Cichlid Tank News..at last!

Hi there, I have been very neglectful of my fish keeping blog but you’ll be pleased to know that I haven’t neglected the fish!

The cichlid tank contains the following:
1 x yellow lab
1 x cuckoo catfish
1 x pleco
1 x yellow peacock
1 x OB peacock
1 x dolphin cichlid
3 x zebras
3 x Taiwan reef
3 x white tailed acei (+6 babies)

This morning I noticed one of the Taiwan Reef fish has had a serious tail attack and the poor thing was quite paled out in colouring and hiding, while the other two were flaunting themselves in full bright colours. Maidenhead Aquatics (at Appley Bridge near Wigan) advised that this may be a lone female being hassled by two males or is perhaps carrying eggs in her mouth so is behaving in a more passive manner and is weaker at the moment. The solution (hopefully) is a new female to join the gang and a long piece of pipe work for the tailless wonder to hide in.

We also bought two others as I couldn’t resist but that’s another tale for another time.

Cross your fish fingers…

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Cichlid Bite, Eggy Mouth & Peaceful Fish

I’ve been doing a partial water change and ‘hoovering’ the fine gravel in my African cichlid tank once or twice a week. They are doing well, always hungry and active and I’ve got two breeding nets hanging on the tank; one has my first baby fish, the other more recent triplets, found when doing a tank clean. I only have a big mopani root and lava rocks in there so I move everything to one side, clean, then do the other side. This is how I discovered and netted the slow moving fish babies.

I have only seen evidence of the blue Acei breeding, the male chasing the females and the larger female with a mouthbrood of eggs. Last night I noticed she has another mouthful! A least she seems to get 3 or 4 weeks between eggs to eat and recover. She is the blue one in the pics with a slightly baggy chin.

The flamboyant male Strawberry Peacock rammed into my arm the last time I was rock moving and nibbled at me. Unfortunately I didn’t have any mark on my arm to show off but really it is a good thing he has such small teeth! I have read online about cichlids attacking human arms in their tanks if they are protecting young or territory. It made me shriek and laugh a lot! A brave fishie.

The original peaceful community tank is doing well. The male Lace gouramis have lovely skirts and seem to be defending territories, the clown loaches pile up together, hide in the tubes and generally mill around. The shrimp are still with us, popping into view occasionally and the rainbows, cory, bristlenose catfish and scissor tailed Rasboras are all living well.

A while back the male bristlenose Stephen was wedged into a smaller ridged tube I had in the tank. I had to cut the tube with scissors to free him which was a bit scary and he suffered nibbled/shredded fins, the poor thing. He took a while to calm down afterwards and has miraculously GROWN BACK his missing fin parts! I can only imagine they are like re grown skin over the structure of his fin bones. Good boy, Stephen.

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Poor George

To prepare the newly filled aquarium for the first fish, I added Nutrafin Cycle doses according to the bottle instructions, the odd pinch of fish flakes and daily doses of water from my existing tank. After a good week it had cycled enough that there was no ammonia, no nitrite but 20ppm of nitrate when tested. Hours after adding the first fish, I tested the water and was surprised to see the presence of nitrite as well at nitrate. It shouldn’t really have been a surprise as that is a common occurrence when adding first fish according to many Internet sources but I was too confident because my first tank never had a nitrite peak – lucky me!

As well as the 6 lovely Mbuna Cichlids, I also collected stroppy George the Sucking Loach from the LFS; they had been looking after him for months after I returned him due to his harassment of the other fish in the community tank. Every visit we would make sure we saw George and said hello. Yes, we did get odd looks at times. Especially from George. After realising that this sort of algae eater was suitable for the new fishies, I added him to the new tank too. He was very happy…until the second day when he was dead at the bottom of the tank. He WAS such a hardy fish, not even picking up Ich when other tank mates had it, being passed around to tank share with all sorts of fish in the LFS: yellow labs, an axylotyl and crabs to name a few. It was either a coincidence or I accidentally killed him with nitrites. I hope not. There was no sign of nibbled fins, lumps, discolouration, etc. but his anal vent looked red… Too much information?! Sorry George.

The second night, the Mbunas displayed behaviour I didn’t expect, the White Tailed Acei AND the Yellow Labs in a gang seeming to gulp at the surface. Yet more internet reading and I adjusted the inflow pipe so the water had a lot more agitation therefore more oxygen. Very quickly they all went back to normal. Result. I should say that to combat the nitrite peak I did a big water change and added more Nutrafin Cycle.

Since then my tests have shown ammonia present, no nitrites and still 20ppm nitrates. I’ve been adding doses of SERA ‘toxivec’ to neutralise ammonia.

The fish are looking great, really healthy and active. They recognise me already so follow me to beg for food. So far all is well.

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Cichlid eggs, gone already? Boo!

So…the eggs disappeared from the leaf after a couple of days and the little cichlids are cruising around the tank again. The smaller always follows the larger and they smile, smile, smile.

The introduction of the 11 new fish has been a positive influence on all the fishies, especially the clown loaches who now swim amongst the rainbows and come to the surface at feeding time, barbels twitching!

I have done two partial water changes this week already, one before I put the newbies in on Sunday and again on Thursday but I will test and do another change tomorrow as there will be a period of adjustment while the good bacteria catches up with the increased bioload. Thanks for advice received!

Cichlid Eggs? Already? Great!

All fish are still doing very well and the tank looks great again. I spotted the two Dwarf cichlids (Laetacara curviceps) circling around a flat leaf which seems to be scattered with eggs. Perhaps I don’t have gay fish after all… I’m not sure how long they will last in this tank but it is exciting to see.

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Newbies Transform the Aquarium

I am pleased to say that I have 11 new fish! They are a Christmas present from my super husband and I couldn’t be more pleased.

We went to Amazon Aquatics (in Leigh, Lancashire) for the second time after buying the very healthy and successful clown loaches before Xmas. They have a great selection and I was happy to be helped by the owner yesterday. I bought the following:

4 x Red Rainbow Glossolepis incisus
2 x Sheephead Acara/Dwarf Flag Cichlid/Smiling Acara (tricky fellows with many aliases!) Laetacara curviceps
5 x Praecox Rainbow Melanotaenia praecox

I wanted more cichlids suitable for the community as I really miss the behaviour of the late Apistogramma borellis, following one another around and swimming in a stop/start fashion. This pair are beauties and have shown a variety of colours. They follow one another around and act as though they are a ‘pair’ (this attracted me to them in the shop) but their markings and fin shapes look like male attributes. Hard to tell I know but maybe they behave that way as they were the last two in the shop, sticking together or maybe I’ve got some peaceful gay fish. Either way, they are smashing and they SMILE!

The Rainbowfish were not a fish I had really considered but I asked for recommendations for my tank and the owner kindly found a book packed with colour photos of the different types and what their colours could or would be. I’m very pleased. The Reds are very brave and follow me if I am near the tank, they shoal with the Scissor tailed Rasboras, with the little Rainbows or on their own. As I write, I’ve noticed one of the Reds has changed to a bright orangey red colour and seems to be asserting its authority. What a huge colour change!

The Praecox are a smaller variety and have been hanging out near the surface adding interest to that neglected area. Their scales shine and look neon blue under the lights (they ARE also known as Neon Rainbows).

The whole tank looks so much more lively and the peaceful interaction is perfect for my community. Hopefully it will stay that way but who’s to say?!

I’ve tried to capture them in the pics, which also show some oldies…and an egg-filled shrimp hanging upside down.

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Aquarium Update Good and Bad

Hey all! There have been a few changes – good and bad – over recent months. Sorry for the delay!

Bad News

On the down side, I have lost quite a few fish, mainly after unwisely purchasing a Siamese Fighting Fish / Betta male from Pets at Home. The second day after his introduction to the tank the female was dead, a couple of days later the new male was dead. Then White Spot was evident on many of the fish. I medicined the tank (details in a future post); some died, some recovered. Mr C the male Dwarf Cichlid was very spotty and has lived to tell the tale. So too was Stephen the male Bristlenose, but he is healthy and bristling nicely.

Good News

Current (happy and healthy) inmates are as follows:

Scissor-tail Rasbora x 5 Rasbora trilineata

Platy x 1 female Xiphophorus variatus
Pam

Bristlenose Catfish x 2 male and female Ancistrus temminckii
Nancy and Stephen

Dwarf Gourami x 1 female Colisa lalia
Betty Too

Sterbas Corydora x 3 Corydorus sterbai

Dwarf Cichlid x 1 male Apistogramma borelli
Mr C or Grump

Upside Down Catfish x 2 Synodontis nigriventris

Clown Loach x 5 Botia macracantha

Shrimp x 3

Apple snail x 2

Zebra snail x 1

Future Fish

I’m planning on buying some more fish friends in the new year and I’m considering a group of Pearl Gourami Trichogaster leeri and a group of Dwarf Flag Cichlids Laetacara curviceps.. I’m still enjoying the decision making process!

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New Fish, Moody Fish and Daily Water Changes, Phew!

Hi all, long time no blog! I’ve taken a few pictures this afternoon of the tank as a whole and I’ve tried to capture some new fish.

Dead Fish and New Fish:
Big Boi the Dwarf Gourami now has two lady friends: Betty and Betty Too (yes, Too not Two!). Sadly Mrs C died a few days ago quite suddenly so Mr C the Dwarf Cichlid (Apistogramma Borelli) now has new lady loves as well now. Randy is also as happy as ever as a while ago I replaced the late Lemony with a new black Platy lady.

My husband went Upside Down Catfish crazy and bought four for my tank this weekend (along with the female cichlids – thank you!) They are very striking with their big round eyes, paler backs, snazzy markings and big whiskers (hmmm, ‘whiskers’ may not be the correct fishkeep’s term, sorry!)

I haven’t seen the last remaining Pygmy Sparkling Gourami for weeks so assume that it has been eaten. They were an unsuccessful addition (sorry little fishies) so I won’t be replacing them.

Male Dwarf Gourami in a Funny Mood:
Big Boi has been acting a bit differently for a week or so and seems more lethargic, mostly hanging about in a corner. He has also done some ghostly ’empty’ poops. It is sad not to see him spitting water and building bubble nests. Maybe he is fed up of me clearing out the dead plant nests as they start to rot…

I asked the LFS for advice and it was suggested my Nitrites (?) may be high but they were at zero yesterday. The pH is the same as ever BUT I was surprised that the Nitrates are high. Yesterday they were at 40ppm, which is the worst it’s ever been. I did a partial water change of course. Today the Nitrates were between 20ppm and 40ppm and I did another partial water change. I plan to do another test and change tomorrow and for however long it takes to bring it to a reasonable level. I am guilty of neglecting my testing so I’ll get the water back up to scratch and make sure I test every week as a rule.

I will keep you posted.

Egg Roll and a Tiddler:
Today I’ve seen what looks like bright white speckles here and there on the mopani root and bogwood so I am hoping they are eggs. I’m surprised the snails haven’t slurped them up by now. Two of the three shrimps seem to be on a roll of egg production at the moment. They keep fanning the eggs with their many legs. Is that why they have so many limbs?! Lastly, I saw a tiny tiddler in the tank last night after the lights were turned off. How exciting to think a fish has survived the perils of the tank. I haven’t seen it again yet though…

Happy Monday!

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Albino Dwarf African Clawed Frogs

We bought four shibunkins for the outdoor pond today. We were hoping to keep it without fish to give frogs a chance but the mosquito larvae made the decision. Hopefully they are now plump, happy fish.

I just happened to spot a little frog in the tropical fish section so of course came home with two albino dwarf African clawed frogs. One is bravely exploring the tank and the other has very slowly moved around the large plant. If fish swim past it seems to play dead. Big Boi the dwarf gourami male sucked in one the poor frogs feet but soon spat it out again and was promptly scared by the froggy movement.

I have a lid on the aquarium but these frogs can apparently escape from uncovered tanks; there are plenty of anecdotes online about dehydrated frogs found around the house! The LFS recommended blood worms as food and I have frozen cubes of it in the freezer. As the fish are so greedy, I’ll have to ensure the frogs get some food but the fish left a lot of blood worms for me to clear up when I last tried this food. I’ll put some worms in tomorrow and see what happens. Wish me luck!
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