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I have a150 G saltwater tank that I converted to a Malawi Mbuna Community Tank. I watch the egg carrying females very closely to determine who has been breeding; but was surprised to recover three fry from the sump filter bags that appear to be Auratus even though my Auratus females seem too small (only about 2-1/4") and none of the 3 ladies showed any signs of carrying eggs.

I have two Maingano (or possibly Johanni) females that spit fry in the last week or so. Thus, my question is whether my Alpha male Auratus (4"+ size) could have mated with either of my Maingano (or possibly Johanni) females (also 4"+ size)? The fry look 100% Auratus (black & yellow stripes). The reason I'm unsure about the females is that they were bought at several different PetsMarts... and although they're always labeled Johannis, odds are you might be buying mis-labeled Maingano.
 

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I can't say definitively on the cross-breeding but if I had to guess: sure, why not ...

On the female auratus being too small: I currently have one holding that's around that size in my auratus species-only tank.
 

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Really all Mbuna can all cross breed, especially if a female does not have a male to breed with.

Female Maingano would be black and blue from an early age. Female Johanni (and closely related Interruptus) have yellowish females, and all Johanni start out yellow (or yellow- kinda orange in quality fish).

Adult females can get sort of an inbetween fake male color, or be more drab than juveniles.
 
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