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My tank... 9 months on

Postby aconite » Wed May 06, 2020 2:54 pm

Hi,

9 months ago I cleared out my community tank and switched it to Mbuna. Things have gone pretty well, and the tank seems relatively settled. I posted here at the time asking for some stocking suggestions, but things worked out not quite as planned on that front. The tank is 55" x 16" x 24", roughly 80 gallons. I've ended up with two external filters - an Eheim Pro 4+ 600 and a 2217 (Classic 600). Water is good, so far the fish are happy (and breeding). I'm doing two 30% water changes per week that include sand vacuuming.

The tank currently houses:

- 6 white tailed Acei (Ngara) - 1m:4f and 1 that may be a hiding male, not sure though as he has never displayed - could be a female with a single egg spot? No aggression or hassles with these guys. They're shoaling just above the rocks, with the male spending most of his time showing off. His head and gill area go bright blue when he does this, and his tail has yellow in addition to the white in it. He looks pretty stunning when he's in full display mode.

- 6 Greshakei - 2m:3f: 1 possible non-dominant male, although he's a fair bit smaller than the other two males, so could be a lightly coloured female (the other three are significantly darker than this one). The two displaying males went through a period of squaring off / fighting but they've settled into ignoring each other now and owning half the tank each. Neither of them seem to ever cross the halfway point in the tank. I'm hoping things stay like this as they're both stunning fish, and my wife will be unhappy if we have to re-home either of them. They're a little over 3" long at the moment, and are probably the centre-pieces of the tank in terms of how they look.

- 5 Callianos - haven't bred, not sure how to work out who is male as they hardly ever bother each other. Two have egg spots, but one is much smaller just like the other 3.

- 9 Labs - a few that seem to be displaying as males chase each other now and again, but all of them seem to be relatively chilled. The one male started out bossing everyone else in the tank around, until the Greshakei grew a little and put him in his place. There's one female that's currently holding.

I had some aggression with the Labs early on, with one being bullied badly - he was looking pretty ragged so I added three more to attempt to disperse the attention rather than removing the dominant male. It sorted out the aggression issue, but now I've got a few too many of them in there.

The Acei have bred twice that I know of, with one fry past the 'don't eat me!' stage - he's about an inch long now and is swimming around with the rest of them, so I guess I've now got 7. There are also a few Greshakei fry that are currently playing a game of cat and mouse, coming out for food while avoiding the bigger fish. The tank is full of holey rock (sold as ocean rock here in the UK) so they have plenty of hiding places. The earlier fry from a couple of months back were all eaten, which is what I was expecting and planning on.

Anyway, the reason for this rambling post.... I'm about to start cycling a second tank for what's now my lock-down home office (it will be a fishless cycle) - it's a 48x16x21 ~63 gallon. The plan with this second tank was to house Saulosi plus perhaps another one or two small and/or relaxed species.

I'm a little concerned that there are too many fish in the established tank, so I've been thinking about moving the Acei out of that tank, and putting them in the new tank with the planned Saulosi and some Rusties. If I do that I'll probably look at trying to find 2 more female Greshakei, and try and re-home a couple of the Labs.

The Acei and the dark female Greshakei blend with each other colour-wise, so aesthetically I think that the tank would look better with them removed.

Any thoughts about this plan? Am I correct in thinking that the existing tank has a few too many fish, or shouldn't I worry about it? If it was you would you leave them or do something other than moving the Acei out of that tank? Maybe just slim down the numbers and keep 4 species in there?

If the new tank is a 3 species tank with Acei, Rusties, and Saulosi, what sort of numbers could I be looking at for the Saulosi? I was originally planning more Saulosi than anything else, preferably with multiple males. I was considering a single species tank, but my wife is pushing for multiple species for more colour and variety (she's pretty set on getting some Rusties). If I wasn't worried about the number of fish in the existing tank I'd probably have gone for a mix of Saulosi (3m:8f? more?) and 1m:4f of Rusties.

One other question that I can't seem to find a clear answer to - can you house a single male in a tank containing mixed sex fish of other species, or would he cause chaos and just fight with everyone? I'm just thinking of options if I ever have to separate the two Greshakei, to avoid losing either of them without getting a third tank! I do realise that if they became a problem the simplest fix would be to just remove one, so really I'm just looking for alternatives to that.
aconite
 
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Re: My tank... 9 months on

Postby DJRansome » Wed May 06, 2020 4:23 pm

Last question first, you could keep a greshakei male in a tank with other species. To manage aggression you would still have 7 females for him (even if they were fish of other species) as well a 4 females each for the other males in the tank, and you would not save fry from any of the females. In fact, in this tank you might have to consider tracking down and euthanizing any fry. I don't like doing this so I would not put him in the tank.

So you have 48x16 and 55x16. I would not keep acei or greshakei in the smaller tank. Too big and/or too aggressive.

I would also separate the greshakei and the callainos as they are both metriaclima and can crossbreed...I would not save fry from these.

You could remove male labs until you get to 1m:4f if you want fewer of them. 20 fish overall is a good target for the big tank...23 with extra greshakei females (see below).

Greshakei I would do 1m:7f in the big tank because they are aggressive.

Small tank think in terms of 3 species with 1m:4f of each. I would not put acei or greshakei in that tank size. If you want multiple saulosi males it could be a species tank with 3m:12 females. Or if you want 2 other species, rusties would work. 3rd species with more color? IDK you have yellow/orange and blue and purple...what other color? White labs?
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Re: My tank... 9 months on

Postby aconite » Wed May 06, 2020 5:37 pm

Thanks for the detailed reply, DJRansome. I'll scratch the idea of putting the second male greshakei in another tank. It sounds like a bad move all round.

From your reply it looks like I should treat the 48x16 as a 55g tank and the 55x16 as a 75g.

If the acei are too large for the 48" tank then I imagine the same is true for the callainos as they're going to grow to the same size? I could perhaps move them over, add some Rusties, and maybe 1m:4f of the existing Labs, then sort out the larger tank based around the greshakei and the acei, adding another species to replace the callainos.

I think the callainos, labs, and rusties would make a good colour combination in the new tank. I guess I'd be replacing the saulosi with a blue and a yellow species, similar end result but no barred males.

I think you're right about the 3rd option on top of saulosi and rusties in terms of colour - it wouldn't really be required.

I wasn't expecting the acei to get so large as they're currently a lot smaller than the greshakei, and were a similar size when I bought them all. Do different species just grow at different rates?

Looking back, I've clearly made some mistakes stocking the first tank. My stocking choices were based on what I could find at my two LFS, and based on looks. I completely overlooked the fact that the greshakei and callainos were from the same family - I wrongly thought that given they look so different they wouldn't cross-breed. I think from now on I'll use a couple of the more reputable breeders that deliver, and avoid browsing around the LFS. I'm also going to need to re-home some fish sooner or later.

I'm guessing aggression rates for the greshakei will get worse as they grow older? Or is it pretty much maxed out once they start breeding?
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Re: My tank... 9 months on

Postby DJRansome » Wed May 06, 2020 6:41 pm

aconite wrote: If the acei are too large for the 48" tank then I imagine the same is true for the callainos
No the acei can get larger than the callainos, the callainos are OK in 48x16.

aconite wrote:Do different species just grow at different rates?
Yes. I imagine the acei are subordinate to the callainos and greshakei, that can have an impact on the amount of food they get, etc.

aconite wrote:I'm guessing aggression rates for the greshakei will get worse as they grow older? Or is it pretty much maxed out once they start breeding?
It is hard to predict...I would expect when they are well into their spawning age it will be maxed out. Maybe at this time they consider all the other females as belonging to them so they are content? Even a change in aquascape or tank can trigger a shuffle of dominance.
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Re: My tank... 9 months on

Postby aconite » Thu May 07, 2020 3:10 am

Great, so to separate the two metriaclimas and fit in some rusties and saulosi how do these options sound:

48: callainos, rusty, saulosi
55: greshakei, acei, labs

or

48: callainos, rusty, labs
55: greshakei, acei, saulosi

Would I have the same problem here with the risk of cross-breeding between the acei and saulosi, making the second option a no-go?

If I went for the first option, and wanted to add some blue to the larger tank, any suggestions for the 4th species? Socolofi would raise a similar cross-breeding question with the acei. I could, though, quite easily see us sticking with 3 species per tank and just working on adding additional greshakei females, and balancing out the numbers.

As far as moving the callainos and populating the second tank, what approach would you recommend? Get them moved as quickly as possible, or leave them where they are and just have new juveniles settle in the new tank, then move them later? The largest callainos is about 2.25" with the other 4 being 2" or under. I'd be OK just having the callainos in the new tank by themselves initially if it wouldn't cause problems when I come to adding the juveniles.

Thanks again for your help. I find this all really fascinating, and have so much to learn.
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Re: My tank... 9 months on

Postby DJRansome » Thu May 07, 2020 7:43 am

aconite wrote:Would I have the same problem here with the risk of cross-breeding between the acei and saulosi, making the second option a no-go?
Low crossbreeding risk.

aconite wrote:If I went for the first option, and wanted to add some blue to the larger tank, any suggestions for the 4th species? Socolofi would raise a similar cross-breeding question with the acei. I could, though, quite easily see us sticking with 3 species per tank and just working on adding additional greshakei females, and balancing out the numbers.
IME acei and socolofi are not enough contrast. For brilliant blue consider 1m:7f Cyaneorhabdos Maingano.

aconite wrote:As far as moving the callainos and populating the second tank, what approach would you recommend? Get them moved as quickly as possible, or leave them where they are and just have new juveniles settle in the new tank, then move them later? The largest callainos is about 2.25" with the other 4 being 2" or under. I'd be OK just having the callainos in the new tank by themselves initially if it wouldn't cause problems when I come to adding the juveniles.
I would add everyone at once. The new fish should be juveniles and not fry (1.5 inch fish). If for some reason you can't add the newly purchased fish first and wait a month, then add the callainos.
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Re: My tank... 9 months on

Postby aconite » Thu May 07, 2020 8:32 am

DJRansome wrote:Low crossbreeding risk.


Good to know, thank you. Means both of the alternatives I listed should work.

DJRansome wrote:IME acei and socolofi are not enough contrast.


I can understand that for yellow tails, but wouldn't have thought it'd hold for white tails too? I haven't seen any socolofi in the flesh, but images show they're pretty light blue, so thought they'd contrast well with the black acei. Maingano would be nice, but I'm a little concerned about another 8 fish group on top of the greshakei in that tank.

DJRansome wrote:I would add everyone at once. The new fish should be juveniles and not fry (1.5 inch fish). If for some reason you can't add the newly purchased fish first and wait a month, then add the callainos.


Cheers - I'll aim to add everyone at the same time, once I've figured out what I'm going to do.

Weighing up having callainos, labs, rusties in the 48 (1m:4f each), and 1m:4f acei, 1m:7f greshakei, 2m:8f saulosi in the 55 or leaving the labs in the 55 and putting 1:4 saulosi in the 48 with the callainos and rusties. Think I'll probably go for adding all the juveniles to the new tank along with the callainos though, then weeding out the extras as they grow.

Thanks again for you help, DJRansome.
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Re: My tank... 9 months on

Postby DJRansome » Thu May 07, 2020 8:46 am

Don't do 2 males. One or three. With two they focus on each other and aggression is increased. 3m:9f saulosi can work in your 55" long tank, even if all the males don't color.

You are right the socolofi would contrast with the black acei. The color is lighter than the callainos.
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Re: My tank... 9 months on

Postby aconite » Thu May 07, 2020 9:37 am

Cheers, noted your point about the odd number of males.
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