Cichlids and plants? (plus other Cichlid questions)
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Old 03-05-2013, 01:11 PM   #1
Indychus
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Cichlids and plants? (plus other Cichlid questions)


I am currently cycling a 55g walstad type tank. I have about 3 dozen mosquito fish in it right now, but no plants or inverts yet. After cycling, the mosquito fish will go back into my pond and I'd like to start a cichlid tank. I don't know much about cichlids but based on my research I am planning to have 3 males and twice as many females initially, and hope that they split into breeding groups and I get some fry.

I have found some conflicting information regarding cichlids and plants... Some say it isn't possible, others say it's fine.

Can anyone recommend some colorful cichlids that do well in a heavily panted tank? Can I mix different cichlids as long as the male/female ratio is ok? And finally, what are some good plants for use in a medium light / diy co2 tank that can stand an occasional nipping and digging?

It should be noted that I am not looking to have a "scaped" tank, but more of a natural look, so I'm not sure if this is even an issue. I also don't mind giving the plants some extra time to take root before stocking if that is necessary.

Thanks for any advice / opinions,

KB
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Old 03-05-2013, 02:12 PM   #2
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Go with Dwarf cichlids and your plants should be fine. Apistos, Kribensis, German blue Rams, Key hole cichlids, etc.

Some of these species can be mixed especially the SA dwarf cichlids which require basically the same parameters and they are all quite colourful and active. The will also readily breed given the right conditions.
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Old 03-05-2013, 02:21 PM   #3
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55g is difficult for several pairs because of its foot print. Maybe Africans, definitely dwarf. I have a 55g and 75g planted with south american geophagus species against all odds, but no matter what you choose it can be difficult with cichlids as they all dig-sift. Another place to ask is cichlid-forum ratios are also different for every species of cichlid, and their region of origin. There's no foundation yes/no answer. Cichlids have real personality's. Each to his/her own. You take a least risk % # and end up custom catering to it. Your also a marriage counselor to breeding pairs.
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Old 03-05-2013, 02:25 PM   #4
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How deep can they dig? I have an inch of sand over a soil substrate, would they be able to stir up the underlying soil? Should I go with gravel instead?
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Old 03-05-2013, 02:33 PM   #5
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Dig as deep they want. In the wild they can dig a couple feet down to make breeding pits. Suction cups became my best friend. Gravel I never reccomend for cichlids. I use pool filter sand mixed with a lower ratio of planted brands. You kind of have to experiment, and get creative. I find large plants work best. Its taken months of trial, and error to find my best solution. Each of my 2 planted tanks are uniquely different. I use shower caddies in one lol my substrate is between 3"-4" pending where they sift, and spit. They sift also to filter food as they scavenge.

If you look at my profile you'll see the 2 tanks. I'm changing things around, but gives you a idea of my 2 scenarios.
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Old 03-05-2013, 02:47 PM   #6
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Some of the dwarf Crenicichla species or even checkerboards could be doable in a 55 and niether are known for being destructive diggers. Crenicichla compressiceps is the most commonly available, but searching for some Crenicichla cf. regain might be worth the time and effort.
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Old 03-05-2013, 03:19 PM   #7
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Not all cichlids dig. There is no group of animals in the world that's more diverse. Some will excavate as a living, while others don't touch the substrate once in their lives. It depends on the species. I'd start out with something easy like keyholes. Not too colorful, but full of simple beauty in their own right, and very well-behaved.

As for plants, the Amazon sword plant, Vallisneria spp., and Ludwigia repens all make good candidates. Throw a few hunks of wood and some rocks in there too. It helps the fish establish territories.
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Old 03-05-2013, 03:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LB79 View Post
Not all cichlids dig. There is no group of animals in the world that's more diverse. Some will excavate as a living, while others don't touch the substrate once in their lives. It depends on the species. I'd start out with something easy like keyholes. Not too colorful, but full of simple beauty in their own right, and very well-behaved.

As for plants, the Amazon sword plant, Vallisneria spp., and Ludwigia repens all make good candidates. Throw a few hunks of wood and some rocks in there too. It helps the fish establish territories.
Well said.

Do your research you can easily find a cichlid that fits your needs. Just make sure to reaseach before you buy and you will be fine.
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Old 03-05-2013, 03:51 PM   #9
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There's cichlids that don't dig? Which species are these, where do they exist, besides angel fish?
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Old 03-05-2013, 04:52 PM   #10
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Awesome, thanks for all of the info! It appears that I still have quite a bit of research to do, but at least now I have a few species to start with.
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Old 03-05-2013, 06:26 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by CrypticLifeStyle View Post
There's cichlids that don't dig? Which species are these, where do they exist, besides angel fish?
apisto don't dig much if any. discus don't dig. Festivums don't dig but will eat plants. There are a few others.
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Old 03-05-2013, 08:26 PM   #12
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So I found this "Cichlid Recipe" for africans, it seems to be an awful lot of fish for a 55, but the author supports a "controlled crowding" method to reduce aggression. I am running a 500gph sump and a 300gph HOB, so I think filtration and water movement will be sufficient. I like the looks of all of these, but have found little information regarding them digging or uprooting plants. Any opinions or criticisms on this list?

55 Gallon Aquariums

1 trio Protomelas
1 trio Aulonocara
1 trio Copadichromis
1 trio Labidochromis or Cynotilapia
4 Neolamprologus (larger species)
2 Eretmodus or 1 trio Haplochromis
2 Julidochromis (larger species)
1 Synodontis Catfish
1 medium sized Plecostomus

I will likely have 5-6 cory cats instead of the synodontis and pleco.
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Old 03-05-2013, 08:41 PM   #13
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I have apistos, triple reds, they dig pits everywhere in my tank
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Old 03-05-2013, 08:42 PM   #14
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Wow! I can only say that I would not try that set up. I keep a lot of Tanganyikan tanks and I will warn you against anything like that. The sheer amount of rockdwellers would be a bloodbath and that is considering they were juveniles. As breeding adults I imagine over 2/3rds would be dead in the span of 2 days. All those species are Malawi/Tanganyikan cichlids and prefer hard water and dense rockwork. Most plants will not survive in those conditions and CO2 is not a viable option as the lower Ph would weaken/kill the fish. Are you wanting a viable African (hard water/few plants) tank or a lower Ph/more plants/possible CO2 tank? There are a lot of different options, we just need some direction to help.
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Old 03-05-2013, 09:19 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mnemenoi View Post
Wow! I can only say that I would not try that set up. I keep a lot of Tanganyikan tanks and I will warn you against anything like that. The sheer amount of rockdwellers would be a bloodbath and that is considering they were juveniles. As breeding adults I imagine over 2/3rds would be dead in the span of 2 days. All those species are Malawi/Tanganyikan cichlids and prefer hard water and dense rockwork. Most plants will not survive in those conditions and CO2 is not a viable option as the lower Ph would weaken/kill the fish. Are you wanting a viable African (hard water/few plants) tank or a lower Ph/more plants/possible CO2 tank? There are a lot of different options, we just need some direction to help.
Thanks! That's why I'm asking, because I'm a newb. I've had a few tanks, and my parents always had tanks when I was a kid, but we always just kinda threw whatever looked nice in them. Always had decent results, except for one occasion that ended up with a 12" Jack Dempsey that took over an entire 90 gallon and killed anything we tried to add to it.

I want a moderately planted tank, and prefer the way the more aggressive cichlids look and behave. I plan to have a DIY fake rock background with caves and hiding spots, and also have limestone chunks and crushed coral in my sump to help raise ph. My local water is already basic, and I hope that I can keep my ph around 7.5 between the limestone/coral raising it and low-level CO2 injection (DIY setup) lowering it.
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