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Help Starting a Cichlid Aquarium

[ Edited ]

Hello, I have a 100 gallon tank, its already cycled and want cichlids but dont know anything about their behavior or how many are recommended. I do however want colorful cichlids if possible or recommended.I am thinking of getting peacock cichlids. Any help or information is appreciated.

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Esteemed Contributor

Re: Help Starting a Cichlid Aquarium

[ Edited ]

As I mentioned, my favorite species of Peacock is the species "jacobfreibergi" which has many many different color varieties, or "morphs". Some are captive bred, some are indigenous to a single collection locale within Lake Malawi. For this reason, you will sometimes see african cichlids offered that give their species (Aulonacara jacobfreibergi) followed by their collection site (e.g. 'Lion's Cove') when you shop for them among specialists in Rift Lake Cichlids. I tend to prefer naturally occuring varieties over albinos and blotched types which were all developed in captivity. There is plenty of genetic material in that Lake such that we should never have wanted for anything else.

Some african Cichlids are pretty common and identifiable. Pseudotropheus acei, or P. lombardoi (aka Red Zebra) show up all the time at your local  Petco. But this is a group of fishes where you get what you pay for, and unless you invest in adult fish that are fully colored, you really want to find a breeder or hobbyist that can confirm the lineage of whatever Peacocks you buy. Young peacocks are silvery grey innocuous-looking fish until they begin to mature sexually, and by the time that happens, you may discover that whoever bred your fish wasn't as disciplined or scrupulous or  rigorous as they should have been, and what you bought is a blend of different random varieties that may or may not be spectacular as adults.

This is a place in your aquarium-keeping career where it is essential that you DO NOT RUSH into anything, especially a purchase of unknown fish. I suggest you look at lots of pictures of the various Peacocks available. Make a list of the ones you most want. Then see if there are any Cichlid societies or breeders in your area and check out what they have. What they have may look incredible or it may look ordinary, but you will probably be unfamiliar with it because there are just so many species and so many varieties of each species. Sometimes I will just write down the name of the species and its morph and then do some research on that variant to see if it was what I wanted. Then I may or may not go back to make a purchase. My point is, with cichlids, you don't decide to buy some fish tomorrow unless what you're looking for is something really common and familiar. If you said you wanted Central American Convicts Cichlids, I would tell you to buy any that looked healthy. But in this case, you really get what you pay for, and with younger fish, you simply cannot know what you are buying unless you know what you want and you are dealing with a reputable dealer. IME, research and patience always paid off when I was tracking down the African Cichlids I wanted. As you've probably noticed, the names of African Lake Cichlids are many and confusing. Some very well-known varieties go by common names (Yellow Lab, Electric Blue Ahli, Blue Dolphin), but most can only be accurately identified when you know their whole back story.

So. If your tank is ready for these fish--and I don't mean simply cycled-- but also aquascaped with rock piles, caves, hide-outs and sandy flats-- some of the fish you might buy with confidence would be Placidochromis electra or Cyrtocara moori or Copadichromis borleyii. None of these is a "Peacock" but all three show up with some regularity among shipments of "assorted Africans" and generally exist in only a single morph or very few color forms, so they should develop into attractive adult specimens.  Placidochromis and Cyrtocara are mild mannered species, and it's appropriate that they be placed first. Peacocks themselves are not terribly pugnacious, and most of the conflict you see is between competing males of the same or similar species, or males chasing females. Adequate space, appropriate decor and selecting compatible species and limiting the number of individuals is key to having a harmonious tank.

I would still urge you to slow down. Once you start stocking your tank, your options shrink. It's tough when you've run out of tank space and then discover the variety of fish you REALLY want. What then?Also, there's more of a financial investment with these fish, so that brings with it other considerations. First, you're paying more for good quality fish of desirable varieties, so you want to make very sure they are healthy before purchase. Then when you acquire more fish, you don't want to risk the health of your established collection by tossing in newly-acquired fish, so you really need to get a quarantine tank: twenty gallons, basic tank with filter light heater and some PVC elbows, and no gravel. Keep your new purchases there for a couple weeks BEFORE they go in the 100 gallon tank. When they have proven they are healthy, they can go on display.  Trust me-- you do not want to net your fish out of a six foot long tank in order to put them in a treatment tank, and you do not want to medicate fish in 100 gallons of water. It's too expensive.

I hope I have given you helpful things to think about, and I hope you will take this a step at a time and get fully set up with a quarantine tank and research the wide array of available peacocks before you buy.  Do look at www.wetwebmedia.com for examples of some of the species and morphs I mentioned, and prepare to do lots of reading, there, too.

Also, please don't be shy about asking more questions, and remember, if a fish looks like a good deal today, it will still be a good deal tomorrow, so wait. There are very few fish that are so scarce you can't wait awhile before bringing them home!  

DSC_0021.jpg

Above is Aulonocara jacobfreibergi 'eureka red' a captive bred variety. Below is A. jacobfreibergi 'Otter Point', a wild-caught naturally occuring morph collected at-- where else?-- Otter Point in Lake Malawi:

db_Aulonocara_jacobfreibergi_Otter_Point__7_1.jpg

I would be happy to have either of these in my tank.

Best

Randy

 

 

“The oceans are the planet's last great living wilderness, man's only remaining frontier on Earth, and perhaps his last chance to prove himself a rational species.”
― John L. Culliney
3 REPLIES
Esteemed Contributor

Re: Help Starting a Cichlid Aquarium

Peacocks are African Rift lake cichlids. Specifically, these are from Lake Malawi. Gorgeous gorgeous fish.  The Genus is Aulonocara and my favorite species is "jacobfreibergi" also known as the "Malawian Butterfly". They are compatable with several other varieties of Malawian Cichlids.  I would avoid large predatory varieties and most Mbuna (these are the grazers, like Zebras (Metriaclima) Cynotilapia Afra, Labidochromis, Melanochromis, and Labeotropheus.

Some families that might mix well would be the Blue Dolphin (Cyrtocara moori) and others of the sand sifters such as Lethrinops species or Fossorochromis rostratus.  They also mix well with Synodontis catfish, such as S eupterus, S. petricola or S multipuntatus.

Peacocks generally eat plankton, small meaty items, (insects, larva, small crustaceans, fish fry) and some plant material. A good quality pellet is suitable for adults, and flake or mini pelleted food for younger fish.  Keep a couple males and several females of each species you include in your tank to keep the male from harassing one individual female.

Many Malawian Cichlids feel at home in an aquarium with piled rocks and some open sandy areas.  They tend not to be as relentlessly territorial as some south and central American cichlids, and their colors are spectacular.

You can purchase adults (which cost a lot) or a group of 6-8 juveniles and grow them up together. It will take a year or more for the colors to develop, but it's a great deal of fun, too.


In this tank, I might keep 4-5 individuals each of three species of cichlids. And some Synodontis, which like being in trios or small groups. 


 

 

“The oceans are the planet's last great living wilderness, man's only remaining frontier on Earth, and perhaps his last chance to prove himself a rational species.”
― John L. Culliney
New Contributor

Re: Help Starting a Cichlid Aquarium

So are there any specific beautiful peacock cichlids that you recommend? How many can i start off with and which ones do i put in first? I know that the least territorial ones go in first. I want to go buy some tommorow but im still kind of lost when it comes to behavior and their intermingling. 

Esteemed Contributor

Re: Help Starting a Cichlid Aquarium

[ Edited ]

As I mentioned, my favorite species of Peacock is the species "jacobfreibergi" which has many many different color varieties, or "morphs". Some are captive bred, some are indigenous to a single collection locale within Lake Malawi. For this reason, you will sometimes see african cichlids offered that give their species (Aulonacara jacobfreibergi) followed by their collection site (e.g. 'Lion's Cove') when you shop for them among specialists in Rift Lake Cichlids. I tend to prefer naturally occuring varieties over albinos and blotched types which were all developed in captivity. There is plenty of genetic material in that Lake such that we should never have wanted for anything else.

Some african Cichlids are pretty common and identifiable. Pseudotropheus acei, or P. lombardoi (aka Red Zebra) show up all the time at your local  Petco. But this is a group of fishes where you get what you pay for, and unless you invest in adult fish that are fully colored, you really want to find a breeder or hobbyist that can confirm the lineage of whatever Peacocks you buy. Young peacocks are silvery grey innocuous-looking fish until they begin to mature sexually, and by the time that happens, you may discover that whoever bred your fish wasn't as disciplined or scrupulous or  rigorous as they should have been, and what you bought is a blend of different random varieties that may or may not be spectacular as adults.

This is a place in your aquarium-keeping career where it is essential that you DO NOT RUSH into anything, especially a purchase of unknown fish. I suggest you look at lots of pictures of the various Peacocks available. Make a list of the ones you most want. Then see if there are any Cichlid societies or breeders in your area and check out what they have. What they have may look incredible or it may look ordinary, but you will probably be unfamiliar with it because there are just so many species and so many varieties of each species. Sometimes I will just write down the name of the species and its morph and then do some research on that variant to see if it was what I wanted. Then I may or may not go back to make a purchase. My point is, with cichlids, you don't decide to buy some fish tomorrow unless what you're looking for is something really common and familiar. If you said you wanted Central American Convicts Cichlids, I would tell you to buy any that looked healthy. But in this case, you really get what you pay for, and with younger fish, you simply cannot know what you are buying unless you know what you want and you are dealing with a reputable dealer. IME, research and patience always paid off when I was tracking down the African Cichlids I wanted. As you've probably noticed, the names of African Lake Cichlids are many and confusing. Some very well-known varieties go by common names (Yellow Lab, Electric Blue Ahli, Blue Dolphin), but most can only be accurately identified when you know their whole back story.

So. If your tank is ready for these fish--and I don't mean simply cycled-- but also aquascaped with rock piles, caves, hide-outs and sandy flats-- some of the fish you might buy with confidence would be Placidochromis electra or Cyrtocara moori or Copadichromis borleyii. None of these is a "Peacock" but all three show up with some regularity among shipments of "assorted Africans" and generally exist in only a single morph or very few color forms, so they should develop into attractive adult specimens.  Placidochromis and Cyrtocara are mild mannered species, and it's appropriate that they be placed first. Peacocks themselves are not terribly pugnacious, and most of the conflict you see is between competing males of the same or similar species, or males chasing females. Adequate space, appropriate decor and selecting compatible species and limiting the number of individuals is key to having a harmonious tank.

I would still urge you to slow down. Once you start stocking your tank, your options shrink. It's tough when you've run out of tank space and then discover the variety of fish you REALLY want. What then?Also, there's more of a financial investment with these fish, so that brings with it other considerations. First, you're paying more for good quality fish of desirable varieties, so you want to make very sure they are healthy before purchase. Then when you acquire more fish, you don't want to risk the health of your established collection by tossing in newly-acquired fish, so you really need to get a quarantine tank: twenty gallons, basic tank with filter light heater and some PVC elbows, and no gravel. Keep your new purchases there for a couple weeks BEFORE they go in the 100 gallon tank. When they have proven they are healthy, they can go on display.  Trust me-- you do not want to net your fish out of a six foot long tank in order to put them in a treatment tank, and you do not want to medicate fish in 100 gallons of water. It's too expensive.

I hope I have given you helpful things to think about, and I hope you will take this a step at a time and get fully set up with a quarantine tank and research the wide array of available peacocks before you buy.  Do look at www.wetwebmedia.com for examples of some of the species and morphs I mentioned, and prepare to do lots of reading, there, too.

Also, please don't be shy about asking more questions, and remember, if a fish looks like a good deal today, it will still be a good deal tomorrow, so wait. There are very few fish that are so scarce you can't wait awhile before bringing them home!  

DSC_0021.jpg

Above is Aulonocara jacobfreibergi 'eureka red' a captive bred variety. Below is A. jacobfreibergi 'Otter Point', a wild-caught naturally occuring morph collected at-- where else?-- Otter Point in Lake Malawi:

db_Aulonocara_jacobfreibergi_Otter_Point__7_1.jpg

I would be happy to have either of these in my tank.

Best

Randy

 

 

“The oceans are the planet's last great living wilderness, man's only remaining frontier on Earth, and perhaps his last chance to prove himself a rational species.”
― John L. Culliney
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