28 May 2017

serpaes- another shuffle

I've had to move my fishes around again. Two of the older serpaes in the main tank have been looking poorly lately- paler than the others and hiding. The one with bulging eyes is starting to look very thin, it does come out to feed but at the very end when there's not much left. The one missing an eye still had good color, but hid behind the driftwood almost constantly. I'd see it come out after dark, but it would just hang still in a corner of the tank, not interacting with other fish or coming to eat. It must have fed at some point because wasn't emaciated like the other one... So the other day while doing tank maintenance I saw the one-eyed fish laying on its side under some plants. Did not look good at all. I nudged it and it scooted a short distance, hung up in some stems head down gasping. It was so listless I practically caught it with my hand. I was debating whether to euthanize right then- I've never had fish doing this badly recover, and I don't know what's really wrong with it anyway- so for the time being I gently put it in a small bucket of tank water with plant trimmings, put a towel over the bucket to shield it, and left it there while I went on working. The fish didn't make it. I buried it under the forsythia- that is becoming my burial tree.

Meanwhile thought I ought to catch the skinny one with popeye, to see if I could treat it. I gave it an epsom salt bath and moved it into QT. There were four new serpae tetras in QT- I've had them almost a week now. They are younger, smaller than my adopted tetras, and curiously have distinguishing marks. On the first six, the spot near the eye is oblong, a flame shape. On these newer fish, is a small faded blot, almost just a dot. I wonder if all the individuals from that certain spawning have this smaller mark, or will it change when they grow up. Of these new four, one I got from PSmart- it was in the "adoption" tank for a dollar, but looked so much healthier than the gang they had in the sales tank I got this one. The other three came from Congressional, a lfs that is a forty-minute drive away, just over the boarder into Maryland. I don't go there often but it is a real treat- that place is well-maintained with beautiful tanks and a wide variety of great-looking fish.

So these four were settling in, a bit nervous still, I've kept a bit of cloth draped across the back. Same day that I lost Blank and took the popeyed tetra out of the main tank, I saw that the two smaller ones in QT were getting beat up by the bigger two- chunks out of their dorsal and tail fins. Sigh. It reminds me of when I tried to get otocinclus- they would always die in quarantine because I couldn't keep enough algae going to feed them. How can I keep these fish in QT where they get harassed so? I thought four would be enough to have a relatively peaceful space, but no. They all have great color, though.
So- I swapped them. Moved the bigger two young serpaes into the main tank, and put the popeyed skinny older one into QT. Now there's three in QT- one loosing weight and bulging eyes I'm not sure how to treat but figure extra clean water can't hurt so I'm doing daily 25% wc. The two new ones I hope to see their fins grow back before I introduce them into the main. In that regard, the fiesty pair I put in there are doing great. They're quick enough to avoid getting injured by the bigger fish asserting themselves, but can't bully anyone else now, ha. So I see lots of chasing but no damaged fins. And once again I feel like I'm seeing relief of an influence of fear- I have the same number of fish in here, six.
And suddenly I see all my fish again. None are hiding now the sick ones are out of here- up until now they mostly hung out in the back under the aponogetons during the day, coming out to feed and in the dawn/dusk hours. I was beginning to think this species just doesn't like bright light. But now that the individuals have been shuffled around, if I look at the tank from across the room, I often see four, five, six fish out and about in the open. If I walk up they move quickly back into hiding, but are far more confident now. It's nice to see them!

They're starting to learn, too. One will come up to investigate when I open the lid. I'm teaching a signal- I do a gentle repeated tap on the support bar of the frame just before feeding. Most of them come out of hiding at that signal, now. They are kind of picky about food, though. I found the refusal of dandelion leaf was just because it had been in the fridge a few days- next time I offered that fresh prepared from the garden and it was gobbled up. Today I offered them aphids and other assorted tiny bugs from the garden- however the insects had been in the fridge a few days (cold enough to start a film of ice, so still ok in terms of freshness I think). The serpaes bit and spit, didn't really seem to like the bugs this time. I dumped a clump of the same bugs in the window tank next door, and those cherry barbs swarmed all over it in a flash. They don't refuse anything!

I have noticed one downside to feeding so much fresh foods, though. The suction cups holding heaters and things onto the back tank wall have gotten awfully scummy with that white biofilm- in every tank. The betta tank especially- he is getting more live food right now, too. It's ugly.

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