A Free Fish, and how to get two enemies to love each other

13 Dec

Over a year ago a friend was getting rid of his aquariums and supplies. The price was right. I delivered an assortment of beers to him and I got the tanks and supplies. One minor catch was that I needed to take his final remaining fish, a killer African Cichlid. It is a male of the species  Metriaclima estherae, the Red Zebra Cichlid, although you can see this guy is not red at all.

This is one tough fish!

I didn’t have an African Cichlid tank set up, although I used to raise Electric Yellow Cichlids. I also tried to find this mean fellow a home, to no avail, so I put him in his own 20 gallon tank.  I added gravel and rocks, some Java Moss and Hornwort, and he thrived.  After Mr. Red Zebra lived alone for a year there came a time when I needed to put my angry Red-tail Shark somewhere. I decided to take a chance and I put those two together. They tangled with each other for a few weeks and now they co-exist relatively peacefully…two unlikely neighbors.

To get them to live together I had to get past that first few days where the Big Bad African Cichlid was the king of the tank.

I did two things:

I re-arranged the rocks in the tank. The African Cichlid was used to a certain arrangement. Moving the rocks made him less confident that he “owned” this tank.

I added a group of Rosy-Red Minnows, a feeder fish. I put in about a dozen of various sizes and this gave the Cichlid something to chase…and eat.

The Red-tail Shark did get scraped up a bit avoiding the mean Cichlid, but now they get along fine. No, they aren’t really in love but they do tolerate each other.

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