View Full Version : Loaded Tank

06-14-2004, 02:28 PM

I have recently gone thru a "population reduction" by giving away fish I really like since I bought too many to start with. I am fairly new to large cichlids, so I made a few errors that I have paritally corrected. I am pretty confident my tank currently has a high waste load, but it is definitely not as extremely crowded as before.

The tank is 55 gal with 2 external filters (Penguin Bio Wheel 330 and I think it's called Aqua-tech from WalMart)

Was: 4 ea. 4-5" Demseys, 4 ea. 3-4" Jewel Cichlids, a pair of 3" Kribensis, a pair of 5-6" Nicaraguan Cichlids, 1 LARGE Angelfish (dunno how he manages, but he does) 3 plecos, 2 ea. 3-4" spotted Raphaels, 2 ea. 4-5" striped raphaels, 1 banjo cat.

Is: 2 ea 4" dempseys, 1 Jewel Cichlid (gave up trying to catch him), pair Kribs (small waste load, so I kept them. they breed on a 6 week cycle ), pr of Nicaraguans and kept all catfish.

My issues/questions/comments:

1. My problem is that without the "crowd" my fish are nowhere near as "interesting" as before. Of course, "interesting" to me may be "stressful" to fish as I like to see "displaying" and that means mild conflict. Each cichlid now has it's own territory and they really stick to it. It's much less exciting than before. The Kribs still dominate 1/3 of the tank around their cave at 1/2 the length and likely 1/10th the body mass of the Nics.

Is this "hiding" to be expected or will the fish become more "open" over time?

2. By morning, I never have a scrap of food on gravel since I have a high percentage of catfish. All my catfish are fat and apparently happy. But they are part of the Bioload. Should I get rid of some Catfish?

3. Since I have a history of Plecos not surviving (dunno why) the last time I purchased Plecos, I got 4 expecting one survivor. All survived with one being moved to my daughters tank. Should I ditch 2 plecos now, or should I wait. They are 3-4" long.

4. Regardless of how this is "less" crowded than before, do y'all still think it is overcrowded (assume growth to adult size in this tank).


06-14-2004, 02:48 PM
IMO, you're not too bad for right now, but your fish will grow and you'll basically be back in the same position you were before in about 3 months or so... those fish get BIG! which is also why you were always losing plecos... you can only fit 5 pounds of crap in a 5 pound sack... when you try to put in more it doesn't fit :D (that's some wisdom from my dad adapted to fish)
but when you mention not having any food left on the gravel... brings up a question in my mind of how you feed... do you feed enough so that there's food all over the tank?? Just be careful with your quantity - overfeeding is going to increase your bioload/nitrates way more than a couple of plecos. hmmm... basically 2 full grown dempseys will occupy a 55 all by themselves (more like a 75...) especially if they pair up and start breeding... and pretty much the same goes for the others... good luck!

06-14-2004, 02:53 PM
1. If your fish are hiding out it is probably because there has been alot of chasing around with nets lately. I would expect they will start squaring off again. I'd especially watch the male nic. & the JD.
2. Yes, the catfish are part of the bioload. Unless you are overfeeding by ALOT, 1 cat should be able to take care of the cleanup. I would get rid of all but 1. If your raphaels are like mine, you probably never see them anyway. :)
3. I (obviously) can't speak as to why you had problem's with pleco's dying off, but it may be because one tank does not produce enough algae to support even 1 pleco. You need to feed them algae wafers as well. For that reason alone, I would go down to 1 pleco. But there is also this - Is you have standard plecos just 1 will outgrow a 55 gallon, not to mention 3. I believe they can grow to approx. 24". Finally - Pleco's add alot to the bioload. They are very messy fish. If you are more worried about the bioload than scraping algae, you may want to not have a pleco at all. Maybe trade them all in for a much smaller chinese algae eater. They stay alot smaller, produce less waste & are faster & more aggressive, so it may provide the "interest" you are looking for in your tank.
4. Yes I still consider it crowded. Especially if the kribs are defending 1/3 of the tank for their own territory. What do you think will happen when the nic.s decide to establish their own territory & breed? I would still at least cut down on the cats & relocate the angel before the nics & JD grow up.
Hope that helps

06-14-2004, 02:58 PM
I am so glad you didn't get turned off of the hobby out of frustration! You are well on your way to correcting your problems... Kudos! :D

The tank will seem empty because you are used to more fish in action. I am partial to the low stress environment, because that's when you really see the personalities come out of each fish. I think you only really need one catfish or pleco. The plecos get aggressive as they get bigger. Mine attacks my oscars and jds. He started that at around 7 inches. That will take care of much of your heavy bio load. I would invest in an AC300 or AC500 instead of the Walmart model. But then again, I usually use more filtration than necessary anyway. :)

The trick is, find your problems, one at a time and work on each one. I could tell you that I probably wouldn't keep two male jack dempseys together in a 55. I also wouldn't keep a pair of jds in a 55 with other fish. If they breed around other fish they will attempt to move every and all threat no matter the cost.

There is more you can do, and hopefully others will chime in for ya.. I hope this helped a bit. Good Luck to you!

06-14-2004, 03:30 PM
I will try to respond to points somewhat coherently.

I will never leave the hobby out of frustration. Thanx for the encouragement.

My feedings usually do not last over 2 minutes before all is cleaned up. I am a proponent of more light feedings since that is how a critter browses in the wild. But for final night feeding I add a bit of sinking shrimp pellets (other fish don't like them) for the cats. So, with normal feeding, I'd think that 1 cat would do it. But these cats are my oldest fish (surviving a major tank die back) and I am quite attached to them, for all the rare times i see them.

I have no relocation facilities of my own. I depend on friends and LFS to dump fish. I only have the one 55gal. It is tough to give away catfish. So many people just think they are just "poo eaters" but mine are very attractive and get food for themselves before lights out..

The Angelfish is my 5 yr old son's favorite from before I got big cichlids, so he must stay.

A good point was made about the "net fear". I hope that was a correct assessment of their current shyness such that the tank cleanout shook them up and they will overcome this apparent shyness.

Regarding my filter from WalMart. It did all the job alone for 5 years (in a crowded community tank) before I got the Dempseys and added the Penguin. I won't replace it unless it fails since that is a cost and I am on a low hobby budget.

Do any of you have any favorite prepared food?

06-14-2004, 07:09 PM
Pleco's in my experience love some partially boiled veg. I put a slice of zuchinni ( spelling ) or a slice off the bottom from a large brocolli stalk twice a week and they love it. I usually leave it in the tanks for a couple of days strapped with an elastic band to a rock and after two days the pleco has had a good go at it. Also if you are planning on keeping the angel you may want to consider taking out the jewel, JD and nics as they will eventually be just too agressive for the angel. Kribs will be fine and you could add some other peaceful cichlids such as keyholes? Also how is the tank decorated? Cats love bogwood.

06-15-2004, 06:23 AM
I find that a bag of uncooked cocktail shrimp is much cheaper than pellets and krill because it lasts a lot longer. A 24.99 tub of krill will be gone in a month, whereas a 2lb bag of shrimp will last 2 months and only costs me 7.99. My Americans and plecos LOVE it.. I just thaw them in cold water and cut to bite sized pieces for all fish other than the oscars (they eat them whole).

I also buy beefheart by the pound at my local grocery/butcher. They also have fish and I'll buy the special for pennies on the dollar.

I'll boil garlic for 5 minutes before putting into the fish food. Zucchini, spinach & peas I'll freeze then thaw and throw into a blender with the above ingredients and puree to a thick sludge then spread on a flat cookie sheet with tin foil in the freezer and cut cubes out of it when frozen.. There are a couple of great recipes on this site if you do a search. This is a great way your fish gobble up the balanced nutrition they need and save you money at the same time... My budget is pretty stretched, so preparing food for them is a life saver.

True, entombed, my pleco loves to munch on the driftwood...

06-19-2004, 03:59 PM
Thanx for the input on food.

The Nic male is finally harassing the female. Not a good sign as he is in a dug out pocket below my 12" long airstone behind a castle and she is withdrawn to upper right back of tank. Bad Sign. He bothers her at every opportunity. I see no scale/fines lost but he is relentless.

Great... Regarding food.

My Dempseys like Shrimp (from Lo Mein) better than Shrimp (from Fried Rice) so I appreciate fish pickiness... But large recipes for me with one tank are way too much. They all like eartworms if of the right girth. Thanx tho.