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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey, I know i'm going to get a bunch of **** for any number of things in this post but I have questions and I want to share in the name of full disclosure as I ask.

We set up a 125 gallon (one of the PetSmart Aqueon bang for your buck setups). I have two 200w Eheim Jager heaters for heat, and two Penn Plax 1200 elite 150gl canisters for filtration.

pH is around 8 out of our well. Ammonia and Nitrites are stable at 0. We have some natural lava rock and flat granite that I stacked in there to make some caves as well as a massive castle and some plastic cave decorations that my wife liked the look of better than natural rock. Using black "sand" or fine gravel as a base. Temperature is being kept in the 80-82 range (mostly because my thermometers and heaters are both seeming to have calibration issues and I haven't found the sweet spot yet).

I repeatedly read everywhere that the best way to curb aggression was to overstock. 80% of your empty tank water volume divided by two was the number I kept seeing so we figured around 50 fish ultimately was the goal. However we wanted to start with little 1-2 inch juveniles and overstocking a 125 with juvenile fish isn't easy, so we wen't a bit overboard knowing fully that we would likely need to cull or would more likely have some natural culling somewhere along the way as everyone grows into adolescence. I think we're around 60 fish right now.

I have added the following which I ordered online from a very widely reputed site:
Labeotropheus Trewavasae Ochre Chilumba - 6
Cynotilapia Afra Jalo Reef - 6
Yellow Tail Acei - 6
Williamsi Makonde Blue Lips - 6
Saulosi Taiwan Reef - 6
Labeotropheus fuelleborni (OB) - 10

Along the way since the fish were just hiding and that really wasn't the effect we wanted in the tank so I told my kids (5 and 3) and wife that we could go to the LFS and find some compatible guys to put with them.

We ended up with I think another 5 Albino Scolosi, 10 or so "Yellow Labs", 4 Auratus and then in addition to that 4 Jewel Africans which yes I am aware are river fish, and 3 Julidochromis marlieri and a Duboisi Pair which yes I am aware are from lake Tanganyika. There was never any intention to add non mbunas but we're experimenting since my wife and kids really liked them.

Questions:

1 - 4 of my yellow labs display classic quality with some black markings, but the other 6 came from a different LFS. These "yellow labs" don't have any black on them at all. I'm wondering if they aren't even yellow labs at all. I wasn't going to add any additional yellow because we have the Williamsi Blue Lips, but these guys were really bright and my kids liked them. I wonder if maybe they are just some hybrid that wasn't what it was supposed to be?

2 - Despite the overstocking, almost all of the fish hang out in the lower 3rd of the tank. Not even necessarily in hiding places, often even out in the open ares they will sit a few inches off the substrate and camp out there rather than swim around. Even at feeding time the majority of them are content to allow food to fall below the halfway mark toward the bottom before coming out to grab anything. Most cichlid tanks I've seen seem to feature fish swimming all over, and most of the time they will actively sort of (attack) your hand if you stick it in from even what I had seen at my LFS. They all seem to be quite scared. Meanwhile no one that I've seen is being picked on and no one seems particularly aggressive - even the Auratus which I have now read can be evil little buggers supposedly. If I thought it would help I would remove offenders to lighten the mood but I don't see anyone.

3 - Assuming i'm not going to keep any fry to sell give or the like, is the breeding group issue going to bite me in any other way? I know I've got a bit of a mix of a few too many "groups", I did however do my best to make sure that most of the groups had unique lines and colorations. AKA there are 3 (or 3 and a half?) Labeotropheus in there but between the OB, the ochre, and the yellow they are all distinct looking. Will too many breeding groups like such create extra hostility in the future?

Thank you for your answers and for not being too cruel with your advice ahead of time.
 

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Now I am afraid to give you any answers at all...no intention of being cruel.

1-Yellow labs without the black dorsal stripe are hybrids.
2-How long has the tank been set up? IME it takes several months for the fish to swarm the food. Also they are more likely to swim all over once they are mature and spawning...this is where the chasing comes in. Your stocking may be causing the fish to be scared. Aggression is rarely seen but often occurs.
3-You may see aggression or lack of color among fish where there are not enough females and/or fish are look-alikes. Yellow color family is close enough, so saulosi females versus labs may be too close. Saulosi males versus Cynotilapia males are definitely close enough.

No need for natural culling...you can take action to prevent deaths and it will also help your tank remain healthy if you do as a harassed fish easily becomes a sick fish and can infect the tank.

Set the temp at 78.

Experimenting is fine, but know when to act to prevent problems and have a rehoming plan. Make sure there are no survivor fry. Many of us find prevention is easier than solving problems as they occur...mostly because it's hard to net fish with all the rocks mbuna like, and having spare tanks for those awaiting a new home and dealing will illnesses.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the answers!

Its been set up more a matter of weeks than months, so maybe I was expecting too much too soon. Also as I mentioned they are all very young, I think the largest of the fish in the tank may just be cracking the 2" mark, many of them are under 1.5" still.

I think you may be right in the long run the Saulosi were a mistake with the labs, I'm not sure. I thought I was getting a different type of Saulosi as the ones I got were orange in color. Some research shows me that the orange color is sort of transitional as they grow and it looks like adding them to the tank is probably going to have been a bad idea. To be clear, this information was available to me, I just obviously missed it in my research.

I absolutely don't wan't natural culling, and I will do my best to avoid it. But although I was in the hobby and then out and now back in, I have definitely experienced some occasional fish loss even with normal intermediate level freshwater fish. So what I meant to say is that with as much chaos and a tank this large I don't expect all the juveniles to live to maturity despite my best efforts, most hopefully but not all.

I set the heaters at 78, but for some reason they keep heating the water. Those Eheim heaters have a second little knob you can use for calibration so I have been gradually lowering them down. I also however have tried 4 different thermometers and they seem to have a swing of +/- 3 degrees in accuracy. I'll have 3 of them sitting next to each other and one will read 78 and one will say 84 and I haven't been able to determine which one was correct so I'm assuming its somewhere in between. I also bought a hydor koralia to help make sure that there was a current so the 72 inch tank didn't have hot spots and cold spots.

I do have options for short term hospital tanks.

Thank you for the information and for not calling me an idiot because of my irresponsible stocking choices.
 

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OK to give you the thought that you should expect problems until you get to a good stock plan? The existing stock is contributing to your fearful fish.

Proper level of overcrowding for a 72" tank? 25 adults is a good number. Five species with 1m:4f of each for the peaceful ones and 1m:7f of each for the aggressive ones. No look-alikes. Different genera. Yellow and orange are close enough to avoid or at least bear watching.

I found mortality to be much higher in non-cichlids than in cichlids (or Synodontis). IME the majority of the cichlids die of old age as opposed to illness.

Would you consider putting some of the appropriate species into the hospital tanks? Julidochromis do well in a 20 Long. Duboisi are harem breeders, with 2 one is likely to kill the other. They also get sick relatively easily.
 

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The fact that you are seeking advice and guidance is awesome! Once you get your "newbie" questions out of the way.... there will be more newbie questions you will have and that is sooooo ok!

I have found that after all my questions have been answered to the best of the abilities of people who have responded and I took into consideration the experience and eventually make up my own mind and my own decisions about the questions I have asked, I have realized that all this must be fun and enjoyable.

Most of the time the reason I asked is I was looking for justification for a decision or idea that I had already made my mind up on. And when I didn't listen and mixed species with like species and ended up with hybrid fry or adding fish maybe I was advised on not adding with my current stock levels and the died.... or.... the list goes on and on about how many mistakes I made that I asked about and still had to find out my way.

My only point is to make this fun for you and your family, sure add fish your kids like but let them know "it might not work out"

Heck I added "glow tetras" pink ones at that because my oldest granddaughter asked for them. I told her that they might not make too long in the tank and time after time with these trial and errors she at 5 years old has learned to seek fish that she likes and will survive in any of our tanks. I had to say no to a green terror because it was already way too big and would make a snack out of any of my fish.

I think your stock list is perfect! If you and your family like it. I also know that nature will always take its course, even in our glass boxes.

Remember once a "tank boss" will be replaced by a new tank boss. Its the circle of life... have fun!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks jcarson! To some degree you are probably right and I'm looking for validation, and also advice :)

I removed the duboisi - they were definitely very stressed. I also removed the Saulosi because although they were absolutely gorgeous - I prefer the Jalo reef Afra's and I definitely don't want them fighting. All 8 of those now have new safe homes.

I also lost my male Trewavasae - he got spooked somehow when I was netting the Saulsi and ran headfirst into a piece of granite at hyper speed. An hour later he was dead. No idea how that even happens. If it turns out that he was my only male I'll probably rehome the females. Most of the groupings I got either 1 male and 5 females or 2 and 4 and I'm honestly not sure if there were two male Trewavasae in their pod of 6... I guess i'll find out in a few months unless I make an attempt to net the remaining 5 and vent them but I don't see that happening.
 

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The most valuable lessons are the ones we learn in our course of trial and error.

Remember always is that what works in ones tank may not work in another and with that said what works for you may not work for someone else.
Most of the time only time will tell, and nature's own "culling" will sometimes be the only way to reveal the mistakes one makes with one's glass box.

I am sorry for your losses and trust you will experience this often with the species of fish we choose to keep.

Balance in a mixed african cichlid tank is only temporary.

Just have fun!
 

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jcarson said:
Balance in a mixed african cichlid tank is only temporary.
Indeed. I began this latest excursion into the hobby with 15 juveniles and 6 months later was about ready to beat my face in with a skillet. lol

What I ended up with is nowhere near what I planned, but through trial and error, and some more error, and a little extra error after that, and finally a little more error, I have a nice looking crew who for the most part are a pleasure to stare at.
 

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fish_gazer said:
jcarson said:
Balance in a mixed african cichlid tank is only temporary.
Indeed. I began this latest excursion into the hobby with 15 juveniles and 6 months later was about ready to beat my face in with a skillet. lol

What I ended up with is nowhere near what I planned, but through trial and error, and some more error, and a little extra error after that, and finally a little more error, I have a nice looking crew who for the most part are a pleasure to stare at.
LOL,
Good for you.
 
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