New Owner... Having Trouble With Black Skirted Tetras

  • #1
HI all-
New person to the forum. I am admittedly VERY new to fish owning as well. I'm sorry for the long post that follows (and the time period this all occurs from has been from December till now). We purchased a 10 gallon starter tank in December and the LFS recommended and supplied us with a couple serpae tetra and a couple black skirted tetra to get our tank up and running.
Within a couple weeks, one of the black skirts died, (we were kind of expecting to lose someone during the set up time). The other three were happy go lucky. We kept as is for a couple months. We did some reading up on the fish- and realize they are schooling fish, so we wanted to add a couple more. (We also realize at this point that what semeed like a huge tank is really not). The same LFS recommended a few more seprpae tetra. So we had a total of one black skirt and 5 serpae tetra.
Within a few days we noticed that the black skirted tetra was hiding up near the heater and filter. When it did venture out, we saw its tail was defintiely nipped at and then noticed the behavior of the serpae -chasing it around, seeming agressive, etc. We felt so terrible for our black skirt, we immeditely took the NEW serpae back to the store and went back to our 3 originals in the tank. We added some more live plants and gave more hiding places for the fish. All is well for another couple months with the orginal 3.
Just this weekend, I noticed that the black skirted was doing the hiding behavior again, as well as one of the serpae hiding in the cave and behind the plants and the remaining serpae swimming around, seemingly flexing his msucles.
We are trying to read up on our fish and learn as fast as possible. I know the fish need a school. I realize the 10 gal tank limits us as far as amount and size. It is what we have though. We made a decision that the serpae tetra have to go becasue the black skirt is the one who has been through the most and we have become attached. YESTERDAY we introduced 4 new black skirts -2 of which are the same size as our original guy, 2 smaller. So now we have a total of 5 black skirts in a 10 gallon tank. I realize we are pushing the limits as to quantity in the tank, but read that minimum of 5 is needed for a school, so I took a shot and am hoping for the best.
Well, our original black skirt is chasing everybody around. Turned the lights off at 10:00 and it was chasing the same sized one and everyone else was hiding. Woke up this morning and everyone is chasing everyone. I'm worried they're going to kill each other! Are they establishing a pecking order? Did I completely screw this up? I know in an ideal world, I should go get a really large tank, set that up and put in a bigger school. However, this is what we have and I need to deal with the situation as it is. I feel so bad for these fish and don't know what to do. Part of me wants to return all of them and start over with a single betta.
Sorry for the long post.
Appreciate any advice.
fishes were wishes
  • #2
aqadvisor can help you figure out how many fish you can handle, according to fishlore black skirts need to be kept in groups of five or more and need a 20 gallon tank
  • #3
I have seen small groups of Blackskirts do well but not in a 10G. That just isn't enough real estate for a tetra that large. They are likely to cause trouble even if you had a few more.
  • #4
I have black skirts too- only 3 of them. Went to the local LFS and got 3 serpae and 3 black skirt... not knowing about shoal size at the time. Same problem. I added 3 more serpaes and it has definitely helped the talk calm down. I don't have room for 3 more black skirts. I only have a 20 gallon. I'm new to this hobby too and don't have too much advice. Just wanted to say that I sympathize. If it were me and I absolutely could not afford a bigger tank, I would wait a couple of days and watch them, see if they sort themselves out, and if not return them to the LFS. Good luck!
  • #5
The reason they are aggressive is because you put to many in a little tank. They don't have swimming room and may be territorial. If I were you thr best thing to do its to take back one or two of them. I've had this same situation happen to me and the fish are fine now in their 22 gallon which I upgraded them from a 13 and introduced a new fish. I think they may work it out between each other but do need a bigger tank. Good luck!

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