Lake Malawi Species • Maximum size... says who?

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Maximum size... says who?

Postby Smeagol » Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:09 pm

I stopped in a fish store today in a nearby city. They had some Maingano that were easily 6" with girth like a golf ball ($45 each). But that's not the end of the story. They had Yellow Labs that were easily 8" tip to tail. Yellow Labs! I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. They were labeled "XXL Yellow Lab - $75 each." Have you ever seen them that big?
75g = Yellow-tail Acei, Yellow Labs, Maingano
20g Planted = Serpae Tetras, Lemon Tetra, Amano Shrimp
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Re: Maximum size... says who?

Postby jcover » Sat Apr 17, 2021 11:58 pm

I've never seen them that big before...

However, I have had some oddball sized fish before, an OB female peacock that was 6.5" long
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Re: Maximum size... says who?

Postby noddy » Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:27 am

Smeagol wrote:I stopped in a fish store today in a nearby city. They had some Maingano that were easily 6" with girth like a golf ball ($45 each). But that's not the end of the story. They had Yellow Labs that were easily 8" tip to tail. Yellow Labs! I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. They were labeled "XXL Yellow Lab - $75 each." Have you ever seen them that big?


Was that nearby City Chernobyl?
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Re: Maximum size... says who?

Postby BC in SK » Sun Apr 18, 2021 11:28 am

No doubt, a few fish will exceed stated maximum lengths. But it can be difficult to accurately assess the length of the fish simply by eye balling it. Two people look at the same fish and will call it a different length. With out actually physically removing the fish and taking an accurate measurement, it's just a guess.
Tank size, decor and lighting are also very significant factors in how large a fish appears. One of the first things I learned in this hobby is that fish always appear much larger at the pet shop. When I first started out I had a 60 gal. and only a 10 gal. for a grow up tank. It was advantageous to purchase fish large enough that they could go directly into the 60 gal. rather then the 10 gal. grow up tank. Time after time, I purchased fish that easily appeared large enough at the petshop, but magically shrunk in half :lol: once they were put into the 60 gal. Wasted a lot of money on expensive feeders when I was kid, before I realized they always look much larger at the pet shop!
Since we use length to describe size of fish , rather then weight, often fish at their larger sizes (or smaller sizes) get described as much longer (or shorter) then they are. A great example is fish getting purchased at supposedly 1/2" size. Thread after thread, all over the internet many aquarists have claimed to have purchased fish at 1/2" size from the LFS. It really just means the fish was very small when purchased. Newly released mbuna fry are usually around 1/2". No such tiny fish are ever sold at an LFS. Typical cichld is 2" to 2 1/2" with demasoni often being sold even smaller at 1 1/2". That is a tiny size as a 2- 2 1/2" cichlid weighs about 2-3 grams. Full grown 6" mbuna can weigh over 70 grams so full grown it's 30- 35 x larger.
No doubt these yellow labs are very, very large. At least for me, to believe they actually would measure 8", I'd have to see a picture beside a tape measure. Even with a good picture, some times people round up or slightly exaggerate. The fish has to be lined up with the tape measure and a good top down picture (not with the tape measure behind in the distance). Easier said then done. For example the claim of 7" firemouth and convicts, while definitely conceivable has not been demonstrated on the internet. Most of the time, people that go to the trouble of doing this, is because the specimen is exceptionally large. Two FM with a claim of 7" have been posted on the internet. There huge, no doubt but in both cases there is at least 1/2" of tape measure before the mouth starts. So it's really "only" 6 1/2". Same thing with a male convict that is supposed to be 7". There is over 1/2" of tape measure before the mouth starts. Not lined up with the fish. It's very large , no doubt, but really not as long as being claimed.....even with the picture to try and show that they get this large.
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Re: Maximum size... says who?

Postby Smeagol » Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:09 pm

BC in SK wrote:No doubt, a few fish will exceed stated maximum lengths. But it can be difficult to accurately assess the length of the fish simply by eye balling it. Two people look at the same fish and will call it a different length. With out actually physically removing the fish and taking an accurate measurement, it's just a guess.
Tank size, decor and lighting are also very significant factors in how large a fish appears. One of the first things I learned in this hobby is that fish always appear much larger at the pet shop. When I first started out I had a 60 gal. and only a 10 gal. for a grow up tank. It was advantageous to purchase fish large enough that they could go directly into the 60 gal. rather then the 10 gal. grow up tank. Time after time, I purchased fish that easily appeared large enough at the petshop, but magically shrunk in half :lol: once they were put into the 60 gal. Wasted a lot of money on expensive feeders when I was kid, before I realized they always look much larger at the pet shop!
Since we use length to describe size of fish , rather then weight, often fish at their larger sizes (or smaller sizes) get described as much longer (or shorter) then they are. A great example is fish getting purchased at supposedly 1/2" size. Thread after thread, all over the internet many aquarists have claimed to have purchased fish at 1/2" size from the LFS. It really just means the fish was very small when purchased. Newly released mbuna fry are usually around 1/2". No such tiny fish are ever sold at an LFS. Typical cichld is 2" to 2 1/2" with demasoni often being sold even smaller at 1 1/2". That is a tiny size as a 2- 2 1/2" cichlid weighs about 2-3 grams. Full grown 6" mbuna can weigh over 70 grams so full grown it's 30- 35 x larger.
No doubt these yellow labs are very, very large. At least for me, to believe they actually would measure 8", I'd have to see a picture beside a tape measure. Even with a good picture, some times people round up or slightly exaggerate. The fish has to be lined up with the tape measure and a good top down picture (not with the tape measure behind in the distance). Easier said then done. For example the claim of 7" firemouth and convicts, while definitely conceivable has not been demonstrated on the internet. Most of the time, people that go to the trouble of doing this, is because the specimen is exceptionally large. Two FM with a claim of 7" have been posted on the internet. There huge, no doubt but in both cases there is at least 1/2" of tape measure before the mouth starts. So it's really "only" 6 1/2". Same thing with a male convict that is supposed to be 7". There is over 1/2" of tape measure before the mouth starts. Not lined up with the fish. It's very large , no doubt, but really not as long as being claimed.....even with the picture to try and show that they get this large.

Granted, I was "eyeballing it." In addition, as an experienced diver and fishkeeper, I understand that water magnifies objects, and thus our fish aren't actually as big as they appear in the tank. I also appreciate your point about fish looking larger in store tanks than in home aquariums. In spite of all that, these fish were enormous. In the same shop there were tanks with the typical small (1"), medium (1.5" - 3"), and large (3" - 4.5") Yellow Labs that we're familiar with. So, I did have a good basis of comparison. For practical purposes, you can ignore the size in inches I originally stated. The fact is that the XXL Yellow Labs were at least twice as big as typical fully mature Yellow Labs.
75g = Yellow-tail Acei, Yellow Labs, Maingano
20g Planted = Serpae Tetras, Lemon Tetra, Amano Shrimp
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Re: Maximum size... says who?

Postby Rhinox » Sun Apr 18, 2021 8:10 pm

Any chance they could have been these guys instead?


https://www.cichlid-forum.com/profiles/species.php?id=824
Coming eventually: 125g Malawi
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Re: Maximum size... says who?

Postby Smeagol » Sun Apr 18, 2021 8:34 pm

Rhinox wrote:Any chance they could have been these guys instead?


https://www.cichlid-forum.com/profiles/species.php?id=824

I can't say with 100% certainty, but I don't think so. The ones I saw didn't have vertical bars. And I think I would've noticed if they had a black tail. Time permitting, I will visit the shop again next weekend and try to take a photo.
75g = Yellow-tail Acei, Yellow Labs, Maingano
20g Planted = Serpae Tetras, Lemon Tetra, Amano Shrimp
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Re: Maximum size... says who?

Postby BC in SK » Sun Apr 18, 2021 9:27 pm

Smeagol wrote: In the same shop there were tanks with the typical small (1"), medium (1.5" - 3"), and large (3" - 4.5")

I think you are a little off with these sizes as 1" cichlids for sale at an LFS is more then untypical, it's almost unheard of. In 45+ years in the hobby, I've never seen cichlids that are this small for sale in an LFS. This is what 1" mbuna are :
https://i.imgur.com/DpumR2Z.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/qvpZqsa.jpg
3-4 weeks from being spit from their mother, that is not at all typical for sale at an LFS.
I purchased 5 yellow labs in 2014 from the box store and weighed and measured them the very same day. All 5 weighed from 3-4 grams and measured 2 1/4" to 2 1/2". Here are pictures of one of these yellow labs weighed at 3 grams and measured at 2 3/8" the very same day of purchase.They are typical of small cichlids sold at an LFS:
https://i.imgur.com/3ccV421.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/QeSbFv4.jpg
The only cichlid I have seen that is typically sold smaller is demasoni, and they are usually sold around 1 1/2" long.
I used to do the same thing and call small fish much smaller then they actually are......until I started measuring them. For example, I once culled some female convicts that I called 1 1/2" long and was quite surprised to find they measured 3"! Of course they are considerably smaller then females at 3 1/2" or larger. Weighing them would have demonstrated the size difference better as only a little bit longer can some times mean a much, much larger fish. Another example, in 2007 on the very first page of my measuring and weighing thread I claimed to have purchased my Red Terror at 1/2" -1" size :lol: 14 years later, having weighed and measured a lot of very small fish I know that, while smaller then your typical cichlid for sale, it still would have been at least 1 3/4- 2" long.
At 4" size, like most cichlids, a yellow lab would weigh around 20 grams (so 5-10 X the size of typical juvies sold). At 5" size its about double this size and weighs around 40 grams. At 5", in a small tank at an LFS, this size of yellow lab could look quite impressive in terms of size. At 6", this would be very exceptional for a yellow lab and any thing longer is truly monstrous for a yellow lab.
This is what 8" mbuna can look like. Pseudotropheus carbro weighed at 173 grams and measured at 8":
https://i.imgur.com/wA88tbL.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/wUhmvHz.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/ov1JFyy.jpg
A yellow lab this size would be very unusual, indeed :o
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Re: Maximum size... says who?

Postby Smeagol » Sun Apr 18, 2021 10:44 pm

BC in SK wrote:
Smeagol wrote: In the same shop there were tanks with the typical small (1"), medium (1.5" - 3"), and large (3" - 4.5")

I think you are a little off with these sizes as 1" cichlids for sale at an LFS is more then untypical, it's almost unheard of. In 45+ years in the hobby, I've never seen cichlids that are this small for sale in an LFS. This is what 1" mbuna are :
https://i.imgur.com/DpumR2Z.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/qvpZqsa.jpg
3-4 weeks from being spit from their mother, that is not at all typical for sale at an LFS.
I purchased 5 yellow labs in 2014 from the box store and weighed and measured them the very same day. All 5 weighed from 3-4 grams and measured 2 1/4" to 2 1/2". Here are pictures of one of these yellow labs weighed at 3 grams and measured at 2 3/8" the very same day of purchase.They are typical of small cichlids sold at an LFS:
https://i.imgur.com/3ccV421.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/QeSbFv4.jpg
The only cichlid I have seen that is typically sold smaller is demasoni, and they are usually sold around 1 1/2" long.
I used to do the same thing and call small fish much smaller then they actually are......until I started measuring them. For example, I once culled some female convicts that I called 1 1/2" long and was quite surprised to find they measured 3"! Of course they are considerably smaller then females at 3 1/2" or larger. Weighing them would have demonstrated the size difference better as only a little bit longer can some times mean a much, much larger fish. Another example, in 2007 on the very first page of my measuring and weighing thread I claimed to have purchased my Red Terror at 1/2" -1" size :lol: 14 years later, having weighed and measured a lot of very small fish I know that, while smaller then your typical cichlid for sale, it still would have been at least 1 3/4- 2" long.
At 4" size, like most cichlids, a yellow lab would weigh around 20 grams (so 5-10 X the size of typical juvies sold). At 5" size its about double this size and weighs around 40 grams. At 5", in a small tank at an LFS, this size of yellow lab could look quite impressive in terms of size. At 6", this would be very exceptional for a yellow lab and any thing longer is truly monstrous for a yellow lab.
This is what 8" mbuna can look like. Pseudotropheus carbro weighed at 173 grams and measured at 8":
https://i.imgur.com/wA88tbL.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/wUhmvHz.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/ov1JFyy.jpg
A yellow lab this size would be very unusual, indeed :o

No. They had a whole tank full of approximately 1" Yellow Labs. Maybe some were 1.25", but also some were less than 1". There were like 50 of them in the tank. Maybe more.
I'm not talking about a "box store." I'm talking about an independent fish shop. They also had various eels and many other exotic fish and creatures that 'd never seen in a fish shop before.
Your pictures of your 3-4 gram, 2.25"-2.5" Yellow Labs that you bought in 2014 are much larger than the small Yellow Labs I saw.
Your pictures of Pseudotropheus carbro are similar in size to the "XXL Yellow Labs" that I saw.
Yes, I agree that Yellow Labs that big are unusual. That's pretty much my whole point.
75g = Yellow-tail Acei, Yellow Labs, Maingano
20g Planted = Serpae Tetras, Lemon Tetra, Amano Shrimp
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Re: Maximum size... says who?

Postby BC in SK » Mon Apr 19, 2021 12:04 am

Smeagol wrote:I'm not talking about a "box store." I'm talking about an independent fish shop.

The typical juvie size for sale is the same, regardless of whether it's an independent or box store. 2-2 1/2". Sometimes they even get their fish from the same sources ( eg. Seacrest) I could have used other examples of cichlids weighed and measured shortly after purchase from independents ( for example purchased from Pisces in Calgary) though they are neither yellow labs nor the very same day of purchase. Anyways, 1" is not "typical small", as I have not personally seen cichlids for sale quite that small. Even local breeders will usually grow them out 2"+ before bringing them to an LFS. I usually visit independents in Calgary about once a year and have been to many in Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver over the years. Twenty years back, that is all we had where I live, independents, but today there is only box stores (besides a salt water place). In the more distant past, I visited many independents across the western U.S. Sometimes fish will breed in the store and they will sell very young fish, though I can't say I have ever seen 1" mbuna for sale.....as it is really not a typical small size for sale.
Anyways, my point being that when fish are very small, or very large, there sizes can be difficult to accurately assess. One can see they are very small or large but need to be placed beside a tape measure to get an accurate length.
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Re: Maximum size... says who?

Postby Smeagol » Mon Apr 19, 2021 7:54 am

I'm just telling you what I saw. I make no claims as to the provenance of the fish. Is it possible they were bred in-house? I'm sure Yellow Labs are smaller than 1" when they are spit out by the female, right? And don't you usually move the fry to a separate tank so they don't get eaten? Again, I have no idea how they got there. I'm just telling you what I saw. Believe me, or don't, I couldn't care less.
75g = Yellow-tail Acei, Yellow Labs, Maingano
20g Planted = Serpae Tetras, Lemon Tetra, Amano Shrimp
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Re: Maximum size... says who?

Postby joevc1 » Mon Apr 19, 2021 8:44 am

One simple trick when in the lfs is to take a dollar bill which is slightly over 6”. Fold it in half it’s 3”, fold that in thirds and crease it, unfold and you now have 1” increments. Hold it up to the tank and you have a good approximation.

Don’t know what other country’s money measures
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Re: Maximum size... says who?

Postby DJRansome » Mon Apr 19, 2021 9:52 am

Smeagol wrote:I'm just telling you what I saw. Believe me, or don't, I couldn't care less.
I don't think anyone is saying they don't believe you. Just that the fish may not be pure or an unnatural size/shape due to overfeeding in captivity. Golf ball shaped maingano is something I hope I never have to see.
125G Borleyi, Multipunctata
75G Demasoni, Msobo, Lucipinnis
75G Calvus, Similis, Petricola
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Re: Maximum size... says who?

Postby SenorStrum » Wed Apr 21, 2021 11:35 am

Here's an interesting thing I did over the weekend.

We had talked a lot about how our fish are probably approaching full size. We got out a tape measure and held it up and guestimated the size of our fish and concluded that they indeed all came in at the 3-5 inch range where they were supposed to land. We did this and watched for a while, and as the fish swam closer, they got smaller and smaller... :D

Please observe the picture - We still have some growing up to do for sure! The fish will also probably get larger... :P
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3-5 inches.jpg
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Re: Maximum size... says who?

Postby Smeagol » Sat Apr 24, 2021 5:33 pm

I went back to this fish shop today. After getting a good second look, I admit that my original size estimation of the "XXL Yellow Labs" was a little bit exaggerated. They probably aren't 8 inches. The biggest ones are only 7 inches. They are housed in a tank with "Assorted Large Peacocks" (if that tells you anything). The XXL Yellow Labs are $74.99 each, and the Assorted Large Peacocks are $99 each. And yes they are Yellow Labs, not Petrotilapia sp. mumbo yellow. The enormous Maingano that I saw last week were gone, someone must've bought them.
75g = Yellow-tail Acei, Yellow Labs, Maingano
20g Planted = Serpae Tetras, Lemon Tetra, Amano Shrimp
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