Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources (
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Fishnoodle 04-15-2012 08:13 PM

Hi all,

I consider my self a reasonably experienced fishkeeper. Not amazing but Ive maintained healthy happy fish for a number of years. I have 4 tanks running with various inhabitants living happily together.

I have recently acquired a small (22litre/5gal) tank for a corner table. I have had this tank running quite comfortably for roughly 8 months with the following:
- 2 albino bristlenose (I will be moving these to one of my other larger tanks shortly but for the time being they are only approx 2-4 inches in length)
- 20 neon tetras
- 14 harlequin rasboras
- 1 male Agassiz Dwarf Cichilid

The tank is very well planted with full aquatics and has plenty of logs/caves
I have not had any issues with aggression or bullying.
My water is almost always perfect as I perform religious water changes bi-weekly of 30%

Yesterday, I went to my LFS and purchased the female Agassiz that was previously housed with my male in their display tank prior to my purchasing him 8 months ago.
As I was floating her bag, he was flaring his fins and displaying his colours, and then started literally attacking the bag. I have seen anything like this kind of aggression from him.

I released her into the tank and bagged him immediately, and kept it that way overnight. This morning I released him and they appeared to be co-existing again for the most part, and certainly chasing with less ferocity.

I am considerably worried though. I have a good relationship with my LFS and they have offered a refund if needed but I am concerned that she will even make it through the day. And she will be my first casualty in almost 6 years.

Any thoughts/advice from people in the know? I have some rams in another tank and have not had any problems remotely similar to this.

Help :)


jaysee 04-15-2012 11:04 PM

You have 38 fish in a 5 gallon tank? Do you have pictures?

Fishnoodle 04-15-2012 11:14 PM

No I don't have pictures sorry
Why's that?

Historically I've never had a problem with illness or poor water quality (outside of my very first tank about 7years ago). When my fish grow, I move them to a bigger tank. This is by far the smallest tank Ive owned but as I mentioned, I keep it to very very strict parameters. And I never do anything without consulting my LFS first (generally considered the best in my country).

Also, something of interest - these two were housed in the LFS office display tank in an even smaller tank some 8 months ago. I should have purchased them together but didnt have the money spend on the additional fish.

Got any ideas?

ladayen 04-15-2012 11:35 PM

Cichlids need space. They've been seperated and no longer view each other as friendly. They must reestablish dominance. It's very possible one will be seriously hurt or killed if it cannot run away to rest.

To clarify.. by bi-weekly do you mean twice a week or once every two weeks?

I would move most/all of those fish out. A bristlenose only gets to 6" at best so the ones in your tank are possibly full grown and you may be stunting them... being alive does not mean happy or healthy and I would seriously question how happy they are.

jaysee 04-15-2012 11:36 PM

To be completely honest, that's got to be the most overstocked tank I've ever heard of and I was curious to see what it looked like. It's impressive that you haven't had any issues - and I really mean that. People have LOTS more problems with LOTS less. The only way you could maintain such a tank is with a very strict regimen.

As for the cichlids, I think an overstocked 5 gallon is enough for a pair of cichlids. It's probably not enough for just the pair, either.

Chris7 04-15-2012 11:39 PM

That's crazyly over stocked:shock:! I don't know much about the fish you talk about but I bet It's stressed out and not happy, I bet non of you fish in that tank are happy.

Fishnoodle 04-15-2012 11:51 PM

I do 30% at least twice per week
Most weeks its two x 30% and one x 10% on weekends

The only picture Ive got should be my avatar
The bristlenose are being moved once they hit 4 inches (thats the advice I got from my LFS)
Ive got another 2 that I purchased at the same time, in a much larger tank and they are the same size - I assume that they are not stunted? Again thats what the LFS have informed me as well

With regard to the happiness of my other fish, they appear no different in size, colours or behaviour as fish of the same species in other larger tanks? Wouldnt they be a good indicator?

Or is my LFS just telling me what I need to hear in this regard?

Jester10 04-15-2012 11:51 PM

Im new to the aquarium thing but I must say that your aquarium is well over stocked. Usually its about an 1in of fish per gallon of water but I've heard for ciclids and such you need 2-3gallons per inch of fish (my lfs says they can be messy and are aggressive). If you can move most of those guys to different tanks it would probably reduce if not elminate any aggresion your fish have.
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Fishnoodle 04-15-2012 11:54 PM

Yeah it seems I have no option but to take her back to the LFS tonight
But now everyone has got me worried about my other fish :(

Sanguinefox 04-16-2012 12:38 AM

I remember hearing in Psychology class about an experiment done with rats. They set up a rat habitat, and stuffed it with rats. There was enough food for all the rats and enough places to sleep. However the rats turned violent upon each other and the general over all stress levels were damaging.

A good lesson learned here can be applied to fish. It doesn't matter if they have their food needs met and appear to have enough space to hide. Put too many fish in too small of a space and the psychological stress is dangerous. That and as others pointed out you can end up stunting them. Do those fish a favor. Get them out of that little five gallon. Do what it takes to reduce the over-stock.

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