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Old 12-18-2017, 01:48 PM   #1
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Help/Advice Needed - SA Dominant Cichlid Tank

So I recently went through a separation and my ex had a 55 gallon tank that he no longer wanted, but my 11 year old son loves, so I agreed to take it. I have had tanks before, just not full of Cichlids. But I have some concerns over the mix or how to ease the aggression in the tank. All of these fish were purchased from a local fish store (not a chain) and have lived together anywhere from 2-5 years in this tank. So here is what is currently housed in the tank: (sizes are estimated)

1 Electric Blue Jack Dempsey (5")
1 Smaller Jack Dempsey (female - was part of a breeding pair that my ex re-homed the male to prevent further breeding, she is a silver color, no blue to her) (3-4")
1 Parrot Cichlid (5-6")
1 Convict (4-5")
1 Red Jewel Cichlid (4-5")
1 Firemouth Cichlid (3-4")
1 Bala Shark (5-6")
1 Pleco (8-10" approx)
4 Giant Danios (surviving fish, of a school of 6) (2-3")
1 Cory Cat (2" maybe), oldest fish in tank, no one messes with him

Ok, so the aggression issue. The Red Jewel is a mean one and goes after almost everyone at one point, the pleco actually slapped him across the tank at one point. The firemouth hides 24/7 and when he comes out the convict keeps trying to side ram him, the red jewel, the convict, the parrot and the larger dempsy seem to be my problem children, and while no one is seriously injured, or has been damaged badly YET or beaten up (other than some tattered tail fins), they are always facing off and getting into spats with each other.

So I went to my local fish store (this guy breeds and has a store full of cichlid tanks or various kinds) and tried to get something to break up the aggression or distract them, and provide more movement, as its a pretty slow moving tank, and they pretty much ignore the danios...and so tiger barbs were recommended because they are fast and most likely will not be caught and eaten...nope, no luck! I think they were too small and fit into someone's mouth. I went from 6 down to 1 in a 24 hour window. Not sure who killed them, or ate them..., no bodies were found except a portion of one and it was in the parrots mouth.

I have heard filament barbs would be good as they are larger, faster, and can be peace keepers. But at this point I don't know. The fish guy even recommended re-homing all of them and starting over, or brining him the aggressors for store credit and finding a better mix.

I am open to any feedback, suggestions, or help, I want to be able to keep the tank, and while I know some aggression is natural, find a good, beautiful mix that I can enjoy. Thanks in Advance!
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Old 12-18-2017, 02:47 PM   #2
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Mary
You might try adding a couple of good sized rocks or driftwood to provide additional cover for weaker fish and to breakup the line of sight of the aggressive ones. If you want to go the dither fish route, shop around for 5 or 6 fully grown 3" Buenos Aires Tetras. They are quick, a little mean, nice looking and travel in a nice tight school. They are also very inexpensive. Another dither option is The Silver Dollar fish. Your tank is a little small for a standard school of 5, but maybe 3 spotted Silver Dollars. They stay relatively small. Red Jewels are African river cichlids and are very aggressive. Convicts are considered by many to be a junk fish, more trouble than they are worth. IMO better to trade them in.
The Bala Shark is likely to outgrow your tank, another thing to consider. If you do decide to replace some fish, I suggest adding a pair of Electric Blue Acaras, and a few more Cory cats. Several quality breeders on AA regarding the noted Acaras. Hope this helps.
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Old 12-18-2017, 05:45 PM   #3
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Wow. A lot of fish in a fairly small tank.
As V227 said, the Bala will outgrow your aquarium. Also, these fish do best in groups of 3 or more, so it won't really thrive in your tank alone. The pleco as well, especially if you have a common or sailfin pleco; they can grow to 24 inches, sometimes larger. To begin with, I would rehome those 2 fish, then see where your aggression level is. It may just be over-crowding that causes it.
Another thing you might try is rearranging the decor right before lights out. This will force the fish to find new territories in the morning, and may change the pecking order.
If all else fails, you may need to rehome the worst offender.
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