I always like to suggest that you should keep the Rift Lakes separate, go with one or the other. Of course it is possible to keep some of the fishes from both Lakes together, but if you really want to do it right, I say keep them separate. Always try to buy at least 6 of each species, especially if you are ever going to try to breed them, but also because most of these fish do better in groups than just one of each species.
Here are a few comments regarding the fish you have picked.....
- A great candidate for the Tanganyikan community. It pretty much minds its own business, and will reproduce in a community setting. They are a substrate spawner and like to lay the eggs inside a cave or flower pot. The fish has been around since Africans were first introduced to us in the hobby, yet it still remains popular because of its beautiful fins and graceful manner. You may want to try Neolamprologus pulcher "Daffodil", it is closely related to the brichardi but it has a gorgeous yellow hue.
- Probably the most popular fish from Lake Tanganyika, you can't beat the color of this fish. It is a bit more aggressive, remember Neolamprologus are predators, and highly territorial. When they become sexually mature, they like to take over the tank. The breed best in a community setting, less aggression is taken on the female. This substrate spawner likes to lay their eggs inside a cave or crevice. They also like to spawn in shells, I don't think they do that in the wild, but give them a shell in a tank they really go for that over a flower pot or rock. I think they like it because the female can get completely inside and away from the male.
- Everyone likes this fish, it is beautiful, but they are hard to come by. They are difficult to spawn, and this is why they are more expensive, and not readily available. This is a Tanganyikan mouthbrooder, and falls into the Feather Fin category. It is one of the more difficult Tanganyikans to keep and I wouldn't suggest it for a beginner.
- These get quite large, and you need to be able to give them lots of room. I would say you need a least 100 gallon tank to do this fish justice. It is also a Tanganyikan mouthbrooder, so it breeds best in a "Harem" with one male to many females. It is a slow developer, it takes about 3 years before they are sexually mature, and then it takes another 3 years for them to figure out how to do it!! They are a long term investment. However, if you just want to watch them, you can't beat them for beauty. They seem more aggressive towards each other than other tank mates, and they like to dig a lot. They are not the smartest cichlid by any means, but they are quite striking, with those stripes and nice fins. The males usually get the large hump on the head, the older they get the larger it gets.
- This Malawian cichlid is part of a large group of fish the natives call Mbuna, which means rock dweller. They come in a variety of colors, and are very active and fun to watch. They also like to dig! They are mouthbrooders and you want to have one male with many females to successfully breed them. Each different color comes from a different location in the lake, so you do not want to mix them, because they will cross breed. It is very important to keep the color morphs separate. They go well with other Mbuna such as Labidochromis
. This is usually the first fish you would pick for a Malawian community. To give your tank that well rounded look, many of the Aulonocara
and some of the less aggressive Haplochromines
also go well with this fish.
- This is also a Mbuna
, and it is fairly new, in fact I don't think I have seen any of these on the West Coast yet. They were just imported in the last year or so. Personally I think that there are other Labidochromis
that are much more colorful such as freibergi
"Lions Cove Yellow". It is also a mouthbrooder. Like most of the Mbuna they like to feed on the algae beds that grow on the large rocks in the Lake.
- Now there is a subject that can be debated into the middle of the night. And I have seen many a cichlidiot argue this into the wee hours of the morning. Only stopping to grab another beer, or to make a pit stop. You can't go wrong using either method you have considered. Overkill is much better than trying to skimp, and using a combination of an under gravel with a cannister or a Wet/Dry is going to be fine. It is pretty hard to over do it in this department. I'll never forget (and the fish won't forget either!) the time Gary hooked up a swimming pool filter to a 40 gallon tank, now that might be classified as a bit overboard!! No matter how big your filter is, you still need to change the water periodically. And periodically doesn't mean once a year!! * grin * Changing your water is the key to preventative maintenance, the more you change your water, the more your fish will love you. Make out a schedule and stick with it.
- I like to suggest 3 inches or so of gravel over the UG filter plate, then lay down a piece of egg crate or plastic screen, then add a couple more inches of gravel. This will allow the fish to dig, but they won't get past the screen so it shouldn't affect your UG filter operation. If the fish can get down to the UG filter plate, then you might as well not have one. Gravel is not necessary to raise fish that like to dig, but I really think that if your tank is part of your living room, and not in your garage, that you need the gravel/coral/dolomite to give it that complete aquascaped look.
- is beautiful, but it will leach into your tank, which can cause your pH to fluctuate. You need to keep your eye on the pH and if it is going down then you need to add something to keep it up. You want your pH to be in the high 8's or low 9's. You can use many of the water conditioners on the market to increase your pH. You can use crushed coral, or dolomite by its self or mixed with gravel to help increase your pH.
- I like plastic
!! There really aren't any plants to speak of in either lake other than algae, and a little val. Many of the these fish are veggie eaters and with the combination of digging and dining on the live plants they won't last long. Plastic plants aren't that bad!! After awhile in the tank, they get a growth of algae, a few nicks and begin to look better than the real thing!
- They are most beneficial when your are trying to breed a certain species. In a community setting you shouldn't need dither fish, if you have 5 or 6 different species they should be busy enough without having to add dither fish.
- Catfish should not be considered scavengers! (Ginny would be proud of me for that last statement!) But if you think you might like to add some catfish for a more complete look, I can only suggest some kind of Synodontis, you can't beat the look of angelicus, multipunctatus or decorus. You should only pick one. And that is about all I know about catfish!
What fish you want to keep is really a personal choice! I can only suggest and give you my opinion. That is the wonderful thing about fish keeping there are so many different ways to go... There is not just one right way to do it!! What works for me, may not work for you, and what works for you, may not work for me. That is why you need to gather all the information you can a develop your own opinion!!