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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone!

I set my 55g Mbuna take up about 6 months ago and everything has been running perfectly. No fighting, no deaths, active fish... I do regular water changes and feed the following fish New Life Spectrum daily:

4 Pseudotropheus socolofi
3 Yellow Tailed Acei
3 Red Zebras
4 Rusty
2 Yellow Labs

Starting about 3 days ago, I keep finding one of my Red Zebras floating still on it's side. If I tap the glass or go to feed the fish he swims fine and acts normal. Today one of the yellow labs is doing it... every time I find them doing it, it is in the same exact corner (back right.) Sometimes they start acting normal on their own, other times I have to tap the glass. What could be happening? If it was a swim bladder issue, wouldn't their swimming be messed up all the time? Like I said, if I tap the glass or go to feed them, they act normal and dart around.

I haven't lost one yet, and we really don't want to lose any (they all get along so well,) please give me any advice you can.



Thanks!!!
 

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def aggression related... You have one of the fish picking on the others...Now its on u to find out which one and possibly remove it
 

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Looks like he is hiding to me. One or two of my demasoni were doing that in my three foot tank (except they would point downwards). Since I have moved them to the bigger 60G tank I haven't seen anyone doing it. So yeah he might be getting beat up, maybe try re-arranging your tank? Or you might have to get rid of a fish.
 

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I agree with the others. That estherae is hiding to avoid a dominant fishes' aggression.

If you can identify the culprit, it might be time to thin out your stock by selling or giving the troublemaker(s) away.

kevin
 

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Usually aggression but not always, sometimes fish just like to hang out in weird places.
If you haven't noticed any chasing/bullying, try observing after their normal lights out time, that's when things tend to get interesting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you for all of the replies... after reading them I sat down and watched the action for about an hour. You guys were right, and I figured out who the bully is. My largest red zebra (he's albino) chases him into that spot whenever he comes out. He did it three times in a row and I also saw him chasing my yellow labs.

Now what? If he is the dominant male and I remove him, will one of the other reds simply take over? Is it possible he is just a very aggressive fish? The thing is... I really like him. Like I said, he is albino (my only one) and is very fun to watch.

Would it hurt to leave everything as is, the others are obviously finding places to hide... but then again, I don't want my fish constantly terrified.

Any other advice?

Thanks!
 

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Those plants won't offer any protection if your tank boss decides to do more than chase. If the violence escalates you'll need an hospital tank or worse.

Stressed fish are more susceptible to disease, so you'll be doing the whole tank a favour if you set your feelings aside and take steps to correct the problem.

Another fish will take over for certain, but there's a good chance the next boss will be more benevolent.

This is the toughest part about keeping aquariums - when the balance gets upset the fun drains away awfully fast - but it can come back!

kevin
 

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That pic is definitely a stressed fish! Need to remove it or the stress or it will likely eventually stop eating and develop bloat, and then die.

I had a lab do that for a while. Didn't remove it soon enough, and eventually it stopped eating. Tried to isolate it, started eating for a couple days, but then stopped again and eventually died slowly in isolation :(

When I saw the same thing happening to an albino zebra, I acted more quickly. Isolated in a 10g (with fry, only option). It eventually recovered and was becoming a nice fish with 5 yellow lab fry in the 10g tank. But, an outbreak of rusty fry forced me to return it to the main tank because I was afraid it would eat the fry. So far, so good, no hiding yet, but I think this little abino has trouble finding food, may be partially blind or something. Even in isolation, it couldn't get pellets once they started sinking (it would always miss them). It does a little better getting food off the surface though. My poor little special needs fish really needs his own tank I think, but for now he's doing ok in the 125.

Anyways, here's the gist. Sometimes, the cause of the stress is the aggressor, and sometimes individual subdominant fish are just more susceptible to stress IMO. My male yellow lab hasn't harmed anyone, but the lab that died was stressed for some reason - pursuid by the male lab for breeding, but never harmed, just continually followed at a walking pace. With the case of the albino, he was chased and pestered by the other albinos and I think his vision/food problem was a contributing factor. I have rusties routinely retreat to the corners for just a few minutes, chased by the male rusty for breeding, but after a few minutes they return to the rocks. These 4 female rusties seem to be able to handle the stress of the fiesty male.

So, whether or not you have to remove the aggressor depends on if he's really the problem, or if you just have a couple fish that can't take the stress. I've never had another stressed yellow lab, so with them I didn't have to remove the nice dominant male. If your dominant male red zebra is chasing EVERYONE, well then he might be the problem. I'd try removing the stressed fish first and see if anyone else turns up in the corners hiding. If so, you might need to remove the aggressor.
 

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Very good explanation and advice from Rhinox.

kevin
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for all of the help everyone, I really appreciate it. I think that since several fish are now hiding from him, he is simply too aggressive. I plan on isolating him until I find a new home, the problem is catching him.

I have a large rock/cave structure in the middle and every time my hand/net goes anywhere near the water he swims in there (it is his territory) and will not come out.

I am going to try again tonight when I get home.

Thanks again!
 

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I always have to remove all the rocks. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Okay so I rearranged things and they seemed to be fine the last couple days. When I got home today, the albino (the mean one) was biting the side of the hiding one. It took me awhile but I finally caught him (using a tank separator) and he is now isolated.

I am going to see how the tank operates while he isn't present... so far no one is hiding and everyone is getting along. I am pretty sure that one of my two remaining zebras is female, so maybe that is why they are not attacking each other?

Regarding the wound on my other male... it doesn't look that bad. It looks like he may have scales bitten off or something, there is a white mark where he was attacked. However, he is swimming around fine like nothing happened. If I let it go, will it heal? Do I need to do something else?

Thanks in advance!
 

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Should heal on it's own as long as the water stays clean. Keep an eye on it for any growth.
Perhaps increase the frequency of your water changes for him for a week or two.
 

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Excuse me if this was already said, but I just skimmed through a few of the posts...

If you really like the aggressor and don't want to get rid of him, you can try moving him to another tank for a few days and then return him; this sometimes changes the pecking order.

Maybe the tank divider does the same thing, I really don't know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I kept the aggressor isolated and the one that was being attacked took over his cave. He has become blue-ish so I guess he is the dominant one now. He is much nicer than the albino and I haven't noticed him attacking any of the other species.

After about four days I put the original aggressor back in and their roles have literally reversed. The one that was getting bullied originally (I shall refer to him as the blue one) now puts the original aggressor into the same exact hiding place. It is wild... the blue ones makes the other one float sideways in the corner just like he originally did to him.

Like I said, the blue one is not as aggressive though. The other guy comes out of the hiding spot after a few seconds and he still eats and everything. The tank has been running smoothly for the last two weeks or so, thanks for all of the help!
 

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davethomasowns said:
I kept the aggressor isolated and the one that was being attacked took over his cave. He has become blue-ish so I guess he is the dominant one now. He is much nicer than the albino and I haven't noticed him attacking any of the other species.

After about four days I put the original aggressor back in and their roles have literally reversed. The one that was getting bullied originally (I shall refer to him as the blue one) now puts the original aggressor into the same exact hiding place. It is wild... the blue ones makes the other one float sideways in the corner just like he originally did to him.

Like I said, the blue one is not as aggressive though. The other guy comes out of the hiding spot after a few seconds and he still eats and everything. The tank has been running smoothly for the last two weeks or so, thanks for all of the help!
This is most likely a temporary fix. I wouldn't be surprised if after a few days/weeks the albino zebra regains his dominance. So he could become a problem once again.

I would suggest getting a proper ratio of males:females (i.e., 1 male zebra: 3-4 female zebras). Get rid of the extra male of each species, and find more females. In a 55 gallon, cut back to 3 species for best results. Good luck! :thumb:
 

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Another possible solution: add more fish. You've got 16, and as long as you're keeping up on water changes, I don't see why you couldn't have ~20-22 in there. My old 60g (same footprint as a 55g except an inch or two wider) had up to 30 fish (including juvies/fry) in it at a time and no fish was ever able to be singled out.
 
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