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Old 02-03-2006, 10:15 AM   #1
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Setting Up a New Cichlid Tank

This will be my 2nd cichlid tank, but since the first, things have changed and I want a sense of what's new in the hobby.

I will be using a 90 gal tank, a canister filter, rocks and probably crushed coral. Here are my questions:

What do you recommend for a canister filter? pros and cons? I've used the Hagen (classic) to success and don't see a reason to use another type unless someone knows something I don't - like one with easier maintainance.

I would like to use an in-line heater to keep the heater out of the tank. anyone have any problems with those?

Anyone know where I can get "good" rocks for cichlids? I want to recreate the natural environment - any websites? pics of tanks?

Any negatives to using crushed coral? Iv used it in my 55 gal and had no problems with PH. Is there anything that works even better?

Lastly - How many fish should I be looking at total? What kinds do you recomend? I'd like to have at least oe school of 6.

Thanks in advance for all your input!

-Mark
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Old 02-03-2006, 11:11 AM   #2
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On the filter i use a haden 404 filter 340gph,with the fluval peatgranules,fluval pre-filter media,fluval zeo-carb,filterfloss it's also got a inline heater and I wouldn't take for that. It's on a 100g tank with a hagen aquaclear powerfilter 50 200gph. I'm one that beleaves the more water movement the better. A lot of people say it's a over kill. But I like it and so dose the fish. { there breeding like craziy LOL }
I got the rocks from a creek that runs about 5miles from my home so I really can't say about big rocks for the tank. I only keep Apisto's and rams. But I know people usly get a lot of there rocks from a landscaping company and use slate for most of the African tanks.
Thats about all the info I can give as I've never used coral to help with the PH. I never adjust my PH or even take reading for it and less it's GH of the water I'm testing. Best of luck to you on the new tank. And remenber with alot of African cichlids plants are a salad bar or a play toy. LOL
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Old 02-03-2006, 11:29 AM   #3
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I'm assuming this is for African cichlids. Some of the best rock I've used is lace rock. Lots of nooks and crannies for fry to hide in if they decide to breed. It also has a lot of interesting shapes and bends in the rock making it easy to build caves and territory.

African cichlids aren't really kept in 'schools'. You just need a large group to spread out their aggression so there isn't a single individual getting beaten all the time. A 90 gallon still won't house as many as one would like, but you can get a few in there nicely. I'd advise to stay away from very large species like compressiceps, frontosas, forget buttikofis...they'll kill everything till they are the only ones left...

If you are looking to do a Malawi tank, introduce peacock cichlids first before the mbuna/zebras. These fish typically reach about 6" so perhaps a group of 5 to 7 of these fish and still have room for a catfish and algae eater. The best algae eaters for african tanks are chinese algae eaters. They are aggressive and fast enough to hold their own with africans. Synodontis cats make good bottom feeders for africans as well.

If you are looking to do a Tanganiyka tank, now your choices vary in sizes a lot more. You can mix in a wide variety of cichlids that are less likely to go on sudden murder sprees like the mbunas are known to do. There are little shell dwellers like Brevis and occelatus. There's a smaller fish that looks just like frontosas but get half the size. Those are the Lamprolongus tretacephalus. Leleupi, cylindracus, perhaps a few tropheus???

You can mix them in together too, but wouldn't mix the little shelldwellers with the Malawi fish.

It's hard to eye up how many fish you'll actually be able to fit in there. It depends not only on adult size of the fish, but on available territory and how much waste the bio can handle. Take your time and populate slowly. Danios make good 'target' fish if you need to mix any to keep the cichlid aggression spread out while populating the tank. You want to introduce a few at a time, but not too many at a time yet need some extra fish for them to spread their chasing on to instead of each other.

Crushed coral is fine, but I think aragonite is better because it's softer for them to dig into.
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Old 02-03-2006, 06:29 PM   #4
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There are several Africans that will "school" in a sense (ie Labs and Aceis). They do not like to be singles, but rather in groupings. Haps and Mbuna's can be mixed, but caution should be taken when stocking. If you are new to Africans I would advise against mixing. Also, do NOT mix fish from different lakes in the same tank. That's a big no-no. You may want to start with Mbunas since they are easier to find and it is easier to buy them as Juvi's (most Hap colors do not show until maturity).

Do you know what your tank pH is? If you are worried about your pH or hardness just add a bag of crushed coral to the filter. Sand would be my choice over crushed coral or aragonite as a substrate. It is easier for them to move and isn't sharp. For an algae eater, I'd go with a pleco. They can handle their own against Africans. We have two and have never seen a nipped fin. But not a dwarf pleco.
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Old 02-03-2006, 08:52 PM   #5
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So fishyfanatic...why is it so bad to mix these fish from different lakes? I know many of people who do and have had their tanks for many years along with the same fish. They actually die of old age instead of being murdered. They have mbunas, peacocks, frontosas, tetracanthus, leleupis, cylindracus, tropheus, and bichardi...even plecos that have been able to endure the harder water, though that is a rare thing....

Plecos are probably one of the worst and least compatible algae eater in an African tank. While some may be hardy enough to endure the higher pH values like the common pleco and some, but few actually survive not being attacked, but the majority however end up either succumbing to the harder water or being killed eventually by the Africans. Granted it's not impossible, but the chances are slim. Chinese algae eaters are very much like the natural algae eater of the lakes and can endure the higher pH values and can hold their own up against an African cichlid because they are fast enough to get away and slim enough to hide. They also produce less amounts of waste than plecos. The only species of plecos I've seen survive ok in African tanks are the common pleco and the the honey comb pleco. Both, I beleive are from Trinidad. Most of the ones on the market though are captive bred of those two species. Hard to find hardy captive bred plecos of any other species. They are largely wild caught and harder to acclimate to such high pH. I've never seen any other species of pleco be able to survive in an African tank whether due to water hardness or aggression. Best for the pleco to be introduced first before any of the cichlids.
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Old 02-04-2006, 10:09 AM   #6
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TCT- It is not good to mix lakes due to water and dietary requirements. Most Mbuna's are herbivores, peacocks are omnivores. Most Lake Tang's are Carnivores. Lake Tang's really thrive in the mid to upper 8's in pH. Malawi's are in the upper 7's and lower 8's. Temperment is also an issue. In general, it's just not a good idea to mix lakes. Every website and forum that I have been to always says not to mix lakes unless extreme caution and planning is done. Defiantely not someone new to Cichlids. If it works for you, that's great. But the general guideline is it's a big no-no.

I've had Pleco's in with my Africans for well over a year. Never have I seen a nipped fin or aggression of any kind. Even when the Auratus was in the tank, they never bothered the plecos. I've had the same Trinidad and Sailfin Gibbiceps in with the Africans since the beginning. To each his own I guess.
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Old 02-04-2006, 11:34 AM   #7
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hi prettyfishies
If you are in fact talking about africans, crushed coral is great as a buffering agent.
Many people I know use limestone in there tanks for the same reason, it also helps to raise the water "hardness" and in most cases can be quite appealling in looks.
you might find that most mbunas while"eating" algae, are also rummaging for smaller crustaceans and organisms making them somewhat omnivorous as well. But it is correct that a high protein diet of shrimp and worms etc, is not recommended as it is not there main food source, their stomachs are not built to handle it.
Look at the ingredients of the prefered foods of breeders and keepers. It will be Veggies, Algae, shrimp and more.
I'm not very learned about cleanup crews but, some of you may shudder, mine consists of a small bala, a red tail black shark, and quite alot of mts.
even before the mts came along my sand was always spotless mainly from these two lil critters. Alot of the breeders I know do keep various bristlenose etc in there tanks, but I can't really see the advantage.
A 90gal could probably stock a couple of different "school" or "gangs" I call my little evil army of loyal followers, and even some select oddballs. (eg. For the time being I have 18 adult and subadult dwarf mbuna, 15 sub adult haps, and some mentioned oddballs, oh and 24 juvi's at 3cm in a 100gal) this will change when my 10 compressiceps start to get the urge and need to expand.
It is ok to overstock an african tank, as mentioned it helps keep aggression down and divides it up if it does start. even then a quick water change and a re-arrange of decor can calm even the agro-est of mbuna.
The amount of filtration is totally over-rated in my opinion, as it depends entirely on the type and how exactly it is being utilised.
You will get alot of conflict of the malawi/tang arguament, it will vary as per everyones experiences and how they dealt with it. I don't keep tangs, but I do know people who have kept display tanks of mixes for years with a shared diet and water chemistry, and have never had problems. Again it is entirely up to the keeper and how they want to deal with what goes wrong.
These points are just my opinions based on my personal experience.
Research Research Research. I'd also like to suggest hard copy literature in book form as internet based information is more heresay of individual experiences rather then the facts, and can more often then not, be the exact opposite of what you yourself will experience.

happy fish hunting, and am looking forward to seeing pics

Matt
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Astatotilapia latifasciata
Melanochromis cyaneorhabdos
Labidochromis caeruleus
Cynotilapia afra 'Cobue'
Pseudotropheus acei 'Msuli Point'
Aulunocara stuartgranti 'chipoka'
Labidochromis freibergi
Oreochromis mossambicus
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