jjl - 12/11/2005 6:28 PM
Hey Ron that's very impressive, you must know your fish, those are Rift Valley cichlids, right? I never got around to keeping any because I thought the water chemsitry requirements difficult. Although having said that I kept discus for a few years in a large (300 gallon) tank. Lost a few - they do that 'you've upset me so now I'm starving myself to death and there is nothing you can do' routine. I started keeping fish when I was ten years old - santa left me a tank for christmas. That year he also left me a little microscope that I used to investigate the rotifers, protozoans and nematodes that colonised slides left in the water. I have five or six tanks (small 15-30 gall.) - now ready to set up (moved house a while back); wondering what species to go with - I went through a phase of breeding cichlids (nothing exotic - kribs and the like) and guppies (the sheer variety is fascinating). Not quite sure which species would be worthwhile.
I've been out of the game for a while now, but I've always been drawn to Cichlids and suitable tankmates, but they do require a certain amount of attention. Lamprologines are pretty demanding about water conditions as you say, even more so that the Haplochromines of Lake Malawi, which I found less interesting due to a lack of behavioral diversity, and extreme ease of breeding.
The problem you describe with Discus is one of acclimatization in my experience. Once they're established and have done a little growing, I've found them to be quite hardy, and almost shockingly bright and curious. Discus are the only fish I've ever had that have actually watched television, for example, and for long stretches of time. I've also always had a soft spot for certain oddballs, such as Datnioides, Morulius, Belonosox, snakeheads, spiny eels (also very bright and curious once they're comfortable) and the like.
If I might make a suggestion, try devoting a 20 gal to a pair of Julidochromis (small, very attractive Tanganyikans). These guys will set up shop and create an extended cooperative family that's fascinating to watch.
BTW, I had a similar microscope thing going, and became particularly interested in Nematodes for a while.