125 Gallon Stocking For Dwarf Ca/sa Cichlids

kdozier

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I've landed myself a pretty good deal on a 125g tank, and will be bringing it home day after tomorrow. It's still up and running at the previous owners home stocked with mature angelfish, so hopefully it will be seeded enough to skip the cycling and be ready to go. I'm not planning to add fish right away, it will probably be at least a couple weeks depending on what water parameters look like.

He is running 2 Penguin 350s and a sponge filter, I'm debating sticking with 2 Aquaclear 110s or splurging and getting an FX6, while still running the AC110s as a backup. I worry about the canister because my house is a rental, and if it leaks I'd be in a whole lot of trouble haha but I'll take any recommendations!

Now on to the exciting part. I was originally going to use this tank for a Jack Dempsey pair, but my roommate talked me into doing something a little smaller, so we can have a bigger variety of fish, and perhaps a more exciting centerpiece for our living room. After browsing a couple of the LFS in my area, I'm leaning towards a variety of Ram pairs, but I can't find anything online about how many pairs/groups can happily coexist in a tank this size.

The plan for the scape is painting the back black, and using black sand/small gravel for the substrate. I've actually been looking at the EcoComplete Planted Aquarium substrate, as I would like to plant this tank eventually, and the live substrate will help to cycle the tank in case his filters aren't seeded well. Further will be a couple large driftwood pieces and plants, as well as building several caves throughout the tank.

I know that I want a couple of Electric Blue Rams, my LFS has 2 that she is holding for me for a couple days until I get my 29g sorted out to use as a grow out for them because they are very small, about an inch.

Question is: How many rams, and what varieties, can be functional here? I've seen where people have 6 or 8 in a 75g tank, but this is another 50 gallons and 2 feet of horizontal space. All will be brought home as juveniles to hopefully prevent any aggression problems.
 

AquaticJ

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I would definitely go with a canister for that amount of water, as well as keeping the water clean enough for the Rams. FX6's are amazing, flat out. Rams can be a little tricky, especially when you have more than one pair. I used to breed them, and still actually have a breeding pair of wild Rams in a 29 by themselves. You can do regular Rams, electric blue, gold, and the new version of black(if you can find them). These are all the same species of fish, just different colors. Personally, I think you can do 12 Rams. The temperature of your water should be about 82-84, as this is the temperature I've found them to do best at. Good idea on the sand, they like sand. I would also provide plenty of hiding spaces, as well as flat surfaces for them to potentially lay eggs on. If you have any other questions, I'd be glad to give you my advice and pointers that helped me when I had them.
 
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kdozier

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AquaticJ said:
I would definitely go with a canister for that amount of water, as well as keeping the water clean enough for the Rams. FX6's are amazing, flat out. Rams can be a little tricky, especially when you have more than one pair. I used to breed them, and still actually have a breeding pair of wild Rams in a 29 by themselves. You can do regular Rams, electric blue, gold, and the new version of black(if you can find them). These are all the same species of fish, just different colors. Personally, I think you can do 12 Rams. The temperature of your water should be about 82-84, as this is the temperature I've found them to do best at. Good idea on the sand, they like sand. I would also provide plenty of hiding spaces, as well as flat surfaces for them to potentially lay eggs on. If you have any other questions, I'd be glad to give you my advice and pointers that helped me when I had them.
Thank you!! I think the fx6 look great and have heard good things about them. Would it be better to do 2 fx4 and forget the HOBs? I know a tank full of cichlids have pretty high bioload I just want to make sure the setup is as solid as possible so as not to have any problems.

For decor, I'm planning to do a good bit of driftwood and plants. I usually use lava rocks for caves and line of sight breaks, but I could throw some slate in there too if flat surfaces are a big thing for them.
 

AquaticJ

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I think one fx6 is fine, but I always over filter my tanks, so if you want to do 2 fx4s it definitely would be better than hang on backs. I’d leave the old filters on the tank along with the canister for a month so that bacteria can build up in the canister, then you can just take the old ones off. Just so you don’t have to cycle from scratch. I do NOT advise cycling with Rams, so I really hope they don’t mess up the old filters before giving them to you. Don’t let any media dry out, and if the bacteria doesn’t have ammonia for more than 24 hours it starts to die, so plan accordingly! Most of the bacteria from the old tank is going to be specifically on those bio wheels that spin on the filters. That made me think of something else, you could always just put the bio wheels and other media somewhere in your canister so you don’t have to use their filters at all. Yeah slate works perfectly! I’m glad I just reread your post, because they have the sponge filter, make sure they don’t ruin that!! Those are a gold mine in terms of bacteria lol. I’d run that in your tank forever, even when you have canisters. If your canisters happened to break or something, that sponge filter will save you from heart break because it will continue the only necessary form or filtration. I have sponge filters in all of my tanks, they’re cheap and life savers in case something goes wrong.
 
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kdozier

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Yeah I definitely will be keeping his filters on the tank for at least a couple weeks to seed the tank. I've never used a sponge filter before so I was going to toss it, but I'm sure I can find a place for it. I definitely will be waiting until the tank is cycled and parameters are good before I put in the Rams, they will be hanging out in my 29G growout for the time being. I don't wanna risk losing them because the tank isn't ready.

Second thought - my original plan with the Jack's was to use a small school of Pictus cats as scavengers, would they still work with Rams? I know they have been known to eat smaller fish, and the ones at my LFS are about 3" right now while the Rams are much smaller
 

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That sponge filter is going to have a huge colony of bacteria, so definitely don’t toss it! I don’t know if I’d add them, because you should have 6 minimum and get 6 inches. I just don’t want to tell you they wouldn’t eat the Rams, I’ve never kept them so I don’t know. What about a school of Cory cats? Some good ones that will withstand higher temps would be Sterbai, Adolfoi, Duplicareus, Pygmaeus. If you do decide on Cories, I’d keep the water at 80 to meet in the middle for both Rams and them.
 
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kdozier

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Got the tank set up today! I ended up picking up the AC 110s today, because the local place sold their last FX6 last night apparently. Putting in an order for one tonight, should have it next week. For now, I've got a very large piece of driftwood soaking in the tank, because it can't live in my bathtub and nothing alive is going in until after I get the FX6 hooked up. Everything seems to be running smoothly, I dropped the bio wheels from the penguins inside the 110s for now to get use out of his media, although he said they're only about a week old. The sponge filter is also set up and running. We'll see how it does tomorrow, I'm going to test water parameters after I let it run for about 24 hours.

Also, I decided to go for the Sterbai cory cats - they look like the best compatibility and my LFS has what looks to be 10-15 of them. Should be plenty to get started once the tank is ready! Thanks for the lookout
 
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kdozier

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AquaticJ said:
Whats your source of ammonia? Awesome tank
I dropped a few pinches of fish flakes in to keep the BB going overnight, but when I water tested the next morning levels were stable, 0ppm ammonia and nitrite, 10ppm nitrate. Picked up a few comets just to be on the safe side, and after 3 days levels were still stable and the comets were thriving so I moved everybody into their new homes. Dropped the comets in my QT for now, I'll run them back to the store probably tomorrow.
 
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kdozier

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Here she is all scaped, with permanent inhabitants (they're all hidden in this pic, but have been exploring and scoping out new territories).

I ended up moving the CA cichlids into this tank with the Pictus cats, and putting the Rams and EBJD in the 55g long. They also seem to be enjoying their new space.
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