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Black occie aggression


Richard

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G'day;

In the last month or so my male black occie has been VERY aggressive towards the female. When i first purchused the two the male showed signs of aggression towards her but never this much. At the moment he has pinned her up to the top of the tank and will not even let her take territory in a shell anymore. I thought i would add more shells and a rock pile to allow her some more hiding space but this hasn't seemed to solve the problem. However when she does manage to retreat into a shell and he hassalls her, she begins her tail flapping pre-breeding behaviour, although it doesn't take long until the male gets ticked off and chases her up to the top of the tank. I'm not sure what to do now as her fins are getting damaged day by day. I've thought about isolating her into her own tank, but thought what if once i re-introduce her back into the tank he will start misbehaving all over again. I know the males in these species tend to be very aggressive towards others, even killing their own kind but i have never had a problem with aggression while keeping these two fish. Before the aggression happened they had just spawned, yet only one fry was found. I was thinking of adding afew more into the tank ( 2fter ) but this might permanently disband their bond as a pair.

Any suggestions on what i should do would be greatly appreciated.

cheers; Richard

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I found a tall anubias useful for fish hiding when I had golds - the bullied fish could hide in the leaves when needed. I would not be adding any more fish to the tank - this is likely to end in deaths. I suggest you try floating some ag pipe for her as a refuge and see if this helps.

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I had a similar problem with my "Blue" occies

I moved the male (and his shells) into a net lined breeding basket and let the female get her strength back.

The male can see the female but not molest her....once she is fit....let him free.

She should be in breeding condition and ready to keep him Happy?

I wouldn't add any more unless it's a really big tank and they are females....maybe some dither fish...small rainbows? and one fry in the first spawn is not uncommon....should be more next time.

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and one fry in the first spawn is not uncommon....should be more next time.

It was their 4th spawn, the previous batches were all above 10.

I will give those a.g pipes a go.

cheers; Richard

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Is it a standard 2fter plus box filter? If so, you definitely need a larger space at least a 2x18x18. I had a breeding trio and they bred for about 6 months. After that, a female didn't spawn as often and the male kicked her out. She was banished to the top left hand corner of the tank.

You will need to take her out. No matter what you do, even introducing her later, the male will not accept her. That was the case for me anyway.

Good luck. They are an awesome fish! :)

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Very interesting.... Arj do you think i should put them into the 4fter i have their fry in and just dedicate that tank to them? If i introduce the male and female together into the 4fter what should i expect to happen? Will the male eat up the fry?

Just wondering does this mean their bond is broken?

cheers; Richard

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In the past I have bred occelatus by the thousand.

It has been my experience, once the male has rejected a female – that’s it- she’s out and he WILL NOT TAKE HER BACK. That is, the pair bond has broken, and there is nothing you can do about it.

You will have to remove her from the tank, other wise she will be killed.

Minimum tank size for this species I have always thought, contrary to their size, is 3’ due to these very “falling outs”. No matter how long they may have been together this falling out is always a potential.

In nature, I’m sure the female just moves along, and the male waits for another girl more to his fancy. The problem here is that they are in a fish tank, and if it is smaller than 3 foot, a fish tank too small. They are not like multifasciatus that will happily get by and eventually fill a two foot tank.

It may be anthropomorphic, but it has always been my thinking that when such a situation happens after a failed spawn, the male seems to blame the female for their lack of success, and kicks her out.

The only thing you can do is start again, add other fish, and allow him to make new choice. But a two foot tank is too small for these pocket dynamos.

Just wondering does this mean their bond is broken?

Broken, blown-up, destroyed, nuked, ended, finished, kaput, over. :cryblow:

Craig

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Broken, blown-up, destroyed, nuked, ended, finished, kaput, over. :cryblow:

Craig

Good to see someone from ANSTO unafraid to use the term nuked.

Atomic Energy here we come (we've already got a monorail)!

Cheers,

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It has been my experience, once the male has rejected a female – that’s it- she’s out and he WILL NOT TAKE HER BACK. That is, the pair bond has broken, and there is nothing you can do about it.

This hasn't been my experience.

I wouldn't give up without trying.....perhaps taking both fish out....remodelling the tank and then put them back together once the female is well conditioned....but do it on a weekend when you can keep an eye on them.

They will both be in a new enviroment and see the other as a potential new partner?

I find it hard to conceive that any fish can remember another if separated for a week....and if they can maybe absence will make the heart grow fonder? :lol5:

In my experience the desire to procreate often overrides other instincts! :lol1:

and the biggest drama occurs in most species when one is ready and the other isn't.

Put them in a bigger tank if you like...but not with the fry

I don't believe tank size makes any difference in aggression between a pair....it just gives the female more space to hide.

Worst comes to worst...buy a bigger tank and find some more females...but in my experience these little buggars are hard to sex so that might be a lot harder than it sounds!

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I find it hard to conceive that any fish can remember another if separated for a week....and if they can maybe absence will make the heart grow fonder?

Fish don't fall in love.

I have separated both female, and male for a period of around 1-2 weeks. Once the female was put back in, she was forced straight back into the corner (the tank was 4'8" bty). When the male was put back in after his time out, he went straight back to his shell/s and territory, and kicked out the female.... He absolutely positively knew his way around.

I didn't change the tank around (which is a tactic that may work) because the only decorations were a few shells, and some low rocks just hight enough to break up the females line of site from each other.

In my experience the desire to procreate often overrides other instincts!

In my experience you are playing around with a loaded gun, and with occelatus in a tank of this size, the gun has five chambers loaded. These fish when they get on, have some fantastic behaviours to observer, I love the way the female will duck under the male and all but wag her tail to turn off the male’s aggression towards her. I love the way the male will dart over if he sees the female doing some quick darting movements (eating her older spawn because she has a new one), and the male's very presents causes the female to leave the fry alone (she then darts under the male and wags her tail). I also love the way the male will break up disputes between two females. :thumbup:

But I don't love the way, for what ever reason, the male falls out with a girl, and from then on will not have a bar of her.

You maybe lucky, and put your girl back together with the male and be successful...but I bet your not. And in a tank as small as yours, the way it will end is already written.

Craig

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Fish don't fall in love

That's why I added the laughing smilie :lol1:

I didn't change the tank around (which is a tactic that may work)

It did for me

I suppose my observation is that a bonded pair stay close together in very small area.....the larger space is only needed if the male gets upset....and I'm working on the basis that if that happens...I'll intervene before he kills her.

If having them in a bigger tank doesn't help resolve aggression....once rejected that's it...Then I really don't see the point.

No doubt there is more effort and risk in keeping them in a smaller tank....so I agree it shouldn't be done unless you are prepared for the potential consequences....I am....same token there is no guarantee the same thing wont happen in a 4ft tank as you have pointed out.

How many females would you have with a male in a 4 ft tank?

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That's why I added the laughing smilie :lol1:

And I forgot to put my icon up! :thumb

I suppose my observation is that a bonded pair stay close together in very small area.....the larger space is only needed if the male gets upset....and I'm working on the basis that if that happens...I'll intervene before he kills her.

The problem with that is if you have a job, the chances are you won't be home if something goes wrong. And if it does go wrong it can do so fast. Even if you're home, if the tank is too small you may be too late.

If having them in a bigger tank doesn't help resolve aggression....once rejected that's it...Then I really don't see the point.

Sorry mate, not sure of your point. The bigger tank won't stop them from having a falling out, but it will stop the female from being killed in the short term. If you had the fish in a 4 foot tank, and kept the shells all in the middle, the female may still be in danger. In a 3-4' tank you will need to have all the shells at one end, to allow a female the full length of the tank to escape. In my tank I never lost a female, but I certainly had them retreat to the top courners of the tank. Has that responded/clarified what I meant?

so I agree it shouldn't be done unless you are prepared for the potential consequences....

But it is not you that pays for the consequences - it's the female. That is my whole point. You may be lucky, maybe you have a pair or small group that stays peaceful and happy, but in the past I have breed hundreds and hundreds of these fish, I completely flooded all my local shops with my young, and from my experience a falling out is not an if but a when. As good fish husbandry you have to be not only "prepared" but plan for it. And the simplest plan is not to have a tank that is too small.

How many females would you have with a male in a 4 ft tank?

As many as you want and that the male (males if the tank is big enough) will accept.

Craig

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I keep reading how these fish kill off their mate in the flash of an eye....but I haven't seen it happen.

I've seen aggression and rejection of a female....but no deaths

Perhaps if I didn't intervene when my pair had a parting of the ways...then that might have been the outcome....but I did?

Craig hasn't lost a female....has anyone lost a female without first noticing her under pressure from her mate?

I'm not talking about juvies or adolescents in the bonding process...established pairs.

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I haven't lost a female, but that is because my tank was big enough and I had their shells at one end.

A tank needs to be big enough to contain a fish's biological functions, as well as their personalities, in the good times and the bad. For all other shell dwellers I have kept, multis, brevis for example, the same can't be said for what I am saying about occelatus.

Let me ask you ash, if you hadn't removed your female, what would have happened to her? You can’t be there all the time. Just one day at work may be enough time for a female to be killed.

Other people are more than welcome to put up other comments to mine; I don't mean to be too dominating on this topic. Occelatus would happen to be one of my favourite fish, and when I had them I got right into their behaviour, and became really familiar with their ways.

I wouldn't have such strong opinions with many other fish, but for me, with occelatus, the first and foremost most important thing is to have big enough tank. And that tank needs to cater for their aggression should the female be kicked out, and not to cater for their size, or for the good times There bite is bigger than they make out to be, and anyone who has kept occelatus will know, they pack a punch in their little body.

I'll bow out of this conversation now and let others have their say.

Best regards,

Craig

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I haven't lost a female, but that is because my tank was big enough and I had their shells at one end.

Sorry...that's your assumption

Here's mine!

I haven't lost a female either, but that is because even though I keep them in small tanks.....I have rocks a bit smaller than fist size piled to the water line at one end and shells at the other and I don't allow any obviously harrassed female to stay in the tank unprotected in my absense.

:roll:lol1:

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I lost a female blue in a 2' due to aggression. Came home from school one day and found her dead and I'm not the kind of fish keeper to jepodise the health of my fish.

I kept 5 golds in a 4' after that without a problem, moved a pair into a 2x18 and the female was soon up the top behind the filter again...

Rod, if you weren't around for a bit (on holiday say) and the male turned on the female and chased her into the rock pile in MY opinion I'd say you'd almost deffinately havea dead fish on your hands upon your return. As he may not get her immidiately but he'll get her in the end.

I know another one of the forum members lost a female too because the male buried her shell with her in it....

Mick

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Fair enough Mick....Sorry that happened

Was there any signs in the morning that they weren't getting on?

Was your tank set up with shells at one end and rocks at the other?

Did this happen when they were New to the tank or once they were established and breeding?

Were they a Mated pair?

I'm interested to know the details of the experiences of other fish keepers to better assess if my theories have any validity or whether I have just been Lucky to date....as You and Craig suggest.

It has been my experience that the worst time for aggression is when you change their enviroment....that's when mine have been most upset.

I also keep mine in tanks side by side....I have a plastic screen between the tanks which I remove once a day....they(males and females) spar up like fighting fish....I believe it helps them dilute their aggression...more natural interaction,like having several pair in a large tank.

I've had a female buried by a male(which I saved because I noticed her missing)....but they were juvies/adolescent not a mated pair.

I think it is important to get all the facts to make a fair judgement....and particularly differentiation between their behaviour during the period where they are chosing a mate to that when they are breeding and attending to fry. I don't think it is resonable to assume that their behaviour isn't affected by their breeding status.

It is also my experience once your get a pair going....they are extremely prolific....even in a small tank :lol1:

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It is also my experience once your get a pair going....they are extremely prolific....even in a small tank :lol1:

Hey Rod, i did agree with this theory but it has been a week now and the male is still constantly harrassing her. I have taken her out and placed her into her own 2fter which i will feed her up and let her fins repair, lucky he didn't do any body damage on her. I will try re-introducing her into the tank in afew weeks.

Another reason i can think of as for why they are fighting in the first place is that recently i moved their tank into my garage, along with my other tanks. Earlier the tank was situated in the front room of the house under the 4fter, this meant that they got lighting early in the morning, and lights off at an approriate time in the evening. When i moved the tank into the garage i emptied the tank down 3/4 with them in it and then re-filled the water. The lanscape was exactly the same, and it was until afew days in the garage that i started noticing the male beating the female up.

Well I for one don't know whats going on, but i will keep in mind all the information in this reply to solve my problem.

cheers; Richard

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Well I for one don't know whats going on, but i will keep in mind all the information in this reply to solve my problem.

I don't have all the answers....all though some may argue that I think I do :yes::lol1:

but I am interested to hear the experiences of other hobbyist ,explain my experiences and discuss options.

In the end I believe fish act more on instinct than intellect...so understanding the triggers will Help us all become better fishkeepers....particularly with a fish like an occy.

Perhaps the reality is....in the wild...a male pairs up with a female for a number of spawns and then he instinctively chases her away(no small tanks out there) and finds another one....and this is part of this species instinct to ensure maximum variety in genetics of offspring??? so no matter what we do as Craig says once the pair bond is broken then that's it!

Trouble is NO aquarium fish get studied in the wild and often behaviour in the confines of a fish tank is misunderstood....because it is happening out of context.

I don't think anyone truely understands what motivates their aggressive behaviour...we can only guess.

but the more we experiment and discuss perhaps the closer we will get to an understanding?

Best of Luck!

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Hi Richard,

We have had the same problem with L. speciosus. After establishing pairs.

Having the best results in a three foot tank. Removing the male for 2 to 3 days to a seperate tank when aggresion has started. This allowing her to re establish her shells, most of our females hold two.

The female usually starts to prepare for a male to approach and spawn. While the male is in the chillout tank we move his shell and add more shells, before re introducing him. When putting a male back in he usually picks a shell and moves it, and buries it close to one of hers. Sometimes the male will take over one of the female shells and the female will move and bury another one. We put in 5 to 6 shells per pair.

These guys are not suitable for breeding in a community tank and 3 foot seems excesive for such little fish but that is where we have had the best result. Also no snails or catfish.

Sometimes our fry grow out with the parents quite well, although we have found that sometimes they also vanish. So once the fry are about 1cm we remove them to a smaller tank.

There has always been some confusion between L.ocellatus ( black ) and L. speciosus. Do a google search to determain what you have.

Hope this has been some help... Evan

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Thanks for the reply Evan :thumb Great first post also.

I had removed the female late last week into her own tank, i fed her up and her fins grew back pretty well. Just this morning i added her back in with the female, adding afew more shells but the male still beat her up. I have since taken her out into her own tank now. So do you suggest i try taking him out and leave the female back in the tank?

cheers; Richard

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