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FAQs on Neotropical Cichlids 3

Related Articles: Neotropical Cichlids, Central American Cichlids by Neale Monks, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General

Related FAQs: Neotropical Cichlids 1, Neotropical Cichlids 2, Neotropical Cichlids 3, Neotropical Cichlid Identification, Neotropical Cichlid Behavior, Neotropical Cichlid Compatibility, Neotropical Cichlid Selection, Neotropical Cichlid Systems, Neotropical Cichlid Feeding, Neotropical Cichlid Disease, Neotropical Cichlid Reproduction, Convicts, Oscars, Firemouths, Texas Cichlids, Severums, Triangle Cichlids, & Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid Disease Cichlid Reproduction,

Re: Macaw cichlid, neotrop. cichlid f'     10/31/12
Well, a few additions to the cichlid fish family since last I posted on WetWebMedia. The 2 Firemouth cichlids are doing well enough in the 50g. along with their Swordtail and dwarf neon rainbowfish pals, which for the most part are just ignored. I also have a soft spot for Rummynose tetras so I added 1/2 dozen as well.
<Nice fish, but can be difficult to keep without soft water. Given Swordtails and Firemouths prefer hard water, and the Swordtails cooler water than the Rummynose Tetras, I'm not really clear that this tank will work in the long term. Might do if water isn't too hard or too soft, and the water isn't too hot or too cold… but oftentimes these "happy medium" tanks don't ever really thrive. In other words, see what happens, but don't be surprised if you have to change things around.>
I have acquired another aquarium from classified listings since my last posting, this time ~ 75 gallon (much less $ than retail). I have 3 Hypsophrys nicaraguensis (Macaw, Moogi): 3.5", 3", 1 3/4". Boy, are they ever nifty fish. What a load of personality. One is definitely male, another female and the 3rd one is juvenile so could go either way. Just got them 4 days ago from 2 different pet stores. The lights just went out on the aquarium and for the first time, I noticed the female following the male, rather than the male harassing her into the foliage during the day. The smallest is still just staying put in the plastic floating foliage for now, sneaking a pellet or 2 during feeding time. Substrate is sand, rock caves, driftwood pile and a couple of pvc pipes as well.
<Now, Hypsophrys nicaraguensis is a stunning fish, especially when fully-grown, but it does have many of the usual Central American cichlid traits. It's a biggish fish (expect at least 20 cm/8 inches) and though not aggressive, it's still territorial. Like most Central American fish it prefers hard water rather than soft, but it is also fairly sensitive to low oxygen levels, and does best in a tank with a brisk current and perhaps even a little extra oxygenation during summer.>
Question: From your experience, would you recommend adding more females? Providing I can find another mature one to properly sex.
<Actually, no, this species does best as pairs. The two fish are generally quite loyal to each other, and because they're fairly easy to sex (at least as adults) that's the way most people keep them. Females are smaller than males, less robust in shape, and oddly enough, often the ones with the best colours. Like many other cichlids, males tend to have longer tips to their fins, but this isn't always obvious. In a large tank surplus females will be tolerated fairly well, but there's no real reason to add an extra female. If the third fish is a male though, you will probably end up removing it, but a lot depends on your aquarium and your particular pair of fish. Hypsophrys nicaraguensis is quite tolerant of conspecifics given adequate space.>
Note: I also bought a fish without researching it first. Caquetaia myersi. He or she is ~ 2.5", yet I'm starting to wonder if it's basket mouth may find it's way over to the Macaws. Besides, I believe it's total length will eventually be a problem.
<For sure. On the other hand, these big predatory cichlids aren't especially aggressive, and singletons can work find in jumbo communities with tankmates too large to swallow. Anything deep bodies and bigger than, say, two-thirds its size should be fine.>
<Glad to help, Neale.>

Jaguar Cichlid... gen., sys., food   03/04/2008 Hello, I have recently acquired a jaguar cichlid. I'm not sure how old he is, but he's about 10 to 11 inches long. I think he is male. <Lovely fish; difficult to sex.> The lady I bought him from said he had killed his mate, and had been off his food for a week or so. She thinks he killed her because up until that time, the tank had been quite algae-filled, and the female was able to hide. The owner decided to scrub the tank down, and that is when the female became more visible and was killed. <Doesn't really sound very likely, unless the algae were huge kelp-like things!> The owner was an experienced fish hobbyist - in fact, I bought her entire collection: 25 years worth, mostly of African cichlids, along with a community tank and some South American cichlids. I have them in five tanks. <Sounds nice.> My jaguar cichlid is in a 35 gallon tank, with a little driftwood and a rock cave which he sometimes hides in. Tank dimensions are 3 foot by 1 and 1/2 foot by 1 foot. (This is the same size he was used to before I purchased him.) <Ah, the plot thinnens. Simply too small. When I kept this species, it was in a 200 gallon system, and realistically you need to be keeping them in something "jumbo" sized, i.e., 75 gallons upwards; these are BIG, TERRITORIAL fish.> Once he gets better I am looking to move him to a larger tank, but don't want to risk stressing him any further by moving him at present. <Quite the reverse is likely to be true. Provided water chemistry is constant, and he isn't placed in a tank with a larger, territorial cichlid -- moving him is a great idea.> I have had him for a couple of weeks now, and have offered him all kinds of food: frozen fish food that she had been giving him before he went off his food, freeze dried blood worms, flakes, pellets, ground beef, raw fish, live fish, but so far he has eaten nothing. <Well, for a start, stop with the live feeder fish. Live foods generally, and feeder fish especially, appear to bring out aggressive tendencies in fish. Live fish are also parasite time bombs, unless you're breeding your own. One of the most idiotic things in the hobby is the use of Minnows and Goldfish as feeder fish. They are far to high in fat and contain lots of the Vitamin B1-destroying chemical Thiaminase. Bob Fenner (who runs WWM) has made the point in print and elsewhere that Goldfish are then #1 cause of mortality in captive Lionfish! The ONLY safe fish species that can be used as feeders are gut-loaded, home-bred livebearers. Anyway, Parachromis managuensis will eat pretty much anything when settled. Earthworms are a favourite. My specimen enjoyed squid and other types of seafood. Oily fish was enjoyed, by this wrecks water quality, so use sparingly and just before doing a massive water change. Once settled down they eat pellets, and these are truly the ideal staple, being safe and nutritionally balanced.> I had a couple of smaller problem fish - a minnow that was killing its tank mates and a barb that was chewing the fins off its tank mate. I put them in with my jaguar cichlid, hoping he might be tempted to eat them. He does dart at them occasionally, but until this morning he hasn't killed them. Today I found the small barb dead, floating around the tank. The jaguar will look at it and just swim away. He might have killed him, but it's more likely that the barb died of stress. <More than likely territorial aggression. In any case, this ISN'T how you solve aggression problems in community tanks. Tiger barbs for example become nippy when they're kept in too small a group. "Punishing" a specimen because it is doing what its genes are telling it to do is just plain dumb. It's a fish, not a naughty child. So, look at how many Tiger Barbs you have, and if there's less than six, add some more. Do also remember that Tiger Barbs are NOT GOOD COMMUNITY FISH. This is made plain again and again in the fishkeeping press, so there's no excuse for not being aware of this. You simply don't keep them in [a] small tanks and [b] with slow moving or long-finned tankmates. Fine with barbs and tetras, not fine with Gouramis and angels.> The PH is 7.7; nitrites close to zero, ammonia close to zero, the water is not very hard (just above the 'soft' line when I tested it.) He has oxygen (bubbler stone), low lighting, the temperature is around 73 degrees. <Parachromis managuensis needs hard to very hard water with a basic pH and LOTS of carbonate hardness. I'm guessing he's off colour and not eating because the water is all wrong. This is non-negotiable. The pH should be 7.5-8.5, general hardness around 15+ degrees dH, and carbonate hardness upwards of 7 degrees KH. Adding salt and other Mickey-mouse quick fixes are not an option. Raise the KH by incorporating lots of calcareous media in the filter. You can also add tufa rock and other calcareous rocks to the aquarium, but by themselves these have a marginal effect on KH. Crushed coral or crushed oyster shell in a nice big canister filter is the way to go. Water changes need to be generous: these are heavily polluting fish, and this means they produce the chemicals that acidify the water. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2oquality.htm > He seems very shy - not at all the aggressive guy I was told I was getting. He shies away from the walls of the tank if anyone comes near, if I stick my hand in he'll swim away, and he backs away from any food that is dropped into the tank. <Wrong water chemistry, and absolutely normal behaviour under the circumstances.> I've put salt in the tank and have done a 20% water change, but so far nothing has helped. <For the seven billionth time for people who haven't learned this yet: aquarium salt doesn't raise hardness or pH. It is of no damn use in a freshwater tank! Carbonate hardness comes from carbonate and bicarbonate salts, and these are not to be found in boxes of sodium chloride! Also, water changes should be around the 50% mark, weekly.> His water also stinks like dead fish, not strongly but it is there. <Sounds like too much food, not removed quickly; perhaps under-filtered too and certainly not enough water changes.> I'm concerned he is starving himself to death. <He is.> He seems quite active, swimming around and occasionally darting to the surface. <Darting behaviour in stressed cichlids is a very bad sign.> Do you have any suggestions about what I could do to get him eating again? <Many many things. Please read my advice carefully, and then sit back and read the article about water chemistry. It is absolutely critical you understand this, because right now this fish doomed with a capital D.> Thanks very, very much for your help and advice! Dana <Happy to help. These are gorgeous fish, and my specimen was a real show-stopper, but they are not "easy" fish, and Central American cichlids generally need very specific water chemistry conditions to do well. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Jaguar Cichlid, sys.  03/04/2008 Thanks for your help! I'll get him in a bigger tank right away. I have a couple of empty tanks sitting around: a 70 and a 100 gallon, so that shouldn't be a problem. I'll get the water hardness fixed right away too. The jag is such a gorgeous fish, I'd have hated to have him die on me, so I'll be onto this today. Thank you! Dana <Dana, all sounds promising. I hope things get fixed, and you enjoy many happy years with this wonderful fish. Mine was a sweetie, and in the 200 gallon tank not at all aggressive. Possibly was a female though. So difficult to sex. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Jaguar Cichlid, sys.,  food  3/6/08 Hi again, Neale, Well, I've got my jaguar moved to a larger tank (70 gallon), with plenty of crushed coral. The water has tested quite hard - we may need to dilute it just a bit but it's much better. <Wouldn't worry about diluting the water to make it less hard. Central American cichlids like their water to be "liquid rock"! The other thing is that messing about with RO water or whatever adds to the effort and expense of water changes. Central Americans really want big water changes, and that being the case, YOU want things as cheap and easy as possible!> Nitrites, etc. are all low. Ammonia is zero, Ph is 7.8 . Water temperature is 75 degrees. <Perfect.> Today he is moving gravel all over the place, rearranging his aquascape to his own liking, I guess. He hadn't been doing this for quite a long time, so I think that's a healthy sign. <It is indeed! Well done. A happy cichlid is a digging cichlid, that's what I always say.> I've offered him all kinds of delicacies: frozen bloodworms, dried bloodworms, (so far I haven't been able to find any live bloodworms), cichlid pellets (large and small), brine shrimp flakes, tropical fish flakes, frozen cocktail shrimp... He STILL won't eat a thing. <Give it time. Hunger makes the best sauce. Do try earthworms though: they're used as bait in fishing for a darned good reason -- NOTHING is as yummy to a predatory fish as a nice juicy earthworm. So grab a hand shovel, go to the yard, and have a root about.> He just watches the bits of food float around the tank, then turns away and ignores them or swims into his rock cave. He seems active and curious: watches people as they walk past his tank, but quickly backs away if anyone actually approaches him. <The curiousness is excellent and precisely typical of happy Guapote cichlids.> What can I do to interest him in eating again? Why would he be starving himself when he seems otherwise healthy and active, though maybe a bit timid for a jaguar? <Jags are timid; it's a myth I think that predatory cichlids are aggressive cichlids -- quite the reverse in fact. Predatory fish need to go about their business unnoticed, or their prey would see them. Worse, if they got into a fight, their delicate jaws would be damaged. So predatory fish tend to back off rather than go looking for fights. This holds for Guapote (what yours is), for Pike Cichlids and of course for Oscars. Compare with omnivorous or even herbivorous cichlids like Tilapia and Mbuna or even Kribs -- for their size, these fish can be incredibly punchy. In any case, make sure you have lots of hiding places (remember the Golden Rule: the more a fish can hide, the less often it will choose to do so). Floating plants such as Indian fern will also make a big difference, though those big 36" plastic plants are probably going to be easier to use in a large tank with a strong filter.> I really appreciate all your help and suggestions. I'm very new to the whole cichlid scene, though I've done community tanks for a few years. <Ah, welcome to the Cichlid Club! Cichlids really are fish that become members of the family; they're smart and they become tame. When I looked after my Jag it was in a display tank in a lobby area, and we'd arranged some chairs nearby. People would go get coffee from a machine in another room and then come sit by the tank so they could spend a couple minutes "chatting" with the Jaguar and the Midas Cichlid that also lived in there. The two cichlids would go to the ends of the tank and hang out quite contentedly, apparently enjoying the attention (or perhaps trying to get out and kill the big gangly apes threatening their territories!). Anyway, do try the earthworm trick, and also remember these fish hunt at dusk and dawn, so feed first thing in the morning or last thing at night.> Dana <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Jaguar Cichlid Earthworms? Umm... This is Canada: the frozen North! To reach an earthworm, I would have to hire a bulldozer. I'll look up fishing stores and see if they have any. Thanks again!! Dana <Hello Dana. Surely you're can't be much further north than I am here in the UK? But I guess those darned polar winds make a difference. In any case, yes, earthworms should be available from a bait shop. And you can actually grow your own! Earthworm "farming" is a hobby of sorts here in England. There's an excellent little book called "The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms" by Amy Stewart all about what earthworms do, why they matter, and at the end of the book, how to care for them. Fascinating stuff! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Jaguar Cichlid 3/7/08 Hi Neale, I don't know whether or not we're further North than you are, but the ground is frozen solid and we're expecting another 60 cm. of snow over the next 36 hours. <Yikes!> Happily, there are bait and tackle stores that sell worms for people who brave the elements and go ice fishing, so I'll be headed out there after work this afternoon. <Very good.> The jag is still digging and digging and attacking his bubbler. He sure doesn't look sick, though he is much thinner than when we got him. I have no idea how he stays alive after a month without food. <He's a fish, and in the "dry season" likely has to make do with very little food.> I'll let you know whether the earthworms do the trick. <Yes, please do.> Thanks again, Dana <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Jaguar Cichlid -- 03/10/08 Hi again Neale, Here's the jaguar's dietary report: he pays no attention to food whatsoever, including earthworms. I tossed one of his rejects into a different tank for my smaller cichlids and almost started a war. The worm was gone in seconds. I have a fresh one hanging from a suction cup at the side of the jaguar's tank, but he ignores it completely. I thought if I hung it from the wall of his tank, he might notice it more, rather than having it hide in the gravel like the last ones did. He is still moving a lot of rock, swimming around and investigating everything, and ducking into his cave regularly, but he's just not going to eat. If you think of anything else that might help, I'm very open to suggestions. Thanks, Dana <Hello Dana. I can't think of any "quick fix" here except to try as many different things as you can. If the fish is otherwise behaving normally, there may be something sapping his appetite. Bloating, constipation and Hole-in-the-Head all start with a loss of appetite, so consider those options, since all are quite common in cichlids. I'd perhaps treat for Hexamita/Hole-in-the-Head proactively, just in case. This disease is much easier to treat before the symptoms become established and obvious. I'd then run something laxative through the system, such as Epsom salts (see elsewhere on WWM for the details). If these don't help, then something systemically anti-bacterial like Maracyn would be a good idea. All this said, he may simply [a] not be settled and [b] not wild about the foods being offered. Time and variety will fix this. A risky option might be to introduce some other fish of comparable size but sufficiently durable they won't be harmed. Often fish that are reticent about feeding become bolder when they see other fish "take the bait". This is standard practise in marine communities for example, where damselfish fulfill this role admirably. Cheers, Neale.>

Neotrop. Cichlid tanks... reading  -- 09/29/07 Hello, I am considering setting up a tank around 100 gallons containing a combination of Oscars and jack Dempsey cichlids along with a Pleco. Or a tank containing 5 to 7 parrots (not blood), along with some Plecos. I would like to seek some advise on doing so to find out what would be okay to do so. Could you please send me something in return about advise regarding this matter. Thank you. <Sure... read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind2.htm the third tray down. Bob Fenner>

55 Gallon Advice, continuous salt use, neotropical cichlid stocking, 3 ppm NO2   8/4/06 Bob,   The website is great and I've learned a ton from it!  I have a few questions for you if you have a moment. I have a 55 gallon aquarium that is about 2 months old.  It is a freshwater tank (but has 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt per 5 gallons added to improve quality of water-at the advice of LFS)- <Permanently? Not likely a good idea> I have 4 fish.  One 2" tiger Oscar, one 2" Jack Dempsey, one 3.5" Blood Parrot and a Pl*co of about the same size.  After reading from your site, I am worried that I will have an overstocked tank within a few months and don't want to lose any fish because of it.  Do you think it is safe/smart for these fish to grow up together in this tank (LFS said I would end up with just one Oscar within 6 months)? <Would be better if the tank was larger... but...>   should I try to find a better home for the Oscar?   <I would, yes> What would be a good match to add to this setup if the Oscar is traded out?    <Another neotropical cichlid of some species...>   Filtration is a 30-60 AquaTech along with a Whisper 60.  Can't afford a canister filter yet, but am hoping these two will suffice.  They eat Omega One cichlid pellets and flakes once a day (with a home grown guppy or three thrown in once a week).    <Do keep up with regular/weekly gravel vacuuming and water changes>   All of the fish are very active and seem healthy right now even though I am having a nitrite problem. <?!> They are at 3.0 on the test strip (dangerous level), <Extremely. I would cease feeding till this is under 1.0... Look for Bio-Spira...> so I have been doing regular water changes and only feed a few flakes per day.  Any advice to make my tank safe for these guys other than what I'm already doing? (also added the new Whisper filter to help balance things because the Aqua-Tech 30-60 didn't seem to be handling it by itself).       Thank you in advance,   Ross Wakefield <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/neotropcichlids.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>  

Cichlids With new Owner And New Problems I just had another rescue project dumped on my hands: an old 55 gallon with over 16 cichlids in it. Two 6 inch green Severums, three 3 inch green Severums, about eight flag cichlids, some unIDed cichlids that remind me of earth eaters but aren't, and 3 un IDed Geophagus. But two of the smaller Sevs are sick. One is injured, both noggin and mouth (mouth doesn't seem to close right and is white) and the other has pop eye and mouth fungus. Currently in a hospital tank being treated with Furanace (following instructions on bottle), but your site says to use Epsom salt for the pop eye (I was looking at the parasite page). Is this the same stuff as under my parents counter in the bathroom? Magnesium sulphate plus seven waters? is this alright to use? I just want to make sure before I go putting these wonderful and gentle fish in danger. <Your South American Cichlid Tank probably was in desperate need of attention before you got it. A 55 gallon is too small for all of these fish. I suspect that the water quality was pretty poor and this definitely contributed to the problems you are now facing. Make sure you have a good filter that pumps at least 200 gph. Check the nitrates. Anything above 20 ppm will mean trouble soon. Nitrofuranace is good for external bacterial infections. Epsom salts help change the osmotic balance in the water and deter bacterial growth. I would also use Metronidazole for anaerobic bacteria that are causing the Popeye.-Chuck>
New Tank New Owner New Problem II Thanks chuck I will get something with Metronidazole in it either tonight or tomorrow, as soon as I can. Yes the tank was in horrid need of help when I got it, that's why I said it was a rescue project. He had a penguin 170 on her with even more fish than its got now (I just couldn't take all of them) It now has a magnum 350 (currently with micron cartridge) that has no BioWheels. But I also put a fully cultured penguin 330 that was running on my 80 just to keep the bacteria culture going. The nitrates dropped from some 25 ppm down to 12 over night. The fish are swimming around and look absolutely great (except for a cloudy eye here and there and plenty of fin rot. The tank was also completely coated in algae and after I moved it I spent hours cleaning it. I'm currently treating the main tank with rid ich for the cloudy eyes on one of the 6 inch green Severums. I have access to four or five 55 gallon tanks with biology teachers I trust at my high school and I can thin out the heard quite a bit after break ends and I get them in health. There was actually black mold on the light fixtures. Thanks for getting back to me, its always greatly appreciated. Mind if I include some pics? < Go ahead.> The tank in my house after being cleaned. The light bulbs are horribly dim, I'm getting new ones today. Its funny, he never had a good place for the flags to hide (there are 7 of them I believe, hard to count) so when I put that flower pot in there from one of my other tanks, they all crammed in there. The largest of the Severums. You can see the fin rot and cloudy eyes, not as bad as the pic makes the eyes look though. This was from yesterday, looks much much better today, and he's getting more friendly like the other Sevs are. The two sick Sevs in quarantine. I know I know, there's algae on the glass, but this is a really old tank and the scratches make it nearly impossible to get it off. The water quality is perfect, I promise. The water is yellow colored from the meds. The one in the front is the one with the bad lips. Can you see it? any suggestions? I don't think they are infected, perhaps injured? malformed? < Sorry, didn't get the photos. Sometimes injuries get infected and fungus. When this happens the tissue usually doesn't grow back.-Chuck>
New Tank New Owner New Problem III  & Sending Photos TO The Crew Thanks for getting back so soon. I had copy pasted the photos into the email, and I guess this didn't work. Is there a proper way to send them to you? < Try sending them as an attachment. Check the WWM homepage for tips on sending photos.> If I sent them even one as an attachment the file would be over 900 kb. Is this ok? < Not shrink it down. Check the website for size.> I figure I might as well learn how to send you pics so I can do it better next time. You guys always provide me with the best help. < We have nothing to sell but the truth.> <<Whoa! Scarce can I name salvation but fearful thunder echoes in mine ears... I don't use words/concepts I don't understand... RMF>> If this is the case with the Sev's mouth, should there be any measures taken? < Watch it closely to see if it starts to grow back. Redness means an infection. White stingy matter means its growing back.> It seems to have a little bit of a hard time eating, though it is eating plenty, picking at the decoration too. < This is a good sign.-Chuck>

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