Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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starcollector 10-24-2006 12:22 PM

Starting an African cichlid tank
A friend gave me a 55-gal tank. I've really been wanting to start an african cichlid tank for years. Is this big enough to start them off in? I've read to "crowd" the tank, so for this size, how many fish are recommended?

How do I go about setting it up? I know I can't use standard gravel, so what is recommended substrate? No live plants, and lots of rocks/caves, right? Everything I'm reading says add all your cichlids at once, instead of a few at a time, and yet I always thought it was best to only add a few fish at a time to your tank so as not to overload the bio system. I have had basic freshwater setups over the years (and have one now) but never have kept cichlids. Any tips you guys could provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


46-gal bowfront
6 tiger barbs
5 gold barbs
2 albino corys
1 featherfin syndontis catfish
live plants

Lupin 10-24-2006 06:37 PM

Hi Mary.:wave:

The "crowding" method is mainly used to reduce aggression. It is best to just add hiding places and have less fish.
What African cichlids are you going to keep? Malawi or Tanganyikans?

If Malawi, no plants will be recommended except a few tough ones like Javan fern, anubias and vallis. Pls take note of some of the fish's dietary requirements. Tropheus cichlids do not fair well with food very rich in proteins like bloodworms as this can lead them to digestive upsets.
Some, however, like to eat bloodworms which should be fine for them.

Tangs will require very high oxygen level so aeration will be required. Lake Tanganyika tends to have a lot of water movements hence there is more oxygen and the pH required will often be high(8.0-8.3 is best).
I find them better than Malawis. Malawis tend to poop a lot but not the Tangs.

Standard gravel can still be used but for Tangs, sand would be best as some species love to dig their shells into it.

Both groups will require you lots of caves just to ease out aggression as they establish territories.

starcollector 10-31-2006 10:29 AM

I'd like to keep Malawi Mbunas. I'm trying to read all I can, but I'm having trouble figuring out which spceies to put together. My tank is cycling now, so in a couple of weeks (hopefully), I can start stocking it with mbunas. Any suggestions?

JouteiMike 10-31-2006 11:08 AM

Just be sure to keep one male with several females.

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