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Was just considering doing Africans in my tank but was just wondering if the tank is too small. Anybody have success with a tank around 45 gallon with Africans?
 

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Yes a 45 G will work for Africans ... are you thinking African River or Lake?

I recently set-up an African river community tank about 45 G and have two groups of African cichlids Pelvicachromis pulcher (Krebensis) and Anomalochromis thomasi (Butterfly) with Congo tetras and am really enjoying them. You could easily set-up a Hemichromis bimaculatus (Jewel) tank as well.

If you are thinking African Lake fish I have often kept small groups in smaller volume tanks that are taller and longer. Just make sure the filtration is somewhere 6 - 10 times the water volume with good water circulation. In these situations a couple species together colonial Mbuna like Labidochromis caeruleus (Yellow Lab) or smaller Tanganyikans species like Neolamprologus brichardi could work well. The Juliochromis ornatus breeding pair are doing just fine in a small volume tank and spawn about every two weeks ... so they must be okay with it. I am not sure if a small group of Neolamprologus leleupi might work as well but I have never tried it.

With smaller tanks I try to have Africans Lake fish that don't get much bigger than 4 inches (10 cm). I have some juvenile Mbuna and J. ornatus if you go in that direction.
 
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45G is definitely enough to work with. You've really got a few options;

Mbuna - Community or breeding group.

I've got around 20 mbuna in a 40 breeder right now. Not an ideal number for that tank, but I haven't had any loses yet. Mostly Demasoni, yellow labs, and hybridized saulosi.

Tanganyikans - breeding group/species tank

Another very viable option. A group of A. calvus, a julidochromis species, a shell dwelling species, or even a small group of N. brichardi would work well. Not quite sure if you'd have the tank space for a Cyprichomis or Paracyprichromis species, or any real community.

Personally, shellies would be my recommendation. Lots of action and activity cinstantly going on in the tank, don't need a ton of space, and as long as you don't start off with too many, you would definitely see your colony grow.

Make sure that whichever path you take, you will her stock your tank. It will help spread out aggression, which will be an important part of success.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Would it be possible to mix those different kinds of cichlids in a single tank? Can I put some mbuna with brichrdi and shell dwellers? Say if I wanted to put in around 5 of each?
 

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That might be a good combination to go with.

Just keep your water parameters and hardness at a level that African Rift Lake fish like. By having good filtration like an AC 110, combined with a canister Filter such as Filstar/Rena M or L filled with Hydroton or Purigen media and a large sponge filter you should be able to keep your water conditions quite pristine with good water flow.

As a general rule I like keeping 1 male with every 3 - 4 females to keep things active and also giving you breeding opportunities. The species you're suggesting have females that are good looking and not drab. I would also do a bit of research on the habitat each needs as well - lots of internet suggestions there or if you'd like to see my set-ups send me a PM. Each species you have suggested needs something a bit different which is good. With the Mbuna I would stick to just one species like the Yellow Labs that typically grow a bit smaller. They also seem to get along better as a group with less aggression than other species overall.
 

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I would advise against that many brichardi in a tank of that size. If you have a breeding pair form, chances are everything else in the tank would not fair well
 

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I would advise against that many brichardi in a tank of that size. If you have a breeding pair form, chances are everything else in the tank would not fair well
Yes, a mated pair/colony are called a brichardi death squad for a reason.
 

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I don't know the dimensions of the 45 gallon but length is more important than height for African cichlids. I kept a successful mix of cichlids in a 40 gallon for a few years.
 

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Great discussion regarding smaller tanks and Africans.

Interesting about the Bichardi being killers ... maybe Neolamprologus pulcher have a different behaviour?

I have had a group of N. pulcher co-existing happily with J. ornatus which are also breeding for months with little or no issues. Just moved them to a larger tank ... still good. One thing though is all my African tanks have lots of cover so maybe that has made a difference?

Also I have heard a lot about Africans needing a lot of length in a tank and yes I think that is preferable but with maximum filtration combined with water movement I think you can reduce how critical tank length can be.
 

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I agree with everything said. You have a few options. I've had my Africans tank for 5 years and still enjoy it. Filtration is key as mentioned by others. They are really messy. When I first setup my tank I had a mix of Malawi and Tangs. It worked well for me. I was nervous about Africans since I had read or heard they were difficult. IME they are very hardy. Good stable quality water is the most important. The Ph/Kh/Gh being perfect I don't worry about as much anymore. As long as it's stable they seem happy. I'm glad to see all the positive replies. The only downfall I've found is aggression. Once settled in they seem to do fine but when you introduce fish to the established group. The new comer takes a beating. Since your tank is smaller I'd recommend trying to introduce all your fish at once, which can be hard if your like a lot of us and have a fish addiction. :)

Good luck with The tank!
 

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The question of introduction of African Cichlids can be tricky even with years of experience and with various tanks. The preference is introduction of all fish at the same time ... however that may not be possible or maybe you have an established tank that has lost some fish or you'd like to add a few more. Here are some things you might consider.

• add fish while the lights are out at night
• change the the hardscape, that way all the fish, new and established have something to negotiate
• add fish in a group, if possible different species than you already have
• often adding females is less disruptive
• use a smaller isolation tank to hold a group you want to add, then add them as a group
• use a breeder net box for one or two new fish in the established tank after a week add them to the main tank

Depending on the situation I have one or all of these.
 

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The question of introduction of African Cichlids can be tricky even with years of experience and with various tanks. The preference is introduction of all fish at the same time ... however that may not be possible or maybe you have an established tank that has lost some fish or you'd like to add a few more. Here are some things you might consider.

• add fish while the lights are out at night
• change the the hardscape, that way all the fish, new and established have something to negotiate
• add fish in a group, if possible different species than you already have
• often adding females is less disruptive
• use a smaller isolation tank to hold a group you want to add, then add them as a group
• use a breeder net box for one or two new fish in the established tank after a week add them to the main tank

Depending on the situation I have one or all of these.
I agree so many different things to try when adding new fish. When I add new fish I no longer turn the lights off. I actually keep the lights on for days. I have recently modified this and now keep 1 light on so the tank has some darkness and some light. The reason being is when the tank is dark all my fish drop down to the bottom and almost guard their own spot. The new fish has no idea where to go and gets picked on all night, as he moves around looking for space. I buy new fish all the time and have found this to be the best for my situation.

I've also noticed that the pecking order at feeding time can also create havoc for new fish. My fish will not let any new fish eat for the first week or so. If they see a new fish try to eat, They will knock him off the path of the pellet. I've noticed this every time. Even the smaller less ranking fish in my tank will give a good nip to the new fish trying to eat. Since I have lots of Africans in my tank, this can be a scary time for new comers. I try different things to help prevent this.

Part of the fun for me with Africans is dealing with all these issues and finding or listening to others for new tricks on introduction, fighting etc..... You really have to watch who's eating, whos not. I'm constantly looking at individual fish to make sure the balance is working.
 

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That is a great tip about the light ... one of the programmable LEDs might come in well there.

One other thing not mentioned yet is in any situation with Africans I have found they negotiate groups pretty well. One fish for every 2 - 3 G once the tank parameters are stable has worked for me.


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