Angry Angelfish, New Tank Keeper

emily8294

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Hi, this is my first post here so I apologise if I'm not going about this in the right way. I have kind of inherited and fish tank. My husband always took care of the fish but unfortunately he passed away at the end of last year.

We currently have a 100l fish tank which is tropical. In there at the moment, we have a catfish, an angelfish, some shrimp and god knows how many assassin snails(!) The angelfish is very aggressive. I believe it has eaten 3 corydora(?) as they disappeared in the middle of our national lockdown. We also had another angelfish until yesterday when it died 😔 But the other angelfish was very small in comparison to this one and it's fins were really scraggly.

I suppose what I'm looking for is a) advice on what to do with angelfish and b) can you recommend any fish to house with the angelfish or do they not stand a chance? And c) how do I get rid of all the snails?!

I'm really sorry for rambling! Hope this makes sense.
 

mcordelia

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Hi, welcome to TFF. I'm really sorry about your loss, I'm sure it's been so much trying to figure out next steps. I unfortunately know next to nothing about angels other than they are cichlids and cichlids can be agressive, but then again you have already discovered that so I'm no help there.

In other aspects apart from your angelfish dilemma, you mention that the care of the fish has transitioned over to you, and I was wondering how that is going for you? Are you figuring out a routine or are you looking for advice on that front as well? How interested are you in the hobby / where would you like to see this tank go in the next year?
 
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emily8294

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Hi, welcome to TFF. I'm really sorry about your loss, I'm sure it's been so much trying to figure out next steps. I unfortunately know next to nothing about angels other than they are cichlids and cichlids can be agressive, but then again you have already discovered that so I'm no help there.

In other aspects apart from your angelfish dilemma, you mention that the care of the fish has transitioned over to you, and I was wondering how that is going for you? Are you figuring out a routine or are you looking for advice on that front as well? How interested are you in the hobby / where would you like to see this tank go in the next year?
Thank you, yes it has been hard trying to figure out everything. The only thing I did with the fish before was choose them out the shop! 😂

So what I have been doing is feeding them daily (Tetra fish food - It's got like 4 different coloured crisp things in 1 tub), half water change every 2-3 weeks, cleaning the filter out every month with water from the tank and testing the water with some strips. But thats about it. So yes any advice would be appreciated!

I don't want to let the tank go because my kids, aged 7 and 2, love them and I feel a responsibility to keep them on for my late husband. I want the tank to be a happy environment and I want there to be more fish than just 2
 

mcordelia

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Thanks for providing the additional details. I have a 2 year old son, many many hugs to you.

So with regards to the philosophy of fishkeeping, there are a few different schools of thought. Some folks say you should do 50-75% water changes each week, and others are all the way at the other end of the spectrum bragging about how they never do water changes. I personally fall somewhere in the middle, and I'm a firm believer that each tank is different and needs a bit of a "custom" solution. The basics of fishkeeping chemistry are that fish generate ammonia, the ammonia gets turned into nitr_I_te by beneficial bacteria, which then gets turned into nitr_A_te by other beneficial bacteria. The main reason test strips exist is to test for these three things. If your ammonia or nitrite ever read above 0, it can be trouble for your fish. The nitrate can read above 0 without killing your fish right away, but it can also become toxic to fish in high concentrations and/or over time. The nitrate part is why water changes are done (simplified version). Over time, nitrates build up in the tank, and you do a water change to get them back down. There's other stuff that happens too that causes needs for water changes, but I'm trying to not information overload you.

The ways to improve your "water health" -> fish health is by doing frequent water changes and having lots of plants. My personal goal due to also needing to live a life outside of fish responsibilities is to do a water change about every two weeks, and to try to keep the water "healthy" in the interim by having many plants and not keeping a lot of fish (fewer fish -> less nitrate build up).

All that being said, you should be able to have more than two fish in your tank! Do you have any plants? Some things that may bring out aggression in fish include unhealthy water, lack of hiding places/shelter, or stress from other tankmates.

It sounds like what you have been doing so far is ok, so we don't have to make any huge changes right away, but I agree that we should support you in your goal of figuring out what's going on so that you can add more fish and keep the existing inhabitants healthy.

Here are a few thoughts that come to my mind:
1) fish food: The tetra flakes are fine, but some people advise varying up the diet a little bit such that maybe 4 days a week you feed the flake food, then two days a week you feed pellets, and one day a week you feed a "treat" like bloodworms (these are freeze dried) or similar. The thinking behind this is that fish that are fed a varied diet will thrive, and as such will likely show more species-native behaviors as opposed to stress behaviors.
2) water parameters: I went on at length about the cornerstone nitrogen cycle of aquariums above, but there's one additional thing to consider that is relevant when planning on adding new fish. This is the idea of water hardness. I see that you are in the UK, and from my understanding it is predominantly good to assume your water is relatively hard. However, I am tagging @essjay here so she can help you figure out what your actual water hardness is at your location (to get a head start for you, look up your water supplier and see if their website has a water quality report that lists hardness or "alkalinity"). When you get to the point of figuring out what fish to add, it is good to check a website called seriouslyfish.com (Search for your fish of interest on there) to determine if the hardness that the fish is adapted to matches your water hardness. In the long term, this decreases fish diseases and allows your fish to live longer.
3) plants: I put this item last, but this is probably what I would start with first. I'm not sure how much of a "project" you want this to turn into with everything going on (or, it might be a welcome escape, completely your choice), but some easy plants to add to your setup are called java moss, java fern, and hornwort. there are other easy to keep species as well (I think anubias falls into that category too), but there are people who are plant experts here who can help with that. The reason I am advocating for plants is that if you don't have a chance to do a water change one week for whatever reason, or similar, the plants help your water quality tremendously and can help prevent any instant deteriorations in water quality if life gets in the way. It's better to try to stay on a regular schedule, but we all know that life.

I think I have written quite a bit at this point, so hopefully this is helpful and not overwhelming for you. I think the key things are to just take things slow, and we will figure out how to resolve the angel problem and get him/her some tank mates that he will play along well with. OH, one other thing to consider: depending on how old your angel is, you will have to at some point consider a bigger tank for him. It is possible that the aggression is coming out because he feels cramped. Seriouslyfish recommends that the minimum tank length for an angelfish is 100cm so that they have enough room to swim, so it's an idea that I want to plant into your mind because for the health of the fish it is probably something you will need to think about sooner or later.

Here is the angelfish profile if you are interested in reading it: https://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/pterophyllum-scalare/

I know I just wrote a ton, I hope I didn't overwhelm you - remember that we here on the forum are really into fish, and you don't have to be as excited about everything related to fish as we are in order to be successful in the hobby :D
 

Essjay

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One of the problems is the size of the tank - 100 litres is too small for an angelfish I'm afraid. This will be stressing the angelfish. Stress can affect fish in one of two ways - they either become reclusive and hide all the time or they become more aggressive than is usual for the species.
Angels need a tank at least 100cm long, preferably more, and at least 50 cm water height (not tank height). A tank of at least 200 litres is the recommended minimum size.
It comes down to two choices I'm afraid. Another larger tank, or rehome the angel.
 

Essjay

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mcordelia mentioned hardness. So I looked for hairdressers in Heckington, picked one at random (in Church Street) and looked up their hardness on Anglian water's website.
That address gives hardness as 311 ppm and 17.7 dH (the two units used in fish keeping). You can check your own hardness by entering your postcode here http://waterquality.anglianwater.com/map.aspx
If it is the same or similar, you have very hard water which is not suitable for soft water fish such as angelfish or corydoras. I've attached the page for that address to show you what to look for

But there are some hard water fish that would do well in a 100 litre tank.
 

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Naughts

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Sorry for your loss Emily.

I had angel fish once. They were a pair and killed everything else in the tank either through direct aggression or stress (small fish just disappeared). A friend's dad took them off my hands. If you don't know anyone that could rehome your angel, see if any local fish stores would be prepared to take it.

If the snails are breeding it may be possible to slow this down by reducing feeding. The fish (except the corydoras) should eat the food before it hits the substrate. The cories are better off with one or two sinking pellets rather than flakes. You could try New Life Spectrum Optimum flakes - they are big flakes so it is easy to count out the correct number of flakes than just guess with a pinch.
 
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Gypsum

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My OH's parents live in Lincolnshire, and their water is really hard. It's like liquid hard. They have a 150-ishL tank housing some flying foxes, which breed like rabbits, and they used to have barbs of some sort but they died off. I don't believe they use their tap water for water changes. They use reverse osmosis water, bought from Lincs Aquatics. They're not that geeky or knowledgeable about their fish, to be honest, but they go to Lincs Aquatics and get pretty good advice, by the looks of it, because they've had these fish for years. I totally recommend checking that store out. Most of their livestock are fish that will cope with Lincolnshire water -- lots of African cichlids and livebearers, not so many South American catfish.

Follow above advice and rehome angels, and then it's worth a visit to Lincs Aquatics, as they seem like they are pretty helpful and care about fish welfare.
 
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emily8294

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Thanks for providing the additional details. I have a 2 year old son, many many hugs to you.

So with regards to the philosophy of fishkeeping, there are a few different schools of thought. Some folks say you should do 50-75% water changes each week, and others are all the way at the other end of the spectrum bragging about how they never do water changes. I personally fall somewhere in the middle, and I'm a firm believer that each tank is different and needs a bit of a "custom" solution. The basics of fishkeeping chemistry are that fish generate ammonia, the ammonia gets turned into nitr_I_te by beneficial bacteria, which then gets turned into nitr_A_te by other beneficial bacteria. The main reason test strips exist is to test for these three things. If your ammonia or nitrite ever read above 0, it can be trouble for your fish. The nitrate can read above 0 without killing your fish right away, but it can also become toxic to fish in high concentrations and/or over time. The nitrate part is why water changes are done (simplified version). Over time, nitrates build up in the tank, and you do a water change to get them back down. There's other stuff that happens too that causes needs for water changes, but I'm trying to not information overload you.

The ways to improve your "water health" -> fish health is by doing frequent water changes and having lots of plants. My personal goal due to also needing to live a life outside of fish responsibilities is to do a water change about every two weeks, and to try to keep the water "healthy" in the interim by having many plants and not keeping a lot of fish (fewer fish -> less nitrate build up).

All that being said, you should be able to have more than two fish in your tank! Do you have any plants? Some things that may bring out aggression in fish include unhealthy water, lack of hiding places/shelter, or stress from other tankmates.

It sounds like what you have been doing so far is ok, so we don't have to make any huge changes right away, but I agree that we should support you in your goal of figuring out what's going on so that you can add more fish and keep the existing inhabitants healthy.

Here are a few thoughts that come to my mind:
1) fish food: The tetra flakes are fine, but some people advise varying up the diet a little bit such that maybe 4 days a week you feed the flake food, then two days a week you feed pellets, and one day a week you feed a "treat" like bloodworms (these are freeze dried) or similar. The thinking behind this is that fish that are fed a varied diet will thrive, and as such will likely show more species-native behaviors as opposed to stress behaviors.
2) water parameters: I went on at length about the cornerstone nitrogen cycle of aquariums above, but there's one additional thing to consider that is relevant when planning on adding new fish. This is the idea of water hardness. I see that you are in the UK, and from my understanding it is predominantly good to assume your water is relatively hard. However, I am tagging @essjay here so she can help you figure out what your actual water hardness is at your location (to get a head start for you, look up your water supplier and see if their website has a water quality report that lists hardness or "alkalinity"). When you get to the point of figuring out what fish to add, it is good to check a website called seriouslyfish.com (Search for your fish of interest on there) to determine if the hardness that the fish is adapted to matches your water hardness. In the long term, this decreases fish diseases and allows your fish to live longer.
3) plants: I put this item last, but this is probably what I would start with first. I'm not sure how much of a "project" you want this to turn into with everything going on (or, it might be a welcome escape, completely your choice), but some easy plants to add to your setup are called java moss, java fern, and hornwort. there are other easy to keep species as well (I think anubias falls into that category too), but there are people who are plant experts here who can help with that. The reason I am advocating for plants is that if you don't have a chance to do a water change one week for whatever reason, or similar, the plants help your water quality tremendously and can help prevent any instant deteriorations in water quality if life gets in the way. It's better to try to stay on a regular schedule, but we all know that life.

I think I have written quite a bit at this point, so hopefully this is helpful and not overwhelming for you. I think the key things are to just take things slow, and we will figure out how to resolve the angel problem and get him/her some tank mates that he will play along well with. OH, one other thing to consider: depending on how old your angel is, you will have to at some point consider a bigger tank for him. It is possible that the aggression is coming out because he feels cramped. Seriouslyfish recommends that the minimum tank length for an angelfish is 100cm so that they have enough room to swim, so it's an idea that I want to plant into your mind because for the health of the fish it is probably something you will need to think about sooner or later.

Here is the angelfish profile if you are interested in reading it: https://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/pterophyllum-scalare/

I know I just wrote a ton, I hope I didn't overwhelm you - remember that we here on the forum are really into fish, and you don't have to be as excited about everything related to fish as we are in order to be successful in the hobby :D
Sorry for the late reply!
I will look at getting some other food as well, thank you.
Yes, the water where I am in the UK is VERY hard!
I do have a couple of plants in there but I'm not sure what they are. They've been in there a while and have grown quite a lot. There's also two big rocks in there.

I'm pretty sure we have had the angel for nearly 2 years. My youngest was quite young when we bought them. He too has grown loads, they were really small when we got them. I don't really have any space for a bigger tank (the current one sits on the kitchen side) so I think the best route would possibly be to rehome him. He hasn't always been aggressive so maybe it is a case of he has outgrown his space? 🤷🏼‍♀️ I just don't know anyone who has a fish tank or to come and pick him up x
 
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emily8294

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One of the problems is the size of the tank - 100 litres is too small for an angelfish I'm afraid. This will be stressing the angelfish. Stress can affect fish in one of two ways - they either become reclusive and hide all the time or they become more aggressive than is usual for the species.
Angels need a tank at least 100cm long, preferably more, and at least 50 cm water height (not tank height). A tank of at least 200 litres is the recommended minimum size.
It comes down to two choices I'm afraid. Another larger tank, or rehome the angel.
Thank you. Yeah my tank is nowhere near that size. As mentioned above, I dont really have the space/money for a bigger tank so I think that perhaps the most kind decision would be to let him go and then get some new fish that will be happier in the tank.

With regards to water, I have checked my postcode and it is 311.5 and 17.7 for the other number. What kinds of fish can you recommend for our tank? I apologise if I sound really stupid but I also don't know how many fish is right for my tank.
 

Essjay

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The most common fish for hard water are livebearers. With your tank size I would suggest guppies or endlers. But males only. Females have fry roughly once a month. It is recommended that there should be a lot more females than males, and with every female having fry once a month, the tank would be overstocked in next to no time.

Some of the small rainbowfish would work. Have a look at these (they do have varying hardness requirements so you'd need to find those that match yours)

Emerald dwarf rasbora


There are probably at more that I can't think of at the moment. Other members with hard water will be able to suggest others suitable for a 100 litre/22 gallon tank.
 

ITViking

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So sorry for your loss.

It's been mentioned but snail populations will generally stay in synch with food supply. So it would be good to restrict food provided to smaller bits & floating flakes that never get a chance to hit the bottom of the tank. With a couple of young children, regulating food supply could be a challenge, as I bet they love to feed them.

If a big water change is needed, with fish in the tank I'd advise several smaller water changes in a day as opposed to one big one. For instance, on my 123L tank I'll do a 12 litre change in the morning, and then another one in the afternoon. This gives the fish a chance to adjust to the change in water parameters a bit more, and avoids the shock of a big change all at once. Big water changes are also more stressful for the fish.
 

Essjay

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Small water changes are only needed if the tank has been neglected with few water changes. In this case, the water will be significantly different from tap water and a large water change can alter the tank water so much it can harm the fish.

Where a tank has had regular weekly water changes, the tank water will be very similar to tap water so a large water change will have little effect on the tank water. In this case large water changes are not a problem provided the new water is dechlorinated and the temperature is not too much diferent. Many members of the forum do weekly 75% water changes with no ill effect.
 

ITViking

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Yea, I would think there would be some dependence on the particular situation as well. I know with my water, a large water change alters the PH significantly. It can easily go from 7.5 to 6.0 in a single large water change due our water being so soft.
 

Essjay

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Does your tap water change pH after standing for 24 hours? If it changes to similar to tank water you can leave the new water to stand overnight. If it doesn't, then yes a large change in pH would be a problem for the fish.
 

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