Small American Cichlids Cichlids You Can Mix in Community Tanks
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Adult male in full color. You will not see these in dealer tanks. If you like dwarf cichlids as much as LA does, you'll send $17 to ASG (Apistogramma Study Group), P.O. Box 504, Elkhorn WI 53121-0504 USA.
Heck, yes! Lots of the small American cichlids work great in any community aquarium – even planted aquaria. The primo ones to think about include:
● Various Apistogrammas
● Various Ramerizis
Apistogrammas. We rarely see any of these lately. And when we order them, we usually get Nannacaras which are okay, but not the same thing. Sometimes we wonder why publishers print so many Apistogramma pictures, when they’re so hard to find on the market. If you can find them, they make great community fishes in small tanks.
Some books consider Rams a non-Apistogramma species.
Some don’t. Some call them
Microgeophagus. No matter
for us. The best part is we
CAN find Rams on the market quite often and in a variety of colors and fin
● Wild Rams
● Blue Rams
● Gold Rams
● Angel Rams
● Longfin Rams
And everyone of them works well in a small community tank with other fishes. Some cichlids get large enough to eat ALL your other fishes. Rams STAY small.
Young Cichlid Colors. Many small cichlids come into the marketplace as juveniles. They still carry their protective coloration that enables them to hide from predators. In other words, they’re a little on the drab side. Cichlids develop their colors after they attain sexual maturity. It may take a year or longer to bring out their full potential.
Primo Foods. Cichlids always rush to the head of the food line. Most will eat nearly any food you offer. But, for a few cents more you can offer them foods that make them perkier and bring out their brightest colors. Investigate the foods made especially for cichlids – flakes, pellets, and frozen foods. Also try the color foods and the foods with added spirolina algae.
Live Foods. All cichlids love live California black worms. If you can find live brine shrimp, they love them too. And at certain times of the year you can find small earthworms in your back yard. If you have none of these, provide frozen brine shrimps. Remember that the prepared foods provide a more complete diet; the live and frozen foods put the icing on the cake. Use both.
Feeder Guppies. Some hobbyists like to feed their cichlids live guppies. Cichlids love chasing them down and eating them. But guppies make a very poor color food when fed exclusively. The solution? Feed your guppies color food before feeding them to your cichlids. Your cichlids get the thrill of the chase; you get the colorful fish you prefer.
Planted Tanks. Larger cichlids pretty much rip a planted tank to shreds. Most of the smaller cichlids actually enjoy the extra security provided by a well planted tank. On the average, the small cichlids prefer lots of plants. Whether they can tell plastic from real is another matter. That’s your personal choice to make.
Jewels beat up community fish and get killed when mixed with African cichlids. Can you see the tiny fry hiding in the gravel? She had a couple hundred.
● Jewels (really from Africa)
The larger the tank, the better. The more hiding places the better. The closer the size of your various fish species, the better.
Easiest Breeder. If you want to spawn a cichlid with a built-in spawning guarantee, get a pair of convicts – the regular greys with the “convict stripes” or the pink ones or mix the colors. Convicts are not picky. They are also one of the few egglayers whose newly swimming babies will eat dry food. Most egglayers insist on newly hatched brine shrimp. These guys are so easy to breed that you can’t sell them. Most people just raise convicts as food.
The Breeding Process
The Basics: Small Central American cichlids (like most American cichlids) breed in pairs – one male plus one female. Males usually grow larger. The more aggressive males often kill their mates when kept in smaller tanks.
Preparation: Select breeders of about the same size. Feed them well -- this means several small feedings per day. After you feed them their flake food, give them frozen brine shrimp or live black worms for dessert. These richer foods help put them “in the mood.” Warm their water about five degrees. Provide lots of extra cover for the female.
Your Breeding Tank: Use at least a 10-gallon tank filled with aged water. Always provide a good filter. And, the more caves and rockwork you provide, the better. The caves serve as breeding sites and hiding places for the female. It may take the pair a while to “get together.”
The Process: Most small cichlids spawn in caves. You are unlikely to witness the ritual. Beforehand, you will notice the female getting chubbier. The parents often take turns guarding their cave.
Care of the Eggs: The parents do all the work. Both parents fan and protect the eggs. Most small cichlids make excellent parents and will try to bite you if you put your hand in the water.
Care of the Fry: Feed the fry (after they start swimming) newly-hatched brine shrimps. Later, add some mystery snails to keep the bottom clean. Feed them frozen baby shrimps and the smallest of dry prepared foods after three or four weeks. Small cichlid fry grow slowly.
One-inch checkered cichlid seldom seen these days. It grows 50% larger.
Helpful Info: If your cichlids spawn in a community tank, remove the eggs to a small container with a slow airstone. Otherwise, they are lunch. LA.
For more Apistogramma info, go to www.apisto.com
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