Medium American Cichlids                                         Good mixers with larger community fishes.

 
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LA
Festivum.  Similar in personality to angelfishes.

LA Pic
1.5 inch festivums.

LA
Three-inch festivum.

Not everyone likes gentle community fishes that get along well together.  They want fish with muscles and plenty of personality.  They want Central and South American Cichlids.

Medium American Cichlids Usually Available

Name

Size

Attitude

Spawning

Comments

Angelfish

M-L

Community

60o Slate

Excellent mixer

Misc Acara

M

Agg Comm

Rock

Likes caves

Blue Acara

M

Agg Comm

Rock

Likes caves

Discus

M-L

Not Comm

60o Slate

Not a good mixer

Festivum

M

Comm

60o Slate

Treat like angels

Firemouth

M

Comm Rock/Pit Sort of a sissy

Latifrons

M

Agg Comm

Rock

Likes caves

Portie

M-L

Agg Comm

Rock

Easy spawner

Rainbow

M

Agg Comm

Rock

Colors up later

Salvinii

M

Agg Comm

Rock

Pretty

They’ve been bred in the U.S. for such a long time, we no longer think of them as imports.  Think of them as NAFTA’s answer to our sunfishes (known as Centrarchids to ichthyologists).

LA Pic
One of our north of the NAFTA border sunfishes -- very similar to cichlids. 

LA Pic
When breeding, you can't beat our sunfishes.  But sunfishes will beat on your other fishes. 

Cichlids in General.  Most cichlids act the same as our sunfishes.  This means they need lots of elbow room at breeding time – and take it from everyone else.  They eat whatever fits in their mouths, beat on whatever comes their way, dig up anything movable, develop actual personalties, and grow into extremely attractive specimens as they mature.

Some Are Wienies.  Not all the mid-size cichlids will wrestle you for their food.  Some of them are shy, demure and retiring:

  1. Angels

  2. Discus

  3. Festivums

 

LA Pic

Firemouths are also on the list of likely guys to get beat up.

 

LA
Live firemouths look much better -- even at two inches.

 

LA
They look even better when their fins are up -- and they usually are.

 

 

 

LA Pic
Little angels grow into large angels.

 

Angels.  Angels look great and belong in every aquarium – even 10-gallon aquariums.  They stunt out in smaller tanks but still achieve a respectable size.  They really beef up in a big tank. 

 

Lots of Colors.  Angels came on the market in a basic silver and black “ladder pattern.”  Today, you can find an entire spectrum of different angel colors and fin types – plus scale types.

 

LA Pic
Not for everyone.

 

The Discus Development.  Long considered the emperor of the freshwater aquarium, originally only a few dedicated fanatics, pure-bred Germans, and NASA scientists could keep these warm water denizens alive.  You’ll never see a cheap one, but the discus on the market today live longer and look better than yesterday’s discus.

 

Discus Equipment.  Discus have caused a literal revolution in the freshwater aquarium trade.  In addition to discus books and discus foods, you can buy discus filters, discus water conditioners, and discus lighting systems.  Actually, the list goes on and on, depending upon which discus book you last read.

 

The Discus Rainbow.  Originally, we chose between browns and blues.  Now, we can choose from nearly any color in the rainbow.  And with the help of certain Singapore hormones, you can even find colors that will never appear in any rainbow.  Warning:  If you desire to some day breed your discus, avoid the highly colored (hormoned) juveniles from the Orient.  They look great, but they may be the last rung on that particular evolutionary ladder.

 

LA Pic
Batch of eggs from a typical medium-sized American cichlid.

 

LA Pic
You don't see the porties very often.  Most cichlid people consider them too easy.

 

LA Pic
Rainbows take a long time to develop their color.

 

The Less Colorful Guys.  Let’s face it, if the rest of the mid-sized cichlids didn’t have personality plus, we’d rarely see them.  However, they make great cruisers in community tanks with mean fish, fish that like to snack on their smaller companions, and larger fish such as barbs, gouramis, and characins.

 

Refer back to Small American Cichlids for breeding information.

 

 

 

Plastic Plants.  If you’ve ever seen Iowa sunfishes spawn, you know how most mid-size cichlids react to live plants.  They dig them up.  They tear them up.  They eat them.  Whatever, they destroy them.  Use weighted plastic plants if you prefer planted aquaria.  You’ll still need to replant, but your job will take less time. 

 

Decorate with Driftwood.  Weighted driftwood was made for these guys.  There’s not much they can do to harm it.  They’ll dig under it and push it around, but they can’t hurt it.

 

Preferred Foods.  These guys were originally hunters.  They prefer catching and eating small fishes.  Lots of people feed them guppies because they enjoy watching their antics.  Oddly enough, guppies do little to bring out their colors.  Any number of prepared and frozen foods will bring out more color.  Make sure you give them some color-producing foods before you fill them full of guppies.  And remember to give them a variety.  If you have the inclination, most really enjoy earthworms and mealworms broken in half.

 

More Food Info.  Growing cichlids love frozen brine shrimp.  The bigger ones eat it, but really need something larger.  The answer?  Plankton – frozen or freeze dried.  They love this inch-long cousin of the brine shrimp.  Plankton contains certain tasty fats that bring out their colors and bring on their spawning urges.

 

Cloudy Eyes.  This could also be called “water conditions.”  If you forget to change their water regularly, cichlids often develop cloudy eyes.  Next comes cloudy fins and slime covered bodies.  Hold it!  Put down that antibiotic.  Just use a gravel vacuum cleaner and change part of their water.  Eyes still cloudy the next day?  Change it again.  These guys eat so much and “process” so much food that they need frequent water changes.

 

Little Worms in the Water.  Put down that poison you almost put in there and re-read the preceding paragraph.  Change part of the water.  Those little worms and bugs are your friends.  Every time you overfeed your aquatic mooses, the little varmints in your gravel help devour the extra food before the nasty bacteria eat it and grow like crazy (and give your fish cloudy eyes).  You rarely see those little critters unless you heavily overfeed or your filter stops.

 

Special Cleaner Crew.  You can’t keep most snails with cichlids – except for the Malaysian Livebearing Snail, sometimes called cornucopias or those darn unkillable snails.  These guys live in the gravel and come out at night to keep your tank clean.  LA.

 

For More Info Go to:

Small American Cichlids
Large American Cichlids

 

© 1985, © 2003, © 2004, © 2005  LA Productions

3600 Sixth Avenue

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