all by myself?

Discussions on cichlid behaviour in nature & captivity.

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cichlids should never be kept in solitude.

I agree
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74%
I don't agree
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Total votes: 50

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Willem Heijns
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all by myself?

Post by Willem Heijns » Sun Jan 15, 2006 8:56 am

in some of the postings I read on this forum people mention the agressive behaviour of their (Central American) cichlids. usually they refer to their fish attacking the front of the tank when the owner shows him/herself. the way they describe this behaviour makes me think that they regard it as "normal" for a cichlid. at least in captivity.

I suspect that most of this behaviour is shown by fish that are kept on their own (a single fish in one tank) insofar that is the case I would like to state that this is in no way normal in my opinion. cichlids have developed a sophisticated system of social behaviour including much interaction with other fish (conspecific and other). in my view cichlids that are kept in "solitary confinement" are deprived of their social behaviour. that is a situation to be avoided. now I know this is not always possible (for me also), but we should always try to keep our cichlids in the company of other fish.

some of you might reply: if I keep them as a pair, one will kill the other. my answer to that is to give them more space rather than keeping them alone.
Slàinte mhath!

Uilleam

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mauriciodelamaza
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Post by mauriciodelamaza » Mon Jan 16, 2006 3:09 pm

:D Hi Willem,

Totally agree with you. Cichlids are inteligent, normally gregarious animals that constantly interact with each other as well as other members of their community. Keeping them in solitarty cannot be healthy for their "minds".

On the other hand, sometimes keeping a large dominant, agressive male that has already killed his/her partner (or other cichlids) becomes a problem in most commercial-home-size aquariums no matter how large.

A method that I use is to allow the breeding pairs to form and let them raise their fry untill the first signs of agression appear. At that point I keep the male and the female separated by a very well fixed pannel with large enough holes for the dithers, the fry and even the snouts of the parents to fit through.

Sometimes I even pull out the division (under my supervision) whenever both future parents appear to be ready to spawn again, and in many cases the pair bonds again just as during their first spawn.

I guess in the absence of very large aquariums this technique should be considered for the well being and mental health of our cichlids.

Cheers

Mauricio De La Maza

Bas Pels
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Post by Bas Pels » Fri Mar 03, 2006 5:03 pm

I fully agree with Wilem.

Personally I am very found of eartheating Central Americans (the longimanus group) I have al 6 species.

I do recal out of a lecture (but I forgot the species) regarding one of these fishes 'Wo ist sie denn?', 'Where did she go?' as a descroiption of a male looking for the female to attack her further.

However, I keep them in groups - 5 to 11 af a species, in quite large tanks (longimanus in 160 * 80 cm, juvinile rostatus in 200 * 80 cm, thew others in 270 * 80 cm or larger)

I have never seen any real agressive behaviour amongst them, I even hardly saw them pressing each other away. Mostly they swim together, and sometimes a few take some privacy - to mate, or not to mate.

One exception: the robertsoni (I have 6) normally swim in pairs, ignoring everyone else. They are real lovefishes.

Back to the choise, if fishes are agressive amongst themselves, they woill need more space, ore more of their kind

Bas

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Marko Lenac
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Post by Marko Lenac » Sat Mar 04, 2006 3:08 am

this is really a good subject. i completely agree with all of you.
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MatsP
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Post by MatsP » Mon Mar 06, 2006 5:30 am

Keeping large (or extremely agressive) fish is one of those subjects that can be difficult (and leading to intense arguments on web-forums).

I'm an active member of Planet Catfish, where there are every so often someone that asks "How long will it take for a Red-tailed catfish to outgrow my X gal tank?" where X is any number from 10 to 200. For those not familiar with Red Tailed Catfish (of the south american variety), they grow to around 5 feet, so no tank that is produced on even semi-commercial scale will be remotely able to cope with this fish should it reach it's adult size. We're talking about a LARGE heated pond - perhaps outdoors if the owner lives in the southern parts or the US... Cost for this comes to tens of thousands of dollars - to keep a fish that you got for $20...

Likewise, keeping two Jack Dempseys in a 55g tank may not be a good idea - that doesn't mean that you shouldn't keep two. It just means that you should consider a bigger tank. If that isn't for you, then keeping Jack Dempseys is probably not for you...


Unfortunately, some fishkeepers don't really seem to care for the mental and physical well-being of their fish...

--
Mats

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Post by Dan Woodland » Mon Mar 06, 2006 9:22 am

I fully agree with Willem. I think of it as the fish become neurotic much like many animals at zoos around the world. Dan

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Cichlid aggression

Post by jimjim » Mon Mar 06, 2006 1:01 pm

Many years ago some Phd did a paper on this subject and said that lowering the temperature a couple of degrees would lower the aggression. As a young lad od 30 or so (I've been fish keeping since '65)I thought I'd try it out. I had a large Oscar and a large Texas and (gasp) a large wild caught P. zebra. All had killed off every thing else in their tank. So into a 100 gal home made tank they went. I lowered the temp to 72F ,and, low and behold, everyone got along. Raised it to 74F and only got a little shoving and pushing. Raised it to 76f and had an all out war. Immediatly lowered the temp back to 72f and all was peacefull again. In the interest of sience I let a week go by before raising the temps each time... I think when the temp goes up they think its time to breed, and, because most cichlids are territorial :evil: ....Jim

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Willem Heijns
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Post by Willem Heijns » Mon Mar 06, 2006 1:16 pm

I've got another tip. lower the temperature into the fifties and you fish will be very, very peaceful.

but then, that's not why I am in the hobby.
Slàinte mhath!

Uilleam

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jimjim
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smart remarks

Post by jimjim » Mon Mar 06, 2006 2:03 pm

You know, sometimes I wonder if people think before posting. I'm not the only one who advocates lower temps for calming cichlids down. I believe there was evan an article in TFH about doing this a few months ago. There were evan several papers written about it. I'm NOT advocating freezing your fish (unless you want to eat them later), just using one of many methods for controlling aggression.... jim

Bas Pels
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Post by Bas Pels » Mon Mar 06, 2006 3:03 pm

I do think in a discussion about controlling agression temparature control wil be important.

The higher the temperature, the more agression we see. Thus one can expect that fish kept too hot, will also be too agressive.....

This might explain something Ive read about very agressive H carpinte fishes, or Gymnogeophagus agression.

Still, and that is what I think Willem intended, and I agree with that, the fishes are to be kept within their natural temperature ranges.

Not too hot, not too cold.

Bas

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Willem Heijns
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Post by Willem Heijns » Mon Mar 06, 2006 3:06 pm

I admit I was a bit quick, but on the other hand, fishes, as cold blooded animals, are dependent upon their water temperature in order to behave in a natural way. and I would object against anyone manipulating this environmental parameter too much with the purpose to inhibit this natural behaviour because we think it is too agressive for our taste. there are many other measures to achieve the goal of controlling the "negative" aspects of cichlid behaviour. size and setup of the tank is one of them.

and after all, this topic is about social behaviour in cichlids. I would be the last one to deprive cichlids of this component of their natural behaviour.
Slàinte mhath!

Uilleam

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jimjim
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cichlid aggression

Post by jimjim » Mon Mar 06, 2006 3:30 pm

Willem, no problem, but remember cichlids like most fish (there a few exceptions, ie Lake Tanganyka) live in an ever changing eviornment. There are water temp,salinity layers and seasonal extremes (or not so extremes). Fish are not meant to have a single temp all year round. To them if the water quality is clean (the rains come) and the temperature goes up (to where depends on the fish). Its time to carve out your territory for spawning and aggression goes up. I think we confuse them because of keeping them in an enviorment thats very similar to thier breeding season. Yes fish are cold blooded, but that doesnt mean we have to boil them(like 78F and up) all year round. (discus excepted). Most of our fish live in cooler waters than we as aquarists think.....Jim

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Willem Heijns
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Post by Willem Heijns » Mon Mar 06, 2006 3:37 pm

I was not referring to the (change in) temperature as such, but more to the reason why we manipulate temperature. if we do it to lower agression, than I suggest we think again on the question why we keep cichlids in the first place.
Slàinte mhath!

Uilleam

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jimjim
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?

Post by jimjim » Mon Mar 06, 2006 3:52 pm

Willem, I'm sorry but I just don't understand your question. If I have a community of cichlids and I want to watch their interaction, I still don't want them to kill each other off (I'd probably be breeding wild bettas instead). The temperature change won't change their natural behavior, just the intensity of it. I like their bickering and shuffling for position, but not outright killing each other. A little research will find out what the parameters are for a given group of fish, just use what the normall range is for the fish in question...Jim

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Willem Heijns
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Post by Willem Heijns » Mon Mar 06, 2006 4:09 pm

you said it: find out what the normal range is. that's perfectly OK with me. trying to create "natural" conditions for your fish, including changing of temperature, fits my definition of keeping cichlids the right way.

but: if you do not like the resulting "agression" level (and I'm not saying that is the case with you :wink: ), that's when you have to start thinking.

cichlids simply have the right to behave in a way as natural as can be, even in captivity.
Slàinte mhath!

Uilleam

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jimjim
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aggression

Post by jimjim » Mon Mar 06, 2006 4:51 pm

Well Willem, I'm definitly gonna have to disagree. Cichlids (unlike people) do not have the option of running away like they do in the wild. They're like they're in a jail. WE put them there. We'll never get to see their totally natural behavior because they're not in a natural enviornment. Like prisoners in a jail there is an acceptable behavior and a non acceptable behavior and too much aggression is unacceptable. I don't like to lose fish. Some of mine I've had for over 15 years and I just kinda got fond of them. Except for one totally out of my control situation I have'nt lost any fish in about 5 years and the ones I lost before that were mostly just old age or sold. Yes temperature is only one variable we can controll, there are others, like tank layout, rocks, water parameters, etc. I like their behavior and intelligence but natural behavior? I think not. Aquariums just show how adaptable and intelligent these fish really are....Jim

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Post by Dan Woodland » Mon Mar 06, 2006 10:56 pm

There's been a bit of talk about temperature here but no one has mentioned what levels are acceptable or used by them. For example, I have been collecting several times and most rivers we visited are in the 72 to 76 degree range. In this range of temperatures I've seen pairs with fry. On a trip to Argentina a couple years ago, we saw Crenecichla vitatta in 60 degree water with fry!

Since I've been on these trips and seen fish in action at these temps I keep all my tanks, unless a higher temp is required for that particular fish , at 76 degrees. I've noticed a reduction in aggression, food requirements, and NO change in breeding or fry rearing behavior.

Just my two cents…. Dan

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Post by Bas Pels » Tue Mar 07, 2006 2:12 am

Jim Jim wrote
Like prisoners in a jail there is an acceptable behavior and a non acceptable behavior and too much aggression is unacceptable.
Although I must say I do not like the jail assumtion, I must say it does help a little. A little, because in a jail people are brought in a very strange situation. Firstly they are selected - no crime, no jail. Than they are with only males, or only females. This does influence behaviour quite a bit.

I would rather say, look at a jail, and learn from it: if you put people in solitude confinement, the do strange things. Do you expect your fishes to be better? I do not.

Unacceptable behaviour from my fishes? If the demolish the tank setup, or each other,. I made a mistake, so what I did was perhaps unacceptable. The fishes can not behave differently.

Finally
Some of mine I've had for over 15 years

If you mangaged this by keeping them in a solitary tank, I do not think the fish has much reason to be gratefull, personally.

Bas

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jimjim
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Solitary?

Post by jimjim » Tue Mar 07, 2006 1:25 pm

Bas Pels, Where did I say I've kept fish in solitary? I've been keeping fish for over 40 years and while that itself does'nt make me an expert, I have learned a little bit. For the last 30 years I've been breeding Lake Tanganykan cichlids and raising plants as a garage hobby business. I spent a lot of money and time in my fish and them killing each other off because of too much aggression just was'nt in the program. You'll find the lot more fish are satisfied with their tanks (yes temp is only one of the parameters) the better they'll breed and the longer they'll live. What I call unacceptable behavior is killing off their tankmates (aggression), running into the side of their tank when someone walks into the room (fear), jumping out of the said tank(my fault for not keeping the lid on), and dieing from to much ammonia (me once again for not changing water)all of which I can control. Do you not follow similar rules?....Jim

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Post by black1031 » Sun Apr 02, 2006 5:00 pm

I agree with william in that a cichlid should never be kept in solitary confinement. My dovii pair, was always with tankmates and they have been together now for two years and doing great. They spawn every three to four weeks and gaurd the fry with their lives, this is the only time the male will come after me. Other than that he swims right to the top of the tank and waits for food when he sees me, he's 17'' and wild caught. All of my other pairs motas and jags are the same way it's nice to have fish that get along.

On the other hand I have a 12'' male dovii that was kept by a guy that first kept him in to small of a tank i got him at 10'' and he was kept by himself in a standard 50 gallon tank, 48''X12''X18''tall. He is the worst fish I have ever kept but one of the nicest looking dovii I have ever seen. My intentions were to spawn him with one of my two wild caught females he killed both of them :( One of those things that everything looked fine and next thing I knew she was dead. I am forced to keep him by himself.


BTW on temp my dovii breeder tank is at 78F Just occassional outbursts by the male towards the female but nothing serious.

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