View Full Version : my first cichlid tank

01-31-2005, 11:23 PM
just purchased a 55gal long, i'm using a rena filstar xp3 canister filter made for a 175 gal tank and a 300watt heater

i only have 1 green terror at about 1.5" inches

i only want to put fish in this tank that can fully mature and live there complete life in a 55gal so i'm asking for advice on how to build my community

i was thinking maybe 4-5 fish at the max, maybe a texas, dempsey, blue acara, i'd like to know whats gonna be aggressive, active, social and not get to big for my tank
i also want great colors, i want people to walk into my home and think its a salt water tank, i almost went african for the colors but i want aggression , i dont want to over crowd

any advice will be greatly appriciated

02-01-2005, 05:06 AM
Just my opinion ...Once that GT is full grown,it will be the only fish in the 55 .Texas also get large and are aggressive.

My bro in law had 2 dempsey in a 55(male/female).

02-01-2005, 07:14 AM
Blue Ice is correct.
Do you plan on upgrading to a larger tank at anytime?

02-01-2005, 07:14 AM
agreed with the texas he wouldnt be a good choice, if you get a blue acara make sure its the same sex as these fish pair up easy.

02-01-2005, 09:05 AM
theres a few pet stores around here that take mature cichlids for store credit so if i ever came across a problem i could always do that, my friend has a 55 with a 3" jack dempsey, a 2" GT a 1" jaguar, a 1" severum, and a 2" texas and 2 crawfish and a catfish, i think his tank is way overcrowded, the guy who introduced me to cichlids has a 125, all his fish are 4-5" blue texas, dempsey, green terror, firemouth and a yellow managuense, they all seem to get along fine, they all chase each other but it seems like they all hold there own and they dont wanna kill each other but i've read when they get to a certain age they kind of snap and start goin crazy

if i do go with a community tank what else can i put in my 55 with my 1.5" GT and how long is it gonna take my gt to mature where he's the only one in the tank?

Rex Karr
02-01-2005, 05:50 PM
You're not on the right track if you want a communtiy of American cichlids. The first thing you should do is take the Green Terror back to the pet store. The Green Terror will grow to 10"+ and will claim an entire 55g for itself. You will be very lucky if you could keep any other cichlids together with him, much less those other big aggressive cichlids.

You should be looking for fish from these families;

Astatheros (these fish were formerly placed in the genus Amphilophus)

Go to the beginners thread at the top of the american species forum and check out the galleries in that thread. You should find a lot of nice fish that are mostly 4-7" and mildy aggressive.

02-01-2005, 09:18 PM
for color, mild agression and somewhat of a 'comunity' i would never go past a small colony, 3 fish of hondurus red points!!!! if you ask around im sure someone will post a pic, fishspeaker has some nice ones! with your 3 hrp's you could also add a bristlenose plec (smaller variety of plecosomus) and some dithers like silver dollars. OR you could go 1 hrp, 1 firemouth, and 1 blue acara. this would also look GREAT! with this seletion silver dollars are unnecessary, maybe add 3 clown or khuli loaches. im not sure of the fishes requirements but 'hillstream loaches' or 'borneo suckers' would be a real "marine" looking companion too, maybe a trio of them IF they can even go in, again i dont know anything about this fishes water params. good luck!

02-04-2005, 07:38 AM
i just purchased a jack dempsey the same size as my green terror they seem to like each other, they follow one another from one side of the tank to the other, a friend who's been doing cichlids for a few years told me that my gt is most likely a female cause of her such slender body, no pronounced forhead and such light colors, he also told me my dempsey is definatley a male so possibly a breeding pair?, that would be really cool, if so would this work in a 55 gal if i just left the 2 fish in there? also where should my water levels be at i know my nitrites and ammonia are at zero but where should my ph, nitrates and alkeline be at, and what do i do to bring them up or down

02-04-2005, 11:32 AM
it is about 90% impossible to tell a GT's sex at 1.5" without venting them. they don't really get much of a nuchal hump unless another is around... same goes for the dempsey (except the hump part)

On a side note... if they breed don't let the fry go out into the fish stores. we have enough hybridization as it is and don't need anymore :)

02-04-2005, 05:25 PM
dont let them breed, oh and dont add more fish to that 55 both of those guy will get 7-12" each! nice selection though!!!!

02-04-2005, 08:33 PM
well i threw the whole system off tonight i dropped a yellow salvini and a blue acara into the mix, added some more hiding spaces and it all seems well, this is becoming an addiction i have a 125 coming in a few days so when i do have to upgrade all is well, all my fish are less than 1.5" so theres plenty of space as of now, but how long till they get big?

also what can i throw in the tank that will fill it up that my cichlids will pay no mind to like neon tetras or something like that

02-05-2005, 02:50 AM
no matter WHAT you do, neons are lunch, in fact ANY fish small enough to fit in the mouth of any cichlid (beit sa/ca/african) is doomed to get munched! as for your mix, it may be ok if your acara and gt dont fight (as they look very similar its not uncommon) or worse still breed! (hybrids damage the industry). as for your 125 that sounds like a GREAT move!!! personally i would start letting water run through it with some dirty gravel from your current tank in about 1-2months from now. i would also let it run a month before i move the fish in. also remember you wont be able to add many more fish even in the bigger tank, i know that look tiny and insignificant now but they will be very big eventually!

02-05-2005, 03:36 PM
Just running the tank for a month isn't going to do anything to cycle it. I would say that with just 4 fish, all of them under 1.5", you could just move the whole shebang right into the 125, as soon as the water temp is right. Move in the fish with the decor, substrate & filter media from the 55, so the nitrafying bacteria is in there, & your good. just keep an eye on your water quality, & wait about a month for your bacteria colony to mature before you add anything else.

02-05-2005, 06:09 PM
Originally posted by agez
......personally i would start letting water run through it with some dirty gravel from your current tank in about 1-2months from now. i would also let it run a month before i move the fish in. ......!

(no offence intended) if you re-read my post youll see that i recomended he add dirty gravel from his tank. i have had around 8big tanks by now, and plenty off 55/75's before that, and so far all i found was that old filter material and water conditioner is by no means enough to just 'throw them in' on the same day! well i wouldnt do it. since you have another tank anyways why dont you try an experiment for yourself and set up that other tank with all your new gravel n rocks then add the old filter media from your current tank. wait, cause the first week nothing will likely happen, it takes a minimum of 4 days for new water to nitrify and begin to cycle. test your water for amonia on day 6-9 and nitrites from day 8-onward. youll find the bigger the tank, the longer it takes to cycle (not sure why, just seems to happen). youll also find that it will be a mild spike, and if you dont wait a week after the mild one, there will be a HUGE one, unless of course your big spike happes first. this just happened to me from being impatient with my 240gal about two months ago! personally i recon its better to be safe than f@$ked, so i add old gravel to my tanks and feed them as if there were fish in there, wait for it to cycle completely, give it 24hrs - a week thereafter then add my fish! it wont hurt you to wait you have 2 tanks anyways, but remember once you add the dirty gravel and food dont add anything thereafter (not even filter material) cause unless its done on the same day it just prolongs the cycle! if you are eager/curious try that experiment?-

02-05-2005, 06:46 PM
To grow nitrifying bacteria, you need to provide ammonia. I did see that you recommended used gravel in the first post. That would kickstart the bacteria. In your most recent post you recommended food also. THAT would provide ammonia to keep the colony going. I'm not trying to recommend being careless. I do have some experience with this (8 tanks.) I don't know the size or number of fish you put in your 240 when you say you got impatient before, but I am talking about 4 fish all less than 2" in 125 gallons. We're talking about over 18 gallons per inch of fish + all of the deco, filter media, etc, that hold the bacterial colony already processing the waste from these fish...
Thats all I can say, if you can't see it we'll have to agree to disagree.

02-05-2005, 07:56 PM
i used bacteria starter when i set up my tank then added my fish the second week with more bacteria starter, i added another rainbow cichlid which is about 2.5 inches, twice the size of my biggest fish which is my salvini, now the rainbow was definatley messin everything up at the fish store but he seems to be frightened of all my other fish even though hes 2 to 3 times bigger, i should be ok for bacteria with 5 fish in my 55 gallon cause there ****tin up a storm, i've been feedin em granules, flakes, freeze dried and frozen blood worms, as for the 125 i was thinkin when i do my first water change i'd put the water in there to start it up, i've only had fish living in my tank 1 week and my friend told me not to do a water change until atleast 2 weeks to let the bacteria build up, is this true?

02-06-2005, 12:09 PM
Your rainbow may be bigger, but is much less aggressive than your other cichlids, and will soon be dwarfed by them. Most likely it will end up dead. Consider leaving that one in the 55 when you make the switch, and keep it with other small, less-aggressive cichlids.
When you start up your 125, the water from your old tank will actually not make that much of a difference. The bacteria you want will actually be on the surfaces of things in the tank, like the decorations, substate and filter media.
As I have said, because of the size of the tank compared to the size of your fish, I don't think you'll have a problem. However, your tank needs to cycle, and in the best interest of your fish, you should keep an eye on your water parameters. Doing a water change during your tank's cycling stretches out the cycle, but is safer for your fish. Also, try to refrain from adding more fish for a month or 2.

02-14-2005, 09:39 PM
i now have 8 cichlids in my 55 gallon

1 green terror
1 red devil
1 yellow jaguar
1 rainbow cichlid
1 blue acara
1 salvini
1 jack dempsey
1 blue texas

i know i'm breaking all the rules but my whole stock is moving to the 125 to be a community and i'm keeping my blue acara and my green terror in the 55 it is a spectacular site to see all these cichlids together i have so many hiding spaces in the tank that theres not many issues but 5 mins doesnt go by where somebody isnt locking up the red devil is such an aggressive fish he spars with the jaguar and the salvini which are both bigger then him, i love it

02-14-2005, 10:23 PM
even in a 125, you will have problems sooner or later

02-15-2005, 09:37 AM
Holy Crap dude! I know this can get to be an adiction but you'd better slow down. Before you know it you will have about 10 more fish in that tank. 2 weeks ago you only had 1 and you wanted to keep about 4 or 5 in that tank. Now you have 7 potentially large and aggressive cichlids in that 55. Good Luck to ya, hope you get that 125 soon because youve got some fish there that can get pretty big and pretty mean. Hopefully they all get along. It could work since they are being brought up together. It goes against the odds but it could work so I say good luck. IM a little jealous because Id like to get a 125, and some of those same fish myself, but I think thats a ways down the road. For now I'll stick to my single female green terror.

02-15-2005, 10:41 PM
i've got the 125 in my garage where its gonna stay, i live in florida so cold weather isnt a problem, the guy who introduced me to cichlids has a 125 long and he's got
1 green terror (3")
1 flowerhorn (2.75")
1 firemouth (3.5")
1 red tiger motoguense (3.5")
2 texas (4" and 3")
1 jack dempsey (3.5")
1 convict (2")
1 albino convict (2")

and he's got 4 fish on the way from jeff rapps
blue dempsey, red/blue acara, chocolate and a bartoni

he's no scientist and neither am i we both work in the car industry, but he's been doin cichlids since he was a kid and his theory is if you create an aggressive enviroment with fish that can handle themselves there either gonna have to adapt or take one for the team

i understand cichlids are highly aggressive and they have a tendancy to snap but if you kept a somewhat crowded community tank where the fish never really had the chance to settle in one spot and become very terrirtorial and all the fish you keep together are at the same level of aggression and relatively the same size you may be able to avoid major problems,

02-15-2005, 11:15 PM
Don't forget this though, big fish do more damage to each other when they fight. It's like the difference between little kids fighting, and grown men fighting. Now, with africans from lake Malawi, (to be specific, mbunas) overcrowding to avoid aggression is almost ideal, because their enviroment in the wild consists of crowded communities. It doesn't work that way with American cichlids. These fish, when adults, claim living-room sized areas of water for their territories. It's great! Isn't it?! Hey, enjoy the hobby! Just do what you can to avoid fish becoming expendable and "taking one for the team."

02-17-2005, 01:05 PM
Hey Blazn10ne,

Your friend has those fish in there while they're still small. In a couple of months all hell will eventually break out. When these fish mature, and are ready to breed they will get aggresive. Im my 125 gallon tank I have an ocscar, flowerhorn and a Jag. As well as my red tail asian catfish and 2 plaecos. All fish are at least 10 inches. I have a hard time keeping up with the water quality. If I let the tank go for an extra day or two I'll see the water start to get bad. These fish get really messy as they get bigger.

02-17-2005, 08:05 PM
blazn1One, hey dude, you sound like me when i first started althoug i had 3 4ft standards (55's) with 8 fish! now i have a 240gal with 8 fish! (and im thinking of thinning the herd, also keep in mind 5 of those 8 are NON CICHLID and 4 non agressive nor large). when these ca/sa guys are young their temprement is insanely different from a 1/2 grown fish. they hit 'puberty' so to speek and just want enough room or they hurt eachother (which is cruel to allow). the problem to the aquarium keeper is however that 'enough room' can often result in 125gal or more PER fish in cases such as 'para' species (jag dovii and most guapotes) and others like the umbriferum, even rivulatus and jd's have been known to claim entire halfes of 200 gal tanks! this means fish loss basicly or slow mutilated deaths even worse still it could mean a slow poisoning of all the fish ( like being locked in a relative sized room to your body size with 2 weeks worth of your own fecal matter and urine surrounding where you eat and sleep) your bound to choke in the end. good filtration however ca nhelp you with this but none the less cannot solve this issue. you would need around 4-5 times the filtration of your tank per hour (500 -650 gals per hour moving). then you would have to do two water changes per 10 days at a minimal and you would be ok there. as for your mix of fish, as pretty as theyd look together you can expect some casualties- no one will be able to predict which will go, but id stake my reputation you will evidently have to remove some of them, you can however do this as you go along. removing agressors as you need be. you should aim for 4-6 fish maximum in the end though 5 being ideal in a tank this size (this estimation being of a mix of sizes and of no means refers to 5 large oscar/jag type of fish!!!)
enjoy the hobby its a good one! and by the by your friends advice on crowding is a practice used in wholesalers sheds to keep the numbers of doa's down, its the theory of 'spreading the love'. if theres alot of fish getting a little beaten and war torn its not as bad as one fish killing another? its a cruel practice that i would NEVER recomend, the problem with cichlids is they need more room than other fish to relax and behave with eachother, you cant solve that EVER by adding MORE fish?!?!?!

02-21-2005, 09:09 PM
If possible you need to add the other 4-5 fish as soon as possible. Usually a texas doesn't mix well with a green terror as i have experienced. I've bought 5 green terrors and my texas has killed all of them. However if you buy the other fish all at about 1.5 in like your green terror they might get along. I have 2 JDs and they are very nice fish. They will probably get pretty aggressive but after about a year mine have become very calm. Just remember not to buy any cichlids that are too much bigger than your 1.5 in green terror. Severums would also work just fine because they tend to be very peaceful. Other than that most cichlids would work if you bought them young and small. They usually only grow as big as the tank will allow them.

02-21-2005, 09:56 PM
adding another 4-5 fish will by far no way never solve this poor guys problem! the only thing i can recomend him is reading up on fish first BEFORE you buy them, keeping a salvini texas gt jag jack dempsey and red devil amongst others in a 125 is just bad business!!!!! the jag/red devil/salvini/texas/gt are all going to kill eachother in a tank that small for sure! in fact if the jag or rd doesnt kill at least 2 fish i'll start wearing frocks! be prepared to freeze/flush/burry some of your pets. overcrowding or even mismatching ca/sa cichlids is a cruel practice.

02-22-2005, 10:43 AM
I'm still pretty new myself, but it sounds like you're gonna need another large tank if you want all of your fish to grow up. I tried keeping a RD in my 100 gallon with an oscar, GT, and JD in my tank when I first set it up. All of the fish were small and the RD easily claimed the whole tank, even at only an inch and a half big. I since then juggled a few different cichlids, added some, had some be killed or die, and so on, but now I have what I think and hope will be a very healthy community. My input to you, if you want a tank that looks a bit more busy than just having a few small cichlids in it, would be to get rid of some of your cichlids, the jag and RD for sure plus maybe one or 2 more. Then just add some dithers to it. Your tank will not look as big and empty then. Just my opinion, I'm sure others will have better options.

02-22-2005, 11:09 AM
Originally posted by trhoop25
They usually only grow as big as the tank will allow them.

And they usually only live as long as you allow them...
Most don't disregard other pets in this manner... It's easy with fish because you're completely seperate from them; sealed off...what if that weren't the case? You couldn't then justify raising a Doberman, a Mastiff, two St. Bernards, seven Dachsunds, a German Shephard, a Great Dane, an Irish Wolfhound, a Weimereiner and four Basset Hounds with a cat, in your bedroom could you? Of course not. Nobody would do that. Why? BECAUSE IT'S A REALLY BAD IDEA!

02-22-2005, 12:38 PM
If possible you need to add the other 4-5 fish as soon as possible

This is the worst thing you can do. Adding more fish will only cause more aggression. To buy 4 or 5 more fish and have most of them killed is a waste of money. Eventually your red deivil, texas or jag will probably do some house cleaning as they get bigger.

I also agree w/ Highplainsdrifter about the fish growing to the tank size. Thats bullcrap. The fish are physically deformed when that happens.

02-22-2005, 09:21 PM
im really really glad to see how many people (especially the relatively new ones) have the absolute right idea and are spreding their knowlege of cichlid keeping (FAR different to regular fish keeping) to others who need help. i may not have to post in one of these type threads again with all you guys around, good work dudes!!! keep those fishies big n healthy!

03-12-2005, 02:51 PM
geez,love all the comments.this gives me a sense of relief in my tank.im the same way with fish ,i love them, i want them all no matter ahat size tank. but its not possible. in the immortal words of THE MOVIE FINDING NEMO."FISH ARE FRIENDS , NOT FOOD". thats the same way we have to view it.TAKE SOME OF THEM OUT ,ESPECIALLY THE JAG AND DEVIL.NOTHING GOOD CAN COME OUT OF THAT TANK OR THAT MIX. THE WARS IN IRAQ NOT YOUR TANK!!!!!!!