Will this cichlid community work?
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.