Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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lake dweller 01-30-2014 01:20 PM

NOW what?
Well we have learned we should have learned more before we started this adventure. But, we already have the tank set and stocked. We have a 20 gal high. 2 dwarf gourami , 2 guppies and their 7 week old babies (separated in the floating breeder), 1 neon, pleco, 2 clown loach, angelica cat, lace cat, red tail and bala shark, 1 female betta, and an angel fish left. We lost our silver dollar, a male guppy, and a neon in the last 2 days. Our tank has been set since early December.

We have Ich. We brought the temp to 82 over 2 days slowly and added aquarium salt.

What next?

We lost our one clown loach (he jumped up the filter waterfall) and our powder blue gourami 2 week or so ago and replaced them but got 2 loaches instead of 1 and covered the gap.

Thank you and any advise where to go from here is needed!

Flint 01-30-2014 01:41 PM

Woah, woah, woah, stock is a BIG issue. I need to go but someone should be along shortly to help you. You are going to need to get a bigger tank and/or rehome most of these fish, unfortunately.

lake dweller 01-30-2014 02:37 PM

to clarify, It should have read 7 guppies that are a week old.

ao 01-30-2014 09:10 PM

86F and higher will help with ich...

You have a big issue with your stocking. I recommend looking up all of these fish, read about them from reputable fishkeeping sites (including this one) and research the space they need, their behaviour, etc. Some get quite aggressive, while others will grow too big and a 20 gallon simply isn't suitable :(

You don't neccessarily need salt to treat ich, 86F+ should do the trick, along with frequent water changes and gravel vacumming to rid of any free floating ich.

Good luck, keep us updated :)
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thekoimaiden 01-30-2014 09:27 PM

Hey! As Flint said, stocking is your major issue here. You have fish that will outgrow your tank, improper shoal numbers, and disasters waiting to happen. You're going to need a bigger tank or to find other homes for those fish. I'm going to list out the species you have and their individual issues.

2 dwarf gourami - dwarf gourami can be housed together, but a 20 gal is too small. One of these fish can stay; the other needs to find a new home away from the angelfish and betta as these fish are incompatible.

2 guppies and their 7 week old babies - these guys are actually perfect for a 20 gal. Keep em! But you might want to put the females in another tank because guppies can and will overpopulate a tank

1 neon (tetra I'm assuming) - while this fish is a good candidate for a 20 gal, they are a shoaling fish and need to be with more than 6 of the same species. They often become very stressed when kept in insufficient numbers. Get more and they'll do great with the guppies.

pleco - I'm going to assume this is the common pleco that pet stores normally sell without telling you a darn thing about them. This fish is going to outgrow your 20 gal and even a 55 gal. They get huge and they poop. A ton.

2 clown loaches - another extremely poor choice. These fish are shoalers who need large groups and they grow over 12 inches long. When housed properly they need a tank larger than 100 gallons.

angelica cat - had to look this one up. Most people will know it as a Synodontis angelicus. Again it's going to get too large for a 20 gal.

lace cat - Another one to look up. Synodontis nigrita. Another one that will outgrow your tank.

red tail shark - these guys are known troublemakers. As they age, they tend to become belligerent to other bottom-dwelling fish.

bala shark - I have no clue why stores still sell this fish. They get larger than 12 inches and are a shoaling fish. You'll need an aquarium larger than 100 gallons to safely house them.

1 female betta - could live in the 20 gal if it weren't for the gourami.

1 angel fish - A shoaling cichlid that does best in groups of 5. They also get really tall and need tanks larger than 40 gallons.

Honestly, to avoid overwhelming yourself, I'd rehome everything except the guppies, neon tetra (only if you are willing to get more), one gourami, and betta (if you are willing to get her a 5 gal tank by herself). It's not your fault, but you have a lot of incompatible fish. Not even upgrading to a 55 gal will solve your problems as the bala shark, pleco, and clown loaches will outgrow that.

Seriously Fish This website has my favorite profiles for fish. They include things like recommended minimum tank size and average adult length for fish. I highly recommend looking up the fish you've acquired in their profiles.

Chesh 01-31-2014 01:34 AM

Welcome to TFK, Lake!

Happy you found us - sorry for such bad news. . . :/

I hope that once the Ich is cleared, you are able to re-home these fish so that they can get proper care elsewhere. Most fish shops will take returns, though depending on how long it's been since you brought the fish home, you may not get a refund or store credit. It can't hurt to ask!

While you're at it, ask if you can bring in future offspring from the guppies (if you choose to keep them!). As Koi mentioned, those little ones are very likely to just keep on coming - the beauty of live-bearering fish! They are an excellent choice for a beginner, though - and full of personality!

Another site that I'd recommend to you is It isn't fool-proof, but I've found it to be an excellent resource to use when setting up a new tank - or trying to figure out compatibility on an existing one. Just put in the tank size (be sure to choose the 'tall' option - length does make a very big difference!) and you'll get more details on what was mentioned above.

Many of us stumbled in here after having gotten started on the wrong foot - and went on to build thriving community tanks with all we've learned since. I'm one of them - hopefully you will be, too!

Best of luck on the tough decisions to come - and please do keep us posted on how things are going over there!

lake dweller 01-31-2014 06:54 AM

Thank you everyone. Its gotten worse.
As of this morning-

All the guppies have died
1 of the loaches are missing
the bala shark and angelica cat died

All that's left is the 2 Gouramis, Angel fish, red tail shark, betta, 1 loach (and it doesnt look to good), the pleco and lace cat.

We had 2 more Neon Tetras but they died. They all hung with the guppies.

We do 1/5 to 1/4 water changes weekly. We have well water with a water softener.
Until about a week ago, around the time the fry arrived, everything seemed ok.

Monday I noticed the silver dollar looked like it was covered in bubbles. THen we noticed they were spots. We called the pet store and they said slowly raise the temp to 82 (it was at 76) and add aquarium salt 1 tablespoon per gallon. So we did Wednesday.

And then everyone started dying.

The betta and red tail just hide together, ans does the pleco and lace cat.

Flint 01-31-2014 07:55 AM

If I were you, I'd see about returning all of the fish and starting fresh, cleaning the tank and cycling it properly. A lot of people feel guppies and other livebearers are good beginner fish but I personally don't just because they will quickly overstock your tank. Do you have an API Master Liquid Test Kit? It's a necessity for keeping fish.

SeaHorse 01-31-2014 08:19 AM

The AQAdvisor is a great way to get a feel for what can go in what sized tank. Take note that a "Pleco" will blow your numbers thru the roof and they have NO place in a small tank or tall tank as they need room to turn around. They grow to 24 inches long. Even the old beliefs of 1" of fish per gallon is NO longer valid.
The reason many of these fish should never be kept together is they require different amounts of space for one thing... but they need to be kept in their own "best conditions", closest to what they experience in nature. (Even tho they are likely captive bred, they still live in different ways) Meaning a Goldfish can live at colder temperatures than a Betta which needs temps up near 80... therefore would never be housed together. And Neither should be kept in a bowl or vase on a table. That is way too small for either fish and way too cold for the Betta.
Betta and Gourami and both labyrinth fish and breathe off the surface, but can get into nasty fights and should never be housed together. One will NOT win.
The quantity of fish you had are all eating and pooping since you got them... BIG 50% daily water changes would be the only way thru this and be sure you are using dechlorinator if you are on city water. Be sure to get yourself a Liquid testing kit when budget allows. You can quickly determine your water quality. We'll walk you thru what all this means. You will also need a thermometer!! Water changes must match temperatures.
At least this is a 20 gallon.. a good place to start.... much better than the starter tanks that are only 10 gallons for sure.
Get yourself a bottle of Prime water conditioner if you don't have it... A very small bottle goes a LONG way... but it neutralizes Ammonia, Nitrites and NitrAtes too. One cap does 50 gallons... it will last you awhile. It can also be used at 5 X the amount in emergencies!

We can turn this around. Don't give up... sadly you are learning the same lessons we've all learned... the hard way. Slow and steady. Don't listen to the LFS Local Fish Store... do your research. If you don't... you get to deal with the "fall out"... not the Fish Store anyway and that hurts the soul. They just want to sell fish and make money sadly and don't consider the loss of life... and the ache in your heart.

lake dweller 01-31-2014 08:38 AM

Thank you Flint.

My husband wants to get another tank, transfer all the fish that survive to the new tank, clean everything in the old tank, and try it again. We would use the smaller tank for the smaller fish (guppy and tetra) later.

He really wants Clown Loach, Angel fish, and another Silver Dollar. I really love the Gourami and guppies.He told me has had good luck in the past with tanks. I have had ok luck with one tank and lousy luck with another. Neither of us have had fish in over 5 years.

If we would have left the guppies in the community, I know the others would have kept the population under control because they kept trying to eat the fry when they were in the "playpen". Could that have stressed out the others to much? It is just so odd that everyone seemed fine until this last weekend. we have only lost 3 in 2 months and one of those had jumped out. How long would it take to have issues show up?

We have ammonia testing strips , but we will look for the kit you recommend. Plus we turned up the temp to 84. We don't want to move it up to fast do we?

Its very sad, we really get attached to these guys!

PS- Congrats on the daughter to be! Never had a daughter, But I had 6 sons! Children are such a blessing!

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