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FAQs on the Rainbowfishes Stocking/Selection

Related Articles: Rainbowfishes Fishes at the rainbow's end;  An introduction to the Atheriniformes, the Rainbowfish and silversides by Neale Monks

Related FAQs:  Rainbowfishes 1, Rainbowfishes 2, & FAQs on: Rainbow Identification, Rainbow Behavior, Rainbow Compatibility, Rainbow Systems, Rainbow Feeding, Rainbow Disease, Rainbow Reproduction,

 

75 gallon rainbow stocking questions      2/17/15
Hello wonderful folks at Wet Web Media,
<Hello Brian,>
I set up a brand new 75 gallon tank about three weeks ago and the tank is currently cycling with some Tetra Safe Start and a small school of 6 white cloud mountain minnows. For substrate I am using Fluorite (40 lbs) mixed with about 100 pounds of flint gravel of varying sizes (sand, small, pebble). Currently the tank is moderately planted. I am using an Aqueon hood light (fluorescent 6700K) for the first few months but when I can afford it, will switch to LED. I will not use CO2 but will dose regularly (one capful daily) with Flourish Excel and will dose weekly with Flourish Trace.
<Cool.>
I do not plan to add any other fish until 4 weeks after I added the minnows (or longer dependent on the water quality readings). In the meantime, I am working on my stocking list and here is my current plan. I am trying to figure out what would be compatible species (other than another rainbow fish) and how much "space" I have left for stocking.
I am planning on adding:
* a school of 10 Celebes Rainbowfish
* a school of 8 Boesemanni Rainbowfish
<Both good for medium hard to hard water conditions. Neither does well below, say, 10-12 degrees dH, so that may/may not be a factor when choosing companion species.>
* 2 pearl gouramis
<Generally excellent and adaptable fish. Dislike strong currents though, so read on...>
* 2 Bristlenose/Ancistrus Plecos
<Likewise.>
* 3-5 Otos - or would it be better to add 6 to 8 cories instead?
<Depends what you're trying to achieve. In a tank this size, five Otocinclus will have minimal impact on algae, and they also need brisk, oxygen-rich environments somewhat different to what Gouramis appreciate.
Corydoras are generally more adaptable and many times hardier than Otocinclus. Hmm... how else to put this, Otocinclus best suited to Amano-style tanks with excellent water quality and lots of bright light, and also to rainforest stream biotope aquaria, but generally fail in standard community tanks. The right Corydoras species, however, is an asset to any community tank, though they have no impact at all on algae.>
* 1-2 bamboo/flower shrimp (would they be harassed or would the likely hang out at the filter and be just fine?)
<Hard to say. Atyopsis species are somewhat demanding beasts. They need brisk currents and (ideally) regular offerings of fine particulate "filter feeder" food jetted towards them using a turkey baster. While they can get by on algae wafers and similar sinking foods, it's less than ideal. On the other hand, slow-moving, oxygen-poor water is hostile to them, and they
either get marooned by the filter outlet (often far away from the food) or else just keel over and die.>
Any feedback is greatly welcomed.
<In short, I'd create a specific biotope here with plenty of water current and medium hard water. That would exclude the Gouramis though, and personally, I'd swap the Otocinclus for Whiptails (as quirky catfish) or alternative Siamese Algae Eaters (if you want algae eaters specifically).
If you wanted a midwater fish instead of Gouramis, perhaps think of something adapted to brisker currents, one of the peaceful dwarf or small cichlids for example, such as Nanochromis, Pelvicachromis, Rainbow Cichlids or even Etroplus canarensis if you can find them.>
Thank you for your time.
<Most welcome. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: 75 gallon rainbow stocking questions      2/17/15

Hi Neale,
<Brian,>
Thank you. This is indeed most helpful but as often happens with help, triggers a new cascade of questions. I must admit to being a) a little intimidated by cichlids (the closest I have had before were rams and kribs - on separate occasions - in a small 29 gallon planted); and b) less than informed about the water parameters of cichlids. I also tend to think of cichlids as semi-aggressive and rainbows as aggressive so I am surprised by the suggestion to mix them - surprised but not averse :)
<Cichlids vary. There's something like 2000 species of them! There are some that are exceptionally peaceful, most famously Discus. There are of course others that are borderline psychotic. But most are somewhere between the two extremes. What's typical is for a cichlid to be peaceful outside spawning, though territorial in the case of the males, and breeding pairs
become substantially less tolerant of other fish while protecting their spawn, which usually manifests itself as aggression. Kribs are like this, but their small size means the territories they hold are around a square foot in size, so assuming the tank is reasonably large, they frequently breed in community tanks with barely any upsets at all. Indeed, it's almost a cliché for the aquarist to only realise his or her Kribs have spawned when the proud parents appear corralling their free-swimming (and therefore several days old) fry around the tank! Rainbow Cichlids (Archocentrus multispinosus) are similarly territorial but very rarely aggressive, and work extremely well with active midwater fish, making them good choices of hard water communities. Bolivian Rams are similarly unproblematic, especially compared to Common Rams (which are disease-prone and hypersensitive about water chemistry) but Bolivian Rams are perhaps best suited to tanks with softish to medium hardness water. Alongside the various Krib species, these are my two go-to choices for cichlids in community tanks other than the obvious Angelfish.>
I will return to my fish books and see what I come up with based on your suggestions. How many were you thinking would be an appropriate number to add? Sex ratio?
<Cichlids are easiest kept singly or in female-only groups, but mated pairs work well too, though breeding obviously becomes a thing.>
I am sorry if this is a very basic question but one presumes that I will need to buffer the water to address the hardness issue?
<If you have medium hard or hard water, fiddling around with the water chemistry isn't normally needed. One of the benefits of hard water systems is precisely this. Of course hard water does rule out some types of fish.
But in general, if you choose fish that enjoy or at least tolerate your local water chemistry, you'll find life a lot easier than choosing your fish first and then fiddling with the water until it suits them.>
I will have to re-test my water to get clarity on the hardness once it is cycled (I am not sure it will change much) but once I do, I am certain it will need to be re-conditioned to be an appropriate biotope.
As for whiptail catfish, I am a huge cheerleader for Farlowella (really the royal Farlowella which I am not certain is the same as Farlowella acus).
Can you please clarify which species in particular you were thinking (or perhaps you were thinking broadly, which works too)?
<The "Royal Farlowella" is a species of Sturisoma, which are Twig catfish of a sort. In fact Whiptails and Twig Catfish (true Farlowella species) are closely related. There are differences in terms of diet, Twigs being more algae and aufwuchs feeders, whereas Whiptails are more carnivorous (eating insect larvae and worms). They also prefer different environments, Twigs being found, surprise surprise, on dead wood, while Whiptails favour open sand. Both make excellent aquarium fish, but Twigs tend to be more delicate and difficult to feed, so I'd choose tankmates for them carefully.
Sturisoma would be eminently compatible with midwater tetras and barbs, assuming such species didn't nip them, but I'd not mix them with other catfish (likely to compete for food) or for that matter cichlids (would fall afoul of even slight territorial aggression). Whiptails are generally sturdier and more easy-going, and get along fine with peaceful bottom dwellers including dwarf cichlids.>
I have had less than optimal luck with SAE in the past (and good luck with Otos and bristle nose). Do you think cories and whiptails will stay out of each other's way?
<Corydoras and Sturisoma have different dietary requirements so should be fine. Corydoras and plain vanilla Whiptails (such as Rineloricaria spp.) eat similar foods, but aren't aggressive, so provided you offer enough food, then cohabit okay. Have done this myself with Rineloricaria parva and Peppered Corydoras for example.>
I am a bit concerned about algae - and more concerned that if I add semi-aggressive fish that Amano shrimp are also off the table?
<Algae-eating shrimps generally disappear in fish tanks except alongside the smallest fish (such as Ricefish or Dwarf Rasbora) so I'd not mix them in this community, no.>
I am sad about not being able to mix the rainbows and gouramis but I want to be a responsible fish owner so I will go back to the drawing board.
<Understood. Neither the Celebes nor Boesemanni Rainbows need too much current to be happy, and would be fine at, say, 6-8 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. That'd be okay for the Gouramis too. But your Sturisoma as well as your Celebes Rainbowfish are acutely sensitive to low oxygen levels, so you'd probably want to either understock the tank or use a spray bar or additional aeration to keep the water mixing with the air and properly oxygenated. Otocinclus are even more sensitive, and generally fail to thrive in tanks without pristine water quality and lots of oxygen.>
Another question, are the other rainbows I should consider instead? I never thought of three schools of rainbows together and was hoping for a "show case" fish (I know that is odd to say given the beauty of rainbow fish, but I mean a pair that would stand out in contrast to the shoals).
<Do look at the Madagascar Rainbowfish as one possibility, it's shape and purple colours are unusual. Also, the Dwarf Rainbowfish might make a nice contrast to the ones you already have, and again, it has different colours to your other fish too.>
Thanks again for your help.
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Two female Turquoise rainbows      8/19/14
Hello:
I have a 75 gallon with one large angelfish, one Bristlenose Pleco (female) and two female Turquoise Rainbows. I was wondering if it is ok to add one male Boesemanni Rainbow to this mix. The store where I got the two female Turquoise rainbow had just the females that I got and male Boesemanni Rainbows. Thank you
<Should be fine. But Rainbowfish can be aggressive, particularly the males, and you have plenty of space here. Adding one or two extra females if the new male throws his weight around wouldn't be a bad idea. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Two female Turquoise rainbows     8/21/14

Hello:
<Judy,>
I got a female and a male Boesemanni Rainbow so that brings it to three females and the one male. These fish are lightening fast.
I hope that doesn't bother the angelfish who is very laid back
<Shouldn't do. The Angel/Rainbowfish combo is an established one, generally works well. Male Rainbows can be mutually aggressive, but rarely harass other fishes kept with them. Increasing numbers (esp. of females, so males outnumbered) is a good way to minimise problems.>
Judy
<Cheers, Neale.>

Tell me about Rainbowfish. Help yourself...     8/17/13
I saw some rainbow fish at a local fish shop by my house. I think they are called dwarf rainbows, they are blue/have slightly humped backs and look stunning. Would rainbows do well instead of a school of tetras- that is i would get 10 to 12 of one species- whatever you subject. 8 warm water Corys plus the angel and rams. later i plan on resetting/cycling the 20 in my
room and taking the rams out of the 50 to just have them in their 20 for breeding.
<Some species of atherinids would go w/ the stated other fishes, their likely conditions. Use Fishbase.org to search re the family, species. Bob Fenner> 
Good rainbowfish species.     8/20/13

I was wondering Neal what species of rainbowfish could I get to go in place of tetras in my 50 gallon tank with the angel, Cory catfish and 2 Bolivian rams. I saw a blue type that stays small and gets a slightly humped back at my local fish shop.
<The Dwarf Rainbowfish, Melanotaenia praecox, is a good species for well-maintained aquaria. In aquaria it commonly gets to about 6 cm in length, so it's substantially bigger than the average Neon or even Danio, but quite a bit smaller than most other Rainbows. It's quite similar in size to something like a Black Widow Tetra and should be kept in much the same way, and in particular, given plenty of swimming space and kept in reasonable numbers (not less than six). Males and females are quite similar, but males will develop deeper red colours on their unpaired fins if kept alongside females and at least one or two other males (rivals).
Like all the commonly traded Rainbowfish they do best in water that is neither too hard nor too soft, not too cold or too warm; around 10 degrees dH, pH 7, 25C/77 F will suit it very well. It does need a good current though as it's a stream-dwelling fish, so unlike Neons that are happy in sluggish water, it does need a bit of thought in terms of swimming space, current, and oxygenation. Regular water changes are important. They are not normally nippy or aggressive, though like any Rainbowfish, if kept in too small a group they can be unpredictable (shy, nervous, aggressive, possibly even nippy). Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Angelfish and Cardinal Tetras   2/5/10
Hi Neale
Thanks for your very prompt response.
We do have hard water in our area, unfortunately, so I shall investigate the rainbow fish you suggest.
Thank you again and keep up the good work!
<Glad to have helped. Cheers, Neale.>

FW Rainbowfish Stocking: Need more information. 6/30/2009
I have a 55 gallon tank with 2 clown loaches, 1 gold Gourami, and 6 Rainbowfish.
<What kind of Rainbowfish?>
How many more rainbow fish could I get?
<It really depends on the species you have, not to mention what types of filtration you have set up.
Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/atheriniforms.htm
>
Thanks
<MikeV>

Freshwater fish selection and compatibility
Dither Fish for Firemouth Cichlids 3/18/09

Dear crew, I am selecting fish for a 55 gallon (48" x 13" x 20") aquarium.
I am considering either the Firemouth Cichlid Thorichthys meeki or the Bolivian Ram Mikrogeophagus altispinosus as the center piece of the tank.
My main question is, if I choose Firemouth could I also keep a school Dwarf Rainbowfish Melanotaenia praecox or is this fish too small to be compatible?
<The rainbows would make an excellent dither fish for your Firemouths.>
If I were to have a pair of Firemouth Cichlids and a school of Boesemanni Rainbowfish Melanotaenia boesemanni, how many could I safely keep using a Fluval 304 (rated 260 GPH) and an air-driven sponge filter for filtration?
< Filtration and water turnover is fine. The limiting factor is the nitrate levels. Those are reduced by water changes. When the nitrate levels go over 20 ppm then a water change is needed. If the nitrate levels go much over 20 ppm then you need to do more water changes or have less fish in the tank.
The rainbows love to be in schools so start with at least 6.>
I'm afraid that a minimal school of 7 M. boesemanni might be too crowded in my tank, especially if the cichlids are mating/rearing fry.
< The fry will always be at risk when you have a group of dither fish. Fry than wander away from the protection of the parents will be quickly eaten.>
If I choose the Bolivian Rams instead, would it be feasible to keep perhaps 2 mated pair in this tank? Thank you for your expertise, Evan
< Two pair of Bolivian Rams can easily live in a 55 gallon tank.-Chuck>

Various Questions (FW Community; stocking), Rainbows,  -- 02/01/09 Hello Crew, <Hello James,> Hope things are going well for all of you. I have several questions please. As of yet I have not fully decided what type of fish I am going to keep but have narrowed it down some. I have considered a school of Rainbowfish as the "focal point" of the aquarium and have read that male Rainbowfish show their colors better in the presence of females. What ratio of male/female would you recommend to bring out the male's color? If I keep all males will they get along and will there be that much color difference without females? <With Rainbowfish there are two things to remember. The first is they only show their full colours when mature. In the shops they are young and usually very "blah" in terms of prettiness. Secondly, you need about equal numbers of males and females. Partly this is to stop bullying problems, but also its because the males develop their full colours to flirt with the females. When kept on their own, their colours are never as good.> Also, I have considered angels as the "focal point". I know it is recommended to get at least 6 small ones so they can grow up together and avoid aggression towards each other and other fish as well,. I would rather start out with larger ones, but I guess I can't. Do angels grow fairly fast? <Angels grow very fast, and should be more or less full size within a year. You don't need to start with tiny specimens, but anything up to around 5 cm/2 inches standard length (i.e., nose to caudal peduncle) will be immature and consequently safe to keep in a school. You can also buy matched pairs of Angels from breeders -- but these are often very expensive!> I have considered several thick-lipped gouramis to add in case I go with the mostly rainbow tank to add some slow swimmers for balance. Can a small number of all males be kept together without aggression or do females need to be with them? I thank you so much for helping me with these questions and hope you have a wonderful day. <Colisa labiosa is an excellent fish. To be honest, the males and females are pretty similar in colouration (unlike, say, Colisa lalia) so I'd always recommend equal numbers of both. Males are waspish, and often a bit sedentary, staying close to their favoured nesting site. Females may lack a little colour, but they're more active because they aren't territorial, so they'll be moving about and easier to tame. (I like fish I can teach to be hand fed!).> James <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Various Questions (FW Community; stocking) 2/1/09 Thank you Neale, As far as the angels needing to be smaller and introduced at the same time in to stop aggression, is that aggression towards each other or other fish in the tank? <Mostly towards each other, though adult Angels can be bullies and are predatory.> Also with the rainbows you mentioned equal numbers to stop bullying. Again, is this bullying each other or other types of fish? <Within the group.> Also Neale, I have read that many species of fish other than angels in a community can look and act fairly health but carry diseases easy for angels to catch. <Indeed a risk with any fish, hence the value of quarantining. In practise, the risk of anything other than Whitespot tends to be low, except with regard to "epidemic" diseases such as Neon Tetra Disease and Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus. Angelfish themselves are more likely to host diseases than catch them; farmed specimens at least are reputed to carry diseases that affect wild caught cichlids, particularly Discus and Angelfish.> Should this be a large concern? <It should be borne in mind, yes, but don't lie awake at night worrying about it!> And lastly (God bless you for your patience with me!) if I decide to go with 6 or 8 rainbows as my main focal point could you recommend a slower swimming fish that could compliment the faster rainbows? <Hmm... I tend to stock this way: for every two fast schooling fish in the middle, choose one surface dweller and one bottom dweller. I find this gives you a balanced tank. Angels and Rainbows work exceedingly well together, but you might add Silver Hatchets or Celebes Halfbeaks to the top, and at the bottom any Corydoras, Ancistrus or perhaps something like Cherry-Fin Loaches would be fun. If the tank is big enough Red-Tail Sharks work well with these fish as well.> Also the same question in opposite for the angels being the main focal point. Any fast movers that would compliment them nicely? <The Rainbows are what you want here. The more specimens, the better. Here in England, mixing Melanotaenia boesemanni and Glossolepis incisus is very popular, and the results in big, deep tanks is stunning. While they don't school together, their colours are complementary.> Thank you again for all you advice to an ignorant prospective fish keeper like me. James <Happy to help, Neale.>

Re: Various Questions (FW Community; stocking) 2/1/09 Thank you again Neale, if I used both Melanotaenia boesemanni and Glossolepis incisus would I have to buy 6 of each type since they do not school together? Thanks again. <They are as different as humans and chimps, so no, they don't school together. Six of each, please. And equal numbers of males and females! Trust me on this! Cheers, Neale.> Thank you again for all your help. James <You're welcome. Neale.>

Malaysian Trumpet Snails and Male to Female fish ratio 11/04/2008 Hello all, Hope things are going well for you today. Kind of gloomy and rainy here. I am considering adding some Malaysian trumpet snails to a 75 gallon fw aquarium. I have read of all of the benefits they can provide, but do I have to worry about them not getting enough detritus for their food source and dying? <No risk at all. In fact overfeeding is why people end up with crazy numbers of these snails. In a clean tank you basically get a healthy constant number limited by food availability.> Also, I have read that if this type of snail dies there is no requirement to remove it as it will not foul the tank. Is that correct? <Pretty much.> My other concern is with male to female ratio of certain fish. I am planning on stocking my tank with gouramis for a slow moving fish to occupy the top as well as banded Rainbowfish for the middle. Please tell me how many males to females of each of these I need please. <Rainbowfish are best kept in equal numbers of males and females. The ratio of Gouramis depends on the species. Colisa spp. are often kept in pairs without problems, and the same can be said for Trichogaster leeri and Trichogaster microlepis. Trichogaster trichopterus is a bit more tricky; males are quite short tempered. They're best kept one to a tank, with as many females as you want. In a big tank you could keep multiple males, but make sure there are at least twice as many females.> Thank you so much for all you do to make aquarium life better for people like me. James <Happy to help, Neale.>

Rainbow Fish... sel./stkg.  10/16/08
Hello, I have read that when keeping rainbow fish it is best to keep at least 6 of the same species. Is this true?
<Yes. Why wouldn't it be? They're schooling fish, and need the company of their own species. Just the same as how humans pick their companions from their own species, not chimpanzees or gorillas.>
Also, can most species live together in harmony in the same aquarium or are their water chemistry need different?
<Most Rainbowfish are adaptable and do well between 5-20 degrees dH, pH 6-8.>
And when buying rainbow fish is it necessary to worry about a male to female ratio?
<Yes; you avoid bullying and ensure the brightest colours if there are equal numbers of males and females. A common beginner's mistake is to buy just males, and then wonder why they never colour up properly. Rainbowfish colours evolved for communication, not to impress humans! So get three males and three females and you're all set.>
Thank you for your help. James
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Rainbow Fish 10/16/08
If I were to pick 2 species of rainbow to keep in a 75 gallon tank are there any 2 that in your opinion would adapt better to each other or look the best together?
<Depends what you're after. But it's hard to go wrong with Melanotaenia boesemanni and Glossolepis incisus. Both widely traded and long lived.>
Also, on another fish, are Cory cats happier when in groups of 4 or 5 instead of 2?
<Yes; they're schooling fish, and in big swarms will school about in the open much more happily. Keep eight or twelve in a tank your size and you won't regret it. Do bear in mind Corydoras prefer shallow water (45 cm depth, tops, for even the bigger species). They are air breathers, and if they can't swim easily to the top of the tank will (eventually) suffocate. In deeper water tanks, you're better off with Brochis species such as Brochis splendens or Brochis britskii if you can find it.>
Thank you again for all your help.
James
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Rainbow Fish 10/16/08
Please tell me the maximum number of rainbows I can buy at one time and put in my tank and still be safe with the ammonia spike.
<In a cycled 75-gallon tank adding six juveniles should cause no problems at all. Note the word "cycled" in that sentence. Don't chuck a bunch of fish into a tank that has not been cycled. Make sure you understand what cycling is; it ISN'T letting the tank run overnight or for a week without any fish in it.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/fwestcycling.htm
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: New Freshwater Tank... sel./sexing Rainbows Neal/Crew: Thank you for the quick and thoughtful reply. I looked at pictures of the Boesemanni rainbow, and they are indeed striking fish. I am having trouble, however, locating a good source for them. Live Aquaria can supply, but state that their fish are too young to differentiate between genders. I could wind up with a huge preponderance of one or the other. Any ideas? Take my chances on gender selection? I like your suggestion about a large school in my 6-ft tank. Do you think that 20 would be a good number? Thanks tom <Hi Tom. Sexing Rainbowfish is more of an issue where the males and females look different. Typically, people only (or mostly) buy males of species like Glossolepis incisus because the males are amazing (brick red) and the females are less colourful (silvery-green). But then they find the males don't develop their best colours and sometimes become aggressive. For M. Boesemanni, I think you're going to be fine "taking pot luck" because boys and girls look the same (particularly when young). A school of 20 would be superb, especially as they mature and develop full colours. Do make sure you give them a nice varied diet that includes algae and crustaceans, and these seem helpful for making the best colours. This species is widely used in the UK for fish tanks in shops and offices because they are so colourful and yet very hardy and easy to keep. Cheers, Neale.>

Wholesale Australian Rainbowfish I have visited your website about Australian rainbows and can you please put me in touch with the people who will supply them to a friend of mines shop in England, either their email address or their phone number. <Rainbowfish in general are not too hard to come by, at least in the US. Your friend should be able to find them through his regular channels.> Thank you <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Unusual Fish Source Hi, I ran across your web site on rainbows. I have been keeping and breeding rainbows for a number of years now. I am always looking for new sources for hard to find fish. Any leads you can provide on suppliers would be great. <Try http://www.alloddballaquatics.com If they do not have what you are looking for, they should be able to steer you in another direction.> Thanks, Mark Burdette <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

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