Tank size for pairs?

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Ltygress
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Tank size for pairs?

Post by Ltygress » Mon Sep 28, 2015 3:49 pm

I am about to get five baby zebras. I will put them all together in a 37-gallon tank until I can figure out which are males or females. After that, I think I'm going to separate them into breeding pairs in their own tanks. Or do you all think a single tank is best? (Extra males, if any, would eventually go into my 100G with angelfish.)

But what is a good tank size for a breeding pair? I read one source on the web used 15-20 gallon tanks. I'm guessing dimensions are more important than volume, which means a 15-gallon is barely larger than a 10G. A 20G (tall) has the exact same foot print as a 10G. Since 10G tanks are so popular, it would be easier to get them, but is it sufficient?

And another source I read to use Play Sand from Home Depot for substrate. But how in the world do you RINSE that stuff before putting it in an aquarium? I've used pea gravel from home depot, but I used a strainer. You can't use a strainer for sand!

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TwoTankAmin
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Re: Tank size for pairs?

Post by TwoTankAmin » Mon Sep 28, 2015 6:52 pm

If you are buying babies there are two considerations. The first is they need a smaller tank. The bigger the footprint of a tank, the harder it becomes for the fry to find the food. And the herder it will be for you ever to see them.

Second, you will have a bit of a wait to be able to sex them. Plenty of pleco experts have sexed them inccorrectly. The only way I know for sure is to vent them.

As for breeding considerations, there are two approaches. One is to try to pair them, they are not fish which pair up like angels etc. So what one is really doing is putting one of each sex together and hoping it works out. In a group, which is how I have always chosen to keep breeding plecos, nature will take over. This should mean the "best" male and female find each other. I also believe they trigger each other, so groups are more conducive to having multiple simultaneous spawns.

As for tank sizes and stocking. I have had between 11 and 13 adults in a 30 gal breeder tank now for almost a decade. In addition I have had as many as 55 fry in with them at times. I have grown them out in both 10 gal, and 20 longs. With plecos, area is always more important than volume, and lots of cover is essential.

In the wild there is little vegetation where they live. The also tend either to be somewhat deep 25 + feet down or else in shallower water (in the dry season) about 6+ feet in some places with very in fast flowing waters. So there are no small fish or things like angels there. One needs to be careful when selecting tank mates for zebras as they do not compete aggressively for food.

Finally, there is a saying among zebra keepers that a happy zebra is a hiding zebra. One of the surest signs that something may be wrong is when a zebra is out in the open a lot when it is not dark. This makes them a poor selection for a community tank as they will almost never be visible.

If you want to keep them in pairs, then a 10 gal. tank should be fine. It should also work as a growout tank for 5 youngsters for some time. Zebras are pretty "social" when smaller but as they grow the groupings get smaller until the males start becoming loners and territorial. Females in a group also develop a pecking order. The top females are the ones who get to spawn with the top males.

In addition to this site, there is a lot of good information re zebras on Planetcatfish.
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Ltygress
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Re: Tank size for pairs?

Post by Ltygress » Mon Sep 28, 2015 9:08 pm

They are supposed to be 1.5 inches. They will be placed in a 10G together when they first arrive for observation anyway (not quite quarantine, because they won't be with other fish unless they are NOT being used for breeding).

I don't really plan to sex them BEFORE breeding. Actually breeding behavior is HOW I plan to figure it out. "Okay she just laid eggs, that's a female, he's guarding the cave, that's a male."

But it was either this forum or planet catfish (here I think) where someone mentioned losing eggs or fry only to Alpha females, who wanted to breed with the Alpha male. It was mentioned that there was a risk of the alpha female killing off eggs he was already guarding just so she could breed with him. That's why I wanted to separate them into pairs in their own tanks. That way each batch of eggs and fry had the best chance of survival.

Although after a few weeks, it's likely that I would move all fry back to a "community" tank for growing out (community as in babies from the separated pairs put back in one tank together).

Although, I like your thought of them all triggering one another. Hmm. I'm making a 55G plant grow-out tank, and I bet with several caves in between plants, they would go well in there. And since they are more carnivorous, the plants wouldn't be affected by them very much.

As for keeping them with discus and angelfish, I know the key is to feed them the moment the lights go out for the night so the zebras get their share of food while the other fish are sleeping.

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TwoTankAmin
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Re: Tank size for pairs?

Post by TwoTankAmin » Mon Sep 28, 2015 10:15 pm

The females only lay eggs when being trapped in a cave by a male. I have spawned a lot of zebras and I have seen the trappings but not once have I actually witnessed the female laying eggs. The one caveat to groups is that one way males may deal with competition is the stronger male traps a lesser male in a cave and ultimately kills it. This is what led to the creation of split caves that one could take apart. It also facilitated removinging eggs or wigglers.

The way to use behavior to sex them is that only the sexually mature males will claim caves, females may hide or overnight in one, but they do not claim them. The problem is with groups not all the males will claim caves.

It will take well over a year and perhaps two before you can expect to see spawning from yours. While I have seen reports of males spawning at 18 months, I have never believed them to be true. Figure closes to 3 years old than to 18 months.

Finally, zebras can be anywhere from a snap to impossible to spawn. Sometimes one gets lucky and they just start, other times you need to run a dry and rainy season to get them going and sometimes nothing works. I know folks who worked for a couple of years to get theirs to spawn until they threw in the towel and left them to their own devices. A year or two later they just spawned without any "help" from the fish keeper.

it is not the alpha female who may try to eat eggs, she is the one spawning. When this sort of thing occurs, it is the lesser females who may try this. While I have had this problem with P. comptas, I have never seen it with zebras. I have watched a dad on wigglers chasing off females who were trying to get into the cave. Also, I have never seen any signs of predation of free swimmers by other zebras. Most breeders will tell you that the babies grow fastest when left in the breeder tank with the adults.

Finally, I currently have several tanks with zebras. All are bare bottom, this includes growout tanks as well. This is not the only way to gom but just my preference, I have plenty of other Hypancistrus in tanks with sand and at one time I had a 15 gal. zebra growout tank with small gravel.

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Also, zebras are omnivores with a predilection for meat. When they are younger they need more veggies than when older. be sure to feed them sinking veggie foods now and then. For the last 10 years or so i have fed all fish in all tanks once a week on a spirulina flake with garlic and paprika. Also, do not feed blood worms unless you chop them up first. Zebras under two inches or so may choke trying to swallow whole blood worms.
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Ltygress
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Re: Tank size for pairs?

Post by Ltygress » Tue Sep 29, 2015 2:13 pm

TwoTankAmin wrote: Also, zebras are omnivores with a predilection for meat. When they are younger they need more veggies than when older. be sure to feed them sinking veggie foods now and then. For the last 10 years or so i have fed all fish in all tanks once a week on a spirulina flake with garlic and paprika. Also, do not feed blood worms unless you chop them up first. Zebras under two inches or so may choke trying to swallow whole blood worms.
I don't have any problem with them chewing on a few of the plants now and then. It's just that right now my guppies and mollies have mowed right through my cabomba plants (I don't have the 55G set up yet) because they are ALL on it, all the time. Guppies should really be called "gluttons" because they're all fat right now, and none of them are pregnant at the moment (no males in several months). They eat CONSTANTLY, and when there are no flakes coming in, they chew up the plants.

But the hornwort and blue willow hygro have TAKEN OFF. I've only had them since Friday, and the hornwort has already doubled in height. Why can't the guppies eat THAT?!? The blue willow hygro has probably increased in size by about 1/3. So not as much, but visibly noticeable. So the plants should be okay with occasional bites from plecos. And if it were more of an algae pleco, I would not want them in the plant tank. But I think the zebra plecos should be okay. And with an occasional algae wafer like you are using, I may not notice any damage to plants at all. At the VERY least, I may need to get a tank divider and have one area set aside for the cabombas to grow. Everything else seems fine with the gluttons... err... guppies, so it should be fine with the zebras.

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Re: Tank size for pairs?

Post by TwoTankAmin » Tue Sep 29, 2015 4:46 pm

The zebras will not eat your plants.

I have not seen zebras consume algae wafers like those by Hikari. I have never seen them eat things like zucchini either. In the wild they can feed on algae which is at shallower depths. But this is not pure algae. It is full of smaller meaty creatures which they eat along with the algae. Look into Aufwuchs feeding for more information.

Also, with 5 zebras the odds are reasonable that there will be 3 males and 2 females or vice versa. This would not present a problem with female competition that results in loss of eggs or wigglers. This sort of thing occurs when two conditions are present. The first is there are more fish involved than you will have with 5. The one exception might be if you end up with a single male and 4 females. Then you need to put them into smallish spaces where the overstocking is magnified. When there are a number of lower ranking females present, they are the ones which might try to eat the eggs/wigglers. The odds of this happening when a dad tries to slip out for a shot at a quick snack go up the more subordinant females there are.

But in the end how you approach the keeping of zebras should be a bit different than the typical 3 or 4 dollar fish. I assume you are paying about $600 - $700 for the group. Now consider how diseases etc., can spread in a tank. So what you are planning to do is to create the potential for a few dollar fish to infect fish which have cost you about 30+ times as much.

Next, with the exception of simulating the onset of a rainy season, I have never kept my zebras much below 81F and usually I am a few degrees higher. Simulation of the dry season ends with temps of 90F. Guppies can survive in water that is in the mid 60s F. Next, mollies really need much harder water than zebras will like. Molly are primarily vegetarian and you will be throwing meaty foods into the tank for the zebras. And like most fish, the mollies will eat it. Having the tank light off but any room lights on will not put the fish to sleep nor prevent them from seeing the food you are putting in for the zebras.

In all the years I have kept zebras, I only mixed them with other fish once. I had two wild caught males which I needed to remove from the tank into which a breeding colony was being put. Since this group had an established pecking order in place when I purchased them, I could not mix those two males in with the group as that would have destroyed the pecking order which in turn would have put a halt to their spawning until the pecking order was worked out anew. So I parked those two male zebras in a tank which held only a pair of discus. That tank was selected because the typical tank temp was in the low 80s F.

Overall, I am not a believer in keeping zebras in any community tank. I would for sure never consider one to be an appropriate place to spawn them. This does not mean they cannot be kept with other fish, it means that the tank is best setup to accommodate the zebras and then any other fish are chosen because they can do well in such a tank and are not a threat to the zebras. Doing the reverse can be an invitation to problems.

One last observation. Zebras live for a long time. Some of mine are now in the 12 -13 year range. One of the best pleco breeders I have met has a male that is now about 22 years old and which has spawned in the past 2 years.
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Ltygress
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Re: Tank size for pairs?

Post by Ltygress » Tue Sep 29, 2015 7:46 pm

Oh no, no, no. I'm not keeping the zebras with the guppies and mollies. I'm just explaining how THEY eat the plants worse than any other fish I've had. The first day after getting the plants, I would regularly see the mollies with several cabomba "leaves" sticking out of their mouth for a quick second before they swallowed it.

So I was comparing their plant-eating habits to whether or not the zebras would do fine in a 55G plant grow-out tank. The mollies and guppies will NEVER be around the zebras. They are actually LFS fish, and they have had a fungus that has killed off every male guppy I have gotten. There's NO WAY I'd put a zebra pleco with that. I was just drawing comparisons.

mikeyboy31175
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Re: Tank size for pairs?

Post by mikeyboy31175 » Sun Oct 04, 2015 3:37 am

iv found 125ltr tank to be idel for breeding more a case of caves water flow airation good feeding temp changes and luck 8)

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Re: Tank size for pairs?

Post by mikeyboy31175 » Sun Oct 04, 2015 3:39 am

oh ya twotank is right no substrate is best for best water conditions

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