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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my first African cichlid tank, a mix of yellow labs, acei, and snow whites. It’s a 75 gallon, fx6 filter, and I feed them northfin, new life spectrum, omega one veggie kelp flakes and algae wafers to vary their diet,

I set this tank up in June 2020. Purchased all as juveniles. I feel their growth is agonizingly slow. I’ve got two labs that are 3”, and they’re the largest fish in the tank. My acei and snow whites are close in size, but the female labs tend to only be around an inch and a half.

when I go to pet shops, or look at adults on online shops, adult lab and acei are significantly larger, and im worried I’m doing something wrong. I’ve got 25 fish, with the labs being the main fish. I’ve not even have had to pull males yet to reduce overall 20 adults. Are big 5” fish common at two years old? I’ve yet to find solid information about cichlid growth rate.
 

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They grow quickly the first 2 years and more slowly the remaining 6 years of their life span but don't reach their full size until closer to the end of their life. They grow continuously throughout, just start more quickly and slow down as they age.

How big were they when you got them? 1.5" is more of a purchase size than a size after almost a year. Some LFS would not accept fish for sale at less than 2 inches. Are you including the tail when you measure?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
They grow quickly the first 2 years and more slowly the remaining 6 years of their life span but don't reach their full size until closer to the end of their life. They grow continuously throughout, just start more quickly and slow down as they age.

How big were they when you got them? 1.5" is more of a purchase size than a size after almost a year. Some LFS would not accept fish for sale at less than 2 inches. Are you including the tail when you measure?
They were approximately around that 1.5” mark. The labs have absolutely grown more, my tank boss is about 3”, but one of the females is still approximately 1.5” (she’s holding frequently so I fig that may be part of it. The growth of my acei and soccolfi are the most noticeable, *** seen those two species much smaller (ie I’ll see ones for sale that are most their hand size, the largest males of either group is approximately 3” with the tail included.
 

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I can see why you are concerned. I got my juvenile mbunas right around Feb. 1st of this year as 1.5" juveniles. Even my smallest has reached 2", and I have a couple that have hit 3". I feed just Xtreme cichlid pellets, they are in a 55 gallon aquarium with an Fx4, and I only feed once a day. I started with I think 18 or 19 fish, because I knew they'd narrow themselves down. They have, and I now have 13. The whole time, I've only fed 1/4 tsp. at each feeding, although it is now a mounded tsp. Once in a blue moon, I will feed them in the evening if it looks like one or two could use a little more food in their bellies.

Maybe those who've had Mbunas longer can give you some advice. They definitely should've put some size on, especially since it sounds like you've had them for two years...
 

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I’ve added a photo of the tank of my morning feed, for scale those are the underwater galleries cichlid stones.
The tank looks quite nice, Mbunas enjoy a sandy substrate, so you could maybe add a nice thick substrate base on the aquarium floor. The growth rate does seem slow for the age of the Mbunas, but the fishes appear healthy in the picture and the water looks clean. Feed them any type of decent veggie pellet and it's all good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The tank looks quite nice, Mbunas enjoy a sandy substrate, so you could maybe add a nice thick substrate base on the aquarium floor. The growth rate does seem slow for the age of the Mbunas, but the fishes appear healthy in the picture and the water looks clean. Feed them any type of decent veggie pellet and it's all good.
I do have a layer of the caribsea African cichlid sand, the morning glare probably hides it! (they’ve also taken to building their nests out of view so lots more of the sand has drifted to the back from them moving it there, lol)
 

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I do have a layer of the caribsea African cichlid sand, the morning glare probably hides it! (they’ve also taken to building their nests out of view so lots more of the sand has drifted to the back from them moving it there, lol)
That's great! You could rescape the rocks a little whenever you do water changes and level out the sand. You'll notice that this also helps with their general level of aggression.
 

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Water quality can sometimes affect growth rate in fish including Cichlids. Have you checked the water in your tank with a Nitrate test kit? Nitrate buildup measured out higher than 40 PPM in an aquarium can definitely be a symptom of other problems including high phosphates, and more importantly a high level of undesirable/potentially harmful bacteria growth in the water.
These are all things which can definitely cause physical stress in fish - slowing the growth rate down in your Cichlds.
 
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Frequent water changes are great for growth. Clean water + physical space = faster growth. Agree that the water might not be as clean as thought. The tank is rather crowded now, growth should be slow now.

Type of food probably does not matter that much as far as growth rate. Over feeding can result in bigger, fatter fish, which isn't that desirable. If there is a lot of breeding they are fine.Surprised that the "Acei" are not the largest. Yellow Labs are naturally smaller fish, those 5-6" Labs are unnaturally large.
 

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My acei matured slowly as well and I did not get spawning from them for 3 years it seemed like. Whereas the labs were spawning at 1.5".
 
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My fish grow fast...I feed them flakes, blood worm occasionally and these cichlid sticks. There not to keen on nls pellets?! All go crazy for em, just crush a couple for the smaller fish, easy. Feed them some king British cichlid sticks if you can order some online will defo bulk em up!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
My acei matured slowly as well and I did not get spawning from them for 3 years it seemed like. Whereas the labs were spawning at 1.5".
I’ll totally pull parameters tomorrow when I’m home, I typically do a 50% change weeky. and like the above said, my concern is more for the acei And snow whites, as I assumed they’d be much larger (one acei is smaller due to being the only fry in that tank that didnt get eaten when Tiny.)
 

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Are the snow whites labs, metriaclima or socolofi? Marketing names lack clarity, lol.
 

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Those spawned early for me...the most aggressive fish in my tank. I did not have the albinos however, maybe they grow/interact differently.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Those spawned early for me...the most aggressive fish in my tank. I did not have the albinos however, maybe they grow/interact differently.
I had to pull several males of them, and replaced them with a couple females, as definitely had a lot of aggression with them. Now they’re not too aggressive noe that I got their ratio worked out. Going to pull a couple of the male labs this week as i believe 4 of them are males.(another friends getting into cichlids and is planning a species tank of them so thankfully they’ve got a future home already lined up)
 
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