I Need "happy Fish".

TheFishmonger

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Hello again,

I am a person that likes to keep "happy fish". I don't care about fish colors, I care about fish personality and bringing the tank to life with active, crazy and full of personality fish. That being said, I wanted to get me some lemon tetras, but I am notoriously impatient so I settled for Serpae tetras instead. Now there are several problems with these Serpae tetras. When I walked by the Serpae tetra tank at my local fish store I made the mistake to be attracted by their colors. I didn't like them at first as they seemed cold and too aggressive with each other, but hey, they are in a fish store cramped in a 10 gallons tank with other fish. So I bought the false Jullii corydoras to go with my Black Ruby Barbs. This combination worked out very well as both the Jullii and the Barbs have lots of personalities and constantly move around the tank, most of the time schooling together. A week later I picked up some survivors from the Serpae tank.

Having added them to my tank I noticed a few things about them. All of them have their fins chewed up, one is so skiny he/she looks like a floating corpse, one has a slight balance loss, and the other three are just downright evil. Sure, the barbs nip at each other but it's a playful thing. These Serpae are intent on doing damage. They hand out in the middle of the tank and back, not part taking in the joy of the other fish that are playing, but attacking any stray fish that comes their way and isn't fast enough to scare them. I thought the Black Ruby Barbs would be a problem for the Tetras, but they are juveniles and are intimidated by the older Tetras, and fortunately the Tetras are intimidated by the size of a school of Black Ruby Barbs followed by two Cories swimming their way. I have never seen such joyless and aggressive fish before, except in the case of Discus fish, who are notorious for their lack of personality. Honestly I would return them had I not tossed out the bag, but I also feel bad for them because they are in such a bad condition. However I also care about the safety of my fish with such an aggressive tankmate that does absolutely nothing but shoal in the bottom middle of the tank and attack any passer-by.

Sure, you will argue that maybe the fish are sick and need to be quarantined. But I don't have a quarantine set up, and even so, if they are this aggressive while sick I cannot imagine how they will be when they are fully recovered. As an antidote to the Tetras, I am planning on increasing the number of Black Ruby Barbs and Cories or add two more schools of happy and active fish. If the two Tetras don't make it, I will not increase their numbers, even at the risk of them becoming more aggressive. I will probably add lemon tetras instead and have them school with them. I read lemon tetras have better personalities. Any suggestions on happy fish, loaded with personality to drown this poor choice of a community tank fish like the Serpae Tetra?
 

kallililly1973

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I would rehome the serpae or get a bigger school so they can school chase and bother each other instead of other fish. I have 5 in my 55 ( been with me for over 2 years )and they have never chased anyone except each other and i have a pretty large stock of fish. I even see them shoaling with my vonrio tetras at times.
Edit: Serpae have a bad reputation with being fin nippers but i've never see it... Tiger barbs also have that bad rep. But i have 10 of those in my 29 with 12 guppies 5 albino corys and a baby albino BN pleco and they don't bother anyone except each other as well
 
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TheFishmonger

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I would rehome the serpae or get a bigger school so they can school chase and bother each other instead of other fish. I have 5 in my 55 ( been with me for over 2 years )and they have never chased anyone except each other and i have a pretty large stock of fish. I even see them shoaling with my vonrio tetras at times.
Edit: Serpae have a bad reputation with being fin nippers but i've never see it... Tiger barbs also have that bad rep. But i have 10 of those in my 29 with 12 guppies 5 albino corys and a baby albino BN pleco and they don't bother anyone except each other as well
I agree with you on the bad reputation of some fish breeds being untrue, but that does depend of the fish. Black Ruby Barbs have that bad reputation of being fin nippers as well, but I have not had any problems with them. Perhaps this batch of Serpae is the one that lives up to it's bad reputation, and I hope not. The rehoming idea sounds great, but I will give them the benefit of doubt, because they are malnourished and have been fighting at the local fish store. Maybe they will come around in a week or two. But I will consider rehoming them if this keeps on. I don't know anyone with fish tanks, so I guess a local aquarists club would be willing to help with that?
 

kallililly1973

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I agree with you on the bad reputation of some fish breeds being untrue, but that does depend of the fish. Black Ruby Barbs have that bad reputation of being fin nippers as well, but I have not had any problems with them. Perhaps this batch of Serpae is the one that lives up to it's bad reputation, and I hope not. The rehoming idea sounds great, but I will give them the benefit of doubt, because they are malnourished and have been fighting at the local fish store. Maybe they will come around in a week or two. But I will consider rehoming them if this keeps on. I don't know anyone with fish tanks, so I guess a local aquarists club would be willing to help with that?
Your local pet store may take them as a credit towards another species but like i said if their in a bit bigger school they may focus on each other rather than the other inhabitants.
 
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TheFishmonger

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Your local pet store may take them as a credit towards another species but like i said if their in a bit bigger school they may focus on each other rather than the other inhabitants.
I will have to give it some time to think on increasing their number, maybe they will recover from whatever psychological fish problems and complexes could have been created during captivity. With the way their fins and tails are chewed up I doubt anyone will take them even for free. Do you know of any fish breeds that are known to be very active?
 
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TheFishmonger

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Update.

The Serpae have been nothing but trouble. The fish recovered from their predicament during captivity, however their behavior became more aggressive. They nipped the fins of all the Corydoras and I just noticed that they chewed through the tails of my Black Ruby Barbs. Every single Black Ruby Barb has their tail severely nipped, I feel bad for those Barbs. My fish stopped schooling and everywhere they go there is a Serpae that follows to attack. I am surprised because supposedly the Black Ruby Barbs are "fin nippers" but it turns out the Serpae are the devil and no match for the peaceful Barbs. Yes I said peaceful Barbs.

Currently, I have the fish in a bucket contemplating if I should return them back where they came from or give them an other chance in the 5.5 gallons. Of course, IF I move out the Celestial Pearl Danios and add them to the 20 gallons with the Barbs and the Cories. It might even ruin my dreams of a shrimp tank with CPD's and I will have to worry about the Barbs taking the considerably smaller CPDs for lunch.

Most likely I will return the Serpae to the fish store, but I am considering giving them a chance at the 5.5 gallons. In their OWN tank. Maybe add 3-4 more of their OWN species. Those fish do not school around from what I have seen so far at all. My verdict of Serpae Tetras is that they should be kept in their own tank, away from community aquariums.

Any thoughts?
 

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I would rehome them to the fish store, 5.5 gallons is not enough for them.
They do good in larger schools, i've seen them in groups of 8-12 without bad behavior happening (some chasing but not bad), i've got a group of around 30 tiger barbs at work and they play nicely.

I would up the number of cories you have while you are at it, they like larger groups and make cory piles when resting.
You can try gold barbs, they are another peaceful type of barb that doesn't get huge.
 

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Update.

The Serpae have been nothing but trouble. The fish recovered from their predicament during captivity, however their behavior became more aggressive. They nipped the fins of all the Corydoras and I just noticed that they chewed through the tails of my Black Ruby Barbs. Every single Black Ruby Barb has their tail severely nipped, I feel bad for those Barbs. My fish stopped schooling and everywhere they go there is a Serpae that follows to attack. I am surprised because supposedly the Black Ruby Barbs are "fin nippers" but it turns out the Serpae are the devil and no match for the peaceful Barbs. Yes I said peaceful Barbs.

Currently, I have the fish in a bucket contemplating if I should return them back where they came from or give them an other chance in the 5.5 gallons. Of course, IF I move out the Celestial Pearl Danios and add them to the 20 gallons with the Barbs and the Cories. It might even ruin my dreams of a shrimp tank with CPD's and I will have to worry about the Barbs taking the considerably smaller CPDs for lunch.

Most likely I will return the Serpae to the fish store, but I am considering giving them a chance at the 5.5 gallons. In their OWN tank. Maybe add 3-4 more of their OWN species. Those fish do not school around from what I have seen so far at all. My verdict of Serpae Tetras is that they should be kept in their own tank, away from community aquariums.

Any thoughts?
I'm new to this hobby, but bought 3 Serpae Tetras for my 75g. My only demand is peaceful fish. The serpaes were aggressive, but only towards each other. Today, I removed a lot of decor from the 75g, thus making it much more wide open and oddly enough, the Serpae tetras stopped being aggressive towards each other. It was as if they suddenly discovered they were surrounded!!!
 
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TheFishmonger

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I have 7 Serpaes in a tank with 6 White Skirts, 5 Black Phantoms, 8 neons, 5 corys, 3 mollies, and 1 Pearl Gourami, and haven't noticed any behavior problems from any of them.

If you had more of them, and if they were healthy, I think you'd be happier with them.
Unfortunately, I am hesitant to risk this for a number of reasons. It might work, it might not. Sometimes the fish become well behaved with larger numbers. Therefore, instead of adding nearly two more schools of different fish will be stuck with more Serpae Tetras. I think the key to your success is that you have Tetras. Sure you have cories, but as bottom and corner dwellers they can get away from any nipping. Just like mine. The Barbs on the other hand..
 
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TheFishmonger

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I would rehome them to the fish store, 5.5 gallons is not enough for them.
They do good in larger schools, i've seen them in groups of 8-12 without bad behavior happening (some chasing but not bad), i've got a group of around 30 tiger barbs at work and they play nicely.

I would up the number of cories you have while you are at it, they like larger groups and make cory piles when resting.
You can try gold barbs, they are another peaceful type of barb that doesn't get huge.
Yes that is exactly my thinking. I feel bad sending them back to the fish store, but I doubt it is a good idea to mix Black Ruby Barbs with tiny Celestial Pearl Danios just to make up space for the Serpae in the 5.5 gallons. I agree it is small but I was prepared to consider that possibility, because at the fish store the conditions were not good.

Of course, I plan on increasing the cories to a school of 6-8, possibly add more Black Ruby Babrs, and then do some research about the third candidate for the 20 gallons.
 

Mcasella

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Yes that is exactly my thinking. I feel bad sending them back to the fish store, but I doubt it is a good idea to mix Black Ruby Barbs with tiny Celestial Pearl Danios just to make up space for the Serpae in the 5.5 gallons. I agree it is small but I was prepared to consider that possibility, because at the fish store the conditions were not good.

Of course, I plan on increasing the cories to a school of 6-8, possibly add more Black Ruby Babrs, and then do some research about the third candidate for the 20 gallons.
I'd look at a smaller centerpiece fish and up the schools, or just do a two species tank with the cories and barbs (make the schools larger and enjoyable as far as viewing pleasure/aesthetics).
 

juniperlea

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Unfortunately, I am hesitant to risk this for a number of reasons. It might work, it might not. Sometimes the fish become well behaved with larger numbers. Therefore, instead of adding nearly two more schools of different fish will be stuck with more Serpae Tetras. I think the key to your success is that you have Tetras. Sure you have cories, but as bottom and corner dwellers they can get away from any nipping. Just like mine. The Barbs on the other hand..
I'm so glad I'm not the only one who gets upset with nippy fish. Male guppies, neons, serpaes etc. The Pristella tetras however, are not nippy. I also have 3 female bettas that are not at all aggressive. As an experiment, I safely propped up a large, hang on door mirror, against the 75 g and was amazed at the fish, all admiring themselves. It also reduced aggression in the male guppies!!!
 

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In terms of fun little fish that seem to have a lot of personality, yet generally get along in a community....

Female bettas. The minimum is 5 or you risk them fighting....

But they are super fun and super expressive fish. Colorful to boot.
 

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I wouldn't really considered a sorority a good option if you are wanting happy fish, most of them aren't set up in a way that maintains the balance of the bettas and any change in the tank can lead to a mass murder. Many bettas aren't cut out for community living, i've only got three females i trust with other fish and i don't trust them with other bettas (often the girls are too aggressive or too shy to be able to do community living). I do have three of those females with other fish, one is a runt in a mixup tank (she is teeny and very genetically poor), one is with some tetras and cories, the last is with juvenile angels, an l199 pleco, a mix of cories, and a **** ton of mts snails, that is also a 37 gallon tank with lots of cover and i am still watching her closely to make sure she behaves herself.
They are expressive, but you are going to be hard pressed to find a large enough group that will behave long term in a 20 gallon (while it is considered the minimum for a sorority, it just isn't enough without being mostly made of hiding spots), they aren't what i would call peaceful or happy when you are first starting out and they do require some experience/hard work to make it work.
 

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Wow. I have had exactly the opposite. So far zero problems with aggression in the sorority unless there are too FEW in the tank. Zero problems with compatibility with my other fish...
 
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TheFishmonger

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Experiences differ from person to person I guess.

Here is my update. I have been away for a few days.

I returned the Serpae tetras and got a school of Rummynose tetras and more False Julii Cories. So far so good. Today I woke up at 3 AM and watched them all being hyperactive, playing and having fun. Adding the Rummynose gives the tank the appearance of being fully stocked (and it probably is). Also, they are a great schooling fish.

The Rummynose are a little bit nippy, but nothing alarming compared to Serpae Tetras. I see one trying to sneak up on a Barb or Cory trying to nip their tail, but nothing serious. It seems like it's the usual tetra antics. When compared to the Serpae, the nip of the Rummynose is more like trying to be a pest than to cause physical damage. So I am glad I replaced them.

I might increase the number of Rummynose Tetras and add get more Celestial Pearl Danios to transfer them from the 5.5 gallons and into the 20 gallons.

P.s. Corydoras get along with Celestial Pearl Danios and have made the danios less shy. Now I am curious if the Celestial Pearl Danios will be fine with the Rummynose and the Black Ruby Barbs. From what I know about my Barbs, they are peaceful and run away from a fight with other fish species. I didn't expect that. But it seems living the easy life has softened them up so I am not worried about the Celestial Pearl Danios being nipped.
 

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Experiences differ from person to person I guess.

Here is my update. I have been away for a few days.

I returned the Serpae tetras and got a school of Rummynose tetras and more False Julii Cories. So far so good. Today I woke up at 3 AM and watched them all being hyperactive, playing and having fun. Adding the Rummynose gives the tank the appearance of being fully stocked (and it probably is). Also, they are a great schooling fish.

The Rummynose are a little bit nippy, but nothing alarming compared to Serpae Tetras. I see one trying to sneak up on a Barb or Cory trying to nip their tail, but nothing serious. It seems like it's the usual tetra antics. When compared to the Serpae, the nip of the Rummynose is more like trying to be a pest than to cause physical damage. So I am glad I replaced them.

I might increase the number of Rummynose Tetras and add get more Celestial Pearl Danios to transfer them from the 5.5 gallons and into the 20 gallons.

P.s. Corydoras get along with Celestial Pearl Danios and have made the danios less shy. Now I am curious if the Celestial Pearl Danios will be fine with the Rummynose and the Black Ruby Barbs. From what I know about my Barbs, they are peaceful and run away from a fight with other fish species. I didn't expect that. But it seems living the easy life has softened them up so I am not worried about the Celestial Pearl Danios being nipped.
Thank you..... ! I've researched Rummynose and like the sound of them. I think your choice of word, 'antics' is appropriate. I'll ask my LFS to get some Rummynose for me. I'm also going to ask her about the Celestial Pearl Danios. My LFS knows my needs and will advise re the Danios and Rummynose. ps.... check out Glass catfish....... almost invisible, yet make one feel very tender towards caring for them!

So. I'm not the only one who wakes up in the early hours and monitors happiness! I'm on a pest snail hunt and sometimes I wake 2 or 3 a.m., hunting them down, with a flashlight. Why pay $ for a plant, only to watch pest snails eat my $ ????!!!!!
 
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TheFishmonger

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Thank you..... ! I've researched Rummynose and like the sound of them. I think your choice of word, 'antics' is appropriate. I'll ask my LFS to get some Rummynose for me. I'm also going to ask her about the Celestial Pearl Danios. My LFS knows my needs and will advise re the Danios and Rummynose. ps.... check out Glass catfish....... almost invisible, yet make one feel very tender towards caring for them!

So. I'm not the only one who wakes up in the early hours and monitors happiness! I'm on a pest snail hunt and sometimes I wake 2 or 3 a.m., hunting them down, with a flashlight. Why pay $ for a plant, only to watch pest snails eat my $ ????!!!!!
At first, I was angry with my pest bladder snails. But now I like them. They have not been causing problems for my tank so I left them.

Nope! Apparently not the only one. I think those are the best hours to monitor how happy your fish tank is. I noticed with fish all the action goes on from 11 PM to 5 AM.. so long as the light is on. Of course, I let them sleep on most nights. But when I am away they get their sleep during the day since the light is off.

The Rummynose are nice, but they are very sensitive, unfortunately. The Celestial Pearl Danios are amazing nano fish. At first, they are so shy, it is frustrating. When you plant the tank uniformly you see them more often. If you add more active fish, they become less shy. I also had issues feeding them at first, but if you don't feed them for a day or two they will go hungry and will eat whatever it is you toss in the tank. Just make sure the bites at first are small and floating around. They eat everything from flakes to algae wafers. I like them just as much as the Black Ruby Barbs. Right now I have them in the same tank with them, but only after they grew a little big and plump. They get along with corydoras catfish. It's the fish I used to get them to be less shy. Right now I added them with the Black Ruby Barbs and the Corydoras. They seem a little scared, but they will get used to it. The Barbs have been behaving too.
 
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