will African Cichlid in a planted 55 gallon tank work? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-20-2009, 05:22 PM Thread Starter
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will African Cichlid in a planted 55 gallon tank work?

Hi I was just woundering would African Cichlid be a good fit for a planted tank I was think of getting the smallest Cichlid but I know that they can get very large. Do they pull up plants? Or are they comfotable around plants IDK? I always see people saying they are turning their African Cichlid tank into a planted tank and I always woundered why?
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-20-2009, 05:40 PM
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I've never kept cichlids, but I've always understood that they love to destroy plants. That's why most cichlid tanks are always elaborate rockwork scapes and not much more.

I read once that if you're insistent upon plants in a cichlid tank, the best way to do it is to get those veggie wafers that fish like to munch on and clip them to the sides of the tank--basically encouraging them to go after those instead of the plants. I don't know how well that works, I've just heard it done.

Personally, I think you'll find this totally frustrating and should either decide to do a cichlid tank, or decide to do a planted tank, rather that mix the two.

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-20-2009, 06:00 PM
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what kind of African cichlids are you thinking of? Most Tanganikyan species would be fine in a planted tank. Malawi cichlids on the other hand, will most likely not be compatible.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-20-2009, 07:11 PM
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There are quite a few Africans, as well as other cichlids, that would do very well in a 55 gallon planted. Africans: Kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher) and the rest of the Pelvicachromis group, Buffalo Head/ Block Head (Steatocranus casuarius), possibly Brichardi (Chalinochromis brichardi and the common Neolamprologus brichardi) if there are no other fish as they will take over the tank, and probably any of the Julidochromis group. I have heard of Yellow Labs (Labidochromis caeruleus) in planted tanks as long as a portion of the substrate is left bare. Supposedly they will dig in the bare portion and leave the rest of the substrate and plants alone. I have not heard anything about other Malawi however, and most of the other Malawi are far more aggressive and should be housed only with other Malawi if you learn they may be ok with a bare area and plants.

As far as South Americans, probably ok with plants: Firemouth (Thorichthys meeki), Severum (Heros severus), and any fish of the Geophagus group (these guys are “Earth Eaters” but they act something like cories searching the substrate for bits to eat- they scoop up sand and spit it out, but I still think they’d be fine with plants and they’re very peaceful). S. Americans definitely ok with plants and also pretty peaceful are: Rainbow (Herotilapia multispinosa), Keyhole (Cleithracara maronii), Nicaraguense/ Nicaragua/ Spilotum (Cichlasoma nicaraguense), Dwarf Flag (Laetacara curviceps), Redbreast Acara/ Red Flag (Laetacara dorsigera), Golden Dwarf (Nanacara anomala), Festivum/ Flag Cichlid (Mesonauta festivus and insignis), Checkerboard Cichlid (Crenicara punctulatum), Lyretail Checkerboard Cichlid (Dicrossus filamentosus), Checkerboard Cichlid (Dicrossus masculatus) and of course the Angelfish, Rams, Apistogramma, and Discus.

The small Asian cichlid, the Chromide (Etroplus maculates) is also ok with plants, but it prefers brackish conditions which will limit your plant choices.

I really like cichlids, particularly the more peaceful ones, and have done tons of research on most species because I was asked at work to become the “cichlid expert.” If you have any other cichlid questions I will be happy to try and help you as best I can! I currently have a heavily planted 10 gallon with a pair of Kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher) and they are great with the plants and don’t dig at all. If you provide caves such as flower pots or rocks, driftwood, etc, many of the diggers will usually not dig, which would expand the list above to just about all cichlids as long as their tankmates are chosen very carefully. If I had another, larger tank, I would love to try some Buffalo Head and Nigaraguense, both very unusual looking and entertaining fish!

Last edited by fishstoregirl; 03-22-2009 at 05:59 AM.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-20-2009, 08:02 PM
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I second fishstoregirl's opinon here:
In my brain-fried youth I had Julidochromis and Bricardis in a planted tank - it worked fine, at least for the plants.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-20-2009, 08:12 PM
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you should be ok with african cichlids if you stick to java ferns and anubias and attach them to rocks or driftwood. Mbuna cichlids WILL dig up your substrate and any plants that are there. They are also algae eaters and may damage plants if they are not kept well fed.

You may be safe with peacock cichlids as they are not known to dig like the mbunas and are less "hyperactive". kribs are definitely a safe bet.

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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-20-2009, 08:14 PM
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i third, but i have had some success with malawi mbunas also. basically they dont like plants being in their typical hide spots. there were certain spots of the tank that I could put anything i wanted. I ran the co2 as close to those plants as i could and kept the co2 flow low. africans like higher ph, but can adjust to lower, so i ran the flow low to not disrupt the ph too much. I had the tank fully decorated from side to side with holey rock and crushed coral which helped other areas of the tank to stay more alkaline. I eventually went to fake plants, but thats because i moved them to the other side of the house were i dont have co2 run. I have black angels in 1 planted tank, kribs and cacatuoides in another.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-22-2009, 03:58 AM Thread Starter
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I really do want chilids in my new tank and I was really woried about the plant cichlid relationship. I really welcome everyones ideas and I thank everyone that has posted. i think I would go with the south african group cause I have some cories in my 10gallon right now.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-04-2010, 12:18 AM
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Cichlids and plants

Well if you really want a planted aquarium and cichlids I would have to suggest Dwarfs. Kribs and Rams will most likely do well with plants. As far as the larger Africans go I would not waste my money on plants. There are some beautiful artificial plants you can use for color and that provide hiding places but Africans like to rearrange their tanks the way they like. I have 2 tanks. One planted tank wth dwarf cichlids and one African tank with Texas Holey Rock, Lava Rock and other assorted caves and rocks. I also have some artificial plants in there. They will work tirelessly to dig the gravel and form their own caves underneath the rocks. They are facinating. Just read up and make sure you know what you are getting into. At least if they dig up the fake plants they won't ruin them. Just my opinion.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-04-2010, 01:24 AM
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Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi are dwarf (2 1/2" to 3") African cichlids that do well in planted tanks. They are hardy and do well in soft water like we used for planted tanks. They do not require the hard water that the rift lake cichlids enjoy. They're mouth brooders and they breed like rats. Really neat fish!!

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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 12:13 AM
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I have a 55 with with some Electric Yellow, Acei, and Rusty Cichlids. I put some vallisneria in there and they destroyed it. I put in some java ferns at the same time and they are growing like crazy. It's just a giant ball of java fern now. The cichlids love to swim through it and hide in it.
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-12-2013, 06:02 AM
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This is an old thread but since I am also planning to keep african cichlids in a planted tank, so I am hoping to get some advice from those who had tried before.

Fishes - a mixture of different type of African cichlids
Plants - Java ferns, US fissiden, java moss, sword plant

Thanks in advance!
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-04-2015, 10:45 PM
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This is very old thread, however, here is my tank - Male only mixed peacock/haps (Malawi/Victoria) African cichlids. They nibble on Wisteria (Hygrophila) but the rest is left alone. I'm using CO2 + extras, so it grows fast enough to be able to cope with it. Large image is kinda old, everything is much larger now. Vals is huge now.

Cichlids are fed mostly by homemade vegetable diet, so it helps to "tame" them as well
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-04-2015, 11:04 PM
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Yes, it is an old story and old thread but then old info can be good or it can be bad. When I see folks ask this it is often as this poster did it. without saying WHAT African cichlid, it's like asking what a dog does or worse. There are so many different African cichlids, such a general question is really missing the point.
And then the answers seem to be much the same. Some who do keep African cichlids and plants and other who say it can't be done.
Congrats on being among those who do rather than those who say it can't but don't try. Like many things, it takes thought but it looks like you have done A NICE JOB.
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-04-2015, 11:08 PM
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just want to say that kribs are congo river cichlids, not great rift valley. This means that they do better in an amazon-type tank, they are more peaceful africans, therefore should not be kept with species larger or more aggressive.

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