Keyhole Cichlids, What Is My Best Option?

Discussion in 'Aquarium Stocking Questions' started by ChrisX, Apr 7, 2017.

  1. ChrisX Well Known Member Member

    I have a fairly densely planted 29g tank with 6x Keyhole Cichlids. They are highly social, entertaining, and I'm enjoying watching them grow. They are 3" in size now and I realize I will need to upgrade to a larger tank in the near future. They get along well and shoal together most of the time, but most/all of them are male. There might be one that is female, but I'm pretty sure the other five are male.

    There is localized chasing from some of the dominant fish. There is no damage and none of the fish are stressed. They are still trying to figure out the pecking order (maybe) trying to attract a mate, but I'm not sure there is a female in the group.

    The plan has been to upgrade to a 55/60 gallon tank and add some SA schooling fish. But first, I want to understand my best options with the Keyholes.

    Is it unethical to keep them in a same-sex group where they will never breed? If so, should I try to find some females to add to the group when I upgrade tank size?

    Regarding the aggression, There is some chasing, but a few seconds later they will be shoaled together again, which might lead to more poking and chasing. None of the fish go into hiding, they always manage to group up again. Most of the time they are peaceful and sometimes will enter into a little looping ball of swimming.

    I have a feeling that even if I upgrade to 55 gallon tank, that there will always be mild aggression between them because they always shoal and they are all male. IOW, getting a larger tank probably wont change their behavior because they are usually together. Should I be looking into rehoming some of the fish, or will they eventually just accept their station and live happily?

  2. Bizarro252 Well Known Member Member

    I am not familiar with Keyholes, but bumping this back to the first page for you.

  3. Redshark1 Fishlore VIP Member

    I've never kept more than a single male (and he was a lovely fish) so I don't know exactly how they will behave in future.

    However, I feel that I would not enjoy an aquarium which was not peaceful.

    I think it highly likely that males will be driven to breed and to exclude other males and to search for females.

    My male was a model citizen in the community tank without other males or females present.

    You may need to give it a try and come to your own conclusions.

  4. BobRocio Valued Member Member

    It's hard to say as I haven't heard of anyone keeping a group of males.

    They are pretty easy going compared to other small/medium cichlids. I'd say there will probably always be a bit of mild aggression between them but in a larger tank there may be a large enough number of males that the aggression may be dispersed. As the get older they will probably stop shoaling so much and start finding territories and defending them. It's hard to say whether the aggression would get to the point of being too much for some of the lower ranking males.

    My advice is you would probably have 2 main options depending what you want to do.

    First off if you want to keep all the males your probably best off re-homing the female (if it turns out to be a female) because once she pairs off with a male and they become a breeding pair the male will probably become considerably more aggressive and protective and will likely cause the other males a bit of stress and damage.

    In this situation I would also avoid getting other females as again they will pair off and cause more aggression. I don't think it's un ethical to keep a single gender just because they won't be able to breed, as long as they are happy together and not overly aggressive to one another. I think it would be more unethical to keep multiple breeding pairs if they are going to be constantly battling for territory and dominance. Plus if their fry survive you then have to find a home for them, I've found that few LFS will take them now days so you generally have to raise them to a couple of inches and then sell them yourself.

    The other option would be to wait until they pair off and then re-home the remaining males and just have a breeding pair with schooling fish. I've kept a pair in a 40gal with medium (2inch) schooling tetras, cory's and Blue Rams and not had any issues.

    Again I'm not an expert on keyholes, I've only kept a pair, I keep larger more aggressive CA where keeping multiple males of the same species is generally a no go.
  5. vikingkirken Well Known Member Member

    What indicators suggest you have 5-6 males? Keyholes are difficult to sex, apparently.
  6. Redshark1 Fishlore VIP Member

    The way I could tell was my male Keyhole always came to the front when the football was on the tv.

    I believe females move to the back.
  7. ChrisX Well Known Member Member

    Thanks everyone for your comments. They are still getting along..if it stays like this then i have no worries. I suspect the reason there hasnt been major agression is because they may all be males. The reason i believe this is that five have very long fin extensions. The 6ths fins are pretty long, but he/she is growing at the same rate as others. The 6th is larger than the smallest male.

    I will upgrade to a 60 in the next few months. They are of breediing age and i feel that if 9ne was female it probably would have paired, and i dont see that. There are no cliques and none are shunned.

    My plan is to upgrade to a 60 in near future, add a single angel, and a schooling tetra group. Keeping my eyes open for keyholes at lfs, might still try to locate a female. Lfs hasnt had any in a long time, i suspect the batch they had were trade from a customer.

    These are really great fish.
  8. Anders247 Fishlore Legend Member

    What type of tetras do you want? I would do 8-10 congos or diamonds.
  9. ChrisX Well Known Member Member

    Congos would probably be a great choice. A school of congos, a single angel, and maybe a BN plec.
  10. Anders247 Fishlore Legend Member

    A clown pleco instead of the BN, which need cooler temps than angels....
  11. TexasDomer Fishlore Legend Member

    I think your group might still be fine. Mine are sexually mature adults (I think; I've had them for a year and they were at least a few months old when I got them) and I think I have 3 males to 1 female (I think, still a bit unsure on one of them). No issues in my 55 gal.