First tank (19G) help! - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 30 Old 12-21-2008, 04:55 PM Thread Starter
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First tank (19G) help!

I just picked up a 12/13 gallon tank the other week and filled it with some clean filtered water from Culligan, got the heater, filters, and everything up and running for 2 days. I bought some plant and added them 1 day into it. After 2 days I decided to add some "hardy" fish. I added 2- 1.75" tiger barbs (one male, one female), 2-Gouramis 1.5" (one blue, one gold). Everything seemed ok at firts the Gouramis were very skitish and the Barbs chased eachother. After the first night the chasing became very one sided and the larger male tiger barb has been constantly chasing an nipping at the female for 3 days. The Gourami's are left alone by the barbs and seem to get a long with everyone. A little mayhem, but no big problems....

1. Yesterday, day 2 of being in the tank, I noticed the male TB flashing at the plants, rocks, othe objects, and rubbing the glass walls. He still continues to chase the female, but when she is hiding or he loses interest (rare) he is flashing. What do you think is going on here? I got all the fish from fresh shipment at Petco.

2. The female Tiger Barb hasn't eaten for the past 2 days and spends all her time hiding and floating at a 45* downward angle. What should I do about this issue?

I added a spotted cory cat to hopefully clean up the left over food at the bottom of the tank last night. I just did a vacuum of the rocks and 25% water change.
Additives used: API stress coat, Nova aqua & AmQuel (only on intial setup), Top Fin bacteria supplement (last night).
Food: Tetra color.
Water: Initial- NO3-0, NO2-O, pH-6, Alk-0, TH-0 (ppm)
Current- NO3-20, NO2-O, pH-6, Alk-0, TH-0 (ppm)

Any help advice very much appreciated!

Setup: 13 Gallon Tank, Tetra Wishper ex20 filter, Undergravel w/ carbon filter towers & Tetra Whisper 20 air pump, Marineland Stealth 100w heater,

Fish: 1-Spotted Cory Cat.

Starting a 30 Gallon, but need to build a cabinet first.......
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post #2 of 30 Old 12-21-2008, 07:53 PM
There are a ton of mistakes here.

1) Fish added during cycle.
2) Tank never gone through cycle/still going
3) Only Two Tiger Barbs
4) Two Gouramis
5) One Cory

As to your questions...

1) The barbs are stressed like no other. You have to have groups of at least 8, preferably 10. They will never, ever get along in groups smaller than that. Your barb is freaking out because of the lack of group members.
2) The female will likely die. Sorry to sound rude, but I experienced the exact thing with a group of 7 Tigers. The dominant picks on the weakest, until the barb starts floating, not eating, etc.


Take all the fish back to where you got them. A 13G tank will not be able to hold ten Tigers.
You also need to have at very minimum, 4 cories. 6 is better.
You should only have one gourami per tank, because they are very territorial.
After the fish are gone, do a proper cycle.
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post #3 of 30 Old 12-21-2008, 08:23 PM
MBilyeu's Avatar
Did I read that right? How is there already 20ppm of nitrAte on day 2? In the parameters why isn't there a reading for NH3/NH4? It is hard for me to believe that there wouldn't be any ammonia with a new bioload that large. My guess is that you are using ammo-lock and test strips which are inaccurate. The ammo-lock will just make the reading further off. That is just me guessing though.... but what do I know, I'm a newb 2.

My wife rolls her eyes when I talk about getting another tank
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post #4 of 30 Old 12-21-2008, 09:02 PM
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Yea, sounds harsh, but Cody is giving you some great advice. Wish your store informed you on your selection of fish!
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post #5 of 30 Old 12-21-2008, 09:16 PM
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Those numbers look like they came from a paper test strip. They're better than nothing, but still notoriously inaccurate. Also, they'll cost a heck of a lot more than a liquid kit in the long run and lack an ammonia test. Get yourself a good liquid test kit like the API Freshwater Master Test Kit. It costs something like $35 at Petco but can be found for half that price at online stores like Aquariumguys and Drs. Foster and Smith.

I somewhat agree with Cody's recommendations. The blue and gold gouramis will not get along with one another, and are too big for your tank. They may not be fighting now, but once the tank is cycled and they aren't stressed out anymore, they'll start fighting. I would return them.

What are the dimensions of your tank? 13/14 gallons is a very odd size so it's not a standard shaped tank. However, if it's at least 24" long, I'd say that's probably alright for tiger barbs. I own tigers - I initially had five, and the fighting was relentless, so I added just one more and the problem was solved. A year or so later, one of the pack died from a fungal infection, and the remaining five barbs did just fine. I recently added two more to bring the number up to seven, but it really wasn't necessary. Odds are, small numbers of barbs (especially two, like you've got) will result in bullying and eventually death, and it's very likely that increasing their numbers will fix this problem. I think you could get away with six or seven tigers in your tank, provided it's long enough to give them adequate swimming room. As Cody suggested, I would get your corydoras catfish some friends as these are also schooling fish.

So, here's what I'd do:
1) A 50% water change ASAP since you aren't 100% sure of your water parameters.
2) Order a liquid test kit online.
3) Take the gouramis and one of the barbs back to the store, along with a water sample so that they can give you good numbers while you wait for your test kit to arrive.
4) Do 50% water changes daily until your test kit arrives.
5) Continue to cycle the tank by monitoring the water parameters with the new test kit and do water changes whenever needed (i.e. whenever ammonia or nitrite are detectable).
6) After the tank has cycled and your parameters are good for a week or so, slowly add more barbs and cories. I would say two fish a week would allow your bacteria colonies to grow in order to handle the increasing bioload.
7) Watch for problems with the barbs. Return problem fish if you need to.

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post #6 of 30 Old 12-21-2008, 11:19 PM Thread Starter
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First off thanks so much for the help. You guys rock!

Tank is a weird size it held right around 13 gallons full to the top. It's dimensions are 20" W, 19" H, 10" D. If I want to have this be a community tank at this size are tiger barbs pretty much out of the picture? If so I will take both back along with the Gouramis, keep the Cory and cycle the tank while monitoring with a good test kit. If you think I can do a community tank with barbs then I will keep the fiesty one.

Also any suggestions of what fish to stock this community tank with that are brightly colored and unique looking, and fun to watch would be much appreciated. I do really like the way the dwarf Gourami looks. Maybe a tank with a couple of these with some smaller roomates.

Setup: 13 Gallon Tank, Tetra Wishper ex20 filter, Undergravel w/ carbon filter towers & Tetra Whisper 20 air pump, Marineland Stealth 100w heater,

Fish: 1-Spotted Cory Cat.

Starting a 30 Gallon, but need to build a cabinet first.......
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post #7 of 30 Old 12-21-2008, 11:41 PM
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Hmm with only 20" of swimming space, I'm not sure I would try the tiger barbs.

I would go for a stocking list like this:
5 or 6 cories (all the same species)
1 dwarf gourami (like the bigger gouramis, they're aggressive toward their own kind so only one should be kept in a smaller tank like yours)
6-8 small schooling fish, like neons, cardinal tetras, black neons, ember flame tetras, bloodfin tetras, harlequin rasboras or even threadfin rainbows.

Some would say that's a heavy stocking list. It is heavy, but not overstocked, and with your two types of filtration you should be just fine provided you're good about doing your weekly water changes once the tank is established.

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post #8 of 30 Old 12-22-2008, 12:31 AM
Great suggestions.

As for keeping only one barb, you simply cannot do that. They are shoaling fish and will be very stressed and unactive if isolated.
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post #9 of 30 Old 12-22-2008, 12:54 AM Thread Starter
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Right on! I will return the tiger barbs and gouramis tomorrow and just roll with the single cory for now. Great suggestions of fish above. I will have to look into those species as most are new to me.

I am going to setup a 30 gallon once i build a cabinet, hopefully this week. I was thinking of going with Cichlids in the 30 gallon. How would a school of tiger barbs do with the cichlids?

Setup: 13 Gallon Tank, Tetra Wishper ex20 filter, Undergravel w/ carbon filter towers & Tetra Whisper 20 air pump, Marineland Stealth 100w heater,

Fish: 1-Spotted Cory Cat.

Starting a 30 Gallon, but need to build a cabinet first.......
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post #10 of 30 Old 12-22-2008, 02:02 AM
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Depends on the cichlid. It's sort of a balancing act - tiger barbs can be nippy and intimidating, so you'll want something that isn't going to get bossed around by them, but you don't want something really aggressive or it may kill them. I have a single jewel cichlid housed with tiger barbs in a 20g right now and it has been working pretty well. The jewel dislikes them and will give chase from time to time, but it keeps them schooling nicely and on their best behavior. Something as docile as a keyhole cichlid might get bossed around, though, and something mean like a convict or salvini might kill the barbs.

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