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 My Corys look fat...

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DL Lawrence
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PostSubject: My Corys look fat...   Sun Nov 18, 2012 8:58 am

I have 5 Albino Corys in my 55 gal FW. I don't know if this is normal, so I'm going to ask. They appear and act healthy, with the exception of thier big white bellies. The biggest (Fat Mac Daddy, pic attached) looks pregnant. He is about 5/8" wide, and a full 2" long at least. Maybe he's not a daddy. Anyway, it seems that all the Corys I see in LFS's don't look like this. Is this an indication that I'm overfeeding, and there is too much food hitting the bottom, and these fish are just gorging? Can fish get fat? Or, is this just normal? Thanks in advance for any advice, suggestions, and opinions.
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PostSubject: Re: My Corys look fat...   Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:20 am

That does not look quite right to me, honestly, but Deb ought to chime in on it.

Are the scales sticking out like pine cones?

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PostSubject: Re: My Corys look fat...   Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:28 am

Hi Liz-

No, they don't appear to be- you can obviously see the lines, but if you look at them closely, they are smooth on the sides.
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PostSubject: Re: My Corys look fat...   Sun Nov 18, 2012 12:05 pm

Your cory looks bloated. When corys live on gravel, they often may become bloated. One reason is small particles of food get trapped in the gravel, where they begin to spoil. The cory, in his normal quest for food, digs into the gravel and finds the food which has started to spoil. If he eats it anyway, then some things start to happen internally. Several digestion problems arise, and one of them is gas.

This phenomenon is an established fact in the world of Corydoras breeding and husbandry. Corys kept on gravel have far more health problems - and far more health problems which result in fatalities - than corys which are kept on sand. In your photo, the gravel is IMO far too big of a particle size for corys. Very tiny gravel - such as Peace River, by CaribSea - is the largest size gravel which should be used with corys. Sand is preferred above all substrates.

I realize you are already set up with gravel and it's beautiful gravel, too. I believe I complimented it when you first joined us. Very Happy But it is not the ideal substrate for Corydoras.

What you can do now is feed the corys a food which will move their digestion along. Fresh or freeze-dried daphnia is recommended to try. Frozen, shelled, unsalted peas which have been parboiled for a couple of minutes might be a good idea. Feed this kind of food for a couple of days. In general, you do not have to feed corys every day.

Large particle gravel presents many problems to Corydoras catfish. It traps food and debris and the cory needs to expend a lot of energy to push the large particles aside. Also, it's very hard on the barbels which are not made for moving gravel. Barbels are sensory organs which are used for finding food and mating rituals. If they are used too often to move objects, they will wear away. It is only a short step from the beginnings of barbel erosion to death. If you love corys and want to continue with them, at some point you might want to change part (or maybe all) of your tank from gravel to sand.

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PostSubject: Re: My Corys look fat...   Sun Nov 18, 2012 5:33 pm

Hi Deb-

Thanks for the EXCELLENT, albeit discouraging information. You certainly know your cats.

I never would have thought about that when stocking my tank. I used the Aqua Advisor stocking calculator for number and species compatibility, but was ignorant to the fact that the substrate was going to make that much of a difference for those Corys. That sucks, because I've obviously not done them any favors by putting them in my tank.

A re-substrate project is something that right now I don't think would be a good idea, nor am I willing to tackle at this time. The tank has only been up for 4 months or so, and there are some new inhabitants. I can't imagine that wouldn't be uber- stressful for everyone in there. So that's out for now. I can certainly feed them some peas; where do you get freeze-dried daphnia (and what is it, btw?), and I'll do so.

There's many other types of fish that I would enjoy in addition to Corys, so I guess the best thing for me to do would be to re- home them somewhere, and perhaps replace them with another community species that is more suited to gravel. Man, I sure wish I'd have known that when I got them.

I'm shocked- shocked I say- that no one at the LFS where I bought them bothered to ask me about my substrate... NOT.

Live and learn, I guess, but it stinks when the fish pay the price for my ignorance.

If anyone would like these 5 albino corys, or knows anyone, let me know. Free to good home, as long as you have a suitable substrate. Having gas all the time can't be any fun for those dudes.

Thanks again for the info-
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PostSubject: Re: My Corys look fat...   Sun Nov 18, 2012 5:55 pm

DL -

Deb's post is awesome as usual and obviusly doesn't bare you the greatest of news.

Could you possibly start a smaller tank for the Cory's with sand and keep them?

You sir have my utmost respect -- asking an excellent question, posting a great picture, receiving an outstanding response and then looking to do the right thing for the fish.

In most cases we ALL learn as we go.....



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PostSubject: Re: My Corys look fat...   Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:38 pm

Gundog is right - that is a totally great picture! In fact, when we get our library going, I'd like to have your permission to use it as an illustration of this condition.

Daphnia, I believe, is some kind of water flea. You can get it in freeze-dried form at many pet stores. Frozen Daphnia may be harder to find at the LFS. It might be in the freezer where they keep the bloodworms, but you'd have to ask.

The reason Daphnia is recommended for this ailment is that it has a lot of roughage. Apparently, all the skeletal parts add up to a nice crunchy bunch of fibrous crustacean waste that passes easily through the intricate digestion of the Corydoras.

I may have opened up a whole can of worms (and I don't mean the ianjones blackworms kind *lol*) by mentioning gravel vs sand. If this were a different website we'd by now have a whole bunch of folks posting to say that they keep their corys on gravel and they are "fine." Well, perhaps they are. If the gravel is deeply vacuumed and often, and the corys are fed so much food that they eat it all from the surface, then maybe some corys can live for a while on gravel.

I, myself, do not think that corys can like gravel very much. They can't move it around easily. They can't sift through it. They can't shoot it out their gills! It's just not much fun for them but, being very gregarious and amenable creatures, they try to make the best of it. Ask on any catfish website or any dedicated cory forum and you will be told that sand is the preferred substrate for them, but I wouldn't expect the average help at the LFS to say that. Most aquariums are still set up with gravel and no one thinks much about it.

You are right not to change substrates right now but if you could vacuum it a little deeper that would help. Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: My Corys look fat...   Sun Nov 18, 2012 10:14 pm

Gundog- I have actually been thinking about starting up a smaller tank....l'm looking for the right used combo tank/stand that will look OK in my office (probably a 20 tall). I was also going to use it for plants, and was planning on using a much finer substrate, probably sand over flourite. So I'll have to accellerate the process of finding one.

I'll look for some daphnie, and try some peas. It will obviously be a while to set up and cycle a new tank, so hopefully someone will adopt them; I hope they hang in there until something changes. Hopefully the change in diet will help.

Deb, I usually try to do a pretty good job of vacuuming during water changes, but I'll see if I can keep the gravel cleaner. I'm pretty picky about keeping things clean. You are more than welcome to use the picture.

At the end of the day, I'm (and the Corys, of course) are paying the price for cheaping out on the substrate, and not doing enough research on it.
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PostSubject: Re: My Corys look fat...   Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:31 pm

OK- Update.

I have acquired, via Craigslist, a nice 20 tall with a stand that looks pretty much new (the stand looks a bit cheesy, but I can work with that for the time being).

The plan is to start up this tank, and have the substrate be sand over flourite. Sand for the Corys, and flourite for the plant roots. I guess the first question would be-- is this cool? It makes sense to me, but....what do you think? It will eventually be a planted tank, with some inhabitants. Don't know who yet, other than Corys.

My second question is this...obviously, I'd like to get this tank up, cycled and running ASAP. I like over filtration, so my 55 has 2 AC70 HOB's on the back and the UV sterilizer running. It runs very good numbers- 0 Am, 0 NO2, and just before a WC, I might have 15-30 NO3. After the WC, NO3 is usually around 5 or less. WC is weekly.

Can I start up this new tank by a)using water from the 55 during the WC process, and b) use one of the AC70's, which already has the biologicals I need in it, and just use one on the 55, until I order a new one, and use the new one to replace the "seasoned" one I removed from the 55? Will this cause a spike in any of my readings in the 55? Or, do you think there's enough biologicals between the substrate and the one AC 70 to keep things normal (or normal enough) until I replace the one I put on the new tank? Or is this a dumb idea?

Thanks, I appreciate the help.

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PostSubject: Re: My Corys look fat...   Wed Nov 21, 2012 6:12 pm

That's awesome DL - now you can keep those Cory's!

The 20 tall will give you a few more inches in heigth which will be nice for taller plants.

I wouldn't mix substrate, it could end of being a "chocolate mess" --- you should have no problems growing plants in sand, many people do - myself included.

A,) Water from your 55 will not improve cycle time on the 20.

B.) Yes! that will work, but I think an AQ70 on a 20 gallon is going to be too much flow and overkill on a 20 gallon.

Here is what I would do if I were you:

I would purchase an Aquaclear 30 for the 20 gallon ($25 Amazon/Ebay for new - I bought one recently for $11 used ebay- yeah to me - I like to save).

Then I would take the media out of one of the Aquaclear 70's and use it in the Aquaclear 30 (you may have to cut it down to fit) and you will have cycled media on the 20 gallon.

You can then buy new media for the 70 which you robbed.

Losing the media from one of the 70's should not affect the 55 cycle, you still have a lot of media in the other, untouched, AQ70.

To be honest, I have two Aquaclear 70's on my 55 gallon as well and I doubled up the sponges in each of the 70's with sponges that fit my Aquaclear 50 and Aquaclear 30.

I've robbed the extra media on several occasions which I have used on some 20 longs and 30 gallon tanks.

I've never had any issues after robbing the media in the 55 and that's an overstocked, overfeed and over loved hap/peacock tank...

So load up those 70's with extra sponges, you'll be glad you did as you'll always have cycled media for yourself, your friends and your family!

Hope all this makes sense!

You are right on with your thoughts....






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PostSubject: Re: My Corys look fat...   Thu Nov 22, 2012 6:49 am

Thanks for the feedback.....sounds like this should work. I was thinking that the plants would root in the flourite, under the sand, but since you mention it, I can see how that would get messy, after planting a few plants, or moving some stuff around. Interesting comments about loading up the 70's with sponges. I've heard people bagging the carbon and even the bio stuff.
We'll get going on this over the weekend, and hopefully have a sand substrate, cycled tank soon- thanks again!

Everyone have a great Thanksgiving! Blackworms for everyone in the tank today! Smile
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PostSubject: Re: My Corys look fat...   Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:47 pm

OK, so I got this thing up and going; as I'm not one for wasting time. I used Tahitian black sand for substrate. I don't have chlorinated or treated water (we have a deep well), so I washed the sand, filled the tank, and put some basic stuff in (rocks plants). Treated water with Excel (which I use in the 55) and API Stress Coat. I have found over the past few months that after repeated testing, my fears of our well water being too hard are unfounded, thankfully. Hardness is 6 Gh and 7Kh.

Stole the plants from the 55. Lights are temporary until my 24" T5 HO arrives, with the new filter. In the interest of saving time, I just moved one of my AC70's over to the new tank. I have an smaller one ordered- when it gets here, I'll move the 70 back to the 55. I can use some "seasoned" media in the new filter when I put it on. Shouldn't be more than a week.

I'm going to run it for 24 hours to let the tank and temp stabilize, test the water parameters, and tomorrow acclimate the Corys to their new home. I'll continue feeding par boiled peas; I'm still looking for Daphnia. Hopefully, they will eventually "deflate" and become happy in their new environment. More plants to come when the T5 arrives.

Have a missed anything? Should this work OK?

Here's a picture of the setup, yes, I do like blue backgrounds. I had enough leftover from the 55 to do this tank.


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PostSubject: Re: My Corys look fat...   Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:38 pm

Oh yeah.... that has really come along in just a short period of time.

Looking forward to seeing a shot with the cories included.

Are you going to add anything besides the cories?

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PostSubject: Re: My Corys look fat...   Sat Nov 24, 2012 6:52 pm

Hey Tracy-

Here how we look now. I have continued to put a few peas in there, but they don't seem to like them. I'm trying to keep the feeding to a minimum; hoping that if I can get some daphnia in there, and they'll eat it, that they'll begin to look better. They seem to be happy and acting normal. Not yet sure who their tank mates will be yet. I'm considering options...
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PostSubject: Re: My Corys look fat...   Sun Nov 25, 2012 7:41 am

happy to see someone likes a blue background! looks great!
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PostSubject: Re: My Corys look fat...   Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:04 pm

OK, update time.

The 20 tall has settled in nicely. I was able to find some Daphia (at P.A.W), and after a couple of weeks, added 8 black neons as roomies for the Corys. They don't seem to be as excited about the Daphnia as they are about the Tetra Min flakes, but they do eat it- I kept them on a pretty lean diet for a while. There are live plants, and Tahitian black sand for the substrate. The tank runs good numbers.

The Corys certainly do seem to be thinner- especially Fat Mac Daddy, although he's still a pretty big guy- but he's much less rounded on the bottom. The others are looking great. It's cool to watch those dudes rifle through that substrate- they seem to really dig it.

The neons are doing very well, and look and act very healthy. So, hopefully we're good to go. Here's a picture as of this evening. My camera is acting jacked up, so I couldn't get a close up like I did before- I'll try again.

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PostSubject: Re: My Corys look fat...   Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:21 pm


Glad you decided to make a new home for those Cory's, the tank looks great!

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PostSubject: Re: My Corys look fat...   Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:23 am

Nice tank. Glad to here the Cory's are doing well.

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PostSubject: Re: My Corys look fat...   Sun Dec 16, 2012 8:20 am

Here's a closeup, albeit a bit blurry (camera still acting up) of Fat Mac Daddy, who is in the pic in the original post- not nearly as rounded on the bottom- he's the one on top.
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PostSubject: Re: My Corys look fat...   Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:37 am

The top cory in this photo looks completely normal and healthy! And the tank is looking great, too. ThumbsUp Sorry my comment comes a bit late. How are the plants doing?

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PostSubject: Re: My Corys look fat...   Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:03 pm

Hi Deb!

Thanks for the observation! All the Corys in the tank seem to be doing great- they really like the sand, and all appear to be very healthy. I've had them about 6 months now, so they're doing great. The black neons in the tank are doing well too, and they've been in there about 4 months now, I guess. The plants in this particular tank are going well- much better than the ones in my 55 and 10 gals, which seem to have considerably more algae on them. Which is weird, I think, because all three tanks have the same lights, for the same amount of time each day. There's a bunch more plants in the tank with the corys now, and a couple of assassin snails- I had a pretty big pond snail bloom in the tank the last time I added plants, so they're doing their thing. There's a pretty recent picture of the tank in my gallery...
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