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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone!

This is my first post on the forum. Great information on here. Wish I had known of such a great source back when I had tanks of tangs back in Colorado. Now I live up in the far north in Denali Alaska and the fish bug is biting again. I made the mistake of looking at the fish section in a Petco while buying dog food and realized how much I missed my fish. Nevermind the "Mixed African" tank that always bothers me for some reason, it still kicked me back into the old ways.

But this has led to some questions for me. I have always had large tanks breeding many different breeds like Lelupi, Brichardi, and some Yellow Labs (yes I know not tangs but they were my oldest pair and were so much fun). Nothing exotic, but always brought great joy. I always wanted to take a shot at shell dwellers but never had the chance. Moving to Alaska means living in a cabin as opposed to a big house and a small tank seems like a good idea. So on to questions...

1. It is cold here. You keep your house often as low as 60f. Do tank heaters have a problem with a cooler home? My intuition here is to use a bigger tank with more water mass to avoid temp shifts. Anyone with small tanks (10-30) have thoughts? Anyone used those Neocube tanks? They look nice for a small house with no room for the all the gear I used to have strung all over the place.
2. Getting Fish!!! My first preference is to go to a good LFS that has quality fish. Anyone in the forum from Alaska? This may not be an option here. Any suggestions on breeders that ship and experience? This leads me to a problem related to Q1. Most shippers want big orders and I will not have a big tank. Shellies are not that expensive and getting to the minimum order could be a problem.
3. What fish? My preference is for Ocellatus or stappersi. But I also am thinking of multifasciatus or similis. I am hoping for interesting behavior as much as anything hence the ocellatus but I would consider anything. Availability may be a determining factor. Any suggestions on good starting numbers based on tank sizes? I am new to the small tank world and again find myself hesitating.
4. Any good tank mates? I know cats, but any thoughts on others? I wouldn't mind a shellie only world but may need to round out a special order. Tank size always being an issue of course.
5. Any general suggestions on starting with these amazing fish. I have read a lot about them but any thoughts are always great. Especially to a guy wishing he had fish in the interior of Alaska.

Thanks a bunch for any tips. I know this is not the Tank Setup forum, but I know how to get a tank going and thank kinda thing, was hoping for more breed specific advise. Again, great site and glad to be a new member. :fish:
 

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NeoAlaska said:
Moving to Alaska means living in a cabin as opposed to a big house and a small tank seems like a good idea. So on to questions...
Size is fairly subjective... so let's talk in gallons. The minimum size I recommend is 20 gallons. 10 can work for either brevis or multies, but bigger is always better, and a larger footprint is better yet.
1. It is cold here. You keep your house often as low as 60f. Do tank heaters have a problem with a cooler home? My intuition here is to use a bigger tank with more water mass to avoid temp shifts. Anyone with small tanks (10-30) have thoughts?
My house gets into the 50's at night, and never above 68 in the day (during the winter). If the tanks are not in a drafty place, it doesn't seem to be a problem. I do keep a close eye on the thermometers though.

2. Getting Fish!!! My first preference is to go to a good LFS that has quality fish. Anyone in the forum from Alaska? This may not be an option here. Any suggestions on breeders that ship and experience? This leads me to a problem related to Q1. Most shippers want big orders and I will not have a big tank. Shellies are not that expensive and getting to the minimum order could be a problem.
There are places that will ship anything to you, but the cost of shipping will exceed the cost of the fish by a long shot. Your best bet is going to be finding a local breeder... of course "local" in Alaska is a rather subjective term. Another option is to ask your LFS to order the fish you want.

3. What fish? My preference is for Ocellatus or stappersi. But I also am thinking of multifasciatus or similis. I am hoping for interesting behavior as much as anything hence the ocellatus but I would consider anything.
Tank size is a factor. Only multies can be in a 10g, and I suggest a 20gal long as a minimum footprint for stapps or occies. Multies are my favorite, particularly because of their behavior.

Any suggestions on good starting numbers based on tank sizes?
5-6 is a good number to start with for most shellies in a 20gal. As they are harem or colony breeders, you want to let them have a choice of mates and cover for any potential losses.

Any good tank mates? I know cats, but any thoughts on others? I wouldn't mind a shellie only world but may need to round out a special order. Tank size always being an issue of course.
A good combo would be multies and a pair of small julidochromis or calvus for a 20 gallon tank. I keep bristlenose plecos in some tanks, but I don't think the Synodontis cats would be a good choice for a small tank.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the detailed reply! I was tending towards the 20 long so that sounds great. Question though on the multis. What is it about their behavior that attracts so many people? When I first started thinking about this I was leaning away from them. But, after looking through all the discussions, they appear to be the most popular of the shellies. Everyone seems to love them.

Also, any suggestions on a calvus? I have kept plenty of julies but never any calvus. I guess I should start reading. For some reason I assumed they would just be too much for the smaller tank. They would be a beautiful fish to have around in the tank as well.

I have also stuck with the plecos. Kinda was hoping to go with a syd this time around. Too small eh? Shoulda done those with my big setups of the past. Oh well. Thanks again!

oh yeah, one more question (i am full of them), if you have an LFS that doesn't specialize in cichlids order fish for you, how should you assure that they are getting fish from a reputable breeder? I have always worked with folks that knew the fish so I never gave it a second thought. This time I am giving it many.
 

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I've kept stappersi and multifaciatus. By far my experience with multies has been much more rewarding. First of all, they don't tend to kill each other... big plus in my book. Even when my 8 were reduced to a breeding trio, the stapps were vicious with each other. I started with five multies, ended up being 3 males, 2 females, and all five participated in building the colony. There was plenty of chasing and posturing and amusing theatrics, but the colony grew, and grew, and finally has taken over the entire bottom of my 55 gallon tank. :p I pulled out several batches of multies for trade, but it doesn't upset the colony.

Calvus are good neighbors in Tang community tanks. Males can be hard on other calvus males, but that's going to happen with any fish. But, they will help keep the multi population in check by eating fry, while ignoring just about everything longer than 1/2 inch. Despite their adult size, a 20 gallon long tank is sufficient for them, as they are not avid swimmers unless it's feeding time. The hardest thing with calvus is acclimating them: if and when you are ready to get some, seek advice on how to get them into your tank safely.

S. petricola could work out. I am just not sure it would be good for the multies, as the cats would put a ton of pressure on their breeding and fry protection. If you had a well established colony with batches of older fry helping in the defense, they may be able to fend off the cats.

Often the same distributers that supply guppies, goldfish, etc, have Tangs available. LFS don't order them because the lack of demand. If you have a good relationship with your LFS, ask them to check what their distributers have available.

If you are concerned about the genetic quality of the fish, you should find an online retailer and swallow the shipping charges. Chances are that by the time you are done, it won't be that much more than what your LFS would charge you.
 

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If you are concerned about the genetic quality of the fish, you should find an online retailer and swallow the shipping charges. Chances are that by the time you are done, it won't be that much more than what your LFS would charge you.
That's very true. I can get fish cheaper online even with shipping costs added.

You might want to also check out Aquabid. I know there are some good breeders that post there, and even some of the online retailers post there. Just check out the sellers carefully. PM me and I can steer you toward one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, thanks again for all the advise. Wanted to give an update and see what folks think of our possible solution.

Found a great LFS in Anchorage and feel very lucky to have found them. Remember our thoughts of a 10-30 gallon tank? We as these things often go, my wife and I are now looking at a 40 gallon long. 48x13x12.

Given this tank and dimensions, we are still looking at a bunch of shellies. Going to depend on what we can get but I think we will be happy with multis, ocellatus or staps. It will have much to do with what our store can get. Question? How many would you start with if that is the main tank inhabitant? We can thin out as pairs establish, we will likely keep a smaller tank for holding and a quarantine/hospital tank. I love it how one tank always turns into many. :thumb:

Also, we think we want to go with the calvus and ? Smaller julies were suggested but I also see folks suggesting buescheri. We like these, would they go well with the calvus?

Finally, do you think that would have to be it, or would it be possible to have some cyprichromis or paracyps? Or is there just not enough room in the shorter height tank?

Going to go get the tank in a couple weeks and it will have to cycle for while before any cichlids are added. So we have lots of time to chew over different options.

Thanks!
 

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Excellent... you will be happier with that 4ft tank. :thumb:

I am currently breeding both cyps and paracyps in a 40L tank, but I suggest picking one or the other. I also suggest that you get tank raised, not wild caught. WC cyps will not appreciate the lack of swimming space in there, but TR won't be bothered much. Paracyps are likely more suited to the tank, but I see them swimming around just as much as the cyps, so I'm not convinced that they'd be a better choice. See what you can get, and just make sure it's not a jumbo variety of the cyps.

I haven't kept buescheri, but they're rumoured to be peaceful (check out the species article here). They are harder to find than julidochromis, but give them a shot if you can get them.

If you want a "bunch of shellies" then go with the L. multifaciatus. I was unhappy with my stappersi in the 40L tank, as they still hunted down and killed eachother despite having more than enough space. Multies will be a riot: get 5-6 and watch the colony grow. Unlike the occie-types, multies tolerate their fry and then juveniles contribute to colonial defense. Occies often kill their own fry when a new batch is spawned.

Calvus get along with most fish, and will help with fry predation. Don't worry, the multi colony will still grow despite losing some fry to hungry calvus.

So, with all that, I think your tank would be great with:
8 paracyps or 10 cyps
5 buescheri (remove extras when a pair has formed)
5 calvus (remove extras when a pair has formed)
5 multifaciatus or similis
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That is good news. Just what I was hoping for this tank as far as stocking. If I have a hard time finding the buescheri, is there a fish you like as a sub? I was thinking also of cylindricus (sp?). I have had them before in a 75g tank and they seemed quite peaceful, but never paired up.

Thanks for all your help. I will post some pics when I get this together!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well, did it this weekend. And what do you know, the tank grew one last time. Ended up with a 55 gallon tank. Decked it out with black sand and just a few shells and a couple of tufta (sp?) rocks. Not too bad a start.

Added cycle fish and I pray for them. My wife is already naming them so another tank may come out to keep them around as she wants to start a water plant tank. Fish tanks breed fish tanks.

My water tests have come out a bit scary but that will be another post... :thumb:

I am taking some pictures and will post that later to show the progress.
 

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Exciting! Keep us posted.
:thumb:
 
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