South American Cichlids • Any Heckelii Keepers Out There?

Discussion regarding only South American Cichlid species. (Oscars, Geophagines, Discus, Apistogramma, Green Terrors, Angels, Severums, Pikes, etc.)

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Any Heckelii Keepers Out There?

Postby Mr Tobias » Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:19 pm

I have been keeping these for years but not very sucessfully. I have had them consistently in my 120G over the years but have never had them reach full size. It seems that after a while one will act a little funny, stop eating and die shortly after. It is generally the largest so the group never reaches full size. I have started over, replacing the lost fish and eventually the same thing happens. My tank has been established for years and the fish are all healthy except for the occasional Heckelii loss.
The growth rate on mine is also extremely slow. When I read of people having these fish go from 2.5" to 6" in a year I can't beleive it. Mine may grow an inch or 2 in a year, tops. Any thoughts out there on keeping these more sucessfully and having them reach full size or close to it? Thanks!
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Re: Any Heckelii Keepers Out There?

Postby Granamyr » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:44 pm

I have had Heckelii for the last year and a half and mine have gone from under 2" to 7" in that time. Can you post what else is in your tank and what your water parameters are including temp?

I keep my tank at 80 degrees but they are the biggest fish in my 90 gallon I have 4 of them.
90 gallon
4 Threadfin Acara 7 Apistogramma Baenschi 7 Emperor Tetras
1 Blue Phantom Pleco (L128)
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Re: Any Heckelii Keepers Out There?

Postby caldwelldaniel26 » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:47 pm

How often are you doing water changes, feeding, water parameters etc...
...Surviving doesn't always mean they're thriving...
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Re: Any Heckelii Keepers Out There?

Postby Mr Tobias » Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:35 pm

Thanks for the quick replies! Wow, from under 2" to 7" - that's fantastic! My tank is 120G. I've got 3 Eheim cannister filters (big, medium, small) and a powerhead mounted up top in one of the corners. There are 3 small Heckelii (2 - 3") and I just added 3 larger ones today - probably about 4 - 5". I also have 1 large severum, 3 blue acara and a medium sized angelfish pair. One or both of the angels will probably go since they have begum to breed regularly and are very nasty while guarding eggs.
I keep the tank at 80 - 81 degrees and change about 40 - 50% of the water weekly. Once in a while I miss a week and go 1.5 - 2 weeks between changes.
I feed once or twice a day with 2 types of flake, small pellets, larger pellets and try to mix it up. I feed frozen bloodworms a couple of times a week as well. When I run out of bloodworms a month or more might go by before I pick up more. Any thoughts? Any more info I can give that can shed some light on the problem?
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Re: Any Heckelii Keepers Out There?

Postby caldwelldaniel26 » Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:00 pm

Were any of the fish that died hiding a lot or hovering near the surface of the water before they passed? The angels are the only ones being aggressive, what about the large severum?
...Surviving doesn't always mean they're thriving...
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Re: Any Heckelii Keepers Out There?

Postby Mr Tobias » Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:24 am

I did not see any fish hiding or hanging at the top. No obvious signs of aggression - the severum and all the other fish are pretty mellow except for an occasional chase. Yes, the fish in question do end up hiding before they die, but that is after they're already sick I think. This has been a repetitive problem over a long period of time. Everybody is fine then one fish (heckelii) stops eating and dies.
Something about my long term care of these or just isolated cases of bad luck? Whatever it is, it's discouraging over time. Could it be amount of food? Not enough? If this was the case all of the fish should look skinny and have problems, right? That's not the case.
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Re: Any Heckelii Keepers Out There?

Postby caldwelldaniel26 » Sat Nov 18, 2017 12:37 pm

What are you feeding them?
...Surviving doesn't always mean they're thriving...
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Re: Any Heckelii Keepers Out There?

Postby Mr Tobias » Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:54 pm

I feed once, sometimes twice a day. Tetra cichlid flakes and New Life Spectrum community fish 1mm pellets every time. Then I add in Omega One Super Veggie flake, Hikari Cichlid Gold mini pellets, or OSI Spirulina pellets alternately every couple of feedings. A pinch here or there. Frozen bloodworms once or twice a week when I have them. I thaw 2 cubes in tank water in a cup then dump it in.
Even after keeping fish lots of years I still second guess myself about amount of food per feeding.
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Re: Any Heckelii Keepers Out There?

Postby nodima » Thu Nov 30, 2017 7:38 am

Interested in this as well, as I've experienced similar things with my SA tank, including Heckelii. Randomly, every 4-8 weeks I lose a fish.
180 gal - Tanganyikan community tank: Tropheus Bemba, Synodontis Petricola, Compressiceps

125gal - South American community: Geophagus, Acara, Angels, Severum, Festivum

75gal - Planted SA tank
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Re: Any Heckelii Keepers Out There?

Postby Granamyr » Sat Dec 02, 2017 12:50 am

Have you checked your Ph recently? I wonder if Heckelii slowly succumb when under too high of a Ph?
90 gallon
4 Threadfin Acara 7 Apistogramma Baenschi 7 Emperor Tetras
1 Blue Phantom Pleco (L128)
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Re: Any Heckelii Keepers Out There?

Postby Mr Tobias » Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:22 pm

Ph just tested at 6.5 which looks like it's right in the recommended range.
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Re: Any Heckelii Keepers Out There?

Postby Granamyr » Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:08 am

that is definitely fine. I'm not sure, can you test your other water parameters? are you using RO water?
90 gallon
4 Threadfin Acara 7 Apistogramma Baenschi 7 Emperor Tetras
1 Blue Phantom Pleco (L128)
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Re: Any Heckelii Keepers Out There?

Postby Mr Tobias » Fri Jan 05, 2018 2:34 pm

Just regular tap water with de-chlorinator. Never have had any problems with water parameters. It's a long standing tank with really good filtration and really good water change/cleaning schedule I think.
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Re: Any Heckelii Keepers Out There?

Postby Oscar6 » Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:43 pm

Fish that don't grow as expected or suddenly die off are generally, not always, but most often succumbing to exposure to toxins. Especially relevant with baby/juvie cichlids. More so I find with SA vs CA fish. You have a fairly heavy stock for 120g. There is nothing but benefit for cichlids in throwing as much clean water at them as possible. I suggest upping your water change volume, and cutting a couple days off as well. 75% every 4-5 days. Your Ph is very SA friendly, I bet if you kept the water cleaner you will see positive results
1500 gallons of South and Central American cichlids. Some with a "wee" bit of attitude.
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Re: Any Heckelii Keepers Out There?

Postby Mr Tobias » Sun Jan 28, 2018 6:16 pm

Oscar6 - I can increase my water changes - more volume and more frequently - pretty easily. I'll do that and see if I notice a difference. I'm pretty surprised you think the tank is "fairly heavily stocked". 12 fish, all juveniles is heavy for a 120?? It seems lightly stocked to me. It even looks pretty empty.
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