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Paradise fish shy/hanging out on the bottom


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Hi everyone, I have a behavior question for someone who's familiar with the species. I've had a paradise fish in my 20 long with WCMMs since November 19th. Parameters are all well within species recommended range (temp 69 pH is 6-6.2ish, kH is 0 since it's an ada soil tank, gH is ~100-150ppm, negligible nitrogenous waste, low flow w/sponge filter heavily planted and high light). He really seems to prefer to rest on the substrate and just comes up for food and to flex his labyrinth. Initially he shared this tank with 4 flagfish who he hated (no damage was exchanged but he would chase the males on sight), so I moved them to a new aquarium. He still seems to act the same way.

He doesn't seem ill, hasn't lost color, when he does swim up and around he's quick and lively, has a good appetite, etc. My best guesses now are

1. The lights are too bright for him, I have a stingray and about 2'' of substrate so the bottom of the tank is about a foot beneath the light. I noticed he seemed to be out a little more when I let the duckweed get out of control. I removed a bunch of duckweed when I moved the flagfish.

2. My presence bothers him (when he's not hungry/begging for food). I notice he tends to be out and about more early in the morning when i'm in the room, and some times I 'catch' him when I've left the room for awhile and come back, after he notices me he usually goes back in his corner. He can definitely see everything in the room around the tank.

3. I just need to give him more time, it took me a few days to get all of the flagfish caught (downside of providing a lot of plants and hiding places) and me chasing them with the net was probably stressful for everyone in the tank.

Any other ideas? My research and what others told me indicated that these guys usually prefer to hang out up top like other anabantids. I'm going to try to wrangle some non-duckweed floating plants and see if that helps. If this is just a personal preference thing on his part I won't worry too much about it, though of course I would love to see him out and about more.


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I agree with the bigger tank comment, size wise he fits fine but watching him swim he could definitely use more space, fortunately the stand my 20 long is on can easily be swapped to a 30. I think later this year he will get an upgrade, ideally I will have him in with bloodfin tetras and salt and pepper corries.

The tank being taller should also help with the lighting if that bothers him, since it will be more space for it to diffuse.

Edited by Kiefer
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