Lake Malawi Species • 1.000 liters/260G Mbuna setup

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1.000 liters/260G Mbuna setup

Postby Pernille » Fri Apr 16, 2021 7:22 am

After years of waiting I have a (compared to my earlier aquariums) massive tank in our garage waiting to be set up as a room divider between our dining room and our office. :dancing:

I am looking to turn it into a Mbuna tank - as close to a biotope as possible (lots of rocks and no plants), and have a 350 liter/100G sump ready to go underneath. So a total of about 1.300 liter/360G with lots of water movement and a large filter. I have access to a large variety of mbunas from a reputable breeder in Germany, so now comes the difficult part of determining which species to put in the tank.

I am looking for as much variety in color and pattern as possible, while at the same time keeping aggression and the risk of hybridization at an acceptable level. I can buy genderspecific from the breeder, but I am not interested in an all male tank as I would like the social aspect also.

Right now I am looking at the below species - trying to catch as many different colorcombinations. Any suggestions? Also on the number of species... Thinking of going with 3/3 of each. :fish:

Pseudotropheus Acei

Pseudotropheus Saulosi

Iodotropheus Sprengerae - Rusty Cichlid

Maylandia zebra

Metriaclima estherae/Maylandia estherae

Metriaclima callainos

Pseudotropheus sp. Polit

Pseudotropheus socolofi

Labidochromis sp. 'hongi'

Synodontis njassae
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Re: 1.000 liters/260G Mbuna setup

Postby sir_keith » Fri Apr 16, 2021 7:58 am

Given your '3/3 of each' comment, and from past experience on this forum, I would say that you are going to get many suggestions from the '3-4 females per male' school of thought for the Mbuna, which may disappoint you. My advice would be to take these suggestions with a grain of salt, particularly in a tank this large. Many of the empirical observations you will hear have been derived from closer quarters, and do not necessarily translate in any simple way to the setup you describe. There are no solid 'rules,' just loose guidelines, and building a (mostly) stable community is always an experiment. This one should be a great deal of fun. Good luck! :thumb:
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Re: 1.000 liters/260G Mbuna setup

Postby Fogelhund » Fri Apr 16, 2021 10:27 am

Please private message me, a link to your source of mbuna's website, or a list of fish they have available. What are the dimensions of your tank?

Your list is a good starting point, but I'm going to suggest a bunch of changes. For example, I'd probably recommend going with M. sp. "msobo" instead of saulosi... They'd compete better, and with a tank that size, small fish won't look like much.

I'd recommend one of the estherae or callainos... they will hybridize easily.

Also the sp. "polit" won't colour up in this tank, they need to be dominant, and it won't happen in this mix.
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Re: 1.000 liters/260G Mbuna setup

Postby Pernille » Fri Apr 16, 2021 1:56 pm

Fogelhund wrote:Please private message me, a link to your source of mbuna's website, or a list of fish they have available. What are the dimensions of your tank?

Your list is a good starting point, but I'm going to suggest a bunch of changes. For example, I'd probably recommend going with M. sp. "msobo" instead of saulosi... They'd compete better, and with a tank that size, small fish won't look like much.

I'd recommend one of the estherae or callainos... they will hybridize easily.

Also the sp. "polit" won't colour up in this tank, they need to be dominant, and it won't happen in this mix.


Thank you for your feedback - it is much needed :-)

I have sent you a link to my source.

The tank is 220 cm long, 70 cm deep and 60 cm high. So I am hoping it will be long enough for males to establish more than one territory. It is a bit wider than normal because the idea is for it to be viewed from both sides to the stones need to stand in the middle not resting on either wall.

The plan is to use hollow cavity stones to maximize the number of caves - but I am also unsure how many fish the tank should hold...
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Re: 1.000 liters/260G Mbuna setup

Postby Fogelhund » Fri Apr 16, 2021 2:31 pm

Using your list as a start, and rounding out based upon compatibility, crossbreeding, and different looks/colours.

Pseudotropheus Acei
Maylandia zebra --- I'd get Metriaclima fainzilberi Maisoni Reef instead... still zebra, but nicer.
Metriaclima callainos
Labidochromis sp. 'hongi'

Synodontis njassae

adding

Labeotropheus trewavasae MC/OB
Melanochromis parallelus
Metriaclima msobo Magunga

The challenge with 3:3, is that the dominant species, are going to dominate... so for example, the zebra/fainzilberi could have three coloured males, and they'd be suppressing other species. For the zebra/fainzilberi/callainos, you may find that you will be better off long-term, with just one male of each. The rest, I don't forsee being an issue. More females is always better for the females, so if you can get extra, I'd do so.
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Re: 1.000 liters/260G Mbuna setup

Postby Pernille » Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:33 am

Thank you for your suggestions (once more).

You are very right - I should of course factor in size as well and go for larger fish. I have updated the list based on your suggestions.

Pseudotropheus Acei 10-12 cm
M. sp. msobo 12-14 cm
Maylandia estherae (red/blue) 11-13 cm
Iodotropheus Sprengerae 7-9 cm
Metriaclima fainzilberi Maisoni Reef 15-17 cm
Labidochromis sp. 'hongi' 13-15 cm
Labeotropheus trewavasae MC/OB 12-14 cm
Tropheops sp. ‘Chilumba’ 11-13 cm
Labeotropheus fuelleborni 'katale'. 15-17 cm

And then maybe go for 2 males and 4 females of each? That would make for 9 x 6 fish in 1.000 liter... Is that enough? Any other suggestions?
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Re: 1.000 liters/260G Mbuna setup

Postby SenorStrum » Wed Apr 21, 2021 7:17 pm

Oh so many comments!

First, congratulations! This sounds like it's going to be super fun.

Second, you spelt "Denmark" wrong (JK :D ).

Third - and most important - I did this, but slightly bigger. My tank is 120x30x30 inches, peninsula style with overflows on the wall end, returns on the room end and a wall of stone built in the middle 9 feet long and 20 inches high. I intend to put a thread together on my own tank here in the next few weeks/months, but overall, the advice from sir_keith is very good. Cichlids are incredibly individualistic and you're approaching the size where you can begin to eat lots of salt here.

Our goal was to have a busy, colorful tank that was not violent. I did not want to watch slow deaths. Given the size and amount of rock in the tank, selective removal is almost impossibly difficult, so we went with species that are generally reputed to be peaceful and we focused on smaller fish, but more of them. You have a lot of fish on your list we loved but did not get due to aggression and size. They are the labeotropheus and the tropheops. Both are absolutely stunning and would have added a lot of variety, but we decided against it as their reputations were scary. Also Demasoni, and all melanochromis. You have some really rowdy fish in this list and the possibility of them not coloring up due to social structures is very real. However, you have also a lot of room, so they may sort it out and be fine. I have 4 male Elongatus Chewere in the tank and 2 are fully colored up. They have staked out rocks 9 feet away from each other and decided they're fine. Male 3 is quite pretty but does not show the color of the first 2. Male 4 is trying to keep to himself.

This type of thing is also possible across species as mentioned below with the Polit. How well everyone colors in my tank is certainly a fluid and dynamic situation that changes daily.

One exception we made size wise were the Acei. Their peaceful reputation meant that we didn't care if they get large. You may want to check your measurements as I have a young Acei that is already 13cm and is likely to get 18cm.

The number of fish to put in your tank is where you're going to have the fights. I have not said how many fish I put in my tank, and I'm not sure I will - I'll be burned as a heretic. You should easily be able to put that many fish in there, if you plan the filtration to be capable of handling it. The 100gal sump should do it.
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Re: 1.000 liters/260G Mbuna setup

Postby noddy » Wed Apr 21, 2021 8:44 pm

.
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Re: 1.000 liters/260G Mbuna setup

Postby SenorStrum » Wed Apr 21, 2021 9:02 pm

noddy wrote:.



Oh man. Did you delete it? That was funny. :)
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Re: 1.000 liters/260G Mbuna setup

Postby Auballagh » Wed Apr 21, 2021 10:01 pm

My own past with those African Cichlids informs my experience.
The 150 gallon Mbuna tank I kept for 12 years had two species in it (amongst many more) that I feel were the most important.
- A single individual of Maylandia crabro. (Purchased at one inch in length, as the actual last WC fish left in an imported group at a specialty LFS...). Oh man, that thing kept growing. And growing... And got stranger and weirder looking with it's age and size. NONE of any of the Mbuna in that over-stocked tank dared to mess with it. It became a true benevolent overlord. There was literally, a portable 'DMZ' (Demilitarized Zone) around it, wherever it went in the tank! Measured at death at a true body length of 8 1/4 inches in length - that Crabro (Bumblebee Cichlid) was my tank boss.
- A 2 male, 11 female harem of Labeotropheus fulleborni. Hands down, the best Rift Lake Cichlid I have ever kept. They are big. And yes, kind of weird-looking, with those specialty adapted Aufwachs-Eating mouths. Strong. And just a little bit mean. These things were just amazing.

And so, with a tank that big? Stay true to the bio-type. Choose what you like, provide enough females (and rocks), and go big. The cichlids, and your aquarium - will not disappoint.
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And yes.... I offer my sincere condolences to 'Noddy', who it seems has also just been SeniorStrum'd.
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The Heresy is REAL man, and resistance is futile.
You will be assimilated! :popcorn:
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Re: 1.000 liters/260G Mbuna setup

Postby noddy » Thu Apr 22, 2021 9:17 am

SenorStrum wrote:
noddy wrote:.



Oh man. Did you delete it? That was funny. :)


Haha. I forgot to quote you in it so it didn't seem to make sense. :lol:

Todays word is, "aluminium". :wink:
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Re: 1.000 liters/260G Mbuna setup

Postby SenorStrum » Thu Apr 22, 2021 10:54 am

It most certainly is NOT Aluminium. However, it could be for you.

I know I usually write long screeds around here, but I think that this video I found (out of Canada, no less :) ) will explain the issue better than I could.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InlDtLf3MTA
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