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The mother of overstocked community tanks.

12046 Views 51 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  SchizotypalVamp
My camera isn't all that great, I'll try to get better shots tonight when there isn't so much light around - note the discus are showing stress bars because I turned the lights on about 10 seconds prior to taking the video. ... ids001.flv

4 clown loach
1 yo yo loach
2 siamensis
1 albino bushynose pleco
1 longfin bushynose pleco
1 ottocinclus
5 angelfish - 3 peruvian altum, 2 gold pearlscale
3 discus - blue turq high bodied
6 bolivian ram
5 blue ram
4 bosemani rainbow
4 congo tetra
2 wag tail platy

Anubias nana
Anubias nana "gold"
Anubias barteri v. ekona
Sunset hygro
Tiger hygro
Giant hygro
Needle leaf java fern
Java fern
Amazon swords
Various crypts.
Dwarf sag.

Built in overflow with a sump in the back - pushing 900 gph.

75 gallon tank - nitrates are staying consistently under 20 ppm with weekly 50%+ water changes.

This is not a breeding tank and is intentionally overstocked to curb any sort of pairing behavior, which in so far it has successfully done.

Comments and death threats are welcome.
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Actually the opposite, that it can be done - and with 15 years of experience under my belt I'd say I'm right. I was actually expecting some general conversation on how experience combined with careful planning can help people break the rules.
DirtyBlackSocks said:
Actually the opposite, that it can be done - and with 15 years of experience under my belt I'd say I'm right. I was actually expecting some general conversation on how experience combined with careful planning can help people break the rules.
Hey DBS,

I wouldn't have thought this by your innitial thread. Maybe if you had introduced this tank with a paragraph or two on how you set it up to cope with the overcrowding, why you chose each species and how they each fit in the over all mix, and how the aquascaping design helps the fish cope with overcrowding.

I do agree that years of experience and carefull planning can enable people to achieve success with stocking tanks that less experienced people really shouldn't try.

How long has the tank been set up with it's current stocking levels? I'd like to see how this tank progresses as the juvenile angels and discus reach maturity. Have any of the rams looked like pairing up? I'm interested to see if overstocking does curb thier natural desire to breed.

Maybe you could keep us updated monthly on this tank. Along the lines of a diary or log book. Make sure to include special updates for any unexpected occurances.
Seems pretty cool. I'm wondering two things:

What's the temperature/ph in that tank, as to keep everyone happy?

What's the maturity level on most fish? It looked like the rams in the video were near full size while the discus/angels are young adults at best.

I wish you good luck with the tank. Be interesting to see how it progresses, and if the younger fish can grow properly, as that is what I would consider the biggest 'issue' here. Hope you keep us updated.
I'm surprised but somehow I expected something like this. You post a lot over here and give tons of free advice. I don't think this will add to your credibility. Your not only have a very high stock level (once the fish grow to adult size,...if they will reach it!) but you also mixed in fish with diferent needs. For example the Bolivians and GBR. It is doable but you need to put both fish on their temperature limit or just over. The GBR to cold and the Bolivians to hot. Except for that you also put in discus that require high temps around 28C to 30C. So for someone who claims to be very experienced and knowledgeable I would not expect such a tank. I hope you will think abouth it and put aside the proud of knowing everything and start thinking abouth the health of the fish and realy use your knowledge in stead of showing,..."see what I can do!"
Well, the tank looks great! :thumb:

I have a similar situation right now in a 55G tank, I know it's overstocked but it's working for now and I am ready to make the necessary changes as problems arise.

I look at it as somewhat of a "grow out" tank, but it would be really amazing if it worked out long term!

IMO, as long as you're aware of what you may need to do and have the tank space to move fish to or the resources to get rid of them if need be, it's well worth a try.

But, for the experienced cichlid keeper only!

I agree with DFF, it would be great if you continued this thread and posted follow ups on it!

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I agree that with careful planning and experiences, you can break rules. But there are things that you shouldn't do and can't do. I am currently keeping albino BNs, congos, clown loaches, otos, bosemanis, Bolivian, GBR, Discus, and others in a same tank. DBS and I seem to like a lot of the same fish. :) I have had them in the same tank over a year and they alll seem to be doing well. I keep my tank temp at 86F to 88F. I have heard this is too warm for Bolivians, congos, and otos, but they at least appear to be heathy and well. I am planning on keeping the temp at 84F.

I do think that DBS's tank will be quite a bit croweded once all the fish grow to their adult size. So, I would be interested in seeing how this tank would evolve. Good luck and keep us posted.
the angelfish are at adult size or just under an inch from it - I've decided to remove the discus as I can't provide the heat they'd appreciate with the plants in the tank, and even though they'll survive just fine they won't thrive by any means.

So far everything is working out fine - I've got a 120 gallon on stand by for the clown loach, bosemani, and yo yo loach as they age, probably the galaxy pleco as well.

This tank's been up and running for about 3 months - with small additions here and there, but for the most part the overstocking is keeping aggression levels down.

The blue ram are about half the size of the bolivian, which are wild caught adults, and I added them about two weeks after the bolivian, yet they seem to be taking over the bolivians territory - which I found interesting.

pH 7.8,
Temp. 80.6 degrees steady
As I said nitrates have never gotten above 20 ppm without me adding nitrogen supplements for the plants.

As far as HITH goes I'm not worried about it because of the plants - some people underestimate what they can really do for a tank and fishes health.

I'll keep posting in here - just woke up so I'll get back to any questions I missed.
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very pretty tank, i like the ecocomplete/driftwood/plant contrast.

i agree moving hte discus out was a good idea
the angelfish are at adult size or just under an inch from it - I've decided to remove the discus as I can't provide the heat they'd appreciate with the plants in the tank, and even though they'll survive just fine they won't thrive by any means.
A wise thing to do! :thumb: Back to normal stock levels and you put the most sensitive fish separate so they can get the space and atention they need especially during grow out. The only real compromise are the GBR and Bolivians but if you keep the tank at 27C both may cope the temp.

I am wondering what this post is all abouth. You start with an overstocked tank and "see what I can do becouse I'm experienced", and within a day you go to a normal set up. Good for the fish and it makes me feel better abouth them to, but why all of this DBS? what are you trying to discus or to achieve? Sorry I don't get it!
Removing 3 discus doesn't exactly make this tank understocked by a long shot - I see a lot of people playing the conservative side on these forums with stocking levels and thought I'd start a thread to prove a point - while species specific and lightly stocked tanks are great for breeding, a community tank like this can be done.

If I were to pop on here and make this post, minus the discus - as a new member - I would get torn in half by a lot of people on here.

The point of this thread was to start a journal type deal on how plants can make all the difference in an overstocked tank.
DirtyBlackSocks said:
If I were to pop on here and make this post, minus the discus - as a new member - I would get torn in half by a lot of people on here.
Hey DBS,

I think most of us try not to tear newbies in half, usually the quickest way to discourage people from the hobby. Many of us do try provide explanations with our posts about peoples current or suggested stocking levels.

A couple of things make you and your tank different from a newbie.

First your experience within the hobby and your understanding of how a tank behaves as a isolated ecosystem. Your experience has also enabled you to pick a variety of species that aren't overly aggressive, and won't kill each other in a single outright fight. Quite often beginners pick a number of fish for thier first tank, without knowing that some months down the road that thier little GT and Texas are going to have a run in for top dog, while the firemouth and angelfish cower in th top rear left corner of the 55 gallon tank.

Secondly you have a number of other tanks you can temporarily remove individuals to if problems do occurr. This enables you to deal with problems instantly, instead of having to waite 12 to 24 hours before you can get to a LFS to buy new equipment, that's if they can afford to.

A reason many of us prefer to understock, is that we feel our fish are happier in such conditions. They don't have to compete for space, territories or breeding sites.

I know that I am often guilty of trying to pass my ideal stocking beliefs onto other people, but I do try to explain that I prefer community tanks that have a certain balance, similar to what I percieve a natural ecosystem resembles. Which in reality may be nothing like one of my tanks.

At the end of the day, I feel I am acting in the fishes best interest when I suggest low stocking levels, and I hope the owner can understand this. And yes I do know there is an arguement about whether it is humane of not to keep fish in an aquarium at all. That's one I can't offer an acceptable answer for, becuase I keep my tanks for entirely selfish reasons, my enjoyment.
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DirtyBlackSocks said:
If I were to pop on here and make this post, minus the discus - as a new member - I would get torn in half by a lot of people on here.
And despite not being new around here, you still got quite a bit of shred it seemed. I know I've not posted my 72 for that very reason. I'm happy and proud of my tank, but I'd rather not be torn up for possibly having to much in there. It's not quite the full house DBS had, but its got lots of critters.

Anyhow, I look forward to keeping up with this journal.
Oke DBS, your intentions are clear now. It is good to discus stock levels but I strongly suggest to be clear to new people in the hobby that the conventional believes abouth stock levels are a save way to go. If you chose to get an overstocked tank you will need to pull a lot of knowledge into it to keep the fish happy. But,...every tank does have it's limit. Maybe you feel like I "jumped" on you but I did for good reasons! I would definitely not recommend your set up. Taking out the Discus creates more space for the other fish, lowers the waste level significant (young discus needs a lot of feeds and are messy feeders) and you removed the most sensitive fish. The stock levels are still high but doable depending on filtration and water changes. The heavy planted tank is beneficial like you already mentioned and that's the reason why I previously wrote that your back at a normal stock level.

Overstocked tanks is quit an issue dough. Lots of people new to the hobby like lots of species and often overstock their tanks. When your not experienced you can come across lots of troubles and even might lose the interest in the hobby. So on the SA forum people give their advice but usually not jump on people. Did you noticed this lately on the SA forum DBS? Why I gave my opinion on your treat the way I did? Well,....your not new and I may assume you are knowledgeable abouth fish and their needs. To make such a post you are provoking such a discussion. Nothing wrong with that but you could also expect the feedback that I gave. The second reason is that your set up may inspire new people in the hobby. Most of us know this might end up in one big bole of smelly fish soup, so not a good example imo. Third,...I don't mind if you are 15 years in the hobby, are millionaire, well known or what ever,....I give my advice and opinion (regardless of your background) and I leave it up to you what to do with it.

I hope I didn't offend you.

I'm quit sure I contributed to this discussion :wink:
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I think the difference between many of us and many new hobbyist lies in the fact that we are aware of the potential for disaster, and we do have other tanks to move fish into if need be.

With that being said, I don't talk about half my daring escapades in my fish tanks on here, because I don't want a new (unsuspecting) hobbyist to choose the route I chose! :lol:

It's hard to look at things the same way when an experienced hobbyist does something vs. a "newbie" doing the same thing, especially when you're answering a post. We talk to some of these people every day, and know that they have lots of tank space sitting around to make the necessary changes as needed.

For someone just getting started in the hobby, that tank would/could be a disaster. My fear would be that it would turn them off the hobby altogether when it blew up.

DBS's stock list didn't scare me at all. I've done crazier things.

But he's right. Had he been a newcomer to the hobby, I would have warned him.

I'm still very anxious to watch this thread/tank evolve, and I know that DBS will post the downs and well as the ups!

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Aslo, nothing wrong with the overstocked tanks as long as you take good care of it. It just takes a lot more work to maintain it.
Well I woke up this morning to two pairs of bolivians and a pair of blue ram spawning over various areas in the tank, but by the time I got to my camera the loaches had taken care of everything.

Now it looks like two pairs of the angelfish have chosen opposite sides of the top of the tank to lay eggs, or at least they're defending in pairs with a lone angel sort of patrolling the substrate looking for food and getting chased off anytime he enters either side.

So aside from the angels pairing off everything is working out how I'd like it to, I don't think the bosemani rainbows will let any free swimming fry from the angels last long to begin with and there isn't any real chasing going on in the tank.

My biggest worry was the rams taking up too much floor space, but they all seem to have found their niche, one of the pairs of bolivian rams that spawned actually let a blue ram hang out in their territory for some reason :-?
I have a mix of rams in my crazy tank...I've got 3 adult Bolivians (one male takes turns spawning with the 2 females) and 5 gold balloon rams (are you horrified?).

It's amazing how little territory they actually claim when given a 4 ft tank.

The gold rams aren't spawning, but they are reaching adult size and move in and out of the Bolivians territory constantly. One of the gold males has claimed a rock pile as his own, and chases fish twice his size away.

I've also got several more Bolivians in the tank at various stages of grow out, and I'm trying to hold off moving any of them out until I see how they work things out amongst themselves once they all become mature.

If I want fry from this tank, I know I'd better siphon them off as soon as they are free swimming. Meanwhile, the activity level of the tank makes it the most interesting tank I have to sit and watch.

I thought those angelfish looked close to adult size! Sounds like you set the mood with this tank! :lol:

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I've got somth'n in my waters - almost every fish I put into the tanks I setup out here start to spawn almost immediately.

Those angelfish are around 5" TL, the male peruvians in particular have extremely high bodies with long streamers coming off their tails, you just can't see it in the camera - but they are definitly adults.

I had another mishap, a bosemani jumped out of the tank and dried out on the carpet - but that doesn't really bother me one bit. I leave the tank open top so the plants can grow out and start to flower - and it's one less fish that is nearly impossible to net later on down the line, hehe.

The blue ram are about half the size of the bolivians and seem to be the bully's of the tank - in my past experience it's always been the opposite, I even added these blue ram nearly 2 weeks after the bolivians had been in the tank digging pits and pecking at eachother all day. Now it seems the blue ram have taken up territory WITHIN their territory and the bolivians are totally tolerant of it - when I saw a pit with eggs this morning there was literally a blue ram sitting a 1/2" away from the pit with the bolivians paying him no attention...but then rams have never been known for good parenting skills.

All in all the only future problems I see with this tank are:
Galaxy pleco outgrowing the tank and uprooting plants due to it's size.
Clown loach growing too large and starting to eat holes into the leaves of the plants/uprooting plants and all around wreaking havoc in the tank.
Bosemani rainbow growing too large and scaring the bajeezus out of the angelfish.
Yo-yo loach turning into a maniacal murderer when it hits a certain size and chasing clown loach and ram around the tank until they're worn out.

Fortunately all three of those situations will take 2-3 years to arise and in the meantime I've got a really active tank in my living room to stare at (versus the tanks in the backroom that are specifically setup for species and breeding purposes).

I'll keep posting updates as they arise, it looks like a pair of the peruvian altums are cleaning off a peice of Anubias V. Ekona that's uptop in one of the corners of the tank to spawn on. The pearscales seem content to follow me around the room wherever I go and beg for food.

I need to quit giving them live blood worm :p
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Is this an "I told you so thread"???

Seriously, the people you are apparently targetting with this thread already know that having live plants and site-breaks can make all the difference...

I'm a habitual overstocker myself - but I try not to bring too much attention to the fact because "newbies" may get the wrong idea...

The way I see it there are already tooo many people urging newbies to overstock their tanks (read 99% of employees at chain LFS for one)... It's up to the 'experienced' fishgeeks like ourselves (read people who spend their 'home time' watching their tanks and their 'work time' posting in fish forums) to disuade such behaviours... It's the classic case of "do as I say and not as I do"....
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