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Convict Cichlid Care for Beginners
I have kept a convict for 12 months now. While I kept him I did the usual searching the web for information and surprisingly there is not much to find. After talking to the manager of my local pet store, I Learned that convicts are among the most purchased aquarium fish. Though how many people really know how to take care of this fish. In this article you will learn the basics of caring for convicts. You won’t learn how to breed them and you won’t be able to rush out and buy one after reading this article, but you will be able to ask the right questions.
Before you get any fish you need to analyze the options. If you have a ten gallon tank you certainly can’t get an oscar. For a convict you will need a filter, this is absolutely necessary they are messy eaters. You will need a heater. You will need a lot of rocks for it to use for hiding places and last but not least you need a tank. What I am about to say will make some people mad but I am going to say it any way. You do not need a 30 gallon tank for your lone convict, a 10 will do just fine. Please don’t take that the wrong way and try to stuff a breeding pair in there. You can keep one convict in a 10 gallon tank. The size of a ten gallon tank is about his territory. If you put a convict in a 55 gallon tank he will do fine with gouramis and silver dollars ( a fish species). But in a ten gallon he will attempt to kill anything in the tank. I have attempted to put a spiny eel, a firemouth and a red devil in his tank, I had to remove them all.
When you go in to the store to purchase the fish you will probably want to look at the babies. I say babies but they should be at least an inch long. You can choose between albinos or normal, striped. Before you should buy the convict you should talk to a sales person. Ask them how old they are, ask them how long they’ve had them, ask them what they feed them and ask them some questions you know the answer to, see if they are as informed as they should be. Before you buy a fish watch the tank for awhile, 15-20 minutes. See how they react to your presence. Every so often place your finger on the glass, don’t knock, see what they do. Do they cower behind the filter or do they follow your finger. Watch without interference, do they dart around or hardly move? You want a good healthy fish. Fish that hide from your finger are probably sick or stressed. Fish that are being bullied are probably stressed, fish’s that are bullies probably won’t be very friendly even in a bigger tank. Fish that dart around might be to active to go in a small tank while fish that are hardly moving may be sick. Pick a medium sized fish, if they all came from the same shipment there is a reason why some are a lot smaller than the others. It is normal however for the fish to be different sizes. Once you get the fish home you need to set it into the water in the bag they gave you, but be sure to put a hole in the top. wait 15 minutes and then pour a cup of your tank water in the bag. Wait 5 minutes and ten get a net, get the fish out of the bag but never dump the pet store’s water in your tank, you can never be sure of what’s in it.
When you first set up your tank you should either borrow water from some one else’s tank or buy a couple of inexpensive fish to put in the tank to get the cycle going, I suggest tetras. These fish will be put through a lot of stress while the cycle is going on so don’t be extremely worried if they die. Sell them back to the pet sore when your done. Convicts aren’t very particular on pH or temp. You should keep the tank at 76 degrees and the pH neutral. I went 2 weeks without a heater because mine broke. That is not a good idea but goes to show how hardy they are. I would suggest getting a thermometer and pH test kit but most pet stores will test your pH for free. You should change your water once or twice a month at the least. Remember to always add chlorine neutralizer after a water change.
What to feed your convict is always a problem. people have always said to me that they will eat veggies but mine won’t touch them. I would suggest sinking pellets or Wardley Cichlid Sticks. My convict hates flakes. Also frozen food is always good. I like to feed mine beef heart, blood worms, and brine shrimp. I think one of the most interesting things about cichlids is how they eat live food. You don’t want to put live food in a professionally designed aquarium, the convict will wreck everything in it’s path to get to the guppies. Guppies are probably the best food for your fish, but you can feed them brine shrimp too. If you are going to get guppies you should be careful and get healthy ones, make sure there are no dead ones at the bottom of the tank, and that there aren’t to many in one tank. I usually feed my fish right before I turn out he light. He eats the leftovers that night. When going away on a trip I turn out the light and put a dozen guppies in. Make sure that the guppies are small enough for it or you will have a bunch of little, annoying fish in your tank forever.
Convicts do okay with most Central or South American cichlids. What kind of fish you put in your tank depends on the size. In a 20 or 30 gallon tank you could have jewels, firemouths maybe rams. In a 55 or larger you could have oscars, jack dempsys, green terror or even severums. The bigger the tank the more possibilities you have. In a 100+ tank you could have tetras. It also depends on your convict’s personality and the personality of the fish it’s with. I’ve heard of convicts picking on 12 inch oscars.