Your tank has turned into a war zone. Fish with missing scales and tattered fins are hiding in the top corner of your tank, and there are three others that you have not seen in several days. What happened? My friend, you have an aggression problem Never fear, you have come to the right place for information on how to solve this problem. You can win the battle; just follow these few easy steps.
First things first, sit down in front of your tank and watch what is going on very closely. Get yourself a cold beverage and have a seat. Spend some time with your fish, I mean isn’t this is why you bought them?
Do not get in too big of a hurry to “rescue” your abused fishes. The most important thing you can do right now is to determine which fish(s) are the aggressors, and which are the victims. Before you can fix the problem, you have to understand it. Is there one fish destroying everything else in the tank? Is it the reverse; is there one fish that every other fish in the tank is attacking? Is there a pair of cichlids… guarding a specific rock… covered with eggs? You’ve got to figure it out.
If you have one fish that is getting slaughtered by everything else, then the solution is a simple one; move that fish to another tank, preferably a hospital tank, and treat him for his injuries. You do have a hospital tank don’t you? Every fish owner should have a spare tank set aside to treat and/or quarantine fish. It doesn’t have to be large, and you don’t even have to keep water in it most of the time, but have a hospital tank ready for emergencies, not to mention the fact that you should isolate all new fish for a couple of weeks before adding them to your established tank.
Spawning fish are another challenge. When cichlids spawn, they’ll claim a vast percentage of your tank for their own use, and they’ll tag-team the other fish when they try to enter “their” now personal mating area. A mated pair of cichlids is a fearsome thing to behold, since they now fight as a team and a pair of cichlids is perfectly capable of driving off a fish twice their own size and killing anything smaller. If this is what is going on in your tank, you’ve got a couple of options. You can remove the other fish; remove the eggs; or install a divider within your tank. Doing nothing and hoping for the best rarely works, spawning cichlids have no pity.
If your problem is specific to one aggressive fish, you have a few options that might work. First off, include more “stuff” in your tank. Piles of rocks, sunken ships, plants, almost anything will work. The idea is to create sight-line breaks for the fish, because with fish, “out of sight” really does mean “out of mind”. One aggressive fish terrorizing the others (in the absence of eggs) almost always means that the fish has claimed the entire tank as his own, and the best way to stop this is to box the fish in a bit. Oh sure, he’ll still swim around and boss the others around, but not as often, and not as violently if the others have a place to hide.
Another possibility is to actually add more fish to your tank. Now, you have to be careful to not overstock your tank, but more fish in your tank actually means more targets for the aggressive fish, and this means that each fish will take less damage as the bully won’t be able to focus on just one target.
The solution that is obviously the most fun is getting yourself a bigger tank, maybe that 225 gallon monster that you’ve had your eye on, but that’s kind of a long term solution as we don’t generally advise running down and buying a new tank on the spur of the moment. So if all else fails, it’s time to remove fish. Most people try to remove the smallest and weakest fish, but this is probably the worst way to go about it. Your best bet is to remove the dominant fish to another tank. Yes, you might have to get rid of it. If it’s your prize fish, well, then you might have to get rid of everything else. Then again, maybe it’s just time to buy that second tank. You have room for two tanks… right?
There are two areas of introducing new fish into an aquarium that you must be aware of:
1. Fish Quarantine
Fish quarantine is one big, singular factor that must be observed strictly before you can be sure that your new fish is of good health and not an apostle of doom for the other inmates. Most new fishkeepers don’t take consider this very important factor.
For the benefit of intending aquarists, quarantine in the fish world refers to the physical and chemical treatment of new fishes (either imported or caught from the wild) to rid them of disease and restlessness before introduction into a new environment,
A small quarantine tank (30x20x25cm) is advisable for any serious aquarist. The alternative is to be sure that your pet shop has a functional quarantine section to cater for bacterial, fungal and viral diseases.
This is a sure guarantee against fish deaths. The unfortunate thing with most shops in the country is the lack of space and inadequate expertise to build and administer the prophylaxis procedure on new fish, as the procedure is sure to last at least nigh days! To the average aqua-investor, this is an unnecessary tie down of capital and you know what that means.
Admittedly, the expense incurred on quarantine by way of chemical purchase e.g. copper sulphate, wescodyne, malachite green, teremycin etc) is high. This is more or less reflected on the final sales price of the fish, which is slightly higher in our shop. But, this would pay you off in the long run, as it is unlikely that you will complain of fish deaths any longer.
I am quite sure, some fish farmers reading this column would be more concerned about the application of this procedure to solve their farm problems especially those with hatcheries or those who stock with post fry and fingerlings.
2. Feeding New Fish
When you just introduce a new fish to aquarium tank it’s necessary to feed the fish. Though this will not be instant because no matter how carefully you add the fish to your aquarium tank they will look very unhappy for a while.
Thus it’s necessary that you turn the flights out, and leave them overnight to get used to their new home first before thinking of feeding them. Then feed fish with aquarium fish food with fish flakes the next day, this will make the fish feel at home.
If you already have an established tank, it is advisable to quarantine new fish before adding them to an existing populated, and the cheapest way to do this is to purchase a plastic tank which will need no gravel or plants.
This can be used solely for quarantine and as a hospital tank.
Leave the fish in this tank for about three days during which any disease harbored by the fish would be evident for which it can be treated using available chemicals from your dealer. The fish can then be introduced into the tank in the same way as before.
When you add new fish to an established community, there will probably be a certain amount of harassment of the new arrivals by the original fish. Try to divert their attention by giving them a good feed when the fish are introduced.
Here are five important points to keep in mind when you are choosing your fish:-
1. Check out the health conditions of the fish carefully. If you are observant enough, you can check out both visible and intrinsic health conditions of the fish. First, you must observe the body of the fish. Pay attention to the scales and the fins. The scales should be shiny and smooth, while the fins should not have any cuts or nicks. If there is some fuzzy growth on the body of the fish, it is better left alone. Also check the areas under the eyes for any telltale health signs. Some fish would not ‘look’ ill, but they might have internal conditions. You can tell that if a fish is either too sluggish and spends most time at the bottom of the tank, or if it is hyperactive and keeps darting everywhere in the tank in a sort of frenzy.
2. You must next check the nature of the fish and its compatibility with the other fish in the tank. Do not select fish that fight a lot with other fish in the tank. They will be a pain to maintain as they will injure themselves often, and you will not be able to place other fish in the tank with them. Also, check out if the fish becomes more docile with another fish of its own species in the tank, preferably of the other gender.
3. Ask the stocker about the size the fish can grow to. You must consider the size of your aquarium here. The equation to maintain is one inch of fish size per gallon of aquarium space. You must not only consider the present size of the fish, but you must see what size it will attain when it becomes an adult.
4. Fish are temperamental little creatures, and most of their temperament depends on the temperature of water they are kept in. You must ask the stocker about the natural living conditions of the fish, as to whether it is tropical water or temperate water fish. That will give you an idea what kind of temperature you will have to maintain in your tank.
5. Finally, you must choose fish according to the food they eat. Different fish have different food habits and some of them are very finicky when it comes to eating. You must make sure that the food your fish wants is readily available, and that it is not going to be very expensive. You will also need to keep food for your fish always stocked.
These are the five factors on which you can base your shopping for fish. By adopting these factors, there are very less chances that you can go wrong in your selection of fish.
So you’ve been to the local pet store and you’ve noticed that the keep their fish divided into several sections. Why do they do this, you wonder? We’ll take you through the basics of what these fish are and why they are not kept together in the same tanks.
First of all, for our basic purposes there are four categories of fish. Without getting too technical or using the actual scientific names, beginners would be wise to think of the four groups as: marine or salt-water fish, goldfish, community fish, and cichlids. We’ll go through each group and give you an outline of what you can expect with each type of fish.
The marine fish are obviously the most beautiful of the bunch, brightly colored and sometimes bizarrely shaped, salt-water fish are almost everyone’s favorite. Despite this though, we absolutely do NOT recommend them for a first time fish owner. Marine fish have very specialized water needs, and if the aquarist is also interested in the corals and anemones that generally go along with a marine tank, special (and expensive) lighting and chemicals will also be required. Our advice is that you start with a freshwater tank and learn your way around the basics of the hobby before attempting the more complex and expensive marine tank!
The next group that we’ll examine is the easiest group of fish to keep– goldfish. These fish can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and water conditions. Indeed, with these fish, you’ll not even require a heater for your tank unless your house is unusually cold. In addition, these fish are extremely good neighbors, showing almost zero aggression towards one another.
What’s their downside, you ask? Well, they produce a huge amount of waste. In fact, they produce so much waste that the ammonia produced will actually kill other types of fish that are kept in the tank with them, unless your tank is either quite large or you are doing frequent water changes. Your best bet though is to not mix goldfish with anything else.
The next easiest group of fish to keep is the community fish. Mollies, barbs, tetras, danios, corydoras, livebearers and loaches are all widely available types of community fish. Most of these fish stay small and show little aggression towards one another. Many of them tend to school and present quite an impressive sight in a home aquarium. They are cheap and easy to cheap and are the first choice for most beginners.
On the downside, you will have to have a heater in your tank as these are a warm water fish and require a fairly constantly temperature. Also, many aquarists feel that community fish don’t seem to have much of a personality. The fact that they do remain so small and have placid temperaments may not appeal to you.
This brings us to the most challenging freshwater fish, the cichlid. While many of these warm water fish have beautiful colorations that rival even the marine fish, they are generally bad tempered and aggressive toward one another, not to mention deadly towards any non-cichlids in the tank, especially if they are spawning. And in truth, that’s the main reason why they are so popular. Cichlids interact with one another and with their keeper in a way that most fish do not.
Adult cichlids are generally very territorial, tending to “claim” areas within the tank. Every cichlid tank has a “pecking order”, and each fish within the tank knows his place within that order– with the smaller and weaker fish fleeing from the bigger fish. And while this generally provides the fish owner with hours of amusement, it also requires the hobbyists to monitor their tanks for signs that the cichlid’s normal aggression is leading to the fish actually killing one another. All long time cichlid owners will tell tales of having to get rid of fish because they became too violent or unmanageable; it goes with the territory of owning cichlids.
Whatever type of fish that you choose to purchase, you should do your reading on that fish BEFORE you buy them. Never wait until you’ve brought home your new fish to do your research. Find out how your chosen fish will behave, how big it is going to get, and what its water and food requirements are before you bring it home. You and your fish will both be happier if you do this.