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Americans for a 6x2x2, help needed.


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After 8 weeks of having an empty tank sitting in the lounge I've decided to fill it up again. I had to move on my calvus and tropheus and was selling the setup to my nephew, not viable any more unfortunately.

I have kept some of the American cichlids in the past such as geophagus, gold severums, chocolates et al and currently have a discus tank with tetras and an angels tank again with tetras and also some kribs. As you can see its mostly been the smaller varieties.

In the past two incarnations of the tank it housed Africans and looked great.

This time around I want minimal chemical additions and fish that arent as needy as trophs and discus. I know some of the names of fish from ACE but really dont know that much about them all. Most I have googled seem to be agressive, even more than all the Africans I have kept.

I'd like to have a very colorfull and active display tank going so would like to try some of the bigger fish if possible to have them in a community setup. I have seen rivulatus and salvini at the lfs but was told not to bother with the salvini due to hole in the head problems (unsure if thats due to tank conditions at the shop or the stock they get in). I saw my first big red devil there last week, was bigger than some snapper I used to catch :huh: . Substrate will be 2 to 3mm gravel, heaters are 2 x 300w, filter is a fluval fx5, lighting is twin t8 ref;ector, initial decor will be some wood and river stones but plan on getting more wood and better stones/rocks at a later date. Tap water here is ph 7.6, on a good day gh and kh would be 1, I dont really want to mess with the water if I can help it but it is a bit of an odd set of parameters I know.

Any suggestions are welcome.


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Bocourti, Pearsei, Rainbow cichlids, Gold sevs, Temporalis, (Chocalates again I know but they go well), Nicaraguese, Keyhole, and a mix of barbs, (black spotted barbs, tinfoils, and spannar barbs). I realise that not all these are big but there is a great mix of colour and all these fish can get along and co-habitate really well. Throw in a gold pleco, and some other catfish and you have a great mix. Just my opinion on fish as they are what I like. But I know from experience that they will all get along and the the water is close to tap water parameters.

I hope that helps.

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rivulatus, ie Aequidens rivulatus are stunning. I have a breeding pair very interesting fish.

They get pretty big, somewhat agrressive but OK in a community tank, except when they are breeding. Then they become total terrors lol. Well worth a look IMO.

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Tx Gw the rivulatus at the shop look great and thats in a stressfull location so would only get better once settled in a new home. Going to have another chat with them before deciding but wanted to be able to have a few ideas to present.

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I have over 150 Americans in several tanks plus a few thousand babies. Of those 150 probably 80 are big stuff like Red Terrors....Boccourti....Synspillum Black belts Red Devils Jags and Dovii.....even a couple of Buttokoferri.....I find that its better to have a tank that is a bit on the crowded side as it spreads the aggression ...I rarely ever lose a fish and I have about 50-60 huge fish in an 8x.2.5 x2.....Water quality is important though....the FX5 will do the job but will require regular cleaning...as far as furniture goes I go with this theory....you either have nothing...or plenty of caves for the more feisty ones to occupy...Dont have 1 or 2 caves....

Also I would probably recommend you go with Medium size Americans in the tank...the theory in keeping them is the same its just that they dont get as big....and in a 6x2x2......you will have your work cut out a bit more.....I keep about 40 fish in my 6x2x2......some are large but those are hand picked with a good temperament....I keep Salvini....Green terror...Jack Dempsey..Texas....Parrot Cichlids....Medium Size Festae....( good temperament) Boccourti.......Trimacs ( medium size but will grow and when they do its off to the big tank)....Oscars....Braziliensis...

Also I would avoid buying large fish unless you knew some history...Some Red Devils have lived in a tank where they destroyed other inhabitants because they were no match and are not properly socialised then the owners want to get rid of them to an aquarium and when you come along and buy it and stick it with other fish they destroy them......its like anything....you buy a dog and get it use to other dogs and people when its a pup...and you will have a "community dog"....you bring it up on its own keep it in the dark and dont socialise it..you have a savage guard dog...you are better served therefore to buy younger fish....and have plenty in the tank.....Get it right and the Americans are awesome....good luck

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G'day Mate... I agree that heavily stocked is the way to go.

This is what i have in my 8x2x2.

2 x H. Pearsii 25cm

7 x H. Pearsii 12cm

2 x H. Boccourti Pair 30cm and 26cm

4 x H. Boccourti juvies 4cm

7 x Amphilophus robertsoni 3 - 5cm

11 x Thorychtus Elliotti 3- 12cm

3 x cryptoheros spirullum 3-5cm

2 x cryptoheros sajica 5-12cm

8 x Salvini 4cm

6 x Geo. Brachybranchus 5cmcm

3 x Uaru 6cm

16 x asstd. rainbows

6 x H. multispinosa 4cm

8 x neetropulos 3cm

2 x Thorychthus meekii 3cm

2 x Jack dempsey 5cm

3 x Texas 5cm

6 x mixed swordtails

4 x arulius barbs 5cm

2 x severums 5cm

Now that sounds like a lot of fish.... but most of them are juvies.... and none of them are particularly aggressive.

As they get bigger i can move some on and keep pairs or just males or whatever.

I will end up with some great adults that will get on....and there is always action wherever you look.

Especially at feeding time!!

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Tx for the info rols, much appreciated.

I've narrowed down a list of possible species to have in the tank but not numbers and if anyone thinks there is a big problem with the choice then please let me know. I wont be adding them all in quickly as I just dont have the funds for it but plan on a few fish per month. I dont really want to breed anything but if I get multiples thats probably going to happen and a decision will be made at the time

Blue acara, severums, bocourti, nicaraguensis, chocolates. Other possibles include firemouths, keyhole and possible convict. A school of maybe 6 clown loaches would look nice too. I'm also considering a school of rainbows, Melanotaenia australis RF Ferny Creek.

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Lol you were posting as I was writing mine , that is a huge number of fish but as you say they are juvies........................more names to look up :-). Tx for posting the list.

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yeah mate,

Just keep your eye out for any thing that you haven't seen before and give em a go.

Things that get cranky would be:





most of the vejas:




Bifasiatum (if you can find any)


Black belts

Argentea (if you DO find any tell me!!!!)


Maneguensis (or Jaguar cichlids) make great pets but they tend to eat or kill for fun!!

Many of the "red Devils" will smash fish for no reason.....

Having said all that.... I have seen an 8x2x2 with all of the above mentioned adult species pairs in together and no aggression problem.

He did keep his temperature around 23-24 Degrees and when they showed any breeding behaviour he would put them into a 3x2x2 and crank up the temp and watch them go ( they were in a divided tank).

If you find a species that you are not sure about just post a question and someone will give you advice...

I hope this helps.

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Tank is set up now and warming up, going to dechlorinate tomorrow...............not that there should be anything harmfull in the tank but figured the chlorine would do its work. Not absolutely bare but for one of my tanks its spartan :spaz: .


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looks good mate,

Now imagine it with 50 plus fish. :yes::thumbup:

Oh and you should say goodbye to the plants... americans love their vegies (god bless em)

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Just wondering if you guys with the 8 foot tanks and 50 americans are running cannisters or sumps for filters? Also wondering if you would have any pics of these tanks to share? coz they sound freaking awesome lol. Cheers

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T. maculapinnis (ellioti) or T. meeki (firemouth) , A. salvini, G. steindachneri (red hump), A. rivulatus (green terror), H. pearsii, H. boccourti

H. severum, H. temporalis (chocolate), H. multispinnosa (rainbow), A. sajica, P. polleni (Madagascan but will fit in)

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Tx Chris!

I made a start on the stocking today, took 1/3 of the mature matrix from the discus filter which should be more than enough for what I got today. The shop has 4 x 9cm chocolates I might get down the track and the breeder is going to get me some T. meeki in a couple of weeks when I have some more cash. I'm making a list up for him of what I want :-). Someone brought in a nice sizes female festae but it was agro in the owners tank so decided not to think of it, besides being a good 24/25cm already! The male red hump is already bonding to one of the females and doing some shimmying for her...................didnt know they started that early but good to watch.

4 x red humps, "Geophagus" steindachneri, 6 to 7cm

1 definate male, already courting a female.

2 x Geophagus "orange head" tapajos, 5cm

1x Blue Acara, Aequidens pulcher, 8 to 9cm

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just a bit of an update. The red humps spawned on Wednesday but by night time the female looked like she had eaten the eggs she had.

I added in the following fish:- 1 x Geophagus "orange head" tapajos, 5cm, 1 x Gold edged rivulatus male, 9cm, 2 x Gold edge rivulatus females, 6cm, 2 x Chocolate cichlids, 10/11cm, 2 x green severums, 6cm, 4 x red horseface, 5/6cm.

The two original geos have put on a big growth spurt and are a lot bigger than the newest one, they were all the same size at the shop. I want to get a couple of more species but having trouble getting any down this way, Livefish has a couple but the prices are a bit high for my budget for 4cm fish. Next months additions will be 6 clown loaches and maybe a plec if I can get them.

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i saw brasiliensis labeled as red horseface the other day, i thought redhorseface was sarunamensis?

keep an eye on those tapajos, they could get in trouble in the long run with all those larger cichlids

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