feeding little fish - CPD, Chili, pygmy cory - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 01:35 AM Thread Starter
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feeding little fish - CPD, Chili, pygmy cory

Sorry this is long, tried to give enough info to give a good picture of the issue.

I have a 15 gal planted low tech tank that has been up and running for almost a year now.

I have "a lot" of little fish in there. There are 6 CPD, 14 Chili rasbora, 9 pygmy cory, and 2 Oto. (there were more oto when the tank was young and I had diatom issues, but these are the ones that are left) There are also 15 or so Cherry shrimp, and of course - pond snails.

Just can't seem to get the nitrates down, so I think it is from over feeding.

I feed a variety - NLS small fish formula is my day to day, but feed frozen daphnia, baby brine shrimp, plus catfish sinking rounds, pinches of soft bottom feeder pellets, shrimp pellets, some crushed flake -- rotating of course, not all at once. But, it's hard to get food down where the cory cats will get it and the Otos without the shrimp hogging it. And the CPDs eat everything before the Chili's get much chance. So I think that I am putting in to much food - as I feed what I **think*** is small amount twice a day. I use a glass drinking straw to drop food down into the plants in the center of the tank, under the anubias where the cories and otos hang out.

My question is -- for those with small fish -- can I cut down to once a day... or smaller amounts? Or skip days? I rarely see my cory cats, they always hang out under the plants, driftwood and rocks with the otos, but I **think** they are doing ok. All the CPD etc, look ok, except one that gets picked on all the time. I've only been back in to tanks for a year, though, since I was a kid, so I am no expert.

How much should these little fish be fed, and how often?

I do know my otos are not plump. Not much algae. I have tried putting in zucchini, cucumber, all sorts of pleco food, etc. that the fish specialty food store near me says otos would eat... they just do not fatten up. The shrimp and snails swarm over all the food I put in for the otos but the otos - well I never see them eat anything, really, yet they will soon be in the tank 10 months, so they have to be eating something. I have two Fluval Spec V's for my bettas that I can't get the algae out of ... that I am SO tempted to put the otos over into..... but know they need more than 5.5 gal. This 15 though - the lights are on from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., the plants grow well for low tech - just no algae. The Bettas - 6 hours light, algae everywhere.... go figure.

I attached a recent (not so good) photo of the 15 gallon. Sorry, my tank photo skills are not the best.

Anyway, I see some people say that they feed every other day, or skip days, or only feed once a day. But not sure if I can do this with little tiny fish?

Thanks for any advice on how much, how often etc. to feed these fish!

Also would love to know of any Ken's or other food that might bring the Otos and Cories out from under the anubias.... I can't seem to find anything they are really crazy about. Other than the two small betta tanks, this is it for me, so I hate to order a pound of some food for my little group of cory cats - but hey, if it makes them happy and brings them out of hiding - it would be wroth it, I suppose!

Tank maintenance and info

The tank has been really stable - always O ammonia and nitrite - but the nitrate is usually 20-40 no matter if I do a water change every 3 days or every 10 days or every 3 weeks. Or, if I do a massive w/c and do another 2 days later. The nitrate stays the pretty much the same. Normally, I take the water down to about 2-1/2 to 3"" above the substrate every 7-8 days for water change. I rinse one filter one week and the other filter the next week etc. Every 2-3 weeks I lightly vacuum half the tank, then do the other half the next time.

My water is really, really hard well water - so I cut it with 50% RO water, and do top off's with RO water. I use 2 Aqua Clear HOB 20's - one with bio rings and carbon, one with bio rings and Purigen. Temp at 76-77. Have had no deaths, no problems. Substrate is Eco-complete, lights are Marine Land DoubleBright and have had no algae. Tank looks really great, I think, for low tech. Fish look very happy.

I dose ferts when I do water change, so every week to 10 days. Flourish, Flourish Trace, Flourish Potassium, Excel. I do Excel in between, too, once a week. I am physically disabled, so I don't over fert so I don't get into a lot excess trimming or lots of water changes. I did buy some Osmocote Flower and Veggie granuals to put in gel caps, but have not wanted to try it with the nitrate up this high.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 03:52 AM
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It sounds like you are overfeeding and can probably safely cut back.

I keep D. margaritatus, B. maculata, D. erythomicron & C. pygmaeus all in a community tank and I feed 1-1.5 times per day and usually skip one day a week at random to give my fish an opportunity to 'clean their room' so to speak. I have noticed no problems as a result so I don't see why you can't expect the same.

What I feed (if you are interested): I have a bottle of what is a mix of Tetra Color granules, Hikari Micro Pellets, some Ken's Flake, some freeze dried brine shrimp, some freeze dried Mysis shrimp, and some Hikari Shrimp Pellets... and probably leftovers from other stuff I don't remember. Basically I am always buying new stuff to try and then just end up mixing it together. Sometimes in the morning before work I put a small pinch of this mix in the tank - this is what I consider the .5 feeding. This is maybe every other day.

Later in the evening when I am at home they either get a larger pinch/sprinkle of this stuff or a pinch/sprinkle of Golden Pearls. I usually also toss a bit of Repashy Shrimp Souffle in the tank to keep the Cherry Shrimp busy. Sometimes the fish pick at this but usually its just a Cherry Shrimp free for all.

As for what to feed your Cories - I happened to be given some Ken's Immune Booster flake by another hobbyist this past weekend. My Cories swarm it - which is something I have never seen them do before. Its about $5 for quite a lot of flake so maybe its worth trying. Also, the flakes are huge, you only need to put one in the tank and it keeps them busy for quite a while.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 03:57 AM
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Also, those shrimp pellets and soft bottom feeder pellets are terribly messy. I would suspect that they are behind a lot of your woes. Try eliminating them and sticking to smaller sized pellets.

What you should do is find something that your shrimp really like - I use Repashy for this, but you could also try blanched zuchinni or kale or something - put that in the tank first and let them pile on. Then drop in the fish food in another part of the tank for the Cories to find.

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 04:03 AM
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Those nitrates are not a problem.


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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 05:05 AM
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I agree with a comment above and do not think your nitrate level is an immediate concern, but looking online general concensus is below 20 for the best long term health of your tank's inhabitants. Remember that the nitrate test is the one that you must shake bottle #2 for 30 seconds before you drop it into the vial. Many people get inaccurate readings overlooking this step.

Reading your feeding list I honestly felt you are feeding a lot of variety which is good, but I do think once a day would be adequate. My cardinals are small and I feed once a day and often skip days. I try not to even consider the shrimp at feeding time in my fish and invert tank because they are my shredders, they are in there to eat biofilm, algea, leftovers, and to break up plant matter so good bacteria can work more efficiently. I add a supplement for baby shrimp when I see a berried female to ensure the babies have available food. It sounds like you wanting to ensure the cories eat may cause you to over feed a little. Perhaps a different food, like one mentioned above would be a good idea. I read one comment that cories go crazy for freeze dried tubifex worms (that have to be weighted to sink), another said bloodworms got that result. Maybe it is just a process of finding the favorite food for yours.

I googled your fish species and they are really beautiful! I thought the D. margaritatus online had amazing colors as did the D. erythomicron. Some odd predatorial pencil looking fish came up under D. erythomicron at first, then I found the danio type and it's vertical stripes and the spot on the tail that mirrors the eyes really make it a unique looking fish. It sounds like you really are making a great effort to take care of your fish, so I'm sure you will figure this out. Maybe a new home for some of those guys, or a bigger tank would make sense? If you suspect over crowding, and over feeding; you're probably correct. What kind of filter is running on this tank and if you clean the filter media is it with every water change and how do you do it? I remember the days when I thought cleaning the tank meant cleaning the filter just the same... and even after some insight I was still cleaning off good bacteria using tap water on filter pads and media rather than gently rinsing it in settled tank water siphoned from the tank during a cleaning. You want to do everything you can to protect those good bacteria and keep your tank stable... even a tank thought to be well established may not be stable because of incorrect cleaning. I'm sure there are things I still do not know that affect my parameters, we learn as we go. I think you could handle these fish easier with more or better filtration... I say that from personal experience as I have had excellent results using more filtration than product details and guide lines suggest.

Your tank is beautiful. Please know this is all just my opinions based on my experience; I'm new here but have enjoyed keeping tanks since my Dad bought my first one when I was in grade school. Take what you will from posts and read online about it, seriously search each of your questions because there is so much info out there available. I'm pretty sure a reduction in feeding (maybe the messy types of food first, and try once a day every other day if you are concerned about the cories) would not hurt. Second, a reduction in the number of fish in that tank would help the nitrate levels, or increased/improved filtration may give you that same result without having to move fish or buy another tank. I do not want to encourage my addiction, but I vote for a second larger tank and perhaps leave the coryies in this one with lower numbers of schooling fish and see how they behave.

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 05:31 AM
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Be careful skipping meals with the B. Brigittae. They are cyprinids and don't have a stomach. I feed mine crushed flake in the morning and either frozen bloodworm or cultured daphnia in the evening. I skip one random day a week. Just be careful not to skip two days in a row or close together as they can't store food for later use and will show obvious weight loss which could be dangerous or deadly for weaker or smaller fish.

Some sinking food for the cories is a good idea, and you can supplement the otos diet with zucchini or cucumber (remove the soft, seedy middle first).

I don't think you are overstocked, but that is a rather large bioload for a 15... That's probably what's causing your moderate nitrate levels. 20-40ppm is fine. I usually do a water change at 30-40ppm. Keep up your testing and water changes and you won't have any issues at those levels.

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-13-2013, 01:18 AM Thread Starter
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Sorry for not replying sooner. I recently had eye surgery and had a bit of a set back. Had a tough time being online/reading there for a few days. Better now, enough to tell what I am typing anyway.

I have read a bit about the Tom Barr method, and I really don't know if the 20-40 nitrate is a problem or not. I do have a lot of plants (I think). There are red root floaters, water lettuce and Nymphoides sp. Taiwan on the surface. Considering I don't do lots of fertilizer and don't do CO2, I think the plants are growing well. I don't have many off color or dying leaves, once a month or so I have to do a pretty good trim back because plants have reached the surface, or are out of the tank an inch and rubbing the glass canopy.

I believe I am doing the nitrate test correctly. I do a full 30 second shake etc. I have a program on my ipad that has multiple timers and I have a bunch set with labels such as "Nitrate bottle#2 - 30 sec shake" So it makes it easy to run down the list and not mess up. I get a nitrate of 5, sometimes a little more, on the two betta tanks. I recently opened my new API Master kit, as my old one a couple bottle ran out, and the new one had the same results on the nitrate as the old one.

The first few months after I set up the tank, I had 4 pygmy cory (all the fish store had), the Oto (originally I bought more, but only 2 lived more than a couple days after bringing them home), some Male Endlers, and 8 male Cherry barbs, with a few cherry shrimp. The shrimp grew in number to at least 60. The Cherry barbs flew around in the tank, got territorial, chased the heck out of the Endlers. 4 Endlers jumped out. A friend wanted the Barbs, so I gave them to him. Then, I tried Neons. I had T5 lights then, and they hid under the plants all the time. Took them back.
Ordered the current fish from a vendor here at TPT through the mail, since I could never find more cory at the fish store. I carefully figured how many to get... then added in a couple more, figured a few would not make it due to shipping and my hard water etc. I had no idea the vendor sent extras too! And that they would all make it! That is how I ended up stocked a bit on the heavy side. They are all tiny fish though.

I haven't been feeding for the cherry shrimp - I consider them the clean up crew. Some of the food will float on top of the water lettuce or the leaves of the nymphoides and the shrimp munch that down. And you are right, they do eat the zucchini and cucumber when I put it in to try to get the Otos to eat it. I didn't think about the "messiness" of the bottom feeder food.

Raven_wilde - I never thought about putting something in that the shrimp would go nuts for - and THEN feeding the cories. That is a great idea.

HSA1255 - you mention I should improve my filtration. I mentioned that I have two AquaClear 20's running on the tank now - it's a 15 gallon tank. Do I really need more filtration than that? There is pretty good water movement in the tank now, with one filter at each end. The plant person in my local fish club showed me how to clean a planted tank as far as vacuum, rinsing filter in tank water in bucket, etc., and so I think I am doing it correctly. (I do have sponges over the intake tubes for the baby shrimp and Chili's safety - and I do rinse them every week, or they clog up so much the filters don't flow well.)

Indychus - thanks - I thought you were supposed to feed the B. Brigittae, the Chili's ... fairly often. I don't think I can do live daphnia. I do have frozen though. I usually feed that once a week. Should I bump that up to more often? I've tried the sinking foods my local store carrys for the cories and Otos and they just don't seem crazy about it. I keep all the dry fish food in the freezer, except a small amount that I would use in a month, so I don't think it is stale or bad. I've thought about ordering Ken's or some thing to try but ordering a half pound or pound of something for 9 pygmy cories when you don't even know if it is something pygmy cories will eat ?? They have so many choices! Thanks for saying I might not be over stocked. The person I ordered from thought I was ok, helped me figure out how many to order of each. I won't get anything more, I know that. I didn't expect them to all live through shipping & acclimating and didn't expect extras. They do seem happy.

One thing I did think about - I have a ring about 4 inches across I made out of tubing that I used to corral my water lettuce in when I first got it. I am thinking of putting that back in, to keep the floating plants OUT this time - and putting the food in that ring when I put it in. That would help keep the food where the CPD and Chili's can get it, and it can also drift to the bottom, instead of floating over top of plant leaves and getting stuck on the top of floaters where only the shrimp and snails can get it. I can cut back some by not having to allow for that happening if the ring works.

I'll try cutting back some feeding for a while and see if it helps. I'll see if someone in my local fish club has any Kens or resplashy food that they would sell me a little of to try.

Again, sorry for not responding earlier... I kept coming and trying, but just couldn't see well enough to read and type.

Last edited by daylily; 10-13-2013 at 01:24 AM. Reason: clarity
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