55 gal. what cichlids - Page 2 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #11 of 14 Old 12-04-2006, 08:41 AM Thread Starter
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After doing alot of research it turns out I could put all of them in one tank. But I would have one hell of a mess on my hands, and would stunt their growth dramatically. I have found a cichlid that suits me...it's generally laid back. Mesonauta festivus or festivum or flag cichlid. I found a formula for cichlids in a tank but don't know if it's right. (1 inch to 5 gallons) Is that even right? Does anyone know anything on Mesonauta festivus? How many could I put in a 55 gal. tank? Every web-site I visit says something different. For example one will say min. tank size 30 gal. And the next will say 40 gal. And the next will say 50 gal. If I put them in to small of a tank it will stunt their growth, and thats not what I want to do. Plus there are many different variations of the flag cichlid. Mesonauta festivus, Cichlasoma festivum, Mesonauta insignis, Mesonauta mirificus, Mesonauta egregius. I'm at a loss, and my 55 gal. is cycling My girlfriend says "Just forget it and fill it with neon tetras." Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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post #12 of 14 Old 12-04-2006, 02:31 PM
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I did some intense research for you here, and focused on the specific species you had named in your last post. The info I'm about to quote comes from Aqualog and also from Tropical Cichlids by Tetra Press.

Mesonauta festivus grows to be 6 - 8 inches for male and 5 - 6+ inches for female. They are an omnivorous fish and natural habitat is Guianas, Orinoco Amazon Basins. The big difference between male/female, besides size is that the male has a longer nose. Most commercially available Mesonauta festivus are now captive bred in Asia and Florida. Wild fishes are now usually from Guyana. I also found info in another book that says natural habitats are now restricted to Paraguay & Bolivian Amazon Basins, & Jio Jamari & Lower Rio Tapajos

Mesonauta insignis grows to 6 - 8 inches and is native to the upper Rio Begro and Rio Orinoco

Mesonauta egregius grows to 8 - 10 inches and is native to the Columbian Orinoco Basin

Mesonauta mirificus grows to 4 - 5 inches and is native to the Peruvian Amazon

Overall, these fish are all directly related but there is some variation in sizes and colorations/markings. In a 55 gallon tank, I wouldn't keep more than 1 of anything over 6 inches simply due to waste issues, messy eating habits, and although these are more peaceful than some of the other Central American Cichlids, they will still get quite aggressive if feeling crowded or spawning. For anything over 8 inches, I wouldn't put them into anything less than 75 gallons for 1 fish... 125 gallons for 2 - 3 fish.
For the smaller species, such as the mirificus, I still would limit to 3 or 4 of them if all the same species (in 55 gallons), for the same reasons as noted above.
Good filtration and regular weekly water exchanges are a must for keeping these fish healthy. These fish are prone to heximita (hole in the head disease) if the nitrate level remains above 60 for any length of time, and this is not always easily treated because the medication can be difficult to find in some places and it can't be used until the water quality is cleaned up to allow nitrate levels of below 40 and zero for both ammonia and nitrite.
The different species ARE compatible with each other if space/tank size allows for it.
One note for everyone, these fish are not to be confused with the Cichlasoma Festae... aka... Red Terror. As the name "terror" suggests, these are quite nasty fish, grow to be 18 inches for males, and about 12 inches for females. They are native to the Pacific slope of Equador. In a 55 gallon, this fish is not suggested at all.
I hope this has helped, let me know if there is more I can do.

Dawn Moneyhan
Aquatics Specialist/Nutritionist
Juneau, WI
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post #13 of 14 Old 12-05-2006, 08:09 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the help. I have decided to take your advice and get 2 German Blue Rams (Papilochromis ramirezi). Mild mannered and small I think they would work the best with the size of tank I have, along with some of the larger Tetras. Again thanks for all the help. I guess when I get a 125 gallon after I move that could be an option for larger cichlids. :D
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post #14 of 14 Old 12-05-2006, 02:33 PM
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Sounds good to me! Good luck with them! Bring us some pictures!!!

Dawn Moneyhan
Aquatics Specialist/Nutritionist
Juneau, WI
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