Altolamprologus calvus are not overly aggressive cichlids, though male-to-male aggression is common. In my 75g tank I have three calvus - two males and a female. I purchased them together as juveniles when they were the same size and was thus unable to sex them at the time. Now that they're sub-adults, their genders are more apparent.
Typically, two males in a 75g is probably dicey. However, because cichlids have individual personalities, it is always possible that you can own docile specimens of a species not known to be docile.
Pictured above is my dominant male. Needless to say, I would consider him the tank boss. The dome-shaped structure that he's facing is a ceramic cichlid cave, which he calls home and serves as the center of his territory. You can just make out the entrance on the right side. This cave is up against the glass on the left-side of the tank (see full tank photo above). He doesn't venture very far from the cave. In fact, he never goes farther than the center of the tank and always remains to the left of the foreground plant in the full tank photo.
The sub-dominant male in the tank doesn't really have a territory, even though there is another identical cave near the center of the tank. He's pictured below and is almost a carbon copy of the dominant male. He's usually hovering around the rocks in the center. The two males don't pay much attention to each other and there is definitely little chasing. They just simply stay apart.
The lone female (pictured below) doesn't get much attention from either male. In fact, the dominant male is less tolerant of her than the sub-dominant male. She and the sub-dominant male co-exist pretty peacefully in the right half of the tank. She'll occasionally venture over to the left, but she usually stays on the back-side of the rock work where she's less visible to the dominant male. You can barely see her in the full tank photo - she's just to the left of the Hagen digital heater toward the rear of the tank. Notice her lighter color when compared to the two males.
I'm generally loathe to get on a soap-box and share my frustrations but I'm going to here. In the interest of honesty and candor, let me say that there are many amateur fish keepers out there who keep cichlids....but shouldn't. Over the years, I've learned, and continue to learn, a lot about these fish, the industry, the hobby, etc. Of the many things I've learned, one disturbing fact is that there are too many amateur aquarists who behave badly with respect to keeping these wonderful fish.
I've seen way too many tanks that contain multiple species of cichlids which are grossly incompatible or, worse, grow way too large for the tank they're in. Often times the former is on purpose. Sure, any hobby can involve people that disrespect it. There are fish keepers who think it's cool to have a contest where they plop a bunch of incompatible cichlids into a tank just to see which is the nastiest. That's not what the hobby is about, and managing your tank this way disrespects these living creatures, not to mention the hobby itself. Please don't keep these fish if your intent is to watch one fish destroy another.
If you're keeping a handful of Oscars in a 55 gallon, please understand that you're depriving a beautiful cichlid species of a legitimate life. Sure, Oscars are cute when they're juvenile size. So are juvenile elephants, cows, horses, etc. You wouldn't confine any of them to a 10' x 10' shed, so why confine a fish (or several) that can reach a foot or more in length to a tank that's only 4' x 1'? I'm not picking on Oscars because there are many other cichlid species to which this applies. Oscars are just highly popular. Serious aquarists place considerable value on the lives of their fish. Purposely keeping big fish in small tanks disqualifies you from being a serious aquarist.
lIf you have a fish room, consider yourself fortunate. Us cichlidophiles always wish we had more room because, let's face it, we always need one more tank, right?
Sadly, I do not really have a room dedicated to fish tanks. My tanks have to share space with things like, you know, beds, sofas, desks, armoires, etc. I'm lucky that my wife is patient enough with my cichlid obsession to allow me to maintain two show tanks. She has also allowed me to commandeer a walk-in closet, affectionately referred to as "the fish closet," pictured below.
The closet doesn't actually contain any running tanks, but it does store all of my equipment and supplies. It also holds my breeding and quarantine tanks, for quick and easy access.
Some time ago, I posted about being a JIC (Just In Case) person. Because I maintain that philosophy with respect to fish keeping supplies, my fish closet stays packed. It's hard to tell in the photo, but the closet currently holds one 40g breeder (with pine stand), two 20g longs, three 10g, and a 5.5 gallon tank (Ahhh, the magic of nesting!). That's all in addition to countless filters (some still brand new), numerous water and air pumps, light fixtures, filter supplies, rocks, shells, hoses, spare parts, etc.
As a follow-up to the previous post, another good source of cichlid information is Cichlid News. Published quarterly by a company called Aquatic Promotions of Miami Florida, the periodical is dedicated exclusively to cichlids. Each issue contains profiles of as many as four genus and species along with a What's New Across the World section that highlights specific African and New World species. Also in each issue is a directory of cichlid dealers around the country.
Authors include a who's who of cichlid experts such as Ad Konings, Paul Loiselle, Eric Hanneman, Laif DeMason, Ron Coleman, Lee Newman, Uwe Werner, Juan Miguel Artigas Azas, and Patrick Tawil just to name a few. Edited by Wayne Leibel, a cichlid expert himself, each issue is also jam packed with excellent color photos.
Visit the site and subscribe. Available in print and digital formats, the magazine is a great addition to your library. Back issues are also available.
If you really want to dig into the authoritative information about cichlids, consider primary sources such as scholarly publications. Simply go to Google Scholar and enter a search term or terms. Sure, there are other online search tools, but Google Scholar is better than most, especially if you learn how to use it.
Many scholarly research papers are freely available online. Yes, most of these are heavily laden with scientific terms because that's what they are, science publications. However, you don't have to read the whole paper. Skip to the results/discussion/conclusion sections. Typically, the results of the research are understandable by the lay person. Furthermore, the results have been vetted by other researchers, generally ensuring that what you read is accurate.
If you want to take it a step farther, dictate the context by contacting the author(s) directly. The affiliations of scholarly article authors are nearly always included on the title page of the article. If the affiliation is an academic institution, which it is most of the time, visit the institution's website and search for the author's name in the directory. E-mail addresses for professors and researchers are typically accessible. If you have a specific question, especially related to their published research, ask them. In fact, many scholars love to communicate with the public, and you would be surprised how many will respond to your inquiry.
Want to get that fry food directly to the bottom of the tank without it going over all over the place? Want to be more precise filling those test tubes from the API test kits? Need to get a small blast of water in that crevice of your filter that you can't reach with a brush when doing your routine maintenance?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, pictured below is something that will accomplish the task.
Liquid dispensing syringes like this are easy to find and serve multiple purposes. You can pick them up at your local pharmacy, medical supply store, or purchase online. I have more than a dozen of them and use them all of the time. I'm sure you can find ways to use them too.
It should go without saying that the health of your fish is a product of multiple variables - genetics, physical environment, diet, age, etc. As an aquarist, you have control over some of these. One of the variables that's easiest to control is the fishes' diet. After all, the aquarium is a closed environment, and food must be introduced into it - unless your fish feed on each other or something else that grows in the tank.
There are plenty of food options available. Providing a laundry list of what cichlid foods are best isn't the point of this post. What I will say is that variety is beneficial.
My Tanganyikan food pantry consists of 15 different dry foods, from which I generally feed them a three food combination each day. Mathematically, this means I could feed them a different combination once a day for 455 consecutive days before they eat the same three foods together.
Just a quick note to the readers out there. If you like the blog, tell your friends and tell me too. Let me know what you think. I'm always interested in hearing from fellow cichlidophiles. Don't be shy! Just go to my Contact page and send me a line or two. Tell me what you like, or don't like, about the blog. I'm always interested in hearing from others. I've met a lot of great aquarists, and many who share my passion for cichlids, simply through e-mail.
As a collector of fine art, I have always appreciated the skill of individuals who can paint or draw an image that closely emulates the real thing. The interviewee for this post is one of those people. In fact, that may be one of the few talents that equals his expertise as a cichlid keeper. Let me introduce Sam Garcia, Jr. Sam is an artist by vocation, where he owns and operates Scalz Fine Art and Illustration art studio. As the company name suggests, Sam specializes in fish illustrations and art. I own a couple of Sam's prints, and they are simply gorgeous. Sam also serves as an administrator for Cichlid Keepers, a Facebook group for cichlidophiles. Without further ado, let's get started.
The Cichlid Room Companion
Tropical Fish Hobbyist
American Cichlid Assoc.
African Cichlid Hub