General African Cichlid Discussion • New to cichlids

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New to cichlids

Postby kat12510 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:27 am

Hi I am anxious to set up my first cichlid tank! I have had only tropical community fish so far but want something a little more interesting and challenging, cichlids have always caught my eye! There are so many different types and kinds but it's so confusing keeping them all straight and remembering which ones can live together peacefully and which ones can't. Ultimately I'll have a 40 gallon or 55 gallon, but right now I only have a 10 gallon that is fully cycled and set up. I am hoping to buy my larger tank within a month.

I have been checking craigslist and LFS for young cichlids (less than 1 inch) and there are many available that are described as "Assorted african cichlids" and that obviously doesn't help me at all! A close friend of mine has Dragon blood fry as well as sunshine peacock fry that he is willing to sell me a couple. Would these two get along just fine? I realize they will outgrow the 10 gallon very quickly, but they just need to live in there until the large tank is set up and cycled. I plan on using sand substrate in both tanks and both will have bio wheel filters.

Are there any recommended cichlids for the size tank I will be getting? I prefer vibrant colors and nothing too extremely aggressive. I would prefer to stick with smaller sized fish. German blue rams are my favorite but I don't have the right type of water (the water here is too hard).

I think I understand the general tank set up and what its supposed to look like, that shouldn't be an issue, I'm just concerned about getting the wrong type of fish and ending up with dead ones because they were bullied and harassed too much. Any advice appreciated!
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Postby vann59 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:00 am

Africans are fine with hard water, so that's probably the way to go. Mbuna are generally more aggressive, but not all species. Peacocks and haps will have more color than mbunas when they mature, but only the males, females will be rather plain.

You can put babies in your 10 G, but will need to move them to a 4 ft long tank as they grow. I suggest you use the filter from the 10 G to help cycle the bigger tank if possible. Running any new filter along with an established filter on a tank, for six weeks, will be enough to cycle it too.

Study the profiles in the library to learn about your fish before you buy them. Not all will make good tank mates. Avoid any species that tends to be aggressive since you want a peaceful tank.

Sounds like peacocks and haps are probably more of what you would like since they are less aggressive, but yellow labs, or yellow tail acei for instance can be put in with them too.
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Postby DJRansome » Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:54 am

Welcome to Cichlid-forum!

The two species of peacocks are not going to be a good idea in one tank. Peacocks crossbreed and you can't easily (or at all?) ID the females of the various species once mixed, so one species per tank.

I'd definitely go with the 55G...anything smaller and you are severely limited in what you can keep.

You need to decide if you want mixed genders or all-male. All male is easier in a bigger tank, but it could be done in a 55G. Then you could get one male dragon blood (not a fish that occurs naturally in the lake) and one male sunshine as a start to your tank.

All male is a challenge in any size tank so read the article in the CF Library about it before you decide.

For something less challenging but more brilliant colors, consider a mixed gender mbuna tank. The right mix should not be aggressive and several species have colorful females.

Think in terms of 3 species with 1m:4f of each. Labidochromis caeruleus (yellow labs) are a common choice but for excellent reasons...brilliant yellow and peaceful.
125G Aulonocara, Malawi Haps, Vics (trial), S Polli
75G Demasoni, Labs, Cyno hara, Met estherae, S Multipunctata
75G Calvus, Caudopunctatus, Cyp Kerenge, S Petricola
33G Neo omnicaeruleus; 33G Flameback Kisumu; 33G P nyererei Igombe; 33G Hap ruby green
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Postby kat12510 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:25 pm

Thanks for the advice! It'll be impossible to tell sex though because they are only about 2 weeks old. Another friend has offered me some of her fry. She has red empress and orange blotch. Would these be suitable too? I may convert to an all male tank later on but for now I'm content with babies as it'll be awhile before they are grown and able to identify sex. Which breeds of cichlids are easy to tell between the sexes?
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Postby kat12510 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:27 pm

Also could anyone give me advice on how to distinguish between the types of cichlids? Physical differences between the mbuna, haps and peacocks? If there are any?
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Postby vann59 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:32 pm

Red empress get pretty big, but the OB should be fine.
PM me to join our local "Manasota Cichlid Keepers Network" here in Sarasota/Manatee FL area.
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Postby DanniGirl » Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:03 pm

kat12510 wrote:Also could anyone give me advice on how to distinguish between the types of cichlids? Physical differences between the mbuna, haps and peacocks? If there are any?


In the library, there is a great article that discusses the differences between Malawi Cichlids: http://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/haps_vs_mbuna.php

You can also check out the profiles section.
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Postby kat12510 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 10:09 am

Thanks everyone! I checked out that link and even though the differences are hard to tell, they are there! So I just picked up my dragon blood fry.. they are tiny! I think I might already be able to tell the difference between the males and females, three of them are more pink in color and the other 3 are more gray. They are still very young though, about half an inch long. I am picking up some OB fry today which are about the same size. So excited!

Would yellow lab fry be okay when they got older? I found someone online who has some. I love the striking yellow against what will be red dragon blood. Good idea? I have heard they are more docile mbuna than some of the others.
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Postby DJRansome » Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:43 am

Dragon blood and labs would be OK. But you aren't going to mix with OB, right?
125G Aulonocara, Malawi Haps, Vics (trial), S Polli
75G Demasoni, Labs, Cyno hara, Met estherae, S Multipunctata
75G Calvus, Caudopunctatus, Cyp Kerenge, S Petricola
33G Neo omnicaeruleus; 33G Flameback Kisumu; 33G P nyererei Igombe; 33G Hap ruby green
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Postby kat12510 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:23 pm

Yea I was going to... I have about 5 fry in there right now. Currently it's just a ten gallon with a fry net that has about 20 fry in it... Dragon blood, OB and 2 red empress. Yellow lab guy backed out so I won't be getting any of those. Will the OB eventually become a problem?
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Postby DJRansome » Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:23 pm

The OB (peacock right?) will crossbreed with with dragon's blood peacock. If you are going to keep males and females, you want only one species of peacock in a tank.

Red empress is too big for your tank, even the larger one unless you are getting a 72" one. :thumb:
125G Aulonocara, Malawi Haps, Vics (trial), S Polli
75G Demasoni, Labs, Cyno hara, Met estherae, S Multipunctata
75G Calvus, Caudopunctatus, Cyp Kerenge, S Petricola
33G Neo omnicaeruleus; 33G Flameback Kisumu; 33G P nyererei Igombe; 33G Hap ruby green
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Postby kat12510 » Tue May 01, 2012 11:14 am

Oh yes, true. Well its too late now. There's no way to tell the OB fry from any of the others. When do the OB and dragon blood reach sexual maturity? I will rehome all but two males at that point or maybe just keep a breeding pair of each in another tank. How will I know they are at sexual maturity?
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