FAQs on Freshwater Livestocking 13
Related Articles: Stocking 5, 10 & 20
Gallon Freshwater Aquariums by Neale Monks, Freshwater Livestock by Neale
Livestock Selection by Bob Fenner, The Ethical Aquarist;
Freshwater Fishes to Avoid by Judy Helfrich Acclimation of New Freshwater
Livestock by Bob Fenner, Fishes, Amphibians, Turtles,
Related FAQs: Mis-stocking issues
(incompatibility behaviorally and/or environmentally),
FW Livestock 1, FW Livestock 2, FW Livestock 3, FW Stocking 4, FW Livestocking 5, FW Livestocking 6, FW Livestocking 7, FW Livestocking 8, FW Livestocking 9, FW Livestocking 10,
FW Livestocking 11, FW
14, FW Livestocking 15,
Systems, & Freshwater Livestock
Selection, Community Tank
Adding fish 11/7/17
So, we had an incident. The week before Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, I noticed
a dripping leak.
I think it was at the bottom of the tank, but not quite sure. After scouring
Kijiji and the like with no results, I ended up buying a new 45 gallon tank and
stand on clearance.
<Nice size tank.>
I had intended to rehome fish, but several students upset, so....I purchased
what was needed to restart.
Went from 40 gallon cube like tank to 45 gallon long tank.
<A much better shape, plus more water capacity! Sounds a definite upgrade.>
We used as much water as we could from the original tank.
<Neither here nor there, really. Assuming the water chemistry and temperature
are kept about the same, may as well use conditioned tap water.
On the other hand, do try and keep as much biological filter media as possible,
because that's where the 'good' bacteria are.>
All 11 silver tip tetras survived. It is now November 4th. Now looking to add
corys and one Bristlenose Pleco.
Originally the tetras stayed in mid-upper level of cube tank. This changed
before aquarium change. They go everywhere; up, down, middle.
I suspect I only have a couple of female tetras.
<So get some more! This tank will easily house, say, 20 of the Tetras, 6-8
Corydoras, and 2-3 Bristlenose Plecs without any problems at all. Maybe not add
them all at once, but across a month, that'd be fine.>
I attached picture because I am not sure if enough cover is available for Corys.
<They'll be fine. For sure they prefer sand to gravel, but your gravel looks
smooth. I'd avoid the hothouse flower species such as Corydoras sterbai, but
most of the other species are good at the 22-25 C temperature range Bristlenose
The Stump has multiple entries at bottom and from top, but tetras enjoy too. The
barrel has multiple entrances; but for one, tetras not really interested.
<Indeed. Tetras like floating vegetation for shade, but caves not so much.>
Bridges for cover- but tetras zoom there too. Do have extra bridge- no space.
The brick wall is an inside wall (other side, stage, gym). On previous aquarium
I put aquarium picture; still budgeting with this one. Is the environment good
for Corys....if so, how many and what type...
<Looks a great home! Corydoras aeneus is a good default species, undemanding and
cheap. Corydoras panda, Corydoras julii, and Corydoras trilineatus are some
other species that might be considered. They're a little less hardy, but easily
maintained in mature tanks where the water isn't too hard. I'm also a fan of
Brochis species, such as Brochis splendens, which look a lot like big, stocky
Corydoras aeneus and do especially well in deep aquaria. Corydoras don't really
like swimming upwards more than 30 cm/12 inches, especially if the water current
strong. Cheers, Neale.>
LFS is doing a huge import... opinions? Hard/soft water on
wild collected fishes 11/4/17
Hello crew, I hope you are doing well.
<Thank you Roberto; yes>
As the title implies, a lfs is doing a huge import of south American
fish. The list consists of more than 40 species of fish.
I, as the enthusiast that I am, want to get my hands on some fish, but,
judging by past experiences with soft water fish kept in hard water (my
water is normally 10 GH, 9 KH, ph anything from 7.5 to 7.9). Decided to
ask you first on input on whether the species I plan to get can adapt in
this kind of water. After all, some soft water fish do adapt to
moderately hard water, but a lot don't.
<Yes; agreed. Tienes razon>
There is not much information online on these fish. I do not know if
these fish are wild specimens or captive bred, and the lfs is not to
trust with this information (they claim their altums were bred and
raised in alkaline water...., even simple concepts like ph get tangled
in their lies).
The list of fish I am interested in are:
1- Biotodoma Cupido
3-a few, rare Corydoras species like concolor (well, those are a first
4- Panda Uarus (I find this hard to believe)
<The cichlids of #s 4,5,6 coming from soft/native waters concern me...
The others I have seen/occasioned in harder waters. ALL I'd leave at the
dealers for a few weeks to assure they're going to live>
I am sorry to put you through this, but you are probably the only safe
source of information. I obviously wouldn't get all these fish even if I
could, and I run several tanks for each of them (planted tanks for the
tetras and cories... cichlid tanks for the cichlids... and so). I'm
mostly concerned about the whole hard water adaptability.
Thanks again, crew.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
classroom aquarium; stkg 8/25/17
I bought a 40 gallon aquarium set up on Kijiji. Previous owner had
goldfish. Came with everything, plus cabinet.
I replaced the filter with same type (Aquaflow 50), and bought a new
heater. I let the tank cycle for 2 weeks in the classroom. I’m a
beginner and need hardy fish.
I really wanted an aquarium with community fish. The original plan was
to put in Harlequins, and a bit later 3 Cory's, and a bristle nose
<All good choices, but I would start with the Corydoras. Get six of one
species. Ideally, Bronze or Peppered Corydoras as they're the two
I did not realize that the Harlequins are hard to come by here and
according to one knowledgeable person, not a fish for a brand new tank.
<Not for brand new tanks, no; but after a couple months, they'd be
Poor on the spot research on my part resulted in the purchase of 11
silver tip tetras yesterday. I say poor research, because I did not
realize how aggressive they can be...
<Tetras and Barbs are a mixed bag. In large groups most are fine,
especially if you keep them with other active fish. But many are
unpredictable in small groups, and some will nip at slow-moving or
long-finned fish (such as Angels, Gouramis, Guppies and Bettas).>
I had not considered that species and did a quick search and the sites I
checked quickly, yup peaceful community fish.
After seeing the activity level in the tank, and realizing these are not
like the neon tetras in our tank when I was young,
<I would avoid Neons.>
I did more research and now know that they can be very nippy and be
aggressive, especially regarding food.
<Kind of, sort of. No threat at all to your catfish, which eat entirely
different things (algae wafers and sinking catfish pellets). Also fine
with other active tetras, barbs, Rasboras, Danios and minnows. But they
will snatch food from slow-moving things, like the Angels, Bettas, etc.
Today, they were very active and wow, wow, they really liked feeding
time. It was amazing to watch the action. They continually explore their
environment and are very active. I know they will be both interesting
and calming. I will do my best to make sure they do well.
<Cool. Take care not to overfeed. It's tempting to do so when fish are
active and fun. But if the tank is new, and after two weeks almost
certainly not "cycled" yet, feed very small amounts, and only if ammonia
is zero. How did you cycle the tank? Just sitting the tank for two weeks
does nothing! It does need a source of ammonia to 'feed' the bacteria
and coax them into multiplying. Let's assume this is a non-cycled tank,
and feed the fish accordingly. I would feed no more than one pinch every
other day, and if ammonia was above 0.5 mg/l, I would not feed at all
that day AND do a 50% water change. If you can, seed the tank with
gravel from a mature aquarium, or better yet, get some live media from
an established aquarium. Floating aquarium plants are a another useful
tool, seeding the tank with filter bacteria AND using up ammonia as they
However, I’m not sure what to do in the future. I did rinse all the
gravel that had been previously used, but had to really scrub one rock
coral decoration free of algae. I read that you would recommend 5 or 6
Cory catfish together and that, with cover, and their “school”, they
will do Ok with silver tips.
<Absolutely. But DO NOT add any more fish for at least 3-4 weeks. It'll
take that long for the tank to cycle, assuming these tetras are doing
the cycling for you.>
There are rock formations, two live plants* and 3 artificial cloth
plants. The tank is taller than it is wide. I say that there are 2 live
plants because they are experiments. I didn’t put a substrate in....
<Floating plants don't need one, and neither do epiphytes (such as Java
fern, Java moss, and Anubias).>
So, question one- should I put the plants in pots, or leave in gravel?
<A personal choice. I currently keep plants in terracotta pots filled
with aquarium soil, sand, and some gravel on top. This tank has a big
catfish that otherwise uproots plants. You can also fill the pots with
aquarium gravel instead of sand and soil, but use plant fertiliser
pellets pushed into the gravel every month to ensure the plants get all
the minerals they need. In short, plants in pots work as well in fish
tanks as they do on windowsills. But most aquarists prefer to put plants
in a gravel bed at least 8 cm/3 inches deep because it looks more
realistic. Again, fertiliser pellets can be used to feed the plants,
though advanced aquarists often use special aquarium soils and
substrates instead, topping it off with gravel just for looks and
tidiness. Some plants come in plastic pots with rockwool inside them.
These can be buried in the gravel, and some plants do okay in them,
spreading out of the pots by themselves. Vallisneria and Cryptocoryne
are two groups that seem to do perfectly well like this. Other plants
are fussier, like Anubias and Java Fern, which will both rot eventually
if trapped in pots under the gravel, and should be immediately removed
from their pots and attached to rock or wood above the gravel.
Aponogeton species generally don't like their 'corm' in the gravel, but
their roots should be, so some tweaking may be necessary if you try
these hardy, but basically annual, plants. So basically, each plant is
different, and some will be fine in pots, others will not... read up on
what's for sale locally, and act accordingly.>
Question 2, and on. I know if I were to even try Cory fish, more cover
<Not really. Corydoras are fish from shallow streams. They root about on
sand, in leaf litter, and so on. They don't need thick vegetation as
such, but some hiding places, such as tangles of bogwood roots, are a
plus. I'd avoid (narrow) hollow ornaments though as they sometimes get
stuck in them and drown (they breathe air, as you probably know).
Vallisneria is a good default plant for most tanks, quickly spreading if
conditions are even halfway decent, and the thickets formed will be used
by Corydoras for hiding places. That said, if kept in big groups, these
catfish aren't shy at all.>
The tank is taller than it is wide. The tetras are mid to top tank
almost always, never massing at the bottom. I can go with more
artificial or live plants (we’ll see how the 1st 2 do), or provide
hiding materials, hollowed out areas. I have the same concern as a
person already posted. I don’t think the Cory's can stand their ground
and take food from these tetras.
<Feed the Corydoras at night, using sinking foods. One algae wafer about
the size of your thumbnail will feed a small group of 5-6 catfish
perfectly well, and such a wafer could be used no more than 3 times a
Suggestions on providing cover, in this tall tank or feeding tricks, or
are Cory’s not a good idea, in which case another bottom cleaner will be
<There is no such thing as a "bottom cleaner". It's a marketing myth,
really. Any fish you add to the tank increases the waste. Furthermore,
if there's enough leftover food for some catfish, you're overfeeding
your tetras, and most of that uneaten food will actually end up in the
filter, becoming ammonia. By all means keep catfish or loaches, but on
their own terms, not as cleaners. Likewise "algae eaters", which may eat
some algae, but by adding to the nitrate and phosphate in the aquarium,
they actually speed up the growth of algae too. Nerite snails are
probably the best algae eaters, not catfish.>
There was feeding frenzy today; the tetras are eager for their food
flakes, but still messy eaters. The submissive would dart in underneath
or between, but still...some flakes fell to the bottom, and the tetras
dropped down the tank to follow the food. Is a bristle nose Pleco a good
<An outstanding choice. By far the best of the algae-eating catfish
traded. Others are either too big (Common Plecs), too delicate
(Otocinclus), or have specialist requirements (Panaque for example,
which are more herbivores than algae-eaters).>
Other Plecos I have seen have outgrown tanks, so I’m
<Bristlenose Plecs, and other Ancistrus species, only get to about 12
cm/5 inches, often less. Excellent additions to community tanks, and if
you get a pair, they'll likely breed, the fathers looking after the fry
extremely well, so much so that some fry will survive even in busy
I’m pretty sure I know the answer, but looking long term, I’m thinking
Harlequins are not a good choice for this tank?
<They are a good choice, but only when the tank is mature. Give it a
couple months. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: classroom aquarium
Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge.
I wish I had consulted you first.
I was told to wait on the Cory's by a few people; I wish I had done this
differently, but now I think have good advice and know how to go
Thank you for the feeding suggestion (I did wonder).
I will look for floating plants and monitor ammonia more carefully. I
will also investigate plants available, because the ones I put in
probably need much more than I am giving them.
<It is a fact that aquarium shops often sell plants that are NOT aquatic
and will inevitably die, such as 'wheat plant' and 'dragon bamboo'. Do
see here for the full list...
Often cheap and attractive, these plants have no chance at all of
living, and eventually die, polluting the tank. They're usually
houseplants, and do fine in pots! Some aquarium plants are simply
demanding, needing strong
light, CO2 fertilisation, and/or a special substrate to do well.
Hygrophila for example is a smashing plant, but needs strong light.
Pretty much anything pale green or pink will be a high light intensity
plant. Your best bets for casual fishkeeping are two floating plants
(Indian fern and Amazon frogbit), the epiphytes you grown on rock or
wood (Anubias, Java fern, or Java moss), and a few adaptable rooted
plants (the hardy Amazon swords, in particular Echinodorus osiris and
Echinodorus Ozelot, most Vallisneria, a few Cryptocoryne species
including C. wendtii and C. beckettii, and Aponogeton spp. if you treat
them as disposable -- their corms needing to be 'overwintered' which
isn't hard but most folks don't bother).>
I will add java moss, we had them in with our 2 Bettas at home (Bettas
not together) and they are easy, easy care plants. Thanks again.
<Java moss are good plants, but hopeless for controlling algae in
larger, brighter tanks. They can sometimes become messy and rot in tanks
with catfish that stir up silt, so position them somewhere away from
where the catfish mostly forage for best results. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: classroom aquarium
Thanks for the info. I am going to definitely pull out one of the plants
tomorrow; it was obviously a poor choice and is losing its green-ness.
<Feel free to send a photo if you need to know what the plant is/was.>
The other I will leave for now; although it is on your OK list, it will
likely go too. I now have suggestions on what will actually work best.
For us, simple is most definitely best, so thank you again for sharing
knowledge and more importantly, practical advice.
I am very annoyed with myself because I did want swords, but there were
none available within 40 minutes. I let myself be convinced that these
plants would be OK....lesson learned.
<Not all Amazon Swords are equal! Some are more finicky than others. Do
check the variety on sale. The one sold loose is usually Echinodorus
bleheri, and it's a fairly easy species to keep with at least moderate
light. Other varieties are distinctly more demanding, particularly the
dwarf varieties and those with red, rather than green, leaves. All
Amazon Swords are heavy "feeders" in terms of their roots, so in plain
gravel or pots, they will need fertiliser pellets now and again. Also
remember only the roots go in the gravel, never anything green. The best
approach is to
partially bury the roots, and err on the side of having the tops of the
roots exposed. The plant can then sort itself out. If you bury the green
parts, the leaves tend to get damaged. Vallisneria is the same.>
Will the tetras be OK with artificial silk plants for now?
<Yes. Unless you're keeping a herbivorous fish that needs to eat
greenery, fish couldn't care less about the type of plants used -- real,
silk or plastic is all good to them.>
Now it is crunch time for us and to adequately research/find the best
plants suggested is going to be tricky.
<Plenty of websites, plus several good books. I happen to like "Aquarium
Plants (Mini Encyclopedia Series for Aquarium Hobbyists)" by Peter
Hiscock, which is easy to read and aimed at casual aquarists, full of
ideas, and available cheaply from all the usual online bookshops (under
$4 on Amazon.com, for example). Cheers, Neale.>
Fish suggestions 8/18/17
I would like to ask few questions about my fish and the aquarium.
I want to buy an aquarium about 30 gallons
<A superb size for a starter tank. Big enough for large schools of
social fish, plus a couple of specimen fish such as Angels or Gouramis,
without worrying about overstocking. But not so large it'll be expensive
and challenging to maintain.>
and will put peppered Cory fish in it to help clean the aquarium and its
<Peppered Corydoras are excellent catfish, but do prefer slightly cooler
water than most tropicals; indeed, they can do fine in unheated tanks if
the room is warm enough! Aim for fish happy at 22-25 C/72-77 F, and the
Peppered Catfish will be happy.>
Also I want to keep a hardy small schooling fish with the Cory.
<Plenty of options. At the low-end tropical temperatures, things like
Neons, White Cloud Mountain Minnows, Danios (don't mix with the Minnows
though, as they bully them), Red Phantom Tetras, Black Phantom Tetras,
Harlequin Rasboras, and Golden Barbs will all be at their optimal living
conditions. Swordtails and Platies also prefer cooler water, though they
don't really school as such, the males being a bit feisty, so best kept
in groups where female outnumber males, ideally by 2 to 1. Most
Loricariid catfish like slightly cool water too, including Otocinclus
Really, what you're doing is avoiding those "hothouse flowers" such as
Angels, most Gouramis, Cardinals and a few other species that do need
plenty of heat to be happy.>
Can you give me a list of fish types that can live with peppered catfish
and be able to support the Corys requirements such as (the pH level,
temperature, and so on.) I've read that peppered catfish lives in a pH
<Farmed Peppered Catfish are not at all fussy about water chemistry.
Provided the water isn't too soft or too hard, they'll be fine; 2-20
degrees dH, pH 6-8 is fine. Corydoras generally are adaptable, but what
they don't like are high temperatures, bullying tankmates, and very deep
water (don't make them swim more than 30 cm/12 inches to gulp air or
they'll be stressed, even drown). A soft, sandy substrate (smooth silica
sand, also called pool filter sand, is the ideal; avoid sharp sands
often sold for planted aquaria).>
I haven't kept a fish before, but I know a lot about fish and their
requirements. Also I did a huge research about many kinds of fish and I
will keep doing that.
<You're making lots of good decisions already, so well done! Peppered
Corydoras are tough enough for ideal first fish, Pearl or Zebra Danios
being equally hardy and good first fish. I'd also avoid the "serial
offenders" when it comes to healthcare and/or social problems like
fin-nipping -- Dwarf Gouramis, Ram Cichlids, Neon Tetras, Serpae Tetras,
Petticoat/Black Widow Tetras, Tiger Barbs.>
Any suggestions please.
<Let me direct you to some reading, here...
But if you want to discuss further, feel free to email us with some
options of stuff you've seen on sale!>
Looking forward to hear from you.
P.s. I really like to know about all types of animals and
nature. That's my hobby ( to do research about all animals).
<Fish tanks are what got me into studying zoology at university.
They're a great tool for understanding many aspects of biology, from how
filters work (nutrient cycling) through algae control (eutrophication
and primary productivity), not to mention how different fishes are
related (systematics) and how they interact (ethology). Have fun!
Fish Tank Stocking 8/10/17
<Howdy...Earl here this morning.>
I have a 20 Gallon tank which I think I have been having for
almost a year now. I have lost many fish and (touch wood) the ones that are now
kind of happy in the tank are
<Job One is determining the hows and whys of what killed the other
fish...otherwise you're just rolling the dice, as it were.>
1. 1 ID shark( 6 - 12 inches)
2. 2 Blood Parrot (One Medium sized and one a little smaller)
3. 2 Kirin Parrot (albino) I think..
4. 2 Tin foil barbs (1 big and 1 small)
I would just like to know your advise on whether the tank is rightly stocked or
any changes are required..
<In my opinion, a 12" fish in a tank that size is a no-go in any event. The
barbs will be ok but that's probably too many parrots as they also get pretty
large and due to the way they have been bred, their mouths are not
well equipped for competing with faster, more assertive fish when competing for
food. More detail on your previous inhabitants, your water conditions such as
temperature, lighting, test kit readings, are necessary to make any statements
other than that it seems overstocked size-wise and I expect that you may have
lost parrots before, yes? Hope this helps but more info is needed. -Earl>
Thanks and regards,
Re: Fish Tank Stocking 8/10/17
Thanks for getting back.
These were the only 4 parrots that I have had.
I had added other fish..I had bought a pair of small powder blue cichlids
recently and lost both of them..no signs of disease was found. Just found them
dead one fine morning..
<Aggressive fish, possibly stress out or harmed each other or other fish in the
Same was the case with a pair of Blue Dolphin fish. They were perfectly fine for
a couple of weeks and then died due to a power outage that lasted for half a
<Why did the power outage kill them? Temperature drop from the heater shutting
off? Very unfortunate but sadly many of us have been in the same boat.>
I had 4 ID sharks earlier and lost three of them to a power outage.
Thanks and regards,
Community Tank Stocking Question. Cichlids... Rams, some
This is my first time writing as I have always been able to find answers
to my questions after doing a bit of digging through your site, you guys
have great info and have been incredibly helpful. OK so, I recently got
back into the hobby and almost immediately fell in love with the
Electric Blue Ram. I had a rather large one that was killed by an
Electric Blue Jack Dempsey when I first started my 30 gal tank.
<Oh yes; incompatible>
I have since learned my lesson on adding fish to my tanks without doing
my research, RIP Ray, you were a
good fish :'( I have had 4 juvenile EBR, 1 Gold Ram, 1 Bolivian Ram, an
assortment of Rasboras, 5 Threadfin Rainbow's, and 2 Bristlenose
(1M 1 F) in my 30 gal tank for sometime now and everything had been
great. I knew however I would need to upgrade or trade in a few rams in
the future once the juvenile EBR's got a little bigger, then I saw and
fell in love with the Black Ghost Knife. Through reading your site I
know my newest tank (55 gal, established 2-3 months ago) will only be a
temporary housing for my BGK when I get him/her (planned for the very
near future) and with the proper set up it can live peacefully with at
least a few of the EBR and some of my other community fish.
<Yes; likely for a few to several years>
I of course do not intend on keep the Rasboras in with the BGK, (unless
I want them to become tasty snacks, haha) and was planning on keeping 2
EBR (recently lost 2 due to a heater malfunction, sad), 3 Threadfin
Rainbow (lost 2 to the heater), 5 Neon Dwarf Rainbow, 3 Black Neon, 1
Orange Van Rio (lost the others to the same heater malfunction), and 1
Bristlenose Pleco in the 55 gal tank with the BGK. Everyone has been
added to the tank and are currently cohabiting happily (Rasboras are in
55 for now but will be moved back to the 30gal when the BGK arrives) and
I have very few worries about the mix until Mr./MRS BGK outgrows everyone
in which case I'll have a much larger tank ready for the big weirdo
(and/or move everyone else to a different tank for their safety).
So my question/s are/is I found 2 new (to me) species during my weekly
rounds to the LFS and am struggling finding info on their compatibility
with my current set ups. (BTW: 30 gal currently holds 1 Gold Ram, 1
Bolivian Ram, and 1 juvenile Longfin Bristlenose Pleco - but I am not
partial to the gold or Bolivian ram and can easily re-home them. They're
cool dudes, just not my favorites). Could you tell me anything about the
likely hood or possibility of a single Leleupi, and/or a (pair?) of
kribensis working out in either tank with my current crew?
<Mmm; yes; though these are easier-going African Cichlids, I would not
mix them w/ the Rams... Get too much larger, and too likely to harass
the S. Americans>
I've gotten mixed reviews from several sources and after losing Ray to
the Jack Dempsey I'd like something a little more definitive before
pulling the trigger. If neither are something that would work with what
I have going on currently so be it, the BGK will be moved to a larger
tank before I know it and I'll need something to do with the 55gal...
also, whats one more tank, right?
I really appreciate the time you're taking to answer my questions, I've
been searching for HOURS and cannot find it on my own.
You guys rock!
P.S. Both the 30 gal and the 55 gal are planted with driftwood, rocks,
fine gravel, over the tank filters (I forget the brand but can find it
if important), and heaters of course (properly functioning heaters!). I
plan to include hideouts/tubes to the 55 gal soon but am holding off
until the BGK arrives, I want to add them right when I add him/her to
throw the EBRs off their game a bit ;) the 30gal has a bunch of hideouts
already but I can easily add, remove, or completely revamp if needed.
Also both tanks are set up on a LED Zet light, LOVE my Zetlight system
:) 30 gal has some plants that demand a little more light but 55 is set
up with all low light plants (ik the BGK prefers low light, I want to
provide natural hiding places within the plants while making it a
comfortable environment. The
plants are just about tall enough now they're starting to shade out the
bottom of the tank in the section I plan for the BGK. It's almost ready,
finally!) and my handy dandy controller makes it easy to adjust light on
each tank individually. Thanks again for your help and please let me
know if you need any additional information,
<The Africans could be housed with each other, but even then... they'd
make better displays as "species only" set ups.
Threadfin Acara Kept Alone? FW stkg.
Hi guys and gals! You've been so helpful in the past that I would like
to ask for your advice. Last year I was running 15 tanks of various
sizes and species in my very small home. This was completely
overwhelming once the thrill of setting up and stocking the tanks was
over. After a lot of stress and time, I currently have 3 tanks left. And
I will hopefully be down to 2 permanently within the next 6 weeks. The
day after tomorrow I will be rehoming all of my African cichlids, my 2
full-grown S. eupterus (which I am very upset about), and a turquoise
Hemichromis from my 75 gallon. I will be planning on keeping this 75
gallon tank as well as my 40 breeder tank (housing my very spoiled B.
splendens and 5 Amano shrimp which are amazingly fascinating to watch).
Although everything that I have read says
that my Eupterus are more than fine in my 75 gallon, I feel that they
are cramped and also feel that they produce a lot of waste in the tank,
so I believe I have no choice but to give them up if I want to stock
much else in with them, unfortunately.
<How big are these... Synodontis?>
I had wanted to get a veil tailed A. ocellatus, because I find them to
be the perfect combination of beauty and
personality. But, regardless of filtration, I think a 75 gallon, with no
plans to upgrade, would not be ideal.
<One should be fine here>
I have learned my lesson in buying fish with the "I'll get a bigger tank
for them later" (best intentioned) justification, only to have to rehome
<You are correct here; very common. Or worse, not upgrading-sizing>
So I had been contemplating what to keep in my 75 gallon that would be
fair to the fish at adult size, and create a very minimal stocking list
for me, when I came across a gorgeous albino A. haeckeli for sale.
<Is a fab species>
While I am confident that the tank size is good, I have found very
little information on them (after much research), and most of it
conflicting. I have read that they don't do well when kept as singletons
in a tank but they are aggressive towards conspecifics.
<Not so bad if, where crowded; more females than males>
I would only want one, but would not want him/her to be skittish, even
though I realize that I'm not going to get a wet pet personality from
this type of fish. I also don't want a group of dithers, as I would like
to keep stocking minimal. I would like to keep my Hemichromis, if at all
possible, because she has always been miserable with my Africans,
currently she would be rehomed with them, which makes me nervous.
<These cichlids should get along together here.... AND the Synodontis in
I have also always wanted a S. casuarius. I know that these are all very
different and don't make much sense together (except maybe the
Hemichromis and casuarius), but how incompatible do you think they are?
<Likely to get along if started large enough, relative to the other
A single Threadfin Acara, a single Buffalohead Cichlid, and a single
Jewel Cichlid, with 4x canister filtration and 10× once my 55 gallon
rainbowfish tank gets rehomed in a 75 gallon, could it work?
<I give you good odds here>
If not, could the Jewel and the Acara live together? If not, could the
Acara live alone in the tank?
<Yes and yes>
My main concern is water temperature. My pH and hardness are almost
neutral with slight acidity adding with water aging, but I do frequent
PWC and clean filters once every 6 weeks.
<I'd change 10-20% of the water out here every two weeks; perhaps every
week. Bob Fenner>
Re: Threadfin Acara Kept Alone? 2/7/17
Hi Bob, thank you for the very quick reply, it helps me greatly, as my rehoming
decisions need to be made by tomorrow. The female Synodontis is about 8"
and the male is about 7" although much skinnier than the female.
It may be possible that they look crowded because of the amount of rockwork I
keep in the tank for the Africans or because a 75 gallon just doesn't seem like
a large tank to me? Although, they definitely have their own territories, so
very minimal squabbling. I'm so glad to hear about the Hemi, because she
absolutely hates the Mbuna and I have felt bad about that for quite some time.
<Mmm; well; not to be (too) political; but most Mbuna are like Trump>
The Oscar idea, although I think would be okay as well, I feel would be much
better in a 125 gal and I have no plans to go bigger than a 75 gal
unfortunately. I definitely don't want multiple Haeckeli because I don't want to
worry about breeding. But I would like it to display somewhat of a natural
behavior. Do you think this will be achievable when kept singly?
<Some (behavior) yes>
Also from what I have read, these guys like a temp on the high end of the
tropical values, between 80-82, whereas the
Hemichromis and Synodontis prefer the lower end 74-77. Is this correct?
If I were to keep the Synos instead of getting the Casuarius, how much rockwork
should I remove in order to let them keep their territories but let the Haeckeli
have enough swimming space?
<Just some... maybe a bommie or two>
I've attached a photo of my tank to give you an idea of the current setup. I'd
prefer not to go with driftwood in this tank and I'm absolutely finished with
live plant upkeep.
I am not exactly sure why, but I see the 75 gal as looking like a very small
tank and I'd like the inhabitants in it to feel as though they have the same
amount of room as an Oscar would in a 125 gal, if I'm explaining that correctly?
<I think I understand>
In my tank photo there is about 9"-10" of open water between the rocks and front
of the glass and a similar space above as well. How much rockwork do you think I
should remove for the Threadfin?
Half or more?
Will it need a large open piece of floor to sift through?
<Not really; no. Have seen this species kept in small volumes, with little to no
If I were to keep the Synos do you think that would be a better choice than the
<If these were my catfish, I wouldn't part w/ them>
This last question is a bit of a strange one because I'm not sure if this would
look ridiculous in the tank I've been describing or would create the
overcrowding I'm trying to avoid, but I have 11 Marcii rainbowfish in a 55 gal
that I have been trying to rehome without much success. They aren't the
prettiest fish but the orange doesn't make them completely bland I guess. If I
moved them into the 75 gal (mostly just out of the convenience of not having to
rehome them) I could move the 280gph canisters onto the 75 gal, which the
addition of would put me at 10x canister filtration. It would also mean that I
would only need to rehome the 4 emerald Corys and 5 Glowlights in that 55 gal.
Would this stress the Haeckeli, the Hemi, the Marcii, or the Synos in terms of
<I'd not mix the Corydoras and Tetras... with the others Or would
it look terrible as a stocking group (in your opinion) as a stocking list?
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Threadfin Acara Kept Alone? 2/7/17
Great! We are almost at the end of my questions, but I am a Trump supporter so I
hope they still get answered hehe.
<Ah yes; certainly>
Because of the temp difference do you think the Synos, Hemi, or Haeckeli would
suffer at a tank temperature of around 79 degrees or do you think I may be
cutting it to too close to keep the tank temperature consistent and everyone
<I have high confidence that this temperature will be fine for all>
The Marcii are currently in with the tetras and Corys I would only be moving the
Marcii over to save me the trouble of rehoming (which also seem to enjoy a lower
temp) although I'm not sure if I consider them pretty enough to be with the
Threadfin. So my options for the 75 gal would be: 1x Haeckeli, 1x Hemichromis,
2x Synodontis Eupterus OR the same + 11x Marcii rainbows. Or the Haeckeli, the
Synos, the Jewel, and the Marcii (no Haeckeli), in which case I wouldn't need to
buy or rehome any fish. Even though I dislike the upkeep of live plants, I
believe that the Marcii like them so if I moved them over do you believe there
is any way to make a combination of the large rocks and driftwood/plants all
look nice together in a display tank or stick with one or the other?
<The latter would be my choice. The live plants won't work with the larger
fishes you list. They will/would be uprooted in short order>
Thanks again for all of the great advice and the amazing resources on your
<Thank you for your participation. Bob Fenner>
I have a regular size angelfish in a 29 gallon as a single and
six lemon tetras. I was wondering if a Bristlenose is taking it
too far when it comes to stocking? The filter is for a 50 gallon and I
am thinking the Bristlenose would put it on the edge bioload wise. Thank
<You should be fine! Just don't overfeed or skip on the water changes.
Ammonia and nitrite aren't going to be problems, but accumulating
nitrate can be a real problem for cichlids including Angels. Anything
above 40 mg/l is bad for them, and you want to try and stay below 20
mg/l if at all
possible. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Blackwater for Featherfin catfish?
Hi, Neale. I've got myself in quite a pickle. I went ahead and got 7
Glowlight tetras for my Betta tank because that is all my LFS had in stock.
They are absolutely stunning, especially in the dimly lit aquarium they are
the most fluorescent shade of orange and just spectacular looking in that
At first my Betta chased them around and then eventually gave up. He is
still interactive with me yet he is finding more hidden spots and out of the
way areas to rest than he had previously. These Glowlights also don't seem
timid at all. They will swim right up next to him as if taunting him,
especially 2 from the shoal.
<DO keep a close eye on them. They might be merely curious, in which case,
no problems. But if the Betta shows signs of fin-nipping, I'd remove them.>
I also bought 6 Amano shrimp. My Betta looked at one and now ignores them
(the shrimp). He seems to be mostly ignoring the Glowlights, yet they don't
really shoal well and are all over the tank.
<Perhaps add a couple more.>
So is he leaving them alone because they really don't bother him or is he
stressed and understands, given his space restrictions he has no choice but
to tolerate them?
I know that if I get a larger group they will shoal more but also take up a
lot more space.
<Marginally more! Two or three won't make a big difference unless this tank
is tiny, smaller than 10 gallons. If above that, adding a couple more
shouldn't be a problem.>
I know I wanted activity, and they are beautiful, but my Betta's territory
has become extremely small.
<He'll likely get over it, and do understand that their normal territory is
the top couple inches of water. So long as there's space at the surface plus
some floating leaves, he's happy.>
Also, he is still easy to feed but I haven't seen the Glowlights eat yet.
<Give them time; offer choices, such as live daphnia.>
Because the current is so still the fine flake sits at the top and don't
drop down much and they don't seem to see it at the top.
<Try a micro pellet food, such as Hikari Tropical Micro Pellets.>
On to the next problem, I moved the sword plant from my overgrown planted
tank to the back as it was positioned more to the front somehow. The
rainbows and Corys seem to love it and I can actually see them now! But I
wanted some extra driftwood for the Betta tank and while tanking it out I
was easily able to grab the Panaque, which I was surprised by. I put him in
the Betta tank, as you said they might be good tankmates and of course he
swam right under the piece of driftwood on the farthest side away from the
intake *sigh*. I can't even imagine the bioload he is going to add.
<Depends on his size. If he's a couple of inches, no more than a Corydoras.
But Panaque grow bigger than that, and some species grow a lot bigger. The
small species like Panaque maccus are fine in tanks 20-30 gallons in size;
but the bigger species, your standard issue Royal Plec for example, needs
55+ gallons and a LOT of filtration to handle their solid waste output.>
My original idea was just to do a beta tank with slow current, over
filtered, still water and barely any maintenance. Now I feel like I will be
doing excessive water changes, as effectively I am only working with 33
gallons of water here with the reduced height to the water column.
<Understood, and to a degree I think you're right. The more fish you add,
the more frequent maintenance needs to be. A few Glowlights and a single
Betta won't be placing much bio-load on a 20-30 gallon tank, and water
changes could be quite infrequent, even every couple months if you're not
feeding them heavily.>
I am mainly concerned about my Betta. If this bioload or even these flitting
little Glowlights are going to cause him stress instead of indifference, I
will remove everything else from the tank (except maybe get some glass cats
to cower in the back). How bad is my Panaque going to add to the bioload of
<See above; depends on the species.>
I'm thinking fairly significantly. I think maybe I was being greedy by
wanting to fill a 40 breeder with activity, when in reality I was just
upgrading my Betta tank from a 20gal. I know people often use the terms
happy and unhappy for fish, when it seems the better term is stressed or
<I doubt the Betta is stressed, to be honest. But if his life situation has
changed, he may need to adapt. The main thing is if he's active and feeding.
If he is, he's probably fine. If he's hiding away all the time and/or not
eating readily, you have a problem.>
In your honest opinion do you think my Betta would be more likely to thrive
on his own in that 40 breeder without the Glowlights or would it not matter
too much? And should I take that Panaque out so I don't have to do major
frequent water changes on this tank that was supposed to be my easiest?
Do you think a shoal of 20 glass catfish with the Betta and nothing else
would not be bad because they are so timid and shoal so tightly?
<Hard to say. Glass Cats get pretty big, 10-15 cm/4-6 inches even. So their
very size might alarm your Betta, even if they're not actually a threat.>
I really thought I was being patient and planning this tank out well but I
think it let it get the best of my control. By they way I have attached a
new photo of the tank in progress, I removed the fake Cabomba (I hate fake
plants) and tucked the sponge filter into a wooden crevice. I'm also growing
some duckweed and have Anubias and crypts settling in.
<All looks good to me.>
I have also increased the 240gph to full outflow but the water in the tank
still barely moves because it is pouring straight down behind a stump. I
also unknotted my sponge filter a bit. I'm really concerned about this take.
Any and all answers and advice are truly appreciated!
Re: Blackwater for Featherfin catfish?
Here are the reduced pictures.
The one of the new tank is with and without the lighting effect on which it
clearly looks much better with the effect on.
The other pictures are my 55gal no maintenance low tech planted (heavily?) tank,
which I have grown the plants since about 1".
<Looks very nice.>
The other tank is my mixed rift tank, which I forgot to mention, I'm going to
have to replace the stand soon because it is not safe. So since I will be
breakdown anyway, the question is should I just scrap it and restock and/or just
<Not sure I can answer that. It's up to you. Depends a lot on how much time you
have to spend on maintaining tanks, what your financial priorities are at the
moment, and how easy it is to rehome the existing fish. But whatever
you plan to do, it should be a pleasure, not a chore: a fish tank that you find
irritating or laborious quickly becomes neglected, which isn't good for the
Another thing that I forgot to mention is I have a pseudo bumblebee in there
who's eyes were eaten when he was very young. I considered euthanizing him,. But
eventually he stopped being black and can tell when it's feeding time by the
commotion from the other fish.
<Quite so. Most catfish are not reliant on their eyes, and there are numerous
"legally blind" species that use their taste receptors and touch receptors far
more significantly for finding food. Catfish also have excellent hearing and
lateral line systems that they use for avoiding
predators and navigating in the dark.>
I feed him sinking pellets. But no one wants him and if I change his environment
I'm not sure how easily he would be able to get food or adapt.
<Probably without much bother provided competition isn't too strong. He'd be
okay with a Synodontis eupterus if you provided enough for both to eat.
Algae wafers at different ends of the tank would be one solution.>
I'm looking for straight honest opinions if you think that all the tanks suck,
great, and if you don't think any suck, then fine. I don't know if I mentioned
earlier but I would like to be at 2 tanks soon. So its keep all 3, get rid of
one add the extra filtration to the other 2 tanks or get rid of 2 and replace
them with a peaceful community of large numbers of
schooling fish, or replace all 3 and get a large tank and start over.
Hopefully this isn't difficult to add to my last email and hopefully these
pictures work for you... Thanks!
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Blackwater for Featherfin catfish?
I knew I would run into trouble after adding info to the message I sent you
attached to the photos after you had asked for reduced file size...This is
the actual topic I wanted to discuss... First, let me say I enjoy your
website immensely, so I made a small donation to your site through PayPal
today, sorry its not more but hopefully it helps.
<I'm sure it will; thank you.>
My reason for emailing this time actually changed twice since I wanted to
contact you. Originally my question was going to be to send you photos of
the two tams I have left a 75gal Mbuna/Malawi setup and a 55gal planted with
marcii rainbows, a royal Pleco (I think, haven't seem him in a while) and
ask your honest opinion if either looks good enough to keep running or
replace them both with a 120gal tiger barb species tank?
<Both the tanks looked nice. If they're working and you find them
interesting, I'd see no reason to change them. "Multiple Tank Syndrome" is a
common enough problem for people who get into fishkeeping though! I'm not
sure if 120 gallons for Tiger Barbs is crazy or brilliant. Maybe a bit of
both! Certainly a giant school of them would look amazing, and they do mix
well with certain fish. Just take care with anything they might nip at.>
The thing is in the planted tank I absolutely hate the trimming and pruning
so I just don't and that is the result in the photo I'm attaching.
<Here's one way to look at regular pruning of plants -- if you didn't remove
nitrate and phosphate by physically removing plant leaves, that nitrate and
phosphate would be in the water, causing algae to grow. You generally get
tanks with EITHER fast growing plants OR bad algae problems.
Rarely do you get both. So if your plants are growing quickly, that's
actually a good sign your tank is balanced and working nicely.>
Also in order to take that stock out I would have to tear down the whole
<This is the very "green" tank with the Rainbowfish? I think that looks
lovely. Possibly time to remove the biggest plants, like that giant Amazon
Sword, and allow their smaller, daughter plants to take over. The tank would
look a bit more balanced. Don't remove too many plants at once though
because you might spur algae into action, which you don't want!>
The African cichlid tank has settled down since my Moorii killed everything
he thought was a threat but the tank is just very chaotic, hard to clean,
and not all that relaxing.
<Understood. If the tank isn't pleasurable, and if you can rehome the fish
amicably, then sure, time to move them on.>
But then I had one more tank, a 20 long with a single beta, which is a fish
I'm keeping no matter what. My issue is that I wanted to at least get to 3
tanks (down from 15 last year) which is what I have. But instead of moving
the 20 long I had a 40 breeder empty keeping some bb alive and I figured its
a 3rd tank why not move the beta in there?
<Bettas do poorly in mixed species set-ups. Oddly enough might be fine with
giant catfish like your Panaque and the large Synodontis (though some
smaller Synodontis are fin-nibblers). What they do poorly with is small
schooling species like Danios and Tetras that nip at them or steal food.>
I wanted to go for a blackwater pool theme and as such have leaf litter and
very still water. I have a 240gph canister reduced to about 1/3 outflow and
aimed behind that stump that sticks out of the water (actually 7 pieces of
driftwood to look like a stump). I also have a sponge filter with knotted
tubing tucked into that fake Cabomba. I have the water reduced about 5
inches from the top and plan on getting some root bearing floating plants.
I would like to filter with peat but haven't yet, the effect in the photo is
just creative lighting with my Fluval LED.
I painted the back black and carefully planned it and it is my favorite
looking tank by far. The whole time I kept thinking, this wont be too big
for a beta. Boy was I wrong. I made the transition and he swam around the
whole tank, ate right away, found a sleeping spot.
<Ah, you understand now the myth of Bettas only "needing" a jar of water to
be happy. Of course they don't! They enjoy swimming as much as any fish, and
the more space, the happier. What they don't like are strong water currents
and more active tankmates.>
Seems to enjoy the gentle current.
But I cant even see him.
<Which suits him down to the ground!>
Even if he is an inch back from the front glass. It looks like an empty
tank. I guess I underestimated the size. Now my question is, what do I do?
I've read that either ember tetras or glass catfish or Corys MIGHT work with
him. I've also thought of Glowlights.
<Glowlights aren't a bad choice at all. They're very passive, and aren't
nippy. They're rather shy though, especially in small groups. So a decent
school will probably be necessary. Another option might be something like
Norman's Lampeye or some other smallish killifish, such as Epiplatys
annulatus (a gorgeous species, increasingly widely traded). Less demanding
would be one of the Ricefish species, like Oryzias dancena or Oryzias
woworae. Since killifish and Ricefish stay close to the surface they'd add
colour and movement to the tank, and their small size should work well with
If I go with the Glowlights or embers I would put a school of about 15 and
if I go with the glass cats (k. minor) about 12 or some combo of both.
<All these should be fine. The Glass Cats are lovely fish, but I think "more
of the same" in terms of behaviour. They're shy and don't move about much. A
true dwarf or even a simply small Corydoras species such as Corydoras
hastatus (a true dwarf) or Corydoras panda (simply a small species) might be
nice, too. Active and in the case of Corydoras panda,
If I went with the Glowlights I would want the orange ones and with Corys,
the orange laserline Corys, maybe 9 of them.
<Ah, I see we're thinking along the same lines.>
Because my beta is dark purple with orange fins do you think the orange from
the Glowlights and Corys would be too much stress for him, or even/also the
color of the embers?
<Nope. Bettas react to Bettas, to labyrinth fish, and occasionally other
similar shape/size species like dwarf cichlids. Completely different fish,
catfish and tetras for example, are almost always ignored.>
Also, I have Caribsea Rio Grande gravel in there, which says soft belly safe
right on the bag, but would Corys really be happy if it wasn't sand?
<Not as happy as in sand, but happy enough to thrive.>
And since the beta will be in there already has he claimed the whole 40B as
<The surface of the tank, anyway. But below the top three inches, nope,
that's fair game. Take him out, jumble the decorations, add the new fish,
put him back half an hour later, and he should be fine.>
I really don't want a 4th tank which is what I would need to do if I take
him out of this new setup. So back to my original question (sort of) based
on the photos attached of my rift lake and planted tank, do you think, just
as a personal opinion, either one is worth keeping?
And should my beta be removed from the new setup or given some of the
mentioned tankmates, unless you have better suggestions? Thanks again! Sorry
for the confusion of the multiple emails and photo size changes. I will
attach the photos again for the sake of continuity... And thank you for
answering the other questions as well! (and I meant a bumble cichlid from
your previous response about my blind guy)
<Did assume you meant Bumblebee Catfish! Cheers, Neale.>