How can I add new additions to an established Cichlid tank?

  1. Kentaaa Initiate Member

    Hello everyone!




    I am in DIRE need of help. A little under a month ago, I purchased a 75g setup from Petsmart. I am planning on making this tank a South American Cichlid community. The tank was cycled in no time because the filter I am using was previously hooked up to my 46g planted community, which has been established for over a year. The filter is a Fluval 406 and the flow was just too much for a 46g tank. So, I decided to move the 406 from the 46g to the 75g, and purchased a brand new Fluval 306 to be used in its place. Of course this meant that I would have to cycle the 46g all over again since it is a brand new filter, but at least I wouldn't have to cycle the 75g because the filter is already heavily seeded. Just to be on the safe side, I added a pouch of Marineland live bacteria and dosed the tank with Seachem Stability. I then left the tank dormant for about three days in order for everything to stabilize.


    After waiting a few days, I added three fish that I ordered off of eBay. I ordered two female Blood Parrots and a male Kirin Parrot (Blood Parrot x Flowerhorn hybrid). They quickly adjusted to their surrounds and are doing great. A few days after I added these fish, the tank became EXTREMELY cloudy overnight. The cloudiness was so severe that there was almost no visibility whatsoever throughout the tank. For the next couple of weeks, I tried EVERYTHING under the sun to clear up the water. I performed 20% water changes every day (sometimes twice a day), cleaned the filter, and added fresh carbon along with API Bio-Chem Zorb to the filter every three days or so. I know that carbon can last over a month, however I figured that since there were so many impurities in the water it would probably be best to swap out the carbon with new every few days to completely remove the particles from the system all together (just in case the carbon began to leech them back out into the water). I kept to this routine for weeks, and still no results. As a last ditch effort, I ordered a "heavy-duty" UV sterilizer (13W, 211gph, and rated up to 150g) off of eBay. The sterilizer was delivered three days ago and was installed immediately. The next morning I checked the tank as soon as I woke up, and to my excitement the water was almost completely cleared up. Now (a few days later) the tank is crystal clear. I was so frustrated with the incessant reoccurring cloudiness that I almost drained the entire tank and gave up. I have been in this hobby for over 10+ years now and I have NEVER seen such severe cloudiness that would not go away.


    So now that the water is in pristine condition, I am ready to start stocking the tank. The problem I am now facing is, I have no clue how to add new fish to this setup. I have never owned Cichlids before, so I am not used to having fish with aggressive territorial attitudes. With peaceful community fish, you can just drop new additions in whenever you please without having to take any precautions or having to do anything special. My plan with this tank was to introduce all juvenile fish within a fairly small time frame , so not only would they be able to grow up together but also so they would not have enough time to establish territories. I specifically ordered both the Kirin and the Blood Parrots in a size "small" because I wanted them to be as young as possible for that very purpose. The Kirin was listed as 2"-2.5", and the Blood Parrots were listed as 1"-1.5". Well apparently the seller made a mistake because he was currently sold out of small Kirin Parrots. Instead, he shipped me one that was fairly large and neglected to tell me until after it was already sent out. In the message that was sent to me, he was VERY apologetic for making this mistake and to compensate he up-sized the fish to a M/L size for no extra charge. I can't be upset with the seller, because all he was trying to do was provide good customer service. However, this little mishap has definitely thrown a wrench into the works. He is a little over 4" in size (instead of 2"-2.5") and although the listing indicated the Blood Parrots were between 1.5"-2", they are actually right around 2.5". Like I said, the other factor that I hoped to avoid was letting these three have the entire tank to themselves for an extended period of time. But unfortunately due to the extreme outbreak of cloudiness, they have had full range of the tank for approximately three weeks now. They have already staked out their territories, which is what I was most afraid of. Surprisingly, the two Blood Parrots are attached at the hip. They do EVERYTHING together and are never more than a few inches away from each other at any given time. Oddly enough, they also share a single cave, even though there are plenty of other hiding spots that are empty/unclaimed. I read online that Blood Parrots are very territorial and do not appreciate intrusions. The fact that they are so codependent with each other is an anomaly, especially since they are both females. The Kirin however, has claimed a broken vase decoration on the opposite side of the tank as his home. On a few occasions, I have even caught all three of them in a single cave. I assumed that maybe they were trying to spawn.


    A few of my acquaintances (who happen to be EXTREMELY knowledgable when it comes to Flowerhorns and Blood Parrots) viewed pictures of my Kirin and concluded that he is definitely more Flowerhorn than Parrot. This could have occurred from either breeding two Kirin Parrots with dominant Flowerhorn genes or breeding a Kirin with a "true" Flowerhorn which would result in a 75/25 mix (instead of a normal 50/50 cross). It could also just be luck of the draw that some (or all) of the fry received more traits from their paternal side (Flowerhorn) instead of their maternal side (Blood Parrot). Either way, I am nervous to see how he will act around other fish. I have spent a good amount of time observing him and he does not appear to be too overly aggressive. When I first received the fish, I put them all in my 27g cube that I use for quarantining. I wanted to ensure that none of them had any signs of disease or injury, since they had just traveled across the entire country overnight (California to Florida). In my opinion, it's MUCH easier to observe fish in a small compact space. They all seemed to get along great and didn't pay too much attention to each other. After a few hours, I fed them a cube of frozen blood worms. As soon as they were done eating, the Kirin began going on a rampage. I'm assuming this is because he regained his energy. He incessantly chased the Parrots all around the tank to the point where they were almost completely sideways hiding behind the filter intake. I am actually glad that the one Blood Parrot trait he did receive was the inability to completely close his mouth. I could almost guarantee that if he was capable of biting, the Parrots would have suffered physical injuries. I was originally planning on leaving them in this tank for a week or two, but I did not want to risk losing any of them due to fighting, so on the second day I moved them to the 75g. Almost immediately after the move, the aggression towards the Blood Parrots completely stopped. Since then, there has been almost no fighting whatsoever. Funny enough, on the very few occasions that I have seen them get into a little scuffle, it's almost ALWAYS one of the Blood Parrots that initiates it (despite being half his size). She lines up with him so they are face to face, then charges as if they were about to lip lock. When she charges at him, she never actually makes physical contact. It's more of a "fake out", threat, or warning. She stops at about halfway between them, then retreats back to their original position by swimming backwards. Then it's the Kirin's turn, but as he begins to charge she turns around and runs away. He of course follows and a "cat and mouse" game ensues, which consists of the Kirin chasing the Blood Parrot around the entire tank a few times. After a couple laps, the Kirin stops chasing her and everything goes back to normal. I don't know if this "display" is a sign of aggression, or just normal Cichlid behavior. I've only seen it happen a few times. Like I said, I've never owned Cichlids before, so I do not know how to differentiate between "playing" (if you could call it that) and actual fighting. Therefore, I do not know how to gauge their aggressiveness.


    A couple days ago while at Petsmart, I purchased a Black Convict and two EXTREMELY young Blood Parrot x Convict hybrids. The Convict is quite young himself (only about 1.25"-1.5" in length), but the hybrids are even smaller (0.5"-0.75"). Currently, all three of them are in the 27g quarantine tank. I was debating on whether or not it would be a good idea to let the Convict grow a little larger before moving him to the 75g. When I first brought them home, I floated the bag in the Parrots' tank just to see how they would react. The Blood Parrots couldn't be bothered, but the Kirin was curious and swam up to the bag. He wasn't attempting to charge or attack, he just sat there staring at it. The first day or two, all three fish in the quarantine tank were getting along just fine. Everyone seemed to claim their own caves rather quickly. The Convict was very reclusive and preferred to stay in its cave. The baby hybrids were a little more social, but would retreat back to their individual caves if I approached the glass too closely. Now that they have become more comfortable with their surroundings, the Convict has turned into a MAJOR bully. I have seen him quite a few times chasing the babies around the tank until they cower in fear, hiding in the upper corner behind the filter intake. Again, I don't know if this is normal behavior or something I should be concerned with. I don't understand why he would be chasing them, since they were all in the same tank at Petsmart with no issues. This tank is almost double the size, far less fish, and has ample hiding spots/caves. I'm thinking that maybe because that tank was so overstocked, he didn't even pay attention to them due to their small size compared to the rest of the fish in there. Anyways, after doing some research I found that these Convict x Blood Parrot hybrids are actually quite uncommon to find at Petsmart and occur at their holding facilities where they house their Convicts and Blood Parrots together in the same tank. With that being said, I am scared to lose them due to the Convict's aggression (if the aggression is NOT considered normal behavior).


    Now I am at a crossroad. I do not want to lose my baby hybrids, but on the other hand I do not want to lose my Convict if I move him into the 75g. What would be the best route of action to take? Go ahead and move him, or keep him in quarantine until he grows a little larger? The hybrids of course will have to stay in the tank until they grow larger, but I feel that the Convict's size is right in the middle of the two. He seems too big to be with the baby hybrids, but too small to be with the Parrots and Kirin. I wish I knew what tank he would be better off in.


    So I know the correct procedure for this fish and anymore fish I decide to add to the tank in the future, how should I go about introducing a fish into a setting with already established Cichlids (more specifically Blood and Kirin Parrots)? Will they be fine if I introduce smaller fish? If not, with the Kirin being around 4" and the Blood Parrots being around 2.5", what size (in inches) of fish would be the absolute smallest I could safely add? I remember seeing somewhere that when you add new fish to an established Cichlid system, you must remove the existing fish from the tank temporarily and reintroduce them with the new fish at the same time in order to "reset" their territories. Is this method effective? If so, is it required for every new addition? Also, from now on will I either have to purchase only large fish, or alternatively keep every fish I purchase in quarantine until they reach almost the same size as the Parrots? I'm not sure exactly what species I will be adding to this tank, however there are quite a few that I have been considering. These include a Green Terror, Oscar, Red Head, Black Belt, Firemouth, Chocolate, Geophagus, Midas, Severum, Electric Blue Jack Dempsey, Red Devil, Purple Rose Queen, or Red Texas. Like I said, I don't know which one(s) I will be adding however, would it be advisable to chose species that are more on the aggressive side? Or species that tend to be more docile? Ideally, I hope they're somewhere in the middle, but I understand that every fish has its own demeanor (even those of the same species).


    *(Just as a quick side note, I realize that a few of the species I listed above will eventually outgrow a 75g tank. However, once they mature to adulthood I plan on keeping all of the hybrids in the 75g and relocating the "true" South American Cichlids to be on display in a larger show-tank that is located in the main part of the house (instead of in the fish room). I just wanted to clear that up before being criticized)


    Thank you all so much for taking the time to read this thread. I apologize for such a long post. I just wanted to ensure that I presented all the details in order to receive the most accurate advice pertaining to my specific situation. Any help, tips, tricks, rules, guidelines, or input would be GREATLY appreciated! I am extremely worried that I will do something incorrectly, and as a result lose a fish to fighting. I'm trying to gather all of the information I can, in hopes that my first experience with Cichlids is not a bad one.


    Thank you so much again,


    Kentaaa


    P.S- I've inserted a few photos of the Kirin and Parrots below as a reference for size and maturity.

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  2. Coradee Moderator Moderator Member

    Bumping this up for you