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Frustration of keeping cichlids

Discussion in 'African Rift Lake Cichlids' started by Tifftastic, Mar 19, 2017.

  1. Tifftastic

    Tifftastic "With your powers combined . . ."

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    Today is not a good day in my world.

    I've been in all weekend, trying to get work done, and had one of the most frustrating weekends I've had so far. On Monday I had to take two of my male eye biters out of the tank (they had fought badly between Sunday night and Monday morning). I knew it would happen eventually, so that wasn't so bad. This left one male with four females and I thought everything would be fine, and it was at first. On Wednesday afternoon, I noticed a female had spawned, so I caught her and put her in isolation (I have to isolate females after spawning so that I can catch the babies the day they are released). Everything was fine. Friday night I left at 5:30, the male and the three females were fine. Came in Saturday morning at 11 and couldn't find one of the females. I fed my babies and decided if she wasn't out by 3 PM when I did the second feed on the babies, I would take the tank apart to find her. Well, I went back down at 2:30 and the tech told me that he'd removed a female because she was floating belly up, still breathing but badly beaten. I moved her to a bigger isolation tank, dosed with some stress coat and some salt and hoped for the best (high restrictions on medication use in the Uni). I came in today and she looked awful, barely breathing, actively bleeding, and looking awful. I did a salt dip and she seemed to perk up a bit, but I doubted she'd make it through the night. The second female has large bites taken out of her tail, but has been recovering. The male is awful. I'm furious. One male and three females in a 90 gallon tank and he decided to go psycho and attempt to kill all of his ladies. I went down to check at 5 today and sure enough she'd passed on. I've attached some pics to show just how badly she was beaten.

    The most frustrating part of this, is that now I have one male and one female in a 90 gallon tank, a female in isolation 'til she releases babies, another female in isolation til her bites heal, and two males in isolation. The techs want the males back in the main tank, but I cannot have three males and one female in the same tank. They'll destroy each other if not her. . . any suggestions? I've rearranged the decor every day to try to stop the fighting and it doesn't seem to have helped...

    Dead Female 2.jpg

    Dead Female 4.jpg

    Dead Female 5.jpg
     
  2. tanker

    tanker Josh Holloway--Be mine!!!

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    I have not kept Old-World cichlids in a long time, but you have a few issues.
    Male eye biters are very aggressive as you already know. Only one male can be kept in a tank at any given time (unless your tank is about 200gal). I hope your 90gal is 72" long, and not a tall 90gal. The females need more room to run and escape. Each male must have at lease 5 females for him to keep him calm.
    When you removed the other males, you just made him the supreme King of the tank, and all the females now belong to him. When you removed the "Holding" female he is now focused on only the 2 females, which he eventually "hounded" one to death. You really need to add more females.
     
    Frank Castle likes this.
  3. Tifftastic

    Tifftastic "With your powers combined . . ."

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    That's what I was afraid of. . . I've discussed that with my supervisor and its not in the cards at the moment. Unfortunately, the only supplier we can find will only sell us these guys at a 1:1 male to female ratio. So, each time we get females we end up with extra males, I convinced him last time to throw in one extra female, so I had 4 females and 3 males. They were doing great since Decemeber, but I knew it wouldn't last. I was hoping in that removing the two more dominant males (I couldn't keep them in the tank all shredded up), and leaving the palest most subdominant male I would be ok at a 1:3 ratio.

    Its actually a custom made tank and is 50" x 24" x18" It would be nice if it was longer, but with space constraints I was lucky to get this.

    Ugh, I'm afraid I'm going to lose them all.
     
  4. tanker

    tanker Josh Holloway--Be mine!!!

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    :( sorry Tiff, but looks that will probably happen. A 50" tank does not give enough room for the females to flee.
     
  5. Tifftastic

    Tifftastic "With your powers combined . . ."

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    The most frustrating thing is that they had them in 30 gallon tanks when I first started and there weren't any problems. I try to do better and I get this garbage situation.
     
  6. Rbishop

    Rbishop ...and over the edge.
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    How long have you had them? Age while in the 30 as compared to now. It doesn't take long for them to mature and display the inevitable behavior of gender and territory along with dominance.
     
  7. Frank Castle

    Frank Castle AC Members

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    That sucks, Tiff - sorry to hear it. I know they are SA, but my Green Terror pair doesn't exactly get along....I have what I believe to be wc-Gold Saum female and a cb-White Saum male and he is only about 1" larger but the temperament of the wc fish is atrocious at times.

    Long story short, I put them together for less than 24 hours and she beat him up not horribly, but enough for me to split them up. I have put a divider I cut from a sheet of plastic light diffuser mesh down the middle of the tank in hopes that one day they may attempt to spawn through the holes and in the meantime, hopefully get used to each other.

    Cichlids can be very tricky and it seems no matter much knowledge and experience we have since each fish is an individual it can always surprise us with new behaviors, namely aggression. You raise a bunch of fish together and they fine months and months, then BAM - one day someone goes on a warpath.

    I have 2 Jaguars that were fine together since 2", then one day over a year later I found the smaller one bordering death from getting attacked by the other male. Apparently what we thought was a pair due to behavior was actually just showing "brotherly love" until one reached sexual maturity and realized he wanted to be the only male Jag in the tank (I saved the smaller one btw and he has his own tank now :))

    Try the divider or several and see what happens. You can't prepare for randomness, you just gotta take it with the territory
     
  8. Tifftastic

    Tifftastic "With your powers combined . . ."

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    They kept them in the 30 gallons for 5 years before I got to the Institute. They got them as wild caught adults.
    The new guys I've had on the 90 for almost 4 months. They were adults when I purchased them as well.

    I'm trying not to worry, but I'm in France til Friday and can't even check on them. . .
     
  9. Tifftastic

    Tifftastic "With your powers combined . . ."

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    Thanks Frank, I've thought about dividing them when I return and just giving everyone a few weeks to chill and then putting them back together.

    I just got word today that we lost one of our new ish L. fuelleborni males as well =/ the females had beat him up, so we swapped him for the other male and he was doing well in isolation, until this weekend when he developed symptoms of popeye. I found out that the tech guys haven't been changing the water in the isolation tank, because it's a 20 gallong with a fluval fx4 canister on it. . . They thought it was fine to go longer without changes (they're smarter than that, so I don't understand). But I checked the nitrates on Monday and they were really high (see attached), after a 50% change that I did. Since he had come from a tank with nitrates of 5 ppm only a week ago, I went ahead and changed enough to get the nitrates down to 5 ppm and dosed with some aquarium salt. He was really bad though and I just got an email he didn't survive. Apparently, I can't take vacations . . .

    20170320_092002.jpg

    20170320_092244.jpg

    20170320_092234.jpg

    View attachment 221139
     
  10. Frank Castle

    Frank Castle AC Members

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    Sounds like the shop I used to work at....i'd get one day off per week and NOTHING in either my fish or reptile/amphibian department was done while I was gone.
     

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