Cichlid Fish Forum banner
1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First off let me start off by saying...I am really pumped up about getting back into the hobby. I maintained 10-15 tanks in my small bedroom while growing up (teen years). I mainly bred and traded tropical fish like your everyday fancy guppy and sword variety and South/Central American cichlids, mainly convicts. I worked in a local pet store as a fish manager for several years and just really, thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Then life took over and I realized I wasnt going to put food on the table selling someone elses fish so I joined the real world.

So here I am 20 years later, jumping back in head first. the problem is, well Im lost. Everything has changed so much. to make it more complicated I am looking at African cichlids for my specialty. I have tons of questions and this will be a rather long post. Any and all answers anyone can provide will be greatly appreciated.

First the good news and what Im working with, then the questions. The good news is I am just outside of Louisville, Ky and I have been told that I have two high end cichlid breeders right here close in Blue Grass Aquatics and Little Africa. The better news is I picked up a 55 gallon which is set up and running for my kids with tropicals. A 45 gallon that for some reason the old owner gummed up the top edge with sealant all the way around, I have no idea why as there are no cracks and unless he was overfilling should have been no leaks. I also picked up a 65 hex. All came with tank, light, hoods and stand and all were filthy. I got 4 buckets of gear as well including 8 power heads and the magnum filter I mentioned. I got all this for 100.00....I know I stole it, he knew it too and said as much when I was picking it up. The guy just had to move it.

Im working with the 65 gallon hex for my first cichlid tank, and after research I find this isnt optimal so lets say this will be temporary until I can convince my wife to let me buy the 150 gallon tank Im going to mention later. Right now there is a HOT magnum 250 canister for filtration and that is it (I will ask detailed questions shortly on filtration), my ph levels are in range. I have gone with the 15 pack of faux cichlid rocks from aquariumguys (waiting on delivery as I type). I am leaning towards only fake plants as I have read and remember the troubles that come with live plants.

Okay here are my list of questions, and I am open to all suggestions. I want to get this as right as possible from the beginning. I have already exhibited the patience of a saint as the aquarium has been cleaned and set up for nearly 3 weeks with nary a fish purchase.

What is the best method for of filtration? I stayed away from undergravel after reading as many believe its not the best setup for Africans. A friend who has a 150 and is big on the local scene says he only uses the hang on back filters, I am leaning towards canister....I am lost. When I was into the fish scene Magnum was the big name, now I see there are tons of other big names on a sidenote I passed over Fluval Fx3's on craigslist while I was shopping for tanks...the lady was selling them for 80.00 brand new in box. needless to say by the time I got around to researching filters and saw the prices on these they were all gone :(

What other fish can I put in there with the Africans? I am partial to loaches, Rays, eels and things of that nature. *** found some compatibility charts out there but I want real life experience and from reading here I have come to the conclusion that this is the most experienced collection of folks on the net.

I see a lot of additives out there on the market. Cichlid Salt etc. Is this something I need to cycle before adding fish or is it not needed. I am going with Lake Tanganyika fish exclusively and I see there are additives for each specific lake. Are there major differences?

Is there still a market for trading fry? When I raised tropicals and cichlids I would trade with local pet stores and it covered some of my supplies or maybe a new fish here and there. I realize this may be store specific but it was pretty easy back in the early 90's to walk into just about any pet store and work out some trading.

Heaters...Im really lost on heaters. Never needed them back then but my house is a bit draftier than the one I grew up in. My tank is currently about 75-76 degrees. From my research I need it a tad bit warmer, at least a couple degrees. Heaters scare me as they were always a big fire hazard and unreliable when I was into this before. I dont want to come home to a charred house or boiled fish...suggestions on brands are welcome.

Last but not least. I have the option to buy a 150 gallon (same guy) with tank, light, stand and tons of supplies. I mean like a pickup bed full of substrate, decor, canister filters, pumps etc. If (I should just say when cause Im gonna buy it) I buy this is this large enough to mix cichlids from each lake? If I set it up as to draw the fish to separate ends of the tank. Is this possible? Will they fight to the death and interfere with one anothers breeding habits? I can get this 150 for 200.00. Its filthy but so were the others and with 3-4 hours of elbow grease on each one they cleaned up real well.

Oh, one more. I am partial to reds and blues in the color of the fish with the yellow/black species right behind. Suggestions on species, especially those that fall into these color categories are appreciated. I currently have a shopping cart saved on Bluegrass Aquatics just waiting for my tank to be totally complete before I click buy. I can gladly post it here and let you folks pick it apart as to what will work and what wont work etc.

Im going to stop here because this post is running long. I have a lot more questions and will post them as the conversation progresses, if it progresses.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
656 Posts
as far as your question on additives I pretty much stay away from them. You can get a substrate like caribsea cichlid eco complete that is supposed to include all the proper trace elements for africans, as well as buffer ph. In my opinion all those additives cause "swings" in your water chemistry, which isn't good, You want to keep it clean and stable. As far as filters I use fluval canisters and marineland biowheels on bigger tanks, air powered sponge filters on fry tanks. I use hydor or fluval heaters(the glass tube type) I would not recommend a marineland heater, I didn't have one explode on me, but I did have 3 stop working in one weekend causing a lot of driving around to get replacements.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
40,501 Posts
FishGeek1975 said:
65 gallon hex .
What are the dimensions? They can be almost round or sort of rectangular.

FishGeek1975 said:
I am leaning towards canister....I am lost. .
I like the canisters for the quiet. You want 7X to 10X gallons per hour (gph) turnover of water from your tank through your filter. I like the Rena Filstar XP filters but Eheims are good too.

FishGeek1975 said:
What other fish can I put in there with the Africans? I am partial to loaches, Rays, eels and things of that nature. .
If these are your #1 priority, it would be best to stock around them and they will limit your other options, especially rays and eels. Maybe better in a species tank. Synodontis (still an African, not a cichlid) are ideal.

FishGeek1975 said:
I see a lot of additives out there on the market. Cichlid Salt etc. Is this something I need to cycle before adding fish or is it not needed. .
If your pH is 7.8 or above and stable, not needed.

FishGeek1975 said:
trade with local pet stores and it covered some of my supplies or maybe a new fish .
Not an option with the chain pet stores, but a really good LFS that deals in cichlids may give store credit in the amount of 1/3 the selling price of the fish. Ask before you arrive with fish, sometimes they don't have room.

FishGeek1975 said:
Heaters....
I like the VisiTherm Stealth heaters for a small tank and ETH in-line heaters for larger tanks. Nothing glass, exploding is no fun.

FishGeek1975 said:
a 150 gallon...I buy this is this large enough to mix cichlids from each lake?.
The lakes don't mix well indiscriminately and again, if this is your goal it will limit your options from each lake. Victorians and Malawi mix fairly well. Mixing opportunities for Tangs and other lakes, can't even think of anything I would recommend but some of the longer-time Tang keepers (I'm only 5 years) might have a recommendation.

FishGeek1975 said:
I am partial to reds and blues in the color of the fish with the yellow/black species right behind.
Tanganyikans are known more for interesting behavior and a variety of shapes than brilliant colors. Are you sure you aren't thinking of Malawi? :lol: Lots of black/white and silver. Maybe some blue or yellow on the fins. Dimensions are needed for stocking suggestions.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,006 Posts
First of all, welcome back.

I have been told that I have two high end cichlid breeders right here close in Blue Grass Aquatics and Little Africa
Check the Reviews Section and go with the ones you find in there with lots of good reviews. If they're not in there... Having and selling lots of fish doesn't necessarly make them 'high end'. Buyer beware. And I'm not offering a reivew of the specific ones you mentioned as we're not allowed to do that here.

What is the best method for of filtration? I stayed away from undergravel after reading as many believe its not the best setup for Africans. A friend who has a 150 and is big on the local scene says he only uses the hang on back filters, I am leaning towards canister....I am lost.
That's because there is no one 'best'. They all work and have their pros and cons. HOB's or small cannisters will work just fine for your tanks. You won't go wrong. Just be aware that HOB's aren't as quiet as cannisters, so if that's an issue, lean toward a cannister. And again, check the reviews section on these, but you'll find good and bad experiences in all of them. I'd definitely lean toward cannisters for the larger tanks like the 150. What I'd really suggest is that you get at least one of both. And you may end up with that within the equipment you're picking up. Then you get to see for yourself and get experience with both.

I see a lot of additives out there on the market. Cichlid Salt etc. Is this something I need to cycle before adding fish or is it not needed. I am going with Lake Tanganyika fish exclusively and I see there are additives for each specific lake. Are there major differences?
Stay away from off the shelf additives as they'll just drain your wallet. Check out 'Practical Water Chemistry' as well as the other good articles in the Forum Library and it should answer your questions. Get the API freshwater test kit and also the GH/KH test kit. Check your tap for pH, GH, and KH. Also find out if your local water supplier uses chloramine. If so, then get a conditioner that specifically says that it deals with chloramine like Prime or Ammolock, etc. The only 'additives' I'd consider are sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) to raise KH and GH, if needed. KH stabilizes pH, but some debate about whether a high GH value is really necessary. pH will bump up from the addition of the sodium bicarbonate, but more importantly, it'll be stable. It's all explained in the articles I linked. I'd stay away from adding aquarium salt of any kind.

Is there still a market for trading fry? When I raised tropicals and cichlids I would trade with local pet stores and it covered some of my supplies or maybe a new fish here and there. I realize this may be store specific but it was pretty easy back in the early 90's to walk into just about any pet store and work out some trading.
Yes, but always depends. It is store specific as you say. Probably very species specific also. I know malawi's are more sought after in my area right now, so tanganyikans aren't as accepted.

Regarding heaters, hit and miss. There are lemons in every brand. Check the reviews and it won't help you because every one is both loved and hated, they all have their success and disaster stories. Whatever you do, just don't oversize. Some lean toward a 'more power' approach. More power is more dangerous to your fish.

I buy this is this large enough to mix cichlids from each lake? If I set it up as to draw the fish to separate ends of the tank. Is this possible? Will they fight to the death and interfere with one anothers breeding habits?
I would get the tank regardless of what you intend to put in it. There are some species that can be mixed, but you'd have to narrow a list down to work from.

Will they fight to the death and interfere with one anothers breeding habits?
Often, regardless of whether you mix lakes.

Oh, one more. I am partial to reds and blues in the color of the fish with the yellow/black species right behind. Suggestions on species, especially those that fall into these color categories are appreciated. I currently have a shopping cart saved on Bluegrass Aquatics just waiting for my tank to be totally complete before I click buy. I can gladly post it here and let you folks pick it apart as to what will work and what wont work etc.
I agree that I would not click that button until you post specific species and get recommendations here. I also agree with DJ, you sound like a 'Malawi' guy. I'd focus on that for the 150 and get some tanganyikans for the smaller tanks. I think you'll be happier with the setups.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
Tangs are my favorite as they arent as common as Malawi and like DJ says, have tons of cool behaviors and oddball shapes. As for your colors though Lake Vic has some nice ones too.

Look at Haplochromis sp. Ruby Greens if you want some amazing red mixed fish. I have had them for awhile and I still look at my dominant male fish and go "Wow".

Are you looking to breed or just have a pretty tank? Peaceful(relative term)? There are a lot of cool fish to pic from, cant think of any Tang reds off hand right now except Tropheus and while awesomely fun and some of my favorite fish to have and watch, you need to make sure of your stock, and be on the ball. I dont think a colony is for the average aquarist, plus even the fry are expensive. I didnt read Prov's advice until I was typing this. His is pretty good too on the species, that said there are some fish from both lakes that are cool and would work well even if you mixed lakes.

Go with a good Canister filter that you can easily get parts for. If all you have near you is a Petsmart, go see whats on their shelf and what they support, unless you feel like waiting for the mail to arrive and order online(I am not patient enough for this). Same for Petco.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks everyone for the advice. I am still in the process of the tank layout. I will post dimensions soon. It is much deeper than wide.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
40,501 Posts
Depth as in height does not matter much to the fish, except maybe cyps.

Depth as in front-to-back is helpful but not the most important measurement.

Width (or length) IS the most important measurement to consider when stocking.
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Top