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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
On May 14th I bought an (alleged) sexed pair of adult Firemouths. One is 4-5" including fins, and the other is about 2.5"-3". The LFS guy said he thought the smaller one was the male, but that would not have been my guess except for the fact that the bigger one is in perfect shape, with no wear while the smaller one is missing a good bit of its tail and pectorial fins. (I figured more chance a male would be beat up).

Anyway, ever since I got these fish, ALL they do is hide. The smaller (beat up) one is bolder, and will come out and eat but if he sees me move, he quickly hides. I frequently come around the corner and find him out, but BAM!, right away he hides again. The bigger fish I've seen only ONCE since I put them in the tank, when it swam out and bit the smaller one, then hid again. I don't know if or when it is eating. Both fish ignore the sinking pellets I drop in, but they may be eating them at night, I dunno. The little one will eat flake.

So I set up this tank especially for firemouths, and I planned to get either an adult pair (if I could find) or 4 juveniles and watch and hope two paired up (then remove the others). I was glad when I found this pair, but I'm starting to suspect they aren't a mated pair. This morning I saw the big one's mouth come out of its hiding spot and totally bite the anal fin of the smaller one. Also I've been watching to see the smaller one's fins heal up, but it hasn't. I'm suspecting that it is being attacked regularly by the big one.

So isn't it weird that these fish are still hiding after over 3 weeks? What do those with experience think? Do these sound like a mated pair?
I don't trust the guy at my local LFS one bit, so wouldn't be surprised if he made up the "mated pair" business and just sold me two males or something. I'm about a week away from taking them back to the store for credit.

Of course, if I do that then I need some new fish... The tank has four serpae tetras, 4 little cories, lots of live plants, plenty of caves in the back. But it is only a 20L. I usually do mbuna but wanted to do New World in this tank. I know that convicts would probably bully the **** out of my tetras/cories and most other fish get too big. Any New World species recommendations?

THANKS FOR READING!
 

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Nope. Not wierd at all. I have about 20 firemouths in all. I have some that have been hiding for over a year... They are much more timid than most think. I doubt they are mated with one at 2-3 inches either.

In a tank that size bolivian rams would be great.
 

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I doubt they are mated with one at 2-3 inches either.
I've had them pair and spawn at 2" , so the size isn't an issue here. It's not all that uncommon for them to hide for a while after introducing them to a new tank. You just want to make sure that you can find them so that if one dies (not that it will) you can get it out asap. I like to make sure that caves and such are set up so that the insides are clearly visible from the outside of the tank. A 20L is tad bit small IMO for a pair of FMs. I don't like to use anything smaller than a 29/30g. Gives them more space to do their thing , and the extra room is good if one decides to chace the other. Better chance to escape the others wrath.
As far as the mated pair thing, who knows . The could have been at one time but all the moving around could have caused the bond to break . We don't know if they paired at the LFS , or someone brought them in saying that they were a pair, or they ever were in the first place. Some pics would help determine if they are male and female so we could tell if you have a chance at a pair . If they're not and you still want a FM pair the "buy several juvies and let them figure it out "method is the way to go.
Other options? Well pretty much any dwarf species is an option. Not more than a single pair for the most part, but defintely do-able . A little reaserch will help you narrow down the choices.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks, both.

under_control: I'd like to do some rams, I think they'd be great. None of the stores in the area have them though (except for one store which has the 'balloon' version sometimes, but I don't want that). It seems that I never see rams or kribs anymore, dunno why. I have a crushed coral gravel though, since I read that FM's like a high pH. Aren't rams supposed to like acid water and be kind of fragile? I know that hardiness varies based on the type and bloodlines, of course. Like angels used to really require soft acid water but most commercially bred ones you find in the stores can thrive across a (reasonable) range of pH.

Joels fish: Fortunately I can see both fish in their hiding places, just barely, so I'll be able to tell if one bites the dust. I've been dropping sinking food down to them, so I'd be surprised if they weren't eating sometime. I'm sure these didn't bond (if ever) at the LFS because he didn't have them long. They were in a 10 with no hiding place at all; they were trying to hide behind the bubble-box filter. Kind of sad. I'm gonna try not to give this guy any more biz.

I've done a lot of research, actually ...on this site and elsewhere. Everything that I find on here that doesn't grow too big and is peaceful none of the stores have. All I find are Texas, green terror, manageunse, salvini, Jack dempsey, oscars... nothing little and peaceful.

Maybe I should look on the trading board...
 

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I've done a lot of research, actually ...on this site and elsewhere. Everything that I find on here that doesn't grow too big and is peaceful none of the stores have. All I find are Texas, green terror, manageunse, salvini, Jack dempsey, oscars... nothing little and peaceful.

Maybe I should look on the trading board...
I run into that here too. Of course it never hurts to ask the people at the LFS if they can order some of the fish you want. Most will do a special order , though the stores here want the money up front :? .I have a hard time paying for fish I cant see swimming with my own eyes, but thats just me though. Trading board sounds good , but try the LFS first.
 

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Don't worry about the pH problems with the fish origins. The rams will have been tank bred commercially and will adapt to any pH from 6.5-8.0

I would add about 6 larger tetras. That would help. Also, do several water changes to help them have the cleanest water possible. This will help with many of their issues, including guarding against any secondary infections from fin damage.

As far as pairing goes, it is possible you have 2 males. Time will tell you for sure.

HTH, Rich
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for your feedback, folks.

The deal with the tetras is odd. I assumed they'd help as dither fish. Even the cories, especially the tiny albino ones, are EXTREMELY active. None of this draws the FM's out, nor are the FM's attracted to chase these smaller fish.

Over the weekend I did some more research and found that bosemani rainbows would like the pH, setup, and tankmates in this tank. I've been interested in rainbows for awhile now, and after watching them behave on youtube I think I'm gonna trade these FM's for 4 of them from the better LFS (who has some nice stock right now). I'm a big fan of cichlids (have a 55 with saulosi at home) but these rainbows might be nearly as interesting ...they seem mentally advanced, too.

So, we'll see what happens. Please don't revoke my membership in cichlid-forum! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
For anyone interested, I didn't get rainbow fish. I took my "mated pair" to the better LFS and traded them for credit. I was happy to find they had a tank FULL of 2" firemouths, so I got four of those instead. They are very active, and are all claiming/defending territories. Very cool. Now I just hope I've got a female in there and she pairs with one of the boys...

I'm glad I stuck with FM's ...they are beauties.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Stocking is:

-2x 1/2" cories
-2x 1" cories
-4x serpae tetras
-4x firemouth cichlid 2 - 2.5"

-4 crypts
-lots of dwarf grass, anubias species I think

Temp 79-80

Filtration is Penguin 200 w/ extra media slot full of charcoal. Tank was set up and cycled 3 months ago.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yeah, I know. But I bought four to observe them and watch for two to pair off. As soon as that happens (or if problems arise due to the stocking, like injury) then the other two are out.

In the long-term, I'm also prepared to remove the tetras if they are bullied by the mated pair. I think the cories can stay regardless, unless they get beat-upon. When it comes down to it, the tank is meant to house 2 FM's and a few bottom feeders. The other fish came from one of my other tanks. They helped cycle it. But I have enough tanks and such that it was seriously seeded first, too.

And in the long-long run, if I get a mated pair here and I keep them long enough, I wouldn't rule out getting them a 29 gallon or something. But this is one of my at-work tanks, and I probably won't have this job more than another year.
 

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Well your tactic of finding a pair is really the only way. Preferably it's done in a larger tank but you "should" be able to do it in a 20.

In my opinion, given your tank, you are better of keeping the tetras rather than the cory's. Although I would probably just keep the pair in a 20L.

Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the feedback.

I'm curious, why do you say that about the cories -vs- the tetras? Only guessing, but I was thinkin the tetras would catch more heck from the FM's because they share the same water column ...they are more out and about than the cories. But I have no experience with combining cichlids and other fish (other than catfish).

Just curious if you have time.
 

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My experience has been that FM's stake out a footprint on the ground. Tetras are more in the middle to upper water column and will function as dither to make the FM's more comfortable.

If your goal is breeding some have said that cory's will opportunistically eat the eggs. Although I have never witnessed this. Cory's are great scavengers but that size tank you should be not overfeeding and changing/cleaning the water fairly often.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
This morning when I fed the tank I noticed some behavior establishing. One of the FM's, the biggest and brightest, has definitely claimed the best territory. He usually just stays in there lurking, but when I fed he came out and started going after the other 3, mostly biting at their "gill-spot" areas, although he did a brief lip lock with the 2nd biggest. Very aggressive. The three subordinates do not tangle much with each other, they swim together often and do some gentle nipping at that gill-spot area.

Two of the subordinates are slightly smaller than the other two. Their color is much paler, almost silvery peach as opposed to the heavily-barred dominant one. Even though I see no evidence of pairing-off, I'd love to be able to sex these fish so that I can get the number down to 2.

I've never seen FM's pair off. Is it totally obvious when it happens, ie, will I know? Sometimes I see two of the subordinates kind of roll around each other, touching bodies but not biting. Is this mating type behavior? Pairing?

I'll try to take some photos soon to help ID the fish. I worry this tank in gonna start boiling soon!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The more I look, the more I notice that two of the subordinate fish are definitely hanging out together all day, just floating by each other's side. They chase each other now and then, but it is very mellow compared to what I saw from the dominant one this morning. So as I look at the tank, I've got the dominant one hiding all of the time, another sub dominant hiding wedged between the back glass and a rock (lousy territory) and then I've got these two hanging out together near a driftwood root knot that makes little trench-caves. They also venture around like they are comfortable. Could they be a pair?

Now I just saw the dominant one come out and check out the smaller of the two that I think are a pair. Hmm. Interesting.

I will try and post some video and/or pics later today.
 

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Post a picture of the fish... But my guess would be dominant male is the one who locked down prime territory. Female is split from the sub group but is not ready to mate. 2 Sub FM's probably diverting aggression from suspected female and keeping her alive. Does the sub dominant loner fight with the dominant ? Tale flapping and flaring, rubbing ?

Mating rituals kinda look like fighting btw with the difference being you will see them in unison chase away the others.

Do some nice water changes and some hi protein foods and also keep your eye on the loner. If you notice damage to the fins and etc you may have to remove a fish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks!

Pics are coming. I can't get any of the dominant fish because 'he' mostly hides. Every now and then he swims out to check out the one I suspect is a female (no aggression toward 'her') or go after the one that hangs out w/ her. The 4th fish is totally out of sight, hiding in between rock and glass.

I haven't seen much fighting, but there was some gill flaring, and lip-locking during feeding time. It was btwn the dominant fish and, I think, the sub dominant ...the one who seems 'paired' w/ the 'female.'

In the pics you'll see only the two that hang together, the suspected pair. As I said, the dom is hiding mostly and the other is also, so no pics of them. These two fish are nearly always in sight of one another or swimming "in formation."
 
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