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FAQs on Red Devil Cichlids: Systems   

Related Articles: Red Devils, Texas Cichlids, Firemouths, Oscars, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in GeneralCichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

Related FAQs: Red Devils 1Red Devils 2, & Red Devils Identification, Red Devils Behavior, Red Devils Compatibility, Red Devils Selection, Red Devils Feeding, Red Devils Health, Red Devils Reproduction,  & Neotropical Cichlids 1, Cichlids of the World,


A question about a fish bite     5/21/13
Dear Guys,
I am coming to you to ask a rather unusual question......My male Red Devil Bubba B is very tame, I have been hand feeding him for his entire life now  and he let's me pet his nuchal hump, he enjoys it actually, my question is this,  although he's tame and usually I can clean his tank with him inside, a few weeks  ago, he pulled a sneak attack on me and bit my hand and it drew blood, actually  you could see the teeth mark, I should have known better but I took my eye off  him, he's a fish fcs not a pet dog SIGH.  My question is this, can a fish  bite be harmful to humans in any way at all, I am not talking a shark here of  course, I am talking a Red Devil.  Many thanks as always to you guys at  WWM.   Julia
<Not the bite of a cichlid itself, but there might be bacterial involvement... the possibility of infection from an open wound in the tank.
I would wash the area with hot water and soap... Possibly apply an antibacterial cream... But now that time has gone by... just keep an eye on the wound site. Bob Fenner>
Re: A question about a fish bite     5/22/13

Bob thanks, it's been a few weeks now and it's finally healing but it makes me wonder in case he get's a hold of me again sigh,
<Mmm, well; in a sort of ideal world it would be great to have a very large tank, and a system in place to "drop in" a divider; a physical barrier to keep this fish on one side while you're working on t'other>
 to be honest I do believe I  am going to be left with a scar, at the time it only felt like he nudged me  not bit me at all, wasn't until I actually pulled my hand out and dried it off  and then noticed the blood, I have to be more careful that's for sure, he's  older now and still growing!  I remember at the time I did use peroxide  and I used A & D, I do have a cream though and will use it if it happens  again.  I do think it's time for a bucket while I clean his tank, my  fingers aren't his food lol.   Thanks very much as always, I had to be  sure on this one.   J
<Cheers, BobF>
Re: A question about a fish bite, one of the C. Am. Red Devil spp.

I never thought of putting up a crate screen to keep him on one side, I can do that even with this 110, I have a "egg crate screen" I got in the lighting  dept at Lowe's long ago and made a divider when I was trying to breed my female  with him,
 it didn't work out at all, he loved her but he was a brute to her  small body, I will never do that again.  I can use that to keep him on one  side absolutely.  My ideal dream would be to release him in his native land
<A poor idea for a few reasons... Too much pollution getting it there, too much of a chance of undesirable introduction, small likelihood it would survive...>
  sigh, after he goes I will never have a big fish again, I wish I could donate  him to the Shedd aquarium in Chicago or something like that,
<Ask them... or put an advert on Craig's List, what have you>
he's like a pet dog  here, very loved and spoiled and he has a good life I guess for a fish.  No  more big fish for Julia after this one, I find it sort of cruel to house them in  anything less than a 300 gallon + at this point and I know Bob that you  feel the same way about these marvelous intelligent fish. 
<Ah yes>
 Thanks  again for the idea on the divider, it's better than a bucket, I imagine he would  stress out on that.   Julia
<Cheers, B>

What would be the ideal minimum and optimal tank set up for 3 red devils. Rdg.   12/27/11
I've recently wanted to get a few red devils and only red devils, but before doing so I want to know what the minimum and optimal tank requirements for more specifically 3 red devils.  I've looked around the website and noticed that there is a range of tank sizes generally 55 gallons plus.
<As adults... likely 3-4 times this size. NOT social animals>
 I want to ensure that before starting up a new family of 3, that I have an appropriate sized tank for them so that they are happy.  I am also aware that they are very messy individuals as well so what would also be the minimum and optimal filtration requirements?  Is there a preference on gravel or sand, and drift wood or rocks?  Also is there a preferable sex ratio? Two females, and one male was my first thought, but I don't want to create stress for them if they cannot get along seeing as the male is known to be more aggressive and larger.
<Umm, have you read on WWM re? Start here:
and the linked files above. Your answers and much more are archived there.
Bob Fenner>

Gizmo our Red Devil... health... env., nutr.   12/28/09
I have a 8 Year old red devil that has not had no trouble at all during his life in the last couple of months we have noticed him slightly losing appetite and sinking to the bottom of the tank and laying sideways.
<May be getting old, though this species should live a little longer without problems.>
PH is 7 Tank temp is 30 degrees Celsius, tank size is 270 Litres.
<The pH is too low, and the temperature a bit too high. Indeed, if it's been at 30 C all its life, it may well be "old" before its time. These fish do need hard, basic water -- you're aiming for 10+ degrees dH, and pH 7.5. I mention these specifically because tanks that rely on coral sand and Tufa rock for hardness may be fine for a long time, but eventually algae and bacteria so encrust the sand and rock that the buffering ability drops to zero. Replacing some/all of this material will help. Otherwise, simply add something like a Rift Valley salt mix at 50-100% dosage to provide the conditions required.
We had our filter not running efficiently by the time we realised the water quality wasn't very good over the last 2 weeks
<Well, that's one possible cause of problems.>
I have done a 2 x 50% water changes, cleaned the filters re leveled out his Ph level and put some live fish in their for him.
<Why have you added live fish? Let's be clear here: one of the silliest things any aquarist can do is use cheap, store-bought feeder fish. Goldfish and minnows contain too much thiaminase and fat, and over time will cause chronic vitamin deficiency and degeneration of the internal organs.
Cheap feeder fish can also internal parasites, some of which can infect predators that eat them. The information about thiaminase is increasingly widely known now, but the problems with fat and parasites have been known for years, which is why no aquarium book advises aquarists to use live feeder fish.>
We went away for 4 days came back and he had no colour at all but he would come out and say hello then go hide in his log again. When he swims it sometimes is sidewards then when he stops he hits the bottom fairly hard.
What can I do to help him?
<See above. Optimise water chemistry, check water quality, use a proper diet. Amphilophus labiatus evolved to eat small invertebrates from the mud; that's what its thick lips are all about. It also eats things like algae and organic detritus. I mention these because aquarists often assume feeding their cichlids feeder fish is good for them. Almost all cichlids are omnivores that feed primarily on algae, organic detritus, invertebrates, and plants. Very few are "predators" in the sense of eating smaller fish, though to be fair, Amphilophus labiatus does occasionally eat small fish. So once you have water chemistry and quality optimised, concentrate on things like cooked peas, earthworms, wet-frozen krill, insect larvae, etc. Good quality cichlid pellets are extremely useful, perhaps augmented with things like Spirulina flake and Sushi Nori. Small portions of thiaminase-free fish fillet (e.g., tilapia) can be added, perhaps once a week.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Red devil 05/27/09
Red Devil Acting Strange After Large Water Change
My red devil has been acting strange for 3 weeks now after a 100% water change. He hides and acts scared and rarely eats. When no one is in the room he darts across the tank charging the pump knocking it loose, the thermometer, (he has broken 2) charges head on into the tank. I have treated him for every external and internal disease I thought he might have. I took a water sample to the local pet shop and the said the pH level was low. I purchased the pH up, treated the water and had it tested again.  Now its fine, but his behavior has not changed. I've only had him 10 months and he's about 6 inches long. This is the first time he has been sick
< I don't think he is sick but I do think he is stressed from the 100% water change. There was probably a big change in water temperature and water chemistry. Try smaller but frequent water changes and try to provide some shelter for your red devil to hide until he feels comfortable to come out. Eventually he will associate you with food and stop hiding. Then you can get rid of the shelter.-Chuck>

Re: Red devil -Changing pH 05/27/09
There was also a white gelled mucus is the tank but I haven't seen any since I treated for the pH levels.
< When you play with the pH by adding chemicals you may get some minerals precipitating out of solution. Later they may get redissolved. I would recommend that you never change the pH of the water in the aquarium. Instead, us a 5 gallon bucket to change the pH and then use this water to slowly change the pH as you do your water changes. Swift water changes are no good for your fish.-Chuck>

Quick red devil question Hi - I hope it's Ok for me to drop an email with a quick question. I'd really appreciate any insight or advice.  I am temporarily moving to house-sit and am concerned about moving my red devil.  The new place is about a 20 minute drive from my current location. Do you have any thoughts as to how to make this as smooth as possible for her? Also, do you think that it would be more traumatic for her to move rather than to let her stay where she is with a friend who will be living in my apartment? I'd rather not leave her as the move will be for about 9 months, but I want to do what's best for her.  Many thanks for any info. < Move and take the red devil with you. Put this fish in a 5 gallon bucket and cover it so she can't jump out. Move the tank to the new place and set it up. Make sure the new water is treated for chloramines. Your fish will appreciate the new water. These fish are pretty indestructible. Thirty years ago I was moving a red devil in a 5 gallon bucket on the passenger side of my car. I was forced to hit the brakes and the bucket with the fish spilled onto the floorboard of my car. The water drained out and I needed some water fast. I pulled over to a gas station that was closed and filled the bucket up with radiator water! Cold untreated radiator water. I flopped the fish back in the bucket and resumed taking it over to my friends house twenty minutes away. I told him what has happened and we flipped the fish into a waiting 40 gallon tank. The next day you couldn't tell anything happened at all. It never got sick. -Chuck>

 Re: quick red devil question Thanks very much! I feel better about the whole thing and will get a bucket.  They must be pretty indestructible. I didn't know that the fish was a red devil when i acquired her -- thought that she was a small, orange goldfish and had her living in a container with cold water. Eventually figured out that she was manipulating objects in the container and that she was much more than a goldfish. Three tanks (she destroyed one of them) four filters and a couple heaters later, she's bigger than my hand and behaves more like a pet dog than a fish.  But, especially since I've been picking up info about her as I go along, there are a few things I'm concerned about...Can I ask you just a few more questions -- Should I be concerned that she seems to only want to eat pellets and tropical fish flakes?  I put a couple of guppies in the tank once and she ate them, but she is no longer interested in meat of any kind, it seems. < The pellets and flake food are much better for her as well as less expensive too.> Also, How do I get her in the bucket? Should I use a net? <  Place a black plastic trash bag in an empty five gallon bucket. Fill the five gallon plastic bucket about two/thirds full of water from the aquarium. Pull the excess bag to the top. Catch the fish in a large suitable net and place her in the bucket. Then tie the top of the trash bag close to the top of the bucket to prevent her from jumping out as well as spilling any water. When the new tank is set up then take the net and place her in the new tank.> And, finally, she used to lay eggs and hasn't for a while. Does this have to do with natural aging or is it because of some kind of ph imbalance in the tank? Or general unhappiness?   < It means that she is in very good shape and is in condition to breed. Good food and clean water has her primed to spawn but she unfortunately has no male to spawn with so she still has to lay her eggs to get rid of them. As she has matured she will not waste anymore energy on egg production until she has paired up.-Chuck> Thanks again. Kate

10" Red Devil + 55 Gallon Tank = More Fish? Maybe not... Is there any type of cichlid I can put in with my Red Devil? <Depends on the nature and size of the Devil.> He is about 10 inches long. <Well that narrows down the possibilities.> He is in a 55 gallon tank. <...And that pretty much kills them.> Do you think I can put another Red Devil in with him? <I don't think you could put much of anything else in with him. a 10 inch cichlid in a 55 gallon tank is already pushing it in regards to bioload. I'd leave it be until you get a larger tank.> Thanks for answering my question. <No problem, glad I could be of assistance. Mike G>

The Devils in the Details  9/19.5/05 Hi there! Have found your site to be most informative. Thanks for being there for us. We've had a small starter tank (10 galls) for about a year now. We bought several fish as we learned, and only our Red Devil has survived all of our stupid mistakes. <Guppies and Neons go missing?> He's about 6-8 inches now and has become rather cramped in the tank. We really enjoy his obvious intelligence and fun personality. He eats right out of our hands...and is always waiting eagerly for his next meal. After much discussion, we've decided to expand our tropical fish hobby, and went out this morning and purchased a nice 80 gallon tank. This fish was purchased from a pet store and has lived with other cichlids in the past, so we know he can get along with others (although he's been living alone for awhile now). Our question is this. We want to introduce new fish into the new aquarium....maybe 5 or 6 others that would be comparable sized fish at full term. We are basing this whole new environment around our beloved Red Devil. Knowing that he is one of the "milder tempered" Devils <There is a reason they are called Devils> what sorts of fish would you recommend as being most compatible? (we want them all to survive and "just get along"). We know we have to introduce the Devil as the last fish to the tank...but want to get started on putting together his new neighborhood as soon as we can! Thanks...we look  forward to your advice! <First and foremost...Do a fishless cycle on this new system before you stock. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm This will take about six weeks to complete. The cycling that is, not the reading. Please forget about him being "mild tempered". He's now maturing and chances are he will be anything but mild. But each fish does have his own personality. The way he interacts with you may be quite different than the way he treats an intruder in this space. So he's going to need large, sturdy tankmates. And as big as that 80 looks, it will not handle him and another five or six like him. Two or three max. Four fish would give each one 20 gallons. Not really enough for a large, messy, aggressive cichlid. As to species, well what can I say. There is always a danger when housing large cichlids. Again, it may come down to the personality more than the species. But two of my favorites would be a Green Terror or a Jack Dempsey. And a great big Pleco, of course. Don>

The Devils in the Details-part 2  9/21/05 Thank you, Don for your lightning fast response (Do you EVER sleep?!?!) <Just started a new job. Second shift. So the answers is NO> and excellent, much appreciated advise. We agree with you that the Jack Dempsey and especially the Pleco are great choices. We've had both of those in our tank before. The Pleco's get quite large, don't they?  I'm not even sure what a Green Terror is but it sounds like a great match for a Red Devil! *heheh* (Kinda sounds like Christmas gone terribly wrong! *L*). I'll do some research on them. We never had Neons or guppies in the tank as you suggested, thank goodness. Lucky for us we knew our fish was somewhat aggressive from the get-go so we tried to match him with similarly aggressive cichlids. For whatever reasons, the Devil survived (he seems VERY hardy!) while the others met their demise. (I'm sure this was because of our inexperience). We really appreciate your expert advice, We didn't know we'd have to wait 6 weeks to acclimate the tank. But we want to do it right and have great success without suffering any discouraging loses, especially with fish the size we'll need to be working with here. That's exactly why we're doing our homework in advance. Just one more question, and I know the answer will be a ballpark one. When we purchased our fish as fledglings, they were small and so was the price. (Between $8 and $12 dollars each.) What can we expect to pay for larger, more seasoned fish that will be able to survive the onslaught this 8" Devil may just attempt to dish out? I expect the pricing for the more mature fish will be "steep"?? Thanks again for your help! You are awesome, and have some new fans here. All the best. Kirk and Misty <First thing is to read here on bio filtration, or "cycling". http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm I understand why you may think it's better to add the Devil last, but I wouldn't. After the tank is cycled get him in there and use the 10 to QT a new fish for a few weeks. You really do not want to take a chance on getting Ich (or worse!) into a new big tank. It's almost expected that new fish will have Ich. Easy to cure in a 10, a real hassle in the 80 as many 50% water changes will be needed. Notice I said "a new fish". Stock these big guys one at a time to allow your bio filtration to adjust. One a month, max. I'd also pick up a tank divider, just in case a fight breaks out. As to stocking suggestions, yes the Common (15 inches or so) and Sailfin (20 inch monsters!) Plecos will get big. But so is an 80 gallon tank. You can handle one as long as you do not overstock the cichlids. There are many species that get to a foot or so. Planetcatfish.com is the site for all things concerning catfish. Aquabid.com a great place to find them for sale. (If you join us in the forums, click on my username, Fish Soup, for my Plec pics.) I call a Green Terror a "Jack on Acid." Close in size, shape but even more colorful. A mature male GT is stunning. As to price, it may not be as bad as you think. Of course if you use Aquabid there will be shipping charges to add to your total cost. But many LFS take in large fish that have outgrown their owner's tanks. You can sometimes get them for a song. I have seen 12" Common Plecos for as little as $10. But most mature cichlids will be a bit pricey. But rarely over $30 or $40. Small market as it is. Increase the price too much and they wouldn't sell at all. Good luck. Don, the Exhausted One> Red Devil Tank Size   5/27/06 I love the site and know you could answer this. <Hi there - this is Jorie! Glad to hear you like the site, and I sure will try to help out.> I've got a Red Devil and everything's going great...water, food, etc. I have him in a 55 gallon tank. <This is too small.  What else do you have in the tank?> They say a minimum tank size for a Red Devil is 55 gallons? <Not quite sure who the ubiquitous "they" is, but I dare say "they" are wrong.  This type of cichlid is classified as a "large" fish, and depending upon what other livestock you are housing, I would say an absolute minimum tank size is 125 gal.> Will he still grow to his full potential size in this tank if he is healthy? <No - keeping a large fish in a tank that is too small can result in stunting at minimum, and can cause greater health problems as well.  Not to mention it is just plain cruel. Ever see the movie "Boxing Helena?"> Great if you could get back to me. Thank you. <You're welcome.  If you want to let us know what all fish you have, we could better help you pick an appropriate size tank for everybody!  Good luck, and thanks for caring enough to ask...Jorie>

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