At LiveFishDirect We want you to be successful as a hobbyist. Our only goal is that no matter the circumstance you will remain excited about discovering our company and will want to use us as your trusted fish supplier for the long run. We ship several hundred orders a week and maintain above a 99% long-term success rate for all our fish shipped. That said if there are any fish not up to par including of course "Dead On Arrival", quickly snap a picture of the fish in a bag and email it to us.
Cashback refunds for shipping cost are based on a percentage of the overall shipment. For example, if 2 out of 10 fish shipped are lost during transit or within fourteen days of arrival, we would refund/credit the value of the fish and 20% of the shipping cost.
For all other issues, we will be happy to take care of your needs to the best of our ability. If your fish die within 14 days, send us an email with a picture, and we will work out a credit or refund with you. Special judgment will be used to give a fair credit/refund in all circumstances that merit concern.
Lastly, never forget our goal is for you to remain excited about our company so if you have experienced any issue not covered in our guarantee please send us an email and we will still go far out of our way to make sure you are taken care of!
1. Stocking Levels vs. How Big the Tank is in Gallons:
a. These notes explain how many fish African Cichlids can fit into an aquarium. For example, the first line is
explaining that in a 30 gallon, 8 fish would be lightly stocked, 12 would be average
stocked, and 15 would be densely stocked.
i. 30 gallon = 8, 12, 15
ii. 50 gallon = 15, 20, 25
iii. 75 gallon = 25, 30, 35
iv. 90 gallon = 30, 35, 40
v. 125 gallon = 35 , 45, 50
vi. 150 gallon = 40, 50, 60
vii. 250 gallon = 60, 80, 100
viii. 500 gallon = 100, 130, 175
b. Stocking levels determine a balance between water quality and aggression.
i. The lighter you stock, the less you will have to change the water, but the
more the fish can damage each other due to aggression.
ii. The heavier you stock the tank, the less likely your fish are to damage one
another due to aggression. They will still chase each other around all day. However, in a densly-stocked tank, there are enough distractions to prevent fish from doing any real damage to one another. This method of dense stocking we have deemed “chaos theory”.
2. Water Chemistry:
a. pH … We are at 7.8 here. It is easy on cichlids to be dropped into water as high as
8.6, Tanganyikans can be as high as 9.2.
i. A sudden pH adjustment is much easier on a fish
dropped into a higher pH than if they are suddenly
dropped into a lower pH.
i. 78 degrees is optimal.
ii. 78-72 degrees will progressively lessen cichlid aggression, but it will dull the fish
activity and metabolism leaving them a little more susceptible to
parasites. If taken down slowly, the fish should be fine. Doing this will reduce fish
waste as it will slow down their metabolism causing them to eat less, grow
slower, live longer, reduce aggression and cause fish that ordinarily would
not be compatible to live together. Also, a lower temperature can be effective
in preventing bacterial blooms often caused by uneaten fish food. For example, if you
are letting your children feed the fish and you don’t trust they will refrain
from overfeeding, you may want to consider lowering the temperature.
iii. 78-84 degrees will progressively increase their metabolism and cause the
fish to be more active and colorful. They will breed with better results. They will be
more aggressive. The increased feeding will cause quicker shifts in water
quality and can only be balanced by bigger and more frequent water
changes. 84 degree water can kill parasites quickly, but can cause quicker blooms
of bacteria if they are overfed and if there is any leftover fish food that is
a. Mbuna and Victorian Cichlids are more colorful at a small size. They are the
heartiest, cheapest, and most colorful. For this reason, They are some of our favorites.
However, they are also the most aggressive. They can be kept with Peacocks and Haps
with no problems as long as they are introduced at a size disadvantage to the less aggressive
species. A really nice look for a cichlid tank is having a bunch of smaller mbuna and Victorian cichlids running around with some of the bigger, showier male Peacocks and Haps. Generally, Peacocks and
Haps get along fine. Males will develop color, all females are brown or silver in color.
b. Cichlids are more compatible if they are all added when young and raised
together. If you have a larger tank, we recommend going in 6-packs of small fish
to reduce costs and increase the chance of getting a nice cherry male of the group.
By starting all the fish off
young and raising them together, we have seen fish tanks thrive that would otherwise be considered incompatible.
c. Cichlids will get along better in larger sizes if there are smaller more aggressive fish
around to distract them from picking on one another. You can keep a batch of
aggressive male Haps and Peacocks from hurting each other by adding some small and
colorful, yet aggressive mbuna cichlids We call these “dither” cichlids
as they help demonstrate the “chaos theory” mentioned earlier.
d. Males that look similar to one another will quarrel the most. This will bring out their
best color(s), but may be stressful to watch as they go at it. As long as you use the tricks
mentioned earlier, such as stocking densely and using dither fish, similar males
should not do any real damage to each other. However, the aspect of male
dominance must be accepted when keeping African Cichlids.
a. Mbuna cichlids in the green color-code category will have colorful males and females.
i. Female mbuna can be mixed with more mild species. Larger female mbuna
can help add color to a tank by enticing the males to show their breeding coloration and will technically keep the peace.
b. For the best color, aim for an all male tank. There is nothing wrong with going for an
all male tank if you have no desire to breed fish.
c. If you want to breed fish, you will need at least two females for every one male. There is nothing wrong with a 6 female to 1 male ratio. If you really want to breed
fish, this has proven better results.
d. We can tell the sex of some small fish even though the website may list them as
unsexed. This is done by watching for the growth of fish that have all been born on
the same day. Males will shoot ahead of the females in growth. If you want a
specific ratio of males to females and the website lists them as unsexed write
what you would like in the notes box at checkout and we will do our best to insure
you get what you hoped for. We can’t guarantee anything but, after doing this for so
long, we have gotten quite good at it.
5. Adding New Fish to Your Tank:
a. Fish tend to do better when added in waves of larger groups.
i. If you add fish one at a time to an aquarium, you will get “pick-on-the-new-guy
ii. Adding cichlids in larger groups will reduce the chance of aggression
between them. This will cause a two-week time period which will be critical
to the water quality while your biological filter catches up that will be
addressed below. It is best to allow a two-week time period between groups. This will allow your biological filter to catch up with the extra ammonia produced by the newer fish and preserve water quality.
b. It is a good idea to add a dose of preventative medication to a tank
when adding new fish from any source.
i. Similar to humans, fish tend to contract sickness when they are stressed.
Moving fish from one tank to another, whether by shipping them or simply
picking them up from a local petstore, can cause stress on the fish. This can in turn
allow a disease that would normally not be able to pierce the
immune system (e.g., Ich) to suddenly show up out of nowhere.
ii. Anything that treats a tank for parasites will work when receiving large
batches of fish. Even something very mild, like Melafix, is a great idea to
treat for a few days after receiving new fish.
c. Water changes help when adding a group of fish to an already established fish tank.
i. Hopefully, you have decided to add fish in larger groups instead of one at a
time. As it is good practice to do water changes shortly after adding new fish, an added benefit of introducing fish to your tank in a group is the reduction of these water changes. With this practice, you will only have to perform this extra water change with the addition of each group instead of with every individual fish.
ii. Whether you are adding fish to a brand new tank or a group of fish to an
established tank, I recommend the following water change schedule. Your
fish will love you for it!
1. Change 40% of the water 3 days after adding the new wave of fish
2. Change 40% of the water 7 days after adding the new wave of fish
3. Change 40% of the water 14 days after adding the new wave of fish
4. Change 40% of the water in two week intervals after that.
iii. That is a lot of water, but this step will truly insure you have a healthy fish
tank forever. No amount of technology I feel is adequate to the effectiveness
of a good, old-fashion water change.
1. Ways you can become more efficient at this process:
a. Consider using sterile garbage cans, hoses, and pumps. I will
usually siphon the water out of the tank into a large,
plastic garbage can placed next to it. I will then drop a power head
connected to a hose into the garbage can to pump it to a drain or
outside (great for your garden). After I have removed as much water as
I want from the tank, I will hook the hose up to my faucet to get
warmer tap water to fill the garbage can and pump
warm water from the garbage can back into the
tank. The benefit of this process is you don’t have to carry
buckets of water to and from your tank, and the chance of a major spill is lessened.
b. Python Water Changers are nice as they hook right to your
sink. However, they can be slower than the method above.
d. Acclimating your fish purchase from LiveFishDirect:
i. First, float the bags in the tank until the temperature stabilizes, this normally takes around 15 minutes.
ii. Don’t release the fish until the temperature is stable.
iii. Cut open the bags and strain the fish water in the bag through a net into a
bucket or bowl.
iv. Place the fish right in the tank.
6. Troubleshooting Fish Disease:
a. Fish disease can be complicated. In fact, they can be just as complicated as the
diseases that affect us.
b. Look for excessive scratching, this may mean you have a parasite.
i. A fish scraping its side on the bottom might just be a way for it to stir up
some fish food. However, if they are doing it excessively or many of them are
doing it, you have may have an outbreak of parasites. The good news is if you treat it
early, it is easy to fix. The bad news is if you wait until everything is covered
in white spots (sores), it will be tricky to cure.
1. To treat cichlids with parasites, we recommend: salt, copper,
malachite green, Quinine sulfate, or any special combination of those.
c. Open sores, wounds or bloody veining can be a sign of a bacterial infection. If they
will eat, consider medicated fish food. If they won’t eat and the situation is
looking bad, then you need some more serious bacterial meds. We recommend
http://www.nationalfishpharm.com/ as they are very knowledgeable. Give them a call if you if you feel your fish would benefit from stronger medication.
This guide is a work in progress. Thank you for your time and consideration of some of these tips and tricks we have discovered while keeping African Cichlids. Please let us know if you feel we have missed the mark on any of these generalizations, or if you just want to help with wording.
Thanks – Live Fish Direct Crew
Well you shouldn't be if you are buying African Cichlids or other tropical fish from us. Most of the fish you see in local pet stores have been packed and shipped almost six times before they reach your tank. When you buy from us they are only packed and shipped once. Ever wonder where a lot of the fish that are stuffed into retailers tanks actually come from. I know for a fact the average life of a pet shop fish goes something like this:
This can be very hard on the fish, each time they have to be caught, hand counted, bagged, boxed, shipped, unpacked, hand counted, and the process starts all over again. Rarely are they given more than a few days to adjust before they go on another tedious journey. Now I know that there are pet stores that might find a way to skip one or two of these middle men but no one can offer you the same health and quality that we can. WE ARE THE BREEDER! Our diagram is much simpler:
You guys are great, my fish came in on time, healthy, and well packed. Isaac helped me out a lot with some previous order confusion, and you guys worked fast to find a solution. And when you guys thought my OB was not going to fit in well for its size, yo (read more)
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