Starting a Cichlid tank and need some advice.
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Starting a Cichlid tank and need some advice.

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Starting a Cichlid tank and need some advice.
Old 04-01-2010, 08:33 AM   #1
 
Starting a Cichlid tank and need some advice.

I have read some of the other threads and most of my questions are still unasnwered. I have a standard 55gal tank with a topfin power 60 filter (plan on getting a different one because it's so loud). I am going to use a cichlid mix coral with some silica sand for the bottom. I have built a rock "wall" with lots of holes and places to hide. I used lace rock, slate, and texas holey rock and glued it all together with aquarium sealant. Now that you know the setup here come the actual questions . What are some good starter fish? Should I get some barbs or some danios to cycle with first? Would they be able to handle the high ph? My tap water has a ph of at least 7.6, I just got a high parameter ph test kit and haven't tested again yet. I figured with the cichlid sand and the rock the ph would go up anyway. Also, with a 55gal tank, what am I realisticly looking at as far as amount of fish and some types that can go together? I have heard conflicting arguments about this. Some say you need to over stock to combat agression and some say you need to understock. I would also like to have at least 1 pleco to take some of the pressure off me as far as algae and debris. As far as cycling goes, I have tried fishless cycling. First, I have no access to an ammonia source other than my tap water has about 1.0ppm. Second, when I did what the LFS said (adding new tap water and fish flakes) it "cycled" and then I put fish in (3 Gourami's to be exact) and all hell broke loose. Days and Days of water changes battling skyrocketing ammonia and nitrites later, we have 3 dead fish and nothing but an Anubias alive in the tank (and not looking to healthy). After that we scrapped and decided to start anew with something different.

Sorry for the book. Any advice is welcome advice, I will give as much information as needed, just ask me what you need to know.
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Old 04-01-2010, 02:58 PM   #2
 
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first off,
hello and welcome.
i don't think you really need the plec,to be honest.
unless it is quite a size,it will get picked on,and the fish would pick at the algae anyway,
plecs don't always eat the algae we want them to,so it could turn out completly
usless,with a high waste load on your tank.
mouthbrooders/mabuna will do well at over stocked.
as for the cycle,have you anyone with an established tank close to you,
if you have ask them if they would donate some filter media to you,
otherwise if you would like to follow the link, and please don't think you are writing to much,the more you tell and ask
the better people can help.http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...m-cycle-38617/
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Old 04-02-2010, 03:13 PM   #3
 
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yes as stated the the above poast if you can get some filter media from an already cycled tank you could was it in your tank water to help cycle it. as for keeping it cycled get some commet gold fish from petsmart or somewhere they are inexpensive (13 cents each) and Dirty little buggers. as for cichlids over stock only once your tank is well established otherwise youll be looking at a lot of dead expensive fish if i were you id go with mbuna. the pleco is not needed all you really need to do is buy an algae magnet and the little 13 cent minnows every once and a while to take some anger away from your cichlids.
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Old 04-03-2010, 05:59 AM   #4
 
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Welcome to the forum!

I wouldn't feed any sort of feeder fish to mbuna. They're not naturally piscivores so they're just going to maul the feeders before eating them. That, plus feeders are disease-ridden and mbuna are essentially herbivores so don't need to be eating live fish anyway.

I definitely do recommend doing a fishless cycle. Cycling with fish is a real pain as you need to constantly monitor the water parameters and do water changes to keep high ammonia/nitrite levels from killing your cycling fish. Plus, you've got to worry about what to do with the cycling fish once the tank is cycled (specifically, how to catch them, since you've got the rock work already in the tank). Finally, the cycling with fish can be avoided so there's really no justification for subjecting fish to even low levels of ammonia poisoning. Like I said in the article willow linked (thanks for the plug, by the way!) the shrimp-in-a-bag method is pretty much a foolproof cycling method. Really simple, provides much more ammonia than fish food and doesn't make as much of a mess and is the least work of any of the cycling methods.

As for stocking, you do generally want to overstock as it helps prevent individual fish from being too often on the receiving end of the dominant fishes' aggression. I'd suggest having a look through some of the different species (you might want to decide whether you want to do Lake Malawi or Lake Tanganyika, then look at fish species from there) and then asking about stocking numbers here.
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Old 04-03-2010, 08:44 AM   #5
 
Thank you so much for all of your imput, it is much appreciated. I found a WONDERFUL guy out of town who has mainly cichlids and saltwater. I decided to try his store because I was fedup with the locals who know absolutly NOTHING about the fish they are keeping. I went in with my water sample and he said "hey, I'm getting ready to do a water change, when I start a new tank I use about 1/2 water from my old tanks and 1/2 new water. Would you like me to give you about 25 gallons of water from my established tanks?" So he set me up with the water and now my tank is doing AWESOME. He sent me home with 3 yellow labs and 2 flame tails. All are juvies from local breeders and they are beautiful. I told him that was all I could get for now but I plan to come back and get some more females and another filter for my tank. He was great and the fish look absolutly amazing. The labs are the brightest shades of yellow and the alpha male has the blackest black on his fins and eyes. The flame tails are still small and are blue and grey, and they are a little timid. The labs are characters, playing in the sand and chasing eachother through the bubbles. I was thinking about getting some pseudotropheus demasoni after the others have a chance to establish themselves. I will get some pictures and post them at a later date.

Any advice as to whether I am taking the right path? I want to do my best to make sure the fish are happy and healthy before worrying about being happy myself.
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Old 04-03-2010, 09:19 AM   #6
 
I have attached a photo of my new 5. I have a two-year-old and the glass is smudged so it makes one of the fish look like it is missing an eye.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 5 newbies.jpg (122.5 KB, 60 views)
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Old 04-04-2010, 03:14 AM   #7
 
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Hmm, well, I'm not 100% sure why he suggested using old tank water in a new tank. The water itself doesn't contain much in the way of beneficial bacteria (these mostly live on your tank surfaces like substrate, plants, in your filter media especially, etc.) so using water from an established tank isn't going to cycle your tank for you. Keep an eye on your water parameters and do water changes whenever ammonia or nitrite gets to 0.25ppm or so. I've never heard of anyone cycling a tank with rift lake cichlids so I'm not even really sure how sensitive to ammonia/nitrite they are but it's always the case that the less exposure to both of these chemicals the better.
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Old 04-04-2010, 03:47 AM   #8
 
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I will say do your 25 percent water changes daily for the first week. then every other day second week. Third week start your weekly water changes. they start to strees if not.
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Old 04-04-2010, 08:54 AM   #9
 
Thanks for the advice! There was some of his sand in with the water, maybe that is what he was talking about. Anyway, the fish are still doing excellent. The flame tails are starting to come out more but they are kind of agressive. The parameters are still very low (especially for using already used tank water) and when I added my water I used PRIME (my tap water has 1.0 ammonia in it already) so I am not sure if its ammonia or ammonium my test is reading. It's only registering .25 maybe. it's kind of inbetween 0 and .25. Nitrites are still at 0 and Nitrates are at 15.
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Old 05-19-2010, 04:31 AM   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mattsmommaashley View Post
Thanks for the advice! There was some of his sand in with the water, maybe that is what he was talking about. Anyway, the fish are still doing excellent. The flame tails are starting to come out more but they are kind of agressive. The parameters are still very low (especially for using already used tank water) and when I added my water I used PRIME (my tap water has 1.0 ammonia in it already) so I am not sure if its ammonia or ammonium my test is reading. It's only registering .25 maybe. it's kind of inbetween 0 and .25. Nitrites are still at 0 and Nitrates are at 15.

Would keep the ammonia and nitrite levels at or below .25 for the next month with water changes and PRIME (good choice)
Would feed the five fish sparingly once every other day to help keep ammonia levels in check. Excess feeding during this time or uneaten food left on the bottom will result in excessive ammonia which at levels above .25 are more than uncomfortable for the fish.
Once the tank has cycled, (four to eight weeks) then daily once a day feedings will be fine but for now,I would stick with every other day feedings ,and feed tiny amount once ,on the days that I fed them.
Keep little hands away from the fish food.
Would not add any more fish until the tank has cycled.
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