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Dwarf Cichlids And Friends :)

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Hello cichlid fans,
 
I made a fairly general "help me compile a stocking list" thread over in the Tropical Discussion forums a few days ago; to summarise, I like characterful individual fish while the OH wants a fairly traditional community.  We're looking at getting a Trigon 190 for the living room (I know a rectangular tank increases your stocking options but we don't have a free stretch of wall that will fit a rectangular tank of equivalent volume) and after a little more research we think we have a better idea where we'd like to go, and figured the most appropriate place to ask questions was over here.
 
Our "common ground" is dwarf cichlids.  My favourites are laetacara curviceps and dorsigera.  We also like rams, apistos and keyholes, but we're open to other suggestions!  Also on the wishlist is a small pleco, so in terms of stocking we thought we'd go for a New World tank - not a strict biotope, but fish from roughly the same part of the world rather than a mixture from across the globe.
 
Neither of us have done a community before, though, and I gather the inch-per-gallon rule isn't really a rule, so I'm a bit confused with regards to stocking levels and was hoping you guys might be able to steer us in the right direction :) in terms of species, this is roughly what we'd like to end up with:
 
Dwarf cichlids - one pair?  Two pairs?  A trio?  Do we need to stick to one cichlid species only, or could we do two different species?
Pleco 
6 x Cories (?) - not set on these, could lose them if it will result in overstocking
1-2 schooling species - open to suggestions!
Something up top - swordtails?
 
If you guys could help us refine our thoughts a little further we'd be very grateful :) the must haves are the dwarf cichlids; anything else is flexible (although I really really would like the pleco! 

 
TIA!
 
 
 

Wills

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Hi sounds like the start of a nice tank :)
 
I love Laetacara one of my favorite of Cichlid families - personally I prefer Dorsiger over Curviceps they were one of the first fish I wanted to keep (admittedly though never have) and are still on the list of fish I would love to have one day.
 
I think that new world tanks work best when they are simply stocked with big numbers of similar fish so maybe try something like this.
 
4 - 6 x Laetacara Dorsiger - more on this in a sec
10 x Pencil Fish (stay higher in the water column than tetras and there are quite a few different types to find - Red, Gold, Dwarf, Purple etc -  though keep all one type)
10 x Corys - tons of options I would go for larger ones like Bronze rather than the smaller ones like Pandas - avoid Emeralds though as they do get rather big!
3 x Whiptail Catfish - again more on this in a sec
 
I would get initially a group of the Laetacaras and wait for them to pair off - this kind of tank if scaped well could support 3 pairs as they are so so calm and almost timid I cant see it being an issue. You could always end up with two very bull males which would mean you need to cut it to 2 pairs but it would still work. Most dwarf cichlids are pretty gregarious and in the wild are found in areas in vast quantities so having a few friends around will bring out the confidence in them.
 
The whiptails are an alternative to plecs - I have 2 whiptails and they are great much much much more active than any plec I have ever kept and much much much less over all poo... For all they are long fish their slender body means they are quite light on the bioload. The length of them is majority their spine where as their digestive tract is pretty small. I think a great candidate would be an LDA010 Red Lizard whiptail trio of 1 male and 2 females they dont get overly big and you could get them breeding quite easily.
 
The other fish I was going to suggest was a trio of Spotted Headstanders but not sure if that would be too many fish in the tank. But they add an extra level of interest to the tank with their unique swimming behavior and their nice checkerboard pattern.
 
Wills
 
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Hi Wills, thank you for all the info and suggestions, that's so helpful!

 
We're almost definitely going to go with laetacaras rather than rams or apistos; I've got a real soft spot for them, I think they look really beautiful and natural.  I've seen curviceps in my LFS but not dorsiger; I'm sure they'd be able to source them if I asked, though.  Love the pencil fish too!  Stunning little fish, I think they'll look great with the cichlids so thanks for that suggestion.
 
I'm glad you suggested such a large shoal of cories; they look amazing in a large group but I wasn't sure how many we could keep.  I like the whiptails too but I was quite attached to having a small pleco, even with the poop they entail...and I've never seen headstanders, but now I'm in love!  Decisions decisions...
 

 
 

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Just popping in to say I totally second the pencilfish! I have Golden/Beckford's in my tank with a blue ram pair, cardinals and a BN. Great little fish, fascinating to watch and quite pretty. Mine are happily spawning (although they keep eating all the eggs lol).
 

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Seeing as your tank is nearly 50 gallons, you'll have a good allowance in terms of bioload though a bit less in terms of footprint for territories to be established. I'm sure you have some species in mind already so I'll just give you an overview of what I would feel is an acceptable stocking level for that tank.
 
 
Cichlids (only on of these possible groups would fit)
1 large-ish cichlid 6-8" such as a severum, green terror, geophagus
or
2 (breeding pair) medium cichlids such as blue acaras, firemouth, convicts, blood parrots, discus
or
4 small-mid cichlids such as angelfish, festivum,
or 6-8 dwarf cichlids such as apistos, rams, kribensism laetacaras
OR 2 pairs of different dwarf cichlid species :)
 
In addition to these you can add:
 
1 BN pleco (none of the other larger species will work)
one or two schools of 6-10 mid level dither fish such as tetras or barbs below 2"
 
I wouldn't worry too much about needing corys to clean up the bottom though, unless you really want them. The BN and your cichlids will be quite efficient at keeping the tank clean as long as you don't grossly overfeed. I also notice dwarf cichlids are particularly territorial with corys since the both tend to stay on the bottom levels of the tank.Also, The corys will need their own food and produce quite a bit of waste so more tank maintenance, and cut down on other fish to reduce bioload. However if you do get some check out sterbai, they are my absolute fave corys!
 
Good Luck with your tank! Remember with a  community, no amount of research will ever prepare you 100%. There are always rogue fishes that completely defy the description of their species, so make sure to observe carfully to make sure no bullying is going on!
 

Wills

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I always hate to come across as criticising of other peoples suggestions but I dont agree with your suggestions....
 
A Trigon 190 is way to small for a Severum or Geophagus, and Geophagus should never be kept alone... Maybe the GT would work but only if it was a wet pet and I still wouldnt consider it ideal...
 
2 pairs of those medium sized cichlids are going to knock each other about a hell of a lot... The tank is only just about big enough for Angels but again not ideal...
 
Again sorry to be harsh but...
 
Wills
 

DrRob

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I think he meant 2 fish as in 1 pair of medium cichlids, although a breeding pair of any of those will likely nuke anything in the tank with them on that list. I've had similar fish wreak havoc in larger tanks when they paired off and would be very concerned about a breeding pair in that sized tank with the rest of that list.
 

AeonMapa

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you didn't come off as harsh at all. this forum is meant for us to give the best advice possible so multiple views are always appreciated :)
 
 I did mean one breeding pair of one of those species. But that is true that a breeding pair would knock off most of their tankmates. I realized you were set on the dwarf cichlids! you could keep 2 breeding pairs of different species or maybe a community of 6 (2 males 4 females) of a single species. Along with these the BN and the dithers you should have a good stocking!
 
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Hi all - thanks for the input, I appreciate it :) yeah, we're definitely going with the dwarf cichlids.  I'd love to do a wet pet tank one day and have an Oscar again, or maybe do a Sev and some Geos, but sadly I'd need a bigger house!  (Or I'd have to rip out my kitchen, which I'm not keen on doing.)
 
Would this work? (We've scratched the cories from the list for now as we both liked the whiptails and headstanders, but not sure whether this would create territory issues with the cichlids and pleco).
 
4-6 x laetacaras
1 x BN pleco (or other small species - I know there are at least a few others that won't bus the tank, though maybe more delicate or difficult to get hold of)
3 x whiptail cats 
10 x pencil fish
3 x spotted headstanders
 

Wills

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Yeah I think that will work great :)
 
There are tons of smaller plec species and most are not that delicate. Some need more specific diets and temperature requirements but there are stiill plenty that will do well in this tank. L204 the Flash Plec is quite an easy one to find and look after. I had some L135 which were nice. I had a Flyer Plec as well which was a nice fish as well.
 
I dont want to talk you out off it but... if you have whiptails in there you will notice even more just how reclusive the plec is...
 
Wills
 
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Wills said:
Yeah I think that will work great

 
There are tons of smaller plec species and most are not that delicate. Some need more specific diets and temperature requirements but there are stiill plenty that will do well in this tank. L204 the Flash Plec is quite an easy one to find and look after. I had some L135 which were nice. I had a Flyer Plec as well which was a nice fish as well.
 
I dont want to talk you out off it but... if you have whiptails in there you will notice even more just how reclusive the plec is...
 
Wills
 
Hooray, we have a draft stocking list! 
 
I know plecos are reclusive...but I always wanted one!  Also OH seems to think they're a compulsary part of a community tank, despite me explaining many times over that most of them won't clean up the algae for us. 
 
We're off to Pier Aquatics next weekend to do some more research; given the current track record we'll probably find five more fish we like and have to redo the stocking plan, but still, I'm looking forward to it - I've heard good things about that place!
 

Wills

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...yeah if you go to Pier your going to change it lol!! Just try not to impulse buy the fish as some there are very rare and get bigger than you expect or have unexpected behavior!
 
Wills
 
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Wills said:
...yeah if you go to Pier your going to change it lol!! Just try not to impulse buy the fish as some there are very rare and get bigger than you expect or have unexpected behavior!
 
Wills
 
Fortunately impulse buying is out of the question as we don't even have the tank yet! :) We're planning to go with a notebook and pen to record all our new (probably hare brained) ideas...
 
Off topic but what's parking like at Pier?  This will be our first visit.
 

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Throw in another suggestion for you, you could possibly get away with a pair of Krobia Xingu, Pier might just have some, they are larger than the laeacara but a very peaceful cichlid.
 
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