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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi. So I inherited a 6’ (125G) tank at work (I am a teacher). I’m in the process of getting it cleaned up and ready. I am looking to get something on the “slightly easier to maintain” side of things.

I’m leaning towards a heavily planted tank and am looking at some (not all) of the following:
-dwarf neon rainbow
-angels
-Steatocranus casuarius
-Steatocranus tinanti
- Anomolochromis thomasi
-Hemichromis exsul
-Microctenopoma ansorgii

I’m really open to any ideas someone In This situation would do though.

I have moderate fish keeping experience having kept mbuna for a few years, and oscars as well as easier species.

the tank has a sump (converted salt tank) and large water changes during the school year are no problem.

it’s funded out of pocket, so I’m not looking at any species that are excessively expensive

thanks for any advice/direction!
 

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May want to re-think that stock-list. The Hemichromis you list gives me pause, esp. if you wind up with a spawning pair of them in the tank. And, the long pelvic fins of your Angels are gonna prove almost irresistible to some, or possibly all of those tougher species of Cichlids in there.
So, I would suggest going 'all -in' with a biotope tank for this, that more accurately reflects species originating from at least a general, geographic area. To do this, I would go either all New World or African Riverine for this tank.
As info, the New World (SA and CA) biotope, might be easier (and cheaper) to source out in fish species....
 

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I’m leaning towards a heavily planted tank and am looking at some (not all) of the following:
-dwarf neon rainbow
-angels
-Steatocranus casuarius
-Steatocranus tinanti
- Anomolochromis thomasi
-Hemichromis exsul
-Microctenopoma ansorgii
All of these are decent options in a 125 gal. tank though not all of these are likely to mix that well.
Hemichromis exsul is from lake Turkana (lake Rudolph). It's a lake that has very hard water (harder then lake Tanganyika) as it has no river out flowing from the lake. Never personally kept it but from reading internet threads about it, it has similar aggression to the common Jewel (Hemichromis guttatatus). I have lot's of experience with the common jewel as I have kept it off and on since the 1970's. Tank mates need to be tough. From what I see on line, many people are mixing H. exsul with Malawi mbuna. In my experience with the common Jewel, that is generally the better tankmate rather then another substrate spawning cichlid. And the common Jewel (H. guttatus) is not a soft water fish either as it is also found in brackish water, as well.
The angelfish, Steatocranus species, and Anomalochromis thomasi can all be mixed, IMO. They are all very mellow fish in comparison to most cichids. In my experience with S. casuarius, they are easily bullied by aggressive cichlids, so if you are going to house them with another cichlid, they shouldn't be too aggressive. They tend to hug the bottom so probably wouldn't interact much with the angelfish that tend to utilize the upper portions of a tank. Never personally kept A. thomasi, but I have known of other aquarists who have. And they are often kept in tanks with angelfish. Everything I have seen and read about this fish indicates it is very mellow mannered and is likely to get along fine.
Dwarf neon rainbow could be a decent choice for a dither with any of angelfish, blockhead, or African Butterfly cichlid. Don't think it would be a great choice with H. exsul as it is a small fish that might not do well in the company of aggressive cichlids. For a dither with aggressive jewels, I'd go with giant danios as these are much more proven to thrive in aggressive tanks.
The African gourami, I know very little about other then it is not common in the hobby and is considered difficult to keep.Microctenopoma ansorgii (Ornate ctenopoma) — Seriously Fish
If you are considering setting up an actual "biotope" then none of these fish would be kept together as none are actually found together and most occupy completely different niches in their natural habitat. You would have to choose one from your list, do a lot of research on the type of habitat these fish live in, and the potential tankmates in most instances are likely not even available in the hobby!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thanks for the suggestion, much appreciated. I’m mainly leaning planted and less aggressive due to it being a school tank and during summer vacations only likely being able to come in and do water changes every 7-10 days and not being able to monitor for other issues very well during that time.

I’ll thinking could go a few ways based on the advice so far:
A. I’ll shoot for a pair of the blockheads, 4-5 thomasi, 5/6 angels, and a dozen dwarf neon rainbows
B. Do more research and do the SA tank, maybe 5-7 angels, 10-12 rams, and 1 other species? Suggestions?
C. Open to a completely outside of this box idea, I’m only tied to relatively easy care and interesting enough to draw the students in a bit.

If I am wrong on #s of anything open to redirection on that as well.
 

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Hmmmmm..... okay then.
I'm gonna put in my pitch towards what I believe would work to meet your needs. As follows,
  • Heavily Planted. Gotta have fish that will play nice with your aquatic plants.
  • Interesting. You need visible fish. Activity. And, possibly just a little drama (courtship behaviors - baby fish!).
  • Sustainable with less maintenance. NOT heavily stocked.
Well, here we go:
  • 5 Pterophyllum scalare, Angelfish, (Mostly because they keep coming up in your list, and why not?)
  • 1M-4F Geophagus sp. 'Tapajos', Red Headed Tapajos (RHT) Earth Eaters (A 'harem-keeping' species. Fun! Start with 8 to 10 baby fish and pull out excess males)
  • 1 Pterygoplichthys scrophus, Rhino, Alligator or Chocolate Pleco. Larger growing, all-purpose kind of armored omnivorous catfish that eats algae, rasps bog wood and will snack on just about anything else offered as food. (This one is for those of us who can appreciate the possibly more subtle charms of those 'Beautiful Uglies').
  • 1 Aequidens diadema, Diadem Acara (The larger-growing - peaceful - centerpiece fish of the aquarium! This species has become tough to find unfortunately.... a much more common Andinoacara pulcher, Blue Acara may be substituted if the Diadem proves impossible to find).
That would do it. The RHTs are definitely gonna spawn for you. As a mouth-brooding, New World Cichlid species, that might 'tweak some nuggets' out there. And yes, that IS a lot of fish for your 125 gallon tank. As it will be HEAVILY PLANTED though, and with 50 percent water changes done weekly for this tank - you should be in good shape.

NOTE: This aquarium is NOT for 'regular' substrate rooting, aquatic plants! That group of Earth Eaters will dig up/destroy a planted substrate in short order. Nope, this tank will require the use of potted, substrate rooting plants if that is the direction you want to go. And, why not? Amazon Swords combined with some stem plants can make for fast-growing plants that are Nitrate eating Hawgs, and look just beautiful in an aqaurium. I use flat-sided, glass goldfish bowls as pots for substrate rooting plants and they work great to protect the substrate from relentlessly digging Cichlids, and provide the plants plenty of natural/organic nutrition to grow with (high-grade potting soil covered with 2 - 3 inches of small diameter gravel. Glass pots are sited along the back wall of the tank behind large pieces of rock and bog wood planted out with a LOT of Java moss, Java Fern and various Anubias species. In short order as the plants grow out everywhere, those pots will just disappear.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you! I will check out those suggestions, much appreciated! I’ve seen pictures of your potted plant tank and it looks amazing.
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*** mainly been bringing up the angels because there is a breeder with black and orange angels and those are our school colors, so I thought that would be neat. The breeder hasnt responded to email yet, if that didn’t work out I’d probably skip the angels.
 

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Okay. So, if the Angels you want, don't work out for you to get in the color you're looking for? You could stock with a group of these instead,

Underwater Fish Fin Marine biology Terrestrial plant


- 5 Mesonauta festivus, Festivum or Flag Cichlid. I love these Cichlids! Like the Angelfish, they are also fairly peaceful, ignore aquatic plants, are not shy and will be out and about in the water column for everyone to enjoy. Unfortunately though, like the Diadem Cichlid, these old favorites have now become fairly hard to find. They are definitely worth the effort of a thorough search, if you can find any. .:cool:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
As I go down the rabbit hole…. If I decided to go the African route, would the Buffalo head and butterfly potentially work woth one of the altolamprolongus?
 

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Pushing my envelope a bit with that question. But, I have kept the Lake Tanganyikan Altolamprologus compressiceps successfully in a specific, Lake Tanganyikan themed aquarium.
So I'm gonna say no.
There are just too many different habitats and water types you would be attempting to keep in the same aquarium. The African riverine species on your list go from black (acidic PH) water types - Anomalochromis thomasi. To African white (Neutral+) water riverine such as the Steatocranus types.. Lake Tanganyika with the Altolamprologus has very high PH, very hard water.
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So, if you are interested in the look and feel of a tank with moss covered rocks and bog wood? A heavily planted aquarium, lush with aquatic plants? You need to look toward the riverine side of things, in the fish species you want to stock the tank with..
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
After looking over all the options I think I like your SA tank suggestion the best. Haven’t found anyone online with a Diadem Acara but the blue Acara looks like a good option. Also tough to find any RHTs really, there are some Geophagus Steindachneri that seemed to have a similar temperament?

If I skipped the Pleco, what #s would you recommend for:
Geophagus
Blue Acara
Angel or Flag (still undecided, but your recommendation on them makes me lean that way)

also, if you have any retailer suggestions that you were comfortable PMing me about that would be much appreciated.

thanks so much for the advice.
 

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Well, that's kind of awesome that you wanna go with my SA stocking suggestions.
But well, kinda not.....
Those were some pretty amazing, super rare African locality cichlids you were considering! (would have loved to see how things ultimately worked out for you with them).
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Now then, Plecos right? I guess you just aren't completely sold on the whole 'beautifully ugly' idea thing I proposed? Got it. However, you WILL need a good crew in there to do some grooming work on algae removal for your plants. Esp. if you get the slower growing Anubias types... My recommendation is to get TWO Ancistrus type (Bristlenose) catfish. Those are a much smaller growing than the Rhino Pleco, and they do love them some algae. So, decision time? You can let the catfish gnosh happily away at the algae that will attempt to grow on your slower growing plants - or you can get the soft bristle toothbrush.
... ahem ...
I am looking to get something on the “slightly easier to maintain” side of things. I’m leaning towards a heavily planted tank.....
I won't say that the two are sort of 'mutually exclusive' in this case. But, my own personal inclinations just about ALWAYS come down to "FEED THE CATFISH".
Just sayin', yo'.
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The Geophagus steindachneri line encompasses many Earth Eater species, of which the Red Headed Tapajos is but one of their more distinguished lines. Smaller in size, these are considered the 'dwarves' of the lot, though they aren't exactly THAT small. Attempting to stock with multiple males with Earth Eater Cichlids can be fraught with all sorts of peril. This is dominance & aggression that you may be more familiar with in your experiences with the mouth brooding African Mbuna Cichlids you are keeping now. G. steindachneri types are known for having some pretty aggressive males. Multiple females in the 'harem' to more safely spread out the aggression, and no more than one male should be kept in a somewhat smaller tank like your 125G. Adding another female Earth Eater to boost the numbers up to five total, might actually be a good thing....
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And lastly, let me confirm a couple things first with some on-line Cichlid breeder/dealers, and I'll follow up with a launch of that PM at you. Get you some contact info for some right friendly chaps. :cool:
 
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