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Hi. I need a little help. I have a 75 gallon tank with 2 electric yellows, 1 electric blue, 2 red parrots, and a pleco. Everytime anyone goes near the tank, they hide. It was suggested to me to get a school of Austrailian rainbows to act as dither fish to help gain confidence in the cichlids. So, I got 8 of them and my cichlids at least now watch during feeding time, but still do not come out. My tank was fully cycled prior to adding fish and I have had the rainbow school for 3 weeks & the cichlids I have had for 2 months. I have attached a photo of my tank from across the room since no cichlids will come out if I'm closer. Any suggestion is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
 

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What are the dimensions of the tank?

If you could only keep the parrots or the rainbows or the africans, which would you keep?
 

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For best odds of success I would do 4 species with 1m:4f of each.

1m:4f yellow labs
1m:4f electric blue (Do you know the scientific name? A couple of different fish are sold as electric blue. I could not see the fish well in the pic.)

The remaining 2 species would depend on what the electric blue is.
 

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Its all about right fish, right tank. Zapp, since you don't really know what ANY of your cichlids are for sure because they are from the assorted tank, I would add six yellow labs and see if the larger group makes them comfortable enough to come out.

Don't save fry from the tank.
 

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Shoot for 20 fish overall not counting the pleco. So 6-7 labs...less might not do the trick.

Then if they are still hiding consider replacing the parrots with africans as well.
 

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Is the tank in high traffic area where people are frequently walking close to the tank? Mbuna are aware and they seem to recognize faces. You could try training them with food. I had a similar problem after I introduced some farm raised F1 mbuna to an established tank in a high traffic area. This is what worked for me. I tried assorted foods until I found one they couldnt resist - Repashy Soilent Green. The fish would bolt out for this food but immediately go back to cover. Once they started eating, I increased the feeding frequency to small amounts 3-4 times a day with NLS and Repashy. I phased out the Repashy to once a day but kept high frequency feeding with NLS. Then I cut the feeding to twice a day and they became the typical beggars when the top of the tank was opened. So basically (1) find a healthy food they cant resist, (2) feed frequently to train them, (3) phase in your desired staple food, and (4) cut feedings to increase appetite.
 

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Cosi said:
Is the tank in high traffic area where people are frequently walking close to the tank? Mbuna are aware and they seem to recognize faces. You could try training them with food. I had a similar problem after I introduced some farm raised F1 mbuna to an established tank in a high traffic area. This is what worked for me. I tried assorted foods until I found one they couldnt resist - Repashy Soilent Green. The fish would bolt out for this food but immediately go back to cover. Once they started eating, I increased the feeding frequency to small amounts 3-4 times a day with NLS and Repashy. I phased out the Repashy to once a day but kept high frequency feeding with NLS. Then I cut the feeding to twice a day and they became the typical beggars when the top of the tank was opened. So basically (1) find a healthy food they cant resist, (2) feed frequently to train them, (3) phase in your desired staple food, and (4) cut feedings to increase appetite.
This is an excellent suggestion. Everyone else has focussed on what's inside the tank, but the problem might be what's on the outside. It sounds to me like your fishes are getting spooked. Dithers can help with that, but sometimes you need to change the external environment as well.

I have been keeping wild-caught Tanganyikan featherfins and sand-sifters for some time; fishes that are notorious for being skittish and taking a long time to 'settle in.' These fishes simply cannot be kept in high traffic areas. I've also noticed that locating the tank across from a bright window can be a problem, because anything that passes in front of the window- even me at feeding time- spooks the fishes. Think about what the fishes are seeing from inside the tank, and make an effort to make everything less startling. All my WC fishes are now in subdued areas of the fishroom, and I am careful to move gently around them. It took some time, but these efforts have made a huge difference. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I will definitely try different foods too for training. All of the fish are out and about all day and only hide when a person gets to about a foot from the tank, so they're only getting spooked by people. My cats don't even phase them. The tank is not in a high traffic area and I have black out curtains on the windows, so I will start making sure they are closed during the day. Thanks so much for all of the great advice. I truly appreciate it.
 

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As implied, fish I have kept (all three lakes, but not featherfins) will adjust to what is outside the tank in short order and come out of their territories and start rushing the surface when I even approach the doorway to the ROOM, let alone get close. I feed everyone the same food and have been consistent for 15 years.

If they are comfortable inside, they will adapt to outside IME.
 

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DJRansome said:
If they are comfortable inside, they will adapt to outside IME.
This has also been my experience. If they're in a well maintained ('clean') environment, with appropriate decor and in sufficient numbers, then they do not hide from people.
 

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DJRansome said:
If they are comfortable inside, they will adapt to outside IME.
With fearless Malawi cichlids, it is very seldom a problem. But the Op also has "parrot" cichlids in the tank, as well. Cichlids do take their cues from other cichlids, so sometimes the scared cichlids make the Malawi cichlids scared, not the other way around. My suggestion to the OP is to add a group of Giant Danios. In terms of the dither role, IMO there is nothing better. Keep the "rainbows" if you like, if they are doing well enough, but IMO they really are not good dithers. In my cichlid tanks they were scared sh1tless of even young, small cichlids and were really useless as dithers. May be full grown of certain species, but not you're run of the mill "rainbows" from the LFS.
 

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ken31cay said:
DJRansome said:
If they are comfortable inside, they will adapt to outside IME.
This has also been my experience. If they're in a well maintained ('clean') environment, with appropriate decor and in sufficient numbers, then they do not hide from people.
Depends on what you mean by 'they.' There are fishes that are quite boisterous in captivity, to which your generalization would hold, and there are fishes that are shy and skittish in aquaria, to which it would not. Many wild-caught fishes fall into the latter category, at least initially. They all require good husbandry, but you can't turn a skittish fish into a boisterous one simply by changing the water chemistry. Fishes do learn over time, however, and even my initially very skittish wild-caught Ophthalmotilapia nasuta 'Kipili Gold' (shown below) are now well-accustomed to captivity, and greet me at feeding time. It took about a year for that to happen. :thumb:

IMGP6613R3.jpg
 

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sir_keith said:
ken31cay said:
DJRansome said:
If they are comfortable inside, they will adapt to outside IME.
This has also been my experience. If they're in a well maintained ('clean') environment, with appropriate decor and in sufficient numbers, then they do not hide from people.
Depends on what you mean by 'they.' There are fishes that are quite boisterous in captivity, to which your generalization would hold, and there are fishes that are shy and skittish in aquaria, to which it would not. Many wild-caught fishes fall into the latter category, at least initially. They all require good husbandry, but you can't turn a skittish fish into a boisterous one simply by changing the water chemistry. Fishes do learn over time, however, and even my initially very skittish wild-caught Ophthalmotilapia nasuta 'Kipili Gold' (shown below) are now well-accustomed to captivity, and greet me at feeding time. It took about a year for that to happen. :thumb:

'they' meaning african cichlids in general discussion. My experience with wilds has been similar to what you wrote, eventually I see no difference.
 
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