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Old 03-13-2014, 01:55 AM   #1
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Starting a Cichlid Tank

Ok, I have a 60 gallon tank with 2 fluval aqua clear 70 filters. Currently the tank is empty with just 2 plecos and a snail. I know I need a lot of rocks and sand but I do have some questions. The guy at the LFS wouldn't really answer any questions I had. So here we go.
1. What type of sand should I use for the tank?
2. I dont want huge cichlids and want to be able to have at least 10 to 15, What species dont get super big?
3. Ive heard different opinions on what fish are compatible, but really, what fish would be compatible together.
4. I really want a vibrant color tank, what are the best vibrantly colored compatible cichlids?

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Old 03-13-2014, 02:02 AM   #2
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And I have no idea what I want as far as south American, African, central America...etc. I dont want a crazy aggressive tank, but semi-aggressive would be ok.

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Old 03-13-2014, 02:09 AM   #3
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Well africans are super bright coloured but agressive and south american cichlids are semi aggressive(with some exeptions) but i like south american the best. So depends what you want
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Old 03-13-2014, 03:51 AM   #4
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Do you think maybe i should just get a bunch of assorted cichlids as juveniles? Because im 100% ok with having a juvenile tank and letting them grow up together.

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Old 03-13-2014, 11:39 AM   #5
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Did you want african or south american?
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Old 03-13-2014, 11:55 AM   #6
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You will be far better off to actually do some research, determine which specific type you want and then research compatible species, rather than simply dumping a bunch of random assorted cichlid juveniles into a tank.

What are the dimensions of your 60 gallon tank?
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Old 03-13-2014, 12:32 PM   #7
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Do you think maybe i should just get a bunch of assorted cichlids as juveniles? Because im 100% ok with having a juvenile tank and letting them grow up together.

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That's the best way! But I would add a few at a time over a week or two. To keep the bio load fairly low.
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Old 03-13-2014, 12:37 PM   #8
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The more hiding places you have the better, it will keep agression lower
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Old 03-13-2014, 01:47 PM   #9
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Well I looked up as much as I could about compatible species and mostly everything points to just getting them as little guys and letting them grow up together. I really like mbuna and African. The dimensions of the tank is 48x25x12.

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Old 03-13-2014, 02:31 PM   #10
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That's the best way! But I would add a few at a time over a week or two. To keep the bio load fairly low.
No, its not! That is the incorrect way.

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The more hiding places you have the better, it will keep agression lower
Also not true, hiding places do nothing to reduce aggression. What they do is provide a spot for those who are the target of aggression to disappear to.

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Well I looked up as much as I could about compatible species and mostly everything points to just getting them as little guys and letting them grow up together. I really like mbuna and African. The dimensions of the tank is 48x25x12.

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Alright, so you have a 4' long tank, that means you can keep Africans (FYI mbuna are Africans). However not all Africans are compatible, just because you buy them as juveniles and throw them together in a tank. That might work while they are juveniles, but as soon as they start to sexually mature, you are going to have dead fish. So now that you know you want Africans, you need to make some additional decisions, do you want river or lake Africans (not compatible with each other), do you want peacock or mbuna (one is generally a carnivore, the other a herbivore - so while they can, with the proper set-up be kept together, you need to adjust their diets accordingly). I don't recommend it for a beginner.

In a tank that size, if you go with African Lake cichlids like mbuna or peacocks, I would recommend that you select no more than 3 species to keep together. Selecting species in which the males have different coloration will help in reducing aggression between species and also help to prevent hybridization. Are you going to keep a single sex or a mixed tank? If a mixed tank, you need to be keeping a ratio of about 1 male to 3 or 4 females of the same species. African Lake cichlids do not form pairs. If instead you intend to keep African River cichlids, then you may need to think about some other things like dither or target fish.

Properly keeping cichlids DOES NOT involve randomly buying a bunch of random juveniles and throwing them together in the same tank. If that is what all your research is showing you, you need to pick a better source to research from.
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Old 03-13-2014, 02:39 PM   #11
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Accually hiding places do reduce agression, they allow fish to have there own territory, so that they are not fighting over one thing, and I as a fact have had a lot of success with mixed africans.
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Old 03-13-2014, 02:46 PM   #12
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Anyways, some nice colourful africans are blue cobalts, electic yellow labs, zebras, kenyis, and peacocks, they all stay under about 6" and are pretty active fish
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Old 03-13-2014, 02:47 PM   #13
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Accually hiding places do reduce agression, they allow fish to have there own territory, so that they are not fighting over one thing, and I as a fact have had a lot of success with mixed africans.
No they don't - your assumptions are actually quite incorrect. Hiding places do not allow for more territory. Territory is determined by actual floor space of the aquarium, which is why the 4' length is so important. Breaking up the floor space using rock work may allow for increased territories, depending on how large of a territory a particular species claims. They do not claim hiding places, and they don't fight over anything but territory. Aggression is caused by a dominant male with an established territory driving every other fish in the tank out of his territory including females of the same species, unless they are ready to breed. The hiding places provide the other fish a spot to go to to escape aggression.

Please define what you consider to be "success" with mixed cichlids. For example how long have you been keeping mixed cichlids? How long do your individual cichlids live? What is your oldest living cichlid? How often have you had reproduction without hybridization?
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Old 03-13-2014, 02:52 PM   #14
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Anyways, some nice colourful africans are blue cobalts, electic yellow labs, zebras, kenyis, and peacocks, they all stay under about 6" and are pretty active fish
Those are indeed nice cichlids. However peacocks depending on species may or may not be suitable for a 4' tank. Kenyi absolutely are not suitable for a 4' tank. Keeping electric yellows with any of the others can be problematic without proper stocking, as of all those you listed, they are the least aggressive.
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Old 03-13-2014, 03:18 PM   #15
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Please consider the sources of answers which you are receiving .

Mbuna are rock dwelling cichlids, fact. If you stock a tank with mbuna and have only a sand bottom, you are asking for trouble. Heck, if you stock a tank with quite a few of any cichlid and only gravel, you are asking for trouble. Cichlids use markers to define territory and it also gives the bullied ones some place to hide from the aggressor.

My mbuna tank is half filled with lace rock. There are enough caves and small holes that everyone can find a place to hide when they need to. This gives them a feeling of security.
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Old 03-13-2014, 03:21 PM   #16
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Accually hiding places do reduce agression, they allow fish to have there own territory, so that they are not fighting over one thing, and I as a fact have had a lot of success with mixed africans.
Hiding places doesn't reduce aggression, it only serves as a refuge for those being victims of aggression.

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That's the best way! But I would add a few at a time over a week or two. To keep the bio load fairly low.
That's the worst way to do it (getting unknown assorted juvies and assuming they'll be peaceful when they reach maturity). I absolutely HATE the assorted african tanks at the LFS or the big distributors (PetSmart/PetCo). Unless it's a veteran of the hobby knowing what they're getting, the usual person buying from those tanks are beginners and that is just setting themselves up for disaster if not provided the right info by the person selling the fish. As Wy Renegade said, research what type of cichlid you're looking to get and see what fish are compatible as tank mates. Worst case scenario, just ask if you need help
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Old 03-13-2014, 03:25 PM   #17
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Maybe take a trip to the LFS and see what you find appealing, and then come back and we can help with stocking based on that.

It can be very overwhelming at first to delve into a new type of fish, so just breath, and see what you like.

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Old 03-13-2014, 05:03 PM   #18
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Oh my gosh...lol. So many different opinions! You all are very helpful though. Ok so I went to a few fish stores and I really like the convicts. Im obviously not very seasoned but I've heard they are super aggressive. My plan is basically going to be a very colorful tank. They will have caves and rock work, and they will have pool filter sand as substrate. I know there are so many cichlids and I've seen so many people ask what are compatible species. I understand that not all species of the same type are compatible. I guess to be more specific, what im looking for are good fish for a rookie, omnivorous, semi-aggressive, vibrant colors, good compatibility, not overly large fish, and how many of each would be acceptable for my size tank. I will not be getting any of the fish from a chain petstore either . The fish do not have to be mbuna, but I definitely want African since I looked through the south American list and while some were just beautiful the Africans seem to be the best route. And Wy Renegade, I promise not to go buy random juveniles ok Thank you so much for your advice!

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Old 03-13-2014, 05:13 PM   #19
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OH! I have another question! How can I do this rock work without spending a million dollars on pre-made ornaments from the LFS? Ive seen slate used but im not sure how I feel about just slate in the tank. No offense to anyone with only slate but it just seems so boring.

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Old 03-13-2014, 05:31 PM   #20
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Garden centres and landscaping stores are great for cheap rock.

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