Newbie Just Bought Established Tank.

skaffen
  • #1
HI there

I've just got an established tank from a friend who's gone overseas. I'm new to this and have a few questions. OK, I lied, I have tons of questions, but I'll try not to ask too many at once

First up, am I overstocked? I have an 85 L tank with:

5 Tiger Barbs
5 Rummy Nose Tetras
1 Silver Shark (11 cm)
1 Red Finned Black Shark (8cm)
1 Golden Gourami
1 Orange Platy
1 Siamese Flying Fox
1 Red Spot Pleco (tiny)

My other question is, I change 20 L per week, vacuuming gravel as I go, is that about right? Should I get a test kit and change water based on nitrate levels rather than changing an arbitrary amount each week? Everything seems to be thriving so I'm inclined to keep going as is.

Observations - I've read up on these fish, and I'm quite surprised at how well they get along. Black shark seems to rule the tank, but he keeps to himself most of the time - hanging out in his hollow log when he's not feeding. The barbs squabble among themselves occasionally, but the leave the other fish alone. Golden Gourami occasionally hassles Silver Shark, especially when he's making clicking noises gulping water at the surface.

This is way more fun that I thought it would be!
 
susitna-flower
  • #2
WELCOME TO FISHLORE, SKAFFEN!

You have a lovely looking tank, the biggest problem I see is that it is stocked too heavily. You have enough fish there for a 55 gallon tank AT least! If your silver shark is a bala, and by its description it is....needs a tank that is 72"...they grow over 12" and need others of their own kind....The redtail shark will continue to rule the roost, and eventually there will be problems between these two as the redtail will not tolerate another fish of similar shape.

The rest sound good in numbers etc, except as I said they should be in a larger tank.

I would do as you said and test your water and change according to the nitrate levels. When it gets up to 20, you need to do 25-50% change (2x25% is best), and as often as it takes to keep it between 10 &20... Now that you know how fun this is, keep an eye out for that larger tank, and then you will officially have MTS like the rest of us!
 
mirciulie
  • #3
So,

the best thing is do verify the nitrate levels and do change only when past 20? Instead of a weekly?

I'm asking this, first because I'm lazy and don't wanna do extra work if not need it . Second, I have a good canister filter (Eheim) that it's oversized for my tank. So I have really good filtration.

Not sure how filtration will take care of nitrate.

I also have a planted tank, not too many plants right now. That should help with the nitrates also. I have some floating plants on top, not sure how they're called, but they grow VERY fast, according to the previous owner. I will take some pics with them and post them here, I'm sure there's ppl that now what it is.
 
capekate
  • #4
Hello and welcome to fishlore...
Your tank is severely over stocked for a 22g (85L) tank. Your fish would be much happier if you had less in there.
BTW.. your tank set up is gorgeous tho ;D

~ kate
 
Barbrella
  • #5
If your silver shark is a bala, and by its description it is....needs a tank that is 72"...they grow over 12" and need others of their own kind....The redtail shark will continue to rule the roost

Agree! The Redtail will grow quite large and will harass any smaller fish to death as their aggression increases with age.

If the Red Spot pleco is an L110, that will grow to about 8" and is too big as well.

The best thing would be to take the sharks and pleco to a petstore.

the best thing is do verify the nitrate levels and do change only when past 20? Instead of a weekly?

No. You need to do water changes of at least 25% once a week and I'm not sure if even that is sufficient for a tank so severely overcrowded. Ammonia and nitrites will quickly build and water must be changed. Rummynoses are really sensitive to these toxins. If you remove the above fish, it may be okay.
 
capekate
  • #6
The red tailed shark will grow to about 4.25 inches at adult size.
The Silver shark on the other hand can grow to 13 inches in length.
Your silver is not as aggressive as the RTS tho...but will eat small fish.

~ kate
 
Faye Rod
  • #7
I set up a new aquarium two months ago and have been reading Fishlore for a month now - so don't know much. But - just to pass on some things I needed to learn -

1. If you don't have a test kit make sure you get the API liquid test kit and not the test strips that the Fish Store will recommend.

2. Make sure you add a water conditioner like Prime or Aquasafe to your replacement water when you do a water change. That should be the only additive you need to buy.

I think these two tips will keep you from spending money on things you find out later you shouldn't use!

Good luck and have fun!
 
skaffen
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Thanks for the kind words and advise.

I saw a huge bala in my local shop, but I didn't get to ask the owner if it was a mutant or if I was going to need a bigger tank - now I know! I'd be sad to see it go as it's got a lot of character (the noise it makes is cool), but I'd rather know it's a happy fish in an appropriate environment. So I can't just get a bigger tank, the bala is going to start eating smaller fish and conflicting with the red tail shark? I did read they like the company of kin, is it cruel to keep a solitary bala in a community tank regardless of size?

I just added the pleco when a tetra died, it's already cleaned the smooth river stones that were previously covered in algae, which is what I had in mind. I didn't realise they got so big either! I'd like to keep it until it outgrows the tank - levels aside, I presume the issue is red tailed black shark will start to hassle it? I've been watching for that, but so far RTBS leaves it alone - even when they were both hoovering the same river stone.

There was a 50-50 mix of real and plastic plants when I got the tank, but I've swapped the plastic ones for real plants. I'm adding API Leaf Zone at the recommended dose and they all appear to be growing well. Can I get away with that many plants without CO2? There's just gravel with no clay substrate, that's why I'm using Leaf Zone...

It's really interesting trying to achieve a balanced and healthy environment - I have a lot to learn! Thanks again.

-Simon
 
Barbrella
  • #9
IF you want to keep the bala shark, it needs to be in a school, and IMO, the tank shouldn't be smaller than 800 gallons. Petstores should not sell these fish, as precious few home aquariums can house them properly. No way at all even one can be kept in a 20 gallon tank.

The redtailed shark will conflict with everyone, with the possible exception of the tiger barbs. Redtails are okay in very large aquariums where they can successfully defend a territory, but in your small tank that's overcrowded, it just won't work.

Really, all you should have in that tank are:
the 5 tiger barbs and a bristlenose pleco (if you want an algae eater) OR
the 5 rummynoses, gourami, platy and pleco OR
the Tiger barbs and black shark (since they're all semi-aggressive) - not all of them.
With any of those combos, you'll have a nice mix.

In the future, it would be a very good idea to research fish you like before bringing them home. So easy to do with the internet!
 
Blub
  • #10
Hi!

Please, even though you want the pleco take him, the Bala and the RTBS back to your LFS. They will all outgrow your little tank! The flying fox will get to around 6" as well - and so it'd be best to take him back - as even without the 3 bigguns the tank is overstokced. After that, you should be OK as long as you do 33% water changes every week. I run my 47gal on 33%'s every week, a Juwel 180 filter and lots of plants. It's slightly overstocked (By around 10-15") but everyone gets on famously, and the water conditions are perfect!

 
skaffen
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
Wow, that's over 3000 liters! That really puts it in perspective. I definitely agree the Bala has already outgrown the tank, I get the impression he'd like to stretch his fins and swim more - and now I know they school I feel bad he has no friends to hang with. I'll ask around the local shops and see if anyone has a good home for him. If I can't, should I start as big a tank as I can support and house him there with a few of his own species, or would it be kinder to euthanase him? Waah, I didn't know the responsibility I was taking on when I got this tank This is supposed to be fun!

You're right, it's criminal that pet shops sell them without warning people what the mature size is and what the tank requirements are

To be honest, ignoring the bala and the chem levels for now and looking at my tank from a behaviour point of view, everyone seems to be getting on ok and I'm surprised at the stock levels you guys are recommending. This tank has been going in this state for a couple of years now. Have I acquired a small torture chamber??? Maybe I just don't know what to look for, or is it that I'm not considering the sizes and behaviour when all the fish reach maturity?

What are the indicators for stressed fish? RTBS occasionally asserts himself, but for the most part he's happy in his log or browsing the bottom, and he has a nice bright tail. The rummys also have healthy looking red noses - apparently a good health indicator? Oh, and two barbs appear to be pregnant, that's got to be a good sign

I'll pick up a test kit tonight and start looking at the water quality, but as I said, the indicators I know of suggest the chem balance is OK.

I'll get a bigger tank as soon as I can. If I can find a home for my bala, and I take the pleco back, what size would you recommend for the remaining stock?

Sorry if I appear to be one of those people who ask for opinions from experienced people and then ignore them - I'm not doing that. I'm just trying reconcile your advise with my (uninformed) observations. Feel free to berate me until I understand!




IF you want to keep the bala shark, it needs to be in a school, and IMO, the tank shouldn't be smaller than 800 gallons. Petstores should not sell these fish, as precious few home aquariums can house them properly. No way at all even one can be kept in a 20 gallon tank.

The redtailed shark will conflict with everyone, with the possible exception of the tiger barbs. Redtails are okay in very large aquariums where they can successfully defend a territory, but in your small tank that's overcrowded, it just won't work.

Really, all you should have in that tank are:
the 5 tiger barbs and a bristlenose pleco (if you want an algae eater) OR
the 5 rummynoses, gourami, platy and pleco OR
the Tiger barbs and black shark (since they're all semi-aggressive) - not all of them.
With any of those combos, you'll have a nice mix.

In the future, it would be a very good idea to research fish you like before bringing them home. So easy to do with the internet!
 
SereneReyn
  • #12
I think most people here try to encourage 'optimal' aquarium conditions, which is great... in reality however every fish and every 'community' is different. certainly, it sounds like you need a larger tank... and if you get rid of the bala and the pleco and the rest seem to be happy with each other, then I wouldn't freak out too much.

with the room they need and decent water parameters covered, do what works for you. there will always be people that say "you can't keep such and such fish with such and such fish" or whatever... and for the most part it's probably a good rule of thumb. but to every rule there are exceptions. just be aware of the natural inclinations/needs of the species you keep, and their behavior will let you know if things should change. research is ALWAYS beneficial.

many people here are also quite sensitive when it comes to the death of 'pet' fish. I doubt you'll get many recommendations for putting him down. (i'm not criticizing either way, your fish, your call)... g'luck
 
skaffen
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
That'd be the last resort. What I meant was, is it so cruel to let him live in a small tank if I can't find a better home, that putting him down would be better? I'd hate to do it, and my friend who I got the tank from would never talk to me again!

Now I think about it, he seems happy enough now, I'd rather keep him in a less than optimum tank than put him down.
 
susitna-flower
  • #14
IF you want to keep the bala shark, it needs to be in a school, and IMO, the tank shouldn't be smaller than 800 gallons. Petstores should not sell these fish, as precious few home aquariums can house them properly. No way at all even one can be kept in a 20 gallon tank.

The redtailed shark will conflict with everyone, with the possible exception of the tiger barbs. Redtails are okay in very large aquariums where they can successfully defend a territory, but in your small tank that's overcrowded, it just won't work.

Really, all you should have in that tank are:
the 5 tiger barbs and a bristlenose pleco (if you want an algae eater) OR
the 5 rummynoses, gourami, platy and pleco OR
the Tiger barbs and black shark (since they're all semi-aggressive) - not all of them.
With any of those combos, you'll have a nice mix.

In the future, it would be a very good idea to research fish you like before bringing them home. So easy to do with the internet!

It is not fair to provide incorrect information and bad advice, based on opinions not researched.

Bala sharks, Balantiocheilus melanopterus are in the Barb family, grow to about 14" max, and should be kept in a group of about 3. They are larger than fish you can count stocking limits on of 1"per gallon, and fit more into the group of "fat fish" that you should count more like 1 cubic inch per gallon of tank. Even that however does not justify the above advice that you NEED a tank of 800 gallons! The only specifications I have found is that other than gallons, they need a tank at least 72" long!. Three could live in a 125 gallon tank quite happily. If you have a tank that is 180 gallons you could have all the fish you currently have, with no problems.

Also Balas are peaceful tank mates. They play (sometimes quite vigorously) with each other but leave all their other tank mates alone.
 
Barbrella
  • #15
I did not give bad advice, incorrect information or just my opinion. A school of bala sharks that I've have seen numerous times in my local public aquarium, are in a 1000 gal tank, and still seem a bit cramped. I've spoken with the fish keepers there and they also feel they need a tank that size. I would tend to think their expert advice, unlike that of pet store employees, is sound.

They are extremely fast, active and never stop zooming around, which combined with their size is a huge consideration. A 12" Oscar doesn't need nearly so much room as one Bala shark for this reason.

What is not fair is keeping a large schooling fish, whose future looks none too bright, alone in a too-small tank.
 
skaffen
  • Thread Starter
  • #16
Well my next tank still won't be big enough for my bala when he's fully grown, let alone 3 of them, so I just hope I can find I better home for him.

If I can't find an appropriate home, would it be kinder to send him to a watery grave than to keep him the sole bala in my next tank? Surely a somewhat cramped and lonely existence is better than not existing??? Not a nice thing to contemplate, but I want to do the right thing. It's not like he's running into the glass now, or looking stressed. And he leaves the other fish alone, even the tiniest tetra. I do however see the speed he's capable of when he goes for it as much as he can in the limited space available.

Now I'm sad :-(
 
capekate
  • #17
I did not give bad advice, incorrect information or just my opinion. A school of bala sharks that I've have seen numerous times in my local public aquarium, are in a 1000 gal tank, and still seem a bit cramped. I've spoken with the fish keepers there and they also feel they need a tank that size. I would tend to think their expert advice, unlike that of pet store employees, is sound.

They are extremely fast, active and never stop zooming around, which combined with their size is a huge consideration. A 12" Oscar doesn't need nearly so much room as one Bala shark for this reason.

What is not fair is keeping a large schooling fish, whose future looks none too bright, alone in a too-small tank.
g'morning Barbrella
My question would have to be, just how large are those bala sharks at your local public aquarium are? I have to agree with susitna flower on this one. At the most growing to 14 inches in size.. an 800g tank is a bit much!
a 1000 g tank... well... they would be lost in that size a tank. A friend of mine has three of them in her 120 gallon and they are doing great.. seem to have plenty of room to swim around and seem happy and not stressed out.
With that said...
Skaffen as you know now your 85L (22.4g) tank is way too small for the bala shark. Maybe for now that it is so small, you have some time to find a home for it before you have to resort to drastic measures.Maybe you can put a free ad in a local paper to find a home for it? BTW I also think that your stock without the bala shark is a bit over crowded as well...

~ kate
 
skaffen
  • Thread Starter
  • #18
I'm looking for a bigger tank already. I can probably accommodate something twice as big as the current tank, say 160 L. Edit: Now looking for a 300L tank, LOL, they should put warnings on fish tanks like they do with cigarettes

Your advise sounds good - bala isn't fully grown yet so I have some time to find a new home for him, especially when I get a new tank.

I'm going to research this a lot and go for the most self sustaining planted tank I can without having to use CO2. I want to get this right.

Well, thanks for your help everyone, it's given me a lot to think about.

Well, I'm the proud owner of a 440 L tank now - just waiting on the plants to all arrive at the LFS so I can start building - can't wait to get the fish into the new tank
 
primerowan
  • #19
good luck!! you should have a blast with a tank that large!
 
Blub
  • #20
Well, I'm the proud owner of a 440 L tank now - just waiting on the plants to all arrive at the LFS so I can start building - can't wait to get the fish into the new tank
Hi!

Remember to ask us about anything you want to do before you do it!


 
skaffen
  • Thread Starter
  • #21
Well, black or a blue-black vertical gradient for the back? I've just taken some photos and I'm gonna photoshop some plants and water in before I decide, I don't imagine it'll be easy to change my mind once it's full

I'm going to return the pleco when I start migrating the fish to the new tank, but minus him, what do you guys think of my stock levels? Could I get two more Balas and keep my existing fish? I imagine I won't replace the Tetras as they reduce in numbers over time, but will the red tailed black shark be ok with some larger fish?

I'm cycling my new filter on the 85 L tank to try to speed up the cycle when I put it on the new tank - will 5 days make a difference and get some bacteria going earlier?

I rinsed the filter thoroughly first, than ran a change from the 85 through it for a day using a bucket and a spare heater. Then I emptied it and repeated. Finally I filled it with another change then ran it in the 85 - on low volume... I'm learning to drive my test kit so I've been keeping a close eye on the tank but there's been no probs.

Anyhow, it looks pretty hard case - slight overkill?

Hi!

Remember to ask us about anything you want to do before you do it!
 
Blub
  • #22
Hi!

That's 110gal. I still think it's best to get rid of Balas all together - you know, I can see a tank with your Bala's name all over it down at your LFS...


 
capekate
  • #23
HI Skaffen
IF you plan on splitting up your stock between the two tanks, there is no reason to give up your bala sharks if that is a species that you like. Your 110g tank will be fine for two of them with a few other fish as well. ;D

~ kate
 
skaffen
  • Thread Starter
  • #24
Well, here's the new tank. So far I've just transferred the plants from the old tank, and planted some Java ferns on the wood. Oh, and a few minI swords on the front left. I'm slowly planning how I want to plant it and talking lots with the LFS - who have been awesome with suggestions and help. I've some Amazon swords on order that I'll plant in the centre back behind the central log.

Black shark loves the rock pile and the hollows under the central log. The barbs are really hard case, zipping along with their little tails going flat out. Still thinking about my bala, but he's happy enough for now.

I took the red spot pleco back. I watched a couple of large ones at my LFS - I find them quite monstrous - slow and kind of nasty... They have beautiful skin patterns, but they creep me out for some reason - weird. No offence to you big pleco owners, just MHO!
 
primerowan
  • #25
I love the wood you are using - especially that big piece over on the left. The tank looks fabulous!
 
Blub
  • #26
Hi!

I like your Echindorus x. Ozelot 'red'! Your bala will probably crush the plants pretty soon BTW... Big fish + planted tanks = chaos!


 

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