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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I'm setting up my first Cichlids tank. I've had a community tank but decided to setup a new 55 gallon (48") Cichlids tank. I'm planning to start with 3 types of Mbuna. Still deciding as to which ones.

I've setup the filter, filled and checked for leaks and now setting up rocks before adding sand (already have caribsea Aragonite Sand cleaned and ready).

After searching a few landscaping material yards around town, the selection was pretty limited to flagstone or Texas moss rock. I found one yard that had 1/4 pallet of what looks like Basalt. I grabbed most of it and started loading the tank (on egg crate). Some pieces are good size, but others are pretty large. I tried cracking, splitting and chipping them, but no luck. They're super hard.

Anyway, my question is whether it's too many rocks? Too large of rocks? still not enough? I think they may be larger than ideal. I'm planning to start with small Mbuna, so the caves, tunnels etc are all okay size now. However the patches of substrate will be smaller, but isolated. I'm sure before the grow too large I'd be moving things anyway.

My main concern is envisioning how to clean the substrate without removing most of the rocks. There's a little over 200 lbs in there, and nothing is touching the glass sides, back or front. They're pretty ridged and tapping/slapping doesn't move any of them.
 

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Looks good to me. You put the rocks in first (on the glass) and then the substrate so no cleaning problem.

The problem is netting fish at which time you WILL have to remove rocks. But for me that is maybe 1X yearly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the feedback. The only thing nagging at me is the cleaning of the substrate. I just don't know how much space I'll have to get the python around the rocks.

Having not started a Cichlids tank before, I have another question. If I can find 2 to 3 types of Cichlids I like (3 to 5 each) and assume I can get them all at once, will cycling with 5ppm ammonia be enough bacteria to get it rolling with that many fish (after the cycle is stable). Let's say It would be 9 to 15 juvenile fish. Filter is a 304b and large sponge with power head.
 

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Leave one Python-width around the rock pile between the rocks and glass.

In a 55G you want to end up with 15 fish to manage aggression. For 2 species go 1m:6f of each. For 3 species go 1m:4f of each.

Since mbuna are rarely sold as sexed, especially from the best vendors, what we do is buy 8 unsexed juveniles to end up with 4 females and rehome the extra males. Yes you can add 24 juveniles all at once if you cycle with ammonia.
 

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I have a 180 filled with rocks with no problems. To clean I use a hose attached to the outlet of the filter and hose around the stones dislodging detritus to be sucked up in the filter. In older tanks this takes many many times to clear up but if done once a month or so in new setups it stays very clean.
 

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I have a 125 gal Mbuna tank there is a Frontosa in there also with only 3 large rocks. The tank is overstocked close to 35 fish. In my experience the more hiding spots the more aggression. The fish claim a territory and will fight for it. Just my opinion. I have no aggression what so ever.
 

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