Tiger Barbs Hiding

Adam T

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Hello everyone,

This is a cross-post - I hope that's ok. Mods, please delete if not. The long version is on the Freshwater Beginner's forum.

I'm cycling a new 30 gallon tank with a school of 5 Tiger Barbs. The water parameters are: pH 7.0; Alk 80; Hardness 120; Nitrite 0; Nitrate 0; Ammonia <.25; 78 degrees F. 15% water change every 2-4 days (or more often, as necessary if ammonia builds up). I test daily. I'm not using any cycling boosters or anything like that. I do condition the water to detoxify it. Feeding lightly once a day using Tetra flakes, and frozen bloodworms every couple of days as a treat. Lights on for 12 hours a day total, but not continuously (we turn them off when we leave, or are not going to be in the room for a while).

Now my question. For the last 3 days, the Tiger Barbs do nothing but hide, pretty much all the time. At first, the Tiger Barbs acted like Tiger Barbs, swimming throughout the tank very actively in a school, and chasing each other around. Then they started fighting, which I assumed was a perfectly natural event to establish a pecking order. It does not appear that anyone got hurt (fins intact, etc.). Then for a day or so, the dominant fish would hang out in the open while the other four hid most of the time. Whenever one would come out, the dominant fish would chase him back into hiding. This went on for about a day. Now they seem to all hide all the time. I fed them last night and no one came out to eat! However, this morning the food seems to be gone. When you turn out the lights, two or three of them sometimes will come out. They seem to be very aware of what's going on outside the tank, and if they are out they will go into hiding if someone approaches the tank.

So, I'm thinking there are a couple of possibilities: (1) they are still getting used to their new environment, and this will all work itself out in time (they have been in the tank for 5 days); (2) there is some problem, possibly stemming from the aggressive behavior of the Alpha-fish, that has basically destroyed the playful schooling behavior that makes these fish so appealing in the first place.

I'm considering what, if anything to do, and I'm thinking that my first step may be to add a sixth Tiger Barb to see if that helps the social dynamic at all.

Thoughts are appreciated. Thanks.

--Adam
 

Butterfly

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Adam i answered your other post and it's really hard to keep up with posts if there are two to check. So lets answer all your fishie questions here.
Here are some articles that will make your life a lot easier. Enjoy the reading!!

sounds like maybe your tank isn't cycled yes and that is stressful for your fish.
Carol
 
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Adam T

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Thanks.

I'm surprised to hear you suggest that it's stress due to cycling, because at my pH and ammonia levels, there's really nothing about the water conditions that should be stressing the fish. I also do regular small water changes, and the tank's only been running for less than a week.
 

czarben

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How big is your tank? I recently moved my tiger barbs out of a large community tank where they exhibited normal barb behavior and put them in a smaller tank by themselves and they are now behaving as you described, basically hiding. They are still eating and appear healthy so I'm just going to give them some time and I'll bet everything returns to normall.
 

Butterfly

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Your tank has only been up for a week, it usually takes about 4-6 weeks to cycle. It takes at least that long to grow beneficial bacteria in your filter, on the gravel and on the decor in your tank. Keep a close watch on your ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. Your ammonia is showing a slight reading, soon it will spike then you will see nitrites then you will see Nitrates. When you have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and 20 or less in nitrates then your cycle will be over. What type of testing supplies are you using? Any ammonia will stress your fish, anything close to or ever 1 can kill your fish.
The only thing I know of that "instantly" cycles your tank is called Bio-spira and its hard to find. Although Chickadee orders it on line, if you want to try it she could give you the address to order it.
Although fishless cycling is recommended lots of people still use fish to cycle. Keep us posted and we will help in any way we can.
Carol
 

Isabella

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Copy of my reply from the other thread:

"I'm glad you took the fish home. And I am happy I never saw anything like this at any restaurant. If I saw fish in such conditions at some restaurant, they would have a big trouble trying to get rid of me! The management would have to deal with me until the fish got the home they deserved. Period.

Besides, if your ammonia is 0.25 this is what probably causes the shy behavior of your fish. Don't be surprised if they get sick. Any presence (even in smallest amounts) of ammonia and nitrite can make your fish sick, and even kill them. Please read about the nitrogen cycle on Fish Lore and many other articles for beginners. It's best not to add any fish to a tank until it's fully cycled. And even after it's cycled, it best to stock a tank gradually (and not adding many fish at once)."
 
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Adam T

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Thanks - I didn't see your reply on the other thread. I read a lot about cycling before setting up the 30 gallon tank, but I guess I didn't realize that such a small amount of ammonia would have such a result on the fish. I'm using a test strip kit that I got at the LFS on both of my tanks, and the literature lists my ammonia levels as "safe" at my pH. The goldfish have higher ammonia (about .5) and seem perfectly fine, so I guess I thought that the water conditions were fine.

I read about fishless cycling, but I elected not to do it because there seem to be differences of opinion about it, with some saying that the best way to achieve a stable tank over the long term is to do it the old fashioned way using fish you intend to keep. No one seems to disagree that using fish to cycle the tank works well, so I decided to use that method. I will be sure to keep doing regular small water changes and hope the fish don't get sick.

I figured five little Tiger Barbs for a 30 gallon tank was a reasonable start, but I have no plans to add more fish until the cycle is complete. And when I do add, I'll take it slow.

Thanks again.
 

Isabella

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The reason I prefer fishless cycling is because ammonia and nitrite can make fish sick and even kill them while you're cycling your tank. To me, it is cruelty. I don't want any fish dying because of me.

You can cycle your tank adding fish food to it - which will also turn to waste and encourage the development of the nitrifying bacteria. Once the tank is cycled this way, you start to stock your tank gradually. "Gradually" is the keyword here. It means you start adding 1-2 fish at a time; say, 1-2 fish every week or so. This way, you give the beneficial bacteria the time to develop without the risk of killing your fish. You continue adding 1-2 fish every week or so, until your tank is stocked to the level you want it to be (of course, we don't want to overstock!).

Even though a tank seems cycled, when you add many fish at once, ammonia and/or nitrite can suddenly go up. This is because while the tank is cycled and it has the beneficial bacteria, it doesn't have enough of the bacteria to deal with an influx of so much waste. This is why it is important to stock a tank gradually.

No ammonia level is safe for your tank - as I have said, smallest ammonia (and nitrite) amounts can kill your fish.
 

Butterfly

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The water testing kit made by aquarium pharmaceuticals is more reliable than the dip stick and are recommended for accurate testing.
as far as safe at your ph. Fish will acclimate to just about any ph as long as it doesn't fluctuate wildly, but any ammonia levels can affect your fish. Even your goldfish need lower ammonia levels, which is hard because even though their beautidul fish they are really messy.
But now you have them and lets get you and your fish through the cycle as safely as possible
Carol
 
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Adam T

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I bought some Bio Spira (they carry it at a local Petco). I added it Saturday in the late afternoon to both my new tanks, and I already have some Nitrite and Nitrate readings in the small tank, so it seems to be doing the trick. I'll test again this afternoon when I do my scheduled water change. Marineland says it should make the tank "fish safe" within 24 hours. We'll see if it works as advertised. Marineland seems to be a pretty professional outfit, so I have high hopes. Wish I had done this sooner. I lost three of the barbs. Added four more at the same time I added the Bio Spira. All of the Barbs are acting very happy now. Out in the open almost all the time, chasing each other around a lot, but no real fighting. So far so good (except for the three fish that didn't make it).
 

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BioSpira is meant to be added at the same time you add your first fish. since you all ready had fish in there and some ammonia readings I wouldn't add any more fish until the BioSpira catches up.
Your lucky to be able to get BioSpira locally, so many can't.
Carol
 
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Adam T

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The Bio-Spira seems to work. All the fish seem happy. I wanted to describe what I am seeing in terms of water parameters to see if they are normal. Over the last few days, my ammonia level has stayed at .25. However, for the first time, I have seen low levels of Nitrite and Nitrate. Last night I tested again, and ammoinia was still at .25, but Nitrite was very close to zero, and Nitrate was 20. The thing that seems strange is that I added the Bio-Spira on Saturday, the fish seem happy, nitrification is occuring, but my ammonia level has stayed constant. I have done one 15% water change since adding the Bio-Spira. There are a total of seven fish in the tank (6 Tiger Barbs and 1 Electric Yellow Cichlid), about 8 to 9 fish-inches total. 30 gallons.
 

Butterfly

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Give the BioSpira a chance to catch up. your other readings indicat things are moving right along. Keep us posted!
Carol
 

david

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hi there Adam T i dont want to be the one to break the bad news to you but tigerbarbs can get to 3 inches each.so you have actully got 18 inches of tigerbarb alone. .i dont know how big Electric yellow chiclids get but i think you still wont be overstocked..unless the chiclid is a big big fish..but if your tigerbarbs are still hiding then there is somthing wrong..tigerbarbs are not the type of fish to hide from anything..mine dont even back down from my red tail black shark.. ;D ..

good luck anyway adam
 
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Adam T

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Hi David. I appreciate the post. I figure I'll have about 34 fish-inches at full maturity, so I'm a bit over the "rule of thumb," but I have a good filter system and I do weekly 15% water changes, so I think I should be ok. Do you agree?

BTW, I am figuring 2.5" on average for the Tiger Barbs. The Electric yellow should only get to be about 4", and the Rams only 3" It's possible that some fish may grow bigger than I am planning, in which case I'll have to adjust, but that will be quite a way down the road. For the immediate future, I'll be very understocked as none of my fish are even close to the full size I am planning for.

Since I added the Bio-Spira, the Tiger Barbs have come out of hiding. For the last several days they've been out all the time, eating enthusiastically, and chasing each other around. A real joy to watch. The electric Yellow Cichlid (which is the only other fish in the tank at the moment -- the others in my list will be added after my ammonia level is down to zero) is a really little guy at the moment (only 2"), but he's out all the time too. It's fascinating how the Alpha-Barb doesn't mess with the little Cichlid. In fact, I've seen the little Cichlid briefly pursue the Alpha-Barb on occassion! Those Cichlids don't take any guff!

Anyway, the tank seems to be doing very well now, and all the fish seem to be very happy. I plan to add another pouch of Bio-Spira when I introduce the remaining Cichlids, just to be safe. It's expensive, but it really seems to work, and I don't want to loose any more fish to ammonia.
 
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