Central American Cichlids • How many small CA cichlids in a 40 gallon breeder?

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

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How many small CA cichlids in a 40 gallon breeder?

Postby slava2929 » Fri Mar 02, 2018 11:37 pm

I already asked Iggy this question, but I'd also like to throw it out to the community: I have a 4" male rainbow cichlid, a female convict cichlid in a 29 G. I just bought a 40 breeder (36 x 18 x 16) which has an 80% bigger footprint than the 29. I was wondering if I could put any more CA cichlids in that tank. I was hoping for a firemouth, but a female rainbow cichlid would also be nice. Would a third small CA cichlid be too much for that tank?
29 - Convict, 2 Zebra Danios
40B - 2 Rainbow Cic's + 25 fry, Panda Garra
20 - juvenile Angelfish, Ember Tetra, Rummynose Tetra, 2 Rosy Tetras
20L - Jewel Cic., 2 Panda Corys, 3 Axelrod Corys, 3 Sterba's Corys, 3 Denison's Barbs
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Re: How many small CA cichlids in a 40 gallon breeder?

Postby BC in SK » Mon Mar 05, 2018 8:00 am

Since you already have a male rainbow, the only cichlids I would stock would be more rainbows.
IME, rainbows always ended up bullied by other CA and do much better in a tank with out other CA. Firemouths in particular, were especially nasty to them because they were also low in the pecking order and more so a direct competitor.
IMO, it is very possible for a female con to end up on top of a male rainbow in the pecking order. Just to put things in perspective, I had a large female con dominant over large male jewel when they were in a tank together (with out larger fish in the tank).
Secondly I don't have a lot of faith in small numbers working out well in the long run when it comes to aggressive cichlids. Rainbow cichlids are probably one of the few CA cichlids that small numbers have decent chance of working out but even then, I think you want a few more to make a group in order to better your chances. I under stand in a small tank you don't want to crowd fish, but regardless of the size of the tank you still need some numbers to have a decent chance of things working out.
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Re: How many small CA cichlids in a 40 gallon breeder?

Postby FireHorn123 » Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:51 pm

I have rainbow cichlids too and they are also in a 40B. So does that mean I can add another pair
40gB- (2)Gold Severum, (2)Guppies [Unfinished]
30gL-(2)Rainbow Cichlid Pair, (5)White Skirt Tetras [Finished]
29g- (2) Kribensis Pair (4) Mixed Cory Cats [Nearly Finished]
20gL- (1)Male Dwarf Gourami [Unfinished]
10g-Unoccupied
450g Fountain Pond-[HEAVY WORK IN PROGRESS]
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Re: How many small CA cichlids in a 40 gallon breeder?

Postby BC in SK » Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:52 am

FireHorn123 wrote:I have rainbow cichlids too and they are also in a 40B. So does that mean I can add another pair

There is no telling whether it will work or not. Might for some time, then again there is also a situation of introducing into an established tank. Never personally tried more then one pair of rainbows in the same tank . A 40b is not that large of a tank but certainly some people have had success with multiple pairs of rainbows in smaller tanks. They are generally more compatible with their own kind then most CA cichlids. I would think a single male and a group of females would probably have better odds of success......it's worked for me with much more aggressive CA.
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Re: How many small CA cichlids in a 40 gallon breeder?

Postby slava2929 » Tue Mar 06, 2018 5:20 pm

BC in SK wrote:Since you already have a male rainbow, the only cichlids I would stock would be more rainbows.
IME, rainbows always ended up bullied by other CA and do much better in a tank with out other CA. Firemouths in particular, were especially nasty to them because they were also low in the pecking order and more so a direct competitor.
IMO, it is very possible for a female con to end up on top of a male rainbow in the pecking order. Just to put things in perspective, I had a large female con dominant over large male jewel when they were in a tank together (with out larger fish in the tank).
Secondly I don't have a lot of faith in small numbers working out well in the long run when it comes to aggressive cichlids. Rainbow cichlids are probably one of the few CA cichlids that small numbers have decent chance of working out but even then, I think you want a few more to make a group in order to better your chances. I under stand in a small tank you don't want to crowd fish, but regardless of the size of the tank you still need some numbers to have a decent chance of things working out.


yeah. Everything you say here makes sense. I was so close to getting a firemouth but after reading this I'm seriously considering keeping the status quo. Thanks for your help.
29 - Convict, 2 Zebra Danios
40B - 2 Rainbow Cic's + 25 fry, Panda Garra
20 - juvenile Angelfish, Ember Tetra, Rummynose Tetra, 2 Rosy Tetras
20L - Jewel Cic., 2 Panda Corys, 3 Axelrod Corys, 3 Sterba's Corys, 3 Denison's Barbs
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Re: How many small CA cichlids in a 40 gallon breeder?

Postby slava2929 » Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:53 pm

Finally moved the fish over to the 40 breeder. Almost every hint of aggression has gone. I can't see how overstocking lowers aggression if each fish has enough room to begin with.
29 - Convict, 2 Zebra Danios
40B - 2 Rainbow Cic's + 25 fry, Panda Garra
20 - juvenile Angelfish, Ember Tetra, Rummynose Tetra, 2 Rosy Tetras
20L - Jewel Cic., 2 Panda Corys, 3 Axelrod Corys, 3 Sterba's Corys, 3 Denison's Barbs
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Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: How many small CA cichlids in a 40 gallon breeder?

Postby Iggy Newcastle » Sat Mar 17, 2018 12:28 am

How have things progressed?
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Re: How many small CA cichlids in a 40 gallon breeder?

Postby slava2929 » Tue Mar 20, 2018 3:18 am

Iggy Newcastle wrote:How have things progressed?


Because of the significantly decreased aggression, I bought a firemouth fry which I have in my ram tank for now. There is enough space that I can give both my rainbow and my convict their own territory. Things are good. I'm really happy with the 40 breeder because my guys simply never go above mid water and the larger footprint gives them each more territory. I'm pretty comfortable putting a 6 month old firemouth in the tank so when he/she hits that age, I'll move them out of the ram tank. Thanks for asking, Iggy.
29 - Convict, 2 Zebra Danios
40B - 2 Rainbow Cic's + 25 fry, Panda Garra
20 - juvenile Angelfish, Ember Tetra, Rummynose Tetra, 2 Rosy Tetras
20L - Jewel Cic., 2 Panda Corys, 3 Axelrod Corys, 3 Sterba's Corys, 3 Denison's Barbs
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Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: How many small CA cichlids in a 40 gallon breeder?

Postby Iggy Newcastle » Sat Mar 24, 2018 11:47 am

Just be ready to remove the FM if things go south. A lone fish introduced to a tank of 2 established cichlids could get ugly.
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Re: How many small CA cichlids in a 40 gallon breeder?

Postby slava2929 » Sat Apr 21, 2018 1:26 pm

Iggy Newcastle wrote:Just be ready to remove the FM if things go south. A lone fish introduced to a tank of 2 established cichlids could get ugly.


This comment scared me a bit so I moved the Firemouth over sooner rather than later and things have been okay, at least as far as the Firemouth is concerned. The firemouth doesn't seem to be a threat to the other two fish at this point (quite small) and so is pretty much left alone. I have the world's most aggressive rainbow, and the world's most chill convict and only the rainbow is giving the FM any grief, but nothing serious. Occasionally have had to put a divider in the tank to allow the convict to come outside her cave b/c the rainbow (which is about double her size) likes to keep her pinned in her cave for most of the day. So far so good and thanks for the tip, it's certainly appreciated.
29 - Convict, 2 Zebra Danios
40B - 2 Rainbow Cic's + 25 fry, Panda Garra
20 - juvenile Angelfish, Ember Tetra, Rummynose Tetra, 2 Rosy Tetras
20L - Jewel Cic., 2 Panda Corys, 3 Axelrod Corys, 3 Sterba's Corys, 3 Denison's Barbs
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Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: How many small CA cichlids in a 40 gallon breeder?

Postby BC in SK » Sun Apr 22, 2018 11:30 am

slava2929 wrote: I have the world's most aggressive rainbow

I think you always have to look at the situation the fish is in, so I am really not convinced that is really an accurate explanation of what you are observing in your tank.
Only two CA cichlids in a small tank. One or the other is going to be dominant and try to eliminate it's competition (and yes, even less aggressive species will often act that way with insufficient numbers). That the rainbow is considerably larger and male is reason why it is the more dominant at this time. But your fish are young and not that large; pecking orders can change, they almost always do over time. Had your convict been the dominant.....you may very well have a dead rainbow with only 2 cichlids in the tank.
You have added the firemouth, and i think that is at least a start. If it is considerably smaller, it may not yet be seen as a threat. IMO and IME, 4-5 cichlids is sort of a minimum to have any decent chance of ending up with a workable community.
What other fish are in the tank? Some kind of schooling dither could at least be bodies in the way and help some what. Other fish, such as gouramis can actually count, somewhat, as part of the pecking order.
But really, with rainbows, I think you would be best of with a species tank with rainbows as the only cichlids.
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Re: How many small CA cichlids in a 40 gallon breeder?

Postby slava2929 » Sun Apr 22, 2018 1:47 pm

My rainbow was originally purchased with another male rainbow (I was hoping for a mating pair) and it beat up the other rainbow so badly within a week that I had to take the other one back to the store. Also, my male rainbow is fully grown and not "young" like you said. It's at least a year old according to my LFS. And it's also interesting that my convict has no problem whatsoever with the young firemouth, but the rainbow will chase it when he's in the mood. I have 5 zebra danios and 6 corys which he also chases about on occasion although that has diminished somewhat. And finally, he also bites me when I stick my hand in the tank. The little convict seems to really like me, but the rainbow definitely has issues with me and it appears he also has issues with the rest of the world. I hear you about needing 5 CA cichlids in a tank, but with only 40 gallons I'm not sure I have the room at this point. I'd have purchased more rainbows but originally I only had a 29 gallon and the only rainbows available were fully grown so I didn't have the room. I have only seen rainbows once in all the time I frequent my three local fish stores and I did enquire at the biggest store and the owner wasn't a fan because they weren't big sellers. I do appreciate the feedback. Thanks.
29 - Convict, 2 Zebra Danios
40B - 2 Rainbow Cic's + 25 fry, Panda Garra
20 - juvenile Angelfish, Ember Tetra, Rummynose Tetra, 2 Rosy Tetras
20L - Jewel Cic., 2 Panda Corys, 3 Axelrod Corys, 3 Sterba's Corys, 3 Denison's Barbs
User avatar
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Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2017 6:53 am
Location: Ontario, Canada


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