Cichlid Fish Forum banner
81 - 100 of 136 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Discussion Starter · #81 ·
Hmm... having done nothing to the tank except to let it cycle, my kh has dropped to 10. Is this a sign of the cycle taking place due to acidification eating away at the kh? Seems like quite a significant drop
 

· Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Discussion Starter · #82 ·
I think I solved the mystery of kH - the Salifert freshwater kits are inconsistent. They give wildly inconsistent results even when testing 3 hours apart. I've since purchased an API test kit instead and hope it works better.

I haven't been updating much as cycling a tank is probably the most boring part of any aquarist's journey. I'm glad to say that the cycle completed in just over a week with the help of a bacterial culture product. I know some of you regard such products as snake oil, but certain brands have always worked for me (some better than others) while others don't work at all. We can chalk it up to differences in experiences, but when I dose ammonia into the tank, and it tests 0 for ammonia and nitrites in 24h with an increase in nitrates, it's good enough for me. I also have another sludge remover bacteria product that I will start dosing once the fish get established in the tank to help with the breaking down of waste. I am a believer of dosing bacteria to help the tank function better.

My supplier's shipment came in a week earlier than previously scheduled so it's a good thing I went with the bacteria culture product instead of just letting time do its thing. I left most of the fish I ordered with the supplier except for the Cyanthopharx furcifer Resha, which I have brought home and into the tank. They started the first 24 hours by congregating together as a group near the sand and not moving much from there, but are now starting to spread out more and explore the tank. They are also already feeding well - I've fed them kensfish blackworm sticks and brine shrimp sticks and they have finished it all. They are only about 3+" without any colour at the moment so I hope the exporter sexed them properly for me (I ordered 3m6f, and they came packed 3 individually bagged and the other 6 bagged together).

The rest of the shipment had a couple of DOA and some fish didn't seem that stable so I left them with my supplier and will pick them up in batches over the next week. Thankfully, the 2m3f Xenotilapia nigrolabiata Red Princess all arrived stable and well, so they may be the next batch I bring home. I heard that they are pretty delicate so it's great that a stable batch came in.

Oh a question that I have - what is the recommended sex ratio for Julidochromis in my tank? I have decided to go with Julidochromis marlieri Magara, and there is a single one left from the previous shipment. I have no idea how to sex it, so I'm not sure if I should take this one home first and add more with the next shipment in September, or just order the entire batch together with the next shipment. My concern is that the exporter only had 10 small 2" Julidochromis marlieri Magara left on the stocklist, so by September I might not have any left to order if I don't take this one.

It's great that the tank finally has fish in it again, but the fish are coming in young and small so I think that it will be a long time before my tank appears lively and colorful as I have hoped.
 

· Premium Member
Joined
·
1,000 Posts
Sounds like things are coming along nicely!

Featherfins and sand sifters are foraging omnivores, and feeding them appropriately is very important. Although they are not strict herbivores like Tropheus, their digestive tracts are similarly long and thin, making them susceptible to intestinal overloading. You do not want to feed these fishes a high protein diet, and you do not want these fishes to gorge themselves. Small feedings of vegetable-based foods are very important. They don't need a lot of variety; as with all things Tanganyikan, consistency is the key.

On the Julies, I'd get them all at once, and not worry about the gender ratio.

It will be fun to watch this tank come into its own as the Resha settle in and color up. That may take some time, but once nest builiding begins, you are in for a treat.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Discussion Starter · #84 ·
Sounds like things are coming along nicely!

Featherfins and sand sifters are foraging omnivores, and feeding them appropriately is very important. Although they are not strict herbivores like Tropheus, their digestive tracts are similarly long and thin, making them susceptible to intestinal overloading. You do not want to feed these fishes a high protein diet, and you do not want these fishes to gorge themselves. Small feedings of vegetable-based foods are very important. They don't need a lot of variety; as with all things Tanganyikan, consistency is the key.

On the Julies, I'd get them all at once, and not worry about the gender ratio.

It will be fun to watch this tank come into its own as the Resha settle in and color up. That may take some time, but once nest builiding begins, you are in for a treat.
Oh no, now I'm a little worried about the food. I've so far been feeding them blackworm sticks and brine shrimp sticks from kensfish.com and I have a large supply of Fluval Bug Bites that I intend to incorporate into their diet. Both work well with South American cichlids (including omnivores like discus), and I've been using them to replace NLS for years with the SA cichlids. I don't have on hand very much else vegetable based except Repashy Soilent Green gel food, which I can mix with Repashy Bottom Scratcher/Spawn & Grow to make it an omnivore diet, but it's a little troublesome to make and doesn't keep very long in the fridge. Would I be able to feed them the pellets as a staple and supplement weekly with the Repashy gel food?

I've collected the sandsifters today as well and while the tank now seems much livelier, it's still a mass of just silver fish when viewed from far. Hopefully the Enantiopus melanogenys Kilesa at least colour up blue and yellow soon! So far the Xenotilapia nigrolabiata Red Princess seem to be doing OK (fingers crossed) but I only ordered 5 pcs to try them out and see if they're too delicate for my tank. If they do well I'll add more in the next shipment. Really hope that the Cyanthopharx furcifer Resha grow and colour up quickly. Looking forward to the feature fish of the tank taking the spotlight!

I'll probably collect the Cypichromis leptosoma jumbo tricolor Mpimbwe this Friday - 2 were doa when the shipment arrived and 1 had popeye and died soon after, so I have 17 left. I don't think that's enough to fill the top and middle of my tank, so I will definitely be ordering more Cypichromis in the next shipment. I understand that I shouldn't order any more Cypichromis leptosoma jumbo variants due to crossbreeding concerns, but can I order other Cypichromis species like microlepidotus, pavo or zonatus instead?
 

· Premium Member
Joined
·
1,000 Posts
No need to hit the panic button here, but when I heard what you are feeding the featherfins I thought it best to steer you away from a high protein staple diet, because in the long term that will be problematic. These fishes do just fine on the kind of spirulina-intensive diet that works well for Tropheus, perhaps supplemented with plankton-based foods every now and then. Frozen foods (shrimp or krill) are also useful for getting the fishes into breeding shape, but again, these should be supplements only. I use spirulina flakes as their staple (~75%) diet, with pellets only occasionally.

You get Ken's Fish products in Singapore? That's close to where I grew up, but 3000+ miles from where I live now. Ken's spirulina flakes work well with all the fishes you will be keeping.

I haven't kept different Cyprichromis species together, but if you look at the Cyprichromis distribution map (http://www.tanganyika.si/ImagesMaps/Cyprichromis.jpg) you will see that some of these species occur sympatrically in the lake, indicating they do not hybridize in nature. That's no guarantee they will not do so in captivity, but if you have plenty of both sexes available it's unlikely to be a problem. All bets are off if you mix two species that never see each other in the wild, and there may or may not be other behavioural incompatibilities that prove problematic. I wouldn't expect that to happen, but in truth I just don't know.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Discussion Starter · #86 ·
I order food in bulk from kensfish and ship them over every 6-12 months. Singapore retailers apply such an insane markup that it's cheaper for me to purchase from kensfish and DHL the food over than to purchase locally. Doing it every 6-12 months ensures the food remains fresh as well - some local distributors don't even replenish their stock as often as that.

Flake won't work for me as my tank uses an overflow system for filtration that would sweep the flakes into the filter before it gets the chance to sink. That's the reason I switched away from using NLS as I found that recent batches of NLS tend to have 20-30% of the pellets float rather than sink. I use an autofeeder so I can't presoak them. I thought that using Ken's sticks would work well for the sandsifters as they sink fast and are too large to be eaten quickly by the faster fish. They soften slowly on the sand instead, so the sandsifters can slowly eat at their leisure. I was thinking of mixing pellets and sticks and feeding them together so the faster Cyprichromis and Altolamprologus would eat the slow sinking pellets in the water column, while the Cyanthopharx and sandsifters could graze on the sticks as they soften. I guess I could sell the blackworm and brine shrimp sticks, and purchase the ultra spirulina sticks instead. Alternatively, do you think getting large 3mm veggie pellets from Northfin would serve the same purpose of sinking fast for the grazers? I prefer the quality of ingredients from brands like NLS, Ocean Nutrition and Northfin rather then bulk foods from Kensfish if I can help it (I got the Ken's sticks previously for fancy plecos due to their grazing habits, but have since stopped keeping them).

I checked out the Cypichromis distribution map and it seems that Cyprichromis leptosoma jumbo overlaps with both Cyprichromis microlepidotus and Cyprichromis zonatus. Both these species grow as large as the jumbos right? If so I'd like to get them instead to create more colour and life in the tank. Seeing the 17 in my supplier's small tank makes me think I need many many more for a lively group in mine.
 

· Premium Member
Joined
·
1,000 Posts
Wow, so many novel aspects to having a setup like this...

I'm not sure what to advise on the food going forward. The only thing I can suggest is that whatever you do, you do not want the featherfins to eat too much food at any one time. Perhaps this is just a matter of feeding small portions several times each day? I'd be leery of the 3mm pellets, because having the fish ingest a large clump of concentrated food is exactly the kind of thing you want to avoid.

For sure you need more Cyps before your school will make much of an impact. I usually keep ~25 fishes in a 72" x 18" tank, and that seems to work well both for the fishes and as regards visual impact.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Discussion Starter · #88 ·
I first encountered this issue when trying to get food to SA corydoras and plecos in a tank with voracious tetras and SA cichlids. Applying that experience now with the sandsifters!

I'm trying to sell off my existing stock of food now, but do you think they'll do ok with just a normal staple pellet like Fluval Bug Bites? This is the one I use: https://fluvalaquatics.com/us/product/bug-bites-color-enhancing-formula-for-medium-to-large-fish/

If I do manage to sell off the existing stock of food, this is what I'm planning to get: https://www.northfin.com/services/veggie-formula/

Previously I used to set up my autofeeders to feed 4x a day (including once in the middle of the night when all lights were off so that the bottom feeders would be able to have some food reach the bottom) so I'm used to small but frequent feedings. I haven't done that yet with my new fish, and they are only on 1 meal a day at the moment. I'll cut down on the Ken's sticks in the meantime and start making a batch of Repashy Soilent Green + Bottom Scratcher for them to get some greens into their system. I have also found Repashy to be unparalleled in getting great growth out of young fish. I once bought some pleco fry from a friend and fed them on a Repashy diet. 2 months later, the fry I brought home had doubled in size versus the ones my friend kept and continued feeding pellets.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
2,349 Posts
Northfin cichlid formula is perfectly fine for Foai/Furcifer. I feed them both cichlid and veggie formula 2mm pellets.
If you want to add more protein to their diet occasionally, I would feed frozen mysis shrimp.
I only do this if I am trying to encourage spawning in my adults.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Discussion Starter · #90 ·
Northfin cichlid formula is perfectly fine for Foai/Furcifer. I feed them both cichlid and veggie formula 2mm pellets.
If you want to add more protein to their diet occasionally, I would feed frozen mysis shrimp.
I only do this if I am trying to encourage spawning in my adults.
Do you mix the formulas 50-50? The Fluval Bug Bites is probably similar to the cichlid formula, so if it's ok to mix with the veggie formula then I can just continue using it as a mix rather than having to sell it
 

· Super Moderator
Joined
·
8,403 Posts
One option with the Repashy is once you make up a batch, you can freeze what you don't use for a few months with no issues. I use the mini-muffin tins and once it's set and cooled, cut into appropriately sized chunks and freeze in a Zip-loc bag. You can also use mini ice cube trays but may need to gently pry out the individual Repashy cubes.

I just thaw out the previously frozen chunks before feeding.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Discussion Starter · #92 ·
I use a baking tray to make about 500ml of repashy every batch, then cut into 1 inch cubes to store in the fridge. Theh used to last 2 weeks before going bad. I tried the freezer method but it didn't work out for me - I found that after freezing the cubes release powder into the water when I feed. Don't have that issue when I refrigerate.

Anyhow, I've managed to sell off all my existing food. Will get a batch of Ocean Nutrition Formula 2 or NLS Algaemax to last while I order Northfin from kensfish.

@noddy do you know the difference between Northfin Veggie formula and Northfin Marine formula? They seem very similar but the Marine formula contains less ash content. I'm wondering if the Marine formula would be better?
 

· Registered
Joined
·
2,349 Posts
Do you mix the formulas 50-50? The Fluval Bug Bites is probably similar to the cichlid formula, so if it's ok to mix with the veggie formula then I can just continue using it as a mix rather than having to sell it
I have it mixed equally with NLS Thera + A (1/3 ea)
I also feed O.S.I spirulina flake
I can't comment on bug bites as I have never used it, but a quick search shows that it contains twice as much fat as northfin cichlid formula and it does not contain spirulina or kelp.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Discussion Starter · #94 ·
I'm going to collect the Cypichromis today and that's it for the next month until the next shipment comes in. The tank is going swimmingly as far as I can ascertain. The fish are all very active and gobble up all the food that is fed. The Enantiopus melanogenys Kilesa males are showing obvious signs of coloring up - the bottom fins have darkened to black and their heads and bodies are showing a lovely metallic blue and bright yellow colouration.

On the food front I've sold off most of my existing stock and purchased some Ocean Nutrition Formula 2 to last me while I order the Northfin from kensfish. I've also made a fresh batch of Repashy (50% Soilent Green and 50% Spawn & Grow). I hope this contains enough of a mix of greens plus insect protein to meet their dietary needs.

I've managed to source a better pump for my awc, so instead of doing a continuous 5% daily awc 24/7, I will be doing 5% daily wc over 2-3 hours. This gives me the capacity to increase awc volume if required based on the water parameters. I'm in the midst of having this set up now and tuning it with the daily kh, mg and reef salt dosing. I'm also in the midst of transitioning my tank automation system from Neptune Apex to Reef Factory - that's where the new awc pump and dosing pump are coming from, but eventually I will transition the entire system over. Exciting times!
 

· Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Discussion Starter · #95 ·
It's been about 3 and a half weeks since the first fish entered the tank and things seem to be going well. There's some noticeable but small growth observed and some of the fish are coloring up very well. I haven't managed to install the 5% daily auto water change system in yet as my installer fell very sick, but I do a 50% water change every 2 weeks for now and it seems fine. I've experimented with various types of food such as Repashy (Soilent Green + Spawn & Grow mix), NLS Algaemax, Ocean Nutrition Formula 2 and Northfin Veggie Formula and I think I will pick Repashy and Northfin as the long term options.

I've also added more Cyprichromis in the tank as the original 17 (3 were DOA) tricolor jumbos were just too few for my tank. So far no fish have died in my tank that I am aware of (no bodies found so far and those that I can count show up whenever I count them). My current stocklist stands at:
  • Cyprichromis leptosoma jumbo tricolor Mpimbwe x24
  • Cyprichromis microlepidotus Bulu Point x24
  • Paracyprichromis nigripinnis Blue Neon x8
  • Altolamprologus compressiceps Mandarin x8
  • Enantiopus melanogenys Kilesa x15
  • Xenotilapia nigrolabiata Red Princess x5
  • Cyathopharynx furcifer Resha x9
The tank looks really lively now and I think my stocking is just about complete - I may add more Cyprichromis as I feel the upper regions of the tank still need to be filled out more, and a couple of Julidochromis marlieri Magara, but that should be about it and the tank would be magnificent once the fish grow up more.

Here's a cute picture of 2 of the Enantiopus melanogenys Kilesa hanging out on a date away from the sand. You can also see the alpha Cyathopharynx furcifer Resha in the picture (he's so greedy and fat):

Wood Bedrock Natural material Tree Plant


I will update my thoughts on each species of fish I have in my next post
 

· Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Discussion Starter · #96 ·
This is my first time ever keeping Tanganyikan fish, so it is a completely new experience for me coming first from community tanks as a kid, then growing into the South American side of the hobby before dabbling in reef tanks then back to SA cichlids. I'm most glad for the few years I spent reefing as to me, that was really what prepared me most for this new aspect of the hobby. If I didn't already learn to maintain much more stringent water parameters in reefing, and if I didn't already familiarize myself with the array of equipment used by reefers to automate alot of tasks (which seem absent in the freshwater hobby for some reason), I don't think I would be having as smooth a journey as I have been so far. Not to mention of course all the valuable advice you guys have given me over the past weeks!

Without much further ado, here's some of my thoughts and observations about the fish I've been keeping. I hope that it can provide some anecdotal help to other newcomers to the hobby in future, as well as elicit more comments and advice from all you experienced hobbyists too!

Cyprichromis leptosoma jumbo tricolor Mpimbwe
One of the "dither" fish in this tank. This species has really developed into the most colourful fish in my tank. The gentle lavender bodies contrast well with dark black dorsal fins and bright yellow heads. I really would strongly recommend them for a bright splash of colour in large tanks. I have read reports of them being highly aggressive but i haven't observed this yet personally. My only gripe is that they don't perform the role of "dither" as well as typical characins do - they loosely shoal but tend to congregate on one side of the tank, not really filling in the spaces to make the upper reaches of the tank look full and alive. Maybe having more will help. I see people having 20 Cyprichromis in 120 gallon tanks so my 600 gallon likely requires many many more especially since I have so much vertical space to fill with 4ft of water height.

Cyprichromis microlepidotus Bulu Point
When I ordered this fish as a second "dither" species, I expected something more colourful than the tricolors due to pictures and videos found online. These fish unfortunately still have a dull base colour rather than the rusty brown/orange I was expecting. However from day 1, they have sported a brilliant blue iridescence on their heads and dorsal fins, so they are still beautiful in their own way. I hope that given more time they will get the nice rusty base colour as well. Same issues on suitability as "dither" fish as the tricolors so I may ge adding mire too.

Enantiopus melanogenys Kilesa
The current stars if the tank. The featherfins were meant to take centrestage as the feature fish of this tank, but at the moment it is the Enantiopus melanogenys Kilesa that have coloured up so magnificently. The 5 males I ordered have spread out through the bottom of the tank and each claimed a small territory for himself. I'm starting to see the small pits of sand I read about in some of the territories so it's really quite cool. I see chasing occur but nothing too violent. Interestingly enough, they leave the Xenotilapia nigrolabiata Red Princess alone and even left a corner of the tank free for them to hang out. How considerate.

Cyathopharynx furcifer Resha
They arrived as pure silver, colourless fish. Thankfully, they are starting to show abit more colour. I read that males would start to colour up by showing black/blue and yellow in their dorsal and anal fins, and that's what's happening now. Some females also show a white streak in their dorsal. What's interesting to note is that the females are looking longer and slimmer, while the males are shorter and broader/fatter, making the males look smaller or younger than the females. Is this normal? Another troubling thing is that I ordered 3 males and 6 females, but it looks like I got a 4:5 ratio instead. Should I order more females? Nothing much else to say about them except that I really hope they grow into being the feature fish that they're supposed to be!

Altolamprologus compressiceps Mandarin
Not much to say about them except that at the moment they aren't living up to the Mandarin tag. They are a very pale yellow and not orange in the slightest. Perhaps I should have gone with black Calvus instead? Not very interesting behavior either so far, just some conspecific chasing around.

Paracyprichromis nigripinnis Blue Neon
I bought these fish with zero expectations as I know they are shy and delicate. It's just that with 3 sides of 3d background and 4ft height, it seems such a waste not to keep some vertical rock wall dwellers. So far they've been interesting, though not coloring up much. 2 are remaining very dark while the rest are a dull grayish colour. No neon blue to be seen. They do perch on the rock walls though so it's cool to see them in their niche. Sometimes they even treat the front tank glass as a wall and perch there for me to see their underbelly. Quite cute really.

Xenotilapia nigrolabiata Red Princess
Finally, the supposed holy grail fish that I have been fortunate to have access to. I have heard many horror stories on how delicate they are so I frankly expected them to not survive beyond a few days. I was even planning to replace them with Xenotilapia flavipinnis Kekese for the red colouration once they passed on. Surprisingly, they have defied all odds and all 5 are still alive and finding their place in the tank. I was initially quite disappointed in their colour as I thought they maxed out at a small size and so should have full colour already. Thankfully I did some research and found that they actually grow larger than I thought and mine look exactly like the smaller one at the bottom left of this picture (covered by the watermark): https://aquainfo.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Xenotilapia-nigrolabiata-Red-Princess.jpg. Mine are about 2 inches now. I hope that they will eventually develop the vivid red that they are known for.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Discussion Starter · #97 ·
@sir_keith You mentioned earlier in the thread that Benthochromis tricoti and Cyathopharynx furcifer cannot be kept together. Could I please check why this is so? In one of the Facebook groups that I joined, I saw a smaller tank than mine keeping both species together
 

· Registered
Joined
·
2,349 Posts
@sir_keith You mentioned earlier in the thread that Benthochromis tricoti and Cyathopharynx furcifer cannot be kept together. Could I please check why this is so? In one of the Facebook groups that I joined, I saw a smaller tank than mine keeping both species together
I tried keeping them together in 6’ 210g tank.
Bad idea. All benthos stressed out and eventually died.
the only fish I would keep benthos with again would be paracyps and a mellow sand sifter.
And I wouldn’t keep them in anything smaller than an 8’ tank.
Low light, low traffic, long tank and very peaceful tank mates for me,
 

· Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Discussion Starter · #99 ·
OK got it thanks! I'll resist the temptation then, as some good sized ones appeared on the next shipment stocklist. I was trying to think of more open water swimmers to add without adding more Cyprichromis... 4ft of height really creates alot of open water space! Even with 48 Cyprichromis the tank still looks empty at the top!

For Julidochromis, how many should I add? I'm thinking of getting Julidochromis marlieri Magara
 

· Premium Member
Joined
·
1,000 Posts
@sir_keith You mentioned earlier in the thread that Benthochromis tricoti and Cyathopharynx furcifer cannot be kept together. Could I please check why this is so? In one of the Facebook groups that I joined, I saw a smaller tank than mine keeping both species together
As @noddy already mentioned, the Benthochromis are far too timid to thrive with tankmates as boisterous as Cyathopharynx, and they will ultimately succumb to chronic stress. It's a combination that just doesn't work long-term.
 
81 - 100 of 136 Posts
Top