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Author Topic: aggressive male WCMM??  (Read 1831 times)
« on: October 22, 2008, 10:31:51 PM »

I am still very new to fishkeeping and just have a small 5 gallon planted tank with sand substrate. It has been up and running successfully for about 5 months or so now *knock on wood* with two otos and a ghost shrimp. Well last weekend I was at one of my favorite LFSs and they had some beautiful white clouds bred by one of the employees. I got 5 for my tank, and for the first few days they really didn't do much. They stayed in the top corner of the tank and only came out to eat. Well then they started dying, one each day. After the second fish I got a water test kit, water tested completely normal. Nitrates/nitrites 0ppm, ammonia was a little high at .25 (probably d/t losing fish?) and PH 7.5 and temp about 74F

Anyway I continued to lose one fish each day, none looked sick at all and were eating and very active up until hours before they passed. I did notice that the largest fish of the group was displaying a bit at the others but had never really noticed much aggression. Well last night I was feeding the two remaining white clouds and noticed that the stronger fish was relentlessly bullying the weaker fish. He struck him very hard 3 times in a row, knocking the fish off balance and really throwing the poor fella for a loop. Not surprisingly this morning that poor fish was dead and the remaining male is strutting around the tank, happy as a clam.

I was told by the fishstore employee that these fish were incredibly peaceful and it would be ok to get a school of males but it seems that is not true?? Is it possible that he killed his tankmates?? He is completely non aggressive towards the otos and even the little ghost shrimp who he allows to steal food from him. Does anyone have experience with these fish?? Are they less aggressive with a school of several females and a single male? I also got an oto from a different tank in the store (I smooshed one of my poor otos under a rock the day before cleaning the tank...I am having really bad luck with this tank!!!!) who was acclimated the same way, the same day, etc etc and he is completely fine along with my other oto. Any advice here??
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« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2008, 05:31:45 AM »

Hi, tararose,

The most mild mannered fish can be aggressive in certain circumstances.  In this case, aggression is really a secondary issue.  The primary issues here are an overstocked tank and a still cycling tank.  Overcrowding and stress can and does make fish more aggressive. 

From your post it sounds like you had 5 minnows, 2 otos and a ghost shrimp? Believe it or not, that is way, way overstocked for a 5 gallon.

I would never recommend either the minnows or the otos for a 5 gallon.  Both need to be maintained in schools of 6+.  WCCM are hardy and can withstand a cycling tank but the otos are particular about water quality. Minimum tank size for a school of WCMM is a 10 gallon with lots of live plants, and a 20 gallon or larger for a school of otos (that recommendation is conservative - most folks on this site would say a 29 is the minimum.)  Lots of live plants are also essential for keeping otos.

The only things I *would* recommend for a 5 gallon is a betta and a brig snail, or a betta and a couple of ghost shrimp.  Realistically, that's all a tank that size can support. 

Nitrates/nitrites 0ppm, ammonia was a little high at .25
These readings are a problem as well, *not* "completely normal. "  I know you said the tank's been up and running for 5 months, but any ammonia reading *at all* is harmful to fish.  It is likely that adding 5 of the minnows at once caused your tank to have a mini-cycle, hence the ammonia reading. 

Here's a link that explains cycling and those water quality readings in a little more detail:

Final advice:  Take the remaining WCMM and oto back to the store. Get a betta and/or some more ghost shrimp and/or a snail.  If you're itching for more or different fish, get at least a 20 gallon, a 29 is better. 


"Middle age...a time of life when everything was predictable and yet somehow you failed to see any of it coming."  Richard Russo, That Old Cape Magic
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