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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi I'm in the process of setting up a small shell dweller tank and in reasearching for them I've become slightly obsessed with Tanganyikans generally and trying to get my head around them. I've kept South and Central Americans for 10-15 years but for the first time being lured to the old world.

In the next 12 or so months I want to set up a large tank as part of a fish room and these are in the number 1 spot and I want to understand what my options are. The tank will be a minimum of 4x2x2 but tempted by making it 30 inches wide and tall as it feels like it will give me more options? I'll be using RO water so able to adjust the ph and hardness to what ever I need to do for them. I know with a 4 foot length that would rule out the giants of the lake like Frontosa etc but I'm ok with that.

I've been really interested in learning about the different groups, rock dwellers, open water, sand sifters etc and how they can interact with each other. I have always really admired Tropheus but know next to nothing about them, a lot of tanks I've seen seem to only keep them as a species only tank - is this the general rule with them or are there any combinations that can work?

If I wanted to keep a mixed community are there any species that I should 100% avoid? And equally are there families that make for good combinations? After years of admiring the subtle beauty (comparatively to some old worlds) of Americans, I want to go for a lot of colour.

Many thanks in advance of any help :)

Wills
 

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Tanganyikans are not the #1 choice for lots of color. Their appeal is more shapes and behavior.

I would not use RO water unless your tap water is toxic...why remove all the minerals just to put them back? What are the test results for your tap water?

48x18 is plenty for a community with shell dwellers. Multifasciatus, cyprichromis leptosoma and calvus or julidochromis would make a Tang community for a 48x18 tank.

Tropheus are often a single species tank...sometimes with a pair of gobies but not much of a community.

Sand sifters have special needs so first decide if they are your must-have fish. There is a cookie cutter in the Cichlid-forum Library with Xenos, paracyps and calvus.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ah thankyou I have not explored the library yet will head there now. Good advice on the Tropheus :) Dont think thats what I'm after right now but strong contender for at some point!

I'm going down the RO route as my tap water is pretty variable and not in a good way. I've had nitrate readings from 25-50+ in the 18 months we have lived here and my kh has fluctuated from 10-0 and gh has gone from a high of 18 to a low of 12. Not good for anything really :/

I do really like the sand sifters which is why I was thinking the 30 inch width might help? I've seen some Enantiopus sp. Kilesa F1 which are stunning, but I imagine very very rare... I really like the Featherfins like Ophthalmotilapia and Cyathopharynx too how do they fit into the mix?

I know they are not the most colourful of the African species, really wish I could get my head around them all like I do Americans, but they are so different. The behaviour and different shapes are what I really like from the so far in what I've read.

Are there any species that you would avoid? For example I really like leleupi but was reading that they are a bit of a nightmare in mixed tanks?

thanks wills
 

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Featherfins in general do well with a bigger tank (as in 72"). You would usually give them the whole bottom of the tank...again not much of a commmunity. You are going right to the most challenging, expensive fish!

Seems like you need to choose your one must-have fish and people here can suggest stock that can go with it.

Leleupi and shellies don't often mix well. You started talking about a shellie tank...shellies are not your must-have fish?
 

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Tanganyikans are wonderful, but they are also challenging and interesting, which is why so many people are attracted to them. And not colorful? Poppycock.

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As someone who has kept Tanganyikans exclusively for 20+ years (after keeping just about everything else in the cichlid hobby), my advice to you would be to go slowly. A 48" x 18" or 24" tank would be fine for the shell dwellers, cyps, julies, and altos from the cookie cutter list, as mentioned previously. You do not need a tall tank; anything deeper than 22" or so is wasted space, and a pain to clean because you cannot reach the bottom.

Do not start out with Tropheus; you're just asking for trouble. These are specialized fishes that require specialized care, and they don't do well when kept with other species. Once you've kept some of the easier Tanganyikans for a while and are ready for something different, Tropheus would be one possibility, but you would have to choose carefully for a 48" species tank.

Featherfins and sand-sifters are a whole level more challenging than Tropheus, and although they are wonderful fishes, you really don't want to start out with such demanding, expensive fishes.

Tanganyikans do not lend themselves well to being kept in a 'mixed community.' Sure, you can keep 3 or 4 more-or-less compatible species together, but unless you have a truly massive tank, there is no such thing as a 'Tanganyikan community,' at least not in the same sense as with other cichlids.

This is not meant to discourage you, quite the contrary, but go slowly. Tanganyikans are awesome, but if your main goal is 'a lot of color' in a 'mixed community,' you might be better off with Malawians for now, and in time you can graduate to Tanganyikans. Good luck. :thumb:

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IMGP6566R1.jpg
 

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Since you said you plan to set up a large tank, I would suggest a very large tank, namely 6 feet wide, 18 inches deep, and 18 to 24 inches. 125 gallons.
This is based on keeping Frontosa, one of the most striking handsome and yet not ferocious fighters at all .
They can reach about 12" in length (males), even 14", but normal in my experience is about 10-11".
They are middle dwellers and a tall tank seems wasted wasted water that most species cichlids will never go into. For middle or bottom dwellers, why heat and fill a tank with wasted water you have to filter, heat and vacuum? The same number of gallons in a less tall tank will be providing space the fish will actually use.

My tank 72" x 18" wide x 24" tall is a 125 gallon tank, standard size. I would much rather have less tall but wider. Could use the same filter and the fish be would happier.

They say about 7 adult Frontosa should be happy in a 125 to 200 gallon tank and they say Frontosa don't like small groups. But my tank has 3 Frontosa and they get along with each other happily and I only have to change water and vacuum the gravel ever 4 weeks.
All cichlids are different but I have Kigoma Frontosa and they love these 3 packaged foods, I list them in order of preference based on how eagerly they feed.

1 TetraCichlid Cichlid Crisps Advanced Clear Water Formula on Amazon $8 for a half pound jar. ** (their favorite by far).
2 San Francisco Bay Brand Freeze Dried Mysis Shrimp for Fresh and Saltwater Fish
3 TetraCichlid Cichlid Flakes

My fish are finicky and won't eat other foods unless they are very hungry. Especially Tetra Baby Shrimp which my fish would rather starve than eat, but they love San Francisco Bay Brand Mysis Shrimp.

Number 1 and 3 will slowly sink instead of float. This makes it much much easier to feed. The San Francisco Mysis will float. I have to extract all the air out to feed it. Make floating fish food sink (by Foo The Flowerhorn) on Youtube:

Actually we use a syringe for all foods and all fish, in order to inject the food below the top surface tension which can trap food.

A python substrate cleaning vacuum and long hose is a must. There are adapters to fit many sizes of sink faucets (but not all faucets I don't think).
We use a pea size gravel bottom instead of sand because the vacuum will not suck up the gravel like it can the sand if you are not careful.
For privacy for the fish we have three 8" long pieces very large 6 inch wide PVC pipe, open on both ends. We coated the pipe with silicon seam sealant (aquarium safe sealant) which is sticky and then just rolled the pipe in aquarium gravel to make 'rock caves'. It takes a LOT of gravel to cover even one pipe this wide. We have 3 laying on the gravel spaced far apart from each other. And a couple of large pieces of driftwood weighted down to make it all look nicer.

hint: to cut PVC a long nylon string is all you need for a saw. Mason string is excellent, strong, cheap, and in any hardware store or Amazon. I wrapped both ends of the string around a little stick because fast moving nylon string can cut your hands. And then held onto the sticks instead of the string.

We bought our Kigoma Frontosa by mail from Frontosa Factory in San Jose, California, but their website is now gone and perhaps they are no longer in business. Kigoma have huge humps on forehead. Some of the other popular frontosa have not so much hump but bodies are more deeper blue or purple. Some species have neither large hump, nor color.

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ah this is amazing thanks so much guys :) really awesome advice I need to process.

The space I have is upto 10 foot wide but I need to think of access and I also want a few other tanks in there too. But a big tank is not out fo the question.

I think you have confirmed what I was starting to realise which is that they are best kept in a series of medium sized tanks. I've been thinking of trying a tryptich style set up of 2-3 foot tanks and perhaps they are better candidates for these than a bigger community style tank.

Really want some multipunks at some point and really like a lot of the Cyps. Altos and Lampros are cool too.

For now though I think I'll be happy with some shell dwellers in a 2 foot tank :)

Wills
 

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For cyps, do a 4 foot tank or larger.

Remember you could do the shellies and cyps and calvus or julidochromis in 48x18 so there are 3 of the species you like for the "price" of one 4 foot tank.
 

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Wills said:
...The space I have is up to 10 foot wide but I need to think of access and I also want a few other tanks in there too. But a big tank is not out fo the question...
I have heard countless fish-keeping friends over the years say. 'I wish I had a bigger tank.'

I have never heard anyone say, 'I wish I had a smaller tank.'

Something to consider going forward. Good luck. :thumb:
 

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I do like the 48x18 size. I bought the 36", then the 72", then two 48x18 and four 48x12 33G tanks. Sometimes separation allows more variety.
 

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DJRansome said:
...I do like the 48x18 size...
I do, too. I like the 60" x 18" or 72" x 18" even better.

DJRansome said:
...Sometimes separation allows more variety...
That's true, but except for entry-level species, most Tanganyikans need tanks that are at least 48". I have eight of those at present, and am seriously considering reconfiguring my fish room to make space for more 60" and 72" tanks, and that's a major endeavor. Given that the OP is just starting out with Tanganyikans, and aspires to some of the more space-intensive species in the future, I would think that it makes sense to start out with bigger tanks from the outset.
 

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I've become a big fan of 72" x 24" deep x 18-20" tall tanks. I've got a 48" x 24" x 18" tall tank as well.
 

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When I started and consulted books and forums, I learned how much easier it is to keep a tank stable if it is large, and how difficult if it is small. Tiny amounts of chemical to overcome water supply chlorination, or to cycle a new tank (get the biological media working in the filter media), or keep temperatures stable when thermostats malfunction: all these problems are way easier in a large tank. A large tank of water wants to stay at it's temperature when the heater goes bad. A small tank quickly changes temperatures wildly. Some extra drops of chemical dose is is OK in a big tank, but could be a real problem in a small one.
Big is more expensive but so much easier.
I do not want to clean a bunch of small filters, cleaning one big one instead is less far less of a drudgery chore.
I would worry if I had several smaller tanks and went on vacation. Not to worry with a bigger tank, it is very forgiving.
 

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One tip is to have at least a cheap, small, old fashioned air pump to blow bubbles of oxygen into the tank.
If the house air conditioner fails in a hot climate location, oxygen is depleted as the temps rise.
 

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I read that too about water stability in a larger tank, but I have never had that experience...even in 10G. Unfortunately, you can't always keep all the varieties you want together in the same tank even if it is 72" long.
 

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sir_keith said:
Tanganyikans are wonderful, but they are also challenging and interesting, which is why so many people are attracted to them. And not colorful? Poppycock.

View attachment 2
sir_keith,

Just curious - what is the fish in the picture above ?
 

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DJRansome said:
....I read that too about water stability in a larger tank, but I have never had that experience...even in 10G...
This is just so misleading. It's Chemistry 101, and to suggest that volume has no effect on the stability of an aqueous system is just plain wrong. There's an excellent little book on these and related matters called 'Fish and Invertebrate Culture. Water Management in Closed Systems,' written by Stephen Spotte, former curator of the New York Aquarium, published by Wiley-Interscience.
 
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