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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-21-2016, 01:09 AM Thread Starter
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Want a cichlid community?

We often read and hear things about cichlids which I don't find to be true. This is especially true when I read about African cichlids and their behavior. I read they are aggressive, can't be kept together and all that noise. We've got to crowd them? Maybe the guy that has all the trouble with them is the same guy that tries to crowd them but it just doesn't work that way in my tanks.

I came across this old picture today and it reminded me of how much misinformation is out there on cichlids, especially some of the Africans.
Some of the information fits some of the fish but not all and if I don't crowd them, I find they can live a normal peaceful life together.

In my 120 gallon with something like 25-30 fish, this is what I find.

This is one of a group of blue Copadichromis azureus about 6-7" living quite peacefully with a group of Labidochromis caeruleus (AKA: yellow labs) In the picture is a young yellow lab and two small fry. I find that if I give them room, the fish are willing to go about their normal business. The open water azureus has little interest in the rocks that the labs love so much. With plenty of space and plenty of rocks for hiding, the lab fry have the knack of staying out of the way when the big guys come around. But then I also find the big guys are not really too interested in chasing down something that small and difficult to catch so they just move on.




If you really want a cichlid tank, don't accept the standard answers. It can work very nicely if you do some planning and get the right answers for the right group of fish.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-22-2016, 03:32 PM
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I think that may be a large part of the problem. Cichlids have complex behaviors and it doesn't help that so many are misidentified or even hybrids which we see alot with the Africans. I know my first tank back into the hobby was a 46 gallon with Petsmart Africans and that was a miserable failure. I agree that if you research the fish, spend time with the aqua scape, and carefully consider tank size that many Africans are pretty easy to keep... as are most cichlids. It takes a little more work than most fish though... My opinion is that it is substantially more rewarding though. The complex behaviors and interactions are amazing to see. It doesn't hurt that many learn to recognize you and associate you with food... I love how my Trigs and Brichardi race to the front of the tank to great me... now if I could only get the others to do the same.

That tank really tied the room together
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-22-2016, 10:33 PM Thread Starter
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That is one thing I do notice when I try to take a picture of most any activity. They all seem to think the camera is food coming and stop what they are doing. You can kind of see it in the picture. Several yellow labs came out to be ready and then the Blue fellow, being a bit bigger is less prone to being caught so he is kind of wandering off once he figured out it was not feeding time. The two little guys are always ready to shoot under a rock if it is needed. I have insignus as the main big fish in this tank and they continue to breed but none of their fry know how to hide so I have to catch the female when she is holding the eggs if I want to save any more than a couple fry. Instead of hiding the insignus fry just wander around the tank near the top and make targets.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-25-2016, 02:25 AM
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That is one thing I do notice when I try to take a picture of most any activity. They all seem to think the camera is food coming and stop what they are doing. You can kind of see it in the picture. Several yellow labs came out to be ready and then the Blue fellow, being a bit bigger is less prone to being caught so he is kind of wandering off once he figured out it was not feeding time. The two little guys are always ready to shoot under a rock if it is needed. I have insignus as the main big fish in this tank and they continue to breed but none of their fry know how to hide so I have to catch the female when she is holding the eggs if I want to save any more than a couple fry. Instead of hiding the insignus fry just wander around the tank near the top and make targets.
Fry wandering about has always puzzled me as well. In my 75 gallon I've got Multi's (shell dweller), Juli's (cave dweller), and Calvus. You've got to be really patient and sneak up on the Multi's or the mom shuttles them all into a shell in a flash. Eventually the young venture out on their own, but they still know to stay within darting distance of a shell. The Julidochromis gaurd the young for a while, but at some point they just boot them out and the Calvus get them. Out of 2 Julidochromis spawns not a single fish has made it. In the same period of time I've got another 10 Multi's. Now my issue is with the Caudopunctatus in my 125. There were only 2 put I'm pretty sure they are a pair. They do a half hearted job of gaurding the cave, but if someone is persistent enough they let them through... I may take them out and place them in the 11 gallon so I can raise a spawn and get the numbers up to where I want them. They are difficult to come by and don't ship well...

That tank really tied the room together
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-25-2016, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
We often read and hear things about cichlids which I don't find to be true. This is especially true when I read about African cichlids and their behavior. I read they are aggressive, can't be kept together and all that noise. We've got to crowd them? Maybe the guy that has all the trouble with them is the same guy that tries to crowd them but it just doesn't work that way in my tanks.

I came across this old picture today and it reminded me of how much misinformation is out there on cichlids, especially some of the Africans.
Some of the information fits some of the fish but not all and if I don't crowd them, I find they can live a normal peaceful life together.

In my 120 gallon with something like 25-30 fish, this is what I find.

This is one of a group of blue Copadichromis azureus about 6-7" living quite peacefully with a group of Labidochromis caeruleus (AKA: yellow labs) In the picture is a young yellow lab and two small fry. I find that if I give them room, the fish are willing to go about their normal business. The open water azureus has little interest in the rocks that the labs love so much. With plenty of space and plenty of rocks for hiding, the lab fry have the knack of staying out of the way when the big guys come around. But then I also find the big guys are not really too interested in chasing down something that small and difficult to catch so they just move on.




If you really want a cichlid tank, don't accept the standard answers. It can work very nicely if you do some planning and get the right answers for the right group of fish.

It is indeed as you have noted.
Not ALL of the hundred's of species are aggressive ,as evidenced by the two species in photo.
Both are fairly mild mannered.
Help's also to have a tank as large as the 120 gal you mention also, so
that the fishes can have established territories.(less need to assert themselves).
Many young cichlid's can be kept together when young, but as they mature and become interested in breeding, then thing's can change fairly quickly.
Too many species of cichlid's to choose from to not enjoy researching to see what may or likely won't work.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-25-2016, 04:28 PM Thread Starter
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It takes a fair amount of time and attitude to develop the tank and get the fish that do work. I feel there has also been a lot of just plain luck in my selection. Both plants and fish are something that I look at as things to try and then I have to be open to change if it is not working. I came into doing African cichlids before plants and found that there was so much bad information out there that I knew I could not use that totally as a guide, so just went with keeping the info in mind but when my tanks showed different, I went with what my tanks did.
The space and territory ideas are part of making it easier but then I also find it doesn't have to be. My first planted tank came about by accident as I had liked the look of plants but never really gone beyond floating hortwort, etc. I was running a twenty gallon for growout, when I went to buy some angelfish for another tank. The fellow had plants growing like wild in the angels tank so I asked what they were. He was unable to speak much English but said "river plant" and gave me the little pot of it. I liked the plant, knew nothing about it but took it to the growout 20 where I had a group of Lab. chisummlae and a bunch of Sciaenochromis fryeri (electric blue) . In a bare tank the African were pretty spooked so I thought a bit of cover would be good. Spot the little pink pot of hydrilla? It is a prohibited in Texas!
These are pictures of that little 20 and my first real planted tank experiment.
20 Gallons CFL twisty bulbs and no CO2
I added a rock and the fake decoration and the labs started breeding while the blue fry were growing out.
Note the ivory colored "chisum" above and behind the male. She is holding eggs and about ready to release. At this point I was "required" to get another tank! Bigger of course, so the blues could grow better!
Are African cichlids territorial, tear up plants and need a lot of space? Not these and not in my tank.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-25-2016, 04:56 PM
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My most successful tank was an 80 gal, and the cichlid's were South/central American.
I kept one Firemouth,one Severum,one Convict,and one Blue Acara.
All fish got along well for couple year's until ice storm knocked out power for a week, and I lost all of the fish save for one small clown pleco.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 02:06 AM
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Im REALLY thinking about a Malawi tank after seeing all these pics. Ive got a 75 gallon setup ready to go in garage, but Im thinking of upgrading to a 240 gallon for my Tangs and then I could do this 125 as a Mbuna tank! Have you ever had saulosi? That would covers the blues and yellows and maybe do some Peacocks? If you were to start up a Mbuna tank in a 125 what would your initial stocking look like? I cant afford more than maybe $200 in fish to start and there is a local guy that has some gorgeous large peacocks that I would be interested in. Or would I need to buy all of them the same size? Do you only do cichlidor do you do catfish, plecos, or loaches?

That tank really tied the room together
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-27-2016, 12:51 AM Thread Starter
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I've never done mbuna only planted tank as I like and had large fish before doing the plants. I find the 125 is large enough to let me do some mbuna and some large fish who are not interested in the rocks, other than a place to duck when scared. They know strangers and hide when they come around. I've not done saulosi with plants but would guess they would work.
For me, I find the yellow labs are one of the easier mbuna and they are comparatively cheap but with bright colors and good activity. Then for other colors without too much havoc, I've had a number of other blue types which seemed okay.
Sciaenochromis fryeri
Labidochromis sp. "Hongi"-A pretty fish but maybe a bit rougher than others. Maybe because they were almost constant breeders?
Cyrtocara moorii
Pseudotropheus sp. "Acei" -A favorite
Copadichromis azureus --A favorite
Placidochromis sp. "Electra Blue"
Protomelas insignis --My current favorite fish but mine are Tanzania and have much more yellow and orange than this profile from another part of the lake.

You see the obvious slant toward blue? But then reading the profiles, I find my fish and their fish are not the same??? My insignus has zero interest when the other fish spawn and in other places I read that they live in large groups out in the lake where they eat bugs that fall in the water. No profile on this type on that site.

Algae eaters, small pleco, bristlenose, are all okay for me. I rarely see the bristlenose or pleco unless I come by at night with a flashlight as they work nights. In the picture you may see the white spot on the nose of the Hongi? There were two of the same size and they spent a lot of time jaw-locked, pushing and shoving and it left white spots on both noses. No harm done but they never really decided who was bigger!
There is a big pile of limestone under the java fern where they can duck in as well as spaces to the right. Various swords, java fern, anubias, crypts and red tiger lotus for plants.

For a stock if doing it all in?
5-6 yellow labs, 5-6 yellow tail, pick a couple colors of male peacocks if you like them and then add some algae eaters, etc. Maybe throw in several of these I've mentioned. I would guess my current load is about 25-30 total but I'm working toward more breeding from the insignus and have cut back on the others. This is a rough guess as I remove fish and fish breed but they all hide when I count them?
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-27-2016, 04:35 PM
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I'm just glad there's finally other people rebuffing the Chichlids and Plants don't mix, are willing to talk about it, and willing to admit the mistakes they've made and how they learned. I've screwed up and mixed fish with bad results but ended up with a working community Tanganyika Planted tank after some sweat-equity. Now to setup up my plant game and focus on thriving plants like I see on this forum.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-27-2016, 04:58 PM Thread Starter
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It's not a case of cichlids and plants don't work but a case of some cichlids and some plants don't work. But when I think about it I would have to say the same about any fish in any tank. Some will work but some will not. Some plants will work where others won't. Ten guppies in a 120 gallon doesn't work for me, nor does an arowana in a 20!
The more work we put into the hobby, the more fun we may get out?
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