How to Keep Silver Dollar Fish
I have kept a small shoal of Silver Dollars for years now. These are hardy, fast, and fascinating in a large community aquarium. They are fun to watch and extremely easy to take care of. Of course, I’m referring to this one shoal that I have. There are literally endless varieties of SD’s. There are in fact so many different subspecies and morphs that exist in the wild that the experts can’t seem to keep them straight. Some of the ones I’ve seen for sale are the Common Silver Dollar, Schreitmuller’s, Silver Pacu and Red Hook Silver Dollar (Also called Red Hook Pacu). Note that these are not Red BELLIED or Black BELLIED Pacu.
My Silver Dollars are very peaceful shoalers. I have five of them. They tend to stay together but when the tank is exceptionally quiet one or two will break away and go off and explore. They aren’t at all timid of their tankmates which are all much larger than them. Many references suggest tall plastic plants for a place in which the SD’s can feel safe. This certainly isn’t the case with mine. In fact, when I had my SD’s in a 55gal without any other fish, they ignored the plants and hung out near the bottom. The only time they were active was when they were fed. These fish seem much happier in a large open community setup. Silver Dollars are extremely fast when they want to be. They dart very quickly when there is food in the water or when you have to try and net them. If you ever find yourself having to net an adult SD, use the biggest net you can find. SD’s can easily jump out if the net isn’t deep enough. Also, chasing them with a net is futile. It’s best to corner them with a large enough net that they will swim into it on their own. When fed floating foods, my SD’s hammer the surface and dart back down deep in the aquarium all in one swift motion. Every now and then they actually break the surface enough to hit the condensation tray about an inch and a half above them. Sometimes that stuns them a little, but they always seem to shake it off.
Are Silver Dollars compatible with Oscars? They most certainly are. Personally, I think that SD’s are a great addition to any cichlid tank because they eagerly gobble up all that wasted food that cichlids (especially Oscars) blow out of their gills. This keeps the bottom much cleaner. A side benefit is that since Oscars only partially digest their food, the SD’s eat the poo, further reducing the amount of waste overall in the tank. In times of stress and aggression, these fish use their speed and the “Safety in Numbers” theory to stay out of trouble. They are also really cool looking in the sunlight. If your aquarium is lit at all by a window, their shiny bodies will reflect the light rather effectively to make your tank sparkle. Silver Dollars are extremely hardy and will tolerate just about any water conditions. It’s probably a good idea to stay away from treating with salt though. Mine are also the last to show any signs of disease (such as ich) in an infestation.
If you are going to get a few of these guys there are three important things to keep in mind. First, these fish need to be with their friends, get at least five of them and do it all at once. This way you have a greater chance of having them all actually be the same species. Secondly, because you need to get a handful of them, you need a good sized tank. Five potentially ten-inch fish is potentially a whole lot of fish. Even if yours stay the more likely five to six inches, they are going to need some room to swim around. Third, Silver Dollars do not grow nearly as fast as your Oscar. Make sure that when you buy them they are big enough to outpace the growth of your Oscar’s mouth. I’ll end this all by saying that basically, Silver Dollars are the ideal tankmates for your Oscar. Give them a shot if you’ve got the room.
Article by MNielssen