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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey cichlid-forum!

I've been meaning to ask this for a while, but I haven't got around to it. I'm wondering, what should typical mbuna growth rate be in a year after purchase at 1-2", not after birth? More info below for those of you who don't mind reading... :p

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About a month ago, I took a census of my tank. Caught all the fish, vented them (tried to), and roughly measured them with a makeshift ruler I inked onto my hand.

My list is at home, but I remember the rough numbers. I get the feeling that all my fish are smaller than they should be for the length of time I had them.

I've had the aceis and the labs the longest. bought them around 1-2" in november 2009. They lived in a 55g (just the 2 species) until ~August 2010. I did 50% water changes or more weekly, but there was a period in the summer 2010 where I got a little lazy on the water changes. Since august they've been in the 125 with very routine weekly 50%+ water changes.

Right now, the largest acei has just hit 4" including the tail, and my dominant lab is ~3-3.5". I figure they're about 1.5" smaller than they should be by now. The largest acei should be 5-6" and the largest lab 4-5", no?

The rusties, giant dems, and albino zebras were bought a few months after the others, on a warm day in february or march, 2010. The 3 species lived in a 33XL until August 2010, 24 of them total. I lost 2 albinos and 2 giant dems in the growout tank to either aggression or water conditions due to the before mentioned summer laziness. They've been in the 125 since august.

These guys are more on track size wise IMO, but still small. The largest giant dem is within a qurarter inch of the largest lab size, right around 3". Same with the largest albinos. The rusties I believe are normal. The male is getting close to 3", and the females are ~2.5". They've gone through a couple breeding cycles (all 4 females) already. The rusties and giant dems were the smallest when I bought them, just barely 1" and not even in the sale tanks yet. Pulled out of the downstairs fry tank just for me :)

I've also got some runts. A small yellow lab has only just hit 2". Like really, if I through him/her in a for sale tank at my LFS, he'd still be one of the smallest. My 5 fry I'm growing out have nearly caught up :p, and they're only a few months old and still living in a 10g. A couple small albinos as well, but not as small as the lab. I had a sixth giant dem in the 125 that was a runt until he vanished from the tank. I never found a body.

So I'm just wondering if:

1) my fish, especially the labs and the aceis, are indeed smaller than they should be for the length of time I've had them, and

2) if so, what could be some possible causes? and...

3) why are some runts just not really growing at all?

Could I be underfeeding? I don't think so... I feel like I feed a little heavy twice a day because I try to get some pellets down to the catfish, but all the pellets get eaten within 30-60 seconds even if some hit the substrate.

I know, I know... I need to test my nitrates. I haven't tested them in a long time, I just assumed they'd stay low with weekly >50% water changes, but maybe I'm overfeeding and nitrates are higher than I think? Shoulda had that test done before I posted but.. I'm at work now and thinking about it.

Could water current in the display slow down growth? I feel like my fish have always been around a lot of current. My 55g had 2 AC110's. The 33XL had 2 AC70's. And the 125 has both AC110's plus a sump pushing ~1200gph split amonst 4 submerged nozzles.

Is it possible I got some subpar stock? I got my fish from a highly rated LFS in my area. They get good reviews, have great displays, clean tanks, no diseases, etc. Given the runts I have/had and the slow growth, maybe I just got fish from bad batches or an isoloted instance of something at the store that is causing the slow growth?

Or, is everything normal and I just need to wait another 6mo to a year for my fish to finish growing up? I keep thinking that maybe my fish are big enough and seem smaller because I see them every day, but whenever I go to my LFS or even any local chain store and see fish that are clearly bigger than mine it gets a little frustrating.

As a final note, when I mentioned to the manager of my LFS (the guy at the new mentor branch who I can't remeber his name, I haven't talked to Dave Hale in a while for those who know which store I'm talking about :p), he seemed surprised my fish were still so small. He suggested to give them a few more months in the 125 and they'll continue to grow in the larger tank. Maybe they will, but if they're smaller than they should be, shouldn't there be a reason?
 

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Rhinox said:
I've been meaning to ask this for a while, but I haven't got around to it. I'm wondering, what should typical mbuna growth rate be in a year after purchase at 1-2", not after birth? More info below for those of you who don't mind reading
No one can answer this question accurately... a 1 inch fish is a 1 inch fish... could be a youngster, could be over a year old... how can you know? I have grown out siblings in 2 33g long tanks with the same filter and roughly the same number of fry in each... one tank grew at nearly 2x the other.
 

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Rhinox, first and foremost let me say that your mbuna show tank is absolutely beautiful!

Ok now on to the issue of mbuna growth rate.

About three years ago my uncle got a tank with five juvenile yellow labs, all under 1" in length. He feeds them the same food all the time and rarely keeps up with his aquarium husbandry. As if today they are all still alive however they're colors are dull and they are all still under 3". The tank is a 75 gallon tank with 2 emperor 400s.

Recently I started a yellow lab tank, I perform a 30 percent water change every other day. I keep my lights on a 12 hour on and off cycle, I have 8.0 ph water, and I use a very good powerhead. However in my opinion the most important thing is a varied diet. I feed my fish dried sea weed, fresh cucumbers, flake food, and pellets and since I got them all have improved in ssize and coloration.

Maybe you should try to vary their diet?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the comments both of you.

@Number6:

Well that makes sense but I guess I was hoping it would at least be possible to take a guess at whether my fish seem normal sized or undersized. If I'm doing something wrong, I'd like to be able to fix it. If you bought some labs or aceis as juvies from a LFS, and took good care of them for a year, how big would you expect them to get in a year to 14 months? Would you be concerned if none of the fish were over 4" yet, and some of them were still 2-3"?

@ZackG:

Thanks for the compliment. :)

I definitely understand that tank conditions can affect growth rate. Thats why I do 50% or greater water changes weekly. I feed NLS 1mm cichlid pellets. It is my understanding that they contain all the essential nutrition that the fish need. I've heard that things like cucumbers are more for human entertainment than fishes needs. I've always wondered if I should feed them a flake as well, but a lot of other people feed NLS pellets exclusively and don't seem to have any problems. And my fish are all colored nicely, just... small IMO. I'll keep it in mind though and consider finding something else for my fish to munch on.
 

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Try going to your LFS and buying a seaweed clip and dried sea weed. After the sea weed absorbs some tank water your fish will destroy it! I usually cut a 2'' by 1'' strip and put it in the clip and in about a minute, they will begin munching!
 

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Rhinox
IME, if a fish is stunted early on, they can be very healthy and happy fish, but will never ever catch up and attain that "jumbo" size that other fry have hit. In my case, the one tank had a minor case of some stomache ailment, but I can promise that those fry will never catch up to their siblings despite getting better and going on to become healthy and happy fish. LFS purchased fish could have had "who knows what" occur to them.

New Life Spectrum is all I use, but back in the day I used to feed "treats". No difference...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Number6
I agree with what you're saying. But I'm trying to figure out if my fish were indeed stunted at some point or if their size is normal for the amount of time I've had them and I'm just being impatient.

I keep asking about my labs and aceis specifically because I've had them the longest and they're extremely common. I'm sure lots of people around here have kept them at one point or another. Can anyone who has kept labs and aceis tell me how big yours got after a year post purchase?
 

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I guess what I'm saying is they are "normal" IMHO for LFS bought fish and the care routine you gave them in the 55g. My LFS bought labs matched your experience.

I bought Labs off a fellow hobbyist though and they grew to full "super-size" in just over a year. The tank was nearly double the size of a 55g and the water change routine was higher than my LFS purchased lot.

You decide which of the above was "normal"... to me, they both were. :thumb:
 

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Honestly, if your fish are still growing and healthy, I wouldn't worry too much about it Rhinox. I got all of mine as 1" juvies in late August of 09, and it sounds like my largest are similar to yours. My biggest Acei is about 4" and the largest lab is about 3". I also have Fuelleborni that should get to 6", but right now my largest is about 3-1/2". I've been told that it can take 2 years+ for some to reach full size. I also do weekly 50%+ WC's and I feed NLS 1mm and occasionally spirulina flake, generally once a day. It may just be me, but I think they go through growth spurts. Mine will seem to be the same size for a while, and then it seems like I wake up one day and they're bigger. :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
alright guys thanks for the comments. I think they're probably still growing and they are healthy and spawning, so I will stop worrying about their size and be patient.

number6
Yes all my fish were from a LFS but its not like I grabed them from a chain pet store. My LFS has a basement full of breeding tanks and breeds a lot of their own fish. However, the rusties and the giant dems are the only ones I know for sure were bred in house, because when I bought them, they pulled them directly out of their 4'x4'x4' ~500g fry growout tank in the basement. While I know they breed the labs and aceis, I expect a good amount of them come in from other sources too, so I guess I can't be entirely sure if they were bred from their stock. The albinos I know were from an outside source, as they told me they don't breed them.

I was mostly concerned that I was doing something wrong that may be slowing their growth some.
 
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