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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Where to start...

So the wife has given the stamp of approval on getting a tank up and running now that we're finally done renting and have moved into our new house! I've been around fish since 3 years old, and started taking care of my own tanks at 12 (a 30g and 55g). Back then I had community fish, and later moved into cichlids. I last had a few firemouths and a few jack dempseys. I adored my last surviving dempsey, as he had the most amazing personality. Anyways...

I haven't had a tank for about 6-7 years now, and I'm pumped to get back into it. The setup would most likely be 55-75g and I'm exploring the idea of dwarf cichlids. I can't seem to find good info on how many would "tolerate" each other in a tank of this size. What would be a good mix? dwarfs + any other types of fish? i'm sure some type of pleco would be fine, anything else for the top end of the tank?

I am in the Las Vegas area, so the water is considered very hard, and I have not tested pH levels (and can't seem to find any average info about it online).

Also, looking into canister filters. Always had over the side deals which I never felt did THAT well. Seems like a filstar xp2-xp3 would be a good, cost effective solution. This may be a dumb question as well, but do you still need some type of aeration with a canister? I always had a pump/airstone setup when I had over the sides...

Thank you all a TON for suggestions or points in the right direction.
 

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south american dwarfs are great!

But im going to give you a few notes first.

South american typically means soft and acidic. If your water is hard and basic, it will be easier to go the african route. You can still do south american, but your going to need to get an RO water system (to get soft water) and do something to bring your pH down (like peat in the filter). Fear not, I along with a lot of other forum members keep south americans with hard and basic tap water. But if you looking for easy, you cant go wrong with what will thrive in your tap water.

As for the dwarf cichlids. They tend to be peaceful to other species of fish, and only act like cichlids to other cichlids (and often, only to other similar looking cichlids). So, you can do a community tank with the dwarfs as the centerpiece. Also, due to their smaller size, you can actually have a planted tank instead of a cichlid salad bar. For me, as well as others Im assuming, the appeal of the dwarfs is the fact that you can put them in a planted community tank, which looks great as a centerpiece in your living room, or on display. (hey, and oscar is a great fish, but good luck putting it in a display you would be proud of!).

As for how many, the cookie cutter tanks on this site will give you a good idea to start with, then the forum members can help you fine tune it. I would think for a 55 you could fit 2-3 pairs of blue rams, or 2 pair of bolivians, or 2 harems of different apisto species (by different, I mean not looking like each other), you could also go with checkerboard or lactacara (spelling?) species. There are a few other lesser know types of dwarfs too. I think you are looking at about 6, but could go higher or lower depending on exactly what you are looking at. In addition to that, you can still add cory's, oto catfish or smaller pleco species to act as cleanup(bristlenose pleco's are common and popular), and a large (12 or so) or 2 smaller (6 of each) schools of tetras or hatchetfish. A tank like this could also support a pair of angelfish too since they live higher up in the water column. Hey, what do you know, I think I just described my tank to you!.

As for filters, im not an expert. I've been happy with my xp3 which I got as a throw in when I bought my tank used. If you go the south american route, expect to have to use peat in the filter. The canisters give you a lot more room and options to add things like that to them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
naegling23 said:
south american dwarfs are great!

But im going to give you a few notes first.

South american typically means soft and acidic. If your water is hard and basic, it will be easier to go the african route. You can still do south american, but your going to need to get an RO water system (to get soft water) and do something to bring your pH down (like peat in the filter). Fear not, I along with a lot of other forum members keep south americans with hard and basic tap water. But if you looking for easy, you cant go wrong with what will thrive in your tap water.
Well really the only attraction I had to the dwarfs was the slightly increased numbers I could put into the tank due to their smaller adult size. I would like an "easier" tank and want the fish to be happy with their water, but don't want to deal with crazy high aggression. I know keeping the water temp down and overcrowding a little bit can help (or so I assume from what I've read...).

What are some good africans on the smaller, less aggressive side of the scale? I know the non-dwarfs can have some pretty neat coloring too. I'd like a colorful tank as well if possible. This will be a centerpiece to my living room that everyone will see. I can deal with a nice rock setup versus a planted setup as well.
 

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There are dwarf african cichlids that thrive in hard water, as well as dwarf south americans that need soft water. I'd be looking at Lakes Malawi and Tanganyika if I were setting up a new 75gallon in hard-water-land. Malawi fish tend to be more colorful, and lend themselves to overstocking more than Tangs do, but Tangs imho have more interesting behaviors, though they typically need a bit more space than you might think given their size. A 75 gallon though would be a nice tang community, with several species of rockdwellers, some cyps for the open water, and shellies... or maybe an open sand species, some cyps, and a few other species (shell and/or rocks).

I'm biased though...

-Rick (the armchair aquarist, in love with Lake Tanganyika)
 

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First, get the BIGGEST tank you can possibly get(that you're allowed too :p )

Second, Filstars are good filters, but make sure you filter the tank a few times an hour, preferably for most people, at the least, 5-6 times an hour.Fluval FX5s pump 900 gph, so they are a big filter, also, wet drys are very good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
update!

I stopped by a local family owned fish store that came upon recommendation (Atlantis Fish in Vegas) to check out some tanks/fish. I think I actually found the perfect size tank for my budget as well as room size!

it is an 84 gallon tank (72" long). i didn't get the other dimensions, but it seemed about as deep as a 55 gallon (~18"?) and is shorter in height. the guy said it would be great for cichlids as it is short and there won't be much wasted top space. he also said the africans would do great in the tank due to the water conditions here in vegas.

So! Change of plans throws a nice big tank in the mix.

:D

What would you guys recommend for a good african mix?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
pics of said tank + stand (sorry taken w/ **** blackberry camera, cramped store so not much room to back up).



 

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Very nice tank. I wish I had found a 6 foot tank under 100 gallons before I set mine up. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
gbleeker said:
Nice tank!
Thanks!

jimmyknuckles said:
Very nice tank. I wish I had found a 6 foot tank under 100 gallons before I set mine up. :)
Thanks!

They want $489 for the stand (extremely sturdy built), 84g tank, hood, canopy and light kit (no bulbs). seems very reasonable to me for such a nice big setup.
 

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Great size tank and great water parameters for Africans. Can I suggest an all male peacock/hap tank? You will have lots of color and if done carefully, not much aggression. You've got a big enough tank for some of the nice, larger haps, including borleyi, red empress and Taiwan reef. there are good profiles on this site to check out.

To do this tank correctly, you need access to slightly older fish that are showing enough color to be determined to be male. You don't want any females in the tank as that creates issues. Or you can order online.

You want all your fish to look different from each other to avoid aggression. Albinos can help in that regard.

Some suggestions in addition to those listed above:

Ruby Red
Otopharyx Lithobates
Copadichromis Mloto
Sunshine
Ngara flametail
Eureka red
Yellow Jake
Red shoulder

You could also do 3-5 yellow labs and p. acei in any gender ratio without trouble, and 5-6 syndontis for fun.

These tanks are very easy -- just put in a lot of big rocks, over filter and do regular water changes!
 
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