Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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PictureSarah 03-18-2009 12:44 PM

What to do with a malicious tiger barb?
Hi all, I hope this isn't too awfully stupid of a first question.

I recently inherited a 50 gallon tank from a friend. I got it all set up with a super good filter, a heater, rocks, etc (my "free" tank has turned out to be very expensive), and yesterday I went to the pet store. The guy there told me to start out with only a few fish, because after a week or so it will go through some bacterial phase and turn milky with ammonia.

This sounded fishy (no pun intended) to me, as my fiance and I previously cared for an aquarium in one of our apartments that was in such bad shape uppon our arrival that we had no choice but to completely empty it, scrub it clean, and re-fill it. We did so, putting all 20ish of the fish back in at once, and nothing bad happened. But I decided to err on the side of caution and get only four fish.

I got a Sunset Gourami, a Powder Blue Gourami, a Tiger Barb, and a Bala Shark. The pet store employee said that all of these fish would cohabitate peacefully. The Gouramis and the Bala Shark are perfectly happy, but the Tiger Barb is a malicious little troll. After less than 24 hours in the tank, he is mercilessly harassing the Gouramis, nipping at their fins.

What should I do about this? Is he acting out because he's lonely, should I get him some more Tiger Barbs? Or is he just a butthead? Should I see if the petstore has a return policy and bring him back, or see if I can give him away or something?

Any help is appreciated.

aunt kymmie 03-18-2009 01:34 PM

Hi Sarah, Welcome to the forum.

Tiger barbs need to be kept in a larger group so as to spread out their aggressive & nippy nature amongst themselves. I, personally, wouldn't keep barbs with gouramis but I'm sure plenty of people do.

Balas easily reach a foot plus so they are unsuitable for a tank your size. An adult Bala needs at least four feet of swimming room, at the minumum. They are a schooling fish and do best (and prefer) a group of five. Obviously your tank will not accommodate an adult bala(s).

I'd see if the store is willing to do an exchange. That would be the preferred route.
And yes, it is true that a tank needs to cycle. Perhaps when you did your scrub & clean enough beneficial bacteria survived the substrate or filter. I'm not sure how well you cleaned those items. Either way, I'd say you got lucky on that one.

Ask as many questions as you need as we are here to help!! :-)

Sj45 03-20-2009 12:06 AM

I personally neither have had any luck w/ tiger barbs and their aggression. I'd recommend keeping Tigers in a school of around 8-10+ which does minimize their aggression. They don't find themselves away from the "school" and time to nip fins as much. The Bala, as Aunt Kymmie said is going to prefer a school as well and unfortunately a 50g would not be quite "suitable."

If I were you, I'd probably return the Barb and Bala.

Best of Luck, Like your profile pic Kym.

willow 03-20-2009 05:55 AM

hello and welcome.
things have been pretty much sorted for you :)
can i ask though how did you clean the filter,or did you not touch it at all ?

PictureSarah 03-21-2009 09:51 PM

Well, I got 4 more barbs, and that seems to have more or less solved the problem. Every once in a while a barb will break away from the little school and harass somebody else in the tank, but it's not really a problem anymore. I will see if I can return the Bala. Wish the aquarium employee had told me these things!

As far as how we cleaned the filter, we emptied the water out of the filter itself, drained the water in the tubes, and basically scrubbed everything out with soap, replacing the filter sponge pad things. Obviously, this is not a great way to do it, but the condition of the tank was so bad when we moved in that we didn't feel like we had much choice. Everything was covered in green!

willow 03-22-2009 02:32 AM

glad to hear the barb situation is good,they can be real mean. lol
have you got a test kit ?
i think most if not all of us here use API test kit,it saves you going to the fish store
and have them test the water for you,and possibly not get the right results.
will you be able to post a picture of the tank ? would love to see it.

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