Starting A New Cichlid Aquarium Help

  1. Mr. Menace Initiate Member

    Hello everyone,
    I have a 36 gal bow front tank and I want to set it up to house cichlids. I am looking for advice as to what types of cichlids and how many I can put in it. I would like to have colorful fish that won't be a problem with each other.
    Here is what I have done so far:
    Substrate is PFS, (50 lbs) about 2 inches or so. I have a bunch of rock caves and 2 Mangrove Root decorations intertwined for more hiding spots. I have a bubbler and an Aquaclear 110 HOB filter. I am using the light that came with the tank, should I change it?
    I want to know if I should use live plants, and if so, what plants?
    What types of fish would do well in this tank and with each other? I would like cool looking, colorful fish.
    I have had many tanks over the years but mostly community tanks with fancy tail guppies, dwarf gouramies and such. I also had a 55 gal tank with Oscars, Jack Dempsey. jewel fish, parrots, convicts and such but I made a BIG mistake and put an Amazon Redtail Catfish in it that when it grew up, ate all of the fish in a short time. That tank is gone though...
    This time around I would like some advice from you guys (the hands on pros) instead of the 18 year old kids in the LFS who never told me what to expect in the past.
    I have ran the cycle on my tank for a few weeks now and everything seems perfect and ready for fish and/or plants. The PH is about 8 and the temp is 78-80 degrees.
    Any advice on fish or plants is greatly appreciated. I would also like to know if I should get snails to keep the sand cleaner and also keep the gas bubbles from getting big and killing everything in the tank. I am also thinking of getting a bristlenose pleco.
  2. tyguy7760 Fishlore VIP Member

    Welcome to fishlore! And congrats on choosing cichlids! Such a fun group of fish to keep

    First, what type of cichlids do you want to keep? Africans or americans? I can't help you much on the african side but i'll give you some suggestions on the south/central american cichlids.

    A 36 bowfront is 30 inches long. In a 30 inch long tank you are going to be limited to smaller cichlids or dwarf cichlids. Really in that size tank you only have room for one species of cichlid. The only exception would be if you kept an angelfish (technically a cichlid) then you could put another dwarf cichlid in there with them.

    Smaller cichlids that you could consider would be bolivian rams, blue rams (german, electric blue, or gold), apistogrammas (many species), smiling acaras, keyholes, or maybe a single specimen of a slightly larger cichlid like rainbows or sajicas.
  3. TexasDomer Fishlore Legend Member

    Welcome to Fishlore!

    How did you cycle your tank?

    In a tank this size, I would stay away from most rift lake African cichlids, unless you wanted to do shell dwellers. They won't do well with plants though.

    Take a look around the forum - you'll find many helpful stickies on how to setup and maintain a planted tank. If you need help finding these, let us know!

    You can easily keep some cichlids in a tank this size.

    What about something like this?

    2x Apistogramma (multiple colorful species to choose from - I would get a pair of one species) OR 2x Bolivian rams OR 2x Keyhole cichlids
    10x Cherry barbs or Neon tetra
    10x Harlequin rasbora
    8-10x False julii or bronze cories
    2-4x Honey gourami
    1x BN pleco

    If you'd like other suggestions, let us know! I tried to pick fish that were peaceful and colorful.
  4. Mr. Menace Initiate Member

    I am not set on a certain type, that's why I was asking for ideas and information. I will look up the ones you suggested and see what I think of them. Thank you so much for the information. I will let you kow what I wind up doing as soon as I decide.

    I was only thinking of plants if it would benefit the fish, but I know cichlids usually dig them up so I wasn't sure if they were recommended but I can do without them. I am going to look up the ones you recommended and see what they look like and get as much info as I can before I start getting fish. Thank you so much for the info.
    Do you think I should get any snails? I've heard that they help keep the sand clean and also help keep the "death bubbles" from occurring but I am not sure if this is true or not.
  5. tyguy7760 Fishlore VIP Member

    If you stick to a 1-3 inch thick sand bed you really don't need to worry about the "death bubbles" (i like that term...going to steal it for the future). You can also get some bottom dwelling fish like kuhli loaches or cory cats that will keep the sand clean. But snails work as well. Just up to your personal preference.

    As far as plants go, africans usually destroy plants with a few exceptions. Central/South americans in the dwarf variety usually leave plants alone with the occasional uprooting. So you should be good if you want to do them. But it's not critical.
  6. Mr. Menace Initiate Member

    what about the Demasoni, yellow labs and the flowerhorns?
  7. tyguy7760 Fishlore VIP Member

    I've seen folks keep demasoni in 30 inch tanks before but basically you would just have a tank of demasoni as they are too aggressive to live with anything else in that size tank. Labs get larger and would probably need a 55g tank minimum.

    Flowerhorns, depending on the genetics, need a 55g minimum
  8. Mr. Menace Initiate Member

    No prob, use it all you want...
    I actually like the kuhli loaches but you never really get to see them, they stay hidden all the time but I guess that means they are doing their job.
    what about the Demasoni, yellow labs and the flowerhorns?

    I see...I may have to get a bigger tank soon because all the really colorful fish I like seem to need much bigger tanks. Maybe I'll make this one something else...
  9. tyguy7760 Fishlore VIP Member

    The keys to keeping Kuhlis, at least in my experience, and having them out and about and happy, are
    1) Have them on sand. Mine went from invisible to always out and about when i switched from standard aquarium gravel to sand
    2) Lots of hiding/shaded areas. Plants are great for this. Driftwood, rocks, anything that creates a shelter works amazing
    3) Overstock them. Well not really. But put as many as you can fit into your tank. 30 inch tank can do at least 10. Probably more.
    4) No other bottom dwellers and no very large fish. Even if it's a fish that won't eat them, i've found they are out and about much more when no large fish are in the tank as opposed to when something like a 4ish inch fish is around.
  10. Mr. Menace Initiate Member

    OK, good to know. In the past I always used gravel and rarely saw them. I also only had about 4 at a time in the tanks so that sounds like what I was experiencing. I will see what happens with the sand this time around.
    Do you know anything about OB Red blotch zebras, or Red Makobe? I know I am throwing all kinds of names out there but I am looking at pictures of fish and these look nice.
  11. TexasDomer Fishlore Legend Member

    You'll still need to feed the kuhlis or cories and you'll still need to do tank maintenance. They won't clean the tank for you.

    Most of the rift lake cichlids (OBs, peacocks, etc.) will be too large for this size tank.
  12. Anders247 Fishlore Legend Member

    Neolamprologus or Lamprologus sp. are the African cichlid species you will want to look at.
    Flowerhorns get way too big for this size tank.

    Welcome to fishlore!
  13. Mr. Menace Initiate Member

    OK, thank you. They look like they have all different colors in the variations. I am going to look to find some of these.

    Yes, I know but they will help clean a little
  14. Mr. Menace Initiate Member

    How many of these can I get for this size tank. I do not want to overcrowd it?
  15. Mr. Menace Initiate Member

    I also see that there are different types under this surname. Can I mix all of them under this name?
  16. Anders247 Fishlore Legend Member

    I'd do the brichardi cichlid. Neolamprologus brichardi, and I'd do 1 male and 6 females.
  17. TexasDomer Fishlore Legend Member

    And if you do those, don't do cories or kuhlis. And by the way, they really don't clean much :) They'll eat leftover food, but you should be feeding them their own food anyway, and they do poop! So they're not really tank cleaners.
  18. Mr. Menace Initiate Member

    I am confused now. If I get the Neolamprologus brichardi, can I only get one type and only a few fish for my 36 gal bow front? Can I get any other fish to put with them? Maybe a redtail shark, dwarf gouramis, a bn pleco? Please help me out.
  19. TexasDomer Fishlore Legend Member

    If you get them, I would keep them alone, maybe adding an armored catfish like a BN pleco. I would not add a shark or gourami or anything like that. If you choose African rift lake cichlids, you're really limiting yourself to very few options for tank mates.
  20. Anders247 Fishlore Legend Member

    I agree with TD. Sharks need a larger tank than a 36g anyway.