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ChristinaRoss 11-27-2009 03:16 PM

new cichlid tank and mates? suggestions welcome
i have a cycled 55 gallon id like to have as a cichlid tank. im looking for suggestions on types that i can find locally at petsmart or petco.
also, id like a maximum of 6" or smaller when fully grown

what other types of fish can i add?

would a columbian shark be ok with them? at least until he got too big and needed even more brackish water?

im researching all of this before i get any, any suggestions are greatly appreciated

note: my water is very soft water

Byron 11-28-2009 12:25 PM

What type of cichlids are you considering? African rift lake, or South American dwarf, or Central American? This will make a difference with water parameters (they are vastly different between these groups) and suitable companions. On that note, what are your hardness (you mention soft, do you have the number?) and pH values?


ChristinaRoss 11-28-2009 01:18 PM

yes, im interested in whatever is most suitable for my water parameters, my water is usually between 25-75 gh and ph is between 6.8 - 7.2

Byron 11-28-2009 01:39 PM


Originally Posted by ChristinaRoss (Post 281494)
yes, im interested in whatever is most suitable for my water parameters, my water is usually between 25-75 gh and ph is between 6.8 - 7.2

Do you mean 25-75 ppm (I hope), or 25 dGH? With your pH (quite good) I am suspecting it is 25-75 ppm which is very soft, so I'll go on that assumption.

You could have a lovely setup of dwarf SA cichlids in a 55g with room for "dither fish" like several tetras, corydoras, etc. Possibilities are almost endless. With very soft water (hoping I'm assuming correctly on that;-)) the pH will begin to drop as the tank matures, over the next 3 or so months. Anywhere in the 6 range will be fine. There are several species in the Apistogramma genus, plus several other genera. Here's a good site for photo index of species: Home
And for info on the species: The Cichlid Room Companion - Main Index

All of these will be under 6 inches, most around 3-4 inches mature. They are usually best in pairs (male/female) and most are easy to sex, with a few exceptions where one male with 2-3 females is better. The info on species will mention this. You could have 3-4 pairs in a 55g. They all like (need) plants, and arrange the plants to provide "territories" so the fish can't see from one to the other territory. Wood is also good in this tank.

Suitable tankmates would be almost any of the smaller shoaling tetras. And corydoras or the smaller catfish species (pleco maxing out at 4 inches for instance), Farlowella, Whiptail species, etc. Just make sure of the temperature requirements. Some of the dwarf cichlids like it warmer (80-82F) and some of the catfish and tetras do not fare well above 78F.

Unfortunately you are not likely to find many of the dwarf cichlids in stores, unless there is a local breeder around. Depending upon where you live, there may be hobbyists and clubs close for enquiries. Of course, there are online fish suppliers, and some of these are very reputable.

Hope this starts you off. This could be a magnificent display. Good luck.


ChristinaRoss 11-28-2009 03:01 PM

wow thankyou so hoping those are the types typically i can find at petco or petsmart

andrewr2488 11-28-2009 10:15 PM

Depending on how experienced you are, Germaon Blue Rams might be the way. You could probably find some at your local PETCO. if you have one near by, I'd suggest checking to see if they have any of the rams. If you decide on them as your Cichlids, Remembe they are VERY finicky and sensative to any small change in water parameters. Adding a nicely sized school of tetras, and some corys would be lovely. I'm going to setup a SA Planted with 2 bolivian rams with some tetras and corys. Going off your soft water and lower pH level the German blue ram (Mikrogeophagus Ramirezi) would suite your parameters better than a bolivian ram (Mikrogeographus Altispinosus) Remember its always better to first find out what your water parameters are and then choose your fish accordingly. Byron is very knowledgable and has given me plenty of advice for my future planted sa tank. He will be able to guide you through any questions you might have. Good luck, I'm sure your tank will look stunning.

ChristinaRoss 11-29-2009 07:25 AM

yes thats why im looking into it here what will be the best for my tank before i get anything

andrewr2488 11-29-2009 09:29 AM

is there a price limit? African Cichlids would probably be the cheapest, all you need is some rock work to create hiding places, gravel, and the fish themselves really. Only thing about that is they like harder water and higher ph levels.. so they're probably not the choice for you.. As I stated earlier, Dwarf cichlids such as the M. Ramirezi and M. Altispinosus would be pretty good for you.Since your water is softer the M. Ramirezi would appreciate it much more than the M. Altispinosus. Have the ideal aquarium for the Ram would be an expensive project. Your gonna need a very fine gravel substrate, quite a few plants to create territories, Some driftwood, Better lighting just to name a few things.. I made a thread a while back with questions for planting a 50g tank. You can look it up and see what all was discussed, Byron had ALOT of input and If you are indeed interested in having the Rams I'd suggest reading through the thread. There's quite a bit of good info providing by some knowledgable members. You can check out Go to their "Knowledge Base" and read up on any fish you might be interested in, and as I Said try to match the fish You'd be interested in with your current water. Adding chemicals to try and alter your water to fit the needs of your fish will only stress them out. If your selection prefers a pH of 6.5, and your water is say 6.8-6.9 pH It would be best just to leave it as is instead of using chems to lower it, depending on your buffering capacity it might buffer the chem to fast and basically your fluctuating your pH too much and causes stress to the fish. Once you know what fish your interested in, post it and we'll try to help you as much as possible. I'm quite new myself but have been absorbing any and all info possible. Good Luck!!

ChristinaRoss 11-29-2009 11:07 AM

yes thats what im trying to do with what works for MY water this tank i have great lighting, sand and smooth gravel river stones and driftwood and very heavily planted already.

i definately dont want to be adding chemicals to change the ph and hardness of the water. im looking for fish that will match what my current parameters and setup already are.

i want fish that stay 4" or less and not that expensive and can be found locally in a petco or petsmart.

the tank is cycled (5 months) and setup is all ready to go.

Byron 11-29-2009 11:20 AM

As I mentioned before, finding these gems will not be easy. Mikrogeophagus ramirezi and M. altispinosus appear in stores fairly regularly, especially the former. Others are in my experience hit and miss but in your area you may have better luck, though probably more-so in a fish store rather than a chain store.

A word on the M. ramirezi, let the tank settle well before adding (3+ months with other fish in it, pH dropped down to near 6). In spite of being largely tank-raised now, this species has shown a strong preference for very soft acidic water, and of course higher temperatures (82F is absolute minimum, 84F would be better). And some corydoras and tetras will quickly burn out at such high temperatures.

With any of the dwarfs I would get the tankmates settled before looking for them. A group of tetras and corydoras well established will significantly increase chances of success introducing dwarf cichlids. Just decide what probably species of dwarf, and choose the tetras and corys with the temperature in mind for the dwarfs.


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