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FAQs on Cichlid Selection

Related Articles: Cichlid Fishes

Related FAQs: Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction, Cichlids in General, Dwarf South American Cichlids, African Cichlids, Oscar Selection, Angelfishes, Discus, Chromides, Neotropical CichlidsOscars, Flowerhorns

Adding new cichlids to planted aquarium       1/25/19
Hi crew,
I haven’t asked you any questions for the past few years. I have 75 gallon well established freshwater planted tank. Currently housing red-tailed shark, 7 denisoni barbs and 20 tiger barbs. I used to have a pair of buffalo head cichlids for about 6-7 years.
<Interesting fish!>
Male died few months ago and yesterday, female died too. I’d like to add the group of different colorful cichlids that won’t damage my plants. My water is extremely hard (pH above 8) and a lot of soft water species are off the list. I think that most obvious choice would be Kribs, but I kept and bred them in the past.
Do you think group of smaller Hemichromis would work here?
<Possibly, but Hemichromis are extremely unpredictable. Some specimens, particularly the ones sold as Hemichromis lifalili, occasionally behave rather well. Most, unfortunately, do not, once sexually mature at least. Certainly, pairs will devastate a community tank when breeding, which they will do most of the time! So these would not be my first choice. In fact, if your water is rock hard, then a Central American cichlid called Herotilapia multispinosa is an excellent choice, or failing that, the Orange Chromide cichlid from South Asia (which doesn't need salty water, provided the water isn't soft). If you were brave, you might try something from one of the Rift Valley lakes, say, Neolamprologus brichardi, which behave tolerably well in planted tanks. They're territorial for sure, but don't dig up plants. I wouldn't trust them with harmless community tetras and catfish, but Tiger Barbs and Redtail Sharks should be fine. Like all Tanganyikans they're sensitive to nitrate levels, and do need plenty of oxygen. You might also consider fish that aren't cichlids but behave like them, such as Florida Flagfish.>
Will they uproot plants? Will they have problems with my fully grown red-tailed shark? Any other choices? Please advise.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Adding new cichlids to planted aquarium        1/27/19
Neale, thanks a lot!
I had no idea Neolamprologus brichardi could live in regular planted tank with no rocks. I will read more on this.
<Quite a lot of public aquaria have displayed huge schools of them in planted tanks. In fact most of the zooplankton-eating Neolamprologus and Lamprologus will do fine in a planted tank with a few rocks or caves where they can hide should they want to. The Rift Valley lakes aren't homogenous, and planted areas (including Vallisneria thickets) are an important part of the ecology. Indeed, some cichlids, such as Aulonocara, enjoy tanks planted with robust species that won't be easily uprooted.>

Best cichlid for 50 gallon community tank      2/7/18
Hi crew!
I'm setting up a 50 gallon tank with sand substrate, some rock, lots of wood and hardy plants (no CO2). My tap water is very soft (hardness around 7°, pH around 6.4-6.8). I have 6 healthy Columbian Tetras, 6 zebra Danios and 4 Orange lazer corys from an established 20 gallon that I plan on moving to the 50 gallon once it has cycled and settled a bit. I plan to move the Danios over first and then add the tetras later and the corys last (if I can ever get them in a net).
I would love to add a single male cichlid and was wondering if a cockatoo dwarf would get along with the above. I would love a single blue Acara but would be consider my Danios or tetras lunch? If I divide the tank in two with the middle section more open, would it reduce the Acara's aggression? I could leave my little Danios in the 20 gallon. A friend also recommended a keyhole cichlid as a possible choice.
Thanks for your advice.
<Keyhole Cichlids are an excellent choice for this sort of tank. Not the most dramatic fish, but quiet and unassuming, and if you have soft water, should be quite easy to keep. Cockatoo Cichlids are also a good choice. Quite adaptable and hardy fish, by dwarf cichlid standards. Might also consider the Bolivian Ram, an all-around reliable dwarf cichlid that has nice colours and a decent personality. Sheepshead Acara another obvious choice; again, subtly coloured, rather retiring, but excellent choices for dark, well-planted tanks with placid fish. Kribs can be a good choice too, some of the rarer species, like Pelvicachromis subocellatus being really rather lovely. Famously fecund, a singleton won't cause much trouble and they're very easy to keep, as well as vividly coloured. Blue Acaras are basically good fish, but there are a few problems with them. First, they will eat fish they can swallow. Large Danios should be okay, but anything bite-size might disappear! Secondly, the quality isn't that great, often lacking the vivid blue we expect (and see in photos). Finally, there is a notorious look-alike species called Aequidens rivulatus that has similar, even better colours, but is far more aggressive. Caveat emptor! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Best cichlid for 50 gallon community tank      2/8/18
Thanks Neale! Great advice as always. It will either be a Keyhole or a cockatoo.
<Two nice choices. Very different in looks and personality. Indeed, in a big tank, why not keep one of each? Cheers, Neale.>

Sharing a tank        11/9/15
<Hi Michelle>
Can a angle fish & cichlids share a tank ? Freshwater ,55 gallon tank, 7 cichlids 2 years old , 1 ghost & 1 algae eater . Been told there aggressive but these have not acted that way .
<I would not risk this. Particularly if the cichlids are established in the tank already. They are extremely territorial and angelfish are easy targets for them, with their trailing fins and wide, flat bodies. I would probably not have a knife in there either with cichlids. Sooner or later, one cichlid will come out on top as the alpha dog and the more fragile fish are not likely to weather that arrangement of the pecking order very well.
Better by far to set up a more peaceful separate system, preferably with live plants and some softer substrate. This would be a neat contrast to a "hardcore" mean-customer cichlid system with a lot of rock cover and perhaps tunnels. Biotype tanks in other words. Just a suggestion and what I might do if I wanted both angels and cichlids, very different fish from *extremely* different environments. Best to pick one or the other, or keep them separated. -Earl>
Re: Sharing a tank

Thank you very much for the info.
<No problemo, hope this helped.>

2 male Pink Convicts in a 90 gal; comp.     7/24/13
Hi :) 
I've written to you guys before and I love your site.
I'm having problems getting an answer to my questions that will work.
I have a 90 gal tank which, until recently, was full of Mbuna cichlids, 2 Bushynose Plecos, 1 CAE, 12" Sailfin Pleco and 2 male Pink Convicts(these two were left over from a 55gal CA tank I had and no one would take them)
Recently, we had a massive heat wave and my A/C broke.  For all my best efforts, my tank overheated and killed the CAE, the Bushynose and all the Mbuna save 2 barely 1/2" Auratus fry.  Now I just have to 2 5" male Pink convicts, the fry and the 12" Pleco. 
<I see>
I have tons of rock in the tank with plenty of hiding spots, but 1 male is being relentless to the other one.
When they were with the Mbuna, they were fine.  Barely paid attention to each other. 
My question is, other then females (been there, done that.  Not going there again LOL) what fish can I introduce into the tank that won't get killed.
<Smart, fast, tough ones... Many choices>
 I can't go Africans again really because the budget is somewhat tight for that right now, maybe later though.
I was told danios, or barbs but they are really plain looking.  I'm looking for a fish with some color.  My dad suggested an Oscar or two but I'm not even sure that would work.
<A good choice... though it gets large>
I have an XP3 filter and a Fluval FX5  so I can take the most dirtiest of fish I think LOL.
Thanks Mandy
<Please read here re some choices:
and here
Bob Fenner>
Re: 2 male Pink Convicts in a 90 gal    7/24/13

Thanks for your quick reply, Bob.
So you think a couple of Oscars might work?  My dad had one before, I know how big they can get, but his tank was a 55 gal.
<Ah, too small. Your ninety should work fine for several years>
Of all the average New World Cichlids, how many do you think I could add with what I have in the tank now.
<Depends on the species mostly; as some are more/less aggressive... and if they should decide to breed later>
 I'm thinking 2 giving most of the sizes of NW's, but I'm not sure that it will be enough to stop the males from fighting.
But again,  thank you very much. Your links provided some good info.
<Cheers, BobF>
Re: 2 male Pink Convicts in a 90 gal; plus two small Mel. auratus      7/24/13

Hi again Bob
Sorry, I forgot to ask about the fry.
The 2 Melanochromis auratus  fry I have seem to be holding their own in the rock pile for now.  Obviously, I don't know what I have in regards to male or female.  But I do suspect 1 might be a male.
Could these two cause a problem should they survive to adulthood.  I heard auratus males can be quite deadly, though with the brood I had I only saw some aggression towards the other males.
Should I just leave them be or look into rehoming them?
<I would leave them at least for now... More likely than not they will not present a problem down the line. B>

purple rose queen VS. jelly bean cichlid....     7/15/12
I saw from the link below that Melinda answered someone's question about the Jelly Bean Cichlid.  Melinda said that they are DYED.
<Some are indeed>
 I was wondering if the same practice is done to Purple Rose Queen Cichlids ??
 The reason I ask is because they are as beautiful and intensely colored as the Jelly Bean....
Are the Purple Rose Queen Cichlids more aggressive or less aggressive than the Jelly Bean Cichlids?
<They're about the same... some individuals of both more so than others>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Breeding cichlids for profit   11/8/11
Hello. I would like to start off by congratulating you guys for such a great and informative site! It has helped my countless times.
<Ah, good>
Ok, so now to my dilemma. I have a spare 29 gallon aquarium and I would like to breed some kind of cichlid as profit.
I am not expecting massive fortunes, just a little extra cash to help out with my other tanks. Are there any species in particular that are fairly easy to breed (I am a pretty experienced keeper) that go for a decent price?
<Yes; there are quite a few possibilities... IF your water is very hard and alkaline (like ours here in S. Cal.), I'd look into one of the smaller African Great Lakes species... Perhaps a Lamprologus or Neolamprologus species. IF instead your source water tends toward neutral to soft and acidic, I'd try a small/dwarf South American. Please see here re the latter: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dwfsamcichlids.htm
and peruse the linked files above. Another route to go in selecting a breedable/saleable species would be to ask the management at your local fish store/s what they'd be willing to buy... That can fit in your 29. For instance, the possibility of Angelfishes (Pterophyllum)... A breeding pair could reside in this size/shape system, but growing them up to pairing, raising the young would take another larger system. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Breeding cichlids for profit
  -- 11/08/11
Thanks for such a quick reply! Are there any specific species?
<See/read where you were referred>
The reason I am asking is because there seem to be A LOT of species that fit your description. I have a female Krib cichlid at the moment, would pairing her up and selling her fry do the trick?
<Not the fry and again, you'll have to check your local market for about how many individuals of colour-size they'll pay for>
Or would I have better luck with a
different south American or shell dweller? Thanks in advance!
<Again, the onus of research is upon you. BobF>

72 gallon stocking, cichlid poss.   3/22/11
Hi Neale?
I am starting a 72 gallon tank. Would like to try a Cichlid tank this time. This was once recommended to me by Neale/you. I had a much smaller tank, and choices were limited. I mentioned a love of the Burundi frontosa I once had briefly.
<Yes, Cyphotilapia frontosa are beautiful fish, but difficult to keep if you don't accept their specific requirements.>
And I have been reading about flower horns, and parrot fish. I am wondering if I could possibly do one of each or a one or the other?
<No. Flowerhorn cichlids are large, aggressive, unpredictable hybrids that must be kept singly. They almost never get along with other fish, at least not in tanks under several hundred gallons in size. Blood Parrot Cichlids are hybrids, also unpredictable, but at 20 cm/8 inches they're somewhat easier to keep with fast midwater tankmates like Swordtails that they don't view as threats. They are aggressive towards other cichlids, but because of their deformities, they are easily damaged by normal cichlids. Frontosa cichlids MUST be kept as a harem. They are shy, almost nocturnal fish that despise bright light and only feel settled alongside their own kind. Some relatively docile Tanganyikan or Malawian cichlids may be kept with them, for example Cyrtocara and Altolamprologus, so long as these tankmates [a] aren't aggressive and [b] don't move around too much. But ALL serious Frontosa keepers keep their Frontosas on their own; a group of one male and 3+ females is a good starting point. For that, we're talking 150 US gallons, MINIMUM. Don't have that kind of space? Then Frontosas aren't for you. These fish are big, easily spooked, easily harmed by non-zero nitrate levels, and must have swimming space for them to patrol at dusk and dawn.
Frontosas evolved to live in deeper water than most cichlids, so they're less "psychologically" adapted to small, shallow bodies of water than, say, Mbuna that rarely stray more than a few inches from the rocks.>
I know I may be overly optimistic on tank size/ space.
I do currently have a 150 gal.
<This would do for a small harem of Frontosa cichlids.>
Community tank pair of Angels/silver dollars at least 7 years old, and a few Gourami. Tank is fairly empty could fit all in 72 comfortably, would consider swapping tanks for this project.
<Sounds a wise course of action.>
I am not interested in one type of fish only so I am open to suggestions.
<I can't abide either Blood Parrots or Flowerhorns, in part because they're hybrids, but also because they're far less attractive that the cichlids Nature came up with. If you want something colourful for your 72 gallon tank, why not look at Aulonocara?
These come in lots of brilliant shades of red and blue, aren't too large, and while they hybridise readily, a wise aquarist can easily set up a single species harem and fill out the rest of the tank with, for example, Labidochromis for bright yellow around the rocks and perhaps a Malawian Synodontis or Spiny Eel species to round out the community! Aulonocara are personable fish and there are reputable online sources that will ship good quality wild-caught or F1 specimens. Use Google images to look up species such as Aulonocara stuartgranti, Aulonocara hansbaenschi, Aulonocara jacobfreibergi and Aulonocara baenschi. If you keep just males, you can of course mix these species together, so do decide whether you want a single species harem that might spawn and will certainly show a wider range of behaviours, or a bunch of different species, in which case you should only keep males. All-male groups may or may not be more aggressive, with males of species sharing similar colours more likely to fight that completely different ones. Me, I prefer to keep harems. Prettiness gets boring after a while; and with cichlids, having something to actually watch, i.e., spawning behaviour, is half the fun, even if the offspring end up getting eaten by something predatory like a Spiny Eel (these love cichlid fry!).>
I guess my draw to those specific fish is the friendly/ non aggressive nature and beauty of course. I am not interested in breeding. Thanks for your time. Joanne.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: 72 gallon stocking - 3/22/11

Wow, thanks! You never disappoint!
<Be sure and tell my girlfriend.>
I will look at all these different choices/ options, sometimes find the research even more exciting, than the purchasing.
In the scenario of a harem of Frontosa, if they produced fry they would be gobbled up, yes?
<Mostly, I'd guess, especially if you added some Synodontis or one of the Tanganyikan spiny eels, like Mastacembelus elipsifer.>
And you would not recommend any bottom dwellers/ cleaners, or other fish in with this group?
<See above, but on the whole Frontosa are best kept on their own. Water quality is hard enough to keep good with just the Frontosa, so once you start adding more fish, things become more complicated.>
Thank you again, Joanne
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: 72 gallon stocking  3/26/11

After much research, I may have found my fish, but I still would like your opinion. After mentioning what characteristics I would enjoy in a fish.
Someone said you want a water pet, get an Oscar!
<Can be a good species, but challenging in many ways. Gets very large; requires massive filtration and big water changes; prone to Hexamita infections in "small" tanks and when exposed to non-zero nitrate levels; territorial; not particularly happy in hard, alkaline water; quality of stock sold in many stores abysmally low (incomplete dorsal fins, poor colouration, lack of size when mature).>
So I quickly checked them out... Fun, big, and maybe a little too aggressive for tank mates.
<Yes and no. They are territorial rather than aggressive. Dissimilar midwater fish can work rather well: Plecs, Clown Loaches, Sorubim lima, Tinfoil Barbs, etc.>
But they can happily live the single life (no harem required).
As I said I have a happy 150 gallon FW community tank for variety, so this 72 gallon tank I am looking for something different.
If you would please share your general thoughts on them.
<Do read Bob's comments here:
Personally, I think Oscars are better as part of a giant community rather than kept singly with just a Plec.>
And Can they live with any other fish peacefully in my 72 gallon bow?
<Yes, but likely just the one catfish. 72 gallons isn't a lot of water, and Oscars are notoriously messy, as are large catfish.>
I read they are messy, so I was hoping someone to pick up the scraps.
<No! That's [a] your job to remove uneaten food because uneaten food becomes nitrate, and nitrate causes Hexamita infections; and [b] anything that does scavenge leftover food will also require its own feeding, and that in turn means more food, more nitrate, and more risk of Hexamita!>
And I believe I read here maybe silver dollars? Any suggestions welcome.
Best regards, Joanne
<Cheers, Neale.

What Type? Cichlid sp. sel. for breeding, selling   3/10/11
I've read the reply and I was probably going to turn my 40 gallon into a cichlid tank.
Only 5-7 fish.
<Not a good idea for breeding; single pairs are what you need, possibly with dither fish in midwater in the case of dwarf cichlids, but most other cichlids will eliminate anything else kept with them.>
Since I have the time to breed fish (I'm not into chores and work I'd like to do something fun)
<Good plan!>
I was wondering what type of fish local stores would by the most of.
<Without question, nice (single breed rather than crossbred) Angelfish are by far the easiest cichlids to sell. Discus can also be easier to sell profitably, assuming you can produce good quality youngsters. After these, good choices would include things like Apistogramma species; the smaller Julidochromis like Julidochromis ornatus; and, if you can produce equal numbers of boys and girls (which requires exactly pH 7) Common Kribs, Pelvicachromis pulcher. Do also look at breeding other popular species; Corydoras and Ancistrus catfish are both easy to spawn and always popular in pet shops. Danios, Barbs, and a few of the Tetras fall into this category too. Livebearers can be viable, but it goes without saying "junk" livebearers are routinely cranked out by casual hobbyists, so retailers tend to only pay for really good quality, pure-bred varieties.>
I only have a limited types of fish from PetSmart right now, but as I get more money I'll have better equipment and stock. And what other compatible fish would be high priced at dealers.
<Don't for a moment imagine you'll make a profit. Breeding fish is difficult and requires lots of tiny foods, water changes, spare tanks, and sometimes medications. Spawning is easy; rearing fry is difficult. Unless
you can breed fish on a farm-like scale, or are ready to produce very high quality livestock such as Discus or F1 descendants of wild-caught Angels, you will almost certainly lose money on any fish you breed. But yes, it's tremendous fun, and one of the very best things about the freshwater side of the hobby. Breeding fish is a proof you're a skilled fishkeeper, especially when the species in question isn't routinely spawned.>
Thanks again.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

CHANGE OF SCENERY, neo-trop. Cichlid stkg./sel., maybe Tanganyikans     2/17/11
Hi guys,
I have a 44 inch long by 26 deep by 30 high tank
<About 560 litres or 150 US gal.>
that currently contains a variety of tropical fish including Gourami's, albino sharks, red line torpedo barbs and some smaller tetras and barbs.
<All sounds nice.>
I live in London so the water is hard/alkaline. I would like to change the set up and was thinking of either 2 Oscars (which might be a push for space) or a community of central American cichlids (which are hard to find in the UK).
<Not if you know where to look! Try Wildwoods in Enfield, in the northern part of London. Keith Lambert, the fish room manager, regularly brings in some superb wild-caught species as well as the usual tank-bred stuff. In a tank like yours, there are quite a few species you might consider.
Amatitlania sp. "Honduran red point" for example is a kind of Convict, but prettier, more colourful, and less aggressive. Firemouths kept singly or in matched pairs could be kept with the Honduran Red Points, but be sure to provide open sand for the Firemouths and rocks and bogwood for the Honduran Red Points. If you wanted something big and colourful, then there's the lovely Hypsophrys nicaraguensis, the famous Nic, a species from fast-flowing streams that does great kept in pairs in a tank with water worn boulders and bogwood, some Java ferns and Anubias for greenery, a BIG filter for water current, and some suitable dither fish such as Rainbowfish or Swordtails. The colours on good quality Hypsophrys nicaraguensis are extraordinary.>
Do you think these would be suitable for a tank this size/water type??
<Oscars can tolerate hard water, though if you want a big cichlid, you might consider a school of Frontosa Cichlids instead. The problem with two Oscars is if they get along they'll be a pair, and if that happens, you'll soon have hundreds of baby Oscars.>
Also have a polystyrene fake rock background. Would these fish be likely to nip at it??
<Oscars will try to destroy anything placed in their tank. Frontosas generally don't, and neither do Hypsophrys nicaraguensis.>
I don't want them to eat the polystyrene and get sick/die.
<Indeed. Also note that Suckermouth Catfish usually destroy them too.>
I already have a Malawi set up but any other ideas that you have to give this tank a new lease of life would be gratefully received!!
<Do consider Tanganyikans as well. There are numerous sorts, many very colourful. A busy community of medium-sized Tanganyikans can be a stunning sight, rather like a busy reef tank, and much different to the thuggish nature of most Malawians, though Tropheus are nasty if beautiful fish that need to be kept in big swarms on their own.>
Many thanks
<Cheers, Neale.>

Many thanks for all your advice Neale. I think I might go for a Tanganyikan set up. Will they be OK with the polystyrene background??
<Most should be fine. The majority of Tanganyikans we keep eat zooplankton or small prey like shrimps, so they'll ignore the rocks beyond using them as habitat. But there are some Tanganyikans that rasp algae from rocks --
Tropheus spp. for example -- and these might conceivably damage painted backgrounds. Review your species choices and act accordingly.>
I know my Malawi's like to graze on the rocks in the tank. Will Tanganyikans do the same??
<Lamprologus, Julies, etc. are predatory and don't damage rockwork. They can look beautiful in tanks with fake backgrounds.>
I'm half tempted to remove the background but I have a feeling that will be a hell of a job as it will all crumble as I try to remove it!
<Quite possibly.>
Thanks again
<Cheers, Neale.>

Tank swap. Getting into Cichlids  -- 12/08/10
How are you?
<Fine Ben, thank you>
I have only been dealing with tropical fish for about a year now. I have a 26 gal bow tank. My fish are doing fine but I'd really like to change my tank to hold chichilids. I've heard a few things on how to set up the tank from friends but I'd really like a professionals opinion. I was told to set it up with plenty of rocks
and to add a little salt to the tank. What do you think?
<Mmm, well, there are actually many cichlid species (it's the third largest family of fishes), and they occupy/utilize quite a mix of habitats... some riverine, others lacustrine (lake)... rocky to sandy to sunken wood determinant... So, what you "set up" really depends on the species you're planning on stocking. In a 26 gallon one's choices are limited, as many Cichlid species get quite/too large. I suggest that you spend some quality time reading for now... to determine what you want to keep, and how to husband it best. There are some excellent beginner cichlid books, but you can use the Net to start. Ours here:
scroll down to Cichlids... Bob Fenner>
Tank swap -- 12/08/10
How are you?
<Still fine, thanks>
I currently have a 26gal bow tank with tropical fish mostly made up of Gourami, a pair of Rosy Barbs, and a pair of Bolivian Rams. I have had this tank for about a year and I would like to swap it over to a chichilid tank. I have someone willing to take the fish I have now, but I'd like to keep the Rams in my tank if I could.
<Along with the Bolivians? Not a good match in this small volume. Better to have one or the other>
Also, I would like to know the best way to set up the tank like for the fish I'd like to have. I've heard to just have rocks and no plants.
<... not so>
Also, to put a little salt in the tank?
<Mmm, not likely... what is your present water quality like?>
I'd really like to know from a pro. Thank you
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/rams.htm
and the linked files above. BobF>

Firemouth Compatibility
Cichlid Tank Mate Suggestions -- 01/28/09

Hello, I have 2 aquariums, one 55 gal and one 30 gal, and would like to set up one as a "peaceful" cichlid tank and the other as an "aggressive" cichlid tank. In the 55 gal peaceful tank I was planning on putting in one frontosa, one red jewel, one rusty cichlid, and one peacock with 2 Plecos.
In the 30 gal aggressive tank I was thinking of putting in one green terror, one red devil, and one Firemouth with 3-4 Cory's because I read online that they emit a chemical that reduces aggression in south American cichlids.
The problem is that I have read mixed reviews of the Firemouth cichlid.
Could you please tell me if it would work in the 30 gal tank, or would it be more suitable in the 55 gal? Also, is there any truth to what I read about Cory's reducing aggression? Thanks, Jon
< Have a few suggestions for you. There is really nothing peaceful about your proposed peaceful tank. The frontosa will get to be 12 inches long and will eat what will fit in his mouth. The jewelfish gets about 4 inches long but he thinks he is a foot long and will punish all fish that don't fight back. Any Mbuna like the rusty cichlid will defend a territory with its sharp teeth. The peacocks are OK if you use one of the blue ones. The yellow ones are way too timid to put into a community aquarium. In the aggressive tank you will have multiple problems. The red devil and green terror get to be up to 12 inches long. The Firemouth is not as aggressive as the other cichlids. I have never heard or seen any literature about Corydoras catfish reducing the aggression in any cichlid. For a peaceful 30 gal. Tank I would recommend the following: keyhole cichlid, kribensis, any Laetacara sp., larger Apistogramma sp., Anomalochromis thomasi just to name a few. In the 50 gal. aggressive tank I would  recommend one Firemouth, one convict, one jewelfish, one jack Dempsey, one blue Acara, and one Texas cichlid, Another way to go in the aggressive tank is to stock it with about 25 small Mbuna. AS they grow you will need to remove any excess males that get beat up by more dominant males. A good book for cichlids is "enjoying Cichlids" by Ad Konings.-Chuck

Terrible man buys Jack Dempsey for community tank
Mixing Old World and New World Cichlids 9/30/09

Hi, all, it's been a while since I had a question to which your wonderful site didn't already have the answer. Well, I have one for you (sorry for the long post!!). I've recently decided to transition my boring 150 gal (72"x18"x28") generic community tank to a cichlid tank. I generalized 'cichlid tank', because my original intention was to keep Africans (Mbuna, haps, and maybe some peacocks). To this end I bought three 2" yellow Labs, three 2" cobalt blue zebras (Metriaclima callainos) a 3.5" 'breeding pair' of red zebras (Metriaclima estherae var. "Red"), and a 1.5' unidentified juv. Haplochromis of some type (my daughter fell in love with it) and QT'd them for a month. They are now in the 150 with 9 sword-tails, 6 stunted silver dollars (1.5 yr old and only 2-3"), 4 Lg hatchet fish, 4 LG bleeding heart tetras (easily 2-2.5"), 5 serpae tetras, 5 Lg diamond tetras, one 3' run-of-the-mill Pleco (we've had really bad luck with
Plecos--lost 4 in a row during QT), two 1' Corydoras cats (spp?), one 4.5' Synodontis eupterus, one fat 3.5' Synodontis nigriventris, and a 3 yr old (in our tank) Boesemanni rainbow that seemed to go blind about 4 months after we got him (eyes clouded over but no fungus or anything and still manages to eat/survive). We intended to stick to more community-oriented Africans....but then I fell in love with a Firemouth pair (approximately 3 1/2") and a jack Dempsey (approximately 4 1/2"). They are currently in a 29 gal (30 1/4" x 12 1/2" x 18 3/4") quarantine tank with a little 2 1/2" Synodontis decorus and a bunch of snails (1 Apple, 2 Japanese trapdoor, and 7-8 small Nerites of some type for my 5 yr old son). They've been in QT for 10 days now and show no signs of illness/disease. I am, however, surprised by the lack of aggression from the JD. He is very content to hang out in his small section of the QT and is occasionally bullied by the male
Firemouth. The Firemouths aren't bonded/mated (I separated the female from her mate because he wasn't as nice looking as the other male) and the male also harasses the female 'who also harasses the JD. I've kept all of these animals before, except the JD, and I've never seen such aggression from Firemouths (unless defending eggs) or heard of such a docile JD. Water quality is good in the QT (0 NH4, 0 NO2, 0 NO3, 7.8 pH, 17dH, 80 deg F--same as 150 gal.) and there are plenty of caves/hides for all parties. My questions are:
1) Should I interpret the JD behavior as his/her general temperament? '¦artifact of compressed environment?
< If it is a male (Less blue on the face and more on the body), then it may get more territorial as it gets older. A female may not be as bad.>
2) Should I be concerned about the Firemouths aggressiveness?
< This may be a male Firemouth that will set up a territory and chase all other fish away. Those that cannot get away may be killed if they don't fight back.>
3) I know that at some point we'll need to clear out the sword tails and tetras but will the eventual size of the JD cause too much of a disparity w/ the Africans? '¦the Firemouths?
< African cichlids generally don't get along well with New World cichlids. The faster Africans are heavily scaled and have lots of sharp teeth to damage other fish. The larger JD will not be able to compete with the faster meaner Africans. This may not lead to death, but will lead to damaged unattractive fish that may become ill.>
4) I've been feeding the QT group cichlid flakes, cichlid pellets, and carnivore pellets, as well as supplemental algae for the snails. I've only noticed the S. decorus eat when we fed the tank some blood worms 'but he seems to be healthy 'very reclusive/difficult to observe 'should I be concerned?
<Bloodworms are not my favorite cichlid food. they can pick up toxins from the soil they ate found in and pass them on to the fish. I recommend using high quality pelleted foods.>
5) Is the *possible* future pairing of the Firemouths likely to cause problems in the main tank?
< Pairs of cichlids can be a problem in a community fish tank. Initially they will guard the eggs and then the wriggling fry. But as the fry start to become free swimming the territory will become larger and may take over a very large area of the tank and damage the other tankmates.>
Thank you for your time and valuable (to me and many) advice!
< No problem-Chuck>

36 gallon tank and its residence
Non-Dwarf Cichlids 6/21/09
I have a 36 gallon tank. A staffer at a local pets store suggested I purchase 2 Blood Parrots (2&1/2") and one Severum (labeled to reach maximum size = 6"). - Are these dwarf?
<Typically the definition of a dwarf cichlid is a cichlid that stays close to maximum size of 4 inches. The blood parrots and Severum can get up to 8 inches depending on the sex of the fish.>
From what I've been reading on your site they get twice this size?
< Some long term captives that have been well cared for can get up to 12 inches but usually they get around 8 to 10 inches.>
- I love your site by the way!
< Thank you for your kind words.>
Could you suggest what fish might I add to this tank to give a WOW factor to the color?
< If you are going to keep the parrots and Severum then you ill be limiting your choices.>
May I add one or two Kribs?
<The Kribs will be ok as long as the Severum stays small. When the Severum gets big it will dominate the tank and chase the smaller fish around.>
A small bright blue-type S. American compatible fish?
< If you go the dwarf cichlid route then rams would be a good addition.>
A school of red and blue neon tetra?
< These tetras would be eaten by the Severum. They would be ok in a tank with Kribs and rams.>
Do I need a bottom dweller?
<Most dwarf cichlids like to hang around the bottom of the tank looking for food over the sand. Other fish like cories usually get pushed out of the way.>
I appreciate any advice you can give!
< Look at some top water fish like hatchet fish too.-Chuck>

Various Questions (Community tanks; cichlid selection) 12/01/08 Hello all, Hope things are going well for you there. I have several questions, please. I start reading and hearing too much conflicting information about some freshwater aquarium fish (not from you there) and it starts taking all of the fun out of trying to pick what tank inhabitants I want. I hope you will help me. I am still in the process of setting up a 75 gallon fw aquarium and wanted to make sure that all levels of the water were utilized and also make sure that I had slow and fast swimmers. For the faster swimming fish I had thought about rainbow fish. I know they school and stay around the mid level I think. <Excellent fish; they don't like real soft water, but beyond that most species are hardy, peaceful and long-lived.> My choice for the top level was going to be several pairs of pearl gouramis since I love their color and I know they occupy the top region of the tank. I also heard that the pearl especially was peaceful. Now I have read in several different places that gouramis can be aggressive as they get older, even the pearl. So now I am not sure if I should forget them or not. <Easily worth the risk in a 75 gallon tank. Often reports of aggression with gouramis comes from two males in a 20 gallon or smaller tank. In your tank there's really no risk of trouble.> I had also thought of using angel fish and Severums in place of the rainbows, but then I read that I should get at least 6 smaller angels at the same time and let them grow up together because getting 2-4 would cause them to fight. I also read never to buy a large angel to start with because as a fish gets older it does not acclimate well to a new surrounding. <A school of Angelfish should be fine; yes, pairs become territorial when spawning but in large tanks groups of six or more usually balance out okay. In groups less than six bullying can occur. Certainly worth the risk.> And as far as the Severums I read that they got extremely large. <They do get big, and they're also plant-eaters. Another thing you might consider are Discus (surprisingly good community tank fish IF you choose tankmates carefully. Festivum cichlids are nice too, but you might also check out a pair of Hypselecara temporalis ("Emerald Chocolate Cichlid"). Kept these before and they're just amazing fish, with unique colours that constantly change from green to purple to chocolate brown. Smaller options including Blue Acara and Flag Acara. African Jewel Cichlids can be an option, though you need to choose tankmates carefully; I'm fond of Hemichromis lifalili.> Now I am confused and about ready to just give up and do a species tank so I don't have to worry about any of this stuff. If you could help me with correct information and maybe some suggestions I would greatly appreciate it. And as always, thanks for all you do. James Hall <Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Various Questions (Community tanks; cichlid selection) 12/01/08
Thank you Neale, I appreciate your time. <No problems.> Please bare with me on a couple more questions, please. I know you said that bullying with angels could occur with less than 6. Do you think I could get by with less, and if so does it matter whether all male or female? <In theory females might be fine as a group -- but sexing Angels is impossible.> And is it OK to put large ones in the tank or does that indeed stress them out more than buying and moving them when they are younger and smaller? <It's usually best to get small Angels and rear them together. Mated pairs are the other ideal -- but often expensive.> Do you recommend a particular species that is hardier than others that swims in the upper level of the water column? <Many options here. Would investigate oddball livebearers such as Limia nigrofasciata or Poecilia salvatoris if you're interested in algae control. Halfbeaks are great. Danios are good, but sensitive to very high temperatures above 75 F/24 C. Rainbowfish are an ideal all-around choice. Do also consider Splashing Tetras, even Congo Tetras.> And as far as pearl gouramis do you think I could go with more than 2 in a 75 gallon tank and is it OK to buy all males or should they be paired up? <Best in pairs; easy to sex, and the males and females are both pretty.> Thank you again for all your help? James <Cheers, Neale.>

Was re: Gouramis (Selection; behaviour), now "Cichlid" sel./comp. 10/16/08
Thank you. And I have another question, please. I have been reading a lot about a cichlid tank but find a lot of contradictions.
<There are over 1800 species in the family Cichlidae, so there really aren't any generalities that hold for all species. Hence much of what you're seeing as "contradictions" could easily be the fact that different species have different behaviours.>
Could you please tell me some species that would get along together, that will not disrupt the tank plants and are some of the easier ones to keep?
<By default, among the best cichlids for the beginner are the Keyhole Cichlid (Cleithracara maronii); the Flag Acara (Laetacara curviceps); the Common Krib (Pelvicachromis pulcher); tank-bred Angelfish (Pterophyllum spp.); and the Bolivian Ram (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus). These species are about as peaceful as cichlids get, don't dig, and usually make excellent community fish. They will also do well across a wide range of water conditions. Species beginners should avoid, for various reasons, are things like Common/Blue Rams (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi); Discus (Symphysodon spp.); Convict Cichlids (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus); Mbuna such as Pseudotropheus zebra and in fact most anything from Lakes Malawi or Tanganyika (with the possible exceptions of the dwarf "Shell Dwellers" such as Lamprologus ocellatus and Neolamprologus multifasciatus, as these can be quite good beginner's fish if you do your research carefully).>
Also what would be the ratio of male to female?
<Depends on the species. Some cichlids form pairs and should be kept thus, while others are polygamous, typically needing to be kept as one male to two or more females. Some species are so aggressive they have to be kept singly no matter what, while others are gregarious and have to be kept in schools.>
Thank you again.
<Do spend some time doing some research. How big's the tank? What's your local water chemistry? What kind of community do you want, a few big fish or lots of small fish? Do you want cichlids that will breed? Research those questions first, and then we'll talk some more. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Cichlid selection; was re: Gouramis (Selection; behaviour) 10/16/08
In response to your last advice

------I do not want the cichlids to breed
<Well that simplifies things.>
--I have a 75 gallon tank----
<That's a good size, but don't be deluded into thinking you can keep LOTS of cichlids in there. Don't work that way. I'd concentrate on species up to around 10 cm/4" in length. Dwarf cichlids, small Acara, and so on.>
I am not sure about my local water chemistry, but I can adjust it to fit the occupants-----
<I'd recommend against any thought of altering water chemistry unless you're a reasonably expert fishkeeper. Most fish can adapt to a range of conditions, but aquarists who "play" with water chemistry without really understanding what is going on are likely to do much more harm than good. Grab a pH test kit and a general hardness test kit, and then test your water. Many retailers will do this for you too, often at nominal cost (here in England, even for free if they like you). If you have hard water, then Tanganyikans or Malawian cichlids might be most fun, though they are both difficult groups in their ways (Tanganyikans are sensitive to poor water quality, and Malawians can be incredibly aggressive). In soft to moderately hard water, West African and South American cichlids are often favoured. Moderately hard to hard water suits Central Americans, but these fish can be tricky because many species are pretty violent and some get quite large. On the flip side, their colours can be riotously colourful, as with Paratheraps synspilum or even the Firemouth, if you can get good stock. Asian cichlids and Madagascan cichlids are uncommon in the trade, but some are amazingly pretty. Etroplus maculatus is widely sold, and if you're prepared to "go brackish" it's a great little fish combining bright colours with a relatively peaceful nature.>
I don't particularly want large fish I guess a few medium. For the kind of cichlids you just told me about for beginners--what would be the ratio of male to female for each one?
<It's wisest to get two females to each one male. This gives the male the chance to pick his mate, which reduces the likelihood of fights. In some cases, as with Pelvicachromis, the females are prettier than the males, so you may even choose just to keep some females. Do spend time with a book on cichlids: there are many, many titles. It's very easy to come a-cropper with this family. On the plus side, they're fantastic fish, combining brains and beauty, but on the down side, if you don't research their needs, you can end up with sick fish, damaged plants, and other problems. Cheers, Neale.>

Cichlid recommendations. For a 20 gal.   5/29/08 I am recently returning into the love of fish, they're more interesting than snakes, and have been wondering about stocking a tank with Cichlids. I am really interested in the Jurupari, and possibly some of the dwarf cichlids. I plan to buy a 20 gallon tank (not much else would fit in my room) and want to know what would be a good tank mix for it? <A twenty is too small for Juraparoids/Eartheaters...> I understand that with Jurupari it is recommend to keep the water extremely clean, to prevent hole-in-the-head, and that while they are young the gravel should be thin (Sandy or such...). I would just love to know if a 20 gal is large enough for one of these beautiful fish, or possibly two. If not, which Cichlids would you recommend? <Really, S. American Dwarfs...> I understand that angel-fish are very sweet (though territorial) fish, one of my friends owns a pair. Though, I am really interested in a fish like the earth eaters... It just sounds so fun. I also want something that I can watch and not stress out, my current fancy guppies (doing well mind you) stress me from time to time... They like to freak out all over the tank, interacting with their reflections. Thanks for the wonderful resource! Heather. <Welcome... do avail yourself of the many resources on the Net, library books re Apistogramma, Nannacara... Bob Fenner>

Cichlid mixing... 5/2/08 Hello Crew! I have a question. I've searched all over the web and get mixed signals on my new cichlid tank. I have 2 Angels, 2 Green Severums, 1 Turquoise Severum and 3 Jewel Cichlids. I purchased the Angels (dime-sized) about a month ago, along with the Green Severums. They are growing and doing fine. The 1 Turquoise Severum is newly added a week ago along with the 3 Jewels, all of which are about the same size as my Angels and Green Severums now. I have an older Clown-Loach (about 5 yrs. @ 5-inches) and a Pictus Cat (about 5 yrs. @ 6-inches). Am I in trouble with new combinations? This is a 55 gallon tank. <Potential trouble, at least. Severums and angels by and large get along outside of spawning, especially in big (250+ litre) aquaria. Your tank is a bit small to guarantee harmony, but you might get lucky. The Jewels are more of an issue, and become notoriously aggressive as they mature. Do bear in mind that cichlids are generally all pretty docile when young, and often form schools. It is only when they mature that they establish territories and become aggressive.> I had a Dojo, (7 yrs. old) that I'm afraid someone murdered. It may have just been his time to go, but I'm worried that the Jewels done it. His tail was semi-chewed up. His body wasn't mangled though, but bruised looking down the side. He was partially alive when I removed him and tried saving him, but his morning he was gone. Part of me thinks that if they done this to him, wouldn't they finish him off and eat on him. He was helpless. <Most cichlids are not all that carnivorous, the vast majority of species eating algae, plants, insect larvae and organic detritus. So while these cichlids may kill their tankmates, they don't usually eat them. In fact some of the most aggressive cichlids in the hobby are almost 100% herbivores, for example Tropheus spp. It is very important to understand that to a cichlid, another fish is a threat to their reproductive success, and not food. So yes, the Jewels may well have killed the loach, while not having any interest in eating it. All the Jewels see is a potential egg-eating predator.> Dojos have always been a favorite of mine. All of the ones I've ever had are so friendly. When I clean my tank, they love the opportunity to nibble on my arm. I can hold my hand out and they love to just sit there. They may have been looking for food, but it was nice to have a fish that acted like a companion pet. Most others act like I'm terrorizing them to do a water change. The Dojos seem to enjoy it. I'm sorry, but I don't know the scientific name of this fish, I hope you are familiar with the plain term/name used. <"Dojo Loach" is hardly ever used in the UK; instead we call this fish the Weather Loach. In any case, it's scientific name is Misgurnis anguillicaudatus, and if you use that name you will get much more information. It's a subtropical fish, and shouldn't be kept in a tropical aquarium. Maximum happy temperature is around 22 C, and ideally should be kept at plain vanilla room temperature.> I haven't seen the Jewels or the Severums pick on anything, but I'm gone 12 hours a day, 4 days a week. I can only monitor them from 7 to 10 at night. What makes me think someone murdered him is that I also had a fancy tail Tetra in the same tank; I adopted it from a friend that had to break her tank down to move. He's not very big, maybe 1 ½ inches, but had a nice tail. Needless to say, he barely has a tail and half of one fin is missing on one side. I've removed him and placed him in with my Beta for now. Overnight was fine and he seems relieved to have escaped. I'm not too worried about him and the Beta. I have Dwarf frogs in this tank as well. They are also a favorite of mine, along with the Beta. <It's "Betta" by the way, and rhymes with "better". I believe this is a native name for the fish, adapted into the Latin alphabet.> My light is on a timer from 3 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. These new fish seem to be big eaters. I've always had Angels, loaches, Dojos, Bala Shark's and cat fish, but they have always been fine with my schedule feeding times. Severums are new to me as well as the Jewels. I wanted a little more of a variety and thought after 20 years, I'd mix things up. <Jewel Cichlids are 100% not community cichlids. Once they become mature, breeding pairs can and WILL exterminate everything in the aquarium.> I'm wondering if I should feed them in the mornings before work. If they got hungry during the day, maybe this caused the aggression. <Totally unrelated.> Like I said, I haven't seen anything pick on anything during the evening when I watch them. They all mingle together during feeding. The Pictus Cat has always been a scary cat, hides a lot. <He is a schooling species, and that's why he's unhappy. Keep in groups of at least 3 specimens, and ideally 5+.> Never mingled with my Angels (I lost after 7 yrs.). However, I left the tank a little bare with only the Pictus Cat, 2 Loaches and 2 Dojos for several months and the Pictus was more relaxed and would even come to the top for food. I later lost 1 one my Dojos and 1 Clown Loach. The 1 Loach was bigger, even when I got him, so I don't know how old he was. They were old and didn't show any signs of disease. I know it was just their time to go. <Lifespan of Misgurnis anguillicaudatus is around 10 years, but they are very short lived when kept in tropical tanks. They literally burn out. Lifespan of Clown Loaches when kept properly is over 40 years, and they reach a length of over 30 cm. They are not easy fish to keep, and if you find Clown Loaches don't live that long and don't get that big, then you aren't keeping them right. If you can, grab a copy of this (May) copy of Practical Fishkeeping; it's got a great article by Emma Turner on Clown Loaches. I visited her home some months back, and she has a gigantic tank dedicated to Clowns. There's at least 30 specimens in this tank, the biggest of which is about the size of a house cat! Among the points she makes is that they need lots of fruit and vegetables in their diet, they need to be kept in groups, and they need superb water quality.> I'm not worried about the Tetra and the Beta that much. I'm more worried about the 55 gal. tank: 2 Angels 2 Green Severums 1 Turquoise Severums 3 Jewels 1 Pictus Cat (older) 1 Clown Loach (older) Sorry about making this lengthy, but I wanted to thoroughly explain what I had and my problems. It seems the problem in the stores is the same thing you get online, mixed information. It depends who you talk to. <The information on all these species is amply reported in fishkeeping books. There's no surprises to be had here.> Please advise me on my combination. Your website seems very informative and you guys seem to be well educated. <Seem!!!> A lot of places I've read that most of the time the Jewels will be fine with fish that are going to get larger than them, but other places I read that they are aggressive, even with each other. I can take a chance and monitor as much as possible, but I'd like an expert opinion on this matter. <Well, apart from the Jewels, I suspect you may be OK, especially if you get a couple more Pictus catfish. But the Jewels are totally unreliable, and odds are they will cause increasing problems as they mature. Jewels are bright red, brilliantly coloured, and not too big. So why doesn't everyone keep them? Because they are darned aggressive!> Thank You! Tonga <Good luck, Neale.>

Re: cichlid mixing... 5/2/08 Hi Neale! Thanks so much for the great information! I've spent most of the day online looking/reading/searching and you have helped more than anything I've found! I'm going to make arrangements to get rid of the Jewels. They are so pretty, but I don't want to them to grow up to murder the innocent fish. <This is indeed the case. They should be OK with Severum cichlids in a largish tank at least until they start breeding. But I do fear that sooner or later they will turn nasty, and at the least begin chasing and nipping at the other fish. I doubt they could kill a Severum, but they could certainly damage fins, allowing Finrot or fungus.> I'm debating on setting up another tank just for them. My husband is out of town and now would be my chance! <A great idea. Jewel cichlids are extremely beautiful, and their colours become most intense when breeding. You don't need a huge tank. Although Jewels can get to 20 cm in length, that seems to be very uncommon with tank-bred fish (likely because they're a hybrid rather than true species). Specimens typically seem to be about 12-15 cm long, and as such will fit quite comfortably as a matched pair in an aquarium around the 100 litre/30 gallon mark.> 'Betta' instead of 'Beta'...THANKS! <It's a common mistake, I think in America especially because Americans stress the "e" sound rather than the "t", so they get something that sounds like "beater" rather than "better". But now you know the right name, you can show off!> I'm glad you gave me the real name for the Dojo Loach. I need to learn more about them. They are a fun fish. <Yes, among my favourite fish. The ideal aquarium for them is alongside Goldfish or subtropical fish like Rosy Barbs or Danios, maintained at around 18 C/68 F.> I feel so bad for my Pictus Cat...he's scared because he doesn't have anyone like himself to hang out with. I'll definitely get him some buddies. <Cool. Again, lovely fish. But predatory, and often "blamed" for the death of Neon tetras and the like. Yes, they eat them, but it's our fault for mixing them with the wrong tankmates. Kept properly, they're sweet natured, surprisingly hardy catfish.> Oh, My! A Clown Loach as big as a house cat! My poor little fellows weren't properly raised. I feel terrible! Thanks...I'm going to try to locate a copy of the 'Practical Fish Keeping' with the article by Emma Turner. <Another excellent resources is Loaches.com. In smaller tanks, you're honestly much better with other loaches, such as Skunk Loaches. Clowns really are huge and potentially very difficult to maintain animals. Their bright colours and wide availability makes them seem ideal aquarium fish. But they're not. When you're buying one, you're getting something that gets closer to the size of a Koi carp than a regular aquarium fish!> I didn't mean it as an insult when I said you guys 'seemed' to be well educated. :( <No offence taken: merely me having fun. In any case, education has hardly anything to do with good fishkeeping. I've met college professors working on fish biology who seem to destroy everything in their path. And then I've met people who barely graduated from high school but can understand fish perfectly, and can breed or maintain even the most difficult fish.> Today is the first time that I stumbled across your site and I'm so glad that I did. I've already bookmarked you in my favorites and forwarded your site to a friend. It's great...you guys have done all of your homework and studied for us. I've tried studying today; however, getting a reply from you was worth it all. I've read several of your FAQ on different things. We all can learn from that. I also used the search link. <All nice to hear. If you have ideas on how to improve the site, please feel free to get in touch.> I have tried to find a fish that I saw at my local (very small) pet shop. It was white with black spots and in the tank with the Green Severums that I purchased. The only fish that I found very similar in body was the Ctenopoma acutirostre, but it is leopard in color. The one at the pet shop was white with black spots. <Could well be a juvenile Ctenopoma acutirostre. Juveniles are very pale cream coloured with black spots; as they mature, the colours shift to mid brown body with dark brown spots. They do have a distinctive body shape, rather leaf-like with a very pointed snout. These are lovely fish, but shy, and need a quiet tank with lots of plants. They mix rather well with Angelfish, and actually both species are extremely similar in terms of habits. Ctenopoma acutirostre will eat small fish like Neons (as will Angelfish) but mostly they eat insect larvae, and adore live/wet-frozen bloodworms. Extremely long lived. I had a couple of specimens that were around 10 years old when I gave them away. I believe they can live for something like 15-20 years in some cases. Slow growing, quite hardy air-breathing fish. Not to be mixed with anything aggressive. Would be fine with Angels and Severums of equal size, provided they were fed properly and all the fish had their own hiding places.> The owners couldn't tell me what it was. I firmly believe the owners of a store should be able to tell you what you're buying, but sadly we can't depend on that. <Ask them what name they came in under on their purchase lists. Fish shops "order" from "menus", so there's no way they don't know what the fish is, unless it was something a customer brought in as an unwanted fish.> I feel so uneducated. I'm 42 and I've had a fish tank ever since I was 20. It's obvious that haven't learned a whole lot over the years. But, there is still hope for me! Just look at what all I learned today! You have a great site...I'm glad you are out there! HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY! THANKS AGAIN! :) <We're happy to help, and enjoy your fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: cichlid mixing...   5/4/08 I wanted to Thank You again Neale for all of your advice. My Jewels have been taken back to the local pet shop. I'm going to hold off on another tank for right now. I have a 20-25 gallon saltwater that only has 1 Clown fish in it. He's been there for 3 years now. I figure one day he will eventually pass on. I've looked at a 44 gallon corner tank and it would fit perfectly where the saltwater tank is now. I don't want to take on too much to handle. Fish aquariums aren't just a hobby, they are a job. I'll eventually get another one. At least when I do go back to purchase Jewel Cichlids I will know what I'm getting thanks to you and your expert help. <Do be critical when looking at 'corner tanks' -- while they can look amazing, their odd shape creates problems with regard to filtration, territoriality, lighting, etc. In effect you pay a premium for a tank of a certain volume that actually holds fewer fish or plants than you would expect. Plain vanilla rectangles, especially long and broad (rather than deep) tanks are by far the best value.> The stores (3) I went to today didn't have any Pictus Catfish, but I will find him some friends hopefully next weekend. That's the problem with these small towns with one red-light, not very much to choose from. I went to the closest shops both North and South of me and no one had them. I will have to travel further next weekend. <There's no rush; get more Pictus as and when you see them. They're seasonal, and the Brazil export season doesn't really start until the end of summer.> THANKS AGAIN! I really appreciate you replying to me so quickly. You're the Best! :) HAVE A WONDERFUL EVENING! I'll keep in touch with your site to continue my education. Tonga <Glad to be of help. Good luck, Neale.>

Q re new 63 gallon stocking cichlids / community 04/21/08 Hi there, Fantastic site, a great resource. Many thanks for all your work. <Most welcome.> I am planning to get a new tank in a couple of months (Juwel Rio 240 - 63 Us Gallons), had 1st tank for 18 months- now hooked. Unlikely I can get a bigger tank than this (boo) Likely add a canister filter too. Fishless cycle of course. <Juwel tanks are lovely and well constructed. The filters aren't great for big, messy fish because they lack mechanical filtration capacity, but otherwise provide good water quality. So a good choice.> I wonder if you can help on some stocking questions? I have searched WWW and many sites but not found my exact situation. <Ok.> I was originally planning to get an Oscar but have since changed my mind as I want a community tank but I do still want to keep cichlids, if possible, as their behaviour seems very interesting, especially breeding. <Indeed; Oscars are a bit big for this sized aquarium to be honest, and even a pair of medium sized cichlids, such as Jewel Cichlids, could monopolise the tank once they start breeding.> This led me to look at dwarf cichlids but compatibility with other fish on my 'want' list (particularly water param.s, then aggression then bio load) has left me a bit confused. <Dwarfs are an excellent choice: but your problem with Dwarf cichlids are these: [a] They tend to be very sensitive to water quality issues, so can't be heavily stocked despite their size; and [b] many Dwarfs have very picky water chemistry requirements, if not for maintenance, then certainly for breeding. Krib-type things (Pelvicachromis spp.) for example will live in practically anything, even brackish water, but unless the pH is neutral, you get fry of all one sex.> I also most likely want to have it as a medium planted tank so that rules out big cichlids. <True, though Angelfish and Discus are good with plants.> I may ditch the plant idea for this tank if it turns out to be unsuitable but I like the look of all that greenery. <As do the cichlids, which tend to prefer shady environments over open water.> Water param.s: Hard London water, PH 7.2. Temp to set is part of the compatibility question. <Indeed. Many cichlids need very warm (e.g., Mikrogeophagus ramirezi) or slightly cool (e.g., some Aequidens spp.) conditions relative to the usual 25 C/77 F.> Other fish I would like to have in this new tank: Plec. Ideally I would like a Royal Panaque but might get too big for 240ltr with other fish? <Royal Plecs grow slowly. My 15 year old specimen lives in a 180 litre tank and is quite happy. The main problem is these fish are completely incompatible with plants (as far as I can tell, and I've struggled!). They don't eat most plants (though they do eat Anubias!) but simply are so clumsy and spiky, they uproot everything. They produce phenomenal amounts of waste too, and that makes most tanks look murky. Best kept in a rocky aquarium with strong filtration and a bit of bogwood for them to eat (an essential requisite). All this said, they are SUPERB catfish, and honestly the one fish I've always kept: even when I emigrated to the US for a few years, I had someone baby sit my Panaque for when I got back. These cats are simply lovely subjects for the fish connoisseur.> If so I will likely move my breeding pair of Ancistrus sp (Bristlenose Plecs) to the new tank. <Ancistrus are excellent with most small cichlids. So are most medium sized Loricariidae; the main thing is to avoid anything so easily damaged (like Farlowella) or hard to keep (like Otocinclus) that they become more trouble in this tank than they're worth.> Cory catfish, not sure what type. I was planning around 6 bronze cories but read that dwarf cichlids need warmer water and only 'Corydoras myersi' would be suitable at higher temps. I can't find much info on these and haven't seen them in the four LFS I go to. <As a rule, Corydoras do not like excessively warm water. They muddle through, but you never see them at their best. My Peppered Corydoras never looked so happy as when they were in the garden pond over summer (a UK summer at that!). Corydoras sterbai is the "old favourite" for warm water tanks and seems to prosper though. It is the standard issue Corydoras for things like Discus tanks. The question is whether you should mix them with dwarf cichlids at all: some, like Loiselle, suggest not, because even Apistogramma can attack these little catfish. Certainly my Corydoras seem completely incapable of learning about territories, meaning that they can get harassed by territory-holding cichlids. By contrast, things like Loricariidae and Synodontis tend to be altogether more robust.> I also plan to have 5-6 clown loaches as these are one of my favourite fish but have concerns about eventual size and again compatibility with cichlids. <Clowns get enormous when well kept, and do need very specific conditions to thrive. I'd tend to eschew them if at all possible, or else design the tank around them and stock it with fast-water species at midwater levels, like big characins and barbs. But that said, they generally work very well with cichlids.> A school of dither fish for the upper levels is also planned for movement and security feeling for other fish. I was thinking Zebra Danios, around 12 of them. Happy to consider other smallish schooling dither fish. <Danios, like Corydoras, are fish of cooler, fast-water streams, which are not the same as those preferred by most cichlids. So I'd tend to choose things like unusual livebearers and/or halfbeaks (for hardwater cichlids) or Rasboras/tetras (for soft water cichlids). Rainbowfish are also good, and generally adapt to pretty much anything. Melanotaenia boesemanni for example gives you hardiness, great colours, a decent size, and longevity.> And finally some Otos if possible. <Honestly, avoid these. The vast majority die within months. They need a constant supply of green algae. Not much else seems to work for them.> Some of the Cichlids I have been considering are Blue ram (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi), <Unless you set the tank up for them, and have access to top-quality (as opposed to farmed) fish, then skip these.> Bolivian Ram (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus), <An excellent fish: hardy, adaptable, happy at regular temperatures.> Dwarf cichlid (Apisto Agassizi) -or Cockatoo cichlid Apistogramma cacatuoides. <Another superb species, and quite possibly the most reliable and adaptable Apistogramma on the market. A harem of these fish is quite a spectacle.> I was thinking about 6 of any one particular type. I have read mixed reports on how hardy Blue (German?) rams are and what hardness of water other dwarfs like. <Commercial Rams are diabolical, and have been for years. Decent stock of either of the other species should work well. As with any Dwarf cichlids, investing in a fair size group so that you can tolerate a little wastage isn't a bad idea, but do try and buy from two (or more) sellers so that you mix up the gene pool a bit.> Alternatively I was considering slightly larger cichlids, a M/F pair but not sure on compatibility with my other choices (e.g. breeding convicts killing everything in sight!). <Do consider the smaller Malawians and Tanganyikans. For example, dwarf Shell Dwellers (such as Neolamprologus brevis and Lamprologus ocellatus are wonderful, and thrive in hard, basic water of the sort "enjoyed" by many English aquarists. This makes water changes easy, so managing nitrate becomes simple. Better yet, these fish stay at the bottom of the tank, where the rocks and shells are. Some form pairs, others live in harems, so you options there in what behaviours you want to observe. So you can populate the upper level with rare livebearers such as Limia nigrofasciata. You get *two* interesting breeding/behaviour projects for the price of one! Add any oddball hardwater-tolerant catfish (like Ancistrus for example) and cichlids if you want, by building up a rocky area along one side of the tank (for the one-off Tanganyikans say) and then have the open sandy area with the shells somewhere else. Maybe plant along the back with Vallisneria, which is native to Tanganyika and positively thrives in hard, basic water. Provided none of the cichlids were predatory, you could also keep shrimps and interesting snails (like Nerites or the *predatory* whelk Clea helena) to turn the thing into a "freshwater reef tank"!> So in summary I would like some Cichlids (a pair or preferably around 6 dwarfs), dither fish, bottom dwellers (Plecs are a must -- love them) and possibly Clown Loaches. Hope you can help? <Hope I have!> BTW Neale, if you read this I love your style and wit, especially when the recipient of a barb or two goes a bit nuts, jeez some people. All the best to Bob et al at WWW. Many thanks in advance William <Thanks for the kind words, and hope this helps, Neale.>

Cichlids, sel., using WWM   2/22/08 Hello, I've emailed you guys before about advice on tanks, set-ups and many other things. I now have the desire to set up a very colorful tank (30-55 gal.) that will be inhabited by cichlids. I have a particular interest in the yellow lab because of its bright color as well as the demasoni cichlid but I cannot find any other that catch my eye such as these two. I would also like to add some inverts if possible and a Pleco as well. Could you please send me something in return about this topic and what fish to add to this community as well as any advice you may have that is helpful. Thanks. <... Please make use of the search tool, indices... Per: http://wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm Bob Fenner>

Rams substitute, sm. cichlid sel.     2/16/08 Hello, Neale <Mark,> I have a 20 gallon hexagon freshwater planted tank. Currently It has 6 harlequin Rasboras and 6 cardinal tetras. <A nice combination of fish, but consider adding some more of each for a real "punch" of colour.> I used to have blue rams, but I could keep them alive just for a few (3-4) months. I gave up. <No surprise. The quality of commercial stock is low.> I'd like to keep a pair of Bolivian rams or kribs instead. Which one you recommend? <Both are nice. Bolivian Rams are perhaps less colourful than Kribs, but they are also a bit less likely to cause mayhem if they decide to breed. On the other hand, breeding Kribs is a great way to experience dwarf cichlids. Really, both are lovely, so I'd tend to go with what you can get and/or what looks good at the moment. Good quality Kribs are incredibly eye-catching, but a lot of mass produced fish don't have the full set of colours. One might argue that two female Kribs would be a great way forward, since the females are smaller and perhaps more brightly coloured. Do also check out the other Pelvicachromis species beyond the Krib; Pelvicachromis taeniatus and Pelvicachromis subocellatus are two personal favourites.> They are bigger then blue rams. Would they fit to this tank? <Yes.> What temperature should I have? (Currently it is 84 F) <I'd tone that down a little, closer to 77-79F.> Would they harm my other fish? <Dwarf Cichlids are not 100% reliable. They are, after all, cichlids. Just a bit smaller than otherwise. But if they want to be mean, they can be. That said, both Kribs and Bolivian Rams are considered good choices for the community tank, especially if they have adequate numbers of caves so they don't feel insecure. Half a coconut shell, covered with Java Moss, is a perfect nest.> Maybe it is better to get honey Gouramis? May be something else? <There are certainly other options. Badis badis, if you can find it, is one of the loveliest fish. It's called the "Chameleon Perch" and lives up to its name. A seasonal fish, so you don't see it all year round. Quite fussy at dinner time, too. Another excellent little fish if you want a "character" is the Florida Flagfish. Although a killifish, it behaves more like a dwarf cichlid. Tend to look uninspiring in aquarium shops, but when settled down have amazing red and blue colours. Also eats algae! Flag Acara (Laetacara curviceps) is another peaceful cichlid with lovely colours. One last choice, if you're feeling ambitious, is the dwarf climbing perch Microctenopoma ansorgei; in breeding condition, the males have amazing colours.> Thank you for your help, Mark <Cheers, Neale.>

Freshwater Newbie!   1/12/08 Hello All, <Hello Tom!> Please be patient with me as I am just getting into the relaxing (at times) world of freshwater tanks. I went and bought new 60Gal with a cascade 1000 filter. The tank looks beautiful with some fake plants, speckled gravel and lots of hiding places (pottery and rocks). I'm ready for fish! Unlike most, I am taking my time in the selection because I want to make sure no fish are sacrificed and my family can enjoy this experience. Here is what I have narrowed my fish selection down to: <Ok...> First Group: (1) Chocolate Cichlid (1) Jurupari (1) Green Severum <Fine in terms of behaviour, but these are BIG fish, and a 60 US gallon tank will feel very crowded. While they might live in this space, they could just as easily end up fighting or suffering from problems such as hole-in-the-head thanks to high nitrate levels. Satanoperca jurupari gets to about 18 cm, Hypselecara temporalis to about 20 cm, and Heros severus about the same. A 60 US gallon tank is really better suited to cichlids in the 10-15 cm size scale.> Second Group: (1) Iridescent or albino shark (catfish) (1) Clown Loach (1) Upside down catfish <Pangasius hypophthalmus reaches a maximum length of 130 cm, which is obviously way too big for your tank. Clown loaches are sociable and easily reach 20 cm if adequately cared for, and nearer 30 cm is well cared for. In other words, you really need a tank suitable for 5-6 Clowns, which is more than 60 US gallons will accommodate. So again, not a great choice. Yes, I know people keep single Clown loaches -- but trust me, those loaches are UNHAPPY, and SHY, and NERVOUS. If you want to enjoy these fish, and let these fish enjoy their lives, you need a group of them. Synodontis nigriventris is an ideal size for your aquarium. Maximum size is about 8 cm, and they are sociable too, and in schools become great fun. I have some in the tank next to me, and they scoot about chasing one another and generally putting on a good show. A superb aquarium fish.> Third Group: (1) Red Oscar (1) Tiger Oscar (2) Pleco <A mated pair of Oscars will be happy enough in a tank this size... but two random Oscars dumped in a tank this small (or really any size short of a public aquarium) can end up fighting once they mature. Oscars are, of course, impossible to sex as juveniles and practically impossible to sex even as adults. Do remember these varieties are all the same species. As for the Plec, yes, most Plecs will do fine in a 60 gallon system.> I decided to get the fish in three groups because the first and second group need a chance to grow and make themselves at home in the new tank. I wanted the first group to start growing at least a little bit before I put the baby Oscars in the tank. Obviously, the tank would not need the Plecos until later on anyway. <You don't "need" a Plec. It will do nothing to stop algae (quite the reverse in fact) and cichlids are plenty good enough to clean up leftover food by themselves. By all means add a Plec if you want one, but it has nothing to do with "need".> So with all this being said, here are my two questions: 1) Is this tank going to be overcrowded with 8 fish and 2 Plecos? <WHOA!... you mean you want ALL THESE fish in the same aquarium?!?! NOT A CHANCE. I thought these were three possible options, which is bad enough. All of them in one tank would be a disaster.> I know Plecos are fish too, (I don't want to upset anyone or any fish) but they don't need a huge amount of space from what I was told. <Whoever told you this is talking rubbish. Plecs produce a massive amount of waste and are very territorial in their own right.> Should be about 40 - 50 inches in a 60Gal <Length of fish per gallon only works for small things: Danios, Neons, Guppies, etc. Big fish are entirely different. For a start, oxygen/filtration requirements are related to mass (volume) not length. Volume goes up as a cube of length. So an Oscar may only be 12 times the length of a Neon, but it is 12 x 12 x 12 = 1728 times the volume! It's a little more complex than this because bigger animals have slower metabolic rates than smaller animals, but even allowing for that an Oscar is producing many times more ammonia than, say, 12 Neon tetras, and using many times more oxygen. You also have to allow for bigger fish having territorial demands. A sexually mature Oscar will hold a territory 1-2 m in radius. That's obviously far larger than your aquarium. So should an Oscar decide to become pushy, the other fish will be in DEEP TROUBLE.> 2) More importantly, have I not picked the correct tankmates? <Sorry, nope. Back to the drawing board. Be a little less ambitious, and look at fish around the 10-15 cm mark. You will be able to safely stock a nicer variety, and those fish will be much happier and more likely to exhibit interesting behaviours.> Thanks, Tom <Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Freshwater Newbie!   1/11/08
Thanks Neale! That's why I'm doing my research. I thought a 60Gal was a big tank. I guess it's all relative to the fish it's stocked with???? <Precisely so. And there's a difference between a glass box into which a fish can be wedged, and a tank around which swim and entertain you. A bored fish makes for a boring aquarium.> The local pet shop doesn't care because they said I would be able to fit all of these fish in a 60Gal. I suppose they just want the money and don't care for the welfare of the fish. <Quite possibly.> It also seems like people are overly cautious at times. My friend has a 29Gal with two Oscars 6 - 7 inches and an iridescent 8 inches for over 5 years. He said they grow pretty much to the tank size and in his setup they seem very happy. <Hmm... fish don't really grow to the size of the tank. That's a myth. While it is true that few iridescent sharks actually get to 130 cm (that's maximum in the wild, and mostly quoted to scare you!) zoos and public aquaria are overwhelmed with large specimens 30 cm upwards donated by home hobbyists who couldn't care for them any more. As for those Oscars, they're still babies, surely? In 5 years, I'd expect an Oscar to be more or less full size. Conservatively, that's at least 20 cm, up to over 30 cm when kept really well.> Thanks Again, <Better we make the mistakes on paper. Do take a look at a cichlid book, especially one containing things like Tanganyikans or Dwarf Cichlids. I suspect you'd fine a tank with a harem of shell-dwelling Lamprologus at the bottom and some rare livebearers at the top a lot more fun than a few big, boring fish. Or a rocky reef with a bunch of Neolamprologus or some of the dwarf Mbuna. Or a harem of Apistogramma with some tetras at the top... lots of options!> You guys are awesome and I will definitely take the advice and start my thinking process over again. Back to the drawing board!!! Tom <Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Filtration, water and stock advice  - 05/01/07 Great, many thanks Neale. With regard to your fish recommendations - I like cichlids but what would you recommend that doesn't get too big, aggressive and plant 'uprooty'? I think a pair of Kribensis would look great though. <The list here is huge. Anything from the genus Pelvicachromis, including the common Krib, will do fine. Keyhole cichlids and blue Acara are also viable, though both do best in water that isn't too hard/alkaline. They aren't too large either. Some people have success keeping things like Neolamprologus brichardi in hard water community tanks, but Tanganyikans tend to be a little aggressive for community tanks. But in a 55 gallon tank, I'd take the chance. Otherwise, simply read and chat with other cichlid keepers. There are lots of smallish, non-disruptive species out there.> Also rainbow fish. I'm sure I've seen several fish by that name - could you give me the Latin please and I'll look it up. <Many many species. Choose from what's available. Two of nicest species are Melanotaenia boesemanni and Glossolepis incisus, both easy to find. Pretty much all the rainbowfish are safe, hard water tolerant, and easy to keep.> Cheers, Charlie <Cheers, Neale>

All charged up about Cichlids... which/where to go?  4/17/04 Hello!! my name is Nikki I have a new 55 gallon that I have just begun cycling and a 10 gallon with two filters one that turns 100gph and one that turns 50 or so gph I was wondering the biggest most aggressive fish (cichlid/s) I could put in this setup...... I like plants rocks driftwood etc. but they are not necessary (I know most aggressive fish will tear up the tank). I am looking more for a fish with lots of character and not just looks I have bought many tropical fish books and researched a lot on the web but a lot of the information contradicts what I know to be true (a novice aquarist) and what I have read so I turn to you for RELIABLE advice. PLEASE HELP!!! also is it okay to just have one fish in the tank or does it need tank mates?! <Quite a few Cichlids are best kept one to a tank, if the volume is small... e.g. the species called Red Devils...> many thanks for any help you can give me! In addition the 55 gal has two angelfish about 3 1/2 in each, an algae eater I think it is a loach of some sort not to sure, and an African dwarf frog, I was wondering what cichlids would be compatible and fit okay in this set-up as well. <Mmm, other S. Americans... see fishbase.org... search by country, river (Amazon) then by family...> I love the Sciaenochromis ahli "electric blue Haplochromis" I don't think it will be compatible in this case <You are correct here> but I love them they are beautiful...any suggestions? <Yes... books... perhaps the library... for the short works of Paul Loiselle on the family> I also like Agassiz's dwarf cichlid, <A good choice here... if your 55 has soft, acidic, warm water...> Salvins cichlid, dickfeld's julie, Marlieri julie, ornatus, fuelleborni cichlid, and the fairy cichlid. Would any of these work and get along with the other inhabitants of the tank? <Mmm, not really... Best to not mix African Cichlids with non-Africans... and even to sort through the Africans (and non-) for bodies of water, habitat, compatibility issues...> Thanks again!! You guys are awesome <Read my young friend... redirect your enthusiasm, drive... focus that energy into quiet reflection on what you can find in books (not the Net) re this expansive family of fishes, their captive husbandry... Do consider joining, participating in the various Cichlid clubs... the American Cichlid Association in particular. Please do write back with more specific questions... am hopeful that our local cichlidophile, Chuck Rambo will be about, can/will offer you more/better direction. Bob Fenner>

Small Cichlid species sel., LR intro. into an est. reef  - 03/02/07 Hi <Hello> Two separate questions for you guys 1. I have a spare 15gal tank I don't know what to do with!! I would love to keep some cyclids, <A new spelling... to me! Biker types?> but I am aware that they are territorial, aggressive, and I am not sure that a 15 g would be big enough. <Mmm, for some dwarf, small species this could work> I don't want loads, nor do I want big ones, but is it possible to keep a few, small, pretty, easy to breed, Lake Malawi cyclids in a small tank? <... maybe some of the "shell dwelling species"...> 2. secondly, a marine question. I have had a 35 g marine reef for two years now, with a few fish, and some undemanding soft corals, as I do not have, nor want, intense lighting. I have run on an external canister filter for 2 years, but I have a colleague who is dismantling his reef, and he has approx 12 kg of cured live rock. His water parametres are great, and I would like to move to a live rock based system with the skimmer and UV. I feel that as his rock is so well cured, I wouldn't have a problem with spiking ammonia or nitrite, but would i need to keep the external filter running for a while, and is 12kg enough for my tank? <Yes, I would> I think your site is absolutely brilliant, and i refer to it constantly. Many thanks Lesley <Thank you. Bob Fenner>

Needing Upgrade advice. Acrylic/Glass, and cichlid sel.   3/1/07 I currently have a 29 gallon and a 10 gallon fresh water setup. I was thinking about shutting down the 10 gallon and replacing it with a larger tank 40 to 50 gallons.  What in your opinion are the pros and cons of an acrylic versus glass tank? <Mmm, acrylic hold their value longer... are not nearly as likely to break or leak... but do scratch easier than glass... though are easier to remove scratches from... Acrylic are better thermal insulators... look nicer IMO>   I was going to stay with fresh water and look into getting some cichlids.  Any advice about these as far as hardiness would be helpful also.  Thanks, Chuck <The third largest family of fishes... some very tough indeed... others very much not so... Perhaps you want to investigate a given biotope... a part of an area of the world... micro-habitat... Or center on a key species or two... See the Net, books re... or write us back with more specific questions... Bob Fenner>

Cichlid Tank Recommendations  2/28/07 Hi-I just discovered your site and have found it to be very helpful!   I have a fully cycled 29 gallon tank and would like to put some cichlids in there.  I know I am at the min. end of tank size and want to be sure I don't end up with a battle ring instead of a fish tank! I have some angels currently but could re home them in another tank.  I have been doing research on cichlids that have been listed some where or another as OK for a 29 gallon.  Please tell me what you think how many of which I could add to the tank and feel free to offer sugg ( why I'm e-mailing right :-)). South American:  I like Agassiz's dwarf, cockatoos, keyholes and panda dwarfs. < All very acceptable in a community tank set up. they prefer very soft acidic water with lots of plants and places to hide.> Central American: Fire mouth too bit)?  And rainbows. < Central American cichlids like Firemouths get up to 6 inches for some males and are really too aggressive to be placed in a community tank set up. Rainbows are fine. Vey active and colorful.> Lake Tanganyika: Neolamprologus, Lamprologus, yellow labs, Julies, and Steatocranus (too aggressive?) <Tanganyikans like lamps and Julies would do OK in hard alkaline water. Stick with medium sized ones. Yellow labs come from Lake Malawi and would do best by themselves. The Buffalohead types from the Congo river would do OK but their reduced swim bladder limits them to the bottom of the tank.> Mbuna (probably some of my fave): red zebra, peacock, Pseudotropheus saulosi (my fave cichlid I have researched but will do with out if I should:-)) and Chalinochromis. < Zebras get big and are very aggressive. Peacocks are OK but the females are rather drab. The Ps saulosi are an excellent choice. They stay small are a very peaceful for Mbuna. The Chalinochromis come from Lake Tanganyika and can be treated the same as the lamps and Julies.> Also I like the more common cichlids such as rams worry about their sensitivity), flags and Kribs. < Treat like the dwarf cichlids in your earlier question.> I have read that I could do a Lamprologus mix tank or 2 calvus,3 brichardi, 2 lemon and 4 shell dwellers.  Also 1 pair of Kribs , 1 pair of African butterfly cichlids plus tetras or barbs.  8-10 Pseudotropheus saulosi plus dithers or plus 4 yellow labs. <Go with the Krib tank. It is the best mix you have suggested.> The confusion I have is I read somewhere I can and then read I can't. frustrating! My pH is naturally 7.6 with a piece of drift wood so I worry about being able to lower it for some fish. Any tank combos would be helpful!!  Also a little nervous about finding pairs and also getting them young and small enough to add together (my tank is stocked now so no problem adding that many at the same time) any suggestions on doing both?!?!Any help you can offer is greatly appreciated!!   Thank you- Christie < Your suggested cichlid combinations are all over the place. I would recommend that you get a book by Ad Konings titled "Enjoying Cichlids". A great book  that is written by experts all over the world. This will help you decided witch cichlids will go in your tank based on numerous factors.-Chuck>

55 gal tank, cichlid sel.     1/21/07 Hi! My name is Stacey. <<Hi. Mine's Tom.>> I have recently purchased a 55 gal tank. <<Congratulations.>> My question is how many fish per gallon can you put into a tank? I do not want to over-populate. I will be putting cichlids in the tank. Thank you for your help in advance. <<Seems a reasonable question on the surface, Stacey, but in the world of Cichlids, it's not that simple. The temperaments of the members of this huge family of fish run from murderously aggressive to peaceful and shy depending on the species. A large number of Cichlids are extremely territorial particularly during breeding and even those not well-noted for being 'territorial' may become so at this time. Properly set up, a Cichlid tank will provide plenty of hiding places for the fish, i.e. rocks, caves, etc., which can 'chew up' a good deal of otherwise occupiable space. In short, the question you want to ask is, 'What fish?', rather than, 'How many fish?' Cichlids, typically, have some of the most interesting and outgoing personalities in the hobby and many aquarists are very happy to house only one of the larger varieties in a tank such as yours. Other folks would consider a single fish in a 55-gallon tank as 'boring'. What I would strongly advise, beyond the research that you'll need to do, is to make certain that you consider the 'adult' size of any fish that you add to this tank. Also, many, if not most, Cichlids are happier in male/female pairs and some LFS's are reluctant to sell their Cichlids singly. Unlike most other freshwater fish, Cichlids make wonderful parents to their young, protecting and nurturing them for upwards of months. What might start out as a modest number of fish could turn into something very different for you.>> Stacey <<Sorry if I've created more questions for you than I've answered but suggesting what you 'should do' is a lot easier than telling you what you 'should have done'. Take your time, do your homework and all will be fine. Best of luck to you. Tom>>
Re: 55 gallon tank
 - 1/22/07 Thank you for your help. <<Glad to be of help, Stacey.>> I greatly appreciate you getting back to me so quickly. <<We try our best.>> I will in fact be doing my homework on these fish. <<As a "kick-off", you might investigate the smaller varieties like the so-called Dwarf Cichlids. These generally don't range far from 3"-4" in length and are typically very peaceful creatures. Bear in mind that during spawning they're "Cichlids", however, and will be territorial. In my opinion, your 55-gallon tank would be a wonderful size for these fish enabling you to create the hiding places we spoke of without sacrificing a lot of swimming area to do so. Plenty of room, also, to "dilute" territorial issues should your fish breed. Might not be "hardcore" by Cichlid-keepers' standards, but not a bad way to go.>> Thanks again, Stacey <<You know where to find us if there's anything else, Stacey. Best regards. Tom>>

One Male Cichlid Per Tank  - 11/11/06 Thanks again Chuck.  Is it true that if keeping all males, the alpha male will be the only one with color? < When more than one male is kept per tank there is always one that will become aggressive because he wants to mate and establish a territory. When other males come into his territory that either show the same dominant fight colors and challenge the dominant male or else these show a more submissive coloration that says "I'm not interested in fighting" . Unfortunately the less dominant coloration is usually pretty drab.-Chuck>

Setting Up A Cichlid Tank 9/25/06 Hello, I have a few things that I would like to get your advice on.  I was given a 55 gallon tank and had been planning on putting some goldfish, dojo loaches and zebra danios in it, but after keeping fish for a while these seem somewhat mundane. <I agree.> I was wondering if a 55 gallon would be too small for keeping some cichlids in.  I know something like an Oscar would be too big, but what about Green Terrors < Too big.> , Firemouths <Ok> or Jack Dempseys? < Males get big.> I don't really want to breed any of these fish, because I wouldn't know what to do with the fry, but I know they are beautiful and have interesting personalities when compared to most other fish.  How many of these fish would be okay in a 55 gallon tank?  And what sort of tank mates would be compatible with these cichlids (keeping in mind not to overcrowd).  Thank you for your help. Matt < As long as the fish are not paired up then you could have quite a few potential candidates. One Firemouth, convict, jewelfish, blue Acara, black Acara would go together just to get started. There are many convict and Firemouth like cichlids from Central America. Do a Google search on Archocentrus and Thorichthys to see some of these other species. Keep in mind that I think almost all of these fish will cross with each other so try and get all the same sex. You could probably keep six or seven of these in a 55 gallon with good filtration and regular water changes.-Chuck>

Cichlids For A 10 Gallon Tank  - 05/20/2006 Bob, thanks for your reply. The 10 g saltwater was a thought, but I won't set it up. Instead I will set up a 40 gallon breeder for freshwater.  (If I set up a 40 g FOWLR salt tank, I know I would turn it into a reef and that is not a good $$$ idea right now.) It will either be a Ram/Cardinal tank, or a tank for shell dwellers Lamprologus ocellatus.   I can't find very much information for Lamprologus ocellatus  on WetWebMedia.  Do you know anything about them?  Are they an interesting fish with personality? < The little shell dwelling cichlid from Lake Tanganyika like hard alkaline water of at least 80 F. Males get over an inch while females usually stay under an inch. They can be kept in a small group and are continually moving substrate around as they rearrange their tank. very easy to care for and breed.> I have an RO unit so I can adjust the water for either Rams or Shellies.  Which do you think would make for a more interesting tank (or if it was yours which would you set up?)  Just curious. Thanks, Michelle < Wild rams are a personal favorite. They like warm water of about 82 F. Once they are settled in the are always challenging each other with a charging display that is very entertaining. The rams are more difficult to keep but the lamps are very easy to keep and breed.-Chuck>

Cichlids For a 37 gallon Tank  - 5/11/06 Hello, I am in the process of setting up a 37 gal tank and would like to stock it with cichlids. I'm not sure what would be good candidates for this size tank. Also I was thinking of adding a blue crayfish if that is at all possible.  Any comments or thoughts would be greatly appreciated and very helpful. Thank you for your time. Jason < Lots of choices. I suggest your read the book "Enjoying Cichlids" By Ad Konings @ Cichlidpress. Lots of great info that covers almost all the groups of cichlids. A crayfish would always try to catch a fish and eat it. When the crayfish sheds his exoskeleton it becomes vulnerable to being eaten by fish until the new shell hardens.-Chuck>

Cichlids For a Small Aquarium  - 04/27/06 Greetings everyone. I'm considering setting up a 20-gallon (long) tank in my office and don't know what fish to populate it with. I'm leaning towards cichlids because of their interesting behavior. Ideally whatever fish I choose will not outgrow the tank. Perhaps a pair of Kribensis and/or Rams? A breeding pair would be ok (and certainly make my work-day more interesting -- LOL!). Or would larger cichlids be feasible -- perhaps a pair of Firemouths or Keyholes or Blue Acaras? Can you suggest any others? Thanks -- any advice is appreciated! Ricq < If you wanted a planted aquarium then rams, Kribensis and keyholes would work out fine. Firemouths and Acaras would tear up the plants while spawning. After a few spawns they tend to pick on the females. Another suggestion would be shell dwelling cichlids from Lake Tanganyika. They stay small. Live and breed in small old snail shells. They are constantly moving the sand around and rearranging the shells. Lamprologus multifasciatus is a great one for starters. Males get about two inches with females barely making an inch. You can have one male with lots of extra females. Lots of fun to watch.-Chuck>

Big Cichlid tank stkg. Hello, I am trying to come up with a possible stock list to fill a 96x48x36 (720gallon) aquarium in my basement. The tank is up and running and currently being cycled.  I have had experience with cichlid keeping but nothing on this scale. I will be purchasing all of these fish as juveniles hoping it to be their permanent home.  Please review this list and let me know what you think.   I had the company install a very efficient filtration system.  It is a completely automated system rated up to 2000 gallon aquaria. (DialySeas Model 1 and CADS)  So I hope filtration won't be an issue.  Will this tank be adequate for such a list?  Will these fish co-exist together?  Thank you for your time and your expertise.  I'm sure I will be reviewing your FAQ's frequently in the future, as I am installing two more 300 gallon aquariums on the side walls of this room.  The 720 will be the centerpiece.  I guess the only trouble then will be leaving this room.  Any help is appreciated.  Pictures are coming soon, but after inhabitants are introduced.  The list is as follows: Main Cichlid Inhabitants:  Convict (1), Firemouths (5), Salvini (1), Nicaraguan (1),Texas (1), Grammode (1), Red Terror (female) (1), Friedrichstahlii (1), Cuban (1),Vieja Synspilum (1), Vieja Zonatus (1), Vieja Argentea (1), Vieja maculicauda (1), Green Terror (1),  Snook (1)Schooling Fish:  Red Hook Silver $$$ school (12-15),Others<  L-18 Gold Nugget Pleco (1), L025 Scarlet Pleco (1), Jello Band Catfish [Aguarunichthys torosus] (1), Merodontotus Tigrinus (1),Thanks, Tristan Johnson, < Your fish selection basically have all the same water requirements. The smaller cichlids, convicts, Firemouths and salvini will do OK until the others begin to outgrow them. The catfish and snook will eat the smaller fish as soon as they are able to fit them into their mouths. Aggressive fish like the grammodes, red terror, Cuban and Friedrichstahlii will eventually beat up the other fish and then each other. Getting enough food to all the fish, especially the catfish will be a challenge because all the silver dollars will not allow too much to reach the bottom.-Chuck>

Colorful Dwarf Cichlids    3/2/06 What is the largest pair of cichlids (full grown in inches) that would live (at full size) comfortably in a 20 gallon long tank (cycled)? I would like a pretty colorful fish/pair for the tank, but don't want to crowd them.  I currently have two large gold fish in the tank--but they are going to the outside pond in the spring (3 feet deep and 4 feet square--lots of room and 3 other healthy goldfish). Color is a biggie this time--I have a plethora of Convict Cichlids--and they are grey and  hide all day.  Thanks! < Lots of choices. Archocentrus nanoluteus or myrnae from Central America. Any of the neolamprologines or Julidochromis species from Lake Tanganyika. If you have soft acidic water then any of the South American or West African dwarf cichlids would be just fine.-Chuck> Poor Choice of Cichlids/Fish  - 02/25/06 I have a 20 gallon tank with an albino Oscar and at the moment an electric yellow Labidochromis and want to add one or two more, but my question is are there any algae eaters or snails etc. that can be mixed with them? Thanks Jeff < The Oscar will get 12 inches long and the yellow lab will get at least 4 inches. These fish grow way too large foe a 20 gallon tank. get rid of these fish and get some dwarf cichlids like kribensis, then you can add algae eaters and snails.-Chuck>

Looking For Severums   2/1/06 I was told by a fellow I had e-mailed to e-mail you regarding my quest. That is I have been looking for some Severums to fill my 80 gallon tank and to hopefully get some to pair off. Now to my dilemma. I am having some difficulty finding them or any for that matter. I live in central Oregon and the local pet stores don't know what I am asking for and the ones that do. Don't know where to get them, so I thought it would be best to look on line. I still can't find any. I find plenty of pictures and old, old letters of people from the United Kingdom selling them. Is there any place I can find them sold in the USA? Can I still find the small ones for fairly cheap? By cheap I mean $3-7 dollars a piece. If you can find the time to write me back and let me know I would be very grateful. Thank You, Eric Stafford in Oregon. < In Portland Oregon there is a place called the Cichlid Exchange run by a good friend named Steve Lundblad. Severums are not rare and I am sure he can help you out. Do a Google search for the Cichlid exchange and contact him for these and other fish that would work well together.-Chuck>

Parachromis motaguensis  9/5/05 My name is Christine, and I have heard about a  fish - the Red Tiger Motaguense or Parachromis motaguensis - and could not find  much about it online. I've used your site before and its really great. So I  thought that you guys (and girls) could help me out on  this. Thanks so much! Christine <Hi Christine, Parachromis anything is going to be a big mean fish eating cichlid from Central America.  P. Dovii and P. Managuensis are the two bad boys that come to mind. P. Motaguensis is smaller coming in at just under a foot.  There is a good article on these fish at the link below.  Best Regards, Gage http://www.aquarticles.com/articles/breeding/Kutty_P_motaguensis.html >

Cichlids and Shoehorns - 08/23/2005 Hey, I was wondering what would be a good cichlid to put in my 20 gallon tank with: 2 Dalmatian mollies 2 rainbow sharks 3 platies 2 fish that get to be 2 inches that like to hang by the top 3 schooling fish that get to be 2 inches and 1 neon blue dwarf gourami. <None....  This tank is already overstocked.> Thanks,  Tommy <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> Kribs Or Discus? - 08/21/2005 Hello! <Ahoy thar, matey!> Out of pure curiosity, would it be better to have Kribs in a 30 gal. tank or could you put in a couple of Discus? <I would go for Kribs, myself....  A much better fit.> How many of each? <I would STRONGLY recommend a single pair - one male, one female - and if you do Kribs, some peaceful dithers like danios or something.  More than a pair is going to be asking for trouble when (not if) they decide to breed.  You *could* do a pair of discus, but they get quite large and would likely do best as the only fish in the tank.> If you chose could you put both in? <I would urge against it.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Midas Cichlid Worth the Gold 8/22/05 Hi. I was wondering if you could help me find out how much to pay for a good midas adult cichlid as I have a adult midas but looking to get another and not sure how much to pay for one. I know they are quite rare especially in the UK any help would be great. Cheers Pete < In Calif. they are pretty plentiful and not very expensive. People buy them small and don't anticipate them getting as big as they do. Then they give them back to the fish store because they are too big for their tank. In the US we have a website called aquabid.com that is an eBay for fish and aquarium supplies. This is a very useful tool to obtain rare species. Because you want a pretty big fish I would suggest that you start locally and call fish stores in your area. You may have to expand your search to a wide area that you are willing to travel. You may leave a message with the stores that you are looking for this particular fish and would they be willing to call you if they get one in. Check online and see if there are any aquarium societies in your area. You might find someone ready to get rid of one. As far as determining price, it is supply and demand. An ugly unhealthy fish I wouldn't take for free. A very nice male with good fins and in good health would be worth up $50 US if I were seriously interested in the fish. Good Luck.-Chuck>

Stocking a 125G Cichlid Tank 8/3/05 Would you all be able to suggest a community cichlid tank for a 125 gallon?  I wanted Oscars, but after reading some of the FAQ on Oscars, I see that I won't be able to put much else in with them.  I would really like to keep cichlids.  Maybe some medium size, semi-aggressive types.  What do you suggest?  Thanks for the help Dena < For bigger fish look at chocolate cichlids, Geophagus, Satanoperca, Severums, even some pikes. For medium sized fish you could use angelfish, discus, Festivums and keyhole cichlids. Wild fish may need soft acid water, especially the discus and some Satanoperca species. Others will do OK in normal water around a pH of 7. All of these fish require clean warm water. Nitrates should not exceed 15 ppm with lower being better. Go to mostlycichlids.com to view all the different pike species. You may be interested in the American Cichlid Association so check them out at Cichlid.org-Chuck>

Cichlid stocking by rote  07/02/05 i have a very wide mixture of cichlids in my 125 gallon tank from convicts to frontosa . and they all do very well . how many med sized cichlids can i keep in that tank ? i have 2 Fluval 404s and a Fluval 204 on the tank . also where can i get some good breeding Rosey reds ? i am hoping to step up a 20 gal to spawn my own feeders                                                                       thanks a bunch                                                                        mike <... the personal pronoun "i" is capitalized... The minnows can't be practically spawned, reared in a twenty... No way to make a valid general statement re the number of "medium" cichlids that can be jammed in a given size system. Bob Fenner>

FW Stocking questions Hi I have a 100-liters freshwater aquarium. I first introduced 2 male Firemouths, but they had quite a lot of trouble getting along with each other. I have read that 2 male Firemouths in an aquarium is a pure disaster, as they inevitably fight all the time. <Mmm, not in a large-enough volume> So I decided to remove the most aggressive and add in its place a female Firemouth. The female, was very shy at the beginning and the male bullied her a lot. Especially during feeding time, the male chases her all around the tank. Recently I have noticed that he started to display aggressive behaviour to my 5cm gibbiceps, <For others, this is a type/species of large Plecostomus> claiming his Spirulina tablet. The male Firemouth is now 4-5 centimeters long and the female is a little smaller. Apparently the two Firemouths have not (and will not?) formed a pair. Is this because the male has not reached sexual maturity yet or because the female was added later than the male? Would it be possible for the male to form a pair with a newly introduced female? <A number of possibilities here, but this tank needs a separator... barrier to keep these two apart for a while...> I am thinking of buying a male Nandopsis salvini. I have read that these fish are quite aggressive. Now, i understand that the male Firemouth that has settled in the tank for quite a long time will be aggressive to any new members of the tank. So, I am thinking that adding another aggressive male would turn the Firemouths attention on protecting himself from the salvini and in that way would reduce the stress level of the female Firemouth. Is my thought correct? <Good ideas, but this system is too small for this addition> Would this help to minimize both the Firemouths and the salvini's aggressiveness ? Would both males target the female? Would it be possible to end up with a dead fish, either one of the males or the female? What would your suggestion be? Should I add a female Firemouth instead? How would the male react in that case? Thanks for your trouble answering my long letter Spyros <Save up for a larger system... (If you were a native speaker/writer of English I'd have someone read over your messages... there is a lack of agreement in tense of your verbs/preterites, and number with some of your nouns...) Bob Fenner> 

Hot Firemouth Cichlids Hi, I have 2 male Firemouths in a 25 gal aquarium. The one constantly chases and bites on the other. The weaker one has 3-4 holes (bites) on its head now and a very long cut on his tail fin (it almost reaches the body). In the past, this fish has suffered similar injuries (torn fins, even bites on the head) but was healing very quickly. However, now it seems too weak, almost unable to recover, doesn't move around a lot. I am thinking of returning the stronger fish to my LFS (if I keep this one, it would be almost impossible to introduce new fish) and keeping the weaker one alone, for a week or two, until it heals completely. Then I will add a female Firemouth and probably a couple of blue Acaras. What's your opinion? Is my choice wise or should I be waiting for a probable loss of the weaker fish? Thank you very much for your help Spyros <The best way to start a tank is to get all the cichlids you want a small individuals of about an inch or so and let them grow up together. One or two fish in a tank is a sure disaster. I would recommend that you put the dominant Firemouth in a breeder net for awhile and add the rest of the fish into the tank (Acaras, etc...). I would add another Firemouth and at least three Acaras. Move all the rocks and ornaments around to different locations. At night before you turn off the lights you can reintroduce your feisty Firemouth. Turn down the water temp to 75 degrees F. The next day the fish will all be busy establishing territories. At around one to two inches they may start pairing up. The odd unpaired fish will be killed. I use lots of floating plastic plants to let the oddball fish hide in. The oddball fish can then be removed easily by placing a net under the plants and lifting them out. The remaining pairs will establish a territory at either end of the tank and guard the eggs and fry from the other fish. Males of both species get up to 6 inches so you better start thinking about a bigger tank soon.-Chuck> 

How Many Cichlids can a Cichlid Tank Hold? I have a 57 gallon tank of small to medium size cichlids. I have a Eheim filtration system which is big enough to use in a tank in the 100 gallon range.( I bought it with the intent of eventually getting a bigger tank). So, I have been told I can put between 15-20 fish. What do you think? Thanks, Debbie < All depends what kind of cichlids you are planning to keep. Twenty or so Africans from Lake Malawi won't be too bad depending on the species. Central and South American species are substrate spawners and have been known to take over a half a tank when they spawn. _Chuck> 

The Most Colorful Fish? Hello, and good day. <Hey there, Mike G here> I have gone through the main page, and tried to figure out where I could, or rather how I would word my question to send me to the right direction. I did find though some people that are mad at someone on the other end of a computer, for not giving the correct info so they can make their tank better. Shame on you for not knowing everything about everyone that has a tank, where its kept, the species they have, etc., etc. (lol). I guess some people have more time than others. <This is true.> Anyhow. I, for one, tried to check out as much as I can, but still confused. <That's what we're here for.> I have a 46 gallon tank and want to know what is the most colourful freshwater fish that I can put in? <Well, colorful is a matter of personal taste and opinion. On the topic of opinions, I personally like Rams and Peacock Haps in terms of coloration, but that's just me.> I would like no bigger than four inches if I could. I was told about "Kribs" and "rams". are they compatible?  I found German, African, south American......I like colour so any help would be appreciated. I have a ten gallon as well, but only have mollies, stripes and tetras, so this is new and looking for a exciting challenge.  <Kribensis, Pelvicachromis pulcher, and Rams, Microgeophagus ramirezi, are little gems of cichlids, are fairly easy to keep, and are compatible. It looks as if you have done the selecting for yourself. Check the following links for information on these fishes:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/rams.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afrcichlids.htm >

Black Convict Q is not the real issue here Hey Guys, I have a 29 gallon, currently 1 green terror 3", Jack Dempsey 1" 1 Jewel fish 2.5" Black Convict 3.5" and 2 Red Tiger Oscars 2" and 5" Pleco. <You're joking right?> Anyway the tank started a month ago and at that time I was minus the Oscars and the Pleco and Plus 1 Convict. The 2 Convicts chased each other all day and I thought it was just play. Anyway I went away and threw in a seashell 14 day feeder which I think they devoured quickly. <These chalky feeders have little, VERY little nutritional value... it likely just dissolved... is clogging your substrate> Anyway, I came back, and 1 convict was dead. I figured that it was the high nitrogen level from the food in the tank. I did a 30% water change and my levels are ok - ph a bit high, and water very hard. <Uhh, how high, how hard? Can't see your test results from here.> I introduced the Oscars, and the Black convict has been terrorizing them for 2 days straight, I think nipping fins. <My friend... this tank is insanely overcrowded... IF you wanted to keep all that you have listed above, you would want to have a tank of at least 125 gallons> I am concerned, because I thought the Oscars were supposed to be bad-asses. Anyway what can I do about the convict? Do I need to remove him? Or maybe throw in a feeder for him to get it out of his system with? I think he killed his convict brother ) Also if the convict is removed will the fins grow back? thanks <Time to go back... Waayyy back, and re-think your stocking "plan"... Take back all but one of the cichlids and you can keep the Pleco with it. Bob Fenner>
Re: Black Convict Q., actually cichlid crowding
Hardness is 200-250 and the ph is 7.8. are you saying that I can only have 1 cichlid in the tank? <Of those listed, yes> Assuming I bring back the jewel and the convict, how long can I keep the Red Tiger Oscars and the Green terror in? Until what size? <Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm all the sections on Cichlids> The people at both PetLand and PetCo said I could have 6 or 7 or even more. <What? You're pulling old Bob the fishman's fins... Not a good idea> Let me re-state. The Oscars are less than 2" the Green terror is under 3" the convict is also under 3" and the jack is 1" (I overestimated their size and I measured a bit more carefully). I want to try to keep the Green terror, the 2 Oscars and the little jack. Is this possible at least for now and then I will upgrade to a 55 or bigger. Help -thank you <Not a good idea... tremendous aggression, fighting, stress... at this size on up. Bob Fenner>

Just bought 3 Oscars Hello, I just bought 3 medium size Oscars from PetSmart last night. They told me that they would be OK in my 46 gallon tank.... even if they get to be 12 inches long a piece.... After reading a bit on your website... it sounds like they were wrong!! What should I do? Can I make it work? They are doing very well right now. < Check the nitrates. They should not exceed 25 ppm. If they do then you need to change some water to get them down. I think you will find that you will need to change water at least a few times a week with this many large Oscars in this tank. They will eventually get sick and not look very good or you will get tired of changing 25 gallons of water every other day. Start thinking about a larger tank in the next few months.-Chuck> Please help! Kathy Houston, TX.
Re: Just bought 3 Oscars
I checked my Nitrates and it is about 10ppm. How big of a tank will I need for my 3 Oscars? It makes me so mad that they told me they would be OK in this tank.... they were using the method... 1in. of fish for every gallon..... I might see if they will let me return them.... I am afraid that I won't be able to get a larger tank... they are so expensive! I hate to return them.... I have wanted cichlids for a long time!! and when I saw the Oscars I thought they were so neat. If you have any other words of wisdom, please let me know! Thanks for your help!! < Keep in mind that healthy Oscars will be close to a foot long in a year or so. Your 46 gallon tank is probably a little over 3 feet long so it won't take too long before there is no room for them to swim. You can keep smaller cichlids that are just as interesting and colorful and don't get too big. I would recommend central American cichlids of the genus Archocentrus. Males get about four inches and females get about half that. They are a little aggressive but are easy to keep and breed. A. nanoluteus  and A. myrnae are a couple that would very easy to keep and are very pretty too. They are not too common in pet shops yet so you might have to look around. Check out Aquabid.com there may be some on there you can bid on. -Chuck> Kathy

Looking for triangle cichlids... in Macedonia! I'm interested to bay UARU AMPHIACANTHOIDES, but it's very difficult to find that kind of fish in my country stores. I'm from MACEDONIA. Can you help me with some addresses or contacts? Thank you for attention!! < In the US there are many cichlids that stores do not carry. They either don't think that they will sell or don't take the time to find them. So here a national cichlid club exists called the American Cichlid Association. Here members can find almost any cichlid that exists. I would recommend that you try and find any aquarium societies in your country. If that doesn't work then there is one guy in Canada I think can help you. He sends fish all over the world. His name is Oliver Lucanus and you can contact him at his web site at Belowwater.com. The South American fish he gets are awesome!!!-Chuck> Stocking all levels Hello <hi, this is Magnus>        I have recently cycled a new tank 55 gallon tank and have slowly been adding fish . Right now I only have 4 fish in it 2 Rainbow cichlids and 2 yoyo loaches the seem to be doing well together all are small 2 inches and under, I realize my cichlids will get around 5 to 6 inches so I don't want to overstock.... but would like to have activity at different levels of the tank and still be compatible any ideas. I really don't have any preferences would just like a happy healthy tank. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. <the cichlid world is a big one, and there are lots and lots of cichlids you could probably choose from.  I suggest you check out our cichlid FAQ section and see if you can find one that strikes your fancy, then see if it will go with your fish.   Here is our Compatibility FAQ.  Please check through the other links given on the site to learn more about the wild world of cichlids! http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cichlidcompfaqs.htm Good Luck and enjoy reading about these amazing fish! -Magnus>                                                                                                       Thanks ahead of time

In search of the Golden eye Do you know where I can purchase golden eye cichlids? <Sure do.  Nannacara anomala, or the Golden eye Cichlid is a rare and wonderful find.  You'll see them from time to time, but most mail order them from a cichlid specific source such as http://www.fishhead.com/.  If they're not in stock at this time of year, most e-tailers will hold one for you when it arrives.  Best of luck finding one! Ryan> Teri Lutz

South American cichlid tank Hello, Would like to get advice:   <Great!  That's why were here :) > Just recently bought a 20 gallon fish tank and would like to have South American Cichlids.  Can you please tell me how many of them I can keep in such a small tank?   <Well, that really depends on what, specifically, you want.  For example, Oscars are SA cichlids, but I don't think you could fit one in a 20g with a shoehorn in one hand and a plunger in the other.  You've got lots and lots of options, though, as there are many SA cichlids that do stay quite small.> And what kind do you think I should invest in.   <My personal favorites are Apistogramma agassizii, A. cacatuoides, and Papilochromis (or is it Microgeophagus?) ramirezi (ram cichlids).  You could easily keep one breeding pair of dwarf cichlids in the 20g.  Which species you keep is largely a matter of your own personal taste.> Also, what community fish can I keep? <With the pair of cichlids, you could probably keep a very small handful of small schooling fish, something like neons, white clouds, or Hatchetfish.> Thank you a lot. Claudia Cavazos <Sure thing!  -Sabrina>

South American Cichlids and compatibility Hello, First, I would like to thank you for all of your efforts in making WWM such an excellent site.  Here is my dilemma.  About a year ago we purchased a 150 gallon aquarium with a pre-filter and wet/dry sump and stocked it with South American Cichlids.  We added two 1.5 inch Oscars, two 1.5 inch Green Terrors, one 1.5 inch Jack Dempsey and a 3 inch Pleco.  All was well for about six months, then the larger Green Terror which is now about 3 inches long was pushing around smaller Terror which is only slightly larger then when we first got it, and the Jack Dempsey, now a little larger than 4 inches was aggressive towards the Oscar's, which were already about five inches long, but for some reason neither of the Terrors.  Not wanting to see any of the fish harmed we set up two separate thirty gallon tanks, medicated the slight wounds on the Oscar's and the smaller Terror and ordered another tank.  The new tank is 240 gallons and we thought all would be well as we would put the less aggressive Oscars and the small Terror in the new tank and add a few non aggressive friends, such as a few large clown loaches, a 5 inch Bala Shark and a 5 inch Royal Pleco.  As you probably guessed since I am typing this e-mail, all is not well.  The Oscars which seemingly got along well before, started to get pushy with one another and the smaller Terror now thinks it owns the new setup.  None of the Cichlids are bother the Bala, Loach or Pleco, but they seem to have an issue with one another.  I removed the least aggressive Oscar and things have calmed a bit.  My questions are this, the 240 gallon tank has large rock caves, and plenty of hiding spaces, could I move the Jack Dempsey and larger Terror to the 240 gallon tank and place the sissy Oscar in the 150 gallon setup with just non aggressive fish?  Since the Oscar has been in the larger tank for a little while, might the Jack Dempsey be less aggressive and find his own area such as a cave, etc?  I thought the 8 foot long tank would be big enough to have a few cichlids, am I incorrect? Any thoughts about placing these fish in groups that would exist well would be appreciated.  Otherwise, I guess I could get a 90 gallon tank for the Oscar.  Thank you very much, Joe <Hi Joe, I would try putting the less aggressive Oscar in the 150 like you suggested and move the Jack into the 240.  Your more aggressive Oscar may be able to hold his own, but I would be prepared to move him back into the 150 as well.  There is going to be aggression no matter what you do, as long as it does not get too bad I would not worry.  They are going to fight like crazy when first introduced, then they will calm down a little.  Keep an eye on them to make sure no one is getting beat too badly.  My roommates Oscar got whooped on by his Green Terror, and had to be separated, I think he was mentally scarred, took him months to return to his big aggressive self.  Oscars are a lot more sensitive than people think.  Let us know how it turns out.  Bob just posted a good article on Oscars.  Best Regards, Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscars.htm  >

Re: Buying Cichlids Hi, Was wondering if you guys had any recommendations for sites to buy Mbuna cichlids? Thank-you in advance, Jesse <Sorry, the only one I've dealt with personally and would recommend is no longer breeding and has sold out. Armke's Rare Fish (search Yahoo for Armke's) has a good reputation but I've never dealt with them personally so can't say for sure. You might join some of the Cichlid mailing lists on Yahoo and see who is recommended there. There are some serious Cichlid collectors there so they should be able to head you in the right direction. Ronni>

Adventures in Livestocking I was wondering if you could give me some help? I have a 30 gallon tank and I am an inexperienced hobbyist. I have 9 total fish in the tank and would like to add some more colorful fish. I have two electric yellow cichlids, 1 blue whale (I believe it is called that) and don't unfortunately know the other fish. Could you please let me know about how many more if any can go in this tank and what types would be best. I was thinking about a parrot fish. It is a brackish taken because of the spotted puffers. This leads me to my other question, can the two puffers I have live together? Everything I read says know but the fish store thought they would be fine together. One of them looks very healthy but the other (living together for two weeks now) looks like he has lost weight and is no longer "puffed." He also has what looks like two holes near his side fins, like the gills were pulled apart. Any help you could give me would be great. >> >> Wowzah... a thirty gallon is very small to try adding livestock "hit and miss" as you've done... I strongly encourage you to study up (read books, magazines, chat with other hobbyists) before adding anything more to this system... Though African Cichlids (and much that can be placed with them) can be crowded together to reduce aggression...a thirty is too little to do this with medium to larger sized species... Bob Fenner

Oscar Tankmates can you please tell me what fish can go in with 2 juvenile Oscars.. they aren't aggressive, unless they are hungry, but I feed them three times a day, so I think they should be fine, but can you tell me all they fish that can go safely with them? >> Many choices in rough and tumble fishes here... other South and Central American Cichlids and catfishes would be my choices... How big a system do you have? Will your filtration handle more load?  

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