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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi if someone could help me with this dilemma that would be great. Currently I have a 40 gallon breeder with mbuna stocked in it- these being 1 cobalt blue zebra, 3 P Acei, 1 rusty cichlid, 1 pale red zebra, 1 unidentified blue/purple cichlid, 1 yellow lab and 2 brown peacocks (females). Prior to moving these fish into the 40 gal I had them in a 30 gal tank where they were fine and were doing well. Then when I moved them into the 40 my problems with aggression began. The large blue zebra has always been the tank boss and seemed to have claimed the entire rock formation as his, forcing the other fish into one side typically the left. I noticed that this was seemingly bizarre because from what I know of mbuna they are quite active and always moving, as is the case in my fry tank. However, all the fish except the large blue zebra were always hovering in the left side of the tank, near the top of the water column. They would only swim out into the middle and be active whenever I came to interact with the tank to either feed or do a water change and when I did feed they would all eat vigorously. I knew it was not water quality as the temperature and pH and hardness and all other conditions were within ideal parameters. I suspected it must be the dominant cichlid preventing them from encroaching on his territory. I then proceeded to move up and change the rock structure to rearrange territories but to no avail. It was then that I began to notice that all of the fish except the dominant zebra and the pale red zebra began to have substantial damage to their scales and fins, with the red zebra often chasing only the yellow lab around and the blue zebra chasing everyone else. I came back from work today and the yellow lab had died, and I am worried about the other fish. I had heard overstocking could help reduce aggression but despite doing substantial research online I was not able to find a specific stocking set for a 40 gal mbuna tank. While I know that size is not ideal I am a working high school student in many difficult classes and thus do not have the space for an extremely large tank. I do have a 55 gal but it has a turtle in it. My question is, what should I do at this point as I don't want the other fish to get killed either? Should I switch the tanks and put the mbuna in the 55 and the turtle in the 40? Or should I start over with new fish? Should I add even more and overstock more or add more rockwork? I particularly like the blue zebra so that is why I haven't given it back to an LFS and I am unsure if it is even the blue zebra or the red zebra? Of some of you experienced mbuna keepers could help that'd be great thank you. I have included come pictures below. I don't like my fish dying and would love to fix this soon.
 

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The tank isn't big enough and the dominant fish has decided he owns it. The larger tank may work, but having a random mix of fish hardly ever works. There's only a few species that can work in a 40, those would be smaller, more peaceful cichlids like labs or saulosi. Sometimes more the bully can help, but eventually someone else will step up.
 

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james1983 said:
The tank isn't big enough and the dominant fish has decided he owns it. The larger tank may work, but having a random mix of fish hardly ever works. There's only a few species that can work in a 40, those would be smaller, more peaceful cichlids like labs or saulosi. Sometimes more the bully can help, but eventually someone else will step up.
Plus one.

If you want to keep the 40G then swap all the current fish for Chindongo saulosi. If you cannot get them locally, yellow labs should also work.

I would not use a reptile tank for fish. If the tank was made for reptiles the glass may not be strong enough to hold water. Once the tank has been used for reptiles, the waste from the animals is absorbed by the silicone and leaches back into the water harming the fish. It's one of the things you should check when getting a used tank...was it ever used for reptiles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Currently the 55 has a yellow bellied slider and some goldfish. I've never heard of reptile waste damaging the silicone or making it toxic, is there any evidence of that occurring?
 

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Others have reported it...I have avoided reptile tanks.

If you ended up using the 55G I would still rehome all the fish except the cobalt, the rusty and the lab. Then add 4 females for each.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Sounds good, thx for the help. I will do my best to do that it's just hard to get exact species of certain sex from my local stores.
 

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Absolutely. What we do is buy extra unsexed juveniles and then rehome extra males when/if they cause trouble. To get 1m:4f yellow labs I would buy 8 unsexed juveniles. Chances are you will get 4 males and 4 females. You need the 4 females.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Is there not an issue with putting juveniles in with adults? I feel like the cobalt would kill them or stress them excessively. Also in the meantime, would it still be safe to keep the fish you told me to keep together with that low of numbers?
 

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Putting juveniles in the tank with adults should not be an issue; the adults will pretty much ignore small fish that are not perceived as a threat, as long as they are not bite sized.
 

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richchigga said:
would it still be safe to keep the fish you told me to keep together with that low of numbers?
Not sure which tank and which fish we are talking about here. OldNewbie gave good advice about juveniles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
My bad I didn't clarify, I meant you told me to keep the cobalt and rusty and then get females or juveniles for those species. Would those fish be fine by themselves until I'm able to get the other fish, or would they just target each other due to such low tank population?
 

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That would only work if you have a 55G available, and no...I would get the juveniles right away. Cobalts, labs and rusties.
 
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