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Are you getting the best out of your dollars?

Silver Dollars should be bold and bright, commanding whatever space they are occupying. Yet, it is a common sight to see tanks full of skittish fish, destined to never really shine.

An exception to this pattern was a group of specimens I encountered  during my stint in Aquatic retail. These Dollars were stunning and I quickly realised the secret.

Plants, plants and more plants.

Silver Dollars originate from South America, in parts of Guyana, Brazil, Peru and Bolivia. Almost exclusively inhabiting  clear water rivers, which are densely planted and full of algae.

As naturalists, fishkeepers and nature lovers, this should tell us two things.

The first is that because they come from a habitat with an abundance of plants along with the fact that they’re renowned plant-eaters. It should be obvious that they’ve evolved to rely heavily on plants for their diet. This means that to really make them shine, you should think about using a food with less protein. Instead feed a food which is more suitable for herbivorous fish. This might be problematic depending on what you’re keeping with them, but it is something you should plan for as your setting up your tank. You can also opt to offer them fresh vegetables.

The second and probably the most important point is the fact that these fish have spent thousands of years evolving in an environment packed with plants.  This means that to make them feel at home in an aquarium and for them to reach their full potential. A tank with plants that are either plastic or tougher species of live plants are a must.

This will allow them to live in a habitat in which they feel comfortable and secure.  Only too often do we see bare tanks with rocks and thin sticks of bog-wood, populated by skittish-looking groups of silver dollars, shyly huddled in whatever cover they can find.

Instead fill your tank with inedible greens and watch them grow in confidence.

This may seem a rather severe juxtaposition, that to see more of your fish you must provide them more places to hide. Yet by providing them with an environment which mimics that which they have evolved in; silver dollars will grow in confidence and their behavior should begin to resemble that which they would exhibit in the wild.

This new found confidence along with a more tailored diet should mean that you start getting the most bang for your buck and some shiny dollars into the bargain.

Alexander S. Howson

Alexander S. Howson is a naturalist and nature writer.

Along with a heavy interest in Aquatics, birds and ecology. Alexander now directs a large deal of energy attempting to re-educate the public about aquatics and promoting the conservation of a range of wildlife species.

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