NEWBIE to Cichlids....thinking of starting a tank
Ok all, I currently have a 55 gal community tank, and well just happen to have another 55 gallon tank fall into my lap (oooppppssss :))
Debating between saltwater and a cichlid tank and want some advice from the "experts" With the water that comes out of my tap (and from reading in my comm. tank) it is on the high side, around 8 and I have hard water. Which from what I am reading will not be a problem with Cichlids. Now I notice that there are all kind of diff cichlids from diff lakes, there are new world, and african. I have read some people use sand, others "rock" gravel, some normal gravel. Some have plants, real and plastic. My brain is going nuts!
Ok like I said, it is going to be a 55 gallon tank. From my above statement, Is there advantage of one of the above fish over the other, what kind of substrate, and what about plants? Im just trying to get some ideas as to where to narrow my search for information to see what direction I am going to go! Also is keeping cichlids like comm fish, use the 1" per gallon rule or because of their aggressive nature do you scale that down? Could I keep 6-8 fish that get in the 6" range in a 55 gal? Also what about filtration for these fish?!
Thank you all for helping me out I know its alot of information I am looking for!
Only you can decide what particular cichlids you wish to keep but were it me I would not choose ones that get very large. A 55 gal is not all that deep front to back but would house a number of medium size cichlids which in my view you would want to have to keep aggression down somewhat. As for substrates I would go with rock or gravel as most or many cichlids like to root around in the substrate. I would choose artificial plants for the same reason but live plants can be used if the roots are protected with rocks or the plants are potted. For filtration I would use two emperor 400's by marineland simply because I use five of them and they are easy to service, inexpensive, and should parts be needed they are easy to find but canister filters work well too. You want double to three times the filtration for the number of gal. the tank holds for cichlids as they are messy fish. hope some of this helps.
I would first choose the particular type of cichlid you want. If you choose African Rift Lake fish, you need to be very careful about your stocking. I'd choose only fish from one lake, as the Lake Malawi fish tend to be more aggressive. The African Rift Lake cichlids are the ones you see crowded into tanks with crushed coral substrate and big piles of rocks. There are very few fish that make good tankmates for the Rift Lake fish, given their water parameter preference and general aggression. Plants usually don't work with these fish since many of these fish eat plants.
Dwarf cichlids are fish from West African rivers or Central/South American bodies of water that usually prefer softer water with a lower pH. Though they can be aggressive towards other dwarf cichlids they're generally more peaceful and can be included in community tanks.
Larger New World cichlids tend to be aggressive, predatory fish, although there are a few exceptions. Most of them will also do a good job of destroying your plants. The bigger ones (oscars, jaguars, etc) are too big for your tank, but you could house something up to the size of a green terror or Jack Dempsey with no problem. Tankmates must be chosen very carefully.
I would strongly reccommend going for a african mbuna tank from lake malawi. These particular cichlids love a pH of about 8.0 and are easy to keep. You should have a good sized canister and power filter in the tank though because of what messy eaters they are. You can use coarse gravel but sand is problably better. be sure to add lots of rocks as africans like rocks but be sure to place the rocks before you place your substrate as african cichlids are big on digging and may topple the rocks if they are placed on the sand. I would also reccommend using fake plants as the mbunas are vegi eaters. You may also try the plant called vallisneria which is naturally accuring in lake malawi.
A 55 gallon, huh? Well you could put a Jack Dempsey in it. They grow between 8-12 inches. You could only put one in because of pure size, but if you only want one fish it would be perfect.
Tanganyika! Malawi will get too large, but Tanganyikans are the perfect size for a thriving biotope.
A Jack Dempsey would get far too large for a 55 gallon tank.
I would suggest Angelfish. They are a beautiful Cichlid. They are very hardy too. I would put some amazon sword plants in there
I would go with Tang Cichlids with proper gravel which can keep the water hard and high pH. Try not to mix South Americans with African Cichlids. You can choose many different types of rock dwellers and/or shell dwellers, even free swimmer such as Cyprichromis, furcifers. They can even breed in the tank provided you add enough of each species for them to pair off.
Do research before adding livestock, this way you avoid regrets and/or waste money.
Very smart Cerianthus :)
There are also some very cool non-cichlids you can keep, such as syno catfish. I love tang because there are so many cool fish, and they all display so many different behaviors.
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