I made a huge mistake! - Bichir
I feel so bad right now. I picked up a Bichir (Polypterus senegalus) a couple of months ago because they are such cool fish. I have a 55 gallon so that's suitable for one of them. I figured having a 12 inch monster in the deep of my tank would be great (plus no cichlid is going to go after someone four times his size)! After watching videos of how active they are I was so pumped for one!
Well I picked up the largest one my local Petsmart had. He was about 3 to 3.5 inches, just shy of average of the other fish in my tank (african cichlids). Well, I kept him isolated in a 10g growout tank for awhile before moving him over just so I could watch him and make sure he was eating. After a couple of weeks I moved him in but he seemed intimidated by some of the cichlids. I didn't see any aggression directed toward him but he was hiding behind a breeding cage I set up to QT a very aggressive auratus (who is no longer with me thank goodness!) I moved him back to the growout tank and he was fine living there. His other tank mates included some hybrid cichlid fry, approximately 2 inches large, that I found in my tank last September.
A local club member has Pseudotropheus saulosi and had a batch of fry about a year ago. He had the fry growing up in a growout tank but he needed the tank for his holding rusty. He had only two males left and was giving them away for free. I love the look of the saulosi (and after seeing some of the tanks with them I wasn't going to pass up this opportunity). I got the saulosi which are about 2.5-3 inches large. I didn't want to put them into the 55g without watching them a bit. They would probably be the smallest fish in there (just by a little) so I wasn't sure if I wanted to risk it.
Well I began noticing some aggression from the saulosi towards the bichir but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. After a couple of days though I noticed the bichir hanging out in some plant scraps I had floating in the tank. That seemed odd but I was hesitant to move him over to my 10g planted because I thought he would go after the neon tetras (in retrospect I doubt he would have...)
Well after a couple of days of seeing him hiding in the plants I took the risk and moved him to the 10g planted community. I didn't get a good look at him (partly because I was afraid) but from the brief glimpses I did see I was concerned he was pretty badly hurt. He was active but there may be irreversible damage.
A few days went by and I moved back up to my apartment at college. He had his own bag on the trip up so he had some peace for once. Well, I set him back up in the 10 gallon community.
I finally built up the courage to take a look at him and it's not pretty. I set up a 2.5g to get a closer look and give him a brief salt bath. I know he's scaleless but I don't think the regular water will do him any good.
Damages: His fins have rotted back to the stubs. Ok, that sucks but that can usually be fixed. However, I think he may be blind. One eye looks very badly damaged and the other one seems strange, almost glazed over. He also doesn't seem to react to motion outside the tank.
I feel so bad! I really failed him. He is such an amazing fish and I should have made better decisions when I got the saulosi. When I first saw the aggression I should have broken out the breeder cage and isolate him or the saulosi. I left my 10g tank divider at school which would have been perfect for this. I'm really kicking myself now.
I don't want to have to put him down but if he is really blind I don't know if I could ever get him into a large enough tank. :/ This really sucks. Why isn't there any checkpoints or restart levels in life? Please learn from my mistakes.