Transitioning to a 125 gallon cichlid tank from a smaller semi-aggressive community

JesB

Feeder Fish
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Dec 3, 2019
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Hello everyone, I've kept fish for a long time, but I've never kept cichlids. I've got a new 125 (72" long) acrylic tank on order that should be here for Christmas, so I'd like to order some new fish and get them quarantined pretty soonish. I'm thinking of transitioning to SA cichlids since I've heard they're less aggressive and do better with non-cichlids, and I'm not planning to get rid of my current stock in the slightly smaller tank I'm replacing, just hopefully replace them as they go. I do have a nearly empty 29 gallon, planted long I use for fry sometimes.

I'd like your thoughts/opinions on my equipment and any stocking suggestions you might have.

I'm currently running a sunsun hw 304-B and I purchased a new sunsun hw-3000 with 793gph (supposedly) - I've got the filter media for the new canister sitting in the sump of the current setup to seed it.
I'm looking at a couple of 36" NICREW RGB Plus LED 24/7 automated lights, but I haven't firmly settled there yet
I'm thinking 2-3 bags of black beauty sand should do it for substrate, and I've got driftwood and a bunch of dragon stone for the scape (and if needed, tons of fake plants and I could probably move a selection of low-tech live plants over).
2 300W heaters (plus my old one if needed, so I should have a spare).
(I'm not looking for anything that would require R/O water)

The fish (all adult) currently in the tank I'm replacing are:
4 adult Silver Dollars (I'll probably be adding 1 more for the ideal 5 minimum - I recently lost one when he went careening into a decoration far too small for him and never recovered)
7 albino cories
a 7 inch, 10 year old redtailed shark
a couple of albino bristle-nose plecos that breed like crazy (oops...I thought my original one was dead, and bought another one, only to find the original in the sump...somehow?...)
and 6 tiger barbs

Pretty much any of those, in most combinations, could go in the 29, I think, except the Silver Dollars, and probably the RTS.

I've done some reading around, but I always find first-hand accounts helpful. I know the more aggressive fish are right out (like JDs and Convicts), but are there any you think I should especially consider or stay away from as a fairly experienced fish-keeper, but beginner with cichlids, and a mixed community tank (until I can make it predominately cichlid)?

My favorite online fish store currently has geophagus surinamensis (supposedly - i know these get mislabeled often) and electric blue acara on sale - good idea/bad idea with my current stock and equipment plan? If so, can you keep the eartheaters singly or is the recommended 5 grouping a hard line - (their stock is low on those and it looks like they get pretty huge)?

Any other pointers/cautions re:feeding, aquascape, etc. with any suggested mix would also be appreciated. Thanks!
 
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BIG-G

Goliath Tigerfish
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Dec 12, 2005
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Welcome to MFK.
I don’t know how they would work with silver dollars I have never kept SD but I like severums for a mild South America cichlid, multiple colors to choose from, won’t bother anything for the most part, and they would work with the electric blue Acara you mentioned.
 
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Rocksor

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SD's behaviors change dramatically from 5-6 to 8+ numbers. Quite honestly, SD's will be a huge bioload (even 5) since they are ravenous eaters. I saw a reduced amount of nitrate production in a 240g after removing the 5 SDs I had.

Before we suggest cichlids, what is the hardness of your tapwater (GH)? This is not the same as PH. Check your water quality report. Sometimes the report has total dissolved solid readings as well.
 

JesB

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Dec 3, 2019
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Thank you both for your replies!
I'm honestly not super fond of the neurotic SDs, but I have no way to rehome them right now. The only lfs we have is Petsmart, if that tells you anything.

At the moment I don't have a reliable way to measure my GH and KH since that's not part of my standard API test kit, (I ordered something, but it's in the mail), but I do know our water is very hard. The most recent water quality report for the city found a range of hardness from 144-424ppm
 

Rocksor

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With your hard water, I would keep Central American cichlids or a single green terror (I haven't found them too aggressive) for the 125g. There's not many fish from South America that do well in hard water.

If you increase the numbers of barbs to something like 12+ (rehome the SDs to Petsmart since you find them neurotic), a male convict and female should be fine. It's easy to tell a male convict at small sizes from the lack of orange spotting in the belly.
 

JesB

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Dec 3, 2019
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I'll look into Central Americans, thanks. I think I'd rather have more fish of a few different varieties than just a GT or a pair of convicts, but convicts are really cool looking, so I'll keep it in mind. :)
I'll ask at Petsmart to see if they're one of the branches that will rehome, if not, I may be stuck with the SDs - they're the smaller spotted variety (my smallest is probably 4 inches, largest are 6 inches) and might be less neurotic going from a 4ft tank to a 6ft tank, or I may get a 5th one to see if that helps if nothing else. Right now they just freak out and bolt blindly into things occasionally and I cringe every time. Otherwise they're ok.
 

duanes

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I agree with Rocksor that with your hard water, most soft water cichlids from east of the Andes may not be the best choices, becaues they have not built up immunity to the bacteria that thrive in hard water. That said most Petsmart fish are commonly bred in Florida so may have bulit up some resistance over of the generations.
But cichlids from west of the Andes where water is alkaline would always work, the water west of the Andes would be similar to yours.
There are 2 Geophagines from the west, G. pelligrini, and G steindachneri, and all Andinoacara range from that area to Colombia, some north to costa Rica .
And from south of Amazonia the Geophagus brasiliensis group also do well in hard water, as do Gymnogeophagus.
Mesoheros are also from the west, gephyum, ornatum and festae, but are on the aggressive side.

Mesoheros gephyrum above, M.festae females below

Geophagus iporuguensus (of the brasiliensus group) below

Andinoacara coeleopunctatus (PAnama ) below
ED13DC66-9C36-4DC6-BB79-6BE4BDFBFA19_1_201_a.jpeg
below Gymnogeophagus "Yerbailto" male
 
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tlindsey

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Aug 6, 2011
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Hello everyone, I've kept fish for a long time, but I've never kept cichlids. I've got a new 125 (72" long) acrylic tank on order that should be here for Christmas, so I'd like to order some new fish and get them quarantined pretty soonish. I'm thinking of transitioning to SA cichlids since I've heard they're less aggressive and do better with non-cichlids, and I'm not planning to get rid of my current stock in the slightly smaller tank I'm replacing, just hopefully replace them as they go. I do have a nearly empty 29 gallon, planted long I use for fry sometimes.

I'd like your thoughts/opinions on my equipment and any stocking suggestions you might have.

I'm currently running a sunsun hw 304-B and I purchased a new sunsun hw-3000 with 793gph (supposedly) - I've got the filter media for the new canister sitting in the sump of the current setup to seed it.
I'm looking at a couple of 36" NICREW RGB Plus LED 24/7 automated lights, but I haven't firmly settled there yet
I'm thinking 2-3 bags of black beauty sand should do it for substrate, and I've got driftwood and a bunch of dragon stone for the scape (and if needed, tons of fake plants and I could probably move a selection of low-tech live plants over).
2 300W heaters (plus my old one if needed, so I should have a spare).
(I'm not looking for anything that would require R/O water)

The fish (all adult) currently in the tank I'm replacing are:
4 adult Silver Dollars (I'll probably be adding 1 more for the ideal 5 minimum - I recently lost one when he went careening into a decoration far too small for him and never recovered)
7 albino cories
a 7 inch, 10 year old redtailed shark
a couple of albino bristle-nose plecos that breed like crazy (oops...I thought my original one was dead, and bought another one, only to find the original in the sump...somehow?...)
and 6 tiger barbs

Pretty much any of those, in most combinations, could go in the 29, I think, except the Silver Dollars, and probably the RTS.

I've done some reading around, but I always find first-hand accounts helpful. I know the more aggressive fish are right out (like JDs and Convicts), but are there any you think I should especially consider or stay away from as a fairly experienced fish-keeper, but beginner with cichlids, and a mixed community tank (until I can make it predominately cichlid)?

My favorite online fish store currently has geophagus surinamensis (supposedly - i know these get mislabeled often) and electric blue acara on sale - good idea/bad idea with my current stock and equipment plan? If so, can you keep the eartheaters singly or is the recommended 5 grouping a hard line - (their stock is low on those and it looks like they get pretty huge)?

Any other pointers/cautions re:feeding, aquascape, etc. with any suggested mix would also be appreciated. Thanks!
Welcome aboard
Agree with Rocksor Rocksor and duanes duanes .
 

Toiletcar

Goliath Tigerfish
MFK Member
Jun 5, 2008
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Peaceful CA is possible as an option. I keep thorichthys and cribroheros species which do well in group communities. Most thorichthys species can seem very aggressive and fight a lot, but nothing bad comes of it. Their bark is way more than their bite lol. But it’s their way of establishing a hierarchy. Cribroheros species like robertsoni and rostratus are not quite as boisterous, very peaceful.

8C12CA04-3A4B-41D3-AF12-3190A8D4FE96.jpeg

E41C126E-6EF5-45CF-B1B1-AB75A84A152F.jpeg

28F46026-6475-43DB-BC4E-1597C7FB44A2.jpeg

CFEB87C1-2C98-4AA8-97CB-C77B20ABF395.jpeg

9D4FDDB4-B3EF-4F59-B8FE-FF69316E914F.jpeg

615BABD1-B8B6-42F2-BE7D-8C61A4A4E813.jpeg

17F9F1D9-184B-41C8-932F-5D7B533AD545.jpeg
 

JesB

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Dec 3, 2019
6
2
3
39
Thanks so much for everyone's replies! Toiletcar Toiletcar , your fish are beautiful! I would absolutely not be mad about a stocking list that looked like that.

I'm not really interested in breeding, looking for more of a show tank. With that in mind, are CA cichlids good singly or do they need a group of their own species to spread their aggression around? I know you can do single mbunas if you overstock. I'm not really looking to overstock, I just want them to be comfortable and preferably not pick on my other fish (especially my 10 yr old RTS) either until I can fully convert over to cichlids. My stocking choices may be limited right now by the cold weather and therefore stock in the stores in close enough proximity to ship to me, but I'll keep all of your advice in mind as I shop around and see what I can find.
 
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