I have a 55 gallon tank with three varieties of supposedly moderately aggressive fish. 5 aceis, 6 labs, 11 + 3 babies Dems (there was an illness right before I was getting more females and I wanted to wait until everyone as clear).
The problem is that in a heavily rock-worked tank, I will see, at most, 5 fish swimming around. Most of them are in some sort of hiding because every few weeks, something gets big enough to be dominant. It used to be a red zebra, so I removed him. Then it was a beautiful yellow lab alpha and beta, but they got out-dueled by pair of Demasoni, who just lost their spots to the male acei, who looks beautiful...and is more or less the only thing that's out constantly.
I understand that aggression is a part of life. However, if I want more than one fish out at the time, I will keep removing fish until I don't have any more left as they begin to assert dominance. I could try doing all-male overstock but even with two filters (Eheim Pro3 and Rena4) and weekly water changes, the nitrates are really mediocre...and plus, the overstocked tanks have fish that all look so **** miserable.
I'm getting so much enjoyment out of my slightly grouchy community planted tank, which has aggression only in the form of male/female platy chasing, the long-fin rams periodically poking each other, and a bit of cattiness in the betta sorority. Almost every fish is out all time. It's nice.
Still, I've always wanted a cichlid tank and when the fish are out, they're beautiful. So now what?
I felt as you do about my Cynotilapia sp. hara for over two years. I kept removing males because none of them in the tank would color up. I must have removed 6-8 males over that period.
But finally I've reached balance and I've got a cyno male that is colored up 24/7. It was worth it. :thumb:
I do see about 2/3 of my fish out and about all the time. But I am still always surprised at feeding time how many are actually in there.
You don't have to remove a dominant fish unless he is damaging others. But I always take the opposite approach. I let the dominant fish stay and remove the sub-dominant ones as they start to get damaged to avoid stress-induced illnesses.
I have basically the same combination but in a 75 with lots of rocks. When I noticed a lack of activity I took a few rocks out so there was more swimming room and fewer hiding places and upped the population of labs, which worked. My acei never go in the rocks so they were fine. I'm also going to bump up my population of dems to disperse the aggression more. My male/female population is a bit out of whack. Fry are growing up as we speak. With the acei in your 55, I'm not sure you have space to go that route. But if you're willing to care for an overstocked tank, that may be the way to go. You should have more dems, though. That's a low number.
I also increased my syno multipunctatus to 5 to increase their activity. Freakin things still won't come out during the day :? :lol:
I also agree, let the hierarchy form. If you keep removing the dominant male, then another one will just step up and take his place. A dominant fish will always prevail, it's about finding the balance in your stock that allows the fish to live peacefully, in the hierarchy.
I have about 17 cichlids in my 75G right now and most of my fish are out at any moment. My labs and acei are always out and my maingano and socolofi sub-dom males are frequently hiding. Even my featherfin cats stay out a lot now, hoping that feeding time is coming up. My tank is less than a year old and the fish range from 1.5 to almost 4 inches. I just removed 4 sub-dom males so I have less fighting now, but activity is still high, and my fish are usually out on display. I'm hoping it stays that way as they continue to mature.
My point is take the advice of the other posters, and be patient. I can sit and stare at my tank all day. My cichlid tank is always busy while my tetra tank looks like a painting.