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SeahorseMagic 02-06-2014 07:54 AM

Help with Emerald Green Cory Catfish
About two years ago I bought a Betta Fish. After having him for two months I moved him to a one gallon tank, it had plastic plants and a hiding hole, and I added a filter to help keep the water clean. For a while he seemed really happy, he made a lot of bubble nests and he was very active. Then he tore his nests up and stopped making them, started to ignore his pelleted food, and sulked at the bottom of his tank. So I switched him over to eating blood worms. He was again happy for a while then repeat the process. So figuring that I couldn't just stop feeding him, but getting irritated at the amount of food hanging around the bottom of the tank, I got my catfish.

I only got one, and he did his job well. I moved the two to a 2.5 gallon tank, added an extra hide and plant, and the water is still filtered. I bought a testing kit to make sure the water was safe for both of my fish. My Betta surprisingly got better. The catfish and Betta played together, laid out in the same hide together, and seemed rather content with each other.

Yesterday my Betta died. For two weeks he was larthargic and I did everything I could to figure out why. The temp of the tank is about 79 degrees F, and the water levels (I have a kit for dummies so I can't tell you what the numbers are) were in the green for tropical fish for pH and ammonia. He just stopped eating the last week, then I found him dead yesterday morning.

The trouble is my catfish has been spazzing since then. I thought this was really weird behavior in part because when I found my Betta my catfish was laying up against him. Now my catfish hasn't settled down since and when he does pause it looks like he is hyperventilating. He darts all over the tank, and he only nudges his food.

Do I need to get another fish for him? If so should it be another betta or an catfish, or what would you recommend.

Thank you for your help!

Sylverclaws 02-06-2014 10:27 AM

You need...a twenty gallon tank for that cory and five other emerald cories for him, as well as sand substrate, my dear. He never, ever should have been kept with the betta in a small tank like that, and the betta should have had a five gallon tank.I am assuming you got this info from a petshop worker...ignore their info and research on your own from now on at sites not hosted by pet shops or fish sellers, if that's the case. Ive had several recommend cories for my betta tanks too, I just want to slap them! And usually out-right tell them "If you can't suggest a proper animal for a five gallon tank, you should not be working here. Cories, even pygmies can't handle that and need groups too large for the tank to handle. I'd appreciate it if you didn't try to kill my fish for your benefit, I'll not buy here again if you try it." They give the WORST info. I'm not trying to smash you, let me just explain what happened here for you.

First off, in a tank smaller than 5 gallons, it's impossible to keep stable water parameters, or stable heating and filtering. Those tiny tanks are incapable of properly cycling. The tank would never have fully cycled...this means your kit was likely strips...and that you did indeed have ammonia, nitrites and nitrates in the tank, even in small amounts they can be fatal. Try getting liquid test kits. Especially over long periods of time. Betta are tough and can unfortunately handle it for long periods unless they're just trashed inside and have very little immune system. The spikes and unstable water parameters are likely what killed his appetite and made him lethargic.

Now then, it's lucky for the cory that the betta was sweet on him or he would have been worse by now. Even so, the fact it's bonding with your betta like it should with a group of his own kind tells you how lonely he was, and the loss of the betta likely got him freaked out. Now they are very sweet fish and will be happy to hang out with other fish not of their own, but this does not mean they're happy or healthy if they don't have others of their kind. Cories are shoalers, they NEED to be in groups of five at the very minimum. Without them they can get depressed, stressed out and this can make them sick. They get very insecure without others of their own. No type of cory should be kept in anything smaller than 20 gallons, even the smaller variety of them. They need long tanks. This is because they're very active and very friendly fish, they must have room to swim around. They also require sand substrate, or a substrate like marbles...something -completely- smooth, or the sand they're used to sifting through. If they are kept on other surfaces that are rough, or gravel, this will eventually erode their barbels(their whiskers) and this will end their life if an infection doesn't get them first. They are also omnivorous, they also require some plant-matter food in their diet, but like catfish do need those proteins.

I suggest you find the cory a new home with someone who already has emeralds and a larger tank, or take him back to the shop(or sell him at another). I don't think he will survive long enough for a larger tank to cycle, and he doubtfully will survive in an uncycled, tiny tank like you have, especially if you add a friend in there. If you want cories and a betta, get yourself a nice twenty gallon, cycle it, and then get some fish. =)

SeahorseMagic 02-06-2014 12:32 PM

Thank you, and I'm sorry to have done that to my fish. I am a college student which is the only reason why I don't have a bigger tank. I end up moving around so much it was difficult to bring this tank along with me. I also misspoke about the tank size, it is a three gallon half moon. I know that's still too small based off of your description.

I do have marbles in my tank (actually smooth glass pebbles) as someone had told me about that need for catfish. My problem is now that there is no one else around here that has a tank suited for my fish. The place I bought him from was petsmart and their policy has expired. I have had him for over six months. I don't know where I could bring him to find him a new home as the only other pet shops around here do not have Cories.

So here is my question. Is there anything I can do to make a sort of temporary home for him that is better than what he has now? Or are there any other options I have considered? I know the best thing would be to find him a properly cycled tank with other Cories, and I will ask around, but in the mean time do you have any other suggestions.

Also, are there any fish that I could keep healthy in the set up that I have? I don't want to go out and repeat this process just to kill another fish or two.

Thank you so much!

Sylverclaws 02-06-2014 01:23 PM

Actually, petco or petsmart, some of them, will take in fish to adopt out. You can explain that you're in collage, move around a lot and don't have the ability to get a larger tank and buddies for him, they may be understanding and take him in for you. I suggest you try that out. Thankfully the little fellas go fast at those stores, so hopefully someone with a nice group will buy him. You can also put up an ad on craigslist saying free to good home, and that you're looking for a person who has a 20+ gallon tank and already has a nice group.

Until then, I'm not can try to use bottled beneficial bacteria to help him out since those tanks have so much trouble cycling, and use Prime too as it detoxifies nitrites and nitrates and removes ammonia(though it wont get rid of it for good as it will just be replaced within 1-3 days, so water changes of 20% every other day will be needed), but not having a group to live with is -extremely- stressful to them to the point it may end his life. Beneficial bacteria(Stress Coat+ and Stress Zyme+ may help him out in the small tank, but it wont help his loneliness).

SeahorseMagic 02-07-2014 07:20 AM

Alright. I will bring him back then. It makes me almost as sad to say that as I was to lose my Betta :(

Is there any kind of fish that I could safely keep in my current setup?

jaysee 02-07-2014 07:39 AM

Help with Emerald Green Cory Catfish
Emerald Corys are not Corys and grow to 4 inches long and are also taller than most Corys are long. They require a MUCH larger tank than a 20.

It is most certainly NOT impossible to maintain a cycle or stable water parameters in tanks smaller than 5 gallons. Look I'm all for getting people to go bigger on their tanks but let's not be spreading misinformation to do it.

Hallyx 02-07-2014 10:07 AM

That was wonderful and mostly accurate advice, Silverclaws. Thank you for taking the time. But over on the other side (the dark side), on BettaFish, there are dozens of keepers successfully maintaining stable, cycled and established 2.5gal tanks.

I have three runing right now with just internal or sponge filters and a few Anubias. I keep small-sized or large-finned Betta in them who are healthy and active. I keep my wild-type Bettas and my Plakat in cycled 5g tanks.

Tetra Safestart is the easiest to find, therefore the most commonly-used bacteria-in-a-bottle. I've tracked over a dozen keepers who have used or are using it to cycle their small tanks. As long as it has never been frozen, overheated or left on the shelf longer than 6 months, it works just fine. Much faster than normal cycling and every bit as fast as "seeded" media, with none of the worries about infection.

jaysee 02-07-2014 10:12 AM


Originally Posted by Hallyx (Post 3874793)
That was wonderful and mostly accurate advice, Silverclaws.

Yes I agree. I didn't mean to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Sylverclaws 02-07-2014 08:10 PM


Originally Posted by SeahorseMagic (Post 3874249)
Alright. I will bring him back then. It makes me almost as sad to say that as I was to lose my Betta :(

Is there any kind of fish that I could safely keep in my current setup?

No no, it's not fully your fault at all, and you went further for a betta than a lot of people do. This is where research comes in, so take it as a...harsh lesson. It's VERY common for people to keep them in smaller tanks like that, even bowls, same with goldfish, and they don't realize it's not good for them because that's what petshop workers say is ok, or what old info on the fish say to do. Everyone messes up sometimes. My first tank was a disaster. ^^; Well, my second tank, first one my parents did up for me, my first tank I had something like eight platies and a baby red-tailed shark in a ten gallon. Having grown up on my grandparents info of care, AND going with pet shop info(I explained to a worker I was new and wasn't sure how to go about the tank and they told me THIS is the stocking I could have). Obviously it didn't end well, everyone seemed -perfect- for a year, I added a new platy who unfortunately had ich, it destroyed my tank in mere hours because it was over-loaded and that killed their immune systems. It was terrible and I felt bad, but all you CAN do now, is make up for it by doing it right if you're gonna do it at all, so check all your info out(and not from petshop sites or workers...though some are ok online whereas they are "Paid" to lie at work...still best to check elsewhere, like here!). =)

@jaysee there are two types of "Emerald" cories, one stays around 2 1/2-3 1/2 inches, the other can actually get 4-6 inches. Six inches I hear is EXTREMELY rare even for the big guys, however I had one of four that did. lol I ended up getting a mix on accident once, I wondered how I got these behemoths with my little guys, they look almost identical except the bigger ones are usually darker in color, and bigger obviously...and the smaller type(I can't remember the scientific names) are usually a shiny green(though not always, but this is how I told the youngsters apart, the larger ones also tend to have bigger heads and slightly different noses than the smaller types).

And oh yes, I am aware many people do keep them in smaller tanks and can somewhat maintain them, but they're extremely delicate and for experienced people to do...and even then they're still delicate and a miss ANYWHERE can send them into mini-cycles or full cycles. Sponge filters do help. So do bio-wheels.

jeaninel 02-07-2014 09:14 PM

Brochis splendens are the larger "emerald cory" and Corydoras Aenus are the smaller type and also go the common name of Bronze cory.
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