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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First of all I would just like to say "HI" because I am new to this forum.

Next, I have recently acquired a free 40 gallon tank. The dimensions are 36" x 15" x 17". I have been talking with folks on a couple of other forums as well trying to come up with a good setup for this new tank so let me tell you the basics of what I would like.

1) I would like to make this a natural planted tank.

2) I would like to have something other than just community fish because those are the only types of tanks I have had. (I currently have a 55 gallon freshwater planted community tank, a 20 gallon hex goldfish tanks and a 2.5 gallon natural planted tank that houses 1 male betta.)

3) I would like to find something that in not a prolific breeder because the only place I have I could find that would take the babies is an LFS that is about 45 minutes away.

4) I am obviously a beginner if I get cichlids so would like to stay away from anything that is more difficult to take care of.

That said, I was told that I should check out some of the different types of cichlids and so I have been doing just that. Some of the suggestions I received have been Kribensis Pelvicachromis pulcher, Julies Julidochromis marlieri, Zebra Obliquidens Astatotilapia Latifasciata, Rams Microgeophagus ramirezi or Mikrogeophagus altispinosa, any of the dwarf West African species, Cockatoos Apistogramma Cacatuoides, angels or discus.

I have been doing some research, but would love some input from some more experienced folks as well. :)
 

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For a 55 gallon natural planted tank how about rainbowfish? I know a breeder in CO, but you may need a little patience in allowing juvenile fish to grow out. They look great in a planted tank. They will spawn in that setting but all of the eggs would get eaten by the fish.
 

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Hello, and welcome!
There are many Tanganyikan cichlids that do well in a planted tank. Keep in mind that you'll need plants with high pH tolerence: there are several suggestions in this forum on Tang plants if you use the search function.

It doesn't sound like you are beginner hobbyist, just perhaps new to cichlids? If you can maintain the nutrient balances for nice planted tanks, you'll find the chemistry of a lake Tanganyika tank easy enough to master. It's hard with high pH, with very low nitrates. Your plants will help take care of that!

You can set up a Tanganyikan community, where one group will "help" with the population control of the other. Unless you remove fry to raise, most will get eaten in a community tank. Tang communities are special, in that there are three specific niches that can be filled with carefully chosen species.

The first niche is the rocks:

You mentioned J. marlieri. Lovely fish, but pretty aggressive when breeding. I would suggest a gentler, slightly smaller version: J. transcriptus. These guys will give you more flexibility than the larger, more aggressive julies.

Altolamprologus calvus is another great choice. Great for fry control, but very peaceful towards other tank mates

The second niche is open water:

With a three foot tank, I'd suggest Paracyprichromis spp. A school of them help calm the other fish, and they are beautiful to watch. They are slightly more difficult to keep, and so you could substitute another rock dweller instead.

The third niche is the substrate... sand is best.

Shellies are a popular, easy, and charismatic choice. I love my multifaciatus colonies: they are easy and adorable. The full grown adult females, all of 3/4" can chase away a 4" calvus from her shell. The males at ~2" will take on anybody in the tank in defense of the colony. Other shellies that would be good for your tank: brevis, similis, occelatus-types.

There are more species that will work, but start looking at these to see what you like. I'd look for 2-3 species from at least 2 different niches.

Hope that helps!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'd look for 2-3 species from at least 2 different niches.
Just to clarify, does this mean I can have 2-3 species from at least 2 niches, meaning 4-6 different species altogether? Or does this mean just to check them out and see which ones I like best? Also could I have say, one species from all three niches meaning I would have 3 different species in the tank?

One other thing I am curious about is how many you get to start? Someone suggested sevearl so that they will form a pair and then get rid of (take to the LFS :) ) the others.
 

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I think she was trying to say 1 species per niche. Thats how i interpreted it.
I agree with Triscuits post expect i would go for brevis because 1. They don't dig much(mine never did but I've seen brevis digging before) and with plants in the tank, Multies would destroy all the hard work in a matter of hours. Anything that doesnt dig would be good for your tank.

Final Stocking would be something like this if you decide to take truicuits stocking
A pair of dwarf Julies
A pair/harem/colony of shellies
A group (6 or more) of Paracyps
and maybe some snails :)

Its easier to help you when you have a type of fish your interested in and we can help you work with that type of fish
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Its easier to help you when you have a type of fish your interested in and we can help you work with that type of fish
I am hoping by getting a few ideas to start with I can narrow it down and then I will get back with you guys to make a final decision. Thanks for your help.

With my other tanks I just sort of threw things together and although for the most part it ahs worked, I have learned to do a lot more research before just diving in! :wink:

For a 55 gallon natural planted tank how about rainbowfish? I know a breeder in CO
Just for clarification it is a 40 gallon tank. Don't want to end up with too many fish... :lol: If I decide to go with rainbowfish I will definitely get back to you about the breeder.
 

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luver_of_fish said:
I'd look for 2-3 species from at least 2 different niches.
Just to clarify, does this mean I can have 2-3 species from at least 2 niches, meaning 4-6 different species altogether?
Sorry for the confusion. A total of 2 or 3 species, not all from the same niche (eg, not all rock dwellers).

Yes, multies dig, but I've seen planted tanks with shellies... I think the plants are anchored?

As for groups.... paracyps are comfortable in schools of 6 or more. Pairing fish (julies, calvus, eg) should start with a group of at least 5 in order to allow pair formation. Same with shellies, although that varies a bit with pairing, harem and colonial spawners.
 

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You don't want sand correct? Seeing this is a planted tank I will assume that.

I'd start with 1 calvus

Then I'd add a group of Paracyprichromis

Then a shell dweller... either caudopunks or brevis. They shouldn't dig as much as most shell dwellers. Place the shlles where you don't mind a little bit of digging.... if they decide to.
 

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I have found sand to be an excellent substrate for low tech planted tanks - not very fine sand like the ubiquitous play sand, but pool filter sand in my experience works very well! In addition, not all plants need to be rooted in substrate. Anubias sp, Java fern, and Java moss can be anchored on rocks or wood, and are great plants for tanks with fish that are notorious diggers.


125G low tech planted tropheus tank with sand substrate, Valisneria sp, and Anubias sp. For details click here

Since this is the Tanganyikan forum, you shouldn't be surprised if you don't get much advice on South American or West African dwarf cichlids - both of which would also be good choices for a 40G tank, and it might well be worth your while posting in other sections of this site. However, since this is Cichlid-forum, you won't get much input with regard to rainbow fish here, which are not cichlids :)

With the bias declared, I would wholeheartedly recommend sticking with Tanganyikan cichlids, since they have unique behaviors that are fascinating to watch, and allow you to set up community type tanks with different type of fish occupying different niches as triscuit explained. No other type of cichlid does this so well. Choosing 3 different species for 3 different niches would allow you to stock your tank to the maximum, and make for a fascinating setup to watch. Due to the small tank size, for open water there is really only one option, which are Paracyprichromis, and you rarely see another species than P. nigripinnis in the hobby. For the rocks you have more options, and an altolamprologus species would be a good choice. If you prefer Julidochromis, I second the recommendation to choose one of the smaller varieties like transcriptus, but since you mentioned marlieri, there is a dwarf variety sold as Julidochromis marlieri 'Gombe', which I think would be perfect for your tank, and is very attractive to boot!


Julidochromis marlieri ‘Gombe’ in my 240G low tech planted Tanganyika community setup. For details click here

As for shell dwellers, you could go with gold occelatus or brevis, but those are 'nidifugous' meaning they tend to kick their young out of the nest - or shell as the case might be - as soon as they consider them old enough, and the parents are ready to breed again. You would have to take the fry out of the tank or would risk them being killed by the parents. Multies and similis are colony forming, and tolerate many generations of fry in the tank, with older siblings sharing responsibility of protecting the young. A big multie colony is a sight to behold, and they can be very prolific breeders, but they don't have huge spawn sizes and are comparatively sought after fish. So having too many fry is not the problem it might be if you were breeding convicts, for example, and you can remove some whenever it is convenient for you. Similis are rarer, and are somewhat more restraint in their production of offspring. Also, having Altolamprologus in the tank can go a long way toward population control :D


My dad's 50G low tech planted Tanganyikan community setup with sand substrate. P. nigripinnis ‘Blue Neon’, A. calvus 'Black', L. similis. For details see bottom of this page

Last but not least, Tanganyikan cichlids can be difficult if not impossible to find in shops, but I know for a fact that there are some fantastic cichlid clubs in CO, and members of cichlid clubs breed cichlids, and sell top quality fish at unbeatable prices. I suggest you use the CF Club Finder to identify a club near you and get in touch.

Greetings

Frank
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Frank, what can I say but WOW! I haven't had a chance to read everything yet on your http://www.fmuller.com site, but it is absolutely fascinating. I love how you were able to do so much on a tight budget. I am also on a rather tight budget, especially after having spent at least $700 on a my new 55 gallon community tank to save my 12" gibbbicep pleco L083 as he had grown to large for my 20 gallon hex tank. I was also talked into using live plants for this tank, something I had never done before. After setting up this tank I started doing more research on my goldfish and betta as well and have since moved my goldies into the 20 gallon hex tank and started a 2.5 gallon natural planted tank for my male betta. The betta will soon be moved to a 10 gallon natural planted tank; I am just waiting for the LFS to get their plant order in so I can get some pygmy chain sword. I am excited to be trying a cork tile back ground in this tank and if all goes well, I would like to try a natural cork bark background in one of my larger tanks. I read that you have a rock background in your 240g and I will definitely have to look at that more as well.

Tanganyikan cichlids can be difficult if not impossible to find in shops, but I know for a fact that there are some fantastic cichlid clubs in CO, and members of cichlid clubs breed cichlids, and sell top quality fish at unbeatable prices.
I went out today to see what types of chichlids were available at some of the different LFSs and found your statement to be quite true. Not ony that, but most of the African cichlids are just put in tanks labled "assorted African cichlids" which doesn't help a whole lot when you are searching for a particular species. I was wondering and was planning on posting a question about this problem so reading your post I felt like you read my mind. Thanks for the information and I will be checking into the CF Club Finder soon.

You might best be able to answer a couple of questions I have in regards to plants, sustrate and lighting.

One thing this 40g tank did not come with is a light. I have the opportunity to purchase a Current 30" compact light strip from a gentleman I met through another aquatic plant forum who lives close to me. He would sell the lamp to me for $40 with the bulb included. Here is the light http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=3578+3733+11418&pcatid=11418. It is a bit short though since my tank is 36" long, but I was hoping I could get around that by not really planting anything near the sides or only using very low-light plants in those areas. It would be 65 watts or 1.62wpg. This is actaully more wpg than I currently have in my 55 gallon (it has 70 watts or 1.27wpg). This tank will sit in a fairly well lit room with a lot of indirect sunlight from several windows.

I am currently rethinking the idea of a natural planted tank though because I think I will run into problems with the shell dwellers (if I get any) moving some of the sand and therefore allowing the soil to be exposed and subsequently making a muck of my tank. I really like the idea of sand and was wondering about the pool filter sand. I checked with my aunt who owns a spa/pool shop and she was worried about the pool filter sand being safe for fish. She says it is a silica sand. I found a couple of other types of sand at Home Depot I was wondering about. One was an all-purpose sand. It says it is a course sand and it is not nearly as fine as the play sand. http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs...langId=-1&catalogId=10053&productId=100318450 They also sell a medium sand that seemed very fine, but is almost the color of the pool filter sand (there was an open bag I was able to check out on the floor). http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs...Id=10053&productId=100318538&N=10000003+90051 I don't know if either of these would work. They are quite a bit cheaper than the pool filter sand which was $19.99 for 50 pounds.

I was also just curious about the types of plants to use. I was told somewhere on one of the forum threads that I would need to have plants that would do well with the higher pH that the cichlids need, but I noticed you had the typical low-tech plants in your tanks (java fern, anubias, crypts...) so it seems these easy to find low-tech plants would be OK.

Sorry for so much information, but I really want to do this tank right to start with, unlike all of my other tanks that have been sort of thrown together. I know it may never be a show tank especially because I just don't have a good spot to place it in my living room right now, but I have still prided myself on the fact that my tanks have always looked healthy and clean and are not an eyesore especially since they all sit in the main living area of my house. Also , I like for my fish to be happy to and a yucky tank cetainly can't provide that. :)
 

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As far as rainbowfish goes, the type depends on which ones you like and what is available. The larger ones mix well for me with tanganyikans also. I have them together in some of my tanks. They occupy the middle water column.
 

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I have a planted african tank and it works great, even with them being herbivors. My fish only seem to dig in open sand so I avoid planting there. I also kept my crypts in their plastic pots, so I can move them when I gravel vac. I usually wedge my Anubias between the rock stuctures, or use a couple of large river rocks to hold them down near the structures, eventually they root themselves. I've only got Anubias, Java Fern, and Crypt Lutea, with only .75 watts per gallon of light. You can get a good idea of how much light your going to have by adding the wattage of the lights together and dividing it by the tanks gallons. Usually for these low light plants I'd shoot for 1.-1.5 watts per gallon. I'm actually going to get some better light when I have more $$$ in the future. I don't use fertilizers, but I may start using flourish root tabs. You just squish the tabs in the substrate near the roots of your plants, they'll do the rest. As for substrate I went to home depot and picked up a 50lb bag of Sakrete Natural Playsand (it was super dusty and need tons of rinsing but no other problems with it), and mixed it with one small 5lb. bag of black marine sand to get a color I liked. Pool filter sand works fine and there is less rinsing involved, but out here they only carried white, so I didn't use it. Hope this helps!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the all your information niccomau. :)

I actually went to Colorado Springs today, about 45 minutes away, to check out what types of stuff was available there. I am so glad I did! There is quite a bit available and at pretty reasonable prices compared to here locally.

I was also doing some thinking on the way home (I had an hour or so to do lots and lots of thinking :D ) and another thing I was consindering doing with this tank is making it a paludarium. I really don't want to have anything but fish and don't know if thaere are any types of amphibians or reptiles that would work with this biotype. I have seen some absolutley gorgeous pictures of some paludariums and I'm really excited to try it. :drooling:

I have not seen one dedicated to cichlids though and I am anxious to try and see if I can accomplish it. I would probably need to size down my fish load to perhaps a 20 or 29 gallon tank as that would probably be about the amount of water it would include. I was thinking that this this would give me a good way to have the plants and not have to worry too much about any substrate being disturbed. I think this would also be an easy set up to use sand as a substrate and I don't htink it would really cost any more than a total aquarium setup. We'll see about that though... I am going to do some more research now on the diffent biotypes that cichlids come from and we'll go from there.

If anyone has any ideas or thougths about this idea I would love to hear them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I have decide to nix the paludarium idea. I would really like to have more fish and I think I would be biting off more than I can chew. Maybe another day... :)

I have a question about mixing some type of Tananyika species with Bolivian Rams. I have met a friend on this forum who doesn't live too far away and she currently has 10 Bolivian fry about a 1/2" long right now. I have read quite a bit about the Bolivian Rams and am very interested in getting some, especially when I can get them from somewhere other than an LFS. The thing is I am also very interested in a Lake Tanganyika community tank too and can't decide between the two. I noticed fmuller has Bolivians in his 75 gallon Geophagus tank http://www.fmueller.com/home/aquaristic/75g-geophagus/ along with several other species and this idea really interests me.

This being only a 40 gallon tank though I wonder what type of setup would or wouldn't work. Also I have no idea about what/when to introduce everyone to a new tank. With fry Bolivian fry available I don't know when would be a good time to get them either. :-?

*One more thing...I don't know if this would help me with a better setup in any way, but I have been playing with the idea of moving my current 55 gallon community tank inhabitants to the new 40 gallon tank because I really don't like the gravel substrate I have in there and think it would be easiest to just set them up a new tank and move everyone over then clean out the 55 gallon and set it up as the cichlid tank.
 

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in my honest opinion you should just stick with the africans or the rams... not both. Tangs like a much higher PH than the rams live comfortably at. Diet, area, and activity levels are some other things you might want to think about. Rams are you usually kept with pretty docile tropicals, like gouramis, tetras, rasboras etc. They also love planted tanks, which you said your were leaning towards. I dunno I'd just be leery of mixing riverine with african. I think the aggression scales are on totally different planes.

* I'd go for the african setup up myself, I used to have German Rams, and while they were cute they didn't have the personality my africans do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well, I finally found a place that isn't too far away where I can get some Tanganyika cichlids. :D

Here is what I am looking at:

Altolamprologus Calvus Inkfin (First Generation Fry from Wild Caught Fish)

Paracyprichromis Nigripinnis (First Generation Fry from Wild Caught Fish)

Lamprologus Brevis Orange Kitumba (First Generation Fry from Wild Caught Fish) or Lamprologus Ocellatus "Gold"

What do you guys think? Which one of the lamprologus whould you suggest? I love the colors of the brevis, plus I will probably end up with pool filter sand for a substrate and since it is pretty light I thought they would stand out better.

As for groups.... paracyps are comfortable in schools of 6 or more. Pairing fish (julies, calvus, eg) should start with a group of at least 5 in order to allow pair formation. Same with shellies, although that varies a bit with pairing, harem and colonial spawners.
I'd start with 1 calvus

Then I'd add a group of Paracyprichromis

Then a shell dweller... either caudopunks or brevis.
I can get this tank started soon and will actually have a filter that has been running for a month or so on an established tank so I am not sure how long I would need to wait to get any of these guys or what order I should get them (if any). I guess I'm wondering if there is a waiting period you must go through between adding the diffent species. Finally, I wasn't sure if I should get a group of at least 5 of the calvus or start with just one.

Thanks for your input. :)

Oops, almost forgot. How big the shells have to be for the shellies? :-?
 

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Your new tank will probably cycle in 10 days with an established filter. You can add them all in at the same time. The shellies will use shells similar in size to escargot shells and if you want a group of calvus you'll probably have to thin them out once they pair.
 

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I think that sounds like a great start. I personally love the spunky nature of the occies, but it is a personal choice and I know a lot of people would prefer the Brevis.

BTW, I have a very similar tank to that... I also have Gobies and a single Brichardi in mine. I also simply took a filter off my mbuna tank and got all my fish at once. I think it works better in the long run cause the fish get used to each other as juvies and do not establish territories to argue over when new fish are added.

One note though, if you are looking to breed the paracyps, the occies are rather agressive and the calvus tend to snack on fry.

I have Neothauma shells for my occies and then added a bunch of others I found when in Florida that were the same size and pretty. I also have Welk shells which were supposed to be for the calvus, but they didn't know that and occassionally a shelly will take a liking to one for a while. Apparently escargot shells also work well, althogh I have never tried them.

This site shows a bunch of sutable shells: http://www.cichlidsandherps.net/id25.html
You can see the size of the shells from the pictures, which may help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Due to the small tank size, for open water there is really only one option, which are Paracyprichromis, and you rarely see another species than P. nigripinnis in the hobby.
I was wondering if there were any other options for this niche? I could possible move the tank inhabitants from my 55 to the 40, which I was thinking about anyway, which would give me a little more room. The reason I ask is that the Paracyprichromis Nigripinnis are kind of pricey, especially if I am going to stock this thing all at one time. They did have one other Paracyprichromis species. It is a Paracyprichromis brieni velifer “Kitumbaâ€
 
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