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Stocking questions

Discussion in 'New to the Hobby Questions and Answers' started by Vorka, Nov 18, 2017.

  1. Vorka

    Vorka New Member

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    Hello all!

    Ive recently got a 52 US Gallon fluval tank cycled with a few fish in now and im looking at properly stocking and have a couple of questions.

    So far we have got 6 Harlequin Rasboras and 4 Panda Cories we are looking at adding more pandas in the future the guy I got them off only had 4 left when I got there so we wanted a larger school.

    We were looking to set up a tank of schooling fish with a centerpiece fish and we wanted a blue ram but research has told me that the temps will collide so my missus has set her eyes on maybe a blue acara and I havent found much info regarding non cichlid tank mates for them. Would an acara be too aggressive/predatory for a tank with panda cory and harls in? If not what other schooling fish could we add with the acara? If the acara is too aggressive is there any similar looking fish that we can have? Id rather avoid gorumais too

    Also ever since adding pandas my harls have been hanging around at the bottom of the tank whereas before they were always at the top, they dont seem to harm the corys just seem to always be near or following them. Any ideas?

     
    #1 Vorka, Nov 18, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2017
  2. Byron

    Byron Member

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    Welcome to TFF. :hi:

    Something you'll quickly learn is that members here will always want to know your source water parameters before suggesting suitable fish; we also like to know the tank dimensions...for example a 52 cold be a cube or rectangular and that can make a big difference to fish species. I did search on the US Hagen site but no "52" was found.

    While we wait for the above, the blue acara (Andinoacara pulcher, formerly named Aequidens pulcher) attains 5-6 inches. Most agree that while "peaceful" for a cichlid, it may eat fish small enough to swallow, so this is not going to be a good idea with smallish shoaling fish like the rasbora.

    This is always a problem whenever trying to find a largish fish to act as a centrepiece with smaller shoaling fish. Gourami are one option with some species, but you don't want those (are you familiar with the Pearl, Trichopodus leerii? This is a truly stunning fish in a small group, and peaceful).
    http://seriouslyfish.com/species/Trichopodus-leerii/

    Cichlids are not usually very suitable, but if the common Blue Ram intrigued you, a better choice is its cousin, the Bolivian Ram, Mikrogeophagus altispinosus. This species does extremely well as a solitary fish with many of the peaceful shoaling characins (tetras, pencilfish, hatchetfish) and rasboras from the cyprinids. I had a male in my 5-foot Amazon riverscape for over nine years. Not especially colourful of course, and at 4+ inches not large per say, but for a cichlid you really would have difficulty finding a better for a community setting.
    http://seriouslyfish.com/species/Mikrogeophagus-altispinosus/

    I'll add photos of the Pearl and Bolivian. Will be able to offer more when the data is known.

    Byron.
     

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  3. Vorka

    Vorka New Member

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    Thanks for the detailed reply!

    I can give you the water readings from our latest test which was earlier today. Using the API liquid testing kit we came back with a PH of between 7 and 7.5 and this is consistant everytime we test, the nitrate and nitrite both came back as 0s, ammonia came back as 0.25 but for the life of me on the color chart It wont go lighter! We have testing strips for Gh and kh but im not sure how good they are the KH came back as 0 im not sure if thats good or bad to be honest and GH came back as 30. My area water is also considered moderately soft by local authorities with 30 mg/l calcium.

    The tank is a fluval 200L roma measuring at 100x40x50cm.

    Thanks for the effort with the photos too. In past years we have only tried keeping red honey gorumais and had bad luck from ones that seemed to attack other fish to ones that just died suddenly. I will have a look at the ram and consider it! I didnt think an acara would have suited it seemed to be more suited with other cichlids which is no bother better to know before buying!
     
  4. Byron

    Byron Member

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    Now we have data we can proceed better. First the water parameters...30 mg/l is very soft which is fine for soft water species and there are hundreds. Just for the record, mg/l is the same as ppm (parts per million) which is one of the common units used in the hobby; the other is degrees (dH or dGH) and you can convert using 17.9, multiplying dGH by 17.9 for the equivalent ppm, or dividing ppm by 17.9 for the equivalent dGH. So you have 30 ppm or 1.6 dGH, very soft as I said.

    The ammonia at 0.25 I would not worry about; I cannot explain this, but it is something frequently mentioned by members. With live plants this is certainly not an issue, but even without the bacteria can deal with this. BTW, it is a good idea if you haven't already done it to test the tap water on its own for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Sometimes one of these can be present.

    The tank dimensions answer that issue. The Pearl Gourami or the Bolivian Ram would be fine here. I linked data previously, but feel free to ask any questions.

    Harlequin Rasbora are soft water fish (as are the above obviously), and cories the same. Most fish from South America (the tetras, hatchetfish, pencilfish, most catfish) and most from SE Asia will work here as far as water. When selecting fish, many things have to be considered, I'll just reference a couple for now. One is the activity of the fish species. The rasbora are generally quiet swimmers, as opposed to most danios and many barbs that will be more active. Quiet fish do not appreciate boisterous active swimming tankmates and this can cause serious stress. Gourami and cichlids are sedate too. Many but not all tetras are similar. Cories are on the quiet side.

    The other thng is temperature; most cories do not like it too warm, and pandas are especially so; 76-77F (25 C) is about as high as you want it for panda cories. The gourami and bolivian and rasbora will be fine with this. But a blue ram for example would not, as it needs it warmer at 80F. Fish are ectotherms so the external temperature of the water drives their metabolism, which is why temperature is so important. The range for each species is not as wide as some might think.

    Something you asked that I missed previously...the rasbora lower in the water column. This species, Trigonostigma heteromorpha, tends to remain mid to upper level usually. If it descends, it could be due to no cover, as forest fish occur in shaded waters with either overhanging vegetation or floating plants. It might also be just getting used to things, and curious about the panda activity. Nothing to worry about, and it may change. I would strongly recommend floating plants regardless.

    Byron.
     
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  5. essjay

    essjay Member

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    Vorka, is that hardness of 30 mg/l calcium or calcium carbonate? The fact that you water company calls is moderately soft suggests that it is calcium. The chart on my water company's website gives soft as 0 to 20 mg/l calcium and moderately soft as 20 to 40 mg/l calcium.
    30 mg/l calcium converts to 75 mg/l calcium carbonate and 4.2 German degrees.
    But 30 ppm/1/6 dH or 75 ppm/4.2 dH makes little difference to our fish.


    A lot of UK water companies use mg/l calcium as their hardness measure. Northumbrian Water (mine) does, though it also has a button to convert to other units.
     
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  6. Vorka

    Vorka New Member

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    The converter on the water providers website has shown my water as
    30 mg/l as calcium = 75 mg/l as calcium carbonate, sorry if I posted the wrong number!

    Is this a bad number for fish or are the ones we have and looking at still OK?

    I think I may have posted the wrong number before for water hardness another member has mentioned a different figure which would make the water 30 mg/l as calcium = 75 mg/l as calcium carbonate. Does this change much in terms of what we are looking at?

    We dont have any live plants at the minute but we are trying to find some that are fairly easy to care for and trying to find a shop where they look decent and not ridden with snails or falling to bits, the LFS around my area are not great and most of them are commercial with extremely low reviews etc. The tap water came back for ammonia as 0-0.25 it was a bit difficult to tell on the API chart which it was. I havent tested the tap water yet for nitrate or nitrite but our water suppliers website table has it listed as nirate as 1.76mg NO3/l and nitrite at 0.002mg NO2/l. I will test them when im home though.

    Sorry I forgot to mention the temp earlier the tanks currently sat at 24c/75f. Yeah the temperature was the reason we decided against the Blue ram as research showed that they liked warmer water, more so than all the other species we were looking at.

    Thats good news that the Harlequins arent showing signs of anything bad then. They look healthy and up until the Pandas came they were always at top or mid. I am surprised that you listed them as quiet fish mine seem to be darting all over the place at different times and generally seem to mess around with each other. I wanted to get a few more of them to make a school of 10, 6 seemed a little low.

    Thanks again for the detailed reply and I'll get looking at some of the fish you mentioned!
     
  7. essjay

    essjay Member

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    Your fish will be fine in 75 ppm hardness. It is still soft water.

    I gave up trying to find decent plants in real shops and bought mine on-line. Snails are not bad things to have in a tank, I have two types of snail that came on plants as well as other types that I've bought. As long as the fish are not overfed, the snail population stays small.

    I have nearly all slow growing plants of types that are grown attached to decor. I have java fern, 3 different species of anubias, bolbitis and bucephalandra. I also have hornwort which is weighted down by being twisted round a piece of wood. And water sprite floating on the surface which I bought after reading Byron's recommendation.
    I have Espei's rasboras, a cousin of harlequins, which hid in a corner when I first got them. Once I put the water sprite in the tank, they came out more but only under the plant. Now that the water sprite covers most of the water surface the rasboras swim all over the tank.



    Re the ammonia reading - what kind of light are you reading it under? Daylight is best. LED and halogen bulbs are OK, as are old fashioned bulbs if you still have any. Fluorescent lights, including compact fluorescent energy saving bulbs, are notorious for making the liquid in the tube look greener than it really is.
     
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  8. Vorka

    Vorka New Member

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    I was reading it under an energy saving bulb I think they are LED bulbs by the time we got home to test the water last it was already getting dark outside, typical!

    I had a look at the espei they look good! Do they school with harlequins too? Might look at a mixed school if so.

    Around where I am its mostly pets at homes filled with dead or dieing fish in massively overcrowded tanks or fighter fish in the equivelant of a cup of teas worth of water.

    Ill have a look at the plants you mentioned and ill have a look at the water sprite especially as I like the idea of floating plants! We have only got fake in at the minute and fake floating plants.

    Thanks for the suggestions!
     
  9. essjay

    essjay Member

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    The two rasboras will shoal together but it is better for the fish if there are big enough shoals of their own species rather than mixed species shoals.

    Are there any Maidenhead Aquatics branches near you? Some branches are better than others, but the vast majority of them are better than P@H. Which part of the country are you in (county is good enough)? Members who live near you should be able to suggest their favourite shops.
     
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  10. Vorka

    Vorka New Member

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    Im in West Yorkshire. Where did you order your plants from online? Luckily there was a breeder around the corner from me for the fish so far.

    I havent seen any Maidenhead Aquatics, I used to order from tri mar in cornwall but their website seems to have gone down since i got back into the hobby.
     
  11. essjay

    essjay Member

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    I got mine from a couple of different sellers on Ebay. Because I have shrimps in my tank I have to be careful that plants haven't been treated with anything to kill snails so I use a couple of sellers that say their plants are shrimp safe.

    See if you have nearby Maidenhead Aquatics here https://www.fishkeeper.co.uk/storefinder
     
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  12. Byron

    Byron Member

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    Essjay has sorted out your questions. Just so you know, I concur your water is still good for soft water species.

    Panda cories are more active than most other species in my experience. The more there are the merrier. Cories in general do not like being moved so they often charge around more until they are settled. But pandas tend to be more active.
     
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  13. Vorka

    Vorka New Member

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    There are a couple of Maidenhead shops not too far away so I shall have to have a look at them and see what they have! Thanks for the info! I have been looking at some moss and water sprite too hoping to get some for floating on the surface and moss to attach to ornaments and today we got some bog wood. The corys very rarely go straight to the top for air so I wanna get more o2 in the water so they dont need to. They dont do it often but once is enough!

    Thats good news then! I think I may get a ram as a centerpiece fish. They have grown on me colorwise and some videos show them being quite bright in their own way! Would 2 together be aggressive or will one be enough for a happy fish?

    At the minute my newish pandas are just going up and down the tank walls about halfway and scowering the floors. One of 4 of them doesnt always school with the others though im not sure if its something to be concerned about. I would like to get maybe 6 or so more of them just being patient to not crash the tank!

    Thanks for the help!
     
  14. Byron

    Byron Member

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    I assume this refers to Bolivian Ram, as earlier discussed. This species is well worth keeping as a solitary fish in as community tank of other non-cichlid species. According to reports from collectors, it is believed this fish may live in isolation except when spawning. My male lived well into his ninth year, which is good for a fish with a normal life expectancy of 4 or 5 years.

    If you want a pair, male and female, you must buy them together from the same tank, and only if they appear to have bonded. Both species of rams will not accept any mate, and this works both ways (female may refuse the male, or vice versa). [Actually this seems to apply to most neo-tropical cichlids.] It is not too difficult to observe bonded pairs in the store tank. The males will be charging one another, pushing or poking, almost continually. The females tend to just hover around, picking at the substrate (this is a substrate feeding fish). The female that is closest to one of the males and "ignored" by him for the most part, is likely one with which he has or will bond. These two fish are the ones to acquire.

    You should remain motionless in front of the store tank for several minutes to observe all this. Some will suggest buying a group of the rams and letting this pairing off occur at home; that's fine, except you then have to somehow get rid of the others. Better to do this in the store.

    Byron.
     
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  15. Vorka

    Vorka New Member

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    Just a couple of questions regarding the bolovian rams I was reading they do best in groups of 6-8 will having 1 on its own be detrimental to its health? A few websites have them listed as hard to care for and extremely sensitive, having kept one yourself did you find any difficulties to keep them? The stores near me have rams for sale listed as bolivian but they are in tanks with german blue rams and as far as I was aware they have different requirements so I dont really wanna buy them if one of the 2 is in sub par conditions so ill see if my local breeder has some.

    Thanks again for a detailed answer.
     

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