African Cichlid Tank

Q&A about cichlids in community tanks

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Pam Chin
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African Cichlid Tank

Post by Pam Chin » Tue Dec 02, 2003 1:02 pm

Dear Pam,

I am considering converting an existing 60 gallon tank to African Cichlids. Only two of the former inhabitants will remain; a 3" pleco and a 2.5" Synodontis eupterus cat. The substrate is fine gravel and it has granite and sandstone rocks and plastic plants. Filtration is via UGF (Under Gravel Filter) with two power heads, two Aquaclear 200's, and two Aquaclear 150's. The aquaclears all carry carbon and amrid media.

My questions are:

What is the pH range for Africans? I hear they have special needs that are helped out by crushed coral. I was planning to fill the media chamber of one of the aquaclear filters with crushed coral rather than change the substrate.

What is the best way to add new fish, assuming that there will be existing territorial inhabitants? I was planning on adding fish three to five at a time, and rearranging the rocks and plants at the same time as fish are added to reduce territorial behavior against the newcomers. My ultimate population target is about thirty.

Any help would be much appreciated. Jim

Pam Chin
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Posts: 1769
Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2003 9:11 am
Location: California, USA
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Post by Pam Chin » Tue Dec 02, 2003 1:03 pm

Dear Jim,

There is nothing more beautiful than a Malawian Community. I guess I like them because they are full of lots of color and plenty of action. There are probably a million different combos a person could come up with, but picking fish is really a personal thing, after all you are the one who is going to be looking at them. I suggest you buy a book on the Lake so you can decide what to put in your tanks. If you can't do that than at least study the books at your local pet stores and write down a few names that catch your eye. I am always glad to give you my opinion on compatibility and behavior.

I don't care what kind of filter you use, as long as you have plenty of it! I have used UG's a lot, I just put down some egg crate, to prevent them from uncovering the plate. I don't think it is that hard to do. I do most of my Malawians in bare bottom tanks for breeding, just because it is easier to keep clean. It is what ever you are more comfortable with.

Malawians do best in a higher pH. I think their color and behavior is better. I like to keep mine around 8.5. Test your water first and see where you are at. If you need to raise it, the water conditioners on the market these days are great. I like to add some rock salt too, 1 tablespoon per 10 gallons (~38 liters) is reasonable, some use more, some use less. Adding coral to one of your filters certainly won't hurt anything, and that may take care of your pH needs. I prefer to buy my fish in groups of at least 6. I like to raise them up together. I have found that fish that all grow up with each other get along a lot better than trying to add fish as you go along. You can move the rocks around when adding new members, but some of these Mbuna figure it out in a minute! So I would suggest 4 - 5 different species and buy 6 of each. You'll loose a few as they grow up.

The Mbuna (Pseudotropheus, Labidochromis, Labeotropheus, Cynotilapia) are the rock dwellers, and Utaka (Aulonocara, and anything that was formerly Haplochromis; Copadichromis, Dimidiochromis, Protomelas, Nimbochromis, etc.) are the open water fish. I would get (3) Mbuna, and (2) Utaka. That way you'll have fish in the rocks and fish in the upper part of the tank.

Provide plenty of hiding places, do frequent water changes, and enjoy your fish. It is that easy!
Cichlid Power!
Pam

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