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Old 05-20-2004, 06:13 PM   #1
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Burrowing fish - Sand hurting gills?

I have a dojo loach who is the undisputed star of my tank. I love this fish.

Here's the story. These guys are supposed to enjoy burying themselves in the substrate, sometimes with only their whiskers sticking out. I noticed mine trying to force his way into the gravel but the particles were too big. So I got some sand, fine-grained but not tiny. Now he's got his own little sand box. So far he hasn't figured out how to bury himself, though. But he did sleep in it the first night. I've been burying food for him in the sand to try to teach him to burrow.

My concern is that, when he sifts around for the food, sand particles come out through his gills. I'm probably being paranoid, but that seems like it would damage such delicate structures. The other fish just pick up a mouthful of sand and spit out the sand through their mouths.

Also, when the time comes that he when he does learn how to burrow, won't breathing under there get sand in his gills? Could the little silica pieces (after all, sand is the same stuff as glass) scratch his eyes, too? After all, he can't close his eyelids or exhale through the tip of his snout.
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Old 05-20-2004, 06:22 PM   #2
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i think their kidna the same as khuli loaches. i think they "eat the sand" eat whatever food is in it and then they spit it out through their gills. i saw my khulis doing this before they died and returned them
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Old 05-20-2004, 06:32 PM   #3
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If it was hurting him, he would stop doing it

Its just natural behavior, they do it all the time in the wild.

Other fish do it to, I know my Bala shark constantly hoovers sand in his mouth and out his gills in search of food, and my Banjo Catfish can disappear for days at a time burried in the sand and survive.
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Old 05-20-2004, 08:05 PM   #4
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If it was hurting him, he would stop doing it
I'm not sure if this is true, if it's the natural behavior of the fish, they might just continue doing it until it kills them. Which explains the sport of carpet surfing. Of course, most fish don't actually learn to not jump out of the tank--once is enough. Although preliminary research of M. anguillcaudatus shows they will survive even that. A better example would be fish eating themselves to death.

What I try to do is find out as much as I can about the fish I have; I try to make the tank as close to "home" as possible. This includes trying to get geological data of their native substrate. It seems that your dojo loaches like burying themselves in silt and mud. The problem with sand is that most of it is quartz based, which has a crystalline form. Basically this means that the sand has a tendency to have sharp edges that may damage the loach's gills. Whether it is enough to kill the fish is a topic of debate--no one regularly performs autopsies on fish to determine cause of death (although I'm sure someone here will dispute this ). IMO, over time the damage from quartz based sand may shorten the lifespan of the fish.
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Old 05-20-2004, 11:03 PM   #5
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You're right. It probably is silt and mud that they dig into in the wild. I will do some more research before I do anything drastic. I've taken the sand box out, by the way, as of this morning. I thought I'd give it a try, though, to see how he'd respond. It wasn't an entirely ecstatic reception.

Thanks, everyone!
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Old 05-20-2004, 11:05 PM   #6
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Oh, yeah, and sorry about the green font. I thought I'd highlight the question part. But it just made it hard on the eyes.
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Old 05-20-2004, 11:55 PM   #7
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This is a good question. There are a lot of fish who prefer a sand substrate for just the reason you bring up, and yet there are sandy substrates that contain too many particles that are irritating. If you do a search on sand substrate you will find this topic comes up frequently, especially for SW applications. There are some sandy substrates that are easy on the gills, and some that are not, so look into it.
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Old 05-21-2004, 12:59 AM   #8
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What would be a sand for freshwater that would be classified as "easy" on the gills?
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Old 05-21-2004, 03:50 AM   #9
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Aragonite sand has consists of rounded particles, and is perfect for fish that dig in sand (e.g. African cichlids). However, this sand cannot be used if a neutral or low pH is desired; it will raise the pH of water.
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Old 05-21-2004, 06:49 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krap101
i saw my khulis doing this before they died and returned them
Ha!! krap101, very demoralise advise... LOL

Anyway my panda cory also have all sort of food n sand pass through the gill.
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Old 05-21-2004, 09:47 AM   #11
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oh lol i got a weather loach in there now and (s)hes doing great. i dont know why the khili's died. and have no idea and its prolly not the sandcuz they were loving it.
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