Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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WashingtonCowgirl 10-18-2010 03:00 AM

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 :)

rrcoolj 10-18-2010 05:38 AM

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 "" 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.

Spooki 10-18-2010 01:58 PM

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.

Mike Check 10-20-2010 09:23 PM

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. :)

small fry 10-20-2010 10:39 PM

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!

car0linab0y 10-22-2010 02:06 PM

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.

small fry 10-22-2010 04:59 PM

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!

all gods creatures 05-07-2014 05:04 PM

Are you looking for freshwater? Brackish? I am currently setting up a brackish for orange chromides that are coming soon so you need to do research on the water type, behavior, if you are looking for a mating pair etc. Your question needs to be narrowed down to get more specific answers. Basic rule is all chiclids are messy and the more filtration the better, the bigger the tank the more happier.

Tazman 05-07-2014 09:29 PM

I agree with what everyone has said here, having kept hundreds of cichlids over 20 years, that a 55 somewhat limits what you can stock although you can still get a colorful and happy tank.

African cichlids, some of the easier ones to keep and you can keep in the region of 15 in a 1 male to 4 female ratio are Pseudotropheus Acei, Rusty(Iodeotropheus Sprengae), Afra (Cynotilapia Afra), Yellows labs (Labidochromis caeruleus). This will give you a nice mix of fish.

As others have mentioned, doing a "fish in" cycle is not the best method to go about cycling, although sometimes it has to be done. There is a guide to cycling here which outlines some methods.
Be very wary of products that say they can cycle your tank in a few days, 99% of the time once you start adding fish the tank will cycle again.
Cycling with fish in can be dangerous to the fish, ammonia and Nitrite are toxic to fish and they have to endure this during cycling. This can and usually does have a bad long term effect on fish.

Filtration is very important as people have mentioned, on my recently sold 75g tank, I had 2 x Rena xp 2 and a Fluval FX5. This is major overkill but I was overstocked for some time and needed it.

Many species of cichlids prefer sand as a substrate as they like to dig and re arrange the tank constantly. Having a piece of light diffuser panel, egg crate on the bottom of the tank, can prevent any rock structure collapses potentially damaging the bottom of the tank.

Live plants are hit and miss with cichlids, sometimes they will be mini lawnmowers and just eat them or sometimes they will leave them alone.

Nothing should be rushed if you want a happy healthy tank. Ask questions before you even buy fish!

Looking forward to see how the tank progresses.

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