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mixing loaches and cichlids

Posted By: Dr. Momfish <alexp@idirect.com>
Date: Thursday, 17 June 1999, at 11:14 p.m.

Joan Rowe posted about mixing loaches with discus and that things seem fine.

I've had mine with corys, Siamese Algae eaters and Apistogrammas and life was fine for the loaches.

Recently I added an orphan Satanoperca leucosticta. He is only about 4 inches long, TL. These fish are cichlids, but supposedly wimps. Well, initially the loaches had some 'adjustment problems'. Because he shared a tank with some rather unsavory characters for a number of months (firemouth cichlids and an eel), he seemed to have some concern in regards to getting his share of the food. He used to chase the loaches away from any food that fell to the bottom of the tank. It's been a few weeks now, and he's come around to realizing that there is food enough for everyone. (In the process, I've now got three obese Siamese Algae Eaters) The loaches do come out more often, but still not as frequently as before. I try to spread the feeding area more widely along the front of the tank. He can't guard 3 feet as efficiently, so the loaches feel safer.

Satanoperca has now been distracted by a pair of Heckeli's Cichlids (Thread fin Cichlids). They don't care about him, but he is concerned about them. No violence though, just some half-hearted chasing. They are at this time too small to be of concern to the loaches. However, it will take them about two years to grow to their full size - 8 inches. (Pan fries. Just kidding) I hope I'm moved by then and can buy them their own tank. When they spawn, 'they take no prisoners'. Ouch. They may both be females, so I may not have to worry.

I think if anyone wants to keep cichlids with their loaches the tank must be large. Even 50 gallons won't cut it. Cichlid species are all territorial, but temperament is important as well. My one inch long female Apistogramma claimed about two thirds of the bottom of a tank whose footprint is 4' by 2'. The loaches managed to co-exist with no problem while the mother and father fish were raising their brood.

There are cichlids that definitely do not belong in a loach tank. Rift lake and central American cichlids require hard water conditions which are not ideal for loaches. In addition, most(but not all) of these cichlids, especially those from Lake Malawi, are extremely territorial and will end up killing mild-mannered loaches either directly, or through stress-related illness.

Joan is very correct. Before you buy, do the research. Watching a bloodbath happening in your aquarium is not what this hobby is all about.

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