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Old 06-10-2003, 11:33 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Sweden
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Please advise on: Striking the Natural Balance in a 40g...

I am interested in creating a "real" environment for my future cichlids. My 40 gallon tank has about another 4 days before it has settled, so I have a few questions for any of you veterans out there:

My goal is to provide a realistic environment for my fish so they behave naturally in all aspects of their lives including breeding.

I feel that this will mean only a few fish in my tank even though I might have a capacity for more.

After some research on my own it seems that I could succeed if I limit the number of cichlids in a 40g tank to 6-9. These would probably be:

a pair+1of yellow labs
a pair+1 of (need a good choice) aulonocara
a pair+1 of Melanochromis johanni or Sciaenochromis ahli

The extra fish would be to accommodate the need for selection in pairing.

Although I haven't done so, I will have plenty of shelter and hiding places available with rocks and a few pieces of LFS designerware. I do want to be sparse on the plant usage such as a large broadleafed solitary in the middle back of the tank.

I will have sand and gravel together with areas where the one or the other dominate.

I am considering adding a few shells to accommodate an eventual shelldwelling species ( haven't decided yet).

There are three issues I need some guidance on.

1. Are my choices above for fish doable in this size tank if my goal is to create breeding pairs of each with their own territory?

2. I have no desire to deal with a breeding tank and all that it entails, but wish to let nature take its course and let the strongest or smartest fry survive to adulthood(obviously I will eventually have to remove them to another tank, but you get the point). Will this cause havoc amongst the fish, or will only lead to territorial and parental stress that is normally experienced in the "real" environment?

3. Understanding the Cichlids are considered a more aggressive fish, what if any outsiders could co-exist in the above mentioned environment. Any bottom feeders like crabs, shrimp, Kullieel, clown loaches, or other "algae-eaters", What about Danios, tetras or barbs?

Some other minor questions:

Right now my tank is at 73.5 degrees fahrenheit, is this okay. I know it is a bit on the cooler side, but there will never be any major flux under 73 or over 78. Do Malawis manage well at this temp?

I have three Container filters of which one is currently hooked up. I know an extra filter can never hurt for cycling purposes as well as a failsafe if one goes bellyup(sorry for the pun), but I have heard that water flow if excessive can cause stress. Comments?

DJRoss in Sweden
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