Lake Malawi Species • Noob with questions!

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Noob with questions!

Postby Khory » Tue Mar 09, 2021 4:41 pm

I am setting up a 65 gal tank (48x13x24). My water is already fairly hard from the tap and ph is 8-8.2. With those parameters in mind cichlids seem like a good choice. However I have kept fish before but never cichlids. Tank is cycling so I have a few weeks to figure things out. My priority is to have a colorful tank with happy/healthy fish. The more color variation the better.

-For Haps or Peacocks is all male the way to go?
-Mbuna's I understand need a male/female ratio to get along. Is there a target number I should be shooting for or does it vary by species?
-How many fish should I be shooting for in a tank of my dimensions? I seem to be between sizes in the cookie cutter setups.
-Which group should I be aiming for in terms of difficulty?
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Re: Noob with questions!

Postby DJRansome » Tue Mar 09, 2021 9:26 pm

Ignore the gallons and go by length and width. Stock it like a 55G. I would not do all-male in 48x12 footprint.

I would do 3 species of mbuna with 1m:4f of each. Choose small, peaceful species like yellow labs and rusties and Cynotilapia.
125G Borleyi, Multipunctata
75G Demasoni, Msobo, Lucipinnis
75G Calvus, Similis, Petricola
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Re: Noob with questions!

Postby Smeagol » Wed Mar 10, 2021 1:32 am

Before you decide on mbuna, understand that you will need to fill 75% of your tank with rocks.
75g = Yellow-tail Acei, Yellow Labs, Maingano
20g Planted = Harlequin Rasboras, Lemon Tetras, Amano Shrimp
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Re: Noob with questions!

Postby DJRansome » Wed Mar 10, 2021 9:00 am

True. The word mbuna means rock fish.
125G Borleyi, Multipunctata
75G Demasoni, Msobo, Lucipinnis
75G Calvus, Similis, Petricola
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Re: Noob with questions!

Postby Fogelhund » Wed Mar 10, 2021 12:58 pm

Khory wrote:I am setting up a 65 gal tank (48x13x24). My water is already fairly hard from the tap and ph is 8-8.2. With those parameters in mind cichlids seem like a good choice. However I have kept fish before but never cichlids. Tank is cycling so I have a few weeks to figure things out. My priority is to have a colorful tank with happy/healthy fish. The more color variation the better.

-For Haps or Peacocks is all male the way to go?
-Mbuna's I understand need a male/female ratio to get along. Is there a target number I should be shooting for or does it vary by species?
-How many fish should I be shooting for in a tank of my dimensions? I seem to be between sizes in the cookie cutter setups.
-Which group should I be aiming for in terms of difficulty?


If you want colour, mbuna is the better choice. Haps and Peacocks can be done, but it would be mixed groups, of lesser aggressive fish. With that in mind, you'd have at best a couple of coloured fish, and the rest would be silver or brown.

With mbuna, you have a number of options. You can build an all male tank, and stock a number of species, with different colours... you'd want to stick away from larger, more aggressive species though, as your tank is too small for such fish.

Or, you stock a few, or a couple of species of mixed males/females. Metriaclima sp. 'msobo' and Labidochromis sp "hongi" would make for a nice two species tank. Three males, six females of the msobo, and 1:3 of the hongi, and you'd have a pretty colourful tank, that should get along pretty good.
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Re: Noob with questions!

Postby Khory » Wed Mar 10, 2021 2:04 pm

Thank you all for the feed back!

Smeagol- I did know that one. If I got that rout I'll pick up some texas holey rock. I like the look and would add some buffering to the water.

Fogelhund- I appreciate the suggestions. I really like the two species option! I'll still make a list of all males. Even if I don't use it I'll at least learn something along the way.
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Re: Noob with questions!

Postby Smeagol » Wed Mar 10, 2021 8:06 pm

Khory wrote:Thank you all for the feed back!

Smeagol- I did know that one. If I got that rout I'll pick up some texas holey rock. I like the look and would add some buffering to the water.

Fogelhund- I appreciate the suggestions. I really like the two species option! I'll still make a list of all males. Even if I don't use it I'll at least learn something along the way.

Also, all this talk about m:f ratios can sound deceptively simple. If you plan on buying "premium" fish (i.e., sexed adults), you might be able to specify the exact m:f ratio you want to buy, but you'll pay big bucks for this luxury. Even if you are willing to shell out a small fortune for sexed adults, you might not be able to find the species you want in the quantities you want all at one breeder. The more common route is to buy unsexed juveniles, in which case the advice you will hear is that you should buy at least twice as many fish as you want to end up with, and plan on removing troublesome males (which may or may not involve having to remove all of your rocks every time you need to remove a sick/injured/troublesome fish).

Why these warnings don't preface all species recommendations to self-identified newbies isn't exactly clear.
75g = Yellow-tail Acei, Yellow Labs, Maingano
20g Planted = Harlequin Rasboras, Lemon Tetras, Amano Shrimp
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Re: Noob with questions!

Postby DJRansome » Wed Mar 10, 2021 10:47 pm

:oops: A trick to avoiding removing all rocks is arrange your rocks in three piles. When you need to net a fish, shoo them all to one end, use a divider to separate and remove just 1/3 of the rocks. Also drain half the water. Use 2 nets.

Demasoni are more difficult IME to find just the fish you want using this process...I tend to have to remove all the rocks and practically net all the fish for them. But other species the divider works.

Also easier beginner species like yellow labs and acei may be more tolerant of multiple males than some other species.

It is always good to read a couple of articles about the fish before finalizing your stock. Sure wish I had done that for my first tank.
125G Borleyi, Multipunctata
75G Demasoni, Msobo, Lucipinnis
75G Calvus, Similis, Petricola
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Re: Noob with questions!

Postby Smeagol » Wed Mar 10, 2021 11:53 pm

DJRansome wrote:Also easier beginner species like yellow labs and acei may be more tolerant of multiple males than some other species.
:D That's the route I'm taking.... Mostly.


DJRansome wrote:It is always good to read a couple of articles about the fish before finalizing your stock.
Not before you finalize your stock; before you even decide to keep mbuna. Yes, one should educate oneself as much as possible. However, IMO, none of the articles emphasize these issues to the degree they should. Most articles say something very casual and understated, like "mbuna cichlids prefer a rocky hardscape with a lot of caves and hiding places." Such statements are extremely vague, open to broad interpretation, and inadequately express how much rock structure is actually recommended for a "successful" mbuna tank. Similarly, many articles that mention m:f ratios don't go into any specifics about how to achieve those ratios. They merely state the numbers -- "aim to have 7 females for every male" -- and leave it at that .... as if you can just walk into your local PetSmart and ask for 1 male and 7 female Pseudotropheus cyaneorhabdos. Good luck! So, maybe what I'm saying is that a new article is warranted, an article that emphasizes these issues. Then, every time a newbie (such as I) shows up and asks about setting up a mbuna tank or asks for stocking tips, you can say, "read this article, and if you still want to keep mbuna, come back and I'll answer your questions." :P
75g = Yellow-tail Acei, Yellow Labs, Maingano
20g Planted = Harlequin Rasboras, Lemon Tetras, Amano Shrimp
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