Long backstory on this topic. *inhales*.
While planning my 2nd (473 liter) loach tank, I noticed some potential issues of compatibility between the fish.
As you can probably tell by the title, weather loaches are among the loaches that will be going in that tank, along with yoyo, zebra, and Burmese loaches. Additionally, depending on how things end up in my existing loach tank, I may have to move my pictus catfish in there as well. All of these fish have the tools to seriously injure their tankmates if they chose to do so, which is why I fear for the weather loaches.
My first concern about stung weather loaches is as follows: would I need to worry about yoyo, zebra, and Burmese loaches possibly doing it? I fear that this could happen because 1) weather loaches are very inquisitive fish, 2) yoyo, zebra, and Burmese loaches are some of the many loach species to have spines under their eyes that could sting a tankmate, and 3) yoyo, zebra, and Burmese loaches may not take well to being curiously investigated by a weather loach, so they may lash out with their spines and sting the weather loaches.
Has anyone kept weather loaches with any of these species (or any species of loach with eye spines) and ran the risk of the weathers getting stung?
My second concern is the pictus catfish, which is also the source of the long backstory.
When I moved it, my clown loaches, and their tankmates from their growout tank to their permanent 473 liter, it underwent quite a dramatic change in behavior. In the growout tank it did not mind sharing a cave with the loaches and only came out of this cave at night or feeding time, but in the much larger permanent tank, its behavior did a 180 and now it is always out and about, never hides, and is not crazy about sharing a cave with the clown loaches, frequently chasing them off (somewhat strangely, the pictus views the outside of the cave as its territory to protect and not the inside as would be expected. In fact, I have never seen it enter the cave which it thinks to be its territory.)
After looking this up on sites such as MonsterFishKeepers and speaking to my local aquarium store (Big Al's), I found that it is normal behavior for pictus catfish to claim caves for their own and chase other fish away from them. Unfortunately, normal as it may be for the pictus catfish, this behavior is unsettling my clown loaches quite a bit.
That being said, there are some things I had been planning to do that could offer a solution. First of all, not only is the existing 473 liter insufficiently caved (what was enough caving for them to feel safe in the entirety of their growout is, unsurprisingly, not enough for their permanent tank), the caves are too small for the 20-30 cm adult sizes of the loaches.
To remedy that, I had been planning to add in multiple caves all around the tank that would be big enough for 20-30 cm clown loaches. Not only would this give them sufficient hiding space as adults and make them feel safer, the considerable amount of space in each cave could solve the problem of the pictus catfish not wanting to share.
The second thing I had been planning on doing was to remove the existing caves in the existing tank and set them aside for my planned 2nd tank as soon as I can find some adult-sized caves that the clown loaches like - after all, the existing clown loach caves are the perfect sizes for adult yoyo, zebra, and Burmese loaches.
By doing so, I remove the cave that the pictus catfish views as its territory and can hopefully get it interested in the adult-sized caves with enough room to share. But if it gets greedy over an adult-size clown loach cave, I plan on moving it to the 2nd loach tank because the much, much, much greater number of loaches that will be in that tank compared to the existing tank (6 yoyo loaches, 6 zebra loaches, 6 Burmese loaches, and 3 weather loaches, vs only 6 clown loaches) might be enough to 'teach it to share' caves. Overall what I hope to achieve by moving the pictus catfish follows the same principle as and is more or less the same as what cichlid-keepers hope to achieve by keeping large numbers of fish: diffused aggression.
The pictus catfish, however, makes me even more concerned for the weather loaches than the other loaches do. While I haven't had any issues with it stinging the clown loaches (with the exception of 1 case that could just as easily have been the spines of another clown loach), clown loaches are nowhere near as willing to investigate their tankmates as weather loaches are. And the pictus catfish, with its high activity levels, would likely pique the weather loaches' interest very quickly.
And that is where my great concern stems from. A pictus catfish sting would be both more likely and more severe for a weather loach than a yoyo, zebra, or Burmese loach sting, because its dorsal and pectoral fin spines are permanently raised and venomous, unlike the retractable, non-venomous spines of loaches.
If the weather loaches were to investigate the pictus catfish in the same manner they are known to investigate fish such as fancy goldfish, the chances of them getting stung would be quite high. Obviously this is not something I want to happen to my future weather loaches, so I am wondering if it's something I have to worry about happening.
TL;DR: Could weather loaches get stung if they had yoyo loaches, zebra loaches, Burmese loaches, and possibly pictus catfish as tankmates? And as previously stated, if anyone has any experience keeping any of these with weather loaches, your experience would be much appreciated!
Thanks very much for any advice!
110 liter - neon/green neon tetras, dwarf loaches
473 liter (planned) - Burmese/weather/yoyo/zebra/striped kuhli loaches, red tail/roseline sharks, either tiger barbs or silver dollars
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