Q&A about cichlids in community tanks

Moderator: Pam Chin

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Post by fishrev » Sun Sep 21, 2014 7:22 pm

I'm just getting started, so my questions may seem elementary. I am really excited about this, but am taking my time to learn how to do it right. Since my tank won't be here for another week, I've been surfing the net was pleased to find such a specialized forum. I hope you can give me good advice from the get go. I also know that while there is much science to fish keeping, sometimes it's just luck.

My tank is 28 gallons. I know I will need to thoroughly cycle it and make sure my water is right before adding fish. I have been told at the fish store that I can have 2 - 4 blue rams, 6 serpae tetra and 6 cardinal tetra in my tank if I am attentive to water quality, plenty of cover... I will have easy access to weekly water testing. I am also told to include bottom eater and algae eater fish. So here are my questions:
1. Is this combination of fish a good plan? I saw the blue rams and the serpae in the same tank at the fish store. Nobody was eating or nipping anybody else. I have seen some forums that discourage starting with cichlids, and others that say it is okay.
2. Are these good numbers of the various kinds of fish? If not, what do you suggest?
3. I'm not interested in reproduction, so what gender(s) of blue rams should I get? Do they need to be in pairs or could I get 3 males?
2. Which fish do I introduce to the tank first? I've been advised both to let the blue rams find their niche before introducing the community fish to prevent territory disputes and to introduce the community fish first. So, I guess you will be the tie breaker here.
Thanks in advance for your help.

Pam Chin
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Re: Rookie

Post by Pam Chin » Mon Sep 22, 2014 10:14 pm

Hi Fishrev,

How exciting to set up a new tank. I am glad to hear you have done your research, sounds like you are on the right path.

I think your choices for a first aquarium are good ones. Everyone loves a ram!! And you can't go wrong with cardinal tetra's.

Fish keeping is really a personal thing, after all you are the one who is going to be looking at them, so you want a tank that has fish that you are interested in. The deal with cichlids is that it is a large family of fish, that come from a variety of different habitats. There are cichlids that are 2" all the way up to 36". I have found that it is always best to keep fish from the same general area, and you are doing that, your fish are all from the Amazon River and/or tributaries that drain into the Amazon. You don't want to mix fish from two different continents for example: South American and African. They have different water requirements. All cichlids have different diet requirements so another reason to double check what you are keeping together.

Then I think it is best to pick fish that don't occupy the same area of the tank, then they can have their own areas. So you have your Rams that are likely to stay on the bottom, while the tetras will fill the space above them. If you are not interested in breeding then I don't know that I would get 4 Rams, I think you will be better off with two. They are not a schooling fish, so not like tetra's, who stick together and look really cool when they all swim together. And even though they are small, they are still 100% cichlid and want to protect their areas, you don't want any fighting so I think 2 will be plenty.

You do not have to have a bottom fish, but if you want one, you will have room. I think Corydoras catfish would be great in your tank, better then a pleco type. They come in many different species, some with stripes some with out, and they don't get large and are quite peaceful, so check those out.

I think you can add all the fish at the same time if you want, they will settle in and figure it out.

Sounds like a nice tank in the making!
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