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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was wondering if it was a bad idea to but singles in a tank setup?

I really like the Giant Demasoni (Blue Dolphin Manda) but they're a bit big to put too many in my tank. I thought maybe I could get 1 or 2 since they're apparently so chill.

I also like the Maison Reef Cichlid but the females are super dull. I'm not sure if 2-3 males would be aggressive towards each other, and again they're a bit bigger so don't want to overdo it.

But I also would've liked a mix of Yellow Labs and maybe those rare White Labs that look like pearly white!

I've looked at Rusties and don't like them. I've looked at Acei and they're okay, but not my preferred look.

So I guess the question is for a 55G with about 35lbs of Dry Rock and 40lbs of Aragonite substrate, if I had an AquaClear 70 HOB and let's say a decent Canister (I don't have it yet but was looking at the Eheim Classic 250 or 350 maybe?) for filtration, what could my end game stocking look like realistically and ideally (full size fish of course)?

For example could I do:
4x Yellow Labs
4x White Labs
1-2x Giant Demasoni
1-3x Maison Reef
?
 

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It is a bad idea to put singles in a setup with females because the fish will cross breed. Most people would rather avoid hybrids than have to euthanize them. Also you would have to still add 4 females (or 7 females if we are talking the aggressive Mason Reef) even if they are not females of the same species to control aggression.

In your example the two lab species will crossbreed and the 2 blue barred species will crossbreed and/or fight.

If you wanted one of each variety I would tell you to go with a tank that is 75G or larger and go with all male haps and peacocks. This is a difficult tank, it takes several years of swapping out fish before you get a workable (mostly colored) peaceful mix and you need to tear down your tank to remove victims or aggressors and rehome them.

Mbuna are more aggressive thus more difficult to get a workable mix, plus you need 12 fish that look nothing alike. So many of the mbuna are blue barred or yellow/orange that it's hard to find males that look nothing alike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It is a bad idea to put singles in a setup with females because the fish will cross breed. Most people would rather avoid hybrids than have to euthanize them. Also you would have to still add 4 females (or 7 females if we are talking the aggressive Mason Reef) even if they are not females of the same species to control aggression.

In your example the two lab species will crossbreed and the 2 blue barred species will crossbreed and/or fight.

If you wanted one of each variety I would tell you to go with a tank that is 75G or larger and go with all male haps and peacocks. This is a difficult tank, it takes several years of swapping out fish before you get a workable (mostly colored) peaceful mix and you need to tear down your tank to remove victims or aggressors and rehome them.

Mbuna are more aggressive thus more difficult to get a workable mix, plus you need 12 fish that look nothing alike. So many of the mbuna are blue barred or yellow/orange that it's hard to find males that look nothing alike.
Oh boy...so the Maison are pretty aggressive? That's unfortunate, they're so nice looking. And they'd crossbreed and/or fight with the Giant Demasonis even though they're different shades of blue?

As for the Labs combo, is there no way to have both without them breeding? And would fry even have that much chance of survival anyways?

As for the Giant Demasonis, since they're so chill, could I get away with 1-3 of them at least or not even? Or would that be a bad idea in a 55?

Of course all these fish would not be added at once, as to avoid overloading the system. But I'm trying to find a solid way to get a nice 2-4 species in the end that would work well together and look nice (again, I know Rusties are common but really dislike their look personally haha).
 

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The fish don't differentiate shades of blue...blue barred fish are blue barred fish. There is no way to have two species of labs without them breeding. They may also fight, being closely related thus viewing each other as competitors.

The giant demasoni (dolphins) are not chill, they are skittish. You could try 1m:8f of the dolphins and 1m:4f of the yellow labs and see what happens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The fish don't differentiate shades of blue...blue barred fish are blue barred fish. There is no way to have two species of labs without them breeding. They may also fight, being closely related thus viewing each other as competitors.
Ah I see, that's unfortunate. But again, would the fry even survive anyways?


The giant demasoni (dolphins) are not chill, they are skittish. You could try 1m:8f of the dolphins and 1m:4f of the yellow labs and see what happens.
Oh, are they? Hmm, is that why you recommend so many of the dolphins or? 1:4 would not be enough for them and maybe 1:3 Yellow Labs and maybe 1:3 of another (Green Afra?)?
 

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The fry may survive, and as they grow you would not be able to tell them apart from the adults, so all your fish would no longer be able to be sold or given away.

Females are drab...I thought you wanted to avoid drab females? You could do 1m:4f each of yellow labs, green afra and dolphins. BTW green afra is not the proper name of the fish. Do you mean Metriaclima Mwbeca? More yellow than green, watch out for photoshopped photos. IDK the aggression of these but Metriaclima overall is fairly aggressive...these may be over the top like Mason Reef...IDK.

Doing 1m:3f is asking for trouble IME.

You want a total of 15 fish in a 55G if doing mixed gender.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The fry may survive, and as they grow you would not be able to tell them apart from the adults, so all your fish would no longer be able to be sold or given away.

Females are drab...I thought you wanted to avoid drab females? You could do 1m:4f each of yellow labs, green afra and dolphins. BTW green afra is not the proper name of the fish. Do you mean Metriaclima Mwbeca? More yellow than green, watch out for photoshopped photos. IDK the aggression of these but Metriaclima overall is fairly aggressive...these may be over the top like Mason Reef...IDK.

Doing 1m:3f is asking for trouble IME.

You want a total of 15 fish in a 55G if doing mixed gender.
Hmm okay, well that's unfortunate then.

Which females are drab?

The Green Afra ones I'm referring to are "Cynotilapia .sp "Mbweca"" these: GREEN AFRA (Cynotilapia .sp
So those would be a bad idea? Too aggressive? If not those, any idea what else?

5 Dolphins wouldn't be too much for their size with 5 Labs and 5 of something else?

Also, if buying them young (as I'm not sure I can guarantee age depending where I can find these fish), how can I even ensure that ratio of 1:4?
 

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Mbweca females are drab. This is not a Cynotilapia afra, it was changed to Metriaclima in 2007. As as aside, most of the Cynotilapia afra were changed to Cynotilapia zebroides.

Some Metriaclima are medium aggression like red zebras and some are aggressive like Maison Reef. IDK about the Mbweca. What are you trying to achieve by including this species? Something different? Something with yellow bars?

A 7 inch fish would be better in a larger tank, yes. But you seemed determined. You would still want 1m:4f...the solution would not be to keep less but rather to keep them in a larger tank.

You cannot ensure a 1m:4f ratio at purchase since mbuna are typically sold unsexed as juveniles. Beware of vendors that tell you otherwise. What we do is buy 8 unsexed juveniles if we want 4 females, and then rehome extra males as they mature and cause trouble. I believe I mentioned this in your prior thread.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Some Metriaclima are medium aggression like red zebras and some are aggressive like Maison Reef. IDK about the Mbweca. What are you trying to achieve by including this species? Something different? Something with yellow bars?
Just something to add a variety of colour I suppose. The Yellow Labs seem like a given in most instances from what I can tell, so I figured that would be a nice yellow colour. The Dolphins were to add a rich blue (and/or the maisons if they hadn't been aggressive fish and would have worked). Just trying to get a feel and a plan for what I could realistically stock to add a nice variety in a 55G that wouldn't be a nightmare to achieve especially for someone newer to this sort of Cichlid setup.

I was originally planning to do Saltwater, but the thought of the price of salt + RODI Filters started turning me off from the idea, but I had already setup aragonite and dry rock in my 55G, so I started researching if I could use those with any fish and Cichlids were what came up since they like a higher pH, plus I loved that Cichlids were the most vibrant fish I could seem to get in terms of freshwater that was as close to saltwater colours as possible.

It's worth noting that I'm not new to aquariums as I grew up with all sorts of freshwater aquariums, but I never really had anything overly complicated before or more advanced. It was mostly live bearers, things like Convict Cichlids, tetras, etc.. I've been spending countless hours reading articles, forums, and watching videos on Cichlids, but obviously there is an overwhelming amount of info to absorb, which is why I figured I would post in forums as this myself and hope for better help that way haha I asked various fish stores around Canada and they all seem to have widely different opinions, which was unfortunately less helpful than anything. So I'm just at a loss on what is doable, what should be avoided, if I should or shouldn't do a 55G setup, if I do what it should look like, and if I can even achieve what I'm trying to in terms of the visual appeal or if I'm just beating a dead horse lol


A 7 inch fish would be better in a larger tank, yes. But you seemed determined. You would still want 1m:4f...the solution would not be to keep less but rather to keep them in a larger tank.
Ah I see. Well, it's not necessarily that I want to do what's a bad idea, but more of trying to understand if it is realistically doable in a 55G or if I should just completely avoid it altogether. There's so many variations of Cichlids, I'm just trying to figure out what I CAN do in a 55G and what combos may work well for the least frustration & most visual appeal.

That said, how do people normally have an all male cichlid tank then? What would be the ratio in that sort of setup? Ratio as in how many males per species?


You cannot ensure a 1m:4f ratio at purchase since mbuna are typically sold unsexed as juveniles. Beware of vendors that tell you otherwise. What we do is buy 8 unsexed juveniles if we want 4 females, and then rehome extra males as they mature and cause trouble. I believe I mentioned this in your prior thread.
Ah gotchu, that makes sense. So if you buy 8 juveniles, you're pretty much guaranteed (most likely) to have 1 male and 4 females out of that? And so you just rehome the excess? I suppose if you wanted to keep more than 5, could you do a 1:5 ratio or if you wanted to keep 2 males does that mean you'd need 8 Females or how does the ratio differ at that point (or is 2 males just a bad idea period)?

Thanks again btw!
 

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55G is a minimum for African Rift Lake cichlids. Smaller more peaceful mbuna are going to have greater odds of success.

I would never do all male with mbuna (too aggressive) or in a 55G tank (too small). Haps and peacocks in a 75G tank (48x18) are a minimum for me. You choose only one of each and select the most peaceful fish that look the MOST different and the least related to get color from most of the fish.

You are not guaranteed to get 4 females if you buy 8 unsexed juveniles. It's all a balance with how many fish you want to rehome in the end versus the odds your group will be split 50/50. Two males of the same species rarely works because they will focus on each other and one will die. Even more than two males of the same species may not work...the more aggressive species will kill the other males until there is one. You may have luck with very peaceful species like yellow labs and multiple males...I never did though.

A nice mix in your 55G could be 3m:12f of Chindongo saulosi. They are small and relatively peaceful. You may not get all 3 to color well, but there is a chance.

Note that these fish don't outright kill each other. They harass each other until they get sick if aggression is not managed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
55G is a minimum for African Rift Lake cichlids. Smaller more peaceful mbuna are going to have greater odds of success.

I would never do all male with mbuna (too aggressive) or in a 55G tank (too small). Haps and peacocks in a 75G tank (48x18) are a minimum for me. You choose only one of each and select the most peaceful fish that look the MOST different and the least related to get color from most of the fish.

You are not guaranteed to get 4 females if you buy 8 unsexed juveniles. It's all a balance with how many fish you want to rehome in the end versus the odds your group will be split 50/50. Two males of the same species rarely works because they will focus on each other and one will die. Even more than two males of the same species may not work...the more aggressive species will kill the other males until there is one. You may have luck with very peaceful species like yellow labs and multiple males...I never did though.

A nice mix in your 55G could be 3m:12f of Chindongo saulosi. They are small and relatively peaceful. You may not get all 3 to color well, but there is a chance.

Note that these fish don't outright kill each other. They harass each other until they get sick if aggression is not managed.
Ah okay, gotchu! Hmm, since the saulosi have yellow females and blue males, could I get away with 2m:8f and then maybe 1m:4f of the White Labs since I wouldn't have any Yellow Labs in that setup?
 

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The 2 males will focus on each other. Choose one or three.

You might be able to get away with 3m:9f of the saulosi and 1m:4f of the white labs.

Remember even with 3 males only 1 may color. Or you could get lucky. Saulosi have a rep of being male heavy, so I would buy extra unsexed juveniles.

Saulosi are hard to get and priced 2X more than the usual mbuna right now, due to lack of supply.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The 2 males will focus on each other. Choose one or three.

You might be able to get away with 3m:9f of the saulosi and 1m:4f of the white labs.

Remember even with 3 males only 1 may color. Or you could get lucky. Saulosi have a rep of being male heavy, so I would buy extra unsexed juveniles.

Saulosi are hard to get and priced 2X more than the usual mbuna right now, due to lack of supply.
Hmm okay, so if I tried 3m:9f how many do I want to buy roughly?

Yeah I seen they're like $20 a piece CAD, I guess that's high eh?
 

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I would buy 18 but I would also have spare tanks and rehoming options in case I got only 4 females, for example. Yes $20 each is high for a mbuna purchased online.

I might, in that case, put them in a 40BR with 1m:4f and wait for fry. Rehome the extra males.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I would buy 18 but I would also have spare tanks and rehoming options in case I got only 4 females, for example. Yes $20 each is high for a mbuna purchased online.

I might, in that case, put them in a 40BR with 1m:4f and wait for fry. Rehome the extra males.
If I started with 1m:4f and maybe add some white labs 1m:4f after a few weeks, could I then just add more males and females of Saulosi in a few months or would that be too long?
 

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When you are adding fish in groups (not ideal) you want to wait a month in between, assuming nitrate and nitrite are zero before you add new fish.

With mbuna you will have trouble managing aggression with less than 15 fish in a 55G. Saulosi spawn at 1.5" so you will not have much time before they start acting out.

Make sure you quarantine new fish in a separate tank for 3 weeks before adding them to your existing tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
When you are adding fish in groups (not ideal) you want to wait a month in between, assuming nitrate and nitrite are zero before you add new fish.

With mbuna you will have trouble managing aggression with less than 15 fish in a 55G. Saulosi spawn at 1.5" so you will not have much time before they start acting out.

Make sure you quarantine new fish in a separate tank for 3 weeks before adding them to your existing tank.
Oh boy, so if I want to add White Labs as well, that has to be done super quick and soon too (as soon as nitrates and nitrites are low)?

As for quarantine, do I want to do that with my first batch of fish also? Further, can a batch of juveniles do okay in a 20G QT cause that's the only other tank I have lol
 

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Ideally you would add all fish at once with no quarantine after cycling for approximately six weeks with ammonia. If you have to space them out, wait a month or more in between. 10 one inch labs are OK to be quarantined in a 20G Long that is 30" long, or larger. The tank has to be cycled as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Ideally you would add all fish at once with no quarantine after cycling for approximately six weeks with ammonia. If you have to space them out, wait a month or more in between. 10 one inch labs are OK to be quarantined in a 20G Long that is 30" long, or larger. The tank has to be cycled as well.
What about Socolofi? Could I do those with Yellow Labs and maybe 1 other species with the 1:4 Ratio? I heard they're pretty tame.
 
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