Top dwellers? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 13 Old 07-12-2011, 07:56 AM Thread Starter
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Top dwellers?

Hey guys, sorry if this topic has been discussed before. I did use the search feature but found very little information.
anyway, so I have a 50 gallon planted aquarium which has been running for a few months now, and in terms of water chemistry, is quite stable. It's stocked with a group of neon tetras, 3 bolivian rams and 5 kuhil loaches. All is well, but with these fish staying mostly in the lower level of the water column the mid and top levels of the aquarium seem very empty.
Any suggestions as to what fish I can get that will inhabit the mid/top layer of the aquarium? Thanks:)
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post #2 of 13 Old 07-12-2011, 08:00 AM
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Hey guys, sorry if this topic has been discussed before. I did use the search feature but found very little information.
anyway, so I have a 50 gallon planted aquarium which has been running for a few months now, and in terms of water chemistry, is quite stable. It's stocked with a group of neon tetras, 3 bolivian rams and 5 kuhil loaches. All is well, but with these fish staying mostly in the lower level of the water column the mid and top levels of the aquarium seem very empty.
Any suggestions as to what fish I can get that will inhabit the mid/top layer of the aquarium? Thanks:)
In my expierience , Pencilfish,Rasboras,Emperor Tetra's,Hatchet fish, (jumper's) are good mid to top dwelling fishes.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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post #3 of 13 Old 07-12-2011, 08:06 AM
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I have marbled hatchets, which are nice, though fairly inactive most of the time. I've also seen celebes halfbeaks in local shops, which are cool looking.

Neon tetras will use the mid and upper levels more if there's some surface cover, such as floating plants, as it makes them feel more secure. Pennywort and wisteria are easy to grow and can be floated.
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post #4 of 13 Old 07-12-2011, 09:12 AM
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I have a few neons in my 10g with plenty of floating plants, and they hang out just below them (so, mid-top level).

In my tank at home I have 17 harlequin rasboras, and they keep to the mid-level, shoal nicely, and I find them quite pretty and shimmery, and very peaceful.
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post #5 of 13 Old 07-12-2011, 12:00 PM
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Agree, floating plants are very important for almost all forest fish. They live in the shelter/protection of either floating or overhanging vegetation in their habitats so providing floating plants always works to ease their stress.

The fish mentioned so far are fine, except I would not try Emperor Tetra. These can be real bullies.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #6 of 13 Old 07-12-2011, 12:18 PM
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I agree with byron with respect to Emperor tetra's being bullish at times. I would not mix them with other surface loving fishes.
I have a group of eleven Emperor tetra's in 80 gal planted tank and they stay near the pennywort that floats on the surface. I also have some pencilfish that like the surface as well, and they can easily avoid the larger emperor's but it does not please me to see them occasinally give chase to the smaller pencilfish hence my suggestion of keeping one species of fish that frequent's the upper level's.
I also have approx thirty neon tetra's and with the exception of feeding time,,they stay largely near the substrate among the plant's.(perhaps feel safer)
Could be they don't appreciate the bullish Emperor's though I have never seen the Emperor's harrass them.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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post #7 of 13 Old 07-12-2011, 01:00 PM
I would get pencilfish.

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post #8 of 13 Old 07-12-2011, 01:25 PM
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I agree with byron with respect to Emperor tetra's being bullish at times. I would not mix them with other surface loving fishes.
I have a group of eleven Emperor tetra's in 80 gal planted tank and they stay near the pennywort that floats on the surface. I also have some pencilfish that like the surface as well, and they can easily avoid the larger emperor's but it does not please me to see them occasinally give chase to the smaller pencilfish hence my suggestion of keeping one species of fish that frequent's the upper level's.
I also have approx thirty neon tetra's and with the exception of feeding time,,they stay largely near the substrate among the plant's.(perhaps feel safer)
Could be they don't appreciate the bullish Emperor's though I have never seen the Emperor's harrass them.
I'm glad I'm not the only one who has had trouble with Emperors. I've never had them until this batch. And it certainly was not either space or number in the group, as I had more than 15 and in my 115g tank. All seemed OK until one day I noticed that all the fish in the tank were on the right-hand side. On the left were 3 male Emperors "holding court". I sat and noticed that any time another fish started swimming toward the left side, one of the Emperor would immediately charge it. sometimes it only took the emperor turning to "look" in the direction that sent the other fish back in the plants. This went on for several days, until finally I realized it was not some temporary issue, and out came the Emperors.

I put them in a spare 30g for a spell, then tried them in the 90g with different fish. Fine for a couple weeks, then it started again. This time all the other fish were crowded together in the upper left corner, and the Emperors controlled the rest of the tank; now and then they would charge into the other fish group, singling out this or that fish for a brief chase. After a couple days, they came out of there. Within minutes, the other fish began swimming around, displaying, even the rasbora spawned. Happy at getting rid of their bullies.

This is highly stressful to fish, even if no physical contact occurs (none did that I saw, just threats).
I now have the Emperors in a spare 30g, wondering what to do with them. They are actually taking this out on each other now, but I can hardly separate them into individual tanks. Probably have to destroy them, that tank is my QT for new fish and will likely be needed before long.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #9 of 13 Old 07-12-2011, 08:44 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone! This info will be very helpful. I'll probably end up going with Pencilfish or Harlequin rasboras.
As for floating plants... wouldn't they decrease the light available to my substrate rooted plants?
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post #10 of 13 Old 07-12-2011, 09:05 PM
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Thanks everyone! This info will be very helpful. I'll probably end up going with Pencilfish or Harlequin rasboras.
As for floating plants... wouldn't they decrease the light available to my substrate rooted plants?
Somewhat, depending upon how thick the floaters are, but this should not matter. Most of us try to keep floating plants to 1/3 to 1/2 of the surface. They are all fast growers, so weekly pruning during the water change is usually needed.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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