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FAQs on African Cichlids

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

Related FAQs: African Cichlid Identification, African Cichlid Selection, African Cichlid Behavior, African Cichlid Compatibility, African Cichlid Systems, African Cichlid Feeding, African Cichlid Reproduction, African Cichlid Disease, & Cichlids of the WorldCichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

"What's the Haps, man?" A pond of Africans

Assisted Living Community Tank     1/9/17
Hope this e-mail finds y'all well. I am setting up a 220g (72"x24"x30") tank at a senior assisted living community that I work at in one of our memory care/activity centers as studies have shown the benefits of aquarium stimulation in seniors with dementia.
<Sure helps me>
The aquarium will house African Cichlids. Equipment on the aquarium will be: two 36" LED lights, two Fluval FX6 canister filters, two 500w titanium heaters with thermostats. First question with equipment, would a Hydor or
two be beneficial or not?
<Hydor is a manufacturer... they make quite a few products. I'll guess you're referring to their in-tank pumps... The answer here is yes; I'd use these>

Second the Lifegard external heater chambers, would they work, any experience with them and are they worth it?
<Mmm; can work... Am not a fan of most Lifegard products... not well engineered or manufactured (my opinion, history); IF you don't need to use external heater holders, I wouldn't. Instead, I'd place two two hundred plus wattage submersibles down near the bottom in the back corners. Folks won't see the cords, and the likelihood of air exposure (w/o turning off) and breaking is minimal>
Moving on. The aquarium will have approximately 200lbs of cichlid sand (white), 100-150lbs of lace rock, stacked in two separate piles one larger than the other (in theory anyways, we all know how much rock work gets moved) set on egg crate and possibly glued, and Black painted background.
The goal is to have as much color and movement as the aquarium would allow with all stated above equipment. Number of fish and direction is where I tap out.
Thank you guys and girls in advance for your response. I am really striving to get this aquarium as right as I can for the benefit of our residents and their families.
<Please send along pix when you're about done Jacob. Bob Fenner>
Re: Assisted Living Community Tank     1/9/17

Wow that was a quick response. Yes the Hydor I am referring to would be the in tank Koralia.
<Oh. Yes>
I will most definitely send pictures upon completion.
Tank was just ordered so another 2-4 weeks for glass and stand/canopy to come in. I've looked at some of the cookie cutter guides and well they just don't go to 220, unless I'm not looking right.
And I don't want to start just doubling, tripling, etc. because I know it doesn't always work that way.
So I guess that's where I'm needing a little more assistance/guidance.
<With what? B>
Re: Assisted Living Community Tank    (RMF, you're the Goldfish expert here!)
<<Two caputs are better than solo! B>>    1/10/17

Well yeah the cookie cutter thing was a different site. Sorry I get quite in depth in research sometimes and get completely lost on where it came from occasionally. Stocking. What African cichlid fish to put in this massive piece of glass to get the most bang for the buck...most color and most movement.
<<Hello Jacob. I will throw some general advice out here. When it comes to situations like retirement homes, hospitals and community centres, some thought has to be given with regard to maintenance. Some weeks the fish "carer" will be away for vacations, or move to another job, or be too busy to check the tank. It's a good idea to plan around the "worst case scenario" so that the fish don't suffer and the tank doesn't look unsightly. So while fish tanks can/do work great in this situation, I'd tend to recommend the tougher species that will tolerate things like high nitrate levels (inevitable in water changes are missed). I'd also choose adaptable species that don't require any particular water chemistry to do well (another thing difficult to manage, especially for beginners). Why mention all of this? Because Mbuna are quite demanding fish, and if the tank is somewhat less than perfectly monitored, what you tend to end up with is the hardier species, often hybridising, and resulting in a rather dull tank of indifferent looking fish. Mbuna need low nitrate and high hardness, so one question is how often will water changes be done? Another is what's your water chemistry, and do you need to add buffering salts to raise hardness? Not saying Mbuna aren't an option, but will stress they're not anything like a zero-maintenance option. So, with all this in mind, what might work nicely? A couple of definite options are cyprinids and characins, both of which tend to be more tolerant of nitrate (and "old" water generally) than Mbuna and other cichlids. On the cyprinid front, don't neglect Goldfish! Big, hardy, colourful, and out-of-the-box interested in human beings, these are true pet fish that provide countless hours of engagement to those sitting in front of the tank. A 200-gallon tank is an amazing volume of water, and would allow, say, 6-8 specimens of top-quality Goldfish to reach a very healthy adult size. The varieties on offer are amazing, personal favourites of mine including the Yellow Goldfish (which looks more like a giant golden barb than anything else) and the classic Black Moor (probably the toughest fancy variety in the trade, easily able to coexist with indoor strains). With 200 gallons Shubunkins really come into their own, their mishmash of colours working really well if kept as a big school on their own. Turning to characins, quite a few of the old favourites are tough as nails. A school of Anostomus anostomus for example is unlike anything else in the hobby, and with 200 gallons you could keep a big group without squabbling, and get to enjoy them differently to those of us who have to keep just one (which is what I have to do!). They get along great with robust catfish as well as active schooling fish like Columbian Tetras or Buenos Aires Tetra that have plenty of colour and movement. Again, a big tank provides space enough for big groups. Both Goldfish and the hardy tetras are adaptable with regard to water chemistry, making them especially easy fish to keep. Just some thoughts, anyway! Cheers, Neale.>>
Re: Assisted Living Community Tank       1/12/17

When it comes to maintenance it pretty much falls on me.
I have kept haps and peacocks before and have done fairly well.
<Cool. While Haplochromines are much less aggressive than Mbuna, they're socially a bit more tricky. Females a bit plain, so while a harem would appeal to an expert fishkeeper intent on breeding, casual hobbyists either get just males (which speaking as a male myself sounds rather frustrating!)
or else pairs, and the females have such a hard time they often die prematurely. Tanganyikans are less sexually dimorphic; Tropheus for example would be an outstanding choice in a really big tank because they're extremely beautiful but also less prone to aggression in large groups. One thing about Tropheus is you basically can't mix them with anything. Partly it's because of the need for large groups. If there's space for another fish... add another Tropheus! But partly it's their diet. They must have virtually only algae-based foods. Easy enough with the right flake food.
But if you add anything else for other types of fish, such as bloodworms or standard pellets, they're prone to bloating. Anyway, Google "Tropheus" to get some idea of the range of colours. Some, like Tropheus Moorii 'Ilangi' are as colourful as any marine fish.>
Have been out of the cichlids since 2005 when hurricane Katrina whipped out my tanks. Water changes will be 35-50% every two weeks. Myself and another employee will be responsible for day to day maintenance of the tank and we
will have a company come in once a month for major maintenance. Two filters will be cleaned alternately with water changes. All the buffering chemicals will be on hand. Everything has built in double redundancy in the tank. Two
filters, two heaters on separate thermostats, two battery backups and the circuit the tank is on is also on a 500kw generator that will run for 5 day as I have kept fish for 15 years and I know about water chemistry and all that fun stuff. I tend to plan for worse case situations and also discuss all the options. I've discussed South Americans and goldfish and Africans is the way the company is wanting to go. I appreciate the very detailed response and I will surely try again.
<Welcome. Neale.>

75?gal freshwater hardscape aquarium. Reading re Af. Cichlids        12/8/15
Hey yall! Always my go-to site when i have questions. :) Ok, so, I've got a question about my current setup that i was hoping you could help me with.
I've got a lake Malawi cichlid tank going, in a 75? Gal tank. (The reason for the ? Is im not entirely sure what gal. Size it is. It was a gift, and i know its taller than my 55&60 gal, so i assume 75.)
<Mmm; there are about 231 cubic inches per gallon.... could measure the three dimensions, multiply, divide by this number.... there are other ways of figuring; by filling multiple times w/ a bucket of known volume;
measuring the delivery rate of a hose and timing the fill....>
I currently have 6 yellow lab cichlids, 3 kenyi cichlids, and 1 electric blue johanni. The problem i have is aggression, mainly the johanni.
<Oh yes; you either need to remove; or add more fish/es. READ here
and the linked files above>
He's gotten to be overly
aggressive and im not sure what should be done to curb it. Alot
<.... no such word>
of people recommend "overstocking", but being I've always been told that's a huge no-no, I'm hesitant to do it and don't know the proper amount.
Water parameters are all good.
<.... of no use>
Ammonia:0 nitrites:0 nitrates:5. I was wanting to get yalls opinion on it, as this is my first cichlid tank.
<Ahh; then LOTS of reading>
I really appreciate it. I've tried to get the johanni and isolate him from the others, but that is one smart fish. Short of draining most of the water and pulling the 60lbs of rock out of the tank, he is impossible to nab.
<Might try trapping; but...>
So any suggestions would be great. P.s, i tried the "cichlid trap" (two liter bottle cut and flipped to make a diy lobster trap.) But, alas, he was still smarter and stayed clear. (Only one who refused to go into it. Caught all my other cichlids though. Lol)
<Drain the tank.... Bob Fenner>
Re: 75?gal freshwater hardscape aquarium.       12/8/15

Just some additional information. The tank is about 5-6 months old. The cichlids are all still juveniles, so i was thinking maybe this could have something to do with sexual maturity?
Or is it a stocking/species issue?
<This too>
I understood that there is general nipping and aggression in a cichlid tank, but he's (the johanni) going all out and chasing pretty much anything that moves.
<Could try adding more of its species.... BobF>

Cichlids        4/1/15
<.... 7.6 Megs of pix...>
Hello, i have had 2 of my cichlids since October 2013. And my green terror for about 3ish months now. The older 2 are a bumblebee
<Not a good idea to mix Mbunas and Neotropical Cichlids... water chemistry or temperament-wise>

and i am unsure exactly what breed the yellow cichlid is. Within the last month my bumblebee and yellow locked mouths for a bit (never had this problem but one other time when i moved them to my bigger tank) and now the yellow stays in his/her hidey spot and my bumblebee is extremely dark 24/7 now.
<What they do: fight for territory, mates>

I have not vented them to see who is a boy and who is a girl. But within the last week besides staying extremely dark most of the time the bumblebee is extremely fat. Is he/she trying to spawn with my yellow cichlid?
The bumblebee seems extremely agitated and continuously biting and chasing my 2 Plecos (also same age) if they are in the front of the tank or near the yellow cichlid. If it is a girl and is full of eggs to lay, if she doesn't get the chance is she gonna be okay?
<Can't say from here... I would move the offendi or give it a time out in a plastic floating colander>
Also, can you help me figure out what Speckles my yellow cichlid is??
<Mmm; a male cross of some sort...>
I will attach pictures. The pictures are a few months old but I will also add a recent picture of Stripes (bumblebee) recent color change. I also apologize that the new picture of Stripes is not the best. My tablet sucks at pictures of the fish. Thank
you immensely for any information and thoughts!!!!
<Am sending this on to Chuck Rambo here for his better input. Bob Fenner.... Goldfish too?>

Re: Cichlids     4/2/15
Thank you!!!! I am sooo appreciative of you responding. I may try to vent them later i just did a water change so they are mad at me. Also i will get my slightly smaller tank reset up to place the terror elsewhere.
<Ah, good. BobF>

Biblio. of Malawi Fishes, over 1,700 citations      1/1/14

Selling value     11/4/13
Was wanting to possibly sell some of my Cichlids. I have not found any definite prices. The ones I am thinking of selling are:
- Metriaclima Lombardoi male; 4-5"
- Pseudotropheus Socolofi male; 3-4"
- Aulonocara Baenschi(?) 1m, 1f; 3-4"
-Melanochromis Paralellus will be selling 40-50 fry when they get about 2" or so, and there is another batch on the way, Female is holding again!
If you can help me with pricing these fish I would really appreciate that!
Thank You very much!
<Mmm, well, you can/could look on sites like Aqua Bid for input re going rates... I will tell you that pricing for African Cichlids is highly variable... time and region wise. Better to try a wide audience; maybe Craig's List, eBay... rather than the LFS, fish clubs directly... Any of these might go for a few dollars to no-takers. Bob Fenner>

Our mixed tank. Af. cichlids, gen.     6/18/12
Well my fiancé and I are fairly new to having cichlids but I have done a lot of reading up on them and still have so many questions. They are in a 50 gallon tank lots of hiding spots (clay pots and caves). Most of them are African except one or two, which I have heard is uncommon (We had purchased them early in our hobby). They have gotten along fine now for months so I believe they are okay.
<Time will tell... the family of fishes can be very "feisty">
 I know we have two spotted jewels (one is red the other is a Pearl color), two peacocks, three Kenyi's (one blue and the other two yellow) , and one dwarf pulcher I believe. Then in a separate 30 gallon tank I have two black convicts (1 male 1 female) that are getting along great (already have eggs). First off my fiancĂ© put red lava rocks in our tank and I am against it because I'm worried they are to sharp to have with our fish. Is this something I should insist he take out.
<Yes I would>
Second, one of our yellow Kenyi has had an increased darkness is the stripes and face what could this be?
<Maturing; natural behavior>
 The Kenyi had some eggs laying on one of the pots but now they are gone. What could have happened to them?
<The same>
  I have seen some pictures of rainbow colored cichlids and I'm really looking for something that color that we could add to our tank, any suggestions.
<In this volume? Maybe a very aware catfish... no more cichlids. Do read
here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afcichcompfaq2.htm
 Our fish now are mostly friendly for cichlids I suppose, every time we add new fish they just check the new Guy out a little but I feel they aren't too aggressive.
About how many fish could our 50 gallon keep?
<About what you have already>
Also does the white spot on the bottom fin always mean it's a male?
<Are "egg dummies"... see WWM re African Cichlid Reproduction>
 How can I tell the difference of gender?
<And re this as well>
Thank you for your time!
<Learn to use the site please. Bob Fenner>

Red Empress, sys.    9/9/09
Hi there, I was curious as to the tank requirements for a Red Empress.
<Protomelas taeniolatus>
I have a 30 gallon that I have previously used for cichlids and was wondering if it would be large enough.
<Not a chance. Adults are up to 15 cm/6 inches in length, and the males are aggressive towards each other (and not exactly gentle around the females).
They're open water fish that like swimming space. Given these characteristics, you'd be hard pressed keeping them in even a 75 gallon tank, let along a 30 gallon one. On the other hand, it's a stunning fish,
and in 150-200 gallon tanks, a harem would look superb. It's hard to pick Malawians for 30 gallon tanks, and to be honest, with smaller tanks like these, I tend to point people towards Tanganyikans instead. Not only are there more smaller varieties, among the Lamprologines especially, but they're also somewhat less aggressive. The flip side of course is that Tanganyikans tend to be less colourful, though some are very pretty fish in their own way.>
I like to do my research before taking in animals and I want them to have the proper habitats, and that is why I am so thankful that you guys at WWM give such good advice!
<Thank you.>
Thank you so much in advance! Lena
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Red Empress, Af. cichlid comp.  9/10/09

Hi there, and thank you so much for the info!
<You're welcome.>
Like I said, I always rely on your advice! But I do have another question.
I have another 30 gallon with one male Haplochromis (Pundamilia) nyererei and I was wondering if it would be possible to get another of the same species and gender in the tank.
<Almost certainly not. It is an aggressive species.>
I know that our boy is extremely aggressive (killed the rest of the fish in the tank!) so I was hoping that to put another of the same aggression level in there with him would work out.
<Doesn't work this way. The misconception aquarists often have is that if you have two fish of equal aggression levels, they would realise this, and simply shake hands (fins) and coexist. Unfortunately nature doesn't work this way. The territory holder has the advantage for a start, and if there were any differences in size, the smaller fish would be harassed, likely killed, if it couldn't escape. Males are brightly coloured, making them vulnerable to predators, so are genetically programmed to do everything they can to secure a mating. For all your fish knows, he's the dominant fish in this particular spot, and a female could swim by any moment. He'll be damned before he lets another male share his territory. Simple as that.>
I think that this species is the most beautiful and would like to have another, but I am unsure if they are too territorial or simply too aggressive to have with other fish.
<Not an easy species; Pundamilia nyererei is one species known for hyperdominance, males becoming extremely aggressive, to the degree they kill anything kept with them that they consider even a remote threat. Your main problem is really that you're working with small tanks where bigger tanks are required. Let's be crystal clear: 30 gallon tanks have almost no value in Malawi cichlid keeping. Even a 55 gallon system isn't of much use beyond keeping a single harem of one male and five or more females (smaller harems rarely work well, let alone pairs). To keep multiple species well, and certainly to keep the more aggressive fish like yours, you need to be after 100, 150, 200 gallon systems. I wish it weren't so, but it is, and that's that. I don't have that kind of space; ergo, I don't keep Malawi cichlids!>
If it would not work out with another of this species, what other fish would be suitable?
<Nothing much. Even a Plec would likely spend all its time hiding.>
Or is the tank only large enough for our Haplochromis (Pundamilia) nyererei friend?
<Essentially, yes.>
Thank you again, and I look forward to hearing back from you! Lena <Sorry can't offer anything more positive to say. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Red Empress 9/10/09

Thanks again!
<Happy to help.>
I suppose I will be keeping just this fish then.
<I guess.>
I did not know to much about it when I got it, well, the breeder told me a bunch of info, but it was all wrong. So now I can only have this one fish in my tank?
<I expect so.>
Will he be alright in the 30 gallon by himself?
Well, I actually have a Pictus catfish in there too, and they seem to get along just fine.
<Hmm... this catfish requires completely different water chemistry, and is also a schooling species to boot, so not a textbook combination.>
Like I said, I think he is just beautiful and I do not want to have to rehome him, as much as I like the look of a multi fish set up, it is not worth it to me if I cannot have the fish that I love so dearly.
<You can have a multi-fish set up, but just not in 30 gallons. Pundamilia spp. can be kept in harems in 55 gallon tanks upwards, and in bigger tanks, mixing them with a second genus of fish that looks entirely different would be a possibility. The art is in avoiding anything too similar (same genus or similar colours) so that males of each species don't view one another as threats. With cichlids where the males are prone to becoming hyperdominant, making careful choices is very important.>
Thanks, Lena.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Red Empress 9/10/09

Hi and thanks once more. I just have one last question about my cichlid; what is the average lifespan? Just wondering because I know that Oscars live for a long time, I am hoping that my Haplochromis (Pundamilia)
nyererei will live a good long life as well! Lena
<These medium-sized cichlids should live between 5-10 years, possibly longer under good conditions. Cheers, Neale.>

MCH Portal launching   09/28/08
Dear all,
Those of you who have been reading Malawi Cichlid Homepage ( www.malawicichlidhomepage.com ) will know that we have not been doing the regular monthly updates for a while due to serious technical problems. We have now relocated and restructured the site to allow for much better functionality. Our new address is www.mchportal.com. Today is our "official" launch of the new site. As of now we will continue, as scheduled with our monthly updates.
Please take a minute to come and see the site and tell us what you think about it.
For a list of this month's updates click on this link : http://www.mchportal.com/mch-updates-mainmenu-30/1-latest/6-update-30-september-2008.html .
Thank you.-- George J. Reclos Ph.D.

Madagascar export  11/13/07 Greetings: I currently have a license from the US Fish and Wildlife to import fresh water fish and I really want to import native Madagascar cichlids and/or rainbows for personal collection. I know of an excellent aquarist in Madagascar but have no exporter. Do you know of anybody interested on exporting fish from Madagascar? Regards Jose Gonzalez <Will post your note. I would contact Paul Loiselle... is he still with the New York Aquarium? As he has the most extensive experience here... and I'll send this to our own cichlid expert, Chuck Rambo for further input. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Care of suspected zebra cichlid, Blue Cichlid Problems 8/28/07 Hey there.. this is going to be a long one :) We used to have a lot of fish when I was growing up, guppies, mollies, gouramis and a lone goldfish, I think, but we gave them away eventually, along with our tank. I recently decided to get the aquarium going again and now have a small tank installed with smooth glass pebbles at the bottom and a couple of shells at each end serving as hiding spots. There is an aquarium shop close by, and since they didn't stock guppies, I asked about a tiny blue fish I spotted in one of the tanks along with Angels. The shop guy told me it was a 'Blue Mafe' (sic) and spelled the name out for me. He said that the only problem with the fish was that it would attack any other species of fish in the tank and should only be kept with its own kind. I went home and looked up 'Mafe' on Google and Wikipedia, but after a few days of searching I am now convinced that he actually meant "Blue Morph". I am fairly certain now that it's a cichlid, given its body shape and aggressiveness. The fish is just less than an inch long and a pale blue in colour, with dark vertical stripes that sometimes disappear entirely. (for reference, I found this picture that looks very much like it, except that the fins aren't yellowish like they appear here, they're white with iridescent blue http://badmanstropicalfish.com/mb_pictures/Pseudotropheus_zebra.jpg ) When I went back to the shop they gave me the one I pointed out as well as another just like it that was in the molly tank, and I was assured that the size of tank that I had should be sufficient for them, however on the day I brought the pair home, one eventually died in a few hours, I am guessing from the stress, since it was constantly bullied by the other one and not allowed into the lower levels of the tank. I found it lying at the bottom of the tank finally, so I took it out and changed the water. The other one seems to feel secure under its shells, where it darts the moment there is any sudden movement in the room. It was a bit disheartening to have one of the fish die, so I read up some more about cichlids and learn that they ought to be kept in groups as opposed to very small numbers in order to tone down the aggression. After my experience with these fish I also believe that I need a much larger tank even for these tiny fish, though I think they're supposed to grow to a few inches in length. However I doubt I will be able to get a bigger tank for a few weeks since an impending house-shift has been suddenly preponed. I would like your advice on whether I ought to return this fish to the aquarium and get new ones when we shift, or if I can maintain Morph in the temporary tank for a few weeks more, and what I can do to make it more comfortable where it is in the meanwhile. The tank I have right now will probably hold only half a gallon of water. I know this looks ridiculously tiny compared to the advised tank-sizes I've seen on the net, but so far there doesn't seem to be an oxygen deficiency problem (have had it a few days) since the tank is fairly shallow, as well as that I'm recycling about 1/3 of the water every couple of days. Is this too often? How do I make out if it's getting stressed? Also, will he/she get too lonely if kept alone for a while? (like I said, a few weeks before we're settled in) The tank bottom has a lot of different sized smooth glass pebbles and the two shells I mentioned, which the fish seems particularly to like. Should I put a few more large pebbles to provide cover, since Morph seems to be a bit timid all of a sudden, though if I sit motionless for about five minutes he/she comes out and gets very agitated, going up, down and side to side very rapidly along the tank wall and I get the impression it's probably trying to chase me off :P Also, as far as I can make out, it hasn't eaten any of the food pellets I put in. I finally removed them from the surface since I didn't want them decomposing. I tried powdering one of the pellets and sprinkling some (when Morph wasn't running for cover) but spat it out after sampling a bit. What does it eat?? I don't really want to keep the morph if I can't take care of it for the next few weeks, but if it is possible to keep it reasonably comfortable for a short while, given the current tank, I would like to do so, and would appreciate your advice. I'd also like to know.. what do the colour changes mean? Does the appearance of the stripes mean it's relaxed or stressed? And.. how do I tell if it's a he or a she? I don't see any egg spots but would they appear as the fish grows up? Thank you so much for reading through this. -Archana < It sounds like you have an Mbuna species from Lake Malawi. There are over a thousand species with geographic variants to add to the confusion. These fish are fast aggressive cichlids that feed on algae off the rocks. They like hard alkaline water. These fish are very territorial. In the wild the bigger the territory the more algae is available for them to feed on. Fish communicate by changing their color patterns and by displaying their fins. Bright bold colors with erect fins usually mean aggressive behaviour. A dull fish with clamped fins is trying to hide and not be seen. I would advise that you turn the fish back in and wait until you are set up for what ever fish you really want to get. If you do decide on cichlids then I would recommend a book by Ad Konings called "Enjoying Cichlid". It is a great book an covers most of the types you will find in stores.-Chuck>

African Cichlid Questions... ID, gen. care   7/13/07 Hey, I love your site; it has gotten me through many rough spots. I have three African Cichlids (at least that is what Wal-Mart said) in a 10 gallon tank. I have had them between 5 and 8 months (depending on the fish). While I was at school they were with other cichlids in a 20 gallon tank, but with the summer I bought them a tank of my own. They are three different species of fish, but I don't know what they are (remember Wal-mart fish). I promise I will not send any future babies to a pet store because of cross-breeding, but I have a few questions. 1) What kind of cichlids are they? < The usual African cichlids sold at Wal-Mart are usually cichlids from Lake Malawi in Africa. They are usually the rock dwelling cichlids called mbuna.. > Where are they from? < Initially from Lake Malawi but they are very easy to breed and currently are probably from a fish farm in Florida.> How large will they get? < Usually around 4 inches depending on the species.> One is a bright yellow, about 2 1/2 inches at the moment, with a stripe on its dorsal fin that was black when I got him but is grey right now. He is the smallest of the fish, but I think he is the oldest. < Probably a Labidochromis caeruleus or "yellow lab" from Lion's Cove.> The second is light blue and about three inches long. She or he can get as light as almost white with a very light blue color to a darker sky blue color and for spots on the anal fin. This fish likes to dig tunnels in the rocks under the hiding spot. < Probably a Ps. zebra or "cobalt blue".> The third is the largest at 4 inches the last time I measured him, maybe a month ago. When I bought him he was a yellow gold with large black spots. Sometimes his spots are so large and dark that you almost can't see that they have any color around them. Right now the spots are so faded that he looks gold. The spots are almost not visible. I will try to attach pictures, but I don't know if it will work. < Sounds like a Nimbochromis venustus. A large predatory cichlid.> 2) Is my tank large enough or do I need to invest in a larger one? <A ten gallon tank is too small for this group of fish. The yellow lab with get a little over four inches. The cobalt blue will get up to 4 to 5 inches. The venustus will be the biggest one at about eight inches but could get up to a foot if it is a male. Think about a 40 to 55 gallon if you intend to grow these fish to adult size.> I went for ten gallon because of finances and space in a dorm room. I do have space for a larger one if I need it. 3) Moving back and forth from college frequently is difficult. What is the best way to transport my fish? Thanks a ton! Melissa < Get large plastic bags from the fish store for each of the fish. Don't feed the fish at least a day before the move. Place just enough water in the bag to make up about 1/3 of the bag. Leave the rest for air. Place one fish in each bag. Twist the end of the bag and secure with a rubber band. Place the second bag over the first bag in the opposite direction to pinch off the corners of the bag. Rubber band the second bag. Place the bags in an insolated ice chest. Should be good for 24 hours. If the move is going to be longer then you need to use oxygen from a fish store. Then the bags will be good for up to 48-72 hours or longer.-Chuck>

Keeping Ps. acei   3/27/07 Hello, I am soon getting a 29 or 30 gallon tank I plan to have an under gravel filter and a regular filter (don't know what brand or type yet). I would like to get Acei (name at pet store) cichlids I went online to see if that was the real name and it was, I didn't do much research so I was hoping you could tell me a little about them ( water qualities, how many I can put in the tank, etc.) Mainly I would like to know about breeding them, are they mouth brooders or cave spawners? Any information you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Veronica < This is a very interesting cichlid from Lake Malawi. It likes hard alkaline water at about 77 F. In the wild it eats algae off of driftwood, so it needs a diet high in Spirulina algae. They are not very aggressive as far as Lake Malawi cichlids go. You could peacefully keep six or eight in your tank as long as it is well filtered and you do regular water changes. They are maternal mouthbrooders with females holding eggs and fry fro up to a couple of weeks. If the adults are well fed they may not go after the fry.-Chuck>

Metriaclima lombardoi Maylandia, NNS   12/28/06 hi, I have 3 Metriaclima lombardoi Maylandia. don't know the sex so far. <You will. Please see here: http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=2374&genusname=Pseudotropheus&speciesname=lombardoi> what should be the salinity of the water? <Mmm, some people add "salts" made to mimic the make-up of Lake Malawi... if your water is "naturally" hard, alkaline... I would just keep up a routine of frequent partial water changes> anything specific that I should feed them? Vishal <Possibly... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afcichfdgfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Coloring up African Cichlids in Captivity   11/26/07 Hi, what can I do to enable the color to come back on my African  cichlids?   <Mmm... a few direct things... species compatibility, numbers of genders selected, providing suitable water quality, frequent partial water changes, good nutrition> I purposely only purchased one cichlid in each genus so I  wouldn't run into this problem. <Mmm, this won't do it>   But it seems a lot of my cichlids are  losing color in my 80gal tank.  I thought only cichlids in the same genus  lose their color?  Any pointers? Thanks, Josie <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afrcichlids.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

A Colorful African Cichlid Tank or Marine Tank  - 11/10/06 OK thanks chuck.  Why is it difficult to put more than one male "open water" species in that tank? <Males guard open spaces as territory to spawn. Males will fight because they can basically see each other.>   Seems like it's really difficult to maintain color in an African cichlid tank.  No matter how hard I try, there's always a stipulation when it comes down to keeping your African tank colorful. Please tell me Chuck.  I'm going to break it down real quick.  I want color, activity (fish always on the move), and variety.  Can I accomplish this with Africans?  Or should I just go with saltwater?  Seems, the way it's going at this point in time, there are WAY too many obstacles to overcome.  Now with you knowing exactly what Im trying to accomplish, do you think Africans are the right choice for me?  Or marine?  If I can find a way to have those three things without having a mess of a tank with harsh aggression, then I'd like to stay with it. Thanks   < The cichlid tank can give you color and activity. The salt water tank will give you much more diversity in the body shape and color patterns of the fish. You won't have the same fish density in a cichlid tank but you won't have to worry about reproduction for the most part. The cichlid tank would be cheaper and easier to maintain. The cichlids would still try to breed even if you one had one sex in the tank. This would cause aggression to some extent. Cichlids all have pretty much the same body shape. I could do it with a cichlid tank because that is what I know best. I know the fish and know where to get them. I haven't kept a saltwater tank so I really can't compare the two as to which one would be easier to set up and maintain. Both would look nice but my standards may not be the same as yours.-Chuck>

Lake Malawi Cichlid Questions   - 04/27/06 Hi, my mom bought 5 Cichlids from Lake Mbuna. <These fish are actually from Lake Malawi. Mbuna is the native term used to describe the rock dwelling cichlids.> She keeps them in a 10 gallon. < Waaaaaaaay too Small.  Should be in a 30 at least.> I know that that is NOT a good setup, and she now knows that too. < So when are you going to change it?.> She has/had one 3" (male?) Blue Cobalt, one 2" female Kenyi, one 1 1/2" (Male?) Yellow Lab, one 2 1/2" (male) Gold Mbuna, and one 2" (male? female?) Red Zebra. Bad mix, right? <The mix is OK in the proper set up. A 30 to 55 gallon tank with lots of rock work would work out just fine.> Apparently so. The Blue Cobalt and the Kenyi get along great, but the G. Mbuna has decided that even though the B. Cobalt is bigger than him, he's the boss. So, the Red Zebra and the Yellow Lab were miserable. I removed them, before they were seriously mauled, and, about 4 days ago, put them in my 30 gallon with my Peacock Eel, 7 Zebra Danios, and 2 Gold Dojo Loaches. Well, I wondered why my Loaches were hanging out on high plants so much. I got to looking 2 days ago, and found that Cody's (smaller loach) front fins were nearly gone. So I wasted no time putting the Red Zebra back in the old tank. (I know it was him because the Yellow Lab is petrified of everything moving.) Anyway, the Red Zebra was nearly dead 2 hours later when I checked on him. So I hurriedly set up a 10 gallon hospital tank with an extra heater, filter and airstone. I put him in there, and added some MelaFix and a teaspoon of salt per 2 gallons. He wasn't getting any better, and in fact, was getting a thick slime on his lower body. This morning I remembered I had some Maracyn and added that. Now he's doing WAY better. No more slime, and he's much more lively and he's eating. If he recovers, can he stay in the 10 gallon by himself? < Eventually he will get up to 4 inches long. Pretty small set up for a 4 inch fish.> He was very lively in the 30 gallon, and we became very attached to each other. I really like this little guy. (guy, girl, I don't know which...) Can he have any other tankmates, or does he need to be alone? < Lake Malawi cichlids actually do better when they are very crowded but proper filtration and water changes are required to make this work.> Oh, and about Mom's tank, it now has the Gold Mbuna, the Blue Cobalt, the Kenyi, and a Rhino Pleco, who is more aggressive than any Pleco I've ever met. (Not very aggressive, but if they nip at him, he becomes the killer mutant Pleco) Is that too much? < All these fish get to be at least 4 inches. Swap them out for fish that are smaller and less aggressive.> They seem to be okay, except for the G. Mbuna. He won't let anyone else come anywhere out of their half of the tank. Thank you so much for your help, Zhara Zorgon PS: The Red Zebra's name is Nemo. Mom named him. :) < Do a Google search on the WWM website for Lake Malawi or mbuna for more FAQ's about these fish.-Chuck>

Starting A Lake Malawi Cichlid Tank   2/26/06 Hello, I've been researching Lake Malawi Cichlids, and I have a few questions that remain unanswered.  It's my understanding that a crowded tank works  best.   Once the tank is cycled, what is the best method for initial  stocking?  Clearly you can't put them all in at once.  Further, I have  seen it written that when introducing a new species to an established tank that  you should re-arrange the tank--but as I slowly stock a tank, I don't exactly  want to be doing this every other week--any advice on stocking a new cichlid  tank?  I'm tired of buying books only to not find this info! Thanks, Katie < Buy small immature fish under two inches to stock your tank. Make sure they are all pretty close to the same size. Over that size they begin to get very territorial because they are old enough to breed, then you need to do the rock thing. Cool down the water temp to the mid 70's to slow down their metabolism. For long term stability try and buy fish that do not resemble each other. Check out a book called "Enjoying Cichlids" by Ad Konings at CichlidPress.com-Chuck>

New (African Cichlid) Fish  1/1/06 We have recently purchased two new fish for our aquarium, but can't seem to find much of any information on them.  I am hoping that you may be able to help us to find out more about these fish.  They are Pseudotropheus Socolofi Albino's. (Snow white socolofi).  Any information that you can provide for us would be much appreciated.  Thank you. >> You do not need to look up Pseudotropheus socolofi, really any Pseudotropheus will be good. You can find basic information here: http://www.thetropicaltank.co.uk/Fishindx/socolofi.htm a great place  to get cichlid info is here: http://www.cichlidae.com/ Good Luck, Oliver

Eating Tilapia Re: the Q&A below, I have to say...a big, mean Tilapia is quite delicious :-)Mel < The fish that are often listed in fish markets as a food fish are Saratharadon mossambicus. They are pond raised in geothermal springs in Utah. Never heard of  T. butikoferi as a food fish.-Chuck> Adding a Tilapia butikoferi with Oscars  12/16/05 Just a couple of things really. Firstly, great site and keep up the good work! < Thanks> Could you please tell me what the hell a Tilapia butikoferi is and find me a picture and/or any information on it as it's not on Fishbase.org nor can I find it anywhere else using Google etc. <snip> < The tilapia gets bigger and meaner that the Oscars. As long as they are all the same size then they might get along. The tilapia will dominate the tank.> <snip> < Many books say that the tilapia butikoferi only gets to about 10 inches, but I have personally seen some in the Midwest close to 18 inches. A big mean fish is hard to get rid of.-Chuck>

New to Freshwater, Cichlids 7/23/05 Hi there,     After doing months of "homework", I finally  purchased a 55 gal (4' W x 1' L) aquarium/stand setup and in a few weeks, once my  water (well water) is ready, I will be purchasing African Cichlids.  I  have been working with a family owned pet store and they have been very helpful  with answering my questions but I have also spent hours reading your site and I  thought it might be a good idea to get some info from you as well (that is if  you don't mind). <Not at all. Good to have multiple inputs, different points of view>     Some other items that I have purchased are a  300 gph AquaClear Power Filter with BioMax CycleGuard, AquaClear Filter Insert  Ammonia remover, Acura 1000 Automatic Aquarium Heater, Cycle, Kent A F Cichlid  Chemistry, Kent Cichlid Essential Mineral Supplement, Tap Water  Conditioner, Freshwater Master Test Kit for pH/High Range pH/Ammonia/Nitrite/  and Nitrate.  I know that the best #'s are the following: Ammonia and  Nitrites should be 0, Nitrates < 25 PPM, and Temp should be about 80.  Can you tell me if there is anything on my list that I should  not use or if I should use additional items to maximize the water quality for my  fish?   <Mmm, you might want a bit of redundancy in your power filtration... that is, to add another device... hang on likely> The store clerk recommended doing a 25% H2O change be done every 3  weeks while cleaning the filter 3 days before or after water change. <Mmm, I change about this much water on my African cichlids every week (they really like hard, alkaline... and "new" water)... I encourage you to do the same... and with two power filters to change just one each time... to preserve biological filtration capacity> I  told him that I was planning on changing the water 25% once a week but he  insisted that would be too much, is this correct? <Mmm, not IME/O>     My second concern is that when I visited the store  today, I noticed some of the Cichlids had an orangish stringy substance about  2" in length hanging from the underbelly.  When I asked the clerk about  this he told me it is part of their birth canal, but I was a bit suspicious  about his answer since I have and plan to continue investing a lot of money into  my aquarium, I don't want to risk bringing home sick fish.  Can you tell me  if he was correct in his answer or bending the truth? <... not part of the birth canal... Perhaps just waste product... but they might want to offer better foods...>     I was also told that no other species of fish could  share an aquarium with African Cichlids but I would like your opinion on this as  I would like to add a few different species to add to the ambiance of the  aquarium.  I have noticed that some of the posts on your  site. included different types of fish sharing homes with Cichlids. <There are other "rough and tumble" species that either come from the same lakes, or have similar "outgoing" temperaments, that mix with African Cichlids>     Finally, I have also read on the q&a site that  there are different recommendations on how many fish should be cohabiting  in a specific size tank, I am thinking about starting with the 1" fish or the 3"  fish, how many would you recommend in a 55 gallon tank?  The book I bought  "The Guide to Owning Malawi Cichlids" by David E. Boruchowitz recommends  crowding them makes them less territorial and some of the WWM crew have said  that some peoples tanks are way overstocked, what would be the best thing for my  fish. Your help is greatly appreciated, Bobbi <Almost always better to understock... if there are too many fishes, and "something" goes wrong (which happens eventually to all), there can be real trouble, stress... for them and you! Best to buy small individuals (an inch or two in length) of whatever species you're interested in and have them grow up together. Bob Fenner>

An Offer of Help Hey crew! I was wondering if you guys have visited Duboisi.com. Well, on there they have a tank profile every month. Mostly all Tanganyikan Cichlids. I think it is a great site, although I would love to see something like that with marine tanks of all sorts. Reef, as well as predator tanks. I think it could be a great addition as I really enjoy seeing other people creations. I realize you all have enough on your plates, so if you'd need any help, I would love to volunteer my time. Let me know what you think. <Will cc ScottF and AdamC here re... think they've already added such a component to our "Conscientious Aquarist" online zine. Bob Fenner>

Juvenile Malawi's Hi, <Hello> I just have a quick question I hope you can answer.  I have recently started a Malawi tank and was able to find someone locally who breeds some fish from this lake. <Neat>   I picked out the following F1 juveniles;  5 Metriaclima estherae (1 blue male, 4 females), 3 Labeotropheus trewavasae (1 male hopefully - he is starting to get the orange top - and 2 females).  The estherae's are all about 1 inch and the trewavasae's are about 1.5 inches with both males a little bigger.  My question is when will the female estherae's start to turn orange and if the trewavasae is a male when will he start to get his blue as they are all colorless right now. <Likely within a month, two> I can't find any info about how fast they grow or how long it takes to reach maturity and this is my first time with cichlids this small as all at the LFS are bigger and have their colors already. <Mmm, well, you can/could "speed things up" with frequent feeding, partial water changes... a bit high temperature... But better to take your time here... your animals will live longer, better lives for it.> I also have 6 Aulonocara st. (cobue) on hold from this guy and won't be ready to bring home for another few months and just wondering the same question as with the others. <These "Peacock's" grow more slowly, color up later... likely a few months for them> The cobue's will have a separate tank from the others as I am hoping to witness all of these fish breed at some point. Thanks <They likely will. Bob Fenner>

Questions about Cyphotilapia frontosa Hello, Did a search on the Frontosa, but not much info out there. Was wondering if I could get help in correct care for these fish.  I have 2 fish, approx 3"/4" long in a 100 gallon tank. Tank temp is 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Tank is filtered by two Emperor 400 gal/hr bio filters.  They are the only fish in the tank except for some feeder mosquito fish which they seem to be ignoring.  What would be the correct feeding for these fish? Any other info would be most appreciated. < Your Cyphotilapia frontosa are found all over Lake Tanganyika. They are primarily found in deep water. The water should be hard and alkaline. Your filtration is fine. They get up to 35cm. There are many different geographic variants so you should not mix Frontosas from different areas. One male to two or three females is best. In your tank you could probably have a group of up to 6 fish. In they wild they eat sleeping cichlids at night, so they will never chase your feeders. They like shrimp and worms when they are small but will accept pellets and flake foods too.-Chuck>  Thanks, FrankF  African Cichlid Omnibus Hi, and thanks for the great site. I am preparing to set up a new tank. It is a 72" x 24" x 30" that I will be using primarily for African Cichlids. I have read so many conflicting articles and I'd like to set this up right from the start. 1. what is the absolute best filtration system/s I can use. Should I use wet/dry, add refugium? supplement with mechanical? < The best filter is the one that you are able to service quickly and easily. I prefer hang on the back power filters such as the Emperor series from Marine land. Two emperor 400's will pump up to 800 gallons per hour. The bio wheels will provide plenty of biological filtration> 2. what kind of substrate? < If you plan on keeping Mbuna then they really don't require that much sand. An inch or so of well washed sand should be plenty.> You could use crushed coral if you live in an area where the water is soft. Many people find it too bright and it washes out the colors of the fish.> 3. What is a recommended model of each of these? 4. What about fluidized bed filters? I have read that they keep down nitrates? Is this true? < Fluidized beds work pretty well as long as the power is consistent. The bacteria live on the outside of each of the beads. AS the water is pumped over them they do a good job of converting ammonia and nitrites to nitrates. If they are working properly they should be generating lots of nitrates from the fish waste. That is what you want to happen.> 5. What size pump for the wet/dry? < At least one that will pump 500 gallons per hour.> 6. I have several fish I will be transferring from other tanks and I'd like your opinion on how many I could add. I have a giraffe catfish, < This catfish will eventually get too big.> 3 jewel cichlids, < Although these do indeed come from Africa they are not rift lake cichlids and would not be able to compete for long with the others.> 2 bumblebee cichlids, < Pseudotropheus crabo is one of the larger Mbuna from lake Malawi and may turn very dark as it gets older.> 1 electric blue, < Only the males color up. Females stay a silvery gray color. The males may not color up unless there are a couple of females in the tank.> 3 elec. yellow. < These fish are relatively peaceful for Mbuna.> I would like to add some peacocks to this mix, and maybe some red zebras. < Red zebras and peacocks would go well in this tank. Look for a book by Ad Koning called " Enjoying Cichlids:. There is lots of good information about cichlids that will help you.-Chuck> Please advise, thanks, Jim G.

Re: new set up >Hi, and thanks for the great site. I am preparing to set up a new >tank. It is a 72" x 24" x 30" that I will be using primarily for >African Cichlids.  >I have read so many conflicting articles and I'd like to set this up >right from the start.  >1. what is the absolute best filtration system/s I can use. Should I >use wet/dry, add refugium? supplement with mechanical? >< The best filter is the one that you are able to service quickly >and easily. I prefer hang on the back power filters such as the >Emperor series from Marineland. Two emperor 400's will pump up to >800 gallons per hour. The bio wheels will provide plenty of >biological filtration> Q1: Is this option better than using a wet/dry with additional mechanical like an Eheim? I am looking for the best system, and am willing to put some time into maintenance and service. I am willing to spend the money also, so I guess my question, to rephrase it, is: if you did not worry about the money, and you were willing to spend some time on servicing/maintenance, what would you use for a 215 gallon setup for African cichlids. < With money as no object ideally I would set up two Marineland Tidepool filters with the SOS surface skimmer attachments. Each tide pool would have a pump that pumped 400 GPH. In the filter trays I would use a coarse filter pad that comes with the filter then the finer blue filter pad. In the last tray I would place the crushed coral or oyster shell to keep the water buffered at a high pH.> >2. what kind of substrate? >< If you plan on keeping Mbuna then they really don't require that >much sand. An inch or so of well washed sand should be plenty.> You >could use crushed coral if you live in an area where the water is >soft. Many people find it too bright and it washes out the colors of >the fish.> Q2: Is the African cichlid substrate (CaribSea African Sahara sand?) good to use? < That would be fine.> >4. What about fluidized bed filters? I have read that they keep down >nitrates? Is this true? >< Fluidized beds work pretty well as long as the power is >consistent. The bacteria live on the outside of each of the beads. >AS the water is pumped over them they do a good job of converting >ammonia and nitrites to nitrates. If they are working properly they >should be generating lots of nitrates from the fish waste. That is >what you want to happen.> Q3: If my nitrate levels are high, how do I go about getting them down. Assuming that the water changes are regular (25% weekly), and the water I am using has no real nitrate problem. I am getting readings in my 55 gallon tank of 100+, though ammonia and nitrite read fine. < High nitrate levels usually indicate a high organic load somewhere in the system. Clean the filter and vacuum the gravel deeply to remove all the organics that have accumulated. Move rocks and things too and get the sediment out that has accumulated there too.> >I have a giraffe catfish, >< This catfish will eventually get too big.> Q4: Too big for the 215 gallon? Can I let it go in my pond when it gets too big? The pond is in Texas (Houston) and it is one half an acre with an average depth of 5 feet. we have blue gill, catfish, bass, and gars in there now, with an assortment of turtles, frogs etc. < In much of the literature they have this fish getting over 2 feet long. But I have personally seen one at the Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco close to 3 feet long. He needs warm water an would probably not make it through the winter.> Q5: What is your estimate of how many fish I can keep in this 215 gallon, assuming it will be mostly peacocks, mbunas, etc.? < With the filtration system I recommended above I think you could keep 100 fish with a 50 gallon per week (25%) water change.-Chuck> Thanks again for all of the help, Jim g

Free Fish? Yeah Right!  Hi crew!! <Hi! Ryan with you> It's been a year since I've written. <Welcome back>  I had a moderately successful 120 gal. Marine FOWLR then. Since then, I graduated and got a job, got married, moved into my own home, and had a baby (actually my wife had him, I just watched.) So you can imagine things got crazy. One of the first things to go down the tubes was the tank. Thankfully, the fish survived, and I was able to give away or sell them all. Had to throw away the LR, bloody shame, about $800 worth, but no one trusted it...I wouldn't have either. Anyway, great to talk to you again, on to the questions... As you can imagine, I haven't the time or the funds (no one told me home ownership and parent hood was going to COST anything!!) to redo the tank, because I would insist on at least $1500 worth of LR, and a new filtration set-up (my old one was terrible), etc etc....very costly. <Gotcha>  But a new opportunity has presented itself. My best friend, maybe 10 months ago, decided he and his wife wanted a fish. They bought a 10 gallon set-up, one of the fancier ones, and 3 cichlids. I believe they were African, they were the really common colorful (blue and yellow) kind that every pet store in the world has, not sure exactly on sp, and went along. <Likely Africans>  I told them that this tank would definitely dwarf these fish, and that they wouldn't live as long, and they were ok with that. <Eat each other is more like it>  Well, the one killed the other two, and now is about 6 inches long and proportionately fat. I didn't imagine this could happen, but it did. Now the fish sits still all day long, and is neglected, because my friends have decided fish aren't for them. <Many make this choice>  And my 6 foot long graduation gift sits in the garage making me want to cry. They want to give me the fish and the set-up and everything. I figure with the tighter budget, I cannot afford the LR necessary to redo the marine setup the way I want, and have decided that a colorful freshwater set-up is in order. I have a fluorescent hood, 2 Ebo-Jager heaters, air pump, all the stuff I need EXCEPT substrate and deco, and the filter. I plan on going with an Aqua Clear 500, because I've had great success in the past with them, and the shop I intend to buy livestock from uses power filters exclusively, with great success as well. SO... I'm going to start with this huge yellow cichlid and from there, I don't know. Are there any cichlids that can't be mixed with this one ( I think it's Aulonocara sp.)? Should I even accept the gift? <I have done extensive projects with African Cichlids- and there are limitations. There are few tankmates that can defend themselves, other cichlids aside.> Are there other fishes besides cichlids that can go in there? <Biotopic display is your best bet. Figure out exactly what type of African cichlid it is, and which lake it comes from. Add mates from there.>  It is a 120, which is pretty big for a FW, so I thought I might have some options. <Lots, but keep it natural>  I am particularly fond of Angels (which I know are a cichlid), Gouramis, Loaches and maybe a school of Tetras or Danios. <All South American fish- If you're going this route, don't accept the gift. Different water needs.> The shop I mentioned has a pair of gorgeous very dark blue Sciaenochromis fryeri that I would like to add next. And last but not least, I would like to use black sand. <Not recommended for this application> Is this appropriate? If not, what else can I use to enhance the colors of the fish? <Nice lighting, proper feeding regime.> And is there such a thing as black sand that can be had for cheaper than the $14 per 25 pound bag at the fish store? <Maybe you could split a bulk order with someone locally- Your best bet. I would really research a biotopic display- They're easier to maintain, more peaceful and more successful long-term.>  Sorry for the novel. Hope all is well with everyone. Thanks as always.  Matt  <Anytime! Let's see some pics once you're up and running.> 

Frontosa Aggressiveness Hey guys! First, great site. Second, I have a few questions. :) Background info: several months ago, my husband and I purchased a small breeding colony of F0 Cyphotilapia frontosa, Blue Mpimbwe. There were two males - one missing an eye - and two females, all of which got along pretty peaceably. (We wanted to add more females to get a more desirable ratio, but we read that they would not be accepted as part of the colony.) We put them into a 125G tank in our living room and added aragonite, and later rock with caves. We try to feed them a varied diet; the other day I ran out of prepared food and fed both chopped up whitefish and frozen krill. Without intending to, I apparently induced spawning. Sadly, the next day One-Eyed Jack was torn up badly. We removed him to a quarantine tank immediately, but his injuries were just too severe, and he died. (He was my favorite, too.) On the plus side, one of the females was obviously carrying. I fed a few cubes of bloodworms to the tank later that day, and she dropped her eggs, unfortunately. I guess the bloodworms were just too tempting to resist. We were able to save one egg, which we later realized wasnt even fertilized, but the others were eaten.  Now, a few days later, she is being picked on by the other female! Her dorsal and tail fins are a little ragged. After doing some research, I think that we will begin feeding smaller, more frequent meals to reduce the overall level of aggressiveness in the tank. I am also considering getting some more cichlids to make it more difficult for any one fish to consistently track a victim. My questions: 1. Is it true that more female Blue Mpimbwes would not be accepted as part of the breeding colony? < Any time adding cichlids to an established tank you need to redecorate the tank to break up established territories. Unfortunately with frontosa being so large this is not easy to do. You could try to add more females but it will be very expensive with no guarantees of success. The more females you add the better it would be. Just make sure your filter can handle the extra load.> 2. If thats the case, can two breeding colonies of the same species live together in a tank? < If the tank was larger it might be possible but I wouldn't add any more males at this time.> 3. If thats not possible, is there a particular species that works really well with Frontosas? < In the wild these fish come from deep waters 100'+ where it is dark and they feed on sleeping Cyprichromis. Anything they can't eat whole and that can tolerate their water conditions can be a potential tankmate.> 4. Is our plan to reduce aggressiveness workable? Do you have any other suggestions? < Depend on what you want to do. Do you want to show them off or breed them? If you want to breed them then I suggest that you get two large sections of PVC pipe. Each section should only be large enough for each female to fit into. The male being the larger fish should not be able to enter the pipes. Put a pipe at each end of the 125. A female should take over each pipe. At feeding time everybody will come out to eat. The females will then retreat back into their pipes. When a female is ready to breed then the male will entice the female out to breed in the center of the tank. When spawning is complete she will return back into her pipe. The trick is to get both females to spawn at nearly the same time. Lots of good food and a large water change should do it. I have seen this technique with a pair and it works. The egg crate method will work too. Separate the tank into 1/3 sections using an egg crate type of plastic panels used for overhead florescent lighting. The fish can still see each other but the male in the center section can't get to the females or each other. They can still breed through the crate material If you want to show the fish off too then you will need to come up with another suitable refuge for the females instead of the pipe that can be both attractive and functional.> 5. Is it possible that the carrying female actually interfered with the breeding and that the other female was the one who actually deposited the eggs? (We did not get to witness the breeding.)  < Frontosa are greedy eaters. If there is a food source around like eggs then the other fish surely will try and get to that source. In the wild she would retreat to a crevice in the rocks away from the other fish.-Chuck> Thanks, Evelyn

Frontosa's Mouth Hi, Thank you in advance to reading my question. <That is what we are here for.> I have a group of frontosa cichlids that seem to keep their mouths closed, like they are stretching their upper lip downward. They are only about 3 inches and too young to be holding. It's only a few of them, the rest are fine. <Something like that typically isn't an environmental problem. This might be a case of physical deformities, and these birth defects are growing more pronounced as they age.  Frontosas breed quite easily after the 3 year mark, and many people don't take into account that in order to have good and healthy fish, breeding needs to have multiple healthy blood lines.  Chances could be that the three fish that you have might be severely inbred by the breeder. Mouth and eye deformities are common in inbred cichlids. Many responsible breeders look for issues like this and cull those fry so to keep lines pure.. If the case is an issue of birth defects, then there isn't much you can do.> When I feed them they don't/can't seem to open their mouths to feed, but they get close to the food and somehow scoop it. It is really puzzling and I can't figure out what is causing this. Any help you can lend would be greatly appreciated. <Probably the best thing to do is keep an eye on them.  Make sure that they are given clean water, and monitor to see if they are eating properly.  With a hindrance to be able to eat they might not be getting all the food that they should.> Thank You Adrian <Wish I could be more definitive with an answer to help you and your fish.  But, I think it's best to keep an eye on them and see what happens. -Magnus>

Cichlid site - 10/16/03 Wow. I looked at cichlidrecipe.com... what a great site! <Isn't it? I love it!> Thanks for referring it. <My pleasure>  I am now going through and identifying my tank members and determining how to re-prioritize my tank. <Exactly what I did>  I do note though, in Matt Pederson's recommendations for a 55g tank he has a dozen cichlids plus 2 catfish...not far from mine at all, although the selection of fish perhaps does not include so many that grow as large or as aggressive. <Could be likely but just another point of view. He may have three filters on his tank and as you said more "like"  type fish. I still don't think over stocking an aquarium is a good idea at any level> I will study it more carefully. <Very well. Good luck to ya.>  Thanks again Paul. <Thanks for the question. We might have just helped a great many others with our exchange.....so........thank you -Paul> Jeff

Scared Africans Hi "Crew," I have had my 46 gal cichlid tank up and running for about 18 months now, and everything is going wonderfully well.  The water is as clean as a home aquarist can make it, and the fish are thriving physically.  I have one issue with my tank though, and I have never been able to get a good answer.  The problem is, the fish seem to be agoraphobic - if they see even a slight movement outside the tank, they disappear into the rockwork.  I have to hide behind my couch to enjoy my fish - it's unorthodox, but it isn't that big a deal.  I have to ask out of curiosity though, why are these fish so flighty?  All the cichlids I've seen in pet stores are more inquisitive than shy.  The particulars:  3 Malawi cichlids (1 Zebrasoma, 1 Pseudotropheus auratus, and one unknown, plus 2 Plecos.  I have no NH3, NO2-, pH is 7.9, temp 76.  The tank is in a corner of the dining room, not in a heavily trafficked area.<could be the dilemma>  The only thing I can think of is that the bowfront distorts the fishes perception and has warped their minds.<could be lol>  Do you guys have any ideas?<Maybe move the aquarium to a place where people are around it the majority of the time>  Thanks in advance,<Well from what you are telling me everything seems fine except for the fact that you fish are not used to your presence. They could be acting like this because you are not home a lot during the daytime hours, maybe they are just very timid? there are many factors involved. I would not be too concerned with this. Good Luck and I hope the fish become bolder in the future. IanB> Nick

African Cichlid id >Mr. Fenner, and or crew, I was wondering if you could tell me what kind of fish I have here, and if you could direct me to an online resource for researching my fish. Thanks Much. >>Mbuna!  Or, it appears to be a large Pseudotropheus zebra, though it's been so long since I've even had access to my own book on African I.D. (this is a classic African lake cichlid, hailing from Lake Malawi, though other rift cichlids are from lakes Tanganyika and Victoria as well), and so much has changed these past decades concerning taxonomy of the Africans I could be wrong.  Try this place, Tim http://www.africancichlids.net/index.html http://www.cichlid-forum.com/ >>Best of luck!  Marina

What are African Cichlids? - 5/23/03    This a completely stupid set of questions. <there are no stupid questions>  Are African cichlids fresh, brackish or salt water? <They are considered freshwater organisms. There are some trace salts and minerals in the waters of the lakes from which they come from, but not enough to make them salt water fish nor true brackish for that matter> Would a typical freshwater filter, lights, etc, be sufficient to have them thrive? (90 gallon tank)<Absolutely. You just described my Aulonocara tank. They key is to research the fish you want and then to get them as young as possible. Pay special attention to their full grown captive size so as to not overstock>   How many 2-4 inch fish could I keep in 90 gallons, with a decent rock layout? <More than likely, unless you go Tanganyikan, most cichlids from the African lakes range from 6 inches and up captive adult size. I think the current thought is about 1 inch per 3-5 gallons because of freshwater fish metabolism is a bit higher in part due to their general aggressiveness>  I love your site, and appreciate any advice you can give on these terrible questions. <No worries. Thanks for the kind words. Please go out and pick up a book on African cichlids as well as do a search in google or your favorite search engine for more information on them. Here is a site that I absolutely love as a start: http://www.cichlidrecipe.com/ Take care James. Paul> James

Re: African Cichlid ID HI How are you today? Still the greatest site out there. Question! Can you ID this African for me? He was tank born and raised and I have had him for 5+/- years but have never been able to positively identify. Thanks in advance. Dennis Vigliotte <I believe that is the Nimbochromis fuscotaeniatus. If you have a copy of Ad Koning's Malawi Cichlids in their Natural Habitat Vol. 3 there is a nice picture on page 240. Hope this helps! Ronni>

Electric Blue and Yellow Hi I have a tank with Electric Blue and Yellow Cichlids. Could you send us as much information about them as possible (Breeding, tank setup etc). <<Please go to http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm and click on the links for Cichlids. You will find a ton on helpful info there.>> Also I have heard rumors and mixed information about these fish, which I was wondering if you could clear up for me. 1) What are the stripes on these fish from? Stress? or Poor quality? <<The stripes can be caused by any number of things. Stress, poor water quality (thus causing stress), excitement over something, adult or juvenile coloration, spawning behavior, etc.>> 2) In Electric Blue do you find that the male and female are aggressive to each other? <<Depends on the fish themselves. Aggressive behavior is generally the norm but there are always exceptions.>> 3) Also how do you tell the difference between male and females? 4) What food is best? for little electric blue and yellow and for big? <<A combination of foods works the best. New Life Spectrum makes a wonderful Cichlid pellet but also use frozen bloodworms, krill, and some vegetable/algae foods. When using frozen foods, be sure to thaw them completely before feeding.>> 5) What plants are best? <<Cichlids are notorious diggers so it's hard to get any plant to stay put in their tanks. They also tend to eat any of the softer species. Anubias works the best as it's a firmer plant that they don't eat but it will still need to be well anchored.>> Regards Paul and Leanne <<Take care, Ronni>>

Re: cichlids that change color I have had an aquarium for several years now. About two years ago after a massive loss of fish in our tank due to a very aggressive fish we had to start from scratch. We once again got a cichlid. We believe it is an electric yellow but now are unsure. It was about six months after we got it that it started changing color. It went from bright yellow with black fins and the small distinctive white spot on it's lower tail to a black with blue stripes coloration. At first I thought it may be sick but it continued to eat and swim with no real strong behavior changes. That was about 18 months ago. Could it of just been reaching maturity? Or is it something else? <<Very interesting. Electric Yellows should stay yellow/black even when mature but I don't know of any others with their distinctive coloration even when juveniles. Even though, I highly doubt that it's anything but a natural color change. The only thing that really come to mind for an explanation is depending on where you bought it, it's very possibly a hybrid. A true Cichlid breeder will frown on the crossing of two species but many people that keep them end up inadvertently crossing them just because so many of the species spawn so readily. They will then take the juveniles and sell them to an LFS who is often none the wiser. So if you got this from your LFS that could be what happened. If you got it from a breeder I'd have to wonder. If this is in fact a cross, without seeing a picture (and possibly even with one) I wouldn't even be able to guess what the Electric Yellow would have crossed with since so many of the blues/blacks look alike.>> It's still healthy, with no physical indications of illness. The color has never reverted though sometimes it does look brighter than at other times. <<This color brightening is not uncommon. Mine used to do this on a regular basis. It can be brought on by water quality, lighting, pretty much anything. Mine used to get very intense colors when they were angry or in the mood to spawn.>> The only other fish is our "algae eater" (other name just to long) that is approximately5-6 inches in length and we've had it since we started the tank. <<Well, whatever it is it sounds like it has the temperament of the Electric Yellow. My yellows were never a problem but I had several others that I was unable to put Plecos in with because of aggression.>> Are we wrong about what kind of fish it is or is this just normal for this type of fish? Please help identify this fish if you can. Brenda <<Hope I was of some help. Ronni>>

African Cichlids What is the most important pointers in raising a completely successful 60 gallon tank housing 6 African Cichlids?  At present my fish appears  to be experiencing Ich/Fungus.  Lots of shaking, white spots, and one with bulging eyes.  HELP. I was told to raise the temp to 80 degrees and change 10% of the water for the next 5 days.  What is a good book to read that will cover starting a new tank and the care of cichlids?  Thanks in advance, Tracy <Hi Tracy.  First off lets get the current fish healthy.  There are plenty of meds for ich and fungus, just be sure you are medicating for the correct disease.  Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm Next up... Water quality.  Unless you purchased the fish in their current condition, chances are water quality brought about the current ailments.  I like the water change idea, should get things back in order.  Some good test kits for ph, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and since we are dealing with African Cichlids, you will want to test for water hardness as well. Other pointers/considerations: compatible tank mates, full grown size (fishbase.org is good for this), proper tank decorations,  good food, good filtration, yadda yadda yadda, and a good book. I personally do not have any recommendations, check out your LFS, amazon.com, and your local library.  I do however try to avoid the books that advertise a certain brand of product. Oh yes, do check out our FAQs as well.  -Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afrcichlfaqs.htm  >

Cichlid Tank I have a 220 gal tank I'm setting up for Tanganyika cichlids I will have a 5" inch bed of CaribSea rift lake authentic with about 200 pounds of moon rock. I was thinking about using HDL tri base palletized carbon with the right now bacteria and wondered if you have knowledge or experience with it's use. <have not used it myself> I have some mineral mud that looks more like dirt and wanted to grow some mangroves or house plants and maybe some aquatic plants. I was wondering what types to use seeing as some absorb ammonium/nitrites/nitrates better than others. <Anything fast growing should work fine.> Also I  would like some suggestions on what types of animals fish and inverts that are available to use in this endemic tank, <I would invest in one of the many books available on Tanganyikan cichlids, there are plenty of choices, it is really up to you http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afrcichlids.htm > by the way the carbon would go in place of the bio balls, I was maybe thinking of using lava rock. <avoid the lava, too much potential for problems. Best Regards, Gage> or maybe a mix of that with cichlid mix with tufa chunks any suggestions please thank you in advance.

MALAWI CICHLID HOMEPAGE has just been updated. You can visit www.MalawiCichlidHomepage.com/aquarium/update.html to see whats new this month in our website. More than 40 new pages and tens of high quality photos have been added this month. You are also welcomed to our new layout which we hope you will like. Please sign our GuestBook which is located at the bottom of every page. We are very interested in your comments and suggestions. This feedback will help us to improve this site. In case you encounter problems with our new layout, we suggest you turn your letter size to small (option found in the view tab in your browser). The Authors Francesco, Frank and George George J. Reclos Ph.D. HOLARGOS GREECE <Thanks George. Will post on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Looking for cichlid pix and info. can u send me a pic or info on Crytocara moorii <Please read through the African Cichlid materials stored here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: Help with ID Please! Hi Thanks for the IDs. Thought they would be Zebras but not sure. I took new pics tonight that might ID them for sure. http://communities.msn.com/RIOTFISHDUDE/newfishpicsoutofthebags.msnw BTW my guess for the stripes is Red Top Zebra. <it does appear that you are correct>

Help with ID Please! Cichlids Robert or Anthony; <Anthony here> Thanks so much for all the help.  <quite welcome> Got the first batch today at the place mentioned in earlier posts. I got 13 fish including a pink convict (I think) don't know how I got him, never saw him in a tank but was in the bag with what might be red top zebras.  <really should be returned in the long run...doesn't belong with Malawian African cichlids> Could you take a look at: http://communities.msn.com/RIOTFISHDUDE/petesnewafricansoridplease.msnw?Page=1 and tell me what you think these are so I can feed them right and avoid any major incompatibles? <standard African cichlid pellets and green based foodstuffs. Very hardy fish. Blue and Oranges are Zebras, Spot is a H. livingstoni or polystigma and the picture of the striped fish is not clear enough to ID> Thanks Peter <kindly, Anthony>

African Cichlid? can you please help me I bought a fish from this guy and I don't know what it is he said it was a cross between a red empress and a sulfur headed peacock it looks very very nice the body has blue and turquoise green all over the body and the top fins has green and baby blue and on the anal fin it has around 10 or 12 egg dummy thing can you please help me Richard <Sounds like a variety of Peacock cichlid, Aulonocara species. -Steven Pro>

Cichlid ID Thanks you have been a great help.... I have one bumble bee cichlid can't tell if it is male or female.... it has only 2 dots on dorsal fin. I also have 3 orange and one is peach more than orange they are males I think they are very colorful on fins ...lots of dots on them....do you know what type the oranges ones are....I have also one blue one that has just 2 dots on dorsal fin...is that a female...  I also have one little yellow one can't see any dots at all but it has stayed small I got them all about the same time in June of last year... now I have 4 new babies.... that have gotten a little brave the last few days...lol... they are popping out and shaking at the feeder fish that I have in the tank... guppies and minnows .... I will am gonna try and take pics with my pc camera today and will send ya a pic of tank... maybe you can give me more ideas... thanks very much for quick reply!!!!! Angela  <Sorry it took so long for your reply. We had some technical difficulties with your email. You probably have what used to be referred to as Pseudotropheus zebra. This is no longer a valid name and your fish are probably hybrids when you consider the new taxonomy. Nothing to worry about though. They are still great fish when they are not being too mean to each other. -Steven Pro>

"The" African Cichlid? Dear Mr. Fenner, I was just wondering if you happened to know the scientific name of the African Cichlid. I am doing a report in school for this project and just wondering where I could find it at. I saw your webpage and decided to ask you if you happened to know it. <Mmm, there are actually several hundred "African Cichlid" species... not one. Go back to WetWebMedia.com and pick out one by name (scientific or common), input the URL fishbase.org on your search tray, and plug in the name... Bob Fenner

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