Aquarium Decoration (Rocks, Plants and Substrates) • How many is too many when it comes to caves/rocks?

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How many is too many when it comes to caves/rocks?

Postby bluto5907 » Sun Mar 04, 2012 11:04 pm

Hello everyone this is my first time posting and I'm in need of some insight. I currently have a 55G tank I want to set up as an Mbuna tank. My question is how many caves/rocks will I need to keep everyone happy? Should I have a cave per fish? Or is it based what looks good? Any help would be greatly appreciated :)
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Postby Mr.Dempsey » Mon Mar 05, 2012 1:24 am

It really depends on what mbuna your stocking, like "my" yellow labs are find with no hiding spots but other more aggressive mbuna will need there little piece of the tank to their selfes. 1 spot per fish is good but as many you can have is best so they always have somwhere to hide.
Too many fish, to little space.
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Postby DJRansome » Mon Mar 05, 2012 3:12 am

There can never be too many for mbuna. Some say stack it to the waterline and completely fill the tank. Rocks are used for two things: defining territory and hiding or dashing through to lose an aggressor.

Males need a territory on the substrate defined, and females (and sub-dominant males) need to hide and dash.

You want to have more territories than males. And the territory is a patch of substrate surrounded by rocks. Think need for a roof. If the male is hovering over his patch, the rocks can block his view of the neighboring male and he won't see anyone that needs to be taught a lesson.

Females hover overhead. Since there are piles of rocks between all the male territories, this is where the females find tight, fish-sized crevices to dart into and swim through.

Don't think in terms of caves with a back and a roof that the fish will enter and defend. IDK why, but when challenged, the fish in such a cave just swims out. :o

Hope this helps. :thumb:
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Postby PfunMo » Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:41 am

You may need to simply watch the fish and let them tell you if you got it right. Trying to think like a fish is pretty hard for most of us. It is likely your tank will go through many changes before it and you settle into the final pattern. Any time you change the balance of the tank, the fish may act different. I just go for a bunch of rocks and let the fish tell me. If they seem scared and don't come out, add more hiding. They are more sociable when they know they can hide if they want. Remember that hiding means hiding from you as well as other fish. Too much prolonged chasing? More rocks. Leave some open space on the bottom and the fish will work out the details. The details may change anytime you add or remove fish or as they grow so it is not something to spend a great deal of effort on getting it exactly right.
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