Cichlids and plants

This is a reply to a post on APD, I am sending my reply to the 
Cichlid list as well.

> From: JDAVIS at bio_tamu.edu
> Date: Wed, 21 Aug 1996 21:07:54 -0600
> Subject: cichlids and plants
> I have a question on cichlids and plants.  Most of the plants that we 
> keep in our aquaria are soft water loving.  How can you keep cichlids 
> like Juliochromis (my favorite) from the hard-water lakes of eastern 
> Africa, with plants that are by far the softest-water loving thing 
> around!!

The soft vs hard water dilema is IMHO not the main problem. What is a 
problem is that most cichlids will constantly uproot and/or damage 
the plants, and some (Africans) will often eat them. 

I keep Central American Cichlids (C.nigrofasciatum, T.meeki, C. 
spirulum). I found it is virtually impossible to keep plants planted 
in the gravel w/o having to replant them regularly. However, I have 
had rather good experience with potting the plants. I use clay pots 
(different sizes). I put some large gravel at the bottom to block the 
hole. Then I put a layer of fine gravel or sand mixed with little bit 
of soil and peat. Then another layer of fine gravel and finally large 
gravel at the top. The large gravel at the top is intended to prevent 
the cichlids from uprooting the plants and/or digging into the pots. 

My water is moderately alkaline and moderately hard. The tank is 180 
litres and currently holds about 12 cichlids (more than half of those 
are still juveniles or subadults) and 3 Ancitrus (I know it is 
overpopulated). I have only 32W of fluorescent light, the light goes 
on in the evening only (the tank is close to the window). I have DIY
yeast CO2. 

I was quite successfull in keeping Valisneria and Echinodorus this 
way. The growth is not too fast but they do grow. I have had a few 
hybrid Apogonetons in there and they do relatively OK but the 
cichlids regularly shred their leaves into pieces. However, they seem 
to be able to grow new leaves faster than the cichlids shred them. 
They've been blooming for the last month or two as well. OTOH, I 
tried one Cryptocorine recently and had to take it out after about 
two weeks. 

Usually, the fishes do not damage the plants too much since the Vals 
and Echinodorus have rather tough leaves. Sometimes, some cichlids 
decides he does not want a particular plant at that particular place 
and will keep digging it out. In that case I move the plant to a 
different spot and usually that works. 


Jan Fidrmuc
CentER for Economic Research
Tilburg University
P.O.Box 90153
5000 LE Tilburg, 
The Netherlands

Phone: +31-13-466-8221
Fax: +31-13-466-3066
Email: Fidrmuc at KUB_NL.