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New Tank and Clown Loaches (long)

Posted By: Randal J <gabriel@getnet.com>
Date: Wednesday, 28 April 1999, at 8:11 p.m.

What a great forum! I'd like to share my startup woes with you and get some advice if possible.

I started a 20 gal (12x24") in early March, and have had difficulty with Clown Loaches. The tank has a Eclipse cover/light/filter, gravel from Petsmart, a few plastic plants, and a few large rocks. After about a week, I started with two Flame Tetras and two golden molly-like fish (sorry I don't remember the common name), and the latter died after about two weeks.

At about four weeks we added six Neon Tetras, four more Flame Tetras, one Clown Loach (I knew nothing about the species at the time), and one Upsidedown Catfish. The Clown Loach and one of the Neons died within a day, and at the time we attributed it to shock of the new environment. At about eight weeks, or two weeks ago, we felt it might be safe to add more fish. We added four tiger barbs and two Clown Loaches. And at that point, we also bought a water test kit.

Since then, I have been diligently checking the water almost every day. When I first started testing, the PH was high (around 8-8.5), ammonia was high, and nitrite was high. Following the recommendation of a seemingly knowledgable Petsmart employee, I did frequent (every other day) water changes, vaccuming up the crud from the bottom in the process. This did not help, so I stopped - on another employee's recommendation. Instead, I bought PH Lock to reduce the PH to 7.0 - and this worked. Then I attempted to accelerate the biological filtration process by adding "bacteria in a jar", pouring the recommended amount on the bio-wheel. Then I tried reducing the high nitrite level using the bag of ionizers in the filter method (sorry, I'm not home and cannot remember the brands). I was trying everything, because I was really worried about the health of the Loaches and the Catfish (nothing seems to bother the Barbs or Tetras).

Last week, both Loaches developed ich, so I pulled the bag of ionizers out, and administered daily doses of the blue medicine. During this time, the ammonia level went down to nothing, PH was still OK, but nitrite was and is still sky high. Both Loaches were cured of ich, but one became particularly lethargic during the past week. The ich disappeared, but it finally died yesterday (sniff). The other one is fine, and is eating shrimp pellets along side the barbs.

I am still very concerned about the nitrite levels, and I think that it stressed the Loaches enough that they both came down with ich. None of the other fish were affected, not even the little neons.

Anyway, I am keeping my fingers crossed that any day now the nitrite level will suddenly go down, as the ammonia level did. I know that my ignorance in adding too many fish too soon and at one time caused or at least aggrevated these problems.

I now plan to do nothing until the nitrite goes down. Then slowly add more Neons and Clowns.

It is funny how the Barbs followed the Clown Loaches around, as though it was good enough that they were the same color.

Anyway, this is the first time I have come across recommendations that a minimum of FIVE Clown Loaches be kept in a community tank. I had read elsewhere that there should be no more than one mature one per community tank. Then I read they like the company of their own species. I thought the best thing to do then would be to get two. Any other opinions on this?

Any opinions on my mix of fish species (4>>10 Neons, 1 Upsidedown Catfish, 6 Flame Tetras, 4 Tiger Barbs, 2-5 Clown Loaches)? Everyone that hasn't croaked seems to be getting along so far.

Sorry to be so long winded, but I was thrilled to find this BBC.



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