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Barbel problems- substrate or bacterial?


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#1 RHS788

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 04:01 AM

I have about 10 albino corys that are about a year old that I raised. I used sand in the small tank when they were little, and am using "small, red flint gravel" in the 55 gallon tank where they have been for about 9 months. The gravel is just about the size that it can be picked up with an airstone - sized hose and occasionally will lodge in that size hose. I also have a bunch of apistos in the tank, and a few rams. I just noticed this evening that about half of the Corys have no barbels (bummer). I had never noticed it until now (and feel like a poor custodian of the fish). The red flint gravel does have points opposed to being round, but I never anticipated it would damage them. I have 6 adult (3-4") Corys (breeders) in another tank with the same substrate and none of them have this problem. I have read that pointed substrate will cause them to damage their barbels, but didn't see this coming. I have also heard it can be a biological problem, but don't know any details.

I like the small gravel, as it cleans nicely and doesn't show all the dirt like a white-type sand.

Questions:
1. Would I be better off with playground sand?
2. I have heard that pool filter sand is good to use because it is cured and thus no impact on ph, however I don't really like white sand.
3. Could this be a biological issue, and if so what is it? I have heard that ammonia can be a problem, but I think the apistos would have had problems before the Corys, and I don't think there was an ammonia problem. The apistos (cacatoides) were reproducing in the tank.
4. I was going to raise these for breeders. Should I give them away and start over(as I understand they use their barbels in the mating process)? I have about 25 in another tank that are about 3/4" long now.

I have tried to read some of the articles on this, but the info seems all over the map. I don't want to go to bare-bottom tanks, except for maybe when the Corys are small.

Since I am in the USA, I don't know that what is available to me would be consistent with other countries.

I appreciate any references, explanations, and advice, especially what to use that is cheap and available in the USA. I have some concern the play sand is harder to clean than gravel.

Thanks for all your support.

Randy


#2 scotcat

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 01:12 PM

Hi Randy,

I would go for playground sand. I have just added some of this to a small tank holding 6 C.habrosus and, depending on the maker of course, mine is not white, just a light brown colour, quite nice actually.

As you say I don't think it is a ammonia problem but hard to say whether it is a bacterial problem, if you regularly clean the gravel out with your syphon hose you may be all right on that score so then it would point to the sharp edged gravel.

Some Cory species are more prone to barbel loss than others. I do know that C.arcuatus are bad for this if you don't keep the substrate clean.

Once you sort out your problem you can keep your Cory's, as 90% of the time the barbels will grow back, some better than others.

I agree with you not to go with bare bottomed tanks as other recent posts have pointed out the pitfalls in this with scum forming on the tank bottom.
Hope this helps a bit.
Allan.

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#3 RHS788

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Posted 27 April 2008 - 03:21 AM

Playground sand it is.

I have heard that you are supposed to boil it and cool it down before using it. How important do you think that really is?

I would like to see if the barbels grow back, and with sand that may be possible.



#4 scotcat

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Posted 27 April 2008 - 08:09 PM

If you just wash the sand in a bucket with warm or hot water and drain it off it should be all right to use right away.

Another sand that I use is Silver Sand which here in the U.K. we get in the large builders Merchants. As the name applies this is a light coloured sand which is nice also, and safe.

I used to in the past use bird sand which has bits of crushed coral in it and it helped to keep my p.H. up as I have very soft water. It wasn't the greatest looking sand as it was a dark brown colour but again safe to use after being washed.
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#5 Graham

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 06:04 AM

I've used playground sand and found that if it is to deep it compacts. If I were to use again I'd use only about 5mm depth and put any plants in pots.

#6 scotcat

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 12:27 PM

QUOTE (Graham @ Dec 26 2008, 06:04 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I've used playground sand and found that if it is to deep it compacts. If I were to use again I'd use only about 5mm depth and put any plants in pots.


Yes thats a good tip as that is what I do when I use sand, if it is too deep it can foul the tank if you disturb it rigorously. Its not great if you are really into plants in your tanks but most of my fish are Cory's, so the sand is ideal for them.
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#7 Graham

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 11:28 AM

QUOTE (scotcat @ Dec 27 2008, 09:27 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Yes thats a good tip as that is what I do when I use sand, if it is too deep it can foul the tank if you disturb it rigorously. Its not great if you are really into plants in your tanks but most of my fish are Cory's, so the sand is ideal for them.

Aye, it's quite a sight seeing a school of cories, bums in the air, burrowing in the sand for food buried in there.

#8 Woo

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 01:47 PM

Randy,

I use play sand from Home Depot, it costs about $3 for a 50lb sack, it is a light color but definitely not white. I have a friend here in Kansas that lost all the barbels off his Sterbai and he was using eco-complete. I also. use something similar with no losses and it is a lot less costly it is available from some branches of Lesco called Soil Master Select. They were recently bought out by John Deere If you do manage to find a branch that sells it grab it while the going is good as they do not intend to replace it when the stocks run out. When I first bought my stock it cost me somewhere in the region of $7 plus tax (don't forget the tax). The last lot I got was about $13 a sack, but that is still a LOT cheaper than Eco-Complete that runs at about $20 plus tax for a 20lb sack.

Let us know how you go on.

Steve
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