Merging a tank community with one full of cichlids and am unsure what can and can't stay

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Snagrio

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I started a project to expand my current 55 gallon community to a 125, and I recently acquired one but it came with a lot of cichlids that I'm under intense debate about what is allowed to stay and what must be rehomed.

To give full info the 55 residents are 4 clown loaches, 2 Australian rainbow fish, 1 giant danio, 2 upside down catfish, 1 rainbow shark and 1 bristlenose pleco.

The 125 has 2 red devils, 2 green terrors, 2 blood parrots, 2 yellow tail aceis, 1 severum and another bristlenose pleco.

Not only that but I'd like to try live plants (had them years ago and want to give things another go) so that's another factor to consider. Only one I'm 100% certain can stay thus far is the pleco. Beyond that the next most likely is the severum, and I'd love to keep the aceis but I've read that they're obligate herbivores and have been known to even munch through Java ferns (which btw given the clown loaches I'm going to focus on non-substrate plants to begin with). So idk if it'd be worth trying to put in live plants and seeing what happens. There's also technically the water parameter thing but they've been living in the same regular ol' water their whole lives and look fine.

I'm very mixed on the blood parrots. They're full grown so it won't be the same as getting babies and having them grow up in a mixed community and I've heard all sorts of stories on how they're unpredictable. More than likely not going to keep those.

The green terrors and especially red devils are definitely not staying though. The red devils in particlar are massive and take up so much of the tank as it is without both species' infamous aggressive tendencies. They'd probably eat some of my smaller fish too but they've somehow completely ignored one of the aceis who is a baby born in the tank (the other parent passed away iirc from what the owner told me).

And before you ask unfortunately mix and matching with the 55 is not an option. It must be completely dismantled after all the fish have moved as my folks don't want two tanks running (don't get why but they've already been gracious to allow the expansion in the first place so I won't press matters).

Also I plan to give the 125 a makeover. It has super coarse bright white gravel and a bunch of fake decor and I'd like to go all natural with driftwood, rockscape and live plants along with black diamond sand. During which any of the fish that haven't been rehomed will be moved to the 55 temporarily until everything's set back up and new plants have had a little time to grow in without potential disruption.
 

fishorama

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Well, I'm going to need to think about this. I agree with most of your "deletions". I'm a loach nut & need to think. I'm not a blood parrot fan...but of the cichlids...well, I like sevs because I've kept them, but not with clown loaches. Rehome the danio, they need school. I'm not an African cichlid person, so see what other people say...unlikely with the loaches, SA cichlids, & probably BN plecos too. The rainbows likely good & shark may be ok if you have a ton! of hiding places for the shark & loaches...& I mean at least! 1 per fish. Those & cichlids are very territorial...I hope you have a LFS willing to take a some big @$$ fish...you've got "extras"...they might be willing to "trade" for food or decor...it doesn't hurt to ask...

As for your decor, not tonight...
 
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Snagrio

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Well, I'm going to need to think about this. I agree with most of your "deletions". I'm a loach nut & need to think. I'm not a blood parrot fan...but of the cichlids...well, I like sevs because I've kept them, but not with clown loaches. Rehome the danio, they need school. I'm not an African cichlid person, so see what other people say...unlikely with the loaches, SA cichlids, & probably BN plecos too. The rainbows likely good & shark may be ok if you have a ton! of hiding places for the shark & loaches...& I mean at least! 1 per fish. Those & cichlids are very territorial...I hope you have a LFS willing to take a some big @$$ fish...you've got "extras"...they might be willing to "trade" for food or decor...it doesn't hurt to ask...
There used to be more of the rainbows and danios actually, another reason for the expansion so I can bump up their numbers again (and the upside down cats, heard they like to school too) without cramping up space.

And ironically there used to be two hides in the 55, but what ended up happening was the clown loaches inexplicably crammed themselves into the other, smaller hide which led to the rainbow shark staging a coup and completely taking over half the tank. It wasn't until I removed the second hide that the balance of power shifted back to what it was before due to the loaches reclaiming their old haunt. Hopefully this time with more hides and space I can avoid that happening again.
 

Wyomingite

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Get rid of the devils and terrors like you said, as well as the acei. Java ferns are unpalatable to most fish, but these cichlids will shred them on some alien, unknown general principal. :) I refuse to keep parrots, but from what I've read, been told by people who have kept them, and considering their Central American cichlid heritage, I suspect they may be hard on plants. They may be hit and miss based on the individuals. I honestly can't speak to the severum and plants. I kept one once about 25 years ago and it was in a non-planted tank.

What you do with the rest of the fish depends on your vision for the tank. It sounds like you're considering keeping the loaches and you've already ruled out plants in the substrate. Due to their size and behavior, the loaches really shape the rest of your tank. To keep or not to keep the loaches, that is the question? I'd keep the bristlenoses like you said. If you decide to keep the rainbows and danios, you obviously need to increase their numbers to a decent school size for each. I like rainbow sharks, and with a larger footprint he won't demand such a large territory if you place the decorations strategically.

WYite
 
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You may have issues with the Acei. These are vegetarian fish and should not be fed meat regularly. The clowns want a meaty diet though not exclusively. The problem may occur if the Acei are eating lots of meat. The is a good article on loaches.com entitled "Why Loaches Should Not Be Kept With Malawi Cichlids" and subtitled " An overview of why these two very different types of fish are not suitable for housing together." It is written by Emma Turner who owned the legendary huge clown named Marge. Fishkeepers the world over when in the UK would stop in to see this fish. Unfortunately marge was lost in 2010 at the age of 20 and 16 inches. When I read about this I actually cried. You can see why in this thread R.I.P. Marge The posts in this thread are amazing and I will quote just a few lines from one of them:
I will never forget the time in 2006 when a whole bunch of us stood in Emma's lounge in front of that magnificent aquarium and Emma tried to encourage Marge to come out of hiding. The others that form the superb shoal of Clowns in that tank were gorgeous in their own right and gave us all much visual pleasure.

And then Marge appeared. A room full of Loach keepers stopped breathing momentarily I think. Then a quietly spoken F-word eminated from many of our lips. It was the only expletive that remotely approached adequacy in reacting to this fish.

For why one should not keep clowns and Malawi fish together, have a read here:
https://www.loaches.com/articles/why-loaches-should-not-be-kept-with-malawi-cichlids

I have a 150 with my clown herd. The 4 largest are in the 10+ inch range and the smallest are about 3-4 inches. The two largest have been with me about 18 years now. When they were smaller and fewer I had them and others in a well planted 75. I also kept bristlnose then and decided to purchase a group of 5 albino thank strain bn to put into the 75 with the clowns. They bn were almost adult size. They all disappeared inside about six weeks. Only the clowns could have been responsible. Both fish like to hide in the same places. I think the clowns did not appreciate this.

I have a lot of huge anubias in the clown tank. Despite feeding the clowns well they still nibble the anubias. I also think the bigger ones are less than gentle with the plants as they move around the tank. The only other species in the tank are about 15 full grown redline barbs (Sahyadria denisonii ) which are about 5+ inches.

 

Snagrio

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Get rid of the devils and terrors like you said, as well as the acei. Java ferns are unpalatable to most fish, but these cichlids will shred them on some alien, unknown general principal. :) I refuse to keep parrots, but from what I've read, been told by people who have kept them, and considering their Central American cichlid heritage, I suspect they may be hard on plants. They may be hit and miss based on the individuals. I honestly can't speak to the severum and plants. I kept one once about 25 years ago and it was in a non-planted tank.

What you do with the rest of the fish depends on your vision for the tank. It sounds like you're considering keeping the loaches and you've already ruled out plants in the substrate. Due to their size and behavior, the loaches really shape the rest of your tank. To keep or not to keep the loaches, that is the question? I'd keep the bristlenoses like you said. If you decide to keep the rainbows and danios, you obviously need to increase their numbers to a decent school size for each. I like rainbow sharks, and with a larger footprint he won't demand such a large territory if you place the decorations strategically.

WYite
This entire project was with the loaches in mind. The option was to either get rid of them or expand and I've grown too attached to them over the years to just give them away. One of them in particular has had it rough and had already grown up in a 30 gallon with no others of its kind by the time I bought it and the tank from a previous owner, so this is my final push to fully give it the life it deserves along with its companions.

The cichlids however were not part of the plan to begin with. Would've preferred to get an empty tank but this was a fully running system on a nice stand with two huge canister filters, heater, entire baskets worth of food, tons of decor (that I won't end up using in the end but besides the point) and lots of other odds and ends for a ludicrously cheap price of $250 (just one of the filters alone is nearly that price). Too much of a steal to not snap up.

Really too bad to hear about the acei. The more I hear the more it sounds like a bad idea to keep them no matter how I try to rationalize things. Ah well, there's plenty of other blue fish to choose from down the road to fill that niche I suppose. For that matter, considering all but one of the cichlids are adults anyway and will undoubtedly not be too keen on suddenly having a plethora of new tankmates it'd be best to be rid of everything but the bristlenose.

I have a 150 with my clown herd. The 4 largest are in the 10+ inch range and the smallest are about 3-4 inches. The two largest have been with me about 18 years now. When they were smaller and fewer I had them and others in a well planted 75. I also kept bristlnose then and decided to purchase a group of 5 albino thank strain bn to put into the 75 with the clowns. They bn were almost adult size. They all disappeared inside about six weeks. Only the clowns could have been responsible. Both fish like to hide in the same places. I think the clowns did not appreciate this.

I have a lot of huge anubias in the clown tank. Despite feeding the clowns well they still nibble the anubias. I also think the bigger ones are less than gentle with the plants as they move around the tank. The only other species in the tank are about 15 full grown redline barbs (Sahyadria denisonii ) which are about 5+ inches.
Odd, mine have always been amiable to share their space with other species, be it pleco or shark. However, they have been directly responsible for reshaping the very makeup of the community. Used to be a smaller species-centric grouping, but I believe they started to secretly scavenge whatever little fallen bodies would occur before I even noticed anything, and something snapped in their heads that they don't necessarily have to wait for the tiny fish to die first...

It all came to a head one time where I had just finally acquired a mixed shoal of black and neon tetras (something I had wanted to try for ages) and within a week every single one of them had disappeared. After that it was evident all residents had to be at least giant danio sized or more.
 
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For sure keep the clowns. I have had 20-30 tanks running now for many years. I have kept a variety of fish. I work with some very expensive plecos which support my fish habit. It has been a lot of fum but I am now in downsizing mode. I am letting fish go and trying to shut down tanks permanently. The very last tank which will go is my clown tank. Not only do these guys grow for you over the years, they grow on you as well.

I keep clowns as a result of seeing this picture about 19 years ago https://www.loaches.com/species-ind...acracanthus_group04.jpg/image_view_fullscreen

As far as I am concerned you are making the right choice. :)
 
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NoahLikesFish

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I’d say both tanks are overstocked IMO you would have to return the rtbs and danio and keep The South American fish and keep the big chiclids with your discretion
 
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NoahLikesFish

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Your best bet would be add the loaches and remove the bp and 1 pair of other fish I’d remove devil or terror imo, mabye both and do 6 festivum then mabye a school of Congo tetras and add 2 new loaches. The 55 seems like there’s bad numbers of fish imo like giant danios and rainbows need school and the synodontis just aren’t that suitable
 
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