Lima Shovelnose & snails & tankmates

All posts regarding the care and breeding of these catfishes from South America.
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dstringf
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Lima Shovelnose & snails & tankmates

Post by dstringf »

I have a 55 gallon tank that I haven't started to fully stock yet. I plan on getting one or two of the Lima shovelnose catfish, and was curious if they would eat any of the Malaysian Trumpet Snails in the tank? If not, what would you recommend I add to keep them in check but not eat them all? I will also have angelfish which I've read are suitable tankmates. On that subject, would loaches be suitable tankmates with the lima shovelnose? I've heard they like to snack on the MTS.
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Post by MatsP »

I'm not sure what sort of snails (if any) a Lima will eat, but I want to make sure that you're aware that a 55g tank will be too small for this fish by the time it's beginning to reach it's full size. They reach about a foot + tail, and a 55g tank is usually only about a foot wide and a foot + a bit tall. It needs to be at least twice that in both those directions. It also needs to be at least 4 foot long, which makes it about 400l or 100+g.

If you haven't got the space, sure about the finances, etc for such a tank, I'd say you're better of getting some fish that ends up a little bit smaller in full size.

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Post by dstringf »

MatsP wrote:I'm not sure what sort of snails (if any) a Lima will eat, but I want to make sure that you're aware that a 55g tank will be too small for this fish by the time it's beginning to reach it's full size. They reach about a foot + tail, and a 55g tank is usually only about a foot wide and a foot + a bit tall. It needs to be at least twice that in both those directions. It also needs to be at least 4 foot long, which makes it about 400l or 100+g.

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Thats weird, from what I've been told up to now, the Lima is the "smaller" guy recommended for my size tank, versus the tiger which I knew would very easily outgrow my tank.
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Post by MatsP »

Well, that's true. A Tiger Shovelnose will grow much bigger than a foot, more like three feet. There are two different species listed as Tiger Shovelnose, but both are said to grow to just over a meter, so slightly more than three feet.

If you have a look in the Cat-eLog, you'll find the relevant data on how large they grow.

Given the choice between those two, I'd say the Lima is the "lesser of two evils". A bit like saying, "I can't have a lion in my house, so I'll have a Lynx".

The Lima is definitely more practical to have in a tank, but a 55g is definitely going to be small for it once it reaches it's full size. You'll need a bigger tank at some point, but it's obviously feasible to keep it in a 55g until it reaches a bit more than 6" in length. I just wanted to point out that it's definitely one of those fish that may grow past the 6" measure that is suitable for a standard shaped 55g tank [and non-standard shape isn't going to help much because there's only so many reasonable ways you can make a 55g tank].

So, the conclusion is: you can start with a 55g tank for a Lima (or tiger shovelnose), but you're going to end up with another bigger tank needed at some point. In the case of a tiger, you'd also need to build a separate room for it, as it'll need a tank/pond that is at least 14 foot long and six foot in other directions.

I'd say that a Lima is a suitable fish for a large tank, but 55g may seem like "large" to you, but in reality it isn't in this case.

If this was cars, it's like saying that a Chevy Suburban is a midsize, just because it's smaller than a tractor/trailer unit.

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Post by dstringf »

Thanks, I will keep that in mind and may consider another bottom dweller for my tank. I always knew a tiger was out of the question, but had heard the Lima would only get about 8". The common info I had found on the internet states a 55 gallon is big enough for 3 limas!
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Post by MatsP »

dstringf wrote:Thanks, I will keep that in mind and may consider another bottom dweller for my tank. I always knew a tiger was out of the question, but had heard the Lima would only get about 8". The common info I had found on the internet states a 55 gallon is big enough for 3 limas!
Yes, I had another look at the cat-eLog, and it says that you could keep three in a 55g. If they commonly do not grow larger than about 8" total length, then it's probably OK to keep one or more in a 55g, but if they actually grow to 12" plus tail then it's far to small, which is the "max size" according to the cat-eLog.

I do know that a lot of fish grow much smaller than the maximum size, for a variety of reasons (amongst them the same reason as we're not all 7 feet tall, although some people are, we're just genetically not the same size).

So having said all this, I'd say you can get one (or more) and see how it goes. Just keep in mind that it MAY outgrow your tank at some point in it's life.

[the rule is: Don't count on fish being smaller than their maximum size if the tank is going to be the limit].

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Post by dstringf »

MatsP wrote: Yes, I had another look at the cat-eLog, and it says that you could keep three in a 55g. If they commonly do not grow larger than about 8" total length, then it's probably OK to keep one or more in a 55g, but if they actually grow to 12" plus tail then it's far to small, which is the "max size" according to the cat-eLog.
Good, I wasn't dreaming. :) I will keep that in mind still though. They are beautiful catfish.
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Post by sidguppy »

if you can get a 100G, 6 foot tank wich is at least 20" wide; you can easily get a few lima's and they'll be happy too. make sure the tank isn't overly lit and open structured, it needs room to roam as said.

it does NOT eat ANY snails; S lima is a piscivore wich really likes to eat live fish and little else.

with some effort you can trrain it to eat dead fish (like the frozen smelts you can buy for your cat), earthworms, shrimp, krill and the like.
lima's do not eat flake or such.

it's a very docile, shy fish; very mild mannered too.
this is important as it is very easily outcompeted when combined with voracious feeders.

I've kept 2 lima's with a wide variety of catfish and other weirdo's, and it went very well until I combined it with semi-sized Synodontis and Schilbe.
no agression at all; but the swine-like Schilbe's always got to the food before the lima's knew it was feeding time....

with Spiny Eels, Knife-fish and Polypterus eels they were great; all piscivores, but all slowmovers.

other great tankmates are Hoplo's. Hoplo's and lima's mix very well.
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Post by Taratron »

8 inches? o_O We have a lima at the zoo that's over a foot long, in a 200 gallon tank, and even to me that tank doesn't seem large enough!
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Post by PlecoCrazy »

I have kept 3 Lima's together for many years. I started keeping them 15 years ago and about 7 years ago I read the same thing in the cat-elog that you could keep 3 in a 55 gallon so then the dream began. I purchased two more to add to a 55 that currently was housing a Lima. That 55 Gallon got very crowded in the next year or two, my largest Lima was a little over a foot with the other two around 9". Given that a 55 is only 12" Deep, an over foot long fish has to angle his body in order to turn in the tank. To me that meant his tank was too small for him to be very happy. I eventually moved them to a 75 Gallon were they seemed fairly happy. My conclusion is basically that a 75 Gallon is the smallest tank for 3 Adult Lima's, they liked the 125 even better once I got, they could actually get a little speed going without hitting the side of the tank.

Their main companions have been some 6" clown loaches, 8" lace cat, and a few stripped raphael's which where about 7", and some large snakeskin gourami's. They all got along well. I had tried some Bala sharks with them but the big shovelnose hated the constant movement and attacked a big 8" bala shark. The Bala eventually died from its wounds.

Of all of the years I have kept Lima's I had one that would actually take shrimp pellets. Unfortunately this one Jumped to a dry death. Other than that the only sucess I have had is with live food. I would feed them 3 dozen rosy reds once a week along with a couple dozen ghost shrimp and they seemed to do great on this diet. I would mix up guppies and goldfish occaisonly to vary it up a little. Tried earthworms, they only seem to be really interested in them on the way down, after they hit the ground they seem less interested and may bite but may not. (If they didn't get the worm the Raphael's would come up and slurp them up like a spaghetti noodle, always amusing to watch.) Well I will quit going on, hope some of this helps you out. They are a great fish and most are usually quit peacefull although some can be a bit cranky once they get older.

Oh, one other thing, they hate Oto's. Those things stick to the Lima's side and suck the slime coat and just irritates the snot out of them. Leave the oto's and farlowella's out.
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Post by Shane »

if you can get a 100G, 6 foot tank wich is at least 20" wide; you can easily get a few lima's and they'll be happy too. make sure the tank isn't overly lit and open structured, it needs room to roam as said.
I agree with the above statements that a 55 gallon is too small for long term housing. I'll bring this up to Jools. A 75 will get you buy for a long time, but a 125 would be much better.
I only disagree about having an open structured tank. Many aquarium books claim these fish live near roots and driftwood. I have never caught them in this environment. I have always found them in heavily vegetated areas either amongst aquatic plants, or more often, flooded terrestrial vegetation. I would recommend a big tank with a planting of large "mother" type Amazon swords. They slip easily through the plants preying on smaller fishes and the fry of larger spp. The only other large predators in these areas (and possible tankmates) would be some pike cichlids ("Mataguaro") and Hoplias tetras ("Guavina"). I am not sure how these fishes would actually work out as tankmates though in capativity.
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