I know squat about African Cichlids
So I'm over having angelfish and tiger barbs in my tank. I need to know about cichlids. Which are good to get, which stay around 3 inch, what tank mates are good,etc.
It seems so fun to have cichlids. I really want to end up breeding them some day. Just can't do that without knowing about these fish other than what I know about angelfish.
African cichlids have very interesting behaviors. Most are what’s called “maternal mouth brooders,” that is, the mothers carry eggs and young in their mouths. Once a male has fertilized the eggs, the female will pick them up, and incubate them in her mouth for a period of 3 weeks to 31 days, depending upon the species. Even after the young have been released, the mother will frequently take them back up into her mouth when they are threatened.
In general, African cichlids are more aggressive than their New World counterparts. African cichlids are highly predatory and extremely territorial. In the wild, they often live together in groups or schools of like species. Mature cichlids guard their territory and they are not hospitable and may even behave aggressively to other fish, including cichlids of different species.
Cichlids often express timidity and dominance through their coloration: a pale fish could be a stressed or submissive fish, and a bright fish is usually an aggressive or dominant fish. Sometimes when a male loses his territory, he also loses his bright coloring. However, some may go into hiding and retain their colors of dominance to pretend that they are still dominant in hopes of attracting potential mates.
In the aquarium, the largest cichlid is usually the dominant one and will behave aggressively towards all of the other fish. Sometimes the smallest cichlid in the aquarium is attacked and killed by the larger, more dominant fish. This occurrence can be dealt with or minimized through crowding or overstocking, which generally works well when done properly. When kept in this kind of environment, aggressive and dominant fish tend to lose their victims in the crowd. Crowding is actually a condition that is found in the wild, as cichlids are often found in densities as high as 10-18 fish per square meter.
For the most part. Also depends alot on the types of cichlids. Some are more peaceful than others. Calvuses I have never seen start a fight, incredibly slow growers and the white polkadotted ones look spectacular. Frontosas get big and come in a few different varieties, but are a relatively sedate fish, make sure you know the breed you get though, some of the common ones turn an ugly grey when they get big. Trets(forget the full name) are similar to Frontosas in appearance and attitude but do not get as big. Peacocks have tons of variety in color, will readily breed, and the purebred ones are relatively tame in attitude. Probably the easiest fish to keep as well. A few warnings, get one male per couple females and make sure you have a trustworthy source as the females for peacocks all look pretty much the same for all the species and they will happily cross breed which is to be avoided. Orange Blotches "OB"s stay away from, they are very aggressive compared to normal peacocks and are not a true species. Demonsoni's are a cool looking fish, very aggressive, relatively small. Cool factoid about them, their natural habitat is about the size of a football field around some island and there are more in farms than there is in the wild.
Stay away from Tropheus even though I think they are some of the coolest cichlids outside of discus. Require pretty good water quality, high quality spiralina based food, expensive individually and to be successful you need 6+(they do not like to be alone and pick each other to death in small numbers). You pretty much need to do weekly water changes.
My advice before breeding anything especially on a hobby level is to make sure you have somewhere to safely get rid of the labors of your work. I have a breeder I know who does it professionally and even he has a hard time getting rid of fish some times. As cruel as it sounds when he has overstock for long periods he culls them and turns them into frozen prepared food for his predatory fish. I got stuck with a colony of tropheus for several months before finallly selling them off to a coworker at a major loss, no one was buying them at the time and they were not even duboisi's.
As a newbie to Africans, I recommend looking into Peacocks and calvuses. I hear shell dwellers are really cool too but I have no experience with them so i will leave that to someone else.
That said, there are a large number of incredibly interesting New World cichlids that are worth having a look at, too. They range from small, relatively peaceful fish suitable for community tanks to large, predatory fish that can be difficult to keep with other fish.
Calvus i would not start with. As awesome as they are they are painfully slow growers and are snesative to abrubt changes in temperature and paramters. Peacocks are good and mbunas are too. You have to understand that "african cichlid" accounts for litteraly 100's of species of fish. Not only from the three lakes(tanganyika, malawi, and victoria) but also riverine and madagascan cichlids. Overcrowding is only suggested for some african cichlids. Fish like lepidolamprologus kendalli will kill thier own kind within a 6ft tank. It really sepends on what kind of breeding too. Do you want mouthbrooders or pit spawners. Jewel cichlids would make a great pit spwaner for a beginner. And mbunas would make great beginner mouth brooders as well as peacocks. It really does in the end depend on what you like. New worlds are great too. Although I love africans, I have recently done a little switch to new world cichlids. SA and CA cichlids also have cool behavior and some interesting characteristics. It would help us alot if you told us EXACTLY what you are looking for in this fish tank.
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