Lake Malawi Species • shy bottom swimming mbuna

Discussion regarding only Lake Malawi species.

Moderators: Chester B, DJRansome

shy bottom swimming mbuna

Postby NewBK » Tue May 14, 2019 6:37 pm

Ok first some background.
55 gallon standard 4ft tank. Up and running for roughly two months. Fully cycled with 0 amonia, 0 nitrite and barely registering nitrate.
Filtration: cascade 1500 canister and two hikari sponge filters
Light: across the room from sliding glass door and an aquaneat LED on top.
Located in my bedroom (low traffic)
Stocking list: 8 yellow labs, 8 rusty, 7 Pindani, 2 stupid minnows. All fish are juvy in the 1-1.5" range.

Issue: I may as well have a 6" high tank. The fish always swim at the bottom and barely leave their caves. When I walk by the tank, if they are out, they quickly hide.
That said, they eat their new life spectrum food energetically and seem to enjoy a slice of cucumber every few days.
The fish aren't gulping or "breathing" heavy. They aren't flashing against the sand or rocks.
I can't be positive but I don't think there is any bullying going on. At least everyone's fins are in good shape.
A Pindani had a sore on it's side but has since healed.
A few of the Pindani seem to have white lips. It's only their lips and it's not fuzzy or anywhere else.


Troubleshooting: I rearranged the hardscape to limit a few of their hiding areas. That seemed to work for a bit but then went right back to hiding.
I put in the minnows in hopes that having them swimming in the middle to top of the tank would get the mbuna interested. Again, worked a little bit...until it didn't.
I did a big 75% water change because my lfs suggested it. Can't see that it did anything.
My cascade was making a racket so I turned it off. Lo and behold, the fish came out and were actually swimming around. Then this morning, back to hiding and living the bottom life. On a side note, I had the spray bar in the middle of the tank spraying toward the front of the tank. It seemed to be great for surface agitation but it may have been too much for the fish. If that's the case, tough to get enough circulation in the tank with the rocks.
I added some fake plants in hopes it would give them some confidence, other than one yellow lab that now sleeps in one of the plants...nada.
Oh, I also tried putting a chair and a hat in front of the tank because someone on a forum said it'd work. Yeah, not so much.

So, I've tried all that an no closer to an answer. Anyone have any ideas?
Attachments
IMG_20190514_152526.jpg
NewBK
 
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:49 pm
Location: Bay Area CA

Share On:

Share on Facebook Facebook Share on Twitter Twitter

Re: shy bottom swimming mbuna

Postby NewBK » Tue May 14, 2019 6:51 pm

Oh forgot to add, I use Prime every water change.

Also, noticing a white film growing on the vinyl tube and suction cups. Not sure if that's anything...
Attachments
IMG_20190514_154701.jpg
New vs one week in tank
IMG_20190514_154559.jpg
NewBK
 
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:49 pm
Location: Bay Area CA

Re: shy bottom swimming mbuna

Postby NewBK » Tue May 14, 2019 7:02 pm

Ah #%$&, forgot another thing and apparently I can't edit my posts anymore.

I keep my tank at about 77-79 degrees.

And if it makes any difference, my 20g long downstairs with the same substrate (black diamond) and water perimeters that seems to be doing great. It has a matten filter instead of sponges and canister. It has rusty babies and OB zebra babies that are energetic and growing nicely.
NewBK
 
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:49 pm
Location: Bay Area CA

Re: shy bottom swimming mbuna

Postby DJRansome » Tue May 14, 2019 8:31 pm

When they start spawning they will be all over the tank. White lips is a sign of aggression.
125G Borleyi, Maleri, Astatotilapia, Multipunctata
75G Demasoni, Maingano, Msobo, Lucipinnis
75G Calvus, Petricola
33G Hara; 33G Kwanga; 33G Homeless Peacocks; 33G Cobue
User avatar
DJRansome
Global Moderator
 
Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2005 8:30 am
Location: Little Egg Harbor, NJ

Re: shy bottom swimming mbuna

Postby ironspider » Wed May 15, 2019 8:56 am

I have this problem too. When either me or GF go to the tank they scatter, if we wait around they'll come back out. I also rearranged the rock scape and added two middle tank swimmers (acei) and that greatly helped for a while. I'm back to them hiding but nothing I can do now as I have a bunch of fry hiding in the rocks. I've also developed some pretty serious bullies in the tank, i'm sure that doesn't help. Keep changing the rocks around and feed once a day.
ironspider
 
Joined: Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:53 am
Location: Long Island, NY

Re: shy bottom swimming mbuna

Postby NewBK » Wed May 15, 2019 12:01 pm

So its a "it's normal-ish, wait a bit and quit freaking out about it" type of thing. Fair enough. I've just always kept SA and CA cichlids. I've never had a bashful/shy Firemouth/Convict/Oscar/Texas or Jack. I guess learning about new fish and their eccentricities is why I chose Mbuna over another SA or CA.

Anyway, my latest test to get the little buggers to come out of their hidey holes was to fast them for a day. I've read about Mbuna's long digestive tract and how its good to fast them for a bit. Well, they were hiding again this morning an hour after sunrise and the light coming on shortly thereafter. As soon as I moved the top to feed though... very energetic eating. They hung out for a bit hoping for more I guess, then promptly went back to their cave condos. It's like going out to a restaurant, eating, then going back to "Netflix and Chill" for the rest of the night.
NewBK
 
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:49 pm
Location: Bay Area CA

Re: shy bottom swimming mbuna

Postby Iggy Newcastle » Wed May 15, 2019 9:54 pm

Add more Labs and Socolofi and Rusties. Socolofi are aggressive, IME, and I wouldn't start with less than a dozen.

White film is normal. Don't sweat it.
User avatar
Iggy Newcastle
Moderator
 
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 6:04 pm
Location: Chicagoland

Re: shy bottom swimming mbuna

Postby NewBK » Wed May 15, 2019 10:12 pm

Iggy Newcastle wrote:Add more Labs and Socolofi and Rusties. Socolofi are aggressive, IME, and I wouldn't start with less than a dozen.

White film is normal. Don't sweat it.


I only have a 55g so I'll be taking out males eventually rather than adding. I mean I already have 23 of the buggers in there. I'm just hoping to get a 1:4 ratio really

From what I've read Socolofi/Powder Blue/Pindani are more aggressive than the labs and rusties but they aren't auratus, bumblebee or something like that. Also never heard of keeping a dozen of them either. I'm not saying you are wrong or anything since its your experience, I just haven't read that. I guess I should have gone with the cobalts if thats the case.
Honestly, so far the Pindani have been the least interactive with the other fish in the tank. I'm sure that will change in the future as they age but at this point the rusties have grown the fastest and the darkest of them seems to be the ruler of the tank thus far.
NewBK
 
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:49 pm
Location: Bay Area CA

Re: shy bottom swimming mbuna

Postby DJRansome » Thu May 16, 2019 8:29 am

You start with a dozen hoping for six females and then rehome the extra males. 1m:4f may work for socolofi, but 1m:6f would be extra safe.
125G Borleyi, Maleri, Astatotilapia, Multipunctata
75G Demasoni, Maingano, Msobo, Lucipinnis
75G Calvus, Petricola
33G Hara; 33G Kwanga; 33G Homeless Peacocks; 33G Cobue
User avatar
DJRansome
Global Moderator
 
Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2005 8:30 am
Location: Little Egg Harbor, NJ

Re: shy bottom swimming mbuna

Postby NewBK » Thu May 16, 2019 9:11 am

aaah get it now. Yeah makes sense. Man, SA and CA sure are easier.

That said, I took out some more rock and made more open swimming area. Seems to have helped a bit. While I wouldn't say they are all over the tank, at least they aren't in the bottom 6" of the tank and hiding whenever I come by. So... Progress
NewBK
 
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:49 pm
Location: Bay Area CA

Re: shy bottom swimming mbuna

Postby NewBK » Fri May 17, 2019 11:09 pm

So, add another variable to all this. I sat in front of the tank for longer tonight while feeding. Turns out, one of my Rusties is holding. It opened its mouth a bit and it was pretty plain to see.

Its early though isn't it? I mean the fish is 1.5" to maaaybe 2". I guess Rusties mature early.
Would this add to the skittishness of these fish? Regardless, my water chemistry and whatnot can't be all bad so thats a plus.
NewBK
 
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:49 pm
Location: Bay Area CA

Re: shy bottom swimming mbuna

Postby DJRansome » Sat May 18, 2019 3:51 am

Many of the mbuna spawn small at 1.5". It would only add to HER being skittish.

I'm sure your water chemistry is fine, but don't take spawning as an indicator...these fish spawn in the bag on the way home and also can spawn when conditions are bad as a last ditch effort to ensure the survival of their species.
125G Borleyi, Maleri, Astatotilapia, Multipunctata
75G Demasoni, Maingano, Msobo, Lucipinnis
75G Calvus, Petricola
33G Hara; 33G Kwanga; 33G Homeless Peacocks; 33G Cobue
User avatar
DJRansome
Global Moderator
 
Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2005 8:30 am
Location: Little Egg Harbor, NJ

Re: shy bottom swimming mbuna

Postby NewBK » Sat May 18, 2019 1:40 pm

Ok thanks DJ. I've had convicts before so the spawning in a cess pool thing I've dealt with before.

I know it's not a great idea to change hardscape every water change but I changed it again. I made one big mound with open space on either side instead of two. Not a night and day difference but they seem to be swimming around a bit more.

With that though, I'll stop messing with them and just let them grow and see what happens.

Thanks again for the info and help
NewBK
 
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:49 pm
Location: Bay Area CA

Re: shy bottom swimming mbuna

Postby Orator » Sun May 19, 2019 7:03 am

Your aquascaping/rock work can definitely play a factor. Mbuna will utilize the entire tank, if you do. If you stack your rocks to the top of the tank in areas, you will find that some of those same fish that were making the bottom 6” their home, will now make the top 6” home. Now, those same fish may not stray too far from “home”, but it will solve the bottom 6” problem and use the entire height of your tank.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
User avatar
Orator
 
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 9:49 pm
Location: Shoreham, NY

Re: shy bottom swimming mbuna

Postby NewBK » Thu May 23, 2019 1:28 pm

Just a bit of an update. My mbuna still hide every time I walk by, but if I sit in front of the tank they come out.
I did some drastic rock work, where the top rock is at the water line. Not sure if that has anything to do with activity levels or not, but it's kind of a cool look regardless.
I am also playing around a bit with the canister filter return. I took off the spray bar and Jerry rigged a PVC return I can move around. Working out well so far.
My youngest niece decided that the tank needed gold fish. She plopped them in there before I could talk to her. A subsequent discussion of quarantine and compatibility is coming soon.
Only other thing I've noticed is one of my rusties is a dark blue and is vertically banded. It doesn't seem to be bullying or getting bullied. So maybe stress is coming elsewhere.
Anyway, two steps forward, one rusty back.

Oh one other quick question. Does the positioning of the top fin mean much? I have noticed that they have them extended mor lately. It's a really good look with the labs and Pindani. I've heard clamp fin is a symptom of sickness, but is having it up a sign of anything?
Attachments
IMG_20190523_101916.jpg
IMG_20190523_101343.jpg
NewBK
 
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:49 pm
Location: Bay Area CA

Next

Return to Lake Malawi Species

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 13 guests