Cichlids for a 55g
Now that the 29 is up and running and slowly being stocked, I've already got my mind set on the next tank. It will most likely be a 55g, but I'll be watching craigslist like a hawk so it could be bigger. At the moment, I'm torn between two ideas: mbuna and mid-sized American cichlids. Specifically, I've kind of always wanted a Jack Dempsey. If I had a Dempsey in a 55g, what sorts of possibilities do I have for tankmates? I assume I can't get anything small enough to fit in his mouth, but I also don't want to limit my choices to a pleco. Could a pictus cat work? What about schooling fish, like giant danios or congo tetras? Would these be big enough to survive?
As for the other option, mbuna: It looks like most of the time it's best to have a very high female-to-male ratio, which would limit my stocking to a single species most likely. Could I keep all males or all females and mix species? I really like red zebras, yellow labs, peacocks, demasonis, blue johannis, bumblebees and kenyis. Would it be possible to have only males of a few of these species? I really don't know much about mbuna so any help would be great.
Not the answer you are looking for, but....
Your aquarium is not large enough for the species of fish you are talking about. Sure, you could have some short term success, but maintaining such an environment over a period of several years will require a much larger tank. Yes, i have seen a few examples of these setups working for a year or so, but i have seen many more problems than i have successful systems in a 55 gallon tank.
If you insist on doing Cichlids, there are a great many species which remain small and can live a long happy life in your tank. Choose the correct fish up front and you will enjoy the aquarium for years forward.
Like I said, I've never owned Rift Lake cichlids so I'll take your word for it. I might resurrect this thread in the future since the tank I might end up with could be (possibly substantially) larger than a 55g.
What about the Dempsey, though? I've read from a lot of different sources that a 55g is suitable for a single adult. Have I been misled?
I'd say no to the JD- they're just such dirty fish that you're bound to have waste problems.
As for Rift lakes, Mbuna would be problematic, as many of those fish get quite large. However, I've seen some smaller Tanganyika setups that work quite well. There are lots of small shell dwellers and the like, and I'd feel extremely comfortable setting up one of those biotopes in anything over 30 gallons (long). The only limit here is that you'll have trouble finding anything that isn't a bottom dweller, although I believe there are some top dwelling Tanganyikan killies.
Well...crap. Those two options were what I was really interested in. What about a 75g? I won't bother even getting a 55g (well let's face it...yes I will) and will instead keep an eye out for at least a 75g for either of these ideas.
100 gallon plus Stand in Marshall - $250
Check out the Washington DC/Northern Virginia/Southern Maryland lists - and seach on aquarium and fish both. There's a ton more stuff available than on the Baltimore/Annapolis/Western Maryland lists.
I usually run searches for both "aquarium" and "fish tank." Marshall's quite a trek...I'd end up spending a large percentage of the cost of that tank just on gas getting there. But fear not, my craigslist tab never closes!
Ah, how I love craigslist. Just now some guy posted an AGA 125g in "great shape" WITH stand and all the trimmings for...
Oh please, let no one else see this ad.
Good luck! Although why don't you want to try Tanganyika? It's easily as fascinating as Mbuna, and it is the oldest of the Rift lakes. I mean, if you're gonna go old world, why not go *old* world?
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