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Tetras And Ph
March 18, 2009
1:06 pm
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Fishwife
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Hi all, I'm new on here and would like some advice on a fish I've not really bothered much with in the past, Tetras.

I'm setting up a new 50 litre South American tank and will buy a couple of females for my male Apistogramma cacatuoides. At present I have 6 beautiful little Ember tetras that will also go in with them and I'd like to get a different type of Tetra as well. My problem is that I have a ph of 7.4 and very high phosphate in my tap water. I once bought a dozen beautiful little Green Neons and they all died within weeks and reading up on them since I see that they prefer more acidic water.

It's no use trying to choose what type of Tetra I'll buy before I actually go to the LFS, it will have to be something that doesn't dwarf the Embers so I want the torpedo shape rather than the other, but I could do with some tips for when I go to the LFS. They always say 'if it lives here it should live in your tank as we have the same water' but I've found in the past that this isn't always the case.

I'm looking for something that will tolerate a highish Ph, and something a bit different. Or perhaps you could give me an idea on which Tetras to avoid.

March 18, 2009
1:58 pm
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ndc
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hi, dont think your tank is big eneough for a trio of apisto and any more tetras than you already have, to be honest its probably a bit small for the trio as well (im guessing its something like 2ft x 1 ft x 1ft?) . you would maybe be better not thinking about breeding the apistos and getting another small group of neons or black neons, how is your tank filtered and how often do you water change?

March 18, 2009
7:30 pm
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Fishwife
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You do surprise me I thought I'd get quite a few more small fish in there, The tank is a Classica Aquacurve and the measurements are 24 x 12 x 16 high. I've had the Cockatoo and Embers in a 20 litre with and Otocinclus for a couple of months until I sorted this new tank out.

From what I've read I thought I'd get the trio in quite nicely, but am not really bothered if I don't get them, I wanted to sort and settle the Tetras first, but I wanted something a bit different in the Tetra line, definitely not neons

March 18, 2009
8:25 pm
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Matt
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Have you thought about dwarf pencilfish Nannostomus marginatus? Perfect for small tanks and won't predate on apisto fry should they arrive. Welcome to the site too. /smile.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":)" border="0" alt="smile.gif" />

Cake or death?
March 18, 2009
8:56 pm
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ndc
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one of my favourites for smaller tanks are iriatherina werneri , threadfin rainbows, couple of males, couple of females look great in smaller tanks

March 18, 2009
9:02 pm
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Byron Hosking
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Hi Fishwife,

A tank measuring 24x12x16 inches is a 20 gallon which is approximately 75 litres. You mentioned a 50 litre tank in your first post, which would be approximately 13 gallons (I still think in imperial measurement!). I'm assuming your new tank will be a 20 gallon, given the measurements in your latest post.

I agree with ndc that a trio of apistogramma might be pushing things in a 20g, but I would try one female to keep the male company. Many years ago I had a pair of Apistogramma bitaeniata [they were then known as A. kleei] in a 15g and they spawned and I sold most of the fry in pairs at the local club's auction. A few characins (tetras) would add to this display, but finding some that will live comfortably in a pH of 7.4 will not be easy. The A. cacatuoides come from Peru, namely the Rio Ucayali, and according to Staeck & Linke [American Cichlids I, Dwarf Cichlids; Tetra Press] the water at collecting sites had a pH of 7.6 so you should have no difficulty maintaining this fish in your water.

Ember tetras remain small, and a shoal of 6 will do nicely in your proposed tank with the apistos. The Ember Tetra, Hyphessobrycon amandae, comes from the Rio Aruguaia basin in Brazil which has an acidic pH. Some authors report that when kept in alkaline water (above pH 7) the fish becomes pale and not at its best. In my experience, most of the tetras will not fare well above ph 7 because they originate from acidic waters (in some cases extremely so, down to pH 4-5) and even tank raised fish still carry their evolutionary blueprint, so to speak, and "prefer" water closer to their biological needs. Managing to live in unsuitable (to them) water is different from living at their best. However, this is not to say that they may not do well, and another option is to lower the pH slightly through peat filtration; by slightly I mean down to neutral as this wouldn't bother the apistos so long as the change was gradual. Don't use chemicals to lower the pH as this is only temporary and the pH will rise again with the next water change or on its own, and a fluctuating pH is worse that keeping it a bit high but constant.

Before I finished this post, I noticed that Matt has suggested the dwarf pencilfish, so there's another option. The sources say this fish can tolerate alkaline water, although the fish's natural waters have a pH of 5.6-6.0 which is vastly different.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA Vancouver, BC Canada
March 19, 2009
12:42 am
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Fishwife
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Thanks for the replies. Now I know why I've never bothered much with Tetras /rolleyes.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":rolleyes:" border="0" alt="rolleyes.gif" />

I wanted to keep the tank South American so Threadfins are out of the question, but thanks for the suggestion.

Matt, I'm not sure about the Nannostomus marginatus, about three years ago I bought half a dozen Nannostomus beckfordi and had them in a tank with a Betta Splenden who got into a fight with an artificial log and ripped his fin quite badly. Aquarium salt didn't seem to mend his fins so I treated the tank with a half dose of Melafix and the following morning all six pencilfish were dead. I've since read that the same thing has happened with other people so I've stayed clear of Pencilfish ever since.

I've always bought Harlequins as shoaling fish in the past, but as I said, I really wanted to keep this tank South American /unsure.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":unsure:" border="0" alt="unsure.gif" />

Oh, the reason I said the tank was a 50 litre was that's what Classica say it is.

March 19, 2009
4:37 pm
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Byron Hosking
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QUOTE (Fishwife @ Mar 18 2009, 05:25 PM) < {POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thanks for the replies. Now I know why I've never bothered much with Tetras /rolleyes.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":rolleyes:" border="0" alt="rolleyes.gif" />

I wanted to keep the tank South American so Threadfins are out of the question, but thanks for the suggestion.

Matt, I'm not sure about the Nannostomus marginatus, about three years ago I bought half a dozen Nannostomus beckfordi and had them in a tank with a Betta Splenden who got into a fight with an artificial log and ripped his fin quite badly. Aquarium salt didn't seem to mend his fins so I treated the tank with a half dose of Melafix and the following morning all six pencilfish were dead. I've since read that the same thing has happened with other people so I've stayed clear of Pencilfish ever since.

I've always bought Harlequins as shoaling fish in the past, but as I said, I really wanted to keep this tank South American /unsure.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":unsure:" border="0" alt="unsure.gif" />

Oh, the reason I said the tank was a 50 litre was that's what Classica say it is.

Tetras are characins, as are pencilfish. No characin likes salt, and they are very sensitive to any chemical. [I'm only guessing, but it may have something to do with their built in chemical warning system, unique to the characidae.] I've noted that several manufacturers of remedies especially those containing any copper (as most ick remedies do for instance) warn that they should be used in half dose if there are tetras in the tank. Beckfordi pencils (Nanostommas beckfordi) are the hardiest and livliest species of the genus, and I've kept them for many years and they are always spawning, but they do not like stuff added to the water. And in my experience this applies to all of the characins.

Keeping the tank "south american" is right down my street; I thought I'd posted photos of my tank, but I can't find them, so maybe I haven't yet. Anyway, I'm adding a photo of my 70g and 90g aquaria which are both South American. If this is the type of tank you're after, I suggest lowering your pH to around 6.8 with peat. The apistos will (if done gradually) not have a problem with this, and it will allow you your choice of characin. That could be a lovely display. You could even go biotope by finding out what characins inhabit the river where the apistos come from; there are websites about this, and books. Matt is very knowledgeable on these fish, as undoubtedly are others on this forum, and I certainly enjoy talking about characins. Keep us posted on what you're planning, and I'm sure there will be good guidance and suggestions.

Byron.

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Byron Hosking, BMus, MA Vancouver, BC Canada
March 19, 2009
6:28 pm
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Matt
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What stunning tank set-ups Byron! /cool.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid="B)" border="0" alt="cool.gif" /> Actually I agree with you about the pencils; they'll do much better in acidic water I honestly didn't notice the pH value that fishwife wrote in the op. /blush.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":blush:" border="0" alt="blush.gif" />

Fishwife do you know the hardness of your water?

Cake or death?
March 19, 2009
7:33 pm
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Fishwife
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Thanks Byron, that is a lovely tank /thumbs_up.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":thumbsup:" border="0" alt="thumbs_up.gif" /> I know what you're saying about lowering the Ph in the tank but as its only a small tank with a small filter I'm not sure at this time, whether it'll be worth the effort of putting peat in the filter. But I'll certainly think about this.

I've found several Tetras that can be kept in higher Ph, I'll give the common names - X-ray, Blue or Conchu, Black neon, Glowlight, and Silver Tip. I really like the Blue, but haven't seen it in an LFS. Would you agree with these?

Matt, my dGH is 8.4 and KH 5. if this helps me to find a Tetra that would live happily, in this environment without me doing too much to it. I'm always a bit afraid I'll overdo things especially with such a small tank.

Thanks for all the help

March 19, 2009
9:14 pm
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Eyrie
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Cochu blue tetras are attractive fish but grow too large for a 50L tank and can be bolshie with tank mates unless in a large enough group.

Mature, sensible signature required for responsible position. Good prospects for the right candidate. Apply within.
March 19, 2009
11:08 pm
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Fishwife
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Thanks for that info. What size do you think would be OK for a 50 litre?

March 20, 2009
9:31 pm
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Eyrie
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I have embers and green neons in my 54L, but I see that the latter haven't been a success for you. Anything in that size range though will be fine, assuming the water chemistry isn't a problem.

Mature, sensible signature required for responsible position. Good prospects for the right candidate. Apply within.
March 21, 2009
7:07 pm
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Byron Hosking
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QUOTE (Fishwife @ Mar 19 2009, 12:16 PM) < {POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thanks Byron, that is a lovely tank /thumbs_up.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":thumbsup:" border="0" alt="thumbs_up.gif" /> I know what you're saying about lowering the Ph in the tank but as its only a small tank with a small filter I'm not sure at this time, whether it'll be worth the effort of putting peat in the filter. But I'll certainly think about this.

I've found several Tetras that can be kept in higher Ph, I'll give the common names - X-ray, Blue or Conchu, Black neon, Glowlight, and Silver Tip. I really like the Blue, but haven't seen it in an LFS. Would you agree with these?

Matt, my dGH is 8.4 and KH 5. if this helps me to find a Tetra that would live happily, in this environment without me doing too much to it. I'm always a bit afraid I'll overdo things especially with such a small tank.

Thanks for all the help

Thank you. As for your tetra suggestions:

X-Ray, presumably Pristella maxillaris, good option in a school of 6 or 7. I've kept thse previously, nice peaceful fish, pretty in planted tanks and Baensch/Rhiel say it can tolerate pH to 8 although that may be pushing things. Also one of the very few characins that can tolerate some salt, if B/R are correct in saying it can be found in brackish water. Even so, I would never add salt, that's asking for other problems.

Blue tetra, agree with Eyrie, also note the link in Eyrie's response, this fish does not do well in alkaline water.

Black neon, Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi, prefers soft acidic water, even though they are probably all tank raised now. I would not try these at pH above 7.

Glowlight, Hemigrammus erythrozonus, good choice. A group of 6-7 would be nice. They come from Guyana, though now tank raised, and would probably adapt well.

Silvertip, Hasemania nana, probably not good. Quite active, needing a bit more room to swim in a current.

Somewhere the green neon was mentioned, I assume it's Paracheirodon simulans, certinaly not a good choice. These fish are all wild caught from the Rio Negro and tributaries, and require acidic water. The Rio Negro is pH 3.4 to 4.6, I keep my group of 11 at pH 6.4-6.6 tops. Similar fish and needs as cardinal. Kept in harder water they can develop calcium blockages of the kidneys.

Glowlights with a pair of the apistos in a planted tank would look lovely. You could even add a shoal of the Pristella, as long as you are regular (weekly) with partial water changes and don't overfeed. This would look very nice. Send us a photo when you're set up.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA Vancouver, BC Canada
March 21, 2009
11:26 pm
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Fishwife
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That's great, thanks. So it's a pair of Cockatoos with my 6 Embers and either the same number of Glowlights or Pristella. I saw some Golden Pristella a while back and they looked quite pretty, but I like the ordinary ones as well.

It'll be a while before I add them to the tank, but I'll post a pic when it's up and running properly.

Thanks again /thumbs_up.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":thumbsup:" border="0" alt="thumbs_up.gif" />

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