Kribs, Rams and Tetras? - Page 3 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #21 of 23 Old 04-13-2010, 03:03 AM
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Originally Posted by bettababy View Post
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.

I am on board with much of what you say, but am always mindful that many of the posts here and on other forums,, are read by new hobbyist's and with that in mind I try to offer what I believe to be the safest approach with respect to providing information.
I do not believe that there is a 50/50 shot as you say ,that the German Blue rams may survive for long in other than soft acidic water as of this date. The majority of these fish will not fair well in the long term which might suggest that the efforts of those attempting to produce fish that will,,, have not been as successful as many would hope.
Many of those who offer these fish are aware of the concern that the average ,or even expierienced hobbyist has in this regard and promote their fish as being bred or raised in hard water and the fishes die quickly when introduced to same.
If one can find a breeder of these fish and it can be verified that the waters they come from are other than soft acidic waters,then I would feel comfortable with their chances in more alkaline waters but I do not believe that there is a sufficent number of these yet (hopefully soon),, to recommend them to those who would hope for their longterm health when kept in other than soft water. As stated,I wish it were otherwise but the reality does not lend itself to the 50/50 chance you mention quite yet.
I feel I must stand by the assertion at this point in time ,that the majority of the German blue Rams will do much better in more acidic (soft ) conditions ,as opposed to more alkaline waters . Too many of these little warriors have died in the hands of those much more capable than myself while proving this reality.
Soon perhaps,, it will be otherwise.
Enough said.

Sincerely, Lee.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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post #22 of 23 Old 04-13-2010, 10:07 AM
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In a sense I was responsible for starting this discussion when previous advice I had given was mentioned at the start of this thread. I have followed the subsequent posts so that I could gain further insight; all those who have been contributing are members for whose experience and knowledge I have a very high regard and respect.

I am still skeptical as to the extent that a fish's physiology can be modified over a matter of several years or even decades when it comes to something fundamental that has evolved over millions of years. Marine fish evolved into freshwater fish and those freshwater fish further evolved to suit their respective habitats. Some of those habitats have changed significantly over thousands of years, and the fish have changed with them. When environmental changes are more sudden, as by human interference, the species often become extinct. The world-wide relatively sudden decrease in amphibians seems to be due solely to environmental changes to which the species cannot adapt; these changes have been progressing for over a hundred years, though not realized as such by most people until fairly recently, but the amphibians are not adapting. I appreciate that there are clear differences between this and our fish discussion; but it is nonetheless a parallel.

Some fish are better adapted for varying water conditions in nature. They seem able to tolerate a wider range in pH and hardness. Dr. Chris Andrews, director of the Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco commented that in the words of his high school biology teacher, "that's technically known as one of those things!"

I am also somewhat troubled by those wishing to force adaptation on any species. Cardinal tetras will not spawn except in very soft acidic water, in near darkness. When kept in harder water, they have significantly shorter lives though outwardly they appear healthy and "normal." Studies indicate they can develop calcium blockages of the kidneys. All of this tells me that they are not meant to be in harder water, so why should we attempt to change their physiology? I am more interested and happier seeing these wonderful fish behave naturally as intended, rather than trying to force them to adapt to my artificial environment. One could perhaps make a similar case as that for monkeys kept in cages in zoos; the animals will survive, and presumably breed. But I do not feel that is justifiable.


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 #23 of 23 Old 04-15-2010, 12:13 AM
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I need to make sure it is understood here that I don't promote the breeding into unnatural conditions, especially when it comes to fish. My personal belief is that if you can't properly provide what an animal needs, then you have no business trying to keep it, and that applies to water chemistry as much as maintenance and food, expense, etc.

What I was trying to make a point of throughout this thread, is that my own personal experience over the past 15 yrs has shown me with german blue rams its important to determine what type of water supply they have come from before attempting to house them at home. If they are bred and raised in soft, they should go home to soft, and vice versa with hard water. I have seen for myself how quickly these fish die when raised in harder water and are properly acclimated into softer water. The strongest ones lasted less than 48 hrs, and this was more than one large shipment of fish... this was multiple shipments that all came from the same harder water conditions. The last shipment, also from that same place, same harder water supply, when put into harder water, thrived and lived for years. The handful we selected from those surviving fish for one of our in store display tanks... they lived for over 4 yrs and were eventually sold to make room for other fish... so I can't tell you how much longer they lived beyond that... but they had no problems in harder water during that 4+ yr period. I know that first hand.

The fact is, like it or not, it is being done... which means we have to allow for it, prepare for it, and be aware of it.

As for forcing any species to adapt to conditions other than their natural habitats... unfortunately, sometimes this is done to save a species from extinction due to loss of their natural habitats, over fishing, and pollution problems that exist in our world today. I would love to be able to stop it all from happening, but thats not practical. The best thing I feel I can do about it is to alert others, contribute to saving the natural habitats as much as the species whenever possible, and prepare for the things that will directly affect me and any pets I may bring home.

Dawn Moneyhan
Aquatics Specialist/Nutritionist
Juneau, WI
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