Matching Stock Problem

Aysu

This is a bit complicated and long, but here we go.

About 8 months ago, I started keeping my first aquarium—a 10 gallon, low tech, planted tank. Early on, I bought three corydoras schwartzi, a bit small of a school, I know, but they seemed happy, no racing, swimming together at feeding time, the works.

For a while, it was just the catfish, and a few weeks later, six neon tetras. Fast forward to many months later, and I added a few male fancy guppies. I didn’t have a quarantine tank at the time due to being unable to convince my family to give up space for a small quarantine tank (until after the coming debacle). The predictable occurred. The guppies that had seemed healthy in the store ended up being very sick (I later learned that the store had just received them the morning of the day I bought them), all three died over the next couple of days despite a careful acclimation paired with dosing melafix, and infected my tank with some variation of fin rot. It took a week of dosing a couple kinds of medicine, but the outbreak eventually passed. All the neons made it, with some wear and tear on their fins that has since regrown, but I lost two of the catfish. The surviving catfish is "healthy" now, but he frequently has days that he'll race along the glass. He doesn’t do it all the time, maybe just two days a week, but he didn’t used to do it at all. He also is rarely out in the open when before, he and his friends were happy to swim all over.

I know these are stress behaviors, and I know that as a shoaling fish, he needs buddies. Unfortunately, I did not know at the time of buying my catfish that corydoras schwartzi are relatively uncommon, typically wild caught and sold, and incredibly expensive to ship, and don’t do well being shipped. I was new to the hobby, and quite dumb, and the employees did not inform me of how rare the fish was. I tried going back to the same store to get more, but the employees all say they haven’t seen that kind in months. I also don’t really want to get any more fish from there, because the guppy incident was merely the latest in a string of fish tragedies; I'm pretty sure the store's waters are infected, or their suppliers are real bad because it’s been a 75% mortality rate for fish from there. Fish purchased from PetSmart have done super well in all my tanks with only one death of the several dozens bought. There are no other fish stores in my area.

Still, my catfish needs new shoal buddies. Ideally, they would be the same species, but between the rarity of the species, and a personal moral qualm with the effects of overfishing of wild caught fish on wild populations, I don’t think I'll be getting more of his kind unless PetSmart miraculously starts carrying the species. I looked into maybe online ordering from a breeder, but it would be $70+ after shipping costs for even just one fish, and the online breeder warn on the page that corydoras schwartzi do not ship well. They’d also be shipping from several states away, so transit would be a long time. It seems cruel to order a fish that has a high chance of not surviving the trip.

My second thought was that I remember reading at one point that different species of cory of similar sizes will "hang out" together, not a real shoal, but buddy up. The schwartzi is small, only about 2 to 2.5 inches. Would it be an acceptable compromise to buy a few panda cories, for example, or another smaller cory species, and hope he buddies up with them? Would that be enough to reduce his stress?

I should add that the 10 gallon tank has recently been upgraded to 29 gallon, with only 6 neon tetras, 5 male guppies, 2 nerite snails, 7 pearl danios (added from quarantine today), two amano shrimp, 1 unidentified red shrimp, and the 1 catfish in it, so I have wiggle room for stocking. The tank is cycled, stable, and has plenty of plants, both floating and planted, to suck up excess nutrients and create hiding places and cover, and gets weekly 20% water changes. I also have a quarantine tank now, after a bit of a fight with the family, and listing costs of replacing dead fish.

Please help me figure out the optimal solution for this problem. I really like my cory cat, he's super cute and interesting, and I feel bad that my inexperience when I initially bought the catfish, and later the guppies, has now got him stressed with no buddies and no foreseeable way to get more of his kind in the near future.
 

Neppley

Try looking on different websites for a site that sells the cories you are looking for with a cheaper price. You need to be comitted though because you may need to spend around 30 dollars to get a good school for him as your species of cory is expensive. Sorry, but if you do not get some buddies for him he will get overly stressed and get body flukes (which you can learn more about on Tetra's website) and slowly die.
 
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Aysu

Try looking on different websites for a site that sells the cories you are looking for with a cheaper price. You need to be comitted though because you may need to spend around 30 dollars to get a good school for him as your species of cory is expensive. Sorry, but if you do not get some buddies for him he will get overly stressed and get body flukes (which you can learn more about on Tetra's website) and slowly die.
The price isn’t the main issue for me rather than that they don’t do well in shipping. I'll keep looking for someone closer, but it seems like all the breeders are in Washington state, and I’m all the way on the east coast :L
 
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Neppley

Keep looking and may be you will find a site.
 
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Coradee

Sorry, but if you do not get some buddies for him he will get overly stressed and get body flukes and slowly die.

I agree him being alone would case him stress but.... stress would not cause him to get flukes, flukes are a parasite that would have to be introduced into the tank by an infected fish.

Aysu, have a look on Facebook for local fish clubs/selling groups in your area they will most likely know of people who keep schwartzi. You could possibly rehome him to someone from there who has a group of them & then get a different species more easily sourced for your tank.
 
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veggieshark

Look for local aquarium club groups and ask if there is a local supplier. Even if you can't find shwartzi what you will find will be safer than getting them shipped from some unknown place. If you can't find shwartzi, I would look for something with similar patterns to school with the one you have.
 
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Neppley

Ya clubs are popular and widespread
 
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CatfishLoachZealot

My second thought was that I remember reading at one point that different species of cory of similar sizes will "hang out" together, not a real shoal, but buddy up. The schwartzi is small, only about 2 to 2.5 inches. Would it be an acceptable compromise to buy a few panda cories, for example, or another smaller cory species, and hope he buddies up with them? Would that be enough to reduce his stress?

This is exactly what I would do. Especially since Panda Cories are one of the few species that PetSmarts tend to carry on a regular basis that also look similar to Schwartzis.
I have kept multiple Cory species together in one tank for years. I'm one of those keepers who will buy the only Cory in a stock tank (especially if they don't even list its species on the glass or the tank's card, indicating they probably won't be getting more in anytime soon). At one point my "misfit" cory tank had a Sterbai, an Adolfoi, 2 Aeneus, a Bicolor, 2 Paleatus, and a Brochis all living together in their happy little commune.
 
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Aysu

I agree him being alone would case him stress but.... stress would not cause him to get flukes, flukes are a parasite that would have to be introduced into the tank by an infected fish.

Aysu, have a look on Facebook for local fish clubs/selling groups in your area they will most likely know of people who keep schwartzi. You could possibly rehome him to someone from there who has a group of them & then get a different species more easily sourced for your tank.
I could possibly re-home him. I like him a lot, but it would be better for his health, if I can’t find a local breeder selling his species. I’m not part of any groups or clubs beyond this site, and the pandemic makes it difficult to go out and ask people at the petstore, but I’ll add searching for clubs and groups in the area to my search for suppliers of his species. Thank you for the suggestion.
Look for local aquarium club groups and ask if there is a local supplier. Even if you can't find shwartzi what you will find will be safer than getting them shipped from some unknown place. If you can't find shwartzi, I would look for something with similar patterns to school with the one you have.
I’ll look around. Thank you for the suggestion.

I like the idea of keeping him, even with a different species, because I love his markings, and he’s my oldest fish, but I think he’d be happier and healthier with his own kind. Somebody else suggested rehoming him if I can’t find a breeder of schwartzi, and I may do that. Of course, if I can’t find anyone with a shoal of and room for an extra schwartzi, I’ll pick up another species.
This is exactly what I would do. Especially since Panda Cories are one of the few species that PetSmarts tend to carry on a regular basis that also look similar to Schwartzis.
I have kept multiple Cory species together in one tank for years. I'm one of those keepers who will buy the only Cory in a stock tank (especially if they don't even list its species on the glass or the tank's card, indicating they probably won't be getting more in anytime soon). At one point my "misfit" cory tank had a Sterbai, an Adolfoi, 2 Aeneus, a Bicolor, 2 Paleatus, and a Brochis all living together in their happy little commune.
Haha, if I had the room, I’d buy up all the lonely fish left by themselves in the store, too.

Keeping multiple species will be my fallback for sure, if can’t find more or a good home for him. It has to be better than my poor cory being by himself.
 
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Aysu

Thank you for all the help, everyone! After a few of the suggestions here, I found a local group with a breeder of my kind of cory, and we're in talks about getting a few of his fish (enough for a properly sized shoal). He seems honestly concerned about the future health of the fish, and is asking extra questions about water qualities and requesting pictures of and info about my tank, so I think he's a reputable source. All that's left now is to settle on a price and get the fish.

Thanks again!
 
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Oriongal

Glad you found a solution, the only comment I have is to question the idea that Schwartzis don't ship well.

I have 20+ of them, and nearly all of them were bought online and shipped to me. The only time I had shipping deaths is when the fish were already obviously sick before they were shipped. The biggest thing to watch out for with them is the same as with any other species of wild-caught cory; namely, parasites. It's not uncommon for the stress of shipment to push an already sick fish over the edge, regardless of the species.

Of all the corys I've kept, Schwartzis have been the most social with their own kind so I am glad you found more. They will socialize with other species, but they really want the security of more of their own kind around them if at all possible.

I'm also impressed that you found someone who has bred them successfully. They don't breed readily in captivity.
 
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Aysu

Glad you found a solution, the only comment I have is to question the idea that Schwartzis don't ship well.

I have 20+ of them, and nearly all of them were bought online and shipped to me. The only time I had shipping deaths is when the fish were already obviously sick before they were shipped. The biggest thing to watch out for with them is the same as with any other species of wild-caught cory; namely, parasites. It's not uncommon for the stress of shipment to push an already sick fish over the edge, regardless of the species.

Of all the corys I've kept, Schwartzis have been the most social with their own kind so I am glad you found more. They will socialize with other species, but they really want the security of more of their own kind around them if at all possible.

I'm also impressed that you found someone who has bred them successfully. They don't breed readily in captivity.
Yeah I was surprised, too. It's going to be expensive, though, but that's okay. I’m excited to have a shoal of them again, and especially a bigger one. They were so fun to watch, even when I only had three, and clearly a closely knit group. And thank you for warning about parasites. I'll restock my medicines for the quarantine, just in case.

It's also reassuring to know most fish do okay shipping. Having only PetSmart to shop at really limits the kinds of fish I can get, but maybe I’ll branch out more using shipped fish. In the future, anyway. With these last cories, my tanks are all pretty much fully stocked for now.
 
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Aysu

Just wanted you all to know that I got the catfish and they’re doing well! I ended up not quarantining because my quarantine tank is only 5.5 gallons and I got 7 new catfish, all several months old, so pretty big. It’s been about a week and a half, and so far so good! All healthy, no signs of parasites, illness, or distress, and my lonely catfish grouped up with them immediately. They add a whole bunch of motion to the tank, too. I’m super happy.
 

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Mlou

So awesome. Thanks for the great news update. I love how much you care about you one lonely catfish. Also, I think all cories can be shipped if they are individually packed in their own bag and properly fasted before shipping and also using overnight shipping. I got my nine sterbais that way and each one was fine and now they are huge and popping out eggs every two weeks. The same with my Eques that I got from Wet Spot....individually packed and overnight.
 
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