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Discussion regarding only Lake Tanganyika species.
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Tang tank with a turtle

Tue Sep 03, 2019 10:54 pm

Hi All, I've been enjoying reading through the posts on here, along with the species profiles and other information.

Has anyone had experience keeping a turtle with Tangs? I know that some people put Malawi cichlids with turtles, but haven't been able to find much information about turtles and cichlids from Lake Tanganyika.

We inherited an adult Murray Short-Necked Turtle (Emydura macquarii) from a colleague who was moving and couldn't take it with them. These turtles are omnivorous but don't hunt fish as much as the long-neck turtles do. They like hard, alkaline water.

The turtle came with a narrow 4ft foot tank (18" high, 14" wide, and 36" long), which it had clearly outgrown. So we got a 6ft tank with a built in basking platform (24" high, 24" wide, 72" long), which is half filled with water, and thus has around 90g in it.

I wanted to have some plants for this turtle, so my LFS suggested Tang cichlids rather than those from Lake Malawi. The tank has heaps of texas holey rock, quite a lot of planted driftwood, and some vallisneria, but still has plenty of open water as well, with a white sand substrate.

After cycling the tank, we started off with 4 leleupi longior, and over time have added:
5 Synodontis petricola
4 Juli transcriptus
3 Xenotilapia bathyphilus
1 Bristlenose pleco
1 Chinese algae eater
6 Giant danios

Does this seem overstocked? So far the more fish I've added, the more active the rest have become because the dominant leleupi has to divide his attention between them all. The fish don't seem stressed right now, with the possible exception of the Xenos.

I change the water twice a week (around 35% each time), and keep the nitrate levels around 30 or below, which is the aim with this kind of turtle. The filter is an Aqua One 1400.

The turtle mainly ignores the fish (who play around him when he's sleeping, with the petricola treating him like another rock), although the he's more interested in silvery fish, and has taken one Xeno and one danio, both times within the first 48 hours of them arriving (we take the turtle out for an hour or so to let the fish acclimatise, but I think they might have been fooled by the way the other fish have no fear of him). I'm yet to see the turtle actively try and hunt any fish (and it's been quite awhile since he got any).

The Chinese algae eater was a mistake, and I'm taking it back once I can catch it!

The Xeno might also be a mistake - I wanted them to help turn the sand over, but the two remaining ones (1 male & 1 female) get bossed around a bit by the dominant leleupi. The danios have helped however - they act a bit as dither fish, and sometimes school a bit with the Xeno who are now more active.

I might add a few more danios if it seems like the turtle won't snack on anymore (I'd love to add some Australian rainbows or dwarf rainbows, but think that might be pushing it, although most of the tank still looks empty of fish!). The LFS has suggested N buescheri kamakonde, and also N helianthus (which they breed themselves). They've also suggested a featherfin squeaker catfish to turn the sand more and clean the bottom, but noted that this fish would eat any fry.

Re: Tang tank with a turtle

Wed Sep 04, 2019 8:52 am

If you only have it half full, I would stick to rock dwellers and bottom dwellers.

I agree on removing the xenos with the Synodontis.

Why does the tank look empty? Are the fish hiding? Have you ever kept the Tangs without the turtle?

You want the nitrate between 10ppm and 20ppm which may be difficult with the turtle which is usually why turtles and fish fail.

And the fish kill is usually a problem for fishkeepers.

Helianthus have a rep for killing everything else in the tank when they spawn except for their own fry, and then fill the tank with their fry which they tolerate. Maybe just these and the turtle?

With leleupi I would not add buescheri.

Why do you need the sand turned over or the bottom cleaned? If you have sufficient filtration there should be almost no debris. I would not add the featherfin with the Synodontis.

Re: Tang tank with a turtle

Wed Sep 04, 2019 6:25 pm

Thanks for your reply DJRansom.

This is my first time with Tangs. The main thing making fish hide at times has been the dominant leleupi, but the other rock dwellers and sand sifters are all more active with the giant danios around. Even when there is the most activity (around feeding time) there still seems to be a lot of empty space in the tank compared to my 50g community tank, or the Lake Malawi tanks that I've seen. But maybe I just need to adjust my expectations. It might also be because most of the fish are still juveniles.

I'll see if three water changes a week can get the nitrates to 20 or less.

In terms of the sand, I'd read that there is a danger in anaerobic gas pockets forming, and the initial plan was for Lake Malawi cichlids that would continuously rescape the sand. That said, at the moment the sand has very little debris.

Re: Tang tank with a turtle

Wed Sep 04, 2019 6:47 pm

Stir the sand with weekly water changes.

How do you know the turtle is not making them hide?

Julodichromis stay near their rocks. Synodontis are all over all the time. Leleupi as well I think. Maybe you need to rehome the aggressive leleupi?

Re: Tang tank with a turtle

Wed Sep 04, 2019 7:41 pm

Thanks, I'll start stirring the sand with those water changes.

The leleupi and synodontis have no fear of the turtle (often swimming through his legs, and just hanging out under him), and the Julis don't seem bothered by him either although they don't treat him like a moving rock, which the others do.

In fact, sometimes the non-dominant leleupi will swim under him as a way of exploring around because the turtle doesn't enjoy leleupi fighting around him (he gets agitated and swings around quickly, but doesn't chase them or snap at them, and otherwise ignores them, even when they go close to his nose.

The synodontis do go everywhere, although seem to enjoy the driftwood the most. The dominant leleupi was chasing the other leleupi back into their rocks whenever they came out, and was also hounding the Xenos, but is doing that less (with both leleupi and Xenos) now that the danios are going everywhere.

I'll give it a bit longer, but will look at rehoming the dominant leleupi if he remains an issue.

Do you think the tank is overstocked?

Re: Tang tank with a turtle

Wed Sep 04, 2019 9:03 pm

I am thinking a species tank with just the helianthus and the turtle could work. They are aggressive and would replace any fish or fry the turtle gets.

With your current stock I would rehome the xenos and maybe add leleupi and/or danios if you want a couple more fish.

No rules on how to stock a tank with a turtle but it is pretty full even without the turtle. I would not add species.

Re: Tang tank with a turtle

Thu Sep 05, 2019 6:56 am

Thanks again DJRansome,

I'll look at rehoming the xenos, and then think about adding more a few more danios for now.

If it's not working, I'll think about the species tank with helianthus.
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