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Platy tank chaos

Discussion in 'Livebearers' started by Sarah89, Sep 14, 2017.

  1. Sarah89

    Sarah89 New Member

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    Hi guys I'm new here and new to fish keeping! I have a question about my new tank of fishies... so I got a 60litre fishtank as my daughter won 2 goldfish at a fair and I couldn't bear to see them in that awful little bowl :-( however when I was setting up the tank and running it they both died before I could transfer them into their new home. The tank has a strong filter and a heater so after some research I decided to get platys as I heard they where hardy and good for beginners. I got the first 4, 1 male and 3 females the biggest is the male and he is an awful bully he seems to chase and nip the 2 smaller females and sexually harass the larger female. So after about 2 weeks of this today I sent my boyfriend to the shop for 2 more female platys to divide Gary's attention... he has come back with 2 female platys one of which is enormous and double the size of the others ! It's so shy and hasn't come out of hiding yet and then to my great annoyness 4 neon tetras.. now I didn't want them as I heard they are fragile ect but here they are. They seem to be doing ok actually swimming about in their little group very active. Sorry for the rambling but I just want to know if anyone thinks the males bullying will stop and the big blue female will ever come out of hiding and why is she so big ? Also these neons are they even good tank mates for platys ? Sorry for essay! Thanks

     
  2. Byron

    Byron Member

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    Welcome to TFF.

    First on the male platy...it is normal for male livebearers to drive the females hard. In many cases this will stress them so much that they weaken, and die. You are right in thinking more females will help--usually--, but here you have another issue that is more of a problem, and that is the tank size. A 60 liter (15 gallons) is too small for platy. They need more space, especially if you have male and female. Lots more space. A couple males could manage, but not with females.

    The best advice now is to return the new fish, and if the store will still accept the original, return them too. Then plan the aquarium--a 15g is very small space (to most fish). Before we consider suitable fish, we need to know your water parameters for your source water (tap probably). These you can get from your water authority, check their website. General or total hardness (GH) is most important, followed by pH and then carbonate hardness (KH, or Alkalinity). Give us the numbers and unit of measurement they use and we can move forward.

    Byron.
     
  3. Sarah89

    Sarah89 New Member

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    Hey thanks for reply... my friend has a (huge) established aquarium he said he will take the male and 1 female... which would leave me with the 4 female. I am actually in the process of buying a 90litre tank... will that be large enough ? Also I have checked my water thing and it's quite confusing it said soft to moderately hard which will it be ?
     
  4. Byron

    Byron Member

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    Subjective terms like "moderately hard" can be very different when the actual numbers are seen. If you can post the link I or someone else can take a look and perhaps define this. This is crucial because platy are livebearers and all livebearers must have mineral (calcium and magnesium primarily) in the water, and this is the GH. "Soft" would not be good, moderately hard if it really is on the hard side will be fine. But without numbers, we're guessing.

    A 90 liter (23 gallons) is more volume but not much more in dimensions (length and width will likely be close to the 60 liter) but with only males present this can work. Or all females...but here we come to another problem...males impregnate every female in the tank quickly, so now without males present the females will be delivering batches of fry roughly once a month, and this will soon add up to hundreds. Something has to be done with them, they cannot all get eaten.
     
  5. Sarah89

    Sarah89 New Member

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    Hi, these are the numbers that show up on united utilities for my particular area. God this fishkeeping is turning out a lot more complicated then I originally thought. I'm not sure what I would do with the fry? Iv already packed off the male and one (obviously pregnant) female to their new aquarium. Currently swimming round happy as Larry in their... it's massive and really well planted. So i now have these 4 females and the 4 unwanted neon tetras.
     

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  6. Sarah89

    Sarah89 New Member

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    Oops huge typo I meant there not their
     
  7. essjay

    essjay Member

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    The images are the water quality report not the hardness.

    The page you took the images from should have some text then a large grey box.
    In that box it should give your water hardness as a word; Hardness clarke followed by a number; and the date, the supply code and the name of the water supply source. (My aunt lives in St Helens so I used her postcode :) )
    The hardness in words and the Clarke number should also be at the top of the table above aluminium, just above the first image you posted.

    We need the number for Hardness Clarke. We can convert that into the units used in fishkeeping very easily - there is a converter in the Calculator (in the drop down menu from How To Tips) in this site :)


    UK water companies rarely give alkalinity (which we call KH)
     
  8. Sarah89

    Sarah89 New Member

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    Are these the right things you need ... new development now... in sending 2 of the platys off to a new home the big blue one is now a lot more out of hiding.. on closer inspection she is actually a he. Could this have had something to do with the hiding?
     

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  9. essjay

    essjay Member

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    Yes, that's perfect.

    Water hardness has several units, like metres and feet for length. In fishkeeping we use just two of the half a dozen possible units, and you'll find fish profiles on-line use either one or the other of these two. Your water company uses a third unit so we need to convert it.

    Your water company gives your hardness as 7.000 degrees clarke. This converts to:

    5.6 German degrees, which are often called just degrees or dH
    100 ppm.
    These are the two you need to use when looking at fish profiles.

    Unfortunately, platies need hard water. Your hardness of 5.6 dH is too low for them to be happy. If you have maculatus platies, they need dH 10 to 30 http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/xiphophorus-maculatus/ while variatus platies need 14 to 30 dH http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/xiphophorus-variatus/


    But the neon tetras are perfect for your water, though I know you don't want them. To be honest, you would be better off taking the platies back to the shop and getting more neons.
     
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  10. Sarah89

    Sarah89 New Member

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    Right ok they are variatus platys. I suppose I could return them is there nothing I could do myself to make the water harder? How do they thrive in the aquarium shop I bought them from because that's 2 miles away from me so presumably the same water? Actually to be fair on the neons I didn't want them because I read they wernt very hardy but the minute the got put in tank they have seemed to be swimming round quite confident and happy.
     
  11. Byron

    Byron Member

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    Essjay nailed it. I may here be able to help explain your above questions.

    First, we can never go by the store water when it comes to fish and parameters. Stores hope fish will be sold before too long (the longer they keep them, the more it costs and thus the less they recover) and these relatively short periods are not usually sufficient to cause lasting issues for the fish, though they can be. Second, some stores do adjust their water in GH or pH or both, depending. I know of stores in my soft water area that have a bank of tanks for livebearers and rift lake cichlids (which all need moderately hard or harder water) in which the water is specially treated. Not all stores do this, by any means, but a few might. Those that do should understand the reasoning and be able to advise customers accordingly...we hope. Some stores do this treatment for all their tanks, keeping them sort of "mid-range" so they can manage to house fish with quite differing requirements, but again they know this is short-term.

    Now, as to adjusting your water parameters...yes, this is certainly possible, but it is frankly not as easy as it may sound. Water chemistry is a very complex subject. In any given aquarium, there can be a number of factors affecting the water chemistry; even when one has several tanks using the same source water (as I have in my fish room) one may see variations in pH from tank to tank. That is why the advice we on this forum give is to know your source water parameters, and select fish that require similar. It makes life much easier, both for the fish (very important) and for the aquarist (worth keeping in mind). There may well be times when multiple larger water changes are necessary, in an emergency or when dealing with a disease for example. If you can use the tap water, this is not big deal; if you need to specially prepare water and such preparation takes hours, this can be the difference between life or death to the fish.

    Now to the reason this is critical to fish health. Every species of freshwater fish on this planet has evolved over thousands of years to function in very specific environments. "Environment" here includes the habitat itself (substrate, wood, rock, plants, light/dark...), the water parameters (hardness, pH, temperature), the natural pathogens present, other species, etc. It is not possible to change this inherent programming because it is embedded in the fish species' DNA. It takes decades for the species to evolve for a different environment. It is true that some species have a wider tolerance for this than others. There are reasons for this that we needn't get into as it is complicated and I am not a professional ichthyologist so I would have difficulty explaining it anyway. But it is a scientific reality we must recognize.

    When it comes to the GH, some species--such as all the livebearers--have evolved in an environment where the water contains dissolved minerals, primarily calcium and magnesium, and these fish have a physiology that needs this in order to function properly. Soft water species have a very different physiology. As soon as we place the fish in a different environment, the metabolism reacts and the complex system of internal biological processes we call an animal's homeostasis malfunctions. At the very least this causes stress, and depending upon the extent of the variances further damage may result. But even simple stress is serious; 95% of all fish disease is directly caused by stress. Various pathogens may be present, but it is the stress that weakens the fish's immune system allowing for the onset of disease. So avoiding stress as much as possible means healthier fish. The other clue is lifespan; fish in an inappropriate environment will almost never live to the normal lifespan. There are exceptions, obviously, as in all life, but this is a general fact.

    Apparently healthy fish just suddenly dying is sometimes, perhaps most often, the result of the internal failure brought on by the environmental factors that are out of step with what the species "expects." Have a read of the two citations in my signature block below; this is what both are talking about. It is never safe, nor humane, to risk a fish's life. Which is why we emphasize research before acquisition so often. Sometimes it is impossible to rectify things.

    Byron.
     
    #11 Byron, Sep 16, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2017
  12. Sarah89

    Sarah89 New Member

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    Well thankyou for that very informative answer it is clear I haven't put enough thought into this. The aquarium shop is closed tomorrow so i shall return platys on Monday morning. So in regards to neons do you have any advice on suitable tankmates ?
     
  13. Byron

    Byron Member

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    You are most welcome.

    Assuming this is the 60 liter (15 gallon) tank mentioned initially, I would first increase the group of neon tetra. Except...to comment on your previous remark on the hardiness of this species today, yes this is true--this fish has been commercially bred for decades and for various reasons it has weakened through this compared to wild caught fish of the same species. So at this point, knowing your water parameters now, you have another option and that is to acquire the closely-related but somewhat stronger species cardinal tetra, Paracheirodon axelrodi. This species will shoal with its close cousins, P. innesi (neon). There is also a third, P. simulans, the false neon or green neon; this species is actually closer to the cardinal than either are to the neon, in its DNA, but they are still clearly evolved from the same ancestor so they are all very close. [My friend Heiko Bleher discovered a fourth "neon" species in 2005 but it has not beeen imported so far as I know; it is more closely related to the neon tetra in DNA.] The P. simulans (false or green neon) is a sensitive species, and will always be wild caught. The cardinal tetra is a bit more adaptable though like all characins (tetras, hatchets, pencilfish) not particularly "robust." This family of fish, characidae, is sensitive to water parameters, water conditions, and all chemicals. I don't want to scare you, just trying to point out the facts.

    So, back to the neons, you could get more, at least another 4-5, for a group of 8-9 total. Or you could choose cardinal tetra, in a group of minimum five. They will as I say shoal together so the "shoaling" need is met, and in time if the neons should die off you could acquire more cardinals and end up with just cardinals.

    Still wiith the 60 liter tank, with the additional 5-6 neons or cardinals...how about some substrate level cories? The "dwarf" species particularly (Corydoras pygmaeus, C. habrosus) would be ideally suited here. You do need sand for the substrate though. We can discuss more if interested. For the upper level, there are hatchetfish provided they are the smaller species in Carnegiella. The marble hatchetfish, Carnegiella strigata, is frequently seen in the hobby. A group of 7-8 would work.

    Before you go down any of these roads, we should consider the aquascape, as these fish have some needs and expectations. Do you have or do you intend to have any live plants? This is fine either way, to be authentic, but it is an important part of the biological system so worth knowing. For the decor, lots of wood, as branches, logs, standing tree trunks. Dried leaves collected from a safe site can bee used for more authenticity. I'm tossing out ideas here, we can detail later.
     
  14. Sarah89

    Sarah89 New Member

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    Hello I really love your detailed replies ! It's very kind of you to take the time out for me.. I never planned on having fish but after having this tank i see to have developed abit of an unhealthy obsession and spend a lot of time sitting down staring at them and planning a new tank.. so my ideal tank that I have pictured would be about double what I have now in terms of size as it is quite small I would like black sand and real plants and wooden features with nice lighting to showcase it. I have one live plant now but it's not exactly thriving The tank I currently have that I got for the fairground goldfish it was my friends old fry tank and it has a powerful filter and heater but oddly enough no light so I presume that's why it's not looking lusterous. Iv done all this to slapdash and in a hurry and now I'm worrying Im going to end up killing a load of innocent fish from my ignorance.
     

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