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America Cichlids for an 8 footer


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Hi all

after keeping Africans nearly 15 years ago, and having kept them solidly for the last 8 years, I've decided to go over to the Dark Side and have a crack at South Americans shock.gif

I've nearly emptied my 8x2x2 and will get it going again after a bit of maintainance over the next few weeks. But what to stock it with confused.gif

Ok, here are the parameters I was thinking of:

- With a tank that size I was hoping to stock a variety of larger fish, but was hoping for low aggression.

- I want to keep some plants but given my relatively low lighting, will probably stick to Anubias and Crypts (if possible)

- I was thinking of just an ordinary dark gravel.

I'd really love it if some of you New World fans could give me some suggestions on the plants and particularly fish I that would make such a tank just magic to behold. I really don't know much about Americans and so don't be afraid to talk down to me smile.gif I live near Canberra but am willing to drive to Sydney if need be (and go to a NSWCS meeting too thumbup.gif )



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plants + large americans?

I don't think that'll work hey. Maybe with sandsifters, but then dark gravel is out.

Are there any fish in particular that you have your eye on?

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I agree with Ash, if you are after tankbusters, plants are a no-go.

A 8 x 2 x 2 with medium to large sized fish could be okay with plants, but the plants really limit your choice. A few severums look great in a tank if you are after less feral Americans but they are herbivores, so plants are out of the question.

As Ash said list some fish you like and we'll try to be more helpful.

If you are into the darkside you might want a few tankbusters and some smaller Americans. These are the fish that I will put into a 6 x 2 x 2 which I hope to purchase soon., I just need to make the stand first blink.gif .

Red Tiger Oscar 11", Texas 8" (4'er by themselves)

Jack Dempsey 2" (in "kinddie" 2'er with Australian natives)

Salvini 5", Synspilum 4"(in tall 3'er with 3 other cichlids)

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There are some fish that will be ok with the plants, but these are generally of a more modest size. Large fish that don't maul plants tend to only be in the Geophagus and Satanoperca complex.

Why not go for synthetic plants - there are some amazingly realistic ones on the market, and then you could put what you like! hehehe

A few fish suggestions:


Geophagus brasiliensis - Pearl Cichlid

Hypselecara temporalis - Chocolate Cichlid

Vieja synspilus - Red-headed Cichlid

Astronotus ocellatus - Oscar (wild type if you can find/afford them)

Heros severus - Green/Gold Severum


Thorichthys meeki - Firemouth Cichlid

Nandopsis octofasciatus - Jack Dempsey

Nandopsis salvini - Pocket Battleship/Salvin's Cichlid

Archocentrus sajica

Parachromis friedrichsthalii


Myleus cf. rubripinnis - Red Hook Pacu

Balanteochilus melanopterus - Silver Shark

Botia macracantha - Clown Loach

Glyptoperichthys cf. gibbiceps - Sailfin Pleco

Chuck in some dark gravel, nice dark rust coloured rocks, quality synthetic plants - and you will have a stunning looking tank! smile.gif



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Nandopsis salvini - Pocket Battleship/Salvin's Cichlid

that's awesome... i'd never heard them referred to as a 'pocket battleship' but i loooooooove the reference.... clap.gif that's exactly what they are... short, stocky and loaded with arsenal....

does nobody know what a Nandopsis managuensis (jaguar cichlid) is around here... bigsmile.gif

i mean we are talking tank-busters aren't we.... thumbup.gif

oh, just realised

but was hoping for low aggression
... guess that rules jags out..... blink.gif

how about a nice pair of black belts.... LOL.gifLOL.gif

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Hi all, thanks for the suggestions and comments.

I guess I need to rephrase this, when I said 'large' I meant as opposed to dwarf. So yeah, medium sized cichlids are definitely of interest. I love my plants but am willing to consider plastic/silk plants if that is what it takes. Where can I source quality fake plants?

I note Andrew's comment on the rust coloured rocks and can't help but feel that he is right. Looks like I might have to stick my white rocks in the shed for a while and look for some darker material.

I'll look up the fish that have been mentioned and keep thinking about it. I'm still keen for more suggestions LOL.gif Eg. aside from Gibbis, what kind of Catfish?

Cheers and thanks again


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Hi again,

Any large Loricariid catfish (pleco complex) will do nicely, as will any rivuline species of Synodontis (lake species are not appropriate because you'll be aiming for a low pH).

For plants, most decent aquariums will stock a variety of good synthetics. I saw some nice ones at Auburn when I was last there...

Being as large as it is, the tank could possibly accommodate a jag - they're no more aggressive than any other - it's just that they are larger and so their territories are larger. Despite this, it wouldn't be high on my list of recommendations.

Others that might be considered are:

* Archocentrus nigrofasciatus - yes, even Convicts look good in large cichlid communities!

* Mesonauta festivus - Flag Cichlid (occupies midwater to surface - great fish!)

* All species of Geophagus, Gymnogeophagus and Satanoperca

* Hemichromis lifalili - Jewel Cichlid (although they're from Africa, they enjoy similar water quality to C & S Americans. They are compatible.

* Petenia splendida - stunning and peaceful, but very large and predatory, so not to be kept with littlies.

* Copora nicaraguense - Parrot Cichlid (awesome fish!)

* Amphilophus longimanus - Rose-breasted Cichlid

* Thorichthys aureum - Rare, but so worth it!

* Herichthys carpinte/cyanoguttatum - Texas Cichlid

* Herotilapia multispinosa - Rainbow Cichlid

* Aequidens portalegrense - Port Acara

* Aequidens pulcher - Blue Acara

* Aequidens rivulatus - Green Terror (will be fin in that size tank)

Does that give you enough to play with? HAHAHA

As for salvini, I love their alternate common name too! It says so much about their personality! Still, they'll be fine in the big tank.

Bear in mind, no cichlid tank is exempt from the occasional scuffle, but if you pick your species, numbers and sizes right, it should never escalate beyond a bit of a tussle.



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Hemichromis lifalili - Jewel Cichlid (although they're from Africa, they enjoy similar water quality to C & S Americans. They are compatible.

If we are this flexible, S.tinanti, S. casuarus, A. thomasi, and keyhole cichlids along with other african riverine cichlids are fairly common, and most certainly plant friendly. I have kept Salvini with plants before. Might be unique but they didnt disturb or wreck plants unless they were near the spawning site. dntknw.gif



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richard ,firstly welcome to the dark side,with its sister association "the red devil club" all the fish these excellent people have suggested are good with one proviso all central and south american cichlids are aggressive to varying degrees (although not as bad as mbuna which are psycopathic killers) but a big thing to watch is if any fish decide to breed they will take over half the tank, if two species decide to breed mayhem will ensue,so the decision you have to make is either a breeding tank or a display tank, if its the latter you'll have to limit yourself to males only,even red devils in a tank that size are quite placid ,no females to fight over ,therefore no need to establish a territory i currently have 4 rd's and 5 festae in a 4x2x2 with no fights at all ,granted they are all young (6 months old) but theve always been together and at present get along fine.with a breeding tank the skies the limit,imo nothing equals the sight of a massive pair of rd's,festae, jags or wolf cichlids cruising about with a couple of hundred babies following along,this is the true display tank and the reason people cross to the dark side, the trap a lot of people fall into is trying to create an african tank with american fish ,it doesn't work , and people usually get fed up with the fighting and go back to africans .i'm sure richard that whatever you decide to do will be a sucess having the expierience you do,africans may have the colour but they dont come and say hi to you when you come home, i think a pair of monsters will suit that tank fine, just buy 5or 6 juvis of the species you like ,let them grow up together and when you get a pair you can take the spares to the lfs or this forum,then the pair cost nothing,good luck

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Very true. I would only advocate a combo of all those if it's an all-male display.



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