New Pencilfish Purchase
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New Pencilfish Purchase

This is a discussion on New Pencilfish Purchase within the Characins forums, part of the Freshwater and Tropical Fish category; --> So I came into some money on Valentine's Day and decided I needed to continue my plan for my 55g. It's in the signature ...

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New Pencilfish Purchase
Old 02-22-2011, 11:37 PM   #1
 
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New Pencilfish Purchase

So I came into some money on Valentine's Day and decided I needed to continue my plan for my 55g. It's in the signature below.

The Pencilfish are new. I got the dwarfs (Nannostromus marginatus) because they're what I can afford, though they also had a fantastic bright red type, I believe Nannostromus mortenthaleri. None of the tilted ones from Nannobrycon. The thing I'm wondering is this.

I got them in a group of ten, so they should feel relatively secure in that sense. My angels have been interested (the Pencil fish are by far the smallest fish in the tank) but only off and on and the level of interest is going down the longer everyone's in the tank together. The Pencils are schooled all together at the surface right by my spray bar which is directed against the rear of the tank so that the tank has essentially no current except for right there. My understanding was that Pencilfish are like angels and my others in the sense that none of them really appreciate a current. I can understand clumping together in a out of the way area to avoid the interest of the bigger fish, but there are so many other places to do that.

Do these guys in fact just really enjoy the current out of my spraybar? Or is something else up?

Cheers.
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Old 02-24-2011, 01:03 PM   #2
 
Hi. Just wanted to say that I am having a very similar experience with my new group of red pencilfish. They are in my 55G tank with 20 cardinal tetras, 5 juvenile angels and 4 apistogramma panduro. Since I put them in the tank yesterday, all they have done is swim up and down against the current created by the filter. They seem very happy and playful but it is a bit frustrating as the current runs along the back wall of the tank so you can't really see them and they have such beautiful red colouration!!
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Old 02-24-2011, 01:30 PM   #3
 
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The two mentioned species of pencilfish, Nannostomus marginatus and Nannostomus mortenthaleri, are both in our profiles. I have maintained both myself.

The latter (the Coral Red) will be wild-caught; the Dwarf may be wild or tank-raised. In the case of wild fish, soft acidic water is mandatory for long-term health. Tank raised fish manage in harder water but will not be as colourful, and may be short-lived.

neither should be kept with angels, ever. The fish may seem OK now, but as the angels grow they will send out signals of predation and the insecure pencils will pick up on it. Even if the pencils are not eaten (they would be by mature angels), they will feel threatened.

Tankmates for pencils must be very quiet, non-aggressive fish, as noted in the profiles.

The noted behaviours from both posts could be due to a new setup, though in my experience this is only the case if something is wrong. Water parameters or tankmates could either or together be the issue.

[Btw, the two former Nannobrycon species are now also in Nannostomus, as Nannostomus eques and Nannostomus unifasciatus, as is explained in our profile of the former species.]

Byron.
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Old 02-24-2011, 01:43 PM   #4
 
Hi Byron - thanks for the profile links. My pencilfish look nothing like the coral red ones - i have looked at the other profiles and they actually much more closely resemble the golden pencilfish (beckfordi?!), just slightly redder in colour than i would have expected.
Have jsut checked my water and stats are as follows:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 5
ph: 7.2
Is it likely that this is just the fish settling into the tank or are the angels freaking them out (even though they are only about 2/3 cm themselves)?
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Old 02-24-2011, 02:08 PM   #5
 
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Originally Posted by wyjmk6 View Post
Hi Byron - thanks for the profile links. My pencilfish look nothing like the coral red ones - i have looked at the other profiles and they actually much more closely resemble the golden pencilfish (beckfordi?!), just slightly redder in colour than i would have expected.
Have just checked my water and stats are as follows:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 5
ph: 7.2
Is it likely that this is just the fish settling into the tank or are the angels freaking them out (even though they are only about 2/3 cm themselves)?
That makes a difference. Nannostomus beckfordi, which goes under several common names, will likely be tank raised fish. They are the most adaptable of all the pencils, and the hardiest. The males are also feisty to other fish, though not usually with any damage.

I have maintained these fish for many years, and spawned them. I presently have a group of 18 in my 115g Amazon riverscape tank. Check out our profile for info on this species. Your water is fine. They will settle in. Though my earlier caution on angels still holds; these two fish should not be together. In this case, not only will the angels regard the pencils as food, but the pencils will undoubtedly nip the angel's fins once they are settled.

Male N. beckfordi are feisty. They spend hours displaying to each other (as noted in our profile), they drive the females hard (should be more females if possible), and they can be belligerent to other fish they take a dislike too. They are territorial, the male considers its space "his," period. But as I said, little if any damage to other fish usually occurs--except angels and similar long-fin fish. They will be nipped and picked on, harassed.

I keep all my pencilfish in my flooded Amazon tank which has quieter fish--except for these, they are feisty enough that they would not work with the others, hence they are in the riverscape where they can mix with medium characins, many species of corydoras, and Bolivian Rams which they leave alone because the Rams stay near the bottom, the pencils upper water.

As for the variation in colour, this partly depends upon the mood of the fish. My males darken and with no exaggeration turn almost black when they "spar" with each other or spawn. Plus, there are believed to be possible variants in nature--this is mentioned in our profile.

Byron.
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Old 02-24-2011, 02:31 PM   #6
 
Thanks very much - I feel a bit better now. I will keep an eye on the Angels and pencils and if they start nipping, I can move the Angels into their own larger tank.
Hopefully the pencils will settle in soon and venture away from the filter current!
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Old 02-24-2011, 02:53 PM   #7
 
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Originally Posted by wyjmk6 View Post
Thanks very much - I feel a bit better now. I will keep an eye on the Angels and pencils and if they start nipping, I can move the Angels into their own larger tank.
Hopefully the pencils will settle in soon and venture away from the filter current!
I can't tell you what to do in your own tank, and don't mean to be sounding like I am, but I would seriously suggest moving the angels soon. A fish like the beckfordi pencils can very suddenly be "settled" and before you even see it, like overnight, the damage may be done. [I speak from experience with such things, and lost fish as a result.] And it may not be physical nipping, but just their presence is enough to upset the angels. And all this causes stress, which weakens the immune system and causes other problems. The angels deserve better--and in this case i think they will be the target, rather than the reverse, esp as they are small.
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Old 02-24-2011, 03:32 PM   #8
 
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Thanks Byron. I thought I'd done my research on this one and the angels were the only fish that were even the slightest bit up in the air. Guess my tank isn't quite as "quiet" as I'd thought. I knew the bolivians wouldn't be an issue because of the different strata the fish in question inhabit. Reflecting now, even without the angels, I'd probably be better served by planting more heavily before pencilfish were introduced.

Fail.
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Old 02-24-2011, 04:44 PM   #9
 
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Originally Posted by burnsbabe View Post
Thanks Byron. I thought I'd done my research on this one and the angels were the only fish that were even the slightest bit up in the air. Guess my tank isn't quite as "quiet" as I'd thought. I knew the bolivians wouldn't be an issue because of the different strata the fish in question inhabit. Reflecting now, even without the angels, I'd probably be better served by planting more heavily before pencilfish were introduced.

Fail.
With your species selection, the issue will be the angels as they mature, and that is an unknown. I would recomend the safer approach and not mix small pencils with angels. How about another tank for the pencils? A 20 long would be ideal for the group, with some corys on the bottom, your planned Farlowella, and--did you write about hatchetfish somewhere? These would work too. The 20L could be very beautiful and interesting.
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Old 02-24-2011, 07:17 PM   #10
 
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I'm actually exploring this possibility. Got my tax return. I was thinking a 20H instead of an 20L but I'd be interested in your thoughts there.

I have mentioned Hatchets in the past and almost got a group of them instead of the pencils the other day. But yes, I agree. Something big enough to do a decent sized school of maybe two pencil species. Something like the corys on the bottom. Very heavy planting (easier to hit that in a 20 than a 55! ). A tank that size would be relatively cheap to set up too.
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