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FAQs on African Cichlid Systems 1

Related Articles: African Cichlids, Malawian Cichlids: The Mbuna and their Allies By Neale Monks, The Blue Followers: the Placidochromis of Lake Malawi by Daniella Rizzo, Cichlid Fishes

Related FAQs: Malawi Cichlid Systems, Tanganyikan SystemsAfrican Cichlid Systems 2, African Cichlids, African Cichlid Identification, African Cichlid Selection, African Cichlid Behavior, African Cichlid Selection, African Cichlid Compatibility, African Cichlid Feeding, African Cichlid Reproduction, African Cichlid Disease, Cichlids of the World

A part of Pablo Tepoot's African Cichlid farm in Homestead, FLA.

Mysterious Bristlenose death... African Cichlid sys. as well   7/12/06 Hi, I hope you can help me figure out what went wrong... <Will try> Yesterday, I brought home a healthy-looking 3.5" Bristlenose to add to my tank, which currently houses 5 small African cichlids. <Mmm, don't often mix... I also keep African Cichlids...> I floated the bag in the tank for about an hour and a half, gradually adding tank water, before releasing him.  He seemed fine yesterday; he explored his new home and found himself a cave in the rockwork.  I offered him an algae disk last night, which he didn't touch, but I wasn't too alarmed, since I know it often takes a day or two before new fish will eat.  Anyway, this morning, I awoke to discover him quite dead.  I immediately tested the water and obtained the following results: NH3 - 0 NO2 - 0 NO3 - 0-5 ppm pH - 8.0 <... too high. Most Loricariids live in soft/er, acidic water. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/loricariids.htm> Temp - 79 F I then did a 20% water change and added a bit of aquarium salt. <And don't "like" salts...>   All of my other fish are fine.  I would appreciate any insight as to what went wrong.  I would like to keep one of these cute little guys; is there anything else I should do next time? Thanks, Kate <I would look for a larger specimen of one of the species that lives in similar, or closer quality water... Likely a Hypostomus or Pterygoplichthys sp. of at least five inches in length to start with... provide it with adequate hiding space (perhaps a PVC pipe it can get into w/o the Cichlids... or, resolve yourself to do as I do... hand-scrub down your tanks once a week during water changes. Bob Fenner>

Centralized Filtration System Design For Cichlids  - 05/23/2006 Hello Crew, Greeting once again from the UK. In the redesigning of my fish house as I may have mentioned previously I am planning to incorporate a continuous feed drip system. This will feed from the mains to a 4 stage filter to remove harmful substances from the mains water. I need the water to remain essentially as it is as I breed Malawis and Tanganyikans. The water comes from the main just great for the pH and KH wise so I really need to know what the 4 stage filtration requirement should remove. < Mechanical should remove the visible particulates in the water. Biological should culture enough bacteria to turn all the ammonia and nitrites into nitrates. Chemical filtration should make chemical modifications to the water such as adding carbon to remove organics.> My next question is, if this system is successful in turning over quickly enough, will I really need any other filtration? <I find that it is always good to have a back up. Many systems have an air supply with a sponge filter in each tank. This was you can always separate a sick tank from the system and treat it without treating the entire system.> I plan to have the tanks all drain to a large central sump, the same one the fresh water comes into. Here it can be heated and oxygenated etc and as it returns from the tanks it will me mechanically filtered through a pile of filter wool or similar media. I had planned on adding a fluidized bed and trickle filter to the system for the bio filtration but I wondered if I am replacing the water quickly enough will I really need to add all this or will the bad water flow out of my overflow and be replaced by the fresh, aquarium ready water sufficiently? Many thanks once again for your advice. Rob Stone < Bottom line. If you get ANY ammonia readings then you are not changing enough water and need a filtration system. Go to Marineland.com and look at Dr. Tim's library. There is a great article on centralized filter systems I think you will find helpful.-Chuck>

Dead Cichlid 11/6/05 I had a yellow lab cichlid. He was in a 5 gallon tank, that he quickly outgrew. <Too small> So yesterday I bought him a new 10 gallon. <Still too small> I prepared the tank the same way I've prepared other tanks, used some of his water, the filter from his current tank, let it run for a while.  <Good> I waited until the temperature in both tanks was the same. The ammonia was a little high, but I tested his current tank and that was also a little high, <Both should be zero> and although last week it was fine, it certainly wasn't at toxic levels. <Any present is toxic> Since they measured the same, I figured it would still be ok to move him. He immediately went to the bottom of the tank and just sat there, didn't move. I kept checking on him, and he would move slowly a couple inches, but to just sit. Well, after 2 hours of this, I was watching and suddenly he completely lost control, spiraled through the water and died. I've moved him into different tanks in the past, and he's even moved states with me and he's always been ok. I did exactly the same thing I've done in the past when setting up a new aquarium and feel so awful that I basically killed him. What could've happened? Thanks, Chris  <Good descriptions here... Likely there was a synergistic co-factor involved... Most commonly cited is the link between high pH and ammonia... both together are much more toxic than ammonia and a lower pH... Mmm, am wondering whether to refer you to WWM's input on African Cichlid systems or some of the excellent books (Paul Loiselle for Tetra/Salamander Press) or the Back to Nature series... Perhaps look for through both for input on the practical husbandry of these fishes. Bob Fenner> 

Advice for a 180 gallon freshwater tank set up  9/30/05 Hi Bob - <Trinh> My name is Trinh. I am in the process of upgrading my freshwater tank from 75 gallons to a 180 gallon tank. The 75 gallon tank was my first tank and I have had it for almost 5 months now, filled with African cichlids. My 180 gallon tank from Oceanic will be ready in about 3 weeks and I am trying to figure out the best full set up. I have a local fish company who is helping me do the installation and they have made some recommendations, and after doing some research I feel lost. I am still really new to being an aquarist, so I would appreciate any advice since I am lacking the knowledge myself and your advice on your web page seems reasonably sound. To start - Oceanic 178 gallon tank 60X24X29 drilled with 4 holes. 2 pipes going into the tank and 2 pipes drain down. Here is the equipment that was recommended that I purchase. 1          Little Giant 4md-qsc (640gph) WMD30-RLT <A good, high service-value pump> 2          custom under gravel plates to match the 4 holes <Mmm, am not a fan of undergravel filters with African cichlids... they dig up the gravel too much for them to actually work, and their action is "reductive"... it drives down pH, exhausts alkaline reserve... and your Africans like hard, alkaline water...> 1          Nu-Clear canister filter 533                                  NU 533 <A well-made unit> 1          Emperor Aquatics UV 3" 300gph             EA UV 40 <Mmm, a nice add-on> 1          Tetra-Tec air pump DW96-2 <About the best of its kind made> 1          Adapters for UV 1-1/2" to 1"         1          Won Bros 350 Watt IC Pro II                               WON PROII H350 1          PFO Power Compact (4) x 96 Watt                     PFO PCRECT 496 2          10,000K Power Compact Lamp               PFO 10K 96W 2          6,700K Power Compact Lamp                             PFO 76K 96W <Lots of lighting> Based on the above I read your FAQ on pumps, and I am now leaning to purchase an Iwaki however I do not understand the differences between the WMD and the MD? <These are designations for application... duty if you will... both will work fine for your purposes here. The Iwaki is a better product IMO> I am looking for the most reliable pump, with the least amount of noise. Also I had a different company quote me that I should purchase the Eheim 2260 as a canister filter, and I am not sure of the differences between the Eheim and the Nu-Clear? <Both are canisters... the Eheim is self-motorized, the Nu-Clear you have to supply your own pump... the Eheim is a very good line... but the Nu-Clear will likely be more useful for you here... can accommodate more flow...> Is the Eheim worth the price and if so, would the Eheim model 2260 be the right choice for the set up above? <Mmm, the bigger the better.... But, I would stop here... and re-consider other filtration moda... I have two African Cichlid tanks and they are Eheim Profesionel (not a misspelling) units, with their tanks, stands, canister filters... and I enjoy them, but they take large weekly water changes... and you could be better off with other technology in this size, type system... like modified wet-dry... with a large Dacron "sock" to collect most solids, perhaps a fluidized bed filter to assure nitrogenous cycling...> In addition what are your thoughts between the Emperor Aquatics UV 3" 300gph and the EA UV 40 lite that does 200 gph? <Both can/will work to improve water quality. Am a bigger fan of Vecton units, from TMC, distributed by QM in the U.S., for their ease of manipulation, sleeving, remoted ballast, fittings, capacity to hang...> Lastly, do you have any opinions on lighting? My canopy will be custom built. So we were thinking of purchasing the retro-fit kit, what do you think of PFO Power Compact (4) x 96 Watt? <Good products> Thank you so much for any assistance you could provide. Trinh <Much more to say, consider... I would definitely run these ideas by the folks at some of the cichlid BB's... You will find (as no surprise) that "opinions vary"... widely, at times vociferously. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Cichlid Tank Problems 7/18/05 Hello. I have a 110 gallon cichlid tank and currently have 39 beautiful fish. Today I noticed that one has a missing tail fin and his other fins are ragged.    Is he being "beaten up" or is it some kind of disease? < Probably a little of both. Cichlids are all somewhat aggressive and there was probably a bite on the tail that has gotten infected and tail rot has taken the caudal fin down. Check the nitrates. They should be under 25 ppm. Isolate the fish and treat for tail rot with an antibiotic like Nitrofurazone.> Of course he is swimming funny but he is eating okay.   He is hiding at times but not always.  I haven't caught any others picking on him yet.  Other than that all is well in the tank.  We have some babies living under a rock that we have barricaded so the bigger fish cannot get them. So far we have seen three that have survived.   Also, how often will females incubate eggs. <I assume that you have Lake Malawian cichlids. After spawning the female will usually hang on to the eggs and fry for a couple of weeks. The eggs hatch in three days and the fry become free swimming in another three. After that she can release them at any time.> One female has already released fry about three weeks ago and now has eggs again! < Sounds about right.-Chuck>  Thank you for your assistance. look forward to your reply.. Sandra

Tank Too Small? pt3 > Thanks Don. So to forestall fishicide, I got the water conditioner for > Rift Lake - he is happier, swimming around a lot. Also gave him some > seaweed and tubeworm which he seems to enjoy more than the pellets. > However he does seem to be crawling up and down the walls like he is > trapped. UGH I can't afford a new tank right now but I guess that's > the only option rather than return him. Petco is awful by the way, I > think they keep him in worse conditions than what I can provide. They > turned over a rock in the tank to get my fish and there were lots of > dead ones underneath. > Bob > <Do a image search with Google. See if you can ID him. You can then > search the name for care facts. I'm not an African Cichlid person, but > I do know that some are specialized feeders. High protein food can > cause problems in some, but is needed in others. In the meantime hold > off on the worms. Good luck with him. And get a 20L or 29 when you > can. These Rift lake fish are beautiful and well worth the effort to > keep. But do your research first. Don> Thank you -  I found out that she is a 2" Kenyi Cichlid from Lake Malawi in Africa.  As you indicated the MINIMUM tank size recommended is around 30 gallons, preferably 50.  So I am basically keeping this thing in a glass jar.  Well I will try to get a bigger tank but I hear you need to keep it running for at least a few weeks prior to introducing fish so this will be tough.  Thanks for all your help.  Bob

New Cichlid Set Up Hi, I have a problem concerning one M. kenyi female cichlid. She has been in a 75 gal FW tank for about 3 weeks. The tank itself is 5 weeks old. Up until a few days ago, she was all happy as can be and was the biggest cichlid in the tank (although only about 2 inches in length). We had 3 M. Kenyi females as well as one S. Ahli male and also 2 yellow lab cichlids. Along with those, there are other community fish(5 Bala sharks, 3 clown loaches, and 2 Leporinus fasciatus). Yes that was a good deal of fish, however, we have 2 filtration units running. One is a Penguin 350 and the other is an AquaClear 70. Well, the S. Ahli died from unknown causes about 6 days ago, but I had assumed it was due to intimidation because he was the smallest cichlid in the tank and rarely ate anything. Then, two days later, we lost the smallest M. kenyi female. Two days later, the 2nd to largest M. Kenyi was dead and now the last M. Kenyi is in serious trouble.  I should note that no other fish besides the ones I've listed as dieing have exhibited any signs of being sick. The M. Kenyi was swimming very oddly scraping herself along anything in the tank like she is being electric prodded and she seemed to be doing it on purpose and it was constant, not just intermittent. I could stand there and watch and she would do this for a good 10 minutes straight and then find some place to hide for awhile. The most alarming thing though is that she seems to have lost all ability to use her tail fin and to me, that area looks slightly brown tinged. Her method of locomotion is by her side fins only and her tail will be seen dragging along the bottom unless she gets enough oomph with her side fins to lift her up a bit. She also seems to be gasping as her mouth is constantly opening and closing quite a lot. However, no other fish is doing this. I have since taken her out of the 75 gal tank and put her in a 10 gal hospital tank with different water (from an established 30 gal tank). Although she doesn't scrape herself along anything, she still can't use her tail fin and rarely moves at all in this tank except to try to move a little to avoid light. I have a fake wood stump that is hollow and this is where she is hiding. The water from the 30 gall is 0 for ammonia/nitrites and the nitrates are less then 10ppm. The PH is 7.9. The 75 gal tank was testing at 1.0 ammonia and 0.25 for nitrites before she started acting all weird. Two days after this water test is when all heck started and the ammonia jumped to 5.0 and the nitrites jumped to 1.5. PH is 7.8 in 75 gal tank. Temp has been at 80 degrees, but I have since lowered it slightly to about 78. I do not think this M Kenyi cichlid is going to live much longer, but have so far been surprised she lasted this long seeing as the other aforementioned dead cichlids just up and died. I have been told that cichlids are supposed to be quite hardy and the local specialty shop seems very knowledgeable but has been extremely surprised the cichlids are the ones dieing and not the Bala sharks. They are utterly amazed I have cycled the 30 gal tank with the bala's (which I moved to the 75 gal to give them growing room) and also they are astounded the balas seem to be fine in the 75 gal tank even when it hasn't finished cycling yet. They kept telling me previously they would cycle a tank with cichlids but would never consider doing so with Bala sharks. Anyhow, as a precaution, I did put some Prevent*Ich (by Kordon) in the 75 gal tank as well as a little bit in the 10 gal tank but the specialty shop doesn't think it is Ich. They think its the water quality in the 75 gal tank, however, the first 3 cichlids deaths happened before the ammonia and nitrite levels started to rise. Will it be possible to save this Kenyi or is she too far gone? As another note, she will sit at the bottom of the hollow fake tree stump (10 gal tank) and will not be quite upright either. She'll start to lean to the left and be almost completely on her side before she will try to right herself and then usually only will do so if she notices you looking at her. Will she be able to regain control of her tail or is this a futile exercise? She was never picked on in the 75 gal tank and in fact was known to chase other fish some when she was healthy.  Another quick question. One of the Bala sharks has started to develop an orange tinge to its dorsal fin and under body fins, but displays no sick behavior. Is this Bala showing dominance? It is the biggest Bala in the tank compared to the other 4. thanks for you help, Randy P.S.  I am not sure how exactly responses are handled, but if possible, your reply would be appreciated by email if that isn't standard. Posting this on the FAQ or any other section of your site is fine, but I would still like an email response. Thank you. < Ammonia and nitrites should be zero. The nitrates should be under 25 ppm. Your Lake Malawi cichlids should have a diet high in vegetable matter and prefer water temps in the mid seventies. Your fish have been dying from internal bacterial infections and should be treated with Metronidazole. The Bala shark sounds ok for now but I think you are lucky you haven't had worse problems.-Chuck>

Problems with Malawi Cichlid Tank. I need some advice. I'm a new cichlid aquarist and as such I have had problems with beginning my tank. Most of the fish that I have put into my 30 gallon tank have not made it and usually expire within three to four days of introduction.  I have had luck with two Malawians, an Albino Peacock and an Electric Yellow but I have tried about a dozen others. I can't figure out what the problem is but it must be something with the water.  I want to keep Malawians so I can focus strictly on their needs. My tank is 30 gallons and has plenty of rocks and caves for the little guys to swim through. I have a 40 watt heater that keeps the water around 80 F and an air pump that keeps the water flow strong. The filter I use is an Eheim and there is a piece of coral that hopefully keeps the pH between 7.8 and 8.2 (I test the water and the kit says it's fine).  I have fed the guys only Spirulina flakes and treat the water with Cycle to add nitrifying bacteria and a treatment to remove the Chlorine before adding any water. Kent has a product out that I'm considering using that buffers the water, it's called Kent Liquid Malawi Buffer and Kent Liquid Malawi Chemistry. I've also been looking at the Sahara Sand and it looks great but the problem is that I don't want to take down my entire tank to switch substrate.  I currently have rocks (pebbles, store bought) on the bottom of the tank. Do you think I should start my tank all over and remove the current gravel and put in the Sahara Sand? Or can I just add it to the rocks that are already in place? Also, what about putting in a moon rock instead, would this do the same thing? Have you heard of these products? Should I use them? Do you have any suggestions?  I would greatly appreciate your help.  Thank you, Jason Zepeda < Wow. Lake Malawi cichlids are usually pretty hardy. To have your fish only last a few days is very strange. So lets start at the beginning. Your water may have chlorine or chloramine. They do the same thing but are quite different in an aquarium. Chlorine is very volatile and dissipates quickly. Chloramine stays around in solution for awhile so you need a good water conditioner that says it specifically gets rid of chloramine. Next check the water chemistry. Both at the tap and in the aquarium. Ammonia and nitrites should be zero. Nitrates should be under 25 ppm. The pH should be about 7.5. If the water checks out ok then check the water at the fish store. If the change in pH is too great it can stress the fish. Lower the water temp to 77 degrees.. If you want to use a crushed coral or calcium carbonate substrate then it will help buffer the water and keep it from getting too acidic. I would take out the pebbles that you can easily get too and add the additional substrate after it has been well washed. I would add BioSpira from Marineland to get the bacteria going in the new substrate.-Chuck>

Malawi Cichlid set Up Wet Web Media Crew, I have a 75 gallon African Cichlid tank with the following. 6 clown loaches 3 Kenyi (1 male / 2 female) 3 Red Zebra (1 male / 2 female) 3 Auratus (1 male / 2 female) 2 P Saulosi (1 male / 1 female) 1 Labeotropheus trewavasae (male) 1 Synodontis decorus 1 female albino zebra 1 OB zebra I plan on getting a bigger tank in the future. The fish are all at about 3"currently. Is the tank currently overstocked? < No not really. The fish density is fine as long as the filter turns the total volume of the tank over at least 3 times per hour, more is better. If you can keep up with your water changes and don't let the nitrates get over 25 ppm.> The Trewavasae is the dominant fish in the tank and chases the others mostly after eating. I know aggression is normal, but what is normal aggression, and when do you consider taking a fish back to the store for excessive behavior. Thanks for your time. <If the fish is old and ugly then I drop them in a heart beat. If the fish is nice and I want to keep them then I ADD fish to the tank to disperse the aggression. Lower the water temp to 75 helps too.-Chuck> 

Cichlid Issues Hello, I was planning on moving my 10 Mbunas from a 30 gallon cube to a 72  bow. < Nice tank> My plan was cycle the 72 without fish, but the hyperdominant saulosi nearly killed my brooding female (he chopped part of her gill off and suffered fin damage). The rest of the bunch started to attack her/eat her fry while she laid upside down in a corner. I was forced to move all them in order to save the brooding female. She was recovering just fine and successfully released a few fry within a week, but the hyperdominant saulosi nearly killed the submissive male (he got fin rot, hanging scales and white stuff) in the 72 and had to remove the injured from the main tank. The conditions in the new tank are horrible at the moment and if there is any hope for the fellow, it would be to transfer him to the tank with the female and fry. I placed him in the tank with the recovering female and fry, but within hours he was brutally fighting with the female and now she has a dark bruise/mark around her mouth area from the fighting.  There are little ones swimming around, I don't know what to do.. < Place the extra male in a large net with a couple of marbles in the bottom. Then set the net in a tank and you have an instant divider.> Now the hyperdominant male chases another lone female relentlessly in the big tank. He chases off all the others and corners the poor thing. I got 2 Msobo females as distraction (no saulosi at LFS), but that didn't work. I can't overcrowd or get more females because it's still cycling. I'm afraid he might injure/kill her. Any tips on easing the cycling process? < Add Bio-Spira from Marineland and you should be up and going in no time at all.> Here are my conditions in the 72 cycling tank: I have a Millennium 3000 and 2000 filter, 200 watt heater, play sand substrate, some caves and lots of small stones. The ammonia has started to declined (currently at .2), but the nitrite is at 7 < Too high, should be zero.> and nitrate is at 40. < Nitrate is too high. Do a 50% water change, clean the filters and get it under 25 ppm .> I just did a 15% water change. Hardness 120, Alkalinity 120, pH 7.6, temp. 82 degrees. < Too high. Drop the water temp to 75 degrees until the tank is done cycling. The male is trying to breed all the time. The cooler temps will slow him down and he won't be so bad.> 2 ps. saulosi (m&f), 3 estherae (all f), 3 Kenyi (m&2f), 2 ps. deep (f). Thanks for your help. < You have chosen almost all the meanest Lake Malawi cichlids you can find. In the wild these fish are crowded and they should be that way in the aquarium too. Check out the FAQ's and you will get some ideas on how to stock your tank and what to stock it with.-Chuck> 

Putting a Lake Malawi Tank Together Hello! I must first thank you for all of the helpful information I have been able to gather from your site. < That what we are here for. Thanks for the kind words.> I inherited a mostly Malawian tank from an acquaintance and have since been able to identify most of the species. I have a few Red Zebras (1M,3 F), 1 Male Melanochromis auratus, 1 Male Bumblebee, 1 Julie and a pair M&F I have yet to identify, these are all adults. I am trying to get access to a digital camera for identification assistance. I have also added 2 cats (Eupterus and Multipunctatus). They all seem to get along fine. I recently expanded to a 90 gallon tank and I wish to add the appropriate amount of fish. It is a planted aquarium with Anubias, swords, hornwort and java fern, but of course many rocks and caves. Substrate is mostly black sand mixed with crushed coral. What would you advise adding? < Most of your fish come from Lake Malawi except for the Julidochromis species (julie). It comes from Lake Tanganyika. They tolerate similar water conditions so they will get along fine for awhile. I would look at the electric yellow Labidochromis caeruleus as a good addition. So would Ps saulosi and an Aulonocara species known as peacocks. If you have any open sandy areas then I would also take a look at some of the many "hap." species too.> Will most Plecos eat my plants? <Plecos usually eat algae while some species are carnivorous. Check out all the Pleco species at Planetcatfish.com.> and is an Ancistrus too small for tyh? < Sorry, don't know what tyh is.> There is a group of 5 wild caught Tropheus moorii for sale locally (3F 2M) but I take it these would not work? < Sure they would. Many times when a tropheus colony is down to a pair I place them in a very crowded Malawian community tank. They have almost identical requirements and the crowded tank helps disperse the aggression.> Is there validity to adding a school of barbs or danios for distraction? < These fish are then referred to as dither fish. I have found that zacco barbs from the genus Barilius are very good for this purpose as well as rainbowfish.> I also have a fry tank with 20 red zebras. I was considering a small group of younger multis to raise together with the fry, to eventually either breed or move to the larger tank (I will wind of selling most of the Zebras). What are the odds they will get along, especially with the cats already in the 90 gallon? Any advice is greatly appreciated. < As long as the catfish are too large to be eaten then they will go into the big tank just fine. Be aware that as your mouthbrooding cichlids spawn that the breeding catfish may try and sneak their eggs into the female cichlids mouth while they are spawning. The catfish fry then grows larger and eggs all the cichlid eggs so then all you have left is on catfish fry. This is often referred to as the cuckoo method after the cuckoo bird. Go to cichlidae.com and see if you can identify you other fish from the many photos they have.-Chuck>

Stocking and Malawi Tank II Thanks Chuck! Sorry about the confusion, I should have said Bristlenose Pleco instead of Ancistrus. Will it get picked on because of the small size by my adults? < Bristlenose Plecos don't do too well in a Malawi Tank. The cichlids tend to pick on them and they generally don't like the harder water the cichlids require.> My LFS made me concerned about this. Also, how would one know which species together pose the danger of hybridization? < Almost all the Lake Malawi cichlids will cross. Yes all of them. The best way to prevent this is to make sure that you have both sexes of all species at all times. To be sure, many breeders keep only one species per tank to maintain the purity of the species.> How many fish should I aim for in the 90 gallon for the appropriate balance? Ben < In nature these are found to be very crowded. I would set up the 90 gallon with two Emperor outside power filters. Each one pumps up to 400 gallons per hour. That means you will have up to 8 times the tank volume for circulation per hour. I would heat the tank to 78 to 80 degrees with a high quality titanium heater. Place lots or rock work to mimic their natural habitat with about an inch to two inches of fine sand. In this set up I would place 50 to 75 Lake Malawi cichlids. Maybe even up to 100 depending on the species and water quality. I would take all the rocks out once a week and do a 40% water change while vacuuming the gravel. Then replace the rocks in different places. This keeps the fish bust reestablishing their territories.  During the water changes you can remove the females that are holding and hatch the fry artificially. If not then they will release them in the tank and some will be eaten while others will survive. I would only feed them Spirulina flakes once each day and only enough so that it was entirely gone in two minutes. Stay away from Petrotilapia species and only pick on species from each genera to add to your tank. Fishes that grow over 4 inches should be removed and traded in to your local fish store (LFS).-Chuck>

Cichlid Tank Set up Hello I am a new-bee at this, I just started a 30 gallon hex, brackish tank, Totally cycled over a month. I have 1 Pleco approx 6", 2 GSP's 1" babies, 2 Cobalt Blue Zebra Cichlid 1.5"babies and 2 Jewel cichlids 1.5"babies, I would also like to get 2 electric yellow cichlids. My tank set up is PH 8.0, SPG 1.004,Ammonia is 0 (or near 0), Nitrate is 0. Nitrite is good and the water is a little on the soft side (soon to add crushed coral to help). My Filtration is 1 emperor 280 with a bio wheel and a 6" air stone bubbler, with plenty of decoration of different heights and formation, All Fake NO real plants I am feeding them ..Flower Horn Pellets what the Cichlids were eating at the store) Shrimp Pellet, Algae Tablets. Frozen Brine shrimp Feeding them a variety, NOT all at once, Although they get a small amount of brine shrimp every evening. Question.... Is the tank Over crowded? and does what I am doing sound like the right set up? My first attempt at this tank I killed all the fish (pretty much the same types as I have now) BEFORE I decided to research on your site you guys are a God send, Thanks) Mike Berresford <The set up sounds fine. As long as you keep track of the water quality they should get along although your choice of fish is a little unusual.-Chuck> Algae Problems in a Frontosa Tank Hi my name is Michelle, I have two tanks 125 gal and a 125 gal in the living room both contain all sizes of 7 stripe Frontosas we had a huge Pleco in with them but he got to big so we gave him to a local fish store, now are tanks are getting a lot of algae what would be a good fish to keep the tanks clean of algae? And if you say Plecos - what ones? I like the gold nugget or the tiger but can they survive in an African tank? Or is there something else that would do a good job that won't get as big, the one we had was about 13 inches.  Thank you for your time. Michelle W. < Not too many Plecos can handle the hard water that Frontosa require. The ones you were looking at would not make it. The Frontosas will eat smaller fish so you actually need pretty good sized algae eaters to do the job. I think that the best choice would be the same ones you are using and continue to trade them in. You may want to try more frequent water changes to keep the algae under control so they will not get so big so fast.-Chuck>

Algae in a Frontosa Tank II Thanks Chuck, I do water changes once every two weeks, the problem is the aquarium is next to a window and so I just covered the ends of the tank and taped the edge of the curtain to the wall so the light can't slip through the opening! I will see if it helps! Thanks, Michelle W. <Good idea, we will post you response on the site so others may learn from your experience. Thanks.-Chuck> 

Filtration for a Tanganyikan Cichlid Tank I am going to set up a 120 gallon Tanganyikan aquarium with  Cyathopharynx furcifer and some Cyprichromis. What filtration system would you  most recommend for this tank. <I have this exact set up right now with 6 C. furcifer and 6 Cyp. leptosomas. I use the tidepool wet dry system by Marineland with the overflow box. I use a pump than runs 400gph back up into the tank. The best thing about it is the big BioWheel and the trays are very easy to get to and clean.-Chuck> LARGE LAKE TANGANYIKA SET UP I plan on doing a 120 gallon lake Tanganyika aquarium with Cyathopharynx and Cyprichromis. I was wondering what kind of filtration I should get? Do you think I should do a built in overflow that cycles the tank 1200 g.p.h.? < Even in a 120 gallon tank, you are probably only going to keep one male Cyathopharynx with a group of females. I like the overflow but 1200 gph is a little overkill unless you really stuff it with fish, but it would work very well. This system will pick up a lot of fish food so you may want to think about turning it of during feeding. Take a look at the Tidepool systems by Marineland. They can handle up to 700 gallons per hour and are very easy to service.-Chuck> 

Brackish Fish 3/3/05 Thanks PP <Sure!> However, if frontosa cichlids aren't brackish water fish, then someone ought to ring up Petco, who sells them with other African cichlids as brackish water fish!! <I wouldn't trust anything a chain store like that says & believe less than half of what most LFS tell you.> The frontosa's been doing extremely well in my brackish water tank... <For now--they are not BW fish & are not equipped to handle the salt, long-term. Especially the salinities GSPs require.> ...with the silver- tipped cat sharks either way, eating small pellets and guppies. So now I have four 4 silver- tipped catsharks, 4 African cichlids, and one frontosa. Again this is a brackish tank. I have been adding one whole box of sea salt for my 36 gallons of which I change the water every 2 1/2 weeks. <You really need a hydrometer to know the exact specific gravity of your water.> I want to return 3 African cichlids and add 2 BW figure 8 or spotted puffers. <Sorry to tell you, but that tank is only large enough for 1 GSP, as they grow to 6" as adults & need a minimum of 30g ea. Didn't I give you the link on their care? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm  The catfish will grow to 18" each, so I'd return them too.> Please advise, -Raulph <I feel you have some rethinking to do on your tank. ~PP> 

Freshwater Planted Tank... water chemistry and African Cichlids Folks...I have a 72''x24''x30'' 220gal tank. Would two 48'' x 260 watt CP's be adequate for plants to thrive in a 30'' deep aquarium? <Just barely> My thought was to place both fixtures over the middle of the tank, bright light over the center, dimmer on the edges. Plants such as Amazon Swords, Tiger Lotus and Aponogeton would be options. If this will not work, I wouldn't mind building a shelf closer to the surface for large pots of plants. <A good option... though high-light intensity plants will grow with these fixtures, wattages at the thirty inch depth... it will be slow/er than if there were more light> Water question, pH of 7.3, TDS 655 PPM from Milwaukee Testers. KH of 3 degrees, DH of 5 degrees from drips into test tube device. To me the PPM and the DH don't seem to match. <Don't let this throw you... dissolved solids can easily be minerals that don't contribute to hardness... If interested, you can have your water tested, or if it is supplied, the company (check your billing paperwork) will provide you with a free analysis of its content> From the drops in the test tube method, it looks like plant water. From the TDS method it looks like poor water for plants. How can I maintain a PH of 7+ and perk up my KH and use CO2 in a planted aquarium. (African Cichlid planted tank) Thank You for this site...Mark <Ahhhh! Now we're getting to useful specifics! I would change your orientation here... and stock the system with plants that are tolerant/appreciative of the same hard, alkaline water conditions as the fishes they are to be kept with.... Please see here: African cichlid Planted Tank Bob Fenner>

Juvenile cichlids - not for long! As my third tank I went with CA/SA Cichlids. I have begun with a 45 gallon tank, with an emperor 400.  I filled the cartridges with bio gloass [sic], to additional bio filtration, to go along with the twin BioWheels. This should be pretty heavy filtration for the time being.  My question relates to what size I will need to replace this tank with. I now have 2" green terror, 2" Jack Dempsey. 2" Managuense, and a 3" firemouth (he is enjoying being king of the tank for the moment), as well as a dozen cherry barbs (once the cichlids start seeing them as lunch they will be given to my friend and his 150 gallon community tank). I think I will probably have to relocate the firemouth at some point, although I have friends who have kept them successfully with larger more aggressive fish as I have. >>>Hello Chris, As a long time cichlid keeper, and with much experience keeping all the species mentioned, I can tell you that you're going to need at least a 135 gallon tank - bigger if you can afford it. Firemouths do just fine with larger guapotes, no worries. Good luck Jim<<< 

Sage Chuck Advice on African Cichlids, Systems Hi, I found your site extremely interesting and informative. I had posted a message on your forum and I was asked to ask you a question, so here it is. I have owned marine fish for most of my adult life (175 g) but have never ever owned a freshwater aquarium. Fishless and aquariumless for 2 years now, someone gifted me a 29 gallon aquarium. It has two power filters, both for 30 g each, a dark gravel substrate, fake plants and plenty, plenty of rocks and caves. There are no fish in it right now, and it is currently cycling (fishless, of course!) I was originally thinking of the typical aquarium fish, you know, the gouramis and the like until I caught sight of a Pseudotropheus Acei and I was like `dude, that reminds me of my old Damsel fish' then I saw the yellow labs and I thought "As pretty as an Anthias" , and well, the result was I found myself extremely interested in Cichlids, especially in the subtype called the dwarf Mbunas. They rival any saltwater fish that I ever had in color and I was charmed by my friend's p. saulosi (?) who did a happy dance when he would go to feed him. Even my baby son who I had long given up on as a silent John Wayne type spoke his first words when he saw them (fishy)!   My tap water is about 7.8, hard and alkaline, which suits rift lake cichlids, or can be easily buffered to do be higher, but I am not sure about space. I have been getting conflicting information. Some sites say it would be fine for a single species tank like one lab male and his harem of 3 females, then some sites ask me not even to attempt the dwarf Mbunas unless I have a 55 gallon tank and yet others say mix them up and have at least 15 fish so that `aggression' is spread out. Besides, I am concerned about the fact that they will breed like rabbits because I do not have good homes for the fry (is that what the babies are called?). So, please, please help me. Is there a dwarf Mbuna that I can house in my tank? If so, can I mix different species...for example electric yellow with p. saulosi or acei? If so, how many fish should I have total? < All three would go well in a 29 gallon tank with plenty of filtration and regular water changes. All will go together but the Ps. Acei will get too big so look for Ps. lanistacola a smaller version of the a similar fish. They stay small and breed in shells. Get them small and let them grow up together. I would put 20 to 25 fish in and start them small. As they grow up you can cull the extra males to a local fish store and end up with 12 to 15 adults that will be compatible.> Is there anyway I can lessen or prevent breeding because I guess neutering fish is not yet possible. < Keep them cool , around 75 degrees will reduce the potential for breeding and fighting. Get a Malawi pisciivore cichlid from the Nimbochromis genus that will eat any fry released in the aquarium. They get big but can always be traded in for smaller fish or food.> What is this about overcrowding them, because if I overcrowded my marine fish, I'd have a lot of dead fish. < Malawi cichlids are usually territorial by nature. In the confines of an aquarium the pick on lots of single fish. When kept very crowded they get tired of chasing all the other fish around because there are too many of them so they give up after a while. These crowded conditions mean you need very good filters and need to keep up on your water changes.> A lot of questions I know, but I have tried several resources and no one seems to be helping out. I'd really, really appreciate it if you could help me out. I thank you in advance for your response. < A good book on Malawi cichlid is any written by Ad Konings. Go to CichlidPress.com to view his books for purchase. Foe general info on cichlids check out the American Cichlid Association at Cichlid.org.-Chuck>

135 gallon African Cichlid setup Hi all, I have recently acquired a 135 gallon aquarium that I would like to devote to African cichlids.  It will be a display tank, used as a room divider, so it is essential that the water quality remain extremely high.  I have been considering several filtration options, but would like your opinion before proceeding.  The tank will have a sump (approx 30 gallons).  Unfortunately the tank is glass and it was not predrilled so it looks as though an overflow box is the only way to go.  I am aiming for a circulation rate of 1000gph.  Does this seem ideal? < That would give you a rate of 5 times the tank volume per hour and would be just fine.> I was looking at the CPR CS 100 or CS 102 for use as overflow boxes.  Mechanical filtration will occur prior to any water entering the sump.  My main problem is with regard to what kind of biological filtration to employ.  I have been contemplating the idea of having a wet dry filter, followed by a fluidized bed filter, however, I have been reading conflicting information on both of these filters, so I was wondering which method you recommend.  If anything, I am leaning towards having a wet/dry only.  Also is there a rule of thumb for the amount of wet/dry filter media (in cubic feet) to use per gallon (or 100 gallons)? < No since all tanks are set up different. I would recommend two Marineland Tidepool filters with the SOS skimmer HOB overflow systems. The BioWheel work great at growing bacterial to breakdown fish waste and they are very easy to service. You need to get two pumps that move  about 600 gph to end up with your desired 100ghp rate.> In addition to the biological filters the sump will also contain two heaters and activated carbon.  The water will be returned via an external pump and distributed using a return manifold.  Is there anything else that I should consider adding/using for the water circulation/filtration aspect of the tank? Thank you for your highly esteemed advice, <Each Tidepool system can handle up to 700 gallons per hour so between the two they can supposedly handle up to 1400 gallons per hour. They are very easy to service which is very important for a filter.-Chuck> Chris Yellow labs Hello crew I have a 50 g Mbuna tank with 4 yellow labs, 3 electric blues, 4 blood parrots and 1 very small catfish (I don't know the exact type) in it. I have an Atman AT-3337 (German) filter, coral sand and a lot of lava stones in the tank. I change 25% of the water every week and add mineral salt in it (approx. 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons). My pH values are around 8. When the tank was first set up, I could not realize that one of the hoses going from the filter to the thank was folded and did not let the water circulate. It took me about two weeks to realize after the fish started to lose all their energy. Soon after the filter was corrected, 2 of the electric blues turned into white and died one after another. I have made a 50% water change, vacuumed the bottom and used some medication because I have realized some Itch on some of the parrots. To make a long story short, at that time all my yellow labs started to get black stains on them. After all that water change and reconditioning, I lost one of the darkest and smallest yellow labs. Afterwards, about two weeks later I have added three small catfish into the tank and I lost two of them right away. One was even eaten when I found him on Monday. I lost a third electric blue last week, but I think the reason was he was always chased, his fins were torn and so he stopped eating, an even if I took him out to a smaller tank, he still refused to eat and died. At the same time my yellow labs started to lose those black stains (not lose actually, they are still there but more like the color is blended I can say) Now I see almost see-through white spots (not itch) on parrots' fins, the smallest yellow lab got black stains again, the most dominant yellow lab has his whole chin (out of color I would say, because it more looks like fish skin without color). And he and two of the other electric blues seem to have lost tiny parts on their skins (looks like because of abrasion, because no blood or scar visible) My yellow labs look really ugly with all those black stains on them. And no other type of fish have those stains. What may be the reason and what would you suggest? < Overall I would check the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. They should be zero with the nitrates being under 25 ppm. Don't know much about the filter but it should be pumping at least 150 gallons per hour with 200 plus being better. Once the water checks out then the other problem is the fish. Mbuna need to be in crowded aquariums. In the wild they establish territories over rocks. In a big crowded tank they cannot possibly chase all the fish around. Ina tank with a few fish the others are quickly harassed and don't eat. Every time you add a fish to your established aquarium you need to move all the rocks and ornaments around to different locations. The old fish will be too busy establishing their territory that they will leave the new fish alone for awhile. The black markings on you labs could be from scarring from more aggressive fish or too much spiraling in the diet.-Chuck> Thank you very much. -Mehmet

FW filtration, for Mbuna Hi! I'm new to the site and have been skimming through the faq's and have not yet found an answer to my question. All faq Q&A are very informative and the site looks to be filled with a wealth of info, so what the hay, I need to ask. Here goes, I have been in the mbuna tank hobby for about a year now started with a 20gal and am now in a 100gal with 18 mbuna. All is going well. I recently built a DIY acrylic 30gal sump and an hob overflow box with a RIO Vortex 26HF return pump w/ a 3/4" return and removed the 3 hot magnums with BioWheels (trying to ease some of my cleaning maintenance). My DIY project really seems to work fine except, I can not seem to get the flow rate that I am looking for through the hob overflow. I built the overflow to the dimensions of the CPR CS150 (1600gph) plus added some volume to the back box. I used a 1 1/4" bulkhead w/ a 1 1/4" flex hose to the sump and 1 90deg EL, the water enters the sump approx 4" above the waterline and approx. 1" above the filter fiber (I was expecting approx. 1200gph). I have built a 1 1/2" Durso standpipe inside the overflow (very quiet). I have 6 3/4" siphon tubes made of PVC and 90deg Ell's with 1/8" valves attached to the tops to draw out the air. I originally made an acrylic siphon tube 6" wide with a 1/2" flow area up over and down, but thought that was why my flow rate was slow and moved to the PVC pipe. My Durso stand pipe works as it should (I am an Electrical Engineer and work with Chemical Process Engineers and have an understanding of flow dynamics, but even my Chemi's are stumped). As I fiddle with the valve I installed in the cap on the standpipe T I begin to get a good siphon going. About this time the water drains quickly below the the 90deg EL sucking air telling me the siphon tubes are not keeping up. I can get the water level to stay about at the mid point of the standpipe T as the Durso website explains, but I just don't get the flow I expected through the siphon tubes to keep up with the drain if I close the valve on top of the T just a slight bit more from where the level is stable. I had installed a 3/4" ball valve on the pump return to dampen the return if needed anticipating the RIO may be a little overpowered with only 4' of head (RIO 1390gph @ 4'). I have to close the ball valve about 1/2 from full open to maintain a level in the pump reservoir (not sure what return rate that equates to, but quite sure well under 1200gph). What did I do wrong? I thoroughly investigated all what I did for 2mos. prior to beginning this project. I thought I did my homework!!!! Please give me any suggestions with you infinite knowledge. :-) < I too like the wet /dry system with an overflow to keep my cichlids for larger tanks. The first situation is to get the water into the overflow box and where it is set in regards to the level inside the aquarium. If the intake box is set too low the siphon may have a much more difficult job getting the water over the back of the tank, so raise the level of the overflow box in the tank itself. If the problem is not getting the water into the box then the openings could be enlarged to allow more water flow. The next situation is the difference in water levels between the outside box and the inside box. If the water levels are almost the same then you are not going to get much of a siphon unless the water levels in the outside box are much lower than the interior box. Try lowering the water level in the outside of the box. If the water flow is too restrictive then you may have to increase the diameter of the hose from overflow box to the sump. Try to slowly increase the pumping rate into the tank. These systems take a little time to adjust to get the rates equal but stick around and don't let them overflow.-Chuck> Thank You Much Rich Ducham

Adding rocks I want to add some rocks to my Malawi tank I have some slate and limestone in my backyard...I heard something about rust veins in the rock and this would poison my fish....so I soaked the rock overnight and scrubbed them till my scrubby was completely ruined....should I do anything else to these rocks and what about these rust veins??? < Rust (Iron oxide) may be a problem but I don't think so in your case. If the iron leeches into the water then you may see an increase in the growth of algae. The is beneficial to the Mbuna because this is their major food source in the wild.-Chuck>

African Cichlids, circulating range I don't know if you are familiar with the idea of a circulating range.   I am beginning to experiment with one using 16 freshwater African cichlid tanks (about 500 gallons in all).  I have tried to research this method were one or more tanks are reserved for zooplankton such as daphnia. In my set-up most of tanks are outfitted with reverse flow under-gravel filters, most of the tanks have live plants, and the 40 gallon sump/refugium/zooplankton tank has a large sponge that water trickles through to enter the tank.  I am trying to decide how fast to have the water circulate and how to determine proper size for the refugium.  Seems to me that if I can come sufficiently close mimicking a complete aquatic system that water changes could cease and live food could supplement other feeding rather naturally.  I found a few pages discussing a system like this in a 1950s book called the advanced aquarist, but I have had no success getting the source material from a journal apparently defunct that was called "Water Life."    Do you know of anyone who has done this on a large scale or experimented with different types of zooplankton?  Any general Ideas or comments in this arena would be helpful and appreciated.  You provide a great service many thanks < Ideas like this have been tried using algae scrubbers or live plants such as water hyacinth to remove nitrates. Since daphnia require green water as a food source you will need to culture green water to culture the daphnia. I think you may be spending more time on the cultures than on your tank. For fun look at Marineland.com and look at Dr. Tim's Library an look at the articles on filtration. I don't believe that the daphnia will directly remove the nitrates from the water so you are back to changing water.-Chuck>     Kieth

African cichlid system, ID I have read numerous articles on your site and it's a wealth of information. I am currently running a FO 55 gallon brackish tank. The filter is a Fluval 404, heater set at 79 - 80 degrees, 2 air stones and some hiding faux logs with some faux plants. I used Delaware river stone on the bottom of the tank. I bought a big bag from Lowe's Home Improvement Store and cleaned it up pretty good. I had it in the tank for months before the fish were introduced. All the fish are doing extremely well. I have a nice piece of a drift I found on the beach sitting in a 20 gallon tank. It's being filtered by a Fluval 204 with 50% water changes daily. I figure it will take quite some time to leach and re-waterlog the, uh, log. I am having a difficult time sexing the fish. I believe I have the following - 2 Pseudotropheus socolofi - sometimes dark blue/sometimes light blue; 1 has 2 spots on tail fin and the other has 4 spots on tail fin; 1 seems to have some black in the top fin < Ps. socolofi is a blue fish with black fine edging. It is a little more elongated than the orange zebra. The spots are not a reliable sex indicator.> 2 Pseudotropheus estherae - Orange all the time; 1 has 2 spots and the other has 4 or 5 spots < Sometimes males turn blue as the get older.> 1 male Labidochromis caeruleus 2 Nimbochromis livinstonii - their faces get blue/black; bodies seem to change from orange to green to yellow tinges; bottom fin edges turn a beautiful orangey rainbow < Only the males turn blue and have an orange tinge on the anal fin. In the wild the males turn blue when breeding. When not in breeding dress they stay a brown white mottled color like the females and fry. In the lake they lie on their side and pretend to be dead so they can attract a smaller fish over. When a fish comes by they pop up and eat it!> 2 Aulonocara baenschi - 2 blue faces, yellow bodies with black stripes; < Both males , females have no color at all.> 2 others with red bodies that look the same 2 Paralabidochromis 2 leopard spotted cats (silver with black spots) All are around 2.5 to 3 inches. I wonder if the socolofi are male estherae as I read the males of this species are blue but the bodies do show very light black lines going top to bottom that only show when they turn pale blue. I'd love to get these fish to breed. I've got the PH around 8.0 and add Seachem Cichlid Lake Salt at the rate of 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons at water change. I change roughly 20 gallons every 2 to 3 weeks. The river stone actually keeps the PH up pretty well but sometimes I'll add some baking soda to help a bit. I've also got a 75 gallon FW with about a dozen Neon Tetra, 4 Cardinal Tetra, 4 Black Tetra, 5 Rainbows and a tremendous Pleco. I'll venture into salt in a bout a year or so when we finally move into the new house. I've got an in wall tank planned of at least 200 gallons! So, comments/suggestions? < Check out CichlidPress.com for photos of lake Malawi cichlids and see if you can identify your fish and maybe the sex. If you really want to get into cichlids then check out a book by AD Konings "Enjoying Cichlids." In there you will find lots of good reliable info.-Chuck> Thanks in advance, Jamie in New York Gramma Suicide and Mbuna First I would like to say that your website has been of great help to me as I have been getting back into fish lately! Now for the questions. I will start with the Gramma since its shorter. :) I have a 10 gallon nano marine setup. It has been running for 6 months now and is doing well. I have no measurable nitrites, nitrates, or ammonia. Salinity and ph are constant. For the last several months now I have had an ocellaris clown and a royal Gramma in it. Suddenly a few days ago, my Gramma committed suicide by jumping out of the tank! Unfortunately he did this at night so by the time I saw him he was all dried out on the floor.  Any idea what might have caused this? The tank has a big seashell which he staked out as his home, as well as about 5 lbs of live rock. There is also a peppermint shrimp in it which I think the Gramma was nibbling the antennae off of. The Gramma has always been the top fish in the tank, so I cant figure out why he might have jumped. Now for my main question. I have recently decided to set up my 55 gallon tank as a freshwater tank. I have decided to go with African cichlids. I have chosen a group that I would like to keep together, but I would like to know if they will do well together. What I was thinking of keeping is a trio of electric yellows, 4 P. Socolofi, a trio of Pseudotropheus johanni, 4 cobalt blue zebras, and 2 buffalo cichlids with 1 male per group. This seems like a lot of fish but I read that you are supposed to overcrowd to help avoid anyone getting singled out to be picked on. I will be putting lots of cave work and decorations in to help them establish territories, and I will be using 2 HOB Whisper 30-60 gallon filters. Will these fish get along? If I need to switch some of them, please list several. I am getting them all at my LFS so I have a limited number from which to choose. I was thinking of using some small gravel for the substrate which I can get for free out of a relatives creek bed, but I am not sure if it would work. What do you think? If not I will buy some sand instead. Any brand/type recommendations for that? As for decoration, I wanted to use some rocks which I found but I am worried that they will be too heavy, so I am going to use fake rock decorations which I will buy at my LFS. If you have any suggestions I would be very grateful. Thank you! >>>Hey Michelle, I'll be happy to help out. First of all, your Gramma jumped out because you don't have a lid on the tank. Small tank + No lid = dead fish. If something spooks him, anything, he only has a very short distance to execute an escape maneuver. The other choice is up. As far as your plans for the African tank, it sounds like it should work just fine, but keep up on your water changes. I've kept that many Mbuna and more in a 55 without problems, but you have to manage the nitrogen cycle correctly. There is no such thing as Pseudotropheus johanni, and I think you mean Melanochromis johannii. These are very aggressive fish, but good additions to such a tank. Will they get along? No, but that's impossible, and never the object with these fish. You want to manage the aggression. You need visual barriers.   Whatever substrate you choose, keep in mind that you're going to have to clean it every few weeks. I like sand because it prevents detritus from settling down into the bed. Cheers Jim<<<  

Sands of time, for African Cichlids hi there, Been reading your site and I'm getting flustered.  I just acquired a 150 gallon tank which I plan on moving my African cichlids to.  They are currently in two 66 gallon tanks.  I'm interested in using a sand for the substrate.  I purchased a bag of silica sand which I believe is used in sand blasting, however I notice on the side of the bag it cautions against breathing in the dust.  Is this ok for the fish? <Sand blasting silica sand is crushed quartz. The dust can be inhaled and cause problems in the lungs. It is crushed so the actual sand particles are angular and very abrasive. If your fish rubbed himself against them it would be abrasive to his skin and mouth when digging.>   Also it says it has Lustergrip added   some kind of anti-slip agent.  Is this ok as well? < Never heard of it but it is probably not good for fish.> I was also thinking of using some crushed shells in the tank am I right in assuming that will have the same effect as crushed coral? < If you mean it will buffer the water so it will remain alkaline then yes it will.-Chuck>   Thank you for your time Ron

375 gallon Cichlid Tank Hello, I have a 8ftx30inx30in tank that is about 375 gallons.  I am wanting to make it a tank for African Cichlids, primarily Frontosas.  I have a large sump (46x26x26) and was wondering if I were to make it into a trickle filter, if it would be a good filter for this size tank?   Or, would you recommend a couple filters like Eheims?  They are only rated for up to 158g each, from what I have read so far.  Thanks!! Dave Bayne <<Hello Dave. I would recommend a sump for any tank over 150 gallons. If you have the elbow-room underneath the tank to work, it will make your life so much easier. A 46x26x26 inch sump seems a bit high, you may want to be sure you have room to get INTO the sump after it has been placed beneath the tank. The last thing you want is a system that is difficult to do maintenance on. You can run carbon down there, so changing that out as easily as possible would be beneficial. You can keep your heaters down there as well, you will need to be able to access them in case you need to change the tank temp, or if one breaks, or is leaking current, etc etc. Has this tank been drilled? If not, you will need a hang-on acrylic overflow box, available at most LFS's that sell reef tank equipment. Check carefully, some overflow boxes will not re-start automatically if your power goes out, so when your pumps come back on, the tank will overflow. If drilling it, be sure the tank is either drilled high up, or that there is a stand-pipe or equivalent. If you un-plug your pumps, you need to figure out how much water will drain back down into the sump before the sump overflows, and the higher up the tank is drilled, the less water flows down into the sump. You will also need to figure out what size pump to use, and even though this is a freshwater tank, a few strategically placed powerheads inside the tank itself will help with circulation. Especially if there will be a lot of rockwork, which I assume there will be :P There are many Sump FAQ's here at WetWebMedia that you can peruse, in the Marine section. Even though your tank is freshwater, they are full of useful info that will help you. -Gwen>>

Malawi tank setup    Hello, my name is James.                                                  I am new to the hobby and am looking for a little help.  I have read some of your FAQ's, and have already learned quite a bit.  I just (approx. one month ago) bought an already established 55 gal. tank with 5 healthy Malawi Cichlids, I believe they are all in the Red Zebra group, although 2 of them are a brilliant orange color, and the other 3 are kind of purple/rusty brown with faint vertical stripes, but the same physical build/shape as the orange ones.  The tank came with a Magnum 350 canister filter with twin Bio-Wheels, (Bio-Wheels are not hooked up presently due to lack of room on back of tank, although I would like to change that soon), Whisper Second Nature water fall type filters (a double and a single, both in use now, hence the lack of room for the Bio-Wheels), under gravel filters w/power heads, one of which is a Powerhead 402 that has the output going into a Sea Storm Fluidized Bed (?) Bio-Filter.     I saved 20 gallons of their original water, two 5 gallon buckets of "normal" mixed color aquarium gravel (rinsed and re-used), a few medium to large rocks stacked for "caves".  The water is finally clearing up after adding bacteria, and I have put some sea shells in to buffer the PH.  I have even seen some possible breeding rituals recently (much to my surprise).  I have gotten this far by reading a couple books and some Google searches, but seem to run into some conflicts over the salt issues.  Some of the fish stores (I know, not the best place for all the answers) say they don't need salt, some say they do, one even called Cichlids "brackish fish", but that doesn't sound right, either. Most of the web sites say they need salt, but I still have not seen any target salinity numbers.  I have a floating glass hydrometer but it shows a spec. gravity of 1.0 in the tank or in a glass.  I added aquarium salts at one table spoon per 10 gallons as stated, and even 24 hrs. later still 1.0.  Added 2 more table spoons, next day the same.  Now have a "needle" type hydrometer, with a salinity scale, it is reading about a 5.  I would like to see if the breeding habits will continue fruitfully, so are there any suggested guidelines for an appreciated level? < You don't need salt but it is beneficial. You are right on track with keeping the pH up. These fish are aggressive and have teeth to back it up so they are always scrapping among themselves. A couple of tablespoons of rock salt per ten gallons of water is just enough to help the fish develop a slime coat on their bodies to protect them against diseases.>    Also just got some 5 in 1 test strips (Mardel) for the first samples taken the PH is 8.0, the Total Alkalinity is between 180, Total Hardness is between 120 and 250,      Nitrite is 0, and Nitrate is between 80 and 200 (closer to 200).  I plan on doing a       20% water change, and have a few plants starting to sprout now (if the fish don't get 'em).  Should this calm down on its own?  Cause for concern?  Any other ideas would be appreciated.    Well, I guess that was long-winded enough for now. < You need to get the nitrates down to under 25 ppm. Don't let the filters accumulate so much waste before changing them and try not to overfeed. You should be feeding them an algae based food like Spirulina flake once a day and only enough so that all of it is gone in a couple of minutes. Let them eat the algae off the rocks like they do in nature to get the rest of their food. High nitrates will cause lots off algae and disease.-Chuck>                                                            Thanks for your time,                                                            James. How Many Yellow M'buna? <Hi, mike D here> How many yellow lab cichlids should I place into a 55 gal. tank with plenty of rocks and caves?<As I'm sure you're aware, the Labidochromis are part of the large group of aufwuchs feeding cichlids from Lake Malawi that actually have to be crowded to prevent establishment of territories by the dominant male. The number for a 55 would depend on whether you're buying adults or fry, with a much higher number permissible if the latter.  It also depends on whether you're planning on adding any other species and upon the reasons for your tank. Is it enjoyment only or are you trying to set up a species breeding tank?>

Yellow labidochromis II enjoyment at this time. May be later as a breeder. I have recently purchased 4 electric yellows, 4 electric blues, 4 zebras and 4 violets. Along with 4 black tip sharks. All the cichlids are about two inches in size, a few maybe smaller. But all seem to be doing great. How many more would you recommend adding into a 55 gallon? The local pet store owner suggested about 25. But I wanted to ask your opinion. <The only problem I see with your grouping is in the "black tipped sharks" which are either marine or brackish catfish if they are what I think they are and are likely to end up shredded and infected with fungus, against which they have no natural immunity, which can then infect your cichlids. With an M'buna tank such as yours I'd look to either catfish of the Synodontis family (cats with teeth and an attitude) or botias to take their place. A Tiger botia is one of the few fish I've seen that will back an M'buna down, with many of the Synodontis cats being just as assertive. Synodontis angelicus, for example, is one of the most attractive of the African cats and one I'm sure that you'd enjoy. As to actual numbers, you're good to go as is, with the rest being purely choice.> Thank you so Much. Roy Ferrell

Electric yellow cichlids I have recently bought a mating pair of electric yellow cichlids <Sorry, they really don't pair up. They get together when they are ready to spawn. After they spawn then the "pair" bond  is broken> and added them to my 5 gallon aquarium < This is way too small.>. I have plenty of rock work and plants to add to the territory. I want to know if this is alright cause I'm getting my brand new 15 gallon aquarium tomorrow may 9 < This will be better but if you really want to get into African cichlids then eventually you will need a even bigger tank. if I need to move them in to there can you please tell me and also can you tell me what type of cichlids I can also put with my 2 5 inch Oscars and Sailfin pleco thank you , <Eventually your Oscar and Sailfin pleco will get large , 12 inches for the Oscar and up to 20 inches plus for the pleco if properly cared for. also I want to start getting into the "aquarium business' of selling and stocking and breeding fish. can you please give me help of how to set this up thank ----------- < Sean I think you need to get a couple of books and read them very carefully if you want to get into cichlids. The first is "Enjoying Cichlids " by Ad Konings. It can be bought online at CichlidPress.com. The other is the "Cichlid Aquarium " by Dr. Paul V. Loiselle. Published by Tetra Press. Between the two you will get an excellent overview of cichlids and realize what is required to properly take care of and breed these great aquarium fish. You could also join the American Cichlid Association. They put out some great publications on cichlids as well as offering a trading post bulletin that lists all kinds of cichlids for sale that may not be available at your local store. After you have mastered the art and science of breeding cichlids then I would recommend work on the ones you love to keep and breed. I learned a long time ago that when you are in the fish business you are breeding fish that other people want, maybe not what you really like. -Chuck> Sean *cichlid* (for loving cichlids) Brown

Green Water I know many people have asked this same old question but none seem to help me out. My mother has a 39 Gallon Eclipse System with the Eclipse 2 Filter on it, all came as a package. She has been doing partial water changes about once a week. I also told her to feed less with she cut down to about every other day. She only leaves light on for maybe 5 to 8 hours a day. She has tried so stuff from the local fish stores for clear water with no success. Oh, it is also a African cichlid tank.  < I will assume that the term "African cichlid tank" refers to Lake Malawian cichlids.>  I tested the tank for PH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. All seem to be fine. I bought her a slightly larger algae eater then the smaller on she has. There are no live plants in the tank only the regular ornaments. She has even taken the water down to about 10 percent , there was just enough for the fish to stay at bottom, she cleaned the sides of the tank with an algae brush when the water was down that low. When she filled it back up it was somewhat better but came back rather quickly. I hope you have some suggestions on how I can help her fix it, She has the tank built in to our bar, she did it herself, so creative and its the first thing people see when they come over and its driving her crazy. Thanks for your help, We really appreciate anything you could tell us.   Ricky Daniels < African cichlids like to be crowded and put a heavy demand on any filtration system. The eclipse systems by Marineland are very good. These cichlids are very active and always seem hungry. I would reduce the feeding to once a day with a Spirulina flake food. The rest of the food they can get by eating the algae off the rocks like they do in the wild. Stay away from foods high in animal protein. Reduce the water temperature to 77 degrees and slow things down a little bit. Many people like to keep it up around 80.Vacum the gravel to remove the sludge build up. You would be surprised how much waste is stored there. Service the filter weekly. Don't wait until it is totally full. Filters don't remove waste they just hang on to it until you remove it from the system. Try these along with your weekly water changes and things should clean up quickly.-Chuck> 

RE: Pseudotropheus lombardoi Thanks a lot for your reply, pretty much answered every question I can come up with =) Ya... I did the pot idea, I took my time and broke them into nice half-pots for cave areas... and sanded the edges down, but it does look pretty unnatural. I do have one more lack-of-creativity question for you: What are the best kind of rocks to provide cave areas for a large amount of cichlids (ten or so), and how much ground area should they cover in a 30 gallon tank -- should I leave small passages to each cave opening and an area in the front of the tank free for swimming?  < Stay away from sedimentary rocks that may leach chemicals into the water and stay away from rocks with rough surfaces. As the fish may dash against them while they are being chased and they will be less likely to hurt themselves. Round river rocks will work fine. Make sure that they are actually on the bottom of the tank and not just in the sand. As the fish excavate the sand then caves may collapse on them. Try some floating plastic plants too for color.-Chuck>  Thanks again for taking the time with my annoying questions!  -Nick

Gonads and Strife?  No, Nitrate and Cichlids Hi Crew,  I haven't had to rely on your knowledge for quite some time. Thanks again for having a great site and offering support. I have a 66 Gallon aquarium with Lake Malawi Cichlids. 3 purple peacocks, 3 nakali,2 red top zebras, 4 electric blues. Everything has been going great for a while now I even have 4 fry inside the tank. I noticed some of my fish in the last couple days have been sucking air. I did a water test yesterday and PH was around 7.5 which I'm thinking should be more around 8. Ammonia was <.1 Nitrites  0.1 nitrate over 100mg/l. Yea that's what I thought ouch. So the directions on the test kit said above 100mg/l at least %50 of Water needs to be changed. I think I did more like a %40 water change. So then today after work I tested the water again and ph is still 7.5 ammonia <.1 Nitrites 0.1 Nitrates still show up as 100mg/l. I then did another %50 water change and I just don't get it Nitrates are still at 100mg/l. I thought something must be out of whack with my test kit so I tested tap water and the tap water shows 0mg/l nitrates. If I have changed so much water would it not be impossible to still have 100mg/l nitrates?  < Fish waste and excess food are broken down by bacteria into first ammonia, then nitrite and then nitrate. Nitrate cannot be broken down on a major scale in the aquarium. This can be diluted with a water change or absorbed by living plants. I think you are attacking the problem at the wrong end of the chain. I would first clean out the filter. Filters don't remove waste they just store it until it is removed. Don't wait for it to become totally full. Then do a water change and see if there is any reduction in the nitrates. Next week I would vacuum the gravel while doing the water change and leave the filter alone. Check the nitrate levels once again. If there are still excessive nitrates then see if you are overfeeding. Nitrates usually cause algae problems too. You Malawi cichlids are probably keeping it somewhat under control. -Chuck>

Trouble with Nitrate and cichlids - II Thank you for your quick reply. If I clean out the filter and then do a water change will I be removing too much of the good bacteria.  < There are bacteria living in the gravel too. That's why I said to clean the filter one week and then clean the gravel the other week. If you did it all at once then you would have a problem unless you had a wet dry filter or a Marineland filter with a BioWheel.>  Also on Wednesday we are moving to a new house and I was planning on saving and transporting my water for the aquarium. Should I now not bother or should I just save some of the water? I'm worried about not having the tank cycled properly but I guess if my water is poisonous it is no longer worth saving. What do you suggest I do about my situation.  < Make sure you save the gravel, keep it wet in an open container like a plastic trash can. Don't seal it up or leave it out in the sun or the bacteria will surly die. I would not worry too much about the water. gently rinse the gravel to remove most of the heavy sludge. Check the water at your new house for chloramines and make sure you have a water conditioner that will handle it. After you set up your tank I would not feed the fish for a few days or at least very little until things get settled in. Check the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate often and your tank should bounce back fairly quickly. >  And if I may I have one more question about substrate. As stated I have Malawi cichlids and I have read through all the Faq's and I still slightly confused about the use of crushed coral for substrate. I have read that it raises the Ph which is good for fish but it also decomposes and gives off ammonia. So should I bother using it or not?  < Crushed coral is mostly calcium carbonate and buffers the water as it dissolves if the water becomes acidic. That's why it is good for African cichlid tanks because it helps prevent the water from becoming too acidic. Shells work well for this too. Never heard of the ammonia thing before.>  I was considering purchasing some Carib Sea African Cichlid Mix is that the same as crushed coral?  < Check you water at your new house for pH and hardness. Most areas of the country and out here in the west the water is fine for Africans right out of the tap. The northwest seems to have naturally soft acidic water due to all the high rainfall they get. I don't personally use the Carib sea African cichlid mix because I don't need it. But I am sure the principles work the same and there is probably some crushed coral in it but I can't say for sure. If you like the look of it then in definitely won't hurt to use either one.>  I have also read that some people use sand but what kind of sand would this be?  < Beach type sand is fine. Anything that the individual grains are were worn and rounded so they are not abrasive to the fish would work. Stay away from sand blasting sand. This sand is crushed and has angular sides and is meant to be abrasive. It would not be wise to use this sand because it would be just as abrasive to the skin and mouth parts of the fish. You could also mix some crushed coral with the sand too.-Chuck>  Thx again for your help - Ron

Lace Rock I want to decide this once and for all with the experts. I have been told you can use Lace Rock from your African Cichlid tank as base rock in a salt water tank. < Sorry but I am not quite sure what "Lace Rock" is. If it a substrate or rock that buffers the water to keep the pH up then it may work for a fish only tank depending on the composition of the lace rock material. If you are setting up a mini reef then the mineral parameters need to be much more exact to keep the corals alive and thriving.> This would save me some money. I have seen it with purple coralline algae on it in the pet shop. Another shop says NO WAY! Never use it. What's your opinion. Have you ever used it without harming fish or corals? It's been in fresh water tanks for 3 or so years now if that matters at all. I'd like to know your opinion. < Please provide more information on this lace rock and what kind of salt water tank you wish to set up. -Chuck> Thanks, Chet Andrew Aurora Co.

New African Cichlid Tank Hello, Great site. I am getting a lot of info from you. I have a couple of questions. I am setting up a new 30 Gal tank (I plan on going with the Lake Malawi Cichlids) and the pet store told me to get Hawaiian coral, but a guy in work said that I should use sand. Which do you recommend? <Lake Malawi water is hard and alkaline. If you live in an area where the water is soft (Without minerals and low pH) then you will need to amend your water to bring up the ph and keep it up around 7.5 or higher. A crushed coral sand will buffer the water so it will dissolve into the water if the pH gets low. If you live in the west then the water may already be hard and alkaline so you could use either the sand or crushed coral.> They also told me to get Red Sea salt. Is there special Cichlid salt? < Lake Malawian water is not salty. I drank it straight from the lake for two weeks last year while on an expedition. Some Epsom salts will add to the magnesium content of the water but sea salt is not needed. >How much salt do I add for a 30 Gal tank? < These salt mixes will add to the mineral content of the water, but I would use them sparingly if at all. Malawian cichlids are pretty tolerant of a wide range of water conditions. Get a pH test kit and check your tap water. There are lots of chemicals you can buy to increase the pH. If you can get the pH up then I probably wouldn't add anything at this time.-Chuck> Thanks for your help. Jim Flesch

Simple beautiful lighting? For now I have a freshwater African cichlid tank 135gallons. I've always loved the spectral look of metal halide. Is there a way to get that look (and only the look) without killing my fish or my wallet?  It seems total overkill to buy metal halide when there are no corals or plants in the tank. I've seen a few posts on Halogens but there was no info on color temp or whether they were safe for fish. Has anybody tried low watt halogen with fish only? <I am going to let you in on a little secret I learned a few years ago. I was tired of seeing my Lake Malawian cichlids not look as good as the photos from the wild. I tried all different kinds of foods with some improvement but still not what I would call killer colors. I looked into saltwater tanks at numerous fish stores and talked to guys in the aquarium maintenance businesses and they all seem to have two florescent tubes over every saltwater tank. Use a twin tube fixture with an electronic ballast. You can get 4 foot long fixture at the hardware store in Cal for around $20 but make sure it has a electronic ballast, very important. After trying numerous bulbs I found I really like the Zoomed line of bulbs made in Germany. They are a T-8 bulb and not a T-12 . So they use less electricity and give off almost the same amount of light. To show off the tank and promote health algae on the rocks that the cichlids love to eat I use the Zoomed Ultra Sun bulb. It is pretty bright and lights up the tank and rocks very well. In the other fixture I use the Zoomed Coral Sun Actinic 420 bulb. This bulb really highlights the fish especially the blue ones. You may try the other "sun" type of bulbs to bring out reds/yellows or oranges instead of the Ultra sun bulb. I think you will really notice a difference in your fish.-Chuck> Thanks, African cichlids I have 3 African cichlids, Mbuna I think. I have 1 yellow lab, 1 bumblebee, and 1 blue one with black stripes. Oh yea, and a pleco. I have them all in a 20 gallon tank with lots of rock and artificial rock caves/tunnels for territories and such. Could I put 1 or more small African cichlids in this tank? < Sure . Make sure you have enough filtration to pump at least 90 gallons per hour. When you add the new fish take all the rocks out of the tank, add the new fish and replace the rocks in different locations. The fish will all be to busy establishing new territories to bother the new fish. Be aware that they will begin to get larger. Think about  a 55 gallon for a good long term set up for your Mbuna.> How many African cichlids can I put in a 20 gal? < African Mbuna from Malawi actually like to be crowded. This is where you need good filtration and need to keep up on your water changes. Your Labidochromis is fine, he only gets around three inches. The others will probably get bigger depending on the species. Look at Ps. saulosi, Ps. livingstoni, Ps. acei as possible species to add. They don't get too big.> Would the existing fish bother him? <When you are done rearranging the tanks then turn out the light until the next day.> I bought some floating pellet food, but my African cichlids, Mbuna I think, seem to be too occupied with their caves to come to the top and get the food. < Feed them less often and I am sure they will come out.> ...Also, are algae wafers a good thing to feed them? <Algae wafers are great food for Mbuna and your pleco. -Chuck>                                                                                            Thanks,                                                                                            Dylan

Planting the Rift Lake Tank  I have a 75 gal 20" tall tank and am keeping African Cichlids. Water parameters are PH=8.4 GH=15 KH=10. Lights are kept on for 12 hours/day. I have (2) 55w 6500k pcf's installed in the canopy and recently added a fixture for (2) 24" 20w T-8's or T-12's. My question is what type and color temp bulb would you suggest in the 24" tubes for good plant growth?  <My personal preference is for 10,000K bulbs, all the way.... many folks prefer 7500K bulbs, though, for PC-lit plant tanks. Please do read up on this topic, as there are quite a few opinions, and no perfect "right way" - here is an excellent article to help you understand and decide what you want: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/lightingags.htm >  I have tried Java Fern and Amazon Sword because they were recommended. Seems the Africans won't trash them quite as bad as some of the tastier types.  <Mm, beside the fact that rift lake pH is simply too high to keep healthy Swordplants in, I'm pretty sure any Echinodorus would be a nice cichlid salad.... but they shouldn't eat java fern. Please check to be sure you haven't planted the rhizome (the thick base that the leaves and roots sprout from) of the java ferns; burying this will cause the plant to rot and die. Only plant the soft roots. Or, better yet, attach them to driftwood or porous rock. For some more hardy plants, look to the genus Anubias - these should be too tough for the cichlids to eat. Plant the same way as java fern. Java moss (completely unrelated to java fern) is particularly indestructible, and extremely versatile. Crinum (especially C. thaianum) plants would be a good option, if you want something tall and grass-blade like. There are other options, but these should get you off to a good start.>  Haven't had very good luck getting them to grow, seem to be slowly withering away. As of yet I haven't tried any plant fertilizer. Any types you can recommend?  <My preference is with the Seachem and Kent fertilizer lines; at this point, start with a simple liquid fertilizer containing iron while you decide exactly what plants you want, and learn their needs. Please check out this article to learn more: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/majmicrnutrplts.htm >  Thanks.  <You bet! Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Tanganyikan setup - 12/8/03 HI, great site! Wondering if you could answer a few questions of mine? <Will do my best>  I've currently started a  Tanganyikan tank, 75gal. starting out so far I have bought 5 juvenile black calvus and so far only one daffodil brichardi. (hopes of adding more, depending of coarse if this is a good mix)<from Matt Pederson on A. Calvus and others in the grouping " (A. calvus "Black", A. compressiceps , etc...) are in the 20+ tank range. In all types, the females are about 1/2 to 1/3 the size of the males. Shells are an essential decoration in tanks housing these fish, as the females often take refuge deep inside them where the males are too large to reach. These fish feed on invertebrates, although there have been many reports that they will also consume small fish, such as Cichlid fry. These fish are very aggressive towards each other, although they tend to leave other tankmates alone. They usually form pairs and spawn in the shells, although they may practice polygamy if an excess of females is present in the tank." and here is some info on your brichardi "Chalinochromis - hails from Lake Tanganyika. Similar to Julidochromis. They are a micro predator, and monogamous substrate spawners. 20 gallons + is usually adequate. They are pretty peaceful."> I'm finding that the calvus are not as aggressive feeders, any tips? <Depends on what you have tried. Freshwater mysids??> Also thinking of adding some more Altolamprologus types, (possibly the "gold head" comp.) Good idea? <Again, based on the various trusted sources they Altolamprologus species can be very aggressive to each other. Be aware that some fish may no show any physical signs of aggression but still be bullied and harassed> I've tried doing research as much as possible on the net, but with only limited info on these calvus, such as water qualities and diets. <www.cichlidrecipe.com is my favorite and most trusted source but I also like http://www.cichlids.com/info/Fish_Index_Lake_Tanganyika Also look through a few forums as well>Do I need shells for breeding? <for Tanganyikans it is recommended> What are differences in male and female? <Mmmmmm.....not sure but probably same as other cichlids, the coloring and size to start but the true way to sex male from female is the venting method. Do search on it on our site as I have described this method a few time before. You could also search the internet for picture showing the difference between various species.> I know that the juveniles are more white and turn black for the black calvus, but how do I know for sure if mine are white or black calvus, (despite what my pet store has told me)? <Venting> What should I use for a scavenger/algae eater? <Lophiobagrus cyclurus "Tanganyika Black Cat" or Phyllonemus typus "Moustache Cat"> Thank-you for an excellent source for a great hobby! <Good luck and happy holidays! ~Paul Aragonite- An African Cichlid Aquarium Substrate? Hey Guys, <Hey! Scott F. here today!> Yet again, great site and thanks in adv. for the great advice. <Thanks for the kind words!> I have a 45 Gal. that use to be Africans. I was going to go FOWLR in this tank but I feel that I lack the time and discipline for this tank, therefore I have decided to go back to Africans in this tank for now, and maybe next year do a FOWLR in a 90 Gal.  With this said, I have purchased some supplies for the FOWLR that I would like to use for the Africans.  Mainly the 40lbs of live aragonite.  Can this be used for the Africans?  I would like to have a deeper bed in the African's tank so can I mix this with crushed coral? <I don't see why not. Aragonite offers many benefits, in terms of minerals and buffering capability, which can benefit an African Cichlid tank, too..> For that matter, is this type of substrate a good pick for cichlids?  Is there any added advantage or disadv. ...buffer? <As above...with hard-water-loving African cichlids- should be fine.> Will the whiter color be a problem with non-RO water? <I don't see that as a problem...> Will the Africans feel comfortable or react to this substrate? <I'm sure that most of them won't pay it any real notice...I wouldn't be overly concerned about its use...> I appreciate if you could clue me in with your opinions on this topic.  Thanks Again,  Randy <My pleasure, Randy! Regards, Scott F.>

African Cichlid behavior - 10/14/03 Hi, <Helloooooo> I have a 55g African cichlid tank set up for a year with about 15 fish, most around 3". <Uh.......too many fish in my opinion, friend>  I'm not sure all the exact species; I know I have a bumblebee, two chipokas, a brichardi, a jewel, <African right?> a rusty, <A typically aggressive fish. Iodotropheous sprengerae> an auratus, a Kenyi, a red peacock, <Careful this fish will end up the loser if a war breaks out between the Tropheus species> a Haplochromis, <Usually a very large adult fish> and several varieties of zebra types, some male-female pairs. <Aggressive> They are doing fantastically well; aragonite substrate, lava rock and former marine "live rock" host lots of beneficial bacteria.  Ammonia and nitrite are zero, Ph about 8 and temp is 75. <All good there> The male of one pair of zebra types (gorgeous mottled blue and black on a gold background) has gotten very high strung and more aggressive toward all other fish in the tank; <No surprise here. They (African cichlids) typically are very aggressive when they meet sexual maturity> he has staked out a territory near the center of the tank and has burrowed a cave in the aragonite and piled up a 6" mountain nearby, one mouthful at a time. <Again, nothing new here> He seems less aggressive toward his same-species mate (?), <Mmmmmm. Not sure..... They usually beat the hell out of the females while chasing to mate. I guess it is possible for them to try and entice the female to the breeding nest without being aggressive.> who seems to hang around near this cave.  They do a lot of twitching at each other (the male does more), <Do they circle (chase tail) just above the nest? Likely they are copulating> which I understand is mating behavior. <You would be correct, but I have seen this male against male occasionally.> The other fish seem less active than in the past and stay in the fringes of the tank. <Because they are getting "rocked" (not a technical term....I know) every time they move within a range of the nest. This is natural behavior and I would expect more of it as other fish start to scrap for what is left of the territory. You are shortly going to have an all out war on your hands soon, my friend> Here's my question: I'm not sure what to do. <Get rid of a lot of your fish, in my experience> Can they breed in this community tank of Africans? <Possible>  Is there anything I could/should do to either promote or inhibit this? <Species only tank? Otherwise there is a great website on African Cichlids: www.cichlidrecipe.com Do some research about your inhabitants (species) and aggression dispersal> It would be VERY difficult to catch any of these fish without tearing apart everything in the tank; <May need to be done if needed right??> there are lot of good hiding places. <Hiding places are good only if not within or near territorial boundaries set up by the other inhabitants in the tank.>  What suggestions do you have? <Jeff, I think the best possible solution is to pick your favorite couple of fish and the rest should...well....go. I have a ninety gallon tank, Hap and Aulonocaras of different colors (a total of 5 adult fish) that is it. Again, in a ninety gallon tank and there is still a great amount of aggression. Just be aware of it. Breeding should be the least of your worries right now, mate. It really is the best advice I can offer. Thanks for the question -Paul> Thanks, Jeff

African Cichlid response - 10/15/03 Thanks Paul, for your insight. <No problem> I too was questioning why the female of the apparent pair was not getting as badly beat up as I thought she would, and you concur with the same question. <Well, may be getting beat up, but just not noticeable. Watch for aggressive chasing and bashing. May happen when you are not in the room or even at night. Still very stressful. One will eventually lose out> Thanks for your tip on overpopulation. <Not so much a tip, but a reality my friend>  When I set this tank up under the guidance of a store specializing in cichlids, I was told 12 to 15 fish would diffuse aggression. <In a 55 gallon?? I rest my case>  Seemed like a large number to me, but I went with it; I just made sure to filter the tank well (Emperor 400 plus lots of lava and formerly "live" rock for bacteria hosting) <I wouldn't rely on this as being filter media per se. When a tank is overstocked it is overstocked> and do a 10% water change weekly. <For this many fish I would be doing 15% to 20% weekly> Obviously things have been fine till now, the water quality is great and they are exhibiting healthy behavior. <Uh....> I have been watching it carefully and after your comments will be ready to act as soon as your warning begins to come true, which you seem to feel is inevitable. <OK> I'm not surprised.  Having  densely populated tank of such interesting and good-looking fish is too good to be true! <Not true. You just need to be sure that they are like and compatible inhabitants with a foundation based on habitat. Be objective, Jeff. You can have a tank with beautiful fish as long as fish types that would not normally cross paths in each other's territory are in the same confined space. Maybe set up two tanks with two different biotopes. I would love to go into it, but alas, there is a lack of time. I would start looking into writings from Ad Konings to start. In any event, research is the key. There are a great many who have kept these fish before you or I that offer their accounts at various clubs and forums as well as books and websites. What did you think of www.cichlidrecipe.com? I love that site. Good luck -Paul>

A Sweet New Setup > Hi, <Hello! Ryan with you> > My name is Jeff. I am new to the hobby. <Welcome!> I am at work now but came across your website. <Shhhh....I'm at work too.>  I love your articles and reasons behind what you say.  I have visited lots of sites and forums and everyone has different answers.  I gravitate towards your knowledge and I hope you can pass some my way. > I have a 200-gallon tank. Can you help me in setting up the best filter setup? The dimensions are 60ins L x 24 ins W x 30 ins D. > > I was planning on using 2- Ac 500 and a filstar-XP3 .I saw that you said a wet dry or Fluidized sand filter would be better?  What size sump and pump would you recommend? For heating I was going to get either an EBO Jager or Visi-Therm > A rare earth magnet- hammer float for cleaning the glass. > I was looking to set up an under gravel jet system to prevent dead spots. > Two Maxi Jet 1200 for added circulation > I have 80 lbs. of crushed coral. > For decoration I was planning on buying   Lava rock > What would be the right mix of colourful cichlids that will get along in a tank my size; and how many can I put in. > Thanks > <Jeff- Great tank!  200 gallons is the perfect amount of space for cichlids.  It's great to see someone new jump on in, most simply get their feet wet.  Cichlids, while generally very hardy, thrive in good water quality.  I encourage you to select a good beginner's fish.  If you want a monster in your tank, try a Dovii.  As for color, African cichlids stand out.  You could easily house a community of cichlids from Lake Malawi, or go with a few larger fishes.  I am particular to Cyphotilapia frontosa, from the deep waters of Lake Tanganyika.  You could easily house 2-3 females and 1 male.  Recently. I have seen a few bred for even more dynamic colors.  I recommend checking out: http://www.aquatiqterrors.com, a great sounding board for cichlid info. > As for filtration, I've found that a nice size wet/dry in addition to a regular water change schedule is best.  Skip the undergravel filter.  Try a Wet/Dry rated for 250+ gallons, should be rated 750 gph or more.  Combine this with a 10% weekly water change, and you're golden.  Best of luck! Ryan> > Jeff

Sweet new setup pt. 2 Hi Ryan, I forgot to mention. I was offered the following for sale: Steven Taiwan colony (G1) Group of 7(4 inch) $175  <Beautiful!  A wonderful colony of Africans.  Not sure about the pricing in your area, but I would certainly check out internet sellers as well.> Tom Herman Fluidized Bed Fluidized bed, 40 gal sump, Grundfos pump, and all fittings.$550.00 excellent condition and working order. The pump supposedly outputs around 990GPH. I did some research and people were concerned with the sand .  What is your opinion?  <Wet/Dry is a much more simple and debatably effective way of filtration.  Keep it simple, and you'll enjoy it more.  Best of luck! Ryan> Thanks. Jeff

Sandstone? Hey guys...long time no speak. how are ya all ??? <Great! Thanks for asking! Ryan with you> Anyway my question is this, and it's on the subject of rocks and buffering the PH. <OK> Where I live our water straight out the tap is around PH 6.7, I'm planning on having a kind of large rock as a center piece in the tank, and I know Limestone is good as it helps with the buffering slightly.  But I was wondering would it be safe to use Sandstone in a Mbuna tank, I don't know if it would make the water Alkaline, Acidic or worse still toxic...could you assist me please.... <Raymie, it's a bad idea to use large sedimentary rocks in a captive system.  They often fall apart, creating a mess.  It can also create unnatural wear and tear on that hard earned equipment!  Save yourself the headache.  Good luck! Ryan> many thanks Raymie

New Setup- Which filter? CRAIG-FROM CRAIG <Ryan, actually>         Lets hope great names and great minds work well together. <Sure>         I have just purchased a new never set up never drilled 300 48"x48"x30" PLEXIGLAS with built-in overflow box.         I am going to use this show tank for African Cichlids. <Sounds sweet>         I would like to run this system with the support equipment under it in a built in cabinet space. <Sounds good>         What is the most reasonable route to take in order to effectively filter etc without putting me into bankruptcy? <A large wet dry filter shouldn't be too pricey.  May be able to cut costs by building it yourself: http://www.ozreef.org.  For a tank of this size, make sure you get a large sump to accommodate it!  Good luck-Ryan>         Thanks Craig

Cycling freshwater Hello, <Hey! Ryan with you today!> Right now I have a fully cycle and healthy marine tank. <Great> I want to start a new one but for Tanganyika guys. <Sounds fun> May I use some sand, water and filter media to speed up the cycle period? <Better to start fresh, with a clean slate. No magic shortcut here, I'm afraid.  Just give the tank a good substrate such as dolomite or crushed coral (may help naturally buffer pH).  Africans dig, and will need plenty of room to allow for this.  Consider borrowing a handful of substrate from another healthy African tank.> Can the "good" bacteria adapt from saltwater to freshwater? <No, I'm sorry.  Too many potential problems arise.  Just patience and control.> Thanks a lot. <Sure, lots of great info on Africans of all sorts.  Read up!  It'll be a great advantage in the long run.  Until next time, Ryan> Rodrigo.

Tropheus duboisi Hi, Quick question hope you have time to answer: Basically I got six duboisi in a standard 200 litre tank, lots of rocks is that going to work or will I have major problems?<found a link that had a ton of info on this species. http://www.gcca.net/index.htm?content=/fom/Tropheus_duboisi.htm, hope this helps you, IanB>

Re: Cichlids and Live plants Are there any plants other than for swords (ruffled, and chain) that you can keep with these fellas? Africans that is. <Anubias is a good one for African Cichlid tanks. Its a hard, broad leaf plant that they dont chew on much (if any). But no matter what you put in there, they are still probably going to dig it up! *G*> Thanks guys <You're welcome! Ronni>

Re: pH is dropping! I have an 80 gallon tank with African cichlids and have lava rock as hiding places for them.  I measured the ph in the tank and was really surprised to find out that the ph was 6.3 instead of 7.5 to 8.2 and was wondering if the lava rock will lower the ph that much.   <Generally a pH drop like that happens when the water hasnt been changed in a while. The longer a tank runs without water changes, the lower the pH will get. Lava rock shouldnt drop it like that.> I plan on adding Seachem Malawi Victoria buffer to raise the ph but was concerned about ph shock.  The Malawi Africans that are in there are healthy along with some babies and I was also wondering if I should let things go or go ahead and add the above buffer. <Rather than adding a chemical at this point, see if you can gradually bring it up with water changes. Chemical fixes are only going to be short term solutions. But whichever way you go, the pH should be brought up gradually, not all at once. Ronni>

Re: dying Cichlids Help!!!    Now that I started I'm more confused then before.   Anyways heres where I stand now.  I went to the local pet store looking for Cichlids salts.  I was directed to "Kent" AF cichlid chemistry and AF cichlid rift lake trace elements.  On the directions for the cichlid chemistry it said I should test the GH of the water so I bought a GH and KH test kit.  My GH came out to 240 mg/l (ppm) which from what I can figure out is 13.4 dGH.  The container says "using this product, adjust the hardness to desired levels for the type of fish" and it shows for 7Dgh for Malawi.  (Heres a quick recap of my fish I have a 66 gal tank with African cichlids. Currently I have 4 electric blues, 5 red top zebras, and down to 2 nkali, and one unidentified orangish colored fish, and of course 1 Plecostomus. Tank temperature is 79 degrees).  So according to this product my GH is twice what it should be.  Is this correct?  My KH came out to 120mg/l which my test kit says is high.  Unless Im misunderstanding this whole thing I should not add the AF cichlid chemistry. <Nope, these are not the right products. Ive actually never heard of these but I generally dont use the Kent line myself.> Now Im wondering about the AF rift lake trace elements product.  Should I be using this?  It suggests using the other products first then to "use this product weekly to maintain trace mineral levels which can be depleted by fish and plants and by carbon, resin, and pad filtration." <Nope, this isnt it either.> Is any of this what you were referring to when you suggested I buy salt for the cichlids?  Its the only product they had.   <The one I had in mind was Cichlid Lake Salt by Seachem. I know for sure that Drs Foster & Smith carry it because I happen to have one of their catalogs handy but Im sure many other distributors also have it. It should work the best for what you need.> Should I be concerned with lowering my GH and if so how?   <Should be fine but watch to make sure it doesnt go up much when you add salt> There were no other salt related products for Cichlids at all in the store. <Doesnt surprise me. Many stores dont carry this since its more of a specialized item. I wish more of them would, I think it would save a lot of Cichlids in the long run.> Thank you once again for your help <Youre welcome> Ron PS. I bought them bloodworms and they do seem to enjoy them.  pH is back up to 8 after adding the crushed coral. <Great! When you can, try some of the New Life Spectrum Cichlid pellets. They should really like those too.>

Re: African cichlids and salt Hi Crew - what's the deal with 'replicating' rift lake conditions by adding marine salt?  I thought it was getting a rep. as a likely cause of 'Malawi bloat', as it's a totally chemically inappropriate way of raising pH and hardness to desired levels.  If you want to do it cheap, at least use baking soda, but I can't help feeling NaCl is a bad way to go. We have the softest water you can imagine here, but I never here anyone moan about 'bloat' - it only seems to happen to people who are actively 'fighting' it with Instant Ocean or whatever. Cheers, Wayne Oxborough <Greetings Wayne! I fully agree that marine salt is not the best way to replicate the conditions that Cichlids are normally from. Purchasing a specific Rift Lake or Cichlid salt is the best way to go to achieve these results. Marine salt is formulated for a different type of fish completely and regular aquarium salt isnt quite right either as it wont affect the hardness, just the salinity. Baking soda isnt going to give the complete desired result either, it will make your Ph go up but does nothing to replicate the salt content that these fish should have. I do think people are slowly beginning to realize this as the African Cichlids become more popular and as more people buy direct from breeders who give them good advice rather than some of the fish stores who dont carry the right products but want to make a sale anyway. Ronni>

Re: Use of live rock in fresh water? I have set up a 120g reef system with refugium and sump.  I used about 110lb live rock.  I have about 20-25 lb live rock left over, fully cured for a few weeks in salt water.   Ammonia and Nitrite in the water used to cure the live rock are zero.  Can I use it "as is" in an established 55g African Cichlid tank with an aragonite substrate?  Or must I re-cure it in fresh water?   <Putting this into freshwater is going to kill all of the little critters on it and make it just normal rock but if its what you want in your tank you will need to re-cure it with freshwater before adding it to the tank. My suggestion though would be to trade it back in to your LFS and get some plain rock to be used in your Cichlid tank. Youll be able to get a lot more FW rock (or other things you need) for the price of this live rock.> The water in the cichlid tank is weakly salted, not really brackish; I add a tablespoon of sea salt for each weekly 5g water change.   <Just remember that this is gradually going to change your salt content unless the salinity of the new water is the same as the water youre removing.> Cichlids are doing great. <Very good. Cichlids are beautiful fish. Ive been considering starting another Cichlid tank myself. Ronni> Jeffrey M. Zegas

Re: Huge Tilapia Tank Hi, I found your website is very interesting and I have a few problems about fish care that bother me. First, I have a tank that takes 5000 gallon water. How many fish shall I keep in the tank? What is maximum capacity? My fish is tilapia. <Wow, what a tank! Really, the number of Tilapia you can keep will depend on the species. The different ones can range from an adult size of just a couple of inches to over 2 feet. Theres lots of info on them at both www.wetwebmedia.com (use the Google search box) and www.fishbase.org > I have encountered a chlorine toxicity incidence and I'm kind of paranoid to top up the tank up with tap water. As a result, my tank is murky. Is there any solution to this problem? I do remove the fish faeces by the siphoning system but is the dissolved ammonia/nitrate/nitrite (from the faeces) will still contribute to the alkalinity of the water in the tank? Is there any anti-ammonia/nitrite/nitrate treatment e.g. the anti chlorine? <There are no chemical additives that I would recommend; regular water changes are the best. Use bottled or RO water instead of tap water. With that size tank, you will probably be best to buy yourself an RO system, in the long run it will be cheaper than buying the water.> Thank you Shirley <Youre welcome! Ronni>

Re: water chemistry for cichlids Thank-you for the fast reply!  I have been researching all day again .. learning more and more, getting more excited for my new tank.  I have decided I am going to try a Malawi cichlid tank. <Very nice> I have just couple more questions for now. If I set up the tank with the water chemistry listed and assume that the PH once stabilized will be in the 8-8.4 range, what happens when I do water changes weekly with my tap water at a 7.4-7.6 range? <If you store the water, aerate and heat it before use, it will be about the same pH. This is what I would do... if you can get, use a large covered trash can (my fave is Rubbermaid's "Brute") and fill it every week, heat it, circulate with an airstone or better, a powerhead (so you can use it to move the water to your tank), and change no more than about 25% of your water after gravel vacuuming it> Will this affect my fish in terms of PH difference?  Or better stated, how much water percentage wise could I change each week without the PH difference harming my fish? Also, when adding salt to the tank, is there test kits for testing this, how much do you have to add, and how often? <A few approaches here. Yes, you can use a relatively crude hydrometer... or other density or salt-measuring devices, or simply just be diligent about how much you "replace" with water changes by the volume of water changed out. Bob Fenner> Thanks as always!! Jesse

Re: water chemistry for cichlids Hi,   I have a couple of questions on some test values for my water.  I am in the planning phases of purchasing a 110-140 gallon aquarium, and think I might have ideal water for a cichlid tank.  I did some testing last night, and after reading that PH will change from the tap after being dechlorinated and oxygenated, I decided to test the three following:  straight from my tap, my current 10 gallon community setup, and water stored in closed bottles in a closet for one week for the purpose of water changes in my 10 gallon.  Here are the results:           TAP                                                     10 Gal. Aquarium                                                Closet water             GH - 30 degrees                                      GH - 20 degrees                                                  GH - 25    KH - 17 degrees                                      KH - 20 degrees                                                   KH - 17    PH - 7.4                                                 PH - 8.4                                                               PH - 7.6 My questions are as follows:   1.  What makes the PH be so much higher in my current setup? <The aeration of the tapwater, and possibly some higher pH decor, rock, substrate in the system contributing to this> And can I assume that this will also happen in my new setup, therefore benefiting a cichlid tank? <Yes> 2.  Unless I am mistaken (which happens quite often!), as far as hardness and buffering capacity, I would be in excellent shape for cichlids? <Well, depends on the types/species of cichlids. The family includes animals like Discus, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Juraparoids and more that appreciate soft, acidic water...> 3.  Can water be TOO hard for cichlids? <Yes. It's mainly the Malawi and Tanganyika cichlids that require/enjoy very hard water> 4.  If my PH remained the same from tap to new setup at 7.4-7.6, is this ok for Malawi species? <Yes> 5.  What other factors do I need to consider in terms of water chemistry with my test values? <Salt content principally. There are products (my fave, Mardel Labs) that add these salts back into "plain" freshwater> Thank-you so much for all the valuable info your team provides .. I have learned more in the past two weeks about aquatics from this site then I thought I would EVER know! Jesse <Much more to go. Enjoy the learning, sharing. Bob Fenner>

Coral rock for African Cichlid tanks bob I was wondering how long does this coral rock need to cure or if in fact it has to cure at all... <No need to cure... if it's clean, air-dried, just rinse off and place> I washed the rock very good with water but I noticed that my salinity went way up is this normal <No... strange that so much material should go into solution as to change the density of the water. Bob Fenner>

Converting SW to FW (African) Dear Bob, I first have to tell you that I enjoy visiting your site very much - a lot of detailed information is always educational for me. <Thank you for this note> I currently have a 45 Gallon FOWLR tank that is set up for about a year. After realizing that SW is not for me, I am thinking about converting it to Malawi tank. I thought this is a brilliant idea (pat on my shoulder) because right now, I have crushed corals as substrate and live rocks which are all designed to bring up the hardness of water, which Malawians likes. Yes, I am planning to use even the live rocks for my African tank - would this be a problem ?  <Shouldn't be a problem... after cleaning up a bit... perhaps a slight bleach/acid wash to remove most of the biota. See here re a suggested protocol: http://wetwebmedia.com/clnornart.htm>  Some think it's a waste of money, but I think since the water parameter is going to be somewhat similar, the same beneficial bacteria will stay on/in the live rocks even after the conversion. Do you foresee a big problem with this ? <Different microbes... better to sacrifice them in a complete cleaning... other ones will repopulate the nooks and crannies here quick enough> Thank you and best regards, Takeshi Toda <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Water clarity, lighting, UV questions (FW) Robert, I found your name off-line and I wanted to ask you a question in regards to my lighting in my aquarium. I have a 150 gallon tank (standard size) with an assortment of African Cichlids. I'm trying to get some more clarity in my water and I don't know what I should do?  <Mmm, a few approaches, likelihood's here...> I have two large filters running, so I know that that's not the problem.  <Might still be... do you measure parameters of water quality... like accumulation of nitrogenous compounds like nitrates? How about using chemical filtrants? Like periodic use of activated carbon in your filter flow path... this can really help water color, clarity and fish health wise... What about your maintenance procedures. Most African Cichlid systems do best with periodic substantial water changes, gravel vacuuming... What sorts of foods, feeding practices do you employ?...> I have one row of two lights that came with the tank, they aren't performing as well as I would like them to. My local fish supplier said that I should add a row of white lights and a row of blue lights (which would give me my 2:1 ratio of white to blue). <Hmm, "blue lights" like actinics? With Africans?> This would cost me around $250 with the housings if I went that route. Do you recommend any other alternatives? <I would look into either compact fluorescents here or VHO types... much more info. on our site (www.WetWebMedia.com) re these issues and the science behind them. Please read from here and beyond: http://wetwebmedia.com/lightfxtagb.htm Including the sections on Marine Lighting (same technology)> What are the advantages of having a U.V. stabilizer, and what size would be appropriate? <A UV sterilizer? Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marphysf.htm> Thank you for your time. Jon Lugenbill <Thank you for your involvement, sharing. Bob Fenner>

African Cichlid Salt Hi, I really enjoy the site. I use SeaChem's lake rift salt for my cichlids. <Good product> When I make water changes I add the a lot amount on the bottle to the new water. I was wonder through evaporation and the adding of more salt water will I get a unacceptable high salinity in my tank over time? <Yes... only replace/add the amount of product for the volume of water you're replacing... It stays in solution. Bob Fenner>

African Cichlid First off I would like to say I really enjoy the site.  <Ah, glad to find this is so> I have just started (2 weeks now) a 62 gallon cichlid tank with 8 one inch assorted lake M cichlids.  <You're inspiring me to "get on" with writing, placing the huge amount of material/short pieces in the African Cichlid section of WWM...> The ph, and ammonia levels are great. The nitrates are high 25mg/l. Should I make small water changes until this is fixed? <Mmm, maybe... but other approaches would likely be more satisfying, homeostatic (constant) and automatic. Do you intend to culture any plants in this system? Perhaps in a tied-in sump tank with its own lighting?...> will that harm the colony of bacteria I am trying to foster?  <Not likely... at this point... but only experience, trial will tell. I would just wait at this point, be very careful about over-feeding, placing much in the way of livestock.> I know the bacteria changes ammonia to nitrates, but is a water change the only way to get rid of nitrates? <Oh no, assuredly not. Please read through this FAQs section on nitrates. Though on marine systems, the same principles apply: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/no3probfaqs.htm and the links beyond. Bacterial denitrification can be urged on, uptake by plants/algae, export through chemical filtrants, water changes as you state... many possibilities> My tank is also still very cloudy when will this go away.  <A few days to a couple of weeks> I think that this algae cloud may feed off the nitrates. Would a product like cycle help the nitrate situation?  <Yes. But just time going by will accomplish the same ends> If I should make small water changes how often can I do them? After all this water cycle business I have become somewhat interested in it what books do suggest on the subject. <Read this bit on cycling a system as well: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Re: African Cichlid Thanks for the help. I guess I just need more patience's. Do the sell that I at the fish store? <If you and I could bottle such we'd be bizillionaires! Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Protein Skimmers Excuse me Robert, I have a quick question. A person on the message board I talk on asked this question: I have a protein skimmer left over from my saltwater tank, and I was just wondering it would do anything beneficial to my freshwater African setup (kind of a dumb question-but it's collecting dust so I figured why not ask and find out) . It's a SeaClone. I have no idea and would like to know myself! Thanks, John Thompson <Likely a skimmer won't do much in the way of actual foaming here, but still a useful tool for increasing gas exchange, improving Redox... I would try running it if I had it. Bob Fenner> Aquarist Aquariust's Den - http://aquariust.cjb.net The Aquacultured Reef - http://aquaculturedreef.cjb.net

PLEASE HELP ME WITH MY 55 GAL. FISH TANK (African Cichlids) Robert, I have recently purchased a 55 gal. aquarium and need some help on setting it up. At the time I have 4 (2"-3")African Cichlids in a 20 gal. long tank. I am debating on how much filtration I need. What would you recommend if money doesn't matter and what would you recommend if money does matter? <For filtration: Two good sized hang on the back outside power filters... maybe by Tetra, Marineland, Hagen... I would add an airstone, pump, check-valve, tubing for added aeration... For stocking: perhaps a few more complimentary African Cichlids, a Synodontis Catfish... If they'd go, a small grouping of larger African Tetras. The Catfish and some of the Tetras have input about them on WetWebMedia.com> I have read that you can overstock an African Cichlid tank. How many African Cichlids do you think I should keep in my tank?  <Depending on species, six or eight> Should I over stock it?  <Some folks do, hoping the crowding will cut down, cancel aggression... Not to be (too) anthropomorphic, but does this sound like a good idea... for humans? You might be "less aggressive" if crowded together with other people... does this make you happier?> If so, how much extra filtration would I need? I also would like for some of my fish to breed too. Any helpful tips allowing my fish to breed quickly?  <Investigate their specific (species) husbandry in books, through bulletin boards, chatforums on the Net (ours: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/) hobby clubs having to do with cichlids, local cichlid "guru" hobbyists (there are many), national and international cichlid groups for information... Likely lots of rock/hiding spaces, particular hard, alkaline water, frequent water changes, good feeding... almost all will spawn readily in captivity> What is an African Cichlids ripe age to reproduce, or how big do they have to get before they will reproduce? <Depends on species> How often should I clean my tank?  <Once a week is good to wipe down in and out, change some water> What kind of food should I feed them? Will they eat live food?  <Again, depends on species...> Do you now of anyways to help bring out there vibrant colors?  <All I mentioned above> How would you do some aquascaping to this type of tank set-up. Any additional information will greatly help. This is only my second tank I have ever set up. Please respond A/S/A/P Thank you, Chris Develli <Look into buying, borrowing Paul Loiselle's popular "Tetra Books" on African Cichlids... you will greatly enjoy, benefit from their reading. Bob Fenner>

Plant Refugium for African Cichlids 1.) I love the site! <Thank you!> 2). I have a 60 gallon African Cichlid Tank with a trickle filter. I would like to add a tied in sump tank to culture plants (it was suggested once in a previous email from Mr. Fenner). I was thinking about adding 10 gallon plant sump that would feed from and return to my 10 gallon sump water that has been filter and about to be pumped to the main tank. I was wondering: What plant would be easy hardy plants to put in this system (cheap is good too)? <Java Fern, Java Moss, Anubias, and many others. Do check out the Plant Subweb for additional information.> Can I light it 24/7? <No, but could cycle several "days" inside one real 24 hour day to stabilize the tank. You can use 6 hours on, 6 off, 6 on, and 6 off to gain the benefits on nearly 24/7 lighting.> Should I have a substrate and what kind? <Seachem Fluorite is nice.> Will this 10 gallon plant sump materially improve water quality (nitrates)? <Yes> Do you see any problems? <No> Thanks, Rusty <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

African Cichlid Tank I have a African Cichlid tank and two questions. 1. I use Seachem's Lake salt should I use a trace element product too? <I love the Seachem salt for Africans. No need for the trace element stuff, though. You should also be using a buffering compound.> 2. Lighting: Usually, I have the aquarium lights on from 9 to 9 is that to much? <Sounds fine.> Thanks I love the site. <Glad to have been of assistance. -Steven Pro>

Raising the pH Naturally I currently have water that my Mbuna cichlids absolutely love. As a matter of fact I pull it straight out of the tap and do nothing else. It's well water don't ya know. Anyhow, I am moving to city water that is 7.1 as opposed to the 8.2 I enjoy now. Is there a way to raise the ph of the water up to around 8.2 naturally. By that I mean without adding buffer or something to that effect. I understand that between Aragonite Sand and crushed Coral as a substrate I might get it up to around 7.5, but how do I get it up around .6-.8 more? By the way it is a 125 gallon tank.  If it matters I have the following fish. Labidochromis Caeruleus-3 Ps. johanni-2 Ps. demasoni-2 Ps. flavus-2 Ps. polit-2 Ps sp. Msobo-2 Ps. zebra-OB marmalade-5 (I think it is the right species) Maylandia Greshakei-2 Thanks for any help or advice. Charles <The easiest, safest way is going to be with a buffering compound. I like Seachem's buffer and salt for African cichlids. -Steven Pro>

African Cichlids  Bob, <Steven Pro this evening.> I have recently encountered a problem with my cichlid tank. My fish seem to be dying off one by one. There are no parasites that I know of in the tank and the pH is at 7.6. The water temperature stays at 78-80 and the light is left on for around 8-10 hours a day. <Is this tank newer? Have you tested for the presence of ammonia or nitrite?> I talked with local fish stores and they told me to add salt to my tank (20 gallon tank), 1 teaspoon for every gallon. <That is good for cichlids, but a 20 gallon tank is not going to work for these aggressive fish.> I did this and it still didn't work. I have 2 Kenyi's, 2 elec. yellows, 1 Placidachromis Milomo, and 2 Copadichromis Borleyi, 1 Pleco, 1 rainbow shark still alive in the tank. I have lost 3 Kenyi's, 1 Elec yellow. These fish were not all in the tank at the same time. When I would lose one I would add what I lost. I am at a lost for what to do. <I get the feeling this is a relatively new tank, less than six months since you set it up and not cycled completely.> I change the water regularly (once a month) and have good filtration with 2 Millennium 3000 filters. The fish act healthy until the day of death in which the stay at the bottom and go from side to side fighting to stay straight in the water. If you could please help me before I lose all my fish I would greatly appreciate it. My last resort would be to dispose of all fish and start over from start. I hope I don't have to do this. <Please do not add any more fish and see here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwtips4beginners.htm for tips, following on through the linked files for additional enlightenment. -Steven Pro>

pH  I have another question? What is a good ph range for African Cichlids. And what ph do the mostly around <Mmm, most of the ones commonly kept (Mbunas, Haplochromines) hail from the Great Lakes (Tanganyika, Malawi)... prefer high pH (upper sevens are a good bet)... some of the riverine species ("Kribs") prefer more neutral water... If you have some idea of the common and/or scientific names, try plugging them into fishbase.org where you'll find this sort of information for many species. Bob Fenner>

Taking care of Cichlids  Hello, I have two Socolofi, Red Zebra, Bumble Bee, and Kenyi Cichlids; along with one Algae Eater in a two foot tall thirty gallon octagon tank. <This is a very small "world" for these fishes> They are getting along quite fine.  <For now... with growth, troubles here... You and they will want larger quarters... or fighting, damage will ensue> I am new to raising tropical fish. When I got my water tested, the employee said, she has never seen tap water so perfect. <What is "perfect"? For what sorts of livestock? What parameters? Readings?> My questions are as follows: What is an appropriate temperature for them? <Upper seventies Fahrenheit for maintenance> I am worried about cleaning my tank. <Why?> I can't tell the males from the females. <Time to study my friend. Do look into African Cichlid books (perhaps the nice primers by Paul Loiselle and Tetra Press... and use the common names you're familiar with on www.fishbase.org> FYI, I will be doing some more research on these fish because I want to make their time with me enjoyable. <Do so> Thank you and God Bless Ira <Which? Be chatting my new friend. Bob Fenner>

Taking care of Cichlids (I am just making sure this gets to u) The living quarters is small... I talked with two different people who work at pet stores they did not see a problem with the amount I have. <Much to state here. In brief, Malawi Mbuna can be purposely crowded to discount overt aggression... doing so in larger volumes (double or more your thirty gallons) is better by far... and more "regular" shaped systems are preferable... packed with rock with lots of hiding spaces.> One of the workers told me to get as many as I want--I wonder, how much of our conversation he was actually paying attention to.  <You list four species, of at least two of one... in a thirty gallon octagon? I hope/trust they are small now... there will be trouble with their growth> What size tank would you recommend? <At least a sixty gallon for what you list. No less than ten-fifteen gallon per individual> I raised Goldfish for a several years and of course there is a number of differences between them and Tropical fish.  <Agreed> Cleaning wise, with Goldfish, if one chooses, he or she can clean the entire aquarium out. With Tropical fish, it's in portions--correct?  <Mmm, no... both do well with regular water changing, gravel vacuuming... the Africans you can observe almost immediate increase in color, activity from such... with careful observation, the goldfish as well> I should not clean the entire aquarium out, but do an exchange? 50  <Not this much... depending on the quality of your source water, capacity for its pre-treatment, storage, twenty, no more than twenty five percent is a good number to change out on a weekly, bi-weekly basis.> Thanks for your help, Ira <Do look into Cichlid chatforums on the Net... by knowing a bit more your success and enjoyment of the hobby will be greatly amplified. Bob Fenner>

African cichlid tank hey guys, I'm setting up a 90gal. tank at work and am planning a African cichlid biotope. I have two Synodontis cats for starters and have been offered some various Africans (unknown species-haven't seen yet). I've been told to put as many as 30 fish in this tank to spread aggression!  <There is some validity to such an approach... either under or overstocking...> I think this is too much and would like to set the tank up as natural as possible. I have been into saltwater-reef tanks for 10 years and have kind of forgot some of the freshwater basics. How many fish would you suggest for this tank? <Depends on the species in question... Boulengerochromis approaches three feet in length... some "Julis" (Julidochromis) can be stocked at the above density with other smaller, more easygoing species... My advice is to develop and adhere to either a biotope that is "Lake" dependent (you can use fishbase.org to determine where the species in question hail from), OR a size at purchase, ultimate maximum size way of selecting species from the dark continent, OR a combination of the two selection criteria.> Also any suggestions on non-cichlids. thanks for all the help Kevin <Many... if this is a "typical" shaped 90, how about some Characiform fishes from the area for the upper water column? Perhaps some lacustrine Haplos for mid-water? Can you find mastacembelids that are of African origin? How about live plants? Maybe tying together two or more systems with different temperaments, lighting regimens? Bob Fenner>

Africa Cichlid Hello I have a new tank and its 20 gallon. I currently have 14 African Cichlids in my tank is that to many?  <Yeeikes, if not now, it will be soon... there are hundreds of species of African Cichlids... some smaller/larger, easier going/very mean... a twenty gallon tank is likely able to house one or two individuals in the long haul. You need, will need a much larger system> What can I do for cloudy water? <A few things... depending on the cause/s... likely crowding, overfeeding here... but could be inadequate filtration, circulation, unestablished biological cycling. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwtips4beginners.htm and beyond on the WetWebMedia.com freshwater subweb.> Thank you for any help you can give me. Thanks, Barbara <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

African Cichlid Filtration Looking to get a very big tank (300+), but want to get all the pieces in place before ordering (want to get it right rather than wish I'd done something else a week after taking possession of the tank!)........ I've read over much of your site..... nice info!....... I see some conflicting opinions regarding the best filtration, etc. for a large community of Central American Cichlids.... some suggest pond type filtration, some wet/dry, etc...... I guess I really shouldn't have said best as I'm sure there are many viable options, but what do you suggest, specifically? <It's really up to you, what is going to fit into your space, ease of maintenance, that sort of thing.  I would personally go with a tank that had one or two drilled overflows, and overflow them into a wet/dry filter.  You can make your own wet/dry and sump out of an old aquarium, or purchase a new one. > Also, I am a bit confused about the "horizontal overflow" you have spoken of on your site..... please describe..... I am assuming some sort of overflow assembly will be the best way to move water to whatever filtration system I utilize.... would you agree? <Sorry, you have to buy Anthony's book to get that info.  Just kidding.  From what I understand the horizontal overflow that Anthony describes would be used to get more of the "good stuff" at the surface of your water to overflow to your skimmer to provide better skimming.  The idea would work well on a freshwater tank (minus the skimmer), but would have more of an impact if used in a marine system.  There is an excerpt from Anthony's book of coral propagation regarding he horizontal overflow at the link below http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarfaq3.htm There is a ton of information on filtration in our marine section at the link below.  Most of the info can be applied to freshwater as well.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm  > Thanks in advance for your help! It's nice to have a source such as WWM! <Its nice to be able to help.-Gage>

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