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Tankmates for Rainbow Shark and Hatchetfish

wakerider47

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I currently have a 40g (36"x18"x15") stocked with the following:

1 3.5" Rainbow Shark
3 Zebra Danios
4 Common Hatchetfish

The Rainbow Shark I have had for about a year and a half and he is very calm. I used to have an Angel (re-homed due to aggression) and the RBS only ever showed aggression when the Angel was being annoying. Even then he would just chase him away and go back to his munching.

I had 5 danios but 2 have died over the last couple months for what appeared to be genetic issues (curved spine). Now down to 3 it seems their aggression and "craziness" has gotten worse. I am not a huge fan of the danios as even with 5 they are rambunctious, occasionally chasing hatchets the hatchets or pissing off the RBS. I am thinking of giving them to the LFS as I don't want a big crazy mob of danios and increasing the school size is the only thing I can think of to get them to stop badgering hatchets.

So, that leaves me with just the RBS and hatchets! I am going to order 4 more hatchets to get their number up to 8. Any suggestions for colorful mid-level fish that will be okay with the hatchets and RBS? Ideally I would have a school of small fish (was thinking Cherry Barbs perhaps) and a single or pair of larger fish (filling the void of the re-homed Angel).
 

fluttermoth

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:hi:

You're right in thinking that a larger shoal of danios is the only way to stop them being nippy, but if you don't want a large shoal, then rehoming them is the best decision. They do better in temperate tanks anyway.

Is your water hard or soft?
 
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wakerider47

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Thanks! I've never measured hardness, but in general I think my area (Bay Area, CA) is pretty hard.
 

Byron

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Thanks! I've never measured hardness, but in general I think my area (Bay Area, CA) is pretty hard.
It would be advisable to pin this down to the number. Easiest way is to check the website of your municipal water authority and find the water data, which may include GH (general hardness, may be termed total hardness). GH is critical to fish, so this is important to know. I can think of a number of suitable species, but the GH may mean some more than others, or some not at all. The "common" hatchetfish, which is most likely Gasteropelecus sternicla, is a bit hardier than most of the others and less fussy over parameters, as you will see from the data here:
.http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/Gasteropelecus-sternicla/

If you find the water site but can't track down the GH, post the link and one of us can have a look. And I concur with fluttermoth, under the circumstances, re-home the danio. Just so you know, all the danios and barbs are somewhat active, feisty even, and generally should not be combined with more sedate fish, such as hatchetfish. But there are many tetras and rasbora that will fit the bill, once we have the GH known.

And welcome to TFF.

Byron.
 
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wakerider47

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"Hardness - Treated Water Average" is listed as 183 ppm by my city's provider.

And I know most barbs/danios are hyper-active or semi-aggressive, but I was under the impression that Cherry Barbs were less so. Anyway, thank you both for the help!
 

KopDS

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As you have hard water I would suggest x-ray tetras (pristella maxillaris), shouldn't cause any problems with rainbow shark or hatchet fish. Also livebearers such as mollies, platies or Swordtail could be kept. For larger fish try Rainbows as they all tend to do well in hard water.
 
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wakerider47

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Girlfriend isn't a fan of the x-rays and I'd prefer to avoid livebearers. I've heard platies are just a continual source of fry. Never had any though so I don't really know and could be convinced otherwise.

Any opinion on smaller, less aggressive new world cichlids with the rainbow shark? Rams perhaps?
 

TekFish

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You could try Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia Praecox), very colourful fish that prefer harder water. Seriouslyfish says they have a max size of 8cm, but most sources I find say the average is more somewhere between 5.5cm and 6.5cm. They're not the most common, but I've seen them at my LFS before. Lots of LFS softwater fish would probably adapt to that level of hardness anyway. Dwarf Gourami etc. But it's nice if they're perfectly comfortable.

As far as bottom-dwellers go, I haven't had much experience with Rainbow Sharks, however I believe something as small as a Ram might get picked on. Kribensis may be better, but to be honest you'd probably need to ask a Cichlid expert. XD
 

Byron

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Catching up here...the GH at 183 ppm equates to approximately 10 dGH, and this is moderately hard. So we should be able to find some options.

On the cherry barbs, yes, this is probably the only exception to the basic active/feisty nature of barbs.

On the other suggested fish...Pristella Tetra is ideally suited, but I can understand one may not like this or that fish. You are aware of the species though...? The "X-Ray" might be another altogether, or a variety of the original Pristella which is not at all "see-through." I'll attach a photo of a group of Pristella maxillaris just to be sure. These would not add much in the way of colour though.

I would avoid livebearers here, which you don't seem fond of anyway so just a well. Rainbowfish do present some options, the smaller species.

Cichlids are risky here, with that Shark.

Some nice shoaling tetras that would add some colour and be quiet/sedate:

Rosy Tetra (Hyphessobrycon rosaceus)
http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/hyphessobrycon-rosaceus/
Roberti Tetra (H. bentosi)
http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/hyphessobrycon-bentosi/
Candy Cane (or some such silly name), likely a variant of the above but still colourful. All of these so far as I know are being commercially raised so water parameters should be fine.
The Phantom Tetras, Black or Red (H. megalopterus, H. sweglesi), latter is bright red.
http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/hyphessobrycon-megalopterus/
http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/hyphessobrycon-sweglesi/
Bleeding Heart (H. erythrostigma) is the largest of these very similar species, but it might be well suited here. Some report a bit of nippiness to angelfish, but I had no issues with this species in with my hatchets (G. sternicla and Thoracocharax stellatus); a group of 7 or 8.
http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/hyphessobrycon-erythrostigma/

Flame Tetra (H. flammeus)
http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/hyphessobrycon-flammeus/

Lemon Tetra (H. pulchripinnis), might be a tad active for hatchets though
http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/hyphessobrycon-pulchripinnis/

Black Neon (H. herbertaxelrodi)
http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/hyphessobrycon-herbertaxelrodi/

That should get you started thinking...I might have more later.

Byron.
 

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KopDS

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Byron has put up a few suggestions for tetras, all of which will survive in hard water.
I would steer clear of the rams as the could be bullied but also require near pristine water.
For colour you could try ( Poecilia wingei) Endler Guppy/Endler Livebearer males (females are larger and plain/boring colourwise) you could also go with Panchax such as Golden wonder Panchax (Aplocheilus lineatus gold)
Blue Panchax (Aplocheilus Panchax)
Firemouth Panchax (Epiplatys Dageti Dageti)
Green Panchax (Aplocheilus Blockii)

The Panchax will spend most of the time at the surface and can jump so only suitable if you have a lid.
 

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wakerider47

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Byron, Pristella Maxillaris was what I meant by x-ray. Really like the look of both hyphessobrycon sweglesi and hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis, though! I doubt the latter (lemon tetra) could be anywhere near as annoying for the hatchets as the danios currently are. Will run those by the GF tonight.

KopDS, Those are interesting colored guppies, will definitely run them by the GF as well. I really like a few of the panchax (never heard of these before) as well, though I am really looking for mid/lower level fish.

Regarding cichlids, the RBS really is very mild mannered. I don't think I have ever seen him pick a fight that wasn't warranted and even then he just chases away and goes on with his business. My tank also has a large piece of driftwood with lots of caves and hidey holes that the RBS spends most of his time in/around. I have some smaller pieces of driftwood I could position on the other end of the tank for rams. Regardless, if there was an aggression problem with rams I could give them back to the LFS. I have been a customer for years and the owner is really cool. I called him about rams and he said that obviously softer water is preferred (especially for breeding), but that he has a few customers with them and they seem to do alright in the local tap. I kind of want to give them a shot.

Thanks for the help by the way!
 

shan4404

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If it makes any difference i have two rainbow sharks, various angel fish, 4 tiger barbs, 2 rosy barbs, 1 odessa barb, various tetras, chinese algae eaters and ropefish in my tank. It's moderate moving towards heavily planted so there are hiding places but theyre all super active and out in the open and love to eat. they come right to my hand and ive had zero aggression with any of them towards any others!
 

TekFish

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As far as my experience goes with the rams, it all depends if they're wild or not. If they're not, well, I'm not going to say they're hardy fish. But they can live in moderately hard water. I've kept them before, and I didn't have any trouble.
 

Byron

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Regarding cichlids, the RBS really is very mild mannered. I don't think I have ever seen him pick a fight that wasn't warranted and even then he just chases away and goes on with his business. My tank also has a large piece of driftwood with lots of caves and hidey holes that the RBS spends most of his time in/around. I have some smaller pieces of driftwood I could position on the other end of the tank for rams. Regardless, if there was an aggression problem with rams I could give them back to the LFS. I have been a customer for years and the owner is really cool. I called him about rams and he said that obviously softer water is preferred (especially for breeding), but that he has a few customers with them and they seem to do alright in the local tap. I kind of want to give them a shot.
This thinking is where many go wrong. Aggression in different species varies. Add to this the difference that exists within a species depending upon the individual fish. The fact that a particular individual co-habits with this or that other species does not mean it will be the same with a different species.

Generally, "loach" type fish are territorial. Some extremely so, some more with certain other fish. As one example, the cousin of your Rainbow, the Red Tailed Shark, often takes a real dislike to upper level fish that have vertical stripes. We don't know why.

I don't know which ram species you are considering, but they are not "easy" fish. I have maintained and spawned both. The blue or common ram, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, which is the species from which the several varieties have been derived, requires warmth, above 80F, to be healthy and live a normal lifespan. This is too warm for many other tropicals, long-term, so that must be kept in mind. This ram also needs water parameters similar to those in which it was raised; again, if not, the life span will be shorter because of internal issues this creates. The other ram, Mikrogeophagus altispinosus (Bolivian Ram) can manage with more usual temperatures, in the high 70's, and is less fussy over parameters within reason.

Cichlids are lower level fish. I never saw my Bolivians more than a few inches above the substrate, except when exerting dominance over the characins and forcing them up in the tank. This is the territory of the Rainbow Shark. And the Rams are extremely territorial fish. I would characterize this combination as putting together two fish that will continually be in each other's way regardless of the aquascape. And the issues this causes are usually invisible to us, until one of them gives up with death following.

There will always be exceptions, as we are dealing with living creatures and they are not stereotypes, nor do they read our writings on how they "should" behave. The wise aquarist researches a species, and then assumes the fish will likely behave according to the norm for the species. Hoping for something different is not only risky, but unfair to the fish. I do not recommend "trying" something that is outside the expected. This often ends up being the cause of severe stress on the fish, and that simply is not fair. The fish, even though "just a fish," deserves better from us.

Byron.
 
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wakerider47

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That makes a lot of sense and I am going to forego the rams. I researched them further and aside from the risk of aggression (which like you said really isn't fair to the fish), I was also un-aware of their reputation for uh... dying. I was looking at GBRs in particular and they definitely don't seem "easy". Given my less than ideal water params, that combined with the shark just seems like bad planning all the way around.

I am new to keeping fish and am still trying to come to grips with the fact that hours of research will do me no good if I rationalize it all away just because I think a fish is pretty. It doesn't help that my girlfriend sees a fish she likes and I have to be the one who says "No, my nerdy fish research says we can't have those" haha.

Anyway, I am leaning towards yellow or blue as a color I want to incorporate. Preferably schoolers that will stay under 3". I really like the look of the Lemon Tetra. Wondering about Gold Barbs. It seems like they are similar to Cherry Barbs in that they are a little calmer for the hatchets, but I'm not sure.

Byron, you mentioned smaller varieties of rainbowfish? I can't seem to find many that stay under 3". Any suggestions?

Edit: TekFish, I just saw you recommended the Neon Dwarf Rainbowfish. Nice!
 
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