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Ropefish (Room) and discussion


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Hi everyone, I've been building up a tank since September of last year to house ropefish in. Our LFS was recently able to finally get some and they are now in quarantine for the next few weeks.

I've noticed there hasnt been much discussion on ropefish here or elsewhere so I wanted to make this thread not only to talk about my journey owning these fish as I'm able to but to also discuss them in general. There tends to be alot of conflicting information about this fish around from whether it's brackish or freshwater, to what size it truly grows to on average.

To start things off say hello to Slender, Denim, and Gene who are currently in their quarantine tank.

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Edited by RickHunter
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@xXInkedPhoenixX They get to be about 18 inches and about as round as a sharpie marker from what I've heard from the few owners I've gotten to speak with. I feel like part of the reason people dont discuss them more is that there isnt as much information out there on the fish and that the information that is out there in cases doesnt always match up. For instance some people will insist that the ropefish can reach 3 ft in length but from what I've been able to dig up this was in the wild many years ago and there was never any other sightings of one at such a length. This case I feel makes some people insist you shouldn't keep a rope fish in anything less than say 180 gallon tank when some mentions they are looking to get one which causes the person to either never get a ropefish or not talk about it after getting one for fear of being constantly told their tank is not big enough.

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I thought about keeping ropefish being that they have been suggested as possible tank mates with small to medium spiny eels which I have one.  Their eating habits and behavior seem similar.  They are certainly fun to watch! It will be fun to see how you set up their tank and all.  I will advise (as you probably already know) to make sure the lid has no gaps for them to escape and that they can’t access filter intake tubes. I lost one spiny eel to a gap that seemed unlikely to be a problem but he did find it. 😔. I am afraid that the cats found him soon after.  (And they never confessed!😐)

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Oddball Aquatics on Youtube is really into ropefish and is trying to breed them. She's in contact with a biologist in the African Congo who is studying their lifecyle in the wild. Might want to check her out.

Anyways, they're really neat fish. I've heard them be listed as good tank mates for senegal bichirs, which I keep, but I just don't feel like I have the space for one. Definitely will be watching your thread.

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@Lifeisgood at @H.K.Luterman's suggestion I just looked at a video from oddball aquatics about the jumping thing they pointed out that a study showed these fish are sometimes refered to as "semi aquatic" and they added a turtle dock and plants that they could rest on as they can breathe air out of water for up to 8 hours. Said after that was done they never had their ropefish try to jump out again! So neat!

@RickHunter have you done this to your tank for them?

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Yes I'm aware of them being escape artists 🙂

I think part of it is that they are known to come out of the water onto land at the edge of the water to look for insects to eat. While I cant replicate that entirely I have a small turtle dock that I'm going to setup for them to slide out of the water in the hope that it curbs some of the crazier escape behaviors. Still have the gaps in the back of the lid sealed and am using a canister filter with a sponge cover in their future home.

So far they have been very active swimming all over their quarantine tank. They just settled down about an hour ago and I was able to snap this shot of them all together under a small piece of wood.
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Thanks' @H.K.Luterman I am aware of Oddball, she's one of the best sources for information on ropefish that isn't hidden in some archive or buried in scientific papers 🙂

I'm hoping when I move them over to the larger tank I can get some shots of them next to some coins so that people can better understand their size. They get long but like to curl up and they are about as round as a penny.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Update:

The Ropefish have now been moved from the quarantine into their new home tank. They are adjusting and starting to take food again but are still fairly shy when it comes to eating. The Brazilian Pennywort bundle in the corner has become their choice spot. They are active and out an about wiggling around every corner of the tank. I really like how they dip and weave themselves through the hairgrass.
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We did have 12 full size Amanos (or what we thought were 12...turns out half were Tiger Shrimp but cant really dispute that with AquaHuna since it took so long for their stripes to grow in) in the big tank where the Ropes were going. We decided to try keeping them in but after the first night we pulled them all out because two had died near the front of the tank. No signs that the Amanos that died were eaten or damaged so its likely that it was due to the stress of the Ropes frequently swimming through and around their hiding spots so frequently.

Hopefully as they settle in over the next few weeks they will more readily eat so we don't have to shower them in bloodworms 😛

They also like to hide in the Pennywort and just lay like this up against the glass
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Thank you so much for posting this!  I also love the picture of them bunched together under the wood - they look like they're smiling.  And great names! 

My partner is very interested in these fish, but was discouraged when we were told by an employee at our LFS that they get up to 3'.  (thank you for clarifying that, it's consistent with what we found after doing our own research too.) How big is your main display tank is for the ropefish, if you don't mind sharing?   

Edited by SWilson
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That is a very vibrant tank you have!

 

I thought about adding them to my brackish setup as I too have read that they have been caught at times in brackish ponds and streams, but I do not know how much salinity they can actually take for extended periods of time. I decided to omit them from my list since they don't seem to be a true estuarine species.

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@SWilson The tank is 75 gallons, I will try to get a picture of the full tank a little later today.

@Biotope Biologist Yeah I can understand that. I have seen them listed as brackish as well but again with all the conflicting information on them its really hard to know where to go with it. Thats why we need to talk about them more and make the right knowledge the common knowledge concerning them 🙂

Edited by RickHunter
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The Hairgrass has been trial and error so far (This is the 2nd time putting it into the 75 gallon, last set weren't getting enough light). I initially only had a Fluval Aquasky 2.0 on the tank and while the plants were doing fine for the most part, anything that was on the bottom proper was only just hanging on. Turns out the Aquasky cant get enough light to the bottom of the 75 gallon so I picked up the Plant 3.0 light and put it on the tank with the Aquasky and now my hairgrass has been growing and spreading really well (along with literally everything else in the tank). Like....I haven't done anything to that grass other than plant it and put some fertilizer in every now and then haha.

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3 hours ago, RickHunter said:

Turns out the Aquasky cant get enough light to the bottom of the 75 gallon so I picked up the Plant 3.0 light and put it on the tank with the Aquasky and now my hairgrass has been growing and spreading really well (along with literally everything else in the tank). Like....I haven't done anything to that grass other than plant it and put some fertilizer in every now and then haha.

Awesome! Thanks for the tip in case we do go for the 75 gallon.  But I totally agree, without a par meter, we have totally just been trial and erroring it with lights in our tanks 🤷‍♂️😝

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@Lifeisgood Actually Im having great luck with the hikari freeze dried tubifex worm cubes. I posted in another thread about it but I figured out a way to quickly saturate the cubes to sink using a horse syringe (without a needle). I saturate the cubes and swirl the syringe to break them up and squirt it back in the tank. It diffuses the food really well and spreads it out so everyone gets some. Then I saturate a few more whole cubes and sink those and the ropes just chomp them right up once they find them.

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Edited by RickHunter
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1 hour ago, RickHunter said:

@Lifeisgood Actually Im having great luck with the hikari freeze dried tubifex worm cubes. I posted in another thread about it but I figured out a way to quickly saturate the cubes to sink using a horse syringe (without a needle). I saturate the cubes and swirl the syringe to break them up and squirt it back in the tank. It diffuses the food really well and spreads it out so everyone gets some. Then I saturate a few more whole cubes and sink those and the ropes just chomp them right up once they find them.

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That is a great idea!

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Ok so I thought about it and figured it might be a good idea to post up a visual step by step of how I was saturating the freeze dried foods.

Step 1: Procure large syringe without needle. This particular one was found in the horse supplies at tractor supply for a few dollars
No description available.

 

Step 2: Remove plunger from syringeNo description available.

 

Step 3: Insert freeze dried foods to be saturated into the open end of the syringe tube
No description available.

 

Step 4: Replace plunger in syringe
No description available.

Step 5: Draw some tank water into the syringe to saturate the food
No description available.

 

Step 6: Keeping the syringe pointed up push the plunger until all the air it out of the syringe and it is only the waterNo description available.

 

Step 7: Place your finger on the end of the syringe to form a seal preventing airflow
No description available.

 

Step 8: Keeping the seal with your finger pull back on the plunger (there will be resistance, just be sure not to pull the plunger all the way out) to create pressure that will squeeze the air out of the food and saturate it with the water in the syringe. You may need to pull back and let go multiple times to get full saturation. Add more water to the syringe if necessary and invert the syringe to check if the food is sinking.
No description available.

 

Step 9: If your food is now saturated you can remove the plunger and pour the water and whole cubes in to sink.

Step 10: (Optional) If you would like to diffuse the food so that it is more spread out to allow more fish to get to it as well as allow scavenger fish a chance to scavenge for the food then shake and swirl the syringe after saturation to break up the cubes into their smaller component pieces. In this example I am using the freeze dried tubifex worm cubs which break up very nicely after being swirled and shaken.
No description available.


Results: Here is a short gif image that shows how the tubifex cubes broken up are small enough to squeeze out of the syringe into the tank and how they diffuse and slowly sink giving everyone a chance to get at them.
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Edited by RickHunter
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  • 2 weeks later...

The ropefish are doing really well now. Active on and off throughout the day. They bolt out of hiding within seconds of any tubifex hitting the water now and come right up to the surface to feed. They've also came up to use the funnel for blood worms.

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Now on the other hand everyone compliments me on the way the tank looks but recently this weekend I realized I'm bad at my job because we remembered that we hadn't rinsed the filter media since we installed it back in September. So that got done this weekend. This was clear tank water after squeezing one of 8 sponges that are in the filter.

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We swear the water turned so dark and brooding that it looked back up at us and said "I'm Batman!"

 

Also it looks like I have some algae starting. I'm thinking its staghorn algae. Likely it took root after we had to remove the Amano shrimp from the tank.

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PS: I dont understand why when I upload images to the forums every now and then it flips them upside down. Oh well.

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