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Choosing a Silver Dollar

By: Dr. Amy Wolff

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An excellent addition to any community tank would include bright, flashy Silver Dollars. This peaceful fish is native to South America and has become a standard for hobbyists because they are easy to raise, feed and breed. They mix well with other species of fish and are often the eye-catching focal point of the community tank.

Appearance and Behavior

Silver Dollars are a schooling fish and do best when kept in small numbers of three to five. If you keep only one Silver Dollar in the tank, it will not do as well. The fish are a uniform silver color and have a rounded body, which is why they are so named. The male can be distinguished from the female by a bit of red coloration in the anal fin. When the fish swim together, they make a very striking appearance, especially if startled. In the wild, the bright silver coloration serves a protective function. When in danger, the fish dart madly about and their flashing silver bodies confuse and disorient any predators. Mated pairs breed early in the morning and eggs are laid on plant leaves. They can grow to 5 inches.

Feeding and Tank Requirements

Silver Dollars are vegetarians so fresh vegetables such as lettuce or spinach should be offered. They will nibble on plants in the aquarium, so be prepared to restock live plants or use plastic ornamentation. Vegetarian flake foods are accepted. These fish do best in a longer aquarium to accommodate their swimming behavior. Bright lights can aggravate them and the use of a dimmer switch can subdue harsh lighting. Water temperature should be kept between 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, pH- 5.8 to 7.0.

Special Concerns

These fish are quite peaceful, although if an individual in the school becomes ill or injured, the rest of the fish may attack it. Remove sick fish to a hospital tank. They get along well with other fish in a community tank. Potential compatible tankmates would include rainbows, rasboras, gouramis, neon tetras, corydoras catfish and bettas.

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