Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Geoffrey 03-20-2012 12:52 AM

Cant decide!!
I recently scored a bare bones 55 gallon 4 ft long aquarium for $40 and while it's cycling I have been going back and forth about what kind of cichlid(s) to put in it once it's ready. I run on well water that is 7.0 out of the tap and rises to around 8.0 in aquariums.

I'd LOVE to have an Oscar but am afraid the tank isnt quite big enough. 1'1" wide. I'm not sure if I will be getting a bigger tank in the years to come or not. How long would an Oscar last in a 55 gallon assuming I get a young one (2")? Something to note about this tank is I have it set up right next to my kitchen sink so weekly water changes are very do-able. I suppose letting him grow into the 55 gallon would give me a good reason to upgrade later. I also have a guppy breeding tank for a live snack once in a while.

I've also considered a mating pair of large cichlids. I like JDs but have heard they like more neutral pH water. I think green terrors are kind of ugly. Will most quality fish stores have both chichlid males and females? Or will I have to get 2 and hope they both dont turn out male?

Have seen that mixing different types of large cichlids can be hit or miss as far as them getting along. I assume raising them both from youngsters would make them get along later?

Not really wanting small types of cichlids. I like the personality of big ones.

What do you guys think? I'm going crazy here and whatever I decide on I want the health of the fish #1.

Thanks so much for any input!

Tazman 03-20-2012 07:43 AM

Sorry but nothing in the big end of cichlids is suitable for a 55g tank. Most of the big ones require 75g+.

A single Oscar in a 55g is doable but it would have to be the only fish in there and you would need to keep a close eye on the water parameters as they require a lot of food.

Rift Lake Cichlids (Lake Malawi, Lake Tanganyika), are not pair breeders, they are harem fish, which means they require a 1 male to at least 4 (sometimes as many as 12 female) dependent on which species you get. It should also be noted that growing Rift Lake cichlids up together, particularly Lake Malawi ones, DOES NOT curb aggression once the fish mature to breeding age. It is programmed into them and cannot be changed by our intervention.

My recommendation would be to decide on which cichlids you would want...Rift Lake, Central / South American and we can offer suggestions as to what would work from there.

Never work on the assumption, that a bigger tank is "just down the road"...99.9% if the time it never works out for whatever reason and if you stock a tank assuming you will be getting a bigger tank, it will likely lead to heartache as you have to return fish that are growing too big and you have no new tank to put them in.

Geoffrey 03-20-2012 09:24 AM

If I were to get an Oscar it would definitely be the only fish in there with weekly water changes. It's right in the kitchen so it'll get plenty of attention.

Would other types be okay as the only fish in the tank? Like a single JD?
I havent looked into the difference between cichlids from different areas like Americas vs African so I dont know what to tell you there.


Tazman 03-20-2012 09:39 AM

Yes you can keep a single JD in a 55g with no problems. No other fish really, there are some but would be better suited as tank mates in a 75g+ tank.

Tazman 03-20-2012 09:40 AM

Just for your information, all of the cichlids in my signature are Lake Malawi.

Philnominal 03-20-2012 02:03 PM

Id say no to oscar long term in a 55. They have the ability to get 14 inches long. a 14 inch long fish would have a very hard time turning around in a 55 gallon (if it even could) let alone enjoy living in it. Also their initial growth rate is about an inch a month on a good diet.

Some cichlids you could check out for a 55 gallon would be:
Red Devil
Jack Dempsey
Blue Acara
Severum (rotkiel stay smaller then the normal green severum and its color morphs)
Green terror

Several of these get to a size where a 55 gallon would be pushing it but this seems like the absolute minimal for them. (Normal green/gold/red dot severum, red devil and green terror)

Im sure there are lots more you could get, those are just the ones off the top of my head for central/south america. Some you could get buy with tank mates, some you couldn't. depends on what you want. I personally love my severum so if i was going for a 55 gallon id probably go with a rotkiel severum, some top water dithers and a cleaning crew to have a nice balanced tank.

Geoffrey 03-20-2012 10:26 PM

Thanks for all the input guys! I think I've narrowed it down to between a Jack Dempsey and an Oscar (albino).

A 75 gallon upgrade would be no problem for me in a year or two. Ive already located a perfect spot in my house.

I cant get over how personable the oscars are.

Anywho I still have a few weeks of cycling, just wanted to thank everyone.

Whatever I get I'll be sure to post when it happens. :-)

(BTW, the not so smart guys at are recommending people do a minimum of 40 gallon tank per oscar.)

Geoffrey 03-31-2012 12:13 PM

Well, I actually went with one of the ideas I originally didnt want. I'm going to keep many different types of smaller Malawi cichlids instead of one or two big types. This is due to my well water being perfect for Malawi cichlids, fairly hard and pH around 8.2. I think I will eventually be replacing some of the clay pots with river rocks from the creek behind my house.

And here is my pride and joy at the moment. Found him at a local shop. He was the only male in the only cichlid tank of the shop. So I snatched him up and I'll finish my stocking through a web order.

Tazman 04-01-2012 07:46 AM

Do you know what the store sold that as?

Geoffrey 04-01-2012 10:18 AM


Originally Posted by Tazman (Post 1032133)
Do you know what the store sold that as?

The listing on the tank was something like "Orange Blast Peacock" or Orange Blotch. Not exactly Orange Blossom.

As far as what they thought it was, I dont know because I had to point out what type it was compared to the writing on the tank and that it was a male. (Mixed tank) The shop recently changed owners and it seems I've lost my last good quality local aquarium store.

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