Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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koolman56 10-07-2006 03:40 PM

Cichlid Help!?!?!?!
Hey do you have any idea what kinds of fish i could put in a 55 gallon tank?I want them to be mostly cichlids but i just cant find out what lives with them etc :P Im real confused xD So if you could help me it would be greatly appreciated!

Nick 10-07-2006 08:16 PM

Deleted same topic in other freshwater forum. Please do not post multiple posts of the same topic. You will get helped no matter so no need to post mulitiple topics. :D


Rebecca 10-07-2006 09:30 PM

Usually Cichlids are a species fish; you can only keep them with each other. However, if your tank is planted enough, with lots of good hiding places, you can sometimes keep fish like catfish and plecos with them. Don't put little fish like tetras in with them because they will just be lunch. I doubt the tetras would appreciate it. :)

Of course, it does depend on what type if cichlid you get. New World species, like Angel fish, aren't as aggressive as African Cichlids. You can keep smaller fish with angels, as long as the tank is complex and large enough.

joeshmoe 10-07-2006 09:33 PM

good luck with the lake t cichlids

Lupin 10-07-2006 10:42 PM


Originally Posted by GuppyGirl101
Don't put little fish like tetras in with them because they will just be lunch. I doubt the tetras would appreciate it.

Only dwarf cichlids and discus can be mixed with tetras. I doubt angelfish would ever be good tankmates unless your angels are scalare species and tetras being large in size to escape predation. Altums will obviously eat them.:blueshake:

koolman56 10-08-2006 08:46 AM


Originally Posted by joeshmoe
good luck with the lake t cichlids


SKAustin 10-08-2006 09:08 AM

First you need to get yourself a starting point. You say you would like Cichlids, the first question is what type of cichlids are you looking for. Alot of that will be affected by the amount of care you wish to put forth, and the type of interaction you wish to have with the fish. Tanganyikan cichlids are very intelligent fish, and there are many beautiful species, but they require a more devoted attention as they cannot tolerate higher levels of nitrates and have specific water and dietary requirements. Malawi Cichlids are very colorful, much more readily available, and considerably more tolerant of changing water params. But they are also more agressive and require much more indepth research as to the compatability of the different species. South american cichlids are by far, the easiest and most tolerant fish, but they also grow considerably larger (most species) and faster than do the African (Malawi, Tanganyikan, and Victorian cichlids) some of the south american species are also very heavy eaters. Efforts to keep less active eaters well fed can result in overfeeding and as result, very poor water conditions and ferquent gravel vac/water changes. Personal opinion, I would seek to pursue the Less aggressive Malawi species like Yellow labs. But if you are up for a challenge and would like a tank of fish with unique look and personality, Give Tanganyikans a shot. Research a bit on the different groups, and see what you have available to you. Once you have made a decision, let me know and I'll give you some guidance on how to proceed. Another point of advice, never mix the different types (Tangs/Malawi/SA) of cichlids, no matter who tells you that you can, it is highly not recommended.

Oh, there is one other option you may wish to research, Binlids (Discus), I'm afraid I could not provide you with a great deal of guidance in the keeping of discus, but should you elect to go that route, I can surely point you in the direction of someone who can.

African Rift Lake Cichlids consist of three seperate groups, Lake Malawi, Lake Tanganyika, and Lake Victoria. As a beginner, The Lake Malawi Mbuna species would be your best option. Try to go with less aggressive species of fish like the Yellow Labs. Avoid Auratus and other very aggressive species. Hybridization is also a big problem amongst Malawi cichlids so research your options and never buy a fish that your not sure of the species. Hybrids can have serious aggression issues and could result in the demise of other fish in your tank. Mbuna should be over stocked to aid in aggression control so plan on about 20 fish for that tank. Best option is to conduct a fishless cycle, and then make your entire stock purchase in 3 seperate trips offset by one week, and beginning with the least aggressive species. additionally, Mbuna are a rock dwelling fish, decorate the tank with a fine light colored gravel substrate (or sand) and lots of rocks piled up. There are photos of my lab tank in the link in my Sig. Check them out to get a general idea. Lastly, test your tap water. African cichlids require a high PH (about 7.8-8.6 preferred 8.0) Take a sample of your tap water and let it sit out for a day, Then test the PH. If the PH is out of the preferential range, you may need to make adjustments. Shells (to raise) and Bogwood (to lower) are natural ways to buffer your PH. use of Chemical PH buffers are NOT RECOMMENDED.

When you say "t lake" I assume you mean Lake Tanganyika. Tanganyikan cichlids are by far the best group of fish. They are by no means the easiest to keep however. Tanganyikan cichlids are considerably less aggressive (for most species) than the Malawi species, but there are several considerations that need to be made. First off, they require high PH (8.0 +) the tank must be consistantly maintained. Regular water changes are an absolute must as nitrate levels should never exceed 20 ppm. Rockwork is also necessary as these fish are territorial and require their own spaces. once you research the species that you are interested in, post me a preferred stocklist and I'll let you know if there are any issues. I also recommend researching which species you have available to you as Tangs are not as readily available as Malawi and South American species. Lighting and substrate are also a consideration. Lake Tanganyika is a very deep lake, some of the species from this lake (like the Frontosa) are from deeper waters and prefer subdued lighting. Darker substrate is preferred and if you decide to keep a shell dwelling species, which by the way are very fascinating fishes, you will need an extremely fine substrate, preferably sand.

If it's brightly colored fishes you are seeking, I must digress that the Malawi fishes are by far more brightly and diversely colored than the Tanganyikans. Malawi, barring the agression issues, are also far easier to keep. Most Tanganyikan species are also very slow growing fish.

Lupin 10-08-2006 10:12 AM

Steve has cover up everything about Malawis and Tanganyikans.:)

As for the Amazon cichlids..I might as well try if I can.:mrgreen:

Discus(well, we call them "binlids" anyway)
You may have heard of people saying that they are quite delicate. So let's say action is stronger than words, right?:wink2: In other words, I am saying that you should not believe everything people say until you try it.
The belief that discus is delicate is just a myth. That applies especially on books saying discus require perfect water conditions. So why perfect? Not everything is perfect anyway.:dunno: The better term is ideal. Giving your discus the ideal conditions make them thrive better but of course, as they are mostly captive-bred, they can adapt to wide ranges of water conditions. Hence discus are not that hard as you think.

If you want to keep discus, the rule usually applied is one adult per 10 gallons. So for a 55 gallons, 5-6 discus will obviously fit. Take note that discus tend to grow from 5-8 inches so they can be quite big.
For starters, it's best that you keep 4 or more. 6 is better. Discus are cichlids so don't expect them to be the way they are. They will still bully their own kind no matter how you look at them the way they were.

Discus thrive better in warmer temps so 28-30 degrees Celsius is ideal. As I live in the tropics, i have no use for the heaters myself.:dunno: My discus have been thriving very well without giving me a lot of problems.
Lower than 28 oftne makes them more susceptible to diseases.

On the side note, discus tend to become prone to Hexamita or Hole-in-the-Head disease. Other cichlids are prone to that but discus are the most susceptible to it. I used Metronidazole for this case.

Tankmates...You have to be careful with the tankmates you choose for the discus. Some will tolerate the high temperatures but some will not. Some are quite boisterous hence they are not suitable tankmates. It is often recommended that you keep them with tetras, apistogrammas, angelfish and cories. Make sure they can do well in warm temps. Some tetras actually don't thrive very well in high temps such as neons. Your best bet would be the cardinal tetras and rummy-nose tetras.

Food...They are grazers and will spend a lot of time trying to chomp down on foods. So make sure they have the fair share of foods. They tend to be slow-moving when it comes to foods but some may actually eat foods fast.
There are people saying angelfish should never be mixed with discus. Apart from the territoriality issues, the feeding manners of the angelfish tend to pickle down the discus. Angelfish will eat like pigs and by the time, the discus get their share, your angels will already have bloated stomachs I don't have problems with this though because in my case, my discus can eat very fast.

Plants...Some plants will survive high temps but some will not. It's best that you do research on what plants you want to keep.
Research for their requirements before buying them.

Sexing: Unknown. Sexing can be distinguished once they are in spawning conditions. Males tend to have pointed ovipositors while females have more round-shaped ovipositors.

As for selection or buying of new discus...(more food info is available in this quote)

Originally Posted by crazie.eddie
When selecting discus...
1. Make sure they eat well. Have the person throw food in the tank. Select the discus that are ones going for the food first.
2. Make sure it is not sick (NO noticeable markings, NO clamped fins, NO white stringy poo or no worms coming out of anus)
3. Make sure the discus does not hide by itself in the corner. This is usually a sign of illness.
4. Bright colors. Make sure the fish is not dark, almost black.

There are higher quality discus that can be found. The signs to look for...
1. Discus does not look stunted. If the eyes look larger in proportion to the size of the fish, then the fish is stunted.
2. No broken stress bars. Most discus have vertical (up/down) black bars that run across their body. These usually show when the fish become stressed. If the bars MUST run straight from top to bottom. It MAY also indicate the discus could have some kind of spinal problem.
3. No peppering. Some discus (pigeon blood, red melons, etc.) that do not have stress bars, will have some black spots on their body, which is most prominent above the mouth, also around the face and above the eyes, but also can cover the rest of the body. The peppering also occurs if the fish become stressed. Do not select the fish that have allot of peppering. FYI, some will get slightly peppered if stressed, which eventually goes away.
4. Round bodies.

Here's a pic of my discus with the straight stress bars...

Here is a pic of my pigeon blood with peppering...

Here's a pic of my red melons with very little or no peppering...

You may find a discus that eats well and looks healthy, but does not qualify as a higher quality discus, you may select it if it appeals to you.

Red Turquoise (aka Red Turqs) are one of the most common discus found, so they should be sold very cheap.

Do not select wild discus as your first discus. They usually contain pathogens (since carried from the wild) and are harder to keep, since they need to be closer to their environment from which they came from.

Keep in mind, discus do better in groups, since they feel more comfortable around each other. Buy at least 4-5 at a time. If you are buying a 2nd group of discus, make sure you quarantine them for 2-3 weeks.

It's cheaper to buy young discus (under 4"). Unfortunately, young or juvenile discus need to be fed several times during the day and the left over food need to be removed along with the waste. Therefore, it's best to keep the tank barebottom until they become mature. Make sure the bottom of the tank is covered so it cannot see through it.

You should feed discus a variety of foods, like beefheart, FBW (frozen blood worms), fish flakes, tetra bits, etc. You can feed live foods (california black worms, red worms, etc.), but I normally don't like to, since the worms may carry pathogens, which may make the fish ill.

It's cheaper to prepare your own beefheart. All that is required is obtaining beefheart (normally through a butcher or some other kind of meat market), then removing the veins & fat (the butcher may do this for you). You can then grind it (the butcher may also do this for you) and package them into smaller bags for freezing to be used later. When you do grind it, it's best to mix garlic extract, shrimp, spirulina, discus vitamins, to provide the discus a healthy meal.

Apistogrammas(Dwarf Cichlids)
They are often forgotten when it comes to suggesting which fish will be suitable for small tanks.

Keeping them in numbers vary. Some apistos form harems with a male guarding a territory which are occupied by several females. Some pair bond to breed like the Microgeophagus ramirezi.

If you wish to keep them, pls do not mix them in a community which has dominant species as this may render them helpless and will never last long in your tank.

Keep your water quality in tip-top conditions with ammonia and nitrites at 0 as they tend to become sensitive to those substances.

There are actually three species of angelfish: Pterophyllum scalare, Pterophyllum altum and Pterophyllum leopoldi.
Of all three, altums are the best tankmates for discus as they can be quite slow and competition between them when it comes to feeding may not be that hard. Altums can be distinguished by erect fins, brown bars and sharp indentation above their eyes.
Scalares, on the other hand, will obviously eat like pigs as previously mentioned. They can be mixed with discus as long as you see to it that they get their fair share of foods.
Leopoldis are rarely available so there's not much chance trying to explain on this one although I'll try to state the fact that leopoldis can be distinguished by long snouts and shorter fins. They are oftne found to be the nastiest of the three.

Sexing: Unknown. Sexing can be distinguished once they are in spawning conditions. Males tend to have pointed ovipositors while females have more round-shaped ovipositors.

Shoudl you wish to keep angelfish, scalares will require you 18 inches minimum height of tank. Altums will definitely need 24 inches minimum. 30 inches is more preferable.

koolman56 10-08-2006 10:14 AM

Help Me Decide!
Ok i need some help deciding what fish to put in my 55 gallon tank....

im using malayi lake fish and make sure they go in a group if you could give osme examples that woud be great! :D

Lupin 10-08-2006 10:16 AM

Threads merged.

Pls try to stay on one thread to prevent further confusions of where other members will post.:)

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