Brichardi Advice. . .

AaronKS

Hello everyone! I'm new to this forum and just wanted to ask a few questions about my 29 gallon that I'm in the process of setting up.

I have had a planted community tank in the past and would like to move towards something a little different; African cichlids. I've been focusing on Lake Tanganyika because it looks like those are pretty much the only options for my tank size.

I have black Fluorite gravel that I used in my planted tank but is something like Pool Filter Sand from ACE Hardware better for a Tanganyikan tank? I'm open to either, just any natural color.

Neolamprologus brichardi are beautiful and they look like a ton of fun to breed! I was going to keep a species-only tank because I've heard about aggression, but I saw some Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish (praecox) being housed alongside a brichardi at my LFS that were really stunning. Would these be quick enough to escape the wrath of the cichlids? From what I understand, they have very similar water requirements and both do well in higher pH, which my water already is. Do rainbows need a full planted tank or would a couple of Java ferns or Anubias on rocks be enough? I want to keep it African-looking. As far as tankmates go, any other suggestions? My LFS guy says tiger barbs would also work (???), and Bristlenose plecos look like they can coexist with Tangs to some degree. . . but the praecox rainbows do look simply AWESOME.

Alongside the brichardi at my LFS, the other Tanganyikans were Julidochromis dickfeldi, Altolamprologus compressiceps, and Alto. Sumbu (for $50!). Are these better options for my tank? Or should I go hunting for Shell-Dwellers?

One more thing; the guy at my LFS says that he normally puts the fish in and starts cycling the tank at the same time using Tetra QuickStart. I know a lot of people are really against this but he said it is a great method that has worked well for him many times in the past. He has kept a breeding colony of brichardi before. Is this a good idea?

Thanks, everyone!
 

MacZ

In a 29 gallon tank, just keep the N. brichardi, nothing else. They are colony breeders and they simply kill or chase to death any fish in their territory. Also at some point you will have quite a bioload because they multiply like rabbits. A 29 gallon is imo the minimum tanksize to keep them in.

One more thing; the guy at my LFS says that he normally puts the fish in and starts cycling the tank at the same time using Tetra QuickStart. I know a lot of people are really against this but he said it is a great method that has worked well for him many times in the past.
He just wants to sell you something and he didn't tell you that it is not like you add that stuff and the fish and be done. He didn't tell you, that you have to test your water daily until the cycling process is actually done and that until then you have to do waterchanges each time ammonia or nitrite spike over 0.25mg/l. Also as Tanganyikan cichlids need very hard and alkaline (pH >8 ) water, ammonia is much more toxic than e.g. in a pH 6 or 7. Especially these fish tend to drop dead with very little ammonia. In a 29 this might even mean you have to change water twice a day during fish-in-cycling. Better do a fishless cycle. No danger of accidently killing your fish by missing out on a necessary waterchange. For a fish-in-cycle it's best to be at home a lot and having the time to observe all day. That's what people doing this (most do it accidently, because they trust the store employees) are rarely or never told.

Alongside the brichardi at my LFS, the other Tanganyikans were Julidochromis dickfeldi, Altolamprologus compressiceps, and Alto. Sumbu (for $50!). Are these better options for my tank? Or should I go hunting for Shell-Dwellers?
Altolamprologus sp. Sumbu Shell for 50,- a piece? Wild caught most likely, tankbreds are half that prize. Those would size-wise be the only fitting. A. compressiceps and J. dickfeldi would need a tank of 120x40x40 at the least.

Sums up to that guy selling you Quickstart (at least once), and probably more fish, when the first ones don't make it or the brichardi killed them. Classic sales pitch. Great salesperson, bad fishkeeper. I would have turned around and walked out if I was told the stuff you've been told in that store.

About the rainbows, barbs and plecos: A tanganyikan tank doesn't offer them anything they need, frankly.

So... maybe go on the chase for some shelldwellers and keep away from that store.
 

AaronKS

Thanks for responding! Yes, being skeptical of the fish-in cycling was my first instinct, and I'm pretty busy right now and wouldn't consider myself experienced enough to attempt something like that. Does bacteria in a bottle still work for a fishless cycle? Interesting fact, about ammonia being more potent in higher alkaline water, I didn't know that.

I think I will stick with the original plan of a Brichardi-only tank, as that's pretty much all the room I have. You confirmed what I heard about Brichardi viciously defending their young! My parents vetoed a 55 gallon, so this is what I have to work with. . . The LFS I went to sells them for $15 a fish which seems a tad expensive for a fish that breeds so willingly, and they have albinos anyway, which I don't like the look of at all; I much prefer the natural colors, so I will probably look elsewhere. Are online stores reliable, and if so which ones do you recommend ordering from? Do shipped fish usually end up ok?

About the Altolamprologus, they look SO cool but I don't think I'm ready to pour that much money into a fish that might die in a week o_O . . .

As far as the pH goes, mine is in the upper sevens. To increase to something more in the 8 range, do you recommend Tanganyikan supplements from a bottle or something like crushed coral in the filter?

Thanks again for responding and for all of the amazing advice :D:D:D ! I'm so excited to explore the world of Tanganyikan cichlids.
 

FishDin

Are online stores reliable, and if so which ones do you recommend ordering from? Do shipped fish usually end up ok?
Some of them are great. Many, not so great. I don't have a good local fish store, so I've been buying all my fish online for 11 years. I've never had one DOA, late delivery or sick fish. After the fiasco with the post office last year (in the US) and delays in general everywhere many suppliers will only ship overnight or 2-day which can get expensive (but good for the fish). It makes it hard to buy just a few fish when the shipping costs are greater than the cost of the fish.

I don't know if it's ok to promote businesses in a thread on Fishlore, so I will wait to recommend.

Tanganyikan fish have gotten very expensive. 10 years ago I bought comps, julis and cyps all for $5.95 a pop from a good breeder.
 

MacZ

Does bacteria in a bottle still work for a fishless cycle?
It may safe you a week or two. I'm not a friend of these bottles in general, instead I throw in leaves and wood to provide background bioload for the cycle. But then again I'm not running a normal tank. Which brings me to:
Interesting fact, about ammonia being more potent in higher alkaline water, I didn't know that.
In lower pH NH3 (Ammonia) is present as NH4 (Ammonium), which is rather on the same toxicity level as Nitrate. But upwards of 6.8 the Ammonium starts to convert back to Ammonia and over 8 pH it is only Ammonia and no Ammonium, hence the highest possible toxicity.

Are online stores reliable, and if so which ones do you recommend ordering from? Do shipped fish usually end up ok?
That differs largely by country. And even if I knew where you're from I doubt I can halp you with that one.

About the Altolamprologus, they look SO cool but I don't think I'm ready to pour that much money into a fish that might die in a week o_O . . .
I bred A. calvus. Wouldn't keep them in a tank of less than 200 liters. The Sumbu Shell only appeared in the trade during my aquarium hiatus, so I can't say a lot about them. If they are even a bit like the other Altolamprologus a tank with a footprint of 100x40cm might suffice.

As far as the pH goes, mine is in the upper sevens. To increase to something more in the 8 range, do you recommend Tanganyikan supplements from a bottle or something like crushed coral in the filter?
Crushed coral and limestone are enough and not even half as expensive. Try to safe whereever you can. No holey rock though, fish tend to get stuck.

You're welcome and good luck. :)
 

AaronKS

I can't thank you guys enough for all your help! FishDin, do you have any specific online stores that work well for you? I live in Pennsylvania. And to MacZ, does an Ammonia test work for Ammonium (NH4) as well? Or should I get a test for that also? About the rock, crushed coral or limestone sound great! I really don't like Texas Holey Rock anyway. . . o_O
 

MacZ

And to MacZ, does an Ammonia test work for Ammonium (NH4) as well?
Yes, same test.
 

AaronKS

The scape is taking shape! What do you think? More rocks?
 

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MacZ

More and bigger ones. You need caves. Although those upright rocks are visually definitively a good start.

Something closer to this, maybe.
 

AaronKS

Thanks! It does look a little sparse for brichardi. . .
 

AaronKS

The tank is up and running. Added more rocks and Anubias congensis. Happy to say that the pH is now a solid 8.2. I will probably add more rocks but there are lots more nooks and crannies now for the fish to explore.
 

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MacZ

Looks not bad. You're getting there. I like what I see.

Some hints:
Move the rocks a bit away from the filter. You can hide it behind them, but it still should be able to do it's job. Blocking flow by rocks too close is not very good for the filter's efficiency.
You still need more and bigger rocks. tbh the rocks you use to encase the filter would be used better in the actual rockwork. The caves and cravisses have to be big enough for adult fish to fit in. If not they will dig (they will anyway, but that will trigger it especially), which leads to the last point:
Make sure the rocks can't tilt into the glass. Digging cichlids can really easily make that happen.
 

AaronKS

Update: This was unexpected but I actually put a betta in the tank that had been in a filterless fishbowl. I believe he is developing fin rot, which I don’t know what to do about. Ive read lots of conflicting articles online about that topic. He seems to be doing fine with the alkaline water, but is still having some of that fin rot. I really wanted to have Tanganyikans in that tank and they don’t seem to be compatible with bettas at all so I don’t really know what to do with the betta… but he could be helping to move the cycling process along. It’s only been a little over a week and I added the betta today- I’m already getting nitrites and some nitrates. I know it’s not ideal, especially with some cycling still going on, but a 29 gallon all to himself is a big upgrade from the bowl. Is methylene blue a good solution? Or some kind of medication? I need help and I really don’t know what to do about this fish - he’s kind of getting in the way of the Tanganyikans and if I rehomed him I’m worried he wouldn’t be going to a good place… thoughts? Help with the fin rot? What should I do about the betta? Thanks!
 

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AaronKS

Hello again, Fishlore peeps! A lot has happened since the last post, including trips to LFS and Petsmart, a tank re-scape, and some betta troubles. First of all, I went to pick up a heater and an air pump and some API Fin & Body Cure for the betta fish fin rot and the final cost was 109$! Is that reasonable? Or is PetSmart overpriced? o_O The Fin and Body Cure alone was 40$ because of my large tank size. Anyway, I ended up not needing it because all I really had to do was add the new Fluval heater (which I am SUPER impressed with) after the old heater broke down, get a new air pump (The Fluval A-101 which all the reviews I've read are horrible so I may take that back with the medication), and do a water change and the fins are regrowing all by themselves! (I think). After my water change yesterday my water is looking great and my betta is happy as ever, although I feel bad because downsizing is definitely in his future! So I'm certainly getting that medicine back to PetSmart ASAP and might just go with Aquarium Salt the next time around. The sponge filter is no longer blocked by the rocks so that's good.

Tell me what you think! I am going to add more rocks on the right side to make two piles. I know that this is probably not the right forum group but could anyone help me identify if that looks like regrowth on the edge of Mr. Collin's (betta) fins? It looks clear and has rays, doesn't really look the same as the tattered edges that were dying. :) I know it looks A LOT worse than my last post but it actually got really bad since that, so it's just now starting to look better!
 

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Cue

I say that his fins look like they are in the first stages of healing back! How old is he? Most bettas live 2-3 years (I had one live for 5 1/2, though), so if he’s an older guy you could hold out for a while on the Tanganyikans and let him live out his life in the 29 gallon. Or not. Your call :)
 

AaronKS

I say that his fins look like they are in the first stages of healing back!
Wow, that is good news!

I'm thinking he's pretty young and I have a new home for him at school (my mom's a teacher) that I can set up.
 

AaronKS

His name is from Pride and Prejudice, my Jane Austen-fanatic sister named him…
 

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