Cichlid Fish Forum banner
1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here is how this all began......been out of hobby for years. One day, three months ago I get a beta and a three and a half gallon tank from PetSmart for my son. After two weeks I start to feel bad for the beta and buy a 20 gallon. I enjoy setting that up, and somehow ended up at petco during their one dollar a gallon sale and bought a 40 breeder. Then ordered a 40 gallon long and planted it. I've been watching you tube videos every night on fishkeeping, starting planted tanks, etc. my wife thinks I have gone off the deep end. Point being, every fish I have purchased with the exception of 2 for these tanks are still alive including some less hardy species that require more attention. But I had no idea, until after I stocked my 40 breeder with Mbuna, that I was creating the tank from ****.

This tank is beautiful, stocked with 14 2 inch fish. I've got a red zebra, 3 Snow White, 2 yellow açaí, 2 bumble bee. 1 cobalt blue, 1 auritus, 1 electric blue , and a couple others. I have no idea the sex of these fish and had no idea that 3-4 of these fish would grow up to be monsters. I since have read optimal species groupings, male to female ratios, etc for a more peaceful tank. How one would go about selecting the specific sex of the fish at pet stores is beyond me but I will take the blame for picking out some species that aren't great for this community. But in my opinion, based on what I understand now, local fish stores shouldn't even be selling some of these fish if they are such notorious destroyers.

But really, I don't see how it matters all that much, because from my experience over the last two months, all the Mbuna sin my tank hate each other and all other living things. I have tried everything. I've rearranged my tank 6 times in two months. I have segregated problem fish and reintroduced, I alter line of sight, I leave the light off for days. Nothing erases the hate in these fish. It's a guessing game as to what fish will become the next evil dictator or when his reign will end. I could remove the worst one, but what good would it do.

At one point I thought about moving the tank into my bedroom, but it would just cause anxiety and guilt as I ponder the living **** I created inside that tank. All seem healthy and eat, but there are some seriously stressed out fish and I know it's just a matter of time before the deaths begin. I could buy a larger tank and plan to, but I don't want to waste a beautiful big tank on these hateful fish. I am almost certain no tank is big enough the curb the disdain they have for all other life forms.

I'm not going to give up on this tank. I spent a good bit of money on these fish and the set up. However, I will never ever buy another Mbuna for as long as I keep fish and I find it hard to believe any Mbuna tank is peaceful. Those that say it's possible must have a high threshold for fish on fish violence. That, Or I just happened to but the 14 most degenerate in humane fish known to man.

That being said, I have still enjoyed getting back into the hobby.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
641 Posts
I'm not really into Mbuna other than having bought one or two at times, sometimes even by accident over the years. But I'm thinking that 40 gallons is on the small side, even twelve of my fish when they were that size would have probably shown alot more aggression in a tank that small. And Mbuna can be very aggressive, especially three of the species you have. I personally would want a much, much larger tank if I was going to attempt that. But If I was ever thinking about doing an Mbuna tank I would follow one of the cookie cutter setups here in the Library\Quick Reference section.

I'm sure someone else here will be along soon to hopefully give you proper guidance regarding what to do in your case. Good luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
424 Posts
I hear you. I bought fish that were supposed to live well together, except I didn't follow the mf ratio. After several months, the tank bosses emerged and grew meaner with every passing day. Sometimes it's ok in there but other times it's a mad house.

Then the ladies started having babies...one of my lady rusties just died after spitting her fry, she got beaten up so badly and succumbed to her hideous injuries.

It's tough to keep sometimes, my GF can't stand the stress the tank creates. However, I find them so unique, along with colorful and interesting, that I'll deal with the violence to keep mbuna.

Good luck
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,048 Posts
Welcome to C-F

The mbuna species you find at the big box stores are usually those with an aggressive reputation. They have color at a small size and will sell. That's pretty much it.

Mbuna can be nasty, no doubt. A few things/guidelines...

Minimum 4' aquarium- A 75 is better than a 55. The larger the footprint, the better with length as the key dimension. You may stumble across a term called 'chase distance' or 'chase radius.' This is typically 3-4' for most species, but can certainly vary. In a 3' aquarium there's not a lot of space. Mbuna are aggressive, simply because they're territorial. It's funny to think that they relish in killing other fish, but it simply is not true. The majority of the species feed from aufwuchs(biocover on rock) and plankton. Some are insectivores. Very, very few have diets that consist of other fishes.

Start smart- Stock appropriately. Never buy 1 of these, 3 of those, 2 of that, etc. That's a recipe for disaster. Mbuna are harem breeders. You need to stock in groups. Even if you're not interested in breeding/raising fry. The cookie cutters mentioned above by Ken is a nice reference. Choose species appropriate for your tank, and that have a reputation of being 'mild' on the aggression scale. Labidochromis(Yellow labs), Cynotilapia and the 'Acei' types. Species like Melanochromis, Labeotropheus, some Metriaclima need large tanks. Think 6' long. Avoid look alikes. Don't mix 2 blue barred species. 2 fish of the same species. Fish that a have a reputation for hybridizing. Following this lessens the overall 'aggression' between species. They will always be more ill mannered to their own kind- con-specific. Having several females to each male is important. Males(within a species/specific locale) are almost always completely intolerant of one another. I keep trying with multiple males, but it eventually does not work.

Decor- Completely fill the tank with rocks or nothing at all. Without decor, there's nothing to lay claim over, and typically no fish being territorial. But this makes for a very uninteresting aquarium. You mentioned line of sight breaks- I think this is more important than creating 'caves' for fish to hide. If I have a fish that does nothing but hide, then I presume it's either a holding female(eggs/fry in her mouth), or it's sick/being bullied to death.

Clean, fresh water- the most important thing for any aquarium.

For a 40 breeder, if you cannot upgrade, think 1 species. I had success with Chindongo/Pseudotropheus Saulosi. A true dwarf, and sexually dimorphic. Like 2 fish within the species. Bring your current fish back to the store and order Saulosi from a reputable online breeder. Buy at least a dozen juveniles(I'd do 20) and raise them up. Work towards a nice, manageable ratio.

*Also... YouTube videos can be helpful, but most are loaded with misinformation. Use the search function on this forum. It's over 10 years of questions and answers from hobbyists. An invaluable resource.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I can get them in a bigger tank. I was hoping to hold off a few more months as they were quite small three months ago. Their growth rate has surprised me. And I also now realize a have ticking time bombs in the tank. I have almost exhausted the fish need a bigger tank excuse and my wife is suspect. I might only be able to use it once more so should skip the 55 and 75 and go straight to the maximum spouse acceptable 125.

Bottom line is these are some complicated fish to keep, and they really shouldn't be sold by what fish color up the first
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I think I figured out why all **** is breaking loose. I must have 2 female Snow White Mbuna a and one male because all signs point to one fish holding and not eating in corner of tank and I believe I saw what amounted to courting between the other two. One was doing an elaborate dance and then they were lip locked and the it was like one of them was inspecting the other one very closely if you know what I mean? This went on for 10 minutes. The other fish were crowded around looking quite a bit disappointed. It makes sense as that male has really taken over the tank out of nowhere. Although this brings on a whole mother set of problems to which I have no idea how to deal with.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,048 Posts
Soonergman said:
Bottom line is these are some complicated fish to keep, and they really shouldn't be sold by what fish color up the first
One of the many reasons the big box stores suck.

Post your entire stock list or pictures if you'd like advice on what to keep and build around.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Here it goes, common name mostly, no idea the sex

1 Scolofoli
2 bumblebee
1 cobalt blue
1 red zebra
1 auritus
3 Snow White - 1 male 2 females I believe
1 electric blue Joghani (so?)
2 yellow tailed açaí

And two others I don't know. Will post a pic
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
40,490 Posts
I would not keep any of those in a 40 breeder. What tank will you keep for mbuna?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Welp, they are in a 40 gallon breeder as we speak and have been for four months. It seems I overstocked as suggested, except with all natural born killers. What size a tank would keep these fish from killing each other?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
40,490 Posts
IME real problems start around 8-12 months when most of the fish start breeding, but it can happen earlier as well. Note that lip locking is aggression, and the circling and shimmying can be spawning OR aggression.

I don't think any size tank works for the mix you have.

Are you willing to forego the one of each stocking? I agree with Iggy, in a 40B I would stock Chindongo saulosi (formerly Pseudotropheus).
many really good options for mbuna In a 40B.

Some of the other fish in your tank would be OK in a 55G 48x12 but maybe not together. 1m:4f of socolofi, red zebra (Metriaclima estherae) or cobalt (Metriaclima callainos). Think in terms of 3 species in this footprint, choose different genera and fish that don't look alike.

For a 75G but again not together 1m:7f auratus, acei, bumblebee (crabro) or johannii. With aggressive fish like auratus, crabro or johannii, stock with maybe 3 species...if you choose less aggressive species like acei you could go 4 species.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'm willing to forgo but who is going to take a fish that has the stocking requirement you list above? And why in the world is anyone selling a fish that can't live with other fish in any sized tank.

And about this male and female ratio. I'm pretty sure the store I bought these fish from did not have for than 2-3 fish of the same kind for sale, much less 1M-6-7F that you suggest? How in the world does one pull this off?

So to pull this off, it Sounds like your saying I would need to buy 3 55 gallon tanks, 3 75 gallon tanks, figure out the sexes of the problem children, purchase suggested number of females, and then add less aggressive species in the 6 new tanks.

What a mess. LOL!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
What if it turns out that the auritus, bumblebee, and Johani are all females? Does that help my situation? How do you tell the females from the males? Even when you buy fish online they are unsexed as far as I have seen. Does keeping multiple females with males of the same species reduce aggression? Would an all male tank or all female tank lessen aggression? It's like a jigsaw puzzle.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I wish I could take them all back and say, "thanks for the memories fellas but here's your fish back. Tell the next poor sap who buys them hi for me".
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
40,490 Posts
All male can work, but remember the guideline that none of the fish look alike. It is hard to get enough mbuna that look nothing alike to overstock, and even then you usually avoid the most aggressive species. Even with haps and peacocks all male is challenging.

To get the right m:f ratios we buy extra unsexed juveniles and rehome extra males as they mature and cause trouble. I recommend ordering online for the best quality, selection and to get the numbers you need.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
63 Posts
Keeping cichlids can be very challenging, especially in the beginning. Lots of research is needed before and after buying fish. Impulse buying cichlids almost never end well
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Ok - thanks for the replies. I really didn't want 2 Mbuna tanks much less 6,7, or 8. I am going to need to get creative.

1st things 1st - I need to know the sex of all of my fish. How do I do that? When is it posssible?

Sound to me like it goes something like this if you want to even begin to have success keeping these fish.

1. Stay away from all aggressive species
2. Start with one tank and a three species mix of appropriate color and temperament.
3. Avoid grouping species of similar color and pattern.
4. Wait until you can sex the fish in your aquarium, buy 2nd tank and rehome all males and females separately.
This is the only way to guarantee you have an all male or all female tank based on the fact that juveniles are sold unsexed?

When and how can you identify males and females?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
So if you buy 7 each of three separate species. Hopefully you have 10 males and 11 females. Then separate and that is the cheapest way to a peaceful Mbuna tank.
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top