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FAQs on Cichlid Systems 2

Related Articles: Cichlid Fishes

Related FAQs: Cichlid Systems 1, Cichlids in General, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction, Dwarf South American Cichlids, African Cichlids, Angelfishes, Discus, Chromides, Neotropical CichlidsOscars, Oscar Systems, Flowerhorns

There are many "types" of cichlid systems... definable by their water quality, set up, biota, intended use/s.

Dicrossus (nee Crenicara) filamentosus (Ladiges 1958), the Chess/Checkerboard Cichlid.

freshwater rock and sand    1/30/12
A friend of mine has a saltwater tank and has a bunch of leftover live aragonite sand and live rocks, I was hoping I could use these in my freshwater tank. I have done some research and have found that this would
be ok as long as I have cichlids in the tank only. Is this true? Are there any other types of fish that would be ok with this set up?
<Hello Jen. Actually, it isn't "cichlids" in the general sense that will work in tanks with marine-grade sand and rocks. Remember, lots of cichlids come from soft water habitats, most famously Discus and Angels, but also Acara, almost all Dwarf Cichlids, and West African species like Jewels and Kribs, and these would HATE being kept in an aquarium with alkaline rocks and sand! But what is 100% true is that cichlids from hard water environments will do extremely well in tanks with tufa rock and aragonitic
sand. These are the cichlids from Lake Tanganyika, from Lake Malawi, and from Central America. Furthermore, any other fish from such habitats would work well, too, including Central American livebearers (such as Guppies and Platies). What won't work are species from soft water habits, which for aquarium people means fish from South America, West Africa and Southeast Asia. Finally, throwing one last set of options out, brackish water species will thoroughly enjoy an aquarium with aragonitic sand old live rocks, as well as any leftover seashells and dead coral bits. I wouldn't use such materials in low-end brackish tanks where I was growing plants, but if I had a middling to high salinity system with Monos, Mollies, Scats and so on, they'd be just the ticket! Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Pregnant Platy... now new tank... cichlid ID    9/3/11
Hi Neal, I would like your utmost advice on this topic.
also if you don't advise that I do this I wont, as I trust your professional opinion! Now I would like a tank for my living room.
<Nice ideal.>
My LFS that I've went to since forever has only a ten gallon in stock. I'm okay with that. I actually think a smaller tank would be a benefit. but she sells only one filter at a time because we are in a small town where the demands aren't very high. the filter is rated for a 55 gallon! I'm not sure that this way oversized filter would be too much?
<Most filters can be adjusted, so that's one option. But if you have a 10 gallon tank, check the turnover rate of the filter. If it's rated at between 40 and 60 gallons/hour, it's actually a perfect size for a mixed community tank.>
that seems like a brutal current even if I had it on a low setting. I want a specific fish for this tank if I have your approval. its a 5" Cichlid.
its a nice looking fish but I'm not sure what sub-species it belongs to.
<Can you get a photo? There are some 2000 cichlid species!>
I don't want a fish that's going to grow past that. I was told that they can stand a strong current?
<Indeed true; apart from things like Angels, most cichlids actually enjoy a brisk current.>
the current hopefully wouldn't be too harsh. I know different breeds will grow to different lengths. my LFS owner, the one who does the fish order, couldn't even put a name to it when I asked her today! ill describe it the best I can! ... it looks like a Firemouth but it doesn't have any reddish orange, its only black on silver. the stripes on it are not vertical like a Firemouth but has one black stripe down the side (laterally) from the eye to the tailfin. not to mention that the fins are all grey. it also has a black spot in the stripe, on the gills, just behind the eye.
<It's not obvious to me what this chap might be. Really do need a picture.
But look at Vieja argentea. Can your cellphone take pictures? Maybe your retailer will help out here?>
if I went ahead with this the fish would be alone because I don't want to exceed the bio-load. even though a oversized filter would do a number on any waste the fish can produce. you tell me what you think of this please, and whether or not I should go ahead and do this. and only tell me I can, if the fish will do well. Many thanks, Matt.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Pregnant Platy   9/3/11
OK, as a reference this cichlid looks like a 'black acara' but with a thick black stripe down it. I look forward to your reply! - Matt.
<Do you mean Aequidens portalegrensis? An outstanding species. One of the first cichlids I ever kept. Very hardy. Don't keep too warm; 22-25 C/72-77 F is about right. Peaceful by cichlid standards, but can hold its own with feisty fish. Does get rather large though, at least 15 cm/6 inches. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Pregnant Platy
sorry Neal, wrong type of cichlid!

but you had the right idea in spite of my bad description! I'm not sure if your up for it but I'm a heavy Facebook user. I cant upload this excellent photo to my hotmail from my phone and my computer is fried. if I uploaded a photo to Facebook I could tag you in it?
<Sure. Or else, upload to Facebook, then drag the photo to your Desktop, and then mail that photo to us.>
cichlids are my favourite too, I love the species because they look like a salt water fish but they are hardy fresh waters.
<Mbuna fit this category nicely. Do read Mary Bailey's piece on Dwarf Mbuna; she's a world expert on these fish, and offers up lots of useful advice.
Some of the smaller Tanganyikans can be kept in smallish tanks instead of Mbuna, like the Neolamprologus brevis type shell dwellers.>
if you did want to add my Facebook for a photo I can be found as Matt Randell, and my photo is of a blue ish colour car. id say its a ford fusion but I was surprised to find out that the UK model is a mini van! because mine is a mid sized four door sedan :) Have a nice day Neal! - Matt
<Cheers, Neale.>

Tank swap. Getting into Cichlids  12/08/10
How are you?
<Fine Ben, thank you>
I have only been dealing with tropical fish for about a year now. I have a 26 gal bow tank. My fish are doing fine but I'd really like to change my tank to hold chichilids. I've heard a few things on how to set up the tank from friends but I'd really like a professionals opinion. I was told to set it up with plenty of rocks
and to add a little salt to the tank. What do you think?
<Mmm, well, there are actually many cichlid species (it's the third largest family of fishes), and they occupy/utilize quite a mix of habitats... some riverine, others lacustrine (lake)... rocky to sandy to sunken wood determinant... So, what you "set up" really depends on the species you're planning on stocking. In a 26 gallon one's choices are limited, as many Cichlid species get quite/too large. I suggest that you spend some quality time reading for now... to determine what you want to keep, and how to husband it best. There are some excellent beginner cichlid books, but you can use the Net to start. Ours here:
scroll down to Cichlids... Bob Fenner>
Tank swap 12/08/10
How are you?
<Still fine, thanks>
I currently have a 26gal bow tank with tropical fish mostly made up of Gourami, a pair of Rosy Barbs, and a pair of Bolivian Rams. I have had this tank for about a year and I would like to swap it over to a chichilid tank. I have someone willing to take the fish I have now, but I'd like to keep the Rams in my tank if I could.
<Along with the Bolivians? Not a good match in this small volume. Better to have one or the other>
Also, I would like to know the best way to set up the tank like for the fish I'd like to have. I've heard to just have rocks and no plants.
<... not so>
Also, to put a little salt in the tank?
<Mmm, not likely... what is your present water quality like?>
I'd really like to know from a pro. Thank you
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/rams.htm
and the linked files above. BobF>

Water changes, cichlid sys., hlth.  2/1/2010
I made the mistake of changing all the water in our 37 gallon tank now the cichlid hasn't eaten much of anything it's been 5 days. will he come around he seems to keep his mouth open now more than before .mark
<These two things are likely unrelated. While changing too much water can cause problems if the new water has a very different chemistry or temperature, in general this big water changes aren't a problem. Provided the biological filter remains operative, and the variation in temperature and chemistry was slight, you can change as much water as you want. Now, cichlids fight using their jaws, and dislocated jaws are common when aquarists make the mistake of keeping fish together that shouldn't be kept together. Firemouth cichlids for example are famous for suffering
dislocated jaws when kept with more aggressive Central American cichlids.
This is because Firemouth cichlids have special jaws evolved to sift sand (which is why you keep Firemouths in tanks with a sandy substrate). To avoid fighting, Firemouth cichlids bluff and puff out their red throats, but Convicts don't play along with this game, and can do some serious damage when fighting with Firemouths. Anyway, your stocking is much more likely to be the problem here; if there are other cichlids in the tank, then this one with the broken jaws may well have been on the losing end of a fight. You can try to re-set the jaws by very, VERY carefully pulling the jaws forwards and then hoping that when you release them, the jaws click into place. You may need to do this a couple of times. A vet could do this for you if you prefer. But otherwise, the fish will not be able to eat, and will eventually starve. That being the case , if attempts to re-set the jaws don't work, then the cichlid will need to be painlessly destroyed. It will not get better by itself.
In future, think carefully about what you keep in a community of cichlids, and don't keep species likely to fight, or very different in fighting ability.
Cheers, Neale.>
re: cichlid

Thank you for your quick response, we have only one fish in the tank ,he was flapping around a lot when I tried to catch him to get him in the pail do you think he good have dislocated his jaw at that time?
<Possibly, but doesn't sound very likely. Most dislocated jaws are caused by fighting; to become dislocated, the jaw needs to be firmly pulled, and it's hard to imagine what other circumstances might cause this. Cheers, Neale.>

Is my tank big enough? 5-7-09
Cichlid Tank Size
Hi, I currently purchased a 120 gallon tank and after setting it up I put my 3 African cichlids in it and then bought 6 Jack Dempseys. The more I read up on the JD and learned of its aggressive behavior I began to wonder if this tank would be large enough for this many Jacks and cichlids to live in piece. Thanks K.C.
< With six Jack Dempseys you have a pretty good chance of getting a pair.
When they pair up they will defend the area around the eggs and fry. As the pair get bigger so do their spawns. An adult pair could take over nearly 50 gallons of the aquarium. If the fry stayed in just one place then the others could cower over to the other side. But the fry will move all over the tank as they become free swimming and other tankmates may be in trouble. I think your tank is big enough for now but may need to make so adjustments in about a year.-Chuck>

New Cichlid Setup... "A beginning is a very delicate time...."   2/12/09 Hi to all expert crew of WWM, well I've a 112G of bare tank, and want to setup a good and colorful cichlid species as a community tank. I'm little confused with cichlid species which one to choose pls help <Almost 2000 cichlids, of which some hundreds have been traded. They require habitats ranging from acidic rivers through to alkaline lakes. So you need to narrow things down a bit. Start perusing the Cichlid articles here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind2.htm In particular, think about the following: [a] What's your local water chemistry? [b] Do you have low or high levels of nitrate in your local water? [c] Do you want to breed your fish? [d] Is it easy for you to sell unwanted fry? [e] Do you want a peaceful tank, or one where the fish are chasing each other all the time? Would highly recommend perusing Malawi, Tanganyikan, Central American, and South American cichlids in turn, and certainly buying/borrowing a cichlid book before doing anything else. Cheers, Neale.>

Cichlid filtration   8/20/08 Hello, I have a big cichlid tank with a big external filter. My water conditions are good but I was wondering what filter sponges should I have in my external filter with American cichlids? Thanks <Couldn't matter less. Get something made by a reputable manufacturer, and you should be fine. The type of sponge is relatively unimportant. Much more critical is the size of the filter, especially turnover. You need not less than 6 times the volume of the tank in terms of turnover per hour. So for a 100 gallon tank, you'd choose a 600 gallons per hour filter. Cichlids are big and messy, so heavy filtration is essential. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: cichlid filtration 8/20/08 Thanks for your email, My tank is 250 L and my external filter does 600 L and i have an internal that does 300 L so it adds up. <Cool. Do make sure you are looking at the litres-per-hour turnover rating on the filter. The "aquarium size" quote offered by filter manufacturers (e.g., "suitable for a 200 litre aquarium") are often very optimistic. They assume the tank is lightly stocked with small fish (Neons for example) and the filter is placed next to the tank and not below it. As soon as the filter is below the tank, it does less filtering because some energy is wasted working against gravity.> I was wondering what is the best type of carbon you can buy and other things like that to put in my filter? <Don't bother with any of this. If your water is soft/acid, then adding some (up to 1/3rd the volume of one of the filters) with crushed coral (or equivalent) makes sense, but otherwise concentrate on biological filtration. Do provide at least some mechanical filtration though, in the form of a coarse sponge.> Thanks <Cheers, Neale.>

Cichlids and Oscars 7/30/08 Hi WWM, My husband and I are in a bit of confusion and would appreciate any advice that you can give. We've been searching for the relevant information and can't seem to find exactly what we are looking for. My husband has a 5 ft tank with a 5 cm convict, 10cm jewel, 6-7cm blue cobalt and lombardoi, and (an extremely aggressive alpha) 10 cm peacock. The problem is my hubby loves Oscars and we did originally have 2 with these same fish (except the Lomb. and cobalt) and the tiger Oscar died about 4 months ago and the albino Oscar died in a friend's tank, while we moved and had to cycle our own tank, for no apparent reason (her tank was cycled and had had no fish in it at the time). I do have to say that the peacock did harass these Oscars (and the convict) repeatedly. Question: is it better to get 2 new "larger" sized Oscars to go into the tank, or should by husband perhaps get some more 'zebra' breeds like the cobalt and lombardoi, go for an extra jewel or could he get some Severums (he found your info on these fish and thinks they are great). However, Oscars are his passion-how can he have a happy tank with Oscars in it? Thank you for you advise. Tania <Hello Tania. The short answer here is "No, this won't work". For a start, Central American, Rift Valley lake, and South American cichlids have entirely different water chemistry requirements. Rift Valley cichlids want hard, alkaline water; South American cichlids want soft, acid water. Anything that suits one will be stressing the other, and there isn't a "happy medium" either. Secondly, Oscars are big but peaceful fish that don't do well in tanks where they are constantly having to defend themselves. By all means mix Oscars with big, peaceful catfish and characins, but please don't combine them with aggressive cichlids. Thirdly, keeping two specimens won't fix anything and could create new problems. Fish won't "gang up" to defend themselves just because they're the same species. A mated pair will of course protect their nest, but that's something else entirely. Fourthly, a full-grown Oscar could eat any fish under 10 cm long, which puts some of the existing fish in danger. While your collection of fish includes some lovely beasts, there's no logic to the combination of fish at all, and in fact plenty of bad choices. If it was me, I'd empty the tank, and then keep a South American community of some type with an Oscar, a Severum, a school of large characins (such as Silver Dollars), perhaps a Flagtail Prochilodus for fun, a nice Plec of some type, and maybe some sort of day-active, funky catfish like Hoplosternum or Callichthys. I'm just not a big fan of compromise tanks where none of the fish are really at their best and some of them a beating the heck out of each other. Cheers, Neale.> Setting Up a Cichlid Tank 6/25/08 Hi, I was thinking of setting up a Cichlid tank in a 100 liter glass tank. How many Cichlids can be accommodated in this water volume? < There are thousands of species of cichlids that range from a little under an inch (2.54 cm) to close to 3 feet (1 meter). You could house one larger cichlid or six to twelve of the smaller cichlids depending on your set up.> Is there any DIY skimmer available for freshwater? I have searched on Google etc but did not come to see any DIY plans for this. <Fresh water does not need skimming. You cold add a skimmer but it really is not very beneficial.> What kind of cleanup crew can I use for a Cichlid tank? < Once again depending on the species desired they could range from little Corydoras catfish to large Synodontis cats and big Plecos.> Will a DSB be useful and play a similar beneficial role in fresh water? < No. Cichlids like to dig and will continually disturbed the substrate. Many cichlid keepers rely on wet dry filters or use Bio-wheels for supplying the biological filtration as needed. I would recommend the book "Enjoying Cichlids" by Ad Konings as a good place to start to learn about all the different cichlids groups.-Chuck> Cheers Ranjith

Adding Limestone To A Cichlid Tank 5/27/2008Hi, I have a cichlid tank that I've had set up for 4-5 years and my fish have outgrown the rock work in my tank. I'm going to put larger rocks in the tank to replace the smaller ones, is it ok to use limestone rocks in the tank? I have 1 bumble bee, 1 Texas, and 1 electric blue. Thank you for your help. < Your fish can usually handle the elevated pH and hardness levels that these rocks will provide.-Chuck>

Emperor 400 03/26/2008 Hello, I have an Eheim 2028 and an emperor 400 on 90 gallon cichlid setup. How can I maximize mechanical filtration from the emperor and biological from the Eheim?. I would rather not use the disposable filter, media-seems like a waste and don't need all of that charcoal. I did purchase bio forever super cartridge. Any suggestions how to run this efficiently? Thank you and I hope this question is not too confusing. Thanks. Phil. <Not familiar with the precise filter system here, but some basic thoughts. I agree, carbon is redundant in this sort of system. Depending on the cichlids, things like crushed coral (for pH control) may be more valuable. Hooking up the outflow from the external canister filter will provide optimal water quality in terms of clarity as well as ammonia/nitrite removal. For cichlids other than dwarf species, aim for a combination of filters providing not less than 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. Cheers, Neale.>

API GH Test Results... FW, cichlids of some sort sys.   2/22/08 I plan on using well water for a new 30 gallon cichlid tank due to the alkalinity of the water being 12 with a PH of 7.8. <Uhh, what sort of cichlids? Some groups like hard, alkaline water... and what is the chemistry of the well water?> The only problem is that when I tested the water for GH it took 48 drops of reagent to turn the test tube from orange to green. Can someone tell me what this means as it does not compute in the conversion chart supplied with the test kit. <Need to make an extrapolation... that is, continue the curve for the chart...> Also, since it seems that my well water is suitable for cichlids, would there be a need to use the Eco Complete Cichlid Substrate or would that raise the levels of KH, GH and PH combined with the well water. Thank you. <... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind2.htm scroll down to the area on Cichlids... see the various groups? Read re their Systems... And here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm the articles, FAQs files on water quality... Understanding what your options are, reality is... now, will save you many problems later, and reciprocally, increase your enjoyment, appreciation. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Converting Reef to Cichlid 12/1/2007 Hi Bob and Wet Crew. <Ave!> Hope your all doing well. Its been ages since I emailed you wonderful people. I would like to know what I would have to do to convert my 200 Gallon Reef Tank to a Cichlid Tank? I would also like to know what equipment should I keep in the system. <Does rather depend on the cichlids being kept. If hard water species (Tanganyikan, Malawian, Victorian or Central American cichlids) essentially everything except salt and skimmer will be useful. Soft water species (South American and West African cichlids) obviously don't want limestone materials in the tank like tufa rock. Brackish water cichlids (Chromides, plus various tilapiines and cichlasomines) can be kept tanks more or less identical to marine tanks except the skimmer won't work below SG 1.010).> Tank Info...... 1 200 Gallon Main Tank (Drilled) 2) 45 Gallon Sump with Bio Balls 3 55 Gallon Caulerpa Algae 4) Skimmer 5) UV 6) Heater (I know I should still use this, but just put it as info) 7) Many Powerhead of different specs 8 Denitrifier 9)Many Marine White and Blue Actinic Fluorescent Lighting 10) 2 Pcs Send pumps - 1 x 3325 LitresPH + 1 x 2500 LPH I hope I got everything in there. <Well, obviously the Caulerpa won't work. Better simply freeze it and use as food for herbivorous cichlids. The skimmer won't work except in mid/high-end brackish. UV sterilisers work well in freshwater even though they aren't widely used. Water current is good for riverine/lake-dwelling cichlids, but the blackwater species (like Angels and Discus) won't appreciate too much current. Lighting will be very useful if you keep algae-eating cichlids (Mbuna, Tropheus, etc.) -- allow green algae to grow on all rocky surfaces freely, and these fish will graze it down almost to the rock.> Ghulam <Cichlid care is essentially very similar to marine fish care in terms of requirements for water movement, low nitrates, and in the case of Rift Valley species high levels of carbonate hardness. The big difference is you are more likely to keep groups of the same species, so breeding and social behaviour are greater issues than with marines. Do take care when selecting stock to avoiding having closely related fish: not only are hybrid fry more likely to be produced, but closely related fish often fight more than distantly related ones. There are numerous books on cichlids, and I'd encourage you to have a read of one or two of them before selecting your livestock. Hope this helps, Neale.> Re: Converting Reef to Cichlid   12/2/07 Hi Neale, Wow! This must have been the fastest email reply I ever got in my life! I forgot to mention a couple more things...hope you don't mind :-) I will be keeping Soft Water African Cichlids. What about my Live Rock (seeded from other live rocks now for over 6 years) and live sand/gravel? Shall I just vacuum everything completely? like all the shrimps and worms. Thanks and in Advance for the next email too. Ghulam <The short answer is that you will have to get rid of the sand, gravel, crushed coral, live rock, and anything else calcareous. Soft water cichlids should be kept in tanks that contain only non-soluble rocks, such as slate and granite. I would hope you can sell/give-away the live rock in its "live" condition. It goes without saying that marine live rock cannot survive in freshwater aquaria. Cheers, Neale.>

Filter trouble 9/27/07 Hi, I recently bought a used 75 gallon tank with an attached emperor 400 power filter. The problem is the plastic box that holds the filter cartridges and the filter media leaks on the outside were it hangs outside the tank. I was wondering if there was some way I could buy the box or figure out a way to fix it. The main problem is I can't seem to find where the leak is occurring. Thank you very much. <Hmm... if the plastic box itself is cracked or otherwise leaking, there's really no easy fix beyond finding the hole/crack and trying to repair it with silicone sealant (available at most aquarium shops). Beyond that, you could try getting in touch with the manufacturer. Some of the better filter manufacturers will provide a variety of spare parts. I'm not familiar with this particular filter though, so can't say for certain. More than likely you will need to bite the bullet and buy a replacement. Hang-on-the-back filters aren't my favourite design, and a little research will reveal lots of better value and/or more efficient alternatives. Cheers, Neale>

Re: Filter trouble 9/27/07 In your opinion what would be the best filter for a 75 gallon that will feature mainly cichlids. <There's no "best filter". It all depends on your needs. If you're on a budget, then an undergravel filter is hard to beat. Great water quality, and easy to set up. Downside? You can't grow plants with roots (epiphytes and floating plants are fine) and you can't create too many 'dead spots' with big rocks or you lose capacity. You also need to maintain an undergravel filter, giving it a good stir-and-siphon monthly and a deep clean every year or two. For efficiency, external canister filters are the tops. They're compact and easy to hide underneath or behind the aquarium. They produce lots of suction, so are great for slurping up solid waste, and the water is pumped out at pressure so you can use things like spray bars to improve oxygenation. Minuses? External canister filters are tricky to maintain because of all the pipes and taps you need to get right or else risk flooding the floor! Internal canister filters are easier to look after than external canister filters, but the downside is that they're expensive for what they do. Regardless of the filter system you get, you're aiming for one with a turnover of not less than 4 times the volume of your tank, and if your cichlids are large/messy species, like Mbuna or Oscars, increase than to 6 times the volume. So for a 75 US gallon tank, you want a filter in the 300-450 gallons per hour turnover range. In the case of an undergravel filter, that's going to be a filter plate that spans the entire base of the tank with either two powerheads or two airstones driven by a fairly decent air pump. Cheers, Neale>

Cichlid behavior  7/11/07 I have been looking for an answer to why my cichlids are staying at the top of the tank all the time. To give you their history, I was given a 30 gallon tank with 11 cichlids in it. The tank was a disgusting mess, in a home up for foreclosure. The tank was half full of water, and it looked like the entire bottle of food was floating in the top. The air pump was running, but the water was nasty. The first few days they were fine, but would not eat...then about a week went buy and they were fine and now all of a sudden they won't eat again and they are all at the top of the tank acting like they are trying to get air or something. Could you please advise as to what I should do. We have had cichlids in the past and they never did this. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Jerrie <Greetings. When cichlids don't want to eat and they are hanging about at the surface it invariably means water chemistry & quality are wrong, seriously so. Minimum, do a pH, hardness, and nitrite test. So first check the filter is working. Quite possibly it needs a clean, though take care not to kill the filter bacteria. Just rinse off detritus using a bucket of aquarium water. Maybe replace 25% of the filter media with new media if really dirty, and then another 25% a month down the line. Consider adding another filter if you deem the existing one inadequate or life expired (pumps, for example, can fail). An undergravel filter is a good and cheap solution for the cichlid tank since you aren't likely to grow plants in there. Determine what cichlids you have. Obviously soft water cichlids like Severums want different water conditions to hard water cichlids like Mbuna or brackish water cichlids like Chromides. Once you've established what cichlids you have, you can then set about optimising the water chemistry if necessary. Cheers, Neale> Re: cichlid behavior  7/11/07 Thank you for your help. I have the items to "update" the filter. And I will change out some of the water this weekend. I was told by a guy at the local pet store that I should change 20% of the water at 2 weeks and then 50% at 4. Is this a good plan, or should I just do the 20% every 2? I will go by the pet store today, to get the water testing kit today. I would hate for the 11 and my original cichlid to die. Thanks again for your help. Jerrie <Jerrie, assuming the water chemistry in the aquarium is the same as the water chemistry of the water from your tap, you can do as many water changes as you want. The fish will do better the more and the bigger the water changes are, because big water changes remove nitrates and improve the quality of the water. What you don't want to do is have water in the aquarium at pH 6 and 5 dH and then suddenly replace 50% of that water with water from the tap at pH 8 and 25 dH. That would be bad. But if both tap and aquarium water are similar, you can change as much as you want. Cheers, Neale>

Cloudy water And Green Feces In Cichlid Tank  2/18/07 Yes, that's right, one of my cichlids did this. Hello, my name is Teresa and 7 months ago my son started up an aquarium with (3) cichlids, (2) bottom feeders (can't remember scientific name), (1) gold fish, and (1) betta. He then left for college and left it to me and my husband, who knew nothing about aquariums, (but are reasonably intelligent). The gold fish died a few months ago and then when advised we were feeding them too much, they ate the betta. The problem we are having is no matter what we do, chemical or substance we use the water remains white and hazy.  That was frustrating enough.  Recently we removed everything such as the little log and all the gravel and did a 50-60% water change, still white and cloudy until the African cichlid squirted a green substance or diarrhea (sp) from its backend. We actually saw it happen and watched the water turn a neon green, so it's not algae but actually from the fish.  Have you ever heard of this?  It is a 20 gallon tank, and I know we should get a bigger one, but would that be cause enough for the tank to remain white and cloudy?  And what about that green stuff?,  What should or could I do? Waiting patiently, Teresa < The cloudy water could be from ammonia. Check it with a test kit. If you have any rocks that will dissolve in water then that will cloud the water too. Depending on the cichlid species and the food you are feeding, green fecal matter is not that unusual.-Chuck>

Large Cichlids Together in a 55g Tank  1/1/07 Hi, <Hi Edwina & Happy New Year, it's Pufferpunk with you tonight.> I have a new 55g freshwater tank. I got 2 Oscars about 2-3 in., 2 Jack Dempseys 3-4 in, and 1 4 in. dinosaur eel (my 6 yr. daughter wanted--they said it would be okay). I went to 3 different fish stores and asked a million  questions about a community of aggressive cichlids that could live together. <Should have asked here 1st!> So, I come home with these fish and start to research them and it seems that none of them should be together. <Mostly true.> Also after reading I am assuming my tank is to little in the long run. <Definitely true!  With the fish you have, to be happy at adult size, you'd need at least a 150g tank or larger.  I think you'd probably be OK with the 2 Jack Dempseys in the 55g--they don't grow as large as Oscars.  As far as the "Dinosaur Eel", depending on which species it is, they are extremely predatory & can grow quite large--some as big as 16+".>   I am a beginner and am eager to have a successful aquarium. I am unsure where to go from here. Any suggestions you could  offer would be great. So for rambling on.   <Since you say you are a beginner, might I ask if you know about cycling a tank before adding fish?  If you haven't, you will need to purchase Bio-Spira & after an 80% water change, add the product to your filter.   Here are some excellent articles for your reading pleasure: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library.php?cat=4 http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library.php?cat=6 ~PP> Edwina

Need help heating my tank   12/31/06 Hi, <<Hi, Mike, and a Happy New Year to you. Tom with you.>>   I inherited a 200gal tank this summer and decided to put my two Flowerhorns in it. <<I should be so lucky! :) >> Everything was fine until winter came.   <<Living in Michigan, youre singing my song, Mike.>> The tank is located outside the house because it was too big and it is susceptible to temp changes outside.   <<Oh, yeah>> Ever since the beginning of winter and the outside temperature got cold my fishes began to eat less, and now they are not eating at all.   Its been a little over a week now and Im afraid that they will starve to death. Are my fishes sick and if so how do I cure them. <<Well, first, Id bet theyre freezing their little fishie buns off. Thats going to lead to stress and, consequently, a loss of appetite. As to whether, or not, theyre sick, I have no way of telling from what youve described so far.>>   I had thought they are not eating because I do not have adequate heating in the tank and they are just cold but I read somewhere that the temperature should not make them stop eating but just eat less.   <<Kind of subjective, Mike. Could be other things at work here.>> Also I observed some small tiny worms swimming in the water.  Some are black and some are clear.  They are about a quarter inch in length and just wiggle around in the water.  Is this some kind of parasite that is making my fishes sick. <<Parasites infest a host to survive and propagate. If these critters are swimming around, theyre some form of micro-worm, or the like, and are an indication of poor water conditions. Id guess theyre feeding on the excess food that your Flowerhorns arent consuming.>>   Also, can you give me some advice in regards to heating the tank.  Currently my tank only has two small heaters suitable for maybe a 20 gal tank?  Ive been trying to find something to show me how to heat the 200 gal tanks but nothing too definitive.   <<Since I enjoy helping other folks spend their money, Id recommend at least two Eheim (formerly Ebo-Jaeger) 250W heaters, placed at opposite ends of the tank. Depending on how cold it gets in your neck of the woods, a third heater may even be necessary but I dont want to get too crazy with your paycheck. You should be able to pick these up online for about $30 each. The main thing is that you need to get the temperature of the tank stabilized. Swings up and down arent doing your fish any good whatsoever.>> Please help. I really want to try to do this the right way. <<The other thing you need to do right away, Mike, is to clean your tank concentrating heavily on the substrate to get rid of excess food/detritus. Once your conditions are back in order, your little worm buddies will be a thing of the past.>> Thanks   Mike <<Hope this gets things back on track, Mike. As an aside, one important aspect of the heaters I mentioned is that, apart from the high quality of the product, the temperature dial can be calibrated to the exact temperature of the water. No compensation necessary. Best of luck to you. Tom>>

Cichlid Aquarium Size   8/19/06 Well I wouldn't want to waist <<Ho-boy...>>  my money if the fish were just going to get killed. What sized fish tank will keep 2 fire mouths or 2 Lake Malawi cichlids? Would the pleco be fine if they decided to spawn? < A pair of firemouths would do OK in a 20 gallon tank. Anything else in the tank would be beaten up or killed including a pleco. In a 40 gallon there is room for the non spawning fish to get away for awhile. Eventually the firemouth fry begin to wander and will soon be all over the tank and the parents will start beating up the other fish. Malawi cichlids are mouth brooders. The male sets up a territory and only allows spawning females in. All others are chased away. A male Malawi cichlid would fight with another male or continue too chase a single female until she is dead. I would recommend that you start with some smaller more peaceful cichlids like Kribs, German rams, or curviceps. They can be kept in a  community tank with Plecos. The pleco may attempt to eat the cichlid's spawn.-Chuck>

Homemade Cichlid Filter   6/12/06 Hi Crew! I have a question regarding creating a homemade filter.   I have several freshwater Cichlid tanks that have been around for 7 plus years and recently purchased a 150 gallon Rubbermaid tub that I am putting in the basement to raise peacocks and haps from a young stage. I have been researching how to make a filter out of a five gallon bucket and am curious if the water should be pushed up from the bottom of the bucket and out the top like a canister type filter (which most web sites say). Or would it be more effective to create more of a wet/dry system and trickle the water from the top and gravity feed it from the bottom? <Wet/dry and pump from the bottom.> I realize this way I would need to have filter media at the top and them a layer of bio-balls or something.  Which method would you see being more effective?  If this can be done successfully I would like to make more systems like this to breed Brichardis. Your 2 cents would be much appreciated! Thank you, Michael J. Bukosky < The key to a great filter system is your ability to maintain it. As the water comes in from the top you can see how much waste has accumulated on the top and change it. If it comes up from the bottom then the only way you will know it needs cleaning is to see a reduced water flow rate. Look at the Tidepool by Marineland for inspiration.-Chuck.> Centralized Filtration System Design For Cichlids  - 05/23/2006 Hello Crew, Greeting once again from the UK. In the redesigning of my fish house as I may have mentioned previously I am planning to incorporate a continuous feed drip system. This will feed from the mains to a 4 stage filter to remove harmful substances from the mains water. I need the water to remain essentially as it is as I breed Malawis and Tanganyikans. The water comes from the main just great for the pH and KH wise so I really need to know what the 4 stage filtration requirement should remove. < Mechanical should remove the visible particulates in the water. Biological should culture enough bacteria to turn all the ammonia and nitrites into nitrates. Chemical filtration should make chemical modifications to the water such as adding carbon to remove organics.> My next question is, if this system is successful in turning over quickly enough, will I really need any other filtration? <I find that it is always good to have a back up. Many systems have an air supply with a sponge filter in each tank. This was you can always separate a sick tank from the system and treat it without treating the entire system.> I plan to have the tanks all drain to a large central sump, the same one the fresh water comes into. Here it can be heated and oxygenated etc and as it returns from the tanks it will me mechanically filtered through a pile of filter wool or similar media. I had planned on adding a fluidized bed and trickle filter to the system for the bio filtration but I wondered if I am replacing the water quickly enough will I really need to add all this or will the bad water flow out of my overflow and be replaced by the fresh, aquarium ready water sufficiently? Many thanks once again for your advice. Rob Stone < Bottom line. If you get ANY ammonia readings then you are not changing enough water and need a filtration system. Go to Marineland.com and look at Dr. Tim's library. There is a great article on centralized filter systems I think you will find helpful.-Chuck>

Filter Recommendation For A Big Cichlid Tank  - 04/19/2006 What would be the ideal system for filtering a 180 gallon "fish only" cichlid tank.  I am mostly concerned with a mechanical filter that is easy to clean.  Would "Nu-clear" cartridge filters after a wet dry be optimum.? < For my money I would look at the Marineland Tidepool Wet/Dry Filters. When used with their overflow intake system they are really very easy to maintain. They are a little pricey and you do have to buy an additional pump, but I don't think you will find a better simpler filter.-Chuck>

Lots Of Cichlids In a Little Tank    1/19/06 I have a 30 gallon freshwater tank with 7 med- lrg cichlids in it. < Too many fish already.> I  have one highly aggressive little lady convict (I think) that spends most of her time picking on the others, even though some are bigger than her.  I have   battled fin rot sporadically in the past one fist at a time  in a sick tank  when necessary, however, last week it seemed as though it all went awry.  I  have 5 fish all starting to suffer from bad fin rot.  I immediately did a 25%  water change pulled out the carbon in the filter and started to treat with  Melafix.  I decided at that point it was better to treat the entire tank  with so  many fish sick.  I quarantined the aggressive convict in a  breeding net, to take some of the stress off the others.  Seems to be going  well with the treatment however, now a few of the electric yellows seem to be  getting darker tiny black speckles, is this a side affect to the meds? < Never used MelaFix to cure fin rot. I don't think it is the reason.> I  also ended up having to pull one of my Jack Dempsey's out because he seemed to be  suffering severely.  I put him in the sick tank with salt (all the fish  water is always treated with it) and meds.  He was listless for a few days,  staying under the filter and then he started to get more active.  Once he  came out where we could se him better I was shocked, his gills seemed to be  falling off, I am not sure if that is the best way to put it, but it was like he  was going bald.  I continued to treat the tank and the he developed a  mucusy film and within a day of the slime he passed away.  I am now finding  this cycle repeating itself with another of my fish, he is quarantined and is in  new water with salt and MelaFix. It seems as though the large tank is  doing just fine outside of the color change to the fish, but I wonder if I am  doing all that I can.  I am worried for my fish and want to do what is best  for them, please help with any info or advice you can give.  The sick tank  is 5 gal and it only has the one fish in it. ~Tricia < Check the nitrates. They should be under 25 ppm. Big cichlids generate a lot of waste in a little tank, add in the stress of the aggression from all the other fish and you are looking for trouble. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat the fin rot with Nitrofurazone. After the treatment then add good quality carbon to remove any leftover medication. then add Bio-Spira from Marineland to get the good bacteria up and going again. Check the nitrates and control the levels with water changes.-Chuck> Setting Up Cichlid Tank  12/30/2005 Hi Crew, I have decided to setup up a cichlid tank and have a few questions. First, I would like to say that the FAQs on your site have been quite excellent! However, I haven't been able to read all the cichlid FAQs (I've spent around 3 hours this evening alone reading FAQs), so I hope my questions haven't already been answered. I will be converting my 55 gallon tank that has had goldfish in it for probably 5 years (man they live long!). My main concern is the type of cichlids to put in the tank. I really like the idea of having a CA/SA tank, however I'm still a bit up-in-the-air about it. My biggest attraction to CA/SA cichlids is that I have read that they have more of a personality than African cichlids (although I'm sure that "personality" is subjective). I do love the coloration of African cichlids though, and the fact that, from what I have read, they aren't prone to digging (which is good, since my tank has an undergravel filter -- mainly for biological filtration since I can't justify buying a powerfilter with BioWheels). Conversely, the aspect I find appealing about African cichlids is that the ones I am looking at don't get all that big, meaning I could keep more in the tank. Which would you suggest to a cichlid newbie (and a relative newbie to fish keeping -- about 6 months)? Now, for a few specific questions. In the case of CA/SA cichlids, I have decided that a pair of convicts are a must. I have a few different combinations that I have been considering. First, I am looking at a pair of convicts, a pair of Firemouths, a common pleco, and my 4" rainbow shark (whom I have dubbed "The Hog"). Another possibility is a pair of convicts, a green terror, and a Jack Dempsey, along with the pleco and rainbow shark. In my mind, the second option seems like it may be a bit much for a 55 gallon tank once the cichlids are fully-grown. I guess my main question, and the question that caused me to write this email, is how many CA/SA cichlids or African could I keep in a 55 gallon successfully once they are fully-grown? < A pair of firemouths and a pair of convicts would work out well in your 55 gallon. When they go to breed they will dig down to the filter plate and you will lose all the fry. The jack and green terror get too big.> On a side note, I will *hopefully* be getting a new fish tank to replace my 50ish gallon hexagon monstrosity (which I would strongly advise EVERYONE to avoid...). My community is, for the most part, complete, save for possibly adding a few more Cory cats and/or Tiger barbs to keep my lone Cory and Tiger company (long story involving a mysterious case of what I called "face rot," but I shall save that for the next email!). At the moment, I have: (6) 3.5"-4" Gouramis (Gold, Pearl, and 3-spot), (1) 4" tall Angel, (2) 4"-5" weather loaches, (1) 4" Rainbow shark (who as I stated above *might* be moved to the cichlid tank), (2) 1.5" fat-and-sassy platies, (1) Cory cat, and (1) 4" Ghost Knife I have been looking at a 29 gallon, however I am afraid it might be a bit small for that many fish. Ideally I would like to get a 35-40 gallon tank (I just don't have enough room for a 55 in my room). Which size tank would you recommend? < The largest tank you can accommodate.-Chuck> If you read this entire email, I congratulate you! Thanks a lot, love the site, and keep of the great work!< Thanks> Chris Karnes

Adding Filtration To a South America Cichlid Tank  12/1/05 Thank you for taking time to answer my questions. I have written in a few times and always been very satisfied with your expert advice. I have a 90 gallon freshwater tank that has been established for about six months now. I have a few small South American Cichlids that are doing very well together. As far as filtering goes I have a wet/dry system (not sure what type or size, as it was given to me by a friend who no longer wanted it) and a Magnum 350 canister.  Water parameters are fine and everything seems well. My question is that I have been thinking about adding some sort of additional filtration. The tank is always very clean but I want that "polished" water look, if you know what I mean. I also thought it would help increase water movement. I was thinking about adding a powerhead but all the ones I have researched fit onto an undergravel filter, which I do not have.  Is there any type of powerhead that does not require an undergravel filter? If so, what kind do you recommend? Do you think extra filtration would benefit my tank? Is there ever such a thing as over-filtering? Thanks in advance and I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, Dan < Go to Drsfostersmith.com and look at the powerheads. There are a couple of companies that sell powerheads with sponge filter attachments. I would recommend that you add a outside power filter. Besides great water movement you also get additional filtration that is easy to maintain. The biggest mistake aquarists make in filtration is thinking that bigger is better. All a filter does is collect the waste and convert it to a less toxic form. It does not remove it from the tank. You need to do that. A bigger filter still needs to be cleaned on a regular basis regardless of its holding capacity.-Chuck> 

South American Cichlid Compatibility/Stocking Density  Aloha WWM, <What's up Tara!> You guys are great and have helped me many times with my tank questions. I regularly scan your site for new info! <Thanks for the compliments.> I currently have a 110 gal tank that is doing well; 2 Oscars, 1 red zebra, 2 electric blue mbunas, 1 electric yellow cichlid, 1 shovelnose cat, 2 bushynose plecos, 2 clown loaches <These guys get pretty big, 12" range.>  and 2 yoyo loaches. <All sounds good for now.> <<Uhh, I notice there are some Tanganyika and Malawi cichlids listed with this predominantly soft water / low pH animals....  Not compatible....  -SCF>> I was given a 75 gal tank and set it up yesterday with a Penn Plax canister filter, gravel, heater, lights, assorted wood, rock and fake plant decorations. <Very Cool.> I had 2 biological sponges in my other tank's filter, so put one of them in the new filter to get the nitrifying bacteria jump started.  <I would still monitor levels could be a week or two until it stabilizes.> Here are my questions: 1. Today, the water is cloudy white, I am presuming it to be bacteria that will go away on its own, but please let me know if that is not the case. <That or an algae bloom, I would just monitor chemistry levels and perform water changes as needed.> 2. Since the necessary bacteria are already colonized on the sponge, how long do I need to wait to put fish in? Ammo, nitrite and nitrate are all 0 now. <I would wait at least a week or two to make sure everything is stabilized.> 3. My husband really wants an aggressive tank, and he loves Red Devils, Green Terrors and Jack Dempseys, all of which are available at the LFS.  Will these fish work together, how many of each would you recommend? <All get quite large and aggressive as you mentioned, as full length adults I would not do more than a pair or trio in total of the above mentioned specimens. All of these fish can get quite large in the 12" range.> 4. Are there any other non cichlids that could work with the aforementioned tough guys to add variety, such as some sort of an eel, <No eel most need brackish to marine environments.> cat, knifefish or shark? <I would look into some type of larger loaches or plecos.> <<I've seen redtail sharks in systems with just these fish swimming fat and happy!  Marina>> 5. How many fish should I start with and how long should I take to get the tank fully stocked? <The slower and more patient the better, but I would add the cichlids either simultaneously or around the same time-frame to avoid aggression.> 6. Is there anything I am overlooking in this set up? <Nothing obvious that I can see but as with all specimens I would quarantine before intro. Into display.> Your help is sincerely appreciated! <You are welcome.> Best regards, <You too.> Tara <Adam J?>

New Fish, New Owner Same Old Problems  10/21/05 Help, I am a new owner and I just got a 55 gallon tank with a cichlid (not sure what type) about 10 inches long. Before I got the tank the heater had gone out and the water was very cold so I warmed it up a bit before I moved the tank. When I moved the tank I did not know that I was not supposed to change the water so I changed it all and cleaned it. Now that it is set up my fish tries to swim normally and then he flips upside down and floats to the top. I have tried several things in my tank even had the water tested at the pet shop. They recommended some stress reliever but I don't think it is only stress. I can not stand to see my fish suffering anymore. Help what should I do? Please reply. < Lets get your tank in order first. Get a good quality heater and set it up at 80 F. The filter should move at least 200 gallons per hour. Feed only enough food so that all of it is gone after 2 minutes each day. Remove any uneaten food with a net or siphon. Get a water test kit and check for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. Go to Marineland.com and check out Dr. Tim's Library for an article titled "The First Thirty Days". If you have cleaned everything then you need to add some beneficial bacteria to start to break down the fish waste. I would recommend Bio-Spira. If there still is a problem then your fish may have an internal bacterial infection and need to be treated with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package.-Chuck>

Proper English, Archived Info - 10/12/05 I want to make a new tank, cichlid, but I want it to be planted too. <Kindly use punctuation, adequate grammar.... at the very least, the spell-check function on your email system.... retyping these things takes too much time.> I have a nice piece of grapevine wood and I want to grow plants on it as well. what cichlids are there best option other than kribs and Severums. And the most attractive as well. <This and so much more is already archived in our system. Please read, do some research.... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwsubwebindex.htm .> Thanks <-Sabrina>

I'm a beginner and my luck hasn't been great ...  10/3/05 I really love the site, let me start off by saying that, it has been a lot of help. <Great...glad to hear it! You've got Jorie here tonight.> Since I got my tank about a month ago, I have had some issues with it.  First off, I had an outbreak of Ich, which I cleared up pretty quickly using a mixture of Super Ick Cure and Aquari-sol, seemed to do the trick and the fish are all acting normal now. <Do keep in mind the only way to truly rid a tank of ich is to let it run fallow (that is, fishless) for 3-4 weeks.  Otherwise, the ich will remain in various stages of its life cycle, and will re-appear.  Keep the water conditions pristine, and thus help boost the fish's immune systems, and hopefully they won't be as susceptible to ich and other diseases.> Let me tell you what I have in my tank and my tank specs; 1 - 1.5" to 2" Red Tiger Oscar 1 - 1.5" to 2" Chocolate Cichlid 2 - 1" to 1.5" Texas Cichlids 1 - 1.5" Albino Pleco 4 - Feeder Goldfish (soon to be removed, very soon) All in a 30gal. tank with bio-wheel whisper filter, heater, the whole kit-n-caboodle. <Glad to hear the goldfish will be removed, as your tank is a bit heavily stocked.  Also, feeder goldfish are *notorious* for bringing in all sorts of diseases...I do hope you quarantined them (along with all new additions) before adding them to the new tank.  I might also point out that you seem to have added your fish pretty quickly...did you cycle the tank first?  Please keep a very close eye on water parameters, incl. ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels, and make sure that all are at zero, or the fish are at risk of becoming very sick. Finally, keep in mind that your Pleco and Oscar will definitely at some point be too big for your 30 gal. tank...consider making alternative  arrangements for them sooner, rather than later, to avoid more complications later on down the road.  I'd recommend a book by David E. Boruchowitz, called The Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums...he's got a great way of explaining tank setup, from start to finish - you may benefit from reading this, and other resources, on starting out with a new tank.> I started with the Tiger Oscar, the Chocolate, and one Texas.  No problems here. Put in the albino Pleco.  Soon after, the tank had the flare up of Ich, noticed my Texas acting funny and my Oscar had white spots.  Cleared that up, everyone is good again. <Again, be sure to *always* quarantine new fish, inverts, plants, etc. for a month or so before adding them to the main tank.  You'll save yourself a lot of trouble by not introducing disease, bacteria, etc. into the main tank this way.  Most of us have learned this lesson the hard way - all you can do is start this beneficial practice from this point forward.> Put in an Electric Blue Hap (big mistake as I found out).  Found him dead last night at the bottom of the tank, come to find out, he is really aggressive and the rest of the fish are just territorial. <You are stocked to the max., in my opinion.  Take a breath, enjoy the fish you have! Don't add anything else at this point; one day, when you move the goldies, Pleco and Oscar, you'll have more room for additional fish.  You must do research, however, on what fish are compatible with what others...the book recommended above is helpful on that front as well.> Removed him, checked my water.  This is where I got a little concerned.  pH 7.4 (good for the cichlids, this I know), nitrites 5.0 (high as I have found). <Yes...this will kill all your fish...do water changes immediately until ammonia, nitrite and nitrates are all zero. Read up on cycling.>   I knew nothing about nitrates or ammonia, which I am now finding out about,  so I am not sure about their levels. <Invest in a test kit that measures all of these things.  I personally like Tetra's master test kit. Stay away from the "strip" type kits, as they are notoriously inaccurate.  A test kit is a must for all fishkeepers...it will make your life much easier in the long run.  Most times, fish's health problems are caused either directly or indirectly by poor water conditions; anytime something is going wrong in the tank, do a complete water work-up, and you'll likely find the source of the problem.>   Anyway, took the Hap back and purchased another Texas (smaller one, which may be a slight problem). <Please do not purchase any more fish until everything is stabilized in your tank! Your tank is not ready to accept any more fish, and generally, you should have at least a couple of months between new additions.>   He is hanging around the top of the tank and the other Texas is picking on him/her a lot.  Is there anything I can do to calm these fish down?  I currently have a smaller bridge type ornament, which the chocolate has made his territory, that is for certain, and a grouping of fake plants, which it seems the bigger Texas has made his territory.  The Oscar could give a darn less about any other fish in the area (lazy fish, but so pretty). <Too many fish...return the new addition, if possible.  Keep doing water changes, as your tank is still cycling. Stop adding new livestock.> Also, my Oscar I think got into it with the Hap and is experiencing some weird coloration, almost like a tin film around his facial area (around the eyes to the mouth).  Is this just battle damage that can be healed up naturally, or is this something worse?  Any help <Again, good water conditions are paramount. Do a water change ASAP and keep the water quality good. Keep a close eye on the wounded fish and if he appears to be getting worse, you'll have to quarantine him for closer observation/medication.  Best thing you can do is keep the water clean right now. (Sorry, am I beating a dead horse? Hopefully you'll understand just how important this is!> you guys can give me is greatly appreciated.  OH, also today I added a tire track eel, which has burrowed himself and has found his new home comfortable as far as I can tell, so he isn't a big deal. <STOP ADDING FISH! SEE COMMENTS ABOVE!> Thank you, Jacob <You are welcome.  I hope I have helped.  Jorie> Film On the Water  9/10/05 Hey Crew! I have a 55 gallon tank with 1 Oscar, 1 Red Devil, 1 Jack  Dempsey, 1 Jaguar, 1 Pleco, and 1 Raphael. All of these fish are between 7 and 5  inches. I know... Crowded... I'll get a larger tank. Though that is not my  predicament now. About a month ago I noticed a film on the top of this tank's  water, almost like oil, but without the rainbow colors... Do you know why this  might be there and how to get rid of it. I was thinking of adding another filter  to the tank so the added circulation would break it all up...Your advice would be splendid, Christine < Change fish food. Oils from the food are floating on the surface. Usually from feeding pellets. Switch food and use some activated carbon in the filter. It may won't get rid of it but it will help.-Chuck>

Cichlid Set Up  9/8/05 I have a 275L tank waiting for me to decide what to put in it. Option 1 was to have a group of salvini cichlids (Nandopsis Salvini / Cichlasoma Salvini) in a planted tank. I understand they are a pugnacious species, but I'd like to know : a) how many could i safely house in this tank? < If this is the only species then you could place 6-8 in there until they breed. They will stay small while breeding. Males will get up to 6 inches and females about 4. Once they breed they will take very good care of the eggs and spawn and chase everything else away. In the meantime they will thrash your plants unless they are well rooted in flower pots.> b) what other fish would be suitable tankmates for a group of salvini cichlids? < Other Central American cichlids like convicts firemouths, Jack Dempseys, even  Jewelfish. Just make they are all about the same size.> c) In particular, in terms of algae control, would they pick on a Plec, ideally growing no more than 20-25cm, as I must assume that Ancistrus and Otocinclus would be too small? < Get a big and well armored pleco and provide him with a place to hide and get away when it needs to.> Option 2 was to have a few Gymnogeophagus balzanii, again in a planted tank. I understand that G. Balzanii grows to about 20cm. The questions here being: a) Would some hatchet fish (as they occupy the very top of the tank) and some sort of tetra (possibly emperor tetra Nematobrycon palmeri, or some Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae) be suitable tankmates? < G. balzanii would be fine with medium sized characins.> b) How many Balzani's can be put in the tank? < They are very peaceful so I would go about 6 max.> c) Would it be correct in assuming that a few Ancistrus will be compatible with G. Balzanii and adequately keep algal growth under control? < They would work out great.> d) Would a group of Corydoras catfish be compatible with G. balzani? < Cory's would get along just fine.> In addition, if you could possibly give me any additional information on C. Salvini and G. Balzanii, it would be greatly appreciated. < G. balzanii comes from Argentina and actually requires cooler water than normal tropicals. In fact they do just fine with no heater at all in most homes. Other tankmates may get ich from being too cold. At elevated temps they come down with Hole-in-the-Head. To breed they actually need a cooling down period. C. Salvini is a pretty rough customer but beautiful as adults and when spawning. Easy fish to care for.> Furnishings for both of the above two options would include bogwood, some Vallisneria, java moss, Amazon swords and Echinodorus plants, gravel and possibly additional (1 or 2) caves and rocks. Filtration will be excellent, including a massive amount of biomedia, water being returned by spray bar. Water conditions will be ph 6 - 6.5, GH <10degrees, Temp 27C - 28C. I hope this gives you enough information to work with. If not, please email me for further details. Your help is much appreciated. Yours sincerely Howard Snoyman < Try fishbase.org for additional info.-Chuck>

Re: Cichlids And Shoehorns - 08/25/2005 Ok, I have heard that one Oscar in a 55 gallon tank is fine, <Barely.> but two is totally pushing it. <And then some....  These do turn into foot-long (or larger!) beasts.  Two in a 75 would be an absolute minimum, I fear.> I think I might have overdone my stocking a bit though my dad said that it was perfectly fine. I trusted his advise because he had cichlids when he was younger.  My 55 gal. has 1 6-7" tiger Oscar, <Can reach well over a foot, fully grown....> 1 2-3" red devil, <Also will reach about a foot in length....> 1 4-5" Jack Dempsey, <Smaller; a pair would do well in a 55 for sure.> 1 4-5" jaguar, <This fish can and should reach nearly TWO feet in length!  You sure do pick 'em big, don't you??> 1 5-6"  Pleco, <Easily to a foot and a half....  but will take a very long time to grow that large.> and 1 6-7" Raphael catfish. <Perfectly suitable for a 55.> I don't really want to give away any of these fish because I have grown very attached, but I also want what is best for them.   <Very noble, indeed.> I have a power head that fits tanks 55-75 gallons, and an underground filter. I do 50% water changes weekly and I feed the fish twice a day on pellets and for the catfish 2 algae wafers at night only. <The Raphael would appreciate some sinking carnivore pellets or frozen meaty foods.> Could I keep this up, and maybe get a larger tank later? <Much, much larger, perhaps....> Or should I just do something else? Desperately in need of help! <Be testing for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate....  This many heavy waste producers in this (relatively, to the size of the fish) small tank will result in some seriously poor water quality if you are not extremely cautious.  Ammonia and nitrite must remain at ZERO, and nitrate less than 20ppm....  If you cannot maintain this, you risk the fishes' health....  I fear you will be finding new homes (or a larger tank by far!) before long.  You don't need to take my word for the sizes of these animals; please do a bit of research, perhaps on http://www.fishbase.org , and maybe look for the Tetra press book "Tank Busters"....> Christine <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

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