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Ambastaia behaviour

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    Following an exchange of emails with mikev on this subject it seems appropriate to raise it here. In our experience, how aggressive are Ambastaia in community aquaria? Does this vary with aquarium or group size? What are recommended tankmates and what should be avoided?

    Would really appreciate some help here. Our profile currently states that these species are “quite mild” in temperament and suggests them to make decent community inhabitants, but this appears not to be the case. The last thing we want to do is supply poor information on such a popular species as A. sidthimunki.Confused


    Byron Hosking

    In my experience, I would agree with most of what is in the profile respecting traits and behaviours.  I have maintained my present group of five A. sidthimunki for over five years now (acquired them in late 2009).  I can confirm the profile information concerning a female being the dominant of the group (at least, this fish is larger and very round so presumably female), the greying out swirling dance though not often, and their peacefulness.  I have these in a 3-foot 33g tank with a group of four Micronemacheilus cruciatus, and only once have I ever witnessed any interaction between members of these two species; the latter are out and about together much more than the shy A. sidthimunki which I accept may be so because of the other species, but they never seem to worry about or bother each other at feeding times.

    The other fish in this present setup are a group of pygmy sparkling gourami (Trichopsis pumila), and shoals of Trigonstigma hengeli, Brevibora dorsiocellata (these two rasbora are always together in a mixed shoal), and Boraras maculatus.  I have never seen the loaches approach any of these much smaller fish, and this tank has been running like this for just over four years now.

    Before the present tank, the A. sidthimunki were in a 70g heavily planted tank with a group of six Botia kubotai, and these were together for about a year and I never observed any cross-species interaction.  The A. sidthimunki were out and about more then, perhaps due to the aquascape which was more open; the 33g is full of chunks of wood.  I also had six Chocolate gourami in that earlier tank, and a group of pygmy sparkling gourami, and both of these gourami spawned and fry survived several times.

    First photo is the present 33g, second the former 70g and you can just see a couple of dwarf loaches in the back.  Feel free to question further if I’ve missed any points.  






    Below is a copy/paste of the discussion in one of the Facebook groups:

    Chris Green They usually pester Corydoras, not always but usually, nipping fins, eyes, and snatching food. For such a small Loach they are surprisingly feisty at times. My group used to torment a group of much larger and much bulkier Y.modesta.
    December 11, 2014 at 4:55pm · Like · 3
    Julie Howarth I have a group of 12 and I am losing cory’s at an alarming rate……my husband swears it is since we added the loach and tonight I have actually seen 6 of them corner and attack a cory and kill it, usually I just find the corpses. Have also been watching one chase and nip a danio at the surface. Have treated for every illness known to man as I was losing so many fish…but it is only cory’s nothing else. I understood them to be a peaceful but active loach and got them to replace my clown loach who outgrew my tank.
    December 20, 2014 at 6:02pm · Edited · Like
    Mark Duffill Sidthimunki are terrors when mixed with cories, they can be very inquisitive of tank mates but can do damage.

    The bigger the group the less the aggression, I have a group of around 30 sidthimunki and they are fine with SAE and tiger barbs both of which are pretty hardy species
    December 11, 2014 at 6:29pm · Like · 3
    Julie Howarth Right…..they will have to go……I love my Cory’s…..I am gutted that I have lost so many…….
    December 11, 2014 at 6:32pm · Like
    Michael Vulis I value my corys too much to try this… but keep the sids with fp.gardneri innidere (this is one of the larger gardneri and very hardy normally) and the mortality among the killies is noticeable…. smaller ones (sid size) are particularly prone to sudden death….

    nasty little things
    December 11, 2014 at 8:44pm · Like · 1
    Julie Howarth Well who would have thought…..I did do research online before I bought them and all sources say they are peaceful active bottom dwellers…..just goes to show that speaking to actual owners/keepers is the best option.
    December 12, 2014 at 5:40am · Like · 1
    Chris Green a lot of internet sites seem to copy information from a select number of books/authors and unfortunately these copied the same information from other authors and books. So what looks like multiple sources is in reality more likely to be one or two auth…See More
    December 12, 2014 at 6:37am · Like
    Julie Howarth Yes…you are right. I had 6 clowns before the Sids and only rehomed those because they were outgrowing my tank…never had a moments aggression with them….except against plants….!!!! I actually saw 6 of the 12 Sids corner and attack/kill a cory last night….like a pack of wolves…..
    December 12, 2014 at 6:50am · Like
    Sarah Hale Switch the attackers out for kuhli loaches ( either striped or black or both) also weather loaches are peaceful
    December 20, 2014 at 12:47am · Like ·

    There was a second discussion about problems with sids elsewhere at about the same time…. I wish I remembered where !

    The problem is not limited to the cories, I had problem with killies and distinctly recall problems with rasboras (again, sorry, don’t remember what kind).

    It is possible that they are better behaved in a larger planted tank?



    BTW, sorry for an offtopic, but there is an amusing thread on LOL about clown loaches dismembering rainbows….. I’m not suggesting that clowns should be ever called aggressive, but this does go into unpredictability of loach behavior.



    About 15-20 A. sidthimunki were kept by a friend of mine together with a smaller guppy breed in about 120l. The tank was well planted and contained lots of stone heaps and tree roots to structure it and provide hiding places for the loaches. After a while the guppies started missing eyes.

    Same thing happened in a shop to Trigonstigma espei  where A. sidthimunki were kept together with them in a small tank (max. 60l).



    Thanks a lot guys. I’ve made some changes to the profile and feedback would be appreciated.

    Is this behaviour also typical of A. nigrolineata?


    Byron Hosking

    @Matt said:
    Thanks a lot guys. I’ve made some changes to the profile and feedback would be appreciated.
    Is this behaviour also typical of A. nigrolineata?

    Profile changes are good to me, Matt.  From the situations mentioned here, I think this may well be a model case for the importance of tank size plus numbers in the group.

    Can’t help with the other species.




    I never witnessed any problems with both species. S sidtihmunki since the 80es (just once three youngsters). Both species together in different tanks with guppys, corys, Nannostomus, Ancistrus and others in tanks of 120 liters to 500.. A. nigrolineata now with Aplocheilus, P. brevis, Stiphodon, Garra, guppys, danios.

    Only thing is, that they like to nibble on everything, when they are younger. As adults they even dont bother P. corneus.

    I don’t believe in those storys. To tear out an eye of a moving fish? Impossible. There must be another origin of thes damages. I remember the same discussion in “my” forum. Not one proved case after all. Just re-telling of internet-talk.

    Cheers Charles



    These are being hormone bred are they not? I wonder if this could have any effect on their development?



    @torso said:

    I don’t believe in those storys. To tear out an eye of a moving fish? Impossible.
    Cheers Charles

    Are the top fish moving at night when the loaches are most active or sleeping?

    I did not have eye incidents with sids, but did have one with b.striata (victim: rasbora) — presumably more peaceful. In reality, no botia can be 100% trusted, even the clowns in light of the new LOL story are probably only 99.99% safe. :P

    PS As for Matt’s changes: I think perfect. Hopefully one day we can be more specific in recommendations but this is not possible now.



    Must admit I’m a bit sceptical as well – going to modify the text again.

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