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dorabaker 07-03-2010 03:47 AM

advice and info on new fish to add
I decided to post a thread on here because I need some advice and I've already exhausted all my fishkeeping books.
I have a very small tropical fish tank (at least small compared to most tanks.) The dimensions are roughly 18 x 8 x 10 inches. I know you're all going to tell me thats way too small and I should get a bigger tank :P but believe me it's the most successful aquarium I've ever kept and the fish are really healthy.
Anyway I've had this tank for around 3 years now and at the moment there are only two fish in the tank - a rather large angelfish which I've had for quite a few years, and a lovely little golden three-spot gourami which I bought more recently.
I've decided I'd like to buy some more fish for the tank (considering that over the course of time most of the original inhabitants have died.) I have a few ideas about the species I'd like to get but I need some advice.
To start with, the angelfish is quite large - his body may only be about 2.5 inches long but considering the shape of an angelfish, and the size of their fins, that takes up a lot of room in a densely planted tank.
Also he has been known to bully new additions to the tank, at least until they've settled in a bit, and I'm worried it might stress any new fish I buy.

here are some of the fish I'm considering getting:
bristlenose catfish (which I've kept before)
rams (which i've also kept previously)
red-tailed or redfin shark

So here are some questions.
Are rams compatible with angelfish or do you think the angelfish would attack them? Also is it essential to keep rams in pairs, and do they need companion tetras to feel safe? I'm pretty sure the angelfish would eat any tetras I added to the tank.
Another fish I'd like to get is a red-tailed black shark or a red-fin shark, but I've read terrible things about their character and I'm afraid a shark might bother even my aggressive angelfish. would a shark be compatible with a gourami and an angelfish?
also...does the size of tank a fish is living in affect how large it grows?

In the past I've had a pair of pearl gouramis and although they were fine together at first, as they grew older they became so territorial I had to move one out of the tank. I'd like to get another gourami but I'm afraid the two would tear each other to shreds.

finally...I've sucessfully kept about 4-5 medium-sized (around 2.5 inch) fish in this tank and that more or less corresponds to the calculations I've done regarding surface area = inches of fish.

does anyone have any advice about compatibility and what are your experiences of angelfish, rams and sharks?

onefish2fish 07-03-2010 08:27 AM

lets start off with welcome to the forum, glad you found us and im glad you posted.
i know this isnt what you want to hear, but your tank is 5 gallons and i feel is over stocked already. every fish you mention in this post needs a larger tank. you say everything has been healthy, but then you say everything has died. the inch per gallon "rule" is not a rule and doesnt work with every fish or even at all in alot of cases. for example, you have an 18 inch tank, if you had an 18 inch goldfish it would be 1 inch per gallon, but does not work. also keep in mind some fish have a larger bio load then others, meaning they eat and/or poop more.

if money is tight but you still wish to keep some of the above mentioned fish a larger tank is needed. i would suggest a 55 gallon. my petco is currently having a $1/per gallon sale so you may wish to look there. is another good place to search for a used tank. hope that helps some, and again welcome to the forum.

amazon21 07-03-2010 08:32 AM

I definitely second everything he just told you.

Also, all petco's are currently having that sale incase you wanted to buy a new tank.

dorabaker 07-03-2010 08:34 AM

thanks a lot, i was kind of expecting to hear that. I do actually have a larger tank, but i've never had any success maintaining it. I've been considering trying to set it up though because I would like to be able to keep more fish. the main problem is heating it. People are always saying its so much easier to maintain a large tank, but I've found the opposite. The heater I have is meant to be able to heat tanks at least as big as my larger tank (which I think is about 70 litres) but whenever I've used it in that tank it really seems to struggle to heat the large body of water, and the temperature fluctuates wildly. Even in my small tank it fluctuates a bit. I think that's just the way heater thermostats have to work (the heater in my house works a similar way.) it's still annoying though.

onefish2fish 07-03-2010 08:43 AM

hmmm. well i would then suggest a new heater. i dont know how old yours is but i know they can crap out on you overtime. the heaters out these days seem pretty well made though. i personally like jager brand. i wouldnt trust the thermostat on the heater either. i would spend $2 on a stick on thermometer so you know the temp. the battery thermometers i have found to be very in-accurate but maybe thats just my experience. i'd rather spend the $2 for the glass stick on one then the $8 for the battery one that i have problems with anyways.

as for having success with the larger tank... if you do set it up, look into "fishless cycling" this will put you on a good track for having a larger tank with more success.

dorabaker 07-03-2010 08:44 AM

p.s. about the fish that died...
The first fish I kept in the tank were, I think, a betta, some mosquitofish and a golden barb. at the time I had a big community tank that wasn't doing to well and the small tank seemed to be so successful that I eventually transferred most of the fish from the community tank into it...the ones that hadn't already died from disease or stress, that is :S
among those fish was a pair of peppered catfish I'd already had for several years. both of those died late last year. it was a pity because I'd had them for so long I was quite attached to them and used to having them in every tank.
I actually can't remember too well the other fish I kept in that tank because there were a lot but the golden barb is still alive, although it's lived in several different tanks and even in an outdoor pond (its quite a bizarre fish, doesn't seem to care what temperature the water is!)

the mosquitofish were very delicate and small and the ones that hadn't grown large yet tended to get stuck in filters or trapped in corners or eaten by larger fish, but the surviving ones I kept for several years in my fish pond and I still have a female who has since had several babies.

All the fish that died just seemed to slow down a bit as time went on and one day I'd find the fish had peacefully died during the night. I always attributed it to old age...there may have been other contributing factors though.

dorabaker 07-03-2010 08:47 AM

The heater is actually pretty old now, but even when it was new I had the fluctuating temperature problem. It's quite a good heater, cost a fair bit and has a safety mechanism to turn it off if you accidentally leave it on out of water. I'm thinking of getting a new heater though. maybe a bigger one.
I used to have a glass stick thermometer, I don't know what happened to it!
I love setting up new aquariums but I hate lugging around large tanks and cleaning them, so I half want to get out the 70 litre tank and half don't.

onefish2fish 07-03-2010 08:55 AM

when you say lugging around and cleaning in the same sentence do you mean you carry it to clean it?

if this is the case, this is a very bad idea as any weight inside a tank will do a job on the sealing and overtime ( maybe even the first time ) will make your tank leak. it is best to only move an empty tank.
if you are un-sure how to clean a tank that stays in place, please let me know and i will be happy to go over it with you.

dorabaker 07-03-2010 09:00 AM

um..hehe no i didn't mean that :P
there are two ways to wash the tank: put it in the garden and hose it (which I hate doing) and put it in the sink and wash it the way I do my smaller tank, except it doesn't really fit in the sink.
it's also really heavy (when it's not full of water)


Byron 07-03-2010 01:23 PM

Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum. Glad you joined us, especially since you have some problems and there are lots of experienced aquarists here to help out.

Several already have, and I am only going to expand a bit on some of what they have mentioned, as it is very important.

Fish grow all their lives, unlike us [well, except around the middle:lol:] and to develop properly they need adequate space (water). They not only grow physically in size, but their internal organs develop properly only if they have adequate space. Sometimes the physical limitations are very important (an active fish needs room to swim for instance, or aggressive fish need more space to avoid stressing out too much), but equally important--and sometimes even more important--is the water quality. This not only refers to keeping the water clean (filtration, regular water changes, plants); fish also release pheromones and other fish can pick up on these, and only water changes remove them. In smaller tanks they build up much quicker, especially from potentially-large fish (like angels).

And coming to the fish, an angel fish attains 6 inches in length (or should) and it needs space all its life; in a 10g it will not have what I mention above, and the result is stunting (abnormal internal growth), aggressive behaviour (more than normal), immune system issues, and early death (they are long-lived when healthy). Angels are also a shoaling fish that should be in a group, 4 or 5, but that means at least a 55g tank. They can also be kept in a mated pair, but still not in a 10g.

The fish that died were probably the victim of various issues caused by overcrowding. Outwardly this may not even be noticed. Sometimes nipped fins, aggression, etc can be seen, but not always as the internal problems caused by the overcrowding may not be visible.

Fluctuating temperatures will harm and even kill some fish. The tank should be a stable temperature, within a couple degrees will do no harm for most (but not all) species, as this equates to normal day/night variations in nature. A good heater with a thermostatic control is essential; and in a 55g I would have two, one at each end next to the filter outflow and intake. At least 150w or preferably 200w heaters; the higher-watt heaters tend to be more reliable, and having two means they last longer and are less likely to malfunction since both are working less rather than one having to run more.

I could offer more, but these are the main issues I wanted to mention. I hope this will help you. Set up that larger tank, ask questions before you do, and it will be a success.


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