Information on African Cichlids

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BRYCEisBOSS created the topic: Information on African Cichlids

I've been thinking about getting a 55 gallon tank with some African Cichlids. Just wondering basic info like how many I can put in the tank or care. Also, what are some types you would recommend that are commonly found in pet stores and not too pricey.
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  • Nina_W
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Nina_W replied the topic: Re: Information on African Cichlids

I want to do two things, 1) give you LOTS of options, and 2) help you have a tank with minimum hybridisation and maximum social interaction.

Well, now. For a 55 gallon that will work well, might I suggest three breeding groups of the more peaceful Malawi mbuna, such as:

labidochromis caeruleus (yellow lab, you also get white variants - rarer and much more subtle, but oh, so beautiful)
Iodotropheus sprengerae (Rusty cichlid)
metriaclima callainos (cobalt blue zebra)
maylandia estherae (red zerba)
pseudotropheus socolofi (either in albino - snowies, or regular ol' blue)
pseudotropheus saulosi (blue males, yellow females, two for one deal!)

From this selection, pick three different coloured groups, the rusties, saulosi and albino socolofis would make for a very colourful setup. I started with yellow labs, albino socolofi and blue zebras in a 55 myself :) Get 8 juveniles of each species, and as they grow up, remove and rehome extra males as they appear (most pet shops are fairly happy to take in healthy, male cichlids). This should land you with one male to four females of each species (except socolofi and yellow labs, both species of which might (big MIGHT) tolerate two males to four females - watch and rehome if aggression picks up). Fifteen fish in all.


Or, you could do two groups of more aggressive mbuna, if you're after more of a challenge:
melanochromis johanni (electric blue johanni - beware hybrids. Yellow females)
melanochromis chipokae (blue male, yellow female, very aggressive)
Melanochromis cyaneorhabdos (males and females are both blue - love these guys!)
pseudotropheus crabbro (ah, the bumblebee cichlid. Sometimes grows large and ugly)
pseudotropheus lombardoyi (Kenyi. Lovely, yellow males, blue females)
pseudotropheus polit (pretty white guy. Ugly females)
any cynotilapia (males are !!!! :ohmy: beautiful. Females are grey)
labeotropheus trewavasae (the 'marmalade cat' - naturally occurring blotchy fish fish)

With this mix, you want to get 16 of each kind, and remove extra males AS SOON AS YOU CAN IDENTIFY THEM... at penalty of injured fish. You run the risk of getting an over aggressive fish as well, which will have to be rehomed (and is often the prettiest, largest fish as well :( ). A hospital tank is necessary here, it helps a lot always, but with this thing, don't try it without. One male to seven or more females will spread aggression, and keep the males chasing females in stead of each other.

There are some other things with this type of setup to watch out for: Do not mix any two melanochromis species, and do not keep fish that look alike. Not a good idea (so in other words, one horisontal striped species, one vertical striped species, and you're ok).

Then, there's some options regarding peacocks (don't mix peacocks and mbuna, the mbuna are much more aggressive). Two breeding groups of alonocara (baenschi comes to mind, with OB peacocks, or stuargranti) would be really nice, as long as you can get two groups with different looking females (this is exceptionally difficult).

Try to avoid any of the haps such as nimbochromis venustus, or protomelas spilonotus, unless you want to do a species tank. Smaller haps would make for a lovely species tank (one male to four females and you're all done). These are larger fish, and they're ACTIVE, so give them space.

If we head over to lake Tanganyika, do look at neolamprologus tretocephalus, or neolamprologus pulcher. They pair. With them, some ciprichromis as a school, and perhaps one (only one) altolamprologus calvus, or a small group of more antsy shell dwellers (like Lamprologus ocellatus) would round out the tank. Tanganyika tanks would warrant their own research, as you need to create separate territories and pay much attention to layout and water movement to achieve success here - but it's worth drawing your attention that way. A species tank with only a small harem of Ophthalmotilapia ventralis, with very subtle aquascaping and black sand would be incredibly lovely.

Then, over to lake victoria. Any two species that looks very different, kept in harems, should be ok - with one warning. They come in rather gentle varieties, like the christmas fulu (Haplochromis (Xystichromis) phytophagus) and they come in murderous arsehole varieties, like haplochromis nyererei. There is very little good info, and most of these guys are endangered, so in my mind, deserve special attention to avoid crossbreeding (there are so many crossbreeds!).

As a final word, avoid, at all costs, melanochromis auratus. Holy crap. Just not worth it. Also, beware of pet shop information regarding these fish - mix them any way you like just does not work. Simple overcrowding makes for an unhappy tank with immense maintenance. If you follow some of my suggestions, your tanks will only be mildly overstocked, so maintenance is still within normal parameters (I do 50% every 5 days, but i keep my nitrates under 10).

Also, do consider a scavenger fish to eat unwanted fry, like the lovely, charismatic and simply all round wonderful fish - the synodontis multipunctatis. A school of these guys should be in every cichlid tank :P
If you want to be fancy, synodontis petricola works too (smaller, pricier).
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  • ehall67
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ehall67 replied the topic: Re: Information on African Cichlids

I would ay thats everything you need to know!!

and bump for being an awesome post !!!

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BRYCEisBOSS replied the topic: Re: Information on African Cichlids

I'm on the fence of deciding for an oscar in my 60 gallon or Africans. My 60 is now empty because I had the most stubborn case of the ich ever which killed my 2 juvenile oscars. I was planning on getting one tiger oscar in there but now that you have given me all of this info an Africans it makes me want them more. I was planning on treating the tank for another month to make sure all the ich is gone so I have a while to decide lol. I'm wonering if my set up is considered "African Cichlid friendly" though. I'd put a picture of it up if I could figure out how to haha. I'd originally had it set up for JDs and GTs.
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  • Nina_W
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Nina_W replied the topic: Re: Information on African Cichlids

footprint, specifically length, is key. If you have four feet, the advice for a 55 gallon applies (or any other four foot aquarium - even if it's like Wicket's 110 gallon :| ). Of course, in a deeper tank, you could do more with the larger haps if that's what you're after. If you're talking 75+ gallons, I'd want to point you the direction of all-male, but we're not in those ranges yet.

They're not like oscars - they do beg, and some of them do interact with you, but they are MUCH more preoccupied with each other. The interaction, hierarchies, conflicts and territory disputes (of a sort) are what you get with these guys - oh, and colour. But they are a bit of effort to get set up, and the best these fish have to offer takes more than a year to come out to you as an owner. So if you're up for patience and for a tank with lots of fishy interaction, african fish are the way to go.

(Thanks Eddie - can you tell I really like these fish? :) )
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  • JasonR
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JasonR replied the topic: Re: Information on African Cichlids

Um lets see...I'm thinkin Nina has you covered.LOL! :cheer:
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ehall67 replied the topic: Re: Information on African Cichlids

Like them hell you love them!!

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BRYCEisBOSS replied the topic: Re: Information on African Cichlids


Here's the tank as of now.
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Nina_W replied the topic: Re: Information on African Cichlids

Well, if you're looking for advice on decor, you need to give some hints as to what fish appeal to you - for peacocks, you're ready to go. For Mbuna, you need LOTS more rocks. 40 kgs won't be an odd number here. Angular rocks with rounded edges are by far the easiest to stack up high and with much stability. If you can get slate, like in your background, stacking up piles of slate works well too. You'd be surprised at the smallness of caves they prefer - they seem to really like being snug. Aim for stable rockpiles (aim to fill about 2/3rds of the tank with rocks for Mbuna) and off you go - they'll find their own caves.

Also, you should really consider sand - they love to dig. They'll dig up gravel too, but once you've seen a male burst from his cave spewing sand like a waterfall all over your tank/rocks, I think you'll be sold :)

As a last thought, you should pay special attention to water movement when you fill a tank with rocks, dead spots are really easy to create. So a powerhead or two might be a good investment as well (they can go pretty much underneath rockpiles to blow gunk out of them).
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BRYCEisBOSS replied the topic: Re: Information on African Cichlids

I was actually planning on doing something like you said with stacking the stones if I got these fish. I actually just put that gravel in about 2 months ago when i moved the tank because I had blue gravel in there (don't know what I was thinking). And now I have just been introduced to the wonders of sand since I started looking at this forum a week ago. i think I'm going to save the sand for if I get another tank. BTW I do really like the Malawi Mbuna that you mentioned. Another thing is I think if I go to the pet store i need to bring pictures of the fish I want because the people who work in the fish dept usually don't know what they're talking about with exceptions to the managers. Another thing is I don't know what I'm going to do with all that decor that I replace. :laugh: I think that you may have convinced me to go with African Cichlids. Another Question, Do you normally buy all of those juvenile fish at the same time or introduce each group separately?
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