Beginner Cichlid

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Beginner Cichlid

Postby man-alive » 2008-09-13 20:24

i'm moveing cross country so I havn't setup my tank yet, but i am reading about cichlids and i was wondering what would be a nice beginner cichlid.
I have a 55 gallon tank (4 foot).
going to have a canister filter but right now have a hang on filter, part internal part external.
Haven't purchased rocks or plants do to the move so open to suggestions. I don't have an overly powerful lighting system so if you suggest live plants what would do good in a low to med lighting system.
I am moving to a place where the water is pretty dang hard so should i purchase a RO unit or find a cichlid that likes hard water? I am not sure what the average Ph is so wil find out later, chlorine with ovecourse be removed.
Obviousley I barely have anything to even get started so i could purchase new items to fit your suggestions.
I am open to all suggestions so this is nothing but a cry for help!
Last edited by man-alive on 2008-09-20 23:53, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Beginner Cichlid

Postby KittyKat » 2008-09-14 20:33

Firstly you want to decide what type of display you want to go for.. two obvious options which jump to mind are an African (rocky, few plants) or South American (planted with a few "show" cichlids and lots of dithers). Of course, it is worth going for something in between if that is what you would prefer as there are biotopes which cover both aspects of the two extremes simultaneously.

If you go for Africans, some nice beginner fish are yellow labs (Labidochromis caeruleus) if you would like to go for rockdwellers or Placidochromis electra if you would rather have open water dwellers. For a planted rocky setup, I would recommend Kribs with Congo Tetras and Anubias as plants.. or for the planted set up how about Bolivian Rams (not "Blue" or "German") with some small to medium tetras?

The water is more important for cichlids then for most fish so it may be worth waiting to see what your new water will be like as you don't want to be trying to keep Africans in acid water or SAs in hard water - recipe for disaster! Otherwise there are very few restrictions for a tank that size. Obviously avoid tankbusters and most things over 10 inches as most likely either you will only be able to keep only one fish and/or they are too active for a tank that size.

What is the height and depth of the tank?
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Re: Beginner Cichlid

Postby man-alive » 2008-09-15 21:42

I would prefer a rocky landscape with maybe two main eyecatching rock centerpeices with a few smaller backdrop rocks. and if my lighting allows maybe a few pants to buffer the hard look. is this doable and still comfortable for the fish and could it be done and still look great?
and if i went with plants what are things i need to look for when i buy new lighting?

Here is a list of things i will purchase in the future

1. Ocean Clear 317 Canister Filter 800-1600 GPH
2. Ocean Clearn 318 bio Canister Filter with 205 Sq. ft. of poly strand bio core filter pads
3. 8 watt Gamma UVS
4. Kent 24 GPD RO/DI Maxxima (What is a DI unit?)

Will this be enough to keep my tank clean and healthy? (other than the obvious hand cleaning on my part)

Dimensions equal 4 foot (length) by 1 foot 8 inches (heigth) by 1 foot (depth)
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Re: Beginner Cichlid

Postby KittyKat » 2008-09-18 15:21

Sounds like your best bet would be to go for a "Congo" setup with Kribs (Pelvicachromis species), khuli loaches (or another bottom feeder), Congo tetras, Anubias and Java ferns with a sandy substrate which has a few round pebbles mixed in and some more rock piled up at the back to make caves.

You tank will hold about 40 US gallons which is quite a bit less then you said.. I say 40 because the tank empty and filled to the rim will hold 47.. then take a couple of inches off the top and a couple off the bottom and a few more for the rocks and you are left with about 40 gallons in total.

I personally think that the filter is a bit of an overkill as it is rated for a 500 gallon tank or pond. The only fish I can think of which will survive a flow that high are African rift lake cichlids and only if you stuff the tank full of rock to break up the flow.. I would urge you to consider a smaller filter with a flow rate of no more then 200 US gallons per hour and even that is on the high side for most freshwater fish. Eheim provide the best options, but any external (canister) filter will do. The other problem with the Ocean Clears is that they do not make very good filters as it looks like their intended purpose is to polish (clear) water in marine tanks by filtering out all the fine particles.
Same goes for the UV and the RO. You only need UV if you want a pond and RO only if you want to keep very softwater fish which inevitably means lots of plants and bogwood instead of rocks. The thing about UV is that a) it's expensive and b) if you ever move the fish to a non-UV tank after a UV tank, they are almost guaranteed to catch whitespot, fungus, fin rot and some others - possibly even all in one go. UV is good because it keeps the water algae free, but there are other ways of doing this which are more effective in tanks - for example using NitraZorb or equivalent - which are just not practical for ponds. As for RO, it takes out almost everything from the water and this makes it very acidic. There are very few fish who will be happy in RO water and even then most people will dose the tanks with trace minerals as those are needed by the fish to be healthy or mix back some of the waste water.. the only time that it is essential to have RO water is for marine with-fish tanks as many marine fish are very sensitive to things like copper in the water and this is not the case with most freshwater fish.

Not trying to put you off or anything, but maybe you should consider some "simpler" equipment.. unless you want to go for marines instead?
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Re: Beginner Cichlid

Postby man-alive » 2008-09-18 18:14

I admit i am a bit of an overkill person, sorry. I have heard of Eheim but for some reason didn't think f them (dumb i know), I will scratch the UV and RO besides saving tones of money it will save a lot of space too. Let me make another list of eqeipment and i'll get back to you. Thanks!

Ps. I never really thought of the ACTUAL gallons going into the tank. Thanks you probably just saved me a lot of headaches! And let me re-measure the tank because i know when bought from the pet store it was a 55 gallon and tanks can't shrink by themselves so i don't know what happened!
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Re: Beginner Cichlid

Postby man-alive » 2008-09-18 18:43

LIST

1. Eheim ECCO 2236 CF 185 GPH

thats the filtration system yeah i know simple. its a three stage filtration system with three filter baskets. what would be a good product for chem. bio. and mechanical filtration?

And the lights that came with the tank is two hoods, each holding a 24 inch bulb and the ones i found only come with a max of 20 watts of light per bulb. what should i do so i don't have to by new lighting?

remember i am now not purchasing either UVS or RO units so filtration media has to be good enough to replace these!

Thanks.
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Re: Beginner Cichlid

Postby KittyKat » 2008-09-18 21:15

My preference is one box full of ceramic noodles (or any of the EHEIM Mech range or equivalent - brand makes no difference), one of rough pads (EHEIM Fix type - I think - are the ones I mean) and the third basket half ceramic noodles and the rest filter wool all done in the following order:
inlet from tank >> fine filter wool, noodles >> rough pad >> noodles >> outlet into tank

This way the filter wool polishes the water while the noodles and the rough pads act as biological filtration (I know the Ehaim website calls them mechanical).. For someone with a high budget or unlimited supply of filter wool just changing out the filter wool when it gets dirty should be all the maintenance needed: i.e. the noodles and pads should never need washing. If your budget is not as high as that, then easiest thing to do would be to have two lots of filter wool which you can change out when needed. For maintenance in the second case I would recommend washing the wool (but NOT the rest) in ether tank water or tap water (followed by a quick soak in tank water or dechlor) till white again. Anyways, this is why I prefer to have externals where the inlet is on top and the outlet on the bottom as that way all maintenance takes about 15 minutes for a 57 US gal (holds 42 US gal after rocks) including waterchanges and glass cleaning.

You are in the US, right? Will look into lighting tomorrow, depends on how planted you want to go! Are the fish I suggested to your liking? Or do you prefer something like Aulonocaras? Must be off to bed now, early start tomorrow.. hope my post made sense! :snaily:
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Re: Beginner Cichlid

Postby man-alive » 2008-09-18 23:44

Sounds great. I like your second option lol. And i am looking into the kribs. I have a picture of the specific filter i am thinking on but don't no how to post (please help).

Ps. i am a little confused on the filter setup, because the one i am looking at has the intake and outake right next to each other and the baskets below them. how doese the water make it through the pads before its sucked out again?
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Re: Beginner Cichlid

Postby KittyKat » 2008-09-19 05:04

breakdown of filter insides

That is basically the kind of set-up I meant, with the third from the top (solid round white thing) being filter wool. Most filters are designed in that way with both inlet and outlet being next to each other, it is mainly in pond filters - which require an external water pump that is placed in the pond - have one or the other on the bottom. The way it works is that all the baskets and the lid sit perfectly on top of each other so that they form seals between each component and the water (not too sure of the direction in this case) will flow either through the baskets to the bottom and out along the outsides of the baskets back to the top where the pump is located.

To attach image, see "Upload attachment" tab just below the "submit" et al buttons.. to insert a hosted image use
Code: Select all
[img]http://urlofimage[/img]
for example [img]http://www.allfishforums.com/image.jpg[/img]


Anyways, must run off to work now!
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Re: Beginner Cichlid

Postby man-alive » 2008-09-19 22:30

LOL! I know you are in the UK but this world has to be small. That picture was the same one i was trying to post, oh by the way thanks for the help. And i am looking at the Pelvicachromis pulcher Kribenis cichlid the regular for males and the albino for females. Is this an ok choice. And for future reference what are some more fish that would go good with these?

Thanks and the reason i am going with albino females is because the website i am using says that the male is more attracted to the albino female. Who knew.
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Re: Beginner Cichlid

Postby KittyKat » 2008-09-20 16:08

Aye, they are OK for the tank.. In fact, two pairs should be fine, although I would recommend trying to find established pairs if possible and adding all four fish in one go. In terms of albinos, I would be very interested to see where you found the info as I have never heard anything like that before and in my personal experience it never made any difference. The only problem I can foresee in crossing a normal male with an albino female is that the fry may have pale colours, but that doesn't matter much if you can find someone to take them in.. also have you considered the females' preference in males? I think that it is only fair to take as much note of their opinions as it is of the males' ;)

I would advise a group of 10 Congo tetras (Phenacogrammus interruptus) and a group of a) 10 khuli loaches, b) 10 medium Corydoras catfish or c) 1 male and 3-4 females bristlenose plecos. You can replace the tetras with almost any other species with, if you go for smaller (eg. neon), up to 20-30 fish. I personally think that Congos and khulis would make best option with a view to add more fish once the tank is established.. maybe some hatchets?

What are the fittings for the lights that you have at the moment? You will probably be fine if you put reflectors behind the lights and have only low light plants and only near the top of the tank.

There are some Arcadia 42" tubes which are 38W available (will the tank take 48" tubes?) The ones I am looking at right now are T8s, although you should be able to get T5s if you prefer. For T8s, I would probably go for a three tubes (one twin and one single starter) with two whites or a white and a purple on one starter and a blue (moonlight) on the second. If you would rather go for the "no hood" solution, then I quite like the Luminaries. Also I would avoid pink tubes as algae can get quite bad with those. If you don't want to be cleaning the glass too often, then only two tubes with reflectors should be good enough. You should be able to pick up a starter for under £20 ($40) and bulbs for no more then £10 ($20).
Now the big secret is that 90% of the brand tubes (ex by Arcadia or Interpet) are exactly the same as the ones available at any DIY store - with the only difference being the label on them and the fact that they are priced at as much as 100% higher.. your choice ;)
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Re: Beginner Cichlid

Postby man-alive » 2008-09-20 16:40

no sorry the tank lights at the moment will only hold two 24 inch tubes (sucks i know). I got the information about the albinos at Dr. Foster and Smith's Krib page, read it and see if they are right (i don't know). I do like the look of tetras so i'm excited to hear that they would go good with the setup (if that was what you were saying) its been a while since my last aquaria venture so the other fish i know of but a little rusty on my knowledge so will be reading up. thanks for the info! And if i do buy lights from a DIY store what is something i should look for? and the fittings on the bulbs are two almost half inch prongs on each end of the bulb, makeing a total of four prongs per bulb, its really just flourescent. Will check into that.
And I've got a little voice in my head telling me to go with the corydoras (i really like the blue ones if my memory serves me right.

And quick aside, if i chose to upgrade my lighting what would be the cheapest easiest option? (i know that sounds bad)
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Re: Beginner Cichlid

Postby KittyKat » 2008-09-20 18:05

I do not feel that their reason for it is valid because(!) I find that the pair tend to pair up when not in full breeding condition and female albino Kribs quite regularly do NOT show full red colouration as many are lacking in the pigment.

I find The Krib pages much more useful for reliable info on Kribs and other fish.
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Re: Beginner Cichlid

Postby man-alive » 2008-09-20 19:44

can i keep the kribs with the congo tetras?
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Re: Beginner Cichlid

Postby KittyKat » 2008-09-20 20:32

Yep, Kribs and Congo tetras are perfect together
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