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jodie.lonergan

Why the stress?

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Why do my fish stress when I turn the light on? They are all fine and acting normal till then. When the light goes on they get pale and hide. New fish seem to be fine for a week or two but then they start too. My light is only a little clip on LED, and I have it angled so its mostly over one half of the tank. It's not exceptionally bright.

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It may not seem bright to you but to them it's quite startling. I would buy a timer and set the lights to go on for a set amount of time each day. They should then get used to the light schedule. I have my lights go on for about 2 hours in the morning so I can feed them before I go to work. Then the lights come on again in the evening for another 5 hours or so. In the morning, the lights are actually coming on after sunrise so the fish have already woken up and it's not such a shock. And in the evening the lights are coming on before sunset so they're never in total darkeness when the lights come on.

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My light is dimmer then the ones in the places I buy my fish, so I don't think it's too bright? I turn my light on at about 8am and its on for about 10 hours. I never turn it on when they have been in the dark cause I don't like it so I imagine they don't either. They won't even eat with the light on. Could it be the type of light and the way it "hangs" over the tank?

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The fish in the lfs, where you buy your fish, are possibly used to the lights there, and the routine to which they are turned on and off - which is the point Razzi is making. When it's dark, fish sleep, unless they are nocturnal eaters, etc. When lights suddenly come on, they become startled. I imagine you would find the fish in the LFS being startled as well if your were there first thing in the morning, but I believe they turn lights on specifically so the room lights from furthest away from the tanks first, to give the fish a chance to wake before tanks lights are switched on.

What type of fish are we talking about here? I kept some Cichlids which were fine for a while, but suddenly started hiding out whenever I entered the room. They'd come out to feed when I put food in the tank, but the rest of the time they hid. Maybe they've associated something fearful when they see you, as opposed to the light specifically...I had tanks above my guys and had to keep climbing above them (using a step ladder). I imagine I looked quite scary bieng so much bigger and above them (kind of like a bird of prey above the water...).

You could try leaving the light on and camouflage yourself as far away from their tank as possible and wait - see if they come out to look around...if you then slowly approach their tank and they disappear again, then it's you they've associated something bad with - doesnt matter if you're the best fish keeper in the world, if they've associated it with you, then it will take a dedicated effort from you to win them back, I think. I never really managed to win back my Cichlids, but then, in the end they were right not to trust me (Need for Betta tanks required them to move on).

I've gone down the timer road now. It comes on for 90 minutes in the morning so I can feed them and open the roller shutter to let natural light in, and then they come again early evening as the sun is beginning to set. Gives me a chance to go in and put the roller shutter down before the lights snap off a few hours later. When the lights come on, my guys all swim forward now and beg at the glass because they knows it's feeding time.

Give a timer a shot, or try hiding out and watching them, but only by changing and trying different things will you be able to get to the bottom of it...unless you learn to speak fish, and then I want to hire you to come round my place, because I'd love to know what my guys are thinking ;)

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I've got a couple of dwarf gourami, couple ember tetras, a few rummynoses, a black widow tetra. I also have a young bristlenose and a borneo sucker, but they aren't really affected. They all get along peacefully have been in together for quite some time now.

I get what your saying about associating me with bad stuff, but it really is only when the light is on. When it's off they don't have a problem. I can press my face against their tank and they couldn't care. Unless it has something to do with seeing me different when the lights are on. I'll try the hiding from them and see what happens.

It's a pretty small tank and it's on top of an old entertainment unit type thing, so it's at perfect adult face height and I spend ALOT of time watching them. When the light is on and they are hiding at the back they tend to hang around in the corner near the air stone. I can get right up to the glass there and they don't move away. I would put pictures up but I don't know how. They don't seem to react harshly to people walking past and there is a doorway near them.

Could it the LED light? They just don't like the light it emits?

Thank you for trying to help

Edited by magodes

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Is there much cover in the tank? The more cover you have, generally the more confident your fish will be, with the exception of Kuhli loaches - I think I have three, but the last time I saw one was weeks ago.

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I suppose the quick answer to your question about the light would be to move the light. Put it somewhere close by so it still lights up the area, just not directly on or over the tank...

If you can check that either as the cause, or off the list, then at least you're working through the issue and can either get a new light or try aomething else...

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I would tend to agree with 3 of the points above

1) Get a timer, it could take a month but they will get used to the schedule

2) Set the timer to turn on after dawn and turn off before sunset. So the light is not what is actually waking them up.

3) Get cover it make the fish come out more, Floating plants, submerged plants, moss, driftwood, caves, ornaments etc...

I use just LEDS and doubt that it is too bright, but if you think that it is infact too bright I would simply buy, a floating plant which would naturally dim the light (frogbit , Lillies, duckweed, etc..). But I doubt it is too bright.

I would add one more point.

Feed them on a schedule in an open part of the tank. This will take a while but they will learn this too and it will help get them used to coming out when you are around.

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... a floating plant which would naturally dim the light (frogbit , Lillies, duckweed, etc..)

woah there

there ain't nothing that'd make me put duckweed in my tank. Taken me hours of work to get it out!

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Thanks guys. I have established that it's not me. They hide no matter if I, or anyone else, are close by or not.

They have a large piece of driftwood with a cave type area that they can get to from either side, it is quite open but I have some java fern on another piece of driftwood and some green pennywort hiding the openings mostly.

I'll try moving the light and see what happens. then I'll try a timer.

How much of a variation can there be in their feeding schedule? I generally feed them within half an hour of the same times everyday and they always seem to know when it's feed time,

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It's not you, it's natural instinct. Quite simply most of your fish are food for larger fish, and birds that dive from above. Any light, bright or not, above a pretty sparsely decorated tank will send your fish hiding, especially as they never know what kingfisher is sitting above the light where they can't see. Dimly lit water is a bit safer to move around in.

In the LFS, usually there are many fish in a small tank, and it's a case of safety in numbers. The fish know there is a much greater chance that the predators will pick off some one else in the school. Also tetras like to be in schools of the same species. They are much more skittish when there is only one or two of their own species about. You can put 20 different species of individual tetra in a tank and they will never school and they will feel lonely. I know people like to see differences in body shape and colour, but many fish like to be in a school of their own type. I don't know how big the tank is, but your tetra would be happier if they were in schools of at least 6 per species.

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The other thing is the colour of your substrate; a darker colour will make the fish less skittish.

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