General African Cichlid Discussion • 46 gallon Cichlid stocking?

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46 gallon Cichlid stocking?

Postby RunningBeaver » Fri Mar 30, 2018 11:11 am

I have a 46 gallon light-moderately planted tank that I’m trying to figure out how I want to stock. It is fully cycled 0 ammonia, zero nitrites, 40-80 nitrates (will drop before I add fish), ph 7.6. I’m contemplating on going with a variety of dwarf Cichlids. I do have another tank but I don’t know a lot about cichlids. I was wondering about possible combinations and advice.
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Re: 46 gallon Cichlid stocking?

Postby Cyphro » Fri Mar 30, 2018 7:11 pm

You might consider a few mangainos and rusties. One is blue, the other purplish. Both have interesting personalities.
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Re: 46 gallon Cichlid stocking?

Postby DJRansome » Fri Mar 30, 2018 11:09 pm

What are the dimensions of the tank? Some find maingano are better in a tank that is 48" x 18' or larger, they can be aggressive in a 48" x 12" tank.
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Re: 46 gallon Cichlid stocking?

Postby RunningBeaver » Sat Mar 31, 2018 3:14 am

It’s 36” x 16” x 20”
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Re: 46 gallon Cichlid stocking?

Postby DJRansome » Sat Mar 31, 2018 8:30 am

The rusties would be a good choice, but they will eat your plants. A 36" tank does not give you much room for a variety. Look up Iodotropheus sprengerae in the Profiles.

What is the pH of your tap water? Maybe some New World cichlids?
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Re: 46 gallon Cichlid stocking?

Postby RunningBeaver » Sat Mar 31, 2018 10:22 am

7.6 and thanks for the help
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Re: 46 gallon Cichlid stocking?

Postby BC in SK » Sat Mar 31, 2018 12:07 pm

RunningBeaver wrote:I’m contemplating on going with a variety of dwarf Cichlids.

Kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher) would be a good choice. Just about any of the Pelvicachromis species would be suitable for this size of tank, though some may not do as well in harder water and higher pH.
Butterfly cichlid (Anomalochromis thomasi) is sometimes available and could also be a good choice.
Other possibilities might include Nanochromis, Paranochromis, or Teleogramma species, if you can find them. Again, some of these may require softer water and lower pH.

I think the suggestion of rusties and mainganos is on the idea that some how these are dwarf cichlids. The profiles at cichlid-forum lists all of maingano, rusties and demasoni at 4". It's a little deceiving. There is no question that rusties and maingano are considerably larger fish then demasoni. I personally owned rusties in the past that had to have been at least 4 1/2" and seen many around this size or larger. Never owned a maingano, but have seen many over the years that must have been close to 5". I don't believe either fish are significantly different in size then the common electric yellow( listed at 5" on cichlid -forum profile). My guess is that, maingano and rusties are probably listed in standard length (measurement not including the tail), where as most of the others are probably total length.
It is sort of funny the length listed for demasoni (4") doesn't match the species article (2 1/2" -3"). I do believe large male demasoni can reach a length of 4". My male, 3 years from purchase, was 3 3/4" TL, and I have 2 younger males catching up. So, 4" TL is an older large male; most stay smaller, especially females. Most places on the internet, list demasoni at 3". One site lists it at 5" and I believe that this comes from one specimen from science, measured at 4.9" SL. That would be like a world record from the wild, which really wouldn't have much to do with a typical specimen in captivity. With the majority of fishes your average, typical specimen in captivity is larger then your typical, average specimen in the wild, but is no where near world record size.
Anyways, of these 3 mbuna, I think rusties woukld be the better choice for a smaller tank as they are usually less agressive then the other 2 species mentioned.
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Re: 46 gallon Cichlid stocking?

Postby BC in SK » Sat Mar 31, 2018 1:34 pm

BC in SK wrote: 4.9" SL.

Actually, now that i think of it, that is probably more likely due to misprint as 10cm SL= 3.9" SL. Even at 3.9" SL (which would be some where around 4 1/2" TL), I think that would probably be an exceptionally large specimen for demasoni.
As I mentioned already, I don't really believe that rusties or maniganos are much different in size then electric yellows.
Where i would draw a line to label a fish a "dwarf cichlid" would be around 4" TL. It's an arbitrary line, so others may have a different perspective on what would be considered a "dwarf cichlid".
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Re: 46 gallon Cichlid stocking?

Postby Cyphro » Sat Mar 31, 2018 2:20 pm

BC in SK wrote:
RunningBeaver wrote:I’m contemplating on going with a variety of dwarf Cichlids.

Kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher) would be a good choice. Just about any of the Pelvicachromis species would be suitable for this size of tank, though some may not do as well in harder water and higher pH.
Butterfly cichlid (Anomalochromis thomasi) is sometimes available and could also be a good choice.
Other possibilities might include Nanochromis, Paranochromis, or Teleogramma species, if you can find them. Again, some of these may require softer water and lower pH.

I think the suggestion of rusties and mainganos is on the idea that some how these are dwarf cichlids. The profiles at cichlid-forum lists all of maingano, rusties and demasoni at 4". It's a little deceiving. There is no question that rusties and maingano are considerably larger fish then demasoni. I personally owned rusties in the past that had to have been at least 4 1/2" and seen many around this size or larger. Never owned a maingano, but have seen many over the years that must have been close to 5". I don't believe either fish are significantly different in size then the common electric yellow( listed at 5" on cichlid -forum profile). My guess is that, maingano and rusties are probably listed in standard length (measurement not including the tail), where as most of the others are probably total length.
It is sort of funny the length listed for demasoni (4") doesn't match the species article (2 1/2" -3"). I do believe large male demasoni can reach a length of 4". My male, 3 years from purchase, was 3 3/4" TL, and I have 2 younger males catching up. So, 4" TL is an older large male; most stay smaller, especially females. Most places on the internet, list demasoni at 3". One site lists it at 5" and I believe that this comes from one specimen from science, measured at 4.9" SL. That would be like a world record from the wild, which really wouldn't have much to do with a typical specimen in captivity. With the majority of fishes your average, typical specimen in captivity is larger then your typical, average specimen in the wild, but is no where near world record size.
Anyways, of these 3 mbuna, I think rusties woukld be the better choice for a smaller tank as they are usually less agressive then the other 2 species mentioned.


I have had rusties, yellow labs and maingano and all in the same 45g tank and it was not remotely overstocked and they were not cramped either. They all got along fine and there was plenty of space. I've had demasonis too and they are not much different in length from rusties but they are very skinny fish and seem to grow slowly.

Rusties and yellow labs don't need a lot of back and force space like some fish do either, rusties will just play around all day and yellow labs will just find some little rock for a house and that's it.

If you had 10 of each like some seem to want it won't work, but that is not even necessary with hyper aggressive fish like demasoni let alone little sweethearts like these.
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Re: 46 gallon Cichlid stocking?

Postby BC in SK » Sat Mar 31, 2018 3:15 pm

Cyphro wrote:
I have had rusties, yellow labs and maingano and all in the same 45g tank and it was not remotely overstocked and they were not cramped either. They all got along fine and there was plenty of space. I've had demasonis too and they are not much different in length from rusties but they are very skinny fish and seem to grow slowly.

Rusties and yellow labs don't need a lot of back and force space like some fish do either, rusties will just play around all day and yellow labs will just find some little rock for a house and that's it.

If you had 10 of each like some seem to want it won't work, but that is not even necessary with hyper aggressive fish like demasoni let alone little sweethearts like these.

The OP is considering dwarf cichlids. I wouldn't consider potentially 5" mbuna as a "dwarf cichlid". You might.
These fish may or may not prove mild mannered enough for a smaller tank. To begin with, sure. Over the coarse of many years, sometimes, sometimes not.
Fish change. Initially, my acei were ridiculously mellow for an mbuna. That is not the case today, over 3 years from purchase. My male damaged his eye hitting into decor, during a scrap with the male demasoni. While he was removed to the hospital tank, 2 of my females ganged up and beat the snot out of the third female and killed her. That is in a 180 gal.
Most people wouldn't describe large mature mbuna as "sweathearts". Even less aggressive species like electric yellows and rusties are aggressive fish when compared to many cichlids. And from my reading, and what I have seen over the years, many people consider maingano as one of the more aggressive mbuna. Some mbuna are called "peaceful" only when they are being compared to the real aggressives like auratus, kenyi and crabro.
Anyways, another possibility if one is considering dwarf size and mbuna, could be saulosi. They are generally considered to be less aggressive then demasoni. I have no personal experience with this fish.
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Re: 46 gallon Cichlid stocking?

Postby RunningBeaver » Sun Apr 01, 2018 8:34 am

I appreciate the help so far! I’ll have to run to my Lfs Tuesday and see which if any of these fish they would be able to get a hold of (would rather not have to order online if I could help it).
How would you all usually go about stocking these fish. Like if I got some Kribensis how many of those would I go for; a pair, two males, one male/one female or etc.
ideally I would like a small variety of 2-3 different species so probably no male/female combonations?
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Re: 46 gallon Cichlid stocking?

Postby BC in SK » Sun Apr 01, 2018 10:49 am

RunningBeaver wrote: Like if I got some Kribensis how many of those would I go for; a pair, two males, one male/one female or etc.
ideally I would like a small variety of 2-3 different species so probably no male/female combonations?

The usual way to end up with a pair is to start with a group of 6 or more. A group spreads out the aggression and allows them at least some choice of partners. Eventually, you may end up having to remove extra males, though it is not inconceivable they would be tolerant for quite some time, or even end up with more then one pair. As well, if given some choice over time, most substrate spawners will end up swapping partners. IME, breeding pairs of kribs are not too demanding of space, though there are always a few instance where people have had them push everything to one side of the tank.
I would think they could be mixed with Anomalochromis thomasi or other dwarf West Africans with out too much friction, though I can't say I personally have. In the past, I generally kept them in grow up tanks with younger fish of much more aggressive species of cichlids. IME, kribs were never too aggressive, but for their size, quite capable of defending themselves. Of course they are small, so as some of the other cichlid got larger the kribs did end up lower in the pecking order.
As far as mixing with cichlids from other continents, I would think most people on this forum are not keen on it. Me, personally, have no real problem with it. As far as dwarf SA, you'd want something that would be able to stand up to the kribs. Not so sure any of the apistos could. Maybe some of the dwarf acaras (??). Never personally tried this, so no real idea how this could turn out.
My approach would be to mix it with some sort of mouth brooder. Which specifically, not so sure. Some type of small, more mellow Victorian type? Egyptian mouth brooder (Pseudocrenilibrus multicolor)? IME, substrate spawners are usually much less competitive with a mouth brooder then they are with another rival substrate spawner. IME, the available space is better shared and utilized.
With kribs, you'd have a wide range of choices for schooling dithers and non cichlids. I'm sure many types of tetras could do fine with kribs, though personally my choice would be giant danios as they are tough and hardy. 3-spot/opaline/blue /gold gourami would do fine; other gouramis could be options, as well.
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