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Old 05-18-2014, 01:49 AM   #1
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Please educate this cichlid-idiot-petstore-employee!

Hello, all!

I work at a chain pet store. I was mostly hired for my knowledge of the small, whiskered pets, with some tropical community experience. No saltwater fish at our store....but chichlids, oh my! I get cold, nervous sweats every time someone asks me a question about them, and have to admit I know nothing, rather than give them any advice or direction.... 'cause I don't do BS. I just shove some books at them

So... Right now, what I THINK I know about them is that Africans and South Americans should be kept separately. Both prefer rocky terrain and will destroy plants. The most aggressive i've witnessed are Red Devils, Texas Cichlids, Jack Dempseys, and of course, Oscars. Africans seem more peaceful but also more "fragile"....that could just be because our local water is more acidic.


So....some questions:
How do I answer, "What can I keep with my Tiger Oscar/ Jack Dempsey?"

Are Blood Red Parrots bumbly happy fish, or coldblooded killers? I've heard customers claim both, but I've never witnessed any aggression.

If you could, would you share any experience with your "mixes" of fish....will Jewel cichlids live happily with Frontsas, Black Convicts with Bolivian Rams, etc?

Feel free to ignore the questions and just spit out whatever pops into mind. If you are thinking "The idiot pet store employee MUST KNOW this factoid!", by all means share And any links to good info; I'm trying to research independently, but google seems more interested in giving me a geography lesson about chichlids.
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Old 05-18-2014, 02:08 AM   #2
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Please educate this chichlid-idiot-petstore-employee!

The reason that african cichlids should be kept alone is because of their specific water quality needs. They require a very high PH that most tropical fish will not thrive in. As for tiger oscars, considered american and "new world" cichlids they prefer a more neutral PH more acceptable to most tropical fish. They can be placed with any type of larger fish (6" or more) that will not fit in their mouth and be fine. They usually are not aggressive towards other larger fish provided the space.

Also, it is possible to have african cichlids in a planted tank as long as you have ALOT of plants. People will say this is wrong, but my friend has 15+ african cichlids in his planted tank and was able to make this work by adding a lot of plants. More than they could eat/dig up.

For Bolivian rams, they can be kept in a community tank and be fine provided no other rams are present And in a 1:1 male female ratio.


This is from personal experience
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Old 05-18-2014, 02:16 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by CPryor View Post
Hello, all!



I work at a chain pet store. I was mostly hired for my knowledge of the small, whiskered pets, with some tropical community experience. No saltwater fish at our store....but chichlids, oh my! I get cold, nervous sweats every time someone asks me a question about them, and have to admit I know nothing, rather than give them any advice or direction.... 'cause I don't do BS. I just shove some books at them



So... Right now, what I THINK I know about them is that Africans and South Americans should be kept separately. Both prefer rocky terrain and will destroy plants. The most aggressive i've witnessed are Red Devils, Texas Cichlids, Jack Dempseys, and of course, Oscars. Africans seem more peaceful but also more "fragile"....that could just be because our local water is more acidic.





So....some questions:

How do I answer, "What can I keep with my Tiger Oscar/ Jack Dempsey?"



Are Blood Red Parrots bumbly happy fish, or coldblooded killers? I've heard customers claim both, but I've never witnessed any aggression.



If you could, would you share any experience with your "mixes" of fish....will Jewel cichlids live happily with Frontsas, Black Convicts with Bolivian Rams, etc?



Feel free to ignore the questions and just spit out whatever pops into mind. If you are thinking "The idiot pet store employee MUST KNOW this factoid!", by all means share And any links to good info; I'm trying to research independently, but google seems more interested in giving me a geography lesson about chichlids.

Not all like rocky terrane. Most African rift lake cichlids yes, but many south american would prefer driftwood.

African cichlids cover so many species to say peaceful/aggressive and there are different lakes they are from so only keep like species together.

Best answer for your oscar/jack dempsey question.... "Do you have a 75 gallon tank (@75 id say one oscar tank is filled) or larger?" Then you cant keep an oscar " lol

About new world cichlids. Unless you have a 4ft tank id stay away from a new world cichlid community. If you have one could probably get away with an all female tank of convict, a fire mouth, a parrot and maybe one more similar sized.

Rams are very timid dont stock with other cichlids. They can go in tanks with corrys, tetras, etc.


liveaquaria.com is a very good site for specific species.
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Old 05-18-2014, 02:19 AM   #4
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Well from what I've seen between Petsmart and Petco if it's either of those, Petsmart sells some Tropheus, both the Duboisi and the Moliro which are Africans and both from Lake Tanganyika and have a specific diet of algae and low protein foods and also other Africans such as Mbuna from Lake Malawi which have a little different diet and preferred water conditions and mixing the two togethers for a beginner fish keeper will most surely leave the Tropheus with bloat. Not to much or any experience with Oscars or Jack Dempsey's but I have Honduran Red Points which are a variant of the Convict which can be a pretty nasty fish. Cool but they'll get down. Also, Rams are a great little fish both the German Blue/Electric Blue and the Bolivian. They do really well in planted tanks. The Bolivian Ram is a hardier fish than the German Blue Ram as they need more stable and clean water. I'm just assuming by the few fish you listed that it's Petsmart. For beginner fish keepers on the Africans, keep the Tropheus Duboisi and Moliro separate from the other African fish as they have different dietary needs and if not met will most likely result in bloat and then death. African's are some of the hardiest fish that I've seen. They are tough little fish. Also it is best to keep them in sand as they really like to dig. They move it around all the time. I'm sure there is plenty I'm leaving off but any other questions just ask
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Old 05-18-2014, 11:07 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hulka9 View Post
The reason that african cichlids should be kept alone is because of their specific water quality needs. They require a very high PH that most tropical fish will not thrive in. As for tiger oscars, considered american and "new world" cichlids they prefer a more neutral PH more acceptable to most tropical fish. They can be placed with any type of larger fish (6" or more) that will not fit in their mouth and be fine. They usually are not aggressive towards other larger fish provided the space.

Also, it is possible to have african cichlids in a planted tank as long as you have ALOT of plants. People will say this is wrong, but my friend has 15+ african cichlids in his planted tank and was able to make this work by adding a lot of plants. More than they could eat/dig up.

For Bolivian rams, they can be kept in a community tank and be fine provided no other rams are present And in a 1:1 male female ratio.


This is from personal experience
Thanks for the help! I will direct some research to sexing the bolivian rams in particular, so I can help people out When people ask what sort of cichlids to keep in their new aquariums, I've started asking them to bring a water sample before I'll tell them, because pH seems to be the biggest factor and it's easier to just go with fish that match your water source than mess around with it....for beginners, at least.

The amount of people keeping Oscars in 20 gal aquariums....makes me want to cry.
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Old 05-18-2014, 11:14 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by gemach7 View Post
Not all like rocky terrane. Most African rift lake cichlids yes, but many south american would prefer driftwood.

African cichlids cover so many species to say peaceful/aggressive and there are different lakes they are from so only keep like species together.

Best answer for your oscar/jack dempsey question.... "Do you have a 75 gallon tank (@75 id say one oscar tank is filled) or larger?" Then you cant keep an oscar " lol

About new world cichlids. Unless you have a 4ft tank id stay away from a new world cichlid community. If you have one could probably get away with an all female tank of convict, a fire mouth, a parrot and maybe one more similar sized.

Rams are very timid dont stock with other cichlids. They can go in tanks with corrys, tetras, etc.


liveaquaria.com is a very good site for specific species.
Yes, oh, yes - like I replied to the previous poster, the amount of people who come in looking for a tankmate for their oscar in a 20 gal. makes me want to ...yanno....drop my pretty retail-smile and lecture people about researching before buying for about 10 minutes.

I've had customers claim they keep Africans and South American together with perfect success....I always ask how long this "success" has lasted, because I know at the least their water params are very different. I'll have to do a bit more research on their geography so I know which types belong with which, and more research on sexing specific types- It's a bit difficult, because ours are so young. Thanks!
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Old 05-18-2014, 11:40 AM   #7
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Well from what I've seen between Petsmart and Petco if it's either of those, Petsmart sells some Tropheus, both the Duboisi and the Moliro which are Africans and both from Lake Tanganyika and have a specific diet of algae and low protein foods and also other Africans such as Mbuna from Lake Malawi which have a little different diet and preferred water conditions and mixing the two togethers for a beginner fish keeper will most surely leave the Tropheus with bloat. Not to much or any experience with Oscars or Jack Dempsey's but I have Honduran Red Points which are a variant of the Convict which can be a pretty nasty fish. Cool but they'll get down. Also, Rams are a great little fish both the German Blue/Electric Blue and the Bolivian. They do really well in planted tanks. The Bolivian Ram is a hardier fish than the German Blue Ram as they need more stable and clean water. I'm just assuming by the few fish you listed that it's Petsmart. For beginner fish keepers on the Africans, keep the Tropheus Duboisi and Moliro separate from the other African fish as they have different dietary needs and if not met will most likely result in bloat and then death. African's are some of the hardiest fish that I've seen. They are tough little fish. Also it is best to keep them in sand as they really like to dig. They move it around all the time. I'm sure there is plenty I'm leaving off but any other questions just ask
Sweet! Very helpful, and yes- you guess correctly, that's my store

I'm going to have to compile some info and print it to keep with me so I can have this stuff handy when people ask questions. There's a lot to know 0_o Thanks for pointing out some of the "outliers", so i can focus my research a bit more.
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Old 05-18-2014, 11:44 AM   #8
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Yeah it sucks to see people put these massive fish in tank barely big enough for them to turn around.
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Old 05-18-2014, 12:29 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by CPryor View Post
Yes, oh, yes - like I replied to the previous poster, the amount of people who come in looking for a tankmate for their oscar in a 20 gal. makes me want to ...yanno....drop my pretty retail-smile and lecture people about researching before buying for about 10 minutes.



I've had customers claim they keep Africans and South American together with perfect success....I always ask how long this "success" has lasted, because I know at the least their water params are very different. I'll have to do a bit more research on their geography so I know which types belong with which, and more research on sexing specific types- It's a bit difficult, because ours are so young. Thanks!

Yeah convicts are an easy one if you see pink on the belly female, for the albino and pink varieties males dorsal fin has more points and has a distinguishable end where the female dorsal fin is almost uniformly round to the body. Most others require breeding colours, venting and a very trained eye as young ones.
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Old 05-18-2014, 12:34 PM   #10
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From my experience with one Red Devil female, she was a total b**** !!! Started her in a 40b to grow her out from 3" and wound up in a 75g after she got to about 4.5". WC's and cleaning were an absolute nightmare !!! Always attacked like a junk yard dog that nobody could handle. Kept her about 75į and pH of 7.2 with no issues. She constantly rearranged then tank to suit her desires and drew blood from my hand quite a few times. Sometimes would eat an occasional feeder here and there but for the most part was on cichlid pellets. Re homed her when I had to move and she's still living large at a friends house today in a 125g with a younger male. I'd say she's about 6-7 years old now. Hope this helps you out a little, and again this is my only experience with those type of cichlids. For me now, I've been onto mainly Discus (and their tank mates) for the last 7-8 years but do have 3 other FW and 1 SW nano going.
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