- [6:11:20 PM:] <samantha> Good evening and welcome to tonight's
Live! Fish Chat. Tonight our own Jess will be speaking on Fish Stocking
Factors. Jess, whenever you're ready...
- [6:11:39 PM:] <Jessica> I might as well start with.. this
is going to be a long one, folks.. lol.
- [6:11:47 PM:] <Jessica> About a month ago, I started a stocking
article. JP made a comment then, "Shouldn't you learn how to
stock your tanks first?" It was meant in jest. However, I know
that several members of badmans would wholly unapprove of my fish
stocking methods, but that does not make me a bad fish keeper, nor
are my fish that poorly off. I also have no intentions of telling
you how to stock your tank.
- [6:12:12 PM:] <Jessica> Instead, this chat is geared to making
you think. After all, it is your tank and your fish. I do not pretend
to be the know-all and end-all of information. Nor is this going to
be a simple pat, cut and dry plan. You will have to still spend time
searching and thinking and watching.
- [6:12:26 PM:] <Jessica> Fish keeping is a joy and a responsibility.
Tossing some fish in a tank and seeing what you end up with is certainly
one method, but not what I would think is the most responsible. I'm
sure many of you here will agree with me.
- [6:12:40 PM:] <Jessica> I'm going to look at several factors
that you need to consider when you stock your tank. These would be:
- [6:12:40 PM:] <Jessica> - Tank Size
- [6:12:40 PM:] <Jessica> - Tank Decoration
- [6:12:40 PM:] <Jessica> - Tank Mates
- [6:12:40 PM:] <Jessica> --aggression/territory
- [6:12:40 PM:] <Jessica> --schooling/shoaling
- [6:12:40 PM:] <Jessica> --zones
- [6:12:40 PM:] <Jessica> --biotope and continents
- [6:12:40 PM:] <Jessica> - Plants
- [6:12:40 PM:] <Jessica> - Water Maintenance
- [6:12:57 PM:] <Jessica> I'm sure there's more to be considered,
and Russ probably has a list of questions a mile long to throw at
me in the end (which he'll know the answers to ;-) ), so perhaps by
the end of this chat you should have a very good idea of what is going
- [6:13:10 PM:] <Jessica> Tank Size is what most people look
at when they stock. It is quite important, as it will dictate what
the largest fish is you can have, thus, putting an initial limit on
your fish. As I go on, you will find there are many other limits,
just as important.
- [6:13:22 PM:] <Jessica> If you were to visit your fishes'
homewaters, you would discover a wide variety of homes that support
a unique collection of fish best suited for their environments. You
also will notice that many places consist of deep water, and lots
- [6:13:37 PM:] <Jessica> A great number of fish available are
actually wild-caught. Most of the 'stables' are bred in ponds, but
if you pay attention to the 'rarer' fishes, that come through once
or twice a year, you will find that many fish are coming from areas
of massive water to your small tank. Thus, there are some fish that
get pretty massive themselves.
- [6:13:45 PM:] <Jessica> *staples
- [6:14:18 PM:] <Jessica> I like to have a general rule of not
keeping a fish in the tank that the ADULT fish will not exceed 1/6
of the length of the tank, and 3/4 to 1/2 the depth of the tank. This
means, that in a tank with a footprint of 36x12, you want to keep
the largest fish being 6" or less. Rules are made to be broken
and there may be exceptions, but for anything less than a 55 Gallon,
I'd keep this very closely.
- [6:14:46 PM:] <Jessica> Please note, what i said up there,
the ADULT size. While it is incredibly hard, even for me, to keep
things in mind of the full-grown fish, you must consider that. The
fish will grow, and if you cannot continually purchase more and larger
tanks, you will find yourself being irresponsible.
- [6:15:10 PM:] <Jessica> Some fish grow slowly, others don't.
The slower ones, like clown loaches, you can afford to upgrade tanks
as you go, provided that you don't wait too long. Some of the faster
ones, like common plecos, will rapidly need a new tank, and you will
find yourself spending alot of money to keep up with the upgrade demands.
- [6:15:30 PM:] <Jessica> In those instances, it is better to
not purchase those fish until you have an appropriate tank waiting
for the fish.
- [6:15:46 PM:] <Jessica> Tank Decorations. These actually should
be planned around the chosen fish. This is actually important to stocking
because a properly decorated tank will increase your fish's comfort
and lower stress.
- [6:15:59 PM:] <Jessica> While stress is inevitable, there
is no reason to cause undo stress because you felt like having only
those bubble-making skeleton in your tank. Research your fish. Don't
keep fish that need sand in a tank with gravel. (Once you set those
things up, their a pain to take down).
- [6:16:22 PM:] <Jessica> If the fish need rocky caves to feel
comfortable.. well.. i hate to break it to you, but a fully planted
tank isn't going to cut it. They WILL need their rocks and caves.
For some fish, you won't find the information just looking around.
- [6:22:39 PM:] <Jessica> I like Sully's idea, offer the fish
multiple options and see what they choose.
- [6:22:48 PM:] <Jessica> You will find that cories are generally
not cave-dwellers, but prefer a well planted tank to meander through.
- [6:23:09 PM:] <Jessica> Botia species need tight-fitting caves
and holes, and they don't mind if its wood or rock, just its gotta
feel like they've been stuffed in a sardine can.
- [6:23:18 PM:] <Jessica> Schisturas need rocky caves, these
can be a little more spacious, but still nothing outrageously large.
- [6:23:38 PM:] <Jessica> Tetras and pencilfish like plants
to be able to lurk in the foliage when their comfort level drops.
Plus, its a safety net, they will be more secure swimming around the
tank, if they know there's somewhere safe to dart to.
- [6:23:51 PM:] <Jessica> Shell-dwellers demand shells.
- [6:23:51 PM:] <Jessica> And the list goes on.
- [6:24:01 PM:] <Jessica> If your fish likes/needs caves, find
out what kind. Chances are, they will not want anything where the
hole is too much larger than their body height.
- [6:24:08 PM:] <Jessica> Bumblebee gobies, for example will
not use anything where more than 2 bumblebee heads will fit in the
opening. If you think about it, it would be easier to defend a smaller
opening than a large one.
- [6:24:16 PM:] <Jessica> I'm sure there are exceptions, but
every cave-dwelling fish that I've offered a choice, rejected the
'ideal' man-made roomie cave for something they barely fit in.
- [6:24:29 PM:] <Jessica> So, yes, if you want a well-planted
tank, or don't want to mess with plants, or don't want sand, this
will/should affect what fish you choose to place in your tank. Also,
don't forget to offer enough caves to suit ALL your different fish
who need them, in fact, have a couple extra.
- [6:24:42 PM:] <Jessica> This leads quite nicely into the next
area I wish to discuss. Territories and Aggression amongst tank-mates.
- [6:24:50 PM:] <Jessica> These are not synonymous terms. Fish
can need a certain amount of territory, but not be aggressive, but
all aggressive fish need their territories.
- [6:25:03 PM:] <Jessica> You can get around this, by keeping
a solitary fish in your tank... or can you? I will discuss this later
on in the chat.
- [6:25:19 PM:] <Jessica> Like people, fish have their bubbles.
Each fish is different, but most follow the generalities of their
species. Knowing these fish's bubbles or having a general idea of
them will help you out.
- [6:25:29 PM:] <Jessica> Many times, places like badmans can
help you out with this (at least with the basic of fish and a few
not so basic). They can tell you that a gourami's bubble is larger
than a 10gallon tank. thus, placing 2 gouramis, dwarf or otherwise,
will result in a dead fish.
- [6:25:46 PM:] <Jessica> Better to find this out ahead of time
if you can. And pay attention to what you read. I didn't pay attention
to the numerous comments on the aggression level of botia robusta.
I lost several fish to them before I discovered who was the culprit
- [6:25:58 PM:] <Jessica> Other fish, when not given their territories
will stress and likely harm themselves, and can even die. Bala sharks
will be my example here. These fish have HUGE bubbles. If you do not
offer the fish at least part of their bubble, they will spend too
much time hitting the glass walls of the aquarium, or soaring for
clearer waters over the tank's edge.
- [6:26:21 PM:] <Jessica> Some fish will have territories that
overlap. an example would be an angelfish, school of tetras, school
of cories, and a pleco. All these fish have requirements, but they
are willing to share with a different kind of fish.
- [6:26:34 PM:] <Jessica> The angel, provided the tetras and
cories are large enough to not be considered food, will disregard
them as a threat, and perhaps gain comfort from the smaller "stupid"
fish moseying around the tank.
- [6:26:45 PM:] <Jessica> The pleco could care less about the
cories, after all, his thing is the driftwood, and chances are, he's
nocturnal, or will at least wait until you disappear. ;-)
- [6:26:55 PM:] <Jessica> And some fish do care about the overlap,
or rather, they need a large enough home to not care. These guys are
the aggressive ones, and sometimes they are best kept singly. If they
are to be kept with others, make sure you do your homework, as mistakes
here will cost fish lives.
- [6:27:10 PM:] <Jessica> Moving on to the next point, I will
look at the time when one fish truly is not enough. This would be
when you are dealing with schooling and shoaling fish. These are my
favorite fish, and my down-falling.
- [6:27:24 PM:] <Jessica> For the purposes of this chat, I will
define schooling as fish who stick pretty closely together most of
the time. Schoaling is the fish who need some friends, but its more
a social thing. Its a little easier to define by sorting fish into
- [6:27:31 PM:] <Jessica> I would consider tetras, cories, and
barbs, rainbows as schooling, and many loaches, cories, and some cichlids
- [6:27:38 PM:] <Jessica> Schooling fish MUST be kept in large
groups. Minimum is 6, better is 10+, best is 24+. Schoalers need at
least one or 2 friends of the same kind.
- [6:28:03 PM:] <Jessica> I'm going to use my good friends,
the clown loaches and cardinal tetras for examples. By my definition,
Clown Loaches are schoalers. I have 9, which makes for a decent school
of anything. However, these guys will split apart into groups. The
only time i see them all in the same place is at dinner time.
- [6:28:33 PM:] <Jessica> Cardinal tetras are schoolers. When
relaxed, they will spread out throughout the tank, but every now and
then, they have to do a head count, and they all amass and circle
the tank, leaving out no one. They will lurk in the plants together,
rarely splitting up.
- [6:28:43 PM:] <Jessica> I only noticed splits when I had a
group of 23 green neons and 11 cardinals in a 125 gallon tank. even
then, a group of merely 3 was unthinkable. When one fish split off
from the pack and started exploring, the entire group started streaming
- [6:28:57 PM:] <Jessica> This will also bring us to another
issue within this area. Shoalers, it is easier to get a larger variety.
But when it comes down to schooling fish, I highly recommend minimizing
the different kinds, unless you can find out if those tetras are accustomed
to seeing each other in the wild.. a true biotope. But its not quite
time for that yet.
- [6:29:23 PM:] <Jessica> While its desirable to have 2 each
of tetras a through z, it really isn't fair to them. And it isn't
fair to you either. Some will school together, (more so those with
similar body structures), but you will never see anything so impressive
as a true school.
- [6:29:40 PM:] <Jessica> There also is increased stress with
the numerous kinds. You will find that keeping a single kind will
allow for more fish than keeping mixed.
- [6:29:50 PM:] <Jessica> For this reason, I do not advise more
than one type of tetra in a tank less than 4feet. Perhaps in a 3ft,
you might get away with 2 kinds. I recently moved my bloodfin tetras
from the 50Gallon into the 125 (in trade for a few otos to help with
an algae problem).
- [6:29:50 PM:] <Jessica> The cardinals left are much more content
with their lot, not having the nutso bloodfins running around.
- [6:30:13 PM:] <Jessica> oh, yes, shoalers... Don't plan on
being able to place as many in a tank as the schoolers. while you
could have 24 small tetras in a 20L, you don't want to stuff a ton
of botias or schisturas, they might get a spine in their eye and decide
to take out their tankmates. Not usually the case, but shoaling fish
can be slightly territorial as well as requiring friends to spend
the night with.
- [6:30:36 PM:] <Jessica> I placed cories in both sections,
because I'm still at a bit of a loss with these guys. I've only kept
pygmi cories. Those guys are definitely schoolers, and anything less
than 10 isn't proper.. lol.
- [6:30:47 PM:] <Jessica> The regular cories, I have not kept,
but everyone seems to find a group of 3 enough, which means they don't
fit in my schooling definition. Personally, I'd want to keep them
all in groups of 6.. but that's just me.
- [6:30:59 PM:] <Jessica> OK, I need to be wrapping this up...
Next is Zones. It mostly was covered in the Territories Segment. But
it wasn't addressed as this. Some fish prefer rocks, others open water,
some cling to the ground. Considering all these can allow you to stock
a tank to its fullest.
- [6:31:22 PM:] <Jessica> The last part in the tank-mates section
is continents and biotopes. I'm still not sold on continents as being
the second most important thing to consider when planning your tank,
however, they are something which are worth considering.
- [6:31:37 PM:] <Jessica> In my mind, if you are going continental,
you might as well go biotope. However, I've found the best argument
for this coming from Russ. So I shall quote:
- [6:31:49 PM:] <Jessica> "Lets put this scenario into
another perspective. A zoo. There are lions, tigers, buffalo, gorillas,
deer, sheep, etc.,and could be hundreds of other animals from all
over the world, housed in relatively close proximity.
- [6:31:59 PM:] <Jessica> "Would they all survive and thrive
together in the same cage? Probably not. A zebra, lion, gorilla, antelope,
and giraffe all come from the same continent. Will they thrive together
in the same cage? Probably not.
- [6:32:08 PM:] <Jessica> "Each of those animals has it's
own 'nitch' and conditions that are most favorable to them. Some have
larger nitches while others have very small ones. Just because a lion
can survive at Brookfield Zoo, just outside the Chicago city limits
in winter, dosen't necessarily mean it's thriving there.
- [6:32:19 PM:] <Jessica> "(although the zoo folks do do
a very good job of caring for the animals there). Would the lion be
a little better off in a zoo with warmer climates all year round?
Probably. But, the are exceptions to this also.
- [6:32:28 PM:] <Jessica> "Mountain lions here in the US
live and thrive through winters. However, would a mountain lion and
an African lion do well together in the same cage? They are both lions.
- [6:32:40 PM:] <Jessica> /end quote
- [6:32:53 PM:] <Jessica> I like considering the temperaments.
Perhaps a deer and an antelope wouldn't be a bad combo together. Obviously,
when you mix continents, it is best do do so with docile fish that
are of compatible temperaments.
- [6:33:02 PM:] <Jessica> Yet, even going back to my thoughts
of a deer and antelope.. for some reason that does not sound quite
right, why is mixing fish different? Its a question I haven't gotten
an answer to.
- [6:33:19 PM:] <Jessica> Yet, I've seen no undue stress on
my bristlenose plecos when they share their home with african cichlids
or asian loaches. Heck they are breeding, and the female right now
looks like she could hire on for Blimpies mascot.
- [6:33:36 PM:] <Jessica> Most definitely consider this aspect.
When you mix ANY fish, make sure to watch them carefully. Even from
same continents, they may decided they don't like each other much.
Learn what 'happy' is. Learn what stressed is.
- [6:33:46 PM:] <Jessica> OK, I lied, I thought now might be
a good place to advise against crabs, newts, lobsters, and crayfish
in your tank. Many shrimps, dwarf african frogs, and snails are acceptable
mates. The others need special conditions and/or can eat/harm your
- [6:34:05 PM:] <Jessica> Now I'm done with Tank Mates. On to
the thing you can control. (though you can certainly control what
you place inside your tank).
- [6:34:14 PM:] <Jessica> Plants pose many considerations. In
short and sweet, they take away swimming room. reduce space for the
fish to swim in, but also give comfort. they can break up territories.
- [6:34:25 PM:] <Jessica> Plants remove harmful nitrogen wastes
and in general, are the best thing you can do. Some fish, plants reduce
the number you can have, other, they will increase them.
- [6:34:42 PM:] <Jessica> A heavily planted, well filtered tank
negates most bioload issues. Some fish will not allow plants to remain
planted. Others need a mainly rocky build, which removes the ability
to use most root-bound plants. however, there are many alternatives.
- [6:34:55 PM:] <Jessica> Floating plants and mosses do not
need gravel or to be anywhere in the tank. you can spend as much time
researching plants as well as fish.
- [6:35:09 PM:] <Jessica> If you are planning on going planted,
do yourself a little favor and find out what you want to do, and what
you need to before you end up with your tank filled and with fish
and deciding you need a new substrate.
- [6:35:18 PM:] <Jessica> Next is water maintenance. This is
vital. Freshwater fish love freshwater. Bioload issues can be reduced
by more frequent large water changes. However, keep in mind that this
takes time and effort. i believe it is russ who says to buy the largest
tank you can *maintain.* I think it can also be extended to, do not
stock your tank beyond the maintenance levels you can keep.
- [6:35:44 PM:] <Jessica> There are lots of cool fish out there,
and believe it or not, there are ones which will fit your tank that
you will find to be very desirable as well. Some may require, effort,
planning and hunting, but even those small tanks can be stocked with
fish that will continue to delight you.
- [6:36:07 PM:] <Jessica> and thank you for listening. I'll
go ahead and open the floor..
- [6:36:28 PM:] <JP> Thanks Jess.
- [6:36:32 PM:] <Jessica> :-)
- [6:36:40 PM:] <JP> Wish more people would have came, was a
- [6:36:47 PM:] <JP> Alright Russ, you're up. ;-)
- [6:38:47 PM:] <JP> Hmm, guess he lost his list of questions?
- [6:38:54 PM:] <Jessica> probably typing
- [6:39:02 PM:] <JP> Or that. :-D
- [6:39:02 PM:] <Jessica> ;-)
- [6:39:09 PM:] <Jessica> I hope, lol
- [6:39:28 PM:] <Jessica> was counting on him to 'polish' it
- [6:39:31 PM:] <JP> Maybe he took a wrong turn coming back
- [6:39:35 PM:] <Jessica> lol
- [6:39:56 PM:] <russ> Thanks Jess, it 'is' a nice presentation:-)
- [6:40:08 PM:] <Jessica> thank you, russ.
- [6:40:38 PM:] <Jessica> russ, do you have anything to add?
- [6:41:07 PM:] <russ> your last quote actually should have
read, "Don't buy the largest tank you can afford, buy the largest
tank you can afford to maintain." :-)
- [6:41:14 PM:] <Jessica> :-D
- [6:41:45 PM:] <Jessica> its now down for the records :-D
- [6:42:17 PM:] <russ> Jess, you hit on something that I believe
was not taken up to the level you spoke on. That was 'overlapping
teritiories". I think you explained that very well:-)
- [6:42:40 PM:] <Jessica> thank you. :-D
- [6:46:07 PM:] <russ> I have to concede afew points to my 'biotope'
- [6:46:39 PM:] <Jessica> go for it, lol. I was getting tired
at that point, and wasn't able to address it fairly, lol.
- [6:47:45 PM:] <russ> Jess mentioned this and this has also
been mentioned in round-about posts and thread, but meeting a fish's
primary requisits may enable some mixing;-)
- [6:48:49 PM:] <russ> it may be 50/50 or less over the very
long-term, but for many of the bread&butter-type fish, it can
- [6:50:00 PM:] <russ> A primary requisit for a certain fish
may be temperature and diet, and some degree of territory.
- [6:51:09 PM:] <russ> It may also include, but not limited
too, being in groups. And of coarse, the biggie....water conditions.'
- [6:51:47 PM:] <russ> If you have fish that have the same primary
requisits, then there will be less of a problem keeping them together:-)
- [6:53:48 PM:] <russ> Guppies do musch better in water with
a slightly higher alkalinity and temps of approx. max of 76F. Can
you think of another fish that has those same requisits, but do not
encounter guppies in the wild?
- [6:54:15 PM:] <russ> Perhaps platys?
- [6:55:34 PM:] <russ> These are critters that do well in schaols,
schools, and in tiny groupings, and feed all over the tank
- [6:56:00 PM:] <Jessica> russ, can i interject one thing to
see how you play with it. Many times we say your fish can adapt..
if you are keeping fish in higher alkalinity, would that change things?
or would you suggest to only buy fish that meet your water type?
- [6:56:27 PM:] <Jessica> oh, excellent point on the feedings
- [6:56:33 PM:] <russ> Aggresive fish do not necessarily mean
that it is a fish that will eat any other in sight.
- [6:57:38 PM:] <samantha> as shown by andrew's hap and his
- [6:57:51 PM:] <samantha> the hap hasn't done anything to them
- [6:58:11 PM:] <JP> And my angelfish and the shrimps.
- [6:58:22 PM:] <JP> Craig's angels devour them, mine don't
- [6:58:36 PM:] <russ> Jess, fish can eventually adapt, but
not as quickly as a lot of folks think they can.
- [6:59:39 PM:] <russ> It takes a fish an average of 10 days
to adapt to pH changes in one's tank. For example, a new purchase
being brought home .
- [6:59:39 PM:] <Jessica> so, if you are getting wild-caught,
best to have similar water quality...
- [6:59:46 PM:] <Jessica> oh wow
- [7:00:02 PM:] <samantha> wow
- [7:00:07 PM:] <samantha> that's a lot longer than I thought
- [7:01:22 PM:] <russ> For expensive fish and 'lovable' fishes
(which really all are), its best to have a quaranteen tank for them
to adapt. I know its not practicle for many folks, but after all,
this is a hobby:-)
- [7:02:32 PM:] <russ> Jess, I really your mention and the use
of the term 'overlapping territories'. Still thinking about that one:-)
- [7:02:41 PM:] <russ> 'like'
- [7:02:46 PM:] <Jessica> :-D
- [7:03:13 PM:] <russ> I hope you don't mind if I adapt that
to my mind set:-)
- [7:03:25 PM:] <Jessica> go ahead, russ :-D
- [7:04:30 PM:] <Jessica> keith, russ is talking about stocking
- [7:04:43 PM:] <Jessica> i'll be posting the transcripts later
- [7:05:28 PM:] <russ> Also, one must still keep in mind that
99% of environmental requisits for your fish are controlled by you.
- [7:06:24 PM:] <russ> Kind of like the thing from The Outer
Limits. You control the water. You control the diet. You control the
- [7:07:35 PM:] <russ> Generally, all the things Jess mentioned
at the beginning of her presentation:-)
- [7:08:49 PM:] <russ> I can get long-winded, but for some reason
I am starting to run of of things to initiate
- [7:09:10 PM:] <Jessica> lol..
- [7:09:40 PM:] <russ> Oh, I had started to mention something
about aggressive fish
- [7:10:21 PM:] <russ> Aggressiveness does not necessarily apply
- [7:10:26 PM:] <Jessica> true
- [7:11:48 PM:] <Jessica> botia berdmorei, among the most aggressive,
i have kept are omnivores, mbuna are vegetarians and cards like their
- [7:11:50 PM:] <russ> Although predation may be seen as the
highes form of aggressiveness, a four inch African Mbuna defending
it's algae turf can be 10 times more aggressinve than, lets say, a
- [7:11:57 PM:] <Jessica> :-D
- [7:13:34 PM:] <russ> Jess, your presention, again, was great.
Referrening through a transcript should be able to get folks to think
about their practices and also form a nice referrence:-)
- [7:14:05 PM:] <Jessica> thanks, russ. i did want to mention
from what you said above.. temperature is an important point, though.
I dont know if people take it as seriously as they should
- [7:14:53 PM:] <russ> yes it is. There are certain 'comfort'
or temp requisit zones that fish have. Some are tighter than others
- [7:16:08 PM:] <russ> outside of those temp zones, a fish may
be able to survive with no great difficulty, but combine that with
other stress factors and that can spell a slow demise for the poor
- [7:16:18 PM:] * Jessica nods
- [7:16:32 PM:] <Jessica> some will die outside their temp zones
or get ill fast
- [7:17:00 PM:] <Jessica> guppies definately come to mind.
- [7:17:28 PM:] <russ> Their basic physiology doesn't permit
them to adapt to things that others may be able too
- [7:18:25 PM:] <Jessica> the smallness? might this be why pygmi
cories are much more fragile than regular cories?
- [7:18:42 PM:] <russ> When you can prevent the dreaded columnaris
on gups, then all you need toworry about is their basic water perms
and population explosion:-D
- [7:19:01 PM:] <Jessica> LOL
- [7:19:12 PM:] <Jessica> columnaris seems to come with any
- [7:19:29 PM:] <russ> like ich to an oscar;-)
- [7:19:57 PM:] <Jessica> hmm.. or hole in the head with many
SA cichlids? lol
- [7:23:11 PM:] <russ> Its not only 'available' to SA cichlids.
Many gouramies can get this also. Not to mention our fine marine friends;-)
- [7:23:27 PM:] <Jessica> lol
- [7:23:34 PM:] <Jessica> such joy ;-D
- [7:23:51 PM:] <russ> In the marine realm, its simply called
lateral line disease