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Cichlids - any other fans?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by IvanMike, Oct 22, 2004.

  1. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    Cichlids - (pronounced "sick lids", NOT Chicklets) :p

    I'm a big fan of Neotropical (south and central american) cichlids and have kept/bred a bunch in the past 14 years. I'm not a huge fan of the african rift lake cichlids, but i dig the west africans (like tilapia). Anything from Oscars to Apistogramma, they're all good.

    Any one else?
  2. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I had a green terror and a firemouth for years.

    I've got rid of all my tanks a couple years ago. I'm thinking of pulling out the 150 tall perfecto I've got stored and setting it up with a red snakehead or 2
  3. baba

    baba Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2002
    3rd stone from the sun
    Growing up I had one of any and every cichlid I could get my hands on. I used work in fish stores and have distribution connections. I had one Oscar that was a favorite. Common fish, but still my favorite.

    Red Devils were pretty fun. Very angry. Jack Dempseys have beautiful electric blue spots.

    African cichlids are cool but they just don't get that big. They also need a higher pH like their native lakes to do well. I do like how they school when you get a bunch of them though.

    I quickly moved on to saltwater fish and then large reefs. I had a business selling/designing/maintaining reef tanks for a couple years. I've had just about one of everything at some point.
  4. LajoieT

    LajoieT I won't let your shadow be my shade...

    Oct 7, 2003
    Western Massachusetts
    I've alwasy thought Cichlids were very interesting fish, but I've never kept any of them myself. My all-time favorite fish to keep has been the common silver Arrowana. I've had 2 and they are fantastic and beautiful fish to watch, if you can keep them in a large enough tank. My largest one got to be over 2 feet long (bought him at about 2-3 inches... freshly hatched)but eventually broke the top of my 150gal tank and I found him dry on the floor when I got home. I miss him. I got a second one about a year ago for a tank I keep at work but he got to be too much work for me to do there, so he went back to the store at just a bit over 12 inches. I was bummed. Hopefully in about a year I'll have a nice big addition to our house done and the wife said I can put a nice big tank in there just for me (the kids have taken over the other ones with sharks and tetras and such...) Maybe I'll give Cichlids a try.
  5. Folmeister

    Folmeister Knowledge is Good - Emile Faber Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Tomball, Texas
    I had them all, and I think the Jewel was my favorite colored. I had a big-a** Oscar for years. He was like a dog and eventually started to eat so many feeders that I had to switch to lunch meat. That fish ate anything! I also had tiger snakeheads at the very end of my fish-days. These are very dangerous fish. They got to about a foot-and-a-half long before I destroyed them. They used to frenzy when I fed them and they cracked one wall of a glass tank that I had them in for a long time. They had long, nasty, sharp teeth. I NEVER put my hand in the tank without a kiln glove on.
  6. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    never had snakeheads - i try not to keep any fish that outgrow any available home aquaria. Besides, I'm more into breeding my fish than protecting myself from them. :p
  7. genderblind


    Oct 21, 2004
    Bass players and Cichlids? Yikes, I am not alone...
  8. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    I was actually looking at some pictures of Chiclids before I saw this thread.

    I love the lil fella's. I prefer Oscars, Jack Dempsys, and Black Convicts (which I usually breed). With the Oscar being my personal favorite.

    I really dig the way the species seems to have personality and some sort of purpose in their actions rather than darting around mindlesly in the tank like tetras, and other speices do.

    Just outta curiosity what do ya'll feed your chichlids? I usually go for ghost shrimp, guppies, moths, small lizards, worms, and ocassionally some processed fish food.
  9. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Ya should do that my friend! 150 gal would be so nice to have too!
  10. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    i've fed my cichlids just about everything. Mosquito larvae & bloodworms are apistogramma favorites, for the larger species earthworms are hard to beat nutrition wise. Living next to estuaries offers me the opportunity to get "kellies" in unlimeted quanteties for my pisciverous pals. Commercial food by tetra and hikari also makes up a good % of the diet.

    I have a 125 up now but im GAS'ing for a 240 which would be 8 feet 2 feet by 2 feet.
  11. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    my tank is 4' long, 2' wide and 2.5' deep. I'd bought it for my koi. They were wiped out by a fish in good health from a respected store.... I assumed the 2 weeks in my "not set up at that moment" hospital tank wasn't needed :( we watched 4 1+foot long Koi go in 3 days time. I sold off most everything living and not from my other tanks. Stuck the big one in the corner of my storage room.

    We'll get it going again soon, either with a pair of Snake heads or a pair of koi

    My Cichlids ate Hikori and live or frozen bloodworms mostly... and got either rosey feeders or guppies 2x a month. Hey Cass, I had a Dempsy for a spell too. Unfortunately he was bullied by the Green Terror and traded back to my local "Mom & Pop" fish shop.
  12. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    shows you the importance of quarantine eh james?. Big tanks are definitely the way to go with all fish, large or small. you see much more natural behavior that way. When i get a 240 i want to set up my 125 for dwarf ciclids, or maybe get a shallower tank custom made with the same 72"x18" footprint as the 125.
  13. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    Sorry to drag up an old thread. I have a problem with my Cichlids and I did a search to see if anyone could help me. This thread seems like a good place to ask this.

    I've had African Chchlids for about 4 years now. For the most part I've match their agression levels pretty well and things have been peaceful enough inside the tank. There's a defininite heirachy so there is an occasional show of agression, but they've been pretty rare.

    All of a sudden one of my fish has gone psycho. He's a Marble Peacock (I'm not sure of the scientific name), and he's probably the prettiest fish in the tank - mostly yellow with splotches of blue and purple all over. So I don't want to get rid of him. But I have to do something because with the exception of the 2 very large fish, all the others are too scared to come out from under their rocks. If they do, he attacks them, chases them around the tank until they're completely exhausted. Luckily, he leaves them alone at this point and finds someone else to pick on. Though I'm sure that one of these days, he's going to go further and actually start killing other fish.

    An old friend of mine is suggesting I use a perpex screen to section him off from the other fish for a while. He says it should only be a temporary measure and the fish will learn from it. I'm not convinced.

    Does anyone have any opinions on this. All suggestions welcome.
  14. tekhna


    Nov 7, 2004

    Isolation can work wonders.
    I am not a huge Cichlid fan, but I am in the process of setting up a German Blue Ram tank, hopefully they won't be as frail as I hear they can be.
  15. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    rams and east lake rift cichlids - very different fish, but that is another story.

    as far as rams go, keep the water warm (80 - 86 F) and very clean (think weekly 25% water changes)

    ok. here's the deal. there are tons of east african rift lake cichlids. with some exceptions these will eb from lake malawi and tanganikia, yours are most likely from lake M, and members of a large comglomeration of fish known as Mbuna (rockfish) These are generally all harem polygamous (one male - lots of females, yay! :p) and are mouthbrooders (hold the eggs and young in the females mouth)

    mbuna make their living scraping algae and small organisms off the rocks in the lake. overall life is tough and food is scare. in the wild these fish may top out at 3" long due to food constraints and the fact that other organisms eat them so life is shorter in the wild than in your living room. Mbuna are very territorial and will exclude other fish from their space, partiularly those of their own species or of species close to their own. In the wild the territory claimed by a male might have a 1 meter radius or more. The terrain they live in consists of rocks from the size of soccer balls to the size of a miata, so there are lots of visual barriers for fish to hide behind. Also, fish don't kill each other in the wild beause they can get much much farther away from each other than they could in a small tank in your living room. your house this fish that tops out at 3" in nature all of a sudden reaches 7 or 8". the size of it's territory (in it's mind) expands exponentially until it reaches sizes around a ten meter radius or more. the other fish would love to give it a wide berth but they cant. the aggressive fish sees their continued presence as a challenge and continues attacking them until they die. The barrier will not "teach" the fish anything. cichlids are more intelligent than some fish, but africal cichlids are stupid as far as cichlids go, and, lets face it, fish are stupid. :D
  16. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    ... that even sounds African. I was expecting you to start making clicking noises :)

    Actually your post rings true. The fish that coped the initial brunt of the aggression shares yellow colouring. He's about 3" long now so he's looking for personal space that larger than my 4ft tanks can allow. I'm just wondering why the others haven't behaved the same way?

    So it looks like I've either got to keep him isolated forever (cruel IMO), or get rid of him. I might put an add in the local trading post "free to good home. Warning, very agressive". Yeah I can see people lining up to take him - not!
  17. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    If you can, get a hold of another tank.

    Put the aggressive fish in the new temporary tank. Completely rearrange the old tank and make sure there are a lot of hiding places with well defined territories made of rock work, driftwood, etc. The territories need to be quite obvious with easy access to entrances and exits throughout these territories.

    Keep the temperatures a little higher in the old tank and feed a little more often and make more frequent partial water changes than normal.

    In the new temporary tank holding the aggressor, keep the temperature a little cooler, feed less than normal and don't make any water changed other than what is absolutely necessary.

    After about a month, put the aggressor back into the old tank. Don't be surprised the if the tables are now turned, and the aggressor is the one hiding!

    FYI...I used to manage two pet stores, specializing in tropical fish and I used to breed Oscars.

    I've always been a big fan of cichlids, from all over the world, though my favorites are those from blackwater regions...angels, discus, dwarf rams, etc.

    But I have a special place in my heart for Oscars. About as close to a "real" pet as you could get in a fish!!!

    Currently I have a tank set up for my kids with one red oscar and a Jack Dempsey.
  18. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    I do have a smaller tank and lying around doing nothing, though it doesn't have a filter or a heater.

    I think I've got a simple under-gravel filter somewhere. Will this filter be sufficient for this purpose?

    I might be able to get by without a heater in the smaller tank. It summer here and the heaters don't even click in during the day. I reckon the unheated tank will sit about about 22 degrees C (74 degrees F) at night, colder than the other tank which sits at about 28 C (80 degrees F), but that's the whole idea isn't it. Will he be OK at that temp?
  19. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    A small tank works best. For a temporary tank even an unfiltered tank would work as long as you change 1/3 of the water every 3 or 4 days. Just make sure you at least have an airstone in there to break up the surface of the water for oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange.

    Ideally though you would want the undergravel or a some kind of corner filter and NOT do so many water changes. The idea behind making less water changes than normal is to keep the pheromones that fish release at a relatively high level in the aggressor's tank...while keeping them low in the passive, rearranged tank.

    Lower temps are alright as long as they are stable and he is introduced to it gradually. The lower temps will slow his metabolism down.

    Whereas in the old, passive tank you want the temp to be a bit higher than normal, feed them more and do more water changes. This will cause a bit of a growth spurt in the passive fish, their metabolism will speed up and they will exhibit more "aggression" or activity than usual.

    Also try to not give the aggressor much in the way of hiding spots. Maybe a single rock...but nothing he can hide under.

    The idea is to cause behavioral changes in your fish. You want the passive fish to stake out their own territories. You get them to be strong and active enough to want to defend those territories by forcing them to produce more pheromones, being more active and hungry (higher temps, more food and more frequent water changes).

    You want to make the aggressive fish, less aggressive by slowing his metabolism down, calming him down with high levels of pheromones in his tank water, so he will produce less of his own.

    Once those things have been going on for about a month, you then reintroduce him to a tank he is unfamiliar with, whereas the passive fish know this habitat very well.

    It does not always work, as some fish are just bastards no matter what you do, but it does help in the majority of cases.

    One other thing you might try is to add one more fish of the same color so that there is not only one that might get picked on. It will force the agressor to "split his time" and thus may stop it all together.

    Ever notice how you can have a tank stocked full of the same kind of fish and they don't seem aggressive towrds each other, but then you put only two in a tank and one just starts mauling the other one? In a highly populated tank there is simply not enough territory to defend so they don't defend anything.

    One other point might be to put more females of the same species in the tank. This would allow the aggressive fish to occupy his time with more "worthwhile" pursuits.
  20. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Another point I should make regarding territories. If your tank is big enough, you should make a minimum of three distinct territories using rocky outcrops, driftwood, etc.

    It's not enough to just make one big solid area with lots of hiding spots. If you can break it up into three areas then there will be at least two "open" areas of water to swim in where the fish can return to a safe haven in "their" staked out territory.

    They will want the freedom to come out and swim about, but for the most part they will swim in "their" area more than anywhere else.

    If you only make one big area, then it will just be one big territory and the bully will stake it ALL as his own. If you only have two areas (like on each end of the tank), then the middle area will still be one big territory.

    The idea is to get three distinct territories, with two open areas. This usually causes the bully to just defend one area while the one he picks on can live in the other area.

    It's not so different from humans really. Think if you lived in a neighborhood. If someone just moved in and started living in your yard and wanted your wife, you might just be a bit pissed off about it. :eek: But if he moved in down the street, both of you could deal with it better.

    That's all fish are trying to in their neighborhood.