FAQs on the Freshwater Minnows called Sharks
Related Articles: Freshwater Minnow
Sharks, Bala or Tri-Colored Sharks,
Redtail Sharks, Redfin Sharks, Black Sharks,
Related FAQs: Minnow Sharks 1, Minnow Sharks 2, FW Shark Identification, FW Shark Behavior, FW Shark Compatibility, FW Shark Systems, FW Shark Feeding, FW Shark Disease, FW Shark Reproduction,
Bala or Tri-Colored Sharks, Redtail Sharks, Redfin Sharks, Black Sharks,
shark question, the Ariid Catfish, other FW "shark"
Hi. Boy have I learned via this site not to purchase Black Fin
Sharks from Wal-Mart. My son fell in love with those particular
animals for his 5.5 gallon tank
<Much too small>
however we are now seriously backtracking. Is there some type of
fish out there that will live happily in fresh water, not brackish, that
actually resembles a shark and will be content in a small tank?
<Not really, no>
His heart is set on some type of "shark." Just fyi, I just
formally complained to our local Wal-Mart manager about the poor
maintenance of their tanks! Thank You! Laura Smith
<Thank you Laura... Do please read here; and or have your son read here
if he's old enough to understand:
Re: shark question 8/19/20
I'm so glad that I found this site before purchasing the sharks!
He will be so disappointed!
<Much more and worse so if the organisms damaged/killed one another and
However we take care of all of God's nature and would never want to put
something so inappropriate in a 5 gallon tank! We will take a
visit to the local specialty fish store and will make a better choice.
queries relating to <minnow> sharks (RMF, do read!)
I have recently stocked a tropical aquarium of 75
gallons in size. It is heated and has a large external filter
from the aquarium (upon advice from the store.) All the water I used
was dechlorinated and tested with test strips. All information here is
from notes taken, information remembered from the store assistants and
A few months back I was inquiring at a local aquatic store about what I
should stock it with. I said I was looking for some aggressive fish
which would provide an interesting display.
<A contradiction in terms! Aggression is the ONE thing you want to
avoid. Hassle is not the same thing as interest. It's like that
Chinese proverb about living in interesting times, the meaning being
that interesting times are generally not something you'll
While they briefed me, I took a couple of notes down so I could
remember the names. They recommended several different fishes - I
believe they were 'sicklids',
<Cichlids; not good fish for beginners for a variety of
'red belly piranha',
<Indeed; a bad fish for beginners, and really rather dull.>
<Covers a LOT of ground here! Hundreds if not a thousand-plus
<A mixed bag of unrelated fish; nothing to do with the sharks of the
and 'buck-tooth tetra'.
<A fascinating fish, and actually quite a good choice for a 75
gallon tank, if you like predators.>
I had a look through and I didn't like the look of most of them,
but the sharks really caught my eye.
<Most of the sharks make poor aquarium fish for a variety of
reasons. Some are insanely large, others need brackish or salt water
when mature. Most of the rest are either too nervous or too aggressive
to do well without very careful planning.>
I was under the impression that sharks were only marine fish, and it
was a surprise to me that there were some types that could be kept in a
<Uh, no. The "shark" part of the name is misleading. Apart
from a couple of catfish, most of the "sharks" in the
freshwater trade are cyprinids, relatives of the minnows and
They were selling a number of different sharks (I got these names from
the labels on the front of the tanks, the assistant told me that a
couple were rare species
so they capitalized codes - the species I noted were 'paroon'
shark, 'ID' shark,
<These are Pangasius sanitwongsei and Pangasius hypophthalmus; use
Google to look up these catfish -- they come under the "insanely
large" heading. Got a few thousand gallons in your aquarium? Then
sure, try one out. Otherwise, skip 'em.>
<Red-tailed Black Shark, Epalzeorhynchos bicolor. Very aggressive.
One of these will OWN your 75-gallon tank.>
<Epalzeorhynchos frenatus; marginally less aggressive than
Epalzeorhynchos bicolor. An okay choice for a tank your size, if you
choose tankmates with care and add this species LAST.>
<Balantiocheilos melanopterus, not only large but also extremely
nervous unless kept in [a] a big group and [b] a huge aquarium; a fine
fish, but not suitable for beginners or tanks below a couple hundred
and 'redfin' shark.
They told me they were all very easy to look after and were best fed on
live food, so I would be required to set up a live food aquarium as
well. So, upon their advice I bought a second heated aquarium this time
of 20 gallons and stocked it with feeder platies, their recommended
feeder fish (I was told goldfish and rosy reds had some form of
chemical that kills other fish so should not be used as feeders.)
<Hmm actually, no feeders should be used, ever. But I guess your
retailer has some extremely vague understanding of the fat and
thiaminase in Goldfish and Minnows. But even store-bred Platies will be
parasite bombs, so shouldn't be used to feed fish you want to live
any length of time.>
So, I went home, set up the feeder tank (which has an internal filter I
believe), cycled with the liquid bacteria and stocked it with 9 adult
feeder platies. Upon recommendation I added a couple of plants - a type
called java moss. They fed well and I was informed by the store they
would breed by themselves.
And indeed, 1 month later I started noticing young platies within the
tank. Soon the group started to grow and I ended up with 13. They were
quite happy and I fed them on standard Hikari tropical flake.
I returned to the shop and they told me that it would be enough and for
the initial months the sharks would be okay on standard carnivore food
but not as good as they would be on live fish.
<Idiots. The two Epalzeorhynchos species, the Red-tailed Black Shark
and the Red-fin/Albino Shark, are both largely herbivorous. They feed
on something called Aufwuchs that contains algae and a mix of
microscopic animals. Under aquarium conditions they do well on a
variety of prepared foods. Balantiocheilos melanopterus is omnivorous
and easily fed on a mix of green foods and prepared foods, plus treats
such as bloodworms and perhaps even the odd earthworm. Pangasius spp.
have no place in the average aquarium so comments on their diet is
They recommended I feed frequent frozen bloodworm to the sharks until
<Not frequent, but once a week, sure, these are fine treats.>
They also told me that the platies would not be as nutritious if they
were not 'gut loaded'. 'Gut loaded' was said to mean
fed on a good diet with lots of live food.
<Broadly, yes, but pointless here, not to mention dangerous given
you didn't breed the Platies yourself.>
They told me that I had to set up a third tank for rearing daphnia and
Cyclops and holding live food until they are fed. They also informed me
it was time to stock the main tank.
<Oh boy, they sure saw you coming so how much stuff have they sold
you so far?>
They said that before the sharks could be introduced, the tank must be
shark friendly. They told me this meant added 'freshwater live
sand' which appeared to be some sort of pale yellow sand with small
pieces of rock/gravel mixed in with which was said to be teeming with
life in the form of aquarium bacteria, algae, daphnia, some long
twisted white coned snails, long pink worms, underwater wood lice and
also a few unusual round shaped shrimp-like creatures that were curled
and would dart around and were about 1/2 an inch long.
<What? Never heard of freshwater live sand. Sounds very dubious, and
honestly, I think they're selling you shares in the Suez
I was informed that this sand was full of creatures that helped
maintain the balance of the ecosystem in the tank. I was told to buy 30
lbs of this wet sand in bags to form the 'substrate' of my tank
when mixed with regular aquarium sand. Secondly, I was told that
'freshwater live rock' was also required.
<It gets better!>
This was a type of funny holy rock which had plants clinging to it and
algae coating it. It also had the same shrimp-like creatures and
daphnia and Cyclops hanging around it, as well as two types of shrimp
one proper long 1.5" transparent shrimp and another type of small
1" brown shrimp (this one was far more common than the other) and
three types of brown snails attached to it which either had vertical
disc-shaped twirl shells, were small, semi-transparent and had black
dots on them or were large and had conical shells, though not as long
as the ones living in the sand. It was also said to have important
bacteria. I was told that this rock was designed as an optional thing
for the tropical community tanks but was almost essential if you wanted
to keep sharks. They said that all these critters would help filter the
tank and eat the fish poop and also help keep the balance and would
even serve as temporary fish food should I go on holiday. I was told
that more than just a few plants were bad in a shark tank as sharks
needed 'cruising space' and the small aquatic ferns attached to
my live rock were enough. I was also told that the live rock and live
sand creatures required feeding until the fish were added, and that my
existing tropical flakes or my new carnivore pellets and bloodworm
So, on that visit I purchased some frozen bloodworm, Hikari Sinking
Carnivore Pellets (which mentions sharks on the box of the food as
doing well on this diet), Hikari Mini Algae Wafers (which were supposed
to be suitable for feeding to the platies along with the standard flake
and also for feeding to the daphnia), 10 bags of live daphnia, 3 bags
of live Cyclops, 2 packs of daphnia eggs, 1 one gallon tank for keeping
live food, a huge bag of aquarium sand, 30 lbs of live sand, 10 lbs of
live rock and a ton of weird critters and plants attached to the rock.
If you could identify a couple if not all of this critters it would be
<Robert, I hate being the one to tell you this, but there's a
whole bunch of stuff they're selling you here you don't need.
Cycling a tank is easy. Although not the ideal way to do things, your
Platies have surely cycled the tank by now. Nothing you're adding,
beyond perhaps a few more live plants, will make a blind bit of
difference. Yes, there's plenty of live sand and live rock *sold to
marine aquarists* but this will ALL DIE in freshwater. In short, if
they've been selling you this stuff, you've been had.>
So, I set up the tank, putting the live rock at the back and mixing the
aquarium sand and the live sand to put on the bottom of the tank. A day
later I returned from work pretty late, and open turning on the light,
the tank appeared to be a haven of life. There were several snails
visible on the glass of all 3 brown types and the white type was moving
around on the sand. The shrimp-like curled critters were hopping up and
down amid large groups of daphnia and Cyclops. A couple of brown
shrimps and transparent shrimp were also swimming around, looking for
meals. Although the live seemed to slow down a lot after turning on the
light. A lot of the creatures retreated into the rock and substrate in
the next few hours of light in the room. It was an unusual sight.
I also set up live food tank 2 which had no substrate or rock, and
didn't even have a filter. Nevertheless, the daphnia and Cyclops
inside seemed fairly healthy. I would feed them with crushed up algae
wafers and occasionally would introduce some of the population of this
tank to the other one as they were breeding fast.
So, 2 weeks later I returned to the shop, and bought my first fish.
Upon recommendation by them, I bought an albino shark, said to be the
most hardy shark for an early tank.
<Not really. Albino anything tends to be weaker than the standard
I floated the bag in the tank for 10 minutes before letting the shark
in. In the next few days, I am sure the microbial life was
disappearing. The brown shrimps and curled shrimp-like creatures as
well as the daphnia and Cyclops seemed slightly more scarce, and the
transparent shrimp were quickly disappearing - I decided to fish out
some of the brown and all the transparent shrimps and add them to the
platy tank where they thrived.
<I see. Well, plain vanilla Amano Shrimps and Grass Shrimps should
do well in your aquarium.>
The week after, I purchased two more sharks, an RTBS and my personal
fave, the paroon.
<Oh boy. Well, the Paroon Shark has no place here at all. Take it
back. It's a monster. Plus, the Red-tail Shark and the Albino Shark
will not coexist once sexually mature, and will likely fight long
before then. All this is well known. If you'd bought a book before
buying "stuff", you'd have saved a WHOLE bunch of
Soon after they were introduced, all the true shrimp in the main tank
had been eaten or had died out. The numbers of the curled shrimp-like
things were low but they could be seen from time to time at night when
the other fish were less active. Surprisingly, there were more of the
smaller creatures like Cyclops than normal. I was feeding the fish
frequently and well, so maybe they had less of a desire to predate the
smaller things. In the weeks to come I bought 2 more paroon sharks and
2 Bala sharks.
<Seriously, things are getting out of hand now. Did you research
even the Bala Sharks? It's well known these get to about 30 cm/12
inches, so three of them WILL NOT live in 75 gallons! Throw in the
Paroon Sharks that should get to about 90 cm/3 feet under good
conditions, and you'll have fish literally wedged into a glass
The fish feed well on the carnivore pellets and frozen bloodworm, but I
tried adding a bit of the algae wafers and the tropical flake and they
didn't mind that either, so that was quite cool. But of course the
carnivore pellets are the best diet for the sharks so I do not intend
to feed them too much of it. I also fed the first few platies recently.
The platy population as of now is 20 or so. I added 3 smaller platies
to the tank and the paroons swooped them up in seconds. The RTBS gave
chase but did not kill them fast enough. The Balas showed no interest.
Is this a problem?
<Depends on what you mean. The problems will likely come from the
fish eating the parasite-bomb Platies. Please, please read before you
act. Feeder fish usage isn't just inhumane, it's also unwise.
It introduces parasites, it spreads diseases, and it increases the
risks of aggression. You will notice that NO expert fishkeeper -- i.e.,
one who gets published -- recommends the use of feeders.>
How do I make it so the other fish have a chance to eat the platies
before they are snapped up by the paroons?
<Why would you want to? Sounds as if the Bala Sharks have better
idea of a healthy diet than either you or the retailer.>
I should start blogging.
<Agreed; though I perhaps would read your blog for different reasons
than you're writing it.>
I wish I could write more in detail about my tank.
<Oh, you've written plenty, let me assure you.>
My problems started a week ago. My RTBS shark viciously attacked my
albino shark, tearing fins off.
<Absolutely no surprise at all. In fact I predicted as much a few
I phoned the store, and they said it was common for sharks to fight and
this would not be much of a problem long term.
But it was, and the morning after, I found my albino shark lying in the
tank with all it's fins torn off, being chewed on by both the RTBS
and a paroon (which do not seem to be very aggressive so I assume it
was just scavenging - unsure though).
The other fish get on very well and display no aggressive behavior. I
phoned the store once more and they said it was a territorial conflict
and they blamed my tank size. They also said that the albino might have
been too dark for the RTBS shark which is black in color which could
have led to conflict.
<Uh, no. All the Epalzeorhynchos species are territorial under
normal aquarium conditions. Only keep one specimen per
So, this time, I got a redfin shark.
<Ah, another lamb to the slaughter.>
The RTBS has been acting very aggressively towards it's new
companion. Why is this?
<Territorial aggression. Do not keep more than one Epalzeorhynchos
per aquarium. It's really VERY SIMPLE. All decent aquarium books
will state this. Have you read any of them?>
Can I have help with my tank?
<Yes. But it largely involves you taking everything back, buying a
book, reading it, and just enjoying the Platies for a few weeks until
you can be trusted to go shopping again.>
<You are most welcome, Neale.>
> Do read my reply to "Stocking queries relating to
sharks". It's a keeper!
> Cheers, Neale
Oh man! I almost thought this "fish keeper" was pulling
our fins, but as I read it dawned on me that he's just being
sold bills of goods...
Perhaps he'd like to buy a walkway to Knightsbridge?
Re: Stocking queries relating to sharks (RMF, do
I read your response extensively and it appears I've got very wrong
here, and my store is giving incorrect advice.
Just to clear things up, I have 3 aquariums. One is the main tank, 75
gallons. That's where the sharks are. The other tank is the 20
gallon with the feeder platies. There are and never were any live
platies used to cycle the 75 gallon - they told me the live rock and
live sand as well as a bottle of bacteria would do the trick. I
didn't even know you could use fish to cycle!
The third tank is the gut-loader tank, 1 gallon. I had another look at
the buck tooth tetras and I believe I may have overlooked them.
<Yes, Exodon paradoxus, a fine fish. Genuine feeding frenzy, but
readily takes flake, so more fun and easier to keep than
They seem like a much better choice for my aquarium that what I have
<A good choice, but you do need at least 12; in smaller groups
you'll end up with just the one! Because their diet includes scales
and fins of larger fish, DO NOT keep with anything else, even catfish.
But they do look stunning in a shady, well-planted aquarium. They get
to about 10 cm long in captivity and have lovely colours.>
I was attracted to 'aggressive' fish as I saw videos of Oscar
fish on YouTube and they looked much more exciting than schools of neon
tetras and guppies like everyone else has.
<You do need to definite "aggressive" in this context.
Oscars aren't aggressive at all except insofar as they're
territorial. They are predatory of course, but that's a whole
different thing. Most predators are non-aggressive because they need to
be ignored and keep a low profile. Most truly aggressive fish are
herbivores or omnivores. Mbuna and Damselfish for example include some
of the most aggressive fish in the world, yet both feed primarily on
However, I find Oscar fish ugly - I wanted a balance between beauty and
character, and thought I could find that in sharks.
<I see. Do look at the brackish to marine Colombian Shark Catfish, a
stunning species with lots of predatory power but the disposition of a
pussy cat. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_7/volume_7_1/ariidae.html
It's a joy to keep, and probably the most shark-like fish in the
However, instead of thinking of more fish I need to focus on clearing
up the current problem. It appears I have a mix of monsters in size and
monsters in aggression. I am intending to return all the sharks as soon
as possible. I saw a couple of pictures on Google of the adults of some
of the scientific names you gave me, and I certainly don't have the
room for a tank that could accommodate something like that.
I feel incredibly foolish now for not reading up on the topic prior to
purchase, but at the time, I was sure that the people in the store (who
claim to have had 40 years experience) would be more than helpful. It
turned out they were not.
<So it seems.>
The platies and the shrimp living in the 20 gallon are happy right now.
The platies and the brown shrimp are both breeding.
The red finned shark is still alive, but badly beaten up and hiding in
a crevice in the live rock at the back of the tank. I intend to return
him, along with the others, when I visit the store tomorrow, if he
lasts until then. I did call the store and complain, but they gave me a
generic response that it was my fault that this happened for not
feeding the sharks enough, so I gave up.
<They sound hopeless.>
They said they would accept the fish, but they did tell me it was store
policy not to accept any money for standard quality fish, even if they
were their own, so it appears I have lost quite a lot of money from
this on fish and on creating the shark tank in the way they proposed. I
also emailed the store manager inquiring about the scientific names and
more information on the 'Live Rock' and 'Live Sand'
products and they responded. They say it is very different from marine
live rock/live sand but uses the same sort of idea.
I'll quote the relevant sections of their email at the end of this
one. If you can recognize any scientific names from the list, that
would be great, because they could easily have sold me super predator
fish eating shrimp, the way things are going now.
I will definitely purchase a book on the topic of tropical fish in
general and it would be very useful if you could give any suggestions
as to which books contain accurate, correct and useful information,
unlike that I have received from the aquatic store.
<A few favourites here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/bksfwbrneale.htm
As I've said I'm going to return my sharks and I'm
considering either bucktooth tetras or a tank with barbs - did some
research by myself and I found that barbs are both interesting and
attractive, and easier to keep than the bucktooths.
<Very definitely. Tiger Barbs are basically hardy fish so long as
you don't keep them too warm and you take care to keep them in a
large group, at least 6, and ideally 10 or more if you don't want
nippiness to become a problem. Also, the bigger the group, the better
the colours on the males as they each try to impress the females (and
yes, you want/need at least as many females as males, though sexing
juveniles is nigh-on impossible). They basically mix well with anything
that keeps out of their way or can swim nice and fast. I'd
recommend some loaches for the bottom (Zebra or Yoyo Loaches would be
ideal) and some Giant Danios for the top. Once the tank is settled
down, add an interesting Suckermouth Catfish if you want, one of the
L-number Plecs, your choice determined by your budget. I happen to like
Panaque nigrolineatus as a good all-rounder, but things like Green
Phantom Plecs, Snowball Plec and Gold Nugget Plec would all be
Here is the email, if you can recognize and provide info on the species
it would be appreciated:
<Lots of fun things here: shrimps, flatworms, water fleas,
Cyclops sp. 'Unknown'
Dugesia sp. 'Unknown'
Lymnaea sp. 'Melantho'
<These are Malayan Livebearing/Turret Snails.>
<Both these are shrimps.>
Planaria sp. 'Unknown'
Note that Hydra vulgaris sometimes occurs on Freshwater Live Rock but
is unintentional and can be removed at your request.
<Hydra is a neat creature and not a problem unless you intend to
breed egg-laying fish in this tank.>
<All fairly standard plants.>
Freshwater Live Rock and Freshwater Live Sand consist of tufa rock
<Tufa rock can, will raise pH and water hardness, depending on the
quantity. Do check the pH periodically, perhaps monthly once the tank
is set-up and stable, weekly for the first month or so. If the pH stays
at or below 7.5, there's nothing to worry about.>
and silica play sand cultured in two twin 20,000 gallon aquariums which
are home to millions of beneficial microscopic algae and bacteria along
with a selection of small sub-tropical invertebrates that are
considered useful to the maintenance of the aquarium. The species
included are specifically selected for their ability to control certain
species of invasive algae and general tank detritus, as well as serve
as a food source for multiple species of small tropical fish popular in
the aquarium, such as guppies and tetras. The rock is wild caught and
is absolutely not from wild reefs in the same manner as the marine live
rock. However, the concept remains very similar. They are new,
innovative products from our standard supplier for freshwater fish and
invertebrates and we are glad to be among the first to adopt them.
<Is indeed innovative and fascinating. Basically pond life, but
it's neat to see them being sold this way. Do read here:
If you have any questions, feel free to reply and if I am unable to
answer anything, I will gladly contact the supplier as well."
Re: Stocking queries relating to sharks (RMF, do
I returned all the sharks today.
Today, the manager (the man who I contacted via email - the people on
the phone were assistants) was in the store instead of the regular
assistants who come on weekends and sometimes in afternoons. He was
very surprised that I had been sold this unusual mix of fish from the
assistant, who was a teenager or college kid who worked their part time
and had never kept fish himself before.
He still used the 'store policy' excuse, but offered me store
credit for my troubles so far. I had another look at the
Exodon/bucktooth tetras. They seem interesting but I'd rather have
a mix of fish. On YouTube I saw a lot of videos of Oscar fish
'mouth-fighting' other fishes which went under the names
'jack Dempsey', 'wolf', 'jaguar' and
'devil', that is why I assumed they were aggressive.
<Yes, these can be aggressive, but do understand aggression is
better read about than actually experienced at home! Fighting leads to
injuries, and injuries lead to stress and infection, and these lead to
dead fish. By all means keep a single territorial cichlid, and try
putting a mirror by the tank if you want a bit of fun for a few
minutes. But deliberately contriving situations where fish behave
aggressively usually ends badly for all concerned. Now, some fish will
scrap amongst themselves without doing serious harm; Celebes halfbeaks
for example. But these are small fish able to spread out in aquaria, so
the males don't usually cause serious harm to one another.>
I read through the article on the Colombian catfish. They certainly
seem like interesting fish for a future venture into fishkeeping.
However, I am currently quite new to fish keeping and I don't think
I'm experienced enough to run a marine or 'brackish' tank -
as I would need to purchase new equipment to do so and it isn't
really viable in the short term.
<Agreed. But they are fantastic fish!>
As per books, I ordered off Amazon 'A Practical Guide to Setting up
Your First Tropical Freshwater Aquarium' by Gina Sandford,
'Complete Aquarium' by Peter Scott and 'Brackish Water
Fishes' by yourself, just in case I pursue Colombian Sharks and
brackish water fish once I get more experience with aquatic
<All good book choices. The Peter Scott one is especially inspiring,
even if it isn't quite the best book for details on the fish
They should arrive within 1-3 weeks or so. I Googled giant Danio, tiger
barb, yoyo loach, zebra loach and the list of plecs you recommended.
They all seem like great fish, and my aquatic store had all but the
plecs, but said they could order any of them from the supplier if I
<Very good. Not all are suitable for planted tanks necessarily, so
do review their particular needs, e.g., on the excellent Planet Catfish
Out of the loaches, I would say I prefer the look of the zebra loach.
Does this fish require to be kept in a group in the same way as the
tiger barb or is it a solitary fish?
<Definitely yes; all these Botiine loaches should be kept in groups
of 5+ specimens or you're unlikely to have much luck with them.
Botiine loaches are an odd mix of feisty towards one another on the one
hand, but also rather shy if kept singly or in pairs. You need a
biggish group of five or more specimens for their natural aggression to
balance out, so no one fish bullies all the others. Kept in a group
they'll be bold enough to swim about during the day, which is
another good reason to keep a group.>
I found conflicting sources - one saying it was territorial, another
saying it liked being in groups. Out of the plecs, I like the
Are they easy to keep?
<Yes, they can be; my specimen is 16-17 years old! They do need lots
of green foods and they do destroy most plants. But in tanks with rock
and bogwood, they're very easy to keep once settled in and fattened
up. Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/panaqueart.htm
Also, I did some research and some sites are saying that plecs grow
huge - 20"+, is this true?
<Can do, but seems very uncommon in aquaria. Mine is about 17 cm/7
inches long, 20 cm/8 inches is common, and I've seen a few nearer
the 30 cm/12 inch mark, but outside of public aquaria, none that were
any bigger than that. There are numerous subspecies and related
species, and some do seem to be smaller than others.>
If it grows that big, it would be a bit crowded in my tank. Do barb,
loach, Danio and Plec like plant filled garden tanks or rocky styled
tanks, or don't they mind?
<Loaches, Danios and Plecs are happy with either, though Royal Plecs
will eat most plants anyway, while the other, non-wood-eating Plecs
generally ignore plants provided those plants aren't easily
uprooted (so nothing too delicate!). Barbs like planted tanks
On the topic of the 'live rock', thank you for identifying some
of these creatures. I can see I have some of them. However, when I
Googled the 'Neocaridina' shrimp just now, I got hundreds of
pictures of various different shrimp. Some red species, some yellow
species and some blue species. My shrimp (with the exception of the
'Palaemon' shrimps which I can identify as the clear shrimp I
have) are brown. I do not think they are 'Neocaridina', as the
pictures don't match.
<Indeed. There are many species in this genus.>
I Googled pond snail and it said they are voracious eaters of plants
but also eat algae and it is a hard decision whether I should keep them
or try to remove them. Do the pros outweigh the cons here, or the other
I looked up Hydra and I don't think I have any of those in my
aquarium. I may be wrong however, I just haven't seen any. When I
looked at the images of pond snail however, I found three main types -
the small golden dotted one, a curled up brown disc like one and a
large brownish conical one, all of which seem to be present in my
aquarium. Which 'pond snail' goes with which scientific
<Physa and Melanoides don't harm healthy plants. Neither do
small Planorbis. Lymnaea may do so, and Pomacea certainly will.>
I Googled 'tufa' and the rock I saw pictures off is very
different from the rock I have. The rock I have is a mix of brown and
white rocks with big holes in them, not tiny bubbles like the true
tufa. I don't think they are using real tufa.
My pH is 8 according to the test strips. My tap water is 7.5 normally.
Will the high pH wear off over time or is this a long term problem?
<Could be a problem. Tufa rock is calcium carbonate, and this will,
by definition, raise carbonate hardness, and in turn that will raise pH
to 8 or even slightly higher. Whether the rock is genuine tufa or some
other type of calcium carbonate doesn't much matter. Acid, even
vinegar, will fizz if dribbled onto calcium carbonate, so it's easy
I read through the 'deep sand bed' article. It seems to be
remarkably similar to the live sand. I guess 'live sand' is
just a brand name to make it sell better. Although the sand bed seems
to very deep, hence the name.
This live sand is reasonably shallow. I noticed the article also
mentioned the same ideas of 'ecosystem' and also mentioned the
Malayan snail as well as flat worms and I even recognised the
'Dugesia' name from the article from the list I got sent by the
store manager. The article said that flatworms were harmless, which was
helpful, as upon Googling 'flatworm' earlier, I was shocked by
an article on water borne parasites instead of aquarium cleaners.
<Indeed, but the free-living flatworms are harmless, except perhaps
if they eat fish eggs.>
Also, I am pretty sure I have Malayan snails. They are yellow and live
in the sand. I sometimes see them move around at night. But, most of
the time I see the vast variety of different 'pond snails'
moving about. The live rock and live sand are very interesting things.
I had a quick look in the filter today, and it appears more of the
critters are living in the filter than in the tank. There are a lot of
daphnia and Cyclops and some of the smaller curly shrimp-like things
inside. I guess they got sucked in through the filter.
For the 20 gallon platy tank, the store manager recommended Otocinclus
cat-fish as the best way to control algae. However, Google says that
the best way to control algae is to plant a tank well. Is this a good
recommendation or just as bad as that of his co-workers?
<Bit of both really. Otocinclus, kept in groups, are viable if
delicate catfish that will consume green algae (but not hair algae or
Nerite snails are better for green algae and diatoms, and hair algae is
something you try to prevent problems with altogether, though a few
fish, notably Siamese Algae Eaters and Florida Flagfish, will eat it.
In any case, yes, if you have lots of fast-growing plants you're
unlikely to have serious algae problems. That's the approach I take
in all my tanks, even if, in the case of tanks with plant-eating fish,
I'm limited to using floating Indian Fern.>
Re: Stocking queries relating to sharks... Now gen. stkg.,
Thanks for all the great info and the useful link about the Plec. Is
there any way to make my water more acidic like using a liquid or
something or chemical?
<No. You need to soften water before changing pH. If you have hard
water, simply adding a pH-down produce will only create unstable
conditions. Once of the easiest ways to stress/kill fish! Better to
choose hard water fish, or else let soft water fish adapt to hard water
-- many can, at least to moderately hard water, say, 10 degrees dH. Do
Also, I don't have any 'Pomacea' in my tank, so I don't
think I'll need to worry. Thanks for the info on the snails though!
If I plant it full of plants, with cheap, easily replaceable plants, do
you think a royal Plec will have much of a big impact upon the
<Panaque spp. will destroy almost all plants save floating
Definitely gonna add a couple of plants to the smaller tank.
<Okay, then stick with other L-number Plecs, e.g., Baryancistrus or
Hemiancistrus species that are primarily carnivores (not on fish!) and
I will look at Nerite snails. I'm probably gonna add some of the
snails from the big tank into the small tank. Do the Physa, Lymna or
the Planorbis eat algae well?
Also gonna look at flag fish and Siamese algae eaters but it's 20
gallon so dunno if they'll fit, they look pretty large.
<Indeed, would not choose either of these for 20 gallons.>
When I do stock 75 gallon I'm thinking 10 tiger barb, 8 giant
Danios, 1 royal Plec and 5 zebra loach. And maybe a Krib cichlid later
on if it goes well?
I'm unsure. I know you warned against cichlid so that's why I
plan on leaving it for a while and getting more experienced first. Do
you think Krib cichlid would cause trouble for the barb as both share
mid water habitat?
<Kribs are mostly bottom-dwellers and will largely ignore midwater
I really like barb and may set up an aquarium for them in the future
when I know more about aquatics. I saw a lot of nice barb today at the
store - golden barb,
<A nice species.>
<Tiger Barb of another colour.>
<Needs cool water for long term success; no warmer than 24 C,
anyway, and ideally down to 18 C in winter, if not slightly
<Another subtropical barb that prefers cooler water.>
<A wonderful and quirky species.>
<Another excellent species; subtle but very lovely in
false 8 stripe barb,
<A small, delicate species (Eirmotus octozona) not really suited to
barbel barb (I think this one was cold water though),
<Barbus barbus? A coldwater fish.>
Indian drape fin barb
<Oreichthys crenuchoides; very pretty, but shy, so don't keep
with bullies like Danios or other Barbs. Could do well with Kribs and
L-number Plecs though.>
and many others. I know a lot of these are not well suited to my tank
if I go by my currently planned stocking, so I will not stock tank with
Re: New tank, Pangasius
hypophthalmus, minnow shark, goldfish... stkg., reading
12/10/08 Hello dear Neale, Thank you so much for your quick
response, Neale I am interested to keep a small pair of blue line
shark, <Pangasius hypophthalmus? A bad choice. Too big for home
aquaria, needs to be kept in groups of 6+ specimens.> albino shark,
one red tail shark <Are we talking about albino Epalzeorhynchos
frenatum and regular Epalzeorhynchos bicolor? They'll fight with
each other. Best kept one specimen of whichever species, or in groups
of 6+ specimens.> and one pair of Bala shark <Another big,
schooling species. Six or more specimens, please.> with my red cap
goldfish. <Nope; Goldfish should be kept on their own, especially
"fancy" goldfish. Too easily damaged by other, bullying fish
species.> Is this fine and under stocked? Neale how should I make my
routine to change the water and what amount should I change and after
how many days? <Much written on WWM on this topic. Would recommend
25% every week as a good starting point.> Please recommend me live
plants so my aquarium looks more attractive and nice. <Goldfish will
eat soft plants, but robust types such as Vallisneria, Crinum, Java
fern, Echinodorus, Cryptocoryne ciliata etc should be fine.> Those
plants which are not eaten by goldfish and sharks because when they eat
they make huge mass. Thank you, Ali <Cheers,
Re: New tank... minnow
sharks, goldfish comp. -12/11/08 Hello dear Neale, Thank you
so much for your time and help. Neale I am very much interested to keep
sharks is there any kind which you can recommend me for my aquarium, or
any other fresh water fish which is easy to keep and nice. Actually to
keep goldfish is very hard job and they make huge mess. They are also
very sensitive like fin rot and other diseases. As they take long time
to cure the fin rot even after 3-4 months my one red cap is showing the
sign of fin rot, I do not how it would end completely. I am very much
upset. Although its fine, healthy and active but when I see fin rot
sign I become upset. I think shark will be easy to keep as they do not
mass a lot, I really do not please help me if you can. Ill be thankful
to you. Thank You Ali <Hello Ali, Goldfish are indeed difficult fish
to keep well. That is why I explain to people they need big tanks and
good filters. Goldfish are excellent pets, and can be intelligent and
friendly. But they are much easier when kept as pond fish. I
wouldn't recommend keeping any "minnow sharks" (as we
call these fish) with Goldfish. Do read over Bob's article on
minnow sharks. Some species get big, some are aggressive, and all need
good water quality. Until you can consistently ensure perfect water
conditions with your Goldfish, then minnow sharks aren't an option.
In other words, if you keep seeing Finrot and fungus, your tank
isn't 100% perfect. Concentrate on this problem first! When
you're happy the water quality is good, I'd recommend looking
at other fish species that can live well alongside Goldfish, things
like Plecostomus-type catfish and some of the gouramis. Cool water
Corydoras such as Corydoras paleatus also work well. Cheers, Neale.>
<Forgot to add the link for Bob's piece:
Re: New tank
12/15/08 Hello Dear Neale, Thank you so much Neale for time
and help. God bless you, I will try to take care of my goldfish more so
I could get rid of Finrot. Now they would have a lot of water and
space. I hope they will enjoy more. Thank You Ali <Ali, thanks for
your kind words, and I am glad to be able to help. Good luck to you and
your fish! Once you've settled things down and all the fish are
healthy, we can talk some more about companion species. Cheers,
FW Minnow Sharks, Pangasiid Catfish Shark... comp.
mostly 6/5/06 Crew: <<Paula. Tom with you.>> I
was reading your information on the different types of sharks/minnows.
Under the Apollo shark it said "best kept singly." Does this
mean only this fish in a small tank or only one of this type of fish
along with others in a tank? <<These fish don't get along
with others of their species or with similar types of fish. Not an
uncommon situation with certain varieties.>> Also, will
tri-color, iridescent, and Apollo sharks get along without fighting in
one tank that holds about 40-50 gallons? <<The Tri-color (Bala)
Shark will quickly outgrow this tank. It's active and fast
requiring lots of swimming room. Scratch the Iridescent Shark from your
list completely. It can reach over three feet in length and
shouldn't be sold to hobbyists. The Apollo Shark will probably see
the Tri-color Shark as an adversary due to the similarities in their
appearances. A 50-gallon tank would probably suffice for the Apollo
Shark, however.>> Thanks for the help. Paula <<Please
continue your research, Paula. I commend you for doing your homework
but there's still much to learn. My best.
FW Sharks Thanks for your quick response.
When adding fish to a tank this size (90-gal.), what would you
consider "slowly." <One...then wait two weeks. Test
the water. Add another etc> I want to get a group of Bala
Sharks and some compatible fish to make a community. <No such
thing as a shark with compatible fish. Please don't try
this> I know Balas get quite large eventually. How many should
I add right away? <I refuse to recommend/suggest that you buy
any Bala sharks or any other species of sharks for that matter.
It's a sucker purchase and the likely-hood that it will live
long enough to grow large is slim to none. Why don't you
"kill two birds with one stone?" 1) Save a fish's
life by not buying any sharks and; 2) if you and others don't
buy them, stores won't stock them. Now we're saving
thousands/tens-of-thousands of sharks! I know they are cool to
look at but they don't live.> How big a group is logical
to add in the near future? --Thanks, <None, zero, zilch, nada.
In Vegas there is a "Shark Reef" that has 6'+
sharks swimming around. Go check it out! Or go to Myrtle Beach
South Carolina and check out the shark exhibit at the
Ripley's aquarium. They have 12'+ sharks! Leave these
creatures in the ocean or public aquariums. I apologize for being
so blunt and repetitive but the truth isn't always pretty not
is it necessarily what people want to hear. But it is the
truth...none-the-less. David Dowless> Charlie
Oops.. I made a blunder I hope you had a
good trip Bob. How was Belize? <Unfortunately we didn't
go... Our friend/roomie/travel partner Pete was too sick. So Di
and I and he traded in our tickets to go to Kona next month. A
good cancellation as I was able to get a bunch done here> I
wanted to tell you that I screwed up royally on a question last
night. A guy wrote in and asked about stocking his tank with Bala
sharks. Thinking that he was speaking of a saltwater species
(that I hadn't heard of), I responded with the typical
answer, "Don't buy any sharks!"...and like a
fool...I rambled out my reasons. So now he's written back and
I have apologized profusely and I'm feeling really stupid. I
hate it when something like this slips through. <No worries
David. These happen. Apologize to the querier and go on> I was
also wondering...the response went out this morning and I would
love for it not to appear within the website. I gave bad
information and anyone that's in-the-know will recognize the
information was incorrect. It's depressing enough that it
will be on the daily facts but I really don't want to take
the chance that this response would damage WWM's credibility
by being permanently placed on the site. <Not to worry re our
credibility. We're human... will place a further comment from
you right after> I guess if I had finished the bio that you
asked for you would know that I'm not very familiar with
freshwater anything. I normally pass on these types of questions.
I will finish the bio soon. Thanks for understanding that
sometimes everything that can go wrong does go wrong. In the
future, I'll be even MORE careful before responding to
questions. <Ahh, please do send your bio. along, with the
areas you feel most comfortable with. If there is/are
difficulties in queries, feel free to move them back to the
in-box, or into someone elses folder> Also...remember the New
Wave CD Rom (Goemans) that you wanted me to review? I sent the
review in and Susan wrote that a review had been completed by Moe
and printed in October 2002! <What?> Would you like
to have my review for WWM's literature section? <Yes, will
post tomorrow> I'll also tell you that Goemans and I had
several enlightening and engaging discourses about this book. He
seems like a great guy: very friendly, knowledgeable, loves the
saltwater hobby, and willing to accept constructive criticism. He
is also very impressed with WWM. I think I saved his final email.
I send you a copy. David <Yes, have it. Bob.G is indeed a
gentleman... and an actual scholar. Bob Fenner>
Bala Sharks <Craig...would you please
help this gentleman out? Thanks. David Dowless>
<Absolutely!> 90 gallon tank: I want to get a group of Bala
Sharks and some compatible fish to make a community. I know Balas
get quite large eventually. How many should I add right away? How
big a group is logical to add in the near future? --Thanks,
Charlie <Hi Charlie, These fish can reach 14" in length
and can be "aggressive". Compared to the
other minnow sharks they are relatively peaceful, but still will
chase/nip on occasion so stick with fish of a similar temperament
that can stand up under the pressure or that live out of the
water column and are also tougher fish. The group of Balas will
make any other choices more important. In a 90 you could probably
accommodate 3-5 Balas (they are shoaling type fish) and perhaps a
Pleco (watch size here, some can become quite large) perhaps a
few Clown Loaches. Some of the larger Barbs would likely do
alright as well, they are feisty and fast. It is best
to avoid overcrowding (start slow) and introduce the aggressive
fish last, concurrently if small, and change decorations/set-up
to throw territories off during intros. Make sure your
tank is well covered, Balas are notorious
jumpers. Best of luck,
Black Shark Could I
maintain a Black Shark, (Labeo chrysophekadion) in a
48"x18"x20" tank, if it was the only
inhabitant? I love this species dearly, and I know that they
can get up to around 2', but my LFS buys them from a certain
retailer, and they have kept these sharks before, and NEVER had one
grow past 16 inches. So could I do it? Thanks in
advance for any answers! <Could likely go in this size/shape system
for a good long while. Other than size considerations, do keep an eye
on this fish for its tendency to "get mean" with size. Bob
Re: Black Shark Hey
Bob (or Anthony, or whomever may read this)! I was told by Bob Fenner
(if this is you, than you already know) that I could maintain a Black
Shark (Labeo Chrysophekadion) in a 48x18x20 tank for a good long
while. Is it possible for me to maintain this fish in there
for its entire life? <Mmm, yes, but it will be a greatly
foreshortened life if so. Have seen this fish at close to two feet in
length> If not, how big of a tank would I eventually
need. I wasnt planning on upgrading in the future, but if I
must, then I will. Thanks in advance for any answers!
<Take a look at the stat.s on this species on Fishbase.org Bob
FW Tank Stocking
Can you please tell me what kind of shark can I put in my 10 gallon
aquarium with my Cory catfish? thanks!! <Unfortunately
there are no sharks, or shark-like fish that will live in a 10gallon,
most of the freshwater fish with shark in their name, Bala Shark,
Silver Shark, Iridescent Shark, all grow way to big for a
10gallon. I would stick with a good looking school of
Tetras; Neons, Cardinals, Black Neons, Emperors, Lemons, Rummy Nose,
Glowlights... the list goes on and on and on and on (seriously) those
are just a few of my favs. Search fishbase.org for tetra,
you'll see. Best of luck, an no overstocking.
Where to buy a
freshwater shark - 1/17/05 Hi, where can I buy a baby freshwater
shark? <Brian, not really sure if you are aware of what you are
asking but I think you may be asking about the freshwater minnow
"sharks" that are not really sharks at all. In any event, we
don't sell anything at this site but any of our online etailers and
or local fish store (pet fish store in your area) should be able to
assist you. If you are looking for a freshwater shark that looks
similar in appearance to a saltwater shark well.....there just
isn't anything available but I think you are interested in these:
Hope this helps more than confuses. Thanks for being part of it all.