Lake Malawi Species • Tank Set Up for Mbunas (zebras)

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Tank Set Up for Mbunas (zebras)

Postby AxlJack » Mon Jun 21, 2021 12:51 pm

I am having trouble deciding what to do with my tank. My BF and I did not have much experience when we started getting into African Cichlids and the LFS just sold us a bunch of mixed African cichlids. Now after doing a lot of research and after 3 of our zebras sprouted up in size, I am beginning to worry about the species we have in our tank. I am debating if I want to rehome my non-zebras and do a zebra and maingano only tank. Being that zebras are so aggressive, I am not sure if this is a good idea. We only want about 15 fish total, which I think could be good for our tank size.

1. We may want to add one other type of breed, which would be best? We really like the yellow labs, but not sure if they would be a good mix.
2. If I do this tank would you recommend a mix of male female 1:4, all males, or all females? We would really like to have some color in the tank.
3. If we did females in the mix, would they still have nice coloring or are they just plain and dull? (I can't find many pictures of female zebras, except for the red ones)

We have a 75 gallon tank. Lots of Rocks and hiding places, with more to come during next water change. We have a castle, which I am debating on getting rid of and replacing with more rocks, because the OB zebra is very territorial with it and it takes up a good amount of the tank (close to 1/4).

4. Would changing the rocks around help with adding new fish? When would I change the rocks, right before adding them or right after?

Lastly, we had to pull one of the male zebras out due to our OB beating him up pretty bad, he is now healing in a 40 gallon tank by himself. I don't want to put him back into the big tank, so he will stay in there.

5. What can we add in there with him that he won't beat up or beat him up?
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Re: Tank Set Up for Mbunas (zebras)

Postby DJRansome » Mon Jun 21, 2021 5:17 pm

All male mbuna is the most difficult tank, IMO. You would not want more than 12 adult males that mature <= six inches in an all-male tank and no two fish that look alike. Have an extra tank and a rehoming plan. I think it is hard to find 12 mbuna that look nothing alike with all the blue barred fish and yellow/orange fish.

Shoot for 20 fish in a mixed gender mbuna tank that is 75G and 48" x 18" rectangle. Having more fish (up to a point) helps manage aggression. This is one of the easiest tanks, IMO.

When choosing species usually you AVOID choosing the same genus (all zebras) to avoid aggression.

I don't find changing the rocks helps with aggression. I would not add anything in a 40G with a male zebra. I would rehome him.

Maingano and Metriaclima estherae (OB zebra) are fine together. 1m:4f of the metriaclima and 1m:7f of the maingano. Avoid yellow labs with metriaclima estherae, they crossbreed.

Do you have 4 females for the OB zebra already? If not that is a place to start.

If they just sold you a bunch of un-named mbuna, how do you know they are zebras? They could be something else, or fish that have hybridized with zebras. Hybrids are often more aggressive than the pure species.
125G Borleyi, Multipunctata
75G Demasoni, Msobo, Lucipinnis
75G Calvus, Similis, Petricola
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