Re: [RML] Should i keep rainbowfish?

Julie Zeppieri (bowluvr at
Mon, 10 Jan 2005 09:03:18 -0800


I work in the fish biz here in the States. Scott is right, many retailers
are not *quite* as up front on what they are selling you as they could be.
:-( Wish it wasn't so, but it seems that the folks who really know their
fish are the LAST ones to open a shop. Those who do open a shop rarely seem
to really know what they are doing (I work for such a person, albeit one who
is trying to learn more and better himself as an LFS owner). I have found
that the tendency in the trade is to blow a bit of smoke when they are
trying to sell this or that brand, so please take everything with a grain of
salt and do some research of your own. I'm sure all the good folks on this
list will be happy to give their opinions to help you gather info. :-)

If your goal is to keep the Balas for their lifetime, then you will
undoubtedly need a MUCH larger tank down the road. *Think 6 to 8 footer.* It
seems to me to be more expensive to keep doing smaller tank upgrades every
18 months or so then to bite the bullet and get the biggest tank you can
afford right from the start, so I would vote for you going bigger than the
250l if you can at all possibly do so. Sorry, I know this gets spendy but
better to buy only 2 or three tanks while your Balas grow than to buy 6 or
7, right? :-)

As for filtration, Balas are known for being very sensitive to water
quality, so please do NOT listen to that LFS owner when he says he only
needs to do 20% changes every two weeks to maintain good water on his
crowded tank. That just seems wrong to me. My guess is that if you took some
of the water from that tank of his and tested for nitrates it would be quite
high. That is one of the best ways to know you are doing enough water
changes: test for nitrate levels. They should be at or below 20 parts per
million (PPM) for Balas at all times ideally. Balas also like lots of oxygen
in their water, so get a filter system that moves a good amount of water and
aggitates the surface. I personally like and use Biowheels, but most filters
work well if applied and maintained properly. One of the best for
maintaining large volumes of fish is a simple UG filter. This will nedd to
be vacuumed thoroughly once per week to be it's best -- what I do is do a
really good vac on half each time, alternating the half I clean, and using a
standard gravel vacuuming siphon. Whatever filtration system you get, be
sure to do weekly water changes and maintain it properly. There is no such
thing as a filter that does it all for you. Fish are interactive, and that
is part of the fun. :-)

You will find that there are as many opinions on what equipment to use as
fishkeepers using it. ;-) Sorry, but there are many paths to success, so
don't let anyone tell you their way is the only one.

If you have the room, and the water quality is good, you can add a school of
larger Rainbows in with your Balas, as even fully grown Balas are peaceful
with anything they cannot swallow. Rainbows also need very clean water so
keep this in mind when you are planning for tank volume and filtration and
your maintenance schedule.

Hope this helps! :-)

Julie <><

>From: "Duncan Henshaw" <dunxy at>
>Reply-To: r_m_l at
>To: <r_m_l at>
>Subject: Re: [RML] Should i keep rainbowfish?
>Date: Mon, 10 Jan 2005 21:53:35 +1100
>Yeah i know the Bala's get VERY big :) (didnt find out untill AFTER they
>were purchased for me for a presant hence upgrade to 250L)
>They are all below 3 inchs long atm and i will get them a new tank when
>they outgrow the 250L,using the widely accepted theory of 1inch of fish per
>gallon of water i should be able to keep them for at least 18months or so
>in the 250L, i really want Bala's so a trade-in is out of the question!
>Allthough i am not purchasing the tank for another 48 hours or so, should i
>go bigger to start with even? As for filtration i was going to go with a
>bio-wheel filter but i have since heard they are not as good as they claim,
>forgive my noobiness for not knowing the correct name for filter i was
>planning on using but i will describe it as best as i can.The tank has a
>small part of it sectioned of and this contains the filter media and it has
>a couple of air lines runing into it, as for how it works i dont know, but
>what i do know is that owner of LFS CLAIMS that unless i am going to shell
>out a few hundred $$$ for an external cartridge filter it is the next best
>thing, he has a 250l tank with abut 30 6+ inch long fish in it (i dont know
>the species) running this filter , once established he does only 1 20%
>water change every 2 weeks! Using that as a benchmark i cant see how i
>would have to do an unreasonable amount of water changes when i only want
>one school of 6 balas and some rainbowfish? Remeber this is not a permant
>home for the bala's but i would like at least 18 months, if you honestly
>think a 2 inch bala shark could outgrow a 250l tank in 18 months i am in
>trouble! So keeping in mind that i want to keep my school of Bala's would i
>be safe with a school of 6 rainbowfish?
>Thanks for the input.
>Cheers Dunxy
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Scott Davis
> To: r_m_l at
> Sent: Monday, January 10, 2005 4:16 PM
> Subject: Re: [RML] Should i keep rainbowfish?
> Welcome to the aquarium hobby Dunxy!
> One of the first realities of the hobby is that some
> sellers have difficulties with numbers and the
> ultimate size of what they sell. That new tank sounds
> like a terrific tank. However it still might be quite
> small for one of those bala sharks (a cyprinid food
> fish also called Balantiocheilus melanopterus) which
> may grow to over 45 cm, much less a small school of
> them. You could experience the joys of doing 45%
> water changes up to several times a week and of
> exploring the world of heavy duty filtration. The
> heartbreak of their demise might be another possible
> experience,. Yours is not the best situation for a
> newer or an experienced aquarist.
> If you could trade them back in on a school of
> rainbowfish, they (for the moment) and you, would be
> better served.
> One of the really terrific rainbowfish sites is Andrew
> Tappin's Home of the Rainbowfish.
> While you are reading that [there' a quiz later ;) ]
> and ogling the photos, maybe RML members can suggest
> their favorite rainbows for a 50 l or 250 l tank. :)
> I'd suggest a small school of blue eyes for the 50 or
> two males and a female dwarf neon rainbow (Mel.
> praecox). For the larger aquarium yellow rainbows from
> Lake Tebera (Melanotaneia herbertaxelrodi) also
> irreverently nicknamed Herbies or Mel. lacustris or
> Mel. boesemani would be wonderful.
> All the best!
> Scott Davis
> > Hi all,
> Im new to tropical fish, I currenty keep a 50l tank
> with a school of baby Bala sharks and am upgrading
> this week to a 250l.I am thinking maybee a school of
> rainbowfish would make a nice addition to my new
> tank, I would like some that stay on the small side,
> is this a good idea? will they be ok with the silver
> sharks? What species should I get? I want to do this
> the right way from the start, so all input is
> welcome.
> Cheers
> Dunxy