solitary one) that could withstand low temperatures, probably around 65 Fahrenheit, and wouldn't mind a slightly dirty tank... I really don't want to see him kill of more perfectly good fish, and I understand there aren't many fish that can stand these conditions. Thanks! -Jack
<Jack, to be honest, there's nothing in good faith I could recommend here.
Stocking 5 gallon tanks is very tricky.
With a heater, a Betta can work. Alternatively, a heating tank can house things like Cherry Shrimps and Bumblebee Shrimps which, with the right plants, can be remarkably attractive "executive toys". About the only obvious fish species I can think of that might work would be the Least Killifish, Heterandria formosa, but even that's pushing your luck in terms of space. The males are tiny to be sure, but the females are bigger. On the other hand, they are subtropical fish that do fine at middling room temperatures. Another possible choice would be the Desert Goby,
Chlamydogobius eremius, but these fish are "jumpers" that cannot be kept in open topped tanks. But they are exceptionally hardy, especially if you add a little salt to the water (they come from brackish pools in the Australian
desert). But really, if you can accidentally on purpose drop this tank and buy him a 10 gallon tank, your list of options gets a whole lot easier.
Perhaps you can tell him it started leaking or something. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fish for a 5 Gallon tank 1/27/10
I think the desert goby would probably be best, and I've convinced him to get a heater and do (at least) monthly water changes. He will be adding salt to the tank, as well. Thank you for all of the help, -Jack.
<As I said, this is borderline even for these hardy gobies. I can't and don't recommend you keep fish this way. Merely suggesting it might work.
Cheers, Neale.>

Is my platy sick? Env.   1/20/10
Hi, I have a small tank, 2 gal, that I keep 2 fish in.
<Two gallons is too small for any fish. Except possibly a Betta, but that's more about cramming a poor Betta into a jar than actually treating an animal well. So let's be clear here, you can't keep any fish properly in a tank less than 5 gallons in size, and the only fish that will do well in a heated, filtered 5 gallon tank is a single Betta. For all other tropical fish you need about 10 gallons or more. Please read here:
Shops sell 2 gallon bowls because there are lots of people out there who don't read books before they buy animals. Perhaps they were beaten up by a book on the school playground when they were little or something. I don't really know. But the point is that NO BOOK EVER WRITTEN would recommend a person keep fish in a 2 gallon tank. Indeed, most will explicitly tell the reader not to. It's a shame shops sell these 2 gallon tanks, but they do.>
A couple days ago one of my fish died.
<Not so much "died" as "killed". Let's be crystal clear here, the fact you kept this fish badly ended up killing the animal. Does it give me pleasure saying this? No, not really. I'd just as soon your pets lived happy lives.
I don't actually enjoy scolding people who killed their pets. Actually, it makes me rather depressed doing this day after day, seemingly without an end in sight. So please take this advice for what it is, honesty rather than about being nice to you.>
It may have been old age as it didn't have any superficial symptoms, but I didn't have any testing strips left so I don't know what the water was like.
<Wasn't old age.>
I did a 50% water change and got strips to test the water. It reads fine for everything except maybe slightly high on nitrites.
<No such thing as "slightly high" nitrites. There's zero (safe) and then there's non-zero (dangerous). It's like being pregnant; you're either pregnant or you're not, you can't be a "little bit pregnant".>
My issue is that the remaining fish is now hanging on the top of the water.
<Dying... gasping...>
Previously he was up and down all over the tank. He is still very active and tries to swim down occasionally, but as soon as he stops making a strong effort he seems to float back up to the top.
<You are killing him.>
He'll swim around at the top, but his top fin stays resting against the edge of the water. He is still eating fine and shows now bodily symptoms. Is there something wrong with him or am I needlessly concerned?
<Needlessly concerned! Oh, boy, no, you should be VERY CONCERNED. You're killing this poor fish. Despite what Fox News and MTV might suggest, ignorance is actually a bad thing. In the case of keeping pet animals,
ignorance of their needs ends up stressing them, poisoning them, and then killing them. I wish I could say something nice to you, to make you feel better, but I fear unless I write this message in crystal clear language, you'll miss the point. Firstly, a 2-gallon "tank" isn't home for anything except perhaps an amoeba. It's worthless. The shop saw you hadn't a clue about keeping fish, and sold you a piece of junk. Secondly, these fish are being poisoned by their environment. At absolute minimum, Platies need about 15 gallons of space. They need a heater (water warmed to about 22-24 Celsius) and they need a filter (0 ammonia and 0 nitrite). Water chemistry is important, and needs to be hard and basic (10+ degrees dH, pH 7.5).
Unless you provide all these things, yes, you will kill your fish. I won't say your fish will die, because that makes it sound like Mother Nature's fault. Instead, I'm going to say you're killing your fish, because you are.
It would be more humane to have bought the fish and then smashed its head in with a mallet, because at least that would be painless. What you've done is passed a death sentence on a couple of poor Platies who are dying by
slow poisoning. Now, I really don't want you to run away from the computer crying because I'm a horrible person. Actually, I'm a very nice person. I'm spending my time answering your query precisely because I like fish and
like chatting with people who keep fish. I genuinely want to help. But it is crucially important you understand the situation here. Nothing, no tablets, no medicines, no nothing, will save the remaining fish without a better aquarium. Your move. Feel free to write back, blow off a little steam, even yell at me. I won't mind. But do also rush to the pet store and buy another aquarium. It's your pet fish I care about. Hope this helps, Neale.> 

Re: Is my platy sick? 1/20/10
Neale, I appreciate your feed back.
<Happy to help.>
When I got the tank several years ago, I did do some reading prior to purchase. I did try to understand what I was doing first. I read that I needed one gallon per fish, so that's what I have.
<You mis-read something there. Think about it for a second. One gallon per fish. Fine... a Whale Shark is 30 feet long, and a fish. Think that would be happy in one gallon of water? Obviously not. Of course, that's an extreme example. But the old (fairly crummy) rule is that for SMALL FISH such as Neons and Guppies, you can allow an INCH OF BODY LENGTH per gallon for water. So a 10 gallon tank would hold 10 inches of fish nose-to-tail, or about 10 inch-long fish such as Neons. All well and good. But the bigger a fish, the more space it needs. Something like an Oscar is about 12 inches in length, but it's the bulk of a housecat. Obviously going to need more space than 12 one-inch fish. Bottom line, even if you used that rule the way it was meant to be used, you'd have to modify it somewhat depending on what you were keeping. Finally, no book ever told you that you could keep one 1-inch fish in a 1-gallon aquarium, two such fish in a 2-gallon aquarium, and so on. All books would have said there's a minimum size at which aquaria work. For all practical purposes, that's about 10 gallons.>
While I'm sure you're right that I killed my fish,
<I am.>
I'd had her for a year and a half, so I'd say I kept her from poisoning for a good while.
<Well, sure, someone with lung cancer can live quite a while too. Doesn't mean it's healthy. Platies should live around 4-5 years, and in that time reach a body length of about 2 inches.>
I'd had a Betta in the tank previous to getting the platys and he lived for several years until my dad knocked the tank over.
So for lack of space, as I live in the city in a small apartment, I will take my platy to the fish store where he can be better taken care of and get a Betta.
<Honestly, if you don't have the space, why keep a fish? It's never really going to be happy in 2 gallons, except in the sense it lives. It's a marginal sort of life, at best. There are some "Nano" pets that are fun in small tanks, such as Cherry Shrimps and Crystal Red Shrimps, and with a clump of Java moss and a couple other plants you can create quite a cool habitat. Over the years, I've managed to talk other folks into carnivorous plants, which are fun without needing much space. I know the need to have a pet animal is often very strong, but really, where's the pleasure if the animal isn't happy?>
Still not ideal, as you said, but I'm diligent with the water changes, so hopefully I'll keep him happy.
<Good luck with whatever you do. Cheers, Neale.>

Baby BiOrb, FW stkg.  1/20/10
I'm learning that my baby BiOrb is just not suited for what was hoping.
<Indeed not. Fairly useless toys.>
Have two fantail goldfish in there now, and saw on your site that it's too small for them.
<Baby BiOrb contains 4 gallons of water; a pair of Goldfish would need 30 gallons.>
Will it sustain any number of guppies?
<Nope, no Guppies either. These need about 15 gallons even in a rectangular aquarium. A spherical bowl is worse than a rectangular aquarium because of the lower surface area to volume ratio, so in real terms you couldn't keep
as many Guppies in a 15 gallon bowl compared to a 15 gallon aquarium.>
Or should I stick with one beta?
<It's just about adequate for a Betta (rhymes with "better", not "beater").
Not worth the money, and much worse than a basic 5 gallon rectangular aquarium with a sponge filter and heater. Of course, Bettas need warmth, so unless there's a heater that fits inside a Baby BiOrb, it can't be used for Bettas either.
Are Baby BiOrbs useful for anything? Are they a fraudulent way to extract money from less informed shoppers? Overpriced landfill? Answers on a postcard to the usual address...>
<My pleasure. Cheers, Neale.>

Question about Danios in a 10 gallon tank?   1/17/10
<Hi, Judy! Melinda with you here tonight.>
My husband and I have a ten gallon tank. There are six Danios in there and I have just found out that 10 gallons is too small for Danios due to the tank not being long enough.
<You're right, they would enjoy more room than this.>
We do not know anyone who would want them and can't upgrade to a 20 gallon for a while. I got four of them a week ago so Petco may refund them. The water quality is fine and they are zipping around.
<Active little suckers, aren't they? And fast!>
I am wondering if I should take them back even if they seem healthy due to the small tank size and just get a Betta?
<While this would be a great tank for a Betta, if you really do plan on upgrading, I'd keep these fish. Even something like a 20 Long would be much, much better for them, and if you keep an eye out Craigslist or the like, you might find a more suitable tank for them fairly quickly at little cost. Then, of course, you can get a Betta for the 10 gallon!>
Thank you
<You're welcome. Honestly, while these fish would enjoy more room, this tank is not overstocked, and they'll be fine in there for a while. Just keep an eye out for their next home. If you've got any large/tall decor which would impede the fish using the full length of the tank when they swim, I'd remove it. Also, I'd avoid adding any other fish until the upgrade. At this point, these fish aren't even likely full-grown, so I really think they'll be fine for a while.

Female Betta + female guppy in a 10 gallon tank   12/25/09
I have a female guppy and the 1 gallon tank she is in is starting to grow this weird mold algae like stuff on the outside of the aquarium.
<This is a tiny tank. Way too small for anything to live in.>
 I tried scrubbing it off with hot water and with cold but it comes back after a hour or so.
<??? I have no idea what this stuff could be that is growing on the outside of the aquarium, especially something which comes back in an hour after scrubbing it away.>
She was in a community tank with 4 male guppies, 3 neon tetras, a black molly, 4 zebra Danios, and an apple snail.
<A strange community -- fishes which enjoy different water chemistry/temperatures, one which enjoys brackish water... what size tank is this? Please see below re: mixing fish.>
The male guppies started picking on her and the other female guppy until they got really sick
<These livebearers are better kept at three females to one male. Otherwise, males just harass the females to death.>
with I think septicemia they were both red and wouldn't eat right but I treated them with Maracide and the one died but the other got better and she was put into the 1 gallon tank.
<Please read on guppy care/stocking:
I also have a female Betta that is in a nice 3 gallon tank setup. (which I just taught how to jump and get food out of my fingers).
<This is marginal for any fish; at least ensure the tank is heated and filtered. Please read here for information on Betta care:
I was going to set up a 10 gallon tank for them and was just wanting to make sure they will do ok with each other. <Will probably do fine.>
And what else can go in with them I already have a banana plant and a algae ball to go in with them but was going to get a snail or a fish or two after a while for them.
<First of all, are you familiar with the cycling process? Please read here prior to stocking any new tank:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm. Then, read on EACH of the fishes you have in your community tank. You'll find their needs are very, very different. I would focus on trying to "regroup" the fish you have into two tanks, at least, so that each tank's water chemistry/temperature is tailored toward the fish in it. There is nothing wrong with community tanks, but they really must be carefully planned. One would choose different fish to comprise the community, but those fish would enjoy the same temperatures/water chemistry. You can use the Google search tool on WWM to find the different needs of those fish.>
The banana plant has big flat leaves and the roots look like bananas.
<I am familiar. They do have specific needs, just as your fish do. Please read here on their care.
Thank you for your time.
<You're welcome. I'd ask that you do a lot more reading on the fish you have prior to purchasing any more. The issues with your guppies likely came down to the way you've chosen to keep them. Please start there. Also, as I mentioned, you have a rather mis-matched community currently; this means that there is likely no fish in that tank who is actually comfortable! If you're not already familiar with the nitrogen cycle, please read where I linked you. In addition, try reading here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwh2oquality.htm. The fish you're keeping in the ten-gallon need different things in terms of pH and KH, as you'll find when you research. This article is great for understanding the relationship between KH and pH. Basically, it sounds as if you have chosen fish at random with very little research; I'm trying to sort of get you started in the right direction. If you don't already have them, you'll need to invest in some test kits to test for Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate (to aid in the cycling process), and pH and KH (to aid in accommodating the fish you have once you have separated them accordingly). Some of the fish you keep need to be kept warm with an aquarium heater; some don't. So, there's a lot to be done before any more fish are purchased. Please write back if you have any questions after reading what's archived on WWM.
Also, we greatly appreciate if folks use spell check prior to hitting "Send." It saves us a lot of time. Please take care to do so in the future.

Female Betta + female guppy in a 10 gallon tank II   12/25/09
I am going to research all of the fishes I might get and all the fishes I have in my house I have armored catfish two of them and they have lived ten years so far because I got them when I had a year before kindergarten and I am in the 8th grade now so from when I was 4 to now when I am 14 we have had them.
<This is a good long time>
I already had all of the test for the water including the ones you said to get. Also one more question I haven't been able to find is will I have to stop feeding the Betta the specialty vitamin food because the guppy just gobbles everything up from where it was being harassed by the males?
<No worries>
The banana plant is growing like crazy I will still research it to but it is doing great right now. I didn't know one of the fish I got was brackish when I got them on the care sheet that I looked over it said they all took about the same needs as a guppy and that they all were freshwater. They might not be comfortable but they all are growing really fast and are running around a lot. They seem to be doing fine but if they need different care let me know please and I will try to get that for them. Thank you
<Please copy/include previous correspondence when writing us. There are twenty some Crew members here at WWM... Bob Fenner> 

Melinda, howsit?
Am writing a brief note to accompany my resp. placed in your in-folder. A young person had written in... I'd not found/seen your same day response...
If you have summat to add... pls. do.
Am greatly enjoying (as are many other folks currently and into the future) your careful, intelligent input here on WWM. Here's to an even better 2010.

Re: Happy holidays, ongoing thanks, and
Hi Bob--
Thanks and I'm glad to be a part of the team... Happy holidays!
<Thank you dear. BobF>

which one is brackish? 12/26/09
Hi again I was wondering what type of fish that I have was brackish? Thank you for your time.
I have a female guppy and the 1 gallon tank she is in is starting to grow this weird mold algae like stuff on the outside of the aquarium.
<This is a tiny tank. Way too small for anything to live in.>
 I tried scrubbing it off with hot water and with cold but it comes back after a hour or so.
<??? I have no idea what this stuff could be that is growing on the outside of the aquarium, especially something which comes back in an hour after scrubbing it away.>
She was in a community tank with 4 male guppies, 3 neon tetras, a black molly, 4 zebra Danios, and an apple snail.
<A strange community -- fishes which enjoy different water chemistry/temperatures, one which enjoys brackish water... what size tank is this? Please see below re: mixing fish.>
The male guppies started picking on her and the other female guppy until they got really sick
<These livebearers are better kept at three females to one male. Otherwise, males just harass the females to death.>
with I think septicemia they were both red and wouldn't eat right but I treated them with Maracide and the one died but the other got better and she was put into the 1 gallon tank.
<Please read on guppy care/stocking:
I also have a female Betta that is in a nice 3 gallon tank setup. (which I just taught how to jump and get food out of my fingers).
<This is marginal for any fish; at least ensure the tank is heated and filtered. Please read here for information on Betta care:
I was going to set up a 10 gallon tank for them and was just wanting to make sure they will do ok with each other.
<Will probably do fine.>
And what else can go in with them I already have a banana plant and a algae ball to go in with them but was going to get a snail or a fish or two after a while for them.
<First of all, are you familiar with the cycling process? Please read here prior to stocking any new tank:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm. Then, read on EACH of the fishes you have in your community tank. You'll find their needs are very, very different. I would focus on trying to "regroup" the fish you have into two tanks, at least, so that each tank's water chemistry/temperature is tailored toward the fish in it. There is nothing wrong with community tanks, but they really must be carefully planned. One would choose different fish to comprise the community, but those fish would enjoy the same temperatures/water chemistry. You can use the Google search tool on WWM to find the different needs of those fish.>
The banana plant has big flat leaves and the roots look like bananas.
<I am familiar. They do have specific needs, just as your fish do. Please read here on their care.
Thank you for your time.
<You're welcome. I'd ask that you do a lot more reading on the fish you have prior to purchasing any more. The issues with your guppies likely came down to the way you've chosen to keep them. Please start there.
Also, as I mentioned, you have a rather mis-matched community currently; this means that there is likely no fish in that tank who is actually comfortable! If you're not already familiar with the nitrogen cycle, please read where I linked you. In addition, try reading here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwh2oquality.htm. The fish you're keeping in the ten-gallon need different things in terms of pH and KH, as you'll find when you research. This article is great for understanding the relationship between KH and pH. Basically, it sounds as if you have chosen fish at random with very little research; I'm trying to sort of get you started in the right direction. If you don't already have them, you'll need to invest in some test kits to test for Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate (to aid in the cycling process), and pH and KH (to aid in accommodating the fish you have once you have separated them accordingly). Some of the fish you keep need to be kept warm with an aquarium heater; some don't. So, there's a lot to be done before any more fish are purchased. Please write back if you have any questions after reading what's archived on WWM.
Also, we greatly appreciate if folks use spell check prior to hitting "Send." It saves us a lot of time. Please take care to do so in the future.

What should i put in my extra 15g tank? Ala NealeM    11/26/09
Hey! I've been on your website multiple times and i love it, its very helpful. Well here's my question. I have a empty 15g tank ( the standard AGA one ) and im now sure what i should fish ( fresh or saltwater ) i should
use for it. Ill give you some background info on myself, im 16 right now i have two tanks set-up, a 40g long reef ( upgraded from the 15g) and a 6.6g planted tank, I've had fish tanks for about 6-8 years, so i know what's going on, i just need some suggestions on 1 fish, that's cool that i could put in the 15g. I was think maybe a pair of clowns, but i already have 2 clowns in my 40g. I want just 1 interesting fish to have, i think a leaf scorpion fish is too big for 15 gallons so that's out, i really don't know what to do.
Thanks, Rob =
<I've left this message in the Marine inbox in case someone wants to add something in terms of marine fish. But if you like small predatory fish, one species you might consider is the brackish water Butterfly-goby
Waspfish, Neovespicula depressifrons. It's reasonably widely traded now, and has proven to be a good aquarium resident. It is very pretty, and unlike most of these Scorpionfish-type things, it quickly becomes active during the day, and enjoys swimming about the front of the tank. Once settled it becomes very tame and paddles up to the front of the tank to beg for food. Maximum length is around 10 cm or so, so 15 Imperial gallons/60 litres would be okay (15 US gallons a bit too small though). It prefers live foods, such as river shrimps, earthworms and livebearer fry, but once settled can be fed wet-frozen foods such as chopped seafood and lancefish.
Juveniles enjoy mosquito larvae, bloodworms, etc. Use long forceps to wiggle the food in front of its face; eventually it'll bite. Once it understands where the food comes from, you can just drop the food in the tank and it'll snap up whatever it wants. A very nifty little fish, and like most brackish water species, very hardy.>
Re: What should i put in my extra 15g tank?   11/27/09

Thanks! They sound really cool, im going to do research now, and i think i saw them at my LFS last time i was up there.
Thanks again!
<Glad to be of help. There are some nice videos of these fish on YouTube (search with the Latin name). Note: they are venomous, so handle with care.
Cheers, Neale.>
What should i put in my extra 15g tank? Ala BobF    11/27/09

Hey! I've been on your website multiple times and i love it, its very helpful. Well here's my question. I have a empty 15g tank ( the standard AGA one ) and im now sure what i should fish ( fresh or saltwater ) i should
use for it. Ill give you some background info on myself, im 16 right now i have two tanks set-up, a 40g long reef ( upgraded from the 15g) and a 6.6g planted tank, I've had fish tanks for about 6-8 years, so i know what's going on, i just need some suggestions on 1 fish, that's cool that i could put in the 15g.
<Mmm, read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/smmarsysstkgfaqs.htm
and the linked files above for marine input and here:
and the linked files at the bottom for fresh>
I was think maybe a pair of clowns, but i already have 2 clowns in my 40g.
I want just 1 interesting fish to have, i think a leaf scorpion fish is too big for 15 gallons so that's out, i really don't know what to do.
Thanks, Rob =
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Please help me save my fish. FW, leaping w/o learning... mis-stocked small volumes  -- 10/26/09
Thank for your time I hope
you read this and respond despite my grammar I just want to respect my fish's lives and have the right information in order to take the proper care of them all! Please help me save their lives b4
its too late and I'm sorry for endangering them in the first place.
I had just purchased my first tank 2months ago and got addicted. So I then purchase two more. I did this all wrong and now have learned from my mistake.
I have a 10gallon with:
1ghost catfish
<Are social animals>
2 Rasboras
<Ditto... need to live in sizable shoals/groups>
1 dragon fish that was sick
<... a brackish species... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i3/Dragon_Gobies/DragonGobiesart.htm
and the linked files at bottom>
when I got if from Wal-Mart (I will never buy from Wal-Mart again no matter how much I want to save the fish, it only makes them purchase more fish to sell and torture.)
1 Kuhli black loach
1 Raphael catfish
1 male beta
1 snail
1 mini crab
1-clawed frog
<... a predator... will eat most all else listed... See WWM re Xenopus.>
6 ghost shrimp
I have been putting 1-2 tablespoon of aquarium salt every week
<... a poor idea>
I now know I have to give my dragon fish away cause my tank is too small and not w/marine salt
<You're learning... a good thing>
I set it up for the dragon fish w/black sand and the aquarium salt but this isn't enough
What I want to know is can any of my other fish live w/the dragon until I get a bigger tank? By this I mean can they survive his same conditions as well as my moss balls and Anubias plants?
<Too much to relate to you, but thankfully all is archived on our site, which is searchable... Go there, and read re each of the species you list>
If most of my fish and
plants cant match up w/ his conditions then I want to give him to Pet-Co which I know they wont do much better than me but I don't know what else to do. What other fish should I give away in my 10gallon and which ones should I keep?
As I said before I have black sand in the 10gallon, 2 driftwoods, 1moss ball, 2 Anubias plants, bunch of floating plants at the top for my ghost catfish, a coconut w/moss on the top, and 3 large decorative for my fishes to hide behind or in.
I know that's a lot of decoratives but it's actually spaced out so middle and top swimmers have enough room and there is 3 out of water perches for my crab.
I tried really hard to make my 10 gallon fit for my fishes butt after reading your site I realized that it is not a Perfectly balanced tank at all. Honestly I want to cry cause I'm killing them or they are going to die with these living conditions. I've already lost quite a few fish and I feel guilty and dumb. I did do some research before getting some but most sites that sell fish want you to buy them so they still left out a lot of detail like the fact the dragon fish needs marine salt.
Second tank is the 5gallon
4 glow tetras
2snails(one is small)
1 female Betta
1 Chinese algae eater
<... Remove this animal... see WWM re... Gyrinocheilus>
Some floating plants
1 moss ball
Plenty of hiding spaces
and a bubble air filter
Also I have a hang on outside filter that I turn on when it looks like the 5gallon needs to be cleared of debris that the bubbled filter wont get at all
What fish if any should I
get rid of in this tank in order for it to thrive and be balanced?
<Again, take the time... and read on WWM re each>
Last is my third tank a 1.5
1albino clawed frog
1otocinclus catfish
3ghost shrimp
<Only thing that can go here>
I'm so sorry for doing this all wrong and putting these beautiful and harmless creatures in danger.
I kept wanting to save them but I was an idiot and did the opposite of my intentions.
<Then it's time to convert your intentions into action. Learn what is necessary to keep the life you've taken into your trust... give away most of it, and keep the few organisms that can live quality existences in these small volumes. Bob Fenner>

10 gallon stocking question  8/12/09
Hi Crew,
I have an empty 10 gallon tanks and I decided to set it up as a tropical fish tank. I understand that 10 gallon tank not easy to stock and that's why I need your advice.
<It is indeed difficult to safely stock a 10 gallon tank.>
Currently my tank is going trough a fishless cycling (using flakes food).
My plan for stocking:
Group of cardinal tetra (7-8)
<Good choices.>
Few Corydoras (3-4)
<Yes, but specifically the smaller species. Corydoras hastatus and Corydoras habrosus are "mini" Corydoras that work extremely well in 10 gallon tanks. Keep a swarm of 6-8 specimens, and they'll be lively and outgoing.>
Few shrimps, probably amino (3-4)
<Would opt for Cherry shrimps. Smaller, easier to breed, and much prettier.>
Please give me an advice.
<Cheers, Neale.>

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

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

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

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

Stocking Questions I did a lot of searching on your website (among others) and found yours very useful. I still couldn't find an answer to my question at all.  Here is my situation: I have a very underdeveloped 10 gallon aquarium with 3 minnows and 2 Zebrafish, all of which are between .5-1". I want to know which fish get along with minnows and Zebrafish. I also would like to invest in some small frogs. Is there any way that they can coexist in this same aquarium? Please get back to me if you have the time, thanks! -Caroline <Hi Caroline, Don here. If your aquarium is heated there are too many small fish you could keep to list. A few small Corys would work. If you do not have a heater look at White Clouds, also a type of minnow. But be careful of adding too many more fish to this tank. Some minnows can get a too big for a 10 gallon. It is far better to keep only a few fish, but keep them very well and healthy. Overcrowding can kill. And with small fish you really need another tank to keep frogs. Most frogs will eat any fish he can catch>  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small FW tank stocking 7/10/06 Hey WWM Crew! :) <Hi> I've emailed with questions before, and you guys have been so considerate and knowledgeable... so I decided to bother you again. Oh, the thanks you get. :) <Thank you> My husband and I have an Eclipse 7-gallon Hexagon tank. It used to have a Betta in it, but we moved the Betta to a smaller tank so we could use the 7g for some different fish. It's been empty for a couple days, so we've been planning on what to do with the tank. <Small, limited choices.> We'd like a mix of fancy guppies (male only), platies (specifically the "black panther platy," if it really exists. Xiphophorus maculatus, I think), and some Amano or cherry shrimp. Is this a good/compatible mix? <Tank is too small to mix these.  Probably 3-4 guppies would be best, the platies get to large to keep in the hex tank.> I've read that guppies and platies make fairly good tankmates, especially because their feeding habits are similar. <They get along ok, but platies prefer pure fresh water, while guppies like some salt and can even live in full strength salt water.> Which leads me to my next question: Can I feed both the guppies and the platies Hikari Micro-Pellets and some frozen bloodworms? <Sure> Is there a rough amount (oz per fish) of bloodworms I should feed them per day or week? <1-2 worms per fish, depending on size.> (The Micro-Pellets have protein, vegetable fiber and vitamins, all of which I hear is necessary for happy tropical fish). <I like Hikari, they make a quality product.>  Should I supplement the diet of the shrimp with algae wafers? <Maybe 1/4 to 1/2 a pellet every 4-5 days.> Currently, we're planning on re-planting the tank with some live FW plants and a piece of driftwood, letting it cycle for 2 weeks, and then introducing one or two fish or shrimp at a time, probably in 2 week intervals. (If I can wait that long!) <Patience> BUT, I hear that FW plants do not like salinity. We're currently using RO water with a little added salt (1 tsp per 5g) because we read that a little salinity was good for Bettas (as well as guppies and platies) and our treated-tap water was WAY too hard for happy living creatures. <Most hardier plants should be ok at this salt level.> Would FW plants thrive in this tank? (The tank comes with a 15-watt incandescent light bulb, and it sits in a fairly sunny spot in the house.) <Some will, just be aware of what you are buying.> And does iodine make plants unhappy as well? I wanted to add a drop or so of Kent's Iodine every week for the shrimp, once we get them. <I wouldn't use the iodine in such a small tank, overdosing is too easy to do.> Lastly, I know that a common rule of thumb is 1 inch of fish per 1-1.5gallons, but people have been telling me that I can fit more fish into my tank because the guppies and the platies aren't that large. We were thinking 5 guppies, 2 platies and 3 shrimp. Would this overload the tank? If so, we'll just have to get less fish :) <Yes, forget the platies, the hex has limited surface area which leads to limited CO2-O2 exchange.> Alright, I'm done with the questions. I apologize if they're just repeats of old questions!! <No problem> Thanks so much for helping us to learn more about all this. I'm sure our fish are happier because of it~ <That is what we are here for.> T'anks, Stella & Jared <Chris>

FW, stkg., algae eaters, algae control  6/5/06 Hi Bob, I have a 10 gallon tank, (almost a year) with the following: 1 dwarf Gourami, 1 zebra loach, 3 Otos, 5 Pristella tetras. The Otos aren't doing a good job of cleaning off the algae on the surfaces, live plants etc. <This genus of little Loricariids is not really great at this task...> I have about 6 plants in there, no plastic ones and driftwood.  I would like to add an Ancistrus to eat the algae.   Is this going to be too crowded?   <Mmm, maybe... You'll need to keep an eye that this new cat and the Otocinclus are receiving food... likely from sinking wafer/pellet additions> And if so, how can I get rid of the algae especially because its taking over the plants and I can't enjoy their natural beauty. <Many things to state. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/algcontags.htm and the linked files above> I also leave the lights on for up 12-16 hours a day <I'd reduce this to 12> for the plants and just because.  Also, my Ludwigia (is that how you spell it?) <Close, will correct> has lost all of its bottom leaves and only the top ones are left, I wonder if its due to insufficient lighting? <One possibility. More likely light intensity, quality than duration> I have one newly replaced 19 watt fluorescent bulb. <Need more than this... Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/lightingags.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance, Lydia

Basic FW Questions 5/9/06 Hello, Your site is very helpful. Can you suggest some colorful fish to go with my 4 zebra Danios in their 10 gallon tank? <Too many to list, live bearers, small rainbows, certain tetras to name a few.  Small in size and quantity is important for a 10G> Also, there is some white crust forming on my lid and a white residue on parts of my filter. <Most likely calcium deposits> Thank you. <Sure> <Chris>

New Fish And Quieter Filter  - 02/20/06 Hi Crew! I have a 10 gallon tank which is really empty (well, seemingly to me). It  contains 2 Cory catfish -1 peppered and 1 bronze- and a Bolivian ram (so said at the pet shop). I was wondering what other fish could be compatible for these fish without overloading the tank. < Almost any community fish would work well in your tank. Small tetras, livebearers small barbs etc...> Also, over the past year my filter has been  growing louder and louder, and I was wondering why this is (the noise is driving  me mad since the tank is located in my bedroom near my bed...)? I clean the  filter regularly, and can't seem to find the problem... Thanks for all of your help, love the  website! Christine < Disassemble the filter and wash everything well with a garden hose with a aggressive spray attachment, especially around the impeller. Sometime small grains off sand or carbon get between the impeller and the sides of the filter causing the grinding sound.-Chuck>

Am I overcrowding my tank?  02/12/06 Hello,   I'm kinda new to the whole fish keeping experience, and would like your help. I have a 2 1/2 gallon tank with two female balloon mollies and 4 ghost shrimp. My question is are my fish safe from over-crowding? <Mmm, not really... small volumes are very easy to "get away" with pollution, vacillating water quality...> and if possible is it okay for me to have one more balloon molly? <I would not> I've been doing a bit of research and what I can gather the general rule is a fish of one inch for every gallon, <Better one cubic inch per every 3-5 gallons> but I've read cases where people had more fishes in their tank than they had gallons and they were having no problems. I would also like to know if I can feed my mollies any vegetables like say: lettuce or cucumber. Any suggestions you can give me will be much appreciated.   Thank you,   Marissa <Good question... but your chances of trouble increase tremendously with adding more life to small tanks. Bob Fenner>

Stocking a 25 litre aquarium   2/9/06 Hi Crew, I have a small aquarium (25 litres). I have just finished cycling (fishless of course) and I am currently planning on stocking it. I think that I should stick to small sized fish, probably Cardinals and Zebra Danios. I must note here that I have calibrated the biological filter to a high ammonia value. It is now able to completely convert 3mg/L of ammonia to nitrite and nitrate in a few hours. This means that I could go for a relatively higher bioload. Do you think that a school of 15 fish (Tetras mixed with some Danios) would be fine for my tank ? <... only if they were very small species. Apart from physiological consequences of crowding (e.g. the ammonia you mention) there are psychological...> Would you suggest that I keep a smaller school of Tetras (around 5) and add a couple of Colisa Lalias? <A good choice> I am looking forward to your suggestions. Thanks in advance. Spyros <Add a small school (three individuals) of a species along with the Gouramis and see how you like this. Perhaps a couple of Corydoras sp. catfish... Bob Fenner>

Coldwater Fish Tank Stocking  11/15/05 Hello, I am very impressed with your site, it is very useful. <Thanks> I am 15 years old and in my bedroom I have a 6.6 gallon coldwater aquarium with a filter but no heater. The tanks dimensions are 24 inches x 8 inches x 8 inches. At the moment I have six white cloud mountain minnows and two Garra garra taeniata.  I am interested in either getting rosy red minnows - will they school with the white cloud mountain minnow or will they create two separate groups? Or a trio of guppies for breeding (two males and one female) or zebra Danios (are the long finned or short finned species better? what is the minimum number of these I can have in my tank to keep them content?) What would be the best mix or either guppies, red minnows or zebra Danios to go with the fish I have at present? How many would you suggest? Thank-you very much for your advice, Joe < Go with the Danios. If they are all the same size they will probably school together. The fins of the male guppies may get picked on by the other fish. Get about 6 of each for a schooling effect and to make them feel more comfortable. Check the nitrates and do your water changes often to keep the nitrate levels down.-Chuck>  <<Mm, I think Chuck mis-read the size of this aquarium - this is far too small for six of each of these groups....  -SCF>>

Guppies with Danios and White Clouds  11/16/05 Thank-you. Would 5 zebra Danios (would long finned or short finned be better?) < Your own personal preference.> with a trio of guppies (1 male and 2 females) the 2 Garra garra taeniata and the 6 white cloud mountain minnows be ok for my tank if did regular water changes? <The long flowing fins of the male guppy are tempting for many fish to nip at. Other wise the stocking rate would be just about right if you did regular water changes. Check the nitrates. If they get above 25 ppm then you will have to change more water or change it more often.> Its just I like the idea of guppies and possible breeding. If I get enough Danios I am hoping and have been told that they will not nip the male guppies fins (especially if I get a small-finned male?) < Try it out and see.-Chuck>  <<If I recall correctly, this is in reference to a six gallon aquarium.  I, personally, feel that this stocking suggestion is far too much fish in far too little space, but may be accomplished by employing an aggressive maintenance schedule....  But that's just me.  -Sabrina>>

Stocking a 6.6 Gallon Tank  11/18/05 I sent the below email and on the website it said chuck misread the size of the tank and '6 of each of the below type of fish is too many'.  < Go with six of only one type.> At the moment I have six white cloud mountain minnows and two small Garra garra taeniata. I want to get either/and guppies and zebra Danios. How many zebras could I have? How many guppies could I have? Could I have both? What, in your opinion, would be the best mix of these 3/4 fish? < I would go with six Danios and six white clouds. The guppies will be picked on by the faster fish. Make sure you have a filter that pumps at least 2o gallons per hour and clean it once a week.-Chuck> 

My Paraplegic Platy 10/22/05 Hi there,  <Hi Catherine here!> I have a 10 gallon tank that contains 1 huge blue Gourami, 4 zebra Danios, and now 2 platys. I started out with 4, three of which really looked pregnant, but I guess are not. 1 I found dead and the other just disappeared. I want to blame my Gourami, but am trying not to. Anyway, there are now 2 platys. 1 seems to be doing very well.  The other one as of late, who used to look pregnant, is now awfully thin. I try to feed it alone even, but it barely eats. As of today I have noticed it in the oddest of places in my tank, and realize that it is balancing on leaves, caves, etc. because it is looking paralyzed. I am so sad about it. I separated it tonight into a bowl and fed it alone again but I don't know what to do.  Thin and paralyzed, this is my problem. Now if it dies, do I buy a couple more as the 1 will be all alone? Or do I buy Danios, which seem happy and healthy. My Gourami is about 4 inches long and pretty thick. It is not very aggressive either, and the little guys seem to do well with it. So it is the platy I worry about. What should I do? Thanks for your time. Tracey <You have a teeny tiny tank for soooo many fish. Both the Gourami and the Danios would really prefer to be in a 30 gallon. Remember, fish poop. This makes waste which is toxic to the fish. You don't provide ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels. However, I suspect that if you test your water these will be high. This is probably stressing your fish and the platys are most susceptible.  The solution: big water changes frequently until you get a larger tanks. About 1 tablespoon of either Epsom or Marine salt per gallon of water may also help your platy perk up. As far as the isolated platy, I'd keep it isolated until it is looking better in case it really has a bacterial infection. I assume this "bowl" is heated and filtered. If not, your fish probably won't do very well in it. Look around WWM for more info on your fish. Catherine> 

How should I sort my fish? - 06/29/08 I have recently inherited 2 - 10 gal. aquariums and some fish, but I am a novice. There are 7 guppies, 3 black tetras, 5 serpae tetras, 2 hatchet fish and 2 apple snails in one tank, and a Pleco, 2 dwarf Gouramis, 3 platies, 2 swords, 3 Rasboras, and 4 mollies in the other. Is this the best way to group them? Should I get certain species of fish to help keep the tank clean? If so, what kind? Thank you for your time, Laura <Hello Laura. Probably the single best thing you could do is buy/borrow an aquarium book. All the species you're keeping are "common" species, but they each have very specific needs/characters. Black Tetras (which I assume are Gymnocorymbus ternetzi) and Serpae Tetras (Hyphessobrycon eques) are both "fin nippers", meaning they tend to attack slow moving fish or fish with long fish. Mixing them with Guppies for example, or Apple Snails, would be a very dangerous idea! I'd keep those two species alone in their own tank, or possibly with the Plec, assuming it is a small species. An adult Plec of the common species (Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus) gets to 45 cm/18" in length, and won't even FIT in a 10 gallon tank, let alone be able to live in one! It will need, minimum, a 200 litre/55 gallon system. In fact all your fish would do better in a 75 litre/20 gallon tank or bigger. Personally, if this was me, and I have a couple of 10-gallon tanks to populate, I wouldn't keep ANY of the species you've got, except maybe the Apple Snails. The Swordtails need a big, long tank because they are semi-aggressive, open water fish that need swimming space. Mollies are similar, but potentially get even bigger (some species to 15 cm/6"!) and need very hard, very basic water of perfect water quality as well. I'd argue -- strongly -- they really need to be kept in brackish water, not a freshwater tank. Platies are a bit less demanding than Swordtails, but all the livebearers (Swordtails, Platies, Guppies, and Mollies) need hard, basic water. By contrast, your Rasboras and Hatchetfish will need soft/acid water in the long term. While this is also the ideal for Serpae and Black tetras, those two species are so nasty I wouldn't mix them with anything as gentle as Rasboras or Hatchets. Dwarf Gouramis are frankly hopeless fish that I don't waste my time on. But you have them now, and presumably they don't have Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus or they wouldn't have lasted this long! Anyway, healthy specimens (which are damned rare!) are nice fish, but a bit slow and stupid, and easily nipped by Tetras, so don't mix them with anything nippy. Fancy Guppies are even more slow and even more stupid, and also get nipped. Fancy Guppies are best kept in their own quarters. Now, as for "cleaner fish" -- that's you, my friend. No fish, REPEAT, NO FISH, keeps your tank clean. All of them make the tank dirtier. Statements to the contrary are only EVER made by retailers trying to SELL you a catfish or loach. Filtration and water changes (and perhaps the odd wipe of the glass and stir of the gravel) is the way to clean a tank. Do start at WWM by going to these two sections, reading through the first boxes on each one for info aimed at beginners: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsetupindex.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlivestkindex.htm I hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Second tank- cycle and stocking questions, 10 gal. FW   12/26/08 Hi, crew! Happy Holidays! <And a festive hello to you, too.> I'm working on plans to set my 10 gallon freshwater aquarium back up and I'm looking for a few quick answers or thoughts. First, my other tank is slightly brackish (for livebearers). What is the best way to acclimate used filter media from that tank for the new tank? <Invariably, the best approach is to "clone" the filter. All filters can lose up to 50% of their biological media without water quality drops. Indeed, many filter manufacturers suggest you replace this much biological filter media every few months to compensate for the fact biological media becomes clogged with silt over time, and however well you rinse it, it never really gets clean, and so doesn't work as well as it did when fresh. So, if you transplant 50% of the biological media from a mature filter to a new filter, you can instantly mature the new filter, assuming the water chemistry and temperature differences are minimal.> Also, I'm struggling to actually choose what I want for livestock. So many choices! <Actually, not that many choices for a 10 gallon system. Things like male Guppies for example shouldn't be kept in tanks this small because of their tendency to be bullying towards one another and aggressive towards the females (being a female Guppy in a 10 gallon tank alongside some male Guppies has got to be a form of torture!). Platies and Swordtails, medium to large Corydoras, most Barbs, most tetras and virtually all cichlids and gouramis would be far too large for a 10 gallon tank. Danios are far too hyperactive for a 10 gallon system. Yes, you could "fit" them in, but no, they wouldn't be happy, and sometimes frustrated Danios become nippy and bullying. When it comes to stocking 10 gallon tanks, the key things are that the fish are small (ideally sub-5 cm in length) and relatively inactive. Good choices including Kuhli loaches, Neons, Cardinals, small gobies such as Peacock Gudgeon, and the "dwarf" Corydoras such as Corydoras hastatus. Do see here for some thoughts: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/stocking.htm I also have a "freshwater reef tank" in a 30 litre system that might be interesting to you: http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/Projects/freshwaterreef.html The idea is that invertebrates, rather than fish, become the focus.> The only solid plans are low tech, pretty heavily planted with some slate caves. I think I'd like cherry shrimp but only if I can have a few fish too. <Choose the fish carefully; things like Neons, Whiptail cats, Aspidoras catfish, and small gobies and halfbeaks appear to be fine with my Cherry Shrimps.> I'm okay with fish eating the baby shrimp as the local stores don't like to take extras of stock they don't normally carry. I'll have to order the shrimp via internet if I want them. I just want the adults to be safe. Could I have cherry or gold barbs with the shrimp? <Cherry barbs would be fine in a 10 gallon system and shouldn't do any harm to Cherry Shrimps. "Gold Barb" seems to be a name used for at least three different species. Puntius sachsii and Puntius semifasciolatus would be too large, though Puntius gelius would be okay, with the proviso it (like the Cherry Shrimps) actually prefers subtropical not tropical conditions. Puntius gelius is highly attractive though, and works great in quiet tanks, even though it is a bit delicate.> Or what about a honey Gourami, Betta, or flag fish? <Bettas mix fine with Cherry shrimps, but shouldn't be mixed with anything else except perhaps dwarf Corydoras species and Kuhli loaches. Certainly not with anything barb- or tetra-like for fear of nipping or bullying. Likewise, mixing with other labyrinth fish or dwarf cichlids is usually a disaster. Colisa chuna is a difficult species in some ways, but if you can get quality stock and are able to provide excellent water quality, it is viable in 10 gallons. Florida Flagfish would also be good in a 10 gallon tank, but they're subtropical fish, and need lots and lots of algae to colour up properly. They're often kept poorly, hence few people have seen their naturally stunning colours. In a coolish system with Cherry Shrimps and perhaps White Cloud Mountain minnows, they'd be great.> If these aren't good choices, could you give me some ideas? I have to drive an hour to get to a store with decent plants anyway, I can check what that better store has available and do research before a return trip for the fish. My tap water is pH 7.5 and somewhat hard. No livebearers please, I have plenty. :) <Most tropical fish will be fine in moderately hard, basic water. Do always remember: in freshwater fishkeeping, the precise pH doesn't matter, pH stability does; so focus on understanding your local water hardness.> Also, what should I add first, shrimp or fish? Should I get the shrimp first so they can find all the hiding places? <Makes no odds really, but I prefer to add the shrimps and let them settle in for a few weeks. They keep the filter healthy without disturbing the plants, and also help to control initial algae blooms. Once I'm comfortable the filter is working 100% and the shrimps have adjusted to the tank, then I'd start adding any new fish.> Thanks for any advice! Angela <Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Second tank- cycle and stocking questions 12/27/08
Thanks very much, Neale! <Most welcome.> I'm thinking I'll get the shrimp first and then hash out which fish I really want afterwards. See, there's still lots of tiny options for me to choose from. Your freshwater reef tank is really fascinating although I've never seen snails for sale other than apples around here. <Apple snails make pretty poor aquarium residents; best avoided. Some retailers sell aquarium snails online; do research and consider this option. Snails ship well.> I'll see what I can find on my trip to get the plants. There's something inherently awesome about a snail-eating snail! <Clea helena is a wonderful little creature!> Angela <Cheers, Neale.>

Beginning Aquarist stocking new Freshwater 10 Gallon 11-13-08
<Hello! Hope you are having a great weekend!>
First of all thanks so much for this great online resource! This site trumps pretty much everything I have found online.
<That's great to hear! We appreciate that.>
My roommates and I bought a goldfish a while back to keep in a vase as a centerpiece for our kitchen table. We watched him swim around for a few days, then bought him a plant. Then another goldfish. A few days later, two male Betta fish (which we kept separated from each other), and then a few days later a 10 gallon aquarium. In short we became completely obsessed in about two weeks. The aquarium we bought is the deluxe Aqueon 10 gallon, which comes with a fluorescent light and a filter.
<I hope you put those two goldfish in the 10 gallon, a vase is not a suitable home.>
We added a Fluorite substrate and 5-6 good-sized live plants, let the filter run for a few days, then added a goldfish, again let the filter run for a few days, then added a Betta, then removed the goldfish (lol). Yesterday added a very good quality heater (more wattage than necessary for 10 gallons of water) and since then have maintained the temperature at about 79-80 degrees. The tank looks absolutely incredible, and the Betta is happy as can be, especially since we added the heater. Now I'll get to my question:
<That sounds great! Smart job in adding the Fluorite, your plants are going to take off.>
I've been researching aquariums and fish online pretty much constantly the past couple days, and I have come up with what I think my ideal set-up would be: 4-5 smaller Corys, and 6-8 smaller tetras (neon or cardinal or both, undecided), and the Betta currently in it. Is this too much for a 10 gallon? We've heard it both ways from every site on the web and the guys at the LFS. Also plan on adding a few more small plants as the ones we have are mostly in the back. Does the amount of plant life have a real impact on the amount of ammonia, nitrate, nitrite? I've also heard mixed things about whether or not the fluorite base scratches Cory's stomachs/injures Cory's barbells. Any input at all on this set-up? Should we add tetras or Corys first (after the tank finishes cycling)?
<You might have too many fish in your ideal setup. You could try the 4 Corys and then 6 smaller tetras and that would be it. It is always great to have life plants, they increase water oxygen, help decrease ammonia, nitrates and nitrites but, they won't control it for you. You would have to keep up with water changes and changing the filter. Also, I have heard the same about Corys and hard substrates. But, I have kept Corys with gravel substrate and did not see any hurt tummy's or barbells. Adding the Corys first would be best due to tetras stressing easy. Your setup sounds great; I think you will be happy with it. You are welcome! Merritt A.>
Thanks a lot,

Tank Community Questions. stkg. 10 gal.   1/3/09 Hello, <Hi there> My name is Mark. I have a 10 gallon freshwater tank. I have 1-Powder Blue Gourami (male), 1-Dwarf Gourami (male), 5 different breeds of guppies - 6 guppies in total (3 male/3 female), 2 - Red Eyed Tetra (both female), 2 - Long Finned Zebra Danios (Both males), 2 - Balloon Belly Mollies (1 male/1 female), 2 - Sunburst Platys (1 male/1 female), and a Pleco. <Mmm... the tetras and Danios are schooling fishes... and the Pleco may become too large (starve) here... many (Sucker-mouth South American catfish) species offered in the hobby get too large for a ten gallon volume. Can you find out what species this is?> Now I have had aquariums in the past, but have never had such a variety in the same tank. The only concern I have is my Powder Blue. He just sits in the upper back left corner, near the filter, all day, but will swim around once the light has gone off at night. He is eating, I know that. Any Ideas? <This species, Colisa lalia, does have health and behavioral problems in excess nowadays... but yours may be acting "normally" here> Also I would like to know if the numbers of each species are sufficient. <Actually... no... For what you list, you really need at least twice the volume, and better, two separate systems of larger size...> I was reading other FAQ's on your site, and read that I should prolly have more Tetras and Danios. <Ahh! Yes> I will soon be upgrading to a 45 gallon tank. Any suggestions as far as different fish that would go along well with what I already have, and would bring some more color to the tank. <I would add to your schooling fish species... when you upgrade... and likely add a group of Corydoras species catfishes for excitement and to keep the bottom stirred a bit> I have no idea how many I can put in a 45G. Also What do you think about live plants, versus artificial? <Some live plant material should be part of all captive freshwater systems... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/plttksovrview.htm  and the linked FAQs file above> Any input that you could possibly give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. <Glad to share with you Mark. Bob Fenner>

can you identify this species for me? Mis- over mix for a 10 gal. FW... guppy sys. loach sel.    8/10/09
I have recently started a new aquarium, it is a 10 gallon Hagen with the elite lighted canopy, as well as Cyclegaurd multistage filtration system that comes as a boxed set from Hagen.
<Sorry to break this to you, but 10 gallon tanks have very limited potential for fishkeeping, and make a very, very bad first aquarium. Do please read here:
I've added an elite submersible 200w heater which keeps the tanks temperature at a constant 78 deg f. with little effort. in this tank i have 6 guppies, 2 are male and 4 are female,
<You may regret this choice. Guppies really need more space. The males are notoriously aggressive, and once the fish start breeding, the tank will get pretty busy. I'd consider Guppies choices for the 15 or 20 gallon tank, to be honest.>
and this loach that was sold to me as a "tiger loach" (not sure the Latin for it).
<Probably Botia striata, a semi-aggressive, schooling Loach. Should be kept in groups of at least three specimens, ideally 5 or more, and needs a tank three times the size of what you have, at minimum. Completely unsuitable for this aquarium. Do read here:
when trying to research care information for the loach, it seems that a "tiger loach" is a larger, different type than this. I've also read mixed opinions as to whether (s)he should be kept in a group of 3 or more, while
some people say that they can be kept alone.
<Singletons tend to be shy, jumpy, and essentially unhappy. So yes, they need to be kept in groups. On the other hand, they are semi-aggressive, and will spend much of their time chasing one another around. Like all loaches they need crystal clear, well oxygenated water that isn't too warm (around 24-25 C is ideal) and with a strong water current (which your Guppies won't appreciate). Loaches are normally kept with robust tankmates: barbs, Rainbowfish, cichlids, catfish. They aren't good choices for mini-aquaria or alongside delicate, fancy tankmates.>
I've attached a photo to this email, and i would greatly appreciate any care tips that you could provide me with. Also, i should say that (s)he has a stone that provides him/her with a great hiding place, it is hollow on the bottom and placed directly into the stone at the bottom of my tank. Again, any tips you can give me are greatly appreciated. i would be more than happy to provide him/her with friends or anything to keep him/her happy.
<Save up for a bigger tank, my friend. What you have isn't going to work. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: can you identify this species for me? Botia from ayer  8/11/2009
yeah im getting a 100 gallon tank before the end of the month.
<That's a big tank!>
that way i can separate the male and female guppies, but i want a bigger population species tank of guppies and am using the loach to keep it clean.
<No fish "cleans" a tank. If you believe this, you need to do some more reading. What keeps your home clean? Is it the scavengers like rats and houseflies? No. It's plumbing, sewage, vacuum cleaners. Same here. What keeps a fish tank clean is the filter and regular water changes. Any algae on the front pane of glass is best removed with a sponge or scraper. Every animal you add to any aquarium makes it *dirtier*, not cleaner.>
from what you have said it seems that i should include a population of different bottom feeders in order to keep the tank clean.
<Didn't say this at all. Simply said that Botia striata is a semi-aggressive and gregarious species that needs to be kept in groups and in a fairly big tank.>
can you recommend any that mix well with a guppy population?
<Depends on the size of the tank. In smaller tanks, Cherry Shrimps and Nerite snails are ideal. They will pick up uneaten food and also happen to consume algae. They won't molest newborn fry. Best of all, they're tolerant of brackish water, so if you choose to add a little marine salt mix to the water (a gramme or two per litre can make all the difference with guppies) they won't mind. In bigger tanks, 20 gallons upwards, a school of Corydoras is a good choice. Six Corydoras paleatus or Corydoras aeneus will provide a
lively crew of bottom-swimming fish. They aren't algae-eaters. While they will eat leftover food, they don't "clean" tanks, and need regular feedings of catfish pellets.>
its hard to find definitive answers on the internet or at my local fish shop, where it seems that selling me a higher priced specimen is a priority.
<So read and learn yourself. Or else, e-mail us, outline things like water chemistry, aquarium size, and even what colours you'd like, and we'll come up with some suggestions.>
i intend to place the male guppies in the bigger tank, as they tend to have more vibrant colors and are therefore better "show" specimens. i also understand that a population of 6 guppies where 2 are male and the rest are female will result in a quick and large population of mixed genders,
<Yes, unless you add something predatory. Glassfish and Angelfish, for example, happily eat newborn Guppies, so can act as population control.>
so if i separate the males from the fry and place them in a larger tank i can maintain a fixed number of this species. as for the aggression of the males, i understand that they are mostly only aggressive towards long finned species, and will generally nip the fins and kill them (i.e. mollies),
<Not quite. Male Guppies are aggressive to one another because they need to fight for access to females. They harass the females too, because they always want to mate, whereas pregnant females don't want to mate at all.
Since females in aquaria are usually pregnant, you can see where the tension comes from. Floating plants help a lot, as will ensuring there are always more females than males.>
but as this is a species tank and the loach is considerably larger than the guppies ((s)he is about 3 inches long) im not very concerned. it seems (s)he is in control of the guppies.
<Loaches are gregarious.>
Are guppies really considered delicate?
<Fancy Guppies, yes. Wild Guppies, no, they're quite hardy.>
i understood them to be fairly hardy which is part of why i chose them for the first aquarium I've set up in about 18 years.
<Unfortunately, they have become much less hardy in those 18 years!>
BTW thanks for your help, but if you don't mind, could you reply at the end of my message instead of mixing it in?
<It's the "house style" I'm afraid.>
im still not sure I've read all you've said lol! TY!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: can you identify this species for me? Botia, stkg. FW  -- 08/11/09
so here's what i want, since i am getting the 100 gallon tank (yeah, its huge! and a great deal too!). i want to have as much color variation as possible (which is why i picked guppies to begin with),
<Guppies will probably disappoint. For one thing, they're far too small to look good in a 100 gallon tank unless you have dozens and dozens of them.
Now, if you get a bunch of varieties, they'll breed, and the results will be "feeder" Guppies, i.e., cross-breeds. I'd STRONGLY suggest you don't do this. Instead, look at the Rainbowfish family. There are lots of colours, and they don't normally breed in aquaria. They're long lived and a good size, from 10-15 cm in most cases. Two species are standouts: Melanotaenia boesemanni and Glossolepis incisus. Keep them in good numbers, and make sure to have equal numbers of males and females, and you'll have some lovely
blue/yellow and brick-red fish to start your community. Another choice might be a *single* variety of Swordtail. While you'd be stuck with one colour, these are big fish, 10-12 cm when full grown, and they are very active and fast-moving. Like Guppies, different varieties will cross-breed, but if you chose one variety you liked, you should end up with a self-maintaining population of these lovely fish.>
and several styles of fish, some round, some tall, some long (id even like to have an eel i think, but i don't know anything about them at all, was planning to research that when the time came)
<On the whole, few eels work well. The best is perhaps the Fire Eel, but it's a territorial predator and very delicate and prone to bacterial infections. Do see here:
but nothing that's overly aggressive, as i would like to breed wherever possible (the fish store i went to says they do buy privately bread fish as long as they can pick them up and inspect the tank they were born in to ensure healthy specimens).
<In big tanks, Malawian Cichlids can be worthwhile. Lots of colour options, very lively. Downsides? Prone to hybridising if you choose carelessly, and aggression between males can be severe, often to the point one fish kills off all potential rivals. Hybrids often dull blue or brown, and the quality of "cheap" Malawians in shops is dismal, so you do need to track down a decent breeder or online retailer.
however it seems now that where i shop they are more interested in a sale than a happy population of fish (else, i think they would have recommended these fish to go in this tank) so perhaps if i was to go with a list of my desirable species, and just have them fill it, it would be better. i do want to keep the guppies and in pretty big numbers as they seem to school really well.
<Yes, this is so. Aggression tends to be less, too.>
my understanding is that a 100 gallon tank can keep about 100 fish happy.
<One hundred small fish, perhaps. But the bigger the fish, the fewer it can hold. Obviously, one hundred Great White Sharks wouldn't fit in your tank!
So be realistic. The inch-per-gallon rule makes sense for small fish, but above, say, 5 cm/2 inches, you need to be conservative.>
so if i where to have around 30 guppies, and want to add 5 more species with numbers of about 10 each (including the loaches), which 5 would you recommend to meet these criteria (i.e.. varied colours and shapes)?
<Loaches would take care of the bottom, so I'd not add anything else there for fear of aggression. The Guppies will stay mostly at the top in a big, deep tank. So your choices really come down to something for the midwater.
A "pet" fish species that becomes tame is an obvious suggestion. A species that will come to the front of the tank at feeding time. Cichlids make sense in this regard, but you'd have to choose carefully. One of the Acaras might work (for example Blue Acara) or perhaps Severums like the stunning Rotkeil Severum, a fish the equal of any marine Angelfish if you can get a quality specimen. If you are confident in your fishkeeping skills, an Eartheater (such as Satanoperca jurupari, Geophagus "tapajo" or Geophagus steindachneri). Otherwise, a midwater schooling fish like the Rainbowfish mentioned earlier could be used.>
Also, will this loach eat fry?
<Some, perhaps, but only if the fry go to the bottom of the tank. Loaches prefer to feed from the substrate, and target snails, worms, and other such prey. Colin, please do use capital letters in their traditional places next time you write. We do specifically ask for this, and usually bounce back e-mails without them. I'm a nice guy... but even I get ticked off eventually! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: can you identify this species for me? -- 08/11/09
Excellent thank you for your insight. I will keep a copy of this email handy for both research and probably as the source of my fish selecting criteria.
<Glad to have helped.>
As for the capitals I do apologize (while I am loathe to use the symbol I over i to refer to myself). I do have one more question for you at this point in time. Is it possible or likely that an entire litter of fry would
be eaten?
<By other Guppies, if nothing else! Floating plants really are essential, and will give the fry somewhere to hide until you can catch them and put them into a breeding net. I find fry tend to be dropped early in the
morning before the lights come on, so around 8-9 AM I check the tank, and scoop out any baby fish and put them into a breeding trap (or another tank).>
I've noticed that some of my guppies gravid spots have lost a lot of colour, and it makes me wonder if perhaps they had dropped while I was at work and had consumed the entire litter, or if they may have been eaten by the other guppies in the tank.
<Can, does happen.>
Also, I would like to say kudos to you and your staff for providing this service, it must take a lot of dedication from what i can only assume are volunteers.
<We are. And in my case, a volunteer who should perhaps get out more and spend less time working at his computer...>
Keep up the good work folks!
<Thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>

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