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Old 12-08-2013, 07:52 PM   #1
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New to african cichlids, please help

Hi all, so I have just recently got into the fishkeeping hobby and could really use some advice. I have a 55 gallon tank that I have decided to made an african cichlid tank. It's current occupants are 2 jewel cichlids (I know they aren't african, but they came with the tank I bought off craig's list), 1 red zebra and 1 acei. My tank is almost done cycling so I need to make some stocking decisions here soon. I really love yellow labs, but the only ones at my local store are tiny, like maybe an inch and my red zebra is 5" (and a bully) and I'm afraid he will kill fish that small. Can I add little cichlids or do I need to look for full grown ones since my tank is already stocked with larger fish? I have 2 driftwood logs and a cave for cover. The bottom of the tank is pretty full, but even so I'm not sure little fish can survive in my tank. Any other suggestions for pretty, colorful and most importantly common cichlids as my town is on the smaller so I'm pretty limited on selection (2 small LFS and a Petmart are my only opinions)? Also I have tried to research this, but there is so much conflicting information- how many cichlids should I stock? I have 2 filters running- an aqueon quietflow 55/75 and the mysterious filter that came with the tank (the lid is missing so I have no idea of the make and model), but is it large and has good flow so I'm guessing I have well over the recommended double filtration. Should I over stock to decrease aggression? Or stick to the 1 inch rule and stock 11 (all the breeds I'm looking at seem to top out at 5" as adults). My LFS says I should stock 20-25 fish, but I know his goal is to sell me fish so I'm looking for non biased opinions here. Last question (I promise)- my tap water has crazy high nitrate levels 40-80 ppm (can't tell which the colors looks identical to me on the chart) so I'm adding RO water to get these levels down. What should I add to my water to make sure my cichlids are getting their necessary nutrients. I've been looking at API African Mineral Salt and Cichlid Buffer Max. Has anyone used these or have alternate suggestions? Thanks for any advice!
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Old 12-08-2013, 08:07 PM   #2
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Im not an african cichlid guy but I can tell you the jewels are african.
Also I would recomend that you are filtered at least 7x the tank size 10x even better so at least 550 gph.
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Old 12-08-2013, 08:43 PM   #3
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Thanks mikem. My aqueon alone filters 400 GPH and the unknown filter is the same size so I think I'm good on filtration. And yes you are right the jewels are from Africa, they just have more in common with SA cichlids. They live in rivers rather than lakes and like softer water than most other african cichlids. I should probably amend my post to say I'm specifically stocking malawi lake cichlids, other than the jewels of course, which I may have to rehome. My LFS guy says they'll be fine that he keeps jewels with malawi cichlids all the time, but I know my pH is much higher than they like. Anyone have opinions on whether or not it would be unfair to keep them in my malawi cichlid tank (current pH is 8.2)?
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Old 12-08-2013, 08:49 PM   #4
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Well I keep geophagus, severums and a carpintis in 8.2 ph. I think the jewel will be fine as far as your ph goes but im not sure how well they will do with the malawi's.
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Old 12-08-2013, 08:54 PM   #5
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I have 1 jewel in my malawi tank.. She was the first to live in the tank... I have a 55 gal with 11 mbuna and I'm getting a couple more... My ph is 8.2 Also and the jewel has done just fine with the high ph... She works fine with my 3 agressive auratus and johanni... She can sometimes be quite aggressive so she holds her own with all those mbuna... I would say you can go with around 15 mbuna (That's what I'm going to do) but that's my opinion... Your filtration seems good so I wouldn't see why not!
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Old 12-08-2013, 11:51 PM   #6
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Are the Jewel's a mated pair? If so, you will likely have issues down the road, as they become very aggressive once they spawn. The best thing for you to do, if you are interested in lake Malawi Africans is to rehome the Jewels to someone interested in doing a dedicated tank or perhaps to one of your LFS. If you can, I'd rehome the two big Africans as well, and restart. Otherwise I'd look for bigger fish to mix with what you already have. If you're going with Malawi Africans, a single cave and a couple driftwood logs are probably not going to be enough, if you want to add significately more Africans. In a 55gal, if you restart, you can probably stock around 15 (3 different species).
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Old 12-09-2013, 02:13 AM   #7
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Both the jewels are female so I won't need to worry about them becoming more aggressive during breeding and temperment wise they seem so hold their own. The red zebra is by far the largest so the other 3 kind of hang out together avoiding the big guys wrath. Safety in numbers maybe? I would hate to rehome the red zebra because he is such a funny fish, even if he is a bully. He loves "dancing" around in the bubbler. I swear he even shimmies to the beat when I play music (coinsidence I know, but it's still really fun to watch). So I guess I will have to restrict my stocking choices to whatever is big enough to survive him.
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Old 12-09-2013, 12:33 PM   #8
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You don't HAVE To rehome the jewels or the zebra... It would be better for the jewels but like I said, u can make it work. And about the red zebra, you can buy fish tht aren't quite his size... You just need to make sure it's not too much of a size difference... Mbuna are tough and can handle ALOT of stress... Maybe try getting some more aggressive fish that can hold their own... In my malawi tank, I have a big johanni that's about 4 1/2 inches but then I also have 2 little red zebra that are female about 1 1/2 to 2 inches... They can handle their own just fine (maybe because of my large quantity of fish). So like I said mbuna are tough fish!!
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Old 12-09-2013, 12:35 PM   #9
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Oh and btw if you love labs so much, then try buying online... You can chose sizes so the zebra is not all that much larger
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Old 02-01-2014, 12:57 AM   #10
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55 is a fairly small tank for Malawi, if you are stuck on malawi cichlids you would be wise to do a (Male only Peacock tank) and over filter and over stock. By over stock you would be talking about 15. STAY AWAY from zebras way to mean for a tank that small
Jewels are African sure, but they are not from the Rift Lakes. Not a good mix.
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