Lake Malawi Species • Stocking at same time and right male female ratio

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Stocking at same time and right male female ratio

Postby kevinaii » Thu Oct 08, 2020 11:11 am

Hi everyone. Thanks for having me. I'm setting up a 55 gallon tank that's been empty for a few years while I kept babies & toddlers in place of fish. It's been cycling for a few weeks. I've been bouncing around between reddit & here for info and help. Reddit's more active (people really like to show glamour shots of their tanks over there, or sick fish), but the info here is better/deeper. Does anyone use any other forums? Obviously Google & YouTube are a huge help, but sometimes I like hearing from fish keepers themselves... Like, for this question:

I've been told for african cichlids to get them all at the same time, all the same size AND make sure the male/female ratio is x males & x3 females (for example). I obviously need to be certain of the species mix too.
I am not close to an awesome LFS. I am an equal distance from a petco, petsmart & pet supplies plus. The pet supplies plus actually has very clean looking tanks. Crystal clear with healthy fish. The petsmart has more stock, but their tanks look like a foggy morning. The petco has very little stock... How am I to achieve the above goal with these limited options? I also want to make sure my tank is cycled and good, but I'm not going to start w. 3 species x 5-6 fish (15 fish). I'd like to start w. a few to make sure everything's simpatico before getting my stock up.

How do you do it when you start a new tank? I see some looking for a certain stock list to keep. Acquiring a very specific stock list seems hard

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Re: Stocking at same time and right male female ratio

Postby sir_keith » Thu Oct 08, 2020 1:12 pm

Assuming that we're talking about Mbuna, I have a few suggestions for you to consider. First, the notion of getting all your fishes at the same time and making sure that you have a 3:1 female:male ratio is neither practical nor necessary. The best way to end up with a compatible group of fishes is to buy juveniles and raise them together. So if you bought six unsexed juveniles of your favorite species and added them to your tank, they should have enough space to coexist, at least while they are little. Once you're happy that the tank is doing OK, you could then add another group of a compatible species. The main point here is that it is much easier to start with juveniles. As they grow, the tank will become more crowded, which will be important for reducing aggression.

That said, you will probably be starting with unsexed fishes. Chances are good that you will have both sexes in a group of 6 fishes, but it would take a stroke of good luck to end up with 1M:5F or 2M:4F. Yes, it is better to have more females than males, but this 1M:3F 'rule' is over-hyped, especially if the fishes are raised together. Worst case analysis is that you may have to re-home a few fishes if you end up with an excess of males and they don't tolerate each other.

Where to get your fishes? Simple answer- online. I have a large collection of Tanganyikan cichlids in my fish room, and not a single one of those fishes came from a LFS. When you buy Africans from Petco/PetSmart or any other big-box store you never know what you're getting, and it is often an interspecific hybrid. So other hobbyists and/or reputable online breeders/importers are your only choices. There seems to be a rule on this forum that one can't mention specific vendors in threads, but if you PM me I will give you some suggestions. For Mbuna, it is often possible to order makes and females separately, even when they're young. This will be more expensive than a LFS, but not prohibitively so, and you will be getting better fishes.

Good luck! :thumb:
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Re: Stocking at same time and right male female ratio

Postby DJRansome » Thu Oct 08, 2020 9:38 pm

Agree you should buy online and that you should buy juveniles. But the fish do not have to be all the same size. Two inch fish are fine with four inch fish, etc.

I am one of those that like to add them all at once, but my fish do NOT get along very well with too many males. I don't find raising the fish together makes them more likely to get along when they mature.

In any case, either way you do it you will end up with a happy tank in the end if you are prepared to rehome when the fish do not tolerate each other.
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