Saturday, October 16, 2010

Impatiently Waiting for One Piece.... leads to monologuing about Corydoras Paleatus

Soooo, here I am waiting for the masses that just slammed my beloved "One Piece" site to slowly slide back into the seething ocean of Kaizoku fans. I would be in there helping to slow the site down too if I were currently allowing myself to watch the most current episodes of "One Piece", but I am not. Promises were established with myself, that I would not watch current episodes until I managed to get myself accepted into a college. A college I really really want to go to. As of yet, there has been no luck, which is partially my own fault. Ok... mostly my fault. The first application got lost somewhere between here and the college, and it was such a pain in the butt to get all the paperwork together the first time that I haven't done it a second time. :P

Which means no new episodes of OP for me! However, this does not exclude episodes that have watched before... which means I was happily watching OP all the way through for a 7th time, when the new episode was posted and the site got slammed. I can't blame them. There is some really heavy stuff happening with Luffy, and I know this because I stumbled across some damned moron's post conversation in which he gave no warning about spoilers. *grrrrrr* Thus, I have some knowledge of what is taking place. *sighs* I wish I could highlight and delete portions of my memory. Mom can do that. It's impressive.

Instead of sitting on the site and waiting for eons to pass before my page comes up, I have begun staring at my fish again. Specifically, I'm staring at my newer 6 gallon tank that I got several weeks ago. It now houses 5 Black Phantom Tetras, 1 Serpae Tetra, 1 (insane) Red Phantom Tetra, 1 Sunset Wagtail Platy, and 2 Pepper Corys (aka the Pepper Twins, aka The Peppers). There is also of course Little Blue, who is housed in the (cursed) 3 gallon tank, and is still recovering his fins. Which is going well by the way. They're getting longer instead of shorter, but I had to remove most of his fake plant life, as it was plastic and could do further damage. Little Blue is not at ALL pleased with me. Every time he sees me he swims quickly to the front of the tank where he gives me the fishy eyeball of disapproval, which is infinitely worse than the proverbial 'hairy eyeball'.

I know what you aquarists out there are saying. "YOU HAVE 10 FISH IN A 6 GALLON TANK!?" pauses for breath,"ARE YOU NUTS! THEY'RE STARVING FOR OXYGEN!!"

Before you turn blue shouting at your computer screen, please note that they're in a Marineland Eclipse system with biowheel. They have a Whisper air pump in there, and I change out the water (25% to 30%) at least twice a week. More often if I think the water looks even slightly weird. Actually the water looks pretty weird anyway. The pH balance was off the charts, and only had luck at leveling it off by putting driftwood in, so the water is the color of weak tea. BUT the point is, I am compensating for the space crunch until I am able to afford a separate tank for the Tetras. My Sunset Wag is getting the 6 gallon to himself and three ladies of the same species. The Peppers will also be staying because I'm scared to death to move them, or do anything to screw with the tank. I can keep anything else alive except Pepper Corys. Awful, awful luck with Peppers. I'm terrified of getting other species of Corys because I'm afraid I'm going to kill them.

The Peppers are wonderful to watch! Very active, and they keep my tank clean. So, when I started losing them, I tried doing some research on how to get them to stop dropping dead. Apparently I'm an anomaly. Everyone else has theirs for YEARS. Mine are lucky if they last a week. Because everyone has Corys that last for years, apparently keeping them alive hasn't been an issue... which means when you search for them on the net to find out how to keep them alive you get,"Very hardy fish. No extra care necessary." and "Are fine in any tank." and "Great for first time fish keepers." .... yeah... No one took me into account.

SO, here is my little information area for those of you who are having trouble keeping Peppered Corys alive. First off, the scientific name (not that this is necessary for keeping a fish alive) is "Corydoras paleatus". They are extremely peaceful in a community tank, but that doesn't mean other species in the tank will keep that in mind. As some of you will recall, I had a demon possessed Sunset Wagtail Platy that tore up every other fish in the tank. He tore a hunk out of my poor little Pepper, ate most of the tail off Little Blue, and ripped all of the head scales off his fellow Sunset Wag, who is now currently alone because I took the evil one back to the pet store. Where I have been assured that the Gourami have shown him the error of his ways. A lesson to me and everyone. Platys can be vicious, (actually, given the right circumstances any fish can be vicious... although I have a hard time believing that of a Cory) and are NOT always a perfect community tank fish. Most of the sites I visited said,"Platys and Corys make good tank mates!" Keep in mind that what they DON'T say is that if you are going to get Platys, make sure you've got a male for every 3 females. NOT two males and NO females. It makes demon possession possible. You have been warned.

Now, back to the subject at hand. Peppered Corys. ... where was I... Ah yes. No really good information sites. At least not one that I saw. In my case, I wanted to know why I'd find the Peppers playing dead at the top of the tank. They DID look dead, hanging sideways like that, and the others would just be ill by the time I got home. Finally I just started stringing bits and pieces of information together and formed a rough hypothesis. Please understand here, I am a NOVICE at keeping fish and may give incorrect information. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS double check ANY source of information. Even if the person is said to be an expert! The people at the pet shop in the Aquarium department DO NOT KNOW EVERYTHING! Do your own research!

1.) Almost every site when presented with the floating problem, or tilting problem, immediately said,"Swim Bladder problem!" Uh, your Cory does not HAVE A FREAKING SWIM BLADDER. You may have observed your Cory swim lightening fast to the top, and then back down leaving a bubble in their wake?? Yes? I call the little bubble, the "down bubble." What is actually taking place is the Cory is getting a gulp of air, swallowing it, and running it rapidly through its intestinal tract. Air is captured in the Cory's stomach and perhaps pockets in the intestines that allows it to stay upright, rise, fall, and swim with efficiency. What air it doesn't need is passed out the anal vent as it swims back down. Thus, the 'down bubble'.

2.) If your Cory is spending a lot of time at the top of the tank there could be two reasons. At least two reasons that I've confirmed with mine. These reasons do not include injury or illness due to disease.
**The first being that your tank may not have enough oxygenated water for the Cory to breath comfortably. He's up there hanging/resting in water that has a higher oxygen content. This happens especially with an overloaded tank (like mine. 10 freshwater fish in a 6 gallon tank is not big enough. And don't go pointing at the pet shop aquariums which are loaded with fish. They sell fish every day. They never have a constant number in those tanks. The good pet shops also do daily water changes on those, and work hard to maintain a good balance of beneficial bacteria to combat ammonia loving nastiness.) and can be alleviated in part (until you get another larger tank) with an air pump. Since I got the air pump, and run it for several hours before bedtime, I have not had the 'dead hanging Cory' syndrome.
**The Second reason has to do with diet. Corys eat everything and anything. That means they like a variety in diet, so if you're just letting your Cory eat Tetra flakes, you can expect a constipated Cory. Yes, even fish can get constipated. If a Cory is constipated, he can't pass air effectively through his intestinal tract, which will cause him to be unable to maintain stability. Ie, if you see your Cory floating on the surface, floating in general, tilting to one side, racing up to get a gulp of air and then sputter out on his way back down with NO 'down bubble', then you've got a Cory with intestinal distress. Solution? Cook some peas, shell a pea, smash both sides of what you find inside, and deposit pea in the tank. If your Cory had been constipated for too long, he will have no desire to eat... and then you're sort of out of luck. The best course of action is preventative feeding. Feed a cooked, shelled and smashed pea a least once a week. Make sure your Cory has access to sinking Algae tabs, and feed live food every once in a while if possible. Bloodworms will work fine frozen. Tetra flakes are fine too... just as long as it's not the only thing they're eating.

3.) Sometimes the Cory you get is just sick to begin with, and there is nothing you can do to fix it. Many of the pet shops order from places that breed these little guys in the thousands, and they're poorly bred. Think puppy mills. Lots of fish with genetic issues being bred back to other fish with genetic issues. This makes for a much more fragile Cory than expected. Currently I have two Corys that managed to survive. One is always active, always on the food hunt and hasn't mysteriously died yet. So pessimistic am I. Pepper 2, is not as active, was constipated when I got him, and although he has improved, I will not be surprised if I find him doing the 'hanging dead Cory' and it being a case of fact, rather than resting. All the Corys that have died have had a dark coloration rather than light, and I have to wonder if that is proverbial signal flare that, in my area at least, it is probably not genetically healthy. I am not saying that is a blanket truth, because I'm sure it's not. Corys in your area may be just find with any coloration given.

4.) Now.. this last part is pure speculation on my part. I have brought home 5 Peppered Corys since I started my first (cursed) 3 Gallon aquarium back in June. The first was just fine for 13 days, and for totally unknown reasons died. This may have been due to an ammonia spike, because at the time, I was an ignorant moron where fish keeping was concerned, BECAUSE I HADN'T DONE ENOUGH RESEARCH. Later, when I got the 6 gallon tank, and cycled it, I got 1 Black Phantom Tetra, 1 Serpae Tetra, and 2 Peppered Corys. All fish concerned were just fine at the pet shop, AND in the car outside the pet shop. However, by the time I got home, one of the Peppers was nowhere near as active as his buddy. Four days later I took him back, still alive but unwell, and got 4 Black Phantom Tetras and 2 more Peppered Corys. Both Corys were active at the store, and in the car outside the store... but when we got home, one was barely moving and died later that week. The other was the one that is doing better, but it wouldn't surprise me if he kicked off. Now... The only thing I can think of that is different between the Tetras and the Corys is that Tetras have an air bladder and the Cory does not. Why is this significant? Because I live at 3,000+ feet, and the pet store is slightly below 1,000 ft in elevation. Keep in mind that I'm speculating wildly here. I think part of my problem is that the Corys have a much more difficult time dealing with a rapid change in elevation, while the Tetras can adjust more readily with an air bladder. Same with the Platys. The Peppers act sick because they take longer to acclimate to an elevation change that they'd never encounter in normal conditions. Even the active Cory was sick for about 4 days before snapping out of it. The other... well we'll see if he gets better or not.

Any Cory is get going to be something of a clown. The one I have that isn't doing as well as he could be, likes to stick himself in the weirdest places, and I'll turn on the aquarium light and panic because he looks like he's smashed underneath the driftwood, when in fact he's fine. They don't seem to have the same spacial reality that most fish have, which means they will swim upside down sometimes, especially when they go to get a swallow of air. But this should be very brief, and should not last for more than a few seconds. Keeping Corys healthy and happy is actually a lot more work than some would have you believe. But then I'm willing to bet that not a lot of people have the same circumstances I do. Anywho, hope this helps someone somewhere.

Now... I'm going to go see if my One Piece site is back to working. Perhaps it crashed. I rarely see that site get so sluggish. I guess I will also work on getting another application together for the college I was after. Then... I'll have to figure out how to pay for it. :P

... what a pain.

1 comment:

Callie said...

Helpful info about the "corydoras paleatus." Hope the little cory gets better.