Just Read The Words "dither Fish"

77hermanwilliams

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I had posted previously about a blue acara I have (sexing) and now have the pair; at least I think so. I have no idea if I have two males, two females or one of each. The pet shop guy seems to think I have one of each so either I do or I have two tank mates that appear to get along well. Either way I am ok for now.

I'm posting because I want to add some fish to the tank (55gal). At first I was thinking of adding some other cichlids. Being that I am so new to this I am just happy they have been alive for a month or so now. Water changes are occurring often and my water tests look great right now. Whatever I add or takeaway from this tank going further will be in small increments because I am very happy with where it is right now. However, I do feel it is a little barren (I have plants and hide-y places so not that barren). Anyway, I was reading another fish post and discovered the term dither fish. My Blue's have been very shy and my understanding is that some dither fish would help with their behavior. Apparently dithers for them would be fish that stay at the top. What and how many are the easiest/safest to add? Should it be a mix of varieties? I've seen were people recommend a few species. I am not particular to which species goes in at this point I just want them to have the least effect on my water quality and simplest in terms of bringing out more extroversion in my blue's.

Also, should I have bottom feeding fish as well to encourage the behavior of the blue's? Again, I don't want to stress my tank as right now everything is really simple.

Thanks for the advice.
 

JessicaSwanlake

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If you want some dither fish you could consider adding a small school of giant danios, they are pretty hardy fish in my experience and are very active and nonthreatening. Per Aquarium Advisor if you have no additional fish with 5 giant danios and 2 blue acara you would be at 101% for stocking in your 55g.
I have kept giant danios with cichlids before and they have done the trick in the past for fixing initial shyness (you just don't want them with agressive fish or they end up a tasty snack).
 
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77hermanwilliams

77hermanwilliams

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Ok. Giant Danios. Just researched a little. Basically a minnow. I'm guessing the size will help protect them as the Blue's get larger.
 

JessicaSwanlake

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Yeah, they get up to 4 inches long so are a bit on the large size. They are also very quick so I think that helps them escape. IMO they aren't as much like a pet as cichlids, but are enjoyable to watch.
 

Coptapia

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Dither fish are any fish that are out in the open, which means they can see danger coming. As long as they’re going about as normal, everything’s safe, so the more timid fish don’t feel the need to hide so much, or at all.
If they see a predator coming they’ll all run for cover. This has the opposite effect, telling cichlids that danger is coming, so they’ll hide up. When there are few or no tankmates out in the open it can be hard for them to get past thinking they should hide.
 
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77hermanwilliams

77hermanwilliams

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"Dither fish are any fish that are out in the open, which means they can see danger coming. As long as they’re going about as normal, everything’s safe, so the more timid fish don’t feel the need to hide so much, or at all."

This is pretty much how I've come to understand it. I am still a very much beginner in this hobby. I got the first BA without much research just because it looked cool. That's usually a mistake. Fortunately after i researched i found out how they are good beginner fish. Got a second one and just want to do whatever to keep them happy and healthy. I was at first thinking that another cichlid may add to the overall aesthetic to the tank but am very reluctant. Now that I know about either fish was just looking for direction to head in. Thinking about a bottom feeder too. I do water changes and checks weekly but only want to make small changes, nothing to dramatic. I like the idea of the giant minnow guys, I just know that is also at the biological load of the tank.
Thanks for the responses. One day I want a reef tank but for now helping these two have long lives is most important. That and whatever helps them be comfortable and happy.
 

JessicaSwanlake

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"Dither fish are any fish that are out in the open, which means they can see danger coming. As long as they’re going about as normal, everything’s safe, so the more timid fish don’t feel the need to hide so much, or at all."

This is pretty much how I've come to understand it. I am still a very much beginner in this hobby. I got the first BA without much research just because it looked cool. That's usually a mistake. Fortunately after i researched i found out how they are good beginner fish. Got a second one and just want to do whatever to keep them happy and healthy. I was at first thinking that another cichlid may add to the overall aesthetic to the tank but am very reluctant. Now that I know about either fish was just looking for direction to head in. Thinking about a bottom feeder too. I do water changes and checks weekly but only want to make small changes, nothing to dramatic. I like the idea of the giant minnow guys, I just know that is also at the biological load of the tank.
Thanks for the responses. One day I want a reef tank but for now helping these two have long lives is most important. That and whatever helps them be comfortable and happy.
Adding additional cichlid species can be difficult just because they vary in needs and aggression. There are a lot of varieties, so if you want to go that route just make sure you get a "New World" or "American" cichlid and one that is not super aggressive.

If you are looking at bottom feeders, a good one for a 55 gallon would be a bristlenose pleco. They are less large than a common pleco and your bioload would be less than with 5 giant danios.

I think you would be okay with giant danios, but it all kind of depends on how closely you want to watch your water quality and how often you are okay with doing water changes (and on your personal preferences, of course).
 

Coptapia

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I wouldn’t add more cichlids, because they’ll need their own space/territory aswell and there could be arguments or worse down the road. Even if it’s just minor stress. Give your pair a totally peaceful life in their own tank with a few harmless dithers and you’ll have a chilled stressfree pair.
 

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My bloodfin tetras made good dithers for my Eba and rams. You could get a decent school of 10. I believe there isn't much temperature overlap. There are plenty of smaller fish that wont be bothered and would work well. I chose bloodfins because of their reputation to actually school.
 
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77hermanwilliams

77hermanwilliams

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Thanks for everyone's responses. I'm probably going with the giant danios but going today to see what is available. Definitely not adding more cichlids. Thanks everyone.
 

Coptapia

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You’ve a lot of choice. BAs aren’t great fish eaters. Anything that gets to a couple of inches would work... some tetras, Barbs, rainbows, Rasboras, giant danios... Corys...
 
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77hermanwilliams

77hermanwilliams

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Thanks again for everyone's responses. I ended up going with zebra danios. They obviously aren't as big as the giants but I am hoping that they will still get along. I pust them in teh tank 3 hours ago and immediately noticed a change in the EBA's behavior. They are already out more. They noticed the new fish at first but are completely oblivious to them now and just hanging in the tank. If they get big enough to make the danios into fish food then I guess I will address that then.
Thanks again yall.
 

Wraithen

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Thanks again for everyone's responses. I ended up going with zebra danios. They obviously aren't as big as the giants but I am hoping that they will still get along. I pust them in teh tank 3 hours ago and immediately noticed a change in the EBA's behavior. They are already out more. They noticed the new fish at first but are completely oblivious to them now and just hanging in the tank. If they get big enough to make the danios into fish food then I guess I will address that then.
Thanks again yall.
Oh! I always wrote off danios but lately I've been drawn to them. Especially the long fin variety. Maybe when I get rid of my bloodfins...
 
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