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Old 10-26-2023, 08:53 PM   #1
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Another cichlid setup

Hey all. Iíve had 100 gallon dirted community tank with all the extras up and running for about 15 years now. I just picked up 135 gallon (72Ēx18Ē) and want to do a much simpler operation, and make a South American Cichlid tank out of it. I know that I want to have a Jack Dempsey and at least 1 Firemouth in it, but to be honest, thatís all I know. Iím finding fairly consistent lists of compatible tank mates, but what I canít find is information about numbers of tank mates. My initial thought was having 8 to 10 different species of cichlids, each one a single male (preferably). This would eliminate mating and potential drama there. But then I started thinking about how males color up more when they have a female to woo, so maybe I drop to 5 or 6 species and attempt to pair up a couple. But then itís back to the eggs/fry protection drama. And what kind of caves/cover do I need when it comes to an adult 8-10Ē fish? Or do I just need to worry about cover for the bottom feeders and dither fish? Speaking of those, what would you recommend for a school of 12-15? Iíve always enjoyed Columbian tetras in my community, but are they too small? Rainbow fish? Multiple but smaller smaller 6-8 fish schools? Thanks!

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Old 10-26-2023, 09:09 PM   #2
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Excited to see the new tank grow/evolve! We also are doing a 125 African cichlid/pleco tank right now. The only piece id mention is keep in mind dempseys are notoriously aggressive. As long as you plan accordingly it shouldn't be an issue
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Old 10-26-2023, 10:58 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Super_Blueberry View Post
Hey all. Iíve had 100 gallon dirted community tank with all the extras up and running for about 15 years now. I just picked up 135 gallon (72Ēx18Ē) and want to do a much simpler operation, and make a South American Cichlid tank out of it. I know that I want to have a Jack Dempsey and at least 1 Firemouth in it, but to be honest, thatís all I know. Iím finding fairly consistent lists of compatible tank mates, but what I canít find is information about numbers of tank mates. My initial thought was having 8 to 10 different species of cichlids, each one a single male (preferably). This would eliminate mating and potential drama there. But then I started thinking about how males color up more when they have a female to woo, so maybe I drop to 5 or 6 species and attempt to pair up a couple. But then itís back to the eggs/fry protection drama. And what kind of caves/cover do I need when it comes to an adult 8-10Ē fish? Or do I just need to worry about cover for the bottom feeders and dither fish? Speaking of those, what would you recommend for a school of 12-15? Iíve always enjoyed Columbian tetras in my community, but are they too small? Rainbow fish? Multiple but smaller smaller 6-8 fish schools? Thanks!
You'll find, if you start with smaller fish, that as they grow, they will require larger plots of the bottom so if you load the tank too much with small fish, there will be fighting as they grow which most likely will lead to deaths. Instead of going with extremely territorial species ( like Dempseys) why not go for schooling types of Cichlids such as Acaras, Severums, Geophagus, Guianacara, festivums or Uarus? If none of these " float your boat" and you want to keep the more aggressive ones, I'd consider the adult size of whatever you choose and plot your decor so that each one can have enough floor space for their territory and then get them as smaller fish and let them grow up.
As for schooling fish to put in with them, it will all depend on what you get but you have fish like Chelseus, baracudas, larger Tetras like Exodons and Buenos Aires which can hold their owns against many of the medium to mildly aggressive Cichlids. With the really aggressive species, you need to make sure that whatever you get is larger than their mouths.

Hope this helps.
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Old 10-28-2023, 04:08 PM   #4
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Let me phrase it another way. If I do a cichlid tank with a single Jack and a single Firemouth, should the other cichlids tank mates also be kept as singles? I expect a mix of answers along the lines of fish A is better being single, while fish B and C can be paired. If you go with D, you can do a school of them. My question is what is A, B, C, and D?
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Old 10-28-2023, 09:27 PM   #5
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Let me phrase it another way. If I do a cichlid tank with a single Jack and a single Firemouth, should the other cichlids tank mates also be kept as singles? I expect a mix of answers along the lines of fish A is better being single, while fish B and C can be paired. If you go with D, you can do a school of them. My question is what is A, B, C, and D?
It all depends on whether you want them to breed or not. Truthfully, firemouths will look better if you keep a bunch of males together because they will color up nicer trying to be " The Guy" for a female if she swims by. Other single fish can be Green Terrors, Convict cichlids, Blue Acaras, Texas Cichlids or Midas Cichlids. You don't want pairs of any cichlids because they will wreck havoc with the tank balance. The Dempsey is going to be a large fish ( males get to 10"-12". Electric Blues are smaller) ) so will require a lot of the tank's floor space where the other cichlids would want as well. A full size Dempsey will take up close to 2' of the tank. You would actually be better off with other non cichlid species with the Dempsey and firemouth(s). Silver Dollars and Red Hooks for example can be schooled and will swim more in the middle to top of the tank staying out of the Dempsey's way while filling the tank. Some of the catfish species with larger scutes ( i.e Raphael cats, Turushuki cats) or larger plecos can go as individuals. There are a number of other non cichlid fish that would better fit your intended stock if that is how you want to go. If you insist on other cichlids only, be prepared for a lot of squabbling but I'd go with the smaller species that will get large enough that they won't get eaten. These are fish like rainbow cichlids, Salvinis, Parrots, portholes, acaras, etc.( There are many. ) Geophagus and Guianacaras can and should be schooled to help fill the tank while being more mobile so less of a territorial threat.
Hope this helps.
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Old 10-29-2023, 03:52 PM   #6
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My goal isnít to breed them. If I had more than one of any type, they would both be males ideally.
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Old 10-29-2023, 04:31 PM   #7
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My goal isnít to breed them. If I had more than one of any type, they would both be males ideally.
Then, as I answered, in some cases ( i.e. the Firemouths) having multiple males of a specie will make them stand out better than just an individual. A tank full of male fish of different species will not have the same effect.
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