General African Cichlid Discussion • 240ltr Stocking - Malawi vs. Tanganyika

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240ltr Stocking - Malawi vs. Tanganyika

Postby Tom's Tanks » Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:12 pm

Hello everyone,

It's great to finally be registered here, I'm looking forward to sharing and talking about this great new hobby I've discovered. :fish:

So, whilst I fully appreciate stocking decisions are entirely down to personal taste it's also a good opportunity to listen to others opinions and learn from their experience.

To be clear, my plan is to have a species tank that reflects (within reason) the chosen fishes true aquatic environment. My tank has been hardscaped, I've got my new filter (FX4) ready to rock, all that's really left is to fill the tank, plant it, cycle it and stock it. I'll include some pictures of the tank in more appropriate location of forum.

Anyway, back to the original point of this post - I think we can all agree that there are so many beautiful fish in the African rift lakes and after a few discussions with some breeders and others in the hobby I appreciate that my tank size dimensions (L120cm x W40cm x H55cm) are probably best suited to the smaller African cichlid species. I think I've narrowed down the selection to two species which are quite different.

Pseudotropheus saulosi vs. Neolamprologus brichardi

I've done a quick summary of what I see as the pros and cons of both species...

Image
Pseoduotropheus Saulosi

Pros:
    Dimorphic species (and both colours are great!)
    Simple Mbuna dietary requirements
    Apparently very entertaining behaviour
    Don't need as hard a water as Brichardi

Cons:
    To fully stock the tank with quality fish will be quite expensive
    If I wished to breed them, would be more complicated than Brichardi
    Will more than likely nibble any plants I put in

Image
Neolamprologus brichardi

Pros:
    Can populate an entire tank from a single breeding pair
    Really interesting colony behaviour
    Beautiful looking fish
    More than likely won't bother any plants I put in

Cons:
    More complicated dietary requirements
    Breeding is easily possible in a single tank so will need to offload fry to a LFS
    Tougher water requirements
    Not as colourful as Saulosi

So although these lists are not exhaustive it's just some thought's that I had... To be honest they are both beautiful species and suitable to beginners apparently (which I am) so I'd like to open this to you guys and girls - what are your thoughts on these two or do you fancy pickling my brain a bit more and perhaps suggesting another species?
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Re: 240ltr Stocking - Malawi vs. Tanganyika

Postby DJRansome » Fri Aug 17, 2018 7:10 pm

I would not worry about water requirements or feeding...both can eat the same food and swim in the same water.

It comes down to breeding and color and plants. Personal preference.

I would say for a biotope plants would not be an issue anyway...both lakes where the fish are most often found are rocks and sand...not much in the way of plants in their living/nesting areas.
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Re: 240ltr Stocking - Malawi vs. Tanganyika

Postby punman » Sat Aug 18, 2018 8:28 am

I totally agree with DJRansome . Another consideration is that the first fish is a mouth brooder, the second, a typical egg layer. That may, or may not, make a difference to you.
I have had both fish in the past, I liked the colour of the saulosi.
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Re: 240ltr Stocking - Malawi vs. Tanganyika

Postby Tom's Tanks » Sat Aug 18, 2018 3:30 pm

Thanks for the input guys, much appreciated.

I appreciate that plants aren't traditionally part of these rift lake biotopes but I felt a bit of Vallisneria Spiralis would be nice to breakup the hardscaping and potentially hide some of the equipment. Plus it is native to the rift lakes so it isn't completely out of place.

There's so many fish, so little tanks.
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Re: 240ltr Stocking - Malawi vs. Tanganyika

Postby Tom's Tanks » Sat Aug 18, 2018 3:33 pm

punman wrote:I totally agree with DJRansome . Another consideration is that the first fish is a mouth brooder, the second, a typical egg layer. That may, or may not, make a difference to you.
I have had both fish in the past, I liked the colour of the saulosi.


Can ask what are the Brichardi like in terms of tank activity and personality - I've heard they can be quite shy and retiring?
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Re: 240ltr Stocking - Malawi vs. Tanganyika

Postby noki » Sat Aug 18, 2018 11:54 pm

Tom's Tanks wrote:
punman wrote:I totally agree with DJRansome . Another consideration is that the first fish is a mouth brooder, the second, a typical egg layer. That may, or may not, make a difference to you.
I have had both fish in the past, I liked the colour of the saulosi.


Can ask what are the Brichardi like in terms of tank activity and personality - I've heard they can be quite shy and retiring?


The "Brichardi" (actually there a a few closely related species) are not shy, they are more of a schooling fish. But if they make a pair you end up with a pair, you have to remove the other fish. Now I don't find that the Brichardi have much personality individually, nor are they that interesting to breed, they are rather lazy parents for cichlids. But once they breed the group colony with multiple generations of fry is very cool to watch. Eventually down the road you end up with a problem with too many Brichardi and the young starting to sexually mature can shake up the tank radically. The "Daffodil Brichardi" N. pulcher are the most colorful of the group.

Saulosi are very easy to breed if you get a good group. Some fry may survive in the rockwork if you don't remove the mother. You can have some other fish in with the Saulosi too, some variety. A dozen or more Saulosi with multiple males makes an active colorful tank. The biggest trouble with Saulosi is finding good quality fish, a lot of the Saulosi sold out there are pale #%$&, they need to be beautiful yellow-orange when juveniles. They do not color up with age.

Two completely different fish tanks, your choice.
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Re: 240ltr Stocking - Malawi vs. Tanganyika

Postby Tom's Tanks » Sun Aug 19, 2018 4:39 pm

Thanks for your comments noki.

I've been offered some F1 Saulosi from a reputable dealer so I guess getting hold of some good stock may not be too hard. The dealer is close so I can probably see them before committing as well, which is a nice touch.

I think my rockwork has a couple of places Saulosi fry could survive if spat in the display tank (which is definitely my intention to begin with as I don't have a spare grow out tank).

Does anyone else have any recommendations for species? Doesn't have to be either of the aforementioned, I won't be stocking until about November so have plenty of time to plan.
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Re: 240ltr Stocking - Malawi vs. Tanganyika

Postby Tom's Tanks » Fri Aug 24, 2018 4:29 pm

I've just setup my 240 litre Fluval Roma which I've had sat in a shed unused for 5 years. I recently bought a brand new FX4 which I've installed using the pre-drilled QuickConnect system. The flow is good but I still feel I need some sort of circulation pump at the other end of the tank to ensure water is being pushed back towards the filter intake (which sits behind the big rock on the right - next to the output), plus the cichlids will like the increased flow.

I've used a bunch of limestone as the hardscape and pool filter sand as the substrate. Last night I filled it with water and am just running the filter to make sure everything is working as intended, its not currently being heated or started the cycling process. Below is how it currently looks.

Image
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Re: 240ltr Stocking - Malawi vs. Tanganyika

Postby DJRansome » Fri Aug 24, 2018 4:50 pm

Love the rocks. Make sure the fish can fit in between.
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Re: 240ltr Stocking - Malawi vs. Tanganyika

Postby Tom's Tanks » Fri Aug 24, 2018 5:37 pm

They look closer together than they are.... there is a number of a little crevices and caves and stuff, to be fair I built it because that's how I like the look, plus its like an island in the middle of the tank hopefully allowing me to get some flow around it to move the waste about.

The only thing I'm not overly happy about is the lighting its currently provided by two T8 fluorescent tubes, it serves a purpose but I'd like an LED setup where I can darken the back and side of the tank and bring focus into the front of the tank and create the illusion of depth.
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Re: 240ltr Stocking - Malawi vs. Tanganyika

Postby Tom's Tanks » Tue Aug 28, 2018 10:08 am

So got myself a water test kit today, water inside my tank and from tap tested exactly the same.

pH = 7.5
KH = 6 DH
GH = 10 DH

I think my water can be considered "slightly hard" and I'm hoping should be suitable for African Cichlids.

Now I just need some pure ammonia to start the cycling process.
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Re: 240ltr Stocking - Malawi vs. Tanganyika

Postby Tom's Tanks » Tue Aug 28, 2018 4:45 pm

As a side note I went to two LFS' today, had a look at the local African Cichlid stock. Maybe 10-15 tanks in each store, which isn't bad I guess. I mean I've got some cracking local private breeders/importers so it's not a big issue but the LFS seemed to cater more for the mixed community tank, which in hindsight probably makes more sense.

The thing that stuck in my mind most was the Demasoni - their colours were beautiful. They were also the most active, and aggressive - bear in mind this is the first time I've seen African Cichlids in the flesh. Just watching the clear tank boss swish around flaring an chasing, and these were Juve's/young adults - you can see why they have a reputation. But by God they were pretty.
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Re: 240ltr Stocking - Malawi vs. Tanganyika

Postby teeceejay42 » Wed Aug 29, 2018 6:15 pm

Tom, Your hardscape looks amazing, where did you get your rocks from? If you could slice/crack some of them thin enough to make a backdrop out of them it would look even better. Where in the UK are you? Personally I've tried to avoid Demasoni as I've thought they can be a bit of a 'pocket rocket' and too feisty for the mix I was trying to plan for, but if they are going to be the only thing in your tank then I think that could look quite good.
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Re: 240ltr Stocking - Malawi vs. Tanganyika

Postby Tom's Tanks » Thu Aug 30, 2018 6:27 am

teeceejay42 wrote:Tom, Your hardscape looks amazing, where did you get your rocks from? If you could slice/crack some of them thin enough to make a backdrop out of them it would look even better. Where in the UK are you? Personally I've tried to avoid Demasoni as I've thought they can be a bit of a 'pocket rocket' and too feisty for the mix I was trying to plan for, but if they are going to be the only thing in your tank then I think that could look quite good.


Thanks for the compliment, I've done a minor change to the hardscape last night I turned the centre rocks around as they formed a cave but I couldn't see into it, so instead I've made it so the face of the cave is towards the front of the tank. I actually think it looks better now.

The rocks are limestone - I actually got them off a site called preloved.co.uk its basically classified ads online. Getting limestone of the right size is actually quite difficult what you want to be looking for is rockery stone, which is often limestone. I got these for nothing as someone was clearing out a garden - I refuse to pay for rocks (I did have to drive a couple of hours to get them though).

I do have a few of the rocks left over but I don't think it would be possible to slice them, they would just crack I reckon. I agree the background is not ideal but my plan is change out the T8 fluorescent lighting for LED lighting which I'm hoping I'll be able to play with as I almost want to throw the sides and back into shade and highlight the rocks/front of the tank - I was thinking of using Fluval Aquasky for this - but at £100 a tube its quite pricey.

I'm living in Preston, Lancashire. What about you?
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Re: 240ltr Stocking - Malawi vs. Tanganyika

Postby fmueller » Thu Aug 30, 2018 6:51 am

The rocks look fantastic! If you go for the Brichardi, definitely put in some caves. It looks less natural, but the fish will thank you. They really are cave breeders, and they stress if they don't have caves. Less stress means healthier fish, and who doesn't want that!

I find the Brichardi's breeding behavior more interesting to watch. If you have seen one mouth brooder, you have seen them all. But there aren't many other fish that form colonies quite like Brichardi do. You will be overrun with fry though, but they are usually not so common that LFS won't swap them for food or store credit.

Saulosi have more intense colors. A colored up male can look just as stunning as a Demasoni. And in a tank your size several males will color up.

Regarding plants, I find both species unproblematic with plants. Brichardi won't touch them at all, and I set up a densely planted 200L tank with a colony of Saulosi for my dad some years ago, and they are doing great. He has Cryptocoryne, Anubias, Java Fern, and Bolbitis. Valisneria should be no problem at all! The fry love to hide out in the plants, and do so very successfully. It's a tank that requires very little maintenance. My brother does a water change every couple of months when he visits, and my dad just feeds the fish - done! My Dad is in Germany, my brother is in Switzerland, and I am in New Zealand. My Dad visits me for 2-3 months per year. He sets up an automatic feeder, and has the neighbors refill the feeder every couple of weeks. The tank has been going for years, and the colony is growing very slowly. Mostly any losses are replaced by fry growing up. This is a video I shot of this tank a couple of years ago. It looks virtually identical today.



This is a Brichardi colony I had at some stage. I love the way so many generations of fry can live peacefully together. The older ones even help the parents defend the colony. It has to be one of the most amazing examples of collaborative behavior among animals.

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