South American Cichlids • The Most Versatile Cichlid

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

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The Most Versatile Cichlid

Postby slava2929 » Fri Oct 12, 2018 4:47 pm

I have kept 8 different types of dwarf and regular sized cichlids and without question the most versatile and under appreciated cichlid is the keyhole cichlid. When I first got into cichlids two years ago keyholes weren't even on my "want list" and I only got one because my LFS had them and they looked interesting. Not only are they beautiful, they also tolerate a wide variety of water parameters and they are also the most peaceful cichlid I have ever owned. They still have the cichlid intelligence, but they are reasonably sized (4 inches), they are not fragile like dwarf cichlids and they will fit comfortably into almost any community tank. My angel fish was much more aggressive than my keyhole which I have kept successfully with a variety of small and even tiny fish to this point. I suspect the lack of vibrant colors is the reason this fish isn't more popular, however, the keyhole has an earthy beauty to go along with its stellar personality. I highly recommend them.
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: The Most Versatile Cichlid

Postby rafini » Wed Oct 17, 2018 8:07 pm

I've wanted to keep this species for a while, and I hear nothing but good stuff.
If there ever was a candidate for line breeding to bring more color into a species I feel like the keyhole is a good candidate.
The ornamental fish hobby have proven they can line breed color into pretty much anything from Arowanas to dwarf cichlids and tropheus.

I`m not saying that they should do this to the keyhole, but I think it would be a good start to pick a species that is the perfect inhabitant to begin with, instead of blue acaras and jack dempseys.
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Re: The Most Versatile Cichlid

Postby slava2929 » Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:21 am

Whatever breeders can do to popularize this great little fish is fine by me. I have kept over 20 different breeds of fish and aside from green puffers, this is my favorite. I can put my keyhole with anything (can't do that with puffers) and it still acts like a cichlid, without the over the top aggression.
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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Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2017 6:53 am
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: The Most Versatile Cichlid

Postby rafini » Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:35 pm

just curious what kind of water do you keep your fish in?
Here in Calgary the water is like lake malawi. Central americans and africans do really well in this alkaline hard water but south american species need softer conditions.
Can keyholes do well in hard water?

Also do you have any pics?
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Re: The Most Versatile Cichlid

Postby slava2929 » Thu Nov 01, 2018 5:32 am

Lake Ontario Ph in my area is about 7.2 - 7.4 which isn't bad for most fish. I use peat to lower the hardness and Ph for my south American fish to about 7.0 or 7.1. It's hard to lower the Ph more than that with peat in my experience. Keyholes are one of the few South American fish that can handle a Ph in the low 7s and I haven't had a problem with mine so far. I wouldn't keep then in anything over 7.5 though and it sounds like Calgary water is pretty hard.
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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Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2017 6:53 am
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: The Most Versatile Cichlid

Postby Iggy Newcastle » Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:27 pm

Are you breeding these in those water conditions? Thanks
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Re: The Most Versatile Cichlid

Postby rafini » Sun Nov 04, 2018 7:15 pm

Thanks that is very useful to know.
I love how round and robust these fish get, in fact I just ordered some at my lfs!
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Re: The Most Versatile Cichlid

Postby slava2929 » Sun Nov 11, 2018 2:03 pm

No Iggy, I just have one right now and if I decided to breed keyholes I suspect (although I'm not sure) I'd have to get my Ph even lower.
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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Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2017 6:53 am
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: The Most Versatile Cichlid

Postby BC in SK » Sun Nov 11, 2018 2:49 pm

slava2929 wrote: I decided to breed keyholes I suspect (although I'm not sure) I'd have to get my Ph even lower.

Could be (??). But I am not convinced at all, that a Keyhole cichlid is a low pH, soft water cichlid. I'd like to see a link to some site showing an actual measurement from the Keyhole's natural habitat. I've searched in the past myself, but have not come up with much. Much appreciated, if some one could provide a link with actual measurements from the wild; not somebodies made-up recommendation as that is more often then not, nothing to do with the water a fish originates from.
The only thing I can find is fish base. Unfortunately, fish base isn't always reliable for this type of info. Sometimes the info originates from actual scientific data.....other times it actually originates from the aquarium hobby and is made up non-sense! Actually sometimes I think they have a default range listing, if a lack of info is available. https://www.fishbase.ca/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?ID=11136&AT=Akala+sonwin They have got a listing of pH 6-8 and dH ?-20. Bear in mind that a dGH of 20 would be anywhere from 4-6 times harder then the soft water of lake Malawi. They list the fish also coming from brackish, which I do believe fish base have that part correct. That means for certain that it can come from hard water and probably an indication it's really not a soft water fish.
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Re: The Most Versatile Cichlid

Postby Iggy Newcastle » Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:17 pm

From cichlidae.com....

Habitat: Cleithracara maronii lives mainly in small rivers of clear water, or sometimes black water, in the lower portion of the watersheds. In the French Guyana, only the Maroni houses this species higher in the drainage (Kullander & Nijssen, 1989; Keithet al, 2000). C. maronii is sometimes present in low numbers in the habitat. Creeks harboring large populations are few, generally with slow flow. Substrate is sand, cluttered with sunken wood and dead leaves. Apart from a few areas of semi-aquatic plants, often at the edges of the habitat, aquatic vegetation is poor. In French Guyana, the pH of these creeks is often around 5.5. According to my experience, water conductivity is approximately 20 to 30 µS and temperature 26 to 27 °C. As an example, during the dry season of 2004 I measured a conductivity of 23 µS and a temperature of 26.4 °C in a little creek near the forest of Saint-Jean-du-Maroni, Maroni River drainage [French Guyana].


This section kinda says that such soft water is not required to rear these fish...

Aquaristics: The maintenance of this quiet and timid little fish poses no real problem. It must be kept in soft and slightly acidic water, but strains reproduced in captivity for many generations tolerate less extreme conditions. It is better to keep C. maronii in small groups of 4 or 5 individuals in an aquarium of a minimum of one meter length. No vegetation needs to be present but the layout of the tank must provide sufficient hiding places, as C. maronii may prove extremely shy. Plants should not be up-rooted (Axelrod & Shaw, 1967). The presence of a school of small dither fish (Hemigrammus spp., Copella spp.) is generally a good addition. Co-habitation with large restless fish species however should be avoided if you want to see the full range of behavior of this fish.
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Re: The Most Versatile Cichlid

Postby BC in SK » Mon Nov 12, 2018 8:53 pm

Thanks for the info iggy.
pH 5.5 is certainly low pH. And an electrical conductivity of 20-30 microseimens is extremely soft water. But the keyhole cichlid is found over a fairly extensive range, so really not surprising it could be found in very soft, acidic water.
Also flipped through ACA bunterbarshe bulletins and found an article by David E. Boruchowitz in the June 2012 issue. Mentions it can be found in black water habitats but also notes that it can be found in brackish, as well. So it's also found in harder water, as well. Probably no way of knowing from where the domestic population originated from. Boruchowitz concludes under accomodations: "...it is quite adaptable and will even spawn in hard water. What these cichlids will not tolerate is polluted water; for them to thrive you must not skimp on filtration and water changes. Their water should also be warm---high 70's to low 80's F."
Back in the 1970's, it was cichlid I often encountered for sale at the pet shops. I also heard of at least a few people successfully breeding keyholes in our city water. According to the city website our water is: pH 7.9, dGH 10, KH 10 and an electrical conductivity of 468 microseimens. Domestic severums and oscars are bred in this water.....but a lot of soft water SA will not breed in this water. Never heard of any one, for example, breeding geos or apistos with out severely altering our water. Its why I would question whether the keyhole really is a soft water fish; other wise it wouldn't have been bred in our tap water.
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Re: The Most Versatile Cichlid

Postby Ada205 » Sun Nov 18, 2018 12:25 pm

Very interesting thread on a great and underestimated fish nowadays. My first ever egg layer to spawn for me was a pair of keysholes back 1985...I was 11 years old!! However, this thread brings to mind a more recent spawning I had of this great fish. I had a pair of keysholes in a 36'' tank that acquired a nasty leak. At the time I had very little suitable tanks to put the keyholes in and ended up in the panic of the moment having to temporarily put them in a 30'' tank that housed just one pair of Apistogramma Elizabethae that I was trying to spawn. This was a very specific setup for the Lizzys, a blackwater tank, full of new and decaying leaf litter, and super low conductivity...ph was under 5.5, tds was under .10ppm, pretty much pure r/o. The Lizzys weren't overly impressed with the squatters that had moved in!! It was very much keyholes at one end and Lizzys at the other! Within 3 weeks however, and just before was about to move the keyholes back out I found they'd spawned, and it was the biggest spawn I've had in my entire time in this great hobby, counting the cloud of fry was virtually impossible and caused me issues as had very little space at time so sadly had to cull which I hate doing. The adults now live it up in my discus display tank where they get along great with the Discus, a few Rams and A. Cacatuoides.
So, while I can't say what's best water conditions for them, in my experience keyholes certainly don't mind it soft!
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