pictus catfish not doing too good
hi ev1, new to this site, need some advice plz.
got a 3ft tank couple of months ago, and the fish came with it. male and female jack dempsey, male and female convict, 2 clown loaches, 1 red finned black shark and six cichlids which i havent been able to id yet. all the fish are roughly the same size, 3-4 inches.
i introduced a bumble bee catfish about a month ago and that is doing fine.
4 days ago i introduced a pictus catfish, the next day it was breathing heavily at the surface. i did 25% water change and after that it perked up nicely, but only for about 12hrs. then it was in the corner of the tank doing much the same thing, but at the bottom of the tank, in a vertical position.
yesterday i did a 50% water change, and again it was behaving normally, until a few hours ago. now its in the corner again at the bottom, vertical position, breathing heavily.
all the other fish are fine. i assume there is a level of ammonia/nitrate or whatever that it is not tollerating very well, but is not affecting the other fish.
should i keep carrying out water changes ? if so, how often, how much ? should i treat the tank to eliminate any toxins?
my other option is to get rid of the fish, meaning find it a new home, but i would like to be able to keep it.
Are you able to post your exact water parameters? I also have a pictus and I can't say I'd ever consider housing it with Dempseys & Convicts. The pictus sounds stressed, for sure. I had to dig mine out of the prefilter area (where he had somehow swam into and got stuck) and he spent at least 24 hours stuck in a corner of the tank, breathing very heavily all day, due to the stress of it all.
Do you see any of the other fish picking in him? Does he have a nice cave or area to call his own that he can hide out in? I think that without his driftwood cave my pictus would be miserable. Many will say that pictus need to be maintained in groups (three) of their own kind as they are a shoaling catfish. Did yours come from a tank where he was with quite a few of his own kind? If your water parameters are spot on I'd say he's behaving as he is due to major stress and he may have to be rehomed in order for his own good health.
PS. Welcome to TFK!!
You may want to consider changing the makeup of your tank. Convicts and Demseys can be vicious at times, they may be picking on him when you are not around.
I am no expert but your tank seems way too crowded. Most of those fish will some day require a much large aquarium. For example, Clown loach can reach up to 12" and prefer to be in groups of 5 or more. Bala Sharks are very active fish that agian prefer groups and can get up to 14". I have also heard Pictus Cats prefer groups also. Your JD's could be a problem too. I know of people who only keep 1 in a 55 gallon tank. As for the other 6 cichlids, you should post some pics because many species of cichlids get quite large also. Good for you on taking in some poor fish that someone else didn't want but now you have some considerable problems to deal with.
thanks for your replies.
at present don't have water test kits, but will be getting them asap.
i have seen on this site that pictus should be kept in groups of 5 or more. mine came from 'pets at home' (england) which are usually a very good store. it was the only pictus in a tank with not many other fish.
i told the guy i wanted to put it with cichlids and they were about the same size as the pictus. he said it should be fine as one of the other fish he was with was quite a large oscar. no mention of keeping them in groups though !! maybe i should research this b4 i buy a particular fish !
the tank is in my front room and i am able to keep an eye on them most of the time.
these fish all seem to get along fine, quite a funny bunch really. just some minor disputes over a plant pot between the convict and one of the fish i can't id. will try to get a pic on here.
i have researched jack dempsey's/convicts and cichlids in general and understand these are agressive fish. i will be setting up another tank quite soon, just for the jd's before they get too big and scoff all their tankmates !
i have just come downstairs, very early, 3am. all the fish were out of site apart from the pictus which seemed to be playing in the current from the filter across the front of the tank. occasionally swimming off around the bottom.
i think the problem is he doesn't have a hidey hole because they are all taken and in the day it's just too busy and he doesn't like it. i would say this tank is at at it's limits for population, but overcrowded for the pictus.
maybe when i set the other tank up i can transfer him with the jd's and get him a couple of mates ?
I think previous member's posts have addressed the issues. Basically, you need much more room, and it would be better in a group, and it absolutely needs a hiding spot. Understand you may not see it during the day (on its own and with those tankmates, it will hide from stress as Kymmie mentioned), but at least it will be less stressed and that means healthier and more likely to live a reasonably normal lifespan.
Our fish profiles (second tab from the left in the blue bar at the top) have info on numbers, compatibility, tank size for each species included. And you are bang on--always research the fish before acquiring it. You must recognize that fish in store tanks are often highly stressed, and may behave very differently in your home aquarium. Fish have inherent behaviours and traits and we cannot change these; a healthy fish will be one that is provided with an environment as close to what it "expects" as possible. And this means aquascaping (the "hidey" spot), space, tankmates, and number of their own species.
thanks for that byron,
i think its initial behaviour was down to stress, even 'shock' at being transported then put in with those other fish. it is much happier now though, it found a spot underneath the filter which it goes to so i placed a pot there to give it some cover. its feeding well too which is good to see.
what i have decided to do is move the convicts, red finned shark, and the six fish yet to be id'd, with the jack dempseys when i set up the other tank. leaving it where it is and get a couple more pictus so it's not solitary.
none of the fish show any real aggreission towards each other, but the red finned shark will chase the pictus occasionally. thats why he's going with the others.
can i just ask about water parameters. i got tetra 6-in-1 test strips yesterday, and all the tests were in the 'ok' or 'safe' region apart from the nitrate which read 100.
i did a 25% water change but the nitrate read the same afterwards. do i keep doing water changes until it reads safe? is so, how long between each water change?
how long after a water change should i re-test ? will i get an accurate reading right away, or re-test after a period of time ? as yet i can't test for ammonia.
Moving the "shark" will be very good; as you've noted, what is mentioned in our profiles is correct, this fish is (or is likely to be) aggressive toward any other bottom fish, and that is more stress to both fishes. Separating these when the other tank is ready will be good.
Test strips are said to be unreliable, so I wouldn't put too much trust in the results. Nitrate at 100 seems highly unlikely. Have you tested your tap water for nitrate? Would be interesting to see what the test strip says for tap water on its own; it may contain nitrate (some contains ammonia, some nitrite, some nitrate). A check with your water supply people could confirm; many have websites with a breakdown of what is in the water, and nitrates if present will usually be mentioned with a number. This is also a good source for info on hardness, and pH, just so you know what is going in the tank.
Tank water tests should be done prior to a water change, and at the approximate same time each day you test so you can see trends.
A liquid test kit is a good investment; you can also get stores to do tests, but if you do, ask them for the numbers, not "it's OK" which is too vague to tell us anything constructive.
yes, i have tested the tap water for nitrate today. the result on the strip looks just a shade below the 100, just in the safe zone. so quite high levels for a fish tank are already present in the tap water and suspect the reason for no real reduction in nitrate after a water change. (if the test strip is somewhere near accurate)
what do you suggest plz ?
the unit of measurement for nitate on the tetra 6-in-1 strips is mg/1
does a reading of 100 sound more likely now ?
my tap water is definately just below the 100 mg/1.
i have just done a web search and the uk stanard for nitrate in the water supply is 50 mg/1.
our water company says all its drinking water meets the uk standard ???
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