Need lots of advice

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jjensen6823
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Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:59 pm
Location: Perry, Ohio

Need lots of advice

Post by jjensen6823 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:31 am

Okay, ever since I started keeping cichlids about 9 months ago, my questions have been piling up, and now I am hoping to get a few of them answered.

1. About tank setups: I've seen lots of pictures of other peoples' cichlid display tanks, and mine doesn't look anything like them. All my cichlid tanks have crushed coral/coral sand substrate. I have LOTS of it from my saltwater days, and I figured it would help keep the pH and alkalinity high. But most display tanks I've seen use either typical freshwater gravel or sand, often colored black, or else pool sand. Is crushed coral and/or coral sand not a good choice? Similar question about rocks: I have hundreds of pounds of tufa rock, so that's what I've been using. Most of the tanks I've seen use stacks and piles of slate, and others use volcano rock and/or glass rock. Is tufa rock not appropriate? Is it just a matter of preference (and availability)?

2. About stocking and compatibility: my display tank is a 150 high. It was originally my son's idea to set it up with cichlids. I had shut all of my 7 saltwater tanks down and only set one of them up for freshwater--the rest were just piled in a corner in the basement. We were just going to do a single display tank, we weren't planning to set up a fish room or breed cichlids (you know how that goes). The reason for doing cichlids was their color and beauty, but my son has been complaining about how boring and unattractive our tank is, and I think he's right--most of the fish are just grey/silver. Some are juvi's who haven't colored up yet, and lots are females. We bought most of our fish at Something Fishy when they were quite small, looking forward to watching them grow and color up. Part of the probem is that we got 11 peacocks: 3 rubescens and 3 lemon jakes, as well as 5 walteri from my brother. I didn't realize at the time that mixing different peacocks in the same tank wasn't a good idea, or that only one male per tank will show their breeding colors. One of the walteri males has colored up completely, but is more black than blue for some reason. None of the other fish had any color at all, so we moved some of them to the basement to see if any would color up there, and to make room for more colorful fish. Incidentally, it looks like we got 2 male and 3 female walteri, 1 male and 2 female lemon jakes, and 3 female rubescens, so not much color. Also in the display tank are 3 electric blues (one very nice male and two female); 3 saulosi (apparently all female), one male P. nyererei (started with 3, but moved one male and the female downstairs to get the males apart and to breed them); 3 brichardi (which I am told will eventually get really mean and need a tank for themselves?); 2 juvi Taiwan reefs (which I am told will take FOREVER to mature) as well as one mystery fish sold as a Taiwan reef, but clearly is something else; 1 elongatus mbuna, a rainbow shark and a chinese algae eater. Seven colorful fish out of 19 cichlids in the tank. I also have a trio of very small venustus in the basement I hope will eventually go in this tank.

What can I add? What are good tankmates for the fish listed above? I keep looking at fish I like, only to be told they are too mean to keep with my fish. Examples: any of the zebras, Pseudo. demasoni, leleupi and red ndole--there were others at the store, but I can't remember what now. I really like zebras--what can you keep with them? Only other zebras? Can you keep lots of zebras together? I know I've seen display tanks in doctors' offices and restaurants stuffed with zebras and other cichlids. At the zoo they had a large tank stocked with hundreds of Africans of all sizes and types? What's the deal? Are many of these Africans limited to species tanks? If so, how do you set up a display tank?

Wow. That was a long message. Sorry. Just trying to get a better understanding of the hobby. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read and hopefully respond!

Jim

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jcunningham0295
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Re: Need lots of advice

Post by jcunningham0295 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:05 am

First question, I have is your tank is a 150 gallon, but what are the dimensions? Is it 6 ft or 4 ft long?
Josh
Cunningham Cichlids, LLC.
Over 4,900 gallons of quality African Cichlids

Cunningham Cichlids

jjensen6823
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Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:59 pm
Location: Perry, Ohio

Re: Need lots of advice

Post by jjensen6823 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:52 am

150 High is a 4' tank.

Tim Craig
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Re: Need lots of advice

Post by Tim Craig » Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:52 am

To answer your first question, you may not need to buffer at all. Check your tap water parameters, which is always a good idea anyway. Know your KH and pH levels. If the KH is in at least the 7-8 range, then the water changes you should be doing will buffer enough to keep the pH from crashing. Try the API liquid test kits.

Don't get caught up in maintaining a specific pH, just keep the KH (buffers) up enough that pH doesn't drop too low, called a pH crash.

If you do find that you need to buffer, my preference is simply to add a bit of baking soda at each water change. Easy and it then opens up options for substrate. Why tie yourself down to only using crushed coral. You may find that the crushed coral, etc doesn't really dissolve quickly enough to make a big difference anyway.

No harm in using Tufa rock. Use what you like. I get my rocks from a landscape supply yard, as they're cheap and you get lots of choices.

If you decide to keep tanganyikans, then I can help you with question 2. One of the things that I like about them, besides the interesting activity, is that many of the females display the same colors as the males, not all, but many do. But, you still need to be concerned with getting the proper sex ratios. There are many do's and don'ts and generalities when it comes to stocking and there are ways to break some of the rules and get away with it. I'd suggest getting more experience before you venture out beyond the tried and true combinations no matter what you decide to keep. Also, with cichlids, it's almost always about the footprint, not the height of the tank. If you can go with a 150 long, or any 6 foot tank, you'll have more options.
Tim Craig

jjensen6823
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Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:59 pm
Location: Perry, Ohio

Re: Need lots of advice

Post by jjensen6823 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 12:40 pm

Thanks, Tim. I wasn't specifically using the crushed coral/coral sand because I was especially concerned about pH and alkalinity. Believe me, my tap water is hard enough! I am mostly using because I have hundreds of pounds of it on hand, and it seemed easier than buying gravel. My real question is: is there any reason NOT to use the crushed coral? Same with the tufa rock. And the tank. I'd rather have a 150 long for this, but I already owned the 150 high from my reef keeping days. In fact, I had to cap off the pre-drilled overflow before I could use it! If someone wants to swap an undrilled 150 long for a reef ready 150 high, please let me know!

For the stocking question, I guess I was hoping about for some advice regarding the fish I mentioned in particular: lelupi, demasoni and zebras. Is it correct that it would be a bad idea to put any of them in my 150 with the fish I listed? It seems like I've seen mixed opinions about the lelupi, but the consensus seems to be against the zebras and demasoni. If that's correct, how can I keep them? A species only tank, or are there other cichlids that can be kept with zebras, lelupi and/or demasoni? Can any of them be kept together?

jjensen6823
Posts: 22
Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:59 pm
Location: Perry, Ohio

Re: Need lots of advice

Post by jjensen6823 » Fri Apr 26, 2013 1:13 pm

anyone have any other advice?

Also, how big a tank should I be using to keep breeding groups? For example, a male and two female peacocks? The male's only about 4" now, but I know he'll eventually get bigger. Or a male and three female P. nyererei? For four fish that size, I would normally think a 20G would be sufficient, but I have a feeling the male would kill the rest in a 20...

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jcunningham0295
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Re: Need lots of advice

Post by jcunningham0295 » Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:19 pm

jjensen6823 wrote:anyone have any other advice?

Also, how big a tank should I be using to keep breeding groups? For example, a male and two female peacocks? The male's only about 4" now, but I know he'll eventually get bigger. Or a male and three female P. nyererei? For four fish that size, I would normally think a 20G would be sufficient, but I have a feeling the male would kill the rest in a 20...
For groups like peacocks or vics, I like to use a 40 or 50 breeder. Not to large, but big enough that they get along for the most part

Josh
Josh
Cunningham Cichlids, LLC.
Over 4,900 gallons of quality African Cichlids

Cunningham Cichlids

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Kyle May
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Re: Need lots of advice

Post by Kyle May » Sat Apr 27, 2013 8:12 pm

1) I think you've got the tank overstocked if you have all of the fish you listed.

2) Those peacocks will all crossbreed which is fine if you don't plan to sell any of them.

3) Baking Soda is great to add as a buffer to keep ph high. Like Tim said, test your tap water to see
what the ph/kh is out of the tap. That'll tell you what buffering, if any, is necessary. Keep in mind
that Epsom Salts are a great buffer. Many salt water folks use it to buffer ph as well. Even though
the stuff is called Epsom Salts, there is no actual salt in it.

Good luck and have fun....you'll do just fine!

Kyle
Kyle May
Ohio Cichlid Association
Northern Ohio, USA

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