Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs on Cichlid Systems 1

Related Articles: Cichlid Fishes

Related FAQs: Cichlid Systems 2, Cichlids in General, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction, Dwarf South American Cichlids, African Cichlids, Angelfishes, Discus, Chromides, Neotropical CichlidsOscars, Oscar Systems, Flowerhorns

Some cichlids need soft, acidic water, others hard and alkaline...

Building Big Cichlid Tank 8/14/05 Hi Need some help. I'm planning to build a 600 gal tank (fresh water) for my cichlids. I have an idea of how the filter is going to work but there are some things that I really don't know exactly what I have to do. I have no experience on big filters, right now I only use a Fluval 404 for my 150 gal tank. The  size of the aquarium is going to be  118x43x30 inches  600 gal aprox. I don't have any problems about the construction of the tank only about the water circulation and filter. The tank is going to be in the center of a room. So this are my questions for the 600 gal tank... 1)what size of sump I should use?  How many gallons? 2)How many times all the water of the tank have to circulate in one hour? (from the tank to the sump and to the tank? 3) I know I have to open 1 or 2 holes on the bottom or  back of the glass so the water drains out to the sump using a standpipe or some kind of pvc tube, but what size the diameter of the hole or holes for this size of tank? Can I open a hole in the middle of the tank?    If I make a mistake there is no turning back on this one. 4) what kind of pump to return the water from the sump to the tank? How many gallons per hour? I mean for a 600 gal tank? 5) should i use 2 sumps? A Comment about water changes (taking out the water) If I build the tank am going to adapt  2 or 3 drains in it, with 2 or 3 holes (I don't know the diameter) in the base glass. From the drains or holes am going  to adapt 2 or 3 well made and strong faucets in it, I'm going to plug 2 or 3 hose pipes and send the water right to the drains of a bathroom. Am not going to put a lot of gravel, so its going to work like a little pool for changing the water. I think its the fastest and easy way to change the water of a 600 gal tank. So am going to open like 3 or four holes in the base glass (1 or 2 for the sump) and the other ones for changing the water so what do you think about this? Anyway hope any answer and ideas.. I have searched on the web for a very visually article about the filtration and plumbing of a very big freshwater tank but I had no success, I only saw of saltwater tanks but its soo complicated, I mean I don't know about all that pvc tubes and pumps....I don't think I need a sophisticated big filtration system like a reef tank....Thanks... Marcos   < Six hundred gallons is a whole bunch of water with lots of weight. This may weigh up to 3 tons so make sure you floor can support this amount of weight. You need a pump that can move 1800 gallons per hour at a minimum. A better choice would be 3000 gallons per hour. I would go with two or three wet dry filters systems. This way you always have a back up in case one fails. For a good understanding of filtration go to Marineland.com and check out the articles in Dr. Tim's Library. You can buy large systems online at DrsFostersmith.com that will pump up to 1200 gallons per hour. Check out their specs to see if you can build your own and match up the hose sizes. Look for filters that are easy to maintain. Keep in mind a weekly water change will be about 200 gallons per week.-Chuck>

Filtration for FW upgraded size system 7/24/05 As always I come to your site after I do a lot of reading and still can't come up with a feel for what to do. I have been in the hobby for a couple of years now, and have gone larger from 10 to 20, to 45, and now I have gotten a hold of a 150 gallon tank. Still have the smaller tanks set up. My question is on filtration. So far all I have needed was hang on filters. My theory has been to buy the next size up from whatever tank I had. I have never had any problems this way. With a 150 gallon, It seems I will need multiple filters, so I am in new territory here. My first thought was (2) emperor 400's, since they are cheap, and a total of 4 BioWheels  should do the trick I feel. I just don't know if the turnover will be sufficient for SA/CA cichlids that I keep (GT, JD, Firemouth, Severum, more to be added) I have also thought of using (1) large canister like the RENA xp3 along with an emperor 400. This looks like enough filtration, but as with the last case, is this sufficient turnover? <Along with weekly water changes...> Should I combine the 2 ideas and use 2 Emperors and the canister together? <Even better> I'd really appreciate any insight on heaters as well. I know that as the cichlids get bigger they like to smash things, so If there is a way to protect them I am all ears. <Hide these behind rocks, submersibles stuck down along the gravel line, or in drilled lengths of PVC pipe...> Thanks in advance, you guys. I will be checking my e-mail like a maniac, awaiting your answer. <Be chatting, reading. Bob Fenner>

Cichlid tank Cycle / parasite problem 7/22/05 A buddy's tank is having some problems and I am a little stumped as to where to go from here. Tank is a 29G. I guess he wanted to cycle it quickly so he started with 9 Mbunas about 3-5" long and adding "Cycle" to the water every day as directed by the bottle. <Too much...> This was definitely too much load for that small of a tank and a few days after he said he lost a couple fish. They would start breathing heavily and stopped eating and soon died. <...> He also purchased a 125G tank, filled with water, add water conditioners and ran for 24 hours. After 24 hours he moved the remaining fish to the 125G tank and  again started adding "Cycle" to the tank. He said this seem to be ok and ran it for a week with no problems. After a week he bought several large fish (Frontosas, large Haps, etc). Everything seems fine for a few days. After that again a few fish start breathing heavily and stop eating. <... Stop!> Here is where I come in and test water. Water is un-cycled with a very high nitrite spike and small ammonia spike. We do a large water change and add Bio-Spira live bacteria. <Ah, thank goodness for friends like you> I have always had excellent success with it before cycling a tank almost overnight. After a couple days still the same situation. Tank appears to be mostly cycled now and nitrates are rising, but the few fish that were breathing heavily are still breathing heavily and not eating. <They, and the microbes in the BioSpira were poisoned, hemolyzed in the fishes' case, by the ammonia...> I also notice a peacock with white spots on him appearing to be ick. Instead of adding medications we bring the temp up to about 83 and add Kosher salt to bring the salinity up. <Excellent> I figured that even if it was not ick this should help most fungal diseases of the gills if that was causing the problem. <Yes> Now here we are a few days after with salinity around 1.002-1.003 and temp around 83. The fish suspected to have ick no longer has any white spots on him. Also made sure water surface had plenty of movement and added airstones. <Good> Everyone seems to be fine except for the few that are still breathing heavily. Will they ever get better and return to normal or is it too late for those. Thanks <Very likely these fishes will survive, improve in the next few weeks. If only every community had "fish gurus" as yourself. Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner>

Cichlids in too small, aggressive world 7/9/05 Dear Bob, <Steven> Thanks for making yourself available. Here is what going on with my tank. I need advice badly. I want to own aggressive fish mostly around 4inches now. I bought a 10 gallon tank to start. <Small...> First I bought a red jewel that coincidently I returned to the store when my tank failed last time. <Failed?> He was tough as nails. I bought a larger red devil who I thought could coexist with him. The minute the red devil went in the tank the red jewel confronted it... The red devil didn't back down at all.. The started lip locking. It was viscous! <This tank is too small...> I've never seen anything like that from fish. Well the red devil lost part of his lip but seemed to be okay. Meanwhile the red jewel was picking off scales from the red devil. I actually thought red devils were tough... So I bought a jack Dempsey. <... not to go in this ten...> I put the jack in and things were fine for around two weeks. He is somewhat bigger than the red devil. Well a few days ago. The jack started viscously striking the red jewel. I think most of the scales are off the red jewel now. I think he may even be dead when I get home. he was my most favorite fish given his beauty. I read something today online that said that cichlids are opposite to most fish, they get less aggressive the more crowded a tank is. <To some extent... a generalization, not always so> My plan is to go to a 50 gallon once the fish grow a little. <Don't wait> What should I do with my tank. <Use it for a sick, quarantine system> Just leave the jack and red devil. Or add a convict or a green terror to make the whole tank less aggressive. I am totally out of my league here but desperately want to have a cichlid tank. Thanks so much. Steven <Wait till you have a larger system. Study, enjoy learning, the anticipation in the meanwhile. Bob Fenner>

Undergravel Filters with Cichlids 07/01/05 Thank you for the reply.  I have decided with going with a natural color gravel since it looks very nice and is presently already setup in my 90 gal tank. From there I will add some smaller rocks and wood to give a few attractions for the fish and me. I just want to allow for as much room for the fish as possible. My Question however now is I have a  Fluval 404 filtering the tank and I am wanting to get a higher tank cycle to help with water flow, cleaning and, air circulation. I have heard from different sources that Under gravel Filters are bad and that they should not be used especially with Oscars.  Then I have heard that it is good to use them as long as you do your regular water changes w/ a gravel syphon.  Can you give me any advice. I have never used an under the gravel filter. I have read how they work and would plan on using powerheads to increase the flow rate.  I would also be using the Fluval 404 and have debated getting a second 404 to hook in series with the first one or to run it separate to help with the flow rate.  I even will do all three if I think it would be a positive thing for the Oscars.  Thank you again. I am grateful. Josh < Undergravels filters work by pulling water and waste through the gravel where it is then caught in the pores of the gravel and the bacteria can then break it down and keep it away from the fish until it is removed. They work fine as long as the path to the filter plates is consistent through the gravel. Large cichlids like Oscars like to redecorate their aquarium and often this means digging large pits in the gravel down to the filter plates. When this happens the water goes through the exposed filter plates and not into the gravel so it has become ineffective.-Chuck>

New Cichlid tank Hi all, I recently adopted two Oscars, two Plecos and one other cichlid (not sure what kind, he is smaller, silver with blue and red and one large black spot). They are all healthy and seem to be happy.  I adopted them because the person that had them only had a 10 gallon tank for all of them.  The Oscars are 10" or so, one Red and one Tiger. I bought a used 70 gallon and put them in it a few weeks ago.  I am having a green algae/murky water problem.  I have two 60 gallon whisper filters going, one with charcoal the other no charcoal. < Not enough filtration. Water in a 70 gallon tank should turn over at least 210 gallons per hour with 350 gallons per hour being even better.> I use RO water and have restricted the feeding. < Feed only once a day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes.> I read that live plants really help this problem, but I also read that Oscars and plants don't mix.  Could I use a divider in the tank, like one for breeding and have the plants at one end, just in the corner or something? <There are many benefits to live plants, but you would need a large area dedicated to plants to do you any good.> Also, do you have any recommendations on brands of food for these guys? < I like Spectrum and Dinichi pellets the best.> They are incredibly messy eaters so I want to give them some sort of food that is not going to feed the algae too much. < Fish food today is very nutritious. The more that is consumed by the fish leaves that much less for the algae.> Last question: wood. I would like to place a nice piece of driftwood in the tank.  If I collect it myself is there anything special I need to do to prepare it for the tank? <Make sure it is a hard wood that will not decompose in the water. Soak it until it floats. Soft woods will develop fungus on them.-Chuck> Thanks for everything! Tim

Cichlid Community Tank I plan on setting up a 55 gallon show tank soon with undergravel filter connected to a hanging filter, like the set-up of my 10 gallon tank that has worked well so far. I have (1) 3.5" Red Tiger Oscar, (1) 2.75" Jack Dempsey, and a 4" common Pleco. So far these guys have been friendly to one another in the 10 gallon tank as I waited for them to get a little bigger, and I was wondering if I could put them in a 55 gallon tank with two Convicts and maybe some other smaller and faster fish. Though I don't know what type of fish those would be, so if is all right to do this, what type of fish should I put in my 55 gallon tank with my Red Tiger Oscar, Jack Dempsey, Plecostomus, and maybe with two new convicts. If the convicts become a mated pair, by accident, would this be an OK set-up? Or what other options do I have? -Christine <I would put them in the bigger tank as soon as possible. That way they can establish territories without tearing each other up. Look for fast moving easy to care for fish like rainbows , medium sized barbs or giant danios.-Chuck> 

Large Cichlid Tank Set -Up Hey guys! I am about to purchase a large acrylic aquarium to be installed into the wall of my basement in the house that is currently being built. The dimensions are as follows: 120" X 48" 30" 750 gallons. <That's a big tank!> I have a list of hopeful occupants and was wondering if you guys could take a look and give me any input: overstocked, understocked, Compatibility issues, etc... I am planning on purchasing the fish as juveniles and allowing this to be their permanent home, so I would like to get a list of fish that would work together. My only concern is that I really don't want any breeding going on (in other words fighting) but I don't think that I could control it, since I can't really sex the fish being so small. Please any input on this combination would be greatly appreciated. I love your site and enjoy reading your responses to the various questions. There is not enough information on Large Freshwater Cichlid Set-Ups!  < We are working on it.> Thanks for your time. The list is as follows: Vieja synspilum, <Comes from Mexico. Like fresh to brackish water. Needs some vegetable matter in its diet. Will get up to 14 inches but will breed at about half that size.> Vieja ufermann,< Don't know this one. Check out fishbase.org. If you mean C. umbrifurum, then this guy gets up to 2 feet long and will eat smaller fish.> Green Terror < Have seen these up to 18 inches depending on which kind you get.> Herichthys bocourti,  <Gets up to 14 inches but very similar to the synspilum.>, Firemouths  < Pairs would hold up ok but individuals would get picked on by the bigger fish. Only gets to 6 inches.> Synodontis Decorus. < Nice fish gets big. Cichlids may bite off the tassel on the dorsal fin.> Large Shoal Clown Loaches (don't know # yet) < Make sure that you do everything possible to prevent ich. Treating a large tank can be costly.> Other Fishes that I would like to add but don't want to overcrowd tank: Amphilophus lyonsi, < Very rare and hard to find.> Blue Jack Dempsey < A hybrid not found in nature. May not do well competing with other fish.> Regular Jack Dempsey <Gets up to 10 inches. Females have lots of blue on the lower jaw.>  Salvini <Aggressive but would work.> Convicts <With females remaining relatively small they might be in trouble if not paired up.> The fish in bold are a must to keep because they are my favorites. The others I would like to add but I don't want to overcrowd the fish. I want this to be their permanent home and be comfortable with their surroundings. Am I headed for disaster with this particular fish list? Do I need to start looking at 900 gallon tanks? Any information on this would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks again. <The Theraps types are fine. Stay away from the piscivores and you can probably keep the smaller species. Look at Cichlidae.com for additional species and check out the American Cichlid Association at cichlid.org to hook up with other cichlid fanatics across the country. Some have even bigger tanks than yours!!!-Chuck>

Moving Big Cichlids Soon Hi, I just found your site and I have a question I didn't see anywhere. I have a 55 gallon tank with three Jack Dempseys and three Green Terrors. Am I crazy or what? <Aquarists so inclined to keep large cichlids are sometimes referred to as cichlidiots.>  So far they seem to be getting along all right, they were purchased as a group at about half an inch long. They are now three inches long, and my Dempseys have spawned. I have a tank divider in now. How much time do I have before I have to move some of the fish to a 125 gallon tank? I'm still working on. Thanks. Regards, Cal Morrison < The sooner the better. As the fish grow they will become more territorial so it is better to get them in the big tank now and adjusted to the new area, even though it looks like they may be OK for now.-Chuck>

Smelly Cichlid Tank Thanks for your help. I also had a quick question about my tank, it stinks.  I use tap water, and change the water once a week but my tank still smells horrid. Is there something out there that I can use to help the smell? Would adding filtered water be better? Will the blood parrot survive with the two red devils and Flowerhorn? < A smell tank is never a good sign. I would recommend that you check you water quality for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero and the nitrates should be below 25 ppm. I would also consider changing the diet. Feed only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes once each day. Your parrot cichlid will not survive long with the tank mates you have chosen.-Chuck>

The Old Fish per gallon Rule  Thanks for the reply Chuck, I have followed your advice and now I have in my 55 gallon I have 4 Keyholes, and 2 male kribs. I did that with the kribs so there would be no fighting... Here is another question for you though,.. I know there is the rule about a gallon per inch but dealing with a 55 gallon tank, and meaning I am now allowed 55 inches of fish, when buying something as big as an Oscars or something that size you cant keep them in something that small, you need something larger like 100 gallons. Here is the question at hand... a normal aquarium is a rectangle shape, example 55 gallon current shape is, 48 x 12 x 18... however if you were to buy a corner aquarium that would be one side 38 x 2 sides 28 x 20 high, does that still hold true with the keeping of the fish cause now they have a bigger area to swim around and not up and down nor back and forth? You take a 12 inch fish and he can hardly turn around which is why it would not make sense to have him in a long narrow tank, but put him in one with more room to turn would that work? I am not overly interested in getting Oscars my self, I don't want to make em suffer, but if I where to get another tank for my current cichlids that will wind up 5.5 inches or so, would they be happier in a tank long and narrow or one that is more open across the top? Just a thought... what do you think? < Forget the inches of fish per gallon rule! That was a rule of thumb 50 plus years ago!  Go with the longer tank for cichlids. They like the long straight tanks better than the squatty tanks. The surface area only matters if you are providing no aeration at all. Very tall narrow tanks provide some problems but those are freaky tanks not usually kept by true aquarists.-Chuck> Re: Goldfish dying, on to Parrot cichlid water quality Hi again Bob, Well, unfortunately, the large Oranda didn't survive. Every Oranda we have purchased has died. We've given up now on keeping them. The aquarium place thinks our water was too hard for the goldfish. We are switching to Jellybean parrot cichlids now. We have raised the temperature in the tank to 78 degrees. I'm wondering if you can tell me what the best pH and General hardness levels are for these new fish.  Thank you for your help. <Slightly alkaline and hard. Bob Fenner>

CLOUDY TANK Hi, I E-mailed you guys about a cloudiness problem I'm having with my 46 gallon cichlid tank. I'm running to filters on it, I had a sack of carbon in it and seems to not go away. The pH is at 8.2, water temp is around 80 degrees, [and] there is no sign of ammonia, or nitrite and the nitrate is where it always has been. The only time it has cleared is when I make my daily water changes. Then it just gets worse from there. What other options do I have? The dealer told me to put charcoal in those white sacks, but that doesn't seem right. So now I'm coming back to you guys. Could it be from the rocks that I have, I rinsed them off before I put them in there. -MIKE- < Usually a cloudy tank is the result of a new tank with an ammonia problem. But I think your problem lies in your choice of rocks. Check the pH of your tap water. If it is less than 8.2 then the additional calcium and minerals are leaching from the rocks into solution and making your tank cloudy. Carbon will not help. To be sure, remove the rocks and see if the cloudy situation goes away. If the tank is clear then add a rock. If the tank gets cloudy again then take the rock out and do a water change. Then try another rock. Eventually you will be able to tell which rocks will work in your aquarium.-Chuck>

DON'T WANT BOTTLES/D WATER Thank you, Chuck! I was hoping that would be the answer, bottled water around here is more expensive than gasoline, so I wasn't looking forward to the idea of not being able to use our water. What sort of buffer should I use? Would something called "cichlid salts" do the trick? Or is there something else that would be preferred? Susan < Cichlid salts are mainly for rift lake cichlids that require hard, alkaline water. For the soft water species you desire I would use R/O Right by Kent to add some of the minerals back that are beneficial to fish. Discus buffer can then be added to acidify the pH into almost any range you desire. I would recommend around 6.5 to 6.8 to start.-Chuck> 

HIGH NITRATES IN FW I have a 1 year old established African Cichlid tank 75 gallon, 10 small to medium fish. I cleaned tank without fail each month 30% with full vacuum of gravel. Never had test kit or water tested since the beginning. Recently I missed the past 2 months due to business travel. Had the water tested and found the nitrates at 180PPM (yes, 180PPM). I have a canister filter Rena x3 which is cleaned just as frequently as the tank.  I just added a Emperor 400 and performed two 50% water changes with full vacuuming this week about 3 days apart. I am trying to be aggressive to save the fish who have been hanging out at the top (not vertical) and twitching often. These guys are fighters that is why I want to get the Nitrate down. By performing these changes logic would tell me that the levels should at least drop down a bit.  Has anybody ever heard of this extreme condition and when will I see some results from the water changes?   Thanks <You should try and keep the nitrates below 25 ppm to keep your fish healthy. I would check the ammonia and nitrites. They should be zero at all times. With the new Emperor filter this should not be a problem once the bio wheels are seasoned. Check your tap water for nitrates. In some agricultural areas the ground water has a nitrate level as high as 50 ppm from the tap. Assuming the nitrate levels of the tap water are low and the filtration is working properly you may need to perform your maintenance procedures more often. Start out by servicing the filters and doing a 30% water change once a week. The canister filter can be a real pain to change but all the waste that accumulates their is not gone out of the system. It is just contained and adding to the nitrate problem until you decide to get rid of it. Cleaning it once a month is too long. Feed only enough food so that all of it is gone in 2 minutes once a day. Use a vegetable based food for Lake Malawi cichlids. You might try Amquel plus . It is supposed to reduce nitrates. -Chuck> 

Freshwater Skimming I have a very large tank of wild crater lake cichlids from Nicaragua. Being wild fish, they are a bit sensitive to water quality than their tank raised cousins, yet they still create the same (huge) volumes of waste. I have effectively utilized skimmers on marine tanks for years, and I know that they are less effective in freshwater environments do to the difficulty in getting freshwater to foam. Recently, some friends of mine in Greece (I'm in the USA) told me about their success using skimmers on their Malawi tanks. Also, I have seen that Schuran makes a "freshwater skimmer." What are your thoughts? Would the Schuran be good for my application? Perhaps a Euro (needle wheel design help create bubbles in FW?) or Aqua-C? I know there's no evidence like practical use, and I'm prepared to experiment. Can you point me in the right direction? Thanks! < If you think about it, when you set up a Malawian tank, the pH is high and there are usually many minerals in the water to keep it hard and alkaline. Many aquarists add some salt too. This makes it pretty similar to a saltwater tank in many respects. These conditions would make a protein skimmer somewhat more effective than in an aquarium with soft acidic water like for discus. I would check the water quality before and after installing the skimmer and compare the results.  It definitely will help, it is just to what degree and does it make it worth the cost and effort. Smaller bubbles are better than larger bubbles in a skimmer. Don't expect the get that fine mist of bubbles that you see in a saltwater tank.-Chuck.> Juvenile cichlids - De Chuck As my third tank I went with CA/SA Cichlids. I have begun with a 45 gallon tank, with an emperor 400.I filled the cartridges with bio gloass [sic], to additional bio filtration, to go along with the twin BioWheels. This should be pretty heavy filtration for the time being. My question relates to what size I will need to replace this tank with. I now have 2" green terror, 2" Jack Dempsey. 2" Managuense, and a 3" firemouth (he is enjoying being king of the tank for the moment), as well as a dozen cherry barbs (once the cichlids start seeing them as lunch they will be given to my friend and his 150 gallon community tank). I think I will probably have to relocate the firemouth at some point, although I have friends who have kept them successfully with larger more aggressive fish as I have. < The green terrors, Jack Dempseys and Managuense will get big, over 12 inches over time. The firemouths tops will get 5 to 6 inches long and will not survive much longer when the others get bigger. Your (6) foot-long fish will need a tank of at least 150 gallons with a 220 being better. Keep in mind that a tank this larger will require weekly water changes of 50 gallons or more. Your filters will need to pump at least 600 gallons per hour. If you are not able to provide this kind of set up then I would recommend that you go with smaller fish.-Chuck>

Re: Confused about the effects of my Water Softener Thanks for your quick response. I have re-plumbed my home water supply so that I have filtered, unsoftened well water available for my cichlids.  I also plumbed water lines pre and post softener over to my reef tank (which hasn't arrived yet).  When I get my R/O system for the Reef, do I supply it with water AFTER the softener, or BEFORE the softener (but still after the particulate filter)? < The R/O unit will take the minerals out of the water either way, but may last longer if it is run after the softener.-Chuck> Still reading your site daily.  Thanks again! -Tim

pH range for Firemouths and Acaras I have a 25g aquarium and want to keep firemouths and blue acaras. The problem is that the tap water I use is alkaline (pH=8) and these cichlids require a pH around 7. The aquarium is decorated with 3 large pieces of driftwood, but they don't seem to have a dramatic influence on the water's pH. I used Zeolite in the past and got a ph of 7.3, but now I have stopped using it as it absorbs the ammonia, which is critical for the Nitrosomonas cultures. What's the solution for my problem? Should I use chemicals (and which of them?) to bring the water to the desired pH value? Could the cichlids survive in alkaline water? Thanks. Spyros < You could try and keep them in your local tap water. Keep the water clean and warm. If they start to break down I would obtain a 5 gallon bucket and fill it with bottled or filtered water so it is essentially mineral free. Use a buffer that will keep the water at pH 7.0. As you do your weekly water changes the pH will gradually be replaced with the new water and it will be right around 7.0.-Chuck>

Cichlid tank filtration Great website and a wealth of information, thank you very much for your time.    My goal is to move my cichlids from their 55 gal to a larger home( 120-150gal) and remain healthy and happy tankmates.  They have been doing fine for 3 years, but I seem to have gotten the dreaded "bigger tank syndrome".  What would be your recommendation for the "best" filtration system (health of fish, ease of maint., out of sight) in order of priority? < I recommend two Tidepool sump filters with their SOS siphon system. You need to add two pumps that pump the water back up into the tank. I would use two pumps in the 300 plus gallons per hour range. The beauty of this system is that it is very easy to service. Use check valves on the water lines coming from the pumps so the water does not siphon back in if the power goes out.> I like the idea of a wet/dry so I could hide most of clutter below the tank, but I am concerned about "nitrate issue" of the wet/dry system.  Is this a problem in a freshwater tank? < Ammonia and nitrite are quickly converted to nitrates which is good. That's what good biological filters do. The two large BioWheels on the systems do a great job of converting deadly ammonia and nitrite to less toxic nitrates. If the nitrates get over 25 ppm then they need a water change to reduce the nitrate levels. One idea you may consider is to build in an overflow/drainage system in the sump so you can add water to the tank and the excess will overflow to the sump and ultimately drain off.> My cichlids are mostly 2- 3 inches, the largest being a 5" bumblebee and a 4" angel catfish.  I do have a Eheim pro II 2026 that could be used as a supplement.  Thanks again and sorry if this question has already been answered. < For a big tank you need lots of filtration. At least 3 times the water volume of the tank in one hour 500 gallons per hour plus for a 150 gallon tank. A 30% water change weekly is 50 gallons. That a lot of 5 gallon buckets.-Chuck.> Joe (Boca Raton, Florida) Malawi cichlids Hi I have a couple questions for you.   1: what is a good ph range for Malawi cichlids?  I was at 7.8 and now I added a little aquarium salt and melafix I had a couple bumble bee get beat up pretty bad by the only electric blue johani (not sure of spelling) anyways now my ph is at 8.4 is that good? < It is a little high for Lake Malawi fish but still OK.> 2: I have one Texas cichlid in that tank is that ph level ok for it? < Luckily the Texas Cichlid comes from pretty arid areas and it can tolerate a wide range of pH levels.> 3: all together I have 1 electric blue, 1 Texas cichlid, 1 red zebra and 3 bumble bee's and some weird bottom feeder the guy at the fish store talked me into he said its got about the same temperament as the cichlids 4: you guys rock just wanted to let you know that your site is the best one I have seen to date. keep up the good work and thank you for your time. < On behalf of the WetWebMedia crew I thank you for your positive comments.-Chuck> Cichlid Tank Hi again I now have QT tank set up and was wondering if you would help me with the choice of fish. I was looking at putting Apisto's in my new tank but the availability in this area is not very good. So as I said before I am looking for 4 or 5 varieties that I can keep together. South American, African it doesn't matter. I just want to see at first if there are any fish that will be compatible with my water. PH 7.4, kH - 3 to 5 DEG, gH 9 to 12. What do you suggest ? >>>Hello again Dean, You now, in all the years I've been doing this, I've never bothered with water readings or checking any parameters aside from temperature whatsoever. Just about every cichlid I've kept has two requirements, warm and wet. It's about that simple. I've never owned a pH test kit. Now, when keeping discus, or certain sensitive fish such as tropheus, it's a different story. Any cichlid aside from maybe discus would just fine in your water. Now, as far as options go, nearly endless. African riverine cichlids, South American geophagus, Mbuna from lake malawi, haplochromines from the same lake, Tanganyikan cichlids such as the dwarfs, shell dwellers, lamprologines, neolamprologines,  mid sized Central Americans, etc, etc, on and on... Too many to list species for you. I suggest you pick up some books, do some searches and try to narrow things down. When you have questions on specific groups, drop me a line. :) Just know I'm not an apisto guy. Peace Jim<<<

Cichlid Tank Setup Hi there I am the guy who wrote to you about the leaking Fluval 304. You asked to keep you posted which I intend to do probably tomorrow as I am expecting it back today. (thanks for all the help by the way) I have a question or questions of a different nature this time and fair warning I will be bugging you quite a bit in the next few months. My goal in the next few months is to have two tanks ( a 75g and a 90g) up and running. One will be a cichlid tank the other a planted community tank. The first tank I plan to do is the 90g cichlid tank. So the first question I have is regarding the filtering for this tank. I have at my disposal the following filters: Aquaclear 500 Aquaclear 200 Aquaclear 150 2 Penguin 125's Fluval 304 I was also considering an Emperor 400 Which filters do you think I should use for the 90g considering I like to overfilter and fill my tanks with as many fish as possible. The kind if fish I intend to keep have yet to be determined the only light I can shed on this is that I will be looking at fish that are more peaceful, around 4" to 6" in size, colourful and of average difficulty to breed ( if that makes any sense). I would like as great a mix as possible as well. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Dean Smith >>>Hey Dean, I'd throw two of the larger AquaClears on there, and pack the 304 with carbon and run that as well. Cichlids can be very messy fish. In a tank that size, I'd go with a mixed group of medium sized Central Americans. Forget peaceful, we're talking cichlids here, remember? You need to manage the aggression, not try and avoid it -this is impossible. Cheers Jim<<<

Cichlid Tank Setup - Part 2 Thanks I don't want to inundate you with questions but what sort of load do you think I could carry with the tank set up like that and do you have any examples of fish I could keep. Bearing in mind I like to keep as big a variety of fish as possible. I do like most of the Dwarf Varieties. >>>No problem, inundate away! Dwarf varieties are different from the 4" to 6" preferences that you mentioned. Are you contemplating going this direction instead? I've kept many species of Tanganyika dwarfs, shell dwellers, etc. They will do great in a tank that size, and will mix well of other Tanganyikans such as L. calvus, etc. As far as Central Americans go, there are many options. Firemouths, synspilums, salvini, sajicas, robertsoni, etc. The list goes on. Let me know when you know what type of tank you want, (African, African dwarf, Central American, etc) and I can help you with species selection. Jim<<<

Cichlid Tank Revisited - part 3 Just to clarify you told me to put the Fluval, the 500 and the 200 on the cichlid tank ? Now I need another 500 for the community tank ? I would just put two carbon bags and the foam in the 500 & 200 ? And by sponges I assume you mean foam ? So on the Fluval I would have all 3 compartments filled with carbon ? Sorry just a little confused. >>>No problem, It really comes down to your final bioload. A single, larger AquaClear coupled with the canister will be fine. With messy, medium sized cichlids, two AquaClears will be better. :) Yes, by sponges I mean foam. In the Fluval, the water should travel through a sponge first, THEN the carbon. Cheers Jim<<<

Oscar systems hey there guys, hopefully you can answer a question I have that I hear a different answer for every time I ask! I currently have 3 Oscars (2 tigers, and an albino red) all between 5 1/2 and 7 inches collectively, and a 14 inch common pleco (no joke, this is the largest pleco I've seen before) in a 100 gallon tank, with a Fluval 403 canister filter.......is there a problem with this setup? < No the set up is fine.> is my tank too small? < No the tank size is fine too.> will I need more filtration? < That all depends on a couple of factors. Your filter should turn the tank over at least three to five times per hour. How often do you do water changes and how much water to you change. The nitrates should not be over 25 ppm. If they are then you need to change the filter and do a water change to reduce them.>   will I eventually need to re-house one of my Oscars? < Don't think so.-Chuck>> your help with this query would be greatly appreciated, as I have the time and money to do what is right for these fish, but I need to know what actually is right first ;)  BTW these fish all get along great                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks in advance                                                                                                                                                                                 Wanting what's best for my Oscars

Tank size Hi guys!   I've written before and like you site. I was wondering if a 125 gallon tank is big enough for a pair of Oscars plus a few other tank mates. I have two albino red Oscars that have great color to them. I bought them when they were about 1-2 inches long. They are now about 6 inches and doing fine. I have both of them in the 125 gallon tank with 3 Severum, two plecos, a blood parrot, a large snakeskin Gourami and a dojo loach. All of them get along fine, the Oscars run into each other sometimes trying to beat each other to food. I've read that it is better to have either just 1 Oscar or several but not just 2 due to the larger one picking on the smaller one. I haven't had any problems, but both of my Oscars are pretty close in size. Do you think this size tank is big enough for them to grow healthy and happy in? Thanks for the advice < The tank size is fine. If your Oscars decide to pair off then all the other fish in the tank will be in trouble. Cichlids guard their eggs and young from all other fish. They may even kill the other fish to protect their young. Something to out for when they get bigger than 8 inches or so.-Chuck> Bill

He hates that cloudy water.... Cichlids are its home... hello crew, I write in hopes that you can help me with a very frustrating problem. I have a 55 gallon freshwater tank with 6 cichlids. I also have 8 Amazon sword plants, and 2 pieces of driftwood. My lighting consists of 4 30-watt compact fluorescent bulbs at 6400 K.  My levels are fine, the plants are fine, my fish are fine, but the damn water is driving me nuts! My tank water doesn't stay clear for more than 2 days before it starts to green. When I do water changes I find this green gook inside the filter. I do not overfeed the fish, as I have now dropped their regiment to one feeding per day.  I have done water changes every other day and this green water returns after only a day. I have fresh carbon in the system and my other media include foam pads and bio-rings. The tank is run on a Fluval 304 which has filter power enough for a 75 gallon tank. What am I doing wrong? Since all life in the tank is fine I assume this to be an aesthetic problem, but it's ruining the joy of having a tank! Please help. J.P. aka "fish owner in distress < I would try a couple of things. If you added any plant supplements/fertilizers like laterite to the soil then I assume the cichlids are digging into the gravel and releasing the fertilizers into the water where they are being utilized by the algae. Vacuum the gravel to remove the plant fertilizers. If you have not added anything to the gravel then I would still vacuum it to remove any sludge that has built up. Check the driftwood and see if it is rotting. This would add nutrients to the water and possibly contribute to the algae problem. You have lots of light on this tank too so try cutting back.-Chuck> Wants larger tank for cichlids, needs Strunk and Wagnall's (unedited) I wish I could get a bigger saqariam i would love to get 1 but i am on a   budget well thats life i still am thinken on gettin a bigger one. i hope i get   some mony soon. The fish are still a bit teritorial and chase each other around but never eat each other. I have noticed sometin weird that my smaller jewel ciclid is eating feeder fish whole is that safe for it if not what should i   do. < Feeder fish always carry an inherient risk of carrying a disease into the aquarium to which they are being fed. It is best to not feed them feeders since you do not have a quarantine tank and an illness would cause you a lot of grief in a small aquarium.-Chuck>

Too many cichlids, too little space and grammar hi tell me how I do this I never got this to make sense. I have a 10 gallon   freshwater aquarium it holds a 4.5 inch Texas cichlid a convict cichlid 2 inches  a jewel cichlid 2 inches and another jewel cichlid 3 inches how do I do this the  oldest fish is the 3 inch jewel cichlid. < Sound like you have a tank full of very hardy fish that may have grown up together and have established a pecking order. To keep them healthy you are probably changing a fair amount of water on a regular basis and cleaning the filter often too. It may just come down to being lucky. Although your fish aren't too lucky to be jammed into such a small area. You are also missing out on watching them swim around and interact like they would in nature.-Chuck> A whole lot of FW fish (New Zep tune) Dear WWM: I have read your forums, and I still don't know how to fix my problem.  I have a 44 gallon FW tank with one Oscar, 2 blood parrot cichlids, 1 jack Dempsey, 1 firemouth cichlid, and 2 Plecostomus (sucker).  I have had all of them for 2 years including the tank.   In the last 8 months, I have had a white cloudy tank that is so murky that you can hardly see anything.  I have tested all the levels, and they are all normal. < Normal should be zero ammonia and nitrites, the nitrates should be under 25 ppm, The pH should be around 7.>   My fish are fine, no stress.  I changed the filter pump up to a whisper pump that works up to 60 gallons.   I cannot figure out why  I have a cloudy tank.  It is not close to a window.   I leave the light on no longer than 8 hours, so I know that that is not it.   Also, I have tried putting in those things that say they fix the cloudiness, nothing works.   My fish are fairly large, the Oscar is about 8 inches long being the alpha fish.  The sucker fish are that size as well.   Are they too big for the tank?  Is my light causing this?  I also clean the tank about every 2 weeks.  I replace the filters, vacuum the bottom gravel, and take out about 1/3 of the water.  I feed the fish 2 times a day.  And I feed them flakes, because the won't eat anything else, even though they are big enough.   I have read the forums, and tried these things, but nothing helps.  I have taken water in to a shop to be tested, but the people are not experienced enough to figure it out.  They test the water, but all is normal.   Please help me!  My tank is very ugly.   Thanks for your help in advance!  Please email me back with any suggestions, and I will be grateful! Debra < First of all you have many large fish in a tank that probably should be in at least a 75 gallon tank. The filter should turn the water over at least 3 to 5 times per hour. So in your 44 gallon tank your filter should be pumping at least 150 gallons per hour. Make sure that all the fish food is gone in a couple of minutes and only feed once per day. I think there may be at least two things that may be going on. First, when you clean your tank you clean the filter and vacuum the gravel at the same time you change your water. The bacteria that break down the ammonia need to live on a surface like in the filter or in the gravel. When you clean the filter and the gravel you are probably removing the majority of the good bacteria that break down the fish waste and you are seeing ammonia build up in your tank. A simple ammonia test would confirm this. The keep this from happening again I would recommend using a filter with a bio-wheel on it. The bacteria live on the wheel so that when the bacteria are removed from the tank there are still the vast majority living on the wheel and you won't see the ammonia spike. The second situation may be if you have added any shells or rocks to the tank that may be dissolving into the aquarium water. Materials made from calcium carbonate will dissolve in acidic water. If you live in an area with soft water or use a water softener at home then it will dissolve shells and sedimentary rocks not intended for use in an aquarium. Try removing the substrate or the rocks and see if things finally clear up.-Chuck.>

Balancing the decision between a canister or wet/dry in a FW cichlid tank Hi, an absolutely impressive wealth of details and information from a crew of incredible resources. I would imagine that this has been asked, but my several google searches have not netted me an answer. I have a 90 gallon tank that after a few years of sitting empty will be running again, thanks to my 19 month old daughter's fascination with Nemo. For years I enjoyed freshwater cichlids and plan to set up the tank with about six or eight of them depending on which ones I will eventually purchase.  Based on my readings here, I will try some live plants this time since the benefits seem to be very attractive. My question is specifically about filtration.  For years (and up until several years ago) I had good experiences with canister filters.  My Eheim classic canisters are truly classic and Eheim no longer manufacturers or stocks the original impellers.  Despite their past years of continual and great service, I am not extremely confident in relying on a filtration mechanism that is nearing 20 years old, so I am prepared to purchase a new filtration system. It seemed to me that several years ago, wet/dry filters were the tools of saltwater aquarists and seldom used in freshwater applications.  Now I see that there is much to be praised by using these systems with freshwater applications. My quandary is between the purchase of a wet/dry system or a newer, large canister.  I assume that an appropriately sized  wet/dry will provide much more biological filtration and redeeming by-products than the much smaller quantity of ceramic noodles in an appropriately sized canister filter. Given the generally voracious appetites of fast growing cichlids, I am guessing that this is a plus.  But, given the voracious appetites and messy nature of cichlids, will a wet/dry be able to keep the water from becoming too cloudy or murky?  Will a wet/dry filter be lacking in some abilities in maintaining a cichlid tank that a canister filter will be much better at? Ultimately, my impression is that a wet/dry system seems to be easier to maintain, will provide additional water in the system (in my case, at least 10%) and I am guessing will be less costly to maintain over the years. Is there one path that is inherently better than another for this intended application? Should or could (my older canister filters) fulfill some necessary secondary or collaborative role in addition to a wet/dry filter? < Cichlids are heavy feeders and require good filtration. Plants may not go with your cichlids so you may have to make a choice between plants or cichlids. As far as filtration  there are few ways to go with the big tank. My personal first choice would be a Marineland Tidepool filter with the SOS overflow system. Negatives are it is expensive and you need to buy an additional pump and do a little plumbing to get it going. The positives is once it is set up it is so easy to service. Just pull out the trays and hose them off. My second choice would be a Marineland emperor power filter. They hang on the back and are extremely easy to service. They may not work if you have a canopy on the top or are limited for space behind the tank. My third choice would be a canister filter. They are difficult to service and don't pump as much water as the others. Depending on the plants this would be the best system if you wanted to invest in a co2 system for plants because this one would agitate the surface of the water the least.-Chuck> Thank you for any input!

RE: Balancing the decision between a canister or wet/dry in a FW cichlid tank Thanks for your detailed response. If I have a choice to consider, it would be to go with strictly cichlids (like Texas Cichlids) and not with the live plants.  Does your recommendation below still apply for a FO tank? < More so than ever.> It seems as if the Tidepool is essentially a wet/dry system, but relies on a bio-wheel rather than the bio-balls.  Am I on the right track? < You are right on the money. Big fish like cichlids generate lots of waste and the secret to keeping them healthy is to get that waste out of the system and not let it build up. That's why I like this system so much because it is quick and easy to service.-Chuck> Thanks again! Rob

Filter media, cichlid system Hello crew....I have a 55-gallon freshwater tank containing 5 cichlids and 5 other aggressive fish. The tank is lit by 120 watts and houses 7 Amazon swords. The tank is run on a Fluval 304, and my question is in regard to the media inside it. 3 months ago I decided to get rid of carbon in my system and replace it with more biological and mechanical media (All trays are now filled with both PolyFilter wool, and ceramic rings) It is quite expensive (carbon) and I hear it absorbs a lot of nutrients beneficial to plants. Having removed the carbon, I in fact noticed a tremendous flourishing of all my plants. I checked all levels including nitrates-ites, ph, etc, and they were all fine. What I did notice was a discoloring of my water, a yellowish green murk to be exact. I did water changes and this would help temporarily, but soon the murk would return. I even did a 80% water change once and the discoloration returned within a couple of days. Sometimes it is so green you can't see anything in the tank. Being concerned for my fish I check all levels religiously but once again they are all perfect. So in essence the environmental aspect of the tank is fine and my fish are quite healthy, but the esthetic aspect is a disaster! I am really quite adamant about restoring the carbon as part of my media, so the question I pose  to you is what other kinds of media or setups could you suggest to eliminate this unappealing discoloration of my tank water. Any suggestions are welcome. Tank you for your time and expertise. < If you use a special substrate for the plants then I suspect that the cichlids are rooting around in it and keeping it stirred up and releasing organics into the water that may have been accumulating. Even if your are not using a special substrate then I would vacuum the gravel the next time I did a water change. Keep doing this over the next few water changes you should start to see a difference.-Chuck> FW filters Hi you have been great help in the past and I thank you for that. My question is I have a 125 gal tank with a 3 in. Oscar and I plan on getting a 2 or 3 in. common pleco. I have a emperor not sure what model it has 4 filter areas and to bio wheels also have a H.O.T. magnum. I was thinking of getting the Aqua Clear Pro 150 Wet/Dry filter it cost 260.00.I was wondering if this is worth the money and is it easy to maintain. I would probably not use the other filters any more.-------------Thanks Fred < For a tank that size even though it is lightly loaded I use a rule of thumb to have the water moving at least 3 times the total volume of the tank in one hour. So You need a filter or filters that move at least 375 gallons an hour. Better yet 5 times the total volume of the tank. I like a filter that is easy to service. That's why I like power filters that hang on the back. I have a love/hate relationship with canister filters. Sometimes you got to use them but they sure are a pain to service. Keep in mind that all filters do is collect waste from the tank. It is still in the system until you remove it. Wet drys are great if you don't use a co2 system in a planted tank. Oxygen is the limiting factor for the bacteria to break down fish waste to less toxic substances. You already have a wet/dry filter with the Biowheels on your emperor that is probably the 400 model. So it already pumps 400 gallons an hour and has the wet/dry factor already built it. Why spend the Extra money for something you don't need?-Chuck>

Cichlid system gear I have just found some stuff in another tank we have, and wondered if any of it would be useful in this tank. I will try to tell you what the stuff is, but some of it has no description. So here goes. There is a Pulsar Power Filter Model 200, 115 volts. < The filter will help, but not do the job alone. Usually the model number refers to the gallons per hour. This would help but the other filter would still be needed.> There is a massive heater, All it says is 110-120v, 50-80Hz, don't know if that helps. It is 13 1/4" long. and about 4 around. <Heaters can be very touchy. You can try it as described before . If it works then keep for awhile until you can save up for a newer and more reliable heater.> And last but not least there is a Penn-Plax XP 500 twin pump. Please let me know if any or all of this is useful. <The pump runs on two rubber diaphragms. If they are dried out they make crack and need replaced. If they are intact then you have a nice little air pump to run some airstones or ornaments.> That would be so nice, save some money. Anyway, thanks again. We are building the stand today. < Be aware that your tank will weigh over 1,250 lbs when it is up and running. Make sure that stand and the floor under it can handle the weight for a very long time. Congratulations on your new tank!-Chuck>

Neotropical cichlid set-up Hi. I need your help with something. I have searched your site FAQ's and have found helpful info, but not exactly what I am looking for. I have a 125g tank. We are in the process of setting it up but are trying to figure out what filtration we need. We are having the top made w/lights, other then that. We have nothing yet. We don't have a ton of money to spend, so that is something to keep in mind. We are trying to figure out the filtration and pump. < Quality equipment will really pay off in time, money and success. Oscars will get up to 12 inches long when full grown. They are messy feeders and generate a lot of waste that needs to be dealt with. Here is what I would do for an ideal Oscar set up. Oscars come from South America and need warm water. Get a good quality 200 watt heater. A cheap heater may stick after a few months so I would not skimp here because a stuck heater can cook your fish. Some stores may not carry a heater with that large a wattage so two 100 watt heaters placed at opposite sides of the tank would work too. The filter should pump enough water to circulate the tank no less than three times an hour. I would recommend an outside power filter that pumps at least 400 plus gallons an hour. They are easier to service than a canister filter. > We are planning on getting a couple Oscars and are also wondering how long we should let the tank sit before doing so. The pet store here (Good friends with owner and employees) says you can put the Oscars in immediately. I do not agree. I know sometimes they are wrong. I am looking for info on pretty much everything. Please help as I am wanting to do this right. But inexpensively. Also, how many fish could I have in a tank that size. Even if only two were Oscars. I want them to be very comfortable so do not need to know the max limit. Just the comfortable one. Thanks a ton. < Wash the sand or gravel well. Add enough so at least 2 inches covers the bottom tank. Don't worry about plants. The Oscars will just end up tearing them up. Wash the rocks well and make sure they are safe for the aquarium. Place the rocks on the bottom of the tank and not just on the sand. Oscars like to dig and may excavate a tunnel under a rock and end up being crushed by it. Fill the tank up with treated water. Turn on the heater and let it run overnight. The next day check the thermometer. If it is less than 80 degrees and the heater is turned off then it will have to be adjusted. Turn the heater knob until the light comes on and wait another day. Repeat as often as needed to get the heater adjusted to 80 degrees. Large tanks take time to heat up so you will need to be patient. Now that the filters are running and the heater is properly adjusted we need to add some fish. Two little baby one inch Oscars could be added at this time. Feed them only a smaller portion of flake food that they only eat in a few minutes. Resist the temptation of over feeding them many times a day. I know they are cute at this size but the excess food will just go to waste. Ask the store for a little sand from one of their existing tanks. This sand contains beneficial bacteria that is needed to breakdown the waste that your fish will be generating. After a while your tank may smell and get cloudy, if this happens you will need to reduce the ammonia levels by either treating the water with a chemical or dilute the ammonia levels with a water change. This is caused by ammonia building up in the water. The bacteria will eventually multiply and break this waste down to nitrite and then nitrates. The nitrates will have to be controlled with water changes. It will take about a month for the bacteria to build up enough in numbers to handle your tank. After a month if you wanted to add some other fish you could. Keep in mind that your Oscars will get big sooner than you think. New fish should be quarantined because they may carry disease into your tank. Treating and curing fish in a 125 gallon tank can be a lot of work and expensive.-Chuck> Alisha

Cloudy Cichlid System Hi there, I have a 48" Hagen Fluval 1200 tank, approx 200L,currently I have convict and Firemouth cichlids in my tank, small pea gravel for substrate, and a Fluval 4+ and a Fluval 2+ internal filters in both back corners of the tank, I also have two bits of Mopani wood in my tank, and around 16 tufa rock clumps along the back and sides of my tank. My problem is that my water is really cloudy constantly, even if I do a 50% water chance the water becomes cloudy again shortly afterwards, I've tried to use carbon pads in my filters and also poly pads in my filters, however neither of these seem to help cure the cloudy water, to me it seems that all of the water has floating parts of the tufa rock, however I don't understand why the filters wouldn't be picking this up, as it seems to be just floating there in the water. Its getting to the stage where I'm thinking of taking out all of the tufa rock and replacing it with something along the lines of slate rock and then doing a water change to get rid of any leftover tufa rock suspended in the water also thinking of changing my light bulbs as they are 40w which might be too strong) Are there any suggestions you could have for me, as I've asked at four different stores as to how to cure this problem and also read at least four different books yet everything I ask and everything I try short of replacing the tufa rock) seems to have no effect. < Check the ammonia levels in the tank. A new tank could experience an ammonia spike that would make the tank look cloudy. If the ammonia levels are fine then something else could be a problem. Take a sample of the aquarium water and place it in a large clear jar or container. After a few days see if the water is clear and if there is any sediment in the bottom of the jar. I am not familiar with the tufa rock but I think that it may be the cause of the problem. The term "rock" can mean several things. Some of this rock can be very dusty and can cloud a tank if it is not thoroughly washed. The dust can be made up of extremely fine particles that typical aquarium filters will not pick up. The other possibility is that the rock is breaking down in the water into these fine particles. Take sample or piece of the rock and place it in the clear jar. Add an airstone to the water to keep it moving. After a few days discontinue the airstone and let the water settle for a few days. Once again look for sediment. If there is sediment then the rocks may indeed be the problem and will probably need changing. If the rock itself is not the cause then vacuum the gravel. Sediment or dust in the gravel may cause this too. -Chuck> Any advice would be most gratefully appreciated, thanks, Craig Pettigrew

Firemouth help Thanks for your help, I've just done yet another 25% water change and changed the lights, although I don't think the lights were anything to do with the problem. < If you have had green water then that would be a different situation and the changing of the lights might had helped.> I've placed more poly filter wool into my filters and I've reduced the flow rate, hopefully to capture more of the particles, I'm going to let it run for a week and if there are still the particles in the water then I'll need to change my rock to slate. < Poly filter may actually be removing some of the minerals you are trying to add with your tufa  rock.> Tufa rock is used to increase the ph level's, < The cichlids you indicated in your first question really don't need elevated pH levels. If you wanted to increase the pH levels for African rift lake cichlids then a buffer or buffering substrate would be better. -Chuck> believe that it crumbles to a certain degree to help do this, so as I have about 16 rocks in my tank it seems to point towards them as being the sole problem (I've even shredded my fingers washing the rock 2-3 times) thanks again for your advice.

Would a 20 gal tank be too small for a Jack Dempsey? <Yes, Jack Dempseys get to get up to 12 inches. You would have the same problem you had with the Oscar.> I currently have some African Cichlids in the 20 and have a 29 gal that isn't set up yet. I was thinking about getting some more African cichlids and putting them in the 29, < Be careful about putting Africans in the 29 gallon. A 50 would be better but it can be done in a 29 gallon if you stay with the smaller species like Ps. saulosi or less aggressive species like Ps. Acei,> and then buying a small Jack Dempsey to put in the 20. But would he Jack Dempsey outgrow the 20? < If you really want to get into cichlids then I would really like to recommend a book to you to read. It is called "Enjoying Cichlids" by Ad Konings. It is a great book covering most aspects of cichlid keeping from tiny dwarfs to large monster cichlids. It covers tank requirements and food needs too. It is not cheap but it will save you lots of time, aggravation and money in the long run. -Chuck>

Oscar and Gar in a 55g? I was recently at a pet store and I was told that it will be ok for me to get 2 Oscars and 1 gar fish and put them in a 55 gal tank. I want to know will they get along and will 55 gal be enough. If not what should I do? >>Hello :D Since you are asking, I get the feeling that you think a 55g would NOT be large enough, and you would be right. A 55g is not even large enough to house ONE Oscar for it's natural lifespan, two would require twice-weekly water changes just to keep them healthy, no guarantees either. Adding a gar to the mix would be a bad idea, and I am sure that someone down the line would talk you into adding a pleco as a cleanup crew...another bad idea! The average pleco sold to you would probably be an Hypostomus species, growing to two feet and not an ideal cleaner-upper, they create more waste than they remove. If your tank is a 55g, I would recommend going with some smaller species of Cichlidae, perhaps some jewels, some keyholes, some convicts if you like protective parents ;) or maybe just some gouramis, or a nice community tank. A 55g is too small to house most cichlids for any length of time. If your pH is high, say around 7.8 and higher, you could house some Africans in there, but beware of aggression, even though the Africans may not grow to 15 inches, they are aggressive enough to warrant a great deal more space.  Good Luck :) -Gwen<<

Cichlid Sardines Hi, We started up a 90 gallon tank for cichlids at the end of September.  We had at the height, 14 cichlids and one "red lobster".   <Oh, my.  That's an awful lot of cichlids in for that tank, I'm afraid....  Aggression and water quality are both going to be bad....> We started to lose them and have lost 7 in all, but have replaced them since.   <I would very seriously suggest reducing the number of fish in there....  Also keep in mind that some cichlids are simply incompatible; please check out your specific fishes' needs regarding pH and so forth - for example, some South American cichlids thrive in pH of 6.0 and lower, whereas African rift lake cichlids of Malawi, Tanganyika, and Victoria like their pH to be well above 8.0 in most cases.> One was pointing straight up in the water and was full of holes one morning.   <Wow.  Depending upon how you mean "holes", this may be Hexamita or Hole-In-The-Head/HLLE, or it might have been roughed up a bit and damaged from other fish.  Or any number of other illnesses brought on by water quality issues, as well.> The rest that have died have seemed to be twitching and lethargic.   <Strong indications of poor water quality - please test for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH, or take a water sample to a reputable local fish store and have them test it for you.> One who is still hanging in there, has some really sorry looking fins and the others are now chasing him.   <Overcrowding and poor water quality will spur this aggression - please consider cutting down on your number of fish.> We have medicated the tank twice.  Once for parasite, and when that didn't work, we tried it for fungus.  The one who is sick now, was doing much better after the second medication(2 weeks ago), but just got worse today.   <I imagine, from the aggression and possible water quality problems, he may be suffering from bacterial infection(s).  Test and correct your water quality, first and foremost, then go from there.  Try to diagnose what you're treating first, so you can medicate with something that will help.  And keep in mind, it is always better to medicate only the sick fish in a separate quarantine tank, so you don't risk destroying the biological filtration that helps keep your other fish healthy.> My husband has had cichlids before, and keeps saying that it's normal for fish to die.   <Not so.  Many cichlids can live for several years - perhaps ten years or more, in some cases.> I can't help but think that this isn't normal.   <You are very right.> I don't like to see them sick.  Is there any way you can help?  We remove 10 gallons a week and replace it. <Do you vacuum the gravel when you do this?  With such a high fish load, you might want to change more like 50% weekly.  Be sure you are using a good dechlorinator to remove chlorine and chloramine in the water.  Please test for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH.> My husband has put salt in and turned up the heat too.  We have a Fluval system and are using loose carbon in the filter. The temp. of the tank is 27 degrees Celsius and we use Cichlid flakes for food - twice a day.  If there is any way you can help, please let us know. <Please do check out the information available on WetWebMedia regarding cichlids at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm .  Scroll down to the gray bar titled "Cichlid Fishes", and you'll find quite a few articles.  Please also check out the FAQs linked to those articles that apply to you/your system as there is a lot of information archived there as well.  Also on that page you will find information on freshwater systems in general that may be of interest to you.> Thanks.  Jane and Mike. <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Adding the Ocean to Your Tank 11/06/03  Hi :)  <Hi, Pufferpunk here>  I have a cichlid tank that is very well established. I love to change the tank display. In the past I have put coral in the tank that I have gotten while snorkeling in the Caribbean with no problem. I have a very large conch shell that I feel apprehensive about displaying in my tank, but think it would look awesome in it! Do you think it will be okay?  <You're not going to like this answer, but I feel I must scold you a little here. As an avid scuba diver (I'm actually leaving for the Caribbean on Saturday), I need to educate you about taking things from the ocean. We have a saying, "Take only pictures & leave only bubbles". Everything in the ocean has a reason for being there. That conch could be used for a hermit crab or octopus home. It is never good to help yourself to these things. Enough said about that. ;) If there is no smell to it, you could soak it overnight in a light bleach solution, rinse well & then a few hours more in dechlorinated water, before adding it to your tank.>  Thanks for your help. Susan  <You're welcome, Pufferpunk> 

Cramped Oscars <Hello! Ryan with you> I have a 30 gallon freshwater fish tank I have 3 Oscars and 2 Cichlids fish in there. I have fallen in love with a Albino Oscar and would like to know How many more fish I can fit in the tank. Currently my fish get along fine. My tank has been up for 2 months. <1 Oscar will be cramped in your 30 gallon setup when fully grown.  You've fallen in love with an animal that's going to require more space, certainly if you'd like to keep more than one.  Four Oscars would require 125+ gallons for adequate room for movement.  Good luck! Ryan>

Too Many Cichlids Thanks for the response; the eggs were eaten.<bummer>  The funny thing about this though was that there was only one Texas cichlid (about 7"). <Not too weird, it happens.>  The other fish in the tank were an 8" red devil (or Midas, I'm not sure exactly-it's very orange with a big bump on it's head), a 6" red terror, a 6" jack Dempsey, a 6" black belt cichlid, a 7" Managuense, and about a 2" convict (I don't know how he's survived??). <Oh my!  That is way too many fish in a 55.  I have heard that the Red Devil is always the last fish in the tank, but I do not know if they ever brought a Managuense into the equation.  I strongly recommend finding homes for some of these fish, keeping your favorites, and getting a larger tank.  Check out fishbase.org for the full grown size of these monsters.  If they were all to grow you would have no room left for water.> Is it possible for any of these cichlids to be the mate of the Texas cichlid? <It is possible that one of these fish would have tried to fertilize the Texas Cichlids eggs.>  How do these type of cichlids "mate"?  Do they lay eggs and then fertilize?  The Texas seemed like he was dragging something on top of the eggs.  <Probably one of the others eggs, he was trying to fertilize.>  South American cichlids don't mouth breed, do they?  Any information will be greatly appreciated.  <Get a larger tank, and in the mean time, lots of water changes. -Gage>  Thanks so much, Jeff

Stinky Tank I have no idea when this started but I have a 55 gal African Cichlid tank. The water is not cloudy, there are 9 African cichlids in there plus 1 algae eater and there is an awful odor coming from the tank.  It smells like a scum filled pond on a hot day! The temp is right where it should be and the filter is pretty new and the carbon has just been replaced.  Help me get rid of this odor PLEASE!!!! -Aimee, NY <Hey Aimee, what are you feeding?  Leftover food can smell like death.  How are your water tests coming out? Do the fish seem ok?  Water changes should help. -Gage>

Overcrowded Oscars I have a 10 gallon tank with 1 sucker fish and 3 other fish.  The other fish are small (1-2 inch) Oscar fish.   <Whoa! Way too many fish for this tank! A full grown Oscar can reach nearly 18 inches long so even one Oscar is way too much for a 10 gallon tank. These 4 fish should be kept in no smaller than a 75 gallon aquarium, 100 gallon would be better.> I'm having a problem however with the tank. The water stays clear for only about a day and then no matter what I do, unless I do a full water change it stays cloudy.  The pH is 7.0, I've added "algae fix" to help keep the algae in control.  I've tried "tetra aqua-easy balance" to try to get rid of the cloudiness, as well as "clear water" which is supposed to remove cloudiness.  Nothing is working.  It's getting frustrating because the tank just isn't as pretty when it's cloudy.   <This is all probably a result of the tank being overcrowded. The water quality is probably very poor because of the feeding necessary and the wastes from the fish. Algae is not causing the cloudy water here, its probably ammonia.> Is there something I'm missing?  Something else I should be testing, like ammonia and nitrate levels?  If so what should the level for my fish be? <Ammonia and nitrites should be at 0 in any aquarium. You need to either get a much bigger tank for your fish or get rid of the Oscars and get some fish that stay small for your current tank. Be sure to do lots of research on the fish you plan to keep *before* you buy them. Theres a ton of info available on http://www.wetwebmedia.com  and also at http://www.fishbase.org > Thanks...Kendall <You're welcome! Ronni>

Cichlid Substrate - 4/8/03 Hi, great, informative website. <Thank you very much> One question that I could not find the answer to. <One of many for sure. We cannot get it all but since this sight is always be changed and additions being made. Maybe one day we will be as close to complete as one site could be. Until then, ask on my brother> I just bought a 46 gallon freshwater setup for African cichlids. <Very nice. Be sure to go to a very reputable dealer to ensure breed and if you can get young males instead of fully grown I think your long term success is initially boosted. Also be sure to support captive bred fish rather than wild caught. It is a lake and a very delicate system where these animals come from. Like all eco-systems whether oceanic or fresh, there are not infinite quantities of these animals. Plus, it is fairly easy to stimulate breeding in most of the African Cichlid species and young tank bred fish seem to do very well in acclimating (especially as the tank grows) When choosing fish, be sure to look into interaction and adult aggression and be aware of the adult size of your fish. I really like the site http://www.cichlidrecipe.com/>  I liked the way the crushed coral and Aruba Puka looked, so I asked if it could be used  as gravel in freshwater.  The uninformed worker at the petstore said yes, but now I am finding that websites are not recommending it. <Not familiar with the Puka but I do use crushed coral in my filters to buffer PH and keep it at a constant 8.0 to 8.3>  Should I remove it, or try to just adjust my chemicals? <I would go for sand as this is what I use. Cichlids love to dig in the sand (natural as this is usually their method for capturing prey) and make nest in the pits they make by moving sand about. Not to mention it looks more natural to their environment. (Although a more silty mud is more likely their environment) I would avoid the crushed coral but I don't think it will kill them if that is what you are asking. Maybe remove it put some of the crushed coral in a filter situation? Again, I have used it for the last 6 years in my filters and have had no losses. Be sure to keep up on the water quality and have fun. Go for the bio-tope. Look into books as well. Later- Paul> Thanks for any help, Scott

Need Help Fast! Plumbing to Sump or Filter for Cichlid tank I have a 300 gallon tank on the way with three overflow boxes on the outside back which skim a total of 66" of surface area and feed (through Durso standpipes) six 2" drains. I was assuming I'd need to plumb 2" pipes from the overflow boxes into one large (nearly horizontal) 6" main drain pipe that emptied into a sump or fed a filter intake. <many possibilities... that's one> I am still unsure about what the best approach may be. For instance, if I use a pond filter or aquaculture filter system for the tank, how do I feed it with a 6" drain pipe? <just drain all raw overflowing water to a sump... or better yet, a primary partition where the skimmer sits or Then, from there you'll have a dedicated pump that feeds the filter or perhaps a teed line (bleeder) off the main return pump to feed the filter on a loop> If I were to design the overflow more traditionally, how would I ever get enough overflow to that same filter with just a 1 or 2 inch pipe?..... <all water does not (should not) go to the filter first... it should go to gross filter first (settling chamber, daily cleaned course pads, etc)> Hence the multiple 2" pipe feed for plenty of flow. Sounds like a "Catch 22" whereas you need the flow for the big system, yet no pumps accept a large supply pipe feed. <no worries... bud. You are just a little mistaken. All will be clear when/if you see some big pretty store installations... tours of public aquarium filtration set ups, etc> It would seem a sump is necessary. <correct and critical for large displays> Is a sump the way to go for this FW cichlid community? <its not mandatory, but would be very helpful and add to system stability> I had planned on first using a micron bag, then biomedia, then chemical chambers (in case of future needs), a nice open sump area, and two Iwaki returns to a manifold over the aquarium. <actually sounds perfect> I'd love to get a contained system though. <tedious to work with IME> I see some of the Aquanetics stuff on their site, but I can't see if it would be appropriate for my needs. <I have worked with Aquanetics products for about 15 years (their commercial products even more so) and have very little respect for their quality> I think my key desire is to get that first shot at the water with a micron mechanical filter that is easy to clean daily (thus the bag idea). <agreed> I need filtration (wet/dry or other? extra biological needed like fluidized bed?), <either> heat (fireplug or submersibles in the sump?), <the Aquanetics Fireplug is one of their few products that I really do like> potential for UV filtration.... <save your money... will not prevent the spread of disease well or at all in the display and is not needed if you QT all new fish like you/we should> all in my living room or piped to a spot just outside the back door and returned to the tank. I see the Aquanetics System Packs, Bag Filters, etc. <I would not take it for free... seriously. But that's just my opinion, experience. Poll the message boards for a consensus> but do not know enough to make a good choice. I've been researching for weeks, and the tank is almost here! <OK> I want a museum quality setup, yet I do not know just how to obtain it. <make the drive to a regional aquarium society meeting to seek advice of experienced aquarists and see their setups... visit a public aquarium too... call in advance and set up a sneak peak at their filters> I know you may not want to make specific manufacturer, etc. <nope... we can. And we do. We are unpaid and unbiased. The few advertisers we have and all of our readership understand and appreciate that I believe> recommendations...... but that's exactly what I need. What would you do? <relax <G>> If wet/dry, must the micron bag be over the top of the bioballs, or can a configuration allow the bag to be at the same level with the water flowing over a tall barrier and then over the biomedia? <for any/all you will still have a bonded filter pad between the micro (if at all) and the bio-balls. Your dilemma here bud is that you simply need to see (eyeballs) some big installations then all will be quite clear. You really also need to slow down and have patience. Just because the tank is being delivered in days does not mean you have to fill it as the movers are carrying it into the house <G>. Chill bubba. Take weeks or months to build your museum quality display if you truly want to succeed. Else, you will get a stinky fish tank that looks like it was thrown together in a hurry.> I've got many more questions than answers, sorry! <No worries... all in good time. Best regards, Anthony>

A rock question (old LR for cichlid tank use) I friend of mine has a case of real coral rock ..its dead rock but I was wondering if I could put this in a fresh water cichlid tank! <If these are types of cichlids that enjoy hard, alkaline water yes. Some do not. If you're not sure, but know the names of your fishes, you could likely find out their natural water conditions on fishbase.org. Bob Fenner>

Filters and cichlids Hello again! More questions, this time fresh water African Cichlids. I have a 29 gallon tank set up with 7 different cichlids, about 1 1/2'" each. <Please be warned that if these are Malawi African Cichlids, they will soon begin killing one another until you have perhaps 4 fish, maybe fewer. They are highly aggressive, territorial and do not stop once they have beaten another fish into submission. They usually go ahead and polish them off. I never use Malawi Africans in anything less than 75 gallons.> I currently have a penguin 170 power filter and everything seems fine. I am going to change to a canister filter so as not to have to see the filter box on the back of the tank, as both the front and back of the tank are visible (I know a sump/wet-dry with drilled tank would be optimum, but the tank is in place and that stuff is expensive) So now I'm looking for a recommendation, Marineland magnum 350, Rena Filstar XP2 or Fluval 304? <Of these options, the Rena, but I would look at Eheims too.> Looking at the flow rates of each tells me buy the Magnum, more flow = more filtration, Right? <No, not necessarily.> But the other two have capacity to add more and different media. Is that something I'll need with this cichlid tank? <You will need to use a media able to support biological filtration.> Thanking you once again, Jack <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Freshwater Algae Difficulties Hi Bob Fenner, I have a 29 gallon hard alkaline cichlid tank with a brown slime "algae" I think, growing throughout it. I was wondering what it is and how if possible to alleviate it. <You can find a lot of information about controlling algae in freshwater tanks here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm -Steven Pro>

CLEANING CRUSHED CORAL SUBSTRATE!!!! Dear Robert, <Steven Pro this evening.> I'm so glad I found your site. I hope you can help me with my new cichlid tank set up. Though I cleaned 40 lbs. of crushed coral the best I could, once it was in my tank with water (46 gallon) it still seems to be very dirty as the tank has been white and cloudy for a couple of days and each time I move around the substrate, it kicks up more and more white dust to cloud the tank. I have an Eheim canister filter attached #2217 and am using a Powerclear power head #402 for water movement.. Is the clouding eventually going to go away? <Yes> Is it normal to have the substrate give off a white cloudy mix every time I move it around? <Very normal to have cloudiness with crushed coral.> Should I simply try not to disturb the crushed coral? <Eventually it will settle down, get trapped in your filters, and removed with water changes.> Thanks so much for your advice! Mitchell Wexler <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

RE: CLEANING CRUSHED CORAL SUBSTRATE!!!! Thanks so much.....really appreciate it!!!!! I can't seem to locate your website address.....please advise me so I can keep checking with it as I develop my cichlid tank. Thanks. Mitchell Wexler <www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Re: Please Help Me Decide Hello Anthony or Robert; <hello, again Peter. Anthony still here fielding queries while Bob refines his new found talent for burping Mozart> Continuing with the tank building mentioned below. The tank below has at the moment 4 Jewels and a Jack Dempsey, all under 4 inches that I put in to get the tank going and plan to sell back to the LFS before putting the Africans in the tank. The are all doing well. <excellent> You (Anthony) suggests adding 3 fish monthly to build the biological filter, however, I live on Martha's Vineyard and the LFS has no African cichlids to buy (the regular fish prices are up there though). <just as an aside... please moon Martha Stewart for me if you get a chance...and have a smiley face painted on your rump for comic relief> A trip off island to buy three fish once a month gets costly, ferry ride, one hour drive to store etc. I thought about getting fish from Armke's or another on-line place but the shipping seems the same for three fish or thirty. <I'm not thrilled about buying or recommending "sight-unseen" livestock purchases. Dry goods are another matter> Here's the dilemma, I found a place that has two 100 gallon African tanks that they are trying to stop carrying since the employee that knew Africans left and no one there knows much about them. <pathetic that some store owner's livelihood is so fragile that he would rather compromise his business than learn something new> In theory I could go there and really stock my tank in one trip and save a ton of money. However, there is the bio filter problem. <you will have to compromise with possibly daily water changes for a short while (perhaps 4 weeks) to compensate. It is not recommended, but possible with diligence if necessary> Question is could I put say a dozen 2-3 inch fish in the tank and expect to get them through the cycling phase?  <dependant on faithful frequent water changes and water testing> I have a Magnum 350 with 2 Biowheel 60. I was thinking of adding either a Filstar or a Super King for extra filtration anyway. <an extra canister filter or wet/dry would be better... consider a DIY wet/dry filter ... easy to build> If I were to do this what else would help? How much water change how often? Cycle? Extra Cycle? Filter Material from old tank? <save your money on the cycling additives, but do add a bit of seeded filter media> I'd really like to get the fish in bulk as long as I can keep them alive. I realize it would take lots of attention to the tank for a month or so but.... <agreed... you have your work cut out for you...ahhh, the trials of a dedicated aquarist!> Thanks Again, Peter <very kind regards, Anthony>

Fresh water Question? Hi Bob, I just purchased a 135 gallon reef ready Aquarium with a Berlin protein skimmer.. I'm going to put my 2 Oscar's in there. Do I need a heater? <Mmm, yes to the heater... but Oscars as in South American Cichlids? They don't need a skimmer... or a reef-ready system> and do I also need air diffusers??? I'm kinda confused...From what I have been reading is the tank should be all set and I don't need the heater & Air.. Thanks for your help Carol in Wisconsin <Time to take many giant strides backward. Do get, read over a standard overall freshwater textbook on freshwater aquariums. Perhaps one of the Paul Loiselle "Tetra" books on South American Cichlids as well. References on the Freshwater Index of WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Crushed coral in freshwater? Hello Mr. Fenner, A friend of mine has been sold crushed coral for his 110gal. new freshwater setup. He plans on breeding some expensive African cichlids and was told by this shop owner that coral was the best way to raise his PH to over 8. <Mmm, one way, yes... depending on your water composition...> We live outside Houston and our PH is naturally around 7.5 to 7.8. <For what sorts, species of Africans? It might be worthwhile to investigate other components of your source water... Malawi, Tanganyikan, other large African bodies of water have, for instance, some differing salt compositions... worth augmenting in some cases... but a pH in the mid to upper sevens is great for (lazy folks) like me for "batch processing" large water changes for health, reproduction of these fishes...> I told my friend that coral in freshwater will decompose and eventually raise his ammonia level. I also told him that there was better & safer products to accomplish his goals, but I can't remember what they are called. <Hmm... well he can dedicate himself to very regular gravel vacuuming (weekly)... but/and many commercial breeders of these cichlids use no substrate at all... relying on the buffering (alkaline) capacity of the water, changes... to avoid the symptoms you list> Did I give my friend good advice? He is also considering seashells in his tank for his future shell-dwellers. His filter system is a wet/dry & Eheim canisters. Thank you very much for your time. Steve Tilotta <Much to chat about. Let's get more specific with what species he intends to produce, the number, size, shape of the systems... if they're to be tied together. Please have your friend contact me, or you relate these facts. Take a read through the Centralized and Flow-Through Filtration pieces: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cntfiltbiz.htm on our site. Bob Fenner>

Pelvivachromis I have a Pelvivachromis , I only know it's name from your site, before I called it a Karibinzi, or something like that, <Yes, Kribensis is still used for the common name of at least one member of this genus> any ways, I am thinking about re-doing my tank, I have a 30 gallon community tank for 3 years, and I have stayed FAR away from cichlids as I have herd they are highly aggressive. <Many of them are... but as you know, some smaller ones from Africa and South America are much more easygoing> However, as I have been in many pet stores I have seen that they are some of the most colorful fresh water fish around, so I would like to make my tank a good environment.  <Ah, good> I currently have 2 rummy nose tetras and two LARGE silver dollars, about 4 " vertically, so I am think about moving them out. But I don't know if a tank with more than one type of cichlid works, as I have heard horror stories of them killing each other. <Yes, you are wise here to investigate ahead of stocking> can you please give me some advice on what to buy and not buy, or even if it is a good idea at all. thank you. (please forgive the spelling) <No worries my friend. Your intent is clear. Much to state here re possible combinations. I encourage you to look into the many cichlid sites on the Internet, and to invest in one or more (your library may have these) of the "Fishkeeper Guides..." to Cichlid fishes that were done by Tetra Press. Mainly by Paul Loiselle as author. Do set upon a "central" species/theme for your system... as thirty gallons is a small world. Perhaps a pair of your Pelvivachromis, and some "matching" catfishes from Western Africa. You can use a powerful tool on the Net, Fishbase.org here to help you: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=7778ulcher Be chatting, Bob Fenner> Lindi Smith

Re: (cichlid) fish help Dear Robert. this is Lindi gain I just e-mail you a while ago, but looked around this site some more, these are the fish that I thought might be nice Pictograms cacatuoides Pictograms steindachneri Microgeophagus ramirezi Aulonocara Julidochromis ornatus I HAVE- Pelvivachromis pulcher I have also looked at Jack Demises, I have no clue how to spell the last name. <Like the famous heavyweight American boxer (commonly named in his honor) Jack Dempsey> well could you please tell me if they are compatible? <The first four above in your list can go together in a large enough system (like an individual per ten gallons), the Aulonocara genus really best kept with others of the same genus or other equally tempered Great Lakes of Africa Cichlids (but a thirty is too small for adults of this species), the Julidochromis best kept in a group by themselves... and the Dempseys too big as well... Bob Fenner> thank you so much Lindi Smith <Do listen to me when I caution you against using "just" the net as your source of learning here... even from yours truly... too easy to have only a "partial understanding"... and consequent trouble. Do seek out cichlid websites (put the name in your search engine and you'll be amazed), the books I suggested, and other general works on Cichlids. Bob Fenner>

Cichlid System Filtration We are looking at switching tanks, we have about 90 cichlids and they are continually reproducing, We are moving to a newly built house in which we will be putting tanks in the wall. What size do you think we need? 150 gallon or more. Maybe 2 150 gallons side by side. We have 7 feet to work with. <Hmm, the bigger the better... what species of cichlids?> What filtration should we use on this (these) tanks? <Large, vigorous... sump types would be best...> Can I use just a couple Eheim canister filters? <Yes> If we go with a drilled tank instead of the canisters, do we go with the corner overflows into the canisters? <Hmm, a plan... please see the "Filtration" sections for Marine Systems posted on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com> Your suggestions would greatly be appreciated!!! Your book IS AWESOME!! Thank You Rocky Hawkins <Thank you my friends. Bob Fenner>

Water preparation Hello Bob. I am planning on setting up a discus tank some time in the not-too-distant future, and I wanted to ask you about water preparation for a discus tank. I live in the Los Angeles area, and we have very hard, high pH water. <I am with you here... live in San Diego with similar "liquid rock" tap> Discus, of course, want softer, lower (neutral) pH water. I have been trying to determine the best way to reduce the pH and hardness of our tap water, and I have encountered as many solutions as the number of sources I have investigated. I have heard things like "aging" water with peat moss to soften it and using chemicals like pH Stable to bring very low pH water to the appropriate level. What do you suggest? Thanks, Doug Fitzpatrick <Thanks for asking... of all concomitant circumstances there was just this sort of question in the most recent issue of AFM by Paul Loiselle re other cichlid fishes... he suggested picking species that more fit the local water conditions (!)... I suggest immediately (no stopping at "Go", no collecting "$200"...) investing in and using a reverse osmosis filter unit for your Discus, drinking and cooking water needs... and possibly just add some of your ordinary tap back to this... for a bit of mineral... Now, a whole bunch more to state here... Yes, where wild Symphysodon originate (in the wild) their water is exceedingly soft and acidic... but, thank goodness, the cultured varieties are "unnaturally selected" to tolerate much more domestic conditions... And, yes, tapwater can/could be variously treated with inorganic, and/or organic acids... directly or through addition, circulation through... peat... other materials... But do trust me here (after checking other people's opinions)... and do subscribe to TFH magazine or look through old copies for their "Discus" guru's monthly administrations... as well as the several excellent books on their care available nowadays.  Bob Fenner, who really needs to get more "cichlid" pieces on www.WetWebMedia.com, and thanks you for the prompting>

Help with new aquarium (African Cichlids) Hi Robert, I just acquired a 135 gal. tank, that I want to have African Cichlids in.  <How nice!> I have several questions that I hope you can help me with. 1) What is the best aquascape for this type of fish? <Hmm... actually there are a few types... of a few Lakes... my fave for a first out would likely be a rocky shore... but do yourself a giant favor and look into some of the neat small books on these fishes... Available through... Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble...> I was thinking of making 1/3 rocks, a 1/3 open, and the last 1/3 plants with a sand and pebble floor. Would that be ok?  <With some planning, yes... much to say here... Best to set upon a plan to keep the sorts of livestock you like best... investigate the water quality, types of environments they live in/prefer, then match your system to their needs/preferences... as you will soon know.> 2) Also, would a freshwater ray survive with the cichlids?  <Not really... these are all from parts of South America... enjoy soft acidic waters for the most part... not the same sort of thing you will find for your cichlids> 3) I have elephant nose fish also, and I was wandering if this tank is big enough to house them also, without fear of the cichlids fighting with them. If not I will need them in their own tank. I want to set this tank up the right way, the first time around, so I really appreciate any and all information you can give me. Thanks in advance. Sincerely, Shirley <Not to seem too negative hopefully, but your Elephant Nose will be much happier in its own quarters... with more peaceful, less competitive-eaters than your new cichlid tank... Bob Fenner>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: