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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I have always struggled with the problem of my cichlids digging into the sand in my tank. Eventually they would reach the under gravel filter panels and it would make the take look messy.

Recently I added 2 new yellow fin acei to my aquarium and they are digging like never before! There actually doing it as I type!
As you can imagine, the digging is causing a few problems like:
- making the aquarium look messy/un-even
- risk of rocks falling on fish/breaking glass because they are digging under the rocks

Right now, there is a huge mound of sand right at the front of my tank, un-even and messy to look at. Im incredibly OCD aswell, so this is a big problem to me :(

What do I do to stop this? Can I? Can I stop them digging under the rocks?
 

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There is nothing that you can do. . They are just diggers. Mine are the same way.I take it as entertainment.
 
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Under gravel filters are sort of old tech nowadays and can prove to be a nitrate harbor in some cases. Removal would certainly solve your problem.
Also, if and when you remove it, rocks placed directly on the glass reduce the likelihood of them dislodging and falling.
 

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Some fish live to swim, eat and DIG. The best response I've found is learning to look at it as good exercise. They move it out and I move it back so that we both get some needed exercise!

I would ditch the UG filter when handy. I find they have a way of stopping up and slowing going bad without any indication of a growing problem.
 

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And...if perfectly level substrate is your goal, African Rift Lake cichlids are not your fish. :thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
DJRansome said:
And...if perfectly level substrate is your goal, African Rift Lake cichlids are not your fish. :thumb:
With all kind regards, I don't mean to offend you here.

Please refrain from telling me whether or not cichlids are my fish are not. I have 3 running tanks with cichlids in them. I am a cichlid breeder. Just the other day I had my yellow fin acei produce around 70 fry. I know what im doing. All I wanted to know is whether or not there was a method of stopping my cichlids from digging. And from other posts, I have realised that there is no method.

Regards

Josh
 

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I think DJ was just playing with you. Like telling you that if you don't like the sound of chirping, you should not have a bird. Just a round about way of saying that digging comes with the territory, and that if it really gets on your nerves, there are plenty of other cichlid types that never touch the sand.

He never said that they are not your fish, he just said they are not the fish to accompany level sand. Your pets are your decisions of course. :fish:
 

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OrbitalJosh said:
I am a cichlid breeder.
If youre a "breeder" you should know that digging / sifting sand is what cichlids do. :roll:
 

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To prevent the rocks from toppling over, don't put them on top of the sand. Set them on the tank bottom, especially if you are setting up rock piles.

Luckily for me, I like that the bottom of my tanks are landscaped a little differently every day. And some days I'm treated to major excavation...
 

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You can limit their digging by putting medium sized rocks on the bottom so that there isn't as much open sand to dig, but they are naturally diggers and I think it's part of what makes them so interesting to watch.

When I got a yellow tail acei, he immediately began a major digging project, trying to remodel the whole tank, but after a while he lost interest and started fraternizing more.
 

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Personally, I keep cichlids so I can observe the natural behaviors of what are practically wild animals in my own home. Digging is an integral part of most cichlids' natural behavior. I try to set up tanks in a way that allows the fish to display as much of those behaviors as possible in captivity. For example I have exchanged coarse gravel for sand in tanks with small cichlids that could not easily move the gravel.

Personally I find it curious that other people would not be interested in observing those behaviors, but prefer to make the fish behave in a way that they find desirable - like swim in an orderly fashion over a perfectly groomed and level substrate layer. I guess for a long time people have enjoyed training tigers to jump through burning hoops, or teaching monkeys to eat with knife and fork. I had thought we had left that kind of attitude behind us, but I guess not.
 

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In order to deal with digging, i put more substrate in! Simple and looks good!

Also this is the normal activity of the Cichlids we deal with, so you can't stop it, sorry for the bad news.
 

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Not going to happen. The only thing you can try is putting large pebbles , too big for the fish to move. I watch my fish behavior closely and I try a lot of different things to see how it effects their behavior. If you spend enough time observing what the fish is trying to do you can usually change the decor around to match what they want. Remember that the fish live in the tank and not us and what they want is what matters. I put a plant in a corner and one fish hated it, even attacked it, knocking it loose over and over till I gave in and moved it somewhere else.
 

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fmueller said:
Personally I find it curious that other people would not be interested in observing those behaviors, but prefer to make the fish behave in a way that they find desirable - like swim in an orderly fashion over a perfectly groomed and level substrate layer. I guess for a long time people have enjoyed training tigers to jump through burning hoops, or teaching monkeys to eat with knife and fork. I had thought we had left that kind of attitude behind us, but I guess not.
I think that is what is the most fun. Maybe people just throw fish in the tank to make it a display instead of getting something more suitable like a painting they can admire. I like trying different cave setups, different water flow patterns to see what they react to and like the most.
I put in a red colored night light and learned that my fish hated it. Anytime the light was on they wouldn't go near that part of the tank, so I learned something new about the fish in that tank, they don't like red :)

I had a male, my favorite, that I just lost, that would attack all the other fish while I was laying on the couch. He would watch me and if I picked up my leg and placed it on the floor he would dash across the tank to his cave because he knew I was about to stand up and several times I would go to the tank and point my finger at him and yell at him about the chasing, and he would move his head back and forth while opening and closing his mouth from within his cave as if to be defiant to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Sub-Mariner said:
OrbitalJosh said:
I am a cichlid breeder.
If youre a "breeder" you should know that digging / sifting sand is what cichlids do. :roll:
I didnt say that I didnt know thats what they did, I was asking for a solution to the problem.
 

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OrbitalJosh said:
I was asking for a solution to the problem.
It is very easy to prevent cichlids from digging. You can either use a substrate that is so coarse that they can not move it, or you can use no substrate at all. 'Problem' solved.

The problem with that is that it would stop your cichlids from engaging in a behavior that is natural for them, and you are depriving yourself of the opportunity to observe that behavior. The question is, do you want to do that? Only you can answer that question.
 

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OrbitalJosh said:
Sub-Mariner said:
OrbitalJosh said:
I am a cichlid breeder.
If youre a "breeder" you should know that digging / sifting sand is what cichlids do. :roll:
I didnt say that I didnt know thats what they did, I was asking for a solution to the problem.
I think you are trying to solve a "problem" that most of us do not identify as a problem, and in fact I would gather most of us find the digging to be an endearing feature of the fish that is enjoyable to watch.

How does an undergravel filter even work with sand anyways?
 

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Rhinox, when I first switched to sand in a ten gallon i simply covered the ugf with pantyhose. It worked well. It kept the water crystal clear, however the sand was always littered with food and waste.
 
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