Reed/Rope fish - eating the others??

Sparx

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Hi all.

As the title suggests really… 😅

We’ve had the reed fish in our community tank for a little over a month and our friend who works at the aquarium centre told us it would be fine in our tank, he’s got two and never had any problems blah blah blah…

Our little ropey friend is still fairly small and seems very friendly indeed and I’ve never seen it (unsure of gender yet) go for any of the other fish in the tank, however over the past week and a half we’ve had three small fish go MIA.

The baby molly went missing last week (around 3 months old but still not too small to fit in the other fish’s mouths), then I cleaned the tank and did a water change on Sunday, removing all plants and ornaments and searched for the molly body, found nothing. Then Sunday evening i noticed a rainbow fish has also disappeared (annoyingly I forgot to do an headcount when cleaning) and yesterday morning I noticed a cherry barb has gone too.

None of these fish were showing any signs of illness, so I don’t think they would have just died on their own. And with previous fish deaths I’ve always found a body- granted normally the eyes and fins have been nibbled away but there is always some form of corpse to scoop out.

But since getting the rope fish I’m wondering.. could it be actively catching and eating the others?
I’ve read that they’re predatory animals and this situation could be likely, but I was wondering if I could get a second opinion from you guys and maybe see if you have any experience or advice?

Thanks in advance!

Pic for size comparison:
IMG_4623.jpeg
 
It eats what fits in its mouth, and if you are trying to feed it dry food, it will have been quite starved. They like fresher food, live food, frozen foods, and are carnivores.

They also grow very large, and unless you plan to be a lousy aquarist (unlikely because you want to solve this problem!) they will live and grow. I really don't understand why stores assume you'll kill your fish young when I'd assume you know what you're doing and will end up with a healthy fish a foot long.
 
I agree with @GaryE ... they prefer live foods, over dried prepared foods, & will, likely grow 3-4 times the size that yours is right now, & are like they describe most of the Bichir family ( a close relative ) they are peaceful fish, but will eat anything that fits in it's mouth... not sure if their eyesight is as poor as the Bichirs, but I've had my bichir mis-calculate how big it's mouth is, & tried to eat fish too big to swallow, in which case they have been seen to roll like an alligator, trying to break up into smaller pieces , something too big to swallow... not sure if Rope fish do the "death roll" also... but best not to pair them, with anything that even a fish with poor eyesight might mistake as "bite sized"
 
I would agree , rope fish do have poor eyesight and rely on their sense of smell. He’s definitely gobbling them up when the lights are off.
Edit: I have a bichir that will go after another bichir her same size if she is hungry enough. Once the lights are off it can get dangerous for smaller fish.
 
It will also no doubt be very stressed, by being in an empty tank with no plants or decor to feel secure in, and by being on its own. Reedfish need to be kept n a group. They benefit greatly from physical contact with their own kind...
 
Thanks for all of your replies I will take them on board.

@Ichthys the tank is normally full of decor/plants lots of hiding places, I took this pic during a tank clean/water change where I had briefly removed everything. I don’t think it’s stressed, or hasn’t shown signs of being so.

IMG_4571.jpeg
 
Nice looking fish... often this "type" of fish gets blamed for killing fish, when they are actually scavenging sick or freshly dead fish...
 
At the size yours is atm i cant see it taking out a rainbow fish tbh. Molly fry yes but your catfish are also big enough to be guilty.

Cant say ive ever seen my Rope fish hunting in away to eat other fish but ive not got them in with anything i feel would be small enough.
 
Thanks for all of your replies I will take them on board.

@Ichthys I don’t think it’s stressed, or hasn’t shown signs of being so.
Stress doesn't always have signs that we can see. If it's the only one in the tank, it's stressed. This has been scientifically proven for this species (and kuhlies, dojos and botiine loaches).
 
Stress doesn't always have signs that we can see. If it's the only one in the tank, it's stressed. This has been scientifically proven for this species (and kuhlies, dojos and botiine loaches).

Ok - good to know, thank you. I may have to look at finding it a friend! Is it better to have the same sex or one of each?
How easy is it to identify between males and females?
 
This is reassuring. Do you feed them fresh/live food?
I feed the fish an assortment of fish foods including sinking pellets wafers and flakes. On occasion the fish will get some frozen foods like blood worms, mysis shrimp and brine shrimp. The tank will also occasionally get some freeze-dried tubiflex worms as well as some fresh foods like peppers, zucchinis and miscellaneous winter squash or sweet potatoes. Very occasionally I will mix up a batch of Repashy, I really need to make that more often. The ropefish eat whatever they can smell as many have mentioned they're very blind.
 
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@Boundava Thanks for sharing! Your tanks are huge! I hope to upgrade to that sort of size eventually.
I don’t know if they sell those brands of food here in the UK but it certainly gives some food for thought 😉 will have to google it I think.
 

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