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Tank battles! A lesson in tank dynamics and fish relations
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Destany
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Joined: 24 Aug 2004
Location: Missouri

PostPosted: 2005.05.03(Tue)10:37    Post subject: Tank battles! A lesson in tank dynamics and fish relations Reply with quote

This is a classic case of where different combinations and personality traits of fish create different tank dynamics. AND why it's very important for fishkeepers to have a good relationship with a local fish or pet store.

For the last year and a half, my two male blue gouramis have gotten along extremely well. This is a full grown male opaline gourami and a full grown male threespot gourami - two fish that as a "generality" should NEVER be housed in the same tank. These two have been the best of freinds, sharing space, and even at times, they SEEM to defend eachother from the redfin shark. I've seen on a few occassions, the redfin shark go after the threespot and the opaline gourami (who usually leaves the redfin alone) chase the redfin back to it's own territory. I've watched them share bits of food, sometimes passing a peice of chicken back and forth with their mouths and they both just seemed so happy together.

I've made an enormous error! I added a female threespot! Now, the opaline gourami has declared the left side of the 55 gallon tank his domain and will not let anyone pass. Not the danios, or the redfin sharks, or any of the gouramis.
In retrobution, the male threespot has declared the right half of the tank his own space and while he will share it with the other fish - NOT the opaline. And in the center of the tank, they battle. It has only just begun in the last few days since adding the female.

This is creating trouble for all of the fish. The two pearls I purchased a few months ago have both turned out to be males. And in such small quarters that they are allowed to occupy, have been showing aggression toward eachother. My beautiful fish, the less aggressive pearl has his back and underfins jagged around the edges and is a deep, almost a black color indicating high levels of stress.

The male moonlight gourami (currently 6" and still growing) is left alone by the others, but has long sinced staked out the right side of the tank as his home though he is willing to share it with the others - except the female moonlight who is only two inches long. So far the harrassing is minimal, but I'm sure as she grows he will increase his aggression towards her.

This tank scheme has worked and will work, but is contingent on the different species/sexes of the gouramis being able to establish territories on one side of the tank or the other.
The pearls get along so long as the less aggressive male stays on the left side of the tank, the moonlights (I've had the young female for two months) have been getting along so long as SHE stays on the left side of the tank, and the blues have both always shared the entire tank peacefully.

But now with the addition of one little fish, the opaline is being a major tank hog and has thrown everything out of balance. I'm fairly certain, just by my own experience, that removing the female at this point will not help, I just don't see things going back the way they were. I'm afraid now I'm going to have to give up (since I can't buy a new house for) the opaline. It's absolutely heartbreaking, I've had this fish for a year and a half, he's the reason I got the 55 gallon in the first place!

Just goes to show you, if it ain't broke - don't fix it!
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Hasi
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Joined: 16 Apr 2005
Location: Australia - Melbourne

PostPosted: 2005.05.03(Tue)11:31    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thats a good read and a good informative tale. Sorry to hear about your opaline, maybe its worth a try - just a try to see if maybe removing the female threespot it might work again although I also doubt it.

Goodluck with it and keep us informed!
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hs
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Joined: 20 Dec 2003

PostPosted: 2005.05.03(Tue)15:33    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, - thats a pity, but a good example.
I just want to add one little thing, that I observed on my own pearls, - at some point I got worried about the male being sort of torn, ragged in his fins, as you describe, - but found out that at least the fin under the belly really is supposed to be ragged on male pearls, - in some pictures you can see it clearly, - I would add a picture if I could figure it out here, - but I can't... But it may be an indication of the male pearl maturing...
Pearls are so much more beatiful when they have their own space, they can easily be dominated by the stronger gourami-types...
Hope you figure out what to do, -
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Destany
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Joined: 24 Aug 2004
Location: Missouri

PostPosted: 2005.05.03(Tue)16:52    Post subject: Reply with quote

I may have found a solution without having to remove any of the fish, but I won't know for sure for a few days. After watching the fish carefully, it became apparent, the boundry marker is a tall plant near the center of the tank. I moved it six inches to the left, reducing the opalines territory to one third of the tank and giving the others more space. At first there was some confusion, but the opaline seems to have accepted the change and remains to the left of the plant. I'm going to continue watching them for a couple more days and then I'll decide if I want to move the plant another few inches or so, leaving him one quarter of the tank.
The other fish seem to have calmed down a lot and the battles this afternoon have dropped dramatically from this morning and yesterday. Hopefully, I can work this out without having to lose any fish!
Hs, I would like to hope you're right about the ragged bottom fin, but I'm afraid his tail is like this as well, and he's a very dark color and has been hiding behind the large rock in the center of the tank. I'm going to keep a close eye on him and hopefully the rearrangement of the plant will give him more room and he can be more comfortable.
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hs
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Joined: 20 Dec 2003

PostPosted: 2005.05.04(Wed)13:19    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://img243.echo.cx/img243/8148/c72d7bcc911df26b9d1144c549c3d3.jpg


http://img126.echo.cx/img126/5968/908499a264fac3da9d11b373849b7d.jpg

Here's a photo to illustrate what I mean by the ragged fins, and of course, it could be a different situation, but what it looks like in the phote is quite normal. As you may be able to see, the dorsal fin is a bit round.
With your fish it does sound like its either feeling very intimidated by the situation, or there could be something wrong, - but then again, pearls are quite timid, and can sometimes hide a lot
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Destany
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Joined: 24 Aug 2004
Location: Missouri

PostPosted: 2005.05.11(Wed)12:12    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's been a week and I'm pleased to say that my fish are all now getting along, though the female is occassionally chased by the 3 spot male. I've been watching them very closely, and since moving the tall plant that had divided the tank in two, to leave 1/4 of the tank for the opaline male I've not seen any fighting. Just some occassional chasing from the opaline to the redfin (redfin is very stubborn) and the male and female threespots. No biting or nipping!
All of the fish have calmed down, the pearl that was being nipped has claimed a patch of hornwort at the top right of the tank and the bullying brother leaves him alone there. Fins are looking great, he's eating and back to normal color!
The moonlights are also getting on much better, but I'll be watching them very closely for any signs of aggression. I have the hospital tank cleared out just in case I have to remove someone.

It seems I have a very delicate system going on, since the addition of one fish is enough to set it into chaos, and the moving of a single plant is enough put it right again! Very fascinating though, but it makes me glad I have a qt tank and know a good fish dealer!
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