Central American Cichlids • New to Larger Tanks and Larger Cichlids

Discussion regarding only Central American Cichlid species. (Guapotes, Jack Dempseys, Red Devils, Firemouths, Convicts, Texas Cichlids, etc.)

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New to Larger Tanks and Larger Cichlids

Postby CinBos » Sat Feb 25, 2012 11:38 am

Hey everyone. Wanted to introduce myself before I went on. My name is Cory and several individuals from the Tropical Fish Keeping Forum turned me on to this forum. Been doing a lot of reading throughtout this site, and boy you all have a lot of good advice.

I am new to larger tanks. I just received a 125gal tank from a friend with the stand and 3 HOTs. I also just purchased a Marineland 3 stage canister that cycles 530gph. I also just purchased 2 powerheads that cycle 1050gph. I still need to get other various items like gravel/substrate, rocks and plants (fake or real). Also need to get a glass lid for the tank. Thats everything I have so far, everything sound good so far?

The largest tank I have ever owned was a 30gal, in which I had some smaller cichlids in it. Now I would like to step it up with the 125gal and gets some larger cichlids. I had a few in mind, but I figured you all could point me in the right direction. Also I had some other fish in mind and I wanted to see if you all could point me in the right direction of what cichlids I should be looking at. Here are all the non-cichlids I was thinking about:

Trinidad pleco (hypostomus puntatus)
Sailfin pleco (glyptoperichthys gibbiceps)
Columbian shark (arius jordani)
Clown loach (botia macracantha)
Whiptail cat (farlowella gracilis)
Black ghost knifefish (apteronotus albifrons)
Maybe some sort of inverts like lobsters and/or crabs

Some of the cichlids I have been showing alot of interest in are of the Lake Malawi and Central American species.

So what do you all think? Any advice on the setup regarding filtration and pumps? And any advice on what cichlids would be a nice fit for those I mentioned above?
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Postby Adrian101 » Sat Feb 25, 2012 4:04 pm

A black ghost is to big for your tank and would eat any inverts when they try and shed. Also a black ghost is south American so wouldn't work in the water for Africans. Not sure on the others. But it must be nice to be given a 125! Good luck with your tank.
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Postby CinBos » Sat Feb 25, 2012 5:42 pm

inverts when they try and shed? They Shed? And when and if they shed, does this leave them vulnerable?
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Postby Adrian101 » Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:13 pm

Its how they grow as far as i know. Probably once every few months. And yeah as they are soft and tasty when they have no shell, perfect for a 10 inch bgk.
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Postby Chromedome52 » Sat Feb 25, 2012 8:28 pm

Arius catfish are Saltwater species that live in brackish as young and require increasing salt levels as they mature. They also get quite large. The two large pleco species: maybe one or the other, but not both. Either one is going to get big enough to push around everything else in the tank; the gibbi gets bigger, I think, but is also the more attractive of the two. Farlowella are fairly delicate, and the much larger pleco will be trying to kill it.

Cichlids would depend on whether or not you insist on a giant Pleco species. The pleco is already a poop machine, put in 1 ounce of food, get 4 ounces of #%$&. Adding large CA cichlids would strain even the massive filtration system you have, but it could be workable. However, smaller CA cichlids aren't going to be able to do much with a bulky catfish in the way all the time. Malawi fish might be possible, but they also could be annoyed by the large pleco; It's really more like a 50/50 bet. And as stated before, not compatible chemistry wise with the Black Ghost. But then, neither are the CA cichlids for the most part.

I suggest starting from scratch. Pick something you can't live without. Then research (which does not mean asking on a forum) what it requires, where it comes from, what other species of fish are from the same habitat, what the habitat is like environmentally. Select mates that aren't going to be seen as food, or predators, build the environment - and then enjoy. You will have something to be proud of at that point.
Whenever something seems too good to be true I find it's best to shoot it, just in case. - Fiona Glenanne on Burn Notice
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Postby oldcatfish » Sat Feb 25, 2012 8:30 pm

Hi Cory, welcome to the forum.

Unfortunately, some of the fish you listed aren't compatible with each other.
As mentioned the invertebrates do molt, and are soft for a few days...which leaves them very vulnerable to fish.
Also, the Arius sp. "Columbian Shark" is a brackish water fish, and actually will need nearly marine conditions for their long term health.

The plecos, clown loach, and knife fish can be compatible...but don't add the knife fish until much later, otherwise it may eat the smaller fish.

As far as cichlids...I recommend some more mellow cichlids to go with those fish. South American Severums or Blue Acaras would be a great fit. You could also do a school of Silver Dollars for some movement. Alternatively, you could use Jack Dempseys. If you get lucky and get a mellow one, you could even have one JD, one Blue Acara, and one Severum. If you forget the knife fish, your options open up...Firemouths, Rainbow cichlids, etc. would all be good choices.
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Postby CinBos » Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:59 am

oldcatfish wrote:Hi Cory, welcome to the forum.

Unfortunately, some of the fish you listed aren't compatible with each other.
As mentioned the invertebrates do molt, and are soft for a few days...which leaves them very vulnerable to fish.
Also, the Arius sp. "Columbian Shark" is a brackish water fish, and actually will need nearly marine conditions for their long term health.

The plecos, clown loach, and knife fish can be compatible...but don't add the knife fish until much later, otherwise it may eat the smaller fish.

As far as cichlids...I recommend some more mellow cichlids to go with those fish. South American Severums or Blue Acaras would be a great fit. You could also do a school of Silver Dollars for some movement. Alternatively, you could use Jack Dempseys. If you get lucky and get a mellow one, you could even have one JD, one Blue Acara, and one Severum. If you forget the knife fish, your options open up...Firemouths, Rainbow cichlids, etc. would all be good choices.


I have been doing my research. I even went as far as making a huge list and narrowed it down one by one until i noticed that there were barely any cichlids on the list and then i ended up with the list i posted above. I looked at everything from the hardness of water to the ph level to the temperment of each fish. I noticed alot of cichlids temperment varies from fish to fish, but mainly hanging around the mildly aggressive stage. I also notice alot, and i mean alot, of cichlids like to be in hardy water with a ph level between 7.5 and 8.5. Most of the fish i listed above like to live in soft water with a ph level at the highest of 7.2. All the cichlids are just a bit overwhelming and I feel like I am back to square one.

Also, the Black Ghost Knife is very interesting to me. Along with oscars, blue dempsesy and a good number of other blueish cichlids. That blue on some of them just catches my eye.
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Postby Adrian101 » Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:52 am

A bgk can reach over 12inches so imo a 125 is not big enough. Oscars would work. What about gts and blue acaras. Or morii dolphins? They are very blue.
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Postby oldcatfish » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:47 am

If you like blue, then you should look into some of the larger Malawi Haplochromines. It takes a couple of years for many to color up fully, but they are very stunning.
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Postby clgkag » Sun Feb 26, 2012 2:20 pm

Adrian101 wrote:A bgk can reach over 12inches so imo a 125 is not big enough. Oscars would work. What about gts and blue acaras. Or morii dolphins? They are very blue.

If a 12" bgk won't work why would a 12-14" oscar? I can't follow that reasoning.

To the op, also remember that clown loaches are much more comfortable in a group. 4-5 would be best but you could make do with 3.
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Postby Adrian101 » Sun Feb 26, 2012 2:48 pm

Completely different fish that act in completely different ways. A bgk needs hiding places and swimming space which you can't do in that sized tank with other fish. Watch a bgk and watch an Oscar and the different tank requirements are obvious.
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Postby FiremouthShogun » Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:49 pm

What smaller Cichlids did you have before?

I would agree with some of the posts if you are shooting for a CA setup don't get that whole list of fish but maybe one of the plecos.

It really depends on what you want to do, I prefer less fish and more quality aquascaping and what I feel is a better LT habitat.


125 is good for 2 breeding pairs of smaller cichlids like convicts or T Meeki or 1 breeding pair of larger ones like JD's or Texas.

What type of decorating do you plan on doing, caves, substrate, plants?

There are so many it depends...
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