Am I in trouble, 5 dwarf gouramis in a 55 ?

mikeroz

Good day,

I am fairly new to the hobby, but have been watching and learning for the past 6 months or so... Unfortunately looks like I make a giant mistake...
I had a very understocked 55 Gallon tank ( 6 Sterbai Cory, 2 guppy males and 4 Neon Tetras)

I have decided to add few more things -- the plan was Peacock Gudgeon and may be Bolivian Rams... however when I went to to an aquarium store they unfortunately did not have any of the species I planned for. So instead of walking away, Dwarf Gouramies caught my eye. I explained my setup to an employee and he showed me all the different gouramies. He suggested that I can mix them in a tank. I ended up with a pair of Blue, pair of Flame, and one regular (striped kind). I asked the employee if he was sure that all of them will peacefully coexist in a 55 gallon with my guppies tank. At that point I should of Googled - but I did not. He confirmed that it is perfect and I will still be understocked... ... So I came home with five of them and started researching to make sure I am doing everything right -- and I learned that this fish are basically going to kill each other ... So far they -- getting accustomed to the new environment -- but I already see one bully that is occasionally chasing others around...



1. What do I do now ? I have another 20 gallon tank that basically houses 2 female guppies and bunch of babies. I guess I can move bully to that 20 gallon tank but I am kind of trying to grow those Guppy babies. Is my only choice to return fish back ?
2. Rhetorical question - How can I trust any aquarium store after this?


PS Lessons learned: never buy a fish without exhaustive research first ... and normally it is what I do -- but some how I ended up jumping the gun ... Never jump a gun ...
 

BigManAquatics

I only listen to the aquarium store people so much anyway...research is the key. You may be able to salvage it by adding lots of plants so they can hide from each other and not constantly see each other. Worth a shot. Real or fake should work, especially to find out if it will work.
 

otterblue

Return the fish and get your money back.
 

ruud

The only time I talk to aquarium store people is when I'd like to know the price.
For people who are new to the hobby, the advice should always be to start with one species. I understand it can be tempting to get many different species and squeeze em all in one tank, but you can watch YouTube to enjoy and learn about different species. If the one species you have seem to be doing fine, it is time to start thinking of perhaps a second species. Or more of the same species. I'm in the hobby for over 20 years. I kept multiple species in a tank at one point in time, but the last decade I stick to species-only tanks. 5 dwarf gouramis is disaster waiting to happen; even in a dwarf gourami species only tank. If you take out the bully, another gourami will claim the position, and so on and so on. I own territoral fish and apply dividers. You can purchase sheets of plastic canvas that are used in the "needle and thread" hobby (I'm sure it is named differently...).
 

MacZ

2. Rhetorical question - How can I trust any aquarium store after this?
Depends:
- Big box stores often have marginally trained personnel. Even the department managers are usually better trained as businesspeople than as fishkeepers.
- Small LFSs usually have better trained personel and the managers/owners are usually very knowledgable. There I often find personal attitudes getting in the way.
I personally know exemptions to both rules.

Let your intuition guide you. We all learn in our lifetime whether someone is trustworthy or not. Otherwise: Research, read, watch, listen. There is a list of good, trustworthy sources somewhere here on the forum, use the search function.

I myself can't give you any more tipps. The employees of the LFS where I usually go these days know I am at least as knowledgeable as they are and in many cases even more, which has luckily led to them doing their homework after I ruined some sales with passing comments. Really lucky (and speaking for them), in another store they might have seen this as a reason to kick me out.
 

ruud

Blacklists circulate in the LFS community with MacZ topping the list.
 

MacZ

Blacklists circulate in the LFS community with MacZ topping the list.
Actually not. But I have a blacklist myself. ;)

When you're browsing and people are advised things that are even worse than the case at hand, sometimes you can't but interfere. :D
 

otterblue

I've seen exceptions (in fact I saw one today) but overall it seems most LFS/LPS employees sell fish with no questions asked. I wouldn't be surprised if it's store policy: profit over the well-being of the animal.

Seems that many employees will answer questions honestly if you ask them - but your situation was completely unfair to you. I would return some (or all) of the fish and demand my money back.
 

DoubleDutch

Actually not. But I have a blacklist myself. ;)

When you're browsing and people are advised things that are even worse than the case at hand, sometimes you can't but interfere. :D
I know the top one hahaha
 

MacZ

You know the top 4 actually. :D
 

mikeroz

Yeah ... It is a small LFS -- that seemed to be the best out of the bunch in my area*Long Island, NY)... No dead fish in aquariums ... reasonable selection (Not too much) and local breeders bring things to them. So I thought I can trust that place. It is the only reason I went ahead with the purchase. It is unfortunately 30 minute shlep from my home. I am really struggling with finding a good store I can trust. At this point there is one Bully Flame Dwarf -- I am going to try employ him as guppy population control in My 20 gallon guppy tank ... and see how it goest ... What do you think ?
 

FluffyChicken

Good day,

I am fairly new to the hobby, but have been watching and learning for the past 6 months or so... Unfortunately looks like I make a giant mistake...
I had a very understocked 55 Gallon tank ( 6 Sterbai Cory, 2 guppy males and 4 Neon Tetras)

I have decided to add few more things -- the plan was Peacock Gudgeon and may be Bolivian Rams... however when I went to to an aquarium store they unfortunately did not have any of the species I planned for. So instead of walking away, Dwarf Gouramies caught my eye. I explained my setup to an employee and he showed me all the different gouramies. He suggested that I can mix them in a tank. I ended up with a pair of Blue, pair of Flame, and one regular (striped kind). I asked the employee if he was sure that all of them will peacefully coexist in a 55 gallon with my guppies tank. At that point I should of Googled - but I did not. He confirmed that it is perfect and I will still be understocked... ... So I came home with five of them and started researching to make sure I am doing everything right -- and I learned that this fish are basically going to kill each other ... So far they -- getting accustomed to the new environment -- but I already see one bully that is occasionally chasing others around...



1. What do I do now ? I have another 20 gallon tank that basically houses 2 female guppies and bunch of babies. I guess I can move bully to that 20 gallon tank but I am kind of trying to grow those Guppy babies. Is my only choice to return fish back ?
2. Rhetorical question - How can I trust any aquarium store after this?


PS Lessons learned: never buy a fish without exhaustive research first ... and normally it is what I do -- but some how I ended up jumping the gun ... Never jump a gun ...
Hi Mikeroz,

I'm going to against most people here and say that honestly I think you should go back and get MORE dwarf gourami's for your 55. Definitely Live plants will help and how the tank is decorated (having breaks in line of sight like pieces of wood or large rocks). I have 8 dwarf gourami (2 adult and 6 Juveniles) all co-existing in a 50 gallon (3ft x 18 inches). It also houses 6 Congo tetras and 8 Peacock Gudgeons, and a couple oddballs. Well planted and over filtered. The first 24 hours they chase each other around and "size each other up". After that they will know who not to mess with and won't bother each other. I have had this setup for at least 2 months now and have had 0 casualties. (I think all my dwarfs are males too!)

So my suggestion to you is to maybe go back and pick up 2 more wild (striped) Dwarfs, and one more Powder blue and one more flame. That will be 3 of each and try to get similarly sized or bigger gourami's preferably then what you already own, since the new ones will not have had a chance to establish their territories yet, this will reduce the chances of bullying from the current dwarfs. Maybe get some more Neon Tetras too while you're at it!

Just a little note on your LFS, in my opinion they are not in the wrong by sending you home with 5 dwarfs as that is the minimum number I think that could work together. Anything more than one and less than 5 is not going to end well.

Hope this helps and if you need any more help feel free to ask me :)
 

mikeroz

Hmm interesting prospective Fluffy Chicken - I guess it is forth a try ---

Though LFS initially suggested that I take 2 pairs ... and I sort of decided to add a Wild Gourami - as I liked the striped pattern...

Do Gouramis attack Peacock Gadgeons ? I also wanted to get one SAE to help with algae a bit ... wdyt?

My setup has one Eheim 350 Canister Filter and one Large sponge filter attached to Eheim Air Pump. My tank has plants some fake some real but I would not call it heavily planted. There is a piece of driftwood in the middle of the tank among other things like Mickey Mouse Castle - My' Son's special ask.

As I was getting ready to move the most aggressive gourami to the guppy tank. I realized that when the "god father is hiding" there is a lot of inner fighting and everyone becomes aggressive - but once Don Corleone shows his face everybody starts minding their business. And running away... Though looks like there is a new challenger to Alpha fish position...
 

ruud

Adding more gourami's, and a few neons while you are at it, is a bit of a daring statement to someone who is fairly new to the hobby. Although I don't want to exaggerate the situation. Also, the definition of a heavily planted tank really differs between people. I can imagine a scenario of adding 4 additional male dwarf gourami's to the tank along with 5 plants in small baskets....

Back to the original question. Let me bring the discussion or advice to safer waters (at least for myself). I own highly territorial fish that are a bit over 1 inch in length; Dario black tiger.

There is this guy on YouTube advising to purchase only "one or a ton". He refers to Dario dario, which resemble the species I keep to a very large degree.

My advice on the other hand would be, well not to purchase this fish at all in the first place, but if you do, buy only 1. If you have a 55 gallon tank (the tank's footprint is of course what really matters), you can actually purchase about 3 specimens. What you will notice is that 2 of these are very likely going to establish a territory that is based on natural borders that occur in the tank (the edge of a bush and open water). The third one is "unlucky", becomes subordinate and "pretends to be a female", becoming pale and dorsal fin kept close to the body. But all in all, fairly natural behaviors can be observed, which is a plus in my opinion. Most people, however, will not offer such an environment for just 2 or 3 specimens that are so tiny and hard to spot because they don't come out in the open. Except for yours truly.

If I would follow the guy's advice and add more specimens to the tank, I don't know what to expect. Most of the males becoming subordinate? Or, what I think I'm seeing on his YouTube video, and what I think I'm observing in tanks at LFSs, some sort of collective apathy as the situation these territorial fish are in is so markedly different from their natural environment.

Everything depends of course on what pleasure you get from observing an aquarium. Watching territorial fish in stalemate or e.g. more naturals tanks, where you sometimes spot a fish, but not all the time.

Keep us posted.

PS: I would advice not to add a SAE to keep algae under control... For starters, if your tank is heavily planted for all the gourami's you are going to add, then algae should be of much less concern.
 

MacZ

(2 adult and 6 Juveniles)
Good you mention that, because juveniles are not yet territorial and are often ignored by territory holding adults. I'm pretty sure, when the juveniles start becoming adults the situation will change drastically.

Overcrowding is a method originally "invented" in the 80s and 90s by keepers of Malawi cichlids after people obeserved what ruud described about overcrowded sales tanks for the Darios. The fish keep each other in check by dispersing aggression. Now, 30-40 years later it turns out the method is reducing the overall life expectancy as while there are no extreme aggression spikes anymore, the overall stress level rises significantly. This results in more disease cases and a slow decline in population numbers.

So while superficially the tank becomes more "peaceful" it actually just is a way of preoccupying all territorial fish with permanent stress. Dominant fish are stressed because others try to challenge, the challengers might become constantly chased.

While one can do this no problem with fish like tetras or pencils, that usually stick to "chest beating" and flaring, fish like gourami or cichlids are more hands-on and able to kill each other.

And always keep in mind: A tank is a closed system. While in nature fish can just move on and try their luck elsewhere, in a tank they are locked in with their tankmates.
 

mikeroz

Thank you guys for your support ... not sure what I will end up doing ...I will try to get some more vegetation going I guess,

The smart thing to do is to return them I think I understand that now ... but I am a bit freaked out by packing fish to go... So far one Largest Gourami claimed its spot and protecting it -- two pretend to be females as ruud pointed out. One of them seem to be growing balls and starting to challenge Alfa a bit...

My suspicion is that the reason some of them are milder than others is because they are still young

May be I will move one of them to Guppy tank for population control... and snail harassment though I was planning for a female Betta to get that job...

By the way one positive thing that came out of it ... looks like these guys are duckweed fans...

Though i did not mind the Duckweed too much ... but looks like my floating jungle is receding
 

coralbandit

+1 on you now have enough or could add a few more to spread the beatings out .
Territories and line of sight breaks make no difference IMO .
A strong current [stronger then normal for gourami ] and moving stuff around [ a regular cichlid trick] may just allow you the better DG tank .They are a fish that needs special attention when kept IMO .
Most get them by mistake IMO not knowing anything about them .
Add as many as you can IMO .
 

FluffyChicken

Do Gouramis attack Peacock Gadgeons ? I also wanted to get one SAE to help with algae a bit ... wdyt?
No they get along well, neither seems bothered by the other. I have no experience with SAE because after researching them for 2 minutes I realized they are not the kind of fish I wanted to keep. It was actually when I was looking for my first fish to put in my first tank and ended up buying a regular Bristlenose Pleco as per my LFS recommendation, and she is wonderful, my favorite fish to date. The super red variants are awesome, or they also come in albino if you like. Highly Recommended.
Good you mention that, because juveniles are not yet territorial and are often ignored by territory holding adults. I'm pretty sure, when the juveniles start becoming adults the situation will change drastically.
I agree, I may have my work cut out for me in a month or so once everyone grows up, I might just have to setup more tanks for them (oh darn lol). Seriously though I have other tanks running that I can separate if need be, always important to have a backup plan.

The smart thing to do is to return them I think I understand that now ... but I am a bit freaked out by packing fish to go... So far one Largest Gourami claimed its spot and protecting it -- two pretend to be females as @ruud pointed out. One of them seem to be growing balls and starting to challenge Alfa a bit...
Maybe this is the best course of action for your tank at this time, but entirely up to you and what you feel comfortable with. If you do, may I suggest exchanging the dwarfs maybe for a group of Peacocks? They are beautiful fish, male and female. Give them lots of caves (like for plecos, I find they enjoy the caves that only have one opening) or else the males will most likely spare with each other potentially tearing fins.
 

mikeroz

I have no experience with SAE because after researching them for 2 minutes I realized they are not the kind of fish I wanted to keep.

The reason for SAE is that after Gouramis disposed of my duckweed cover I for-see the beard algae making a comeback ...


I think it makes me a bad person. But it is a lot more fun to look at these than at random movements of guppies...

these guys move around with sense of purpose - exploring territory -- trying to get to best duckweed. May be it is because I have not seen any big fights yet...

Hmm so options are
1) Add More
2) Return All but one
3) Keep the way it is and see what happens
 

FluffyChicken

The reason for SAE is that after Gouramis disposed of my duckweed cover I for-see the beard algae making a comeback ...
If you're afraid of BBA then get some Amano Shrimp instead. Fascinating shrimp to watch! and bolder I find than Neocaridina. I had one with one of my adult dwarfs in a different tank and they got along great, Now my Amano lives with a Sunset Honey Gourami and some Cardinal Tetras :)
I think it makes me a bad person. But it is a lot more fun to look at these than at random movements of guppies...

these guys move around with sense of purpose - exploring territory -- trying to get to best duckweed. May be it is because I have not seen any big fights yet...

I have Endlers Livebearers as well, and I know exactly what you mean, Both excellent fish but different personas for sure.

Hmm so options are
1) Add More
2) Return All but one
3) Keep the way it is and see what happens
Looks like you have an important decision to make :D Best of luck!
 

mikeroz

mikeroz

an update...
1) I still have five Gouramis.
2) The most aggressive one (Don Carleone) developed a white spot on the mouth. I thought it was columonarris ... but after monitoring it for a bit I do not think that is it. I contemplated if I should separate it into QT -- but have not committed to that yet.
3) The most aggressive one(Don Careone) actually became a lot milder once I destroyed it's nest. It was built out of algae and duckweed.
4) The previously mild gourami (Stripy) built it's own nest in the opposite corner and became aggressive.
5) So I destroyed Stripy's nest and Stripy became a lot calmer and started collecting algae again. instead of spending it's energy on civil wars.
---
So this experiment proves that private property is bad and socialism is good. Or may be that work prevents aggression -- not sure:)
 

FluffyChicken

an update...
1) I still have five Gouramis.
2) The most aggressive one (Don Carleone) developed a white spot on the mouth. I thought it was columonarris ... but after monitoring it for a bit I do not think that is it. I contemplated if I should separate it into QT -- but have not committed to that yet.
3) The most aggressive one(Don Careone) actually became a lot milder once I destroyed it's nest. It was built out of algae and duckweed.
4) The previously mild gourami (Stripy) built it's own nest in the opposite corner and became aggressive.
5) So I destroyed Stripy's nest and Stripy became a lot calmer and started collecting algae again. instead of spending it's energy on civil wars.
---
So this experiment proves that private property is bad and socialism is good. Or may be that work prevents aggression -- not sure:)
I love this post thank you for sharing Glad to read that with a little "remodeling" from time to time that everyone gets along.
 

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