125 Gallon cichlid tank

Redfishbluefish13

I’m thrilled to have just been gifted a 125 gallon tank (72 X 18 X 22). I’m currently in the researching and daydreaming stage. I’d like to make it a cichlid tank with a few different breeds. The tank would be a show tank (no breeding). I’m most interested in the getting fish with lots of personality in a variety of vibrant and varying colors. I’m not as concerned with the look of the substrate, plants, etc. and plan to setup the tank based on the fish’s preferences. I’m also ready to sink some money into proper filtration, heating, etc and would love some recommendations. I’m leaning towards South American cichlids and have fallen in love with the Oscar and Jack Dempsey. I’d like to get one of a few of the following (obviously not all)
Oscar
Jack Dempsey
Green terror
Salvini
Fire mouth cichlids
Blue Acara
Blood parrot

I’d also like a bottom dweller or two and like the looks of these.
Pleco
Feather fin catfish
Black banded leporinus

Finally, if space allows it I was thinking of getting one group of dither fish. Probably either a small group of silver dollar or tin foil barb.

Thank you so much for any recommendations of how to combine these for the best tank. I should also mention that I’m not a complete beginner. I have kept multiple small tanks and over the years and currently have a 20 gallon so I know about the nitrogen cycle, cycling the tank, and other fish basics. But this will be my first big tank.
 

fallfever

Congrats on the tank and welcome to the forum! If you want to start a fight start talking about how much space an Oscar needs. So let's start one! An Oscar with your bottom feeder choice and a half dozen or so silver dollars could work. Avoid the barbs...they are huge. And whatever filtration you choose, add more. That would be a cool tank. Or someone could think I'm an idiot for suggesting it.

A riskier option would be a JD with a green terror along with the silver dollars and bottom feeder. JD would grow faster early on and be the threat, then the terror as he gets older and grumpier. I've had it work but a backup plan is not a bad idea. Beautiful pairing though.

A pair of blood parrots (can't breed) with an EBA and firemouth and your other fish would be a safe bet and a colorful tank.

Too many pairings to list, but you are doing the right thing by researching first.
 
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Redfishbluefish13

Thanks so much for the response. I’ll definitely stick with the silver dollars over the barbs. Is there one type of bottom dweller you would suggest over the others? I’ve only had snails and cory catfish so far and I know those wouldn’t be a good fit.

I’ve sensed from my limited research that there is a lot of opinions regarding Oscars. I was hoping for at least 3 cichlids and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t want one of them to be an Oscar.. Is there any way to do that with say added filtration/cleaning, not getting the dithers, etc? Or is it fish-keeping sacrilege to suggest that in a 120 gallon tank?

I’m also trying to get a time line of when to add the fish to the tank. Do you start with the dithers and bottom dwellers to let them grow before adding the cichlids? As for the cichlids, should I get them young and all at the same time or is it better to get whatever is considered the less aggressive or possibly slower growing (depending on what I end up with) first?
Thanks so much!
 
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fallfever

I've kept all the fish on your list at some time in different tanks, but not in this grouping, so take it as opinion and nothing else. You could get away with an Oscar, a JD, and a firemouth or two and have a bottom dweller, but filtration will need to likely be both a canister and a large HOB. I'd dump the pleco if it were me. Cool fish but a giant poop machine when grown. Could you do the silver dollars? Oscars are huge. JD's tend to be logs on the bottom until feeding time but when full grown that's a lot of fish. The firemouths will add your motion. Dithers are not needed. A bichir (delhezi or similar) would be a nice addition or a large cat like a synodontis or four line pictus. You could do more fish without multiple cichlids, and even this has risks, but it's doable. More is not better.
With this setup, you don't have a lot of fish so add them over several weeks and you're fine as long as you cycle the tank first. They will be small when you get them, but don't think growing up together makes them like each other. Tolerance is the goal. There are some ph differences, but if you buy them local they are already used to the same water you have. The tank will initially look empty (buy them small). Within a year you'll see why some prefer an Oscar in a 125 on its own and might argue that and the JD would be a full tank. Buy a python. Big fish mean big water changes, 50% a week to keep them healthy. Or do something totally different :) That would just be as much as I would do in that tank with an Oscar.
 
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Redfishbluefish13

Thanks so much for all of the helpful information and suggestions. This last tank suggestions has me very excited. Although I’m starting to realize that my humongous tank isn’t as big as I’d like to think You’ve given me a lot to think about and I’m definitely going to consider your other stocking ideas as well. Decisions, decisions…
The bichirs are funny guys. I can’t tell whether I love them or am completely freaked out by them. They are definitely conversation pieces though.
I’m sure I’ll be back for more questions once I get further along in the planning stages. Hope you have a nice Friday and weekend.
 
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