Lake Malawi Species • Please Help! Need real advice!

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Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby Melbel » Sat Mar 11, 2017 5:23 pm

Hi,

I've been lurking around this site for a while, and I'd wanted to post in the Stocking Sub-Forum, but I'm too new to have those permissions...so here I am. :)

HELP!

I have a 125 tank just waiting for me to pull the trigger on a stock list. This will be my first cichlid tank, and , I'm suffering from analysis paralysis.

Before I go further, I am set up already with 2 canister filters, a HOB filter, heaters, argonite substrate, rockwork, caves, etc. Set up and cycle are complete.

I plan to get my stock from <vendor name removed>, which I'm mentioning only because they're local to me, and I'm completely stoked about the fortune!

In discussing which type of African Cichlids to stock, I've been advised "For a 125, definitely go with Mbunas.", and I've been told "With a tank that size, you have to go Haps/Peacocks." Both experts gave strong arguments for their opinion...Which just resulted in my being extra confused.

I've been told Mbuna have more personality, are more colorful overall due to their not being dimorphic, and will ultimately​ breed like crazy. (I'm not interested in raising fry, but I think mouth brooding is fascinating.). I've also been told they're very aggressive, but if selection is done properly and I overstock, I "might not" have any issues.

For the Haps/Peacock mix, I've been advised to have all males since they are dimorphic, they are not as aggressive as Mbuna, cross-breeding can be an issue if I elect to have any females, but if I don't mind the hybrids (I don't), then they too will naturally breed...Just have to have the ugly females in with the fancy boys. Haps/Peacocks cost more, but I guess I don't know why.

From what I've learned and retained, if it weren't for the aggression, I'd go Mbuna with intent to overstock to eventually reach 50. But the aggression concerns me, and I just can't make up my mind.

Also, I'd really like to start with juvies not only because they're​ so much less $$, but also because we'll actually enjoy seeing their color and characteristics develop. I have no problem waiting a few months for transition of color in either option.

Juvies (<$4 each) vs. young adults (@$20 each)! Are there advantages/disadvantages to either besides price and color? If not, juvies it is, but I could use someone to actually validate that beyond the LFS dude that want me to spend $20/fish. :)

I often hear, "Decide what you like and get those"...but I will most like a tank population that thrives! Please help me create that!

Thank you thank you thank you for reading and in advance for your reply.

Melissa
Last edited by DJRansome on Sat Mar 11, 2017 9:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Cichlid-forum would like to keep review-type information out of the forums, and in the Reviews section instead.
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby noki » Sat Mar 11, 2017 6:38 pm

You can get what you want, and do either Mbuna or smaller to mid size Haps/Aulonocara... you just can't do the more aggressive Mbuna mixed with with Haps/Peacocks because the Haps/Peacocks may do poorly (poor color/poor growth) because of the more high tension tank. You can do many different cool Mbuna in a 125g, and there are dozens to choose from... but some very common Mbuna (which are colorful when small) can be a pain because of aggressiveness and that adults may be less attractive than juveniles.

Mbuna can also be dimorphic as well as monomorphic. Personally, I always found it more rewarding watching the males change and color up fully. But some try for the constant little changing color of the monomorphic Mbuna, but even then the most dominant fish will stand out and some fish can be roughed up and less attractive. You can have Haps/Peacocks with females... you can look at Haps and see some that you find have interesting looking females. Or try all males... but if you have a male/female tank you want to try to have a good number of females to spread the stress around.

You don't have to save fry, so the hybrid question really only matters if you plan on seriously breeding pure fish and saving the fry.

As for buying size, the only real benefit of larger fish is knowing if they are male or female. It is easier to add juveniles than adults, because sexually mature adults will fight over breeding issues right from the start. Juveniles are like puppies and kittens, more play fight than gangster seriousness.
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby Melbel » Sat Mar 11, 2017 6:52 pm

noki wrote:You can get what you want, and do either Mbuna or smaller to mid size Haps/Aulonocara... you just can't do the more aggressive Mbuna mixed with with Haps/Peacocks because the Haps/Peacocks may do poorly (poor color/poor growth) because of the more high tension tank. You can do many different cool Mbuna in a 125g, and there are dozens to choose from... but some very common Mbuna (which are colorful when small) can be a pain because of aggressiveness and that adults may be less attractive than juveniles.

Mbuna can also be dimorphic as well as monomorphic. Personally, I always found it more rewarding watching the males change and color up fully. But some try for the constant little changing color of the monomorphic Mbuna, but even then the most dominant fish will stand out and some fish can be roughed up and less attractive. You can have Haps/Peacocks with females... you can look at Haps and see some that you find have interesting looking females. Or try all males... but if you have a male/female tank you want to try to have a good number of females to spread the stress around.

You don't have to save fry, so the hybrid question really only matters if you plan on seriously breeding pure fish and saving the fry.

As for buying size, the only real benefit of larger fish is knowing if they are male or female. It is easier to add juveniles than adults, because sexually mature adults will fight over breeding issues right from the start. Juveniles are like puppies and kittens, more play fight than gangster seriousness.


Wow! Thank you dearly for spending the time to share your knowledge! Like you, I also enjoy getting to watch the color up. I'm about 85% sold on Mbuna, and though I'm not entirely sure why, I've read many individuals find their Peacocks to be rather "boring" compared to the Mbuna. (This is only what I've heard; no one needs to argue this 3rd party statement.) And as you'd mentioned, since I have no interest in professional breeding anything, cross-breeding is a non-issue.

I admit too that the fact that I can get a 3" Mbuna for the same price as a 1.5" Peacock is nice too.

So now I perhaps check out selection of my LFS (which is expansive), select those I visually prefer, make sure those aren't the big meanies of the Mbuna, and make stocking list accordingly?
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby noki » Sat Mar 11, 2017 7:42 pm

Mbuna are more rock conscious and territorial, and will use the rocks to take cover and dig around the rocks, so some people find that more interesting. But then there is more aggression concerning the landscape.

Aulonocara/Haps can still have territories but they usually hang above the rocks. Less aggresive overall but you can still have major aggression problems. But males can really color up intensely over time and become very impressive, differently than Mbuna, and you can get satisfaction getting males fully colored up.

All Malawi cichlids will show pecking orders, all types show aggression and dominance, it is just that some tend to be more live and let live while other cichlids are more like leave the tank now or I will beat you until you die.

You will find that most end up trying both groups eventually.
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby DutchAJ » Sat Mar 11, 2017 8:38 pm

noki wrote:Mbuna are more rock conscious and territorial, and will use the rocks to take cover and dig around the rocks, so some people find that more interesting. But then there is more aggression concerning the landscape.



I started a mbuna tank a couple months ago and have never kept haps/peacocks, So I can't offer much advice, but I can say that watching these behaviors has been really interesting so far and I'm glad I went with them. I like that the whole tank is colorful too.
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby DJRansome » Sat Mar 11, 2017 9:07 pm

I like both, but I don't think I will have an all-male tank again. Right now I am mostly mixed gender haps and peacocks, but will never give up at least one mbuna tank and at least one Tang tank.
125G Borleyi, Maleri, Astatotilapia, Multipunctata
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75G Calvus, Caudopunctatus, Petricola
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33G Hara; 33G Kwanga; 33G Maingano; 33G Cobue
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby Melbel » Sat Mar 11, 2017 9:37 pm

DJRansome wrote:I like both, but I don't think I will have an all-male tank again. Right now I am mostly mixed gender haps and peacocks, but will never give up at least one mbuna tank and at least one Tang tank.


Perhaps the reality is that I don't want to foot the $$$ for an all male hap/peacock tank as large as this one. I seriously just don't know.

I so appreciate the replies, but I still just don't feel as though I have found a clear-cut reason for either. I do understand that we're not comparing a Yugo to a Lamborghini, which is part of my indecision. It's like we're looking at a Honda vs. Toyota...Neither has a huge advantage over the other, but they are different nonetheless.

I'm seriously to the point that I want to just place and internet order with the direction "surprise me" because I just want to get on with it! lol
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby Iggy Newcastle » Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:16 pm

You have received awesome advice.

Before you buy anything, I'd strongly suggest putting together a list of fish that interest you. Bring that list here and folks can advise on a stocking that has a good chance of working out long term. This will be very important.

And you're in the right place for Malawi questions. I don't know of any 'stocking sub forum.' You should have full access to everything this site has to offer.
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby DJRansome » Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:20 pm

Your original criteria was not expensive and colorful from day one. I don't see how haps and peacocks fits that at all. Have your criteria changed?

Are you sure you even want Africans?
125G Borleyi, Maleri, Astatotilapia, Multipunctata
75G Demasoni, Maingano, Msobo, Lucipinnis
75G Calvus, Caudopunctatus, Petricola
55G Chrysonotus; 38G Demasoni
33G Hara; 33G Kwanga; 33G Maingano; 33G Cobue
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby Melbel » Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:39 pm

DJRansome wrote:Your original criteria was not expensive and colorful from day one. I don't see how haps and peacocks fits that at all. Have your criteria changed?

Are you sure you even want Africans?


Ironically, no, I actually started off to creating a shoaling tank with angels as the highlight. That is a setup with which I have years of experience, and I wouldn't be asking all these novice questions. That tank was when I lived on the other side of the country, and the water supply there was much softer than the 8.2 I have here now in Salt Lake City.

Though it may be perceived as wishy-washy, I get joy out of having the tank, tending to it, watching it thrive, etc.

This selection process at the beginning is not what jazzes me (as you can tell). I just don't want to end up with murder and death in a Mbuna tank and the subsequent regrets.

If Mbuna aren't going to slaughter each other, I prefer their price, but will they look dinky at 4" at maturity in a 125? I can afford 40 fish @$25 each for the Haps/Peacock male-only tank if there's reason for that as well.

I'm simply so darn undecided, and since I've been given both scenarios as being the "best option" by my LFS, and I don't know anyone with even a beta in a bowl, this forum is my best hope.
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby Melbel » Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:41 pm

Iggy Newcastle wrote:You have received awesome advice.

Before you buy anything, I'd strongly suggest putting together a list of fish that interest you. Bring that list here and folks can advise on a stocking that has a good chance of working out long term. This will be very important.

And you're in the right place for Malawi questions. I don't know of any 'stocking sub forum.' You should have full access to everything this site has to offer.


I'd like to post a pic of my aquascape so far asking for suggestions for improvement ..Where is the best place to do that?
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby snorkel3 » Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:49 pm

Click the Posting Pics link in my signature for instructions.

You can post your pics in this forum if you plan on doing Malawi or in the setup forum if you aren't sure.
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby noki » Sat Mar 11, 2017 11:02 pm

I'm seriously to the point that I want to just place and internet order with the direction "surprise me" because I just want to get on with it! lol


You don't want random stuff... there is a huge problem in the hobby with vague fish and hybrids... be picky and keep track of what you get.

If I understand what you posted, you are going to physically visit the vendor? If you can pick out the fish, you might be able to pick out some males from the cheaper juvenile tanks.

Go through the vendor's list/pics and pick out some names of cichlids to start to build a tank around. You can look up pics on this site also.
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby Melbel » Sat Mar 11, 2017 11:58 pm

noki wrote:
I'm seriously to the point that I want to just place and internet order with the direction "surprise me" because I just want to get on with it! lol


You don't want random stuff... there is a huge problem in the hobby with vague fish and hybrids... be picky and keep track of what you get.

If I understand what you posted, you are going to physically visit the vendor? If you can pick out the fish, you might be able to pick out some males from the cheaper juvenile tanks.

Go through the vendor's list/pics and pick out some names of cichlids to start to build a tank around. You can look up pics on this site also.


Yes, I will be going to the brick and mortar location of the supplier. I don't think it's that I want "random" stock, but I just want to get past the Mbuna vs. Hap/Peacock decision. I can't be picky about anything until I pick the Honda or the Toyota.

My "surprise me" comment is actually based on an offer from the supplier stating, "let our florist pick for you a colorful bouquet!". This is for 2.5-3" young adult males from the Hap/Peacock groupings.

I am SO appreciative of the feedback and follow up comments from forum members today! I realized from another comment today that I was basing much of that choice on $$$, which is ridiculously short-sighted.

If I needed a cheap hobby, I'd have picked up knitting. :) A few hundred $$$ in the livestock purchase one way or the other isnt a big deal...Or I shouldn't let it be a big deal.
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby Aaron S » Sun Mar 12, 2017 12:16 am

I am a really cheap person, so I understand the need to be realistic about costs. When asking for advice of the type you are asking for, I find it helpful to know where the person is coming from; so I will tell you that I have a 125gal with placidochromis phenochilus tanzania and labidochromis caeruleus. I used to have a terrible mix of randomly selected mbuna and my wife said "the fish are too mean", so when I upgraded in size I tried to get "nicer" fish (which she still says the yellow labs are too mean by the way).

So you will first have to figure out what kind of fish you want in your tank and what I can say is the best way to decide that is to ask a few questions:
1. How much movement do I want in a tank? (have you seen a beta fish in a tank? Have you seen spastic danio's or mbuna?)
2. Is the size of fish important?
3. How aggressive is OK? (this one is particularly important to your current situation - and is best described by examples of unacceptable aggression levels)
4. There are probably others...but that is all I can think of right now.

One thing you may not have considered based on your comments is to ask yourself do you enjoy watching the fish grow/mature? A large portion of the cichlids in the hobby will show color changes and behavioral changes as they mature and I find that aspect to be really amazing and one of the most fulfilling parts of owning the fish. I have no interest in buying fish that are not juveniles anymore because I miss most of that change.
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