View Full Version : Greetings! 1st post - need advice tyty

04-24-2006, 07:54 PM
Brace yourself! This is a mouthfull, but I trust all you cichlid lovers out there are eager to help a newb out with some great advice and ideas of your own!

Hi. Im Steve from the chicagoland area. I think I'm addicted to ca and sa cichlids. The worst part is i havent even bought one yet. I recently bought 5 'black tetra?' to cycle my brand new 75g. I am very 'beginner' at the hobby and cichlids.
It all started when I was given a 55g and a nice oak stand for it, both free. The more i looked at the 55g and the stand, I couldnt help but notice that the stand was huge compared to the tank. After browsing some fish shops, I also noticed that the 75g was about the EXACT size as the nice fee oak stand i aquired. So home came the 75g.

Discus first caught my eye, but the more i learned, of corse, the more i realized i would not be able to keep the more peace loving discus with the active, more enthusiastic (agressive) cichlids. Then while feeling a little blue i stumbled onto this website. First of all you are all (mostly!) wonderfully knowledgeable, generous with your time, and eager to help newbs. For this, I thank you greatly.

What kind of fish to stock my 75g with!? And then the 55g :cool:

So far I have 2 fully submersible 200W heaters, an Emperor 400 double-bio-wheel power filter, an old noisy 'Top Fin 60' power filter with no biological filtration (it just has dual fillable white sponge filter baggies), and well water that comes out at ph7.0.
I already bought a few mid sized plants, some driftwood, and gravel (even a rather expensive 'eco-complete' planting substrate that goes under the gravel but seems to turn out to be more of a pain in rear end (sand/dust/cloudy?) and rather useless - what was i thinking?). It even came with a bit of water in the bag, claiming it was all part of the eco content requirement. Maybe i just got ripped. 30 bucks per 20lbs, i bought 3 bags. Then i noticed they say 2lbs of the stuff per gallon. Aint no way. Aint no how... unless you all come back and tell me the stuff works wondors. Oh and a Coralife 50/50 - what i was told the best bulb to buy is.

If i have to change my tank layout (less/no plants?) - SO BE IT! I'm falling in love with some of the larger sa/ca cichlids and they wont stop swimming around my mind.

Originally i wanted variety, but i see that pairs or groups of the same species can turn out to have its own rare excitement too! So I will probably get some variety going in my 75g and plan to house something special in the 55g alone with a lover (or a few lovers!). Ideas and advice are greatly welcome as to the 55g and what my fish-size (and qty) limit(s) is. And now let me tell you what sa/ca cichlids have caught my attention thus far. I was planning on having a moderately to heavily planted tank for a couple reasons. #1 I like the look and #2 I want to provite hiding spots and territory. One thing i notice about Elias's setup (more details further down) is that in his 65g he only has one huge piece of driftwood in the middle. BUT - if this is how it should be (alot of open space?) then so be it. I want my fish to be happy... not just me!!!

The member of this site called ELIAS posted a few threads with pics of his fish and setup very recently. STUNNING! I PM'd him for info and am waiting for a reply now. :). But here is what he has, and I want something quite identical (I think).

65 gallon: One Heros Severus/Severum, Jurupari/Devil fish, Acarichthys heckelii, Geophagus steindachneri/Steiney, Geophagus surinamensis, and a Aquidens pulcher/Blue Acara.
...And maybe even one more relatively big-guy since I have 10g more? Let me know!

(If anyone knows a place I could find the most detailed specific information on any particular single cichlid like the ones i named above - water/diet/likes/dislikes/decor?/etc That is the info i seek most. But I love hearing your opinions and you experienced ones will know what is best anyway!)

Any and EVERY suggestion about anything involving this 75g/55g setup is deeply appreciated. I just want a large influx of options and ideas from people who know what they are talking about. I dont feel the take-your-time friendly vibe in lfs around here, yet :-/

Fire away with questions for me if it helps you give me more specific advice as to similar combination

Thanks in advance you gurus.

04-24-2006, 08:01 PM
Check your pm I replied.:D

04-25-2006, 02:27 AM
how about the archocentrus species.
very nice and stays small.

and very good choice of earth-eaters. just watch out for the surinams, they grow way too big for the others

04-25-2006, 06:26 AM
Actually, Elias really got me hooked on Geophagus. They seem like a very keen choice. Beautiful, kind, and substrate pickers. Sounds like a combo! I think i wannnnt...

1 Aquidens pulcher/Blue Acara
1 Geophagus sp. /Tapaj
1 Geophagus steindachneri/Steiney

+/- 1 Heros Severus/Severum
+/- 1 Cichlasoma meeki/Firemouth
+/- 1 Acarichthys heckelii
+/- 1 Biotodoma cupido/Cupid

good, bad, or ugly?

Also could a pair of Geophagus/ Satanoperca jurupari do well together in a 55g? Or are they too large a species? Or would this pair be boring? :P

OR 2 pair of Gymnogeophagus australis/Rainbow Eartheater with a school of dither and a pleco in the 55gal!! is this workable?

fish speaker
04-25-2006, 07:43 AM
Re: the eco-complete substrate for the planted tank, I personally think it's good stuff. Yes, it is expensive, but no rinsing is required...you just pour it into the tank and then add your water. If you added the water first, it might be a little messy, but not a big deal. No need to put sand over the top of it: most of the fish you are looking at are going to dig enough that they'll just mix it all together over time. That being said, the geophagus and satanoperca species will appreciate sand to sift.

I like plants in most of my tanks, but you have to be aware of the individual fish you'll have in the tank. Some appreciate plants and don't mess with them, while others will shred the leaves of the plants that they can't actually uproot. :D

Good luck picking out your fish!:ok:

BTW, are you trying to avoid breeding? I personally find mating/breeding behavior and parental care to be some of the most interesting aspects of keeping cichlids.

04-25-2006, 08:01 AM
After finally just selling a 29g(Long) a little over a year ago for next to nothing to a friend, just hearing about his African Cichlid setup sparked my interest. I got bored with every tank i grew up with quite easily... not that there were many... none with any intelligent fish. Thus the bordem.

My main fear is quick drop of interest. I am trying to stay dedicated throughout the cycling process right now and do as much learning about cichlids as possible. What caught my attention initially was their intelligence. Just the fact that a fish could show personality was exciting. I fear in a tank with just a few of the same species, I will not be able to keep interested. I have not dabbled with cichlids at all, and a tank sporting an assortment of stunning peaceful fish is what I think I want to try most. I want to work at it and work at it until I've got the neatest little community with plenty of variety to go around. If I keep at it and end up enjoying it immensely as I hope I will, I doubt my 55g will sit empty for long. THEN, i feel, would be a good time to pick out a species and go at it, with the possibility of breeding as a natural side effect. Thats the best I can describe how I'm feeling about this as a complete cichlid newbie that sold his last tank for cheap cause the fish were too boring :P

'Know what I meeean vern?'

04-25-2006, 08:56 AM
If you want fish that are interactive & intelligent I would get:
A group of geo. red head tapajos - for intersting behavior in a group. I don't keep these, but geos do best in groups & these stay small.
An H. temporalis - Super personable, like a puppy dog.
And some other SA fish. A severum or an acara would probably be easiest to find & work with that mix.

04-25-2006, 09:37 AM
So if i were to put a group of geo. red tapajos with an H. temporalis and a Blue Acara, how many tapajos would you recommend? 75g tank.

also i hear tapajos are on the expensive side. any idea on price per? thx!

04-25-2006, 11:31 AM
40-80 dollars. That does sound like a good idea though. Im not sure if the juruparis would work or not???? Its possible if they were the only two fish in the tank. My jurupari is my favorite fish, so two would be even better.:D I think it sounds like a good idea. Juruparis get from 10 to 12 inches, so keep that in mind.

04-25-2006, 12:06 PM
I have never seen red head tapajos for 40 - 80 dollars. The most I've seen them for at my LFS is $28. Still pricey for a group, but so many more people are breeding them now...I'm sure they can be found for even less.
An ideal group is 6. That might be pretty tight in a 75 w/ 2 other fish....I would say at least 3. I'm not a great judge, I go by how the tank looks & not any wierd math problems :) I also have a tendancy to overcrowd. So, I'll let someone else give the numbers advice.

04-25-2006, 12:21 PM
Yikes that IS large!!! I dont think a 55g can take on a pair of jurupari, could it?? Well the excellent news is that the lfs i just got back from is selling medium sized tapajos for 29.99 each. In fact, this place has the best selection of new world cichlids in most of Chicagoland from what I've found. And i get the good prices because its just over the border into Indiana, hehehe. Their firemouths, tapajos, (gold) severums, and hakelii's are magnificant and VERY moderately priced. The guy said hes going to keep an eye out for some blue acara and chocolate cichlids (H. temporalis) for me :D yayyyy!!!! He only had one tapajo, but it is a sight to behold by itself!
Can a 75g take on
1 blue acara/OR/severum
1 chocolate cichlid (h. temporalis)
1 red-head steiney
3 red-head tapajo

+/- 1 heckelii/OR/firemouth

I dont know... Im reading that the temporalis can reach up to 12" :/ I need you experts to let me know what my limit is!

04-25-2006, 01:05 PM
Did you get any fish???

04-25-2006, 01:16 PM
No cuz my tank is cycling right now. Its only had 5 black tetras in it for a week. Its hazy, the gravel is totally wrong... But i am in the chatroom on the other cichlid forum site and a guy just told me most lfs will help me out by giving me like 2 cups of their gravel from an established tank. He says i can stock fish right away as long as i dont overfeed until the bacteria established, but that the gravel is a huge boost. Its so tempting! BTW something kinda important I've been leaving out here. What PH should i hang out around for this eartheater combo I'm gonna have?

I think i might have to buy a RO unit. Hmmm.

04-25-2006, 01:44 PM
Around 7.0

04-25-2006, 05:13 PM
Great choices on fish! Its nice to see a beginner...or anyone for that matter, want something besides the common cichlids you can get at any pet store/big box store. If you want to see a TON of great pics, check out cichlidae.com, they've got everything broken down pretty well, and you can really see some nice stuff. I'm a fan of the Red Head Tapajos, i've got 3 juvi's in my grow out tank at the moment. Their parents are AMAZING fish. Another one I really like, and would love to have is Geophagus Altifrons, similar in shape to the Tapajos and Jurapari, but different colors, lots of yellow and purple. If you cant find what you want locally, check out aquabid.com and tangledupincichlids.com, you might even find a LFS that retials for tangle up, thats how I found my new favorite store.
If I was to be starting out in with your set ups.....I'd probably go with a trio of Tapajos, a trio of Nicaraguensis (google them, GORGEOUS fish, readily available and decently priced) and maybe another pair or trio of some sort of neat but differently colored CA's, tough to choose I know, but you'll find your favs real quick.
In the 55.....I'd put a group of hecklii and maybe some archocentrus/cryptoheros of some sort, Sajice, Nanoluteus, Cutteri....what ever floats your boat.

04-25-2006, 08:22 PM
Auto, thx much for the info and input.

I am definitely going to sport a trio of Red head Tapajos in my 75g. This is for certain. Tankmate choices are still up in the air, but I am quite fond of getting a Blue Acara. I like the very black ones with blue/green markings.

Luckily I was told that Chicago's biggest cichlid event of the year (50+ vendors) is happening THIS SUNDAY! If I get my hands on a little bit of gravel from an established tank, I will be dead and in heaven coming home with cichlids this upcoming sunday. Due to such short notice, unfortunately it cuts down on research time. I am assuming/expecting to find good prices and large variety at this cichlid event - am i setting myself up for a downfall? I hope not! I hope more than anything that the vendors will distribute information about contacting them year-round for their rare or good looking goods! But i might be in dreamland. Am i? Or will they help me not to buy the wrong fish on short notice by giving customers a route to contact them later for a purchase? Any advice on what to say, what to ask, and how to act at this event would be helpful. I wish i wasnt such a newb!

Hypsophrys nicaraguensis are stunningly beautiful indeed. I might just go for a trio of these like you suggest to go with the red head tapajos. Hmmm - IF i were to go the route of single-species-community, do i want males or females? Does it depend on the species or is one (generally/always) better looking/acting? I do know its hard to tell sexes apart when very young, but i want to hit this cichlid event with wisdom under my belt! If sex is important please do educate me on which to pick, given a choice.

Lastly, after looking into some of the fish recommended to me once or more ---- I keep re-reading that severum, jurupari, and H. temporalis (chocolate cichlid), (and MAYBE steiney?) get to between 10-12". Isnt this a bit of a problem to be putting with a few other fish in a 75g? I was under the impression that oscar-sized cichlids need a 75g to themselves or 100g per pair. Lemme know!!!! Thanks!

04-25-2006, 10:15 PM
you'll probably find a lot of fabulous prices at the fish event coming up. my city just had one a weekend or so ago, i never had a chance to go but the people i talk to about have nothing but good things to say about it. u should check out if you have a local aquarium society as well. local breeders will sell their fish dirt cheap as compared to some pet shops. good luck with the tank by the way, its always so exciting starting out. i hope u have a lot of spare time on your hands to zone out while staring at your fish:)

04-26-2006, 12:57 PM
Nics are to aggressive for those fish. You might want to get some Orange head Araguaias', they look just like tapajos but are more rare, and are only around the 15.00 mark.

04-26-2006, 03:42 PM
so severum and chocolates (h. temporalis) are ok for a 75g??

04-26-2006, 04:31 PM
I don't know anything about chocalote cichlids....if I were you I would just stick with the Severum and Geos.

04-26-2006, 04:39 PM
A chocolate should be fine. Males at about 10" females at about 8"

04-27-2006, 12:25 AM
Excellent I really want one. Is there any advantage or Plus-factor about getting a male over female? Saving 2" would be nice! Actually, one major unanswered question of mine (maybe stupid question) is: If im buying one of a species, do i want male or female? Will i witness a difference of coloration or attitude because of sex?

And for my trio of tapajos, should i aim for a certain combination of male/female?

05-22-2006, 07:04 AM

05-22-2006, 07:19 AM
You are getting great advice that i haven't enough experience to add to except one thing.

An RO unit is likely unnecessary.