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Old 10-11-2011, 06:33 PM   #1
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Think Twice Fish

This is a list of commonly available fish that I believe aquarists should think twice before purchasing. Or, if you bought them and didn't know much about them, you should think twice to make sure you can provide the proper home they need to thrive. They all have some sort of special needs that are not always addressed by sellers. I am in no way saying that people should not own these, I am merely pointing out a few of their special needs in case people did not know.
Keep in mind that the fish most commonly available in petstores are very young. The needs I am addressing may not show themselves right away when they fish still a juvenile. Fish grow into their adult behaviors. Just because your fish does not act like this now does not mean it won't in the future.
Also, the old advice that fish grow to fit their tanks is outdated. Scientists have learned a lot more about growth stunting and its effects. Small tanks stunt fish growth which is a painful and unhealthy process. Suggesting a fish will just grow to fit its tank and be fine is very poor advice.
I think all of these can make wonderful additions to the home aquarium as long as people understand their special needs. All the info is presented to the best of my knowledge, research, and experience, and opinions.

Think Twice Fish

1. Chinese Algae Eater (Gyronicheilus aymonieri). They reach over 6 inches, some sources say up to 10 inches, so they need a decently sized tank. As they get older, they quit eating algae and instead prefer to scavenge flakes. They also are known to attach themselves to other fish and suck the slime coat coat off, effectively giving the the fish a hickey which can be very bad for tankmates. They get aggressive to other fish in their space as well. They are best suited for a large tank with fast moving tankmates who can avoid the hickeys.

2. Clown Loach (Chromobotia macracanthus). Stores often sell them as tiny, cute snail eaters, but they can reach a foot long. In addition, they are a heavy bodied fish so they take up a lot of space. They really should be kept in groups of at least 5 or 6 and need a tank of at least 75 gallons (according to loaches.com).

3. Common Pleco (Hypostomus plecostomus). They reach well over a foot long. A 125 gallon tank is the minimum I would suggest for this species. They have a very heavy bioload and can be territorial. Also, they have been observed sucking the slime coat off of slower moving tankmates like fnacy goldfish. There are many other smaller species of pleco that are better suited to smaller tanks.

4. Dwarf Gourami (Colisa lalia). Many people have great luck with these fish. They are small and beautiful. The only reason for caution (IMO) is because of dwarf gourami disease which is become rather prevalent in this species. Many of the ones available for purchase are not healthy.

5. Red-tailed black shark (Epalzeorhynchos bicolor). They reach about 6 inches, but should be kept in a tank of 55 gallons minimum. They get aggressive too. They can terrorize a tank, so tankmates hosuld be chosen carefully. Also, they are especially aggressive with members of their own species and with other bottom dwellers.

6. Green Spotted Puffer (Tetraodon nigroviridus). These guys are so cute and are often sold as fw fish, but they are not. They can be in fw for awhile they are young, but that is not permanent. Greenspottedpuffer.net suggests putting them in brackish water by the time they reach 1.5 to 2 inches, and for them to be in full marine water by the time they are 4.5 inches. In addition, gsp have constantly growing teeth and need hard food like snails consistenly, or else you will have to trim their teeth manually. They are not good community dwellers, in part because of their changing salinity requirements and in part because they turn nasty to tankmates. They are not schooling fish, so they do not need friends. Small fish like goby tend to become lunch, larger fish tend to be nipped.

7. Goldfish (common and fancy). Stores sell feeder goldies, and not everybody realizes that they turn into monster sized fish. Common goldies can reach 1 to 2 feet and produce a massive bioload. Fancy goldies are smaller, but still produce a huge bioload. It is typically recommended that you need 20g for the first fancy goldy and 10 gallons for every one after that. Common goldies are better suited for ponds than aquariums. Goldfish do not have stomachs, so they need to eat more frequently than other fish sicnethey cannot store food. this trait is what leads to their massive bioload.

8. Bala Sharks (Balantiocheilos melanopterus). Balas are not sharks. The name is just attached because of their body shape, but they belong to the same family as minnows and carp. They reach over a foot long and need to be in groups of at least 5. I have heard very mixed reviews about their peacefulness, so I will not testify to that, but they get massive!

9. Red-bellied Pacu (Colossoma macropomun). Another commonly sold species that gets gignatic. They can get to 2 feet and more. Also, they are often sold under the guise of being vegetarian piranhas, but evidence is emerging to the contrary. There are a decent number of stories of them biting and injuring owners and children. Anybody who wants this fish should watch the episode of Rivermonsters called, "The Mutilator."

10. Oscar (Astronotus ocellatus). Very commonly available, but they do not stay small. Oscarfish.com says that small ones can grow at a rate of up to an inch a month. They further advise that the fast growth rate means this is not a fish to be put into a small aquarium by a person who figures they will have to upgrade later. They grow to over a foot long and can even weight up to 3.5 pounds. They also are opportunistic feeders and will eat anything that fits into their mouths.

11. Black Ghost Knife (Apteronotus albifrons). If 20 inches of fish isn't enough to make you think twice, what about the fact the bgk tend to be aggressive toward fish of a similar size or smaller than them? They do well with larger, peaceful fish, but it takes an enormous aquarium house multiple fish of that size.

I think all of these species are beautiful, but they are often sold under the pretense that they will behave differently than they do. They each have their own special needs that should be considered before adding them, or keeping them, in your aquarium. Think twice to make sure you can give them the proper home so they ca thrive. If you can, then please put up pictures because these fish are amazing.
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Old 10-11-2011, 06:38 PM   #2
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Nice list, a few to add would be pacus and common goldfish/koi fish. Pacus are pretty readily available at most pet store chains and need a pond, and goldfish, well we all know about common goldfish, but I don't think any new aquarist understands that a few small 'feeders' become huge foot long fish.
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Old 10-11-2011, 06:41 PM   #3
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I don't have any pictures but this is an awesome resource for people if they need to rethink their options.

I would have to add two more because of easiness of availability:

Common Goldfish and Oscars. I'll add the rest when I get on a computer.... But awesome thread
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Old 10-11-2011, 06:42 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by jetajockey View Post
Nice list, a few to add would be pacus and common goldfish/koi fish. Pacus are pretty readily available at most pet store chains and need a pond, and goldfish, well we all know about common goldfish, but I don't think any new aquarist understands that a few small 'feeders' become huge foot long fish.
Good call. I will ammend my list to add these. I also thought of bala sharks.
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Old 10-11-2011, 07:43 PM   #5
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Yeah bala sharks and oscars are also good ones. black ghost knife is another one.
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Old 10-11-2011, 07:47 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by jetajockey View Post
Yeah bala sharks and oscars are also good ones. black ghost knife is another one.
OK, back to the edit button. I agree about the bgk and oscar. Thanks for the suggestions. Thanks to you too aquakai.
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Old 10-11-2011, 07:47 PM   #7
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Great post! Thanks for posting it!

It reminded me of this... Fish that should NOT be sold... or at least should come with a legal disclaimer..

I hope you don't mind me linking it here. I think it is a message that should be mentioned more.
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Old 10-11-2011, 07:49 PM   #8
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One word.…sticky

Great post.
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Old 10-11-2011, 08:19 PM   #9
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Dwarf gouramis aren't that bad, but I agree with the rest.
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Old 10-11-2011, 08:30 PM   #10
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Great post! Thanks for posting it!

It reminded me of this... Fish that should NOT be sold... or at least should come with a legal disclaimer..

I hope you don't mind me linking it here. I think it is a message that should be mentioned more.
No problem. I don't mind at all. I think people should be aware of these things because too many people end up buying these fish and have no idea of what they really are, or the needs that they have. They are often not sold to be appreciated for what they are. For example, clown loaches are big, quirky, beautiful, schooling fish and not just the tiny snails eaters that they are often sold as.
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