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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, all.

As they say on the radio call-in shows, long time listener, first time caller.

I’ve been keeping fish for a while and recently switched over to keeping Cichlids. I traded in everything except the pleco and a couple of remaining clown loaches, bought a new 65G tank, new substrate, rocks and decorations, upgraded eheim filter, bubble wall (LFS strongly recommends these; they are cool but obv don’t directly add oxygen), and started on the path of setting up my all male cichlid tank. I was able to transfer water from the old tank, ran the old and new filters in parallel in the new one, and even kept a bag of the old gravel in the new tank to bring over the bacteria colony and prevent the new tank from cycling. That was all mission accomplished - I had 0 amonium and nitrites from day 1 (with moderate nitrates), 7.8pH,. So time to stock! My goal: an active tank of beautifully colored and interesting behaving fish, but not with too much aggression.

Caveat: My LFS has a great reputation - in addition to having a huge variety of fish, they build custom tanks, and probably have installed and maintain nearly every professional office fish tank within 50 miles. But I’m not sure I’ve gotten great advice on stocking this tank.

Currently I have (all male): a Yellow Lab (not at all aggressive), an OB Peacock, an OB Zebra, Kenyi, electric blue hap, blue dolphin, venustus (that I now think is going to end up too big for this tank), German red, Haplochromis obliquidens, Hap ahli, eureka red (jacobfreibergi), and albino peacock. Sorry I don’t have scientific names for all of these, but this is the info that he has given me. Most fish are in the 3-4” size, although the German red is a bit bigger (but not aggressive)

I’ve had more than a few deaths that seem attributable to aggression (in at least one case I didn’t spot the aggressor fast enough, and the victims had mostly been hiding out in corner for some time before i found them dead). Deaths over time include: Yellow sided (he was bigger as well) and tangerine peacocks, an albino sunburst, a Demasoni, a blue hap of some kind, 2 dragon bloods (were in the tank together but I didn’t see them fighting with each other).

Chemistry was always solid (although the LFS said that a water sample had low pH around 7.2, despite my test always showing 7.8 - kH is around 71ppm, which I think could be higher, but I don’t know that it’s low enough to enable a bit pH drop; I plan on adding some seachem Malawi/Victoria Buffer based on the theory that it can’t hurt)); no sign of disease that I can tell, and the only fish that had any physical injury (nipped tail) has recovered and stopped hiding since eliminating the visible aggressors.

Returned fish over time (for aggression) include: Red Zebra, Nyassae, Dragon Blood. I probably should have been more proactive in returning fish when they got aggressive, but i don’t watch them 24/7 so it’s hard to know sometimes. I do have a breeding trap that I use to isolate fish that I think are aggressive to see how the rest of the tank reacts when they can’t be aggressive and to hold them before bringing back to the store. I also completely redid the rock formations and kept the lights out for 24h with my last round of additions.

It’s been an expensive 3 months.

But this is where the advice from the LFS really deviates from what I’ve seen here - he suggested adding a small number of females to bring down the aggression level in the tank… so I actually have a pair of albinos (M/F), and 2 other female peacocks (not really sure what they are), and they are of course boring grey.

The tank has been reasonably calm for the past week since I added those females, and the only fish I’ve seen hiding has been the female albino. I’ve seen the OB Zebra and obliquidens face off head to head as if they were going to lock mouths but they never did. But I am nervous given what I’ve read here (and elsewhere) about m/f ratios.

So, with all that: What do you all think of a) attributing that many deaths to aggression in the early days of an all male cichlid tank, and b) the idea that 3 females in this mix will actually help matters?

(Sorry for the glare, but here’s a pic):
Water Vertebrate Pet supply Organism Plant

Thanks - really appreciate your thoughts.

~S
 

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Welcome to C-F!!

What are the dimensions of your 65G tank?

IMO, always a bad idea to add females to a tank, especially after starting out with all male. Aggression levels seem to go up as males vie for the attention and desire to spawn. Also as you've noted, female Aulonocara are drab and will spawn with any available male Aulonocara and possibly some other Mbuna resulting in cross species offspring that really shouldn't be shared with other hobbyists.

I'm not sure if you have 12 cichlids or 16 cichlids at this time plus I do see 2 clown loaches.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply…. Not sure why he advises to put 2-3 females in the tank to reduce aggression. I told him I’m not interested in breeding specifically (but wouldn’t mind if it happened).

Oh and the tank is 36” long. I don’t really have anywhere to put a 48 or that’s what I would have.
 

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Welcome to Cichlid-forum!

First the bad news: I would not do all-male in a 36" tank. With a lot of attention and work you might be able to do all-male in a 55G (48x12) but the minimum to make it at all reasonably workable is 48x18 IMO. It's not the gallons, it is the length.

Further, I would not really do very many species of any kind of Malawi in a 36" tank, even if you do a single species with 1m:4f. I am not sure why anyone would advise a tank with 12m:2f either.

Where to go from here.

You could have a successful 36" tank with 1m:4f of yellow labs or 1m:4f of the German Red peacock might work. I have not had success with another stuartgranti aulonocara (usisya) in my 36" tank, but I never tried the german red.
 

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The females are a huge problem, especially in an all male tank, as mentioned above. Another issue is mixing haps/peacocks with mbuna. Most mbuna are far too aggressive to be kept with haps and peacocks. Lastly, tank length, to have a successful tank you'll need something longer. A 36" tank doesn't give enough space for a fish to flee and aggressor. A 36" tank is better suited for a breeding setup of smaller less aggressive mbuna, like labs, saulosi and maybe afras.

AAAAARRRGGG! DJ types faster than me.:ROFLMAO:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Thanks again for the replies.

Like I said, if I had anywhere to put a 48” tank I would. The idea of a breeding setup 1m:4f is just uninteresting to me.

Say I was committed to working through an all male tank. Seems like the best bet is to a) at least keep an eye out if the mbunas get aggressive and return immediately (ob zebra, Kenyi, and the lab), maybe even rehome them ASAP; b) add no further mbunas; c) get rid of females; d) stick to haps and peacocks, and e) be diligent about isolating and returning any aggressive ones? Oh and try to keep it heavily stocked.

or am I kidding myself that this is even feasible?
 

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I think you are kidding yourself. As an experiment, if I wanted to try an extreme solution I might try very small, very timid Malawi like Aulonocara Kandeense, Aulonocara ngara, Protomelas marginatus, lethrinops, etc. The ones that we normally say are too timid to color well in all-male.

Why not a Tanganyikan tank? A pair of small, peaceful julidochromis and multifasciatus for example.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
After consulting with my LFS, we added a bunch of rocks creating more hiding spots, caves, etc. Seems that there is a much lower aggression level, but I have a male albino that was looking really bad, and I'm pretty sure was dying right before my eyes. Will post to a new thread shortly...
 
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