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big fish for planted 55 gallon

6013 Views 20 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  the village idiot
I'm actually not set on South or Central American fish, but I don't want to post the same question in two forums unless I need to. Here's the situation...

I have a 55 gallon (48"x12") planted tank. Currently it houses 9 Colombian Tetras and 2 SAE's. I would like a large, colorful cichlid that I can have 1 or 2 of in the tank. Obviously it needs to be ok in a planted tank and needs to not eat Colombian Tetras. :p Someone has suggested to me a pair of hypsophrys nicaraguesis, which I really like, but I wanted to see if there were any other suggestions. I've had jabillions of angels, so I don't really want those and I haven't had a great time with firemouths either. Discus would be great, but that's just not gonna happen. :lol:

So what large, colorful, non plant eating, non Colombian Tetra eating cichlid would be a good choice?
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G'day the village idiot,

Why do want just a pair?

Personally if it were me, I'd be looking at setting up a community tank. A couple of species of dwarf SA cichlids, one or two schools of tetras, some otocinclus catfish to help control algea, some corydoras catfish as clean up crew, and possibly a couple of smaller fancy plecos.

However, hypsophrys nicaraguesis are a very nice looking CA cichlid.
Thanks for the reply, DeadFishFloating. Love the screen name, too! :thumb:

First let me say that I do like the sound of your suggested setup very much, and I would like to know what type of small fancy plecos you would recommend as they are the one bottom feeder that I've always liked. I can't afford anything like a zebra pleco, but something cheap, small and attractive would be great. :) I've always loved community tanks, but there are three reasons I can think of for doing something different with this one:

The first, and most important reason, is that this is what will make my wife happy. ;) She prefers large, colorful fish and has always been a little disappointed with my little community fish setups even though they have been quite colorful and, in my opinion, fairly attractive.

The second reason is that there are so many different kinds of fish I would like to keep and I only have three aquariums. I have a 40 gallon with a small community setup, so I would like something different for this one.

And lastly, I've kept fish on and off for the past 12 or 13 years and I've kind of done the community thing to death already. I've tried other fish but always ended up back at a little fish community. I probably always end up there because it's my favorite setup, but now that I have multiple tanks, I can still have my little fish community and branch out into other things as well. If I end up not liking this setup, I can always run back to the little fish community for this tank, too. :)

Thank you again for your suggestion, and I would love to hear what types of smaller plecos you suggest. :)
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Fancy finned bushynose pleco's are nice and great algae control.

You could also look into L260 Pleco's if you can find them, though you'd want to go with german blue rams and plants tolerant of high temperatures.

There really aren't any moderately sized fish that are plant friendly outside of discus and angelfish, but they're high maintenance.

You can do a geophagus setup with anubias and java ferns, mosses ect. You can even try and plant some stemmed plants into 1/2" gravel and surround it with sand so they just ignore the plants, but it doesn't always work.

Geophagus Tapajos Orange Head are a beautiful fish.
the albino bn plecos are pretty cool. some people are anti-albino though, so its personal preferance. i like em.
There are a lot of variants of bushynose pleco's out there, my favorites are:

Calico veil tail
Blue eyed leustic veil tail
Gold finned veil tail

In that order...but you should definitely look into them. The fancy finned variants will cost you an arm and a leg if you can't find a local breeder, most LFS charge 25 a peice at 1-2".
Thank you for the continuing advice. So are you saying that the nicaraguensis are not a good choice for a planted tank? I've never had trouble with angels, I'm just tired of them because I've always had them. The discus are too much hassle for my taste, even though they are gorgeous.

I'm not a huge fan of the bushy nose plecos. I'll look into the variants you've suggested to see if they are attractive enough that I wouldn't notice the forest growing on their nose. :lol:

I like the geophagus A LOT. In this tank, the plants would all be behind rock piles with a large, open area in front, almost like a natural planter, which sounds similar to what is being suggested. I had planned on putting some ground cover plants in that area, but I could easily replace that with sand to accomodate some geophagus.
I say go for it, lots of us have done geophagus in planted tanks with success, just realize that sooner or later they will uproot plants from time to time if you've got them planted - so be prepared to replant some every so often :)
As for fancy plecos, checkout PlanetCatfish for species profiles. I have 3 L104 & 5 L397.

As for where to buy them at the best prices, probably can't go past PlecoFantics USA trader forum. Unless, your not in the States of course.
I just bought a snowball pleco, L102. It looks fantastic but was $28 at my LFS. I don't know how much you want to spend but it looked too cool to pass up for me. Here is a profile for it. ... ies_id=204

All the smaller plecos seem to be meat eaters so make sure you get some shrimp pellets or something for them.

On the large fish topic, I can't help. Right now I'm fascinated with my Bolivian rams.
All the smaller plecos seem to be meat eaters so make sure you get some shrimp pellets or something for them.
Not quite true. Any of the Panaque species are wood eaters, and you can feed them a variety of vegetables.

Ancistrus are omnivorous with something of a vegetarian bent.

As far as I know, Hypancistrus and Peckoltia species are meat eaters, but won't go after live fish in the tank.
Nics are great fish but they will eat your plants. I have kept many different pairs of nics and while they are some of the more mellow CA's they will eat smaller fish and will tear your plants. You will be hard pressed to find any CA's that are large that won't either eat your plants or kill all of your fish that can fit in their mouths.
So I am about to shock The Fish Guy yet again and suggest .... drum roll please ... dwarf pikes!!! *pauses for applause*

Cr. regani or wallacii don't get large enough to eat the Columbian tetras, and the newest shipments of wallacii are coming out of Columbia atm. They don't dig, and ignore plants. Do need frozen foods though.

A blue acara pair would fit nicely too, and stay small enough to leave your large tetras alone. Beautiful fish once settled into a tank, really underappreciated.
How about a (tried and true) breeding pair of discus? Large colorful, and wont mess with your fish or plants.
definitely go with a pair of Red Devils :thumb:

Just kidding, I would recommend hypsophrys nicaraguensis. Beautiful fish, and they should work with your setup (they may nip here and there on the plants).

If you can afford it (I know I can't), then Discus would be the best fish to keep in the setup.
Hypsophrys nicaraguensis will nip at your plants and, as many larger cichlids do, they will disturb your substrate. I have two nics in a planted tank that are constantly uprooting stem plants and burying smaller foreground plants with my ecocomplete. I'm just about ready to move them out of the tank.
I would always recommend the Gold Nugget Pleco. I have one and I live him! I've had no problems keeping him alive and have done nothing special for him. Beautiful fish! (doesn't clean tank well tho, but that's not my goal)
Thank you all for the replies and continuing advice. It's unfortunate to hear that the nicaraguensis will likely ravage my planted aquarium, since I finally found a place that carries them. :? To those who suggested the discus, I would LOVE to do discus...the problem is that my water is basically liquid rock. There is some debate as to whether or not that would be problematic, however, it is basically fact that the discus in my area SUCK and are way overpriced. My only real option would be to have them shipped which becomes cost prohibitive. :( Someday I will have a discus tank, but I don't think today will be that day.

Dwarf pikes...this may sound shallow...are not colorful enough for what I'm after. I like their shape and their behavior seems to be very interesting, but I need something that's pretty to look at. My wife and I are aquatic simpletons.

One suggestion that struck my fancy is the blue acara. The thing with them is that I've seen pictures of blue acaras that look like blue dempseys, and I've seen pictures of blue acaras that are more drab than any fish I've ever seen. Which is closer to accurate?

On the gold nugget pleco, very cool looking fish. If my tank can handle the mess after adding the large fish, I'll definitely be looking at one of those!
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That's okay on the pikes, I prefer the softer, more colorful pastel cichlids rather than the electric stand out ones, but understand I am odd.

As for the blue acaras, I've yet to see a pretty one in a store like ever. But both the ones I've kept, as well as the ones I took care of when I worked with an aquarium matinence company, over dark gravel were knockouts. They do take a while to grow into their colors, but if given the time and over a darker substrate, they sparkle. But then, remember, I find dwarf pikes colorful!!! :lol:
How about a red jewel cichlid, an electric blue dempsey or a pair of kribensis. They're all pretty colorful. The kribs, at about 3 to 4 inches, may be smaller than what you're looking for, but they're very popular and may be easier for you to find than teh jewel or the dempsey. Another, perhaps less colorful option would be a Bolivian Ram. I believe all of these cichlids are pretty much compatible with plants, but you may want to confirm that.
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