Help Helping My Cichlids....

CaptainAquatics

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Hi! See that tank above this text, it has 5 cichlids in it. So here is my problem....

I have 5 cichlids in this tank. They are African cichlids (other than 2 of them which are South American). I keep water quality pristine, they are in a location that isn’t very loud, I feed them a good diet, and there are no visible signs of sickness. However, these fish hide 24/7. Three of these guys I rescued from a bad horn where they were constantly tramatized so those fish hide and the other newer fish followed there lead. I have tried removing the dominant fish several times to no help, I have tried rescaling the tank, they actually moved into this 55 gallon tank about two months ago from there 36 gallon tank (they did the same thing in the 36, I was hoping the new tank would help them come out more). Any ideas on how to get them active. I am thinking about getting a large school of black neon tetras to go with them to act as a dither fish. I would be getting 15 of them. Do you think they would live and help he cichlids be active, or would they just become food? If that wouldn’t work what other suggestions do you have? Would black skirt tetras work? Thanks
 
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Demeter

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Do not add any sort of schooling species. If they beging to behave as normal Africans should they will kill fish like tetras.

I’d rather add more mbuna to the tank, they will be more bold with their own kind.
 
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CaptainAquatics

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Would black skirt tetras work? They are a bit bigger, also these cichlids do not act like normal cichlids, only one of them actually acts somewhat like a cichlid, that is the dominant cichlid.

The exact cichlid species are:
- 1 kenyi cichlid (most dominant)
- 1 electric blue cichlid (second dominant)
- 1 firemouth cichlid (third dominant)
- 1 jewel cichlid (fourth dominant)
- 1 electric yellow cichlid (least dominant)

And I have a Snow White Mumba cichlid in QT growing out. I have changed my mind on the schooling fish. What other cichlids do you recommend. I plan to go cichlid shopping tommorow.
 

Coptapia

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I wouldn’t add more cichlids while the ones you already have are hiding. I would sort that out first.
Firemouths and Jewels shouldn’t be in the same tank as Rifts. Jewels are a soft water fish. Firemouths live in groups and so shouldn’t be kept singly, and are not built for fighting so it will have no chance whatsoever if it gets threatened by any of the others.

If you’re going to keep Rifts you should keep Only Rifts in the tank and no other cichlids. You also need the tank to be full of hides, several per fish.

A background on the tank will also help to settle them.
 
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CaptainAquatics

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I am guessing Rifts refer to the African cichlids (I have never heard that term before), I didn’t know firemouth like to be in groups and my LFS actually just got some in so I can go pick up those guys. I will also add some more hides when possible.
 
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CaptainAquatics

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Just the ones from the Rift Valley (Lakes Malawi, Tanganyika, Victoria). They’re all very hard alkaline water. The rest of Africa is mostly soft, neutral to acid.
Thanks for the info! I knew of those 4 lakes, I didn’t know they were all from the same place.
 

aae0130

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When the kenyi gives a warning the sa’s will not understand his body language. He will eventually kill them.
 
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CaptainAquatics

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Hi! @aae0130 these fish have been together for about a year now, and other than hidding they don’t really fight (other than what is expected). I just went to the store and picked up some more cichlids. They are in QT and I am hoping they can act as somewhat of a dither fish. I got 3 firemouths (because you said they like to school) and I got 2 mumba cichlids (one is a Snow White cichlid and one I can’t remember the exact name of). I just need the Mumba cichlids to grow up a bit, the firemouths are big enough as to where they can go in right after QT.
 

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I think the Mbuna are behaving normally. They are rock fish, and each has found a secure hiding spot. If you want them to be more active It would be a good idea to incease the size of the hardscape. Add some lava rocks w/ holes, or stack rocks & make caves. Elevate the hardscape.
Firemouths don't really school, but they do better in groups and form a complex social heirarchy. Firemouths do well in hard water like the rift cichlids, but keeping them in an active Mbuna community tank probably won't work out longterm.
 
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CaptainAquatics

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Ok! Thanks for the info, so to make them more active I need to give them more places to hide

I will save up some money to get some rocks to add caves, thanks
 

A201

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If a rockyard or landscape company is close by, buy rocks there. It's "much" cheaper with a huge selection.
This African Cichlid hardscape was bought for 20 cents per lb. From my local rockyard.
20190210_201240.jpg
 

Coptapia

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Firemouths live in loose groups, but as A201 has said they probably won’t live a happy life with Mbunas. But yours have been ok up to now, so keep an eye on them and be prepared to intervene if you need to. It’s asking for trouble 99% of times keeping Mbuna with relatively peaceful cichlids.
 
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CaptainAquatics

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@A201 I do not think I have a large rock company near by, however there is a little river a bit down the road from where I live. Anyone know how to make sure river rock is safe and how to clean it?
 

A201

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No grainy sandstone, shale, or metalic rock. Just about any rock is aquarium safe, and in your situation even Limestone.
Select rocks with flat bottoms, which will add substantial height to the hardscape, but not so wide as to take up valuable swimming space. Plan a hardscape where the fish can swim freely both in front and behind the structures, as well as in between crevaces & caves.
Be sure to collect the rocks from a clean, unpolluted site.
Rinse off the rocks in a 5 gal. Bucket of used tank water.
Building a hardscape is part of the fun when keeping African Cichlids.
 
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CaptainAquatics

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Should I boil the rocks? I think I just have some plain hard rock down by the river. What do you mean by a metallic rock? If it is metallic will magnets sick to it? I have a good scape idea in mind. Also this river is not polluted
 
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A201

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Metallic rocks will have obvious veins of metal, such as Pyrite, (Fools Gold). No need to boil rocks.
 
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CaptainAquatics

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Thanks for the info, however I probably will boil the rocks, don´t wanna bring any bad bacteria in the tank.
 
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