Community of large Americans

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Fish Fanatic
Apr 7, 2022
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I have been around in circles a bit with fish shops here telling me certain species can live together. I have spent alot of money

I really just want to have a tank of say 4-5 larger Americans that won’t destroy each other

I see tanks in shops that have all these larger fish living happily (Americans cichlids)

Any recommendations?
What is your tank size and what is your tap water hardness(GH)?

If your tap water has GH < 8, and you have a tank of at least 4 ft x 2 ft (75gallons), you can consider South American Eartheater which are not very aggressive.
Check your water agency website to find out your tap water GH.

Some considerations:
1)Satanoperca Leucosticta
2)Geophagus Winemilleri
3)Geophagus Sveni
4)Red Head Tapajos

You can read these articles to find out more and check youtube for their videos.

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Ok thanks,
What else?
Just want to get a few different ideas
There are many species under the Eartheaters.
You can read the above articles and watch videos of how they look like.

But if you have hard water (GH above 15), then you can consider the African Lake Tanganyika fish.
There are many species from Lake Tanganyika but I may not be familiar with all of them.
Let us know your water GH first
Water: 50mg/l

I have a list here but not sure if it will work

masked Julie
blue acara
Dragonblood peacock
Nicaraguan Cichlid
Earth eaters?
Also fyi
I currently have a uaru and a balzini in the tank. Which I was sold as being compatible
Water: 50mg/l

I have a list here but not sure if it will work

masked Julie
blue acara
Dragonblood peacock
Nicaraguan Cichlid
Earth eaters?

Only the Severum and the “earth eaters” (if you mean Geophagus) here are South American. The others would require different water conditions. So you’re not limiting your choices to South American?

What is your water like in terms of hardness? We can’t really recommend fish without knowing the hardness, or the tank size.

Uaru can grow well over a foot long, and need to be in a group. One on its own will be permanently stressed.
Water hardness 50mg/l

50mg/l of what? Anyway it sounds very soft, so Central Americans and Africans from the Rift Lakes are not an option.

You don’t want to tell us the tank size?
Just to add to the good advice already - @Ichthys is right the Uaru on its own will struggle as they are really gregarious naturally. The Balzani will be a Gymnogeophagus Balzani as well which is a tough cichlid to keep as Gymnogeos need a cooling period where you drop the tank temperature over winter to match their natural cycle in the wild. If you don't give them the cooling period they usually die at less than 2 years old when they should make in excess of 10.

Water: 50mg/l

I have a list here but not sure if it will work

masked Julie - Tanganyikan Cichlid so ignore any of these (unless you want a Tanganyikan tank)
severum - maybe depends on tank size
blue acara - maybe depends on tank size
Dragonblood peacock - Malawi Peacock so ignore any of these (unless you want a Malawi tank)
Nicaraguan Cichlid - maybe depends on tank size and some other choices, I'd advise against mixing Central Americans and South Americans though
Earth eaters? - possibly depends on tank size

Tank size is going to be really important for us to know and also nailing your water hardness is going to be key here - it does sound like you have soft water so South Americans could be a good option but the way you want to keep your fish (big cichlid community) a Malawi tank might be a good option as that is how they live where as American Cichlids need a lot more space and usually a community of non aggressive/territorial species around them.

It’s a 5ft, 580litre
The water hardness just says 50mg/l on my city’s websites but I have been told it’s soft.

I walk into these shops and see big tanks of cichlids which I don’t believe are African. And I just want to have one like that.

I have never met a shop owner however who is worried about water hardness or ph etc etc so I assume they just put what they want.

All these fish are in the shops here and I know they aren’t maintaining each tank individually

I have had

Blue eye
Fire mount
Clown loaches
Jack Dempsey
Blue acara

I know there’s more but can’t remember
Just for the record, I don’t keep different cichlids together. Some people keep different large /aggressive cichlids together but the cichlids don’t want to live that way. They all want the tank to themselves, cichlid-wise. If you choose a cichlid and just keep that species, with non-cichlid tankmates, you’ll have much ‘happier’ cichlids and see more natural behaviour. You won’t see natural behaviour in a tank full of different cichlids.
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The thing to remember in stores is that they either move fish on quite quickly so if they are crammed in or over stocked for a few weeks thats just part of how the hobby works for the stores to make money.

If you are talking about store show tanks, this can often be done in stores to inspire and aspire to but also not be a permanent fixture - stores also have lots of tanks to take out fish if they get an issue or need to separate one quickly which is not always possible at home.

Hardness is an issue that a lot of people do ignore but I think is one of the most important, with really soft water like you seem to have that is great for a big mix of species so you can lean into that and keeping fish that thrive in soft water will make your life much easier. For the opposite reasons I have really hard water so am starting to keep only hard water fish and its proving quite a bit simpler.

I have to admit I'm remembering some of our past conversations and you see to get through fish quite quickly and don't often take our advice on board - we will always be here to help but if you are fixated on what you want to do is it something we can really change your mind on? I like to think that the core of this forum is fish welfare and when we give out recommendations and parameters to work within and there are great combinations that will balance what you want from the tank with what your fish need but it feels like you just swerve past a lot of this - your Gymnogeophagus is a good example, even the quickest of googles would have shown you they are not a community cichlid because of the cooling situation, its maybe also a sign that your LFS is not 100% reliable source of info if they didnt mention this either.

Check out the section on water conditions and also the bit in the notes too.

Just so I'm not all negative if I had a 5ft, 580litre with softwater and looking for 4 big cichlids to get to co-exist I'd possibly go down the route of a mixed Severum tank? A mix of Golds, Greens and Reds, all the same species just different strains - great personality reasonably peaceful, grow up well together and quite predictable. You might have some that cant live with other cichlids so be ready for that, you might also get some breeding but in a 5 foot tank it should be ok. You would still want to mix in a community of characins and catfish around them though to make sure they were confident in their tank, big tetras like Columbians would be great or Hemiodus species, Silver Dollars maybe? but might be too big over all with the cichlids in there. Headstanders would be nice too - I kept a school of Annostomus Ternetzi with my Severum but Marbled Headstanders would work too, need to keep at least 6 but more is better and then for catfish on the bottom to stir things up something like Hoplos or Pictus Catfish would be a good choice.

Maybe something like

4 Severums
20 Columbian Tetras
8 Marbled Headstanders
8 Pictus Catfish

Its a shame you have softwater as I think you'd really enjoy Malawi Cichlids - an all male Peacock and Hap tank is probably what you are looking for in all honesty. This is a pretty decent example (though don't have the Mbuna like she does).

Stores don't concern themselves with natural water conditions, etc, because the fish turn over before it matters. They also cram fish because they are on display for sale. About half your list are South American Cichlids, but like @Ichthys says, they are one species one tank fish.

In my experience, a community of large Americans works best if you NEVER start a discussion of religion or mention politics. Oh wait, did you mean large American fish?
I understand, I have in the past done what I wanted and have learnt the hard way.

Just know that no fish were harmed, as soon as I seen them fighting I removed them and took them back. I didn’t just let them die.

As for the balzini as soon as I got home I googled it and realised it needed cooler water and called the shop. He said they have been in Australia for 30 years now and have gotten used to warmer water.

Give me some community ideas and I will definitely be sticking to your recommendations.

I really like the American or South American, central fish. I don’t like Africans (not sure why)

Just feel like the Americans are a lot more like humans

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