Silver Dollar Fish
Tax time has arrived! And like usual, the taxman has taken more than his fair share! A share of your hard earned dollars and cents. However, the taxman can't touch your silver dollars! That's right! Your silver dollars are tax exempt! Now before you start counting up all of your coins, keep in mind that these tax exemptions are of the aquatic variety! They're round! They're shiny! They're silver! And you shouldn't put them in your pocket! It's the tax-free freshwater silver dollars!
Silver dollars come by their name quite honestly. They are a medium sized fish that are round in shape and silver in color. They kind of look like a coin with fins! Hence the name silver dollar.
Silver dollars belong to the Characin family. This is the same family of fish that includes tetras, hatchets, pikes, gars, piranha and pacus. In fact, the silver dollars are distant cousins of piranhas and pacus. They differ from their cousins in the fact they are completely herbivorous. While piranhas eat meat, and pacus have been known to eat both meat and vegetable, the silver dollar will stick to vegetable foods. In fact, some pet stores will actually sell silver dollars as silver pacus.
There are actually several types of silver dollars available in pet stores. There are several species from the genus Metynnis, as well as the genus Mylossoma that are sold as silver dollars. Some of these silver dollars are blatantly different from the others, while some have only minor differences. Some silver dollars may be more elongated. Some may actually be spotted, while some may be striped. Of my five silver dollars, three of them are spotted. Usually any spots or dark markings on the silver dollars will fade with age.
Another way to determine which species of silver dollar you have is looking at it's fins. The Metynnis silver dollar sports a large adipose fin. The Mylossoma silver dollar will have a small adipose fin. You can also determine if your silver dollar is a healthy fish by examining it's fins. The anal fin of a healthy silver dollar will be edged in an orange or reddish color. This will stand out in contrast to the shiny, silver fish. You can also determine the sex of the silver dollars by examining their fins. The males will have a longer anal fin than the females.
Silver dollars should always be kept in schools of five or more. They should be kept in a 30 gallon or larger tank, depending on the size of their school. This is not because of the silver dollar's size. A full grown silver dollar will usually grow no larger than six inches long, although a type of silver dollar called the Red Hook silver dollar will grow to nearly a foot long in the wild. In captivity, growth like this is unheard of. The reason for such a large tank for such a small fish is simply that the silver dollars need their space. They are a very quick fish that loves to swim. The silver dollars are a very timid fish. They are easily frightened by sudden movements inside and outside of their tank. Due to their shyness, it is recommended that you keep the lights low in the silver dollar aquarium.
Setting up a tank for the silver dollar is quite easy. As mentioned before, the tank will need to be a minimum of 30 gallons. The tank should be decorated with bogwood and plants. You may want to use plastic plants due to their herbivorous nature. The silver dollars are some of the hardiest fish in the industry. They are able to withstand a wide variety of water conditions. The pH for the silver dollar aquarium should be anywhere between 6.5 and 7.2. Their water should be soft and kept at a temperature between 72 and 82 degrees. These conditions should closely resemble their natural habitat of the South American Amazon.
Feeding silver dollars should be simple, provided you feed give them plenty of vegetable matter in their diet. Silver dollars will eat basic flake foods, and crushed algae tablets make an ideal treat. The only problem you will encounter when feeding silver dollars is if they will actually be able to get to the food. The silver dollars with their tiny mouths and their shyness are often outmatched at feeding time. For this reason, you should take care in selecting tank mates for the silver dollars.
Silver dollars are peaceful fish that can share a tank with nearly any other fish. However, there are a few fish that shouldn't share space with silver dollars. I have kept my silver dollars with nearly every type of fish. At first, they shared a 30 gallon tank with a couple of oscars. This is acceptable, but you need to make sure your silver dollars are too big to fit into an oscar's mouth. It's just part of the oscars nature to eat anything that can fit into it's mouth. I have also had silver dollars share space with other cichlids. The cichlids didn't bother the silver dollars. They just had a tendency to gobble up all of the food before the silver dollars could eat their fill.
More successful tank mates for silver dollars are fish such as tetras and bala sharks. I have had great success keeping silver dollars with bala sharks, red finned cigar sharks, iridescent sharks, black sharks, rainbow sharks, red tailed sharks, loaches, danios, gouramis, corydoras and eels. However, my silver dollars have done the best in their current tank: a 50 gallon tank shared with their "cousins", red bellied pacus. In this tank, the silver dollars look like smaller versions of the pacus. The pacus don't bother the silver dollars, and at feeding time each fish gets an equal share. The only problem I have had with this tank is the shyness of all of the tank's inhabitants. The pacus are as timid, if not more, than the silver dollars!
If you are looking for a great "beginner fish", give the silver dollar a try. They are an extremely hardy fish that is easy to feed and care for. They are quick, lively swimmers that bring a shiny, silvery flair to any tank. They are a long living, medium sized fish. And the taxman won't collect these silver dollars!