Dojo loaches in an outdoor water garden?

waterlilykari

I have a total of 4 dojo loaches, two larger ones and two small ones, and both my husbands for I are worrying that the larger ones are going to start out competing the little guys for food soon since they seen so much bigger (and healthier) than the smaller pair from the start. I have had the smaller pair for a number of months and they were rescues from the LPS. I know they were just babies at the time but they were also extremely malnourished when I took them home as they had been out-competed by the others they were in with at the store that were nearly full grown. The older pair I already had at home was only 1/4 to 1/2 inch bigger than the smaller pair and I monitored to ensure they were not running into the same problem with mine as they had with the adult loaches at the store. I figured with the wider variety of food in my tank and enough to ensure they didn't have to compete for it, they would bulk up to their healthier, more normal size soon enough.

However, they "bulked up" very little and have stayed on the skinny side, even bony looking since then. They don't seem to be growing as quickly as the older two do. I have wondered since getting them if the malnutrition would result in stunted growth and if so, are they going to wind up with the same issue as before if the size gap widens any more: larger loaches outcompete get smaller ones for food resulting in malnutrition in the smaller ones.

If that is the case, I am considering moving them to my outdoor water garden (approximately 30-35 gallons, I believe) so their only competition would be a few mosquito fish. Before I do though, I want to be absolutely sure it's in their best interest and if so, are there any special precautions I should be taking to ensure it goes well? Of course, the water garden is be filtered for them and I have monitored the temps to ensure it doesn't get hot from the sun. There are plenty of plants (floating, emerged and submerged) for shelter from predators, I can add a number of holey rocks for caves if necessary and the fence prevents wildlife from wandering into our yard.

With that said, I still worry there is some factor in this I might be missing. I want to ensure that ALL fish I take in are given every chance they can to live happy and healthy lives before turning to rehoming as an absolute last resort. While I have not seen anything that would greatly demonstrate they are already suffering because of the growing size difference between the young loaches and their elders, I want to prevent ANY from happening at all if possible so am unsure of what is the best course of action here. I would greatly appreciate any input or advice anyone can give me on this either way so I can best provide for these little guys.






 

Akili

The area of concern would be how to provide them with a softer substrate because they like to burrow.
https://www.fishlore.com/profile-dojoloach.htm

 

waterlilykari

There is a silt-like mixture that gets siphoned from our main tank indoors as the volcanic gravel breaks down, the clay based substrate breaks down and some of the leftover sand from when that was in the main tank prior to replacing the sand with the current substrate months ago. All has been sifted out to remove it from the used tank water, was thoroughly washed and dried to prevent transfer of any waste products from the indoor tank to the outdoor water garden. However, because the outdoor water garden does have some gravel as well to help anchor plants, I can remove some (or all of absolutely necessary) and top any remaining gravel with sand or alternatively mix the two together so their is a higher ratio of sand for the loaches.

Edit to add: @ ~ actually, to my understanding, a dirted bottom or even more so, a mix of silt, dirt, sand and a good amount of fish safe clay-based substrate would be closer to their natural environments in the wild. I should mention though that because many aquarists are leery of dirted tanks even though it's gaining in popularity and equally hesitant of many of the clay-based equivalents due to the clouding that comes along with the commercially manufactured options available so the use of sand alone is often viewed as the safest alternative for the average hobbyist trying to keep dojo loaches in a home aquarium. (Nothing wrong with this, especially since I am among them but the water garden is already partially there with the "silt mix" so I may adjust it but the substrate should otherwise be adequate)

Assuming I do adjust the substrate accordingly, (which I can have more than enough of anything needed from the LPS by this evening and be ready to prep it after work tonight or at the latest, tomorrow morning) then I guess my main questions now would be:

Is this really as good a solution as it seems or is that just wishful thinking of an over-protective fish-keeper? (meaning me)

Is there any reason anyone can think of that I should NOT try it?
 

waterlilykari

Bump?


 

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