Showing posts with label African Cichlids. Show all posts
Showing posts with label African Cichlids. Show all posts


PEACOCK CICHLIDS - Introduction To The Amazing Peacock Cichlid!

Aulonocara hansbaenschi RB2.jpg
"Aulonocara hansbaenschi RB2". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.
Peacock cichlids are among the most preferred cichlids to breed in recent years because of their decorative appeal. Similar to the charm of peacock birds, the natural appearance and attractive colors of these types of cichlids, scientifically called aulonocara, have been admired by most hobbyists. Between the males and females, the former are more colorful, which will eventually be brighter once they reach sexual maturity. The females are generally subdued, colors ranging from silver to brownish gray.

So why choose Peacock Cichlids as your cichlid of choice? The Malawi Peacocks, since these cichlids originate from Lake Malawi, grow from 5-6 inches upon maturity. They thrive on a variety of food, ranging from small crustaceans such as shrimps and snails to insects such as mosquitoes and insect larvae. They also eat lettuce and peas.

They can be fed with either fresh or frozen foods and accept commercially available flakes or pellets. It is advised to serve them food only once to twice a day. Furthermore, be cautious of placing small fishes in the same aquarium with them because they can easily fit in their mouths and most likely to be eaten.

Aside from the accessibility of their food, they generally have a mild temperament and in most cases undemanding. They can adapt well to community-type aquariums. Even though they are likely to be territorial, they are non-aggressive and peaceful. It is advised that they are kept with other medium-sized non-aggressive cichlids.

With regard to their habitat requirement, the Peacock Cichlids are advised to be kept in aquariums that are arranged similar to their natural habitat. Be sure to provide open spaces for them to swim around as well as lots of caves and crevices where they can hide, rest, and create territories. Use sand as a substrate since they are likely to dig through the substrate after every feeding. Male cichlids also burrow through the sand prior to spawning. Using gravel or rocks, especially the sharp-edged ones, are likely to harm your Malawi Peacocks in doing this.

In terms of breeding, as long as you've provided hiding places for them, your aquarium is clean and the water requirements are acceptable, the Peacock Cichlids will do the rest themselves. They are considered ovophile mouthbrooders. The females do not eat during the incubation period, thus becoming weak and easily stressed. Such is the case that you should be ready to isolate the pregnant female two weeks after knowing she is pregnant. This will give time for the hatching of the eggs which will take four to seven days.

The female will release a number of eggs on the rocky bottom of the aquarium. Remove the mother from the tank within four days of the eggs hatching since she might eat the babies thinking it was her food. Be sure to put to feed the mother before bringing her back with other fish since she might starve to death once the breeding process continues over again. Keep the babies in a small separate tank feeding them with fine-ground flakes until they are big enough to be moved to a bigger tank.

The Peacock Cichlids are generally lovely fish to raise and cultivate. Their beauty, ease of care, few dietary concerns, adaptability to their environment, and undemanding demeanor has made them an interesting variety of cichlid to own. It is highly recommended that you try to experience the joy of watching these beautiful fish in your aquarium and see the value that this article is talking about.


MBUNA CICHLID Breeding - Step by Step Guide To Avoid Common Mistakes!

different Mbuna from Lake Malawi
Different Mbuna from Lake Malawi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Breeding Mbuna cichlid fish is facile. To get them to spawn is to provide them with the same care and conditions as with the non-breeding Mbuna's.

Place the breeding mbuna's in a tank approximately one male to 2 - 3 female ratios. The aquarium in which they are kept must be well stocked and adding extra aeration and filtration is important as well as a frequent water change. Remember that Lake Malawi has a stable environment thus Mbuna does not appreciate rapid changes in water quality and will not breed with unstable water conditions. Keep Mbuna's in an aquarium with a pH of 7.5 - 8.5 water range and a KH/GH of 12. There should be zero contents for ammonia and nitrite and nitrate of no more than 15 ppm. More so keep the temperature at 75 - 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the breeding to be successful it is relevant not to overfeed your mbuna. Keep in mind that they tend to utterly eat anything and everything give to them and may easily lead to obesity which is bad for its health. Furthermore, larger mbuna's would mean fewer fishes in your aquarium plus the fact that its aggressiveness may also increase. As a result of its violence stress is manifest in your fishes hence making them less capable to breed. Not only will that, but overcrowding the aquarium may also hamper breeding as well.

Mbuna cichlid natural diet includes algae and insects. But if they are fed with prepared foods, make sure that vegetable and algae matter like Spirulina is always included.

Another important factor that mbuna's are rock dwellers, thus it is apparent that they prefer to spawn in rocks, crevices, or caves. Needless to say, when keeping and breeding mbuna's it is vital that the breeder must provide a substantial amount of hiding place with the use of rocks or caves.

Initially, breeding is noticeable when the male will start claiming a small territory which he thinks is suitable for the spawning process. It is quite obvious that the male mbuna will show himself in front of the female mbuna and starts dancing usually by causing its whole body to vibrate and its fins will start to erect.

Moreover, its color will exude more brightness than normal. If the female is also in a spawning condition, then she will willingly go with the male to its spawning site. Both the female and the male cichlid will now start to swim closely to each other in a circular motion and amazingly the female will now start depositing the eggs in the spawning location. She will then pick the eggs and put it in her mouth for guarding and at the same time receives a mouthful of sperms to fertilize the eggs.

She will continue depositing eggs in the site and the process will follow the same cycle until all the eggs are fertilized and inside her mouth. When the eggs are all kept in her mouth the male mbuna will drive away the female in its territory. The female will try to hide the fry on hiding places provided for during the aquarium set-up. Even with the meticulous caution, some of the offspring may still be eaten but at least there are also a relative amount of babies saved. Female Mbuna cichlid fish may be moved to another aquarium to increase the rate of survival of its fry.

    By Lacey Bryant
    Lacey Bryant is a cichlid enthusiast and author, who has been caring for cichlids for over 15 years. She has been breeding Cichlids for years and it has become her passion to share her knowledge about their proper care.
    Article Source: EzineArticles



Female Aulonocara sp.
Female Aulonocara sp. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Peacock cichlid fish are some of the most beautiful fish in existence. They sport a great variety of colors and average between four and six inches in length. If they are properly taken care of, they can live for up to twelve years. These unique fish originally come from Lake Malawi which is located in East Africa.

There have been ten different types of peacock cichlid identified so far, but it is thought that there are more yet to be discovered. The known types are Blue Peacock, Sunshine Peacock, African Butterfly Peacock, Auloncara Fort Maguire Peacock, Auloncara Blue Gold Peacock, Flavescent Peacock, Rubin Red Peacock, Baensch's Peacock, Maulana Bicolor Peacock, and Nkhomo Benga Peacock.

Peacock cichlids are freshwater fish that prefer to live in caves or rocky ridges that are below the water. You can keep these interesting fish at home as pets also. The aquarium requirements for them are as follows: A tank size of at least forty-five gallons with a lot of rocks that are placed in such a way as to form cave-like areas or cave decorations that they can go into. You should also use something to keep the water alkaline. Sand substrate is a good choice. This will also help with the breeding process.

They prefer their water to be alkaline and hard like the waters of Lake Malawi. The PH level should be between seven and a half and nine. You can also put some plants in your tank, but be sure that they are very sturdy plants that can withstand the hard water. The water temperature should stay around seventy-eight degrees Fahrenheit.
Peacock cichlids are omnivorous and therefore should be fed a diet of both meat and vegetables. They will readily eat pellet food, but also like bloodworms, mosquito larvae, snails, and crustaceans. Whenever new fry is born, they can be given fine flake food or brine shrimp that are freshly hatched.

Peacock cichlids are less aggressive and milder mannered than the other cichlid groups. They can be put in tanks together as well as with some other types of peaceful fish. The ratio of female to a male should be about two or three females to one male. These fish have an interesting way of breeding. They are classified as ovophile mouth breeders. This means that the entire process of breeding, from fertilization to incubation to hatching of the eggs will happen inside the female's mouth.

The male peacock cichlid fish will first dig a hole in the sand substrate. The female lays the eggs inside this hole. She will then take the eggs into her mouth where she will keep them for the next three or four weeks. She will not eat during this time period.



English: Pseudotropheus demasoni, Lake Malawi ...Pseudotropheus demasoni, Lake Malawi Cichlid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Touchy, temperamental, beautiful, brilliant. All of these adjectives can be used to describe the African Cichlid. Some of the most beautiful freshwater fish in the world, they are also some of the most fickle. However, if you follow some basic rules, you won't be left saying "Why did my African Cichlid die?"

There are four basic things you need to watch and plan for when raising African Cichlids: water hardness (mineral content), pH, temperature, and space.

Water hardness
African Cichlids are native to lakes that have extraordinarily high levels of minerals. Because of this, aquariums often have to be supplemented with minerals, especially if you want the bright colors that Cichlids are known for. Most aquarium shops will sell mineral additives specifically meant for Cichlid tanks. Do not skimp on good minerals! Using a good filtering substrate - like crushed limestone or coral - will also add minerals to the water.

Alkaline Water
pH is a measure of how acid (low pH) or alkaline (high pH) something is. Water generally has a neutral pH of about 7.0. However, African Cichlids like a higher pH, Most of the African rift lakes where Cichlids are found have pHs above 8.0 for much of the year. While pH can fluctuate from about 7.2 - 9.0 in the wild, for the home aquarium stabilizing around 8.2 will keep your African Cichlids healthy.

If professional aquarium buffers are too expensive for you, you can use a home-made water-hardener that will also raise the pH. For every five gallons of aquarium water, try adding a table of inexpensive Epsom Salts (calcium, magnesium) as well as a tablespoon of baking soda (highly basic, will raise pH), and a teaspoon of a basic aquarium salt.

Temperature is perhaps the easiest variable to control, but also one that many people let go. (Who hasn't forgotten to plug an aquarium heater in?) Like most freshwater fish, cichlids have an optimal water temperature in the mid-70s. Be forewarned that warmer temperatures can contribute to higher aggression in your African Cichlids. Try to keep it around 74 degrees

African Cichlids are quite territorial and known to be aggressive. Many people will not raise Cichlids because they think they are doomed to kill one another. This is not true. While Cichlid aggression can be a problem for the inexperienced enthusiast, you can keep it to a minimum by providing the fish with hiding spaces. Note that live plants will die in the high pH water, so better to use fake plants. Other than that, provide lots of rocks. With enough space to stay out of each other's gills, African Cichlids usually do not fight to the death.

Cichlids may take a little more work than your average aquarium fish, however, they can be successfully kept by even the newest fish enthusiast. By paying attention to pH and mineral content especially, you can have healthy African Cichlids that show their vibrant colors. With a little research and planning, you won't have to say "Why did my African Cichlids die?" Instead, you'll be able to say, "Come look at my awesome aquarium!"



Mystic Aquarium - Mystic CT
Photo  by Rusty Clark – 
Worldwide, shelter brooding is a kind of reproductive habit among cichlids. Many cichlids guard their offspring and hide them inside caves, shells or simply inside the mouth of a parent. To breed them, clear clean water and substrate ranging from mud to gravel are required (with regards to the Betta species). Dense vegetation really should be planted into your aquarium. Their water temperature needs to be cool, say between 65 and 75 degrees F. Flowing streams coming from the highlands have cooler water.

Most African Cichlids are what's called "maternal mouthbrooders." Mouthbrooders are highly advanced from an evolutionary standpoint. They've developed a technique for protecting their young along at the most vulnerable time in their development. Mouthbrooders brood their eggs within their mouths!

For many of the non-mouthbrooding cichlids, and that is most neotropical cichlids, more or less stable pairs are formed and maintained through pair-bonding behaviors. Such behaviors as jaw locking, gill flaring (frontal displays) and beating/circling (lateral displays) function permitting inspection and "testing" of potential mates. This behavior will continue, following the establishment of any pair bond, as a ritualistic recognition or greeting behavior reaffirming that bond.

There isn't any best or right setup and design for cichlids. You can find however designs which may be better suited to your cichlids and make them feel more at home. If you're interested in seeing natural behaviors from the fish you should try to design your aquascape to mirror the environment your fish would live in if it were wild.

Not every setup will work with every cichlid. One example is an exceptionally rocky African Mbuna setup will not make a South American or even an African hap very happy. Many individuals who keep fish think cichlids are difficult to take care of, but Cichlids are easy to maintain once you learn how to keep them healthy and stress-free. 90% of issues with cichlids start with stress, tank mates, pH levels, and feeding them the wrong food.

To acquire more information about the technicalities of keeping cichlids, read Cichlid Fish Secrets. It's very professionally written and very easy to read whatever experience level, which is loaded from start to finish with relevant, detailed, and simple reading information.



We're all Friends Here.

Tanganyika Cichlids are one of the widely bought aquarium fish in the world. When buying Tanganyika Cichlids for your aquarium it is important to assess what type of species you are buying. These fish come in over 150 different species, depending on the type you buy, is how you should set up your tank in order to keep the stress of the fish down. Note that these fish are of the aggressive breed and a large aquarium is advised if you wish to keep different species of fish with them.

For example, some Tanganyika Cichlids are rock dwellers that live on the lakes rocky shores while others are sand living fish and prefer a softer sandier environment. If your fish are rock dwellers, then your aquarium should have plenty of rocks and hiding places such as caves, crevices, tunnels, etc. If you wish for your Cichlids to spawn, a larger cave is suggested as the dominant male will claim this as his own. Once claimed, the male will stay around the cave causing the others in the tank to feel more relaxed. If your fish are sand dwellers they also need plenty of hiding places to feel relaxed in your aquarium.

These types of Cichlids are very sensitive and it is important to keep the chemistry of your water at the appropriate levels. PH levels should be between 7.8 and 8.8 but they have been known to tolerate levels between 7.5 and 9.0. The temperature in the aquarium should be kept between 24 to 29 degrees Celsius or 75 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping it in-between this level will keep the stress levels down.

Feeding your Cichlids depends on the species you are keeping. Some Cichlids feed off the scales of living fish while others can be trained to eat normal aquarium foods. Most Cichlids do prefer live food but can also eat aquatic insects, insect larvae, etc. It is also known that some species will eat algae. When feeding your Cichlids make sure they have a variety of foods to keep them at optimal health.

Overall, when keeping Tanganyika Cichlids, check on the species you have bought, decorate the aquarium accordingly, keep your tank clean and healthy and do research on the food that is necessary for them. Doing all the above should keep your fish stress free resulting in a happy long-lived fish.


ELECTRIC BLUE CICHLID - A Brief Introduction

Electric Blue Hap
Photo  by Marcel Sigg 
The Electric Blue cichlid [electric blue hap (Sciaenochromis fryeri)] is a popular fish among hobby aquarists because it is an overall easy breed to care for and an easy species to breed. People also find their vibrant colors pleasing to the eye. In addition, they are not known to be picky eaters. However, they do ask for good water conditions, with suitable aquarium decorations.

Setting up an aquarium for an Electric Blue cichlid is simple, but takes thought and perhaps some research. It is important to try to replicate their natural environments to the best of your ability. Electric Blue cichlids are native to an African Rift Lake named Lake Malawi. In their natural habitat, they depend on their own instincts for their survival by hiding in rocks and logs, searching for smaller fish to eat.

In an aquarium, an Electric Blue cichlid totally relies on his owner for his survival and well-being. By providing for your fish, a home that closely resembles his native home, you will increase his lifespan, as well as cut down on aggressive behavior. You can also train your cichlid to eat prepared food rather than smaller fish in your aquarium. The other option is to keep your Electric Blue only with fish are as large, or larger, than they are. They will be safe from your cichlid's bite.

An Electric Blue cichlid can grow to be 6 inches in length, therefore should be put in a larger tank. A 55-gallon tank is the smallest tank you would want to house your Electric Blue cichlid in. They can live in murky water, but most hobby aquarists prefer to have their tanks clear. The fish do not mind clear water, either.

The water should be kept at temperature ranges of 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. This is very important because having the incorrect water temperature is one reason why cichlids become aggressive. They are hardy fish, but any drastic change in water temperature could have detrimental effects. Keep the aquarium out of direct sunlight, and away from all heat sources to prevent sudden a rise or fall of water temperature.

Finally, an Electric Blue cichlid likes to have plenty of places he can hide, yet also have plenty of swimming space. Rocks and wood can be stacked strategically along the bottom of your tank to accomplish this. You will also want to replicate the substrate from Lake Malawi because these cichlids like to play in the substrate sometimes. Having the incorrect bottom layer in your aquarium can harm them unnecessarily.


Breeding AFRICAN CICHLIDS - A 9 Step Guide

Convict Cichlids. Female on the left, Male on ...
Convict Cichlids. Female on the left, Male on the right. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It is the vivid colors and peculiar mannerisms that make African Cichlids the most popular fish in captivity and it usually does not take long before the owner becomes interested in breeding them. But what that you ask? How do I do this?

1. With tropical fish generally, you can just pair them up and the breeding process takes place but its a little different when breeding African cichlids. With African cichlids, the best method is to have a largish group with a much higher female to male ratio. If you keep only couples the female most often is bullied by the male even sometimes to the point of death.

2. African cichlids have to be healthy for breeding as the female will go without food for weeks when in the spawning cycle. This means they need to be fed well prior on a varied diet of spirulina flakes, earthworm, brine shrimp, daphnia, and mosquito larva.

3. In order for your breeding colony to flourish, they will need a comfortable environment. Make caves, rocks, crevices, and tunnels to provide protection when needed from bully fish. The ideal breeding tank setup is to use no gravel. This will focus the male on the task at hand. The males soon turn their attention to the females and the mating will soon follow.

4. If you want to use plants then I recommend plastic only and make sure they are firmly attached to the bottom. If u use real plants they will get destroyed.

5. Usually, the mating game will start with the male showing off and dancing until he attracts one of the females. Then they may appear to wrestle a bit to test strength, this sometimes includes the locking of the mouths. Eventually, this behavior leads to the female laying her eggs. Then they will be scooped up into her mouth for protection. It is believed that the egg patterns around the males anal area trick the female into thinking she left eggs in the open, so when she tries to scoop them the male fertilizes the brood.

6. After the eggs have been fertilized it will take up to two months for them to hatch at which point they will continue to reside in the mother's mouth. It is a good idea to try and feed her now as she will eat a little so the fry can get to it.

7. So the small fry does not get eaten it is important to separate the female to a separate tank until shes had her young.

8. Once the small fry is swimming freely the best way to get food to them is by putting crumbled flakes into the end of a straw and then placing the end near the small fry for them to eat.

9. The female will need to regain her strength so its best to keep her separated for a few weeks. And also keep the fry separated until large enough to fend for themselves.

Follow my guidelines and you will be breeding big beautiful healthy African cichlids in no time.


LAKE MALAWI CICHLIDS - Ideal Fish Tank Conditions for Lake Malawi Cichlids

Dramatic Sky
Photo  by fabulousfabs 
If you have had an aquarium for any length of time you will, no doubt, have experimented with the types of fish you keep in a tank. Cichlids remain a popular choice for many amateur fish tank owners because they are lively fish that always seem to be doing things. It seems that people can relate to cichlids because they display many traits that we can recognize in ourselves. This makes for good viewing. Lake Malawi Cichlids are a type of fish you may want to keep in your tank. This article will briefly describe the nature of these fish and their ideal habitat. This can give you an indication of the type of aquarium you need to keep these animals.

Lake Malawi is a large Lake situated on Malawi's northeastern border with Tanzania and Mozambique. It is part of the great lakes of the African rift valley along with the better known Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria. The water is generally alkaline and has a Ph level of 7.7 to 8.6. The temperature of the water varies from 27-29 degrees Celsius on the surface to about 22 degrees Celsius at lower depths.

The two main types of cichlids that can be found in Lake Malawi are the haplochromines and the tilapiines. Like most cichlids, Lake Malawi cichlids are known for being territorial and aggressive towards each other. They are mouth brooders. They are particularly noted for the vivid colors and markings.

There is such a variety of species that it would be impossible to name all of them but the most colorful are possibly the peacock cichlids. Popular peacock cichlids are the Melanochromis auratus and the Labeotrophus trewavasae. While in many species of cichlids only the male has the vivid markings, in these two species both sexes have colorful markings. Another reason for the popularity of the Melonachromis auratus is that the fry displays the same colors and markings as the parents but only in miniature. Most are adapted for feeding off algae attached to rock or substrate.

When creating a habitat for Lake Malawi cichlids it is important to keep the water quality alkaline. The aquascape should feature rocks and substrate similar to the environment in Lake Malawi. The rocks will allow the fish to hide and feed on the algae on the rocks. To combat the territorial nature of the fish you could densely stock the tank. Given that the tank is densely stocked you should have a strong filtration system set up to maintain the water quality. Typically they eat flake, bloodworm and pellet foods.

Lake Malawi cichlids are some of the most beautiful fish in the world and are active and fun to watch. They remain one of the most popular types of fish to keep in a tropical freshwater fish tank.


Familiarize Yourself With AFRICAN CICHLIDS Breeding

Telmatochromis sp congo mâle
Telmatochromis sp congo mâle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There really comes a time when a pet owner would love to breed their own fishes. As a matter of fact, African cichlids breeding has been a common practice for most fish enthusiasts. Since these types of fishes are very popular, it is somehow rewarding to have a few of your own. Inter-breeding different species of African cichlids enables one to come up with cichlids with a unique color. Now, that's another feather on one's cap.

Although breeding African Cichlids is exciting as it may sound, it still involves some sort of hard work and discipline. It would also require you to do some research. Studying the ins and outs of the process like what you are doing now can really help.

The first thing you should know is that most species of African Cichlids are mouthbrooders. When this is the case, the female cichlid keeps her eggs inside her mouth. Male African cichlids do a dance-like routine to woo the female cichlid. Once you see this seemingly unusual behavior from your male cichlid, you should start monitoring the next events.

After the actual mating process, the female will lay the eggs in the water. The male cichlid should be able to fertilize the eggs before the female takes it in her mouth. The whole process is repeated until there are fertilized eggs. The unfertilized ones are just left behind.

There is sometimes a stumbling block in breeding African Cichlids. How do you get the female and male cichlids to mate? You won't have a problem with this if you have a few female cichlids in your tanks.

You see, male African cichlids tend to fight with one another when the female cichlid is ready for mating. The fights can turn ugly and may lead you to lose some fishes. The key to this situation is to have one male and probably three female cichlids. This way, the male would have controllable aggressiveness.

Bear in mind that female cichlids must undergo necessary preparations prior to her spawning period. She must be at the pink of health. Also, take the time to ensure that she's well-fed. Female African cichlids usually go by without food during her spawning season.

Remember those female cichlids are mouthbrooders. The eggs stay inside the mother's mouth for at least two months. Feed the female as frequent as you can because she can only take little food during this time.

After the fry hatches, you need to put them in a separate tank. Otherwise, the mature cichlid will mistake them for food. The fry needs to be in a tank away from other mature fishes. Also, try to separate the mother cichlid as she needs to recover. She won't be able to do so if she has to deal with bullying from other fishes.

There is surely a lot to learn when it comes to African cichlids breeding. However, your patience would surely pave way for more worthwhile discoveries. Just pay close attention and love your cichlids more. They would surely reward your hard work.



Adult Neolamprologus cylindricus in an aquarium
Adult Neolamprologus cylindricus in an aquarium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you have decided to set up an African cichlid tank, odds are that this is not your first aquarium. I first decided to keep African cichlids after seeing some red zebras and yellow labs in a pet shop and wondering why these colorful fish were not in the saltwater section. I had never seen such colorful fish that were not saltwater fish. African cichlids are also very interesting to watch. They are a territorial fish with a bit of an attitude. This can be handled by proper stocking of your aquarium.

First, you must decide which of the three lakes you want to set your aquarium up to imitate. African cichlids come from Lake Tanganyika, Lake Victoria, and Lake Malawi. All three of these lakes have hard water with a high pH. I would suggest starting with mbunas from Lake Malawi. Mbunas are a class of rock-dwelling, mouthbrooding, and omnivorous cichlids. The common varieties can be found in most local pet shops and are not very expensive.

Mbunas require a lot of space and hiding spots in their aquarium. You should use a 55-gallon aquarium or larger to keep these cichlids. You can use limestone or holy rock (limestone rock with lots of holes) and caves. These are usually placed towards the rear of the tank which allows for a free swimming area at the front of the tank. A common substrate used in mbuna aquariums is crushed coral. Using crushed coral as the substrate helps maintain the elevated pH and water hardness.

Cichlid tanks require a lot of filtration to keep the inhabitants healthy. I usually use two large sponge filters in each of the rear corners in combination with a large filter hanging on the back of the tank or two smaller ones submerged within the tank. The hanging filter (or the submersed ones) cleans particulate matter from the aquarium while the sponge filters house large quantities of the bacteria which convert ammonia to nitrites and the nitrites to nitrates.

African cichlids require a water temperature of around 80 degrees F. This will most likely require a 150-watt heater on each end of a 55-gallon tank. The submersible type with a temperature setting is preferred. They cost a little more but are worth it. They will last much longer than the less expensive ones that hang on the back of the tank.

After the aquarium is set up with the proper substrate, plenty of hiding spaces, heaters, filters and filled with dechlorinated water, you need to determine the pH and water hardness. You can buy water test kits at your local pet shop. With the limestone and crushed coral, you have already elevated your pH and water hardness from what it comes out of your tap. You will need a pH of 7.4 to 8.6 and a water hardness of 10.0 to 20.0 dH.

It has been my experience with relatively soft tap water with a neutral pH that if I use the cichlid tank setup described above, all I need to do is adjust the water hardness and the pH is right where I want it.

Test your water hardness. If your tap water is hard enough, you may get lucky and not need to make any adjustments. Most likely though, you will need to increase the water's hardness. You can elevate the hardness using African cichlid salt. You can find this at your local pet shop or online.

Add the cichlid salt until you reach a hardness level around 15.0 dH. At this point, check your pH. Your pH should be around 8 at this point. If necessary, you may need to adjust it also. This is unlikely, once you have elevated the hardness to this level.

Now you can purchase your first African cichlid. Initially just purchase one cichlid for the tank and let it have the tank to itself for about two weeks. This will give the aquarium time to grow the bacteria necessary to break down waste in the tank in what is called the nitrogen cycle. You can get around this by setting up one of the sponge filters in an established aquarium for a couple of weeks prior to setting up your cichlid tank. This way the sponge filter will have all of the bacteria needed for the nitrogen cycle.  When you then move it to your new tank, you have effectively moved the bacterial colonies that the new tank requires.

At this point, you have your African cichlid tank up and running! If you chose mbuna for your tank, feed them spirulina flakes and cichlid pellets. Once it is fully stocked, perform 30% to 50% water changes on a weekly basis. Vacuum the gravel when you do this and you will have a healthy, thriving community of African cichlids.

One last note: The large sponge filters and large water changes may be relics of my years keeping discus, which require a very clean tank. I can tell you from experience that you will very rarely if ever have health issues with your fish if you keep an aquarium in this manner.

    Tim Montey has kept and bred fish as a hobby off and on for more than 30 years. 
    Article Directory: EzineArticles


RED ZEBRA CICHLID - Basic Information

Red Zebra Cichlid
Photo  by J Wynia 
The red zebra cichlid is also known as the Esther Grant's Zebra or Metriaclima estherae is a rock dwelling fish or mbuna that originates in Lake Malawi. They are mouth brooder's, which means the females placed the fertilized eggs in their mouth for a period of time to incubate eggs. The fry will then be released after 21 days of caring in their mouth.

This variety used to be under the genus name of Pseudotropheus but this name is now presently pointing to another species. The genus name up to now is still being disputed some consider Maylandia while other used the name Metriaclima.

The female zebra cichlid can grow as much as 10 centimeters of four inches in length while the male zebra may grow up to 12.7 centimeters or five inches long.

The "red" name of this fish is actually solid orange in color but the males sometimes possess reddish stripes.

This variety may thrive in water chemistry with a pH level of 7.5 to 8.5 and a temperature of 24 to 28 degrees Celsius or 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. When kept in an aquarium it must be placed with other species of the same temperament. The appropriate ratio would be one female to three or four females in a tank. Overcrowding the tank may help suppress the aggression of a red zebra cichlid. Decorate tank densely with rocks or cave that may be used as their hiding place. Use also fine gravel for substrate or fine gravel with crushed coral, or driftwoods, Java ferns, or Java moss. Ensure to provide one hiding place each species and a capacious area for the cichlids to swim freely. Avoid using rooted plants for this will reduce the pH level of the water.

When it comes to breeding the female zebra is known to be mouth-brooders. The female will brood her eggs approximately in three weeks and cares will still continue to care for the fry for another week after she has released them in the open. You can identify a cichlid that she is breeding when her mouth enlarged and most clearly when she refuses to eat.

Feeding the fry in any fish food is fine but vegetable is best as its staple diet. To make them more productive in breeding the best thing to do is to isolate the red cichlid. But the more rational way of isolating her should be kept in a lesser period to avoid the female losing her social status with the rest of her tank mates. This is done to prevent fights when the breeding mother is returned to its original tank. Bear in mind that stress may lead the mother to eat their eggs and fry.

Red zebra cichlid is omnivores and enjoys food such as spinach, peas, zucchini, and lettuce. They also love live foods like crickets, brine shrimp, mealworms, glass worms, and tubifex worms and many more.


Reducing AFRICAN CICHLID Aggression

African cichlid aquarium
African cichlid aquarium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
African cichlids are often referred to as the most aggressive cichlid, and most inexperienced aquarists will tell you that you should not keep this species because they are too "mean." African Cichlids have a tendency to be aggressive by nature, but don't let this discourage you from keeping them as a pet. In this article, I am going to explain some of the most common ways to reduce African Cichlid aggression.

Food is the number one cause of Cichlid aggression. This is because they live in vast numbers in the wild and are required to defend themselves for food. They also display the same behavior in an aquarium. It is best to feed in small amounts several times a day. By feeding throughout the day, you are helping to eliminate their food-related aggression.

Tank Size
Since Cichlids tend to be very territorial by nature, it is important to have a large enough tank for them to live in. It is suggested that you use at least a 55-gallon aquarium for keeping this species. Having a larger tank will allow you to build a lot of nooks and crannies for your them to hide in and claim as their territory.

Similar Sizes
When choosing your African Cichlids, it is best to pick those that are similar in size. If you have one fish that is much larger than the others, it is most likely going to take over your tank and be the most aggressive Cichlid. This rule of thumb is especially important if you are keeping several males of the same species.

Before choosing your tank mates, I suggest that you do a bit of research to determine how big they will get when they are adults. This will also help to ensure that you have the proper size tank for the species you plan on keeping.

Having a large variety of colors with different body markings will also help reduce their aggression. If they look like one another, chances are they will not get along.

It is recommended that you keep the temperature of your Cichlid tank on the low side. High temperatures will increase the fish's metabolism and can trigger more aggressive behavior. Of course, you don't want freezing cold water, but 74-76 degrees is acceptable for most African Cichlid species.

The general rule for most African Cichlid species is to keep one male per every three females. This is important because males, in almost all cases, tend to be the most aggressive cichlids in the tank. This is because the males will be aggressive towards females that do not want to mate. Having more females in the tank will take the male's focus off of just one female and instead his anger will be evenly distributed.

Mixing species
The three main lakes that African Cichlids originate from are Malawi, Tanganyikan, and Victorian. Although it has been done, I do not recommend combing species from different lakes. However, if you insist on mixing Cichlids from different lakes, Malawi and Tanganyikan are going to be your best bet. If you plan to mix the two, I suggest that you do some serious research to determine which species will be compatible with one another. If you are a beginner at keeping cichlids, it is best to stock your tank with fish from the same lake.

African Cichlids are a wonderful species to keep, but it is important to remember that they can be aggressive if you aren't careful. Taking precaution and following these guidelines will help keep your Cichlid aggression at a minimum. These really are a beautiful species of fish and I hope that you can enjoy them as much as I do.


AFRICAN CICHLID Aquarium - Basic Ideas on Aquascaping

Photo by Lee Nachtigal 
Basically, African cichlid aquarium is best decorated by making a simulation of its natural habitat in the wild as possible. This is so to make cichlids comfortable and secure.

Therefore, when setting up the tank the question should be what makes an African cichlid feel comfortable and secure when it comes to their environment? They like to live in a habitat that has lots of hiding place as a refuge area for smaller fishes as well as for territorial purposes for the bigger species.

The first rational thing to do is to read books, searched online for information about its natural habitat and then when sufficient info's has been gathered start planning out the materials to be used.

Basically, Lake Malawi is sandy in some areas thus a crushed coral or sand substrate is adequate. Crushed coral help raise the pH in the aquarium water. If sand is preferred, I suggest the use of Tropical Play Sand. Whichever substrate is chosen, make sure that they are properly washed before placing in the tank.

Now, what rocks are appropriate for your African cichlid aquarium? Tufa rock may be used it is also known as a saltwater base rock but if honeycomb rock is available this is a much better choice. Honeycombed rocks consist lots of holes and tunnels which smaller fish can use for hiding. Once the rocks are bought, make sure to anchor it safely and sturdy in its place that will not be easily moved by the agility and aggressiveness of African cichlids.

The last step in aquascaping your tank is to purchased plastic or real plants. Your choice will greatly depend on the keeper. If time is not possible it is best to pick plastic plants since live plants require constant care not only that cichlids like to nibble on live plants. However, if live plants are dearly preferred an Amazon sword is a good idea and matched it with maybe a couple of fake plants. That should do the trick. Plants can add color and beauty to the aquarium as well as a hideaway for cichlids. Place the plants in bunches or clumps it would look more natural and useful too. If fake plants are used buy only the natural colors like green. Avoid using colorful ones like blue or yellow, although they come in nice colors they do not mimic the natural habitat of an African cichlid.

Here's a few list of other materials that might be useful: 

1. Driftwood - this would look natural and lowers pH.
2. Shale, flag stone, slate - these are good for forest and rift lake cichlids. Very good as caves and over hangs but are not natural for Lake Malawi cichlids.
3. Small shells - good for shelter and spawning and may increase pH level.
4. Clay pots - Not natural for Lake Malawi but are great for spawning and shelter.
There are many decorations that may be used for African cichlid aquarium just bear in mind to create the environment with natural effects as to where your particular cichlid originates.

    Lacey Bryant is a cichlid enthusiast and author, who has been caring for cichlids for over 20 years. It is her goal to see that all Cichlids are properly cared for.
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Tips on ZEBRA TILAPIA Care and Spawning

Tilapia buttikoferi
Tilapia buttikoferi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Zebra Tilapia or Tilapia buttikoferi are members of the family Cichlidae more commonly referred to as cichlids. They inhabit the rivers and streams of Liberia in West Africa.

Zebra tilapias have a pale yellow or off-white body with vertical black striping from the region to their eyes to the base of their tale. They are also referred to by the names of other striped animals such as hornet or tiger tilapia. Their stripes will actually change shade according to their mood. They will vary from very light to nearly black. The vertical markings tend to fade as the fish grows older.

The Zebra tilapia is a larger species of cichlid. They commonly grow up to 16 inches in length. A similarly sized aquarium will be necessary if you intend to raise them. A 75-gallon tank is the minimum recommendation. These fish are mid-level swimmers.

Zebras are one of the most vicious members of the cichlid family. They are best suited for a mono-species tank. They are so territorial that it is not recommended that you attempt to raise them in a group. These fish should be kept as a single fish or a couple only. Despite their innate aggressive behavior, they are still reasonably popular with aquarium owners. This is because they are very intelligent creatures.

They are acutely aware of their surroundings. They react to movement outside of their aquatic environment. They often feel their territory is being invaded by a person in the same room will attempt to attack the intruder through the glass. They are also known to wreak havoc on aquarium substrate. These are substrate breeders and have a tendency to dig up gravel even when they are not in the spawning cycle. They will suck up a mouth full of gravel and spit it out somewhere else creating little hills and valleys on the aquarium floor.

These fish are also very long-lived. They will live an average of 10 years and have been known to live as long as 15.

Water temperature should be between 74-78 °F with a slightly alkaline pH.

They are omnivores, so provide them with both meaty and plant-based foods.

Young Tilapia can be fed tropical fish flakes, cichlid pellets, frozen or freeze-dried foods. They will also brine shrimp, tubifex, and bloodworms. When they get bigger you can feed them small shrimp, crickets, and earthworms. Tilapias are not picky eaters. They will eat their veggies. In fact, they have an affinity for blanched vegetables such as lettuce, zucchini, and even broccoli. Just throw the veggie of choice in a pot of boiling water for 15-20 seconds, remove the vegetables and let cool. Don't expect to keep live plants with a tilapia. If they have a tasted for the plant they will eat it. If they don't they are apt to dig it up. Because of their size, they also produce a lot of waste. Frequent water changes are needed in order to keep them healthy.

Male and females are virtually identical. So you may not be able to tell them apart until they spawn.

Breeding Tilapia

As mentioned earlier, zebras are substrate spawners. They tend to mate in private so you will want to provide them with upturned plant pots or some other form of an artificial cave. A slight increase in water temperature indicates spawning season and may induce them to spawn.

They will usually dig a hole in the substrate to deposit their eggs in. However, they have been known to lay their eggs on the roof of the mating chamber. Both parents generally care for the young. Though spawning may trigger aggressiveness in the male. If this occurs remove the male and allow the female to tend her eggs.

Fry typically hatch in 4-5 days and will become free swimming in another 5 or 6. Fry can be fed newly hatched brine shrimp, liquid or powdered fry food formulated for egg layers.

    By Stephen J Broy
    The latest trend among Saltwater Tank enthusiasts is raising pet jellyfish. Jellyfish need specially designed Jellyfish Fish Tank Aquariums. Jellyfish tanks are easier to maintain than traditional saltwater setups. Moon Jellies are the most popular jellyfish among home aquarists both for their exotic beauty and their ease of care. They have become so popular that two US-based websites are now tank raising them to meet the growing demand. Pet Moon Jellyfish look absolutely incredible under a fading LED lighting system.

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