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FAQs on Altolamprolagus, Shell-dwelling Cichlids 

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Multifasciatus Shell dwelling Cichlids? Comp.   1/28/11
Hello all and thanks for the advice.
<Glad to help.>
Okay so I FINALLY got my 55 gallon tank cycled. It has sand 3 cichlid caves about 15 shells (will definitely be getting more that's all my LFS had in stock at the time) and some rock work. It has about 400 gph filtration on it (I know it's at least 300 because the one HOB alone is that much but the other... came with the tank so I'm not sure... has some sponges and a carbon bag). A 250 watt heater. It has one Bristle nosed Pleco in it ATM. Here's my issue'¦.
<All sounds great!>
I want Multifasciatus Shell dwelling cichlids and have done extensive research on them. The one thing I can't seem to find is what they can be kept with.
<Almost anything that [a] likes hard water and [b] stays at the surface and [c] won't harass them.>
So I have some ideas... an forgive me if it's stupid... I'm new to cichlids... which is why I'm doing a ton of research. I've looked into Cyps but I don't think 55 gallons is enough for a proper shoal of them.
<Would tend to agree.>
I've looked into Altolamprologus Calvus species... and I've seen conflicting article on them. Some say they're relatively docile and others specifically mention that they should not be kept with Shellies.
<Well, there are some small shell-dwelling Altolamprologus calvus, but they are predatory but peaceful, and would either cause problems through eating very small Shellies, or else get battered by territorial Shellies of similar size. So not a good choice.>
I've also looked into Julies... didn't get to far into that one. What about these?
<Yes: the dwarf species like Julidochromis ornatus will not stray far from a big rock pile. So put all the rocks at one end, then all the shells at the other, and neither Julies nor Shellies will mix!>
Peacock Cichlids?
<Much too big; even if they don't eat the Shellies, they'll terrify them.>
They're Malawi though. I really like the way they look but what the prognosis on fry health and Shellie health with these guys around?
<Instead, look at some of the Central American livebearers. Guppies and Endler's for example can work extremely well. I'd expect Wrestling Halfbeaks to work well too. Goodeids such as Xenotoca eiseni might be an option. Some of the smaller Rainbows work as well, for example Celebes Rainbowfish.

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