Overstocked Tank and supid mistakes - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 7 Old 05-31-2014, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
Overstocked Tank and supid mistakes

This is going to be a long post, and I am very aware that I've made quite a few mistakes with my tanks. I'm hoping for some advice to help me make the best choices for my fish going forward.

I've got two tanks right now, one five-gallon with a betta that is about a year old and one 20 gallon with flag fish and platys that is about 10 months old, both planted, and both are a huge mess of problems.

Both were semi-impulsive projects, where I thought I had done all the research, but I've run into persistent problems with both, and I hope I can get some advice.

I believe the 20gal is badly overstocked. At last count, there are 5 Platys, 3 flag fish, 1 clown pleco, and an African Dwarf Frog. The Platys keep reproducing, most of the adults have ragged fins that I believe are from the flag fish nipping at them. The tank itself has a serious BGA problem, that I haven't been able to fix with blackouts. It's a natural planted tank, but I was talked into using peat moss instead of organic soil, and I believe that that might be part of the problem. The other part, being of course, that the tank has too many fish and not enough water changes. I've been trying to do weekly ~40-50% changes, but it often ended up being closer to every week and a half instead.
My current plan is to break the tank down completely and scrub all of the algae away, replace the peat with dirt new sand, replace the worst off of the plants and find somewhere to rehome the majority of the fish.
I feel terrible about the fish; if I could afford a third tank and had room for it, I would almost rather do that instead, but I just don't have the resources. I know Petco has a fish adoption program, but my local petco's fish section was TERRIBLE last time I went there, the betta display was full of dead and dying bettas, and the snail tank was full of dead snails, and I'm not sure if I'm comfortable leaving animals there that are meant to be my responsibility. If anyone has any ideas on where I can find good homes for my fish, quickly and locally, I would really appreciate it, on top of any opinions about my plans for the tank.

The Betta tank is a little better. The water is more regularly changed, still closer to 50% every week and a half than weekly, but the real problem is I have a bad problem with brown algae that was never a problem in my larger tank. The tank is acrylic, so I can't scrape it down with the metal algae scraper, and the scrubber pads don't work very well.
My plan for this tank is to move my Betta to a 10-gallon (GLASS!) planted tank and either divide it, or see how he does with a very few small, peaceful fish.
He used to share his five gallon tank with an oto, which was another bad idea, as the tank was too small and he harassed it until it harassed him back; but once I rehomed the Oto, he started biting his own tail regularly, and I've already had to deal with fin rot with him before(he had a touch of it on his fins when I got him, and it keeps coming back) I think the problem is that he is bored, and I'm not sure how to fix that.
I'm hoping it'll be easier to keep a 10 gallon clean, and that a tank mate in a divided tank will give him something to be aggressive at other than his own tail. At the very least, a glass tank will be easier to clean.
I'm hoping someone can give me some advice on what to do for his tank, or what I can do to help with the tail-biting.
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post #2 of 7 Old 05-31-2014, 07:31 PM
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if I may..

Hi, a place you may be able to rehome the fish you cannot handle may be to post an ad on craigslist or any of the fish forums. Im sure you could find someone who would be willing to give your fishy friends a nice comfortable place to live.

As for the algea problem, Changing the soil sounds like a plan. Also getting a few snails or algea eaters would also help. I had a problem with brown algea clouding the water in my 10gal, so I transferred the fish to my other tank temporarily so that I could scrub their tank out. I scrubbed it and did two more water changes before putting the fish in. I then bought two small cory cats and an algea killing agent and that seems to have done the trick. DO NOT OVER USE THE ALGEA KILLER, it caused a lot of foam build up on my tank and I had to scrub the tank again after that. Use a little less than it tells you to use.

Reference your betta biting himself, you can maybe get a few guppies or other fish for him to have for company. My Blue/black crowntail male is perfectly okay with his guppy friends. Just make sure you have a few places for the guppies (or your betta) in case they get annoyed with each other, which happens on occasion.

Hope this helped!
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post #3 of 7 Old 05-31-2014, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
I forgot to mention the shrimp! My 20gal also has two amano shrimp and a small infestation of pond snails that rode in on one of the plants. Between them and the clown pleco, they manage to keep down all the other kinds of algae, but none of them touch the BGA. It's gotten so bad that the entire tank and all of the plants will be covered in dark green slime between one week and the next!
I'm hoping with a smaller strain on the tank cycle and new soil/sand, I can prevent it from coming back.

I want to put my betta in an undivided tank with some smaller fish, but he is very aggressive, and I'm not sure if it's because his tank is far too small for other fish or if he's just naturally a very aggressive fish. I may try him in a community setting first, and leave myself room to divide the tank if he's as antisocial as he's been acting.
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post #4 of 7 Old 05-31-2014, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Esahc View Post
I want to put my betta in an undivided tank with some smaller fish, but he is very aggressive, and I'm not sure if it's because his tank is far too small for other fish or if he's just naturally a very aggressive fish. I may try him in a community setting first, and leave myself room to divide the tank if he's as antisocial as he's been acting.

that sounds like a good idea, and if he becomes aggressive then divide it. :)
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post #5 of 7 Old 06-03-2014, 11:24 AM
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I have found generally with all of my aggressive boy betas female guppies work best not to colorful and large enough to defend themselves
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post #6 of 7 Old 06-06-2014, 11:56 AM Thread Starter
Originally Posted by Holstein View Post
I have found generally with all of my aggressive boy betas female guppies work best not to colorful and large enough to defend themselves
I never realized female guppies were so pretty! are you sure they're understated enough not to set off the betta though? I'd love to have a little group of them in with him if he wouldn't harass them
I'm also thinking about a 15 gallon instead of a 10 gallon, since petco is having their dollar-a-gallon sale at the end of the month, just to make sure there's enough room to divide it if need be.

I've finally found a place that will take my platys, the only problem is that it is probably the WORST pet store in town. It's the old run-down little fish and exotics place that I used to always get my fish from when I was very young, but now it is impossible to even walk in without getting hit in the face with a strong smell of ammonia and dirty reptile cages.
On the other hand it's been recommended to me by two very knowledgeable fish reps at separate stores.
It's either that or a Craigslist ad, though(the only local aquarium club/association thing is a marine/saltwater thing, and I doubt I'm lucky enough there's anyone here local to my part of south texas and looking for platys), and unfortunately, I'm a college student living at home, and my parents aren't too pleased with the idea of inviting strangers over to check out the fish.
The store that's willing to take my fish closes at 8, so I guess I still have 7 hours or so to decide if I'm comfortable leaving my fish there.

Last edited by Esahc; 06-06-2014 at 11:59 AM.
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post #7 of 7 Old 06-12-2014, 02:15 PM Thread Starter
figured I should put up an update. I replanted the 20gal, and the fish are doing fine. The BGA DID come back; I didn't scrub the driftwood well enough I guess, but it's way more manageable now, and I hope I can eradicate it with proper water changes. The platys did NOT go to the fish store I'd been originally considering, I decided to go with my instincts instead, and a friend of the family who had been wanting to set up a tank for her son will be taking them instead. The three smallest platys (the largest one is aggressive and chasing the others around the tank, he's staying with me in the 20gal where the other fish are too large for him to bother) are going to live in a 10 gallon that I'll be helping them to set up, to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as I can make it.(it's still probably going to be clown puke and spongebob, but there's only so much I can do with a little boy)

The beta's renovation is next, and my current plan is a planted 15gal community with female guppies, if I can find a good sturdy stand for it for cheap.
Things are finally starting to smooth out with my tanks, and I'm excited for putting together the two coming up!
the only sour note is my clown pleco. I should've caught a picture of him when he was out of the tank and waiting to go back in, but he is very odd-looking and I'm not sure if he's healthy. he has a very round body and a thin tail, almost like a tadpole, and I don't know if (s)he's ill or gravid or just very very fat. I'm considering making a new thread in the catfish board, but figured I'd ask here first to see if anyone had had anything similar before.

Last edited by Esahc; 06-12-2014 at 02:18 PM.
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