Central American Cichlids • Thoricthys (firemouth or Ellioti) with Cockatoo cichlids?

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Thoricthys (firemouth or Ellioti) with Cockatoo cichlids?

Postby Kattato Garu » Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:54 am

Hi folks, I'm setting up a 6ft 100 Gal planted tank with eventually a couple of pairs of Ellioti cichlids (or Firemouth if there isn't the availablity), and some suitable shoaling fish, there's a territory at each end and a tall island in the middle to break line of sight. Water is moderately alkaline pH 7.3 and hard (13-14 DH). I'd like to try another dwarf cichlid as well - wither Rainbow or Cockatoo. Has anyone tried these combinations? Any advice on getting the fish and should I try and get them all in at once so that they establish territories in a natural way? Thanks!
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Re: Thoricthys (firemouth or Ellioti) with Cockatoo cichlids

Postby BC in SK » Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:16 am

Probably not a good idea to mix most SA dwarfs with CA cichlids. First of all, there is quite a difference in aggression level and ability to defend itself. Firemouths are really aggressive cichlids compared to many SA cichlids, and really could end up bullying most SA apistos.
The term "dwarf cichlid" is an arbitrary term based on the size of the fish. If 4" is the cut off for being designated a "dwarf cichlid", there are no dwarf CA cichlids. There really are no cichlids from CA that won't potentially get at least 5 1/2". Apistos like a cockatoo usually get no more then 3" - 3 1/2". Firemouths can get 6"+. On the internet there are at least 2 pictures showing large males beside a tape measure showing 6 1/2". Supposedly they can get to 7", though 5"- 5 1/2" is probably a more common size for large adults. To put it another way, an apisto at 3"- 3 1/2" would be around a 10 to 15 gram fish. Firemouth would have the potential to exceed 100 grams; with most large adults weighing around 50-80 grams. So it's many times larger of a fish.
Then there is also the aspect of water parameters. FM, like most CA, usually come from very hard, alkaline waters. Many SA, the very opposite, soft and acidic. Of course it varies considerably depending on which species and which waters they come from, but many apistos do come from soft acidic waters. And while specific water parameters are seldom that critical for a fish like FM, they certainly can be for some SA that come from soft, acidic water.
I think if you were going to try and mix FM with a SA dwarf, some kind of dwarf pike would probably fair a lot better. At least it would be able to defend itself, and unlikely to get bullied.
As far as another CA that might coexist with FM (or other thorichthys), less aggressive species form the genera Cryptoheros, Archoecentrus, or Amititlania. Something like HRP (Hondurean Red point) or Flier cichlid (Archoecentrus centrarchus) might be worth a try. Some people have had success mixing rainbow cichlid with other CA, though IME they didn't do well at all with other CA, especially FM, and did much better in a tank with out other cichlids.
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Re: Thoricthys (firemouth or Ellioti) with Cockatoo cichlids

Postby Mr Chromedome » Sun Aug 18, 2019 2:15 pm

The only true Dwarf CA species I know of are the Yellow Convict, Amatitlania nanolutea, which is recorded as less than 3 inches (6.4cm) in the wild, and A. altoflava, which is just under 4 inches(9cm) in the wild. The largest Yellow Convict I've seen in aquaria was still under 4 inches. They are not common, but they are around, and are a relatively peaceful fish. They also come from the slightly softer, slightly alkaline pH waters of Panama, but are very tolerant of a wide range of conditions.

IME, Thorichthys are mostly bluffers with fish their own size, but they can be bullies with smaller fish. I have never kept Rainbow Cichlids in mixed species tanks. Cockatoos would be a very poor choice with Firemouths. From the SA Cichlids, I would consider Severums (Heros species) or some of the Cichlasoma species (Port Cichlids), which can get fairly large and are also extremely tolerant of a wide range of hardness and pH. If you can find them, some of the Australoheros from the extreme south can also be fairly tough, and species like the "Red Ciebal" are quite colorful.

Basically, your first choices were not the best, but your heart is in the right place - with Cichlids!
Happiness may be the door to Heaven, but Pleasure is not the Key. - attributed to Confucius
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Re: Thoricthys (firemouth or Ellioti) with Cockatoo cichlids

Postby Kattato Garu » Wed Aug 21, 2019 12:45 am

Thanks both for the reply, I take it that the cockatoo would be a bad idea with thoricthys... what I'm really interested in is some natural behavior I.e. Territorial displays and spawning in the Thoricthys, rather than filling the tank with different fish, but was hoping that they might more or less ignore a smaller cichlid of a different species so that I'd get several types of behavior. If I put in another cichlid of a similar size to the Elliott or FM wd be worried they would disrupt the behaviors I'm interested in and/or eat eggs and fry before these can be rescued. Could I get natural behavior with two cichlid species in a tank this size? Tank setup is shown in photo b4 I put in substrate (will be planted and settle in for a good while before any cichlids are introduced as I don't want them uprooting too much).
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20190728_214246.jpg
6 ft 100 gal CA tank long pre substrate.
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Re: Thoricthys (firemouth or Ellioti) with Cockatoo cichlids

Postby Ronzo » Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:49 am

Katto;

Tank looks great...following with interest...!

Cheers from Connecticut
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Re: Thoricthys (firemouth or Ellioti) with Cockatoo cichlids

Postby Mr Chromedome » Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:07 am

Most of the Thorichthys fanciers that I know of suggest groups of these species, the way they live in the wild. I'd start with 6-8 of the species you want.

These are also fish that like to move around a lot of substrate, which IME should be in the tank before the water. Otherwise it will displace a lot of water and you will have an overflow.
Happiness may be the door to Heaven, but Pleasure is not the Key. - attributed to Confucius
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Re: Thoricthys (firemouth or Ellioti) with Cockatoo cichlids

Postby Kattato Garu » Wed Aug 21, 2019 5:24 pm

I've got the substrate in and it's cycling whilst I'm hiking in the Alps! I think I'll probably stick to 1 species of cichlid but I really fancy some rainbowfish to shoal in the mid/upper levels. I know it's not geographically correct but I had platys for years and don't really want livebearers.
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Re: Thoricthys (firemouth or Ellioti) with Cockatoo cichlids

Postby Kattato Garu » Sat Aug 31, 2019 3:58 pm

Plants went in today :)
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