• Hello guest! Are you an Apistogramma enthusiast? If so we invite you to join our community and see what it has to offer. Our site is specifically designed for you and it's a great place for Apisto enthusiasts to meet online. Once you join you'll be able to post messages, upload pictures of your fish and tanks and have a great time with other Apisto enthusiasts. Sign up today!

Cichlid tank mates for golden zebra loaches

anewbie

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,464
Because they are supposedly the most peaceful Malawis. "Peacock" is a type of Malawi cichlid aswell, genus Aulonocara, there are about 15 recognized species and a dozen manmade hybrids. Having kept rift lake cichlids for a decade, keep your lake cichlids among their own and nothing else with them.
Pelvicachromis (you call them kribs) are also african btw.
You know this but the op might not - while kribs are african fishes; they come from west africa rivers and are a soft water fish (very soft in nature - and some related species require blackwater conditions - that is extremely pure water; though most species of Pelvicachromis are adaptable; don't confuse these with rift lake cichilds which are hard water fishes. Don't mix your kribs with your yellow labs even if they are compatible with regards to aggression as they are not compatible with regards to water requirements. Most loaches are soft water fishes.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,180
Location
Germany
You know this but the op might not - while kribs are african fishes; they come from west africa rivers and are a soft water fish (very soft in nature - and some related species require blackwater conditions - that is extremely pure water; though most species of Pelvicachromis are adaptable; don't confuse these with rift lake cichilds which are hard water fishes. Don't mix your kribs with your yellow labs even if they are compatible with regards to aggression as they are not compatible with regards to water requirements. Most loaches are soft water fishes.
Correct.
I don't like the practice of putting loaches with Rift Lake cichlids as an alternative for Synodontis catfish. While the habitat for the bigger ones (Chromobotia) fits with only rocks, sand and pebbles, the water is absolutely not a fit.

Also interesting: While Lake Tanganyika is indeed hardwater with a high GH and KH and a pH of almost 9, Lake Malawi is high pH (roundabout 8) but quite low hardness with only a GH of 6-7. The tankbreds are used to higher hardness, since most breeders just look at the pH and not the other parameters, so they use hard water, which is easier to maintain the high pH in.
 

vertigo

Member
Messages
31
Weird indeed. And "assorted cichlids" tells me how much they care for the fish. I'd stay clear.
If I go the rout if that LFS, anything would be kept in a seperate tank for a few months both as a quarantine precaution and to get them to get bigger and healthier.

Local gH falls in the 120-150ppm range.
In not stubbornly trying to add a cichlid. The plan was supposed to be Bolivian Rams but Rams were too timid and slow growing. Obviously I'm a fan of cichlids, trying to figure out a similar alternative species that would work If cichlids will be an issue no matter what I'll look for something else, making sure I've researched my options before moving on

The loaches and were a very cheap bottom feeder addition to round off the community/stock. Peaceful/timid enough to not bother the other fish but robust enough to not get killed by the rams. They don't have the personality of a cichlid. I don't particularly like them, definitely don't want more.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,180
Location
Germany
In not stubbornly trying to add a cichlid. The plan was supposed to be Bolivian Rams but Rams were too timid and slow growing. Obviously I'm a fan of cichlids, trying to figure out a similar alternative species that would work If cichlids will be an issue no matter what I'll look for something else, making sure I've researched my options before moving on
I see, it came across very differently. Hope you didn't take it the wrong way.

The loaches and were a very cheap bottom feeder addition to round off the community/stock. Peaceful/timid enough to not bother the other fish but robust enough to not get killed by the rams. They don't have the personality of a cichlid. I don't particularly like them, definitely don't want more.
Besides the fact that I can barely imagine Mikrogeophagus killing anything besides the occasional shrimp or each other... Rehoming the loaches is not an option? Or another tank?

Local gH falls in the 120-150ppm range.
hmm... for most South American cichlids that's actually a bit high. I'd be looking at fish from either northern Colombia/Venezuela or Southern Brazil/Northern Argentina. Most from the Amazon/Orinoco/Essequibo basins is more or less out.
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
Messages
11,292
Location
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
When I set up a community tank I decide what 1 species I want most and then add compatible fish around them. My philosophy and the first slide in all of my talks:

1687015168991.png
 

vertigo

Member
Messages
31
Besides the fact that I can barely imagine Mikrogeophagus killing anything besides the occasional shrimp or each other... Rehoming the loaches is not an option? Or another tank?


hmm... for most South American cichlids that's actually a bit high. I'd be looking at fish from either northern Colombia/Venezuela or Southern Brazil/Northern Argentina. Most from the Amazon/Orinoco/Essequibo basins is more or less out
Alright new plan. My tank is custom made, closer to 105gal. I made a plexiglass divider Iliaches can keep 1/3 of the space. Give a chance to the new comer to acclimate. Reintroduce the loaches in a few months. If it doesn't work in a few mos I'll get one of the smaller tanks from the attic and re-home the loaches.

I still think a tougher small bottom dweller cichlid OR a top dweller could work. Specially with more caves and 7 new schooling fish to disperse the aggression/stress (ie rainbowfish or skirt/BH/of congo tetras (or honey gourami if I need something slower/calmer). Surface area is 52"x 22" with lots of plants the full height of the tank (and pothos roots growing top -> downwards)
When I set up a community tank I decide what 1 species I want most and then add compatible fish around them. My philosophy and the first slide in all of my talks:

View attachment 13000
Thats what I did. 2017/2018, the plan was 1 Ctenapoma and (2male/1fem) apistogramma or Bolivian Rams. Rams were much cheaper easier to find.

7 Bleeding Heart Tetra's, 5 GZ loaches, 2 thick lipped gourami, 1 f. Pearl gourami WERE the "compatible" fish planned around the Ctenapoma and Rams.

The tetras were the boss at first, then the pearl grew bigger and became the tank bully. After year 2 the loaches started acting like they're on party drugs.
Rams were rehomed, thick lipped Gourami died at 3y/o. Pearl died at 5y/o. One Tetras started dying every 2mos. Soon it'll just be the Ctenapoma and loaches
 

Mazan

Active Member
Messages
283
Missed this thread before. I have just been skimming all the answers. I would have thought that Mesonauta would be a good option if you can find them. Otherwise for a confident, but not too aggressive smallish cichlid, what about Laetacara araguaiae?
 

vertigo

Member
Messages
31
The fish you list appear to be an incompatible mix

Aside from the loaches not being timid they all had similar temperament and water requirements (if kept 79° But yeah loaches were a mistake, I should've started here instead of fishlore.
Missed this thread before. I have just been skimming all the answers. I would have thought that Mesonauta would be a good option if you can find them. Otherwise for a confident, but not too aggressive smallish cichlid, what about Laetacara araguaiae?
Mesonauta if I find it a reasoble size captive bread at a not too high price ($70 for 3, shipped)


Laetacara araguaiae
Do are these more aggressive than rams and apistos?
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,180
Location
Germany
I should've started here instead of fishlore.
Hear hear! I spent my 3 year term there mostly with keeping people from killing their fish because of bad previous advise. They actively curb real discussion there by insisting every opinion is valid and editing your posts when you tell people, that an idea is bad and will end in dead fish, just because the OP of a thread complains they won't get the answer they want to hear. They mistake honesty and straightforwardness for rudeness.
I learned almost nothing about fish there, while people drained my knowledge and energy. My main takeaway was how to deal with spoiled brats and people used to get their way that expect advise on how to reach their goals, not people telling them their plan is basically animal cruelty. In the end I got so snarky due to the frustration they banned me for calling someone out. At least I can say I saved a few hundred fish from otherwise certain death in that time.
Here on the other hand I learned useful things in a community mainly focused on offering the animals what they need and putting their wellbeing first.

Do are these more aggressive than rams and apistos?
No, but they grow a bit bigger. I would not say they are much more assertive by personality, but they bulkyness helps.
It's also not about aggression. 90% of aggression from dwarf cichlids is within their own species and unless you're dealing with a female guarding eggs or fry none of them will be able to do more than chasing a tetra or a pencilfish away from their food for a bit. Sometimes big mouthed species might try eating a Corydoras pygmaeus or the like, but that's it. Trying to eat another fish is not aggression in my book.
In my opinion they are simply not community material unless you combine them with some small tetras or catfish. In any case it's best if dwarf cichlids are the only bottom dwellers in a tank. Then they show natural behaviour, which I can watch for hours.
 

Mazan

Active Member
Messages
283
Do are these more aggressive than rams and apistos?
I would say they are more confident and outgoing than rams and tend to stay out in the open more than Apistogrammas. They are not at all aggressive to other species when not breeding. I have 2 pairs in a tank that measures 160 x 60 x 60cm and they are the only bottom dwellers apart from a few otocinclus and an invisible pleco (though I did have a couple of Apstogrammas with them for a while, they just tended to keep hidden and out of the way). The first year or so the Laetacaras bred non stop, and yes, then they are aggressive to anything that comes near, just like most cichlids. Now they don't seem to bother much with breeding and just chase each other occasionally but not enough so that anyone gets hurt or stressed. Not sure how this would be in a smaller tank. They pretty much ignore other fish. I have had a couple of Apistogrammas that were much more aggressive, not only towards each other, but to other cichlids as well.
 

anewbie

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,464
I would say they are more confident and outgoing than rams and tend to stay out in the open more than Apistogrammas. They are not at all aggressive to other species when not breeding. I have 2 pairs in a tank that measures 160 x 60 x 60cm and they are the only bottom dwellers apart from a few otocinclus and an invisible pleco (though I did have a couple of Apstogrammas with them for a while, they just tended to keep hidden and out of the way). The first year or so the Laetacaras bred non stop, and yes, then they are aggressive to anything that comes near, just like most cichlids. Now they don't seem to bother much with breeding and just chase each other occasionally but not enough so that anyone gets hurt or stressed. Not sure how this would be in a smaller tank. They pretty much ignore other fish. I have had a couple of Apistogrammas that were much more aggressive, not only towards each other, but to other cichlids as well.
I'm going to disagree a little based off of my own experience. I have 7 festum - they were around 2 1/2 inches when purchased - wc. They were initially quite bold but lately they have become a bit more timid and easily startled. I have 4 males 2 females and one that i'm not sure about - they are not quite sexually mature or if they are mature they have not shown pairing/breed behavior yet. Part of the issue is the aquarium is too small for them - it is a 120 (4ftx2ftx2ft) and when i move (hopefully in 30 days) they will get a 8ftx4ftx2ft. Also their tank mates are angels and loaches (clown/zebra/yoyo). During the day things are quite peaceful but when the clown start surfing the festum retreat into the plants. The big concern is how skittish they have become of myself - everything i get up they run to the back - the angels pretty much ignore me or run to the front.

How they differ from most species of apisto, rams and even the angels is they are much more robust and built like a tank. They are not small fishes - sort of like comparing hongloi to Laetacara araguaiae - there is just no comparison - the araguaiae are much more massive fishes. As for timid of dwarf cichild it depends upon the specific species. My D50 just won't leave me alone - nothing startled them and they always want to be fed. On the other hand after 1.5 years my male pucallpaensis will still hide if he senses me near the aquarium. When i feed the fishes he waits for me to leave the room before he will come out and eat. The females pucallpaensis are not as shy and enjoy a good feeding.

This is the aquarium with festums:
festy.jpg
 

Mazan

Active Member
Messages
283
My festivums are different, perhaps because they are tank bred. They are calm and peaceful and not at all skittish or shy. They don't bother any other fish in the tank, and while I have not kept them with loaches, I would not foresee any problems.

As for the Laetacaras, yes, they are fairly big compared to Apistogrammas, especially the males - about 10 cm and very stocky. Females are smaller. I have no idea to be honest how they would react to loaches.
Screen Shot 2023-06-19 at 14.46.19.png
 

vertigo

Member
Messages
31
I'm going to disagree a little based off of my own experience. I have 7 festum - they were around 2 1/2 inches when purchased - wc. They were initially quite bold but lately they have become a bit more timid and easily startled. I have 4 males 2 females and one that i'm not sure about - they are not quite sexually mature or if they are mature they have not shown pairing/breed behavior yet. Part of the issue is the aquarium is too small for them - it is a 120 (4ftx2ftx2ft) and when i move (hopefully in 30 days) they will get a 8ftx4ftx2ft. Also their tank mates are angels and loaches (clown/zebra/yoyo)...

How they differ from most species of apisto, rams and even the angels is they are much more robust and built like a tank. They are not small fishes - sort of like comparing hongloi to Laetacara araguaiae - there is just no comparison - the araguaiae are much more massive fishes.
1) Those festivum look awesome!
2) How many angels? You don't keep anhbottom dwelling dwarf cichlids in this (Loach/festivum/angel) tank, right?
Just adding angels and festivums is probably my best bet. Still iffy with the loaches being so mature.
Hear hear! I spent my 3 year term there mostly with keeping people from killing their fish because of bad previous advise. They actively curb real discussion there by insisting every opinion is valid....

... No, but they grow a bit bigger. I would not say they are much more assertive by personality, but they bulkyness helps.
It's also not about aggression. 90% of aggression from dwarf cichlids is within their own species and unless you're dealing with a female guarding eggs or fry none of them will be able to do more than chasing a tetra or a pencilfish away from their food for a bit. Sometimes big mouthed species might try eating a Corydoras pygmaeus or the like, but that's it. Trying to eat another fish is not aggression in my book....
Believe it or not, the GZ Loaches were not my idea. I did ask for bottom feeders that weren't Corys. But that's neither here or there. I am warming up to the idea of setting up a 20L giving the loaches away with the tank (too small to add anything very dangerous, not be worried I'm sending my loaches to thier death).

Missed this thread before. I have just been skimming all the answers. I would have thought that Mesonauta would be a good option if you can find them. Otherwise for a confident, but not too aggressive smallish cichlid, what about Laetacara araguaiae?

Laetacara araguaiae aren't quite what I'm looking for but looking those up led me to Laetacara Araguaiae (doesn't seem too different than araguaiae) and Rainbow cichlid (Herotilapia multispinosa) a little bigger than laetacara but otherwise seems similar
Assuming thee Loaches get along or move out, the Ctenapoma (AK African Bush Fish/leapord gourami) is here to stay. It seems like all the cichlids mentioned so far are roughly similar temperament, the next issue is will either of these get big enough fast enough to not get eaten by the Ctenapoma nor harass him as adults. He's super slow, docile, shy... And very fat.
 

Mazan

Active Member
Messages
283
Laetacara Araguaiae
What is the difference?
Rainbow cichlid (Herotilapia multispinosa)
Central American so would do better in harder water than the other species mentioned.

I have not kept a Ctenopoma before, I have considered it, interesting fish, but for me that would mean changing everything in one tank to African...maybe one day. I don't think it could eat full grown Laetacaras but mine were pretty small when I first got them and maybe could have been eaten. If you can find decent sized festivums they would be fine.
 

anewbie

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,464
Just remember loaches are soft water species. Also i would not keep dwarf fishes with loaches; it isn't jsut the territory since loaches will visit all area of the tank; but for cave dwellers nasty things can happen if dwarf fishes try to claim a cave - well this isn't strictly true - i did have kribs with my loaches for a while and kribs are extremely robust and can give as much as they take. Not necessarily great for the health of the fishes but they didn't kill each other.
 

vertigo

Member
Messages
31
I think at this point I have as much info as I can, thanks all. Appistos are def out. Kribs are probably out. I didn't think of it initially, I don't want anything that dies in years or less.
I'll start with an angelfish those are everywhere easy enough to return if the loaches are too mean.
Then take a trip to NYC and see what I find there. Timed correctly I can get there in just over an hour.
Otherwise keep my eyes peeled for festivums

Just rebemember loaches are soft water species.
Golden-zebra and Yoyos both thrive in 35-220ppm gH. PH 6.0-7.5. Tolerant into the 300's. Thier robustness was why I wound up with them.
What is the difference?
The araguaiae look too much like smallerJack Dempseys, Green Terrors, etc. the type of fish I've had for 25years and recently got rid of they don't feel new/exciting (as stupid as that sounds)
entral American so would do better in harder water than the other species mentioned.

All things considered my water is closer to neutral than hard, more on the cusp between hard and soft than anything. I'm seeing rainbows prefer pH 7.0-8.0. Captive bred would still probably be fine a Laetacara is smarter choice if I find a larger one and accept the shorter life span.

Most recent test
116-125ppm GH
27-36 ppm KH

TDS 180ppm - aside from calcium, there is very little mineral in the water.
70-150 is slightly soft
150-250 slightly hard
250-320 moderately hard
320-500 hard
PH is 7.0
I do water changes when PH drops to bellow 6.7 (or every 4 weeks if it doesn't drop).

Sticking to captive bred helps, no matter what thier requirements, but it's most important to chose species that isn't to fussy about being specifically hard or soft.

Sticking with species that thrive in pH 6.5-7.0
and very soft kh.





As far as the ctenapoma swallowing something
- ADULT Cardinal tetra, black neon tetra, sized is doomed.
-Adult redfin tetra or rummy nose tetras are probably ok (but only full grown adults)
-An Adult Platy is perfectly safe.



I might just start with one Angelfish, they're available every where do I have 30days to return. Appistos
 

vertigo

Member
Messages
31
More questions, does my tank have enough plants/caves for the species discussed?
1000009302.jpg




one LFS has Clouded Archerfish... its been a longterm oddball dream fish.
Either Angelfish, Festivums, or Laetacara (a pair each of 2 species not all 3) and a clouded archer.... should be fine, right ?


My festivums are different, perhaps because they are tank bred. They are calm and peaceful and not at all skittish or shy. They don't bother any other fish...

..As for the Laetacaras ..
View attachment 13007
^what are these, L. Araguaiae ?^
‐--------
LFS Rant:
(TLDR: if I want a Laetacara or Festivum I 100% have to order online)

I went to the 4 highest yelp rated LFS between my house anfthe 50miles tp NYC.

Small cichlids are either rare or extremely unpopular here.

Ive seen 500+tanks of African Lake cichlids, and new world cichlids that grow above 8". Lots of Sevrums, Uaru, Geophagus.

Sub 8": Angelfish, Convicts, Rams.
Electric Blue Acara, Red Breasted Cichlid.
One shop had a few crazy expensive ¾" A. Cacatuoides ($32)... That's it.
Same shop "specializes" in ordering whatever you want from thier suppliers. No Festivums, Laetacara curviceps, L. araguaiae, L. Drosigara Rainbow Cichlids, Key Hole Cichlids on any of thier supplier lists.
 

anewbie

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,464
I'm pretty sure there are a couple of stores in NY that carry festum - they might not have them in stock as they are not a commonly carried fish but I'd ask (via phone) if they have them periodically and if so what time of year. I know there is at least one very reputable discus dealer up there that carry a lot of less common fishes and while they are not the cheapest it would still be cheaper than shipping.

Your loaches are fairly small so unless they are particularly aggressive I think any of the species you mentioned. If you go with the larger fishes (not sure your aquarium is large enough) they might mistake the loaches as food - depending on exact species.

One thing to keep in mind is a fish like angels tend to hang high while a fish like Laetacara or ram tend to hang low.

I know almost nothing about the archer fish; some species are brackish and the brief summary i read said they could eat other fishes up to 1/2 their size - so an adult cloaded archerfish might go after something as larger as 3 inches....
-
@Mazan picture is of a L. Araguaiae.
 

vertigo

Member
Messages
31
I'm pretty sure there are a couple of stores in NY that carry festum - they might not have them in stock as they are not a commonly carried fish but I'd ask (via phone) if they have them periodically and if so what time of year. I know there is at least one very reputable discus dealer up there that carry a lot of less common fishes and while they are not the cheapest it would still be cheaper than shipping.



I know almost nothing about the archer fish; some species are brackish and the brief summary i read said they could eat other fishes up to 1/2 their size - so an adult cloaded archerfish might go after something as larger as 3 inches....
-
@Mazan picture is of a L. Araguaiae.
I added 2 small (1.5") Angelfish yesterday. Zero interaction with the loaches, BH Tetras or Ctenapoma.
It's going so well I'm considering adding 2 more Angelfish. That would mean no room for the archer. Tank is somewhere between 85-105gallons


This is the fully freshwater clouded archerfish. Like the ctenapoma the sawlling 1/2 thier length applies to very very narrow bodied fishes like kuhli loaches. Any wide bodied fish, bigger than a quarter is safe from my 4" ctenapoma.


Going into NYC won't be significantly cheaper than shipping. I'll wait til the July supplier list comes put then see what can be done.
 

Members online

Latest posts

Forum statistics

Threads
18,054
Messages
117,436
Members
13,141
Latest member
Taylorc87

Latest profile posts

jloponte wrote on hongyj's profile.
Please send me info regarding cuipeua. Thx, Joe.
jloponte wrote on hongyj's profile.
Where are you located?
Josh wrote on anewbie's profile.
Testing
EDO
Longtime fish enthusiast for over 70years......keen on Apistos now. How do I post videos?
Looking for some help with fighting electric blue rams :(
Top