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dwarf gouramis or other options for office community tank?

Byron

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I believe that if an aquariums water parameters are fine and the fish are happy and thriving then why do water changes? now I’m not saying just don’t do water changes but if you test your water and the tests come back saying that your parameters are fine then why change the water. i know not everyone is going to like me for this, but I have not done a water change on my 36 gallon in 2 months simply because all the fish are healthy and thriving, I have not lost a single fish due to bad water parameters. I do top off water every week which normally is like 2 gallons. So as long as you test the water on a strict schedule and the water parameters are okay then I don’t think you have to change water on a weekly basis.
The reason for water changes obviously requires explanation. But first, none of us can ever know our fish are "happy," and "thriving" is probably something most aquarists also cannot discern. But we can be confident that the fish will be closer to that, and without question healthier, if we understand the need for regular substantial partial water changes.

The water in an aquarium degenerates fairly rapidly if fish are present. No filter can deal with this, no matter how many or how large. Live plants can help but this is very limited and certainly no where near the level that would avoid water changes.

Freshwater fish are continually taking in water through every cell on their body. This is called osmosis, and it is behind osmoregulation in fish. This water passes through the kidneys via the bloodstream and is altered. The urine that fish excrete, which is considerable in relation to their physical size, is not urine like that which occurs in terrestrial animals but it is "dead" water. In a very short space of time, the fish are swimming around not in fresh water but in urine.

But there is more. Fish communicate visually but also chemically. They release pheromones and allomones, and the former are read by others in their species and the latter are read by other species. As just one example of how considerable the effect of this is...an aggressive fish will release allomones/pheromones that the other fish read as aggression aimed at them, and these will stress out the fish as much and often even more than physical aggression.

We cannot see any of this. There are no tests for any of the above. It just occurs and we must recognize it, and be prepared to deal with it. And no filtration we use can handle any of it. Only water changes.

As for tests we can do...by the time these indicate the need for a water change, it is too late. The fish have already been impacted and it may or may not be reversible. Nitrate should always be at the same level whenever it is tested; if it rises before the next water change, there is a serious problem. Either the water changes are not substantial to handle it, or there are too many fish, or they are being way overfed.

A regular (meaning one every week) substantial (meaning 50-70% of the tank volume) water change should be standard. Fish will never be harmed by water changes (assuming the parameters between tank water and fresh water are relatively similar) and it is the single most important factor in healthy fish. And that is what really makes fish thrive. :fish:
 

seangee

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Seangee: What is that floating plant in your tank in your signature? I love that.
Frogbit.
This is not directed at you personally and I know nothing about the office politics ...
It may help persuade them to create a roster system for water changes if you suggest getting an office cat and only cleaning its litter tray once a month.
 
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BeckyCats

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No fish is going to be in good health with too few partial water changes. It would be best to give the fish to whomever, but as that is not realistic here it is better to leave the fish as they are, do your best, but please do not add more fish. I understand the reason you cannot care for them as one should, but do your best and don't make things worse.
As I explained, I tried to convince the owner that the best option is let to the current inhabitants die off naturally and then close down the tank, but this is not an option she is open to. She is going to add more fish regardless of what I do or say. My best option at this point is to try to steer her towards a reasonable choice (her original selections were plecos and mixed sex platys so that we can see the "cute babies"). So, this is what I'm dealing with. I know all about the importance of water changes. I also know there is a reality here that I have to work within and am hoping for suggestions that fit within that reality.

I'm thinking a single betta might be a good choice since it will not tax the 30 gallon planted tank. I might be able to convince my colleague that this would be a good option even though it would be seriously understocked, since bettas are so pretty and full of personality. Again, I could maybe sell the idea of its being the office mascot of sorts.
 

Fishmanic

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A beta needs to be in his own tank without other inhabitants. What would u do with the present inhabitants?

I love my sole dwarf gourami .... he is the centerpiece fish in my community tank that has skirt tetras among other species. I just hope he lives for awhile.
 
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BeckyCats

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Frogbit.
This is not directed at you personally and I know nothing about the office politics ...
It may help persuade them to create a roster system for water changes if you suggest getting an office cat and only cleaning its litter tray once a month.
I have asked for volunteers for water changes, and sadly, no one offered. Not even the person who owns the darned thing! She had a tank years ago and believes that water never really needs to be changed, just "topped off" occasionally. I tried to explain the importance of water changes, being religious about it myself. I even did my own tank all during chemo and rads when I could barely scrape myself off the bathroom floor. I'm back to once a week for my own but it is at home and I have a python hose to help.

I love the idea of the litter box. I should put it right under her desk!

I will look up frogbit to see if I can get some. I love the roots.
 
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BeckyCats

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I have asked for volunteers for water changes, and sadly, no one offered. Not even the person who owns the darned thing! She had a tank years ago and believes that water never really needs to be changed, just "topped off" occasionally. I tried to explain the importance of water changes, being religious about it myself. I even did my own tank all during chemo and rads when I could barely scrape myself off the bathroom floor. I'm back to once a week for my own but it is at home and I have a python hose to help.

I love the idea of the litter box. I should put it right under her desk!

I will look up frogbit to see if I can get some. I love the roots.
A beta needs to be in his own tank without other inhabitants. What would u do with the present inhabitants?

I love my sole dwarf gourami .... he is the centerpiece fish in my community tank that has skirt tetras among other species. I just hope he lives for awhile.
I would suggest waiting for the others to die naturally before introducing a betta. If it wouldn't be too traumatic, I could bring them to my 55 gallon at home which currently houses 12 small elderly tetras/rasboras (assorted survivors from larger groups) - specifically, glowlight tetras (the copper ones, not died or neon) and espe rasboras, and 2 aeneus cories. Oh, and a bamboo shrimp. I am waiting for everyone in my tank to die before deciding whether to add any youngsters or not.

What are folks' thoughts on moving the work fish to my home tank? Wouldn't that be traumatic for them?
 

Byron

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I would suggest waiting for the others to die naturally before introducing a betta. If it wouldn't be too traumatic, I could bring them to my 55 gallon at home which currently houses 12 small elderly tetras/rasboras (assorted survivors from larger groups) - specifically, glowlight tetras (the copper ones, not died or neon) and espe rasboras, and 2 aeneus cories. Oh, and a bamboo shrimp. I am waiting for everyone in my tank to die before deciding whether to add any youngsters or not.

What are folks' thoughts on moving the work fish to my home tank? Wouldn't that be traumatic for them?
The problem with letting them die naturally is they might hang on for years. Even fish in terrible neglected tanks have a surprising will to live. They may be unhealthy, stressed, and just waiting for something to finish them off, but they can survive. Survive is not thrive.

Obviously moving fish from any tank to any other is severe stress, but given what they are now being subjected to, it would be worth it to improve their lives. Your only problem with this (taking them home) is the Black Skirt Tetras. I wouldnot put these in with any other fish. The stress from only having four of them has unquestionably done something, and their fin nipping behaviour will likely become serious. It is interesting that fish under such conditions as this tank will sometimes become more aggressive but other times less, until something changes. The other fish mentioned would be fine in your tank. Maybe move them and leave the Skirts? I am more concerned about ruining the lives of other fish by introducing them to this tank. That is cruelty, see if you can get this person to fathom that. People treating dogs like this (comparably) would be frowned on.
 

JuiceBox52

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i was just about to suggest male guppies because they are very hardy and colorful.
if you add more corries they will be so active you won’t know hat hit you. In small groups corries do not feel safe and hide, but in bigger groups of 6+ they will always be by the glass upfront.
so I suggest leaving the current inhabitants and getting:
10-12 male guppies or platies
6-8 albino corries(if the other ones are that old I wouldn’t bother getting more of the same variety, and the albinos pop on dark substrate) here is my tank with black sand and albinos
View attachment 97685
Guppies and platies should have hard water and Cory's and skirts need soft, this is not really compatible
 

CryptFan

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Guppies and platies should have hard water and Cory's and skirts need soft, this is not really compatible
I’ve kept corries with guppies and tetras for years and when it’s all said and done they adapt quite well.
 
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BeckyCats

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I think "cruelty" is a bit strong. The water parameters are kept within healthy limits (ammonia and nitrites always zero) and there are many plants and places to hide and room to swim. I do understand that they release hormones, etc. into the water, but I can't imagine that the levels produced from 7 small fish is enough to pollute 30 gallons of water to "cruel" levels in a month. The filter is one that is designed for a 55 gallon tank, so should be helping there as well. And no, the filter does not create a strong current to bother the tetras. The flow rate is adjustable and there are also broad-leaved plants in front of the flow. The tetras have no trouble swimming in any part of the tank.

The skirt tetras do not nip. They swim around the same as my tetras at home do (who have weekly water changes) except when people approach the tank and then they hide. But, again, this is because they are fed with an auto feeder, so don't associate humans with food. I mentioned fin nipping only as a response to the comment that if they were put in with a fish like a gourami, that they might start nipping. But they have always been peaceful and tetra-like with periods of sitting still and then periods of chasing each other briefly, exploring the tank, pecking at the plants, etc.

I am still leaning towards the best situation for the fish being to stay where they are until they live out their days. The tank owner seems content with this so far. When the time comes, I will push for perhaps a betta as a single chap to have a deluxe suite all to himself. I don't know if this will be what she wants, but I will try. No one could possibly think that a single small fish could horribly pollute 30 gallons of water each month. She may want the flash and dazzle of more neons though. I just really don't like the idea of them being mass produced and weakened by disease like they are though. I've been trying to push her away from that idea.

Anyway, thanks everyone for the advice. I will not recommend a dwarf gourami.
 
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BeckyCats

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It's like talking to a wall. I've lectured and lectured about water changes. She insists that she and other people she has known have kept tanks for decades (she's in her early 60s) and never did water changes. I explained all about the science of why that isn't good, but she says that's all baloney. If it was so horrible, then why did all those people do it that way for so many years and all those fish were just fine. I said it is like infants sleeping on their backs vs stomachs. Doctors used to give the advice to put babies to sleep on their stomachs until they realized that they can prevent many cases of crib death by putting babies to sleep on their backs. Did ALL babies die from sleeping on their stomachs? No. Did the human race continue to populate at a tremendous rate even though we put babies to sleep on their stomachs? Yes. BUT do less babies die when they are put to sleep on their backs? YES! So, why take the chance, right? Similarly, we now have better information about water chemistry and what is healthiest for the fish, so we should change our behavior in accordance with our most recent, best knowledge. But all of my analogies went in one ear and out the other. You just can't change some people.

I do also remove about a gallon or two per week to use the water for watering the office plants, and she replaces those few gallons. That is at least a little bit of water getting changed out in between the monthly change, I suppose.
 

seangee

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Before I get flamed my default position is that keeping fish is a commitment etc etc.

However there clearly are going to be fish in this tank whatever you say or do so you are doing the right thing by suggesting minimal stocking. An alternative to a beta could possibly be a so called "center piece" fish with nothing else. Apistos or pearl gourami spring to mind here. The males are more attractive, if you go for a pair you need to think about the possibility that fry may survive with nothing else in the tank and you may need to find homes for these down the road. I will leave it to others to comment on how likely you are to see these out and about without other fish. Lots of people do change 10 or 20% per week and while this is not optimal it is better than not doing it - but the larger monthly change is still strongly advised.

Plants will obviously help with water quality but it is worth a quick word on filtration. The notion that there is no such thing as too much filtration is a fallacy. My tanks are all under filtered and I rely on the plants to remove the ammonia, because they use this without turning it into nitrate. In my tanks the filter is only there to circulate the water and to remove solid waste. It is this solid waste that causes nitrate problems when you have a big filter which is not regularly cleaned. It does a great job of removing the solids and clearing the ammonia, but since the solid waste stays there it turns the filter into a nitrate factory.

If the filter is a HOB, internal or sponge filter it is easy enough to rinse the media every week. Since it is an established filter and there are plants, using tap water is fine for this. If it is a canister filter this is more problematic, as I would be surprised if regular cleaning will happen. In this case the best thing to do would be to get a cheap sponge filter and place the sponge over the filter intake. This way the "prefilter" sponge can be rinsed weekly and far less muck will build up inside the canister.
 

CryptFan

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Before I get flamed my default position is that keeping fish is a commitment etc etc.

However there clearly are going to be fish in this tank whatever you say or do so you are doing the right thing by suggesting minimal stocking. An alternative to a beta could possibly be a so called "center piece" fish with nothing else. Apistos or pearl gourami spring to mind here. The males are more attractive, if you go for a pair you need to think about the possibility that fry may survive with nothing else in the tank and you may need to find homes for these down the road. I will leave it to others to comment on how likely you are to see these out and about without other fish. Lots of people do change 10 or 20% per week and while this is not optimal it is better than not doing it - but the larger monthly change is still strongly advised.

Plants will obviously help with water quality but it is worth a quick word on filtration. The notion that there is no such thing as too much filtration is a fallacy. My tanks are all under filtered and I rely on the plants to remove the ammonia, because they use this without turning it into nitrate. In my tanks the filter is only there to circulate the water and to remove solid waste. It is this solid waste that causes nitrate problems when you have a big filter which is not regularly cleaned. It does a great job of removing the solids and clearing the ammonia, but since the solid waste stays there it turns the filter into a nitrate factory.

If the filter is a HOB, internal or sponge filter it is easy enough to rinse the media every week. Since it is an established filter and there are plants, using tap water is fine for this. If it is a canister filter this is more problematic, as I would be surprised if regular cleaning will happen. In this case the best thing to do would be to get a cheap sponge filter and place the sponge over the filter intake. This way the "prefilter" sponge can be rinsed weekly and far less muck will build up inside the canister.
i second pearl gouramis, they are awesome! I just got a trio(hopefully) and they are a little shy at first but after a week or two of feeding daily they warm up to you, they are always out and about when you look at the tank from a distance though, and they are very aggressive feeders.
 
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BeckyCats

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...
If the filter is a HOB, internal or sponge filter it is easy enough to rinse the media every week. Since it is an established filter and there are plants, using tap water is fine for this. If it is a canister filter this is more problematic, as I would be surprised if regular cleaning will happen. In this case the best thing to do would be to get a cheap sponge filter and place the sponge over the filter intake. This way the "prefilter" sponge can be rinsed weekly and far less muck will build up inside the canister.
This is an excellent point. I will rinse the filter media once a week. That is something I can manage easily. It is a HOB filter, easily reachable and not heavy.
 
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