Posted: 2007.01.20(Sat)3:02 Post subject: Firemouths? Experienced Firemouth keepers please!!!
OK this seems to be a very widely debated topic, but I would really like some experienced feedback on it... I have seen Psy say that a single pair of firmouths will be fine in a 29 gallon, but I have also seen 6 stand firmly against it... I have also read articles both for and agiasnt the same thing... So here is my question...
Will 1 pair with only a zebra pleco for bottom feeding work in a 29 gallon tank? If of course it was only the three fish occuping the space?
The reason behind this question is I am redoing my tank. I have a firmouth (most likely male about 4-4.5 inches I can get picture maybe...) that I have had for a(1) year now.. I adore him. My LFS says they can get me a female about the same saize as my male, so that they wouldnt beable to beat up on one another so bad. I would also re-set the tank some so that everything would be new... My concern though is... is it really plausable? It would really be my ideal seeing as I love firemouths but can't afford a bigger tank... Any commetns would be appreciated... And also if it is possiblke would this be the onyl way or would there be another range of fish that would work?
Being one of the six, all I can do is cover the same ground.
We have a single full grown male Firemouth, we rescued him from a much larger tank, where he had become a very aggressive fish. It was move in with us or being dead. There is no way I would attempt to add another Cichlid to this tank.
The tank he is in is a 30 UK gallon tank (36 US), that works out at 36x15x18, he shares this tank with Swordtails and Bronze Corys. In my opinion, this tank will do, but if we lived anywhere else other than where we do, he would be in a larger tank. The tank is filtered by a Eheim external cannister, and we do a minimum of 25% water changes per week (Sometimes it is two 20% changes per week).
Up until recently there was another very respected advisor on this board who had a go at me for keeping a single Firemouth in that tank.
My LFS says they can get me a female about the same size as my male, so that they wouldnt beable to beat up on one another so bad
The problem isn't just bioload, you could keep almost anyfish alive in too small a tank with good filtration and lots of water changes, but it also comes down to what is good for the fish on a long term basis, and the nature of the fish we are dealing with.
Firemouths are not the most aggressive Cichlids (They can be), but compared to community fish, they are far more aggressive, most experienced Cichlid keepers know what can happen, so they have a PLAN B, in other words they often have spare tanks "Just in case".
I keep Angels (In larger tanks than your Firemouth), I now have three seperate tanks with three Angelfish, what had been a very easy going and succsesful breeding pair for over a year, just fell out, and the female tried to kill the male, it isn't a pretty sight, when cichlids go at each other. I am lucky, I have several tanks, so I can move fish around when this sort of thing happens (And it does).
I think when Psyfalcon mentioned it would be OK, it was on the basis of a single already established pair, being OK in a tank of this size (No other fish), and a larger one would be better. But under perfect conditions it could work, you would have to ask Psyfalcoln about this though.
I do understand that you love your Firemouth, and you have him, and if he is happy in the tank, then he may as well stay there, but if you do add another, you would be overstocked (In my opinion), and you could also be opening up a lot of potential aggression.
There are plenty of Cichlids who would make a 29 gallon tank into a good long term home, Dwarf Cichlids, Bolivian Rams, Keyhole Cichlids, but in my opinion a 55 would be the minimum for a pair of Firemouths.
Please remember, this tank could be home to these Firemouths for 15 years !!
An established pair that gets along (note that this isn't always the case) can manage in a 36" tank. It isn't ideal, but it can work. As mentioned above, however, that is not the same thing as trying to get a single, mature fish to accept a mate! If you're willing to start with six babies, get a cooperative pair from that group, and allow them to grow out together, then you might have a chance for this to work.
I don't frequently have to add a mate but when adding a mate, I've had fish accept each other right away (love at first sight) but I've also had the complete opposite.
I have bred Firemouths in a 30 gallon but found that they would only accept a pleco. They were raised with the pleco from small sizes though so this may be a factor. Anything else I put in there, would be lucky to last 1 day even when they weren't breeding.
If you do add a mate, I would watch them very closely. If they don't get along then remove one to another tank or set up a temporary divider until one of them can be re-homed.
It is possible but it's a gamble.
Just as a side note; wouldn't buying 5-6 fish from the same store result in inbred fish? Living on a farm, I can say that with most animals they cannot be bred with a brother, sister, etc. Does this apply to fish? _________________ Faith is the evidence of things unknown
Fish are usually resistant to inbreeding, perhaps because we mammals can't notice small deformities (odd fins, ect) like we could on a farm mammal.
As others have said, it is important to have an established pair, one not prone to fighting. I've had a convict pair that tried to kill one another every other week. They laid eggs on the week off from killing one another. Those got evicted from their 20long into something MUCH bigger. The female was later removed from the 75 after my male got rowdy. Sometimes two fish will never get along.
Its also important that there be lots of cover, I prefer my tanks with enough cover that a fish on one side of the tank can not see the other side. This is much more than 3 flower pots stuck in a 29. Fish of equal size can quickly kill one another, it might be possible with a divider also. For anyone keeping Central American cichlids, a few dividers are very handy during the pairing process. There is certainly risk, and we are trying to minimize it. Its up to the keeper to decide how much risk they are willing to take.
Zebra plecos are not suitible for this tank in any way. They are expensive, small, and endangered in the wild. They do best in a species tank.
Check out some classified ads, and auction sites for larger tanks. People seem to sell 55s very cheaply used, which would be a good size to try and upgrade to. There is a much larger margin for error that way.
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