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Convict Cichlids

933 Views 10 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  remi

I'm new to the whole cichlid thing, and I've been trying to do my research. I read that you can have 2 convict cichlids (a breeding pair) in a twenty gallon tank if they're the only ones in the tank itself. Provided it would be gravel and sand bottom, sculpted rocks (lava rock and tufa) and plenty of hiding spaces for them. I'd be lightly planting it with a variation of plastic and live plants, but I was wondering if anyone has had these cichlids before, if what I'm doing is okay (having the two, tank decorations, etc.), and if anyone had other suggestions.

I live in a college dorm and can't have a tank bigger than the twenty gallon, but I don't want to stress out the fish if I put them in a tank too small for them. I know if you're going to have a LOT of cichlids, you're supposed to have a 55+ gallon tank, but I figured I would ask people on here who would know a lot about them.

Any suggestions would help. I'm trying to do my research in advance; the tank isn't set up right now since I wanted to make sure I would be fully capable of caring for them before getting them.

Thank you for any and all advice. :)
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I probably know less about cons than you do, however, I can point you to the species article as well as the cookie cutter which says 20 gallon (30"x12"x12") is the minimum size for them.
A 20 long can work for cons, but there is no guarantee on this. You'll want to make sure you have a pair and the best way to do this is buy 5-7 young cons and let them pair off naturally. If they choose each other there is a higher chance that they will tolerate each other long term. But even here you may have problems. I had a two in a 75 that paired off from a group of 6 and were great parents together for about 3 weeks, but then the male killed the female. In a 20 any aggression that exists is much harder to hide from.
The other issue is if you have a breeding pair, you'll be inundated with babies. A 20 will seem pretty small with 100+ babies growing up in it. Plan ahead for how to get rid of them; check with pet stores who may take them off your hands, if there is a decent population around you its likely you can give them away (maybe as pets, maybe as feeders).
Last suggestion: learn about the nitrogen cycle if you haven't yet. With the school year winding down you have just about enough time to get your tank cycled before summer hits.
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So after I would buy the 5-7, after I found at least one pair that got along, would I return the other ones? I have made sure that the way the tank would be set up would have plenty of hiding spaces, in both caves and plants. And I was planning on asking the couple of lfs up here that I'd be buying from to ask if they'd buy the babies back, since it would have been their initial stock. I already thought of that and it wasn't going to be an issue. I just wanted to make sure the other research I was receiving would be correct before I went out and bought them.

I know all about the nitrogen cycle; I have a different freshwater molley/platy tank, and that's been doing awesome. I wanted to make sure I did my research, and don't plan on setting up my cichlid tank until after my currently running tank eventually passed away from natural causes. I figured doing my research quite a bit ahead of time would help me feel more prepared and confident in buying my first pair of convicts.
Good idea with the research, you can never do too much of it. If the pet stores will take the fish back that would be best, if not you can sell/give them away to others. Pairs will get pretty aggressive towards others of the same species, so it's best to remove the unpaired fairly quickly.
Okay. I figured that's what would happen. Do they act like a couple, or are they just seen together? I don't want to worry too much about them fighting with the others, but I also don't want to remove one of the paired cichlids. : )

I was going to make sure that the store I bought them from would take them before I bought them. I know that lfs won't take chain store breeds, like Petco and Petsmart, simply because they don't know about their stock and what to expect from them. There are a couple up here where I live, and I'm planning on checking out the second one (I've already looked at the first one). From what I've heard about both, their stock is really good, and I know at least one of them will take back their fish if they don't work out in your tank. What I'm worried about is the fry, especially since convicts breed like bunnies.

My biggest fear is selling/giving them away to other people, simply because the majority of people around here tend to not be able to keep any kind of animal, especially fish, alive. The problem with having animals while going to college for most, unfortunately.

I appreciate your help, duds; it's really nice. Thank you for all of your knowledge. I know I'm kind of being a pest about this sort of stuff, but I don't want the animals to suffer based on my lack of knowledge. And with the amount of information out there, I don't want to be getting the wrong kind of info as well.
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I doubt the store will take back the fish, and even if they do they will never be able to keep up with the fry you will be able to fry.

Convicts, breed, breed, breed, and then breed. You may want to look into a larger fish to eat some of the fry. Or you will have to cull them.
This is going to sound horrible, but would it be possible for them to take back the fry as feeder fish when they're that young? I hate the idea, but in order to keep my tank, I wouldn't be able to keep the cichlids and their fry, and it's hard to find reliable owners who can be responsible for taking care of them.
That's not horrible, a lot of people use convicts as feeders. Although I doubt that the store would take them as feeders, you can ask.

The deal with convicts is that a lot of pet stores are asked to take in fry FREE. They are a really common fish and they are really easy to breed.
Honestly, I'd be okay with giving them away for free. I never planned on breeding them for money; it was more like trying to find a solution for the baby cichlids so I could have the adults. I know they're some of the easiest to keep, which is why I was thinking about getting them.

If you possibly have other suggestions for somewhat easy-to-keep cichlids that wouldn't breed like bunnies, that'd also be helpful. I just know that I don't want them to be uncomfortable, and I know that I can't have anything larger than a 20 gallon tank in my dorm room.

You could do south American Rams in a 20 gallon. I don't know a lot about them, but my wife thinks they are "pretty". The regulars on the south American part of the forum could answer any questions you have about them.
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