Central American Semi-Aggressive Community (in-progress)

Dempsey Dude
  • #1
HI all, so this is a 55 gallon tank that has been running for a few months, and everything seems to be stabilizing nicely. However, it is far from where I want it to be, and I am looking for some input. I apologize in advance for the impending text wall, please don't read if you don't like long posts .

While I want all/most of the fish in this tank to be from Central America or at least South America, I have thus far been willing to take some liberties (mainly because I changed up some of my other tanks and stuff needed to be rehomed). This is mainly apparent in my choice of plants, which are java/windelov ferns and anubias, various crypts, and some hygrophila sp. that were left over from when I tore down my 20 gallon. Slowly I will be getting rid of plants however as the fish grow, it is a dimly lit tank anyway and the residents are not exactly gentle with decor.

Right now, the tank houses: a 3.5" female electric blue jack dempsey (I know she is female because I have witnessed her lay eggs in the tank), a 3" (I'm 80% sure male) electric blue jack dempsey, a 3.5" female salvini, a 3.5" firemouth (unsure of sex, I think female), a 2.5" male regular dempsey, a 4.5" ornate pI'm catfish (which I plan to move to my 67 gallon when he grows out a bit more, so my Oscar won't try to eat him), two 3" siamese algae eaters (remnants from my redone 20 gallon which is now a west african biotope), and a 3" royal blue crawfish.

Obviously this is not a permanent stocking list, or even substantially long-term. I mainly plan to see what gets along fairly well with one another as they grow and make adjustments as I see problems developing, as is usually necessary with semi-aggressive cichlid communities. However, I do want to maintain this as a mixed cichlid community, I do not wish to have a species only tank.

My long term plan is to keep both electric blues (they are gorgeous, greedy, and growing well, which I am ecstatic about as I have had very poor luck with this fish in the past but finally stumbled upon a pair of winners it seems). The male regular JD I really only have in there to diffuse aggression and maybe tempt my female EBJD as a potential mate once she grows a bit (definitely not happening now, he is bullied by everyone in the tank currently just due to his small size). If they do end up pairing, I will go from there and have to make some drastic changes obviously. I also have a divider standing by as a short-term solution in case of emergencies. If they don't pair up any time soon, I will be returning him to the store. Once both of my EBJD's have grown quite a bit larger, I know I will have to rehome the male. I was always planning on breeding him so this works perfectly. He will eventually get his own tank and a female regular JD (or blue gene JD if I can find one) as a mate.

The female sal is a bit of a bully, chasing around both male JD's and the firemouth, (only the female EBJD is dominant over her). However she seems to thus far be a lot less nasty than what I hear salvinis can be and she has not done any significant damage yet so I hope it will continue to work, she is very pretty.

The firemouth is exceptionally laid-back compared to my first firemouth that used to live with my Oscar, who was super aggressive. This is good, however I'm not too thrilled with his colour either (my old one was really nice) and he spends most of his time hiding. The odd thing is that he will occasionally nip at/chase my big female EBJD who is supposed to be the queen of the tank. I am strongly considering returning him to the store and replacing him with a thorichthys maculipinnis which are far more colourful but otherwise look exactly like the more common firemouth (I would have to order this online from wet spot). Incidentally, has anyone had any experience ordering from this dealer? They have a fantastic selection.

The SAE's are doing fine, when I first added them they were chased but now are completely ignored. I am torn between keeping them for algae control and thus compromising the integrity of the new world theme that I'm going for, and rehoming them (they have been with me for almost a year and a half and I am kind of attached, despite myself and my love of colourful fish). I will probably end up either trading them in or rehoming them, however.

The ornate pI'm cat and the royal blue crawfish have been the newest additions, just a few days ago, but they have both settled in well. The crawfish will be a permanent resident as he is endemic to the general region I am trying to base this tank off of, whereas the cat as I mentioned will be rehomed when he grows a bit.

TL;DR: or to fully sum up or for those of you who lacked the patience for the above (I don't blame you), here are the stocking changes I plan to make over time as I change things around, rehome certain fish, and observe the dynamics of the current residents to see how well they get along etc. (not necessarily in this order):

1. A trio of swordtails (1 male, 2 females) as dithers and to provide a small source of live food via fry. I have heard that swords make excellent dithers in central american cichlid tanks (also they are native to mexico).

2. A small school (6-8) of buenos aires tetras as further dithers and to add more movement to the tank. I would have gone for mexican tetras (the surface dwelling variety, not the eyeless, blind cave fish variety) for geographically puristic reasons, but they are impossible to find so what can you do.

3. Get rid of the firemouth and replace him with a thorichthys maculipinnis who will hopefully have a tougher disposition.

4. Get rid of the regular JD if he doesn't show any interest in my female EBJD or vice versa, and replace him with a honduran red point to further diffuse aggression.

5. Rehome the siamese algae eaters and the ornate pI'm cat.

Any suggestions, input, advice? I will try to upload a video of this tank as well to give you guys a better idea of what I am currently working with. Thank you so much in advance.
Nick G
  • #2
Hi, in a 55gal I personally think you would be fully stocked with only the pair of Dempseys. Almost all of the fish currently in your tank will develop far more aggressive natures as they mature and space becomes an issue. I would look at rehoming everything except for the Dempsey pair. As for the Swordtails and Tetras you plan to add, others might have different advice but my Dempsey would slaughter any of those fish if they were added to his tank. Good Luck!
Dempsey Dude
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Thanks for the response. As I said the reg dempsey male will probably be traded in shortly as he appears to have little interest in the EBJD female and vice versa. As well, the EBJD male will be getting his own tank. So what we are really looking at is a female EBJD and a female salvinI as the central tenants and then stocking around them. As they are both around 3.5" in length and still young, I am hopeful that they will learn to accept swords/tetras as tank mates by growing up with them (as they seem to have no problems with my SAE pair) but maybe someone else will chime in who has tried this.

Keep in mind that EBJD's are generally both smaller and less aggressive than their regular counterparts (the gene that gives them the colour also makes them runty and weaker), and the one I plan to house here long term is a female so I expect her to top out at around just over 7" if I'm lucky.

Ok here's a video of what the tank looks like currently. I'm thinking of adding the buenos aires tetras next as well as a HRP and a t. maculipinnis, and trading in the reg jack and firemouth possibly. As you can see, there is currently some aggression, but nothing major. Hoping to diffuse it further with the addition of dithers and changing things up a bit.

I have traded in the reg dempsey, the firemouth, and the 2 SAE's. I have placed an order online for 1 thorichthys maculipinnis, 1 cryptoheros chetumalensis (decided on this one rather than the HRP, I think it's prettier), and a school of 6 buenos aires tetras. They will arrive on monday.

Currently the tank holds my 2 remaining EBJD (male + female), my female salvini, my ornate pI'm cat, and my royal blue crawfish. Hopefully these guys will take kindly to the new arrivals (or as kindly as possible
  • #4
How do you like those electric JD?
I was thinking of getting 2 for my 55 gal, hopefully a pair that could breed.

Dempsey Dude
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
I love them, I think they look really cool. If two EBJD's breed however they will not produce viable fry. There's a whole process to it, you want to breed an EBJD to a regular JD to yield blue gene fry, which look like regular dempseys, then you want to breed one of those offspring back to an EBJD to get a partial yield of EBJD fry. Which will then have to be separated from their regular JD siblings who will outcompete/kill them if this isn't done (they are weaker and runtier than the others).

Also try to buy them as big as possible. Before about 3 inches they're very susceptible to parasites and will just die randomly. After about 3.5 inches you're pretty much in the clear and they will behave like a normal JD and be healthy for the most part. I keep a UV sterilizer in my tank to deal with parasites but I've still lost a few of these guys to parasites before I got lucky with these 2 who are now both pushing 4 inches.
  • #6
Yeah I've seen the white variant in a LFS and they always seemed really cool.
I had 2 big electric blue Acara until recently ( sad to say an infection got them)
I was considering trying for a breeding pair of something that will raise its own young, so it's good to know about the JD's genetics.
I really like SA Cichlids as opposed to most african.

Any suggestions?

I'm big on personality mostly and was even considering figure 8 puffers but I don't wanna convert to brackish, unless I could do it without losing my plants.

Dempsey Dude
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
Yeah I could make a few suggestions. I am pretty crazy about cichlids in general, and I have done quite a bit of experimentation with mixing different kinds, with various results. I have learned that mixing South and Central American cichlids with one another, or with africans, is generally not the best idea, although it can work in certain situations. Considering they have different water requirements, temperaments, etc.

So the first step would be to decide whether you want south americans or central americans? I have a 67 gallon tank with an oscar and a green terror, those are my south americans. The oscar has a fantastic personality, he's my favourite fish. However, they get huge. Mine is already 9" and still growing. I am planning on eventually upgrading to a bigger tank for him and his little buddy the terror, who is now 5" and I'm sure will grow increasingly less tolerant of the oscar as he gets bigger.

If you want south americans, you could get either an oscar or a pair of GT's for your 55 gallon I'd say. Though the oscar may eventually outgrow it.

If you like central americans better, these are the ones I have experience with: jack dempsey, gets quite big, and can be very aggressive, but I've had more timid specimens as well. The electric blues tend to be less aggressive and smaller. Firemouths I think are gorgeous, I have had a few, my first one was extremely aggressive and would bully my electric blue JD and green terror which were twice his size. I traded him in eventually. My subsequent firemouths were a bit more chill but not as spectacular looking as my first one which I figure was a dominant male. As for the salvini, this is my first one and I love her. She's a bit shy, but as she's growing her personality comes out more and more, and she's beautiful and very colourful, without being super aggressive (so far, though this could change). So I think you could get a breeding pair of JD's or sals for your 55, or a group of firemouths and let them pair off if you are interested in breeding. They're all really cool fish.

My order of thorichthys maculipinnis and cryptoheros panamensis are coming in tomorrow and theyre going in my CA tank so I'll let you know how they are as well if you're interested.

Of course the other option if you're interested in smaller SA cichlids would be some type of ram or apistogramma sp. You could get quite a few of these in a tank that size and probably wouldn't have too much trouble breeding them.
Dempsey Dude
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
So as I mentioned in my other thread about ordering fish online, my new fish arrived for this tank yesterday, an elliot's cichlid, a panama cichlid, and 6 buenos aires tetras. There was a lot of aggression the first day, mainly by the salvinI towards the two newcomers, but I lowered the tank temp a couple degrees and they seem to be getting used to each other so things have calmed down now. I did lose one of my BA tetras overnight, it just disappeared. I suspect my ornate pI'm cat is the culprit, so I'll be putting in the tank divider and separating the tetras at night from now on (a hassle, but it's gotta be done, at least until the pI'm gets big enough to go in with my Oscar).
  • #9
I decided to go with rainbowfish and cories in the 55, but I'm gonna move my tetras and rasboras from my tall 30 to share the 55... So I will have the tall 30 empty and I'm thinking small cichlids?
I know most cichlids would need a bigger tank, but some of the small rams might be doable?
What do you think?
It's very well planted and a nice
How big do those dwarf cichlids and small rams get?

  • #11
Yeah I think maybe some keyholes or Bolivians would be fun.
The tall 30 is in my kitchen as sort of a centerpiece so it has a lot of "exposure" to people moving in the room....
So I would want fish that aren't too skittish and even curious of people
(Was considering a species only dwarf puffer tank but that seemed like it could go bad with agression)

What would be best in a group 5-7 but still mate?

Lots of cover and hidden areas in the 30

  • #12
Here it is now... The fish you see are going in a bigger 55 I think.
ImageUploadedByFish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum1417212058.544587.jpg


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