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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 125 gal, 6' tank that I may re-stock. I would like to keep a pair of Paratilapia but am not sure what else I will keep. What else would you stock that would thrive and also look good in the tank? I'd like to stick with fish from the same region. One idea is another cichlid species and possibly a school of something large enough that they won't be eaten. Right now I'm open to anything.
Any suggestions and ideas would be greatly appreciated!
 

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Your post informs a question that a LOT of us (as Cichlid lovers) have asked. That is, 'Is a biotope correct, freshwater - COMMUNITY - aquarium possible for Madagascar'?
The short answer is: NO.
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Reason is that habitat destruction and freshwater environment contamination due to industry, agricultural run off and land erosion have so degraded the endemic, freshwater fish populations of Madagascar - that almost all species of fish native to that big island are dangerously threatened or have already gone extinct.
So, in real terms that means that outside of Paratilapia polleni, 'Starry Night Cichlid', almost nothing else that originates and is endemic to Madagascar - is readily available to freshwater hobbyists. However, I'm sure in some of the aquarium and other clubs or private ownership, there are some Madagascar originating species that come available as fry grow outs, from time to time.
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But, the P. polleni has been stocked so often in New World, riverine type aquarium setups, the behavior and compatibility of this species is pretty well known and understood in that community environment. So, outside of a 'biotopically correct' species only aquarium, featuring P. polleni... you are almost certainly looking at stocking with tougher, larger growing New World non-Cichlid species to go with that Cichlid, in a community tank. Something that your 125 gallon aquarium could serve quite well for. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Your post informs a question that a LOT of us (as Cichlid lovers) have asked. That is, 'Is a biotope correct, freshwater - COMMUNITY - aquarium possible for Madagascar'?
The short answer is: NO.
-
Reason is that habitat destruction and freshwater environment contamination due to industry, agricultural run off and land erosion have so degraded the endemic, freshwater fish populations of Madagascar - that almost all species of fish native to that big island are dangerously threatened or have already gone extinct.
So, in real terms that means that outside of Paratilapia polleni, 'Starry Night Cichlid', almost nothing else that originates and is endemic to Madagascar - is readily available to freshwater hobbyists. However, I'm sure in some of the aquarium and other clubs or private ownership, there are some Madagascar originating species that come available as fry grow outs, from time to time.
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But, the P. polleni has been stocked so often in New World, riverine type aquarium setups, the behavior and compatibility of this species is pretty well known and understood in that community environment. So, outside of a 'biotopically correct' species only aquarium, featuring P. polleni... you are almost certainly looking at stocking with tougher, larger growing New World non-Cichlid species to go with that Cichlid, in a community tank. Something that your 125 gallon aquarium could serve quite well for. :)
Excellent information, thank you for that! Can you give me some suggestions of New World non-Cichlid species you mention?
Also, giving up the biotope correct requirement would you recommend any catfish or cichlids from Africa? Not Madagascar, but close.
 

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Sure!
The Starry Night is one of those riverine Cichlids that seems to reserve the very worst of its aggression and potential nastiness towards, OTHER Paratilapia polleni. Individual behavior characteristics can certainly vary, but in the confines of a 125 gallon tank? With two males kept together - you will almost certainly wind up with just one alpha male. The females of this species can be just as irascible. A smaller growing size for those females at up to 6 - 7 inches adult length, fortunately helps to mitigate that ferocity a bit.
What this means in the aquarium, is that adult males seem predisposed to just NOT get on very well with New World Cichlids that display a spotted or speckled pattern. Green Terrors, Hericthys types, Jack Dempsey's and even fierce Guapote's (with that distinctive speckling) will all be launched at with seemingly equal (killing) aggression! But, place a Convict, Salvini or Nicaraguan Cichlid in there with this species, and those stripes will not ellicit the same vicious reaction. Severum, Chocolate Cichlids and even Oscars are typically ignored or at least tolerated as community tank mates with this species in larger, 6 foot long aquariums. A safe bet would be to place a few smaller growing Central American Cichlids in with a single male P. polleni. A female Salvini (a bit less aggressive than the sometimes insane males), along with a Convict, Cutteri and/or certainly a Firemouth Cichlid would almost certainly make good tankmates for the larger growing male P. polleni. Provide plenty of smaller, snug hiding places for the smaller growing Cichlids to escape to if the big African is having a bad day or something. African Mbuna can be kept with a single male P. polleni for the same reason - the Starry Night will ignore them altogether or look upon them as harmless entertainment or something. (Be careful when stocking though that the other Cichlids aren't too small - P. polleni is quite piscivorous in nature).
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As for suitable catfish, the mid-size to larger growing African Synodontis types should do well. Synodontis eupterus is one such that should work out okay, as they are pretty tough customers themselves. I would not attempt the more peaceful, shoaling types such as Synodontis multipunctatus, as those smaller catfish are at risk of just simply being seen as FOOD.
As for dither type fish, you could attempt to keep some Silver Dollars in with this guy. An extremely fast species and they are a bit larger growing. After awhile, he may just lose interest in eating them in a six foot long tank (but, be ready to lose some over time). Astyanax fasciatus mexicanus is a larger-growing Central American Tetra species that would certainly work well in this community tank. But sadly, they aren't the best looking things, and have a nasty habit of being rather aggressive customers themselves. So unfortunately, that Tetra species is almost impossible to source out in the hobby.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Sure!
The Starry Night is one of those riverine Cichlids that seems to reserve the very worst of its aggression and potential nastiness towards, OTHER Paratilapia polleni. Individual behavior characteristics can certainly vary, but in the confines of a 125 gallon tank? With two males kept together - you will almost certainly wind up with just one alpha male. The females of this species can be just as irascible. A smaller growing size for those females at up to 6 - 7 inches adult length, fortunately helps to mitigate that ferocity a bit.
What this means in the aquarium, is that adult males seem predisposed to just NOT get on very well with New World Cichlids that display a spotted or speckled pattern. Green Terrors, Hericthys types, Jack Dempsey's and even fierce Guapote's (with that distinctive speckling) will all be launched at with seemingly equal (killing) aggression! But, place a Convict, Salvini or Nicaraguan Cichlid in there with this species, and those stripes will not ellicit the same vicious reaction. Severum, Chocolate Cichlids and even Oscars are typically ignored or at least tolerated as community tank mates with this species in larger, 6 foot long aquariums. A safe bet would be to place a few smaller growing Central American Cichlids in with a single male P. polleni. A female Salvini (a bit less aggressive than the sometimes insane males), along with a Convict, Cutteri and/or certainly a Firemouth Cichlid would almost certainly make good tankmates for the larger growing male P. polleni. Provide plenty of smaller, snug hiding places for the smaller growing Cichlids to escape to if the big African is having a bad day or something. African Mbuna can be kept with a single male P. polleni for the same reason - the Starry Night will ignore them altogether or look upon them as harmless entertainment or something. (Be careful when stocking though that the other Cichlids aren't too small - P. polleni is quite piscivorous in nature).
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As for suitable catfish, the mid-size to larger growing African Synodontis types should do well. Synodontis eupterus is one such that should work out okay, as they are pretty tough customers themselves. I would not attempt the more peaceful, shoaling types such as Synodontis multipunctatus, as those smaller catfish are at risk of just simply being seen as FOOD.
As for dither type fish, you could attempt to keep some Silver Dollars in with this guy. An extremely fast species and they are a bit larger growing. After awhile, he may just lose interest in eating them in a six foot long tank (but, be ready to lose some over time). Astyanax fasciatus mexicanus is a larger-growing Central American Tetra species that would certainly work well in this community tank. But sadly, they aren't the best looking things, and have a nasty habit of being rather aggressive customers themselves. So unfortunately, that Tetra species is almost impossible to source out in the hobby.
Interesting thoughts. I'd like a pair but it's going to be trial and error since I'm getting them young. If I end up with two males I'll be ready to move one.
As for tankmates, I've got two young Uaru that I really like and didn't think I'd be able to keep. Sounds like they just might work if chocolates and severums do.
Thoughts on uaru?
Cutteri is a cool suggestion too.
 

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Hmmmm....
I see you have been working up to this decision for a while now!


My guess is that you REALLY like that Madagascar Cichlid species?!! So, well then... maybe it's time to get some babies? (And possibly upgrade to a 180 - 210 gallon aquarium? :)
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The Uaru should be a peaceful and good species to keep with your P. polleni. Uarus are a soft and acidic water loving Cichlid species. They will be much more demanding in water chemistry requirements than the Starry Night, which are found upriver in smaller rivers and streams in the same sort of soft-acidic water conditions. And, have also been observed much further downriver and seemingly quite happy in river estuaries and delta regions where the water actually tests out as brackish! However, this species (as well as those Urarus) does NOT like dissolved organics in the water of their aquarium. So keeping clean water conditions and ensuring Nitrates stay down to low measured levels, will be important to keeping everyone colored up and healthy for you.
There are various strategies employed with P. polleni to establish a (somewhat) compatible pair of them in the aquarium.
Here are some that have worked, that you could attempt,
1) Plop in 6 or more baby-sized individuals, and observe the show! Sooner or later, a M/F pair will inevitably show up. When that happens, pull all non-paired P. polleni out for their safety.
2) For larger, 6 foot plus sized tanks you MAY be able to keep more than one female. This species forms temporary bonds in the wild when spawning, and dominant males may wind up spawning with multiple females. Aquariums with the bigger 72" X 24" bottom footprint are the minimum tank size I've heard used for that. But, it's possible your 72" X 18" footprint aquarium may work, esp. if you build in a lot of snug hiding places for both females to escape male aggression.
3) Start out with a single male P. polleni. Grow that one out until he's 7 to 8 inches or so in length. Then, introduce a single female P. polleni to the aquarium at anywhere from 4 to 5 inches in length (too large to just simply be eaten). Provide her a couple nice, secure hiding spots in the tank that are too small for Mr. Grumpy to get into. Eventually over time, they may pair off an spawn with each other.
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You may want to be careful in attempting a pair of these pretty aggressive, Riverine Cichlids in a 125 gallon sized community aquarium. Because if they DO pair off and spawn on you, that tank may be too small for everyone else kept in with them to escape the pair's spawning site and fry protective aggression. This would apply esp. for the bigger Uaru in there, that won't be able to hide and escape from that aggression as well as some smaller species.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hmmmm....
I see you have been working up to this decision for a while now!


My guess is that you REALLY like that Madagascar Cichlid species?!! So, well then... maybe it's time to get some babies? (And possibly upgrade to a 180 - 210 gallon aquarium? :)
=================================================
The Uaru should be a peaceful and good species to keep with your P. polleni. Uarus are a soft and acidic water loving Cichlid species. They will be much more demanding in water chemistry requirements than the Starry Night, which are found upriver in smaller rivers and streams in the same sort of soft-acidic water conditions. And, have also been observed much further downriver and seemingly quite happy in river estuaries and delta regions where the water actually tests out as brackish! However, this species (as well as those Urarus) does NOT like dissolved organics in the water of their aquarium. So keeping clean water conditions and ensuring Nitrates stay down to low measured levels, will be important to keeping everyone colored up and healthy for you.
There are various strategies employed with P. polleni to establish a (somewhat) compatible pair of them in the aquarium.
Here are some that have worked, that you could attempt,
1) Plop in 6 or more baby-sized individuals, and observe the show! Sooner or later, a M/F pair will inevitably show up. When that happens, pull all non-paired P. polleni out for their safety.
2) For larger, 6 foot plus sized tanks you MAY be able to keep more than one female. This species forms temporary bonds in the wild when spawning, and dominant males may wind up spawning with multiple females. Aquariums with the bigger 72" X 24" bottom footprint are the minimum tank size I've heard used for that. But, it's possible your 72" X 18" footprint aquarium may work, esp. if you build in a lot of snug hiding places for both females to escape male aggression.
3) Start out with a single male P. polleni. Grow that one out until he's 7 to 8 inches or so in length. Then, introduce a single female P. polleni to the aquarium at anywhere from 4 to 5 inches in length (too large to just simply be eaten). Provide her a couple nice, secure hiding spots in the tank that are too small for Mr. Grumpy to get into. Eventually over time, they may pair off an spawn with each other.
-
You may want to be careful in attempting a pair of these pretty aggressive, Riverine Cichlids in a 125 gallon sized community aquarium. Because if they DO pair off and spawn on you, that tank may be too small for everyone else kept in with them to escape the pair's spawning site and fry protective aggression. This would apply esp. for the bigger Uaru in there, that won't be able to hide and escape from that aggression as well as some smaller species.
You are correct! I do like the species and actually kept one years ago, but not for long. I was not in a position to plan the tank around it so it didn't work out and I traded it to a shop. I've wanted to get back to it since and now I'm in a position to plan for it. I like the suggestions for establishing a pair, but....even though I've been keeping fish a long while I was still somewhat impulsive and bought two when I saw them available. They will arrive tomorrow at about 3.5 inches. It's a long shot that I'll get a pair but breeding is not important to me, I just wanted more than one. I will watch them and when/if it looks like it's getting too aggressive I will keep the nicest and trade the other.

I will keep my two young Uaru and I like your suggestion of a Cutteri. You also mentioned Firemouths and I've always admired Thorichthys maculipinnis. Those and possibly a small group of some type of Silver Dollar and I may be in business. I've never kept the silver dollars though, so will have to learn more first. Thanks for the information! Thoughts and opinions are always appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You are correct! I do like the species and actually kept one years ago, but not for long. I was not in a position to plan the tank around it so it didn't work out and I traded it to a shop. I've wanted to get back to it since and now I'm in a position to plan for it. I like the suggestions for establishing a pair, but....even though I've been keeping fish a long while I was still somewhat impulsive and bought two when I saw them available. They will arrive tomorrow at about 3.5 inches. It's a long shot that I'll get a pair but breeding is not important to me, I just wanted more than one. I will watch them and when/if it looks like it's getting too aggressive I will keep the nicest and trade the other.

I will keep my two young Uaru and I like your suggestion of a Cutteri. You also mentioned Firemouths and I've always admired Thorichthys maculipinnis. Those and possibly a small group of some type of Silver Dollar and I may be in business. I've never kept the silver dollars though, so will have to learn more first. Thanks for the information! Thoughts and opinions are always appreciated.
An update:
The tank currently holds 1 Paratilapia, 2 juvenile Uaru (growing fast) and a school of Buenos Aires Tetras.
I have 3 Thoricthys aureas Blue in a quarantine tank that will join in a few weeks.
Still considering one more species possibly.
I'd like to leave plenty of room for them to all grow and thrive.
Any thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Going to increase the number of Thorichthys. Watching this group of three, even at a very small size, tells me more are needed to spread out the aggression.
 

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People tend to underestimate the sheer ferocity of these Central American Cichlids, all the time....
Beak Fish Feather Terrestrial plant Pollinator

RAAAAWWWWRRRRR!!!!!! (Fry protective parent in action - bringing down the pain!)

In larger community tanks, these feisty little beasts can definitely hold their own.:oops:
 
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