Help Me Round Out My 36g Loach And Cichlid Tank?

nbalaw2016

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Hey all,

I was able to successfully rehome two of the three yellow rock kribensis (apparently these are actually a type of hap, but I digress) and now have the following stock in my 36g bowfront:

5 yoyo loaches, 2 fully grown, 3 adolescent (around 2-3" each)
2 Bolivian rams (not paired, but minimal aggression between them)

The remaining krib will be rehomed once I am able to get him out of the tank. He's extremely crafty, and netting a fish in a blackwater and stone tank is not easiest task in the world.

My long term plan with this space is to upgrade to either a 55g (4' long) or a 65g (3' long) in early 2020. While the loaches seem fine in the 36g, and I've done my best to maximize spaces for them to hide and play, I recognize that the larger tank may serve them well.

Anyway, what else would you suggest stocking this tank with? I'm not terribly interested in schooling fish (besides some SA tetras, perhaps, unless anyone has ideas on more interesting Amazonian schooling fish), and as it's a blackwater tank, wouldn't be able to enjoy the schools all that much. Ideally I'd add other SA dwarf cichlids, such as spadetailed checkerboard cichlids (I found these online and am very intrigued), or a single blue acara. I'm somewhat limited because the loaches and rams have established their territories on the bottom of the tank, so I'd need a fish that is comfortable swimming in open water or claiming large pieces of driftwood as territory. Now that I type this, would a solitary angel work?

Thanks for any thoughts!
 

Loachland

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Hey nbalaw!

I'm in a similar yoyo-upgrade situation, so I completely get you. While I enjoy angels, and they'd fit right in personality-wise with that mix, I wouldn't recommend anything with very long fins: yoyos are excitable and can get a bit nippy. Mine never did my angel any serious damage, but I still don't know if I would chance it.

I'm no cichlid expert, so I can't recommend any specific types, but they'd probably be the most natural choice. I know you said you don't love the idea of schooling fish, but if you do go that route, I personally recommend Harlequin Rasboras - they're very docile and compatible with YoYos. Pencilfish might look nice too. I haven't any experience keeping a blackwater tank, so I'm fairly bad at judging what would show up in it, but some Silver Dollars might look cool? All of the above fish would fit the SA theme.

Good luck on your upgrade, I hope it goes well
 
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nbalaw2016

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Loachland, thanks for your comment.

I agree with the concern about long fins; perhaps the shorter finned variety of angelfish would work (leopoldi, I think). Pencilfish would be a wonderful addition to the tank, now that I think about it. Perhaps 8-10 pencilfish and a single larger cichlid such as an angel, blue acara (depending on responses), or a single additional exotic dwarf cichlid.

I had some issues with the loaches and a school of rainbowfish (not dwarfs) as the loaches were very aggressive, but now that the tank is a bit darker and better structured to maximize hiding places and minimize open lines of sight, I think a large school of small fish will be fine.
 

Loachland

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That’s too bad about them being aggressive! Mine never seemed to want to inflict damage on other fish or anything, but they’d totally try to play with fish their size, which would sometimes freak the other fish out. With so many hiding places, you’re probably alright, I’d think.
 

jmaldo

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Okay, I have kept Yoyos (3) for about 6 months with Bolivians and EBAs, no problem. But I did need to trade them in to the LFS they were just too fast/spastic and food piggies for me.

Good Luck!
 
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nbalaw2016

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Thanks again! I do think it was probably more play than true aggression with the rainbows, but it definitely scared them to the point that they were very uncomfortable in the tank. Cichlids seem to be better able to brush aside the loaches' hyperactivity and just swim away.
 

MissNoodle

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In a blackwater youd want something refective rather than colourful and something that could stand up to the others... rasboras may be a little too small to put up with the loaches antics.

A school of skirt tetras (blackskirts more so) would stand up well, they got a really nice shine to them and they naturally come from blackwater environments. Theyre also pretty boisterous so could handle a bit of activity from other tank inhabitants
 
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nbalaw2016

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For those of you who are curious, I went with 10 green tiger barbs. They're a touch on the small side so I'm concerned about the remaining krib having a large dinner before I'm able to catch and rehome her, but as I observe her, she's exhibiting aggressive and chasing behavior toward the barbs but is not eating them as they're too big for her mouth. I fear I may lose one or two of them, perhaps just out of stress, but once I get the krib out this situation should be fine.

They look very nice in the blackwater and are excellent dither fish; my loaches are already coming out and playing around midlevel more than they previously have.

FYI, I am doing daily 7-8%, single 3 gallon bucket, changes on this tank as well as a 30% end of week change.
 
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nbalaw2016

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Another update: the krib managed to snack on half a single barb (now I have to worry about what's left of the poor guy decomposing in the tank, but I digress) before I finally got him out by disassembling my entire scape--wood, rocks, and so on. I changed some water and put everything back together and the barbs now seem a bit unnerved, but are beginning to explore the tank. The Bolivians and loaches seem rather impervious to all this, and are just playing and waiting for food.

Last update: Turns out the barb I thought was eaten by the krib is alright! He's got a little fin damage from being bitten by the krib, but otherwise is schooling nicely. A pleasant and positive surprise to end a long day.
 
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