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Mixing CA/SA cichlids and African catfish + eels

2028 Views 11 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  nmcichlid-aholic
Can I have a Red Devil with bottom dwellers from Malawi?

I would like to venture into CA/SA cichlids. Until this point I have only had african cichlids. I have a 48 x 14/18/14 (bowfront) x 26 (95 gallon) tank with a few african cichlids that I can remove. My questions are as follows:

1. Can a red devil handle a stable, but higher, PH?
2. Can a single male red devil work in that tank if it is the only fish except some bottom dwellers?
3. Can I keep any or all of the following: an elipsifer eel, 2 buffalo head, 6 syno lucippinnis?
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Do you speak from experience? Red Devils are compatible with many other cichlids and bottom-dwellers. The petricola/lucippinis in particular would seem well-suited since they have sharp barbs.
There is no way anybody can give you a certain answer on this one. The tank is fine as a 'wet-pet' type of setup for a single red devil. However, if and when the red devil will eat the other fish nobody can predict. If you buy the red devil small and it gets to know the other fish as larger than itself, than they have a better chance than if you would introduce small fish to an adult red devil.

That said, a full grown red devil can swallow a full grown petricola/lucippinis whole. There isn't much chewing the red devil would have to do to, and it might still not know about any barbs when the syno has already arrived in the stomach. I haven't seen it, but I have more than a dozen very old lucipinnis in my 240G, so I know how big they can get, and I have seen fully grown red devils.

Buffalo heads can sometimes be had for cheap, so it's a trial and error thing. Maybe they survive for a while, maybe one day they are gone.

Elipsifers are expensive fish. If you want to risk one as a meal for a red devil might depend partly on how deep your pockets are. I keep fish like julies and leleupi with my fronts, and they do fine, even breed in the same tank, so if I loose one every once in a while it's not a big deal. Happens in the lake all the time. I wouldn't risk an eel in a front tank though, let alone with a red devil.

Again, I am not saying it can't be done, or that it won't work at least for a while. But you weren't really expecting anybody to tell you that this would be a fool-proof mix, where you :wink:

As a side note, none of the fish you are asking about are from Lake Malawi. Aethiomastacembelus elipsifer and Synodontis petricola/lucipinnis are from Lake Tanganyika, and Steatocranus casuarius are from the Congo River.
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Thanks. Very helpful. And you're right re: the lakes. Had a brain freeze probably b/c all my cichlids in that tank are from malawi

Based on what you wrote I should not worry about the water parameters? If it works fine out of my tap for the current fish then it should work just fine for the RD, provided it avoids any PH shock when initially being introduced into the tank?

And yea, but for the eel, I would have introduced a RD wet-pet into this tank a long time ago. I love that eel and am not interested in seeing half of it missing and the other half floating around. The rest of the bottom dwellers I'd like to keep with the RD, but if I tried and it did not work out I could just try something else.

One other question - let's suppose none of these bottom dwellers work with the RD. Is there a school of catfish similar to the snyo luc/petr that I could keep with the RD? The obvious choice, if you think it would work, would be multis. If not them though, is there another group. My goal is a RD and then a school of bottom dwelling catfish. It's the contrast of the one large RD above with the school of fast moving and always busy bottom-dwelling catfish of a different color that I want.
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I am sure there are people who would disagree, but in my experience most any fish can be acclimatized to average tap water. I have a pH of 7.4 and a hardness of 9. If I wanted to breed discus or apistos, I'd probably have to get an RO unit, but apart from that I can't think of any fish that I'd think impossible to breed for me due to my water parameters.

An RD is a predator, an in my experience the food instinct of predators tends to be triggered by movement. For example my Border Collie will walk past any cat that just sits in front of the neighbors' house and looks at him. If he happens to go up to the cat, and the cat stands its ground and hisses, he will run to me and be scared. However, if the cat makes the mistake and starts running, he will chase it for miles given the opportunity.

I think you can already see where I am going with this story. In a nutshell, I can see the attraction of the contrast between a slow moving, big predator and a school of fast moving and always busy fish in the same tank. However, this combination has an inherent problem, and this is that the food instinct of the predator will always be triggered. The RD will sit there all day drooling and thinking of supper. As soon as one of the other fish shows a weakness, the RD will gobble it up, and that's how the RD will pick them off one by one.

I am mostly keeping Tanganyikans, and it's pretty much common wisdom there that you can keep even juvenile Altolamprologus easily with much larger fish like adult Frontosa. In my opinion that's because they are slow moving, and they stand their ground. They are basically like the cat that hisses :lol:
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Very interesting theory. But what about the julies and leleupi, which you have had success with in the same tank with Fronts?

Also, if I need to accept that all the fish in the tank have good odds of being dinner for the RD, then what, if any, fish can I keep with the RD? Frankly, I wouldn't mind a massive number of really small fish (e.g. dozens of small albino catfish or a hundred tetras) if there was any chance they could breed fast enough to replace what the RD would eat.

Assuming that's just not viable, then I suppose the "companion" has to be a large slow moving catfish or pleco? If so, any recommendations? I'd like something that does not just sit and poop and that, through its color, shape, and movement has some personality.
My eel is no more, so I am ready to shift to the RD. I really would like to have a RD (a pair?) and the lucip. that I have (they're all at least 4" and most 5"+) in the tank.

If that doesn't work, I would like to have some alternatives for bottom dwellers that add s/t to the tank (e.g. not a large bland pleco that just sits there and poops ;) ). Any suggestions?
Any suggestions for a bottom dweller that is at all interesting (e.g. not a common pleco) and not always hiding that can work well with a RD?
What happened to the eel? I'm wondering because I'm about to add a elipsifer eel to
my tank.
died probably of old age. showed no signs of illness and was at least 5 years old, though probably closer to 10
Pictus catfish or Rafaels? The pictus get bigger, so may work better. Other catfish from the Pimelodidae family may work as well.
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