I Want Cichlids, Need Info
Ok. I would really like to get cichlids in the near future. I have a 55 gallon tank. No hood or anything (I got it free off craigslist). What filter do you reccomend? Is a hood a must? How many cichlids can be housed in it? (they would be small, about 3 inches or so) Anything else you would like to tell me about cichlids would be greatly appreciated :)
You have to be more specific. There are literally 100's of different cichlid species so I could sit here and suggest alot of things. What are you looking for? I would suggest going to "cichlid-forum.com" and going through the species file in the library and decide what you like. As for the hood no it's not mandatory but it helps stimulate that natural day and night cycle for the fish. If you want a good power filter i would suggest the aquaclear 110. They are awesome filters. I would also do a canister and I recommend the xp2 rena filstar canister filter. That IMO is the best combination.
As for the hood, think of it this way: the only fish that doesn't jump is a dead fish. Hoods also help with keeping debris out of the tank and keeping the fish from splashing water out. Most cichlids can make quite a mess when they know food is coming.
Test the water you will be filling the tank with for hardness and pH and research cichlids that will like those parameters and go from there. There are so many different species with different needs, temperaments, diets, etc. They are a very diverse group of fish spanning multiple continents.
Well, first and foremost, a 55 gallon aquarium will weigh alot. Make sure you have an adequate fixture to stand it on. Not any old dresser will always work. Each gallon of water is approximately 8 pounds, so take that as a factor, because if you don't invest money in a proper stand, you'll be investing money in a new dresser and a new tank, lest you give up the hobby from sheer frustration.
Second, as said, the hood is very important, especially with cichlids. Cichlids are one of the more active species of fish you can get, and they do like to jump, as well as flail things around.
Third, a 55 gallon tank can be satisfied by a hang-on filter, although I would always recommend a canister filter. Keep in mind, cichlids are very messy eaters, alot get very large and produce a lot of waste. I know it seems unnecessary, but when dealing with cichlids I like to try to aim twice as high, meaning for a 55 gallon tank, I'd personally use a 110 gallon capable filter, if it's a hang-on. If you decide to go the canister filter route, I have a Fluval 404 filter with the media being, in order from bottom to top, pre-filter, bio-max, clear-max, carbon (With the appropriate sized water polishing pads set on top of the carbon). Maybe I'm just lucky, but my water has been crystal clear for a month now, the PH has remained neutral, and it lessens the ammount of water changes I have to do. Although I have a 75 gallon tank, that just means your 55 will be a little cleaner. ;)
Make sure you let your water cycle with the filter running for about a month (Give or take, depending on the hardness of the fish). Or, if you're impatient like I am, there's a handy chemical found at LFS' called TLC. The label bills that this product will cycle your aquarium in 3-7 days, but I'd wait 2 weeks to be safe. For 55 gallons you'll need about 2.5 ounces, most measuring cups have the ounce option on the side, to make this an easy task. Just make sure it's a brand new measuring cup, rinsed out.
A lot of cichlids can harvest a lot of power and aggression, so make sure when choosing a filter, you get one with a very sturdy glass, or risk a cichlid such as an Oscar smashing it, dispersing shards of glass and chemicals into the water, potentially electrocuting the fish, and more importantly you.
With a 55 gallon tank, your options are limited, I'd recommend African cichlids, preferably dwarfs. If you want new world (South/Central American) cichlids, try to pace yourself. A 55 gallon tank is only a foot wide, so the fish would need to be able to comfortably turn around to live happily. I like Firemouths personally. Other popular choices are Parrots or to go for a solo tank. You can get away with a Jack Dempsey, Green Terror, or other cichlids that max out around 8-10 inches, but I wouldn't go for more than one. An Oscar can live in your tank for a long time, but not forever. But there are SO many varieties of cichlids to choose from, so do some research and, again, pace yourself.
If you knew all or alot of this information, my apologies, but just trying to help. Best of luck to you, and enjoy this marvelous species. :)
The most important thing I have to say has already been said, but I will say it to stress the importance of it...get a sturdy hood! I have heard too many tragic stories of cichlids chaseing easch other out of the tank. Don't put them in until you have a hood!
Also, I wouldn't do a fish(ed) cycle, and if you have to, watch the toxicty and use cycle meds. That is all I have on that for now.
Secondly, If you go with african cichlids (as well as any cichlid but especially africans) you must be very cautious when stocking. Some species kill other species, even though some people say they are all just african cichlids.
If you go with American cichlids remember (or learn if you never knew), 1 Oscar is almost enough to completely stock a 55 gallon tank by itself. Personally I would like to get a Central/South American cichlid tank someday.
Anyway...Hope this helps!
I've never heard of Africans jumping... they WILL splash things out of the tank though. If you want to go the African route there are plenty of ways to raise & buffer your pH and hardness if you have soft tap water. "Mbuna" (smaller variety of Malawi cichlids) generally range from 3"-5" I think.
Yes, mbunas are generally between 4" & 5" inches long, but many can get up to 8". But when it comes to cichlids, size isn't everything! You will need to do some research on a spieces before you buy it. I've made that mistake before.
As a member of cichlid forums, I haved posted on many threads about cichlids jumping out of tanks to thier doom. Good thing is, is that if you set up your tank right, they shouldn't jump out (I have a hood anyway, not that my tank is perfect...). If you have an overstocked (in cichlid standards), under caved, under planted aquarium, they just might end up chasing each other out of the tank!
Anyway, good luck with your cichlid advetures. Hope this helps!
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