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Old 01-05-2011, 01:07 PM   #1
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Questions for Newbie Cichlid Tank - Need Advise

My wife and I currently have a 12G planted tank with 1 electric blue betta, 2 neon tetras, 2 sunrise platys, and one clown pleco. [>1 year]

For xmas, my beloved bought us a 65G tank. With it, we are planning to do a planted Cichlid tank. I wanted to bounce some ideas off the members of this community to try to cement my plans before we start spending money on anything.

Filtration/Heating
Fluval 405
Hydor ETH300
My calculations for GPH required for a 65G tank should be ~325. The 405 is rated at 340, so (if accurately rated) I think this should be a fine solution at a fair price. Thoughts?

My question is about the Hydor ETH300. There doesn't seem to be much consensus in the community as far as in-tank heaters versus in-line heaters go. I am partial to the in-line heaters because they don't clutter the inside of the tank and (based on what I've read) they are supposed to keep the tank water temperature more consistent. Do you guys have any preference? If so, why?
Lighting
Custom T5 HO Lighting (not kit)
I'm curious to hear about your experiences using black-light bulbs in a planted tank. My intent is to create a good environment for my plans and "enhance" the colors of the beautiful peacock cichlid males through lighting. Thoughts?
Plants & Decor
Java Fern
Java Moss
24" knotty driftwood
Inevitably we'll end up adding some other plants, but at the moment, this is all we really *know* we are going to have. The driftwood we have is amazing and will be the centerpiece of the tank. Any suggestions for cichild friendly plants that could be added to this tank?
Fish
? x Peacock Cichlid
1 x FW Eel
2 x Otocinclus
1 x Pleco
I'm unsure of the appropriate number of peacock cichlids I can safely keep in a 65G tank. I plan on buying them all very young so they grow up together and (as I suspect) have fewer territorial issues.

With regards to the moray eel, I am not settled on the specific species, but I definitely want to add one to my tank. I fell in love with one at the LFS and have my heart set on including one in my cichlid tank.

The Otos and Pleco are my "cleaning crew" and I hope they'll be able to keep the algae levels in check without too much hassle. My current clown pleco is a lazy jerk and refuses to do his job, but I still love him nonetheless.
_________

Unrelated:

You guys have an awesome community here! Many thanks to the admins and contributors for keeping such a nice forum for enthusiasts such as myself.

Best wishes, and I look forward to hearing your ideas/suggestions on how I can prepare the healthy/happy environment for my new babies.

-=CG=-
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Old 01-05-2011, 11:12 PM   #2
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I'm not a pro on the subject by all means, but I think the Otto's are a little small for your setup. I am partial to Sun Cats, but they won't help with the algae, however. They are solid eaters, though, and will eat any extra food that hits bottom. (I never have any food particles when I vacumn.)
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Old 01-05-2011, 11:51 PM   #3
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The peacocks are an African cichlid. Though they aren't as aggressive as normal mbunas like bumblebees, they can still be mean. In that case, you'd need to leave out the eel and the otocinclus. Their lives will be in danger. Plecos are fine, but I would find a species that doesn't grow too large. The common pleco gets up to two feet long...rediculous. In a 65g I would try to find a pleco that doesn't grow larger than 10". Bristlenose plecos grow to about 5" and two of those would do well. Maybe even three. Mixing multiple African cichlids is always a chance, but I wouldn't recommend putting multiple peacocks of the same type. I would mix different peacocks or just overstock the tank to keep aggression down. Another tankmate to think about would be some sort of synodontis catfish. They come from the same rift lakes that the African cichlids come from. Let us know what you decide.
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Old 01-06-2011, 07:43 AM   #4
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As far as stocking, I would have to say no.

Peacock cichlids (Like said above) are and African cichlid, Most time (Not all the time) aggressive, Its not recommended to mix them with other peaceful community fish.

As for the pleco, I am assuming that it is a common pleco? If so, They get 18-24 inches long in the home aquarium and need 100+ gallon tanks, I think you would be better off with a single bristle nose pleco (gets 4-5 inches).

You could do a African cichlid tank, such as a mbuna tank, For the stocking, Im not sure.

If you are going to do an african cichlid setup, I would not put the plants in there. I have heard many reports (With other cichlids) that they will dig up or even tear up the plants in the tank.

Tyler
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Old 01-06-2011, 08:27 AM   #5
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Smile Filter

IMO you will need a bigger filter, I learned here that most of the filters are overrated in the GPH, they do about half of what they are rated for, specially after they start to run and get some dirt, etc.
My recommendation is to use a filter that is rated for 700 to 1000 GPH.
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Old 01-06-2011, 09:23 AM   #6
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I would say plants are probably a bad idea. Most cichlids are not good with plants. As far as stocking, you dont want a bunch of fish that look like each other. Keep the colors varied. I had about 15 mbuna in my 55g and they were fine. I had red zebras, acei, cobalt blue zebras, yellow labs, OB zebras and an albino zebra. You also want to consider male to female ratio. About 1 male to 3 female will keep the aggression down. As far as the filters go, I usually find the filter that is rated for the tank and get two of them. Cichlids do better with overfiltration (as do most fish). Good luck!
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Old 01-06-2011, 11:27 AM   #7
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@redfisher1139
Based on the later posts, it sounds like otos are not only too small, but potentially a prey item for the cichlids. I definitely don't want them to meet that end. Maybe something along the lines of snails would help keep the tank clean and not risk being consumed by the peacocks.

@SeverumGuy
I've come to terms with the fact that I'll be leaving the eel out. It breaks my heart, but I don't want any of my fish harmed because of my careless stocking. I know that there are some "eel-like" fish that exist, but I am unsure how they'd be received as tank-mates with the peacocks [e.g. kuhli loaches]. Thanks kindly for your input.

@tyspot1000
I just put pleco because I was unsure what specific variant I wanted to go with. There are some amazing specimens out there and many of them get far too large for my 65G. Thanks kindly for the warning though, I don't want to get a fish that would eventually be cramped up in a medium sized tank.

With regard to plants, I've read that some heartier thick stemmed plants can often be kept with peacocks, but I understand it's always risky. I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has experience with specific types of "cichlid friendly" plant types?

@ejaramillo01
Wow, 700-1000GPH... that would be the equivalent to at least three 405s. I'm surprised by that suggestion. Are there any quality canister filters that could handle that volume close to the price range of the 405? I've poked around the internet and anything "higher end" than the 405 starts at $500 and goes up from there.

Can anyone else chime in on the adequacy of the 405 for my tank setup? I used AqAdvisor.com to estimate my bio-load and it led me to believe the tank was well under their recommended limits.

@spoonman
Color variations are definitely our goal... there are so many beautiful peacocks on the market that we want one of everything, LOL.

I agree with your statement about overfiltration, and that was actually my goal with the 405 because it is rated for a 100G tank @ 340 GPH. Are their specifications so overrated that it's not even adequate for a tank 35% smaller than it's claimed to support?

@All
Wow, you guys blow my mind, thanks so much for your kind replies. I look forward to hearing what else you guys have to say.

-=CG=-

EDIT 1: I intended for this tank to be primarily a planted tank with cichlids (which is why I put it in the "planted tank" forum). However as the discussion progressed its pretty clear that I'm going to primarily have a cichlid tank with some plants. Therefore, if a MOD sees this thread and feels it is misplaced, feel free to move it to a more appropriate location. No sense in spamming you plant folks with my goofy cichlid tank Thanks again for all your advice! -=CG=-

EDIT 2: Poking around the internet I found a cookie cutter 55Gal stocking build for haps on cichlid-forums.com. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel, I want a vibrant colorful tank and fish that have great personalities. These are the basic guidelines we are going to follow:
Lake Malawi Haplochromine Aquarium

• Any Copadichromis species (except for larger species i.e. borleyi, jacksoni, etc.)
• Any Protomelas species (except for larger species, i.e. taeniolatus, spilonotus, sp. "Mbenji Thick Lip", etc.)
• Any Aulonocara species (no jacobfreibergi)
• Any Placidochromis species (except for milomo)
• Otopharynx lithobates
• Any Nyassachromis species
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Old 01-06-2011, 01:48 PM   #8
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One last input on the plants...Seeing that you're wanting African cichlids, they prefer (I would say require but we know that's not completely true) higher PH. A lot of plants you will find in a LFS won't thrive in those higher PH conditions. There's a lot of research in this hobby and if you want to try a couple plants I would find something that can tolerate a higher PH.
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Old 01-06-2011, 02:44 PM   #9
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In addition to the research, I know that patience is key here. I refuse to go rush out to my LFS and buy a fist full of the purtiest plants I can find. My animals are my children and I want to create an environment they can thrive in. I certainly don't want to have a bunch of dying plants in my tank that could harm the health (or kill) of the fish and I'll regret the money I spent on plants .

I have nothing but time and the desire to do it right the first time. I know there is some trial & error involved in learning, but I hope to take from what you guys [and other sources online] already know and minimize the error part of that process.

Since my last post, I actually found a really interesting article (once again on cichlid-forum.com) about how to incorporate plants into a cichlid tank, and a supplemental article about what species of plants tend to work better. The easiest plants they say are the java fern (one of my original choices) and the thick leafed Anubias species. The supplemental article lists a number of other plant species that should work well in our tank (with enough light, nutrition, and water changes).

Links:
Plants 101 - Plants and African Cichlids
Plants 102 - Plants and African Cichlids
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Old 01-06-2011, 09:58 PM   #10
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I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say we appreciate you doing a lot of research before you jump ahead. I hate when people jump into something and then do research when everything is going wrong. Java ferns and Anubias are good plants to incorporate into the cichlid tank. You can attach them pretty much on anything and they don't require as much light as most plants do although having proper light is always a benefit. I would also look into some types of mosses like flame moss or pellia..things of that nature. Those are also plants that you attach to things like your rocks. With all those kind of plants the cichlids can't exactly dig them up. Whether they choose to destroy them if they don't like them is completely chance. Also, I would recommend getting the tank set up how you like it as far as the rock work goes and then add all the fish at the same time so they can all claim their territories and you won't have to keep rearranging the tank when you get new fish. Just a suggestion. Keep us updated!
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