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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 7" Jack Dempsey, 6" Red Zebra and a 6" Bristlenose Pleco in my 28Gallon. There were very small when I bought them, but over the past year or so, all three have grown up a fair bit. Now, while the Zebra is near it's adult size, the Dempsey is probably going to continue to grown, and I don't feel this tank is large enough for them. Perhaps the Pleco can live happily with one other fish, and while they all seem to get a long fine, I'd like to do what is best, even if it means giving them new homes. I'll be moving in a while, so a larger tank isn't really feasable right now.

Can either of them sustain a good life in a 29 Gallon, for another 6 months or so? I move rocks around all the time to prevent them from making territories, and it seems to work. I'll even consider getting new, small fish if you think it is best.

I know this is not the ideal fix of fish... Malawi and South America...
 

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This depends really on A LOT of different things.

#1 tank size (most important)
#2 tank mates
#3 A little more history about your fish, has it been alone it's whole life? feeding habits?
#4 you can post a picture and we can tell you what the sex of your JD is which will help in what we can advise you to keep with it.

I can give you a list three miles long of what can live with jack dempseys, just check my tanks and check the stock list on my 800.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Sorry i edited my post. Figured I should give the whole story there...

Tank size is 29Gallon, with fine sand, large rocks, and plants...
Tank mates are the Zebra and Pleco, the Zebra will go away if I keep the Dempsey
Fish has been with these two since he was an inch or so big.
Looks like I can't upload a photo, so I'll try to link it somewhere.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·


Should I ditch the Zebra? They don't seem to misbehave, but the tank is looking a little crowded fro them.

 

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I would think a 7" Dempsey in a 29 gal is already uncomfortable... large Dempseys are commonly seen with bent spines which is often a result of too small of an aquarium...
 

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I wouldn't even call this a minimum tank size for these fish. If someone was going to tell me that they wanted just one JD I would never tell them to put it in a tank your size. I can't believe that these fish have been able to survive in a tank this size without killing eachother or just dying from lack of space and stress. You need to get a larger tank for them or find them a different home. I hate to sound mean but these fish would be much better off in a larger tank, IMO. I wouldn't keep any of these fish in a 29 gallon alone or with other fish.
 

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Ya a 7 inch Dempsey in a 29 is a bit to small. LOL You should either get a much larger tank or get some fish that are better suited for a small tank. By the way that is a male Dempsey.
 

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I think your fish look wonderful. They look healthy and relaxed, the water is ultra clean. Its probably because of this that they have come this far. You really ought to consider a larger tank though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks Big Den. They seem happy... Been shopping around a little for a new tank, but all the LFS really has are overpriced generic looking tanks, with ugly stands or the Fluval Osaka 260. Other than cage623, does anyone think these two need to be split up, even in a larger aquarium? Zero aggression, and they often hang out close to eachother...

There was a fluval tank at the shop a while back that had filter/pump connections on the back corner, so you could keep the filter in the cabinet with no hoses running up the back... Somewhat cleaner looking. Any idea if the Osaka, or other 50-80G tank/stand for under a $1000 bucks have anything like that?
 

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I think if they gaet along they should be fine toether in a larger tank. If you cant provide that very soon get rid of the zebra.

Those are both nice looking fish though and seem to be healthy. I would say you have done a good job to this point in taking care of them. Congratulations.
However proper care and lack of aggresion willl become a lot harder if their tank is not upgraded soon.
 

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I don't think mixing rift lake cichlids with CA's is as bis a concern as some people make it out to be - in most cases both the CA fish and the rift lake fish will be from stock that are several genrations tank bred... In the even that you are dealing with Wild Caught or F1 fish they may require more care in matching the water to that of their natural habitat... With that said there are some part's of Central America that have harder water with a more alkaline pH anyway...

If agression isn't a problem, and water chemistry isn't a problem then the only problem I can forsee is SPACE. All three of your fish (unless the pleco is a smaller growing variety) should have more space than a 29g tank can provide... I think a 55g tank is a good suggestion.

Keep your water as clean as possible and you may be able to coax another 6 months out of this set-up... But I would say sooner is better in this scenario.
 

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In this case I don't think it so much water conditions I'd be worried about, after all many rivers and lakes in central america are much harder and have a much higher pH than even the african lakes (pH's of 9.8 have been recorded).

What would worry me is the differances in signals. Cichlids from differant areas have differant display signals that sometimes aren't recongized by other cichlids from differant areas. These misunderstandings can cuase more violent fights than between species from the same area that would understand the threat/bluff display.

Run into this sometimes between west african and south american dwarves, usually ending in deaths that normally would not happen when kept with other dwarves from the same area.

Just food for thought.
 

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I am sorry if I misled anyone with what I said. I ment that I don't think that these fish are a good fit for this size of a tank. I think that they can be tankmates if they are in a much larger tank. IMO this is not a very healthy longterm fit for these fish.
 

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dwarfpike said:
What would worry me is the differances in signals. Cichlids from differant areas have differant display signals that sometimes aren't recongized by other cichlids from differant areas. These misunderstandings can cuase more violent fights than between species from the same area that would understand the threat/bluff display.
I've been keeping the two together for over 3 decades, and I really don't "buy" this. I'm not saying it could never happen, especially innitially. But IMO and IME, African and CA understand each other very well, and very quickly. Contrary to what some have said on this forum previosly, mbuna are not stupid whatsoever and learn quickly. No, there not as smart as large CA/SA or large Tilapias, and they may not even be as smart as a convict, possibily (?), but both learn to understand what each other's signals mean, IME, very quickly.

Aggression problems are always a possibility in any fish tank at some point in time, especially with aggressive cichlids. IMO and IME there is USUALLY more potential for aggression between similar cichlids, then with those that are less similar, epsecially over the long term. GENERALLY, the more similar the cichlid, the more it will be seen as a competitor or a rival.

Funny nobody ever raises the objection of mis-communication when keeping non-cichlids with cichlids, as no doubt their signals are even far more disimilar and far more potential for mis-communication. Many bottom feeders, catfish, plecos, for example, will defend themselves from cichlids. I have had many plecos for example that were extremely stubborn and don't seem to learn quickly at all. Moreover, like many non-cichlids, they often seem to have a memory span of no more then a few weeks, if that :lol:

I think a 29 gallon is fine for these fishes to begin with, but once a JD gets to be ~7" , it would be best to get a 4 ft. tank, such as a 55 gal. fairly soon.
 

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dwarfpike said:
In this case I don't think it so much water conditions I'd be worried about, after all many rivers and lakes in central america are much harder and have a much higher pH than even the african lakes (pH's of 9.8 have been recorded).

What would worry me is the differances in signals. Cichlids from differant areas have differant display signals that sometimes aren't recongized by other cichlids from differant areas. These misunderstandings can cuase more violent fights than between species from the same area that would understand the threat/bluff display.

Run into this sometimes between west african and south american dwarves, usually ending in deaths that normally would not happen when kept with other dwarves from the same area.

Just food for thought.
I have seen this argument over and over again and I can't understand what you are talking about.

If a dominant fish chases a sub dominant fish, the sub dom. fish swims away. Classic behavior, regardless of what lake/river/continent they are from. Other examples of behaviors both African and American cichlids share are gill flaring, shimmying, fin extension, etc. Pretty much the same behaviors.

So I'm trying to figure out where did you get your evidence? One example of west africans killing dwarfs isn't enough, it's anecdotal at best. And there is plenty of anecdotal evidence of Americans and Africans living together fine, way more than there are stories of fish dying.

Sorry if I came off as rude, I apologize. I just see this and the water pH/hardness theories all the time and that's all they are, theories.
 

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Bernie wrote:
IMO and IME there is USUALLY more potential for aggression between similar cichlids, then with those that are less similar, epsecially over the long term. GENERALLY, the more similar the cichlid, the more it will be seen as a competitor or a rival.
^ I 100% agree with this... Conspecific agression amongst CA's and SA's is higher in my experience as well... I had a Keyhole pair that spawned within 6"'s of a Bolivian Ram pair (both in plain site)... Yet the other Keyhole (obviously) and my Festivums (closer in shape & size to the keyholes) were not allowed to venture out from behind the filter intakes without getting bumrushed!... I use this example as Keyholes are supposed to be quite peaceful - but their conspecific agression in this instance was quite significant.
 

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bernie - I haven't been keeping cichlids quite as long ... and rarely mix the two continents let alone say c/a with s/a ... but of course I have when tank space was low. I guess my observations come solely when mixing Laetacara or keyholes with Pelvichromis. Yes I've had it work but I've also seen a lot more aggression than I see with pelvichromis/jewels or Laetacara/pikes for instance. Not saying it can't work, I've seen jewels and convicts breeding in the same large tanks many times. It just seems the subtle threats get missed. Though I admit it is a very small sampling.

I agree with the cats, my bristlenose pleco chased my dominate male pike all over the place when it was in the mood. :lol:

thetim6 - Another example then. My jack dempsey and my much smaller male pike, Cr. compressiceps. Several central americans are bluffers, dempseys and firemouths are perfect examples. Dempseys will nip you, flare the gill plates and expect you to back down. A firemouth is used to this and will. My pike said, despite the several inch size differance, "You talkin' ta me?? SAY HELLO TO MY LIL FRIEND." and opened a severe can of whoop you know what on the dempsey. It had to be removed from said tank. I then added several dwarf acaras, L. dorsigera. People thought I was nuts, but the pike left them alone except for some flaring or unless they got within two inches of his cave.

Could I be reading more into it than is what really there? Possibly, have seen the same problem housing westies with south americans.

Now am I seeing the communication issue only becuase I believe in the theory? Probably. But thus far my observations do seem to back it up at least in my tanks. As I said to bernie though, it is a tiny sampling as I rarely mix the various areas together more for aesthic reasons than anything else.
 

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Well we all have different experiences dwarfpike and I can't blame you for basing your opinions on what you have experienced.

I have experience quite the opposite, similar to what bernie illustrated. My Africans and Centrals get along quite well, better than Centrals with Centrals especially.

For example, I tried keeping a few convicts with my red devil. She wouldn't have it, I mean she had a desire to kill them and it was quite obvious! I put in 10 jewel cichlids 4 years ago (all very small) and 1 actually made it to adult hood and lives with my Red Devil in a 75 to this day. I also have grown out several peacocks with the jewel and red devil. The jewels and peacocks get along very well, despite the fact that the jewel could easily kill any peacock. The RD does attack the other fish, but with a "get out of my way" attitude. She was truly bloodthirsty for the convicts.

I have also kept convicts with various Africans like jewels, peacocks and even smaller tangs, including multies!

I think the difference in appearance goes a long way in preventing aggression between cichlid species, which certainly follows my experiences, and seems to follow what bernie and illy-d have experienced as well. Both of them are extremely knowledgeable and helpful from what I have seen on this forum and anything they say has a great deal of credibility to me.

Also I agree with bernie that no one ever question cichlid to non cichlid communication, but than assumes it matters when it comes to cichlid to cichlid communication. Much like I said earlier, if a cichlid chases a barb the barb swims away! Pretty simple to figure out. Some fish are much more resilient to being attacked, others are not and will become stressed/murdered from frequent harassment.

I agree with you dwarfpike that FM's and JD's are pushovers, all bark and no bite haha. That is interesting about your pikes and dwarfs, but I think it's very possible the vast difference in their appearance and the fact that the pike doesn't see them as a threat probably goes a long way in preventing aggression.
 
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