The Gorge - Flash Bristow's Website
Aggressive or Unhappy Fish

I have had problems with some fish pecking at others, and with other fish hiding all day. Here is how I have combatted that:

  • More plants, more rocks, more wood - give them more places to lurk, and fish will feel more secure. In fact, fish that used to stay hidden now swim more actively around the tank, so it is true that if you provide more places to hide you will actually see more of the fish!

  • Dark background - use a plain dark backdrop to the tank. I prefer to use purple, but deep blues, greens and black work well too. This makes fish feel more secure, and is also more natural for those fish that usually live deep in lakes. I have also heard that a green background reduces aggressiveness, but I have no idea if it is true. Certainly, as soon as there is a solid backdrop, I find fish more likely to swim higher in the tank.

  • Check the water quality, and examine fish for signs of illness. Sometimes general listlessness can be a sign of disease.

  • Keep them in the right numbers - many fish prefer groups of their own type, and you should not consider keeping fewer than six of those types. For example, my Green Tiger Barbs would often fight, so I was loathe to add more, but as soon as another three joined the tank, the existing ringleader calmed right down. Also ensure that solitary fish, e.g. Plecos, are the only one of their type in your tank.

  • Temporary segregation - a lot of infighting is due to fish establishing their pecking order within the tank, but if the fighting is prolonged try putting the aggressor into a breeding net for an hour or two, until he has calmed down. When released into the tank again, he is a lot calmer, at least for a while!

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    This page last updated: 01 September 2022

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