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55 Gallon African Cichlid Tank: General Observations
Aug 8 2010 11:10:51 am EST
After having an African Cichlid tank for 8 months, I’ve developed an understanding of them. I am impressed by their beauty, energy, intelligence, and persistence.
I am also disturbed by their aggressiveness at times. Although they may appear to live in playful harmony, weakness is terrible trait to exhibit. I was troubled by one cichlid in particular that was literally being torn apart.
She is an Electric Yellow Cichlid who used to be the largest and fastest in the tank. I began to notice her hiding a lot, not eating at all. I assumed she was sick, although I could detect no harmful conditions in the water or in the appearance of any fish. Over time, she was chased away from all the hiding places, spending her time floating at the top in submission. However, certain cichlids would harass her endlessly, until I was forced to place her alone behind a divider.
For some reason, I had difficulty finding a divider that fit well. Due to my concerns over her safety, I wasted no time constructing my own divider out of plexiglass. I drilled numerous holes in the divider to allow water flow. I sanded it down with the theory that this would prevent trauma from the cichlid seeing others swimming near her. She spent almost all the time hiding inside a log, not eating at all. I also noticed her mouth was swollen. I mistakenly diagnosed this as infected gills.
I was working late one night when, to my surprise, I got a call that the cichlid had babies. The little fry were the size of small pebbles, and hovered near crevices in the log. That night, the mother ate ferociously. As I did not have a sufficient isolation tank at the time, I decided to keep the mother behind the divider with the fry. I attempted to keep her regularly fed to avoid attacking her own. I also crushed up flakes for the fry. I let the current from the filter carry the flakes to the bottom. The fry would snap the pieces up as they passed. It took time to account for all four of the fry, one was very small and timid, hiding very well.
Over time, the mother healed and I moved her to the other side of the tank. This did not go over well. In less than a day, she was ravaged by the other cichlids. I had to move her back.
In a strange display of behavior, she consistently hopped the divider back to the other side, to be repeatedly attacked by the others. I kept moving her back, but she felt compelled for more space perhaps, or maybe she thought she would be getting somewhere else entirely. In any case, I recently moved her to another tank of unrelated fish, and am observing her behavior. She is sometimes snippy towards others, but she may be passive enough to live in her new tank, provided I introduce more hiding places.
As for the Acei Blue Cichlids, I notice they like to swim together. The larger of the two will do a shimmy shake in front of the smaller one, and swims circles around her/him. I assume the larger is a male doing a dominance/mating dance, while the other may be a female. They both like to plow the gravel with their mouths, moving broad swathes in one scoop.
Whenever the female Electric Yellow Cichlid made it to the other side, the male Electric Yellow Cichlid would exhibit the same aggressive dance. However, he is perhaps a bit too aggressive, sometimes attacking her. He also likes to excavate.
The Red Zebra Cichlids blend into the background. They snip at other fish from time to time, and dart furtively inside a decoration, but they haven’t exhibited the same level of personality as the others.
After a few months, I added Chinese Algae Eaters to help clean the tank. Though I’ve read they become 8 inches and move from sucking glass to sucking fish. However, the cichlids are aggressive enough to accommodate this behavior.
Now, they are the perfect cleaners. They suck everything clean all day. The two often fight over the same spot. They tend to be too fast to be bothered by the cichlids.
The fry are growing nicely. One got into the other side with the bigger cichlids. It was chased constantly. I had to scoop it back to the other side. I’ll wait till they’re at least two inches or more to try again.
One concern I have is power and water. If the power supply is disrupted over the winter for a period of days, the temperature of the tank could drop considerably. I’ll probably have to invest in a generator before winter hits.
As for water, sometimes the village I live in has occasional spikes in levels of iron. At one point, this lasted several weeks. I will have to look into a filtration system to handle this. In the meantime, I have a reliable source at Saratoga Spa State Park. I may have to fill 5 gallon buckets and put lids on them.
That is the extent of my observations to this point. I simply keep the tank clean and monitor for potential problems. Everyone seems to enjoy the tank, especially the cat, who may develop neck problems constantly following the fast fish.
Other Articles In Series
- 55 Gallon African Cichlid Aquarium: Supplies
- 55 Gallon African Cichlid Tank: Setup, Maintenance
- How many African cichlids in a 55 gallon aquarium?
- How to Clean Aquarium
- What to Feed African Cichlids
- Fluval 305 External Canister Filter Review
- AquaClear 50 powerhead review
- . "Setting up an African Lake Aquarium."Badman's Tropical Fish.. 'http://badmanstropicalfish.com/afcichlids_setup.html'.
- . "So, You Want to Set Up a Fish Tank?."The First Tank Guide.. 'http://www.firsttankguide.net/steps.php'.