Reading about Madagascan has re-ignited my desire to raise and keep some cichlids and I've fallen for the rare Katria katria (formerly known as Ptychochromoides katria).
Unlike my dismal attempt at keeping Convicts, I have hope that I'd be able to take better care of these as they are much less aggressive (and so will hopefully be less distrustful of me) and breed much less so it should be much easier to sell/give away the young.
But how do you actually get rare fish like this? Where do you go to buy rare cichlids? Can they be shipped safely across the pond from the US if need be?
I've learnt that they like well oxygenated fast flowing water, but not a strong current, with few plants but lots of rocks and sand - but not what pH and hardness; I'm guessing that like other Madagascans it would be high pH but soft water which might be difficult with my liquid chalk Also, I've seen it suggested to have a 4ft for a group, but I was hoping to get a similar tank to the one I have (100cm 160L) for a single mated pair, is it alright to keep a mated pair of cichlids that are usually kept as groups?
AFAIK these are actually very aggressive fish (most Madagascar cichlids are) and are also under threat of extinction in the wild.
For that reason I would suggest that you avoid these until you have experience with more commonly available and more forgiving fish. They are very rarely imported and only tend to be available from dedicated hobbyists from time-to-time so you will struggle to find them.
IMO due to their vulnerability in the wild they should only be taken on by aquarists with plenty of experience and the ability to keep them in ideal conditions with a view to breeding to maintain their population.
For me, fishkeeping is based on the looks of the fish (although I feel bad for admitting it) as well as temprement and the only shop ones I've liked so far have been Oscars and Jags (both far too big for me but seem very owner responsive), Convicts and Firemouths (both too fast spawners and Convicts are very nervous). Until I saw the Madagascans I hadn't really liked the African species
I'm willing to go to some lengths to get a Cichlid I like and can get on with, but as you said I'm better off starting with something less rare - any ides?
Fairly dead set, if anyone gets a bigger tank it'll be my Goldies as they'll eventually need one - in fact the reason I brought up that size is the likelyhood that if I get a second tank I'd probably go for a bigger tank for them and use my current tank for the cichlids.
Having a very quick think, the most obvious choice would be a pair of Angels. They are very peaceful as Cichlids go, and as long as you give them the right water parameters are fairly easy to keep. They definitely develop individual personalities and will respond to their owners. The pair I recently acquired from Critch are very much characters.
You'd need a taller than average tank for them - 18" or more, and a 3ft that tall with 160 litres would house an adult pair. Soft water, pH under 7, fairly high temp (28C) and lots of plants, bogwood, and slates for spawning will keep them happy. They like their water clean, and with little current.
Unfortunatley I don't like Angel and Discus shaped fish, don't know why, I just don't Also, as they want low pH and soft water I will struggle to get things right for them - I'd be happy to mess around with RO or peatmoss etc if it was for a species I really wanted, but not for a second choice (boy that makes me sound like a spoiled brat ).
I'm not against getting anything agressive, just as long as they're not also antisocial towards humans - although I will be the first to admit that the tank I had for my Convicts wont exactly have let them feel secure (too small and too close to the stairs where they will have felt overlooked).
I have considered a Mbuna setup at times, but the thought of an overstocked, super aggressive tank makes me shudder I'd rather a pair of South Americans that don't breed often/well but I think that might be an oxymoron!
It's a big problem in terms of water - South Americans pretty much all need soft acidic water so for anything from there you'll have no option but RO.
Malawis and most hard water cichlids tend not to be particularly human-friendly in terms of interaction with the owner.
You could go for a pair of Firemouths, or some Keyholes, or a harem Apistogramma set up but they won't be like Oscars in terms of relating to people. You will see all the Cichlid behaviour and a lot of the Apistos are very colourful.
I think it sounds like what you really fancy is a pair of Oscars - but as you already know that means a big tank.