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Kribs, Rams and Tetras?

This is a discussion on Kribs, Rams and Tetras? within the Freshwater and Tropical Fish forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Originally Posted by bettababy Its a long story to go into detail, but my claims of the blue rams in harder water is something ...

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Kribs, Rams and Tetras?
Old 04-10-2010, 01:36 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by bettababy View Post
Its a long story to go into detail, but my claims of the blue rams in harder water is something I have experienced first hand at the store where I worked for many yrs.

We ordered german blues from a fish farm in Florida, somewhere we had not ordered them from before. When they arrived they were acclimated to our soft water section with a pH of about 6.5 - 6.8. The tanks had held german blues previous, and all had always been fine. This shipment went into the tank and within 48 hrs the entire shipment of them had died, with no obvious reason to why. The boss called the farm who offered to replace them with the following week's order. The tanks were checked, everything was made perfect for the next shipment... and again, the entire shipment died within 48 - 72 hrs, no symptoms we could see.

The boss tried a 3rd shipment. The day the 3rd shipment came in I chose a young pair before they went into the store tank, bagged them for myself (on O2 to last til the end of my shift) and took them home. The rest of the shipment went into the soft water, the 2 I took home went into harder tap water with pH of 7.8
The next day at work the majority of the rams had died overnight, the rest to follow later that day. At home the 2 I had taken were colored up and settled in nicely. My 2 rams lived over 2 yrs (til my ex killed them).

Because my 2 fish survived and were perfectly healthy in the harder water, the boss put in a call to the fish farm yet again, where he learned that these rams were all captive bred at the farm and the pH was 8.0

Giving it one more shot the boss ordered 1 more shipment of them, and put them into tap water conditions with pH of 7.8 - 8.0 and all the fish thrived and colored up within a couple of hours after arrival.

We learned the hard way, and since then the store checks with whoever the rams come from to find out where the fish were bred, and then puts the fish into the proper tanks accordingly, and there hasn't been a problem since then... which has been years. Upon checking with each shipment that is ordered, some come from soft water and some come from harder water depending on who they are ordered from.

So please, don't dismiss this so quickly. Knowing where the fish are coming from is vital to their survival, and not just with rams.

That is indeed encouraging news. Of all the fish I have kept, the German Blue rams ,and variants of same, have always been my favorite. The fact that some are being produced that can perhaps acclimate to more basic conditions that many people have, may put an end to the often times weak stock imported to the U.S.
My own water is moderately hard with pH of 7.4 from the tap but the tank holding my remaining male from a pair,test's at pH 7.0 to 7.2 (acidification) The female passed away after two years ,and the male will be three years old in june.
I have had much more success with these fish when purchased very young before they present colors they are noted for ,and will indeed be searching for a source that may with luck,,have fish that are raised in the more basic water that I an many others have. Thus far,,I don't feel too awfully bad at managing to keep them for two to thee years ,considering average life expectancy of these little fish.
Just wish my efforts at producing fry were more consistent.
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Old 04-10-2010, 02:31 AM   #12
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1077, I don't want to take over this thread by addressing your last post about the rams, but I am going to answer here because I think if rams are something the author of this thread is wishing to keep, any info we can offer on the fish is useful.

I don't know where you are located, but every pet store deals with wholesalers and distributors, no matter how big or small the store. While some do a bit of breeding on their own, the majority of their stock comes in about once/wk, some of the smaller, less busy stores would have deliveries a bit less often. Try asking your store who their distributors are and wholesalers, or ask them specifically where the rams are coming from. If they have nothing to hide then they shouldn't have a problem telling you.

Another option for you is to work on breeding them up to the harder water yourself, by generation. It takes a lot of time and not all of the fish will survive, but if you are dedicated enough to it, it can be done. That is how it got started at the fish farms. Start the first generation with what they need for water params based on where they've come from so they are healthy. When they spawn, raise the pH just slightly. If they are good in 7.0 and begin to spawn, raise the pH to 7.2 and raise the fry in that. When those fry spawn in 7.2 raise the pH to 7.4 and so on until you have a generation that can handle your tap water.

Not all fish can do this, and there are limits to how high or low you can go for any given species... but I have had a number of german blue rams over the years, along with a few bolivian rams, that did well in 7.8 city tap water. The bolivians I didn't get to spawn because all I had were females, and the german blues were killed just as they were beginning to spawn, so I didn't get any fry. (My ex dumped a rope fish into the tank while I was at work one night... it ate my rams... enough said)

So yes, it is being done, and so are discus in case you weren't aware. They are expensive and much harder to find, but there are now discus who can handle pH of 7.6 - 7.8. Over time, if people continue to breed the changes into each generation, I suspect there are a great many soft water fishes that will end up acclimated to harder water. If you are diligent in your search I'm sure you can find them.
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Old 04-10-2010, 04:35 AM   #13
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Just my two cents:

I would suspect that if the fish farm is breeding the fish in pH 8.0 with hard water, they'd surely acclimate easier to similar water parameters as you witnessed for yourself. However, for the long term health of the fish, I don't think a few generations of breeding in hard, alkaline water is going to override the millions of years of evolution that has resulted in the blue ram's physiology. So, while fish bred and raised in hard, alkaline water may acclimate easier to similar water, I suspect that if they were slowly switched to water more similar to that of the fish's natural habitat they'd be even better off than if kept in the same conditions they were born and raised in. For a bit of an analogy, Inuits live and even thrive in the Arctic Circle, but they still wear parkas.
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Old 04-10-2010, 02:29 PM   #14
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iambatman, have you ever heard of microevolution? The reason I ask is because while your idea does sound reasonable, what it doesn't take into account is that the generations of breeding into the harder water actually changes the physiology of the fish. Once the physiology of the fish has changed to adapt to thrive in harder water, acclimating them back down to natural habitat conditions will kill them just as quickly as acclimating a wild fish up to harder water without the work of breeding generations into it. Their bodies simply can't withstand that type of change because the organs can't function properly.

The only way to bring a tank raised ram, bred through generations into harder water, back down to natural conditions, would be to go through the work of breeding them back down through generations just the same way as was done to take them up to the harder water in the first place.

Your reference to Inuits doesn't quite work for this situation because first of all you are discussing a different species of animal, already known to be adaptable to many drastic types of situations... humans. The Inuit example you mentioned only really addresses temperature change.

With water being as important to a fish as air is to a human... there are a great many other things to be taken into account. Evolution is still being debated heavily in the scientific world, but there is a basic outline that most scientists agree on and which has been tracked and traced. Once the physiology of any animal has been changed to adapt to new conditions there is no safe way to change it again without the breeding through generations. Its all a matter of physiology.
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Old 04-10-2010, 05:21 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by bettababy View Post
1077, I don't want to take over this thread by addressing your last post about the rams, but I am going to answer here because I think if rams are something the author of this thread is wishing to keep, any info we can offer on the fish is useful.
I agree, and I'm enjoying the info, thanks.
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Old 04-11-2010, 03:11 AM   #16
Well I'll just add my 2 cents as well, maybe we will get enough I actually buy something

I bought 9 GBR fry from a local auction, its pretty safe to assume they were local bred. We have hard water in my area. I don't know the exact degree GH.... KH is 8 though.... Nitrates out of tap are 20ppm, don't even ask about the tank levels.

So my fry, technically 8 plus a runt, were 1/4" long when I got them. Did fine in their bag for 8 hours through out the auction. Got them for $7 which was ridiculously cheap. They looked like nothing, just little gray fishies. They schooled in the beginning too. IMO they really had no issues in my water. PH 7.6 and med-hard. I did not have proper food for them though, really should of had them on live foods. I raised them entirely on frozen baby brine shrimp.. I moved them to the big 55gal community when they got to around an inch long, which was probably too soon as I think they got out competed by the tetras a little. 5 made it to adult hood though.

During my finals week last year I neglected their tank, 2 weeks W/O a water change (always 50% weekly). Seems silly that they should spawn when I was neglecting the tank, but that is just what they did. Of course I had nothing prepared, because I was not ever attempting to spawn them. The parents where young and it was a community tank. I decided to just let them be because they would probably spawn again down the road. Well the eggs disappeared on the 3rd day which was no surprise. Thing is they spawned in water with a lot of nitrates, hard, pH 7 due to CO2. I also oddly spawned sparkling gouramis the same way... neglected their tank then there were suddenly fry which I was unprepared for...

unfortunately this tank kinda crashed a couple months later. I added a log and 24 hours later came home to a disaster. Ammonia 0, Nitrite 5ppm at least! 12 fish were already dead 8 rummy tetras, true SAE, and 3 panda garras. The rams were amazingly hanging on to life, I transferred them to another tank and they colored back up within hours. As expected though, within 2 months all had slowly died from nitrite poisoning, my surviving endlers also did the same thing.

So I have to agree 100% that it depends where the fish are coming from. Like I tried rams from the stores, $14 each and 50/50 that the healthy looking ones make it past two weeks and don't just drop dead for no obvious reason.

I'd like to try this again some day, I haven't come across anyone selling them so small since this. It was fun raising them from little nothing fish.

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Old 04-11-2010, 03:44 AM   #17
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I know how microevolution works. However, I seriously doubt that there is going to be significant intra-species genetic variation from one fish farm to the next when we're only considering a few handfuls of generations. A random mutation that would result in a physiological difference that would allow one blue ram to survive better in hard water than his peers would be quite rare as such a gene would have no benefit in the ram's natural habitat. I don't believe breeders would be willing to sacrifice 99.999% (or whatever the percent would be but I suspect it would be a gigantic majority) of their stock in order to find a fish with this hard water gene in order to pass this gene on to future generations. Really, this is a bit of a pointless debate as we don't have the genomes of sample rams here to compare. Adaptation? Sure. Actual genetic variation? Probably not.

My point about the Inuits is that they've lived in cold habitats for thousands of years now yet you don't see then walking around in t-shirts as you would expect them to had they adapted to their environments to the same degree as, say, polar bears, who have had the advantage of a much longer period of genetic adaptation to the Arctic environment than their human neighbors.
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Old 04-12-2010, 01:00 AM   #18
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In the interest of those considering these fish ,I think it wise to suggest that they will do better on the whole,,in soft acidic conditions. While there may indeed be a percentage of these fish available that may adapt,perhaps even thrive in slightly alkaline water,,,I believe enough still exist that seem to do poorly in same,, that I would not feel comfortable recommending them to those who are not blessed with soft water or willing to provide this enviornment through other means.
Have seen German Rams,and Discus I have kept adapt to moderately hard water. Have also observed them attempt to breed in same or even harder water, but eggs either were eaten (many times normal for first few spawns) or they quickly fungused and were not viable.
Some such as those who raise Discus ,claim that there is a possibility that the dissolved solids found in more alkaline water as opposed to R/O water affect embryo development, and that eggs are more difficult for male fish to fertilize. Is why many do what Bettababy has mentioned. They offer the fish suitable conditions for spawning and then slowly begin the acclimation of the fish to more basic water Otherwise,,only those blessed with soft acidic water could hope to keep them healthy in the longterm. Others claim they attempt to acclimate these fish to harder water to help provide minerals needed for proper growth. Not sure about the latter reason due to mineral content of many prepared foods on the market.
Many tank raised Discus (Rams, not so much),,who also enjoy soft acidic water ,do indeed adapt to slightly hard to hard water but spawning efforts in this enviornment are hit and miss with these fish.
I am near certain that there is a percentage of fish as mentioned that will adapt over generations as evidenced by tank raised Discus and the possible German blue rams ,but enough of these fish simply do poorly in hard alkaline water that I would not feel comfortable with success rate to the point that I would recommend them to anyone with pH values much above 7.0 to 7.2 and or waters high in conductivity or Total dissolved solids.
The German Rams as well as the Discus I have raised, Always did/do better ,with low levels of nitrAtes (10ppm ideal),Temperatures between 82 and 86 degrees F ,pH values not too much over 7.0 to 7.2, and absolutely zero for ammonia and nitrites. To attempt to keep the MAJORITY of these fish in other conditions is in my opinion ,, inviting health issues not withstanding those who manage to achieve some measure of success. Opinions vary.

Last edited by 1077; 04-12-2010 at 01:06 AM..
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Old 04-13-2010, 12:00 AM   #19
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If you track back to my first bit of advice here, I did state that knowing where they're coming from and providing them with what they were spawned in, raised in, etc. was the healthiest approach and best chance of success... I was not trying to assume that all rams are capable of the harder water situations. My point was that without knowing where they come from, its hard to say what they need when you take them home. It's a 50/50 shot. If they are spawned and raised in harder water, they should be kept in harder water, and vice versa with softer water.

As for the neglected fish spawning unexpectedly, that is not so uncommon and makes perfect sense on a scientific level. The neglected tanks, if you were to have done some water testing throughout that time period, would have shown changes in the water chemistry, typically this is first noticed with a drop in pH, which is known to induce spawning in some species of fish, the same thing can be said of raising pH with some species.

There are a great many breeders out there now that will purposely lower pH and otherwise "mess up" the water quality to some degree to induce spawning in their fishes. Some fish respond to changes in mineral content, pollution levels (outside of the pH drop) and various other things that can happen in a neglected tank. This would mimic things like the rainy season in some natural habitats, or other change or season alterations that take place at certain times of the year. Some fish spawns will respond to moonlight and lighting periods and its various phases, changes in temp, and changes in salinity. Again, this differs among fish species.

And, lastly, in addressing how many german blue ram generations it has taken to make some of these changes to harder water... we are not talking about just a few generations of fish. This practice has been going on for many yrs. The incident I described happened over 10 yrs ago. That would be a lot of generations since then, and it wasn't a new practice when it happened to us. The farm informed my boss that they had worked on acclimating them up to Florida tap water, which was hard in their area, for many yrs, and they did so because it was the only way the company could afford to breed and sell them.

Not all fish are capable of or survive this microevolution, and in using that word that doesn't necessarily mean the changes are something we can just look at the fish and see. The changes I speak of are more of the organ functions and how they metabolize certain vitamins and minerals that are found in the water, and sometimes the food. This stuff is taught in biology class, it happens with a great many animal species over the years, be it naturally or man made... its not a new or even overly debated topic.

Is it possible? Does it happen? Yes on both accounts, and it is recorded scientific data if you can find it. I would start with the Smithsonian Institute as the best bet of finding it. Without the actual physiological changes, these fish would not be able to survive in the changed conditions much less thrive in them, because their organs would not function properly.

This same thing applies to the discus I mentioned. In Asia somewhere (I forget specifically, was either China or Thailand) there are people breeding discus up to harder water via generations for the same reasons... its much easier to keep a discus that thrives in pH of 7.6 than one that requires 6.0 and is super sensitive to any fluctuation. It is being done... and every year brings more and more of it as people raise the new fry and continue breeding.

In 1 yr with 10 people breeding mature discus, that could yield a lot of fish to move on to the next generations. Eventually these discus will become more common in the aquarium trade because the stores will seek them out, customers will seek them out, because its easier and more possible to keep them, breed them, etc. If those fish were acclimated slowly down to natural habitat for discus in that 1 generation, their organs are not going to be able to function properly to sustain them long term. If they were bred back down, its very possible to get them back to natural habitat conditions.

Some of the most common freshwater aquarium fishes now thrive in conditions very different from their natural habitats, and this is the reason why. This happens as fish are more captive bred than wild caught. Mollys, swordtails, many of the tetras and barbs, and even gouramis, all thrive in conditions that are very different from their natural habitats. Some of those fish no longer have the ability to thrive in natural conditions for their species because of these physiological changes that have taken place over so many yrs of captive breeding. Because these fish were easier to do that with, being more adaptable and accepting of altered water chemistry starting with the wild strains, and of course because of their easy breedability, they were the first to become popular as accepting of a wider range of water chemistry ranges. There was a time when all angelfish were wild caught, and no way they could survive in pH of 8.0... yet today, the average angelfish thrives at 7.8 - 8.0 If you were to take one of those angels and try to acclimate it down to 6.5, it would die. I could list hundreds of examples, the point is, german blue rams are now on that list, as are discus, so its important to know where your fish are coming from.
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Old 04-13-2010, 01:23 AM   #20
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Ten years worth of blue ram generations is still insignificant in comparison to the millions of years of evolution the species (and its predecessors) has gone through.

Can people speed up evolution via "un"natural selective breeding? Absolutely. That's why we see species of dogs that develop different coats within a relatively short period of time. However, a fish's survivability in various water chemistries is not something one can simply observe; there's no way to select fish that will survive in a certain type of water other than to introduce a large number of fish to this water, allow those unfortunate enough not to have the genetic capacity for survival in said conditions to die off (which I believe would be a very small number of fish) and to "selectively" breed those that remain. This certainly isn't impossible but I seriously doubt a breeder would be willing to spend that kind of capital in order to breed a "hard water" blue ram.

Instead, I believe that the harder, more alkaline water these fish are being bred in is simply within the zone of survivability of the species generally and that, while the fish have "adapted" to their surroundings (including increased kidney function and immune response to compensate) I really wouldn't go so far as to say that they're measurably genetically different from those fish living in soft water environments. Once again, it's somewhat of a moot point as we don't have the genomes right here in front of us to confirm or deny either of our claims, but I stand by my suspicions.

Last edited by iamntbatman; 04-14-2010 at 04:38 AM.. Reason: typo.
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