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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have recently setup a 37 Gallon Cichlid tank. The stocking is as follows:

1x Electric Yellow Labidochromis
1x Red Zebra
1x Johanni
1x Male Kenyi
1x Female Kenyi
1x Jack Dempsey
1x Red Tailed Shark
1x Pleco

I know some of you will tell me that I shouldn't mix Jack Dempsey cichlids or Red Tailed Sharks with African Cichlids, but all of them get along. My pH is between 7.2 and 7.5, which is ideal for all species.

Now, for my question. I would like to know if I have room for 1 Ice Blue cichlid and 1 Auratus cichlid. If it is only possible for me to get one, which one would you recommend? I have only started keeping cichlids in the last two months, so I am by no means an expert. I have no problem with suggestions or friendly criticism; however, please no harsh comments.

Much thanks,

TF27
 

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If your fish are juveniles or young, that is probably why they get along for now. Africans do best in ratios of 1m to 3-4f. That male Kenyi will be a beast. They are very aggressive. The female Kenyi will be harrassed to the point of death possibly. Although you can successfully keep Africans at a 7.5 PH it is not ideal. They prefer harder water and I keep mine at 8-8.2 PH or so. Also the size of your tank limits to the species you can keep. Mbuna do best in a tank of at least 55g. Longer is better. I personally would not add any more single Mbuna's to the tank and be prepared to remove injuried or troublesome fish.
 

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I have a 38G tank probably similar to the size of yours. Footprint of mine is 36" x 12" which is important for territorial cichlids like mbuna.

For the Rift Lake cichlids I'd try to get the pH up over 7.6...mine is 7.8.

I found it to be a great tank for a single species of dwarf mbuna, especially if they are peaceful like your yellow lab.

Demasoni are challenging but a dozen can work in a tank like that as well.

To answer your original question, I would not add Metriaclima greshakei or Melanochromis auratus to a 36" tank even if there were no other tank mates. Greshakei is better in a 48" tank and auratus is better in a 72" tank.

Good luck with it!
 

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I won't be harsh at all, but i will give you some constructive criticism and advice, and you can take it or leave, because after all they are your fish and your responsibility. I will also offer you some insight beyond what you've asked; trust me i know you didn't ask for it and it probably isn't even welcome but i feel if i can be nice and informative about it you can make your own decisions...it's always better to have more knowledge before you're making a decision.

I am assuming that your tank is a standard 37 which is a 30 x 12 x 22, and not a 37 bowfront, which is a little less suitable for cichlids, but to be honest neither tank is going to be great for full-sized cichlids which means you probably have some trouble on the horizon.

First looking at your water parameters, the difference between a pH (remember pH is a logarithmic scale, not a base 10 scale) of 7.2 and 7.5 is a HUGE swing, literally water at 7.2 is 3 times more acidic than water at a pH of 7.5. Now your actual pH reading isn't as important as keeping a stable pH, and fluctuating between 7.2 and 7.5 is NOT stable. This leads me to draw one of two conclusions: 1. You're using an all in one test strip or an expired test kit or 2. You have a very low kH which determines how stable your pH levels are. I personally am not a fan of the strips and much prefer a liquid test kit like the API kit as they have more reagent and are more specific. I think if you get a stable pH your fish should be fine, especially if you're closer to 7.5 (your africans will like hard, alkaline water, the Jack is happy with slightly basic, and the Red Tail and Pleco prefer softer more acidic water...but it's more important that the pH is STABLE though keep in mind not all fish can thrive outside their happy range, though they will survive).

Secondly, I'm guessing that your fish are probably all less than 3" in size, which means they're all juvenile, and this is most likely why everyone is getting along. This will most likely (but not definitely) change as the fish start to reach sexual maturity. It will be important as time moves on for you to spend a good amount of time watching the behavior in your tank...i liken it to thinking just because people are best of friends in elementary school it doesn't mean anyone is going to get along in high school once those hormones start pumping. It will be a good idea for you to keep a hospital/quarantine tank around in case you start noticing signs of stress or bullying in your fish. Especially in Africans, stress and bullying can lead to Bloat, which is an intestinal condition that has been noted to spread from sick fish to healthy fish (many will say that the jury is out on that, but i've read enough horror stories of it speeding through a tank to give enough credence to it to be careful and preemptive when dealing with it).

Thirdly, since you have a mix of herbivorous and omnivorous fish, you want to make sure you're feeding them something that they can digest properly. It's hard to go wrong with a high quality cichlid specialty pellet like NLS Cichlid or Dainichi, or with a spirulina based flake. Check your food, and if your protein is much more than 40%, or the first few ingredients are fish meal or binding agents like wheat you may want to look in a new direction. Your Africans need a lot of plant matter in their diet, and some of the Hikari and other pellets are a little high in protein for them ideally. The good news is the NLS or Dainichi are great for both herbivores and omnivores, so it takes some of the worry out of providing a healthy diet...and whatever ever you do stay away from very high protein 'treat' foods like tubifex worms, beef heart, mosquito larvae, etc...your africans will take it readily but have a very hard time digesting it making them more vulnerable to digestive problems.

Finally, before answering your question about what you can add, i want go over some basic facts over the fish you already have. First of all i'll look at your malawi mbuna, the small colorful but aggressive africans, which in your case are the Yellow Lab, the Red Zebra, the M. Johannii, and the Kenyi. These fish are in nature very territorial harem breeders. In a closed aquarium each male will want to stake out his own spot of substrate (usually around 1 square foot of tank bottom) to defend as his own. These fish will also crossbreed readily in a closed environment and can be very hard on each other. Putting a single female fish amongst a bunch of males is akin to leaving a supermodel in the middle of Riker's Island Prison: things don't typically end up well for the super model. The males, when sexualy mature, will harass her to mate and fight off anyone else that tries to mate with her (with maybe the exception of the yellow lab who is the most docile of all your fish). Eventually the female will be run to death...not and 'if' but a 'when'. If it turns out some of your other fish are females as well (since Labs and some red zebras are monomorphic it can be very hard to tell male versus female) it may be enough to spread aggression for a while. But having only 30" x 12" of floor space will limit the places females can hide, and the male mbunas' libido is legendary which is why when people keep mbuna they try to do so in either an all male tank (won't work in a tank your size) or in harem groups of the same species with one male and 3-6 females of the same species (will be really tough to keep in a tank your size even with dwarf mbuna, which yours are not) to either try to limit the cause of aggression, or diffuse the sexual aggression amongst many females giving some of them a break. Mbuna are also notoriously hard on plecos...especially the common ones unless they're a great deal bigger. They have a tendency to force them out of their territory and like to bite out their eyes. Not only are you fighting a tough battle with keeping mbuna like you are, you are keeping a few of the very most aggressive mbuna with the Kenyi and Johannii. One of those males will most likely kill everything else in the tank upon reaching sexual maturity; they are instinctively trained to take a territory at all costs or die trying and this usually means bad news for the other fish in your tank.

Now onto your Jack Dempsey. He's going to outgrow your tank fast...a male can grow to be up to 10" long and is a big, full-bodied cichlid. Unless you're ridiculously over-filtered he's mostly likely going to make it hard to maintain good water parameters. He's also going to want his own territory on the tank substrate. And while he will be the biggest fish in your tank, he will hit his sexual maturity later than the mbuna which make him a target. Some people have mixed JDs and mbuna succesfully...it's not impossible...but it becomes supremely difficult without a 6 foot tank or larger, and even then it's not recommended for a novice cichlid keeper.

The Red Tailed Black Shark can usually hold it's own with mbuna, even though they don't always thrive in the harder water that mbuna prefer, they are a tough fish and plenty of people us it as their 'cleanup crew' in a african cichlid tank. They will also want their own space in the substrate, and the loser will probably be your pleco initially, however over time he's going to become a target for aggression from the Africans since he will fight for a spot on the bottom that's going to be in high demand.

Now finally, with all that out of the way it's time to answer your question. Much as rgr4475 advised, i wouldn't add even another docile fish to this tank...it's going to be a difficult task just to keep your current tank from a wipe with what you have now. However, i know good advice can be tough to take, and if you're going to add a fish regardless of the good advice between those two choices i would definitely choose the ice blue (as long as it's the Metriaclima Greshaki 'ice blue') over the Auratus. Melanchromis Auratus is pound for pound one of the meanest, most aggressive in the freshwater hobby...even the females can be real toughies.

You have put yourself in a tough position to have success with this tank. Watch and learn those fish's behaviors and who knows, you might get lucky and get something that works. But be prepared for the worst...you really do have a recipe for disaster on your hands somewhere at the 6-10 month range. Regardless of what you decide to do, good luck!
 

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IF... this tank does not work out long term. Don't get discouraged. Maybe just a little research on what you have available to you vs. what tank you have. And get group of fish that will be able to grow and live together.

Just grabbing the nicest fish from the store dosen't always work out the best.
Most of us learned that the hard way.
 

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frank1rizzo again makes a great point. My first cichlid tank was a 30 tall in which i crammed 2 oscars and a common pleco...surprisingly it worked for about 18 months which in retrospect was a bloody miracle. At the time i just couldn't resist those cute baby oscars! As long as you learn from it there is no waste in making a mistake!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for all of your suggestions. I am considering upgrading, but I also have a friend who has 2 big cichlid tanks. I just realized that my male kenyi is a crossbreed between a kenyi and a yellow lab. Does that change anything?
 

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Having the hybrid does not change anything.

If you were going to upgrade, would it be for the purpose of keeping the same fish in one tank? Because I still think you would want to make stock changes. You don't see a lot of posts about successful 55G all male Malawi tanks. You see people wanting to try them, but then nothing further. But...if that is what I really wanted I'd give it a try. Figure 8-10 fish, all male and no look-alikes.

I'd still separate the JD though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Just so all of you know, I only have one male in the tank. The rest are females, and yes, I am positive.
 

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The only way to know for sure is to vent the fish or see it hold a clutch of eggs. Sounds like your fish are all juvies which typically means they're not developed enough to vent easily and haven't started holding yet. Not trying to be a jerk but how are you sure that they're all female?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
702Cichlid said:
The only way to know for sure is to vent the fish or see it hold a clutch of eggs. Sounds like your fish are all juvies which typically means they're not developed enough to vent easily and haven't started holding yet. Not trying to be a jerk but how are you sure that they're all female?
I know because every type of cichlid in my tank other than the Jack Dempsey and the Yellow Labidochromis has a different color for the male and female. I vented the Yellow Labidochromis and the Jack Dempsey.
 
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