10G Tank Stocking

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chrisdenyer

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 I think my rams have bonded! Since I moved them to the new tank they've stuck together, following each other around checking everything out :)
My guppy seems to have perked up tremendously too, he's frantically trying to mate with all the mollies...it's rather hilarious to watch...
 

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Ok thanks! I thought that might be the case with the little fish...harlequins are pretty cool although I'd still worry about them with the temperament of my gourami! He's been in both other tanks and hassled everyone but the rummys. I somehow doubt there are any suitable tetras though!
 
 
I agree, the gourami might be a risk.  These are territorial fish,much like cichlids.  And like all fish, individuals within a species can behave differently.  This is sometimes due to the environment (meaning, everything in the tank from parameters to decor to fish numbers) and especially tank space.  It is known that the smaller the space, the more likely that aggressive tendencies may show up, even in peaceful species.  Should this occur here, obviously you would need to move the gourami (or the other fish).
 
Glad you like the look of the tank, I've always gone for live plants, apart from the benefits for water quality they just look so much better, and they're cheaper than good quality fake ones! I don't know much about them, I've always just picked what I think will look best and come down to a handful of successful species through trial and error - I believe it's amazon swords that I picked for the 54? Not sure what the smaller ones are!
 
 
The larger three plants are swords, probably the species Echinodorus grisebachii var. bleherae [I'll come back to this], and the small green-leaf plants are Cryptocoryne species, and the purplish plant is a stem plant, possibly Ammannia gracilis (I'm not much up on some of these).
 
The sword plant well known as "E. bleherae" has long been the most common larger sword in the hobby, but phylogenetic analysis has confirmed what some botanists proposed previously, that this is not a distinct species.  What Rataj originally described as the three species E. bleherae, E. amazonicus, and E. parviflorus is in fact the same species as E. grisebachii.  Under the international rules of nomenclature the oldest assigned epithet (the second part of a scientific name is called the epithet, the first being the genus) for a species must be valid, so E. grisebachii is the true name.  This name was assigned by the American botanist J.K. Small in 1909, in honour of the German botanist H. Grisebach.  Rataj's classification was subsequent to this, so these names are technically synonyms.
 
This is what we may term a polymorphic species, meaning that it has two or more variants.  This occurs in fish too, usually due to geographical separation when a species may begin to alter.  When this polymorphic species was originally proposed, phylogenetic analysis of DNA was not applied, and it was more of a hypothesis of sorts.  Kasselmann argued that the distinct variation in the physical size and leaf shapes of these "species" was sufficient to retain them as distinct, but DNA shows this is wrong thinking.  But it still leaves the question of why a species is so clearly different as it naturally occurs in South America.  Samuli Lehtonen (who has done the most exhaustive phylogenetic analysis) has not, to my knowledge, delved into this aspect.  Of course, geographic variation within a fish species is very common; a few years ago, ichthyologists determined that the lovely hatchetfish species Carnegiella marthae has at least three distinct lineages that are separated geographically, and this is certainly not unique to this species.  Sometimes this variation can continue until the population may be considered a subspecies, and beyond that a distinct new species.
 
I'll go for 6-7 sterbas then 
 It sounds like a lot of fish for the 54, maybe because of the whole molly tank space problem I'd got it into my head that it would be a similar fish-to-volume ratio with the smaller tanks - it seems mad that there will be more fish in the 54 than the 90, but I suppose the corys aren't nearly as active - you seem to be a bit of a fish guru anyway so I'll trust you on that! I hope you know when I question your advice is not that I don't agree with it, I just like to know the rationale behind everything! I may go for either 5 or 7 just because I have an aversion to even numbers (apart from pairs) 

 
 
I never object to being questioned, and I will always try my best to explain the rationale.  We all continue learning, or should at any rate, and I still am for sure.
 
When it comes to shoaling species, the numbers of fish can affect the biology in more than just overloading it by too many.  When a shoaling species is maintained in too few numbers, the fish will tend to be stressed, and this causes physiological issues for the fish, which in turns negatively affects the biological system in the aquarium much more than would be the case with a few more fish.  So, all else being equal, it is generally safer to have more of the species rather than too few on the basis of what the biological system can support.  In other words, a group of six or seven corys will have less detrimental affect on the system that would three or four.
 
Considering the tank did have 7 tiger barbs and the gourami and had stable parameters I don't think maintaining should be a problem - just a thought - depending on when I get the corys I may have lost a large part of my nitrifying bacteria! Do you think it's worth trying to maintain the levels I had (sufficient for a fully stocked tank) by shoving the same amount of food in as I would have done feeding all the tigers/gourami? Providing the rams didn't try to eat it all! Or just introduce a few corys at a time?
 
 
Bacteria does not die off like we used to think.  Once present, if its food should lessen, the nitrifying bacteria (and nitrifying archaea are also involved at this stage) can go into what we can think of as a hibernation, or suspended state.  The length of time this can last varies, but most now believe it is a matter of weeks, if not months, subject to other factors.  Also, your live plants help here.  Plants need nitrogen, and aquatic species (most of them) prefer ammonium, so they will take up ammonia/ammonium fairly rapidly.  This is the premise behind "silent cycling" where live plants, including some fast growing species (floating are ideal for this) are started, and then fish can be added slowly with no problem.  I've set up dozens of tanks this way.  Of course, there will be nitrifyiers on the plant leaves (if they come from tanks with fish) and wood from existing tanks.  But the plants themselves do a surprisingly good job of dealing with the ammonia.  And of course this process does not produce nitrite, so that second stage is non-existent to any degree.
 
Therefore, I would add all the corys at once.  Another benefit of this is that they will settle in faster the more there are.  This is very important with any shoaling species; the fish will certainly become established quicker, and in cases of species with hierarchies this is also much safer than adding fish sporadically.
 
Byron.
 
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Thanks! I think I'll leave the gourami alone for now, let him settle in and see how he does.
 
That's good news about the bacteria! I'll add the corys all at once then
Hopefully I'll be able to get them next week!
Makes sense about the fish stress biological effect - I might change up my filter just to be extra safe, most of mine are at least twice the size that I need for each tank, but not in the 54 as the bigger one I had was too tall (outlet above the surface) - though since I've just switched to using spray bars, that doesn't matter anymore - might get it out of the cupboard. The filter that's in there is 320 l/h which theoretically is fine, but I like having a bigger one on half-flow since it has a 50% bigger sponge! (I always use the old sponge when swapping filters - or if I'm upsizing, half the correct sized sponge and 75% of the old one, replacing that with the other half of the new sponge after a few weeks) 
 
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so, my API GH/KH test kit arrived. It turns out the water supplier's dH value is a KH/GH average - in actuality, my water is KH 7, GH 15 :\ So the mollies may be fine (I've got the aragonite though so still worth making it a bit harder for them - I'm planning on aiming for 20ish...) I think the gourami should be ok, the rams might suffer a bit long term though? I've ordered some bog wood anyway to see if that will soften their tank a bit - although from what I understand, a stable dH level is better than a more suitable but fluctuating one - and if the wood lowered the GH in the tank, it would rise temporarily every time I did a water change! Peat is supposed to be good too isn't it? I did see an RO unit on eBay for £40 but since I'm living in one room that could get waaaay too complicated with buckets and bins of water everywhere!
 
I have to say, 15 dH is more like what I was expecting in the first place!
 

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chrisdenyer said:
so, my API GH/KH test kit arrived. It turns out the water supplier's dH value is a KH/GH average - in actuality, my water is KH 7, GH 15 :\ So the mollies may be fine (I've got the aragonite though so still worth making it a bit harder for them - I'm planning on aiming for 20ish...) I think the gourami should be ok, the rams might suffer a bit long term though? I've ordered some bog wood anyway to see if that will soften their tank a bit - although from what I understand, a stable dH level is better than a more suitable but fluctuating one - and if the wood lowered the GH in the tank, it would rise temporarily every time I did a water change! Peat is supposed to be good too isn't it? I did see an RO unit on eBay for £40 but since I'm living in one room that could get waaaay too complicated with buckets and bins of water everywhere!
 
I have to say, 15 dH is more like what I was expecting in the first place!
 
If there is hint of fluctuating GH in the source water, as you suggest, then I would use the aragonite in the molly tank.  As I believe I said previously somewhere, they will not have issues with harder water.
 
As for the other softer-water fish tanks...wood will work towards softening water and lowering pH, but the extent to which this occurs is somewhat determined by the GH and especially KH, and these are high enough here that you will not likely see anything.  Peat is similar; unless you first dilute the tank water to lower the GH and pH, the amount of peat it will take to significantly lower these will be considerable, and of course it gives out and this is relative to the initial GH/KH/pH and the volume.  I personally would not use peat as this can induce fluctuations, unlike the wood.  The wood will still leech some tannins and organics that will benefit the soft water fish, even if not discernible in GH/pH tests.
 
As for the rams, this depends upon the water in which they were bred and raised.  These are tank-raised fish, not wild caught (all the various varieties are man-made from the original wild species).  Not knowing where they actually came from, to check that water data, I wouldn't fuss here.  For one thing, softening water is more difficult that hardening, and water changes are more involved.  Being able to use tap water for these is much easier; this will not matter much in the molly tank, but it would be an issue if you softened water in the other tanks.
 
Byron.
 
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Ok thanks, I won't worry too much then! I'll continue with the aragonite plan for the mollies (was going to introduce a bit each week to the filter, as I gradually change out the water without adding more salt)
 
I emailed the people that I bought the rams from to see if they know where they were raised, but most of England has similarly hard water so it's probably not very different from mine! I don't know how much it actually fluctuates - might test it out of the tap each week to see (just for curiosity's sake) 
 
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Just introduced 6 c.sterbai to the ram tank, all seems to be well so far! 
 
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Byron said:
 
so, my API GH/KH test kit arrived. It turns out the water supplier's dH value is a KH/GH average - in actuality, my water is KH 7, GH 15 :\ So the mollies may be fine (I've got the aragonite though so still worth making it a bit harder for them - I'm planning on aiming for 20ish...) I think the gourami should be ok, the rams might suffer a bit long term though? I've ordered some bog wood anyway to see if that will soften their tank a bit - although from what I understand, a stable dH level is better than a more suitable but fluctuating one - and if the wood lowered the GH in the tank, it would rise temporarily every time I did a water change! Peat is supposed to be good too isn't it? I did see an RO unit on eBay for £40 but since I'm living in one room that could get waaaay too complicated with buckets and bins of water everywhere!
 
I have to say, 15 dH is more like what I was expecting in the first place!
 
If there is hint of fluctuating GH in the source water, as you suggest, then I would use the aragonite in the molly tank.  As I believe I said previously somewhere, they will not have issues with harder water.
 
As for the other softer-water fish tanks...wood will work towards softening water and lowering pH, but the extent to which this occurs is somewhat determined by the GH and especially KH, and these are high enough here that you will not likely see anything.  Peat is similar; unless you first dilute the tank water to lower the GH and pH, the amount of peat it will take to significantly lower these will be considerable, and of course it gives out and this is relative to the initial GH/KH/pH and the volume.  I personally would not use peat as this can induce fluctuations, unlike the wood.  The wood will still leech some tannins and organics that will benefit the soft water fish, even if not discernible in GH/pH tests.
 
As for the rams, this depends upon the water in which they were bred and raised.  These are tank-raised fish, not wild caught (all the various varieties are man-made from the original wild species).  Not knowing where they actually came from, to check that water data, I wouldn't fuss here.  For one thing, softening water is more difficult that hardening, and water changes are more involved.  Being able to use tap water for these is much easier; this will not matter much in the molly tank, but it would be an issue if you softened water in the other tanks.
 
Byron.
 
 
 
I just thought of a possible stable water-softening method - do you think it would work if I used one of those ion-exchange pillows, but rather than using it in the tank, which would be all over the place, having a big bin full of water and use it with a spare filter to lower the GH in there (monitoring and removing when it's where I want it), then use that for water changes? If I stuck a heater in there too that would make the water-changes hassle free too. I figured this way round, I can mess around in the bin getting the water stable before it goes in the tank each week, and probably would only need to do it once a month as I can probably hold four or five water-changes worth if I get a 50L bin. I wouldn't try and change the current tank water, just change it for the softer water with each weekly water change, would that be gradual enough for the rams or do you think the sudden addition of 20% soft water each week would be stressful? (Obviously after a month or two all the water would be changed and then it would, theoretically, be completely stable)
 
Of course all of this hangs on whether those ion exchange pillows are any good to begin with! From what I've read, they definitely do what they say they do satisfactorily but simply changing calcium/magnesium ions for sodium ions could be more detrimental than just leaving it alone? An alternative could be to use a generous amount of peat in the bin instead! Although from what you said previously I could end up spending a lot on peat, whereas i could theoretically recharge the ion-exchange pillow indefinitely. As for RO.... I don't think I could actually fit the number of bins I'd need anywhere in my house! Assuming I'd need at least one for tap water, one for waste water and one for the RO water - plus it sounds incredibly wasteful. I've heard that rainwater can work (and would be fairly easy to collect, especially coming into or wonderfully wet and stormy British summer) but would that potentially contain all manner of pollutants?
 
I could, of course, just leave it as it is like you suggested previously! The reason I'm still contemplating it all is that I have a feeling my GH is going to stick at 15dH, and I have spotted one of the rams flashing a couple of times. Though that could be something else (I can't see any signs of parasites). The female has a bit of a red sore spot on one side just behind her pectoral fin, I think that's from where the male kept nudging her though (he seems to have stopped doing so now). Apart from that they're both acting normally, eating well and are well coloured. I've introduced the six C.Sterbai, they seem to be doing fine, although the rams have decided that they prefer the catfish pellets to their own ones!
 

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Forget the ion exchange.  This would indeed be worse.  This is the same issue as commercial water softeners that use sodium.  Salt (sodium chloride, common salt) is detrimental to soft water fish; livebearers are bettter able to handle salt, though it is still not advisable.  Using salt as a treatment for a specific disease is a very different thing, and short-term.  But long-term use of salt, as would occur here, is not at all good for fish.
 
Flashing can be due to several things.  Parasites (protozoan can be internal or external), ammonia, nitrite, high nitrate over time, and issues with water chemistry.  The most common is of course parasites, like ich, but there are many others.  Ich can appear when fish are stressed.  The gills are first to be attacked, hence the flashing, and if the stress is removed and the fish is in good health otherwise it should be able to fight it off.
 
Byron.
 
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Ok thanks. Water parameters are fine (no ammonia or nitrite, just about to check nitrate again but it's always been under 20) pH and GH same as always. Can't think of anything that would knowably be causing stress...
 It's only very occasional flashing (just the male), and definitely no sign of Ich. (I made it through a couple of outbreaks last year!) I can't see any sign of gill flukes or other external parasites...I have some stuff somewhere if I do notice anything external. Do you know a good internal parasite medication if it looks like being more of a problem? I'll just watch them for now, make sure everything stays as good as it can be! 
 

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chrisdenyer said:
Ok thanks. Water parameters are fine (no ammonia or nitrite, just about to check nitrate again but it's always been under 20) pH and GH same as always. Can't think of anything that would knowably be causing stress...
 It's only very occasional flashing (just the male), and definitely no sign of Ich. (I made it through a couple of outbreaks last year!) I can't see any sign of gill flukes or other external parasites...I have some stuff somewhere if I do notice anything external. Do you know a good internal parasite medication if it looks like being more of a problem? I'll just watch them for now, make sure everything stays as good as it can be! 
 
I don't say much about disease and treatment, as I have so little experience, and any medications will impact fish, causing stress at the very least, so one has to be certain before using them.  But one of the best treatments for internal protozoan is metronidazole added to the food.  Most fish seem to be OK with this for a couple weeks so I suppose it is fairly safe as a safeguard, but I won't argue with anyone saying differently.  Fish are usually best on their own, in clean water, with as little stress as possible.  After all, these parasites and protozoan are present in the habitat, but the fish fight them off, else there would be no fish left.  The other issue is that the more these medicines are used, the greater the chance they can become ineffective, just like our antibiotics.
 
Fish can be under attack by ich with absolutely no external visible spots.  Unless you dissect the gills of a dead fish, you won't see ich, but it may be there.  It is only in very heavy cases that you see spots on the fish externally.
 
Byron.
 
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Yeah I figured it would be best to let them fight it off themselves... TBH the flashing is so infrequent (I've noticed it once or twice a few days apart) I wonder if it is just a harmless itch?
I had a few cases last year (before getting my water quality properly under control) but have had no problems whatsoever for a good five months (only started the first tank this time last year) so I'm hoping I've got everyone happy enough now to have good immune systems!
 
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I'm still trying to find suitable tank mates for the gourami. The harlequins are still an option although I would worry about gourami aggression...the only fish that my gourami didn't stress out were the rummys - obviously they were too big for the 45L, I took them back, and I know most characins need softer water - I've read a lot of things suggesting that glowlights can deal with harder water, and are happy in smaller tanks but I don't know whether that's another lot of misinformation!  (If they were an option it would look good, the 45 has dimmer lighting than the other tanks so they would really stand out)
 

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Rasbora tend to be good tankmates for most gourami, as the rasbora are inactive, and less inclined to fin nip sedate fish.  However, the personality of the individual gourami can vary, so here you have to observe and decide what's best; it might be best alone, or with substrate level fish.  Tank size can have a big impact...the smaller the space the more likely fish will be aggressive.  It is partly the physical space itself, but also it is chemical...fish release pheromones that are read by their own species, and allomones that are read by other species.  These chemical signals are used to communicate for many things, from spawning to hierarchy to aggression.  The smaller the space, the more prevalent and serious these communications can be.
 
Water hardness/softness does impact fish.  Each freshwater species has evolved such that its internal metabolism (which believe me is highly complex due to the aquatic environment which is integral) functions best in very specific parameters/environment.  As soon as the fish moves outside the preferred parameters, things happen internally.  To put it briefly, the fish has to work harder just to keep the necessary day-to-day functions working effectively.  At some point this overwhelms the fish causing stress which increases, weakening the immune system and the fish in general, and disease occurs and even death.  Different species have different levels of "adaptability" for this, to some degree anyway.  There are fish that do not deal at all well with this, and others that seem to have a wide tolerance.  But regardless, the fish is still having to cope with something that is not natural, for which it was not designed by nature/evolution.  So the goal should always be to provide an environment that is reasonably close to the natural habitat.  This is the only guarantee that the fish's metabolism and thus its health should function normally.  The blue citation in my signature is all too frequent.
 
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Yes, I understand that the environment is very important! I do want to make my fish feel as comfortable as possible - I was only thinking of considering something like the glowlights if they were tank bred, in similar water to my tank - from what I've read, it sounds like whatever water a captive bred fish is raised in it will be adapted to, so it's better for them to mimic the environment that they've been raised in rather than the environment in which they would be found naturally - but I don't know how much that is true, presumably there are a lot of genetic adaptations which would take more than a generation or two to change! But I suppose even if it did, it would then effectively be an entirely unnatural fish, which is ethically questionable for many reasons - it just becomes a consumer product...
 
I don't intend to go against any of your advice, I'm just still getting to grips with what species are actually naturally (or adaptively) suitable! I suppose some species come from just one habitat, whereas others occur in multiple populations across a wider variety of habitats - although I don't think any tetras fall into that category. Even if they did, you would still presumably need to know which particular environment any wild caught stock come from to know their compatibility.
 
I was only considering the glowlights because my gourami seemed to be fine with the rummys before, but then I suppose just because he was ok with one species of tetra doesn't automatically mean he would be ok with all of them...and he is in a smaller tank now so he'd be even less inclined to share the space - I'm sure he's flooded it with chemical messages! 
 
I don't know if there are any other medium sized rasboras that would work...I expect if I were to try anything else in there with him it would be best to go with a bottom dweller, something inconspicuous - I did wonder about otos, I think my lfs stock O. Affinis which according to planet catfish is suitable for my water - then again, it's too new a tank for something like that at the moment in any case. I suppose a more natural bottom dweller for the gourami would be some kind of loach, but of the few species that might be small enough for the space, I think most require softer water....sigh....I did discover one contender, the vietnamese zebra loach Y (or M, or N). cruciatus, which seems to tick all the boxes (might still be a little hard for it). I think my lfs might have some.... I assume the dwarf chain loach, A (or B). sidthimunki would be a little too big though. My substrate and planting look to be good for them too.
 
I think the rams are fine. The female's side is looking better (they're hanging out together happily again) and I've not noticed any more flashing from the male. Nitrates are still 12.5 in there. I've got the aragonite sand in the molly tank now, I did try a bag of it in the filter but I couldn't fit much in there and it didn't make any difference. I've added about a kilo to the substrate, and I will monitor the pH and GH daily to see what happens!
 

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