Idiot beginner with Botia Angelicus

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Pete Setchell
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Idiot beginner with Botia Angelicus

Post by Pete Setchell » Fri Jan 06, 2006 8:31 am

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Hello,

I'm a beginner aquarist with a 70L/18G aquarium. All that's in it so far is 4 guppies, 5 harlequins and 1 3cm Botia Angelicus. The Botia was introduced this Wednesday, and the tank is now almost two months old.

After reading a book and a few websites I'd settled on trying to buy 3 dwarf loaches, but instead ended up buying the single baby angelicus. I did try and review the purchase in advance, but have turned up much more info after the fact than I managed to find beforehand. The shop told me that the Angelicus is fairly happy on it's own, unlike the sidthimunkis.

My water quality seems to be good, but is a little alkaline.

pH is 8.5
Nitrites 0.0
Nitrates 0.0
Ammonia 0.0

The high pH is due to the high water hardness in London, and I'm going to try and slowly bring that down by using boiled water in my water changes.

So far my baby Botia seems quite happy. He's spent a few hours chasing his reflection around the tank and has now mostly settled down grubbing around the gravel and plants in the tank. He occasionally hides for an hour or two, but comes out like a shot if food goes in. I've been feeding with some tiny live bloodworm and tropical flakes.

He sometimes follows the other fish, which is quite comical as he's far too small to threaten them at the moment. It seems more curious than aggressive, but it's hard to judge. I'm hoping it will be quite a while before he grows to a size where he can scare or eat his tankmates. Any information on growth rates for these little guys would be very welcome.

With 20/20 hindsight I realize I probably shouldn't have bought this fish to keep as the only loach in a tank. Unfortunately adding another 2-3 guys like him will overstock my tank and isn't really an option. The only options are to take him back to the shop or look after him as best I can. So far he seems fairly happy so I'm going to give him my best shot at looking after him. As you can see from the picture above, he's beautiful.

Has anyone got any helpful advice?

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Emma Turner
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Post by Emma Turner » Fri Jan 06, 2006 8:58 am

Hi Pete,
Welcome to Loaches Online.
Unfortunately, it would seem that your aquatics store has given you bad advice there. Botia are very social shoaling fish, and to keep one on it's own is simply cruel. You really want 5 or more, the absolute minimum number being 3. The 'angelicus' fish that you have is Botia kubotai, which comes from Myanmar and grows to around 10cm or so. Like most Botia, they will require a well matured tank (2 months is really not ideal) with lots of space, good water quality and flow, and company of their own kind. The water should ideally be of a neutral-slightly acidic pH and fairly soft (most unlike London tap water). The loaches may be able to tolerate those conditions for a while, but long term, it is far from ideal. I would suggest that if you wish to keep your Botia kubotai, that you upgrade to a larger aquarium which will also allow space for some others to keep your one company. Keep a very close eye on water quality as your tank has not been established all that long. I would suggest that you start using RO water instead of tap water for your water changes as this will help to soften the water. If you definitely cannot invest in a larger tank, really the kindest thing to do would be to take him back to the shop.

Emma
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Pete Setchell
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Hmm.

Post by Pete Setchell » Fri Jan 06, 2006 9:27 am

If 10cm is about the maximum size they grow to I guess I could fit two more in my tank without exceeding the advised stocking level, or is a 2 foot tank just far too small for these fish?

When they reached 10cm would three Kubotai gang up and eat my harlequins and guppies? How long would they take to grow to adult sizes?

I'm ready to the return to shop if it's really the best solution, but I'd like to get as much info and explore my options before doing that.

If I do take him back, would my tank be adequate for three chain loaches in a few months if I can get the pH down to a reasonable level and be assured of fairly constant water quality? Books and sites I've been reading seem to suggest they're good community fish and quite easy to keep, but reality seems to be that they're rather rare.

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Post by newshound » Fri Jan 06, 2006 12:30 pm

I have both chain (sids) and Kubotai's.
Despite what most people feel I am not a huge fan of the sids. I LOVE the Kubotai's though!!!!!
I payed alot for them and out of the 11 spieces of loaches I have owned they are hands down my fave. I have seen one at least 4.5 inches.
I have hatchet fish and the Kubs never really bother them. And my kubs are all over the tank and at every level at meal times. Very "up front" for a loach. I don't think hatchet fish are a very hardy fish even compaired to loaches!
IMO I would be torn between sending him back and keeping him by himself. Of course I'd just get another tank and then another and then another...
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Pete Setchell
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Post by Pete Setchell » Fri Jan 06, 2006 12:40 pm

I'm already torn, that's the problem. I really like the little guy and want to keep him, but if he's going to end up pining for the fjords (or whatever his local equivalent is in myanmar) then it's just cruel to keep him alone in my tank.

He's beautiful, entertaining and seems to be enjoying his food and environment. What would he be doing if he was unhappy?

A larger tank is pretty much out of the question as we don't have space for it - along with hard water the rent is pretty steep in London :(

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Post by Nikki » Sat Jan 07, 2006 1:28 am

Honestly? if you cant get two more loaches, give him or trade him to someone who can, I can hook you up with heaps of folks in London to rehome him, the fishboard I moderate is based in the UK and has over 10,000 members worldwide. we also have a buy/sell forum with loads of cheap tanks equip for sale too, not that I am advocating joining the other board, but some of the LOL members also post there as well. :) Ill email you the details or contact me at akastes@yahoo.com
if you keep him, add bogwood or mopani to the tank, the tannic acids will lower the pH. Theoretically the shop's tanks have similar water chem to yours, if they are nearby, so he has prolly acclimatized somewhat but ideally you need a matured tank (6 months minimum) for loaches to thrive properly.
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Emma Turner
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Post by Emma Turner » Sat Jan 07, 2006 4:36 am

IMO a 2ft tank is not big enough for Botia kubotai. They may not get as large as Clown Loaches for instance, but they are still river fish that like a lot of swimming space. A larger tank also = more stable water conditions, which is very important for sensitive species such as loaches. You really shouldn't deprive this little guy of the space and company that he needs.

Emma
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Pete Setchell
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I'll keep him for the moment

Post by Pete Setchell » Thu Jan 12, 2006 6:44 am

Thanks for all your suggestions and advice. I'll be keeping a close eye on him as he gets bigger, and if he stops eating or becomes less active as he grows I'll reconsider rehoming him and get in touch fast. If anyone could describe specific behaviours that might indicate distress then that could change my mind - in the mean time I'll hang on to him. The shop I bought him from says the Kubotai/Angelicus doesn't seem to need company as much as other botias and that he should be fine as long as he's active, inquisitive and feeding.

At his current length of about 3cm he has plenty of space, certainly much more than he had back in the shop. I've added an airstone which he seems to like and will be adding some bogwood just as soon as it's finished soaking out of the tank for a few days. I've started doing weekly water changes with R.O. water.

He certainly loves his bloodworm. In fact I've noticed it's adding the bloodworm that makes him go nuts and chase the other fish. Silly really - he spends most of his time searching through the gravel and plants, but when there are actually worms in the tank he gets excited and races round the mid levels of the tank for a few minutes while my guppies hoover up the easy to reach worms.

In a few months I'll consider adding a small group of sids for company.

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Re: I'll keep him for the moment

Post by Graeme Robson » Thu Jan 12, 2006 7:00 am

Pete Setchell wrote:The shop I bought him from says the Kubotai/Angelicus doesn't seem to need company as much as other botias
I'm Sorry but "the shop" sounds like the place i would just drive past and never return to. All of the Botiine subfamily like to have company. It doesn't matter if they are the aggressive species or the more milder species. Even one more is better than alone. Personally though, i would return him.


Graeme.

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Pete Setchell
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Post by Pete Setchell » Fri Jan 13, 2006 9:02 am

The shop is The Aquatic Design Centre in Great Portland Street - http://www.aquaticdesign.co.uk They seem to know what they're talking about, though they may be wrong on this count.

They're happy to take the fish back, but don't really know why I'm worrying about it if he appears to be feeding and happy.

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Post by Mark in Vancouver » Sat Jan 14, 2006 8:19 pm

If they're dispensing poor advice on any loaches, you just send them to this forum! I think we count as the biggest advocates of ethical loach-keeping that you'll find.

I'm with Emma and Graeme. You just need a bigger tank or smaller (less social) fish.
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Pete Setchell
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Post by Pete Setchell » Sun Jan 15, 2006 5:59 pm

OK - I guess it's best if I start looking around for a new home.

To that end, is there anyone on here in North London (pref near Southgate) who would like to take him off my hands. I'd prefer a good home over taking him back to the shop - he could just as easily end up in another tank like mine with an even more ignorant owner.

You will need a nice tank and evidence that you've already got two or more kubotai as tankmates. If you live nearby I'll deliver in exchange for a look at your tank and a chat about loach care. If you have 3 chain loach you want to get rid of in a couple of months when my tank is mature, that would be my ideal trade.

If I don't hear anything back in a couple of days I'll post on Nikki's forum.

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Pete Setchell
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Post by Pete Setchell » Tue Jan 17, 2006 12:18 pm

Hmm.... No response yet. I'm sorely tempted to come up with a plan to keep my fish.

Does anyone have any idea how long I've got till my juvenile kubotai really gets too big for this tank? His current 3cm length really does seem fine in a 2 foot tank, though I can see why he'd get uncomfortable once he reaches four inches. What are the growth rates for these fish?

If I added another juvenile now for company, how many months would I have until they both needed rehoming in another tank? I could set up and cycle a bigger tank in a year and have room for more company.

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Post by sophie » Tue Jan 17, 2006 1:08 pm

Pete Setchell wrote:Hmm.... No response yet. I'm sorely tempted to come up with a plan to keep my fish.

Does anyone have any idea how long I've got till my juvenile kubotai really gets too big for this tank? His current 3cm length really does seem fine in a 2 foot tank, though I can see why he'd get uncomfortable once he reaches four inches. What are the growth rates for these fish?

If I added another juvenile now for company, how many months would I have until they both needed rehoming in another tank? I could set up and cycle a bigger tank in a year and have room for more company.
make it six months rather than a year, get a couple more now rather than one and it sounds like a plan. be aware that you'll need to have that tank up and running for a good few months before you add your loaches to it; they much prefer mature tanks. Taking your wood/stones etc over will help, as well.
(and if anyone here contradicts me, they're very probably right ;-))
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