Freshwater Answers: Cherry Barbs, Cichlids and More Do Know It Aquarium The following are some of the questions asked regarding freshwater aquarium. Let's check out the answers from aquarium experts. A Ch... 72 72

Freshwater Answers: Cherry Barbs, Cichlids and More

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The following are some of the questions asked regarding freshwater aquarium. Let's check out the answers from aquarium experts.

Image of a cherry barb
A Cherry Barb

Quesion 1: Cherry Barb Tankmates

I’m new to fishkeeping. I’ve had a new tank and have successfully kept five cherry barbs for a few weeks, and I’d like to add some more fish. Can you tell me what would be good to go in with them? I’d like to get some larger fish to help fill my tank, but I’m unsure as to what will live happily alongside the barbs.
Mark Garrity


You picked a great starter fish for your new aquarium! The cherry barb (Puntius titteya) is a pretty, hardy, and versatile community fish. It can live equally well with peaceful fish and semi-aggressive species like dwarf cichlids or angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare).

Some gourami species that would look great with cherry barbs include any of the three-spot gouramis (Trichopodus trichopterus), the pearl gourami (T. leerii), or any of the dwarf gourami varieties(Trichogaster spp.). But there is no reason to limit your selections to Asian fish. Your barbs would be just as comfortable with any non-predatory fish from any of the tropical areas of the world.

Did you know that the cherry barb is very close to disappearing in the wild? You are doing your part to keep this beautiful species on the planet just by choosing to buy them for your aquarium (all of the cherry barbs we can buy are captive bred).

Quesion 2: Cichlids: Easy to Keep?

I wanted to know if cichlids are easy to care for, because our grandfather is starting our 20-gallon aquarium and cichlids have caught my eye. 
UniqueBettas via TFH Forum


Most cichlids are very easy to care for, and there are many species to choose from. Your 20-gallon aquarium narrows the field significantly, however. What you w'ill want to look for are the dwarf cichlids. If you are planning to have a community offish in the tank, you will also want to pick a dwarf cichlid species that will not harm, or be harmed by, the other fish in the tank. A great species to start with is the krib (Pelvicachromis pulcher), which is a pretty, hardy, and peaceful species that will readily spawn in most aquariums. Other good candidates include the cockatoo cichlid (Apistogramma cacatuoides), the blue ram (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi), or the keyhole cichlid (Cleithracara maronii).

Quesion 3: UV to Prevent Ich

I am wondering if ich can be prevented by using a UV sterilizer. 
thegerm76 via TFH forum


The disease freshwater ich (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis) is a protozoan parasite that is responsible for freshwater white-spot disease. Ultraviolet sterilizers have become very popular for preventing parasite diseases, and when used properly, they are very effective.

The key to success with a UV sterilizer is the “dwell time,” the amount of time that a given amount of water—and any undesirable protozoans within it—is exposed to the UV light. Standard dwell time ratings, however, are often taken from drinking water requirements, which are unrealistic for aquarium use. Drinking water standards are based upon the water passing by the UV bulb only once, but an aquarium system will be re-circulating, so the water will pass by the bulb many times. The use of drinking water standards meant that many aquarists were buying UV sterilizers that were much larger than what was really needed, but the trend is reversing now and many companies are offering much smaller and easier-to-use sterilizers.

Be aware that adding a UV sterilizer to an aquarium will usually require that a pump also be installed to drive water through the sterilizer, unless you are using a canister filter that can have the UV plumbed into the outflow line.

Quesion 4: Clown Squeaker Care

Does the clown squeaker require any special care that you’re aware of? I'm looking for a neat catfish for my 75-gallon community tank, and I think the clown squeaker might just fit the bill. By the way, where does the “squeaker" part of the name come from? 
Kelsey Billmeyer Houston, Texas


Assuming you're referring to Synodontis decora, the only special care requirement I might list is a good-sized tank, as this species reaches about a foot in total length. But I think you have that pretty well covered with your 75-gallon. Beyond the consideration of tank size, S. decora is not especially demanding with respect to water chemistry. It's also omnivorous and not at all fussy when it comes to feeding. Virtually any standard aquarium fare will be accepted.

One potential downside to this species is its nocturnal nature and general shyness. You may not see your specimen very often. Be sure to provide lots of hiding places in the form of driftwood tangles, rock caves, etc., and keep the lighting relatively dim. Special moonlighting may facilitate evening viewing opportunities. Over time, and with regular daytime feedings, your clown squeaker may begin to show itself more frequently in the day.

The “squeaker” moniker, which is applied to other members of the Synodontis genus as well, comes from the ability of these fish to produce squeaking or clicking sounds by grating the pectoral spine against the pectoral girdle.

Quesion 5: Color Morphs in Fish

What are fish “color morphs?” How did they come about?
RoHawks via TFH Forum


Two types of color morphs are seen in fish. First, there are natural color varieties of the same species that are most often associated with different populations in the wild. A good example of this is the Lake Malawi cichlid

Labidochromis caeruleus, which can vary in color from white to blue, but the most common color morph in the hobby is bright yellow. Second, there are manmade color morphs that are isolated through selective breeding. Good examples are fancy guppies (Poecilia reticulata), angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare), and the dwarf gourami (Trichogaster lalius), all of which have color varieties produced in the aquarium hobby that are very different from what the wild fish look like.

Quesion 5: Starting Up a Power Filter

I wonder if you can answer a few questions about hang-on-back power filters. I’m new to aquarium keeping, so this is the first time I’ve used one of these filters. The first thing I noticed when I started it up is that it had to work really hard, with a lot of “chug-a-lugging,” to start flowing. Is that how it’s supposed to work? Also, is it okay if I put additional activated charcoal in the filter cartridge or should I stick with one of the little packets that came with the filter? 
Nicole Peters Saint Paul, Minnesota


A little chug-a-lugging is normal when starting a hang-on-bach power filter. However, if it went on for an excessive amount of time, as it sounds like it did in your case, my guess is you probably didn’t prime the filter adequately. Unless you’ve got a self-priming model, you have to fill up the filter chamber with aquarium water before plugging in the pump any time the filter has been unplugged or power has been lost.

With respect to activated charcoal, it’s perfectly fine to supplement the packets that came with the filter with extra charcoal. In fact, I almost always do just that when using a hang-on-bach (HOD) filter. Just be sure to give the charcoal a good rinse under the tap to get rid of all that fine dust before using it in your system.

Quesion 6: Using Peat for Lowering an Aquarium's pH

I am trying to get my pH from 7.6 down to about 6.0. I know peat could be a possible solution for this. Do I need to boil it or rinse it? How much peat will I need to drop the pH 1 or 2 points? 
CatWhat via TFH Forum


There are several factors to consider when lowering the pH in your aquarium, with the most important being the water's buffering capacity. This is a measurement of the amount of acidifying chemical the water can absorb before the pH will actually go down. The higher the buffering capacity, the more difficult it is to reduce the pH.

Peat is a good acidifier, but a weak one. It’s good because it releases tannins into the water as it acidifies, which will help to create the “blackwater” environment you are trying to create. It’s weak because peat does not release a lot of acidifying chemicals into the water quickly enough to make a big difference if the water has a high buffering capacity.

Peat is also weak because it releases those acidifying chemicals slowly, so any change in pH will be gradual. This is a good thing, unless you are doing a lot of water changes, which would negate the acid effect of the pH by removing and diluting the chemicals the peat releases.

Using peat to lower the pH requires a way to move the water through the peat. A box filter, canister filter, or power filter with space for a filter bag full of peat will work.

There is no need to boil peat, but rinsing it of dust will prevent particulates from getting into the water (they will not hurt anything, but may not look nice). Some aquarium filter companies are producing peat pellet products that are more chemically active than raw peat fiber and will reduce the pH faster.

Answers provided by the aquarium experts at Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine (
5 Aquarium: Freshwater Answers: Cherry Barbs, Cichlids and More The following are some of the questions asked regarding freshwater aquarium. Let's check out the answers from aquarium experts. A Ch...

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