tetrazona, a species notorious for attacking the fins of fish such as gouramis, bettas, angels, and fancy guppies. They can also be guilty of generally harassing gentle tankmates. Are there any barbs that won’t nip fins? Sure there are! One of the best is the five- banded barb, Puntius pentazona. It looks a lot like a slightly smaller, more subtly colored tiger barb. It’s peachy pink in color with reddish-orange fins, with five rather than four greenish vertical bands. In terms of personality, it’s ideally suited to the planted community tank. Immediately after introduction the species tends to be shy, but if kept alongside calm, peaceful tankmates, a school of these fish will quickly settle down and bring the aquarist years of pleasure. At around 2 inches in length, it’s a great companion for things like small tetras, rasboras, small gourami species, and Corydoras catfish.
Generally hardier than mollies, the humpbacked limia Limia nigrofasciata should be kept with
several females to one male to keep peace in the tank.
Neon and Cardinal Tetras
Neons are said to be the most popular
aquarium fish in the world, and very few
aquarists haven’t tried to keep a school of
these gorgeous little fish. But while they are
certainly attractive fish, they often fail to
fulfill the hopes of aquarists who purchase
them. A major problem is disease; they
have been particularly plagued by one
or more diseases known to aquarists as
neon tetra disease. Whatever the precise
cause, the pathology is very consistent:
The infected neon hides, loses its color,
and then eventually dies. There are no
effective treatments. Many people blame the
unreliable health of this tetra on their mass
production on Southeast Asian fish farms,
though many other species that do not have
disease problems are also produced there.
The obvious alternative to the neon
tetra is the cardinal tetra, a very similar (if
slightly larger) species that is also extremely
popular, but it is also associated with health
problems. There are some differences
between the two, however. Neons need
fairly cool conditions to thrive, around
72° to 75°F being recommended, whereas
cardinals are hothouse flowers that do best
at temperatures of around 80°F, too warm for
those fish that require less steamy conditions,
such as danios and most Corydoras catfish.
Another difference concerns water chemistry
requirements. Neons will tolerate fairly hard
water, anything up to 15°dH, with a pH of
7. 5 being perfectly acceptable. By contrast,
cardinals only do reliably well in soft water,
MP. & C. Piednoir
Their aggressive and nippy tendencies make tiger barbs Puntius tetrazona a very poor choice to
combine with slow-moving or long-finned fish.
Only slightly less colorful than their tiger barb cousins, five-banded barbs Puntius pentazona are
much less aggressive toward tankmates.
and the aquarist really should try to keep
them in water no harder than 10°dH, with a
pH of 7.0 or lower.
The big advantage to cardinals, though,
is that while they are more expensive than
neons (being predominantly wild-caught
rather than farmed fish), they are much
less prone to neon tetra disease, although
sometimes these tetras do come in with
health issues too. Therefore, if you have
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