Livebearer Ratios

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uprightandlocked

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Hello,

As promised in my newbie post, here is the post about my tank! I set this up initially under the supervision of my local aquarium store (great group of people there, very knowledgeable!) and am now running on my own with it (frightening!) so I was wondering if you could all help answer some questions I have.

I have a 10 gallon tank that is now on its second round of adding fish (I am up to 4). The first two fish I introduced are Molly's. I have (1) Silver Lyretail Molly and (1) Black Lyretail Molly that I affectionately refer to as Doug and Bud, despite the fact they are both females (one of which may have come home pregnant from the store? But I am not sure how to diagnose that). They immediately took to their new home, they have such personality! They are always swimming from here to there. They love swimming in the current from the filter and also the air bubbles on the opposite end of the tank. And they EAT like there is no tomorrow!!! Constantly, constantly eating. I have always been told you only feed the fish what they will eat within about 3 minutes. Well, these guys eat everything! So I will wait a little while and feed them again. And they still finish everything! How much is too much? There is never anything left on the bottom between feedings because Doug and Bud run around like little vacuum cleaners between feedings.

Yesterday, I added two more fish. The selections may seem haphazard but there is a reason (maybe not a good one, but its the reason this tank exists and I shall elaborate on it, later). I added (1) female Mickey Mouse Platy and (1) male Red Swordtail. Now, I have never kept livebearers before so I am still experiencing the learning curve! It is my understanding that the Red Swordtail is also a Platy. Is this correct?

Of the 4 fish in my tank, the Red Swordtail (Tony) is the largest, and the Mickey Mouse Platy is the smallest (her name is Cyndi).

Is this a good mix of fish? Next week I plan on adding one more fish (probably another Molly, maybe a Tetra). What would be a good addition?

Also, the Mickey Mouse Platy, Cyndi, spends a lot of time hiding near the bottom behind plants while the other fish are all out-and-about, very visible. Is this because she is frightened? Threatened? Would she do better if there was one or more of her kind in the tank with her? I don't want any of my fish to be stressed out!

As for the reason this tank exists - it was a birthday present from my cousin and her fiance. We plan on having 5 fish in it, one for each grandchild in the family (LONG story ... and I'm sure only we find it amusing!)

Thanks for reading. Thanks for any help you may provide!!

-UaL
 

vin

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I'm afraid you maxed out your 10 gallon already. I wouldn't add any more fish. The Mollies and Swordtail you describe can get up to 5" long as adults and will eventually outgrow your tank. While the Mckey Mouse Platy will reach 3.5 - 4" as well. As for your livebearer question, it's best to keep ratios of at least 2:1. (2) female to every (1) male. Or you can keep all females or all male. However, sometimes a tank full of all males will cause them to fight for terrority.

The reason you keep more females to males is to keep the males from overly stressing the females as the boys love to chase the girlies.

Good Luck!
 
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uprightandlocked

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vin said:
I'm afraid you maxed out your 10 gallon already. 
Thanks for the insight. I budgeted 2 inches of fish based on what I was told by both fish store's. I was told a "fish inch" doesn't include the fins, just the body - and also that all of these fish would max out at 2 inches. Which would give me one more fish. The swordtail is full-grown from what I was told and he is probably 1.5 inches in length, sans tail.

Any ideas, then, on how to get my Mickey Mouse Platy to come out of hiding? She is a pretty fish and its sad to see her hiding behind a plant when everybody else is out in the forefront foraging for food and swimming in the currents!
 

bbfeckawitts

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Well, your mickey mouse platy will get two inches, and your mollies will get at least three inches a peice, so that is 8 inches of fish already. Swordtails CAN get up to 5 inches (some species), but you probably have a more common species that will get around 3 inches. So you are slightly-moderatly over stocked. As a general rule of thumb, one inch of ADULT SIZE fish for every gallon.

Do you know about cycling? Read here as it is a must for sucessful fishkeeping:
https://www.fishlore.com/NitrogenCycle.htm

Do you have a test kit? Most here use and recommend the Master freshwater API test kit:



Just wanted to cover all the bases here. Good luck with your fish. Brianna
 

COBettaCouple

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Platys can be timid in nature, they're pretty peaceful and it sounds like your mickey mouse is the smallest fish in the tank. When we got our platys, minnie was the smallest and would have the hardest time getting food. Platys do like to have buddies of their type. Unfortunately, her behavior will probably be more timid when she's her full 2" and the other fish are their full 3-5".

I don't know what kind of budget/space you're looking at, but a 29 gallon tank would work to bring that mickey mouse out of hiding hopefully and give you the 2 female to 1 male ratio:
2 more female buddies of her type for the mickey mouse platy: 6"
1 more female molly + the 2 mollys that you have now: 9"-15" (15-21")
2 female swordtails + the swordtail that you have now: 9"-15" (24-36")
Given that not all your mollys and swordtails are likely to hit 5", a 29 gallon should be good for this arrangement of fish.

Also, remember these are all livebearers. If you have males & females, you WILL have pregnant females giving you batch after batch after batch of fry. The 10 gallon tank that you have now would be a good refuge for the pregnant females (who will be chased by the males to get them to abort the fry and drop them as snacks) and for the fry (you'd need to divide the tank to keep the mommas from eating the fry.)
 
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uprightandlocked

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Sad news, everyone.

I woke up this morning to find my little Mickey Mouse Platy wedged completely underneath one of plants. I have no idea how she ended up there. Perhaps she was trying to get away from one of the larger fish? She was still breathing, so I moved the plant to the side to free her. At this point, I noticed one of her fins was missing. She was unable to swim and she just lied on the bottom of the tank. A couple of times she tried swimming. After about an hour she finally passed away. Poor girl!

The only thing I can come up with is one, or more, of the larger fish bothered her throughout the night. Again, she was the smallest in the tank. I feel awful (eg responsible). All other fish are doing fine and are their normal selves.
 

COBettaCouple

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:'( i'm sorry to hear that cyndi passed on. i love platys and understand why you picked her out - you didn't intend for her to be harmed so don't be too hard on yourself. we all make mistakes to start off with and most of us do lose fish. (I feel responsible for my wife losing our first betta - she still misses him, she was quite attached to him. ) you had the best intentions and did try to find a solution for her.

What are your plans for the tank and/or a bigger tank now?
 
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uprightandlocked

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Well, I went back to the pet store today because I had some concern over my Molly's. They are both female and since Cyndi passed on, Doug has been keeping Bud at bay. Everytime Bud comes out of hiding, Doug chases her and nips at her until she goes back into hiding either in the cave or inbetween plants. (By the way, its very hard to type female pronouns when using male names! Haha) I asked the guy who helped me set up the aquarium initially and sold me both Molly's whether or not this was normal, would it go away, etc. He suggested adding a male Molly to keep both of them in line (which I thought the Swordtail would do, but he's been in his own little world since I added him to the tank.) So I will begin the process of adding a male Molly to the tank, hopefully to teach Doug she isn't the leader of the pack! She really is an agressive little thing!

I am also debating returning the Swordtail to my lfs. He's a pretty fish but I have really enjoyed the Molly's and everything I have read on here and would like to just have the three Molly's in my tank - and see what happens!

Does this sound like an acceptable solution? (You guys are the pros!)
 

COBettaCouple

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If you returned the swordtail, the 3 mollys would grow to between 9" and 15", so I'd think they'd be fine in 10 gallon ;D Should they get to be larger than 3" each, you'll want to change the water and clean out the tank a little more often is all.. be ready for fry with adding a male.
 
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