Which hard-water cichlids can I keep?

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Jeremy Gay advises a reader on which cichlids would be best to stock in his 120cm tank… I am setting up a 120cm tank with the idea of keeping cichlids.

Q: I live in a hard water area and the pH is 8, so I’m wondering what you would recommend. I don’t want mbuna as I tried them once before and found them highly problematic, not only in terms of aggression and also in terms of quality. Please could you suggest either a single/pair of hard water cichlids, or something smaller I might be able to keep in a cichlid community?

JASON, VIA EMAIL

A: Jeremy replies: A pair of Nicaragua cichlids, Hypsophrys nicaraguensis, would be lovely in a hardwater tank of that size. They colour-up beautifully and have breeding potential too. Or how about some Thorichthys, such as T. maculipinnis? Complete the central American biotope with some wild type Green swordtails.  But with a pH of 8, you could go for some cichlids from Lake Tanganyika? Buy fish bred in Europe and they’ll be high quality and highly interesting to watch. You could mix a pair of shelldwellers with a pair of Julidochromis, a pair of Neolamprologus leleupi and a pair of Fairy cichlids, Neolamprologus pulcher. You could even add some very uncichlid-like Cyprichromis.