Help with African Cichlid tank

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Nina_W replied the topic: Re: Help with African Cichlid tank

Food should be gone in less than 30 seconds. But considering these guys, fast them for a day or two before you begin feeding again - let their long, long digestive tract do its work first. This should be less than half a teaspoon of pellets, maybe a bit more (depending on the size of your fishies).

The easiest way is to buy almost double the amount of juvenile fish, and to rehome extra males as they appear. Males are larger, more colourful, have more pointed fins, and are typically more aggressive, so they become fairly easy to spot as time goes by. This process takes about 6 months or so to be complete.
What also happens is your more aggressive, dominant male will 'kick out' other younger males from his harem - these guys you'll find tucked up in the corner like that female peacock up there.

So what you're looking to do would be to pick what species you want first, then, to buy eight juveniles of each species (or more, to improve your odds, but then you're going to have water quality hassles unless you're very keen on upkeep). Typically, a random mix will be 50% male, 50% female, so odds should be that you'll have four males and four females - this you'll only know over time, though.

Think carefully about the albinos, because of their unknown heritage, they could be quite mean as well. Another nice option for your tank could be rustys (Iodotropheus sprengerae).

Or, labeotropheus fuelleborni (the so-called marmalade cat - not be to mistaken for OB peacocks).

Look around and see what you have around you. Many cynotilapia sp. Hara have become very popular and would work great as well - except that with them, the females really are dull, but the males... wow!


(none of these are my pictures, but they are all creative commons pictures)

In the end, yes, about 15 fish. You can also add a small school (5 fishies) of synodontis multipunctatis (I have these and I love them), or synodontis petricola catfish to help with fry control.
Note that this is a tank stocked quite full - not overstocked, but you will have to keep on top of your water changes (comparable to a big oscar in a 55).

Also, do consider more rocks.
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Brooksie replied the topic: Re: Help with African Cichlid tank

x2 on the Rusty's... I have two of them and they get beautiful!

x2 also on the rocks, actually more caves, caves, caves - they need places to hide from each other!

There is a fine line between sanity and insanity.... Come walk it with me!
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Sully replied the topic: Re: Help with African Cichlid tank

The Boyfriend...
After reading everything and getting more involved, i'm thinking of getting rid of all the ones i have and starting off with about 3inch long cichlids. Making sure to be very cautious on species and sex since its hard to tell when their small. This way i can order specific ones online. Stores around San Antonio TX don't really have the ones i'm looking for, like the rusty's now, and they probably wont know what they are either. Not to knock the stores around here but most sales people don't care what they are selling and are almost never sure of what they have. Also they don't seem to carry the more exotic ones i want. So Ms Nina, if you are up to it, i'd like to cheat and ask for some help with picking the types of species. i'd like the red emperor and ones like that. My goal is to have how ever many i can put in the 55 for now, and also types that you can add more to in time, since my goal is to relocate them to our 125 gal (We have ordered a 300 gal for Sully & Marv so when that comes in i plan on putting the africans in the 125).

Long story short, i want pretty african cichlids in a nice tank that all get along. not to sound rude or anything lol. I love fish, i really do, but it would be nice to get the ideal tank i want soon with fish i want without death and bad aggression i can solve early on, or any major problems.

Since i have the tank ready to go, ill just donate the cichlids i bought to the store i usually go to. Also let me know about what y'all think about getting fish around the 3" size, if its a good idea or not. I have my hands full with sully and the other drama queen oscars lol, i like cichlids also cause their so lively and active all the time. Oscars are great, probly like them more, just want a little variety.

Thank you, Tim
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Nina_W replied the topic: Re: Help with African Cichlid tank

Hi Tim!

I see why you like the Red Empress (Protomelas taeniolatus), one of my favourites as well. The protomelas spilonotus is just as pretty. It's part of the haplochromine flock - open water fish feeding off of plankton in lake malawi.

But - these guys are quite gentle by way of malawi cichlids, and at a maximum size of 10 inches (25 cm) they are a bit big for a 55 community.

There are basically two types of cichlid fish (I'm oversimplifying a little here) in lake malawi - the first is your rock dwelling, highly aggressive mbuna. Second is your open water, much less aggressive peacocks and haps. They have different habitat needs, and different diets, and the aggression difference means that that lovely protomelas will never show any colour, if it doesn't get downright beaten up. It also won't get enough protein, since a staple diet for mbuna needs to be very, very low in protein to keep them healthy (but open water fish like it a bit more, well, beefy :P )

Most keepers will agree that you need to pick one, or the other.
So this brings me to a rather fundamental question - do you want mbuna or open water fish? I can't help pick species, or set up your tank, until you decide.

It's not a bad choice, either side has lots of colour - on the mbuna side, you can expect your females to be bright as well. On the open-water side, one option would be an all-male tank, which would mean all your fish are colourful - but getting the mix right takes trial and error, and often returing your most favourite fish to a shop because it just won't fit into the bunch (this is HARD! to do :( ). With open water fish, if you want breeding harems, we'll have to pick very, very carefully, since many females look so alike, and interbreed so easily, that a very chaotic mess with lots of hybrids is very easy to achieve.

There is one other factor - mbuna will live happily in your 55 gallon, and upgrading to a 125 (as long and thin as you can fit in your house would be ideal - mine is 2 meters long and it's fantastic for these fish :) ) would be fairly simple - add more family groups. Open water fish really won't do well in your 55, not even as juveniles. Simply not enough horisontal swimming space. Especially not if you're keen on all-male fish.

I love the idea of getting them at three inches, at that size you should be able to sex most of them. The best way to learn to sex them is to look at as many pictures of males and females as you can find.

Let me know if you're up for mbuna or up for open water fish, and then we can take it from there.

Incidentally, how are your fish? How is that scared little peacock in the corner? Are they looking a bit less rotund?
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Sully replied the topic: Re: Help with African Cichlid tank

Hello... Tim again

I held off on feeding them for 2 days, just fed them a little this morning (30 sec worth) and all their bellies looked normal again :lol:

As for the peacocks, I put more hiding places in the there and rearranged the decor and holy rock so that has seemed to calm the aggressors (atleast temporarily) until I figure out who I need to rehome.

I really want to go with the Red Empress, and the other one you mentioned protomelas spilonotus! I called our lfs and they said they have a 4 inch male red empress. So let's say I started with that one... Then keep adding to it as I come across them in larger sizes such as that 4 in Red Empress.

Is there anything that I currently have that I could possibly keep since I want to go the Red Empress route?

I have another question and this is just to clarify in case I come across something I like. So I have been referencing that cichlid forum website that Brooksie recommended which has been very helpful to visualize all of them BUT WOW there are sooo many of them :ohmy: So my question is... When u say "6 or 7 of a species" does that mean 6 or 7 of anything listed under protomelas (which is a lot) OR does it mean 6 or 7 protomelas taeniolatus? But then there's like 10 different protomelas taeniolatus. Would you only need a harem if your starting off with babies?

-Tim
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Nina_W replied the topic: Re: Help with African Cichlid tank

For protomelas, which aren't very aggressive, a harem group would mean 1 male and three females (sometimes two females work ok as well). But if you have more than one species of protomelas, you'll get hybrids. So if you want to do breeding groups of haps, my suggestion would be to find your favourite species of aulonocara (peacock - depending on what you have in your tank, you may be able to keep those. What were they sold as?), to pick either the Nimbochromis venustus OR the Nimbochromis livingstonii, and one species of protomelas. This stocking is with the idea that the larger tank is on its way within 5-6 months, or you'll have LARGE fish in a far, far too small tank. If the big tank is not on its way, and relatively soon, please, please please don't stuff these fish in a 55 indefinitely. Any of these fish get 15 years old, some even more, they deserve to be taken as seriously as any dog or cat (more so, because they literally can't walk away if things are truly terrible).

If the 55 is as big as it's going to get, go back to mbuna, look around there, find fish you like there.

When the bigger tank is there, you can look at adding an aristochromis species (christeyi is my favourite - the malawi hawk) and perhaps a fifth species, like copadichromis (trewavasae if you can find it is just spectacular) (PERHAPS! Again, big fish, with aggressive tendencies, so only if you're aware that it may not work, and that you'll have to rehome fish).

If you can sex them, one male, three females of each. If you cannot sex them, you need to buy more juveniles, let them grow up, and sell off extra males as you can identify them. More than one male of a species will have aggression, and harassment of females.

Just a note, Champsochromis caeruleus, the malawi trout, and other huge members of the malawi haps (buccochromis types) are not good choices. Unlike oscars, that are fairly mellow swimmers, these fish dart around like danios do. They need incredible amounts of tank space.

If you want to do all male, look at getting anywhere between 8-10 different looking male fish for the 55 (Again, ONLY if the bigger tank is on the way) and increase this to about 20-25 fish in the bigger tank. To get an all male tank to work, you must have zero females, or aggression will be impossible to manage, and your males must look different. So one yellow fish, one blue fish, and so on. In this case, you can have one of pretty much every protomelas. Again, don't mix haps (open water fish) and mbuna. You will have to have a backup list of male fish to try if (when) one doesn't work out. Also, here, the absolute essential thing to remember is that if things are out of hand, you're going to have to remove the aggressor. This is almost always your largest, most aggressive fish - which is your most beautiful fish as well.
But the others will colour up without it, and you'll be a step closer to peace.
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Sully replied the topic: Re: Help with African Cichlid tank

Ohhhh that's what hybrids are :laugh: that makes since now! Btw, Tim again...

The peacocks that I have don't have much color to them right now. Unfortunately since I bought them at stupid petsmart they were sold as just peacocks. One has a blue tint on the top edge of the dorsal fin with some blue around the face (this is the one that I always see chasing both of the other ones around). The other peacock has an orange color in the same areas (I found this one hiding behind the filter now). As for the girl it's hard to tell cuz she was always in that corner :( . I notice that whenever she comes out of her corner, she is almost always chased by the peacock with the blue color tint. I have some better pics of those 2 that I just described to you:

This is the one that has the orange tint...also saw this one hiding behind the filter now:


This is the one that has the blue tint... the main one who chases both the other 2 peacocks :(




I like the Nimbochromis venustus, I'd pick that one over the N. livingstonii. Then definitely the Red Empress from the protomelas group.

The 300 gal is already ordered and should be up and running sooner than 5-6 months. Given that everything goes as planned Marv & Sully should be in their new home within 3-4 months and the 125 (which is 6 feet long) will be available for these guys. I promise I'm not going to stuff a bunch of fish in there. I'm going to get what I can now then once the 125 is available then I can get more.

So one choice (if i wanted to breed, which i don't think i do but would like the option to, plus i like the variety of species here) would be peacock, nimbochromis venustus, and red empress.
-OR-
Another choice (if i decided i definitely did NOT want to breed) would be all males, all different colors, 8-10 different types protomelas.

Let me look through some pics and think for a bit and i will get back to you in just a little while. Although, leaning towards an all male tank (females always gotta be causing problems :silly: ) HaHa... I'm kidding of course!
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Nina_W replied the topic: Re: Help with African Cichlid tank

Then, I'm afraid, my initial suspicion that this is almost definitely a hybrid is fairly accurate. Which means putting it in an all male tank will be hard, because what colours and patterns will it have as an adult? Will it be a psycho fish that kills everything? You just can't know. But in general, in your tank right now, with mbuna and so on, your peacocks will suffer aggression wise.

This sucks - I wish pet shops would be more responsible in terms of africans. Here! Buy your favourite twelve for a 55 and all will be well is probably the single most horrible bit of fishkeeping advice out there :( (except for what they do to goldfish and to siamese fighting fish. That's worse)

All male is very very rewarding, in terms of colour. But trust me, it's harder than it looks to get it right. You can expect (reasonably) to have to swop out fish for about a year or so, before you'll have lasting peace. Having a hospital tank is a good idea, and you really need to have a reliable source for fish. It also gets pricey, buying sexable male fish isn't always cheap. And as time goes bye, you'll need to source larger specimens to add, adding a small fish with a bunch of large ones is a recipe for death. But for colour and action, not even marine aquariums can beat this (maybe with colour, but not action :P ).

Just remember to keep them all looking as different as you can manage :)

If you want the breeding groups, but don't want fry all the time, add a group of 5 synodontis multipunctatis.

Heck, since these catfish are just so awesome, consider a group of 5 of them anyway. They school, they stay reasonably small, and they'll help get leftover food that gets ignored because chasing each other is more interesting...
Not that any fish is really a cleaner fish, and these guys are nocturnal - but at night, your cichlids settle down into their respective hidey-holes, and then the catfish zoooom all over your tank :D They're just so active.

I can vouch for breeding groups as a lovely way to keep these fish. With all male, you won't ever see quite a number of behaviours related to spawning. And the cute little fish (one or two always make it, despite the catfish) are nice. I let the survivor fry grow up and compete for a place in the tank hierarchy, which means I recently replaced my most dominant male with his son, who is now a true beauty. (I sold the dad to a shop with whom I have a good relationship).
But this isn't simple either, spotting and removing extra males can be tricky.

So basically, either choice is a good one. These are fantastic fish. :)

(just as an aside - blue markings on the face of a peacock cichlid is a pretty much 100% indication that it is male :) )

Hey Tim, isn't it time you start your own account here? :P
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Tbone replied the topic: Re: Help with African Cichlid tank

Hey! It's Tim... I do have an acct already! Chrysti is the one who initiated all this with my cichlid tank under "sully" so I just thought I'd keep it under "sully" so it wasn't confusing but this is my acct. I think she used my acct to post something about Kirby and his swollen butt issue.

Sorry it took a while to get back to you... I have made some changes AND changed my mind a little bit :silly:

We took all 3 peacocks to our lfs and donated them! It was either that or take ALL of them in so I could start over with the red empresses and such but I didn't want to do that because I really like the mbuna that I have. Plus I didn't like the idea of starting an open water in a 55 gallon. So here's what I'm gonna do... which I think will look pretty cool but will be a lot of work I'm sure...

1. Keeping mbuna in the 55 gal right now (the ones I have from the pics on the 1st page which you helped identify, yellow labs, blue cobalt, red zebra and albino-ish guy)
2. Purchasing a few more of the same species that I already have (we spoke with the owner of the store who we have formed a really good relationship with... he has a breeder that we can get the albinos from)
3. Getting 2 identical 125 gallons (6 feet long) and putting them side by side... we have a room where that would fit perfect and look awesome... one tank with the mbuna and the other tank with the open water (Red Empresses and such)! What do you think? I think that would look awesome side by side!

So I'm gonna keep the mbuna then once I get those 125's then I can get started on the open water.
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Nina_W replied the topic: Re: Help with African Cichlid tank

So Excited!

That's an amazing plan, these are fantastic fish.

Hooray :D

And since you're upgrading to the 125 for the mbuna, four species in the 55 for the time being will be ok. Once you have the six foot long tank, add another species - might I recommend the maingano (melanochromis cyaneorhabdos) that stay a bit smaller, but are quite aggressive to each other, so it works out that you should keep one male to seven or eight females, but it gives you dark blue/black colour to your tank, and lots of extra action.
Other good options will be something like the Metriaclima greyshaki, but that will have lots of blue, (same with pseudotropheus acei - another lovely choice).
Or, do something a bit unusual, mix lakes - Add a victorian hap, specifically the pundamilia nyererei (this one is aggressive enough to do well in a mbuna tank). Drab females, but I think you will agree, the male makes up for it.

Oh, heck. Sorry for another long paragraph. I just love these fish :blush:
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