Well the helianthus are in their own tank. They're not spawning yet, but their persistent nippi-ness seemed to be making the other fish a bit jittery. The community is a much more relaxing mix to watch now.
Here is the current layout of the community tank. I moved out a good amount of the rockwork to put in the heliantus tank, and this is what's left. More needed?
...and some of the inhabitants:
The smaller calvus put a good one over on me. Got home the other day and it was nowhere to be found. After searching in and around the tank frantically, removing all the decor and checking inside the shells still no sign of it. Recalling another recent thread here about calvus 'getting stuck' in shells I observed the shells under a light and found the fish in one of the apple-snail type shells. It had lodged itself so far inside that even under a bright light only the tail of the fish was discernable through the shell wall (these are thick shells). Fearing this fish might actually be stuck I was preparing to try to gingerly break the shell with two pairs of plyers (in tank water) when the fish wriggled out.
That was just a prologue to what the fish pulled on me next... When I was trying to catch the helianthus to move them to their own tank the smaller of the two helianthus darted into the lone conch-type shell. No problem I figured, I'll just move the shell over to the other tank and give it a twirl or two underwater to make sure there is no air trapped inside . When the helianthus emerged from the shell into it's new tank I moved the shell back to the community tank. Later that day, when looking at the community tank, I noticed the smaller calvus was again missing. Still concerned about whether it might be able to get stuck in one of those apple-snail shells I again inspected them under the light. Nothing, no sign of the tail even. I checked the conch shell for good measure under the light. No sign of the fish there either (although it was harder to be sure as it is a really sturdy shell). Ok, remove the deccor again, look around and under the tank, etc. When I got to looking on the side of the tank next to the helianthus tank, who do I notice looking at me innocently from the helianthus tank but the darned calvus I'm searching for! Obviously when I moved the conch shell with the helianthus inside it over the calvus was inside it too, and it snuck out of the shell and hid for awhile without me noticing... I don't name my fish, but I think this one has dibs on 'Houdini'.
On the subject of the helianthus...
...will an 18g (24x12) tank be enough for the pair long-term?