Do hillstream loaches sift through sand?

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Loachloach
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Do hillstream loaches sift through sand?

Post by Loachloach » Sat Mar 10, 2018 3:26 am

I am a newbie hillstream loach keeper. I've had mine only since May 2017.

I bought them for a high flow heavily planted tank with sand bottom with the idea of moving them on to a more suitable set up, which I hope will happen soon enough. They've done well so far in this odd hillstream set up.

In my short experience I've noticed my hillstream loaches doing a lot of sand sifting. Basically they do so at each feeding, making little sand storms as they expel the sand out....I feed small sinking pellets which they love searching for via sand sifting...

I can't find any information on hillstream loaches requiring sand as means of feeding? Can someone shed light on this for me, why are mine such heavy sand sifters? I admit, I have no stones in the tank but I have green algae left growing on the glass, which they love feeding on for the rest of the time. But once I drop food, the sifting starts...They're doing it as good as my corydoras.....

Loachloach
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Re: Do hillstream loaches sift through sand?

Post by Loachloach » Sat Mar 10, 2018 4:43 pm

I got a really poor video....sorry, the glass is really dirty/algae covered. I had to shine a light to stop the camera from focusing on the algae spots...

Here's one loach sand sifting at feeding time. When they get to a pellet, they stop sand sifting and start munching, with cheeks fully puffed up, just like a hamster :lol:

https://youtu.be/lV34Sv6g4tk

And one more:

https://youtu.be/Rbom59JpnJ8

Diana
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Location: Near San Franciso

Re: Do hillstream loaches sift through sand?

Post by Diana » Sat Mar 10, 2018 11:08 pm

They come from streams that are usually too steep and fast flowing for sand. They are more often working over rocks.
Interesting to see that they can handle the sand and find their food.
38 tanks, 2 ponds over 4000 liters of water to keep clean and fresh.

Happy fish keeping!

Loachloach
Posts: 784
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Re: Do hillstream loaches sift through sand?

Post by Loachloach » Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:18 pm

Yes, it's very odd and since I'll be setting up another tank for these guys, it makes me wonder...

Today I took the plunge and finally cleaned the front glass so I can take better videos and pictures. Lots of the green stuff fell on the sand and the shrimp went in frenzy eating it, hence the red carpet :lol:

Image

Here's the latest sand sifting video from a few mins ago...Sorry about the noise....Can also someone give me a positive ID on these guys? Perhaps the sand sifting is species related...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0d-QtMW ... e=youtu.be

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Loachloach
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Re: Do hillstream loaches sift through sand?

Post by Loachloach » Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:49 pm

And the below picture is just for scale...There is a loach right in the middle at the bottom in front of the crypt in the middle. They're a tiny size, one inch maybe or 2.5-3 cm.... The tank is only 2f(60cm) long.

They do look like the most common beaufortia leveretti or beaufortia kweichowensis but mine remain small...When the shop owner sold them to me, he said definitely not leveretti but similar species...That was May 2017 and they haven't grown much, if at all, since.

The bubbles in the tank, if anyone is wondering, is because my tap water is CO2 loaded and I do very large water changes, almost fin level. It will clear by tomorrow....The fish and shrimp don't mind it...

Image

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ch.koenig
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Re: Do hillstream loaches sift through sand?

Post by ch.koenig » Sun Mar 11, 2018 5:39 pm

Hi (however your name may be)
It's B. kweichowensis.
The fact, that they don't grow: they are slowly growers. In this case, they don't get enough food too. In nature they are constant grasers - on bolders, not on sand. As a matter of fact it's useless to feed them with algae in a tank. No food value. Better are vegetables, not for the nutrition value=near zero, but they need it for their natural behaviour. The same for bolders: try it and you won't recognize them. Here they look "shiny" because they don't like white soil.
To sift the sand is not "natural" but all hillies do it in a tank, exept you prepare bolders with food-paste. "Natural" in the sense, they can so it's natural, ok.
But what and how much you feed is important. Guess with all the shrimps they don't get enough food. Due to their "minimal-body-index" for fast running water, you won't see either, when they are starving. And when the spine is standing out it's too late. Hillies don't build up visible fat stores. And remember: cool fish need cool water. Constant 24°/25° means a long starving life because they just can't get enough energy to equalize the loss by kinetic energy.
Another point: to cling to glass - instead of water worn bolders - costs a lot of energy too.
My tip: put some bolders in,
http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/be ... chowensis/
feed at least twice a day frozen stuff, wafers godd dry stuff, get some shrimps out and they will become stunning beauties with a lifespan of 8-10 years.
Another point, the bubbles: when you fill cool water in warm water, gas bubbles - oxygen and nitrogen - are falling out. This can become toxic - "gas-bubble-desease" = Gasblasenkrankheit in German (didn't find a proper translation). Damages can add up.
Co2 would kill them. In the field some may kill the fish for further examination with CO2-mineralwater if the standard preservative-media are lacking. I did it once and never again. They die fast and in an incredible agony.
Cheers Charles

Loachloach
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Re: Do hillstream loaches sift through sand?

Post by Loachloach » Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:10 pm

Thank you.
Another point, the bubbles: when you fill cool water in warm water,
The tank is a cold water tank. Temperature is around 20-ish... Perhaps I filled a bit warmer water than the one in the tank as I match it by hand. There's a 1250l an hour filter in this 54 litre tank...I've had the loaches since last May 2017, and the big water changes never bothered them, neither do the bubbles.

I feed them once a day, new life spectrum pellets..algae max and cichlid formula. They push the shrimp away for food no problem...The shrimp are certainly not a competition for food.....I rarely feed fish more than once a day...all my fish are plump and don't look emaciated.

I don't feed vegetables...very rarely...They're not natural food and some vegetables like peas are harmful to fish...
Another point: to cling to glass - instead of water worn bolders - costs a lot of energy too
Interesting...However, they don't seem to be grazing on the glass that much, more so browsing the bottom...
And remember: cool fish need cool water
Why are you assuming my loaches are in a tropical tank? As I said, the tank is cold water. If you assuming that because of the shrimp, cherry shrimp do well in quite low temperatures. I've had them live and survive in as low as 12-14C and I have two other unheated tanks with cherry shrimp. This tank has a heater set at 19C as I was not sure how low temps the hillstreams can take...
Here they look "shiny" because they don't like white soil.
The tank has a sand bottom. Some of the loaches are beige, some are dark brown. That's always been the case since purchase. I am not sure why...Perhaps they change colour to blend...
My tip: put some bolders in,
http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/be ... chowensis/
I am setting up another tank for them. There will be stones...I just wanted to know how important is sand for them. A planted tank on another hand is far richer in oxygen than any other tank....So only time will tell in which tank they do better. They certainly love eating their pellets so not sure what difference stones will make since what they grow is the same as what grows on my tank glass...And if that sort of natural aglae is not nutritious enough for them, then what do they eat in people's tanks? My point is, these fish like prepared foods way more than any other algae grazer I've had. I had ottos for years that never touched fish food....
Damages can add up.Co2 would kill them
Just to confirm, there's no CO2 in this tank. It's a low tech, nothing is added. The CO2 is in my tap water, hence the bubbles after a large water change...The plants also start pearling after a water change, creating more bubbles......

Bas Pels
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Re: Do hillstream loaches sift through sand?

Post by Bas Pels » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:47 am

Loachloach wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:10 pm
Damages can add up.Co2 would kill them
Just to confirm, there's no CO2 in this tank. It's a low tech, nothing is added. The CO2 is in my tap water, hence the bubbles after a large water change...The plants also start pearling after a water change, creating more bubbles......
What you are saying is., there is so much CO2 in the water, that heating the water to whatever the tank is, would cause these droplets.

Were that the case, the concentration CO2 would be toxic, and therefore, (your fish don't look poisoned) the explanatipon for the bubbles cannot be CO2.

Oxygen en nitrogen is a much more plausible concentration. Firstly, these gasses are known to form such bubbles, secondly, the levels to get the bubbles are all but toxic. That's why Ch Koenig wrote the bubbles must be oxygen and nitrogen.

And yes, the bubbles themselves can be harmfull, due to mechanical stresses.

Loachloach
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Re: Do hillstream loaches sift through sand?

Post by Loachloach » Mon Mar 12, 2018 2:06 pm

Thank you.

I never really paid attention to the bubbles. The tank has been set up since 2012. I always do a large water change, and always get the bubbles. I would have thought the shrimp would have been the first affected? The plants pearl massively after a water change. Is it not possible the bubbles are due to oxygen saturation?

If not, how do I prevent the gas issue?

Bas Pels
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Re: Do hillstream loaches sift through sand?

Post by Bas Pels » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:51 pm

You could age the water first. That is, take a load of buckets, fill them, and wait a day or so before using the water.

But in many cases this is rather impractical

Loachloach
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Re: Do hillstream loaches sift through sand?

Post by Loachloach » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:20 pm

Yes, rather impractical unfortunately..

I've been doing that for years now, including my other tanks and I haven't had any issues? Perhaps I am lucky. I have fish that are many years old and have been subjected repeatedly to the gas bubble water. Also, the water changes are rather large, which definitely contributes to more bubbles because if I do just a 50% water change there's barely any gas.. For reference, the pH out of my tap is 6.2 and it degases to 7.4 in the tank.

I fed some bloodworms this evening. I always have frozen food but I admit I don't feed it that often. I saw the loaches launching at the shrimp, literally landing in the middle of grouped shrimp and stealing the blood worms. I see no issues with them getting the food but I'll keep an eye from now on, making sure they get enough. To be honest, I never worried about that because they've been quite easy to feed. I was expecting a situation more like otocinclus who don't accept prepared foods but it is not the case with these loaches. They also come out within seconds after I drop the food...So yeah, a bit stumped that they aren't growing...They may have grown some but I can't tell because I can't remember if they were any smaller or not...

I am planning a 300l tank for them in the very near future. It will be sand and stones...no plants or perhaps just some around the stones..The majority of plants will be emersed instead.

Also, some of them are dark in colour. See some pictures I just snapped. But others are light beige colour. Both dark and light ones are active and feeding.

Image


On the below you can see a dark brown loach and also the head of one of the beige coloured ones to the left of it.
Image

Loachloach
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Re: Do hillstream loaches sift through sand?

Post by Loachloach » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:56 pm

More pics but this was funny.

This is one of the beige loaches. He's got a worm halfway through sticking out of his mouth that he just stole from the shrimp. I fed the bloodworms nearly 2 hours ago!!...I must have dropped way too many... Anyway, the loach is sucking on the blood worm and at the same time throwing sand out of his gills.....

Image

Diana
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Re: Do hillstream loaches sift through sand?

Post by Diana » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:19 am

The pH rise as the water ages suggests that a lot of the bubbles are CO2. The plants pearling also suggests there is a lot of CO2 in the water. Can certainly be a mix of gasses including O2 and N2. I cannot do large water changes in the winter because of gasses in the water. I run the water into a garbage can and run a pump in it overnight to off-gas.
The amount of pH change can tell you how much CO2 there is in the water. Fish do not mind the changing pH when it is caused by CO2. But if the bubbles (any gas) form and cling in their gills or elsewhere it can kill them. For fish, this is gas bubble disease.

In nature these fish eat the algae but growing in the algae and on the rocks (even if no algae shows) are a lot of other very small organisms, and the fish eat these, too. They get their protein from these other organisms. Feeding a mixed diet is good. They are not strictly algae eaters.

Try making up some rocks with the food attached, see what they do.
38 tanks, 2 ponds over 4000 liters of water to keep clean and fresh.

Happy fish keeping!

Loachloach
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Re: Do hillstream loaches sift through sand?

Post by Loachloach » Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:03 pm

Yes, there is quite a lot of CO2 in my tap water. The pH difference is the same in the summer, nearly 1.2 difference! This has always been the case unfortunately. I can have a storage bin for water but its impractical as this is not my only tank and all are water changed the same way, drain via a python and fill straight from the tap. Perhaps the deaths people attribute to gas bubble disease is actual drastic change in TDS, etc.. due to irregular and small water changes vs the odd larger one? My large water changes are regular like a clock and ensure almost no change in TDS during water changes. I've never had an issue doing water changes this way so you can tell why I am reluctant to pay attention to the bubble issue...

There's plenty of micro-organisms in the tank as the tank is quite old, especially the sand. Also, there's algae on the actual sand, some of the grains are green because I am blasting light 12hrs a day. The fish go around sifting for hours actually..not sure what they're picking up but they must be finding something. They are active and except for the small size/lack of growth, I don't see any alarming issues.

I did know from the start that a hillstream setup should be rather different, more round rocks, etc...but there's no room in this tank. I'd have to remove plants. The fish feed on regular food and the plants I think are more vital for them than any other fish as they provide a lot more oxygen than a regular high flow tank, hence I've been reluctant to alter the setup. Once I set up a new tank, stones and the lot, let it run for a couple of months at least, then I may think of moving these fish. I was even thinking instead to get a few more hillstreams to test the new set up first, to see if they'd do well first because I don't want to move my nearly 1 year old ones and end up killing them. Is it a guarantee that if I provide stones and high flow, high light tank the fish would do way better? ....considering all they're lacking now is the stones....

Loachloach
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Re: Do hillstream loaches sift through sand?

Post by Loachloach » Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:24 pm

In all fairness. I did set up another tank for them last year, a few weeks after I bought them. Its slightly bigger than their current tank and I wanted to split the loaches between the two tanks. The tank ran rampant with blue green algae when first set up, then it settled. I never ended up moving the fish because after the cyano outbreak cleared, there's been zero algae in the tank. It's now a cold water tank, home of ramshorn snails and shrimp. All the plants are either planted in pots or just floating because the idea was to have it ready for the hillstreams, as they grow but the hillsteams never grew up... :( ...so I didn't feel the need to stress them again by moving them...

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