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FAQs on Convict Cichlid Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

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Senegal bichirs and convict cichlid feeding question      3/22/16
Hello and thank you for always having such great answers!
<Glad to help.>
I apologize in advance if the answer to my question can be found somewhere here.
<WWM has built in Google search, try to use that ahead of time, most stuff is covered already someplace or other. Try http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/polypterids.htm>
I currently have a 55 gal with two juvenile Senegal bichirs (5in or so) and a convict cichlid. They have lived together since they were very small and have got along well. My convict is generally very docile and previously was bullied by other cichlids, so he and the bichirs enjoy a peaceful life. My question is, what would an ideal food be to offer to both species?
<Well, the more important concern here is that there is rarely a case where a non-obligate feeder should be fed the same thing all the time. We need to find our captive critters with variety more than homing in on a perfect
food as such. You wouldn't feed a person just one food all the time no matter how healthy it is. One thing can rarely solve all nutritional needs (despite advertising to the contrary!). Another thing to consider is stimulation and behavior. As you have noted, these are very interesting fishes behaviorally and IMO the behavior and "personality" of a fish are more important than beauty. Bichirs are a really unusual and unique ancient fish of which only a few other kinds of extant compatriots still exist. So while as a rule it's a bad idea (for several reasons) to feed live food, I would certainly make an exception for this species due to its being essentially a species tank, your correct idea that specific prey are key, and that their behavior is such a big draw for you (me too).>
I have typically fed them frozen bloodworms which they all enjoy and seem to thrive on, but the diet I've seen you recommend for bichirs seems much more varied and likely better.
<The more varied, the better! Stimulation, more natural, laid-back behavior, nutrition. The link above gives a good list of foods, some of which seem surprising. Mealworms! Convenient to get at any pet store...try them live. I would be a little leery of all the pond-acquirable things that they would like such as small frogs due to water pollution in the wild. The more types of meaty food, the better, rotate them.>
I also have given cichlid pellets on occasion with all parties satisfied. I am wary of my more sensitive cichlid having issues with bichir food. I have fed the tank with feeder guppies (apparently a big no no) with no ill effects that I have
seen and they do all appear to enjoy the thrill of the hunt... second part to my long winded question- I recently started a tank of feeder guppies separately and they have begun to breed. I am fortunate that my local pet store has their own breeder tank; the guppies I purchased are definitely more healthy than ones typically seen at big box pet stores.
<Home-grown feeder animals of any kind are usually better due to control-ability of what they eat, and keeping out who knows what pests a retailer may have. And cheaper in the long haul! Certainly worthwhile as long as they are fed well themselves and are not used as a daily fare due to the above concerns. -Earl >
If I fatten these guppies up and continue to keep a healthy adult population growing, is this acceptable fare for my tank? Watching the bichirs hunt is one of the most entertaining things I've ever witnessed :)
Thank you in advance!
Alyssa Stone
re: Senegal bichirs and convict cichlid feeding question      3/22/16

Thank you for such a quick and thorough reply, I really appreciate it! My spikers (bichirs) appreciate it too :D

Sick Convict Cichlid - not eaten in 3 weeks 11/15/08
Sick Old Convict Not Eating

Hello, I have a 8-9 year old Convict Cichlid whom I adore and am extremely concerned about. He has not eaten in over 3 weeks now that I can tell, and he's always been a voracious eater. I have tested his water, everything is where it should be. He did this about 3 months ago (not eating for a long time) and he got a large "dent" (not a hole) in his front forehead, reclusive behaviour, etc.. I treated him with Melafix for 7 days, religiously changed his water, began adding sea salt as directed and I have even gotten him a heater (his whole life he was fine without any of these things, but I am really trying to help him). He magically recovered one day, started eating and his dent grew back until it's as if it was never there. We thought we were in the clear and I went back to a 20% water change every week with a small amount of sea salt to just add back in what I had taken out.
This time he has NO dent, but he looks REALLY off. He has reclusive behaviour, when I come to the tank he hides under rocks, and his color is a bit off. He is also scratching on rocks and gravel, plants, anything he can reach, but it's not constant. i have added nothing new, and there is nothing else that I can see, no holes or wounds, nothing that looks strange on him, but I am really afraid we're going to lose him, I mean how long can a fish go without eating? I've asked pet store fish guys, but everyone of them has a different idea and I don't trust any of them. Most say he could just be at the end of his life, but I read online that Cichlids can live up to 20 years in the wild. I know I didn't do all the "right" things his whole life, but I would really hate to lose him if there is anything at all that I can do to help him. He's got such personality and he's really quite large... i just want to him to go back attacking anything that moves near his tank, digging fun holes, and eating like a shark attacking a seal.
Thank you for your help. Lynn and Greg Y ---------------
< You convict has lead a very long life. The Melafix is more of a general tonic than a specific cure. It has probably affected the biological filtration and you may be having spikes in ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels. This may account for the scratching. Without seeing the fish I will assume from you description that you convict has an internal infection. This is basically a blockage in the intestines and the fish can't eat. I would recommend a 50% water change, clean the filter and vacuum the gravel. Treat with a combination of Nitrofurazone and Metronidazole. After treatment you can use a high grade carbon and remove the medication. I would add Dr Tim's One and Only to bring the biological filtration back on line. All these can be found online at Drsfostersmith.com. These meds will cost you a lot of money. It may make more sense ($) to get a younger convict that you will have for another 8-9 years.-Chuck>

Convict Cichlids... And Nemo! Feeding   12/28/06 Hey there, WWM! I emailed you back in June, maybe July about my little Red Zebra Cichlid, Nemo. He had the 'incident' with a Cobalt Blue Zebra, and had no fins, and a huge infection. He made it through all that, thanks to your help, as I've probably told you. THANK YOU SO MUCH! He is now roughly 4 inches, I think he's fully grown now. He is full of health, and still living alone in a 10 gallon. He seems happy. I've just switched him over to Tetra Cichlid flakes, since he won't eat anything else but flakes. He won't touch pellets at all. Nothing but flakes. I had been feeding him TetraMin flakes, but was looking for some Cichlid flakes. All I'd found was Wardley's Cichlid flakes, and they didn't seem too high quality, <Agreed... they're products are bunk nutritionally> and plus the food was expired. (Eww, bleh! Wal-Mart needs to check their expiration dates more often.) <IMO they need to get out of the aquatic trade period, be ignored by consumers. Yes> Anyways, he seems to like the new food just fine, which is a huge relief. One of my questions was this. Would he have been better off with the TetraMin tropical flakes? Or will the Tetra Cichlid flakes be better for him? <I would alternate between these> He won't even touch frozen foods. He's that bad. But I still love the little guy. He's almost dog-like, and won't come out of hiding unless I'm around. But enough of my rambling. On to the real reason I emailed.   I am considering Convict Cichlids. I have a new 20 gallon tank, with a filter (AquaTech 20-40 gallon) and a heater, lid, and all the rest of the equipment. I also have some plastic plants, and a large piece of driftwood. I was wondering, how many Convicts should I get? <Two, three...> I would love a mated pair, but I've heard that they don't ever want to stop making babies. I don't want that. I was thinking maybe just one, but would it get lonely? <Mmm, no... will imprint on you... be fine by itself> And could two males or two females live together? <Yes> And what kinds of fish can live with convicts anyway? <In a twenty... a sturdy armored (versus "naked" species) catfish perhaps> All the websites I've found labeled them as the rabbits of the fish world, and axe-wielding homicidal maniacs. <Heeeeeee!> I didn't find very much consistency in any of them, and I am even more confused.   Thank you so much in advance for your help and I shall send along a picture of Nemo eventually! He's gotten very pretty, I must say, for having no fins a few months ago. :)   Zhara Zorgon <Thank you for this update, sharing your enthusiasm. Bob Fenner>

Re: Convict Cichlids...And Nemo!   12/29/06 Thank you so much for your help! I just had a few more questions regarding Convict Cichlids...   I was wondering, if I did keep two males or two females together, would they fight? <Possibly, yes> I tried several times to put one or two other African Cichlids in with Nemo, but that never worked out, no matter what the gender was. <Mmm, no... most African Cichlid species offered to aquarists are too aggressive to mix with Neotropicals> I know there's a difference between African Cichlids and Convict Cichlids, but are they as aggressive towards their own species? <Yes>   And what would they eat? I was told Tetra Cichlid flakes...   Thanks again!   Zhara Zorgon <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cichlids.htm and the linked files (in blue), where you lead yourself. Bob Fenner>

Cichlids, feeding fish  -02/20/08 Hello I am new to keeping cichlids, I recently bought a convict about 1 and a half inches long and on the second day I fed her floating cichlid pellets and she would not eat. I was wondering what to do? Thanks mark <Try something else. Convict cichlids eat insect larvae, so go buy a pack of frozen (not freeze dried) bloodworms. They will enjoy those. Floating cichlid pellets aren't a terribly good staple diet anyway because they tend to cause constipation if used alone. As well as wet frozen bloodworms, you could also try krill and chopped seafood of various types (prawn, clam, squid). Some people have success using freeze-dried foods but in over 20 years of fishkeeping I have yet to own a fish that enjoyed them! Hence I recommend the wet frozen foods you store in the freezer. All fishes go wild for these! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: feeding fish  -02/20/08 Thank you so much today I will go buy some frozen blood worms today. And would they like brine shrimp? <Quite possibly. Though none of my fish seem to like frozen brine shrimps, and never have done. So I'd buy a small package and try them out first if I was you. Cheers, Neale.>

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