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Baby Angelfish Dropping Like Flies

VTDrew

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OK, so on wednesday night I got 4 angels. Youngsters at about 1-1.5'' each. Well, come thursday night 1 dropped, a second one dropped while I was at work today (friday) and the third dropped a few hours later. The first two showed no signs of distress aside from getting chased a little by the Buenos Aires Tetras, but no nips on them or any damage what so ever. The third I found in the filter intake, it was still breathing barely but on of its fins were chewed good from being in the filter....despite efforts to revive, it died several minutes later. The first death was A-OK 10 minutes before I noticed it dead. I'm so confused

The LFS knows already and will honor their 7 day guarantee (even though I won't be there in the 7 day deadline). But at this point I'm quie embarrassed at 75% mortality in 2 days. I need to understand more about angels before I bring more in.

pH = 6.8
NH4 = 0
NO2 = 0
NO3 = 0-5

Tank is stable and has been holding at these numbers with regular water changes.
Other odd happenings in this tank since it started was a Danio death 1 day after introduction (6 weeks ago), a Buenos Aires Tetra died with signs of pop-eye (both eyes) two weeks ago.
I moved my apisto in from another tank 1 day before the angels and he is doing great.

Tank is 56gal, 5 danio, 3 BA tetra, 1 Apisto and now 1 angel

What the hell is going on. Is high mortality normal with angels this size?
 

nmonks

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It is indeed fairly common for coin-sized Angels not to do well immediately after being taken from the retailer's tanks to the hobbyist's. If at all possible, buy Angels around 5 cm/2 inches in body length. Smaller Angels are substantially more sensitive to environmental stress and shock.

In the meantime, try and establish if there are any environmental differences between your tank and the retailer's. For example, water chemistry, water temperature, and water current strength. If you choose to buy more very young Angels, hold them in a 10-15 gallon quarantine tank with very gentle filtration (a sponge filter is ideal) and get them settled and feeding before moving them into the display tank. This is doubly important where potentially aggressive, boisterous, even nippy tankmates like Danios and Hyphessobrycon species (like your Buenos Aires Tetra) are being kept.

Cheers, Neale
 
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VTDrew

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So I don't have space for a third tank. Second tank is currently occupied by very evil Serpae's....they are extra evil and I just got inspired to name them Dougy, Scott, #1 and Frau. (in addition to my awesome mohawk sporting apisto named Dude). I was debating last night (as I cradled the dying Angel in a net) that I should just get one of those hanging sub-tanks that fit inside the main tank. I already shut off the bubblestones to calm the tank down a little.

My LFS gets their Angels from a local hobby breeder and here in Vermont people go ape-S*** over anything local. I mean, the Burlington libs are probably buying them up and probably putting them in soup pots and drinking glasses just to say they have a locally bred fish and talk about it while driving their hybrids and smelling their own farts. I digress, I will never get a larger Angel unless I drop $60 on a wild type Angel.

But thank you Neale, I feel better that this is relatively normal.
 

nmonks

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Those "in-tank tanks" (usually sold as "breeding traps") are almost never worthwhile except in very specific situations. They're fine for isolating Guppy (or some other livebearer) fry for the first 3 weeks after they're born, during which time they tend to be most vulnerable to predation. After that time the fry can be turned loose, and assuming the tank has some plants (ideally, floating plants) the fry should survive. They can also be used to protect large eggs such as Corydoras or Ricefish eggs until they hatch, and again, to isolate the fry for a few weeks.

On the other hand, they're normally much too small to provide any useful function when it comes to fish bigger than fry. In extremis, they might be used to isolate a damaged or battered fish up to around 2.5 cm/1 inch in length, but much above that size and the stress put upon the fish by being "trapped" can outweigh any befit from being isolated from its tankmates. The photos on the packaging that suggest you can put a pregnant female Molly or some such in there until she delivers her fry are hopelessly misleading.

You can buy true tank dividers, or else make your own by using some sort of plastic netting. Egg crate is particularly useful where large cichlids are being kept. Provided water can flow evenly around the tank, you'll be fine. Of course, by reducing the swimming space in the tank you can cause new psychological problems for your fish, even if water quality and so on remain acceptable.

Let me catch you on one issue though. "Normal" doesn't necessarily mean "acceptable", and if you buy 6 young Angels and they all die, then something really needs to be done. You may decide to accept that buying small Angels is too difficult for you to handle with the equipment and experience that you have. But you may want to discuss with your retailer what the problems might be, and see if they can hold a few specimens in stock for a month or 6 weeks, until such time as those Angels are bigger and less sensitive.

I would also reflect a bit on your experience of the hobby so far. Serpae Tetras are difficult fish, as I think we've discussed before, and notoriously nippy. But a large group of them in a well-planted tank can be gorgeous. They're good beginner's fish in the sense that they're tough, unfussy about water chemistry, and display attractive colours throughout their lifespan. There's a lot to be said for a period of consolidation after fishkeeping "disasters". See what's worked well for you, what happens, and try to find out what might be going wrong. Pause for a few weeks before buying any new fish, except perhaps more specimens of species you already have (a bigger school of Serpae Tetras would be even prettier and less aggressive, for example).

Cheers, Neale
 
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