Will this ci­ch­lid com­mu­nity work?

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - Fishkeeping Answers - JEREMY GAY

I cur­rently have a 120 x 45 x 50cm aquar­ium hous­ing two Texas ci­ch­lids, a Par­rot ci­ch­lid, two Os­cars, a Syn­spilum ci­ch­lid, two cory cat­fish and a Red tail black shark.

My new tank will be 180 x 60 x 75cm and will house all the above fish, plus two Jaguar ci­ch­lids, ten Con­victs, two Jack Dempseys two Salvini ci­ch­lids, two Red headed ci­ch­lids, two Fire­mouths and two Mi­das ci­ch­lids.

I’ve been ad­vised to buy all the ad­di­tional fish as ju­ve­niles, ad­ding the Mi­das ci­ch­lids last.

Please could you ad­vise on fil­tra­tion, heat­ing and light­ing?

Some al­gae eaters will be use­ful, I’m sure — are there any ad­di­tions you see fit to make to make the most of what I have? PHILIP LOWE, EMAIL

AWow! That’s a lot of ci­ch­lids all be­ing mixed to­gether — even in your pro­posed larger tank. I would start by re­mov­ing the non-ci­ch­lids: the corys and Red tail black shark. Co­ry­do­ras need to live to­gether in large groups, but with small, peace­ful fish like tetras. There will be too much ci­ch­lid rough and tum­ble for them and when the Os­cars grow, they will try to eat them. The corys have their own de­fences, in­clud­ing ar­moured bod­ies and erec­tile dor­sal and pec­toral fins. As soon as the Os­car en­gulfs them the spines stick out and the poor corys will ei­ther be en­gulfed and then spat out again on a cycli­cal ba­sis or get stuck in the Os­car’s mouth, which could prove fa­tal for both par­ties.

Red tail black sharks need a space to call their own and ar­eas to graze. Hav­ing to fight ci­ch­lids for ter­ri­tory and then get­ting snapped at as it goes out on graz­ing for­ays will raise ten­sion lev­els in the tank and is best avoided.

Now for the ci­ch­lids. 180 x 60 x 75cm/72 x 24 x 30in is in­deed a large tank, al­though you pro­pose a lot of ci­ch­lids, and some very large species at that. The Os­cars, Syn­spilum, Jaguars and Mi­das will all eas­ily top 30cm/12in in length, so that’s seven, foot-long fish straight away and your tank will be well and truly filled. But on top of that, you want two Texas ci­ch­lids at 20cm/8in, a Par­rot, which reaches a sim­i­lar size, as will the two Jack Dempseys and the Salvini ci­ch­lids. Then you want two Fire­mouths and ten Con­victs, so let’s put a con­ser­va­tive 10cm/4in av­er­age length on those 12. The Red head ci­ch­lids you men­tion may be more ‘Syn­spilum’ types, but they could be Geoph­a­gus, so let’s es­ti­mate those at around 20cm/8in each. I’m imag­in­ing 28 medium to large ci­ch­lids and I’m winc­ing.

Po­ten­tial com­mu­ni­ties could in­clude a medium sized Cen­tral Amer­i­can tank in­clud­ing the Texas, Jack Dempseys, Salvini, Con­victs and Fire­mouths, al­though I would cut the num­ber of Con­victs down to four. You could add the Par­rot to that mix too.

Or you could do a large ci­ch­lid mix of the SHUT­TER­STOCK Os­cars, Mi­das, Jaguars and Syn­spilum, and if it’s a large spec­i­men, you could add the Par­rot to that too.

A def­i­nite ‘yes’ to ad­ding all fish as ju­ve­niles and grow­ing them up to­gether. I’ve mixed foot long, adult ci­ch­lids in large tanks many times and the ad­vice of ad­ding the Mi­das last is good. If you added any sim­i­larly sized Os­cars, Jaguars, or Syn­spilum to a tank al­ready con­tain­ing a large, ter­ri­to­rial male Mi­das, he would slaugh­ter them overnight.

I see what you are do­ing with your mix­ture: add lots of them and add them small, and they will all get on. But th­ese aren’t Malawi mbuna and all pre­fer a space to call their own, to find mates, lay eggs and even­tu­ally raise fry. If any of your ci­ch­lids breed, chaos will en­sue and the stress would be al­most au­di­ble. Have you thought about keep­ing the old tank with smaller species in that one and larger species in the other?

For al­gae eaters you would get away with adult Bristlenoses in with the small to medium sized species but for the big guys you would need good old Com­mon plecs: a

gib­bi­ceps or one of the de­sir­able, larger L-num­ber species like adult Royal Panaque.

Fil­tra­tion should be in the form of two hefty ex­ter­nal fil­ters rated at 2000 lph each, and 2 x 300W heaters fit­ted with heater guards. A large air pump and air­stone would def­i­nitely help too.

Buy them all small, grow them up to­gether, dec­o­rate with lots of wood and rocks, but there are way too many species and in­di­vid­u­als of South and Cen­tral Amer­i­can ci­ch­lids on your list, even for your big tank, so please think again.

Tiger Os­car. Mi­das ci­ch­lid.

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