Lake Malawi Species • Mbuna tanks and holding females.. needing advice!

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Mbuna tanks and holding females.. needing advice!

Postby Kevin in Ky » Mon Apr 17, 2017 3:57 pm

Okay, this might be a pretty broad subject.. but it is the one main problem-issue that I have with keeping Mbuna and I'm sure it affects everyone that has ever tried keeping them. The problem is how to keep healthy females long term,.. and therefore how to keep your Male to Female ratios where they need (and are recommended) to be for any real length of time??

Right now I am having trouble keeping holding females alive in my 125g office tank. I've lost around 6 total (from the various species in the tank) over the last month two. I have tried to get the M/FM ratios right for each species by rehoming extra males..adding additional (hopeful) females etc. and for the most part the ratios are good. It's a 6' long tank with tons of rockwork, caves, hiding places etc. so I really wasn't expecting this issue in this tank. I have no way to raise or sell fry, so I don't remove holding females,..and I keep a group of 6 Syno 'dwarf Petricola' cats to control the fry population. This last fish I found dead this morning was a Msobo female that was ready to spit on Friday. I tried to catch her but couldn't.. and can't remove the rocks since the tank is in my office..plus I'm only here 8-5 Mon-Fri. She was the biggest female and was perfectly healthy Friday ..and dead and half eaten by this morning. I'm getting pretty frustrated with it, since I've really tried to do everything by the book with this tank.

My questions are.. Is this just the way it is with a Mbuna breeding group setup? ..Just a constant juggling act to keep things stable? Is it just normal to lose fish periodically no matter what you do? Any suggestions to help with this? (more rockwork??) Do the catfish stress/kill holding females..or ones that have recently spit fry and are recovering? (that's one of my theories). Are we Mbuna keepers destined to become breeders?..with hospital tanks, fry tanks, recovery tanks? Any suggestions or words of advice are appreciated. There are currently 5 more females holding..as usual in this tank, so this issue is always ongoing of course.
125g Met Msobo - White Labs - Acei (White Tail) - Troph Elong Boadzulu - Cyno Jalo Reef -Petricola Catfish
55g Demasoni - Yellow Labs - Acei
55g Cyno Hara - Met Estherae - Rusty
29g Ps Saulosi - Rusty
20g 'Lamprologus' ocellatus ''Gold''
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Location: Lexington Ky.

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Re: Mbuna tanks and holding females.. needing advice!

Postby DJRansome » Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:47 pm

IME the catfish don't harm the females. If my ratios are good the females don't die, except of old age. I had a female estherae live to be 10 years old.

I've never had a holding female killed. I don't usually remove holding females either. I can't think of anything except the 2 blue barred species. Who is your tank boss? You have only 5 males? Is the most aggressive fish the elongatus...what if you remove that species?
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: Mbuna tanks and holding females.. needing advice!

Postby Kevin in Ky » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:35 am

Thanks for the reply DJR! The tank boss is the Msobo male..but he really isn't aggressive at all..except when it comes to breeding, he is constantly in full show off mode. He claims the right back corner area but doesn't bother any other species.
The elongatus are feisty but not aggressive to the other species. I have 2-males and 5-females,..so I probably should remove 1 male but they both look great and stay on opposite ends of the tank. They square off several times each day but never really fight or hurt each other. Same with the Jalos,..2-males and 5 females. The 2 males seem to be only aggressive with each other,..but the 5 females are always holding (at least 2 or 3 of them)..and the males never actually hurt each other just square off then back down. The Acei (white tail) are 1-male and 4-females and don't mess with anyone..other than constantly breeding. Same for the White Labs which I have 2 (or 3) males and 5 (or 6) females but they aren't aggressive with the others.

Sounds like the best thing to try for now might be to remove 1 male Jalo and 1 male elongatus..and possibly add even more rockwork? Any other thoughts?
125g Met Msobo - White Labs - Acei (White Tail) - Troph Elong Boadzulu - Cyno Jalo Reef -Petricola Catfish
55g Demasoni - Yellow Labs - Acei
55g Cyno Hara - Met Estherae - Rusty
29g Ps Saulosi - Rusty
20g 'Lamprologus' ocellatus ''Gold''
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Joined: Tue Dec 23, 2014 2:09 pm
Location: Lexington Ky.

Re: Mbuna tanks and holding females.. needing advice!

Postby Fogelhund » Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:01 am

If the females aren't too thin, from holding too long... then it isn't a case of dying due to stress of holding.

I suspect, someone in the tank has discovered that new fry tastes pretty good, and she might be getting attacked and the females might be getting attacked as they release the fry. By who is the big question. Can you post a picture of the tank?
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Re: Mbuna tanks and holding females.. needing advice!

Postby Kevin in Ky » Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:34 am

Fogelhund..I'm pretty sure you are right on with that assessment. This last female Msobo was perfectly healthy looking for a fish that had been holding for a long period of time. This has been the case basically with each one.. and I have noticed that all of the fish literally swarm and go crazy eating the fry any time a female has spit in the tank.. and I haven't had a fry grow out in the tank since I started it around a year ago. I could easily see how she might have been attacked if she spit them and tried to gather them back in but not necessarily by one fish. Any way to help with this? Does it look like I have enough rockwork?

Image
125g Met Msobo - White Labs - Acei (White Tail) - Troph Elong Boadzulu - Cyno Jalo Reef -Petricola Catfish
55g Demasoni - Yellow Labs - Acei
55g Cyno Hara - Met Estherae - Rusty
29g Ps Saulosi - Rusty
20g 'Lamprologus' ocellatus ''Gold''
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Kevin in Ky
 
Joined: Tue Dec 23, 2014 2:09 pm
Location: Lexington Ky.

Re: Mbuna tanks and holding females.. needing advice!

Postby Fogelhund » Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:52 am

The tank looks great, but there really isn't anywhere to hide properly, and release fry in peace. In the wild, the female is going to go off on her own, and find a cave, or spot under a rock to release... there aren't going to be other fish around. Even though it's a pretty big tank, it's still a small space... and you know how with mbuna, they seem to communicate, and the second food hits the water, they all go charging in....
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Re: Mbuna tanks and holding females.. needing advice!

Postby tanker3 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:30 pm

I agree with Fogelhund. You have some rocks, but no real hiding places for "holding females'. You need some crevices and caves.
75gal Tank White Labs, White Top Haras, Met. Membe Deep
58gal Tank Ps. Saulosi , Lab. Perlmutt
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Re: Mbuna tanks and holding females.. needing advice!

Postby DJRansome » Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:49 pm

:thumb: I would not rule anyone out. After all they all look behaved when you are watching...but SOMEONE is guilty.
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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