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New Tanganyika Setup: Helpful Tips or Resources for Calvus?

Thu Jun 13, 2019 7:47 pm

Greetings everyone! I recently had the opportunity to jump back into the aquarist hobby after college, settling into a new routine, etc etc. Years prior I had kept a variety of fish: guppies, betta, lake fish (pan fish, plecos, carp, small bass etc), and my last foray were some Malawi cichlids. So while I'm not brand spanking new, it has been at least a solid 6-7 years since I kept anything larger than a 10 gallon aquarium. As such, I'm doing as much research as possible before making the purchase of any new fish.
I knew I wanted to get a little deeper into the world of cichlids, and after weeks of browsing and reading I absolutely fell in love with the Altolamprologus Calvus.

Currently I have a 45 gallon breeder set up and cycling (image attached) and I was hoping to get a little input on my setup and any useful resources and/or tips on Calvus. Obviously my first priority is the fish's health and comfort, so I'll just bullet point a few questions I have but any and all info will be greatly appreciated. :thumb:

-Does my setup look like a comfortable environment for Altolamprologus Calvus?
I know the Calvus are finicky with their water chemistry as well as their aquascaping. I arranged as many caves, crevices, nooks and crannies that I could to give them ample places to hide, feel safe, and break up line of sight to tamper aggression as they age. I plan to add some whelk shells and/or boester bells to encourage breeding in two years once they reach sexual maturity. I'm also considering adding an Anubias plant, but I'm not sure if that would be more of a help or hindrance to them? Is there anything else I might want to consider adding to the aquarium?

-What is the optimal number of Calvus to keep in my size setup?
So far I've seen the magic number for keeping Calvus to be around 6 fish. Is this the most accurate and optimal number? (I do plan on getting a second setup going for fry if/when the Calvus start breeding).

-Is this the best time of year to buy Calvus?
I've heard from a couple petshop owners that summer is the best time to purchase cichlids, whether they be tank bred or wild-caught. Is there any basis to this? Similarly due to their rarity should I snatch up a group as soon as I manage to find some available?

-Is the aquarium large enough to comfortably house any other Tanganyikan cichlids? Or should I stick with just Calvus?
I hear other cichlids (such as the schooling cyprichromis) can help keep Calvus at ease, the schooling behavior alerting the Calvus to the fact that there are no dangers present. If this is true, can my setup house another type of cichlid without interfering with possible breeding? If so, is it acceptable to add them later down the road after the Calvus are already established, or are the benefits of getting all the fish at once too great to ignore?

Any other links or tips would be greatly appreciated! The largest compilation on Calvus care I've been able to find thus far has been this article: http://animal-world.com/encyclo/fresh/c ... Calvus.php
However I know the dangers of relying too heavily on just one or two sources for proper fish care. I've browsed various forums and picked up pieces of information anywhere I could find it, but there's no such thing as too much research haha.

Thanks again for any help offered!
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Re: New Tanganyika Setup: Helpful Tips or Resources for Calv

Thu Jun 13, 2019 8:59 pm

Welcome to Cichlid-forum!

Witch Slapped wrote: Does my setup look like a comfortable environment for Altolamprologus Calvus?
No need for lots and lots of caves for calvus. One grouping with narrow, vertical openings is what they need, or whelk shells standing on end will do instead. The female needs to be able to block the opening with her body when she is guarding eggs. Usually lots of plants work better than a single plant. The calvus will not mind either way.

Witch Slapped wrote:What is the optimal number of Calvus to keep in my size setup?
Start with six and end up with a pair.

Witch Slapped wrote:Is this the best time of year to buy Calvus?
All year around. Hobbyists that like to ship may prefer summer to avoid freezing temperatures, but professional vendors know how to safeguard the fish.

Witch Slapped wrote:Is the aquarium large enough to comfortably house any other Tanganyikan cichlids? Or should I stick with just Calvus?
I would skip Cyprichromis in a 36" tank but a group of shellies like multifasciatus would work. Add LOTS of shells.

Re: New Tanganyika Setup: Helpful Tips or Resources for Calv

Fri Jun 14, 2019 1:41 pm

Thank you for that info DJ. I'll be sure to take some of those extra rocks out then, I'll probably leave the two cavernous structures on both ends though just to see which they prefer.

Would Ocellatus be a compatible shell dweller for the Calvus? Or would Multies be a better choice?

Anything else I should be aware of or keep an eye out for? I see you keep Calvus in one of your setups so any advice would be great. Thanks again.

Re: New Tanganyika Setup: Helpful Tips or Resources for Calv

Fri Jun 14, 2019 1:59 pm

By the time you put up to 100 shells on one side and have a 6" free sand space in between, you may not have room for both rock structures.

I think ocellatus would work, but won't form as large of a colony as the multies, but maybe others who have kept them will chime in.

Re: New Tanganyika Setup: Helpful Tips or Resources for Calv

Mon Jun 17, 2019 10:54 am

I am growing out 6 calvus in a 40B. I have three double calvus caves, three boester bells, and a whole series of flat rocks forming lots of narrow vertical caves all along the back of the tank. I took two pair of adult multis and put then in two separate shell groups at the very front of the tank--about ten shells each. The male multis were too aggressive for my taste and caused more stress for the calvus than I wanted. So I took the adult multis out and replaced them with two sets of three subadults (1m:2f). This has worked out much better. Though after many spawns and having one or two survive from each I'm going to remove the juvenile survivors and keep the multi numbers low, as the more multis there are the more emboldened they become and the more they encroach on the calvus. The calvus are the main priority in the tank and I have an established multi colony in a separate tank so this combination has worked out okay for me. I expect I'll have to change this set up as time goes on, but for now it adds some extra activity and interest as the calvus take their sweet time growing. :) Don't know how helpful this is, but that's my experience so far with calvus and multis in that size tank.

As far as resources, I've slowly worked my way through all the posts about calvus and comps in this Tanganyika subforum. Lots of info collected here. Other than a few solid articles elsewhere on the net, I haven't found a better source of broad based experience.

Re: New Tanganyika Setup: Helpful Tips or Resources for Calv

Wed Jun 19, 2019 3:09 pm

Hmm, I'll have to keep searching for some other tankmates for the calvus then. If shellies are going to be too aggressive in that space, it might be best to think of something else. I just subscribed to Cichlid Room Companion so hopefully there'll be some more ideas there as well. Thanks for the heads up on that Sam!

Re: New Tanganyika Setup: Helpful Tips or Resources for Calv

Wed Jun 19, 2019 3:19 pm

I did not interpret the post by Samadhikash to mean the shellies are too aggressive for the calvus. Calvus and shellies are a tried and true combination for a 36" tank.

I have also done calvus and caucopundtatus (end up with a pair of each) in a 36" tank if you like those better.

Re: New Tanganyika Setup: Helpful Tips or Resources for Calv

Wed Jun 19, 2019 10:18 pm

Yeah, just to clarify, I wasn't happy with how the mature multi males acted. But the subadults, who more or less came into their own in the presence of the calvus, have been fine. Also, I have rock all along the back with multis in the front--not ideal as far as territory separation. If I had chosen to do rock on the left and shells on the right, allowing for more separation of territory, it would have likely balanced for me more easily.

Re: New Tanganyika Setup: Helpful Tips or Resources for Calv

Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:59 pm

DJRansome wrote:
Witch Slapped wrote:Is this the best time of year to buy Calvus?
All year around. Hobbyists that like to ship may prefer summer to avoid freezing temperatures, but professional vendors know how to safeguard the fish.


I agree with DJ. When I used to breed Altolamps, I shipped calvus fry all winter long and even to MN.

Re: New Tanganyika Setup: Helpful Tips or Resources for Calv

Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:48 am

Good to know. I found a local PS that specializes in cichlids, so I should be getting some nice deep black Calvus from them soon. I decided to go with a couple leleupi with the calvus. Set up some more rocky caverns. I just cleaned out the house's den as well, so I'm gonna set up a 30 gallon for a small group of ocellatus. I will probably use it to grow out some calvus as well, and use a 10 gallon as a nursery for them until they're big enough to be moved to the 30 gallon with the ocellatus then eventually hopefully sell them off locally.

I got bit by the Tang bug bad haha.

Re: New Tanganyika Setup: Helpful Tips or Resources for Calv

Sat Jul 13, 2019 7:42 am

I’ve kept aquariums for over 40 years now but have recently been bitten by the Tang bug myself. I’m cycling a 75 and will be sourcing some Black Calvus for it. Thinking I might want some Similis as tankmates as well. Following to watch your progress, any updates yet?

Re: New Tanganyika Setup: Helpful Tips or Resources for Calv

Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:40 pm

Awesome to hear! I'd love to see the 75 gallon once you get that up and running. So far there were some issues getting some fish from my local supplier. He ordered from a cichlid farm in Florida and, without getting into details the ENTIRE order arrived at the airport doa.
So as of right now the plan for my 45 is a single julidochormis (since as long as they aren't breeding I've been told they are fine tankmates), 3 leleupi, and eventually the 4 calvus. I have the julie and leleupi, they've established their pecking order and are doing great. Still waiting on word from the ever elusive calvus haha. The 30 I'm cycling for some ocellatus and growing out the calvus is still in the cycling process.

I have a few pics of the aquariums and the julie and leleupi up on the instagram I made for my aquariums. It's called @grimgrinningfish if you want to see any of the progess.

Otherwise once I get the breeder fully situated I'll post more of an update.

B2LL wrote:I’ve kept aquariums for over 40 years now but have recently been bitten by the Tang bug myself. I’m cycling a 75 and will be sourcing some Black Calvus for it. Thinking I might want some Similis as tankmates as well. Following to watch your progress, any updates yet?

Re: New Tanganyika Setup: Helpful Tips or Resources for Calv

Mon Jul 29, 2019 7:29 pm

Witch Slapped wrote:Awesome to hear! I'd love to see the 75 gallon once you get that up and running. So far there were some issues getting some fish from my local supplier. He ordered from a cichlid farm in Florida and, without getting into details the ENTIRE order arrived at the airport doa.
So as of right now the plan for my 45 is a single julidochormis (since as long as they aren't breeding I've been told they are fine tankmates), 3 leleupi, and eventually the 4 calvus. I have the julie and leleupi, they've established their pecking order and are doing great. Still waiting on word from the ever elusive calvus haha. The 30 I'm cycling for some ocellatus and growing out the calvus is still in the cycling process.

I have a few pics of the aquariums and the julie and leleupi up on the instagram I made for my aquariums. It's called @grimgrinningfish if you want to see any of the progess.

Otherwise once I get the breeder fully situated I'll post more of an update.


Hate to hear about the lost shipment, that is like hearing that Santa had a fatal sleigh accident :(

I owned a shop for awhile and know that feeling, it was bad financially and you had the feeling of being responsible for the deaths of some beautiful fish.

Still in cycling mode here but shouldn’t be much longer, here’s the tank

58D269C8-C700-4825-9015-E1EB62A59B88.jpeg


I found a LFS on FB that says they have a selection of Calvus, going to check them out tomorrow. It would be awesome to be able to pick up locally and not worry about shipping them. I’ll definitely update when there is more, looking forward to your updates as well :thumb:

Re: New Tanganyika Setup: Helpful Tips or Resources for Calv

Thu Aug 15, 2019 6:11 pm

B2LL wrote:
Hate to hear about the lost shipment, that is like hearing that Santa had a fatal sleigh accident :(

I owned a shop for awhile and know that feeling, it was bad financially and you had the feeling of being responsible for the deaths of some beautiful fish.

Still in cycling mode here but shouldn’t be much longer, here’s the tank

*snip*

I found a LFS on FB that says they have a selection of Calvus, going to check them out tomorrow. It would be awesome to be able to pick up locally and not worry about shipping them. I’ll definitely update when there is more, looking forward to your updates as well :thumb:


A selection of calvus? Well that sounds like a dream! Hope you found some good ones, can't wait to hear what you got.

My calvus FINALLY arrived to the LFS, after a couple months, but it was worth the wait. They're absolutely gorgeous. They're eating and settling in, been close to a week now. Most of the other fish are getting along, and three of the four calvus are getting along, and then there's the brute of the tank haha. The biggest Calvus dethroned the Julidochromis and took over an entire rock structure for himself, about half the aquarium. The julie has been going after him every once in a while, but I haven't witnessed any major fights. The big brute calvus may end up posing a problem though. I see the other male often swimming with one of the females, it looks like they're trying to pair up, but whenever two or more of the calvus get together, the brute comes out of his cave specifically to go after the grouping of calvus. I'm getting some calvus caves and boester bells soon, there are enough hiding places as of now, but I'm thinking creating some more calvus specific territories may help? I dunno, I just hope the brute settles down or he might be going back to the LFS if he impedes pairing so much, especially since he has shown zero interest in either of the females. We'll see how it goes haha.

Re: New Tanganyika Setup: Helpful Tips or Resources for Calv

Thu Aug 15, 2019 8:27 pm

Witch Slapped wrote:A selection of calvus? Well that sounds like a dream! Hope you found some good ones, can't wait to hear what you got.

My calvus FINALLY arrived to the LFS, after a couple months, but it was worth the wait. They're absolutely gorgeous. They're eating and settling in, been close to a week now. Most of the other fish are getting along, and three of the four calvus are getting along, and then there's the brute of the tank haha. The biggest Calvus dethroned the Julidochromis and took over an entire rock structure for himself, about half the aquarium. The julie has been going after him every once in a while, but I haven't witnessed any major fights. The big brute calvus may end up posing a problem though. I see the other male often swimming with one of the females, it looks like they're trying to pair up, but whenever two or more of the calvus get together, the brute comes out of his cave specifically to go after the grouping of calvus. I'm getting some calvus caves and boester bells soon, there are enough hiding places as of now, but I'm thinking creating some more calvus specific territories may help? I dunno, I just hope the brute settles down or he might be going back to the LFS if he impedes pairing so much, especially since he has shown zero interest in either of the females. We'll see how it goes haha.


They did have a nice selection of Calvus but they were all onsie twosie selections and I’m looking for a group of 8 or so of Inkfins. It was great to find a shop relatively close who love and carry Tanganyikans. They had some really sweet Frontosas too, man I need a bigger tank.

Have you tried putting the brute in solitary? Might allow the others to pair off. Would love to see some pics.
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