What’s the Ideal Tank Set-up for Cichlids
By Chad Marquez Aquarium , Cichlids , Freshwater Fish Tips 0 Comments Because of their beautiful colors and active nature, cichlids are a popular species for aquarium hobbyist, but you will find that caring for them requires careful preparation.
Although there various cichlid species from many parts of the world, the African Cichlids is one of the more popular varieties available. What does a Cichlid Tank look like? Cichlids are freshwater fish that grow larger than many other species of aquarium fish.
They range in size from as small as 3 inches 7. When designing a tank set up for cichlids, you should keep in mind that cichlids are from more tropical climates, so they thrive in warm water.
You will need a heater to maintain your cichlid tank water temperature in the 77 degree to 82 degree range, and larger tanks may need two heaters to sufficiently warm the water. Due to their territorial nature, you will need to stock a cichlid tank with lots of rocky hiding places which provides them with an environment similar to their natural habitat.
This is also the reason why cichlids are not a good choice to cohabit with more docile species. How Big Should a Tank be for Cichlids? Another key component to consider in a tank for cichlids would be the aquarium size. In comparison to a tank for typical tropical fish, your cichlid tank must be larger because cichlids grow larger and produce more waste. In addition, African cichlids and cichlids from other regions are known to be aggressive and territorial fish, so a roomier tank helps to create a calmer environment.
The minimum acceptable size for your cichlid tank set-up would be 30 gallons Good filtration will also be important for a large tank, so you should look for dual filtration systems or systems that can process at minimum 3 times the tank capacity each hour.
African cichlids thrive in water with a pH in the range between 7. While most cichlid species share common traits, it is also important to pay attention to what type of diet and tank environment that is preferred by the specific cichlid species you are considering. Cichlids enjoy a long life span, with most living around 8 years. Although they require a bit more work than your typical fish tank, taking the time to create a well-stocked cichlid tank can provide you with a colorful and robust focal point for years of aquarium enjoyment.
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Setting up an african lake aquarium
The fish from this lake can range as small as 1. Smaller sized fish from this lake are often found along sandy shorelines in shallow depths, called Shell Dwelling Cichlids. These fish establish colonies in empty deceased snail shells and rarely venture too far away for fear of a lurking predator. Share Another interesting species to consider is a rock dwelling cichlid such as a Calvus.
Share Altolamprologus calvus. Image by Mr. Glenn Barrett en:Image:A calvus. On the other end of the spectrum, you can choose to have large Tanganyikan Cichlids such as the Frontosa. These are magnificent predators who are visually stunning when groups are kept in the aquarium.
Frontosas usually inhabit deeper portions of the large rift lake and hunt at night, while smaller fish are sleeping. Share These are just a few of the choices you have to choose from, all being very entertaining fish. Smaller species such as the shell dwellers can be successfully housed in smaller tanks, as a species only tank.
This will work in tank sizes gallons with appropriate filtration. Larger fish will obviously need larger tanks to accomodate growth, and to establish territories if a community setup is not desired. I cannot give you an exact guideline to go by, but the best method to use is the common sense method.
You wouldnt want to house a group of 4 Frontosas in a 20 gallon tank. So please be generous when deciding upon an appropriate tank size. Remember, the more room for the fish, the healthier and happier the fish will be. Filtration: African Cichlids along with almost every other species of fish in the world require good filtration for optimal health.
On all of my tanks, I usually always use a larger filter than reccommended for my tanks. For an example; On a 20 gallon tank, I would use a filter rated for a 40 gallon aquarium. Or use two 20 gallon filters for extra water circulation. It is better to be over filtered, rather than under. Cichlids themselves are very sensitive to pollutants in the water such as ammonia, with is produced by fish waste and uneaten food.
Having good filtration will make sure your tank is clean and less toxic to your fish. Substrate: Choosing the right substrate for your Tanganyikan species tank is very simple. Use what you think will look good and serve its purpose at the same time. If the fish you want to keep like a sandy substrate, then buy the appropriate sand at your local pet shop.
A good and cheap sand is Pool Filter sand. It can be found usually at any of your local hardware stores as well as pool supply stores. I would reccommend staying away from play sand as this sand is very fluffy and can be kicked up very easily, causing power filter intake problems. Gravel substrate is acceptable as well, and it comes in a variety of colors for your liking. Just keep in mind that this gravel has lots of little pockets between the gravel, so alot of waste can accumulate between them.
This will require normal cleanings. Another choice would be crushed coral. This substrate should only be used for African Cichlid tanks because it naturally raises the PH of your aquarium water. Decorations: In my opinion, these fish almost need to have as real of an environment as possible. Meaning try and mimic their natural environment as best as possible.
By doing this I am suggesting buying or finding real rock, preferably store bought rock such as Slate, Tulfa, and lace rock etc. Store bought rock is probably the safest because anything found outside may have unseen bacteria or organisms living on it that will not be suitable for your aquarium.
If you decided to go with rock dwelling species, then it is reccommended to build a structure in the tank to create caves and overhangs so the fish will feel at home. Trust me, if the fish feels comfortable, you will see them more. Lighting: Lighting is an easy hurdle to overcome when setting up a Tang tank. These fish usually do not come from an environment containing lush vegetation, so you will not need any fancy lightning to keep these fish happy.
So experiment a little, and see which one suits your needs. Heating: Tanganyikan Cichlids are a tropical fish, so they will need a submersible heater. Most brands of heaters show the appropriate wattage per gallon, so read the directions carefully.
I keep my tang tank at a constant 78 degrees F. I would say that is probably a temperature to aim for. Water Parameters: African Cichlids in general like a naturally alkaline hard water. The easiest way to achieve this is to use well water as most city water is quite the opposite. Also, most bottled water is neutral to acidic, so stay away from this if possible. On a side note, Most Tanganyika fish have been tank raised and will usually adapt to different Ph levels using a slow drip acclimation method.
The chances of getting Wild fish are very rare, unless you order your fish from a supplier. I will also provide you with the proper water parameters for keeping fish from this lake: General: Hard and alkaline Lake Tanganyika water pH:.
How to Setup a Lake Tanganyika Cichlid Tank
The space your fish need depends on their species, larger ones needing a bigger tank. The small electric yellow cichlids 3 inches will be happy in a gallon tank, whereas the larger blue cichlids 8 inches are better off in a gallon tank.
Use this as a guide to judge the best tank size for your species, remembering that a larger tank is always best and will reduce aggression. How many Cichlids Per Gallon? The amount of cichlids you can keep depends on the species. Always thoroughly research the species you want to keep because some are much larger than others. Tank Mates African cichlids are territorial, so any open-water swimmers are likely to be attacked at some point.
Bottom-dwelling fish can make good tank mates, as long as they match the cichlids for size and aggression. Good examples are African catfish, they are fast-swimming, large, and aggressive enough to defend themselves.
How to Set up an African Cichlid Tank: A Guide for Beginner Aquarists
Any small fish such as tetras will become a meal. They have evolved in different parts of the world so they have different immune systems, which means that species from one region can make the other sick. Most of the time, only one species of cichlid is kept per tank to avoid fighting. If a tank is big enough then more species could be added, but this will always be a risk. Diet African Jewelfish Feeding African cichlids eat different things in the wild such as plants, insects, and meat.
Most species will happily accept both plants and meats in the aquarium. Peacock cichlids are insectivores, meaning that most of their diet is made up of insects. Some species of the Tilapia genus are herbivores, mainly eating plants and algae.
The rest will either eat fish or a mixture of the three diets. The African butterfly would naturally eat small fish, whereas Electric yellow cichlids are more omnivorous, eating plants and the occasional fish. Always research the specific species of fish you want to keep to ensure you can provide them with a suitable diet. Though they have different diets in the wild, in the aquarium they will all be happy eating flake foods bought from stores.
You can add in their natural preferences alongside fish foods. These include frozen foods, live foods fish or insectsor algae wafers. Those species that spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank will enjoy wafer or pellet foods. This will encourage their natural behavior of sifting through the substrate for food. Bloodworms can be used now and then to mix up their diet. Species that are used to a more herbivorous diet will enjoy raw fruit or vegetable matter that you have around the house.
African cichlids are a large group of cichlids, so they could be affected by many diseases. Some common ones are: Cotton Wool Disease: White growths caused by a fungus, more likely in poor water conditions. Gill Flukes: A flatworm parasite covers the gills with slime, causing breathing difficulties.
Hexamita: Symptoms include a loss of appetite and lesions, causes are thought to be a parasite, and poor water quality. Some light fixtures rest on top of the tank a top is necessary if any of your fish are jumpersand others are elevated a few inches above the top of the tank.
Also, while most heaters have a gauge showing target temperature, it is a good idea to verify the accuracy by using a thermometer. Miscellaneous Various water treatments, food and incidental items will be recommended by your LFS, depending on your water conditions, how soon you want to add your first fish and how many conveniences you want to invest in. Also consider adding a fault-protected power strip to the setup for obvious safety reasons.
First, choose a spot to set up the aquarium. Make sure the tank is level before adding decor or water.
Pour in the sand substrate to a depth of 2 to 3 inches. Spend some time placing and arranging the rocks so that they look good to you. You can always rearrange your current rocks or add more rocks later. Place the filter and heater, and block the view of them with rock where possible. Place the heater in the water current from the filter output to aid in equalizing the water temperature.
African Cichlid Care Guide: Tank Setup, Types & Tank Mates
Before adding the water, place a plate on the substrate; this will keep the water from disturbing the substrate any more than necessary. Use a bucket or a hose attached to a faucet, and gently pour the water directly onto the plate. Put the light fixture in place, then plug everything in and turn everything on. Let everything run to let the sand and sediment settle, to let the temperature adjust and let the filter season. Wait to add fish until beneficial bacteria has built up and the nitrogen cycle has completed.
The nitrogen cycle can take several weeks to complete. Before you even purchase your tank and equipment, have an idea of what fish you want to include in the setup. While researching which fish to purchase, note the cichlids that appeal to you. Some are more aggressive and territorial than others, so ask for advice and read books and magazines about which fish will be compatible and do well in your setup. Most hobbyists want a variety of fish that will inhabit the tank at different depths and in different areas of the tank.
Because different species have different water-level preferences, the availability of caves or nooks at those different heights will provide the homes for a specific fish at its comfort level.
The fish that prefer to live at the bottom of the water column might look for an empty shell or small overturned clay pot away from other fish, while the mid- to upper-level fish might use nooks or caves.
Some fish prefer an open expanse of sand where they will spend a good deal of time creating a dug-out circle to defend and call their own for breeding purposes. There are hundreds of species to choose from, including Julidochromis Marlieri Spotted JulieCyphotilapia frontosa and Cyprichromis leptosoma.
As your knowledge and skills grow, it will be fun to seek out other varieties and slowly add them. Compatibility and Stocking A good mix of fish with varying territory preferences will assure something interesting is always going on wherever you look.
How Many Lake Tanganyikan Fish to Start With Next determine how many fish your tank will accommodate — and several factors come into play here. A basic rule for freshwater aquariums is to provide 1 gallon of water for 1 inch of fish. Also keep in mind that while your tank may hold 55 gallons, the substrate, rock and other decorations will displace some water. More attention will be paid to which species you choose initially and how many of each there should be.
Your fish will perceive safety in numbers, so purchase six of each type of fish you like. This is a good starting place so that your fish can feel secure and so that you can observe their interactions with each other. Feeding Tanganyikan Cichlids Most cichlids available at local fish shops are bred and raised in captivity and have been conditioned to eat dry foods formulated for their nutritional needs.