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How to keep agressive fish. 18/12/2013.


As you know by now my name is Ian and i own and run Aquatic Village.I am not sure what you actually know about us but let us say we have the maddest shop in the country and i hope this is for all the correct reasons.I have been in business for nearly 16 yrs and to date i run the biggest collection of fish in the country….; me it is mental sometimes. I say this just to let you know that i am not some snot nosed kid that works in a superstore that’s been keeping fish for a week and thinks he knows all.No one knows all and i am alright with that.But i know all i need to know about what makes me different to anyone else in the trade.

I fish for fish i dive with fish i eat fish and i have the largest personal collection of fish in the business and its not for sale.So i hope you can see where i am coming from.Now let us talk about something real.Something everyone experiences at some stage.Can i add here that fish do not read books so do not expect them to act like they have.People forget that our animals become institutionalized.Yes they do.We change the way they act because every day without thinking we are training them without even realizing this.

I often hear things like ‘When i introduced new fish they were attacked instantly’ or my new fish were eaten…..blah blah there is a zillion combinations of this sort of thing.Well think as to why something like this may happen.First of all it is not aggression.When a lion is chewing your leg he is not displaying aggression he is merely eating you. If you pull your leg away then what you will experience next will be more akin to aggression.You have trained your fish to rush to the surface and devour as quickly as possible anything that you drop in to the tank.Does this make sense?Then why did you not think of it before i explained this?

This is one of the problems we face in the trade.Common sense and fish keeping are mostly alien to each other.In future feed your fish well before adding new individuals it will make life a little easier for you trust me.Fish aggression is usually sparked by territorial issues.If there are pairs in the tank then this will escalate.Some fish will show aggression towards fish of their own body shape.Red tailed black sharks versus bala sharks for instance would be a common example of this sort of aggression.Breeding should always be carrie3d out in a separate tank away from the main tank if you want to keep the peace.

Real aggression comes from the incorrect stocking levels of certain fish.Some species are meant to be kept in overcrowded conditions and that is the long and short of it.I know the do gooder inside of you is screaming out nooooo…..but i hate do gooders so i am going to ignore you.What do fish want from life?Well look at that ridiculous dog beside you in that ridiculous Christmas outfit .Yes you are the problem.Fish want food and water quality and lots of sex.That’s it now get over it.

Stop turning your pets into freaky humans they are animals.We can still love them of course that is allowed.Certain fish species exist in massive groups.Damsels for instance.Shops sell you one or two for your tank then as they grow the run amok……er……common sense should kick in here.Their nature is to cling to the smallest territory and defend it with their lives.Solution is to overcrowd them by keeping as many as you can fit into the tank without compromising the water quality.The same with Malawi cichlids and Tanganyikans……i have nearly 300 in my own tank and there is rarely any trouble because as soon as an individual chases an opponent away another takes its place and so on.

I used to have a tank of death up in Aquatic Village.Twelve big Oscars in a four foot tank.There was no aggression.They were overcrowded but it did not seem to matter.You put two Oscars in a tank together if they do not pair up they will most likely bash each other till one submits.Same with most big South Americans or any cichlid for that matter.That is why i can keep 100 juwel cichlids in a 90 litre stock tank.So really what i am trying to get across to you is that if you want to keep certain species look into their habits and traits.If they live in groups then that is an indicator for a start.A classic example is tiger barbs.We keep them in large groups so they will spend most of their time bothering each other.Reduce their numbers and you will see them pick more often on tank mates.

A happy tank is a heavily stocked tank but a heavily stocked tank should be run using double the equipment.If a problem occurs it is better to be using two filters in case one packs up…..two heaters for the same reason use two 150 watts instead of one 300 watt if you need too and make sure your aquarium is well aerated.Oxygen levels are critical.The quickest killer will not be a temperature drop it will be the oxygen levels.Besides your filters will use as much oxygen as your fish do.

So aggression needs to be addressed. If you do not go down the heavy stocking route then that fish will own that tank so good luck on that one.If your fish is causing too much havoc then return it to the shop before it is too late.But remember you are in control from the start.Decide on the set up then stock accordingly.Shoaling fish are kept in shoals.Reef fish are kept in overcrowded conditions and Donegal catch is kept in the freezer.