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Hi all. I'm setting up a 55 gallon mbuna tank, 48"x13"x20". I really like the kenyi cichlids (maylandia lombardoi), their personality is great, but I'm a little unsure of what other mbuna to keep with them; from my past experience, they can be very aggressive. I plan on overstocking, 20+ fish, and I have plenty of rockwork to create caves and break up line of sight. I also plan to add all of the fish as juveniles.

I plan to have between 6-12 kenyi cichlids, along with other fish. I added 6 red zebras already, about a week ago, and am adding my second round of fish this week. From my experience, the red zebras are not aggressive enough to really cause problems, but they are tough enough to not get bullied to death (usually).

What are good mbuna to keep with kenyi's? Should I go with other aggressive fish that can hold their own (auratus, demasoni) or will that cause too much fighting? Also, I've read to not mix demasoni with kenyi since they look alike, but what is the actual issue there? If a fish is going to have a problem with a species that looks like itself, wouldn't it have a problem with members of its own species as well?

Also, I don't know how to really go about maintaining any specific male/female ratio because its very hard to tell. The egg spots on the anal fin is not reliable (have bought females with egg spots), and with the kenyi, the coloring is not reliable either. Subdominant males will color blue and I've had a female color gold.

Also, slightly off topic, but do you guys pile rocks all the way to the top of the tank or do you leave some open swimming space at the top of the tank? Right now, the lower half of my tank is all rocks, and the top half is mostly open water (except for some pothos roots hanging down). I'm wondering if I should really go overboard on the rocks to reduce aggression.
 

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I would not do kenyi in a 55G...I would go for a 75G at least.

Then 3 species with 8 of each. 1m:7f to manage aggression.

I would avoid the zebras since they are Metriaclima like the lombardoi. Also avoid demasoni since they are blue barred fish like the female lombardoi.

Consider socolofi and cyaneorhabdos Maingano to fill out your 75G.

The more rocks the better. It is hard to get a stable pile that is higher than 1/2 the tank without resting the rocks on the sides.
 

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I agree with DJ that a 75 would be the bare minimum for aggressive fish like Kenyi. And the red zebras look far too similar to Kenyi. Same body shape, profile and coloration.

Since you already have the Estherae and a 55, I'd suggest working with that. I assume you have juveniles at this point? If so, double their numbers. At least. Socolofi would be a nice contrast to the zebras as your 2nd species. I personally would not do a 3rd species.
 
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