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Making The Best Of Some Bad Decisions (naive Fishkeeper)

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Offline Fishbeard

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Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« on: November 26, 2017, 03:37:11 PM »
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Apologies in advance for the upcoming ramble. I've given the background and context as I feel the need to defend myself, as I've been naive and now I'm looking to put things right.

So I've gotten to where I am with fishkeeping on luck, more than anything. I was given my nan's tank about three years back when it became too much of a chore for her to keep looking after it. Her tank was 45L, and when I took it on, it contained about 7 each of neon and black neon tetras. I asked about maintenance and was presented with a toothbrush, an algae brush and a bucket and told to give it a scrub once every couple of weeks, to brush the filter sponge with the toothbrush and to change about a quarter of the water at the same time. I was also given a box of Aquarian flakes and told to give them a small pinch each morning.

The tank was over a decade old when I received it and since then, I've just been looking after it in the same way, following what she did, with the only difference being my purchase of a gravel vacuum to make the job a bit easier. The neons were a few years old when I received them but as time has passed, some died and I attributed it to age, as the tank was "healthy", there was no sign of illness and the others all appeared fine, so there was no cause for alarm. I hadn't really looked into fishkeeping because she'd kept fish for over a decade without any problems and her advice appeared to be looking after the tank and fish just fine.

About a month ago, I came downstairs to find a puddle of water and a small leak. The leak wasn't pouring, it was like a pin prick, but it had clearly been going for most of the night, as the tank was just above half-full. I hastily slapped some tape over the leak to try to stem it, threw some towels down and then rushed down to the nearest fish shop to buy a tank. I couldn't find another 45l tank, so I took an Aquael LEDDY 60 54L tank and rushed home. A quick Google told me to take all my old gravel, decorations, filters and as much water into the new tank as the best emergency move. I moved everything into the new tank, topped it up with dechlorinated water and then hoped for the best. Over a few days, numbers thinned out and I lost about half a dozen fish in total, but as I already thought the fish were old, I figured the shock and stress of the move had done for them and wasn't concerned.

So, just over a month ago, with 4 black neons and 2 neon tetras left, I returned to the fish shop to restock. I think the salesman saw me coming, as I wanted a pick 'n' mix of fish that he was only too happy to provide. I came home with about a dozen new fish, new foods and another decoration for the tank. One of the fish I bought was female black/gold molly, and within a fortnight she'd gained quite a bit of weight so I went looking to see if she was pregnant and found this site (among others) and realised that I had been doing quite a bit wrong, because I'd followed my nan's regime (which was working, to a point) and got fleeced by a salesman. I've been naive about this as a hobby, taking on my nan's advice and then listening to the salesman, trusting him in his role as an "expert" and not assuming he's out just to line his wallet.

I've tested my water with the API Master Kit and it seems pretty good, so I think I've been lucky, but as I'm exploring this site I think I need someone that knows their stuff to tell me what's what because there's a lot to take in and I could do with a bit of guidance to say the least. I've been doing 25% water changes every Saturday, feeding a little bit twice daily and having checked my water levels each time I've done a change, I've not seen any real changes other than the nitrates gradually decreasing.

So, I've got a 54L tank, footprint of 60x30 by 30 high. I've got an oversized internal filter (sponge, suitable for up to 90l that came with the tank and a powerhead suitable for up to 180l), the standard LED strip light in the hood of the tank, some decorations and silk plants, with gravel.

My fish:
4x Panda corydoras (genders unknown)
4x Black neon tetras (genders unknown)
2x Neon tetras (genders unknown)
2x Black and gold mollies (one male, one female)
1x Golden ram (female)
1x Hatchetfish (gender unknown)

My water:
PH - 7.2
Ammonia - 0.25ppm (there's a green tinge, but when I checked my tap water it was the same colour too)
Nitrites - 0ppm
Nitrates - between 10 and 20ppm
Hardness - 52.479ppm/2.94dH

I'm a bit concerned about the ammonia, but I think I read another thread suggesting it might just be the test kit (or my eyes!), as if tap water measures the same, then it's alright - can someone confirm this? I'm also running my old filter alongside the new one that came with the tank, is there any problem in this? Can I "over-filter" the water this way?

I'm still feeding Aquarian flakes, but now have some little wafers for the bottom feeders and I feed a small amount of each twice a day. I've also got frozen brine shrimp and frozen bloodworm, but when I've tried putting them in, no-one paid them any attention, so I cleared them out and haven't tried with them again. Do the fish I have not eat these things? I took them on the suggestion of the salesman and now just feel like a mug...

According to the community calculator, I need more of each of the tetras, another female molly and from what I've read here, I could also benefit from another couple of pandas, too. I also see that my tank is too small for the hatchetfish anyway.

So I'm thinking I should return the hatchetfish and the gold ram to get another female molly... and then what? I don't much like the black neons, they're not very interesting fish (in terms of colour or personality) and I would much rather have more neon tetras in their place, but I can't return them to the pet store and I'll just have to wait for nature to take its course. Given the relative age of my neons, and the stress they've had recently, is it even worth adding to their numbers, or will new members struggle to shoal with the oldies?

From what I've read here, I think I'm getting to grips with it, but I'd rather be sure. If I've missed any vital information or need to clarify something then just ask - I'm still learning the terms!

Offline fcmf

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2017, 04:06:45 PM »
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Thanks for the very helpful background.

There is nothing hugely awry in what you've been doing so far ie your nan's maintenance regime sounds fine although a 25% water change every week is probably best. A far worse problem would be to completely change filter media (eg sponges) every now and again - instead, a gentle squeeze of them weekly/fortnightly in being-discarded tank water is best. Are you using a dechlorinator?

I think your theory about the shock/stress of the depleting water and move into a new tank +/- the age of the fish is probably correct in what led to their demise; however, you had no option, so don't berate yourself for that. I remember one of our members mentioning that a move of her fish to a new tank once had similar results.

Depending on how old the fish are (generally, most tropicals' life expectancies are ~5 years old), and bearing in mind your soft water, your best option would be to increase shoal numbers to 6 black neon tetras, 6 neon tetras and possibly 6 panda cories (although this risks some overstocking), returning the mollies (better in hard water and larger tanks), the hatchetfish (better in larger tanks) and the golden ram. As you don't like the black neons, though, then I'd let nature take its course but maybe increase the numbers of existing neons - shoaling of old and new oughtn't to be a problem, and even similar-looking cardinals is another option to consider as they tend to inter-shoal; the CC on here should help you work out how many neons/cardinals your tank would have in addition to 6 panda cories. Hopefully the shop will be ok about taking the other fish back, especially if you're buying more fish or items.

Keep an eye on the water quality by doing regular water tests, especially just before the scheduled water change. What dechlorinator are you using? Is your ammonia test kit for ammonia or ammonium?

Best to put some of the old filter media into the new filter, so that there is some established filter media in both filters; without doing this, there is a danger that the new filter never actually gets colonised with the good bacteria.

I'll have to sign off now but hope that helps.

Offline Sue

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2017, 04:35:27 PM »
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All I can think of to add to fcmf's post is to agree with rehoming some of the fish. Your water is far too soft for mollies and they will get sick easily if kept in soft water.

The ammonia test - the type of light it is read under can affect the reading. Daylight is best, but we don't have that around for very long at the moment. Old fashioned incandescent light bulbs are fine (if you still have any) as are LED and halogen. Fluorescent tubes, including compact fluorescent energy saving bulbs, make the water look greener than it really is.
And finally, some people never see the yellow of zero even in tanks that have been running with no problem for years. And in daylight. The only explanation anyone can come up with is that there is variation in eyesight. Like my mother swears her grey trousers are blue even though the label calls them charcoal.

Offline Fishbeard

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2017, 05:01:59 PM »
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Thanks both for your quick answers! It's good to know that I'm not a million miles off, and most of my thoughts are on the right track for fixing things. I can breathe a little easier for now. :)

@fcmf

I'm using King British Safe Guard de-chlorinator, and the API Freshwater Master test kit says it tests for ammonia, rather than ammonium. Is there a difference? A few posts I'd seen here swore by it as the best liquid test going, so I figured it was going to test everything I needed to test.

I'm very disappointed to hear that about the mollies! The pet shop is about ten minutes from me, so I figured we'd be on similar water to them and so anything they sold would be suitable for me to keep at home. They appear quite happy in the tank, and the male is probably my favourite fish of the lot - his antics with the female remind me of Pepe le Pew and he's always very interested in anything going on in the tank. Is there anything sensible/practical I can do to make my water hard enough to be able to keep the mollies, or will that upset the other fish I have?

@Sue

I'll not be able to test during daylight again now until next weekend and, even then, there's no guarantee. My lights are halogen lamps and under those it still looks a little greener than the comparison card, but as said, my tap water matches my tank water, so perhaps that's just eyesight for me?

Offline Sue

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2017, 05:37:39 PM »
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Ammonia is a gas which dissolves in water where some of it turns into ammonium. Ammonia is toxic to fish, while ammonium is much less so. Virtually all our test kits measure ammonia and ammonium combined as total ammonia. Ammonia is NH3 and ammonium is NH4+. The amount that is in each form depends on the pH and temperature of the water.
There are on-line calculators to work out how much is in each form, and your 0.25 ppm total ammonia at pH 7.2 and assuming 25 deg C comes out as 0.0023 ppm ammonia.
Any ammonia below 0.02 is safe, and yours is 10 times lower than that. So your fish are safe at 0.25 ppm total ammonia  :)


Shops hope that the fish in their tanks won't be there long so it doesn't matter if the water is wrong for them. And if they die after purchase, they don't care because you'll just buy more.
Hard water fish come from areas with lots of calcium in the water. Their bodies have evolved to excrete most of the calcium their bodies take in from the water. When they are put in soft water, they continue to excrete calcium but because there is little in the water, it aren't replaced and the fish suffer mineral deficiency.
Soft water fish have evolved to keep calcium in their bodies because there is little of it in soft water. If soft water fish are put in hard water, their bodies continue storing calcium until their organs become calcified.

Yes it is possible to 'harden' water by adding the minerals that make water hard. These are called remineralisation salts and are mainly used by people who use pure water (eg reverse osmosis water) which contains no minerals at all.
But your other fish won't be happy in water as hard as mollies need it.

Offline Fishbeard

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2017, 06:12:26 PM »
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Thanks for the explanation about ammonia/ammonium, and for confirming that I'm doing fine - my water temperature is 25*C, so you're on the money there and I'm sure the fish will be pleased to know it!

I've learned the hard way about trusting my LFS. Their fish do look healthy and the tanks look clean, but the customer service is lacking. My only other local choice is P@H, so I'm a bit stuck with the LFS for now.

I liked the mollies for their colour and size - I feel like, even with decoration, my tank looks a bit empty.

My tank will end up as:

6x Panda corydoras
4x Black neon tetra
6x Neon tetra

According to the calculator, that puts me at about 80% stocking. I suppose the best thing would be to wait for the black neons to go and then replace them, but are there any good, larger fish (similar to the mollies) that would suit my soft water? Would a female betta be a good fit? From the profile, she'd be alright and the calculator doesn't mention any compatibility issues, but I'd rather check!

Offline Sue

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2017, 06:59:13 PM »
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Bettas are problematic. Males are worse than females, but there are some downright nasty females around. The cause of the problem with bettas is that the fish we see everywhere are intensively bred Betta spendens, and before they were bred for pretty colours they were bred for aggressiveness - they've been fought for sport in the far east for many human generations - like pit bulls were bred for aggressiveness for fighting here in the west. Bettas are bred in huge numbers in the far east for sale as pets in the west but no-one has tried breeding this aggressiveness back out of them.

There are a lot of fish that like your hardness - all south American fish and most Asian fish prefer soft water. The trouble is most species that are OK for your tank size are shoaling species which need at least 6 of the same, and fish that can be kept alone or in pairs need bigger tanks. And mollies also need a bigger tank, I forgot to mention that before  :-[ They need a tank at least 90 cm long as they are big fish especially females.

Honey gouramis would be OK, a male/female pair. They come in three different colours with yellow being the most common in shops, red the next most common and the wild colour being hard to find. Honeys (some shops call then dwarf honey gouramis) are peaceful for gouramis, and unlike some other gourami species the males do not harass females to death.

Or if you'd rather stick to shoaling species, ember tetras would go well with blue neons. They look washed out in shops but when they've settled in they really do live up to their name.
Green shoaling fish? Microdevario kubotai, variously called neon green rasboras, green tetras or even yellow rasboras.

Don't be tempted to rush into getting more fish, though. I speak from experience when I say if you stock to the max too soon, you'll find a new shop with fish you didn't know existed and have no room for.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2017, 09:04:01 PM »
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@fishbeard your story doesn't sound too dissimilar to many others (even if we bought small tanks rather than inherited them).
Some fish stores give better advice than others.
I, for one, have found this site/forum very useful and helpful (especially as a relative newbie) and there are a lot of questions that I've needed answers to, and in the past I wouldn't have been able to trust shop staff as I wouldn't have known if they were giving useful advice or just trying to sell stuff.
Welcome to the forum  :wave: , I'm glad that you found us.  :)

Offline Fishbeard

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2017, 10:48:28 PM »
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@Littlefish

Thanks for the welcome, and the consolation that I'm not the only person to make these mistakes. Even before signing up, this site had been a massive help, but being able to actually just ask my questions (and I'm sure there will be plenty more of them) and get answers is quite relieving. I'm glad I've found you, and I'm sure my fish are, too.


@Sue

So, with the Betta, my issue is that I won't know its temperament until I get it home and into the tank, at which point it might start picking fights? Is it something I could watch for in the shop, and see which one was submissive/timid, or could I risk taking home a runt that then tries to assert itself as the biggest thing in my tank (which it would be)? I only ask because you haven't exactly said no... only that there are problems. I would like to have a "showy" fish, either a single one or a pair, and the betta looks the part even if it isn't behaving that way.

The honey gouramis look alright, though it does lead me to wonder what to do with my golden ram. Seeing as she's already in the tank, could I just introduce a male to keep her company? I like the look of a few of the rams, but I know they become territorial when breeding and they'll end up fighting with the corys if they go too close to the eggs. If I get a different type of ram (like a German blue) would they pair up without successfully breeding, or will they produce some sort of hybrid? Would she be happy with one of the dwarf cichlids, or will they not pair up together?

If I add to my neons and pandas, I don't appear to have enough space in the tank for another shoal, which means either a larger shoal of neons, or I'm back to one/two centrepiece fish.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2017, 11:15:25 PM »
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I'm not sure that I'm going to be much help to you as my water parameters are very different, so I can't suggest soft water fish from experience. Try having a wander around your fish stores and when you see a fish you like check their requirements, http://seriouslyfish.com/ is the site the people here have recommended previously.

I do have a male betta though, and I haven't had any trouble with him. However, he shares his 80cm/90L tank with panda cories, otocinclus, assasin snails, and 1 random little shrimp that arrived as a stowaway with the snails. The betta is the only mid-water swimmer, and the only fish with colour, so he doesn't have much competition from other fish in the tank, and generally ignores them.

Offline Sue

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2017, 07:14:14 PM »
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A female betta could work. But it is not guaranteed. Females are usually kept in tanks together in shops so you should be able to observe their behaviour. But.... a female which is low down in the female betta pecking order might appear submissive to avoid the attentions of the more dominant females, then when they are not there she suddenly decides to be top fish in her new tank and bully the other fish into submission.

No, I'm afraid you can't buy a male of any colour morph for the female ram, she must choose her own mate. A pair that is not properly bonded can easily end up with one killing the other. They must either be bought as a bonded pair, or a group must be bought and when two pair up, rehome the rest. It is better if you either keep her alone or return her to the shop. It would also be risky if you got another female because the one you have now considers the whole of your tank as hers. Another female will be seen as an interloper. Buying two females at the same time is possible.
Rams come in several morphs - the basic ram, gold rams, electric blue rams, balloon rams, angel rams (the ones with long fins) and they are all Mikrogeophagus ramirezi. They have been selectively bred to get all these different colours and body/fin shapes. All M. ramirezi have red in their eye rings making it easier to tell the difference between them and Bolivian rams which have no red in their eye rings.Shops cannot be guaranteed to label their fish correctly.
Then there's the Bolivian ram, Mikrogeophagus altispinosus. This is a different species. But it grows bigger than the ram, and needs a bigger tank.

There are other dwarf cichlids that might work, but again you would need to buy a bonded pair - and I think your ram would object to them invading her territory. If you were to part ex the ram for other fish, that would be a way round it.
Cockatoo cichlids (Apistogramma cacatuoides) and agassizi's cichlid (A. agassizii) are the most common in shops. The way you spot a bonded pair involves standing motionless in front of the shop tank till the fish forget you are there. Then they will start behaving normally. The males will flare their fins out at each other and push each other with their noses. The females will just get on with life. If a male allows a female to stay close by him without objecting to her, they are likely to be a pair. Buy those.

Offline Fishbeard

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2017, 09:05:40 PM »
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Thanks for that, Sue. I wasn't sure of Goldie would be the solution to my problems, but it seems like she's staying on the return list, along with the hatchetfish and both guppies. I won't be able to get to the LFS I bought them from until Friday afternoon because of my work hours and my concern now is that my female molly my give birth before I can return her. She's loitering at the bottom of the tank and keeping in the shade - from what I've read, that's a sign that she's near to giving birth, but how near is "near"? Up until yesterday, she was swimming in the mid-section with the male, so this is different behaviour for her - do I have hours or days to go?

With returning fish, I'll be calling the LFS tomorrow during lunch to check they'll take them back. Given how readily it was suggested, is it likely that most places will take the fish back? Can I expect to get any kind of "part-exchange" value for them, or will they just take them back for free? I don't mind if they go back for free, but if it's normal to get at least some sort of refund for them, I'd like to know before I go in and miss out!

Offline Sue

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2017, 09:15:46 PM »
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Some shops will give you some part ex for fish, but it's never what you paid for them. Other's won't give you anything, they just take them off your hands. And there are some shops that won't take them at all.
if all else fails there's http://www.aquarist-classifieds.co.uk/ I find fish go pretty quickly if you give them away.

When livebearers are within a day or two of giving birth, their body changes shape so that it looks as though they've swallowed a box. It's called squaring off, a pretty accurate description  :)

Offline Fishbeard

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2017, 09:31:34 PM »
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She's not looking boxy yet, just rather round, so I'll have to keep my eye on her.

Fingers crossed that the LFS helps me out - there's a Pets at Home not far from me, are they any more likely to accept unwanted fish, or would I be wasting time to try them if the LFS refuses?

Offline Sue

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2017, 09:39:06 PM »
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I would put P@H at the bottom of a list of potentials. Non-chains are most likely to accept fish in my experience.

Offline Fishbeard

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #15 on: November 27, 2017, 09:50:33 PM »
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Thanks - you've got the patience of a saint dealing with all my questions!

Guess it really is fingers crossed for the LFS, then.

Offline Fishbeard

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #16 on: November 29, 2017, 07:56:03 PM »
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Good news - the LFS has confirmed that they'll take back the mollies, the ram and the hatchetfish.

Still no baby mollies, and she's still not looking "square", though she is still growing bigger.

When I brought the fish home, they were in thick plastic bags that I've since chucked. What's best for taking them back? I was thinking that something like a freezer bag is the closest thing available, would they be alright? The LFS is about 10 minutes away, so they won't be trapped in the bag for long, but I don't want to put them under any further stress if I can help it.

Offline Sue

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #17 on: November 29, 2017, 09:16:54 PM »
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Freezer bags will be fine, though as they are usually thinner than the bags LFS use, maybe use two, one inside the other. Fill the bag about a third full of water. The LFS trick is to hold the very top of the bag and twist it round several times. This makes a neck and pushes the air down into the bag so it is fully stretched like a balloon. Then fold the twisted neck over and wrap an elastic band round and round till it fits tightly. You'll never get it quite like the shop does though  :) I would bag the three species separately.

Fish are easier to catch if you take some water out. The fish will be OK in the bag(s) for as long as it takes to refill and turn the filter & Heater back on. It is easier to use two nets, one to herd the fish into the other; or a net and a jar.

Just to warn you that you'll be tearing your hair out by the time you've bagged them all  ;D

Offline Fishbeard

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #18 on: November 29, 2017, 09:50:00 PM »
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Thanks for the advice, I've got two nets, so I'll try to make use of them.

Just a thought - my normal tank maintenance is on a Saturday morning. 10-15% water change, gravel vacuum etc. I'm planning to take these fish back on either Friday afternoon or Saturday, and I've asked the LFS to stick two panda corydoras and four neon tetras on reserve for me to pick up at the same time. Will I be alright to my normal maintenance on the Saturday morning? I seem to recall reading something about not feeding/cleaning the tank if you're expecting new arrivals, but I'm not 100% and I can't find the thread...

I'm quite hirsute, so hopefully this "relaxing" hobby won't take too much of a toll on my hair!

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #19 on: November 29, 2017, 09:57:03 PM »
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Glad to hear that the LFS will take back the fish that you don't want.
Good luck with netting them, it is very stressful for all involved.
When you have begged up your fish, put the bags containing the fish into another bag or box to keep them in the dark whilst transporting them. When I say "keep them in the dark" I mean physically obscure as much light as possible to reduce stress on the fish, as opposed to not telling them where they are going  ;)  Extra bags/box will also stop them from getting too cold during transport as well.

I've just spotted your question about tank maintenance whilst typing. It is easier to net the fish with less water in the tank, so if you remove some water you can syphon the substrate at the same time. Topping up the tank after will count as your water change. It won't hurt your fish if you don't feed them on Saturday, they can go for several days without food.

Offline Sue

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #20 on: November 29, 2017, 10:05:26 PM »
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if you taking fish back, I would get more cories. The bacteria that you've grown for the fish you have now should manage an extra few cories. They need to be in a group of at least six, and of the same species.

Offline fcmf

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #21 on: November 29, 2017, 10:22:54 PM »
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Thanks for the advice, I've got two nets, so I'll try to make use of them.
On the off-chance that one of the two nets happens to be green, then a useful tip I picked up on here a while back was to herd the fish into the green net as they're more likely to think of it as safe/plants.

If you are struggling to catch them in a net, then I've usually found a jug/jar easier to catch fish in than a net.


Offline Fishbeard

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #22 on: November 29, 2017, 10:33:26 PM »
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if you taking fish back, I would get more cories. The bacteria that you've grown for the fish you have now should manage an extra few cories. They need to be in a group of at least six, and of the same species.

I already have four panda cories in the tank, so the extra two will take me to six. I've got two neons (having lost some during the emergency tank change) so I'll be taking them back up to six as well, so that should keep everyone happy, assuming the four departures will do their part and get in the bags. Fingers crossed!

Offline Matt

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #23 on: November 30, 2017, 06:16:46 AM »
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Good luck!! You may also find the fish easier to catch without some of your decorations/fake plants in the tank for them to hide in.

Offline Sue

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #24 on: November 30, 2017, 10:27:02 AM »
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I already have four panda cories in the tank, so the extra two will take me to six.

Opps, sorry I missed that  :-[

Offline Fishbeard

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #25 on: December 01, 2017, 05:59:33 PM »
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Don't worry about it Sue - I've asked enough daft questions that it's right of you to check!

I've been to the LFS this afternoon, bid farewell to the mollies/golden ram/hatchetfish and have come home with two more pandas to take the group up to six, and despite asked for "four or five" tetras, I came home with six and now have a shoal of eight in the tank.

I'm leaving them in darkness tonight (the tank light is normally running from 4pm to 10pm) to help them settle.

Getting them netted wasn't too bad at all - the tank's a nice, easy rectangular shape and once I moved out a few of my decorations, they didn't have much space to hide. Far more stressful was trying to undo the insanely tight elastic bands that the LFS put on the bags - I was convinced I was going to lose an eye!

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #26 on: December 01, 2017, 06:04:50 PM »
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Glad to hear that you didn't have any problems netting your fish to go back to the LFS.
I hope that your new fish settle in tonight, and over the next few days.
It would be great to see some pics when everything is back to normal.  :)

p.s. perhaps a sturdy pair of safety goggles would be useful next time you have to take the elastic band off a fish bag  ;)

Offline Sue

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #27 on: December 01, 2017, 06:35:39 PM »
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When I encounter insanely tight elastic bands, I put the bag in the water change bucket and cut the top bit off the bag. I put the bag in the bucket in case I drop it while cutting the top off  ;D

Yes, I do have a fish-only pair of scissors.....

Offline Fishbeard

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #28 on: December 01, 2017, 06:52:33 PM »
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Having resisted the urge to look around the other tanks (or, indeed, at the other tanks for sale...) I'm hoping that I won't need to contend with any more fiendish elastic bands for a while. I should have taken a pair of blinkers - there are so many gorgeous fish out there...

Offline fcmf

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #29 on: December 01, 2017, 06:59:14 PM »
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I know that feeling too well re the need for blinkers when visiting the LFS. You're a potential MTS candidate (Multiple Tank Syndrome, not Malaysian Trumpet Snail which the acronym also refers to).  ;D

Offline Fishbeard

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #30 on: December 01, 2017, 07:36:37 PM »
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In many ways, I'm blessed by a lack of space! I'm sure I could find the money required, but I can't find space to fit in something over a metre in length no matter how hard I look - and yes, I already have looked for it!

Offline fcmf

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #31 on: December 01, 2017, 09:56:54 PM »
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My tank is the same size as yours, and, like you, the complete lack of space for anything larger is exactly my issue - the entire home seems to be floor-to-ceiling full capacity!

Offline Fishbeard

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #32 on: December 02, 2017, 08:00:22 PM »
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So, remember yesterday when it was all "Good job, Fishbeard, you didn't go looking at other fish"?

Yeah. It didn't last.

I was in town this morning and went into P@H to get some more dechlorinator, as I'd forgotten to pick some up from the LFS yesterday (because I had my blinkers on). Whilst wandering, I went to see what they carried, having never actually been into our P@H before and spotted some red honey gouramis. The LFS only carries the yellow type, which have always looked a bit washed out to me, so I went over to inspect the red ones and immediately identified a pair at the bottom of the tank. Convinced this was a sign, I beckoned over the girl and, after much difficulty in stressing that I wanted two specific fish and not just any two, she was able to bag them and now they're swanning around in my tank.

I'm now going to buy all my fish-related products online. It's safer. I can't be trusted in shops.  :-[

Offline Sue

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #33 on: December 02, 2017, 08:06:32 PM »
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Red honeys can be a bit tricky to sex, but as long as they are not two males they'll be fine. The two female natural coloured honeys in my tank stick together like glue.

Yellows are actually not nearly so washed out once they are in your tank, but reds will look better than yellows with neons.



Definitely stick to on-line shopping in future. The cost of postage is enough to put most people off buying fish on-line  ;D

Offline Fishbeard

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #34 on: December 02, 2017, 08:49:09 PM »
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I wouldn't know where to begin with sexing fish, other than assuming that the female will be larger than the male. In the shop, these two kept moving around together and whenever another fish came close, one of them would chase the third fish away. Hopefully that's a sign that they get along?

Oh, and since Littlefish asked for a picture, I've tried to take one. It's not easy - I get a lot of glare, and that's to say nothing of the fish refusing to say cheese! I'm also stick with the camera on my phone, so it's not great, but if anyone has any photography tips then I'll happily try again tomorrow. The gouramis are especially camera shy - I was hoping to get a clear shot of them together to help someone that knows more than me try to sex them, but for now they keep lurking in the back.


Offline fcmf

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #35 on: December 02, 2017, 08:54:45 PM »
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Ah good - a pic - I was looking forward to seeing one; thanks for posting. Tank definitely looks good.

As you've asked for some tips, you might find this thread helpful: https://forums.thinkfish.co.uk/general-fishkeeping-advice/aquarium-photography-tips

Offline Sue

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #36 on: December 02, 2017, 08:57:20 PM »
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The photo is great.

I use a camera on a tripod, and have the room in darkness with the tank lights on. That seems to cut down on reflections but it does lengthen the exposure time, meaning I get wobble blurring if I don't use a tripod, and the fish often come out as moving blurs.


Honey gouramis - and indeed all gouramis - don't pair up like cichlids. Two together doesn't necessarily mean a male and female. Size is not an indicator in shops as they are all young so the bigger fish could just be older. Once they are fully grown in your tank, one could end up bigger than the other.

Offline Fishbeard

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #37 on: December 02, 2017, 09:59:04 PM »
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Ah... I think I may have gotten confused about the advice you have on rams before... I guess I'll have to keep an eye on them and see how this plays out. Fingers crossed!

Thanks for the link fcmf, there's some good advice there although it seems that my photo wasn't so bad.

The Gouramis came to the front of the tank earlier and I managed to capture a video of them. I'm almost loathe to post it, for fear of being told that this is how they fight and I'll have to return yet more fish... but it's worth finding out, at least.

Gouramis

Offline Sue

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #38 on: December 02, 2017, 10:08:50 PM »
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Hmmm, it does look a bit like two males sizing up to each other. Keep an eye on them.

Look at the tail end of the long fin that runs under the body. In theory, in a female the very end of that fin runs vertically up towards the body while in a male, it is longer and curves back towards the head before it joins the body. This is not 100% guaranteed though.

Two gouramis just investigating do so face to face and touch each other with their feelers (actually modified pelvic fins). And then honey gouramis breed, the male displays to the female by swimming vertically, nose upwards, in front of her.

Offline Fishbeard

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #39 on: December 02, 2017, 10:45:41 PM »
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*sigh* That's what I feared. I'll watch them and see how they get on.

As I said, in the shop, they chased off any of the other gouramis that came near and I saw what I'd call "pecking" if they were able to get close enough to the other fish, but then they'd both come back together. In my tank, which is much larger than the one at P@H, they spend quite a lot of time in close proximity, with a lot of contact (like the video), but nothing I'd really call violent - I've certainly not witnessed any attacks and neither fish seems to move away from the other, so they don't seem threatened... but what do I know?  :-\

Lights out for now, so we'll see what the morning brings.

Offline Sue

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #40 on: December 03, 2017, 09:15:42 AM »
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It is possible for 2 males to co-exist peacefully as long as there are no females present.
I had this with two male Bolivian rams. These fish are notoriously difficult to tell males from females so I bought the two most different ones, which still turned out to be both male. Then I found a shop that had some locally bred ones, and their breeding tubes were visible, so I bought two females. As soon as they went into the tank, the males stopped being peaceful and attacked each other - they now had something to fight over.
Cichlids and gouramis are similar in that they are both territorial fish and see others as invading their territory. But cichlids need to choose their own mates, and mate for life while gouramis don't pair up at all.

If your gouramis are two males, at present they will be deciding which is the dominant male. Honeys are at the more peaceful end of the gourami spectrum, so the dominant male may choose the 'best' part of the tank as his territory and leave the rest for the subordinate gourami. Best here means most to a gourami's taste  :)

Offline Fishbeard

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #41 on: December 03, 2017, 09:19:44 PM »
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Well, day two of Gourami Watch has been rather uneventful.

They don't appear to have territories, as they both swim pretty much all over the tank without any bother. If they wind up nearby there's a little bit of feeling each other out, but none of the pushing from yesterday and then they split off and go their separate ways. I'll keep watching, but it all seems peaceful for now.


Offline Sue

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #42 on: December 03, 2017, 09:29:41 PM »
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It can be hard working them out sometimes.

I bought a trio of natural coloured honey gouramis a few weeks ago. I chose a definite male and two with stripes down their sides which usually indicates females. For a while they swam everywhere together. But I am now a bit worried about the male - he never coloured up properly and is now spending all his time at the surface in the corner behind the heater. To be honest, I don't think he has long left.
The two pale ones with the stripes are doing fine. But their fins look like male fins. And one has taken to chasing the other. Do I actually have another male masquerading as a female?

Offline Fishbeard

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #43 on: December 03, 2017, 10:31:12 PM »
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Sorry to hear you're having problems with your gouramis, it all seems very confusing!

Having looked at a few photos online, mine still look rather pale - how long should it take for them to settle down and brighten up? If I do have two males, will mine ever reach their brightest colours without a female to present to?

Offline Sue

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #44 on: December 04, 2017, 09:09:37 AM »
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Red honeys can be very variable in colour. The yellow variety, which I've had in the past, never seemed to change intensity; with wild coloured ones, the male just develops a black throat when he's in the mood for building bubble nests.


About 15 years ago, I had a trio, and the wild coloured ones were the only colour back then. I got up 3 weeks later to find one of the females had changed colour and was a male.



Stick with yours and let their behaviour guide you. If one takes to bullying the other, that's when to take action. Breeding behaviour is - male swimming nose in the air in front of the female, then chasing her if she doesn't respond and nipping her tail. If you see aggression without the nose in the air posture first, that needs attention.

Offline Fishbeard

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Re: Making the best of some bad decisions (naive fishkeeper)
« Reply #45 on: December 04, 2017, 08:53:51 PM »
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Well, judging by their behaviour today, neither of my gouramis care about what the other one does. Sometimes they're on opposite sides of the tank, sometimes they're near to each other, but whatever happens, they just don't appear to be showing any interest whatsoever in each other. Neither of them appear to have a care in the world today.

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