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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I've never kept Shellies, but I am intrigued by their small size and their habits in the sand and around their shells. I have an extra 20 gallon (not long) tank that I wanted to put it to some use. Would shellies be a good fit? I was hoping so due to the small size.

I guess what I am looking for is a good starting point. Whether it be advice, links to articles, etc

I don't even really know how many types there are and who/what to choose from. Any other basic advice would be appreciated. Can you mix different type of shellies or is it best to stay with a single species? tank mates? dithers? pleco/algea eater? SI thier diet different then NLS pellets?

20 gallon tank. Assume its 24x12x16. PSF substrate. HOB filter and heaters. From there? just a ton of shells? other rock? lace rock? real/fake plants? I have an extra 10 gallon as well but I figure the larger tank/footprint gives me more options.
I've got the cichlid bug and these little guys that dig all the time and defend their shells seem too cool to pass up.
 

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Go on youtube type in these names
gold ocellatus
pearly ocellatus
multifasciatus
similis
speciosus
boulengeri
brevis
ohh put Lamprologus in front of each.
YOur best bet if you want a bunch is multis, similis or brevis

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
ok I’ll take a look at those. Why do you recommend those 3? Are they the smallest so would allow the most diversity or largest numbers?
 

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multis are relatively tolerant of others in the tank. personally id go find maybe 3-4 dozen escargot shells (select grocery stores stock them) if you like the idea of having rock you can go ahead and do it. just realize that the rock will mostly serve as a visual barrier. no need to have a bunch in there. GL to ya.
 

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those 3 will get along best. Will let multiple generations grow up together without eating babies!!
The others are more greedy and will eat babies when they get bigger or away from mothers shell.
 

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cdavitt, You mentioned "diversity", Keep in mind, in a 20 gallon tank, your only looking at one species. Adding two or more will probably result in the less aggressive species being killed over shells/territories. Brevis, Multies, and Occelatus are the most commonly available species, with Multies and brevis being the easiest to breed. Some people find brevis boring, but I didn't have that experience with the group I had, they were very active, and produced several groups of fry before I sold them. The occelatus are the most aggressive of the 3, but I think they could be managed in a 20g. I keep my group of 8 in a 40g. I haven't kept multies yet, so I don't have too much advice in that dept.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
the tank foot print is 24x12, what size colony should I go with for multies? Seems like the easiest one to start with. Do I need to worry about any uneven M:F ratios?
 

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kind of. but its difficult to sex multi's. id start with maybe 6-8 fish with at least 3 shells per fish. (multis tend to like shell piles) aim for fish under the 3/4 inch mark. thats probably the easiest way to ensure at least a cpl females. larger fish will typically be males. so if anything buy one large and the rest little. GL to ya.
 

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6 is a good number to start with for most species, It pretty much guarantees that you'll wind up with several of each sex. I wouldn't worry about the M/F ratio too much, the multies are a colony fish, so while you wll probably wind up with 1 dominant male, the other males should still be accepted in the group as long as there is enough shells. I usually start with 3 shells per fish in the tank. Some will wind up getting buried by the fish, but it's good to give them plenty of choices.
 

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Also realize that multies are bottom dwelling fish. I am finding in my 29g multie tank that they will not utilize the top half of the tank much. I am personally fine with this, but am in the process of building a bg to give the tank some better visual appeal.

You could add a second species to take the top half of the tank but a tank of multies does so well on its own that I personally am worried about fixing something that isn't broken.

Just some thoughts.
 

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Good top dwelling fish to go with multis include endlers, dwarf peacocks, danios and hardy tetras/raspboras. But like Potus said, you don't need any other fish in the tank. Multis are plenty active without dithers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for all the input. I think I am going to try some multis in a 20 gallon (24x12). I will shoot for 6-8 to start. I guess more like 6 would be better as there is no real culling process like with Mbuna. I'll be ok with no mid-level fish.

2-3" Pool Filter sand, maybe a couple small pieces of lace rock, Biowheel 150, heater, and about 25 shells or so. What kind of shells work best? I've read on here about escargot, neothauma, whale eyes, Tonna Tessalata, Japanese Snail? Or a mix?

What about food? Anything over and above the usual 1mm NLS pellets?

Anything I am missing?
 

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My multies love frozen adult and baby brine shrimp. They also eat glass worms, but not quite as readily. Other than that I use 1mm NLS pellets like everyone else here.

For shells, it's really up to you. My first multie colony I had a mix of whale eye, turbo and a couple other kinds. This time I just used whale eyes because they were the closest looking one I had on hand to the real thing (neothauma). 25 isn't as many as it sounds like. Multies like to have a lot of shells so if it were me I'd double that.

Have fun, they're some of my all-time favorite cichlids and I'm sure you'll enjoy yours too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So as I was about to get my multis I was able to trade for a 20L. Does this expand my options to maybe a different kind of shellie? Maybe some ocellatus? I was looking at ocellatus becuase they have some better colors.

How many would you put in teh tank to get teh colony going? maybe 3-4 dither fish?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
looks like its going to be multi's

Any pleco or algae eater that gets along well/better than others with multis? Eating fry an issue? My instinct would be to just throw in a 3" longfin BN pleco? Anyone see any issues or advice? Will the multi's defend territory against the pleco? Maybe a pleco cave? Or maybe no pelco and just more water changes?

Thanks
 

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I think that with the pleco you would be looking at doing more water changes than without the pleco. The only benefit that I see to having the pleco, besides how cool they are, is that they eat alea off of the glass and ornaments. But a pleco does add to the bioload. I think that you should wait for your tank to have good amount of algea and then decide if you still want a pleco.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks. I just wanted to know if one would see the other as food or have aggression issues. I'll wait to add the pleco to make sure it is needed.

One more questions question for whoever. What about live plants with multi's? Is it something worth doing or does their digging make it all in vain? My other quote is to use the pothos ivy hanging in the tank trick to help with biological filtration.

Other plants that have or haven’t worked well for people with shellies? What about a method to secure any plants that don’t just float?

Any advice on a sponge pre-filter for a marineland biowhell 150b. If/when they start breeding I don’t want the little guys sucked into the filter. I haven’t seen any from marine land so I figured an aftermarket or DIY would be in order.
 

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They do dig alot. I think that plants which root in the substrate would not work because of the digging. Maybe after the fish have been in the tank for a while you can find an area where they are not digging and put a plant there. I have Java fern and Anubias in with my Multis but the plants are wedged between rocks and not in the substrate. I have not seen them touch the plants. I also have Pothos ivy in my Penguin 350 HOB. I'm not sure if it is helping because I still need to do weekly water changes to keep my nitrates under 20ppm. I put some unwashed panty hose over the intake of the Penguin 350 to keep sand from getting sucked up. I don't think that Multi fry would get sucked up into your HOB because the fry seem to stay very low close to the sand and shells.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks for the input. I'll wait and maybe try some plants attached to rock down the line. For now I'll stick with the pothos experiment. I figure 5 bucks for a pre sponge filter is worth the peace of mind.

I'll post pics in a week or so when this is up and running.

Thanks
 
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