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Starting a African cichlid tank..
I currently have a 55 gallon freshwater that's heavily planted and running two fluval C4 HOB filters, it's houses 9 cherry barbs,10 bloodfin tetras, 6 mollies and 9 albino cories, been up and running for over 2 years .
I'm planning to start a 55 gallon cichlid tank and as far as cycling what I plan to do is transfer one of the Fluval C4's from my current 55 to the cichlid tank. My question is knowing that its preferable to add all your cichlids at once will that filter have sufficient bacteria to do that? Or will that not be enough to "instant cycle" The filter is rated for up to 70 gallons and does 264Gph, I would also add another filter on the cichlid tank as I know they need lots of filtration. I'm hoping to get about 20 cichlids in there.
First, I'd let the tank go at least a month on cycle and test the p.h. to avoid issues. Some crushed coral will help buffer it once things settle down with the cycle. The filtration will eventually need to be bumped up a notch, many different directions you can go depending on taste.
OK, the big issue I see is the live stock you state you are interested in. The only way you can get that many afrocan cichlids in a 55gal is the tiny shell dwellers and 20 would be a real crowd. I'm not an expert on afrocans, but know from experience they are highly aggressive and get moderate in size. They also tend to command more territory than other cichlids their size. Think of 1.5 the size territory of the moderate size central americans. If you go to Bluegrass aquatics, they can guide you in making good choices and decisions. Their fish are pricey, but worth every penny. Nevertheless, they can tell you what to stuff safely in a 55gal. As for adding all the fish at one time, absolutely. If you don't you can sit back and watch the new guys get ripped to shreds right before your eyes. Letting the tank run and cycle with a used filter and placing buffer material in just prior to the fish should keep any potential water quality issues to zip.
I have mbunas, and it's been my understanding you should overstock them becasue of aggression and then overfilter becasue of the stocking. I haven't really had any aggression issues (at least since my red zebra died) and my Kenyis are breeding like crazy. I've got 5 Kenyis and some other cichlid (wal-mart "assorted Cichlid;" he's orange) with a huge (6+ inches) syno catfish and rhino pleco in a 55. I have three other babies in another tank and I'm moving them all to a 75g soon. they seem to be doing great.
I've done a lot of reading about starting my own african cichlid tank for my 55G, but I decided I didn't want to because of the cost. To my understanding, the best type would be the Mbuna of Lake Malawi. Overstocking the tank is a must, because it will divide the aggression out, then follow it with over-filtration. General set up would be 3 species of Mbuna, 1 male and 3-5 females of each. If you chose to go with Demasoni as one of the species, go for 2 males and 8-10 females, smaller size, and a bit less aggressive, so higher numbers will help them stand against the other species. My plan was Demasoni (Blue, black barred) 2M 8F, Psuedotropheus Acei 1M 3F and Red Zebra 1M 5F. I found almost all of the info I needed here:
What is an easy, colorful stocking list for a Mbuna tank?
Hope some of that helps! Keep us posted!
Looks like we're in the same boat here, lol. I've decided against it too because of cost. I've also been doing a lot of reading up and just think its too risky for me at this stage. The only quality Lfs were I could get them charges almost double what they should cost, then you have to deal with the possibility of aggression with them no matter how carefully you stock them which could lead to several dead fish and obviously loss of money. Going to go ahead and do another planted 55 community, really wanted to start either a cichlid or a semi aggressive but just not comfortable at this point trying them, staying with what I know best.
Yeah. The hard thing is determining the sex when most shops only sell them as juveniles, so it's quite the gamble when trying to mix species. I decided to raise some Super Red Severums in a 55g (Only 1" right now) along with some 1" turquoise rainbows and lake tebera rainbows. Going to upgrade to a larger tank when it's needed. An all african tank would be awesome, but I'm just not rollin' in the cash. Haha. Good luck!
Don't be discouraged Smit! You can order your whole stock online for decent prices if you want to move forward with your Mbuna tank. and it's not a "possibility of aggression" it is guaranteed aggression with them but really once you have started and done your research and stocked and settled them in the aggression becomes manageable and the amazing behaviors of these fish by far outweigh the aggression.
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