Lake Malawi Species • Please Help! Need real advice!

Discussion regarding only Lake Malawi species.

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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby Melbel » Sun Mar 12, 2017 1:48 am

Aaron S wrote: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.


Thanks Aaron!

I ABSOLUTELY enjoy the joy of watching/experiencing the "growing up" phase...to a point. I've tried to research online how long Lake Malawi cichlids take to grow from juvies to at least the color-morphic stage, but I haven't been able to find a that information. I do anticipate probably 40% water changes no less often than bi-weekly

Admittedly, if it would be 18 months for any noticable coloring to appear, I suppose I wouldn't be thrilled with that option. Perhaps thats why I'm drawn to the Young Adults as they still have 3-6+ months before full, mature coloration.
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby Iggy Newcastle » Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:09 am

Some mbuna will start to color up at a very small size. I've had several different species in full color at 2.5" or smaller. Or females holding at 2." How fast they mature in the lake will be different from captivity, of course. With the way keepers tend to over feed such nutritious foods, this happens quickly.

40% is a good place to start. Just keep an eye on nitrates and keep them low. Schedule your changes around this. Since you're already experienced with fish keeping in general, and have your tank already cycled, keeping your water in check should be a breeze for you. That will tie directly to growth and maturity of your fish. Rift Lake cichlids are messy, and the norm is weekly water changes.
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby DJRansome » Sun Mar 12, 2017 11:41 am

Many mbuna are born fully colored as well. They will not slaughter each other if you choose wisely...don't let the vendor choose. Many mbuna mature at 6"...it's the minority that mature at 4". The fish will be zooming around all the time at all levels...your tank will not look empty. Add five Synodontis multipunctatus for additional interest and activity.
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby noki » Sun Mar 12, 2017 11:48 am

Admittedly, if it would be 18 months for any noticable coloring to appear, I suppose I wouldn't be thrilled with that option. Perhaps thats why I'm drawn to the Young Adults as they still have 3-6+ months before full, mature coloration.


If you add all juvenile cichlids some males will immediately start to change and develop color the first month or two. Not all, but the most dominant fish will always start to take charge, the fish at the lowest end of the pecking order might take a year... these tanks are rarely static, things always are changing and evolving, pecking orders be formed and changing. If you put 1.5 to 2.5 inch Malawi cichlids in a large tank with good water changes, these fish will GROW FAST into young adults... you will not have to wait a year for anything to happen. You don't have to add all of the fish at one time, you can more juveniles in the coming months.
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby Melbel » Sun Mar 12, 2017 2:38 pm

Thanks again so much for all the replies and advise...each really helped me develop my own wants (e.g. beauty and color) against what I thought were my requirements (e.g.low cost).

Realizing that perhaps the only reason I was considering Mbuna was because they're cheaper was a good kick in the pants.

Last night I made up my mind, slept on it, and revisited the decision again this morning. And I hadn't changed mind (shocking, I know!)

So, I'm going for an all-male Hap/Peacock tank. I'll start off with 2.5"-3" young adults that I can personally select at the vendor's site no later than next Saturday.

I understand that the all-male tank will have less aggression with the overall best coloration. What I don't understand is the selection of the specific species to be stocked. With Mbuna, I understood that i wouldn't stock species of similar coloration.

With this all-male Hap/Peacock, am I attempting to ultimately stock 40 different species, or can I have 2-3 males of the same species since they will not be trying for the attentions of the females (that are non-existent)?

I hope this question makes sense. I swear, it is so much easier to have a freshwater community tank, but I'm so up for this challenge and tbe learning curve ahead!
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby DJRansome » Sun Mar 12, 2017 8:10 pm

One of each and no look-alikes. Shoot for 20 fish. Make sure you have a spare tank and a rehoming plan as you will have to swap fish as required for a year or two. Read the All-Male article in the Cichlid-forum Library for a good overview.
125G Borleyi, Maleri, Astatotilapia, Multipunctata
75G Demasoni, Maingano, Msobo, Lucipinnis
75G Calvus, Caudopunctatus, Petricola
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby Melbel » Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:41 pm

DJRansome wrote:One of each and no look-alikes. Shoot for 20 fish. Make sure you have a spare tank and a rehoming plan as you will have to swap fish as required for a year or two. Read the All-Male article in the Cichlid-forum Library for a good overview.


Those are fantastic reads in the library! Thanks for their reference.

I've identified 14 Haps and 11 Peacock species based on the stock available at my LFS.

I was careful to omit those that grow significantly larger than "normal" and any that tend to be a bit on the more territorial side.

I have not yet selected or ruled out any species based on similar coloration to another, and I know that must be done, but being a cichlid newbie, I have to look up every last one, etc.

It sounds impossible to find 25+ fish with different colorations out of just Haps and Peacocks. I hope I'm wrong! :)

Is there a good place to post my VERY tentative stocking list (though will not all be at once, of course), or is this the place?

So grateful for the internet and helpful souls like those who are reading and assisting this novice.

Thanks again!
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby xgtphalex » Sun Mar 12, 2017 11:31 pm

It's Lake Malawi so I would post here. I would just make a new thread for it.
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby Melbel » Mon Mar 13, 2017 12:09 am

xgtphalex wrote:It's Lake Malawi so I would post here. I would just make a new thread for it.


Thanks. I'm intimidated with just the thought of trying to type up the names to post since autocorrect seems to believe it knows better. ;)
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby CraGunner » Mon Mar 13, 2017 2:49 pm

Hi Melbel,

As a fellow Northern Utah resident, I know which vendor your talking about, and though they have an incredible reputation for great fish, they don't have the best Mbuna selection. I ended up using two different vendors for that reason, because I was set on some specific Mbuna. So if you were set on going into the store and choosing fish, you made the right decision going with peacocks/haps. That vendor has a great peacock/hap selection. Just trying to help you feel better about your decision :thumb: Also you made the right decision asking people here on the forum for advice. Pretty freaking awesome group of helpful people here.

Hope you're having fun, and welcome to the cichlid addiction.
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby BuckeyeTez » Mon Mar 13, 2017 4:21 pm

I have an all male Hap/Peacock tank and love it. Most of my fish are fairly different looking and don't have many issues with my mix. Right now I couldn't really tell you who my tank boss is because there is just hardly no aggression. Some fish don't like having another fish right next to them and will let the fish know but they don't injure or chase.

I like the size some are growing too and when people come over and see my 7" fish they are amazed at how big they are.

It's a lot of trial and error with what works and what doesn't. I have 3 Borelyi but all are different'ish in color. One is more blue/orange, one blue/red and one orange with spots (OB) and they could care less about each other. My German Red followed one around for a few days but doesn't seem to care anymore. Occasionally you will have one fish who turns into a bully but you just have to have an extra tank you can remove them to while you come up with a plan.

If you get them all on the smaller size they should have a better chance of being comparable. What may be compatible now may not be in a year so you just have to pay attention and do what's best for the tank. I removed my favorite fish a few months ago because he was going on a rampage...

I'm the end I think you will be happy with an all male.
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby DJRansome » Mon Mar 13, 2017 4:49 pm

I think you are absolutely right it's hard to find even 18 males that don't look alike. As for peacocks, once you get a red, a yellow and a blue...what is left?

I did find that usisya and maleri (both yellow peacocks) are OK together, surprisingly enough. But usisya and blue neon and lemon jake...look alikes.

You can see my 125G is mixed gender. I do have 3 males of each, but there are 9 or more females to keep them busy for each species. Not the same as all-male.

People with very large tanks (like 8 feet) have better luck with multiple males of the same species in an all-male tank. But you would expect them to color up differently with only one being maximum color.
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 » Mon Mar 13, 2017 5:33 pm

DJRansome wrote:I think you are absolutely right it's hard to find even 18 males that don't look alike. As for peacocks, once you get a red, a yellow and a blue...what is left?

I did find that usisya and maleri (both yellow peacocks) are OK together, surprisingly enough. But usisya and blue neon and lemon jake...look alikes.

You can see my 125G is mixed gender. I do have 3 males of each, but there are 9 or more females to keep them busy for each species. Not the same as all-male.

People with very large tanks (like 8 feet) have better luck with multiple males of the same species in an all-male tank. But you would expect them to color up differently with only one being maximum color.


You hit squarely on to my question (that I hadn't entirely even thought through yet!)

...And thank you DJ for entertaining my ignorance...

In order to do any breeding (again, just because it's cool, I don't care if all the fry end up getting eaten, lol) could I have mostly male haps/peacocks and just a few females (yeah, they're ugly), or do ratios have to be higher for the females just like with Mbuna.

I don't want to ultimately have as many as 40ish fish, but 30 ugly females.

If I were to have 15 males to 5 females, is there a benefit to that scenario vs. all male?
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Re: Please Help! Need real advice!

Postby DJRansome » Mon Mar 13, 2017 5:42 pm

The risk is that the females would be killed. Maybe some males too in the process of fighting. And what kills them ends up being disease which spreads through the tank.

The first thing we do when trying to manage aggression in an all-male tank is try to ID females masquerading as males so they can be removed.
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 » Mon Mar 13, 2017 5:43 pm

CraGunner wrote:Hi Melbel,

As a fellow Northern Utah resident, I know which vendor your talking about, and though they have an incredible reputation for great fish, they don't have the best Mbuna selection. I ended up using two different vendors for that reason, because I was set on some specific Mbuna. So if you were set on going into the store and choosing fish, you made the right decision going with peacocks/haps. That vendor has a great peacock/hap selection. Just trying to help you feel better about your decision :thumb: Also you made the right decision asking people here on the forum for advice. Pretty freaking awesome group of helpful people here.

Hope you're having fun, and welcome to the cichlid addiction.


Thanks! Since I'm going Haps/Peacocks, I'm glad they don't have a spectacular selection of Mbuna because, as you can see, I've waffled quite enough on that decision alone!

I love that they're so quick to reply to emails, and that I get to physical pick out specific fish too...Just wish that it didn't have to be on their only day open to the public (Saturday) as I know they are often very busy.

I've been tending aquariums since my early teens, and how I did it ages ago without the internet is a mystery. What's not a mystery though is that many a time so many years ago, I cleaned the bejesus out of my equipment (biowheel and all!), and then I couldn't figure out why all the fish were dying!

Where was Google then?!? :)

Thanks for the welcome!
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