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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was walking around the mall and there was I guess about a 60 gallon tank and it had about 35-45 cichlids in it. Also has a crap load of plants and castles (took up a good 10 gallons of space). Most were 4-5 inches but two were a good 6-7 inches. I told the owner the tank may be a bit crowded and he just laughed at me and told me I was crazy. Heres a pic, the best I could get on my phone without looking obvious about it



I feel bad for these fish...They could not even swim without touching another fish
 

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That;s an african cichlid tank - overstocking the tank is how many who keep such tanks minimize aggression.
 

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That's crowded alright. You see that a lot in malls, offices, etc. I guess they're just considered a decoration.
 

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That;s an african cichlid tank - overstocking the tank is how many who keep such tanks minimize aggression.
I was wondering about that, how could a group that large pick on any one fish.

If it is a 60 gallon and there are around 40 fish... if filtration is huge, can it still be considered too overstocked if everything has been running healthy for a long time? As far as biological nitrification, it would be up to the load and with some plants... it comes down to the water maintenance.

I've seen pictures of other tanks with tons of fish and everything appears to be OK... but of course never seeing any negative or other side of the equation, only a still picture, it's hard to know.

Jeff.
 

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Tanks set up for display like that are often intentionally overcrowded to reduce aggression - seems like backwards logic by average hobbyist thinking, but is quite common and effective.
 

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Is it worth it to reduce aggression to the point of the fish have absolutely no personal territory or ability to swim without touching another fish? Seems an easy way to stress them to death.

I do understand that most African cichlid tanks are a touch overstocked but that looks ridiculous and cruel. Especially with the larger 6-7 inch fish.
 

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Oh, they all have a territory. It's a very common practice - the tanks are usually well more than a touch "overstocked". It's really comparing apples and oranges though, to compare the stocking of an African cichlid tank to a tropical community.

In the wild, African cichlids vigorously and constantly defend their territory, so such a setup is actually closer to nature than one might think. Does that mean you can't overstock an African tank by African standards? No of course not. Any tank can be overdone. But it's relative. But African cichlid tanks aren't the "stress free" environments we shoot for with community tanks. Is it worthwhile to reduce aggression? Most think so. Is it better for a fish to die from the stress of the aggression of other fish?

I'm not saying that the tank is perfect - I'm just pointing out that African tanks are different.
 

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While I understand that "African" tanks are a whole different kind of tank compared to others I still disapprove of the common practice of overstocking like what is seen in the OP. I understand that you need to have a decent sized group to distribute aggression.

Cichlids are not the only fish out there that by nature are fiercely territorial, and aggressive. They are not the only fish that has to have a larger group in order to balance out fighting. They are often victim to insane over stocking levels and the owners use the same mantra of "Oh well it prevents aggression".

I've seen well stocked cichlid tanks that had fish getting along and it wasn't the insane stocking levels I commonly see people defend. This hits home to me because it touches on a issue that is the same with the Bichir Community. It's over stock + bare bones environment. The result sadly is often shorter lives, and death by bloat, septicemia, or simply being ripped apart when one fish finally snaps and has had enough. Also very faded out colors. That's my POV. The owner of that tank is crazy for thinking that thing is okay.
 
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There are documentaries on african cichlids that one can watch in order to gain a better understanding of what their natural habitats are like.

 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
A local store similar to petsmart set this up for them. Theres very little filtration, not a good enough heater and they change the water once a month and drain it down to about 3 inches of water (with the fish still in there). They have come into the local fish store several times over the last year with various problems yet ignore the advice of the fish store when they try to tell them how to correct the PH being way to low and every thing else thrown off. The fish store lady told me the fish are dying slowly...she told me theres 47 fish in there the last time and they werent all added as babies all adults.
 

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I'm not saying that the tank is perfect - I'm just pointing out that African tanks are different.
Different as it may be, there is a fine line between stocking to reduce aggression and simply overstocking to a point that it actually increases the stress level. African tanks are indeed very different from your average community aquarium and thus must be handled with different techniques.

You should stock a cichlid aquarium to a certain degree that it reduces aggression as well as maintains an adequate stress level. Many aquarium hobbyist do not consider the stress on a fish when choosing tank mates nor when deciding how many fish to put in the aquarium. The display aquarium in the original post IS overstocked to a horrible degree, it doesn't matter how you try to justify it. But it's a display aquarium, so it's not intended to be a long term home for the fish but rather a short term "Flashy" attraction for the booth/store, hence the reason it is grossly overstocked.

Long term those fish would all develop health issues and would have reduced life-spans because of how the tank is designed, but again, it's a display aquarium so the health of the fish is not an issue as it is not intended to be their long term "home".

When keeping african cichlids for a long term in a suitable home aquarium, you should overstock to a smaller, less disgusting degree. This will help your fish live a normal life-span and you will be able to maintain the aquarium much better with this method. Obviously it is next to impossible to tell you what a "General" rule of thumb is because all cichlids are different and all have their own personalities and attributes (size, attitude, etc). Most cichlids are very hardy and will adjust to the tank as needed, but in order for them to live a healthy and normal life, you will need to stock the tank adequately.

I am not here to disagree nor agree with any beliefs that are posted in this thread, I am simply posting what I have learned from keeping african cichlids myself and this is how I portray the type of habitat they should be maintained in, you are welcome to disagree if you feel differently.

Hope this helps~
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I have an African Cichlid tank myself and I was disgusted to see this tank which is why it set me off. Thankfully, I mentioned it to the fish store here and they told me all about them. Sadly, no one can do anything about them
 

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Looks like the tank is in front of a manicure/spa place? All I can think of is to walk in and tell the owners that you will never give them their business because of the tank and encourage people you know to do so also.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Looks like the tank is in front of a manicure/spa place? All I can think of is to walk in and tell the owners that you will never give them their business because of the tank and encourage people you know to do so also.
Yeah it is in front of a manicure/spa place. I would never go into one of them anyway but I can do that next time I am in the mall to see if they do something about the tank :)
 
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