Tank Mates

Ropefish

Quick Stats: Ropefish

 

Scientific Name: Erpetoichthys calabaricus 
Family: Polypteridae

Origin: found in the Chiloango river in Congo, and the Ogun river in Nigeria. 

 

Max Size: 14 inches


Temperament:  Several ropefish can be kept together in the same aquarium and they can even be kept in a community tank. Despite their appearance, they are peaceful fish.

 

Description: As the name implies, the ropefish is an eel-shaped fish, also commonly called "reedfish" or "snakefish" due to its eel-shaped or snake-like body shape. The fish has a pair of primitive lungs instead of a swim bladder, allowing it to periodically gulp air from the surface of the water. Ropefish also have two sensory organs that extend from their nostrils.

 

Behavior: The ropefish is curious and peaceful and does well with other larger, peaceful fish. Due to its poor eyesight and nocturnal habit, the ropefish may seem, at times, reserved or reclusive. However, the ropefish is a social fish that prefers the company of other ropefish.

 

Tank Region: Bottom but will swim up to the surface to take a gulp of air

 

Compatibility: Ropefish will eat small tankmates that are easy to swallow. Also, don't keep ropefish with aggressive fish that will harass them.

 

Experience Level: Easy

 

Diet: Carnivore excepts frozen foods such as bloodworms, krill and shrimp

 

Temperature: 77F-80F / 23C-26C
pH: 6.0-7.6

Tank Setup: Ropefish need lots of hiding places, so a heavily planted tank with lots of rockwork and caves is recommended.

 

Fun fact: Rope fish are an ancient species. Fossils reveal that these fish have been swimming in Earth's waters for more than 75 million years, successfully weathering numerous natural catastrophes.

 

Axolotl

Quick Stats: Axolotl (pronounced-ACK-suh-LAH-tuhl)

Scientific Name: Ambystoma mexicanum
Family: Ambystomatidae

Origin: Found exclusively in the lake complex of Xochimilco (pronounced SO-chee-MILL-koh) near Mexico City

Max Size: 12 inches

 

Temperament: Juvenile axolotls can be cannibalistic towards each other, so they are best raised in separate enclosures. Adults can potentially be housed together but watch for cannibalistic tendencies. 

 

Description: The axolotl salamander has the rare trait of retaining its larval features throughout its adult life. This condition, called neoteny, means it keeps its tadpole-like dorsal fin, which runs almost the length of its body, and its feathery external gills, which protrude from the back of its wide head.

 

Behavior: Contrary to the advice of some sources, axolotls are not social animals and do not benefit from having a companion axolotl. Keeping multiple axolotls is purely for the keeper’s benefit and for breeding.

 

Tank Region: Bottom 

 

Compatibility: Adult tank mates can be aggressive, especially if the tank is overcrowded, so this should be carefully managed. Axolotl will eat other fish and organisms.

 

Experience Level: Easy

 

Diet: Frozen foods such as bloodworms, and tubifex worms, other frozen fish foods, or commercial fish pellets (e.g., salmon or trout pellets).

Temperature: 57F-68F / 23C-26C 
pH: 6.0-7.6

Tank Setup:

Axolotls can get quite large for a salamander, so at least a 15-20 gallon fish tank (aquarium) is recommended, A filtered aquarium is easier to maintain than one without a filter since axolotls tend to be messy.  The tank should be kept in a cool room away from bright sunlight. The water temperature should be kept cool, between 57-68 degrees Fahrenheit and never allowed to get above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. No special lighting is required for axolotls, and in fact, a place to get out of the light may be appreciated, such as a flower pot laid on its side or an aquarium type castle. If gravel is used on the bottom of the tank, it needs to be coarse gravel. Fine gravel might be ingested during feeding and cause an obstruction. Some owners opt to simply leave the bottom of the tank bare, although others believe this may stress the axolotls a bit since they can't get a foothold on the bottom of the tank without gravel. Axolotls can get quite large for a salamander, so at least a 15-20 gallon fish tank is recommended.

 

Fun fact: Axolotls locate food by smell, and will "snap" at any potential meal, sucking the food into their stomachs with vacuum force.

Polypterus

Quick Stats: Polypterus

 

Scientific Name: Polypterus senegalus
Family: Polypteridae

Origin: Africa
 

Max Size: 14 inches

 

Temperament: The polypterus is a predatory fish; in captivity it will take any live or dead animal that can be swallowed or broken apart and then swallowed. Only its lack of speed prevents it from emptying an aquarium of smaller fish; the pectoral fins only allow for slow cruising, and while it can achieve amazing bursts of speed, it cannot catch fish of average speed. Given enough time, any fish that can fit in its mouth will be eaten. It will also bite fins of other fishes if it can.

 

Description: An elongated fish, usually grey or beige in color.  External nostrils protrude from the front;  the mouth is large and seems to grin when closed.

 

The fish has a pair of primitive lungs instead of a swim bladder, allowing it to periodically gulp air from the surface of the water.

 

Behavior: During active hours, these fish swim about their environment, performing activities such as exploring, feeding, hunting, investigating changes, and scavenging; social behavior is also observed as they sometimes follow each other moving about; most individuals are inactive at night and rest low above the ground until sunrise.

 

Tank Region: Bottom but will swim up to the surface to take a gulp of air

 

Compatibility : When provided with plenty of open swimming areas, rocks and crevices, it is not usually aggressive toward tank mates. Should not be kept with smaller fish.

 

Experience Level: Easy

 

Diet: Carnivore excepts frozen foods such as bloodworms, krill and shrimp; and live food such as feeder fish.

 

Temperature: 77F-80F / 23C-26C
pH: 6.0-7.6

Tank Setup: Dr iftwood, Roots, Caves, and Rocks with wide open spaces for swimming and subdued lighting. The aquarium should have a tight-fitting cover as it is an excellent escape artist.

 

Fun fact: Provided the skin remains moist, this fish can remain out of the water indefinitely – it can even be raised on land, where it uses its large pectoral fins to walk.

Oscar

Quick Stats: Oscar

 

Scientific Name: Astronotus ocellatus
Family: Cichlidae

Origin: the South American Amazon Basin, French Guyana and Suriname. 

Max Size: 12 inches

 

Temperament: Oscars are also called “river dog” or “water dog” because of the way they interact with their owners. They shake their tail and head just like dogs do, which is the reason people fall quickly in love with them. They like to “redecorate” their aquarium by moving things around and excavating the substrate, so it’s easier to leave it like it is. They also seem to “play” with objects placed around their tank and can even be trained to knock balls into small nets or swim through loops. They can actually get to know their owners and even eat from their hand.

​​

Description: Oscars are usually dark colored, with yellow spots (ocelli, these giving them the scientific name of Astronotus ocellatus). Young Oscars have different coloration than the adults; they have white and orange stripes and spotted heads. Due to interbreeding wild specimens throughout time, there are now many types of Oscar cichlids besides the original, wild ones:

  • Tiger Oscar fish with marbled spots of red pigmentation;

  • Albino tiger Oscar fish;

  • Red Oscar fish and red lutino Oscar 

  • Albino Oscar;

 

Behavior: Oscars will often lay claim to an area of the aquarium and will be very aggressive towards other fish encroaching on their newly established territory. The size of the territory varies depending on the size and aggressiveness of the fish based on its surroundings. Once the oscar establishes a territory, it will vigorously defend it by chasing away other fish. 

 

Tank Region: Oscars capture and claim areas of the aquarium and will show aggression if other fish encroach their established territory. They like to live alone in their defined territory and do not like to live in community.

 

Compatibility : When provided with plenty of open swimming areas, rocks and crevices, it is not usually aggressive toward tank mates. Should not be kept with smaller fish.

 

Experience Level: Medium

 

Diet: Oscars eat a wide variety of foods consisting of a balance between live foods and processed ones. Before choosing any food for your velvet cichlids, make sure it is no bigger than its mouth.

 

Temperature: 77F-80F / 23C-26C
pH: 6.0-7.6

Tank Setup: Driftwood, Roots, Caves, and Rocks with wide open spaces for swimming. They will decimate live plants, so stick to the artificial ones if you wish to decorate, keeping in mind that it will all be moved.  In the wild, they will often jump out of the water to catch insects from overhanging leaves and branches. This behavior is mimicked in the aquarium, so make sure it has a tight-fitting cover. Oscars. Good filtration is a must, as Oscars are messy. They produce a lot of waste. They stir up the gravel when they eat and when they rearrange their furniture. 

 

Fun fact: Oscars use a suction mechanism to capture prey, and have been reported to exhibit "laying-on-side" death mimicry 

 

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