Neighbor's tank is a disaster, stocking advice?

Fishproblem

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Where do I start...

I upgraded my betta tank recently and gifted my old 5 gallon, cycled sponge filter, and heater to my neighbor. I told him to put a betta in it, he said he wanted more fish than that, I said, cool... microrasboras and shrimp is the answer for you my pal. Admittedly, I checked out of the situation a little, because I'm swamped rn with work.

He got five male guppies at petsmart. I was thrilled. Not the best call of all calls, but totally survivable for the fish. I helped him acclimate, and of course the stock was pretty bad and two guppies died after a few days. (They were looking rough from the moment they came home in the bag.)

He went back to petsmart. A less responsible clerk let him walk out with:
2 WCMM
2 Zebra danios
3 Neon tetras
2 (allegedly male) Black mollies
2 Chinese Algae Eaters
...in addition to the three male guppies.

Question one: do I laugh, or cry?
Question two: I know the WCMM are incompatible temp-wise with the rest of the stock, but are there any other incompatibilities I'm missing?
Question three: My understanding with Chinese Algae eaters is that they're unrepentant murderers. I'm also reading that they reach 11" full grown!? Can they ever be successfully kept in a community?
Question four (the big one): What is the minimum tank size and school sizes that will keep all these fish happy and healthy? My neighbor's birthday is coming up, and he's been having a tough time lately. I'd really like to get him a more appropriate setup as a gift, but I don't have a TON of cash to blow on it. Which fish can we keep (he'd love to keep them all, though I know at least the WCMM aren't an option) and how big a tank do we need?
 

Heron

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This is an example of pet store staff either being ignorant or just wanting to make a sale when they know better. My policy is if a store doesn't give good advice shop elsewhere. I use my local branch of maidenhead aquatics and whenever I ask for fish they question me as to whether my set up is suitable. In my opinion all good stores should do the same.
 

FreshwaterHG

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Fishproblem said:
Where do I start...

I upgraded my betta tank recently and gifted my old 5 gallon, cycled sponge filter, and heater to my neighbor. I told him to put a betta in it, he said he wanted more fish than that, I said, cool... microrasboras and shrimp is the answer for you my pal. Admittedly, I checked out of the situation a little, because I'm swamped rn with work.

He got five male guppies at petsmart. I was thrilled. Not the best call of all calls, but totally survivable for the fish. I helped him acclimate, and of course the stock was pretty bad and two guppies died after a few days. (They were looking rough from the moment they came home in the bag.)

He went back to petsmart. A less responsible clerk let him walk out with:
2 WCMM
2 Zebra danios
3 Neon tetras
2 (allegedly male) Black mollies
2 Chinese Algae Eaters
...in addition to the three male guppies.

Question one: do I laugh, or cry?
Question two: I know the WCMM are incompatible temp-wise with the rest of the stock, but are there any other incompatibilities I'm missing?
Question three: My understanding with Chinese Algae eaters is that they're unrepentant murderers. I'm also reading that they reach 11" full grown!? Can they ever be successfully kept in a community?
Question four (the big one): What is the minimum tank size and school sizes that will keep all these fish happy and healthy? My neighbor's birthday is coming up, and he's been having a tough time lately. I'd really like to get him a more appropriate setup as a gift, but I don't have a TON of cash to blow on it. Which fish can we keep (he'd love to keep them all, though I know at least the WCMM aren't an option) and how big a tank do we need?
WOW.... whats going on here is a big no no. This stocking, even just the 5 guppies is not suitable for a 5g tank. You were right first off to say betta and shrimp/snail only. A few things: you are right to say these fish cannot live in a tank together, even in a larger tank. The WCMM need much much lower temps then the stopical fish you got here. Lets adress the rest one by 1:

WCMM: re-home or return. Cannot live in a tank with tropical fish. Would need their own 8-10g tank.
2 Zebra danios- need a larger school, at least 6
3 Neon tetras- need a larger school, at least 6
2 (allegedly male) Black mollies- technically OK in a group of 2 but would be happier with friends.
2 Chinese Algae Eaters- can be in a tank with other fish and will not get huge, but need a well established tank. When the algae runs our (which it probably already has) they will go for the slime coat on the fish.

None of these fish should be in a 5g. If you want to keep the lost above, not including the WCMM, (given that the schools are increased to minimums) will need closer to a 30g tank. From the sounds of things, this guy has no idea what hes doing. I suggest linking him to info on the nitrogen cycle and stocking.
 

flyinGourami

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IMO the white clouds are perfectly temp compatible.
Ideally I would get like a 33 gallon tank, give each schooling fish(white clouds, danios, neons) a group of 6 and that should work.
Not sure about the Chinese algae eater, but from what I've heard I would rehome them.
How much money can you spend? You could get a 29 gallon tank at the petco dollar per gallon sale, rehome the algae eater and get supplies for cheap. For the stocking, I would probably have a temp of around 74 if that helps at all.
I'm no expert of course!
 

Nataku

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Question one: roll your eyes and have a good long sigh.
Question two: Captive bred WCMM are actually surprisingly temp tolerant. Do they like it cold? Oh yes, they do. Will they survive in average tropical tank temps? Absolutely. But the bigger problem here is size of tank and lack of sufficient school size for the chosen fish.

Question three: Your understanding of chinese algae eaters when they start getting bigger is correct. Agressive and murderous for sure. I've seen folks keep adult chinese algae eaters in agressive african cichlid tanks before. The CAE hold their own with the cichlids, so that should tell you something. Everything else he currently has in this tank will absolutely become CAE snacks if they live long enough to become big enough. Yes even the mollies.



Question four: My suggestion to fix the issue: start hunting on craigslist/any equivelant places you know of for someone selling a 40 breeder, or even a 55 gallon, though I prefer the 40 breeder. A 40 breeder would be big enough to house all of his fish EXCEPT the CAE and get them sufficiently sized schools. The CAE however must go back to the store. They absolutely will become trouble when they get bigger. Also, even a 40 breeder isnt big enough to house a CAE, let alone two of them.
The stocking list given what he already has plus filling in stock for schooling species, should, in a 40 breeder, end up something like:
3 male guppies
2 male mollies (if there's a female take it back to the store and swap it out)
10 WCMM
10 Neon Teteas
10 Danios
Keep the temp around 74 and everyone should be good. Also, get some easy to grow plants like hornwort or guppy grass in there with some java fern.
 

Mike1995

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Is it all possible you can get him a bigger tank, maybe 30-40 gallons? And possibly a bigger filter? You could seed it with the current filters. I'd at least start with that.
Some of the fish above I don't know a massive amount about but I will say for tetras, minnows and most other little similar fish you're gonna want schools of 6 or more. So maybe try getting your friend set up with something like that? I'd just choose minnows or tetras.
I have a 90g with a whole big group of mollies and swordtails. Imo, I think mollies should be in a bit larger aquariums. I actually have a 5" male. And the others aren't far behind. They enjoy each others company.
 
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Fishproblem

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Heron said:
This is an example of pet store staff either being ignorant or just wanting to make a sale when they know better. My policy is if a store doesn't give good advice shop elsewhere. I use my local branch of maidenhead aquatics and whenever I ask for fish they question me as to whether my set up is suitable. In my opinion all good stores should do the same.
I agree completely. Unfortunately I haven't had that experience anywhere but when I bought my killies, and that's because my hometown LFS owner's dad breeds them himself. Also unfortunately, I wasn't there to stop my neighbor. It's telling that one employee at least tried to keep things reasonable with the 5 guppies, and the other SUGGESTED the additional stock. It's not like Petsmart employees get paid commission, jeepers. I've never experienced this kind of insanely irresponsible advice firsthand, because I research before I buy always, and just tell the employee what I want.

FreshwaterHG said:
2 Chinese Algae Eaters- can be in a tank with other fish and will not get huge, but need a well established tank. When the algae runs our (which it probably already has) they will go for the slime coat on the fish.

None of these fish should be in a 5g. If you want to keep the lost above, not including the WCMM, (given that the schools are increased to minimums) will need closer to a 30g tank. From the sounds of things, this guy has no idea what hes doing. I suggest linking him to info on the nitrogen cycle and stocking.
I think we're already experiencing the CAE murder spree. Apparently there was a THIRD molly that was found being snacked upon by the algae eaters. I've heard that once they get a taste for flesh, they never go back, but I gave my neighbor a handful of Fluval Bug Bites Pleco Formula to try and stave them off.

It's true! He has no idea what he's doing at all! We had a long convo about the nitrogen cycle this afternoon. I had him all set up with pretty much the exact setup, still cycled, that my betta came out of and told him to put a new betta in it. And then he got to the store and saw the shiny colors... He is frustrated that the pet store misled him and wants to do right though. If all else fails, he's going to give me a few of the fish for my 30 gallon community where they certainly won't stay forever, but they'll be safe and well cared for until I figure something out. Unfortunately no "linking" will be happening, as he doesn't have a computer lol.

flyinGourami said:
IMO the white clouds are perfectly temp compatible.
Ideally I would get like a 33 gallon tank, give each schooling fish(white clouds, danios, neons) a group of 6 and that should work.
Not sure about the Chinese algae eater, but from what I've heard I would rehome them.
How much money can you spend? You could get a 29 gallon tank at the petco dollar per gallon sale, rehome the algae eater and get supplies for cheap. For the stocking, I would probably have a temp of around 74 if that helps at all.
I'm no expert of course!
This has been my inclination, though Nataku makes the similar, and probably more responsible, suggestion of a 40 breeder and schools of ten. I would LOVE to do that but then we run into the issue of expense + moving a large tank in NYC during the pandemic (undesirable as all get out, and it simply will not fit in my car). Also frankly, I don't think he's got the room for a 40 anywhere in his apartment.

I think I'll end up set him up with a 29, schools of 6, and multiple bubble filters + all the plants I can give him. Per nataku's incredibly informative and frankly horrifying advice, though, the alage eaters are getting the boot.

If it makes folks feel better in the meantime, he's doing 50% water changes daily until we figure something out.
 

FreshwaterHG

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Fishproblem said:
I agree completely. Unfortunately I haven't had that experience anywhere but when I bought my killies, and that's because my hometown LFS owner's dad breeds them himself. Also unfortunately, I wasn't there to stop my neighbor. It's telling that one employee at least tried to keep things reasonable with the 5 guppies, and the other SUGGESTED the additional stock. It's not like Petsmart employees get paid commission, jeepers. I've never experienced this kind of insanely irresponsible advice firsthand, because I research before I buy always, and just tell the employee what I want.



I think we're already experiencing the CAE murder spree. Apparently there was a THIRD molly that was found being snacked upon by the algae eaters. I've heard that once they get a taste for flesh, they never go back, but I gave my neighbor a handful of Fluval Bug Bites Pleco Formula to try and stave them off.

It's true! He has no idea what he's doing at all! We had a long convo about the nitrogen cycle this afternoon. I had him all set up with pretty much the exact setup, still cycled, that my betta came out of and told him to put a new betta in it. And then he got to the store and saw the shiny colors... He is frustrated that the pet store misled him and wants to do right though. If all else fails, he's going to give me a few of the fish for my 30 gallon community where they certainly won't stay forever, but they'll be safe and well cared for until I figure something out. Unfortunately no "linking" will be happening, as he doesn't have a computer lol.



This has been my inclination, though Nataku makes the similar, and probably more responsible, suggestion of a 40 breeder and schools of ten. I would LOVE to do that but then we run into the issue of expense + moving a large tank in NYC during the pandemic (undesirable as all get out, and it simply will not fit in my car). Also frankly, I don't think he's got the room for a 40 anywhere in his apartment.

I think I'll end up set him up with a 29, schools of 6, and multiple bubble filters + all the plants I can give him. Per nataku's incredibly informative and frankly horrifying advice, though, the alage eaters are getting the boot.

If it makes folks feel better in the meantime, he's doing 50% water changes daily until we figure something out.
Im glad your helping him! A great neighbor honesty wow! I think the other advice is great. Sounds like you have a plan!
 
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Mike1995 said:
Is it all possible you can get him a bigger tank, maybe 30-40 gallons? And possibly a bigger filter? You could seed it with the current filters. I'd at least start with that.
Some of the fish above I don't know a massive amount about but I will say for tetras, minnows and most other little similar fish you're gonna want schools of 6 or more. So maybe try getting your friend set up with something like that? I'd just choose minnows or tetras.
I have a 90g with a whole big group of mollies and swordtails. Imo, I think mollies should be in a bit larger aquariums. I actually have a 5" male. And the others aren't far behind. They enjoy each others company.
Yes for sure! I think we're going to go with a 29g, just because space is genuinely limited. I'm going to add two more large bubble filters to it, and keep the cycled one we already have in there to seed the bacteria. I've got a strong air pump to spare that can definitely power two more, and extra airline tubing. So in the interest of expense, $8 for two more sponge filters sounds great to me!

I am a little torn about the mollies. I don't know much about them at all, but I do know they can get hefty. If all else fails and they seem to have outgrown the new tank, I do have a friend who has been toying with the idea of setting up a molly tank though. Rehoming is undesirable, but not entirely off the table.
 

flyinGourami

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Okay! I would make sure the gender of the livebearers are really male though, that could cause another overstocking issue.

If this is possible, I would get a 29 gallon tank at the dollar per gallon sale, get some cheap substrate(diamond black blasting sand, pebbles... Stuff like that), a sponge filter maybe(good filtration and aeration), very easy and hardy live plants, a good water conditioner(prime works well)... Okay I'm sure you know everything.
 
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flyinGourami said:
Okay! I would make sure the gender of the livebearers are really male though, that could cause another overstocking issue.

If this is possible, I would get a 29 gallon tank at the dollar per gallon sale, get some cheap substrate(diamond black blasting sand, pebbles... Stuff like that), a sponge filter maybe(good filtration and aeration), very easy and hardy live plants, a good water conditioner(prime works well)... Okay I'm sure you know everything.
Heck yeah heck yeah! I actually have a lot of leftover caribsea eco complete and flourite that i'm never gonna use again, so congrats to his plants, i guess!

Everything you've said there is 100% in the plan. Thanks for putting it on the public record! ;)

Found a 30 gallon cube on the fb marketplace for $60 - if the first person in line doesn't show up tomorrow, I'm picking it up. Comes with a solid wood cabinet stand and a hood with a light, a HOB, some ugly blue gravel, and a nice piece of rock. Cross your fingers everybody! If this works out, I'll help my friend set it up tomorrow and seed it with the bubble filter, then we can slowly fill out the schools over the next couple months. When we do get a decent setup, I'll post a pic.
 

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Heads up- male mollies will fight each other!

IMO, they need groups, males cannot be kept alone with other males, and a ratio of 1M to 3F is needed, and you will have babies.

They also get very depressed when alone without other mollies. Probably best to send em back.
 
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Bloodfeather said:
Heads up- male mollies will fight each other!

IMO, they need groups, males cannot be kept alone with other males, and a ratio of 1M to 3F is needed, and you will have babies.

They also get very depressed when alone without other mollies. Probably best to send em back.
:dead: well, maybe that at least leaves space for a different big pretty fish. perhaps we'll swap the mollies for a black plakat betta and enjoy the extra space.
 

flyinGourami

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Fishproblem said:
:dead: well, maybe that at least leaves space for a different big pretty fish. perhaps we'll swap the mollies for a black plakat betta and enjoy the extra space.
I wouldn't, bettas aren't very temperature compatible with the rest of the stock.

Personally I would rather the mollies stay than get a betta. If they are getting along fine I don't exactly see a reason to have to rehome them, although they can sometimes get a bit big for a 29 gallon tank.
 

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flyinGourami said:
I wouldn't, bettas aren't very temperature compatible with the rest of the stock.

Personally I would rather the mollies stay than get a betta. If they are getting along fine I don't exactly see a reason to have to rehome them, although they can sometimes get a bit big for a 29 gallon tank.
I've sadly only seen males fight when kept in a male-only group.... they'll sometimes kill each other. IME, ofc.

If you really want the mollies, I'd trade them for females. They don't fight each other.
 
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flyinGourami said:
I wouldn't, bettas aren't very temperature compatible with the rest of the stock.

Personally I would rather the mollies stay than get a betta. If they are getting along fine I don't exactly see a reason to have to rehome them, although they can sometimes get a bit big for a 29 gallon tank.
good call, I didn't realize danios are on the chillier side. the mollies aren't being jerks to each other right now in the 5.5 gallon, so I'll keep an eye.
 

flyinGourami

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Bloodfeather said:
I've sadly only seen males fight when kept in a male-only group.... they'll sometimes kill each other. IME, ofc.

If you really want the mollies, I'd trade them for females. They don't fight each other.
They can be nasty sometimes. I don't see why females would not fight each other? I mean, females can fight with each other as much as males.
 

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Fishproblem said:
good call, I didn't realize danios are on the chillier side. the mollies aren't being jerks to each other right now in the 5.5 gallon, so I'll keep an eye.
Yeah. I always found they didn't start to actually fight until they get really settled in. Then they are comfortable around you, and they go picking fights. Mollies can just be meanies.
I find females will also sometimes dominate themselves above the other mollies and will pick on the others.

With all males, and no females, they won't have anything to chase and mate with so they will get bored and attack each other, which will result in one of them being killed by the other.
I agree with Bloodfeather, swapping for females would be better, even though they may fight, it might not be so ferocious.
 

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flyinGourami said:
They can be nasty sometimes. I don't see why females would not fight each other? I mean, females can fight with each other as much as males.
I have a group of 3 females right now, and have never had any fighting at all.

They can fight, but IME they tend not to. My girls have happily lived together for over 3 months.
 

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