Help with SA dwarf choice... dicrossus, laetacara, rams? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 4 Old 01-21-2012, 07:50 PM Thread Starter
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Help with SA dwarf choice... dicrossus, laetacara, rams?

Hi all,

I've been working on a heavily-planted, 3-foot, 65 gallon tank. It has an Eheim 2217. I live in the Pacific NW where the water is very soft and has a pH generally around 6.6-6.8. I keep the temp 78-79-ish.
Here's a photo of the current setup.

Here's my current stocking:
- 6 Daisy's rice fish (Oryzias Woworae)
- 5 Purple pencilfish (Nannostomus rubrocaudatus) - would like to get 3 more when they are available.
- 10 Marbled hatchetfish
- 12 Spotted blue-eye rainbowfish (Pseudomugil Gertrudae)
- 8 Kuhli loaches
- 2 Stiphodon Elegans Gobies

The only other additions at this point would be:
- Farlowella acus
- 2, hopefully 4 dwarf cichlids depending on species.

SO.... now that that's out of the way.... I need your help with my dwarf selection. Many years ago I had a tank with German Blue Rams and I just fell in love with them. So initially I wanted to have them again. Doing some internet reading, I got pushed towards Bolivians as they are supposedly less sensitive, a little more mellow, and generally happier at a lower temperature. But at the same time, in the past my German Blues were I think happy in the high 70s... Probably tank-raised and from this very reputable LFS with exceptionally healthy fish, so maybe I just lucked out?

I also flirted with the idea of Apistos, however when I see them in the store, even though they're beautiful, I just prefer the curious nature of the Rams. That "whatcha doin?" temperament. (But feel free to try and sell me on Apistos if you like!)

I have also seen some Dicrossus Maculatus and they are so beautiful! They seemed less interactive than the Rams, but I actually am drawn to them over the Apistos.

I have seen some Laetacara Curviceps, and they are really cute and gorgeous and seem to have that similar "Hi there!" temperament. So that led me to do a ton of reading on the Laetacara. Actually I think the Dorsigera are more beautiful (I am drawn to reds) but I've read that they can be more aggressive. I love my current fish and don't want a fish that will bully them. I've read about wild dorsigera that have bulled and/or killed schoolers and even hatchetfish! I don't want that. But I've also read about Dorsigera that live peacefully with other fish, even other cichlids like Rams.

I've read that tank-raised cichlids are less aggressive than their wild counterparts. This may be a part of the equation. And I know that the layout and scaping of the tank can also make a difference.

So, in my ideal world I'd have a Laetacara dorsigera pair and another pair - Dicrossus? Rams?

I have an amazing LFS with lots of variety, but they dont' currently have Dorsigera. They have Thayeri and Araguaiae, but both are wild. I know Thayeri tend to be more aggressive. They do have tank-raised Curviceps.
They also currently have tons of Rams and do have tank-raised and wild Dicrossus. 51&Itemid=64

Help! I'm so torn!

Do you think that a tank-raised pair of Laetacara could work in my community tank? Could I do Dorsigera or should I stick with the possibly safer bet of the Curviceps? Or should I skip the Laetacara all together??
And if you think they would work, could I do another dwarf species? Remember that my tank has a 3-ft footprint.

What would you do if you were me?

Thanks for reading my novel!

Last edited by magpie; 01-21-2012 at 07:53 PM.
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post #2 of 4 Old 01-22-2012, 11:05 AM Thread Starter
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I have this thread up on another cichlid-specific forum and one person said the tank was dying for some angels. I never considered them because they're not my favorite. They're so common, I don't find them as interesting... I know Bolivians are common for dwarves but their personality makes up for it. ;) I initially blew off the angel suggestion, but staring at my tank last night I could see how visually they would be nice. And the tank is tall for them.

I know very little about angels, so will have to research. If anyone has anything to say about them in this setup I'd love it. How many? How much would they harass each other? Would they bother my other small fish like the Gertrudae? Do you think it's a good idea?

I can research more, but he thought Angels and then a pair each of Bolivians/Dicrossus. They generally recommend getting a small group of juvie Rams and letting two pair off, then returning/selling the rest - this way you're more likely to have a pair that gets along. I don't think it's as big of an issue with the Dicrossus. Not sure if the same applies to angels?

Anyone else have input on any of this for me? Thanks!

Last edited by magpie; 01-22-2012 at 11:08 AM.
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post #3 of 4 Old 01-22-2012, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
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I just read that angels don't like any water movement as it stresses them. I have an Eheim 2217, the spraybar is pointed at one of the short walls, but there is some current that backflows across the tank, mostly at the bottom corner, but there is some on the one side of the tank.

I also read that they like to be in large groups, 6 would be ideal, and I'm not sure with the 3-ft tank that I have room for a group to keep them happy. My LFS does have some Leopoldi angels right now, which I guess are smaller, but they're still a 4-inch fish.

Thoughts on this?

Also concerned they'll eat my Gertrudae. I know everyone else is safe as they are big - the pencilfish are much bigger now, and the rice fish are too big for them to eat as well.

Last edited by magpie; 01-22-2012 at 11:34 AM.
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post #4 of 4 Old 01-22-2012, 01:20 PM
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I'll start with some comments in general and on the mentioned species of which I have personal knowledge; we have some very experienced cichlid aquarists here who can add much I'm sure.

I would not recommend more than one species of cichlid in a tank under 4 feet, so your 3-foot 65g falls under this; I would not even do it in my 4-foot 70g if the quiet and small species you have are present.

You answered your own question of angelfish; I know some will say angels less than a group are "OK" but this simply flies in the face of nature. And, aside from this aspect, angels would very readily see 1-inch fish like you have as meals.

Mikrogeophagus ramirezi need warmth to be at their best, so tanks with other fish that prefer less warmth are not suitable. This fish should live 4 years, but rarely does; warmth is in my experience significant.

Mikrogeophagus altispinosus as a single fish would work. They can also be kept in a bonded pair but will get feisty during spawning, which will be regular and frequent, and having gone through this several times I would not have them in with very small, quiet fish. More robust tankmates like the average-sized characins can work better.

Dicrossus is a good dwarf, and best in a pair. Both species are in our profiles, so I won't repeat any of what's there, since I wrote it.

Some Apistogramma would be fine, depending upon species in a pair or a harem. I have found their temperament to be near-identical to M. ramirezi; the ram was initially considered to be in the Apistogramma genus until Kullander sorted this out once and for all.

Hope this is of some help.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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