just started out and having swordtail and red tailed shark problems please help!

  • #1
OK so bit of background info - we rescued a red tailed shark with tank and equipment from someone who didnt want it and was basically neglecting poor bruce (ie. they hadn't fed him, hadn't bothered cleaning the tank etc.) My boyfriend has always wanted fish so we agreed to take bruce complete with tank and all. We started to add some new fish to the tank about a week ago but we're having a few problems.

We went to a local garden centre who have a fish specialist section to add to our tank and were told that red tailed sharks are very peaceful and we could put most tropical fish in with Bruce as long as it wasn't another shark...not what i'd heard when doing a bit of prior research on the internet but they did have a mixed tank in store with lots of different tropical fish including a red tailed shark so we took example from there. So with a bit more advice we took home 2 black widow tetra, 2 swordtails (one male, one female) and an angelfish (which I promptly claimed as mine ). That's when the problems started.

All was well for a couple of days...then me and my boyfriend went away for a couple of days and left my dad to feed the fish (probably not the best idea ) My dad's not brilliant at taking advice and judging by the pot of food I think he overfed them but not to drastically. When we came home from our few days away we found that the female swordtail had died, is it possible that 5days of overfeeding could have been the cause?

I'm now slightly concerned about my male swordtail (orange with black tail) he's developing black spots (looks kind of like a sprinkling of pepper) along his bottom fin and across his back. He also has two larger black spots on his face that look kind of like nostrils (I think there called nares but excuse my lack of knowledge on the subject) these seem to go back into his head and can be seen from the top of his head aswell. He also has quite long trails of poo that seem to take him ages to get rid of, I'm completley puzzled ??? as to what it might be/might be causing it as other than this he is fine and we have no problems with the other fish.

My second problem is my red tailed shark, who always seemed very shy before we added the fish, spends quite a bit of time chasing the other fish in the tank especially when it comes to feeding time (although he tends to leave my angelfish alone but I think this may be because he doesn't really bother swimming away). None of them seemed to have been hurt, bruce has his own cave that the others stay away from and the others hide behind the filter when he goes on a rampage but should I be worried about this and maybe separate them?

Finally couple of questions (sorry this is turning into an essay!) we have been feeding tropical fish flakes and sinking wafers as we were told bruce is a bottom feeder and wouldnt eat the flakes but bruce eats the flakes and doesn't touch the wafers which are left for the other fish to pick at when they want, at risk of overfeeding the other fish should I just stop using the wafers? Last question (sorry) Can I put guppies in with the fish I already have?

If you've got this far thank you for bothering to read it all I really hope you can help x

  • #2
HI welcome to FishLore!!
Congrats for rescuing Bruce.

A couple of questions back at you. Then we can go from there.
What size tank is it?
Do you know the readings for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate?
How often are you testing the water?
How often are you changing the water?
Are you vacuuming the gravel?

I'm sorry about your swordtail. Over feeding could have been the cause, stress from being chased or could have been ill when you got her. It's hard to say.

Sorry for all the questions. The answers will help us help you further.
No opinion yet about adding anything until we have more info.

  • Thread Starter
  • #3
emm our tank is 20 gallon (UK) I think that's about 24gallon-ish (US)
We got a friend who has his own tropical fish to test for ammonia and nitrite/nitrates and I don't know the exact figures are but he said there was a small trace of ammonia present and the nitrate readings where 48pm I think but in future do you have any advice on testing kits to use because I've never had to do it before.
We've tested the water twice so far so basically once a week because we'll do it this weekend as well.

And I didn't mean to click post!
My boyfriend has been changing about a third of the water every week and we've vaccumed the gravel once so far. I'm really sorry I can't be more help I don't have the best level of knowledge on the subject, ask me about horses any day!

  • #5

RTS are aggressive and territorial. They will chase smaller fish. Especially in a small tank. It's best to keep them with other fish of similiar size that can hold their own. Tank size for the shark should be around 55g. IMO They grow to approx. 5-6".

I wouldn't add anymore fish until you get a test kit and know what is going on with the water but I would't add anymore with the shark being in there. Doing daily water changes is the best course of action if you don't know what is going on. Deff get that test kit. A good water conditioner for cycling with fish or going through a mini-cycle is Prime or Amquel Plus. Eather one detoxis the toxins for 24hrs until next water change. Feed fish only once a day during this time.

Rinse filter media out in a bucket of tank water to get the gunk off, never just throw it away or replace all media at the same time.

I hope things get better soon.

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