Wow, you gave me so many great things to think about! I really like the Severum a lot and I think I am just looking for one big impressive fish smart fish which the severum fits! Color would be nice too but I just want that Oscar personality which I know is hard to find for a 55 gallon.There are MANY species of cichlids out there. Are you specifically looking for one with a personality? or does color also play a factor into it?
Have you tossed around which region you would prefer? Would you want more than one cichlid? or just one?
In a 55G tank, I would recommend african cichlids because they stay smaller, but these guys are more lookers. They'll interact with you behind the glass, but it's mostly food motivated.
The ones with personality are typically your south americans. (oscars are S.A.) But a lot of those too, don't quite have that 'dog like' personality that the oscar does.
The most interactive that I've observe would be the oscar and the flowerhorn, but both of these will outgrow a 55 fairly quickly.
you COULD...put an oscar in a 55G for now...but I can promise you he will outgrow that size tank in at least 6months. (A fish has outgrown a tank when it can no longer swim the width of the tank comfortably (if the ends are used just to turn around, it's too small] -so around the 6-8In mark)
My personal favorite cichlids are severum, also known as the 'poor mans discus'. I have 3 juvenile males, and one semi adult female (3 1.5yr olds, 1 3.5yr old). they have a fairly slow growth rate (my 3yr old female severum is about 6-7in in diameter, whereas my 2yr old oscar is at least a foot long). I kept my female in a 45 for a good year and a half before I moved her to a 75, shes now in a 135.
My oscar has a better 'personality' than my severum does, he's more tempermental. My severum just likes me bec I feed her, but she still pays attention to me when I'm at the tank.
Thanks for the tip. I think you might have misread my post a little bit but I wasn’t planning on putting an Oscar in a 55g, I just was looking for suggestions on a fish that is like an Oscar and would fit in a 55 gallon.Your Oscar will grow out of a 55 gallon in a matter of months if you have a juvenile. The bioload itself and the nitrates will have you changing your water literally every single day. Even if you overfilter which you should always do, they will produce waste faster than your filters and media will filter it out eventually. I would say smallest tank for one Oscar once it grows more than 5-6 inches is a 75 gallon. It has been done in a 55 but like I said you end up with pretty poor water quality rather fast even with overfiltering
Thanks for the tip. I think you might have misread my post a little bit but I wasn’t planning on putting an Oscar in a 55g, I just was looking for suggestions on a fish that is like an Oscar and would fit in a 55 gallon.
You make a very good point. I started to look into a mbuna tank and that might be a better way to go than just one larger fish. I’ll definitely look into some smaller cichlids. Thanks for all the helpful advice!So, the difficulty...is that I'm not sure there ARE fish that fit that description...to explain..
Most fish 'like the oscar' will also get a similar size as the oscar at one point in time, Even if it takes a little longer, you'll still need to break the bank later. This includes things like Jack Dempsey, Red Devils, Jaguar cichlids, Texas Cichlids, Green Terrors, Keyhole cichlids, Flowerhorns...there are many escaping me...
Additionally...the monkey wrench in what you want to do is the size of your tank, and the moderate to largeish sized fish you're left to pick from if you're 'responsible' about it. I'm worried if you choose one fish as a showcase fish, that you won't be satisfied later on, when that fish only reaches 6in long by 2in high when the tank could sustain maybe...3 or 4 fish that size?
I would recommend looking into something like an african mbuna tank, the most difficult part about africans is that they do best in higher PH's, and ph can be a little tough to understand, there are articles on here and threads (that I and others have written) explaining it in detail but otherwise, it's not much different than keeping a regular community tank - you'll also need to stock fish of the same size and region, but that's not hard with a little research.
Jewel cichlids are a west african cichlid (not mbuna) but they might be interesting too.
if african mbuna's aren't your thing, you could also try out dwarf south american cichlids. There are quite a few S.A's that don't get much larger than 4 or 5 inches. I would say in a 55G, you could keep at least 3, possibly 4 of them. Severum max out around 8In (I thought they got a lot bigger....) If you went with severums, you could go with 4 in the 55 for now...but you'll definitely want to start a savings jar for 2 years down the road when you should technically be upgrading them (maybe even a little sooner).
I have severums, geophagus and rainbows in my 135 right now. The rainbows are meant as 'dither' fish, and my geo's fight amongst themselves on the bottom when they need to but, theres plenty of space for everyone now. (135 is still not big enough for everything I have at their max size though...I'd pref something like a 300G for my geos.)
Firemouth Meeki are colorful, they max out around 4In or so, and they're not real aggressive, more defensive if anything. They don't have much of a personality, but are very colorful. Salvini cichlids are another S.A. cichlid that has some interesting color, they don't get very large and can be considerably dominant over territory. Blue acara are real pretty, but they stay fairly small, like the firemouth.
I started out with a pair of kribensis cichlids as my first cichlid tank. I had them in a 10G. My second tank was a 20G Long convict cichlid tank...I wouldn't recommend convicts to anyone, in my opinion they breed SO much, and are too common. I loved having them, but...they're kinda like the mice of the cichlid world imo.
I know you mentioned you had no intention of doing this, but I still feel this anecdote is a little relevant here so I'm going to share it, I've seen a donated oscar that was 5 years old and had lived in a 55G tank it's entire life. Cichlids have two 'lateral' lines that run down the length of their body, one (almost) marking their spine, and the other their tail. This fish was so skeletally compressed, his lateral lines were misshapen and overlapped parallel to one another. Aside from facial deformities (downward slanted/rounded nose). Putting an oscar in a 55G isn't bad, keeping him there for too long is what can be problematic. He was still a good 10-12In..
As a side note, I underestimated the growth rate of my oscar. I don't have a 90G with just an oscar in it because I wanted to...I really didn't have a choice (other than surrender him...). I'm not saying to not go with what you initially wanted/had planned. But it might be better to wet your feet first with some smaller options before picking out your big, showcase fish?