Failing with Bolivian Rams - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 07:09 PM Thread Starter
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Failing with Bolivian Rams

Looks like I need a little help. I am failing with my Bolivian rams. They are great for about a month, and then they fade.

I have a mature BioCube 29, with Amazon rosetta sword, driftwood with Anubias nana and the front of the tank is full of chain swords. Substrate is black coal slag (BDBS). Water changes are done weekly about 15%-25% light vac, and picking up the loose stuff on top. PH 7.4 (tank and tap), Nitrates 0, Nitrite 0, Ammonia 0, plants are growing, and dose lightly with ferts. Temp for the first 2 batches were around 80degrees, and this last batch I dropped it to 77.

I bought 3 different batches of 3 rams, two from PetSmart and one from WetSpot. All drip acclimated, etc. The females eventually hide in their favorite places and don't come out often and eventually wither and die. I got a larger male this latest round (previous ones were younger and harder to tell sex) and he's looking like he's doing great. I have a group of 9 green neon tetras as a dither and they are doing fine, except they hide a lot and only come out when I'm not near the tank.

Feeding them a variety of Golden Pearls, Hikari red sinking pellets, API flakes, BugBites once to twice a day (rotating through different foods). Also have fed them live mosquito larvae and bloodworms that I've raised about once a week. Previous batches did not get live foods (due to outside weather). They will take the bloodworms and mosquito larvae without issue as they find them. My other tanks are just fine with Tetras, Livebearers, WCMMs, shrimp, Otos, etc.

In every case, they waste away and die. I lost one female yesterday and this morning it's looking like the other one will go before tonight. Did a water change yesterday (after I found the dead fish) and tested parameters before water change and they were as above. I don't know what the deal is with this fish, but I just am not successful.

Any other ideas?
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post #2 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 07:49 PM
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What is your quarantine method?


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post #3 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 10:23 PM
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Most likely an issue with the coal slag. They require a soft sand to feed- coal slag doesn't fit into this category.
Bolivian Rams are in the geophagine clade- they are "eartheaters." This means that they pick up substrate and sift it through their gills/filter food. The slag can have sharp edges that can lodge into or damage the very sensitive tissues of the gills.

Any and all eartheaters should have a soft, sandy substrate.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geophagini
http://seriouslyfish.com/species/Mik...-altispinosus/



Last edited by Discusluv; 07-17-2019 at 10:40 PM. Reason: more info
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post #4 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 10:27 PM
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Most likely an issue with the coal slag. They require a soft sand to feed- coal slag doesn't fit into this category.
Bolivian Rams are in the geophagine clade- they are "eartheaters." This means that they pick up substrate and sift it through their gills/filter food. The slag can have sharp edges that can lodge into or damage the very sensitive tissues of the gills.

Any and all eartheaters should have a soft, sandy substrate.
This is the same with corydoras right? So if one has kept corys without problem, they should have success with bolivians? Do GBRs do this?
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post #5 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 10:35 PM
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Your PH is at top of their range. Try adding a small bag peat pellets to filter, even adding a few almond leaves as leaf litter in tank to soften. Also cut your tap with some distilled to get GH down to 4-5max if needed and also let that change water circulate for 24hrs with a small bag of peat/almonds leaves before using it to add in some humic and fulvic acids.
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post #6 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 10:35 PM
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No, corydoras are not eartheaters. The problem with them on coalslag is due to external secondary bacterial infections ( aeromonas bacteria).
German rams are also eartheaters, yes.


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post #7 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 10:46 PM
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No, corydoras are not eartheaters. The problem with them on coalslag is due to external secondary bacterial infections ( aeromonas bacteria).
German rams are also eartheaters, yes.
Dang, I swore corys sifted sand through their gills. I'm almost positive I recall seeing a video about it. Ah well, I stand corrected then.
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post #8 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 10:48 PM
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Dang, I swore corys sifted sand through their gills. I'm almost positive I recall seeing a video about it. Ah well, I stand corrected then.
No they just bury their ADORABLE little faces into the sand and find detritus and fallen food and such to eat. In the wild they find bugs and worms and stuff.

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post #9 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 11:05 PM
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In my experience (and many others on here, you will find), BDBS has caused no issues with cories or rams. Wasting away could be indicative of an internal parasite. Do you quarantine or treat/medicate new fish?


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post #10 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 11:32 PM
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It is true, many on this site will tell you there are no issues with coal slag "in their experience". These are often the same people that do not put lids on their aquariums ( and haven't lost a fish yet), push their fish to the highest level possible of Co2 ( if they dont die its all good), and feed their fish a few flakes every 3 days to ensure algae is kept at bay. Please- the vocal proponents of coal slag hardly promote a vote of confidence.

You will also find, outside the parameters of agreement on this forum, many accounts of the opposite. Do a google search.

The safest way to ensure that your fish are healthy in the aquarium is to do some research prior to purchasing fish. Look at the types of substrate that they require. How they feed. Where they spend their time. Both corydoras and eartheaters require a soft sand, silt, mud- period. Look at the resources I linked. These are the reliable sources you use when making judgements on fish health.


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post #11 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 11:35 PM
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I agree 100000000000000000% with Discusluv.

75 gallon planted tank. About to stock.
10 gallon QT

"Do not pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult oneĒ Ė Bruce Lee

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post #12 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 11:41 PM Thread Starter
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What black, rounded, non-compacting, large grain sand substrate do you recommend?
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post #13 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-18-2019, 12:04 AM
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The grain size should be less than 1mm. Seachem Fluorite Black Sand Substrate is an option.


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post #14 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-18-2019, 12:15 AM
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It's nice to think we can all house our fish in the most optimum way possible with large schools and make their habitat as natural as possible, but in many cases we can't do that. So schools might be smaller, substrate might be different, but it doesn't mean those fish don't do well.

I haven't used BDBS, but I've had Bolivans on Eco Complete for years without issue, I've also kept three kuhli loaches with them for 7 years. I currently have a open-top tank with 7 Black Neons, 6 Amano Shrimp and 3 Otos and haven't lost one yet to either illness or the open-top. I'll be willing to take a lie detector LOL.


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post #15 of 40 (permalink) Old 07-18-2019, 12:43 AM
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Sand- its cheap and widely available/easily accessible- certainly far more accessible than coal slag.

It being considered an "optimum" product for the aquarium-- as if it were a rare product that required much time to locate and expense-- is ludicrous. If you choose against using it for a fish that requires it, you do so for aesthetic reasons. Aint fooling any one- but, nice try. Along with the gassing of fish with too high Co2 ( plant needs over fish needs) and dried up fish on the floor ( that sleek looking open top look)- the choice of BDBS is because you want a certain look.

Sorry, I do not believe anyone who claims they have "no problems" with fish like neon tetras jumping out (long-term) in open top aquarium.

I have given the OP the information needed to make a balanced judgement on this issue. If you have any more questions please message me. And, most importantly, I have made a promise to someone that "I will do better" by ignoring those most worth ignoring.


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