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FAQs on Neotropical Cichlid Compatibility

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 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,

Definitely not all cichlids get along... not even with their own kind in all settings.An Apistogramma cacatuoides at this years (08) Interzoo show.

Red terror cichlid and red tiger Montaguense cichlid hobbyists vs. vieja cichlid an Paratheraps cichlids hobbyists.   9/18/17
I'm John I'm a red terror cichlid and red tiger Montaguense cichlid hobbyist. I heve beef with a vieja cichlid do hobbyist named pun ashby on YouTube he has a video of a black belt cichlid beating up a red terror cichlid
I was angry when I saw that but it's ok that's why I'm breeding a male red tiger Montaguense and a female red terror cichlid and when the babies come they will grow up to 32 inches and beat every vieja cichlid and Paratheraps cichlid there is��
<May be. Bob Fenner>

Tank mates for Paratheraps fenestratus   7/11/13
Hi Crew,
I have just bought a second hand 6x2x2 tank that came with a Paratheraps (about 6"). It's a beautiful fish and I'd like to keep it but I'm having trouble selecting other cichlids to keep with it. I have been reading around the net and it seems like for every recommendation there is someone else saying that won't work. The most common advice seems to be a group of T Ellioti or Meeki but even that seems a little hit and miss. I have also read that Convicts might work but I can imagine potential drama when they start pairing off.
I'm very open to suggestions and I'd really appreciate your advice.
Thank you,
<The problem with Central American cichlids is that they have mostly evolved to be extremely territorial and aggressive when spawning. It isn't unusual for singletons of various species to coexist is spacious tanks, possibly with a Loricariid catfish as well, but once you get pairs, things become more difficult. Or rather, they become less predictable. In 200-gallon tanks for example I've kept singleton Jaguars and Midas cichlids alongside Convicts and not had any problems at all, but in smaller tanks such combinations wouldn't be workable, and even in a big aquarium, a mated pair of Midas cichlids could well have been far more disruptive. Your aquarium has a nominal capacity of about 6 x 2 x 2 ft = 24 cubic feet or about 180 US gallons (about 680 litres) but obviously the true volume will be substantially less once you factor in rockwork, substrate, etc. So let's knock off 10% or so and say around 150-160 US gallons. That's a big aquarium, and you might well choose to try keeping your chap with singletons of other big but not overtly aggressive cichlid species, such as Texas cichlids, Jaguar cichlids or Blackbelt cichlids. But choose specimens of similar size and introduce them at the same time (you may need to remove any existing residents, move the rocks about, then reintroduce all of them with the lights turned off, so they all feel like they're somewhere new).
There really aren't any 100% safe bets, even you forgot about cichlids altogether and went with some heavily armoured catfish (Acanthicus adonis for example) alongside big, robust midwater barbs or characins that hopefully wouldn't elicit territorial instincts from your cichlid. Cheers, Neale.>
re: Tank mates for Paratheraps (Chuck, anything to add)   7/11/13

<<Chuck's take. Big Central American cichlids are always a gamble when it comes to introducing tankmates. If you introduce only one fish then it will surely be killed. Lower the water temp to the mid to low 70's to slow the metabolism. Follow Neale's advice on reintroductions of the new tank mates.
Hopefully, in the morning as the room lights up, the fish will start to acknowledge each other and begin to establish territories in a civilized manner. If you are lucky, a pecking order will be established with all fish trying to live together. Over time, some fish  may grow larger than others and there will be readjustments to the pecking order with mixed results. Be prepared with a potential hospital tank for fish that lose their battles.
Good Luck, Chuck>>

Indescribable... mixing Swordtails w/ neotropical cichlids...      4/23/13
Dear Crew,
    I'm in a bind. It is my fault.
<This is when we reflect upon "lessons learned.">
I attempted to add three swordtails to my 50 gallon Jack Dempsey/ Red Devil tank today.
<Your Dempsey would like to express gratitude for the meal.>
Literally 30 minutes ago.
Both the Jack and the Devil IMMEDIATELY ate one of  the three swords WHOLE.
Both the male and one of the two females.
<Not surprising.  Anything that will fit into the Dempsey's mouth is a goner. Consider it a demonstration of how an invasive species can wipe out native fish.>
 The male sword was two inches without his gonopodium
<Unless the gonopodium was freakishly long, it doesn't impact the length of the fish.>
and the female the same size. My male Jack is around six inches and the Devil is around four or five inches. I honestly expected some bullying until the swords settled in and the two cichlids accepted their new tankmates.
<Uh-uh. Nope. Aggressive and territorial and hungry cichlids will take out a 2-inch livebearer.>
I was also prepared for the idea that if bullying ensued I would remove the swords and return them. Boy, was I wrong. My
question is will the two cichlids survive their meal; or, is this the "last supper?"
<Unless the livebearers were ill or carrying parasites, the cichlids should be fine. Do watch for symptoms over the next six weeks.>
I'm devastated at the loss of the swords and I am returning the last female to my LFS tomorrow. Will she survive the night or, should I go ahead and remove her to a plastic bin with aeration for the evening?
<If you leave her in the tank with the cichlids, you will likely not have anything to return by morning.>
My LFS is already closed for the night and I have no available qt at the moment as I have it occupied with three T. ocellocaudus, so this is my only option.
The last sword is currently alive and exploring with no more aggression towards her, for the time being.
<Well, the cichlids have full stomachs for the time being.>
Thanks for all the help and experience the WWM crew affords our hobby,
<This is one reason why experienced aquarists tend to migrate toward keeping species tanks. A tough lesson to learn, but one you won't likely forget. - Rick>
Re Indescribable... mixing Swordtails w/ neotropical cichlids...      4/23/13
Thank you, Rick.
As predicted when the lights went out she disappeared. <Not surprising.>
This experience has indeed been a lesson learned. On another note, I have a fantastic rapport with my LFS and they allow me to qt livestock for a month at a time and still return anytime within the month.
I had the swords for about three weeks and at this point there is no sign of illness. This attempted community was somewhat of an experiment( my first with livebearers and CA cichlids ).
<It is possible to keep some livebearers and cichlids together, but you must be very selective.  For example, I have sailfin mollies housed with Julidochromis dickfeldi (Tanganyikan cichlid), which isn't an optimal solution but it works.  Key here are three factors. One, the fish are comparable sizes so no adults get eaten, second, the Julies protect their young and the mollies mass produce young, so they can live in the same tank if it's large enough without catastrophic losses of fry, and finally, there is a rocky area for the cichlid and planted area for the mollies. But it still isn't an optimal arrangement.>
My LFS loves my fish so when my cichlids breed they always take the whole stock off my hands ( i.e. Convicts, Jack Dempseys, Red Devils etc.).
<Useful to have a store like that, for sure.>
Anyway, could I attempt this again, with any foreshadowable degree of success, but instead of the Jack and the Devil use T. meeki? Being Eartheaters, albeit anecdotally aggressive and certainly territorial, but not piscivorous(?) could this have a greater chance of success?
<You can try as long as the fish are comparable sizes.  Might work, might not work, and could be somewhat dependent upon individual dispositions of the fish involved.>
 I'm not aiming for a true biotope just something CA community-ish with both colorful and interesting cichlids and medium to small tankmates( i.e. swordtails, since I prefer the dimorphism of them as compared to larger livebearers).
<Study the fishes involved and look for ways it won't work. If you think the odds are in favor of survival, go ahead and try it, but be ready to separate species if necessary.  As I said, I didn't know if julies and mollies would work together but they seem to get along provided the mollies stay clear of the breeding cave. If they get too close, they are chased off, but pursuit doesn't go past that.>
Again, thank you for the wealth of knowledge your site offers our wonderful
<Very welcome. - Rick>

Central American cichlids and Polypterus senegalus, separate tank with P. ansorgii   6/28/12
you site is a very enjoyable and helpful resource. And I hope you can help me, regarding my fish tank/fish tanks.
Currently I have a 55 gallon tank that contains:
Polypterus senegalus - 8 year old fish, 8 inches and growing, certified bully of the tank.
<Probably a male. Your tank is quite small, and while adequate for a singleton, keep more than one Bichir and you need to provide real space, especially if you have two males.>
I saw P. Senegalus described as "gregarious" in some articles - my fish did not get the memo. He will chase, nip and chew on anything that resembles a Polypterus, occasionally he will snap at cichlids or even at my fingers when I clean the tank (it does not hurt at all, he can't bite through thick human skin).
<Quite so.>
Polypterus senegalus albino - 1 year, 4 inch, certified perpetual victim of bullying (I since provided him many little nooks, where he hides from the bigger guy, but in the beginning - he literally could not get away - Big Polypterus would chase him all over)
Polypterus Ansorgii - 1 year, nearly 10 inches, certified stand-in for piece of driftwood - never bothered anyone, and until recently was not bothered by anyone (now big Senegalus is snapping at him too). Barely moves, always last to feeding (I feed mix of squid, krill and Hikari Massivore Pellets). Recently took to hiding and lost a lot of his color (was gorgeous olive-grey with dark marks, now very washed out - I think because of stress)
<I see. Very likely these other Bichirs are either females or more likely males, and the resident male doesn't like having them in the tank with him! None of the Bichirs is "gregarious" though yes, there are variations in how aggressive they are. On the other hand, Reedfish/Ropefish are very sociable and should be kept in a group.>
3 Amatitlania N. - convict cichlids, all females, perpetually laying eggs.
Electric Blue Jack Dempsey - 1 year old, 5 inch, blind to one eye (he lost an eye, because previous owner kept him with Midas and other aggressive breeds. When I got the poor guy he was barely holding on, so I had to hand feed him back to health), very cautious because of impaired vision. He only now started to chase the smallest of convicts, but only when it tries to occupy his flowerpot shelter, otherwise he is a very gentle fish.
Panaque of some smaller species (Peckoltia?),
<Hmm… no, some Peckoltia may look like small Panaque species, but they are quite different (the spoon-shaped teeth of Panaque are a dead giveaway).>
about 3.5 inches and haven't grown any in a last year. I rarely see him.
<Quite so. Both genera are very retiring.>
Due to Polypterus Senegalus being a bully and Ansorgii needing more space - I'm setting up a second 55 gallon tank to house Ansorgii.
Now the questions are:
1. would it be wise to try to house P. Ansorgii and P. senegalus Albino together? Or will they fight? Or will Ansorgii potentially try to eat Albino, given their size difference?
<See above. There are no guarantees any Polypterus species will get along with another one. That's just not how they work. Two females might bump along with only occasional snapping, but two males will likely be perpetually hostile to one another.>
Right now there is no aggression between them, and large P. Senegalus is snapping at their tails causing them stress. I hope Albino will grow faster once he is in a less stressful environment
<Possibly, but albino anything tend to be weaker than the real McCoy.>
2. I would like to set up something closer to Central American Biotope tank with Amatitlania and EBJD - and P. Senegalus (rather out of place, but will have to be) - but I know that Central American Cichlids prefer harder water.
Will it hurt Polypterus?
<Not especially. So long as the water is wildly hard, you should be fine. Bichirs can thrive up to about 20 degrees dH, pH 8, though softer water is surely preferred.>
Would the inter-Cichlidae aggression (there are a bit of jaw locks going on among convicts) stress him out, once he has no other Polypteridae to chase?
<Doubt it.>
3. If I separate all 3 Polypterids into their own 55 gallon, instead of keeping the bully, will that be enough space for 3 fishes? Can I hope that Senegalus will stop nipping his neighbours? Or will this not provide enough space for them?
<See above.>
4. I saw a suggestion of Swordtails as a dither for Central American tank (stocked with Vieja) - would they make good dither for EBJD/Amatitlania tank too? How many would you recommend for 55 gallons?
<In 55-gallons, you could try a male and at least three females for the best chance of success. You'll soon have a bunch of fry, too. Male Swords are pretty hostile towards one another, and in a small tank like yours, I'd not keep two males, and three males would need at least 6 and probably 9 females to work well, and that'd overstock your tank.>
5. I noticed that Polypterus aggression picked up in a last month - is it because it is summer and warmer temps. and longer days make him more aware of environment? More territorial?
<Any/all of these may be issues, plus sexual maturity.>
Thank you very much for your answers. While this may seem a trivial inquiry - please understand how much I appreciate your knowledge and all the work you do to keep aquarists' community well-educated and our pets happy!
Elena E.
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Oscars, JD's and much more. Neotrop. cichlid comp.   4/13/12
Hi Crew,
First of all, thank you for this wonderful website.  I am, quite literally, addicted.  I have read everything I could find re: Oscars and Jack Dempsey's but have a few logistics questions for my tanks.  I am new to fishkeeping.  My boyfriend purchased a 75g tank and placed an adult Red Oscar, adult JD, and full-grown Pleco.
<Mmm, I do hope the cichlids are getting along>
 I had NO experience with fish.  I knew they swam in water and ate fish food and that was about it.  My boyfriend was called away for work last September for a "short-time" and the last thing he said to me was "You probably won't have to do any water changes or anything until I return."  AHAHAHHAhahahhaaha. 
That was 7 months ago and he will now not be back until end of May.  So I was thrown into fishkeeping-crash course in no-time and my tank was out of control. With the LFS' help I was able to get water quality back under control and get on a good schedule for vacuum-graveling, filter cartridge changing, etc.  (I apologize in advance that this is a two-part email and is so lengthy.  Feel free to hack it up to your heart's delight if you post it to the board :)
<No worries>
Originally, 75g tank held 1 Red Oscar, 1 Adult JD, 1 Adult Pleco.  After initial problems in October, things were going swimmingly well until March, when I lost the Pleco and the JD within weeks of each other.
 My best guess with the Pleco was either old age, disease, or perhaps starvation.  I had no clue then about the existence or necessity of algae wafers, I just knew they were "bottom feeders."
<Mmm, not really, no>
 I also was unaware of the bioload they emit.
The JD had always been very sensitive. We adopted him for free from a pet store because he was always being picked on by other JD's in his previous tank.  I don't know if it was Oscar always nipping at him, but even with decent water quality (ph hovering at 7 (tap water here is 7.6), No ammonia, no nitrites, low nitrates 25ppm or under, temp 78F), he was very prone to bacterial and/or fungal problems.  Unsure if he was simply a sickly fish or just too harassed and the small bite wounds ending in ongoing infection - or if it was my total lack of experience.  The LFS had always said I would "eventually" need two filters,
<A good idea to have redundancy here>
 so I purchased my second HOB filter at that time and had water tested a few weeks after the deaths to make sure everything had settled down to safe levels.  With the two deaths, Oscar seem uneasy alone in the tank but I was unable to find adult cichlid tankmates for him so I decided to "grow" him some.  Under the advice of the LFS, I purchased an young adult JD (male) and a Gold Severum (I just pretend she's a girl). These two are currently living in a cycled 20g tank until they reach an "uneatable" size. I then planned to remove Oscar from the 75g for a day or so, let the Severum and JD get settled, move tank accessories around (possibly purchase a new one or two) and return the Oscar so as to limit the territorial feelings as much as possible.  Since doing more research on Severums, I have found many people citing they have Severums doing well with JD's and Oscars but I am worried about 2 things.
1.  Severums need for soft, acidic water whereas JD's thrive in hard, alkaline water.
<Mmm, these fishes can "stretch" to overlapping conditions... have been bred in captivity, become much more "flexible" habitat wise w/ successive generations>
  2. Severum's mouth size versus the gaping maws of Oscar's and JD's.  Is this a "put them together and see" thing?
<More rather than less, yes>
 Or a recipe for disaster?  I would also like to purchase a 2nd Oscar (either Albino or Tiger). 
<I would not do this w/ the other cichlids here. Too crowded, too much likelihood for territorial aggression>
Once again - is this strictly a recipe for disaster or could it work?  I realize I am always taking a chance that I will get a female and male and then if they spawn, there could be disaster.  Eventually this fish "family" will be being moved to a 200 or 300g tank.  Currently the 75g tank has 2 hang-on-back filters with flow rates of 400gph and with just one 8" Oscar I do 20% water change weekly.   I check pH, Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates on my tanks but am just now learning about water hardness and other factors. The LFS suggests that I put the 8" (TL) Oscar in the 20g for a period of time so the 2 other fish grow rapidly.
<Mmm, too big to go in the 20>
 Would you suggest
this?  And if so - at what size should I swap the Severum and JD for optimal growth?  If I did that, I would want Oscar in the 20g for as short of a time as possible.  Even with the many water changes I could do, I worry about his happiness.
2nd Question: Synspilum and Firemouth compatibility When the Oscar, Severum and JD are moved to the 200 or 300g tank, I would like to purchase a (Paratheraps) synspilum, 1 Firemouth, and possibly 1 swordtail for the 75g.  The swordtail is the least important but I read they do well with Firemouths and I think they are fun.  I cannot find a lot of information on synspilums - as opposed to the plethora of info on Oscar's or JD's - but I think they are beautiful and my LFS always has them in stock.  I have read they need at least 70g-100g tank (depending on what book I read) but shouldn't be alone or they will become too aggressive, so wondering about 1 Firemouth or any other cichlid that would work.  (The way I was introduced to these fish was my LFS sent them (1 synspilum, 1 Firemouth) home with me saying they would be Oscar's tankmates - not his dinner...2 hours later....many tears on my part, and one satisfied Oscar stomach.)  Would 1 synspilum and 1 Firemouth work or would I need something else, or do I need to scrap the whole idea?
<These mid-sized neotropicals would better be raised in groups in another system>
One book suggested a pair of synspilums but I know they grow quite large and tank is only 75g.  I know Firemouths have a reputation for becoming very aggressive in pairs, but again, cannot find a lot on the compatibility between these two different fish.  If the Firemouth is a bad idea I am open to any suggestions on tankmates for a synspilum. Or if the Severum fails as a successful tankmate for the Oscar and JD, could she be the synspilum's "friend"?
<Again... better to house separately... and for you to keep studying, enjoying the process>
Thank you so very much in advance, Katie
<Certainly welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Oscars, JD's and much more    4/13/12

Thanks, Bob!
The Synspilum(s) would be housed in an entirely different system from the Oscar/JD combo.  I am hoping I made that clear?
<Ahh, it is now>
  It's always difficult in email.  It was the LFS that thought it would be a "good fun mix."
So I hope you understood that it's two different tanks (JD and Oscar would be in a 200-300g eventually.) Synspilum and/or Firemouth in a separate 75g -  but were you wrote <These mid-sized neotropicals would better be raised in groups in another system> am I understanding you are saying "Synspilums should be raised in groups just with Synspilums" and "Firemouths should just be with Firemouths"?
<Ideally; yes. But these two can likely fit as pairs in the 75>
 Or were you thinking I was going to toss everybody together for a fishie massacre? :)  (Sorry to beat this to death - information on them in books I've read is just a little limited for my taste, but now that I have a good book list on Cichlid care, I plan to order some from Amazon.) Thanks again,
<Thank you Katie. BobF>

What sized aquarium, & Cichlid/Catfish comp.    7/1/11
I am going to purchase an aquarium soon for large cichlids.
<Fair enough.>
The fish I want are 1 red Oscar,
<Needs soft water; not aggressive when not spawning.>
1 jack Dempsey,
<Needs hard water; can be aggressive.>
1 convict,
<Also needs hard water; females more colourful than males and less aggressive.>
1 Salvini,
<Also needs hard water; extremely aggressive; quality of specimens in the trade nowadays pretty poor.>
6 silver dollars
<Need soft water.>
and 1 Pleco.
<What sort?>
All Male if I can.
<Good luck sexing juveniles'¦ male and female Oscars for example are essentially identical and cannot be sexed outside of spawning. Usually male cichlids are more aggressive than females, so adding adult males to an aquarium usually ends up with bullied or dead fish!>
Are then any type of catfish I can put with these fish?  
<Depends on the water chemistry. Are you keeping a hard water collection or a soft water collection? How are you keeping nitrate down? Above 20 mg/l, nitrate is a serious killer for Oscars especially -- Hole-in-the-Head and Hexamita infections in particular. It may well be that water quality will be better managed with fewer fish.>
What sized aquarium will I need.
<Which of your cichlids do you want to keep? A collection of hard water Central Americans can work in 200 gallons/750 litres without too much bother. Have done this with a Jaguar, a Midas, and a group of Convicts, plus a Channel Catfish and a Gibbiceps Plec. Obviously you wouldn't keep Oscars or Silver Dollars in a hard water Central American community. Likewise, a 200 gallon tank could be a great home for a harem of Cyphotilapia frontosa together with a few Tanganyikan species of Synodontis.>
I am willing to buy up to 807 u.k. litre aquarium. It is 8x2x2. If I can go smaller I would like to. That is just the maximum. Could I get by with a 6x2x2 foot aquarium. Is there any room for more fish, and if so what would you recommend. Thank you
<Do think more carefully about what it is you want to keep, rather than a random collection of cichlids. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: What sized aquarium

On your first combo of fish, the hard water one could I sub a Flowerhorn for the midas. Sorry for the stupid questions.
<Yes, a Flowerhorn would be more or less equivalent to a Midas cichlid, but do be aware of the problems associated with Flowerhorn cichlids including inbreeding and the often-low quality of the specimens offered for sale.
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Want 2 balloon dwarf German rams 4/7/2011
how well would Laetacara curviceps work in a community tank?
<Can be an extremely good community fish. But territorial, just like any cichlid, and in common with most Acaras, prefers low to middling water temperatures; 22-25 C/72-77 F.>
also what about Trichopsis pumila would they be alright with my leaf fish and my Killies?
<Ctenopoma acutirostre and Aplocheilus spp. will eat anything small enough to fit in their mouths.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

cichlids, idiot mix, no reading  2/13/11
I have lost count of the hours I have put in to figuring out this problem.
I have a Firemouth Cichlid and a Green Terror.
<... I do hope/trust these are not housed together>
I was told to feed them blood worms or brine shrimp. They have decided they don't want to eat much of either. While reading tons of other peoples issues I started to wonder if they are getting too much protein. A week ago I started them on Aqueon color enhancing pellets. The Fire mouth does not seem to eat them. Green terror does. I have also been doing water changes. I introduced a snail and the green terror and some ghost shrimp (to hopefully occupy the Firemouth while the new cichlid became part of the family) ....too much, and we got a fungal infection. Treating with Pimafix worked,
killed plants and both snails.
<... typical>
It was a mess. Finally every one was fungus free but the water is really acidic. I tried PH UP.
<Just do water changes...>
Does not seem to work. I am still doing water changes and adding Stress coat and stress zyme. I thought we were doing ok. Yesterday the Green terror began floating, near the top or on the bottom, the Firemouth is just hanging out on the bottom. He had what looks like a piece of salt stuck to his head. Bacterial infection I guess.
Sigh.... It is so hard to watch them suffering. It sounded by the answers that it could be too much protein and or a bacterial infection.
<Just environment>
That I can fix, but the diet I can't find info that doesn't list a bunch of protein, maybe that's what they need but now I am just ready to throw my hands up.
Then there is the acidic tank with low alkalinity. I vacuum the bottom and do 25-35% water changes hoping it will even itself out.
<Ah good>
I am afraid they are going to die. Please help, and thank you for your time and brain power.
Amy Ernst
<Keep reading... not treating. Bob Fenner>

Fish situation 10/5/10
Hi there my name is Brad I have question that can really can only be answered if I ask it directly to you. I have a Salvins cichlid in a 48 gallon tank. My problem is I have him in a planted tank I am not sure how
these guys can get this the first time I have ever had them.
<Cichlasoma salvinii is extremely aggressive as well as predatory, and generally works best when kept with larger companions, for example Jaguar Cichlids, and even then only in very large systems, 750 l/200 gallons for example. Singletons are less problematic than pairs, so in that sense you're a step in the right direction, but even so, a male Cichlasoma salvinii will still be viewing the aquarium as "his" turf, and anything added to the tank will either be viewed as [a] a potential breeding partner or [b] a threat to be killed or otherwise driven away.>
The other problem would be the size of tank. I do not want to over crowed it. All this said and done what other kinds of fish would you recommend to put in with my Salvins Cichlid
<Your aquarium is small, given that this species can get to about 20 cm/8 inches in length, though 15 cm/6 inches is more typical, and females do tend to be smaller than males. I'd be very surprised if you could keep anything in this tank without the Cichlasoma salvinii attacking it. Does depend on the age of the cichlid; if your Cichlasoma salvinii is a few months old, i.e., only 5 cm/2 inches long, then you might be able to add a robust catfish of some sort, and they'd grow up together. But if the Cichlasoma salvinii is sexually mature, it'll view anything you add to the tank as a possible threat, and react accordingly. If you think about just how colourful Cichlasoma salvinii is, and then the fact it's almost absent from the hobby, there has to be an explanation, right? And the reason is that Cichlasoma salvinii is so darned aggressive it can't be kept with anything much. Cheers, Neale.>

Something ate the nose and eyes off my Plecostomus, Neotropical Cichlids, other Loricariid incomp.  -- 06/09/10
Hi Crew!
Once again, thanks for everything you do.
<Kind words appreciated.>
OK, the really not good part - something ate the nose and eyes off of my Pleco !!!
<Likely another Plec.>
Now, the back-story: I had a 29 gallon freshwater tank up and running for several years. The tank mates all had lived together for a long time, since they were all 1" juvies. I started off with one male Jack Dempsey (now 6"), 1 pair of young convict fish that were just pairing up in the LFS tank, and one small Plecostomus (now 6"). As Convict fish tend to do, they were hatching fry all over the place, everyone was getting bigger, and the tank was getting cramped. This was all part of my master plan to have a reason to get a larger tank. (Feel free to use that tactic). Today I have the jack, Pleco, and 3 generations of convicts - maybe 6 or 7 convict fish of any worthy size - all the ones that didn't get consumed so far.
<I see.>
So - this weekend I craigslisted myself a 55 gallon tank and stand, the works, with 2 sad neglected Plecostomus in there.
<Oh dear.>
The tank had been drained down to about 3" water, and the last water change was over a month previous. There was one bubbler stone going, and that was it. Overall it was a very sad condition for the fishes.
<Sounds it.>
The Pleco fish themselves are pretty large - one has to be a foot long or more, and the other one is about 9". So anyways I got them loaded up, and all the tank and stuff, came home, and threw them into the 29. They were stuffed in there, but it is good water, and it was too late at night to set up the new tank; I guessed that it had to be better than laying around in 3 inch stink water.
<Likely so.>
Next day, I cleaned and then setup my new 55 gallon tank. I got all the fish transferred (I used the water from the 29 + the same gravel that came with the 55 so I think I'm good on the cycle I didn't stir it up too much), but they seemed to be very agitated; my guess is because 2 pair of convicts had fry when I moved them. One mom was able to gather fry in her mouth apparently, and one was not. The mom that did gather fry actually stayed in a decoration while I picked it up out of tank and transferred it!
Once the debris settled in the former (29gallon) tank, I noticed a school of fry in there - the other moms babies. I gathered them all and put them in by the momma in the new tank, but the fry seemed lost, and I didn't see the mom corral any of them either.
So, the fish count in the new 55 gallon tank is roughly 1 jack, about 7 convicts, some small convict babies, and 3 Plecos. The next day, they still seemed 'not-settled', but were not really chasing each other across the tank too much. They were VERY startled when I turned on the light in the morning.
<Likely a reaction to the change in environment and social hierarchy.>
Today, they didn't seem as startled by the light coming on. Everyone looked OK. Everyone got fed breakfast. So later I come home from work, and all the fish are sort of 'surrounding' this one Pleco. They aren't hitting it, or attacking it, they are just sort of 'around' it. I look at it. It's eye is gone! It's nose flap thing is gone!! I look around its other side - all gone !
It is sitting there breathing, attached to the side of the glass, with no eyes and no nose. It is the middle-sized Pleco, the 9" one. It looks like it's tail has been chewed on too.
<Indeed, and precisely what happened. Pterygoplichthys and Hypostomus species are NOT social under aquarium conditions. Curiously, in the wild they are schooling fish, but in the confines of a small aquarium -- which is what yours is, given their size -- their social structure goes screwy.
It is EXTREMELY common for one Plec to attack another when that happens, and although they look harmless, those scraping teeth they have work as well on flesh as they do wood and algae. Bottom line, you should never, ever keep more than one Plec per aquarium unless you know they get along.
Males are probably more aggressive than females, since it's the males who defend the nests and eggs. But since sexing them is difficult, it's hard to know what you're getting when you buy these fish. I'd wager the damaged one is a male who was beaten up by whichever of the other two Plecs is also a male.>
I instantly removed it to a 'nice' tank with goldfish, tetras, and octos.
It is alive, but it has to be miserable. Is it gonna make it doc?
<Hard to say, but if the damage is superficial, and the fish is medicated as per Finrot/Fungus, it should recover.>
So here are some of my thoughts and reasons for writing this epic email: I really didn't find any info online about this sort of behavior. I found one comment on a yahooAnswer
<Famously the worst place on the Internet for information!>
or something, that was it. I have had a lot of fish, including Pleco and convict, and not seen this happen (yet.. up till now anyways).
<Is actually very common.>
I'm worried about my other 2 Plecos, and wonder if I should take them to the LFS and trade them in.
<One Plec per 55 gallons is ample.>
If I trade them in, what sort of cleaner fish can live with convicts/jacks - if Plecos somehow cannot?
<No fish "cleans" so if that's what you're looking for, think again. By definition, adding a fish, even a Plec, makes the aquarium dirtier and algae problems more serious.>
Is it possible that this Pleco was sick somehow and they know it, and the fish are simply taking care of nature?
Any comment and advice is most welcome. Sorry for the huge email, but I hope it helps someone. Thanks! Saylor
<Cheers, Neale.>

LMB, bass-Centrarchid non-mix w/ others   5/3/10
I have a custom tank that 48 long by 30 tall and 24 wide all in inches, with an 11 inch Severum. Can a 4 inch bass that's been living with 1.5 inch goldfish live with the Severum?
<No. American Bass, Micropterus spp., are insanely aggressive fish that cannot be kept with ornamental fish. Also, they are coldwater fish and quickly grow far too large for home aquaria, particularly a tank as small as yours. Obviously, they will view small Goldfish as food.>
Or what about a Firemouth or jaguar cichlid?
<Firemouth cichlids can cohabit with Severums quite well, assuming the water isn't acidic or soft. Severums prefer soft/acid water whereas Firemouths need hard/basic water. Both can live with Goldfish. Jaguar
cichlids are a bit more aggressive, and are normally kept alone or with robust cichlids such as Convicts.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

... Now a pair of Severums, Koi...    5/3/10
Hey, will a pair of red head Severums, a fire eel, and a Koi coexists fine in a tank that's 48 by 20 wide by 26 tall? Thanks
<No. A tank this small is suitable for a pair of Severums, which, as their name suggests, become quite "severe" when breeding. The Fire Eel needs excellent water quality to live for long, and in such a small tank this is unlikely to be the case. As for the Koi, these are pond fish that reach at least 18 inches in length and potentially twice that, so clearly can only be maintained in a small tank like this for a very limited period. Koi are messy fish too, so you need massive filtration systems if you want to keep them indoors. Generally expert aquarists laugh when people ask if they can keep Koi indoors because it's insanely difficult to do properly, and very expensive. They're called "Pond Fish" for a reason, and in even in ponds they're expensive and difficult to keep successfully. Cheers, Neale.>

Further nonsense re Severums, stkg.    5/4/10
So, a pair of Severums, snails for algae (I don't care if they get eaten), in a 48inch long x 20 wide, and 26 tall. And what if I put a Firemouth
<Needs hard, basic water, which isn't what Severums want.>
and a hoplos catfish in there as well
<Nice catfish, but boisterous.>
and not add anything else, I will have many live plants
<Severum food.>
along with lava rock, driftwood and white sand.
<White sand causes South American and Central American cichlids to fade their colours; don't use if you want cichlids to look nice.>
Thanks I appreciate it
<Cheers, Neale.> 
Okay just for ideas because I might get a 125 gallon, what are other cichlids or large fish compatible with the Severum that stay around 6-10 inches?
<Classic Severum tankmates include large gouramis such as Helostoma temminckii; Mastacembelus spp. spiny eels; mild acaras such as Aequidens pulcher; Mesonauta spp. festivums; medium to large barbs including spanner and tinfoil barbs; and Australian rainbowfish of almost all types except the smallest species. Cheers, Neale.>
Okay thanks, and jaguar catfish
<Yes, but total waste of space in this tank because you'll never see it.>
or a tiretrack eel?
<As stated, yes, Mastacembelus can work with Heros spp. This species requires a soft, sandy substrate and much plant cover; hides a lot; very prone to disease in less-than-perfect conditions. Difficult to feed. Do
read up on their very substantial demands required to keep Mastacembelus spp. successfully. Most people who buy them ultimately fail to keep them alive; for expert fishkeepers only.>
Thanks for the help
<Cheers, Neale.>
What is a type of catfish that I will see?
<Hoplosternum littorale is a peaceful, hardy, and adaptable species that will become day-active once settled. It's very greedy though, and may bully other fish at feeding time. Cheers, Neale.>
Cichlid Companions
If in the right tank size, will a Texas cichlid, jaguar cichlid, or salvini get along with the Severums and Firemouth because I really real like the Texas?
< A male Texas cichlid will get up to about 9 inches. A female will be smaller. Forget about the jaguar cichlid, gets too big and is very aggressive. The salvini will be ok when smaller but they tend to be very
aggressive too. Try and get a female Texas cichlid. Look for one of the smaller ones at the fish store.-Chuck>

Tank Compatibility, FW... incl. Green Terrors    2/28/10
Hi everyone, first off, your site is great. I have been reading as much as I can but I still have a question or two.
Right now I have a 30 gallon tank that is housing the following: pair of Kribensis (male and female about 2� and 1.5� respectively),
<Nice fish.>
3 rosy barbs,
<These are subtropical fish, and can get quite big.>
a rainbow fish (just recently given to me)
<Good companions for Kribs.>
and 2 green terrors about ¾� long.
<Temporary residents at best. They are called "Green Terrors" for a reason. Once sexually mature, they will kill the Kribs. Also far too large for this tank.>
The tank is heavily planted with live plants, floater plants and numerous caves (3 rock caves and 3 small terra cotta pots turned over). The substrate is a dark natural looking gravel. I realize that as time passes the 30 gallon tank is going to be too small for the green terrors.
Now at the current moment, the gifted rainbow fish is ruling the tank. I'm assuming because there is only one in the tank instead of a school of them?
<Likely so. They are schooling fish, and singletons can react in all sorts of odd ways, including unusual aggression.>
I purchased the two juvenile green terrors about 3 weeks ago from my local pet store. I had asked the fish guy what, if any, type of cichlid would work with my pair of Kribs. He said the terrors would do wonderfully.
<Clearly never kept either.>
Although I am usually a person to research before I bring a living thing into my house on this occasion I did not. I am now thinking I made a huge mistake and will have havoc in my tank as soon as the terrors grow up a bit. Do you agree or am I just being nervous?
<Huge mistake.>
I am not looking to relocate the terrors back to the fish store but I also do not want any bloodshed of my Kribs. At what size do the Terrors usually become, well, terrors?
<Sexual maturity. The problem is that there's no set size, and farmed fish are generally get smaller than wild fish, and tend to reach sexual maturity at unusually small sizes. I'd guess -- and that's all it is -- that once above 8 cm/3 inches they will start causing problems. In other words, once about 6-9 months old. You can assume they're about 2 months old if less than 2.5 cm/1 inch long.>
Also I was thinking about adding some type of Pleco or algae eater to the mix?
<No particular reason to do so, but Ancistrus work well with Kribs.>
Is there something in particular that you recommend? I was originally thinking of the Feather fin catfish.
<Synodontis eupterus is a bit big for a 30 gallon tank.>
Thanks in advance,
<Cheers, Neale.>

55 gallon American Cichlid tank, comp.  -- 01/13/2010
Hi guys,
<Hello Phill,>
First off your web site is amazing and you are such a huge help so thanks!
<Kind of you to say so.>
Now, I have a 1 year old cycled 55 gallon tank (it started as a 10 gallon gift for my 2 year old and has turned into a hobby for the 2 of us). It has a 60 gallon top fin filter, gravel, live plants (crypts, Anacharis, vals, Anubias), driftwood, rocks, and caves. Nitrates are consistently between 5ppm and 10ppm.
Water is medium in terms of hardness and pH is around 7.7.
<A bit high for some of these species.>
Feeding flake food Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings; cichlid attack pellets Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings; algae and Hikari wafers Sunday morning; and frozen bloodworms every night. I started out with a community tank and have quickly moved towards American cichlids. However I may have found your site too late but we'll see what you think when I start asking the questions. The current residents are: 5 Corydoras (full grown),
<All one species, I hope; Corydoras should be kept in groups of five or more, per species. In any event, Corydoras do tend to be maimed or killed once cichlids become sexually mature. Apistogramma for example have been reported to bite out their eyes!>
1 Bristlenose Pleco, 1 True Siamese Algae Eater, 1 Snakeskin Gourami (full grown), 1 Pearl Gourami, 1 Moonlight Gourami,
<Gouramis rarely thrive when kept with big, territorial cichlids, so keep an eye on them.>
1 Green Severum,
<These can be very rough sometimes, and are of course herbivores, so will eat your plants.>
1 Angelfish, 1 Festivum, 1 Firemouth,
<Again, another rough species.>
1 Keyhole, 1 Curviceps, 1 Bolivian Ram, 1 Dwarf Cockatoo, and 1 Dwarf Borelli. All are either juveniles or not quite full grown unless listed.
<Which is why this tank is "working" at the moment. Adult cichlids are a whole other ball game.>
I know that the pH is a bit high for some of the species but all are local raised and thriving.
<For now. To be fair, most should be fine, but I would encourage you to concentrate on species well suited to your particular water chemistry, rather than hoping they'll adapt. This tends to ensure optimal health. If they *are* locally bred, you may be okay in this regard, but be open minded, and think about this issue when shopping.>
I've tried to acquire species that are either peaceful (for cichlid standards) or light on the territorial side according to websites and LFS.
I may be planning a move in 6 months due to my job (from Illinois to South Carolina) and want to upgrade to a 100 or 125 gallon but not until I purchase a house in SC after 1 year of renting there. I would upgrade earlier but I have no desire to move a 125 gallon beast. On to the questions.
1) Will these fish be ok together given my tank setup, aggression, territories, etc, once they are full grown?
<Not necessarily. As noted, I can see some species here that will cause problems, or else are so docile they're likely to be molested.>
2) LFS says I'm under stocked based on nitrates but borderline with the species.
<LFS is trying to sell you more fish... might that be a factor?>
However they said I may be able to add a few more. Should I wait until I upgrade or is that ok in the 55?
<Stick with what you have. You're way overstocked as it is.>
The fish I was looking at were a Rainbow cichlid, Honduran Red Point, Dwarf Agassiz, Dwarf Panda, Dwarf Checkerboard, Dwarf Golden eye. I obviously cannot add all of them but any combos look ok to you?
<Wouldn't add any of these.>
3) Would I be able to add all 6 in a 125 gallon?
<If this was me, then the Gouramis, Angels, Nannacara anomala, and a selection of Apistogramma and Mikrogeophagus species may well work nicely.
Checkerboard cichlids are far too delicate for community tanks, so forget about them. Amatitlania siquia "Honduran Red Point" isn't a bad species, but like all Amatitlania its aggression level is way out of proportion to its size, and mixing with small South American cichlids, let alone Corydoras and Gouramis, would be crazy.>
4) Any recommendations on how to better arrange my tank based on the picture or is my setup ok?
<More rocks, more hiding places for the Central Americans. Soft sand for the sand-sifting species (e.g., Thorichthys) would be a plus. Tall plants for the Angels and Severums. Floating plants for the Gouramis. Basically, think about what your fish need, and act accordingly.>
5) Any advice on how to move these fish safely from IL to SC? They will be riding with me in the front so temperature will be regulated. How many containers, which in each, etc.
<Cichlids should be packed one specimen per bag or bucket to avoid fights.
Catfish with due consideration of their sharp spines (burst bags, poke other fish). Gouramis are fairly easy to ship since they're air breathers.
Frankly, unless your attached to any of these fish, I'd sell them all, and then buy new stuff once you're settled. From experience I will tell you moving house, and then setting up an aquarium, all within the same couple days, is a real chore. It's hard enough keeping your filter media happy, which will require keeping it warm and well oxygenated. Otherwise, do see here:
Thanks again in advance for the help. We really love our tank and hope we are on the right track to happy and health cichlids/gouramis.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: 55 gallon American Cichlid tank -- 01/13/2010
Wow thanks Neale. Very eye-opening.
<Glad to help.>
I did not know my cories were at risk (they are all the same species).
Are my Bristlenose and SAE ok?
<Generally both of these either avoid or swim away from trouble; Corydoras have no sense of "territory", so tend to wander into the territories of cichlids, and end up attacked. For whatever reason, their learning abilities appear to be nil.>
The water in Charleston, SC is softer and more towards neutral so I could go either way for fish selection.
However to be honest I am attached to my Severum and my wife and son my not part with the Angelfish without a fight.
<I see.>
Is there a way to peacefully do a CA/SA tank?
<Not really. Very few Central American cichlids are truly peaceful in the same way as many South American cichlids are. In a big enough tank, I dare say things like Herotilapia multispinosa and perhaps non-breeding Thorichthys would be okay, but that's about it.>
The fish I would rather keep are the Severum, Festivum, Angelfish, Firemouth, Keyhole, Bolivian Ram, and Bristlenose.
<All more or less compatible, with the proviso the Firemouth is alone and doesn't start getting broody.>
I picked up the apistos for there smaller bioload and peaceful personalities but I'm not super attached to them, the Curviceps, or the gouramis. The 2 I was most looking to add were the Honduran Red Point and Rainbow cichlid.
<Herotilapia multispinosa possibly, the other, not a good idea.>
Is there a way too keep the 7 I mentioned happy in a 55?
<You're already WAY overstocked. 55 US gallons is 46 Imperial gallons or 210 litres. That's borderline for even a single Mesonauta festivus or Heros severus, let alone both. Both these fish are big (to 20 cm / 8 inches) and the latter herbivorous, so a gross polluter in terms of solid waste, i.e., faeces and dead plant matter.>
Are the 2 I want to add acceptable given those parameters? Are there scavengers I could replace the cories with as I know snails and shrimp will get readily devoured?
<You really don't need "scavengers" with cichlids; either they eat the food you give them, or you take uneaten food out. Letting food sit on the substrate to be eaten by a Plec or whatever is the fast-track to high nitrates, and that in turn is how you get Hexamita infections and Hole-in-the-Head.>
Are there any good examples of what a tank setup for the above would look like?
<Do look for Peter Scott's book "the Complete Aquarium". It is filled with do-able biotope aquaria for a range of species, including a South American community and a Central American rocky reef. I'm not sure it's still in print. Used copies are very inexpensive, e.g., Amazon.com, if your library doesn't have a copy.>
The picture I sent you seems to better pretty good for what I am finding online for cichlids (obviously not in comparison to the professionals but keep in mind I'm only 1 year into this).
<What you don't see are the bad tanks, where the fish kill each other. Here at the "rock face" we get messages from people with sick or fighting cichlids all the time. I've personally kept almost all the species you mention. So it's a combination of these two things that prompts me to advise caution. Yes, there are lots of heavily stocked cichlid aquaria out there, but to be successful the fishkeeper needs to do water changes every day or two, and filtration needs to be very robust. Too much work. So make life easy, and stock moderately with fish that will be happy together *for life*.>
However I am by nature an animal lover and perfectionist and would like to get their habitat perfect for their liking so any good examples would be much appreciated. If there aren't any pictures can you give some specifics for how to arrange this tank? Thanks again Neale!
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

55 cichlid tank. Neo-trop. mis-stkg. mess  -- 01/30/10
Hi guys,
First off thanks for all of your help with my last topic. Neale gave some awesome advice.
<Ahh, he's marked "out" for Sat.>
I want to split up my over crowded cichlid tank into 2 tanks. To recap here is my stocking list for my 55 (which I added a bunch more driftwood and plants too). 5 Cory cats, 1 Bristlenose Pleco, 1 Siamese algae eater,
<Social species>
1 snakeskin Gourami, 1 moonlight Gourami, 1 Severum, 1 angelfish, 1 Festivum, 1 Firemouth cichlid, 1 keyhole cichlid, 1 Curviceps, 1 Bolivian ram, 1 cockatoo cichlid, 1 Borelli cichlid. All fish are juveniles, hence the peaceful nature to date.
<... yes>
I am buying a 40 gallon breeder tank and want to know if this split will work. 55 gallon: 5 Cory cats, 1 Bristlenose Pleco, 1 Siamese algae eater, 1 Severum, 1 angelfish, 1 Festivum, 1 Firemouth, 1 rainbow, (1 Honduran red point maybe...unsure about stocking and the aggressive behavior of HRP Neale mentioned). 40 gallon: 1 rubberlip Pleco, 1 keyhole cichlid, 1 Curviceps, 1 Bolivian ram, 1 cockatoo, 1 Borelli, 1agassizi, (1 checkerboard but most likely not due to fragile nature of fish and my pH but figured I'd ask...if not maybe apisto nijsseni).
<This arrangement will not work well or for long... Too crowded, and these cichlids are not mix-able... by size, temperament>
Also which tank would my gouramis safely live in?
<With the dwarf cichlids>
I was thinking 40 but I don't want to overcrowd.
On a side note, since adding my driftwood my cockatoo (which is female) developed a noticeable pink bulge by her anal pore. I was afraid she was sick but she was acting completely normal. The LFS said she may be "coming of age" and displaying or may be getting ready to deposit some eggs. The only other apisto in the tank is the Borelli so can they hybridize?
<Not likely, no>
I don't want that. Also do you see any hybrid issues with my desired stocking?
<No; just aggression>
Specifically between nijsseni/cacatuoides which are similar complex, any of the other dwarves, or the Honduran red point since convicts cross with many other species. I don't want to have cockatoo/Borelli/nijsseni/Agassiz in a tank if they are going to start pairing off and putting out hybrids. I picked species that were different to avoid any pairing and aggression/fry issues. I thought that I was ok until this female cockatoo started this behavior. Nitrates are below 5ppm, and pH around 7.7. Thanks again guys and again
your help is priceless!
<I would investigate your stocking plans further. What you have speculated doing here won't work. Bob Fenner>

Re: 55 cichlid tank... mis-stkg. plan  1/30/10
Thanks Bob. So my 55 would be ok
<Mmm, no. The species you have listed won't mix even here. Read re each one... really; make a list and search each one for compatibility, systems.
but my 40 would have some issues if I understand you correctly. If I left out the agassizi and nijsseni would I be ok? Or are the keyhole/Bolivian/Curviceps just not compatible with dwarves? I thought they would be compatible since those are all fairly placid. I will definitely dob some further research but would appreciate any tips on how you would personally arrange the tanks stocking wise. Thanks Bob.

Battling Neighbors
Cichlid Neighbors Not Getting Along 10/7/2009

Dear Chuck, I have a 30 gallon with one black convict and one blood parrot, they both have there own little house and that's the way it was. Lately the blood parrot has been going to the convicts house and they both
fight inside the house. For the last two days when its time to eat they would rather fight with each other than eat. Now the blood parrot is not doing any damage to the convict, but the convict however is clearly doing some damage to the parrot. My question is can these two mate and produce eggs and if not what if anything can be so important that these two continue to battle over this little house? One thing I did not mention is we got both of these fish at the same time and have had them for about three months now. They were friends at first now they seem to be battling neighbors.
<As cichlids mature they become territorial. It could be a male/female thing where one is looking to breed and the other doesn't. When a mate is not available then the potential to cross is a real possibility. I think
that the tank is not big enough for both of them and they both have territories that over lap. Try cooling the water down to 75 F and that should slow them down. If not then start looking for a new home for one of

Was Battling Neighbors
Cross Breed?
Convict /Parrot Cichlid Cross 10/7/2009

Chuck, Thank you for your response I wanted to let you know that we switched there houses around and they are getting along again for now. So now are next question is these two can mate with each other with one being a blood parrot and the other a black convict?
< It is possible but not heard of one before.-Chuck>

Tankmates for Red Threadfin Acara 09/14/09
Could you tell me which tankmates would be suitable for a threadfin Acara in a 75 gallon (48") long tank ?
<Acarichthys heckelii, an interesting eartheater cichlid from South America.>
The Acara would be 1 and a half to 2 inches long.
<For a while at least! These fish will grow rapidly, and should get to around 15 cm/6 inches within a year.>
Also, are these fish too aggressive to be kept in a species tank, and what could be done to lessen aggression ?
<They are really much like other Eartheaters, and best kept in large groups, but your tank would be a bit of a push in that regard. As juveniles they are somewhat tolerant of one another, but as they mature, they'd pair
off, and bonded pairs will become increasingly aggressive. Conversely, non-brooding singletons aren't particularly aggressive at all, and by cichlids standards, are almost peaceful. So the whole question of tankmates depends on whether you're keeping one, a breeding pair, or a group of 6+.
Since they're virtually impossible to sex, unless you have access to a mature breeding pair, if you want to spawn this species -- a challenge -- then you keeping a group is the only way to go. A lot will depend on the tank. Since these fish need open space rather than plants or caves, the more open the tank, the more the fish will spread out and tolerate one another. Decorate with just some bogwood and big Anubias/Java ferns at the edges, and otherwise mostly smooth silica sand (not gravel!). No point using plants with roots, since they'd be ripped up! Floating plants good for shade as well as nitrate control. The best tankmates would be
medium-sized schooling fish that stayed towards the top of the tank, Giant Danios for example, perhaps even (wild-type) Swordtails if water chemistry allowed. Nothing too slow or dainty! For the bottom, best to avoid anything easily bullied. An L-number catfish that gets to around 20 cm/8 inches would be the obvious choice, but a school of Brochis or a trio of Megalechis might be interesting alternatives. Outside of South America, virtually any of the medium-sized Synodontis would work well. Avoid smaller Corydoras or anything that would pecked, harassed, or otherwise damaged.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Tank Mates?? Oscar comp./sys., Neotrop. cichlids period   08/28/08 Hello there, I have emailed you guys before about some of my tanks and ideas about new tanks and have received great advice! Now i have a question about my tiger Oscar cichlid who is about 8 inches long and pretty docile. I am soon moving him to a larger tank hopefully 75 gallons but maybe 55. And i was wondering about some tank mates for him. <Not in the 55... too small> I am very interested in more South American cichlids. I have a particular interest in maybe getting a jack Dempsey? But i do know Jacks are pretty aggressive and territorial that's why i am consulting you guys. Another cichlid i was considering was a green terror but im not sure if the adult size of one could or would grow up to being as big as my Oscar because i have read that they only grow to be 8 inches in length. Lastly i was considering a blue Acara or a jaguar cichlid but my problem with these two are i have no idea how big they get. Could you please send me some helpful advice about this matter. Thank you <The Blue Acara will be/stay too small to be placed with the Oscar et al.... the others might be placed together in a larger system... introduced by using a divider twixt them for a few weeks, then being allowed to associate... with you present to separate again should there be troubles. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/neotropcichcompfaqs.htm and here http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscarcompfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Ornate Bichir; diet, social behaviour... now chatting re Neotrop. cichlid addn... send to BBs   8/7/08 The reply you sent was most helpful, thanks again. <Most welcome.> My sister saw a fish called "green terror" and took a liking to it. They were not very big, but I think big enough for the Ornate Bichir to leave it be. I know its a neotropical cichlid and it looks very much like the Jack Dempsey. According to your FAQ archive, it seems this fish is fairly aggressive? How big do they get and will they bother the Bichir? <The Green Terror is Aequidens rivulatus. It is a beautiful fish, but as its name suggests, extremely territorial and aggressive. Unlike most South American cichlids, this species is aggressive all year around, not just when spawning. So it tends to be kept with Central American cichlids. To be honest, no, I wouldn't recommend combining it with a Bichir. Bichirs are basically peaceful fish, and I've seen them pecked to death -- literally -- by things as seemingly harmless as Yellow Labs (Labidochromis caeruleus). Cichlids try to drive the Bichir away from "their patch" pecking away at their dorsal fins and lobe fins, leading to secondary infections. Bichirs aren't fast enough to swim away from danger. If you wanted a cichlid for the Bichir tank, look to large, non-aggressive species such as Oscars or even better Severums or geophagines (Eartheaters).> Thanks once again. <Cheers, Neale.>

Compatibility... Neotrop. cichlid   3-11-08 I would like to know if a small blue Acara will b ok with a group of 13 firemouths or have i put a cat amongst the pidgeons. <Firemouths (Herichthys meeki) are quite a bit more pushy than Blue Acara (Aequidens pulcher) but in a sufficiently large tank you should be OK. Given you have thirteen (!) Firemouths then I'm assuming you have a tank above 200 gallons in size. Anything less is obviously asking for trouble.> Also could u tell me how big a red zebra will grow <Pseudotropheus zebra gets to about 15 cm in length. Cheers, Neale.>

Compatibility with jd fry? - 1/17/08 Tankmates For Young Jack Dempsey's I have 4 jack Dempsey fry about 1 cm big in my 55 gal. hex tank. They are by themselves, What other fish can I put with them that they can grow up with? other than a baby plecostomus (sp?)? < At this size you can add other Central American cichlids that are about the same size. When the fish get about 10cm they may start to pair up. When they get ready to spawn they will drive all the other fish up away from the spawn. They may even kill the other fish and take over the entire tank.-Chuck>

? Cichlid... stkg.    12/31/07 Hi guys. Sorry to bother you once more, but I wanted to know what are fishes that are considered small? <Relative... to what?> Is it 3 inches and less? <Okay> If I have fast swimming fishes along with 3-4 inch fishes, can I keep them all with one jack Dempsey or one pearl cichlid? Sorry to bother you guys once more. Thanks for all your help. <More to Cichlid compatibility, stocking than size... Environments vary considerably in chemical, physical make-up... Psychological/temperaments... Best for you to read on the Net, some books on the families husbandry... You could start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind2.htm the third tray down. Bob Fenner>

Jack Dempseys in communities  12/30/07 Hello, I really wanted to get jack Dempsey cichlid but the online sources said they were aggressive. Is this true? <Yes. Do note that they are named after a famous boxer rather than, say, a Rudolph Nureyev or George Gershwin.> I have a community tank containing 3 neon tetras, 5 tinfoil barbs, 1 platy and 5 baby platy, 2 balloon molly, 2 swordtail, and 3 Plecos. <Apart from the Plecs, the rest of the fish here will likely be eaten, beaten up, chased, or killed.> I have a 50 gallon tank and I wanted to know if jack Dempseys are aggressive toward these fish. Also is territorial and aggressive the same thing. <Not always exactly the same, to be sure. But all territorial fish will be aggressive towards anything that swims into their territory. In some cases, the level of aggression is manageable. Angelfish guard territories about 30 cm in diameter and outside of breeding aren't overtly aggressive at all. Jack Dempseys, on the other hand, hold large territories and are much more aggressive even when not breeding.> Are fishes territorial only when you have an overcrowded tank? <Territoriality is innate and unrelated to crowding. In overcrowded tanks, you can prevent fish from creating territories, and therefore they don't become maximally aggressive. This is how Mbuna are often kept. But this doesn't mean the fish aren't aggressive, they are, but the aggression is at a lower level than otherwise. Still, this system isn't 100% reliable, and does depending on water quality being maintained very well. There's no point having fish that aren't killing each other but still die from nitrate poisoning.> Also, do you know any inexpensive cichlids that are not very aggressive and can be kept in a community aquarium? Thanks for all your help. <Lots and lots of options here. In big tanks, Oscars and Severums are both very good, as are Festivums if you can find them. Blue Acara also work very well. In smaller tanks, Pelvivachromis spp. ("Kribs") work very well, as do Keyhole Acara and Flag/Sheepshead Acara. Rams are not a good idea because they need very specific conditions to survive. In brackish water, Orange Chromides work very nicely, and will do well with Mollies (which prefer brackish/salt water over plain freshwater). You can also keep Labyrinth fish instead of cichlids: Ctenopoma and Microctenopoma are interesting and often fairly mild fish, assuming their tankmates aren't small enough to eat whole. Ctenopoma acutirostre, for example, is a very beautiful fish that thrives on a diet of chopped seafood, small earthworms, and frozen bloodworms. It is known as the "leopard bushfish" in the trade and is common and inexpensive. One of my personal favourites. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Jack Dempseys in communities 12/30/07 hi again, you mentioned that I could get an Oscar cichlid. I was thinking about getting this fish and the online sources also told me it was aggressive. Is it still okay to keep it with the fishes I have already? <Oscars are territorial when breeding, but are otherwise fairly placid when kept in quiet communities with other docile but big fish. They are routinely kept with things like Tinfoil barbs, large Gouramis, spiny eels, etc. They will of course eat anything small enough to swallow, so you'll have to be intelligent about choosing tankmates, and keep them with tankmates of equal size. Do be critical about "online sources". Anyone can publish anything on the Internet; books are recommended for inexperienced aquarists because the facts will have been edited and checked by experts before publishing. Likewise, most of us here at WWM have been published in books and magazines, so advice you get here is much more reliable than something scraped off a web page someplace. Cheers, Neale.>

Cichlid Fight 11/28/07 Hello Crew, I currently have 55g tank with 2 red parrots, 2 Severums and Pleco. My larger parrot is becoming extremely aggressive and I feel like my Severums under big stress all the time. I tried to add few danios(4) as a dither fish, but all cichlids just ignoring them (probably because of their small size). Could it be helpful to add few rainbows fish or giant danios? Do I have space for them? Should I decrease temperature( I have 80F. Little high, but my Severums get ich easily)? Thank you, Mark <Hello Mark. Cichlids are territorial, and there's nothing much you can do about it. While people like to sell Blood Red Parrots as "easy fish" that are "fun to keep" the sheer fact of the matter is that they are hybrid Central American cichlids, and Central American cichlids are renowned for their territoriality and aggression. Even a male Convict cichlid can monopolise a 55 gallon tank if he wants to. Severums are on the mild end of the aggression range outside of spawning, and in all honesty don't make good companions for Central American cichlids. In any case, adding dither fish (like Danios) won't make a blind bit of difference. Dither fish make cichlids feel more secure from predators. They do nothing to alter their territorial behaviour. Lowering the temperature will simply make the fish more prone to disease: cichlids like warm water. You're just in the classic situation: territorial male cichlids do not tolerate tankmates they consider threats. There's no obvious solution beyond re-homing some of the fish if you find the aggressive male is stressing or damaging its tankmates. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Cichlid Fight 11/28/07 Neale, Thanks for your quick respond. I do understand that nothing much I can do. But I think my larger parrot behavior little weird. He never bothers smaller parrot. I'd say it is backwards. My small parrot hiding all day in the cave and bites big one when he comes to close to him. Big parrot very loyal to small parrot and never answer back But he hates my Severums, especially smaller one. I love my Severums, but I don't want to get rid of my parrots because they are my first cichlids. I think I 'd leave everything the way how it is now. Thank you again, Mark <Hello Mark. Male territorial cichlids are most aggressive towards other cichlids they view as potential threats. If the smaller Parrot is a female, it is entirely likely the larger Parrot will tolerate her. But the Severums are not potential mates, so will be viewed different. The major problem with Parrots is they are hybrids. Hybrid fish are EXTREMELY unpredictable in terms of behaviour. So it's impossible to say exactly how things will turn out. The average Blood Parrot is too scrawny to win in a fight against a full-grown territory-holding Severum, but Severums aren't all that aggressive outside of breeding, and are easily bullied by smaller, more snappy fish. As you say, one option is to wait and see what happens. But if you find split fins and scratch-marks on the jaws, that means there's fighting, and you *will* have to separate them. Anything else will be unfair. Cheers, Neale.>

Jaguar cichlid Tank Mates for Large Central American Cichlid - 11/26/07 Hey crew, Thanks for all the help in the past! I have a quick question about the fish I have right now (not urgent) I have a Pleco and a Jaguar cichlid (5") in a 100 gallon tank and want to know what are appropriate tankmates for "Fat Mike"? I've always had South American cichlids and love the personality they bring to my home. This is my second Jaguar so I know how aggressive they can be and how big they can get but my tank is bare! Is there any fish I can keep with it? How big does it have to be and how aggressive? I've had Jewel cichlids so I know that size doesn't always matter (no pun intended). I want to have an aquarium that is pleasing to the eye but don't want to overcrowd anyone or hurt any new tankmates. In the past, the Jaguar was always much smaller than the other fish in the tank so there wasn't a problem. Now my fish is king of the tank and I have the problem. I'm almost ready to turn him/her in for some Labs or Mbunas so I can show off my tank but he/she has become part of the family. (I've had it since about 3/4 inch) Any ideas would be great! Thanks for all your help! Britt < Large cichlids soon developed their own personality. Alone in a big tank he will think the entire tank belongs to him. Any new fish will soon be chased unless it fights back. You can try a cichlid of a similar size and hope he fights back enough to hold his own. The new cichlid may be too much and he will dominate the tank. The other approach is to add lots of dither fish like silver dollars, giant danios or rainbow fish. The idea is to flood the tank with fast moving fish so he doesn't have time to chase them all. Eventually he may give up and they may all live in peace.-Chuck

Cichlids fight, neotropicals   11/1/07 Hi crew, I have 55 g tank with 5 fish in it: 2 parrots (about 4 in and 2 in), 2 Severums (about 3 in and 2.5 in) and Pleco (about 4 in). My smaller parrot and smaller Severum are fighting all the time. So far no damage. <Yet. Your specimens are mere babies.> Should I worry what's going to happen in future? <Yes. Parrot Cichlids are "crippled" thanks to the way they have been bred, and come off worse in fights with stronger, more belligerent cichlid species. Severums tend to be fairly mild, and these fish might settle down. But a Severum is a big, strong fish and when aroused can be quite formidable. So definitely keep an eye on things.> Is my tank overstocked? <Technically, no, it's fine. But the problem with cichlids is that a territorial male cichlid of really anything other than a dwarf variety will view a 55 gallon tank as its home. In the wild, something like a Severum will be holding a patch of space about 1 metre in diameter. Only the largest home aquaria provide that sort of space, so in most cases we are imposing on the tolerance of the territory-holding cichlid. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. A lot of it comes down to the personality of the fish involved, but things like line-of-sight and decoration matter too. A tank with a lot of hiding places and plastic plants to obscure the vision of each fish will be quieter than an open tank where all the fish can see each other all the time.> Any suggestion? <For now, keep an eye on things. Use plastic plants, flower pots, rocky caves, bogwood, etc to create a complex environment that allows each fish to define its territory without being on top of another fish. Look out for early signs of serious aggression: missing scales, torn fins, scratches on the mouth from wrestling. One other thing is food: go easy on the live food, and don't use feeder fish (if you use them at all). There's some anecdotal evidence that live foods (especially feeder fish) seem to bring out latent aggression more than things like pellets and vegetable foods. Possibly an abundance of live food in the wild is the trigger for the start of the breeding season, so by providing too-rich a diet in the aquarium we are telling the male fish to become more territorial.> Thank you for your help. Mark <Good luck, Neale>

55 gallons stocking, FW   8/27/08 Hi, Crew Currently I have 55 gallons tank with 2 parrots and 2 severums. Do I have space to add 3 silver dollars to this tank or it's to much? <Too much... the 55 may be too small for the cichlids alone in time, particularly should reproduction be on someone's mind...> Thank you, Mark <Welcome. BobF>

UV sterilizers, New world Cichlid Companions  8/16/07 Hi Crew, <Hello,> i would like to ask your opinion on the following questions. <OK.> 1) I am living in a very hot climate (Greece) and as a result every summer my fish suffer from excessive heat. Aerating the water and doing partial water changes with cold water do not seem to help, as the water quickly rises to 33 degrees Celsius after every water change. As far as i am aware, hot water increases the chances of bacterial infections. <No, these things aren't really connected. In fact, with most tropical fish, it's the reverse: cold conditions cause infections. What too-hot water will do is reduce the concentration of oxygen, and it is THAT which stresses the fish and allows them to get sick more easily. Increasing the aeration in an very warm tank helps here.> So i was thinking of 2 ways of dealing with the problem. I) I could add a water chiller or II) i could add a UV sterilizer to control bacterial spores. <The first solution would work well, but would be expensive. The second solution would not work at all. UV sterilisation helps, yes, but if the conditions are fundamentally dangerous for the fish, the fish will get sick anyway. You can't possibly remove all the bacteria from the water.> As far as i know, water chillers are much more expensive than UV sterilizers. <Yes and no. Commercial chillers are expensive. But DIY versions are not. For these, all you need is an old fridge. The "mini-bar" kind work great. Drill a couple of holes in the thing, and then wind a few metres of hose through it. Connect one end to a filter pump (e.g., the outflow from a canister filter) and stick the other end in the aquarium. A cheap and cheerful chiller! An even cheaper solution is this: ice. Get a couple of 1- or 2-litre ice cream tubs, the plastic kind. Clean and fill with water. Put the lid on. Freeze. When the water gets too hot (over 30C) put one of these in the aquarium. Over the next few hours it will thaw, drawing heat from the aquarium. When it has melted, put it in the freezer, and replace with the other tub. Repeat as required. While not a perfect solution, this system is very effective if the "hot season" is only a few weeks in summer. It also has the virtue of being very cheap!> So, taking into account the fact that i do not keep overly sensitive fish (my 100L tank is stocked with Firemouths and a Glyptoperichthys Joselimaianus), i think that the addition of a UV sterilizer is a better investment. If you agree on this, i would like to ask the preferred design-specifications of a UV sterilizer appropriate for a 100 L tank. (power, high-low pressure, flow rate etc) <I wouldn't bother. Far far better to cool down the tank, increase evaporation (which also cools down the tank), and increase the aeration. Alternatively, choose species tolerant of very warm water. Discus, clown loaches, gouramis, angelfish, Apistogramma, etc. are all fish that thrive in water around 30C. On the other hand, avoid anything borderline tropical or subtropical, like peppered/bronze Corydoras, danios, many barbs, some tetras, etc.> 2) Currently the tank is stocked only with a Leopard Pleco, but i am planning to add a Firemouth soon. I was also thinking of adding a Blue Acara (Aequidens Pulcher) and i would like to ask your opinion on the compatibility of these 2 species. From my experience adding two (or more) male Firemouths in the tank is a pure disaster (i have tried to keep 4 of them in the same tank but they were overly aggressive). I know that cichlids tend to be particularly aggressive towards conspecifics, so my thought is that if i added an Acara, i could be able to keep their aggression under control. <I personally wouldn't mix South American and Central American cichlids. There are certainly exceptions of course, but in general Central Americans tend to be more territorial and a lot more aggressive than South Americans. To some degree, this all depends on aquarium space. In a 100 litre tank, my guess is you have NO chance of getting these fish to coexist. An adult male firemouth cichlids will simply view the entire tank as its territory. Even in a 200 litre tank, I doubt it would work out. Personally, I'd look for something in the "dwarf cichlid" market if you want multiple species. This would also leave you space to add midwater fish. On the other hand, you might try looking at some of the unusual Anabantoidea instead of the cichlids. Climbing perch (Anabas, Ctenopoma, and Microctenopoma) include some superb species most of which are very tolerant of warm water because they can breathe air.> I am looking forward to hear your comments. Thank you in advance Spyros <I hope this helps, Neale>

Gold Oscar and banded severums... Mis-mixed Cichlid "system"  5/17/07 Hi guys... <Sujay> keep referring to your site whenever i have any trouble with my fish.... i must say that you guys do a really wonderful job and sometimes i just end up spending loads of time because its so interesting reading. <Me too!> Fortunately (touch wood) till now i haven't really ever had a problem so big that i needed to write in.... unfortunately, there is always a first time, i guess.... I recently got myself a 450 litre tank, (which i think would translate to approximately about a 100 gallons or more though i am not too sure of the conversion)... <Easy to do on the Net...> and have been procuring fish to fill the tank with... <I don't "like" the wording here... nor the implied philosophy> yesterday i got myself a "golden Oscar".... am not too sure of the species <All Oscars are the same species, Astronotus ocellatus, http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=3612&genusname=Astronotus&speciesname=ocellatus> since i have never seen one of these before, not even on the internet... its been about 24 hrs since i have him, and initially he was shy and hiding, but now he's quite active... he's about 7" long including fins and has started chasing the smaller tiger barbs in my tank... <These last will be consumed... these fishes are NOT compatible> as a matter of fact, 2 have gone missing since last night, but i could credit that to my other fish- 2 5" firemouths or the jaguar.... <...> he seems pretty active... sometimes he's shy, which i think is normal for Oscars, especially since he's new, but he swims about when he feels like and like i said he's started making a dash a the smaller fish... they're too fast for him but i don't know how his predatory habits are with the light out... the problem is that firstly, he hasn't eaten much since i have gotten him... maybe i shouldn't worry since he came in last evening only, but its been three meal times (!?!)... <Not to worry. Not atypical behavior for a newly introduced Cichlid> he comes up looks at the food and then wont eat....i feed them quite a variety- from flakes to blood worms to tetra vegetable  flakes as well as tetra bits and smaller pellets and stick food... usually mix them up and feed it to the fish- holistic diet.... but he doesn't want anything.... <Try worms of some size, insect larvae... eventually will eat all types of foods> today i noticed that he's picking up a sort of whitish film/ coating on the centre of the surface of his eyes... <Likely consequent from netting, moving... Do you have appreciable nitrogenous waste present?> the right side is worse than the left... he's got big froggy eyes and they show out against it... i did not notice this earlier (maybe cos i wasn't paying attention)... i don't know if this is related to his not eating... both of these are causing concern to me... please advise <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwenvdisfaqs.htm and the linked files above> Along with the Oscar i have 2 banded severums as well... they came a day before him... they're always lying around and their colours keep changing depending on when you seem them... <You should now and get in the habit of reading re the issues of Compatibility and Systems for the livestock you have, and are considering purchasing... Likely the Severums and Firemouths will suffer from being mixed with the Jaguar and Oscar...> they range from grey to white and when they are white one can see redness on their bodies... the tank has a good number of plants <These also will go> and rocks and its not always easy to keep an eye on them.... but both the severums seem to be very shy.... <Is their nature> initially they were okay, hiding behind leaves... though sometimes they would suddenly swim the length of the entire tank... today though one of them has been lying on his side forever.... he came up when the food was "served" but i didn't really notice him eat anything... and he' gone back to lying on his side.... he doesn't breathe labouredly and once ina while when you see them swimming you think they are perfectly fine... am bit confused... i have 2 gold severums, and i am aware that these are generally shy fish, but i have never seen fish behave this way before.... its quite confusing and i don't know if there is reason to panic or not...!! please advise warm regards Sujay <I advise you to get/read a few books on Cichlid husbandry... And to investigate before buying... You've already set yourself up for trouble here. Bob Fenner> Re: gold Oscar and banded severums... Reading/using WWM   5/18/07 Hi Bob... <Sujay> thanks for the advice and the prompt response. <Welcome> I guess you are right regarding "mis-mixed cichlid system"... Have tried to read as much as i can before i bought/ buy my fish... most of it is off the net and i haven't yet found a very holistic and informed approach i can adopt... <The Net... isn't "quite there" re many topics as yet...> also, since its the first time i am keeping fish/ cichlids i want to observe and make judgments first-hand as much as possible... <A very hard way to learn... especially for your livestock> my jaguar is way smaller than the others, almost half the size of the severums and around a third of the size of the Oscars... honestly, the most aggressive fish i have in the tank right now are the firemouths and they haven't really attacked anyone as yet, though they do keep chasing the others once in a while... <Only a matter of time here> My Oscar has become quite active... initially i never really fancied these fish much but the more i notice him the more interesting he seems... the severums disturb no one and no one disturbs them... but one of them still keeps lying around all the time and the red rash on his side wont go... is this a normal coloration?!! <Mmm, no... is a stress response...> The red rash looks like clay off a tennis clay court which is smeared over one side of him... have never seen the other side honestly... The white on the Oscar's eye remains... its not grown anymore, but neither has it decreased... <Read on WWM re...> I am wondering whether i should medicate the fish with salt? Also, since i buy stuff from the pet store, i don't knew what the medication i buy contains... I buy this brand called "rid all"... i don't know if you guys use the same thing there... and you products called "general aid", "anti-ich", anti-anchor worm... but i don't know which of these are effective against either bacteria, fungus, protozoa or something specific like this... Please advise again warm regards.... Sujay <Please learn to/use the search tool, indices on WWM... There is too much to relate to you (in time) in this going back and forth fashion. BobF>

Will Cichlids consume small fish, like Danios?   4/11/07 Hi, <Hi.> my name is Christine, <I'm Adam.> and I was wondering if dither fish (Danios and the like) would just get eaten by my cichlids or if they would help reduce aggression between them. <They will almost without a doubt be immediately attacked and consumed. And...while there isn't a broad agreement on this; many aquarists believe feeding live foods encourages territorial behavior and aggression in tankmates.> I have a 55 gallon fish tank (will be upgrading to a 125 gallon VERY soon) <Good.> which has a 10" Jaguar cichlid, a 8" Red Devil, and a 6-7" Jack Dempsey, with a 9" Common Pleco, and a 7-8" Striped Raphael. The Jag. is (of course) the top dog of the tank, then the Red Devil and then the Jack Dempsey with the catfish. Would dither-fish actually help reduce the aggression or just be food, or both? <Most likely just be a relatively quick snack.> Thanks a bunch, and love your site!! <Adam J.>

Cryptoheros sajica sel. -- 03/18/07 Hello Crew, <Old G> Just out of curiosity. Do any of you know where I could get 2 Cryptoheros sajica online? I have looked in my surrounding area and almost everywhere I can think of online, but I cannot seem to find any. I went to Jeff Rapps' website but shipping from his area to me is really expensive.   Thank You <Mmm, "catch as catch can"... I'd contact some folks on the American Cichlid Association re who might have some T-Bar Cichlids for sale. Bob Fenner>

Floating plants and cichlids  - 03/02/07 I have a 29gal tank I am putting back up. I will be putting a few smaller central American cichlids in it to practice keeping them. In the future I am gonna get a 125gal tank which will house 1 jack Dempsey, 1 green terror, 1 convict and a few other smaller central American cichlids. I use fake plants cause these fish like to uproot and redecorate as you know. <Oh yes> I would like to keep 1 real floating plant in it. It looks nice, it is supposed to help with oxygen, ammonia, nitrates, etc.... <Yes> Plus I think it might help shy fish swim in higher surface levels of the tank. My question is which floating plant would work with water conditions of the fish I want. I want something that is manageable that I can control I don not want something that will take control and totally cover the whole tank and become a problem. I figured the fish would probably eat some of it too. If I cant find something small and easy I will get a plastic floating plant but I would like a real one. thanks...frank... <Mmm, my vote goes for Hornwort, Ceratophyllum sp... as being tough, unpalatable, floating... liking similar water quality. Bob Fenner>

Pimelodid Cat and Neotrop. Cichlid comp.  2/22/07 Hello, I have a 30 gallon with a pictus catfish, that is about 3 inches, I would like to have a pair of convicts or a pair of fire mouths. Do you think these two species will be ok together? Thank you for your time. Miriam <Mmm... likely either cichlid species would mix, get along here. If it were up to me, I'd likely choose the Firemouths... as the Convicts are much more likely to spawn... get feisty with the Catfish if so. Bob Fenner>

Tips For Keeping Large Cichlids    2/16/07 I received your last e-mail and was a little disappointed that the answer I was looking for could not be found.  I understand that I placed a new Green Terror in with highly aggressive fish, but I also heard that Green Terrors knew how to fend for themselves.  I named mine Wimpy. When I first placed my Pike in with the Jaguar, Red Devil, Jack Dempsey, and Convicts, the Pike (being of similar size) made it perfectly clear that he was not scared of jack %$#&! Sorry if that is not acceptable on your web page, but it's the truth. I assumed things would be similar with the Green Terror, but no such luck. So here's the thing.  I already asked this question but received no clear answer.  If I trade in my Green Terror for another fish, what types of fish should I consider, that are aggressive enough to protect themselves. Oh, and I'm not quite sure what size my tank is, it's actually my boyfriends (he's in jail so I can't ask him either), but it's really big, and there are a lot of plants and rocks to hide in. In fact, I think there is too much extra space and I should buy more fish. Will ponder this idea a little longer though.  Also, you said that it was a bad idea to feed them feeder fish...I don't quite understand why.  I've read that those types of fish ~love~live food. I've also been feeding them Tubifex worms, and cichlid pellets, is this wrong as well? Please educate me on what is appropriate food for my cichlids.  Thank you. -Marie < All cichlids are territorial to some degree. When ever you add a new fish to a cichlid tank he needs to be big and strong enough to establish a territory. Sometimes this means he needs to take one away from another fish. Most of the time the fish that already in the tank will be the winner. The loser new fish is soon pushed around by all the fish and gets beaten up in the meantime. The best way is to start with a group of smaller fish and try to raise them all together. Smaller fish can inflict less damage and they soon establish a pecking order and the tank stays relatively peaceful. Older fish are already set in their ways and have teeth that can inflict damage. It is much more difficult to mix bigger and older cichlids. Larger fish are usually offered as trade-ins to fish stores so you will probably have fish like Oscars as the most common choices. The green terror was not a bad choice. It just needs to be bigger than the other fish. Next time when you add a new fish you need to move all the rocks and ornaments around, add the new fish and turn off the lights for the night. In the morning all the fish will be busy trying to establish territories and the new fish will have a chance as all the fish compete with one another. You have a very large tank. Feeder fish carry diseases that can be transmitted to your aquarium. To successfully treat your aquarium could cost you 40$/50$/60$ on medications  depending on its size. Feeder fish are a disposable commodity and are fed just enough food to barely keep them alive. They have very little nutritional value. A better choice would be a good quality sinking pellet. Live foods such as earthworms, crickets, mealworms, waxworms and kingworms probably would all be relished by your fish. Just feed once a day and make sure that all of it is eaten in a couple of minutes.-Chuck>

Hey there WWM Crew. Neotrop. Cichlid... comp.  - 02/15/07 You probably get this question all of the time, but I'm going to ask it anyway.  Why is my Green Terror getting pushed around?  I have him in a tank of other South American Cichlids, such as the Jack Dempsey, Red Devil, Jaguar, and Pink/Black Convicts. <Some aggressive animals now!> I did have a Pike as well, but for some odd reason he died shortly after I began feeding them feeder fish <Not a good idea... see WWM re... disease et al. issues here...> from PetCo.  Should I blame Petco, or is this common? <...?> Anyway back to the subject.  Feeling sorry for myself after the loss of my Pike, I bought a Green Terror Cichlid.  But the other fish I mentioned above are bullying him. <Last fish introduced amongst very territorial species... is this really surprising?> I heard through the grapevine that Green Terrors were fierce and aggressive, but all mine does is cower in the corner, even though his size is equal to most of the other fish in my tank.  I know a fish store that trades fish, is there another fish that would do better in my tank, because I don't want to see the Green Terror cowering all the time.  Also note that my jaguar is the smallest fish in my tank, and I know that when he gets big enough I will most likely have to move him to an isolated tank to keep my other fish safe.  Although my dad (also a huge fan of South American Cichlids) tells me all the time that he used to have a huge jaguar, Red Devil, and Pike that lived together (constantly fighting over territories however).  He stands firm in his opinion that a big enough Red Devil and Pike would be durable enough to keep with the Jaguar.  I've only been to your site once, but you guys seemed highly informed, please e-mail me back with your input at <... Mmm, time for you to do a bit of look, see, reading... re all these species... on Fishbase.org re their sizes... Do you have a hundred gallon plus system? If not... trouble now... deaths ahead... Read on WWM re neotropical cichlid systems, selection. Bob Fenner>

Jaguar tank   12/28/06 Thinking about putting together a 300g tank and including jaguar cichlids in it. <Parachromis managuensis, gorgeous animals... bringing back memories of an old friend, Guy Jordan, and his... "Pablo" here> I have a few ideas, but figure I'll tap into your collective experiences to see what all you think I can put in there as well and at what densities? Thanks <... Are quite aggressive species... I encourage you to consider a biotopic presentation... to study re the range of this species (see fishbase.org) and use this site to further investigate other life found in its habitat... Seek out these species... especially larger Catfishes of interest, possibly some larger, fast Characoids. Bob Fenner> Companions For A Firemouth Cichlid  12/23/06 Hi crew, I have a 100L tank running for almost 2 years. It is currently populated with one male Firemouth (4.5cm) and a leopard Pleco (4cm). I used to keep a group of 4 male Firemouths but the 3 of them died. I must note that as long as all 4 of them were alive, they seemed to get along quite well with one another. When the 1st of them died, their stress level increased and the biggest fish started chasing the other 2. Things got even worse when only 2 of them were left. I have read that cichlids in general tend to be aggressive especially towards their conspecifics (or similar species in size and coloration). I am thus thinking of adding a male blue Acara instead. What size should I search for? Should the Acara be bigger or smaller than the Firemouth? What other species is the Firemouth compatible with? Do you think that apart from the 2 cichlids I should add smaller community fish (or dither fish perhaps)? I am looking forward to your reply Thanks a lot Spyros <Firemouths are not the most aggressive cichlid but they can still be tough for other fish to get along with. Lower the water temp to 75 F. Get a blue Acara, Firemouth, convict, jewelfish or rainbow cichlid around the same size. Move all the rocks and ornaments to new locations, add the new fish and then turn out the lights for the night. In the morning they will be sorting out the pecking order and begin to establish their own territories. Add a group of giant danios or rainbows as dither fish to give the tank some movement.-Chuck>

Oscar tankmates    11/29/06 I have a 75 gallon tank with one Nicaraguan cichlid, one blue Acara, and one cutteri.   I am moving my daughter's Oscar( about 8 inches ) to the 75 gallon tank. Can I keep all the fish in the tank or do I need to get rid of some of the fish.  If so, which ones to keep and which ones not.  My concern is with water quality. Thanks Larry <You are wise to consider this before moving this fish... It may well be that these fishes will get along... but I would keep an ever-vigilant eye on the larger species... particularly the Oscar amongst what you list. Water quality issues can be avoided by having sufficient filtration and doing weekly water changes (up to 25%) combined with gravel vacuuming. Bob Fenner>

Neotropical Cichlid Sys... cramming them in sideways!   10/2/06 Hello, <Hi> I have a 24 gallon cichlid tank with a Uaru at 4 inches, a blue Acara  at 2, 2 Firemouth cichlids at 2 inches, a gold Severum at 3 inches, a green Severum at 1 and a half and an upside catfish a 6 inches. I was  wondering how many more cichlids can I fit in my tank? <None.  You've got some big fish in there- the Uaru can reach 12" in length, the blue Acara around 8", the Firemouths 7", and the Severums 8" or so.  These are all fairly aggressive fishes, so the risk of fighting increases when they grow.  I think you are already overstocked (anticipating for the future), so I'd suggest you save your dollars for a larger tank - perhaps a 55 or 75? Thanks <You're welcome.  Please be sure to do your research on how large a fish gets before purchasing it and bringing it home. Jorie>

Re: Neotropical Cichlid Sys... cramming them in sideways!   10/2/06 I... <Next time, please send your e-mails with proper capitalization, punctuation and spelling - otherwise I have to take time out to re-type them...I did it this time because it was a short one, but in the future, please be considerate that a human on the other end needs to re-write these types of e-mails for posting on our FAQ site...> ...was going to get blue Acara, green Severum or gold Severum when I make up my mind on what one to get; I am getting a 40g tank in a few months so would that be OK? To get one of them? <A 40 gal. is better than the 24 you have now for sure, but I'd still hold off until the ones you have grow a bit.  How old are your current fish - sounds as though they are still quite young and growing...if at all possible, see you can at least get a 50 gal. tank, or perhaps even a 75...you'd be able to get a few more for sure then. If you do decide to add one more, I'd highly recommend waiting until you actually have the new tank - sometimes the best intentions can be thwarted by unforeseen circumstances. Best of luck, Jorie> Keeping Cichlids with L. fasciatus   9/30/06 Hello Crew, Excellent web site and I look at it a lot. Great work. I am a cichlid lover from Moscow. I currently have in my 175gal: 1 `6 GT 1 `5 Oscar 2 `3 Cons 1 `3 Pink Con 5 `4 Silver Dollars 1 `7 Pleco 2 `3 Hemichromis bimaculatus Once upon a time I kept 6 red bellied piranhas in a 120 gallon tank with Leporinus fasciatus (Picture attached) <Mmm, nope. RMF>. To my surprise this tiger colour fish (don't know the common name) is described in many books as a peaceful fish, but I noticed on the contrary, and its indeed a very aggressive fish to the extent that even piranhas didn't mess with it. The question  is whether I may keep Leporinus fish again and do not have any idea of whether its a good thing to do by putting it with my above mentioned cichlids? Any suggestions will be appreciated. I really want to keep this fish again. Cheers < Most of the literature refers to smaller fish. Larger Leporinus can get up to over a foot long and are very fast swimmers. Your Oscar and green terror are big enough to handle him but not fast enough to fend him off. The Leporinus will not back down from your cichlids and may cause problems.-Chuck> Mixing Malawi Cichlids With South American Cichlids   9/19/06 I am about acquire a Jack Dempsey from a friend, and I would to tankmate him with a African Lake Malawi.  Both of these fish are aggressive I know this , and was just wondering about compatibility,? Also  My Malawi is currently in a 55 gallon tank with 2 Black Red tail Sharks, an Albino Red Tail( somewhat smaller than the other 2), a "Camouflage" Loach, and a catfish of sorts I am unsure.  I also had a Severum (spelling?) in the tank and had moved him to a separate quarantine tank for treatment of Ick, after he got well I moved him back, and the Malawi has been ruthless with his attacks, I have since placed the Severum into a spawn cage for his protection, what is going on!!?? PS  the same Malawi is in question for the JD arrival < Most Lake Malawi cichlids available in stores are referred to as Mbuna. These are rock dwelling cichlids that make a living defending territories so they can scrape algae off of the rocks. In the aquarium they pretty much claim the entire tank sometimes. They are very fast and have very sharp teeth. New World cichlids often can't keep up and are soon chewed up.-Chuck>

Jack Dempsey vs. Arowana   9/19/06 Hello, Best site I've come across!!! < Thanks for your kind words.> I'm a new aquarist, so this may seem like a silly question. I have a 30g freshwater tank with a 6 in. Jack D. that is quite interesting. I feed him all sorts of food & he is aggressive when feeding. I really want an Arowana, but have read how aggressive they are. I plan to start a 150g in about 6 months. Do you think this might work? Thanks for any info-Joe    < Am afraid the Jack Dempsey may not tolerate the Arowana and may harm him. This will be up to the individual temperament of the Jack Dempsey.-Chuck>

Mixing Big Neotropical Cichlids  - 09/02/06 Hi. I have a 4' x 1.5' x 1.5' tank, I'm not sure what that is in gallons, US or UK. I would like to get 1 or 2 South American cichlids to put in the tank, which currently houses 2 common plecs, 1 leopard Plec and 1 Senegal Bichir. However I am unsure whether my tank is large enough to house 2 large cichlids. I would like to get one green terror and one red terror and was wondering whether these would be compatible with one another, and if so which genders would be most compatible, and would it be best to start with them both small. If these are not compatible can you recommend any large cichlids that would be compatible to brighten up my tank?? Many thanks and kind regards Charlotte <Both of these cichlids get big and are very aggressive. That is probably why they have terror in their name. One would work for awhile. When they get larger they get very territorial and all the fish would be at risk of being damaged. A Geophagus type or Severum would be a better choice.-Chuck> Adding A Blue Acara   8/27/06 I have an 30g tank with a Uaru cichlid 5", 2 Firemouths 2", a green Severum 2", upside down cat 6" and a Pleco at 7 inches. I was wondering could I put a blue  Acara in with them, because it seems there is lots of space? I am looking to get  a bigger tank in a few weeks. Thanks < The blue Acara can be a little aggressive so get one around 2" so it will not bully the others around. The Uaru and Severum will get up around 10", the Firemouths may get up to 6 " if they are males. The blue Acara will get up to about 6". With good water quality and proper care you should be needing a 55 gallon or larger within a year.-Chuck>

Texas cichlid worries, incomp. with Red Devil    7/13/06 My 5 inch Texas Cichlid has a small growth behind its eye. At first, it was only a raised bump, but now it has turned into a light-brown nodule. I thought that it was an injury from a fight with my Red Devil. <Could likely be. These two will definitely tussle> They have been acting weird lately. They swim around each other with their mouths wide open. Then they each try to bite the other's mouth. They rarely bite anything else other than each other's mouth. I also have a foot-long red-bellied Pacu, and two very small Firemouths. <Hope this tank is hundreds of gallons...> My other fish don't get involved in their squabbles. He still eats fine and swims normally. I just want to cure the issue if it is possible. I don't want to infect my other fish with a fatal disease.                                                 Thank You,                                                                   Al <I would separate these two cichlids... likely move the Red Devil to its own permanent set-up... they may be trying to breed... happens... Or just sorting things out territorially. At any length, this won't improve w/o their separation. Bob Fenner>

South American Cichlid Compatibility - 06/06/2006 Hi there.   I have a 55 gallon tank (with a Marineland magnum 350 wet/dry filter) that has been cycled and now has 2 x 2.5" green terrors, 1 x 3" Texas cichlid, 1 x 2.5" turquoise Severum and 1 x 2.5" salvini cichlid.  I realize I'm going to be a little overstocked relatively soon if not already.  Ideally, how many cichlids can I keep in a 55 gallon as I really have no room to expand to anything larger. <Given the ultimate size of all the fish involved, I'd stick with EITHER the two terrors (if they are opposite genders) and no other fish, OR the other three and consider a school of small-ish dither fish and LOTS of plants.> (Green terrors are new and can still be returned :-)  )   I didn't realize green terrors could get so big as the signs at PetSmart indicated they max out at 6 inches.   <They get *quite* large.  I would be somewhat uncomfortable with an adult pair in a 55, though it would be do-able.> The dynamic in the tank is fine right now but I'm obviously concerned that it's going to be a fight club in a few more months. <It will take time, but ultimately, yes, there will eventually be some aggression issues.> Thanks for any help.  Jeremy. <Glad to be of service.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Adding Fish To a Pair of Convicts - 05/05/2006 Hello, I've been browsing your website over the past few months and I've been able to pull tons of helpful information, probably more than I need.  Thank you.  As a novice hobbyist I share information, tips, hints with friends and local pet shop stores.  As you probably could figure the information and "facts" are often inconsistent and also don't match to my experience so far, let me get to the point.  I have a 20g tank currently with a 5" pink convict (male) a 4"black (striped) convict (female) and about 15 pink and striped 1" inch adolescence convicts (obviously).  I originally inherited the convict when I didn't realize what I was in for and he promptly destroyed the Gourami a had.  Anyway after some failed others including a large red devil (yikes that was a disaster) the store owner talked me into the striped convicts to which I bought about six and kept only one (giving the other to a friend.  My first instinct after they had fry was to remove them but after inheriting a 55g I decided to hold off.  Now I'm getting ready.  I just purchases a Fluval 304 canister filter and I'm picking up a stand so I can fill the tank and prepare the water and I'm trying to decide what to do.  I would like some variation.  I was thinking about a Jack Dempsey or some other cichlids maybe 2 more of similar size.  My other thought was, should I remove the female.  I was already planning on getting rid of the young convicts in the tank.  Will the male and female just become too territorial if I introduce other cichlids.  I appreciate your advice as your site has been the most helpful in my hobby thus far.  Any tips on this set up, compatibility with my convict including any other fish that may make the tank more interesting.  I like the adaptability of the convict and wanted fish equally as adaptive.  Thank you. Tim < A breeding pair of convicts do require space. You need other big aggressive fish or fast fish. They will probably take over at least 1/2 of the 55 gallon. Jack Dempsey's, Firemouths, jewelfish, port Acaras, would all be worth a try. Large groups of schooling fish like rainbows or giant danios would keep them busy for awhile too. Stay away from using African cichlids from Lake Malawi. they are very fast and have sharp teeth that can inflict lots of damage.-Chuck> Red Devil Tankmates   03/9/06 I have had my red devil for years in a tank by herself with just a nice size Botia. Originally I bought 2 but this 1 killed the other unfortunately, and I just left the tank alone. Its a 20 gallon tank but to get to the point do you think I would be able to put a nice size Texas cichlid in there ''both fish around 8 in''? Im afraid to add fish to the tank. Also, any color enhancing tricks I can try?  She's bright yellow and used to be orange. I saw all the other questions so I figured  I would give it a shot. Thank you for your time. Garrett Deleandro < Unfortunately, large Central American cichlids like yours get to be very territorial when they get older and are usually intolerant of other fish. I would recommend that you not add any other fish to the tank. There is a reason it is called a red devil.-Chuck> Oscar/Texas cichlid I have a 3" albino tiger Oscar and a Texas cichlid in a tank together. I was wondering if these are suitable tank mates. I have heard that the Texas cichlid is very mean and might kill the Oscar, but so far it seems to be the opposite. The Texan just kinda hangs around the bottom and sometimes when the Oscar sees him he will chase him for a bit, but quickly loses interest. They don't seem to mind each other for the most part. They are currently in a 29G but I'm planning to upgrade to a 60G before too long. I've heard some people say they are good together, and some say they don't mix. So I guess I'm a tad confused. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Also I was wondering if you had any info on the Texan because there are barely any on any sites I can find. All I know is that he is the coolest looking freshwater fish I have seen thus far. Thanks for your time. <As far as water parameters go these fish should be fine together. The chasing you are seeing is most likely because of territorial disputes, especially if the Oscar is larger or was in the tank before you added the Texas. They need to be moved into the larger tank ASAP and once they get large you may find yourself needing an even larger tank to prevent the fighting. To find more WebPages on the Texas, do a search for the species name Herichthys cyanoguttatus or the more common name Rio Grande cichlid. Ronni>

Re: Freshwater Pufferfish & Firemouth Cichlids Thank you again for the last email but I was wondering if I could put only 1 or 2 freshwater Pufferfish in 50 gal tank with the Firemouth cichlids.  The particular puffer I was thinking about was Indian Dwarf Puffer mainly because they don't require any brackish water. <You might be able to get by with these but they will most likely become bite-sized morsels for your Cichlids because they reach a maximum size of only about 1' and your Cichlids are going to reach around 7'. Ronni>

Re: Firemouth Compatibility I have 50 gal tank with 6 Firemouth cichlids in it and was wondering what other fish I could add without them being killed by the Firemouths. <Really, you're pretty close to the maximum fish load for this tank.> I was looking at adding some Severums, <These require a much lower Ph than your Firemouths> some black sharks <These can get over 3 feet long and will be way too big for your tank> or jack Dempseys <These can get close to 12' long and will be too big unless you had just one or two of these and nothing else.> and need some advice on what type of fish would work good in the tank. <Do some research at www.wetwebmedia.com and also at www.fishbase.org but I really wouldn't recommend adding anything else to this tank. Ronni>

Cichlids Hi, I just got my 29gallon up and running with a 2'' Jack Dempsey, a 3 1/2'' Oscar and a 3 1/2'' Pleco. I plan to upgrade to a 125gallon in at the least 4months... <You'll definitely need this larger tank. Also, this is really too much of a fish load for a new tank. You should have allowed the tank to cycle (probably with just a few goldfish) before adding any of these guys.> At the moment they are all doing very good...I happen to have my heart set on a green terror about 2'' at the pet store. Could I try adding him? <I wouldn't recommend it until you get the larger tank. You'll be asking for trouble putting him in this size tank with those others.> If so how long is the min. to upgrade their tank? <Even without him the longest they'll be able to be kept in the 29 is another month or two.> At the moment I have a good filter/aeration, use the gravel vac and change water daily (ammonia is 1.5 working on lowering). <Yes, you definitely need to get the ammonia down and soon.> Also when I do get the 125g going what would be some good tankmates? (non cichlids) I was wanting maybe some bottom feeders and top surface fish all native to either C/S America. thx in advance <Anything you add is going to need to get fairly large and be at least semi-aggressive. If you get the Green Terror I wouldn't recommend adding much if anything else. All of the fish you have get quite large (the Green Terror will be the smallest and can be 8 inches!) Do some reading at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm about setting up and cycling new tanks and the types of fish you want to keep. Ronni>

Blue Acara and Oscars <Hello! Ryan with you!> ...after all, I could not let you live in peace, free of my harassment for too long. <Never know if you never ask...> Anyway, this is the situation: I started my Oscars out  last winter in the 55 gallon tank, figuring I would move them into a large tank in about nine months, but one of them, the red one, grew like Jack's proverbial beanstalk and so, in April, I bought a used 90 gallon tank and moved them into it, along with the Bala cat, the two clown loaches and a black angel who is too mean to keep with other angels, and the fiddler. <Wow!  That's a long sentence!  Sounds like the proper thing to do.> I wanted some kind of beautiful, exotic, cichlid to be a tank mate too them. The guy I bought the tank from had a few more, including one filled with a variety of cichlids, including an exquisitely beautiful green terror and while it seemed against the odds, they had all made peace with each other. <Ha! The quiet before the storm...> I thought a green terror would be wonderful, but it seemed too risky and so I abandoned the idea. <Round of applause in order!> I started prowling the web looking for stories of cichlids that had made successful tank mates to Oscars and one that came up a few times was a blue Acara. <Good choice> So I did some research on the blue Acara, particularly personal experiences with them and I found that about half the people who had posted on various forums found them to be a peaceful, fun-loving fish that got along just fine with the other fish in the tank, and the other half had acquired warriors that wrought hell upon the other fish. I decided to take a chance that I would get one that would learn to live with the other fish okay and so I went to town and found a bunch swimming around together in a small tank. Most of them had nicks taken out of their tail and dorsal fins, but one was exceptional beautiful and his tail fin was completely unmarred. He was a little larger than most of the rest, but not as big as even the smallest Oscar, and so I decided he would be the one to try. Three days after moving him in, I thought my experiment had been successful. I had not worried about him bothering the Oscars, but I had worried that he might go after the clowns, the cat or the black angel<all likely>, although the black angel might have surprised him. He had made what appeared to be a couple of potentially aggressive moves on the fiddler crab and each time that he did, the blueberry charged in and drove him away as if he were actually protecting his old friend, the fiddler. <Not a bad deal if you're the crab!> (True, had I have known last winter what I know now, I would not have purchased the poor blueberry, but at the time I believed that there really was such a thing as a blueberry Oscar and the fish store lady was very enthusiastic about the "breed"). <Typical!  Just do what you can now> But then, at some point in the afternoon of the third day, the Acara suddenly figured out that although he was smaller than the blueberry, he was tougher and he really began to wale on him. <Ahh, now the previews are over.>  He also turned on the albino a couple of times, but the albino fought back and the Acara backed off. I figured I would just let the blueberry fend for himself and if he succeeded in establishing a niche with the Acara present, that would be good and if he did not and died, well, probably because of what they did to make him a blueberry, he is not so vital as the other too; he does not grow the way they do and he looks a little sickly to me and my understanding now is that "blueberries" usually do not live all that long so that would just be how things went. <sad> This was the Sunday before Memorial Day. I left for a couple of hours and when I returned, I found the blueberry lying flat on its side atop a powerhead, looking quite dead. Even so, the Acara charged up there and attacked his body and then I saw that he was not dead, but was desperately struggling to survive, but probably soon would be. So, despite the philosophy espoused above, I transferred the blueberry back into the 55, where the Severums promptly started beating him up. <OK> Now, the Acara turned on the albino and overpowered it. Soon, he was thrashing the considerably larger albino as badly as he had been the blueberry. He also struck the poor, peaceful, Bala cat but interestingly enough did not bother the clowns nor the angel. <He will, if he has the chance.> He also had the good sense to leave the big red Oscar alone, for that Oscar is peaceful enough but takes no guff from anybody - not even me. Fearing that the Acara would soon kill the albino and maybe the cat, I moved him out of the tank and put him in a fishbowl, thinking that I would return him to the store. <and you should, it's too much fish for your tank.> I could not go back to Anchorage that day and since the next day was Memorial Day, this meant I was stuck with the blue Acara at least until Monday. I did not believe a fish bowl to be a good environment for him, so I went to the local Wal-Mart, purchased a 10 gallon tank and accessories, thinking that I would use it for quarantine and hospital purposes after returning the Acara, However, by the time I had a chance to take the Acara back to Anchorage, I had become quite fond of it and did not want to rid myself of it, <I knew this was coming.> So, I still have it - in the 10 gallon tank, all alone. Obviously, I must transfer it to a larger tank at some point. In the meantime, I would like to get another blue Acara to live with it. <NO.  It's cruel enough to keep one in a 10.>  All the internet literature I read says blue Acaras do well in pairs, but I am afraid that , now that he has been living along for three weeks,  if I put another one in there he will kill it. <Highly possible.  You'd need 50 or more gallons to pull this off, as well as dither fish>  He is considerably bigger than when I brought him home so short a time ago, and I doubt I can find another Acara quite his size. Perhaps he would do okay with the opposite sex, but, for all I know, he is a she. <Beautiful fish, maybe not right for you at this time.  Return him, wait until you can properly care for this wonderful creature.> Do you have any advice? Thanks, Marina, Bill <sure, hope this helps.  Ryan>

Re: Blue Acara and Oscars (Ryan) Hello, Ryan <Glad to hear back from you> I must applaud all of your crew - I have always been impressed the care put into the responses I have received from Marina and now here you are, being so prompt, thoughtful and informative as well. <Thanks!  I'm glad to help.> The question of whether or not to take the blue Acara back to the fish store is one that I have been wrestling with and after your email I will wrestle it some more, but I think he is here to stay. <It happens.  I wound up with a Blue Acara the same way!> Although I touched upon it, what I failed to make clear in my lengthy email is that I recognize 10 gallons is altogether too small for the Acara - although, for the moment, at about three inches, I do not think it poses him any immediate danger. <It's true, freshwater fish, although their growth may be temporarily stunted, will resume growing when conditions improve.  Not the case for marine fish.> When I put him in that tank, I took gravel from my other three tanks and put in with him and have been closely monitoring the chemistry and it is good. <You may want to run it without gravel, especially if he is recently purchased.  Undesirables will have a more difficult time breeding on a bare glass bottom.  Also handy if medications will be required.> I had given some thought to moving some fish from the 55 into the 90, some of the smaller ones into the 29, and then some of the tetras from that into the new 10, but I have a good balance in all those tanks, everybody pretty much gets along and I don't really want to disrupt that harmony. <My mental image here is great!  Bill, aquatic juggling act!> I have mapped out a spot for a new tank and may purchase one for him - on the other hand, come fall or early winter, I am planning to bring in a 180 (or larger) gallon tank and I will move the three Oscars into that <Very responsible>, along with whatever tank mates seem appropriate. <That's the fun part> At that time, I had been planning to convert the 90 to marine, but I am now tempted to give that tank to the blue Acara and whatever cichlid tank mates he might get along with. <Lots of compatibility here.  Search our FAQs for success stories with this fish.> Which brings me back to my original question, of whether or not he would be likely to kill another blue Acara coming in at the small fish store size? <Likely no, possible yes.> What other fish might he establish a sense of equilibrium with? <I've kept mine with Firemouths, and they got along great.  Research this animal's natural environment for some ideas.> Also, your initial reaction to the idea of a blue Acara as a tank mate to an Oscar was "good choice." I am wondering - as fast as he is growing, the two smaller Oscars are growing even faster. As I noted, the Acara had no inclination to mess with the larger Oscar.  Do you think that as the difference in size between Acara and Oscars becomes more disproportionate, the blue Acara might be successfully reintroduced to the Oscars? <Possible.  A divider may give you a good indication.  Divide the tank, and see if they go after each other through the divider.  If all seems well, remove it in a week.>  Or, having demonstrated such aggression already, would he just prove incorrigible? <All fish learn and forget!  The relationships in your tank are ever-changing.  Just be watching, and always have a place available to move a troublesome tankmate.> Bill <Keep us posted! Hope all your new roommates get along in the end. Ryan>

Blue Acara Revisited Hello, Ryan (or anyone if Ryan is not available) - <I'm here! Morning> Perhaps you will recall me. You answered a query of mine regarding a blue Acara that I had recently purchased and put in a 90 gallon tank with three juvenile Oscars, the largest about six inches at the time (about 9 now, and so beautiful),  which the Acara quickly began to terrorize, despite their superior sized. I removed the Acara and put him in a 10 gallon tank for temporary purposes, and, believing that I was not ready for so fine a fish as a blue Acara, you recommended that I return it to the fish store but I did not, for I had already fallen in love with it. <Yes, I remember.  I wasn't crazy about the space you had for this fish- How goes it?> A while back, I moved the blue Acara into a 55 gallon tank, by himself. Tomorrow, I am headed to town and I thought I would bring back a tankmate for him - probably another Acara, female if I can find one, for I believe this one to be male. My plan was also to bring back a tank divider so that I could keep the fish separate until they get used to each other and the new one had a chance to grow. I wanted to at least consider the possibility of a tank mate other than an Acara, so I popped on the web to do some research. <Great> Now, after surfing through all kinds of sights and finding a bunch of green terrors that look just like my blue Acara, but no blue Acara that does (although some do bear a distinct resemblance) I am wondering if my blue Acara is a blue Acara at all. As you are a person who has raised blue Acaras of your own, perhaps you know. <Yes, I'd be happy to ID him> Here is a picture of him. What do you think? Is he a blue Acara, or a green terror? At the time of this picture (October 7) he was about five inches in length. <This is certainly Aequidens rivulatus, The Green Terror.  Beautiful fish, but a 55 gallon tank will be more suited for just one.  The Aequidens Pulcher, or Blue Acara, is rarely as colorful as your GT! Best of luck! Ryan> Thanks, Bill

Blue Acara or Green Terror pt. 3 Thanks, Ryan <Surely> - Yesterday, I went back to the store where I purchased him and they had some small ones that looked just like he did when I got him and when I questioned whether or not they were really blue Acaras, they insisted they were! <These fish look similar when young, distinctly different when older.> I will tell them about this. I guess that might explain why he was so hard on the Oscars. <Yes, my Blues have been much more permissive of tankmates than what you experienced.> Anyway, I am very happy with him, green terror though he be. In the event that I move him into a bigger tank, is there a fish I might put in with him? <Possible, but always potential for war.> A female green terror, if nothing else? <Most people who breed Green Terrors simply bring the pair together to breed, then separate them.  The larger your system is, the better a chance for another fish to happily co-exist with a GT> Or would he be too hard on her except during mating times? <Certainly> Actually, though, I do kind of enjoy watching him with a whole tank to himself. From what I have read, I gather that green terrors do fine by themselves. Is that your experience? <Yes, and many feel that keeping a single specimen can drastically change the way that he interacts with YOU as well.  Best of luck! Ryan> Bill

Blood Parrot Cichlid, tankmates? Dear WWM Crew, <Sabrina here, this evening> Some background: I have a new tank which has been setup and had a Blood Parrot introduced last week (only fish in tank). I don't know how to measure her, but she is 5" including the tail fin, 3" without, approx. The tank is 20 gal. with a "Whisper" filter, a heater and an air-stone The tank has yet to start its nitrate cycle (ammonia started climbing slowly, nitrites just above 0, pH 7.0. Doing 20% water changes (only 1 so far, but plan to keep them regular) and gravel vacuuming of 33% of the gravel bed, weekly. <Sounds good, so far, just keep that ammonia and nitrite in check during this critical period> After another 2-3 weeks, once the cycle is steady and ammonia and nitrites go to 0, I'd like to get some more fish. I am at a conundrum as to what to do. I've read that I will need to get similar size fish to avoid bullying. Also, I read that they do best in "large groups" so that there is no aggression focused on one weaker fish. At the same time, they grow big and need a bigger tank than the one I have. So adding 1-2 fish would create a small group leading to aggression, yet adding more would overwhelm them because of the small tank. <To be quite honest, I wouldn't add *any* fish.  You *might* be able to get by quite well with one more blood parrot of the opposite gender, and hope they pair up.  Other than that, I would expect just about anything else to be harassed unmercifully.> Do I not add any and just have 1 fish? <That is exactly what I would do, for the time being.> Are there any smaller species that will be compatible with a parrot, so that I can add a few of them? Or should I wait a year with one lonely fish and then just get a much bigger tank before adding fish? <That'd be the plan, in my opinion.  Don't worry too much about your fish being lonely; give him some 'quality time' every day during feeding, and he should develop quite a personality for you.  I'm sure he'll find a way to keep you entertained until you can do a bigger tank for him and some pals, no worries.> I want more fish, but  my fish's happiness is more important. <Oh my, I wish everyone had that attitude!> PS. My blood parrot has a slight white discoloration above one eye. I believe it appeared after the first day in the tank. Could it just be adjusting to the new (uncycled) tank, or is there something wrong? <Hmm, could be stress, but it might be a developing bacterial or fungal problem; keep a very close eye on this, and see how it progresses over the next few days, treat if necessary.> Please advise! <Hope all goes well with you and your new pal!  -Sabrina>

Mixing Central American Cichlids 10/31/05 I have a single male Midas cichlid in a 75gal tank. I just put 2 female convict cichlids in the tank with him because I didn't want him to be a single wet pet. There has been some minor aggression in the tank just around his flower pot but that's it. I don't want to make hybrids, that's why I was thinking convicts are to small for him to mate with. Am I right? I got two females due to the aggression of the male convicts. < If you had a male convict then the females would probably put the convict male. Without a suitable mate they could possibly cross with the Midas cichlid. I have recently seen a while convict male breeding with a female blushing angelfish so anything is possible.-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.> 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?>

Incompatibility (cichlids) Thanks for the advice..  <welcome as always. Anthony> Yeah, I've always just asked the guys at the pet store, will this be too much for my tank?? The place I bought the cichlid from the guy didn't know much about them so I probably should have waited. <agreed> I did get the tiger barb two tiny playmates and am hoping to talk my husband into a bigger aquarium soon. He's being kinda hard headed about it right now. I priced some 40 gal.. Do you think that will be big enough?  <even a 40 gallon wouldn't keep the Severums and Pimelodids together. I have owned Pimelodid catfish that ate 3" feeder goldfish. So your tiger barbs will be a tasty appetizer within the year. Even if the store doesn't give you clear advice...they have to have fish books somewhere in the place if they are worth even shopping. Pick up a book while you are there and confirm adult sizes and feeding habits. Your Severums are measured in weight by POUNDS as an adult. An enormous plate sized fish that has no place with barbs in a 40 gallon, I am sorry to say> I am rather attached to my fish. I've named them all. I have cut back on their feeding after the molly (Cookie) died from nitrates being too high,  but I think I'm the typical woman.. Don't want my babies to go hungry.. I think when I have kids they're going to end up fat.. (here eat eat, you look thin!) Not that there's anything wrong with that..  <hehe...agreed> BUT I digress. As far as the fin nipping I did see my barb (Bob) tried to do that to my red eye tetra (Oscar) but then Oscar turned around and bonked Bob on the side and Bob hasn't messed with him since..  <what an ODD COUPLE <wink>> The tetras I've had for over a year and a half and even w/ my semi-aggressive tank, they seem to be pretty well respected.. Oscar seems to protect the headlight taillight (Ginger) pretty fervently. I did end up finding something to bring my ph down and got it down to 7.2 which I think is fine for them.. <agreed> they were fizzing tablets and the fish had fun playing while they dissolved. So I guess after yet another lengthy email, my questions are do you thing 40 gal is enough and I'm looking at about $500-600 for the new set up stand, filters, heater, etc. Is that a reasonable price?  <wow.. that sounds high compared to the LFS stores in my hometown of Pittsburgh PA> and do you know if I can get an aquarium cheaper on-line? <any good sources for everything but the glass tank (and stand will be too heavy to ship)... look at some of the vendors on this site like Custom Aquatic, Marine Depot, Premium aquatic, et al advertised on the sites Q&A/FAQ pages. Anthony>

Bala Shark & Oscars <<Greetings, JasonC here...>> First of all I really enjoy your web site, over the past 3 years I have started 3 tanks and your website has given me the most helpful information. <<Glad we can be of service.>> I have a Bala Shark in a 42 gallon tall tank with an angelfish, in my second 73 gallon tank I have 3 Oscars and 2 Parrot fish, The Bala shark is around 5 inches, Could I move the Bala shark into the tanks with the Oscars? <<You could... but would you want to? Oscars really do their part to tax a filtration system, and by adding anything to that tank you're going to add to the bioload.>> The Oscars are around the same length as the Bala shark and the Parrot fish are smaller. <<It would likely work for a while.>> My second question involves my saltwater tank that has the ecosystem, Caulerpa a UV sterilizes, some bioballs and TriBased carbon, my Koran angel has started to develop a slight case of lateral line on one side. I have just started to add vitamins to the their food and fish solution from ecosystems. Has my UV sterilizer killed some needed bacteria? <<Hard to say except that it is defiantly not part of the Ecosystem Aquarium as designed by Leng Sy which in my book is a "designed" system - anything else added to, or altered from the original designs will change the results. I would stick with the "system". Only way to know is to take it out of line. HLLE on the other hand is almost entirely nutrition-related. Your best option here is to make sure the angel gets a good mix of foods including something containing marine sponge [like, but not exclusively, Angel Formula] as that is what these eat most often in the wild. Success against HLLE is less likely to come from a bottle than from a well-balanced, natural diet - no terrestrial vegetables.>> Is my carbon removing some necessary trace mineral? <<I doubt that but you should also not leave the carbon in for extended periods of time - so it doesn't become a detritus trap, and the aforementioned reasons.>> Any thoughts would be appreciated Martin Rischall <<You got 'em. Cheers, J -- >>

Cichlids <<Greetings, fellow enthusiast...>> As a new aquarium enthusiast, I began about 2 months ago with a 10 gallon setup and within it, 2 Oscars (tiger and albino), 1 small green puffer, 2 Bala sharks, 3 emerald barbs and one 6 inch Pleco. Shortly there after I realized my over population mistake and began saving up for a larger tank. <<Enough said, then.>> As I saved my money, the fish in the tank started disappearing. Strangely, there was no trace of them, no bodies or parts, they had simply vanished. I was perplexed to say the least. One day while sitting down to an evening meal, I watched my Albino Oscar, chase, attack, and swallow my last Bala shark which brought me to a whole new level of enlightenment. <<Ahh... those Oscars...>> That said, I have learned a lot about Oscars in the time between then and now. I have since purchased a 30 gallon tank and recently moved my Oscars into it. <<Erk, did you miss the part that said these can grow largest than your shoe? For certain this 30g tank won't last much longer than the 10g did. Oscars and Plecos both can get quite large, and I mean LARGE.>> (the only other survivor was the Pleco who is also in the larger tank.) My wife thought that a few more fish would be nice so I have recently acquire a small Jaguar Cichlid and another (much larger) Green Puffer. <<Too much for a tank of this size... Oscars being what they are, your biggest challenge will be keeping the water clean.>> With the exception of some excessive fin nipping by the Puffer, they seem to do well, at least until this morning. My Oscars adjusted quickly to the new tank as did the Puffer. The Jaguar did not, for the first three days he hid in the live plants under a thick and comforting blanket of foliage. Not an abnormal re-action I thought considering the change of environment so I left him alone and just kept an eye on him. My smaller Oscar proceeded to chase him constantly during this time but inflicted no damage. Day three rolled about and the Jag had apparently become more comfortable, he no longer hides unless spooked by fast movement and the table have appeared to turn. Upon my inspection of the tank this morning, my smaller Oscar was hiding in the foliage, since he had never done this before I thought it a little strange. As I watched my tank and drank my morning coffee, I realized why. The Jaguar who was half his size was chasing him, and making the occasional brutal hit. So far I have seen no physical damage to the Oscar and perhaps it is just payback for the hazing he issued the Jag upon arrival, but some of the hits were definitely meant with intent to harm or kill. <<Sure... this is most likely competition for space from a fairly aggressive fish.>> I have watched my Oscars for some time now and know their habits and know that they will chase and sometimes nudge each other forcefully. But I have never seen attacks like these even while they were feeding.  Are these fish, when closely sized, good tank mates? <<Perhaps in a larger tank, where each can have it's own personal space/territory, but the Jaguar Cichlid is a known aggressive fish, chances are good that it would continue attempts to establish dominance over its tankmates.>> I already have a larger tank on the way but I am debating if they should be kept together. All of these fish are on the semi-aggressive to aggressive list so I figured they would be decent matches. <<The Jaguar is probably better housed with something that would be more willing to fight back, like a Fire mouth.>> The new tank will be 100 gallons. <<Ahh good, much better size, but still... probably not enough in the long run. Did I mention these fish get really large?>> Also, where can I find good info on Jaguars Cichlids? I search google and turned up virtually nil. <<The Latin for this fish is Parachromis managuensis, you might try your luck at http://www.fishbase.org or even on Google - I just gave it a shot and came up with quite a bit.>> regards, James Williams MCSE, A+, Network+, CCNP Jacksonville, Fl <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Cichlids I was aware that the 30 gallon tank was a short term fix at best, I needed to buy myself some time however. <<Fair enough.>> After Stopping at my LFS and seeing a full grown Jaguar cichlid I have decided you are correct about 100 gallons being borderline for the Oscars, Jaguar, Pleco and Puffer. That said I have ordered my new 225 gallon tank. <<Ahh, much better...>> next question of mine would be, would it be safe to breed both species in the same tank. <<Egads, no. The offspring would be in serious jeopardy.>> I would assume this is adequate size for each Cichlid to have its own territory. <<It is great for the individuals, but once they start breeding, that all changes. Best to have separate tanks if the breeding is the direction you want to go.>> Here's a breakdown of my tank inhabitants in case you need it again.  1 Tiger Oscar - currently 3.5 inches 1 Albino Oscar - currently 4.5 inches 1 Jaguar cichlid - currently 3 inches 1 Pleco - 5.5 inches 1 Green Puffer - 2.5" <<Cheers, J -- >>

Cichlids To all great and knowledgeable aquarist of Oz, I have a few questions. I need a brain a heart... <<Craig here, pay no attention to that man behind the curtain....I am the Great and Powerful....Oh dear...>> Anyways I have a forty gallon planted aquarium with two keyhole cichlids, a green Severum, a Curviceps, and a Festivum. There really is no fighting in the tank between species and they are all still quiet immature, but growing very fast. I love the Severum and the keyholes, is there anything in particular that would be compatible with them and not destroy my plants? Would another Severum cause pandemonium in the tank? Is my tank large enough to house these fish full grown? <<This is my concern. Cichlids tend to be messy compared to some other families requiring more volume, space, better filtration, etc. Proceed with caution. Check out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cichlids.htm>> I am unable to find much information on these guys and we all know that pet stores would have you stock a tank overflowing with fish. I would be willing to sacrifice the Curviceps and the Festivum for something different, or if I am at my limit I could let them go. Now to my twenty gallon reef tank, I am having a lot of green algae growing on the glass. About two weeks ago I bought another power compact light, so I know have two with a combined wattage of 88 watts. I know that my protein skimmer is not sufficient, it is a lee's counter current. I had my nitrates and phosphates tested at the LFS, and the nitrates are not to be a worry I forgot to ask him precisely what the levels were) and my phosphates read zero. I do not have a low range nitrate test kit, but a common nitrate kit. I change ten to twenty percent of the water weekly, but the algae is growing so fast that I have to wipe the glass daily. The algae is not growing on any of the live stock, and they seem just fine. Is my protein skimmer just not doing the job or is it just going to eventually catch up and eliminate the majority of the algae. After a week with the new light I replaced the old air stone in the skimmer and that has greatly improved the amount of skimmate. If I bought a CPR back pack would that keep up with this small tank, or are there better ones? Thanks a million Dave <<Well there is nutrient driving your algae growth. The Lee skimmers are not all that efficient and being a small in-tank model they draw water from below the nutrient rich surface. The CPR with the skimmer box or an Aqua-C remora would surely help. I would also advise getting some good quality test kits to monitor ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, calcium, alkalinity, etc. What type of top off water are you using? This could be introducing nutrient on a constant basis. I recommend RO/DI to eliminate this problem.>> <<Hope this helps, Craig>>

Ghost or Glass Catfish and midget clown loach I had a Ghost Catfish and it died this morning it was perfectly fine except some of its tail was bit of by my Firemouth cichlid.... <Oh oh... these two fishes are not compatible... the Firemouth (and most cichlids) are way too mean to house with an easygoing species like Ghost Glass Cats> The water conditions are fine and I didn't see any visual problems with the fish. just wondering what could have happened. It wasn't to old either it was only like 2 inches long.  <I suspect that the initial trauma and "dark of the night" was too much for your catfish... Look for more "armored" species of catfishes, like the Suckermouth Catfishes. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/loricariids.htm> Also I have a baby clown loach ( doing fine) but when I got him hw was only like an inch long and he really hasn't grown much at all probably have had him for 4 months now.  <Mmm, loaches are slow growers, but they also need plenty of "high quality" food... Are you making sure yours is getting enough protein in its diet? You might want to look into sinking pellets of sorts here> I had to treat him for ich right when I got him could the medication have effected his growth (used a malachite green based medication. <You're right. Good input, observation. It definitely could have done so.> Thanks for your help bye <Keep studying. Bob Fenner>

Jack Dempseys Hello all at WWM, I have been raising 5 jack Dempseys in a 20 gallon long and am happy to have found a couple that will now be transported to the 125 show tank. These two will be the only fish in my tank though I also wanted a group of small fish to liven the tank up a bit, seeing as how it has nothing but gravel and drift wood. Would you happen to know any small fish, though fast enough to ditch the Dempseys? <Silver dollars would be ok.> I really don't want to experiment and buy any grouper only to have it doomed to the gullet of my Dempseys. Thanks for your help <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Blue Dempsey tank mate I purchased a beautiful Blue Dempsey recently, (3 inches long) and he is all alone in my 30 gallon tank.  He was very expensive and I really want to do right by him (yes, I think he's a male).  But, (this may sound ridiculous), I think he is incredibly bored.  I think he could use another fish to keep him busy/active.  I've been reading that the blue version of Jack Dempsey cichlids are actually quite peaceful, unlike the regular ones.  Do you have any suggestions?  I am unable to move up in tank size at the moment so this may be a factor, and I certainly don't want either fish beat up.  I've been thinking of a Parrot Cichlid (not those horrible hybrids), a Keyhole Cichlid, or a Firemouth.   Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks for your time! <Hello, as far as I know the Blue Dempsey is the same as the Jack with a Sassy new look, so I doubt their attitudes are much different.  Alone he will eventually outgrow your tank, but should be fine if no other Cichlids are added.  Maybe a whiskered cat, Plecostomus, and some silver dollars.  Best Regards, Gage>

South American Cichlid Tank I am setting up an 80 gallon tank in my office, and would like to have two Oscars and two Severums (severi?) in it, starting with babies and raising them together.  I realize when they get to be full sized adults that someone will probably have to move, either the Sevs or the Oscars, but I think this is not too much biomass for the first two or three years. <They may out grow it faster than that.> I also plan to have a catfish along the lines of a pictus or something that doesn't get a whole lot bigger, and a Pleco. This tank will have a lot of rock for hiding places.  It is a ViaAqua tank by TAAM (very beautiful, all glass but instead of right-angle joints with silicone the corners are curved glass, like acrylic but made of glass) which has a (supposed) 450 gph spray bar filter in the hood.  I will also be running a Fluval 404 canister, with Purigen to take care of the Nitrate after the tank gets cycled, which runs at 220 gph with media.  I will also have an air pump and 18" bubble wall for the visual effect and more water movement, and will then hope that they don't rearrange it immediately.  I will clean the gravel once/month with a Vortex Diatom Filter. <I'm not familiar with the Vortex Diatom Filter, but a siphon powered gravel vac should do the trick.> With this approach, I feel confident I can keep ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates at zero.  If I run into trouble, I would hook up a fluidized bed filter, though I don't think that will be necessary. <I would go for a wet/dry filter over the fluidized bed.> My questions are: 1.Do you think Sevs and Oscars can get along?  I'm hoping that brining them up together from childhood will help.  Most of the sites talk about Firemouths and JDs with Oscars, not about Severums. <My Severum and Oscar get along, but there are no guarantees with these fish, I would definitely avoid live feeder fish.> 2.If I can keep the nitrogen compounds under control and the fish get along, is there some other reason I should be nervous about eventually having this set up?   <The Oscars will eventually out grow this tank.> 3.Do you think that potted plants are worth a try?  Or will I just end up picking bits of leaves out of the filter intake? <I would avoid the plants.  My Oscar swims around with a piece of driftwood twice his size in his mouth, a plant would not stand a chance.> I was kind of hoping that starting as juveniles would help them get used to this in their tank. <I would definitely start with juveniles, it will give you more time before they out grow the tank.> Your site rocks. <No my friend, You Rock.> Thanks, Daniel Heller <Best Regards, Gage>

Hello I have a bully, (Neotropical Cichlid) I have recently bought two golden Severums one of which bullies the other. However no damage is caused to the bullied fish, but it is in fear. I have isolated the bully fish I was wondering if you knew of a way of getting the  bully out of it. Also there has been damage to a few of my other fish which seems to happen during the night. I have two catfish which come out at night, Doradids, I was wondering whether these or the golden Severums were to blame for it. Thanks a lot <If there was no damage before, and you recently added the Severums, I would guess it was the Severums, or the tank is getting too crowded and some one is getting upset.  What size tank are we dealing with, and what are the other inhabitants?  Bullying in a new tank is not uncommon among cichlids, they need to establish territory and dominance. -Gage>

Mixing cichlids Is it ok to put Parrot Cichlid and Red Devil Cichlid together? <Hello, sooner or later the red devil will kill the parrot. -gage>

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