I'm feeling discouraged about my pygmy cories.

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OMG, thank you for sharing this! That's how we can get sand for our Schwartzi corries in our 65 gallon. We've been dreading trying to change out the gravel with all the live plants and fish and such, so we keep putting it off. If we can create a sand beach in the front, where there aren't a lot of plants, I think we can make give our corries a space to do their thing and thus be happier! Yea!
So last month I got 6 pygmy cories to add to my 20gal community tank (relevant threads) with platies, zebra danios, and cherry shrimp. I really loved seeing them school at first. But, I don't think they're doing very well. Of the 6 I bought, 2 were unhealthy and died after a day or two. Another one I later had to euthanize because it was injured to the point that it couldn't swim (I think I might've hurt it while moving decorations around).

Of the 3 I have left (which I'm sure are stressed), one of them (always the biggest) is still healthy, but the other two spend most of their time laying on the substrate, and also seem to be missing the lower fork of their tail fin? I'm not sure if this is from fin-nipping at the store or if my gravel is hurting them. I'm also having difficulties feeding them, since they're so much smaller than the other fish, and don't have safety in numbers to feel safe eating alongside the larger fish.

My intention, at first, was to get more as soon as I can (although I haven't had the money to yet), thinking that once they feel safe in a school they will be more healthy and confident. But I'm starting to feel like the species in general is just too small and fragile to fit in with the rest of my tank. I'm also starting to feel disappointed with the appearance of the fish, although that might just be because I'm not seeing them school anymore.

I'm starting to wonder if I should try to take them back and get another species (like sterbai or julii) instead. When I was initially shopping I felt like these were too big (and still do a little) but I've also realized that they would be juvenile when I bought them, and by the time they were fully grown my platies might also be a lot bigger. I also like the coloration of those species better. My only concern though is that a larger species will leave less room in the tank stocking-wise, as I would also like to eventually add a panda garra at some point and that is also a larger fish.

I'm not sure what route I should choose. On one hand I feel like the sterbai/julii would be safer and more visually appealing in the tank, but on the other hand, I feel like all this might be better if I can just fix the situation with the pygmies, since I didn't feel this way before I was having trouble with them.
I changed out my 25 gallon tank from gravel to sand last month, I had been reading that it was better for cories and that tank has 5 little green cories. (Other fish are 5 X-ray tetra and about 7 lemon tetra) and I was having a big snail problem. I am lucky that I had a 10 gallon tank not being used so I filled it with water currently being used in the 25 and then added the fish. Put the rest of the water in big buckets. Dumped gravel and live plants, cleaned out all ornaments and left driftwood outside to freeze any live snails.
Researched sand, bought some set up again. Refilled the tank with water from the bucket (strained with strainer) to about half. Had to let it sit about two days to clear. Then put fish back in their tank strained about another quarter of the water from the previous tank so was 3/4 full. Then added 1/4 of water I had sitting waiting to be put in a tank. I change out 1/4 of water every week anyway. I always have water waiting that has had stability added to it. Denver adds a lot of chemicals to its water.
Fish seem much less stressed and more calm without all the snails. Have had a few but expected that and am staying on top of that issue. Cories like the sand.
But I don’t think I am up to doing my 55 gallon tank, a lot more fish and water. I won’t start a tank with gravel again though.
 
OMG, thank you for sharing this! That's how we can get sand for our Schwartzi corries in our 65 gallon. We've been dreading trying to change out the gravel with all the live plants and fish and such, so we keep putting it off. If we can create a sand beach in the front, where there aren't a lot of plants, I think we can make give our corries a space to do their thing and thus be happier! Yea!


Haha, you're so welcome!! That's what I meant about spending a long time here hanging out and learning from each other. It was @noahm who first bought it up to be fair, credit where it's due, @noahm ! :D


You absolutely don't have to do a complete tear down, uproot and disturb all the plants (and plants don't like being uprooted and moved about, so especially if you've invested a lot in live plants that are established and happily growing, the idea of having to house the fish elsewhere, or worse, do it while they're in there, and in a really big tank too... yeah, I'd procrastinate on that too! :lol: Nightmare job.

Would love to see a pic of the tank if you'd be happy to share? Could give more specific advice too, if you make a journal or asking for advice about the substrate shifting, people can chime in with their tips, there will be others with much better tips than me! Or I'd be happy to start a thread about mixed substrate tanks with info and pics about how I did it, tips, and the mistakes I made so others can avoid them?

As @JackGulley noted - and I'm famed on the forum for - I tend to get carried away and "wall of text" (in my defence, I always use paragraphs!) here when I'm feeling chatty or passionate about a topic, and I don't want to hijack @JackGulley 's thread, but would love to share and help. :drinks:

But a briefer hijack - I began with only a fairly small sand beach at the front right, and gradually moved it back further and further, making it larger and adding more sand, but still keeping the well rooted crypts, vallis etc in the gravel where they were happy and established.

This is when my cories were breeding (I started with 7, the rest were spawned and grew themselves in the tank) but you can see they gathered and enjoyed the sand, I aimed the food there, but I was also feeding a lot of small frozen foods like daphnia and cyclops that cloud and spread out, but I aimed for the beach area. River stones do help hold the gravel back, but obviously it does still creep through over time and need separating again. I just did it now and again during weekly maintenance, but it wouldn't be hard to create better barriers that still look good!
early sand beach pic my tank.JPG




Same tank, very fine silver sand at the front and mid areas, but the back and very left side still gravel, thriving and breeding pygmies that like to sit on the decor and plants, but also feed and play in the sand, and sit around and chill on there too. In a good number (there's more than 20 in there at the time of this photo, and it's only a 15.5g, but obviously heavily planted and two filters, weekly 50-60% water changes, and plants do a lot of heavy lifting to keep water quality up, and pygmies have a low bioload, thankfully! :lol:

In that pic are also my old retired "stud" male guppies, when I was winding down guppy breeding, but wanted to keep my favs and let them live out their lives in my tanks, which is why they don't look as fabulous as they did in their prime! Not ill, just elderly.

good photo of my tank half gravel and sand but thriving.JPG


Sorry for terrible quality pic, all blurry, but quick snatched example of how active and fun pygmy cories are when kept in big numbers! Same tank, but as I'm sharing photos of the mixed substrate tank, also want to give @JackGulley some reassurance that they're a lovely fish to keep when they have enough mates and feel safe to actively swim about. The more hidey spots they have to dart to when spooked, and other pygmies with them, the more secure they feel to come out to play!

They do spook and go and hide in the plants easily, since if one startles at a sudden movement or something, the others will also dart to safety, but they don't hide for long once they realise it's just you doing maintenance or something. Just give them a minute or two to settle and keep watching, and they emerge again. :)


my active pygmies.JPG



Another of the cories actively swimming, where you can see the fine sand, river stones, and gravel. I was trying to pics of the red neon psuedomugli another hobbyist gave me, but they're fast!! An oto is also photobombing in the bottom right, I had eight otos also happily living in there, without needing much supplimental feeding, since I leave the back and one side of the glass for algae to grow, and only clean the front and right for viewing, and all the plants and decor, leaf litter etc seems to give them enough! I always check for round tummies when they're on the glass. @Seisage and @JackGulley know what I mean. :)

sand and gravel substrate mix.JPG



Last one, sorry! But since you're doing a 65g @realgwyneth , this is a different tank that had 6 Sterbai cories at the time (hiding away in this pic, sorry) but you can use a larger grain sand for Corydoras schwartzi, as long as it's smooth, and fine enough for them to sift through. Different sands available in the UK, but in this photo and if you check out @seangee 's absolutely beautiful and thriving tanks, we both use Unipac's black limpopo sand, and that's what's in this tank, and now in my 57g that has my bronzes, albino aeneus, sterbai's, and unidentified spotty rescue cories all ganging about together, and all of them filter feed without problems on this one. :)

I wouldn't use a sand with as large a grain size with the dwarf cory species like the pygmies, but the larger cories can manage a larger grain size. :):fish:

my tank with black limpopo sand.JPG




I accept the experts advice that you should have a sand substrata. However I was unaware of that when I set up my tank many years ago, and have a small gravel substrata. Some of my fish would probably be best suited to a sand bottom, but seem to be perfectly happy on the gravel substrata I have. There are 4 clown loaches that are more than 10 years old, and 5 Albino Cory's that are about 6 years old. The Cory's do swim together as a group in mid water, but you do not need to worry about them just lying on the substrate as mine spend most of their time just foraging in the gravel or just laying on the gravel resting. None of them have damaged themselves to my knowledge and all seem perfectly happy.

Absolutely stunning fish and tank! Love the botiid loaches, miss the yoyos I inherited that have since passed. :( Such special and underappreciated fish... I have some long term plans for a 60g or larger to keep a big group of one of the mid-sized loaches like yoyos or zebras, haven't decided yet, and depends on what I can afford! But that's a longer term, later goal/dream tank... *sighs wistfully* So many species to keep, never enough room/money/time for all the tanks I'd love to have! One day....


Sorry for the hijack and wall of text again @JackGulley , but hope it's useful to someone. :):drinks:
 
Haha, you're so welcome!! That's what I meant about spending a long time here hanging out and learning from each other. It was @noahm who first bought it up to be fair, credit where it's due, @noahm ! :D


You absolutely don't have to do a complete tear down, uproot and disturb all the plants (and plants don't like being uprooted and moved about, so especially if you've invested a lot in live plants that are established and happily growing, the idea of having to house the fish elsewhere, or worse, do it while they're in there, and in a really big tank too... yeah, I'd procrastinate on that too! :lol: Nightmare job.

Would love to see a pic of the tank if you'd be happy to share? Could give more specific advice too, if you make a journal or asking for advice about the substrate shifting, people can chime in with their tips, there will be others with much better tips than me! Or I'd be happy to start a thread about mixed substrate tanks with info and pics about how I did it, tips, and the mistakes I made so others can avoid them?

I think starting a new thread about mixed substrate tanks would be preferable. I don't want to hijack @JackGulley's thread anymore! (Though I hope you're feeling more hopeful with all this great insight, Jack.) Thanks for the benefit of all your experience. I'm feeling more optimistic myself, and I would love to see other ideas and tips.
 

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