Lake Malawi Species • Beginner 55 gallon mbuna tank

Discussion regarding only Lake Malawi species.

Moderators: Chester B, DJRansome

Beginner 55 gallon mbuna tank

Postby jn1981 » Mon May 10, 2021 9:41 am

Hi everyone,

I'm not new to fish, but I am new to cichlids. I have a 55 gallon tank setup for a freshwater reef setup. My question is as a beginner, should I go the harem route or go with an all male tank? I've heard mixed opinions, but is either harder than the other? I'm obviously not trying to breed, so that isn't a problem. My concern with the female tank is that there would be crossbreeding that I don't want. As a cichlid noob, what are your suggestions?

Thanks everyone!
jn1981
 
Joined: Mon May 10, 2021 9:35 am
Location: United States

Share On:

Share on Facebook Facebook Share on Twitter Twitter

Re: Beginner 55 gallon mbuna tank

Postby Rhinox » Mon May 10, 2021 10:09 am

IMO mbuna harems would work better in a 55g. You could pick 3 species and as long as they're not too similar, crossbreeding probably won't really be an issue. If/when they breed and you let them spit fry in the tank, the fry usually don't make it anyways. If you keep some synodontis with your mbuna you almost certainly won't have to worry about any fry.

I'm not sure I've ever actually heard of anyone actually trying an all-male mbuna tank. There is an article about it in the library here though. My first tank ever was a 55g mbuna harem setup. which species do you like?
Coming eventually: 125g Malawi
User avatar
Rhinox
 
Joined: Thu Sep 10, 2009 12:42 pm
Location: Painesville Twp, OH

Re: Beginner 55 gallon mbuna tank

Postby jn1981 » Mon May 10, 2021 11:28 am

That’s the million dollar question. Currently I think I’m looking at yellow labs, either an mbamba or afra Jalo reef, and maybe rustys or some type of Hongi? Hoping for guidance on them, but being new to cichlids I’ve just been doing research, nothing selected for sure yet.
jn1981
 
Joined: Mon May 10, 2021 9:35 am
Location: United States

Re: Beginner 55 gallon mbuna tank

Postby SenorStrum » Mon May 10, 2021 1:04 pm

I would do a harem, if it were me. I would also select smaller species with a reputation for being peaceful, and I'd then pack them in there.

Based on behavior I see, species I'd think about include:
- Rusties
- Chindongo Saulosi
- Labidichromis Joanjohnsonae
- Yellow Labs (no personal experience here - I've given them up because everyone has them and I've filled the yellow niche with fish having yellow females - Saulosi and Msobo deep to be specific)
- Cynotilapia Afra Cobue (Afra Eduardi)
- Cynotilapia Sp. Hara

Be careful about:
- Mbamba - these are a labidichromis and can be pretty aggressive. I mention they are labidichromis simply because we are discussing lots of them. You brought up Mbambas and Hongis, and I brought up Joanjohnsonae. Be careful mixing. I would not do these with Hongis. (No personal experience here, but when I repulled the description and looked at the picture, it just looked like a fish that would IMMEDIATELY be attacked by my other Hongis. See below.)
- Metriaclima. I think you could get away with Msobo deep in this tank if you did it carefully. They would probably be OK. I would just be really careful about metriaclima. They can get rowdy and territorial. This would be things like Red Zebras, Elongatus Chewere (and others like Chailosi), Green Mbweca, most things named "Zebra," but not all, so that's fun.


Don't. You'll be tempted, but don't.
- Labidichromis Hongi. I do not have regular Hongis but have no reason so suspect they'd be different. Indeed they are by far the most territorial and aggressive fish in my setup. Hard pass on them in a 55. No Freaking Way.
- Anything with horizontal bars. I don't believe that you could get any melanochromis species to be OK in a 55 (and be happy with it yourself)
- Crabro (bumblebees)

Also agree with Rhinox. I don't think crossbreeding will be that big of a deal, and let them spit in the tank, you should be fine.
SenorStrum
 
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2020 12:27 pm
Location: United States

Re: Beginner 55 gallon mbuna tank

Postby Rhinox » Mon May 10, 2021 1:33 pm

My first tank was a 55g mbuna with harems. First fish I bought were yellow labs and maingano. Then I added acei a few days later. I kept these with synodontis lucipinnis.

Yellow labs are fine. The maingano I ended up with a poor M:F ratio from the group of juvies and eventually rehomed them all. They're a non-melanochromis horizontal bar species, the only one I'd try (again) in a 55 tho my first experience did not go well. The acei eventually get too big for a 55g but I upgraded to a 125g before that happened.

I kept rusties after I upgraded to the 125. They're great and often recommended for a 55. I've never kept saulosi but they're one of my favorites to look at pictures of and would be perfect for a 55.

I agree with strum about metriaclima/maylandia. They might end up too aggressive for a 55. I've had my eye on msobo's as an option for the 125 I'm setting up if I decide on mbuna rather than haps/peacocks. If I were setting up a 55 and wanted blue/black males with yellow females, I'd skip msobo and find saulosi instead.
Coming eventually: 125g Malawi
User avatar
Rhinox
 
Joined: Thu Sep 10, 2009 12:42 pm
Location: Painesville Twp, OH

Re: Beginner 55 gallon mbuna tank

Postby jn1981 » Mon May 10, 2021 4:12 pm

Great information. Thank you both very much! This helps narrow it down. I’m nit set on any species in particular other than yellow labs, just because they have always been on the list of fish I love and wanted to keep.

I only brought up the mbambas due to appearance and am fine with any species that somewhat fit that appearance. So far the big list of no’s that I know to avoid are: Demasoni, johannis, bumblebees, auratus, there are more, but those were the main ones.

I live the saulosi because I get 2 color combos in one species.

I’ll post my working list later today or tomorrow.
jn1981
 
Joined: Mon May 10, 2021 9:35 am
Location: United States

Re: Beginner 55 gallon mbuna tank

Postby jn1981 » Mon May 10, 2021 8:23 pm

So would I be able to have the Maingano and saulosi since the stripes are different? Or do you avoid fish of the same colors? Would yellow labs and saulosi females be ok together or should I not have both of those together? This is the hardest part so far! Thanks for the help!
jn1981
 
Joined: Mon May 10, 2021 9:35 am
Location: United States

Re: Beginner 55 gallon mbuna tank

Postby LoveAllCichlids » Mon May 10, 2021 10:45 pm

Why not Demosoni? They are tiny compared to most Mbuna’s and only bother each other.
LoveAllCichlids
 
Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2021 9:06 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Re: Beginner 55 gallon mbuna tank

Postby jn1981 » Tue May 11, 2021 7:01 am

From everything I’ve been told or have read, Demasoni can destroy a tank quickly and have a tendency to do so. I’ve never kept cichlids, but I suppose this could be the case with all of them. I am still learning before I try to stock my tank. If you have experience with them I’d love to hear about it. I love the way they look.
jn1981
 
Joined: Mon May 10, 2021 9:35 am
Location: United States

Re: Beginner 55 gallon mbuna tank

Postby DJRansome » Tue May 11, 2021 10:13 am

I also would skip the maingano in a 55G...some members over the years have had trouble with them in the smaller tank. 75G for them.

Demasoni are tricky and better after you have some experience and want to be bothered with the special stocking and work they involve. In a 55G with demasoni I would stock only 2 species ending up with 12 demasoni after removing extra males. They also get bloat easier than other Malawi IME.

The labs, plus rusties plus jalo reef would be a good 55G stocking for a first African tank.
125G Borleyi, Multipunctata
75G Demasoni, Msobo, Lucipinnis
75G Calvus, Similis, Petricola
User avatar
DJRansome
Global Moderator
 
Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2005 8:30 am
Location: Little Egg Harbor, NJ

Re: Beginner 55 gallon mbuna tank

Postby Haplochromine guy » Tue May 11, 2021 12:10 pm

I would do just about anything and like my tanks overstocked to about 18-25 fish in a 55 gallon, so... I would keep it sparsely decorated with about 2/6 of the tank rocks. If it were me, I would throw anything in there, and yea, when they're 2-3 inches long. I tried to add all of the most aggressive fish species I could find in the tank with a slightly bigger Jewel Cichlid should work out just fine. I wouldn't do any Demasoni though, those are species only fish in my eyes. If you were looking for peaceful species, I would include the following: Rusties, labidochromis usually does well, labeotropheus, Red Zebra, and perhaps you could do Cobalt Blue... I know of a bunch and if I were every doing a Mbuna tank, I just add all of the fish in at 2-3 inches long, then take out any super aggressive guys at 4 inches long. You shouldn't have too many problems. I could give you a whole list of peaceful fish after three days if you want. I have my own opinions, so don't agree with me about anybody? Go ahead, I think it depends on the personality or size of individuals to go together.
Haplochromine guy
 
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2020 11:57 am
Location: Minnesota

Re: Beginner 55 gallon mbuna tank

Postby jn1981 » Tue May 11, 2021 12:57 pm

I think iIve narrowed it down to these and have to decide from there.

Cynotilapia (cobue or jalo reef)
yellow labs
Rusties
Pseudo Saulosi (covers the blue and yellows for the tank in one shot)
Msobo deep (covers both colors)

Is there any reason why any of those won't work? I can't do 2 vertical striped males right? I just have to narrow it down a little further....
jn1981
 
Joined: Mon May 10, 2021 9:35 am
Location: United States

Re: Beginner 55 gallon mbuna tank

Postby jn1981 » Tue May 11, 2021 1:14 pm

also looking at a Labotrpheus Trewavasae as well. Is that a no go?
jn1981
 
Joined: Mon May 10, 2021 9:35 am
Location: United States

Re: Beginner 55 gallon mbuna tank

Postby Rhinox » Tue May 11, 2021 2:33 pm

I've never kept Cynotilapia. From pictures, I like the males, but always found the females more drab. I prefer species with more colorful females. You'd probably only be able to have 1 male in a 55. That said, I've actually been thinking about Cynotiapia zebroides cobwe (blue/yellow black barred male with pale blue females) with Msobo (blue/black not-really-barred males with yellow females) as maybe a nice mix. You could probably add rusties and be fine. Not saulosi and likely not labs. Metriaclima readily cross with labs, I'd expect the msobo male to cross with lab females being similar enough looking to msobo females.

With Saulosi, you could likely have at least 3 males color up, but of your list I'd probably only add rusties

Trewavasae may be too large for a 55. I kept them for a while in a 125 and they didn't seem particularly aggressive when I kept them. Probably not relevant, but when I stepped away from the hobby 10 years ago, someone took a single trewavasae female from me I needed to rehome and I just found out it's still alive. They've apparently tried to keep other fish with it (not sure what, probably random community fish) and apparently it's killed whatever they try to put in the tank with it.
Coming eventually: 125g Malawi
User avatar
Rhinox
 
Joined: Thu Sep 10, 2009 12:42 pm
Location: Painesville Twp, OH

Re: Beginner 55 gallon mbuna tank

Postby jn1981 » Tue May 11, 2021 8:15 pm

Thanks for the helping that! So I think I am going to give this combo a shot.

Cynotilapia zebroides Cobue/Cobwe
Msobo
Rusties
.......and 2 BN plecos!

Hoping this mix will work! I will probably buy them all at the same time at the same size so that they can grow up together and hopefully be more peaceful. Fingers crossed!
jn1981
 
Joined: Mon May 10, 2021 9:35 am
Location: United States

Next

Return to Lake Malawi Species

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 17 guests