View Full Version : Various issues

03-10-2004, 03:26 PM

I bought a 55 gal w/full setup (though I'm starting to believe an Emperor 400 isn't big enough by itself for a 55 gal cichlid tank). I cycled it for just a week until I read that cichlids are pretty tough and can cycle on their own so I dumped the goldfish and bought my cichlids + tank mates.


Pretty sure of the Dempsey gender and moderately sure of the GT gender but really no idea on the Oscar gender so I'll guess.

3 inch female Jack Dempsey
2 inch make Green Terror
1.5 inch male Tiger Oscar


5 inch Striped Rafael Catfish

Basically, this is my starter tank. I expect to buy a 120 - 200 within the next few months (as my budget allows).

Anyway, the Dempsey was super aggressive right away and the Oscar looked like he was dying at first. I assumed it was the shock of putting him in ammoniated water since I just started cycling.

The next day, I traded the 3 inch female Jack for a 4 inch male Jack. I was hoping that he would be less aggressive since it was a new tank to him (even though the others still probably thought it was still new to them also). I also bought 3 1-1/4 inch green tiger barbs as dither fish (for now anyway).

The oscar perked up and started behaving 'normally' while the Jack was totally mellow (not scared or hiding, just laid back). It was then that I noticed that there was leftover food in the bottom of the tank when I would get up in the morning. I wondered why the catfish wasn't eating it (I never saw him move, but he'd be in a different location so I knew he wasn't dead). I decided I would pick up some other 'bottom feeders' to help the cat clean up. I grabbed 3 x 3 inch Rainbow Sharks (red fin sharks? tail AND fins were red) because I thought they were bottom feeders and I read that they are schooling fish.

At this point, Oscar became the king of the tank even though he was the smallest cichlid. He occasionally chased the Green Terror, but absolutely attacked any food I gave them. I think his manner scared the other fish because even the Jack wouldn't eat unless Oscar was on the other side of the tank. Oscar would never harass Jack, but Jack played timid with him anyway.

So Oscar would eat about 2/3 of any food I gave them and he quickly grew a half inch (in about 4 days). I put a whitecloud minnow from my wife's tank into my cichlid tank and Oscar immediately attacked it. He'd hit it, plop it into his mouth, spit it back out, look at the other fish and chase them away from 'his meal,' etc. It took him about an hour to actually kill the fish. Then he left it alone. He never ate it but wouldn't let the GT eat it either (the GT was interested, but the Jack never was).

Next morning, I scooped the Whitecloud out.

A few more days passed and Oscar kept ruling the tank and eating most of the food and growing. I found out that the rainbow sharks are apparently only bottom feeders when they are little and I noticed little or no bottom feeding by them so I gave them to my LFS ($10 experiment I guess).

Oscar continued to rule the roost and is now about 3 inches.

This whole time my ammonia kept climbing (I ignorantly did a water change about a week before and used the anti-ammonia alka seltzer tablets). All of the fish seemed fine in spite of the cycling water (unless you count smaller Oscar bullying the bigger GT and Jack as abnormal).

Then, Sunday afternoon, the GT started hiding in the rock cave. I was worried at first, but whenever I DID actually see him, he acted fine so I eventually decided he was just scared of Oscar. However, the ammonia was up to about 4.0 so I wasn't totally sure (I know that ammonia would jack up a lot of fish).

Yesterday when I got home from work, GT was still hiding but Jack and Oscar were sizing each other up. Dorsal fins straight up and spikey and eyeballing each other. Jack never really attacked Oscar, but he would get in his face and not back down. Oscar would wait until Jack would turn his back and then give a half assed attempt to hit him. Nothing major ever came of it though. I tested my water and my ammonia dropped!! I was very happy of course.

I ended up having to take my daughter to Wal-Mart for something and I decided to look around at the fish stuff (please, don't hurt me ). I ended up buying 4 feeders (rosy reds or something like that) for $0.28 each.

When I came home and put them in the tank, Oscar immediately gulped one of them down. He had the head sticking out of his mouth for about 10 minutes, but then he finally finished the fish. While he had the fish in his mouth, he kept chasing the other feeders and chasing any other fish that came near the feeders. Once he had the first feeder down, he snatched a second. The GT came out of his cave and had his dorsal fin straight up and followed the feeders a bit. Jack just watched them occasionally. Neither actually bit at a feeder.

I left my room for about an hour and when I came back, I could see a caudal fin sticking out of Oscar's mouth, his third feeder in about 1.5 hours.

When I woke up this morning, the 4th feeder was still alive and swimming around. Oscar's gut was big and fat but he looked pretty content. When I gave them cichlid pellets before work, the GT and Jack eagerly got some. It was as if they were starving. My wife's favorite fish is Jack because he's a beautiful blue/black dempsey with a red tipped tail and dorsal fin, plus he's really cool. He always wants to see us and he never harasses any other fish. He's just a pleasant fish to have around. She is starting to hate Oscar because he's such a jerk.


What does the fish dynamic say to you experts?

Do I need to separate the Oscar in order to let the others eat or will they eat whatever they need? I imagine Oscar is only going to get worse once he's bigger than the others.

I don't want to spoil Oscar with feeders, but I don't see him disliking anything that he can fit in his mouth.

Am I supposed to feed the fish more and just let Oscar get his fill? Maybe the others can eat after he's done? Or will he just not let them eat if he can help it?

I wanted to start a breeding tank for the blue marbled convicts but maybe I should breed one of these fish instead (since I may have to separate them anyway)?

Is this just still an adjustment time for the fish? Maybe Jack will end up being the boss once he's more comfortable?

Jack and Zulu (the GT) seem to be best buddies.


03-10-2004, 05:09 PM
Crap, I guess I put this in the wrong forum. Sorry.

03-10-2004, 07:49 PM
nah, i think its just to big to read and we all just cant be stuffed, heh, i'll give it a shot, when i light up a smoke.

03-10-2004, 08:02 PM
ok i had my smoke and coffee and read over it...
everything you said there seems ok, ive got the same thing going in my tank my oscar gets everything before anyother fish and he gets more feeders than any other fish as well, he will have one in his mouth and chanse the other ones, when he has large pallets in his mouth he rushes away with it so no other fish can pick it out of his mouth...
dont worry dude, oscars are just PIGS, what i have notice with them some eat untill they are full and thats it, oscars will eat and eat and eat.
but it all seems ok from what you were saying

03-11-2004, 06:58 AM
The 55g may be too small for the Oscar AND the GT + Dempsey...

If it were possible to keep them in a 55g I'd HAVE them in mine! :razz:

You're correct in assuming things will only get worse.

03-11-2004, 07:27 AM
Oh yeah, I guess I forgot to mention, I bought these fish knowing they wouldn't all fit in the same tank at full size. I think I'm going to get a 125 for them and turn the 55 into an african tank.

Not sure yet. I'm really rather partial to the American cichlids.

03-11-2004, 07:37 AM
Originally posted by MidasKnight
Not sure yet. I'm really rather partial to the American cichlids.

I like the SA personality, but Africans have more aesthetic value/coloration.

03-11-2004, 08:04 AM
Originally posted by stoopid
I like the SA personality, but Africans have more aesthetic value/coloration.

Yeah. Pretty and dumb (so to speak).

I have to appease my wife though and she wants a saltwater tank. I'm hoping an african will appease her until I feel comfortable enough to tackle the hassle of sw.

03-11-2004, 08:35 AM
small fish are boring to watch you want some big moster to come up to the tank something that you wont get bored of little africans remind me of tetras

03-11-2004, 08:37 AM
Originally posted by MidasKnight
Yeah. Pretty and dumb (so to speak).

My SA severum will feed out of my hand after only having him for 2 months. He also greets me whenever I pass the tank (does his swimmy jig against the glass looking for food).

I've had my african flametail for 8 months and he still runs from me during feeding time.

We only think fish are dumb because we're not fish :wink:.

03-11-2004, 08:57 AM
nah, I think most people are dumb too.

I only think dumb fish are dumb.

africans(not all, but the ones I've known)=dumb
tigers barbs=dumb
swordtails=dumb (until you try to catch them, then they are Einstein)
Rainbow Sharks=dumb (until you try to catch them, then they are Einstein)
SA cichlids= smart

That's the extent of my experience. Well, bettas seem rather dumb too.

I realize I over-generalized here, I'm just giving my opinion based on my experiences (which account for probably less than 1% of all african and SA cichlids).

03-11-2004, 09:26 AM
i agree with you, ghost knifes are smart, most all of those ones are dumb