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The Loach Forum Archives (3)

Re:initial question-full story

Posted By: Angela Dickson <angeladickson@ntlworld.com>
Date: Thursday, 14 June 2001, at 5:15 p.m.

I would be very grateful if you could give me any help and information on this subject as it seems to be a minefield of conflicting information.
I am a newcomer to keeping tropical fish (about three months).
I started with a small tank (20"x12"x12"), where I housed six neon tetras and then, a few weeks later, two clown loaches, just under three inches long. They lived quite happily together, although I never really saw the loaches, only briefly at feeding times.
After about four weeks, I bought two corydoras for the tank and again everything seemed fine. A few weeks later I introduced two female black mollies to the tank and all hell broke loose!
One of the mollies was extremely aggressive, charging everything in the tank, including the other mollie. This went on for about a week and then the aggressive mollie had fry. By the time I found them(next morning), there were only about ten fry left and one of the loaches, although not looking bloated, refused to feed. At this point I decided to start making plans for a bigger tank.
Over the next week, the mollie became more and more aggressive, especially towards the loaches, who were now prowling the tank, looking for food. Strangely, there seemed to be a hierarchy with the loaches, where the one who had earlier refused food, was manically pushing the other one around, almost egging it on to hunt for food(possibly female?). The mollie fry depleted to only one. At the same time I noticed that the other mollie also looked pregnant, which she was, as she also produced fry. At this point I knew that the same loach was eating the fry as this time she (I am now presuming it is female) was totally bloated and refusing food. The other loach was looking and eating normally.
I moved the loaches, tetras and corydoras into a bigger tank the day after the second lot of fry and the loaches seemed to settle down for a week or so whilst they were exploring there new home. However, the female loach was now quiet domineering, but only to the other loach (I am now presuming this one is a male).
The female loach began to hunt again and the tetras began hiding behind foliage at the back of the tank and never coming out. She also took to flipping the corydoras up with her nose.
In desperation to try and settle things down I followed advice that three clown loaches are better than two, I bought a much smaller clown loach (about 1.5"). At the same time I also bought a red fantail.
This was four days ago(Monday), and some rather strange things have happened since.
On Monday I brought home the new loach and the fantail and introduced them to the tank. The new loach did not go and hide as I thought he would, instead he stuck very close to the fantail, following it every where it went. The loaches found the new loach very quickly and made friends. They also made friends with the fantail and proceeded to follow the fantail around the tank. After a couple of hours of playing with the fantail, the four fish, that's the three loaches and the fantail went to sleep in the loaches bogwood cave. This is quite a sight, as the fantail is at least three times bigger!
For most of Monday the loaches and the fantail played and the tetras came back out to the front of the tank. In fact the whole tank seemed a very happy place.
Tuesday was much same as Monday, except that the P.H. dropped from 7.0 to 6.8, ammonia rose to 0.25 and nitrite was also at 0.25. I presumed that the slight fluctuation was due to the new arrivals in the tank and would soon settle, so I didn't carry out any water changes. The temperature had also dropped to 220C, 720F, for a couple of hours as I forgot to put the heater back on when working on the tank.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning the loaches continually made clicking sounds. This continued intermittently all day Wednesday and by 8:00am, Thursday(today), the clicking was intense. It was at this point that I realized that it was only the original loaches that were clicking and not the younger one.
At around 9:00am, the two loaches began locking their mouths together and spiraling up to the surface and around the tank, constantly entwined, still clicking.
Whilst this strange 'dancing' was going on, the younger loach became rather distressed and hid underneath the fantail.
At about 10:30am, the 'dancing' stopped, but the clicking continued. The loaches stayed close to each other and still remained in the open areas of the tank. They were also quite aggressive to the smaller loach but not the fantail. The tetras were well hidden by now.
By about 12:30pm, everything had calmed down, and the three loaches (and the fantail!) retired to their cave and remained there until about 3:00pm, when I feed the tank some blood worms. Everyone feed happily, except the loach I belie