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Hey all,
First I want to say hello to everyone. I am new to the hobby but did fair amount of learning before this first post. This site is my best friend off work in the past month and the library articles helped me a lot.
I believe my 55 gallon tank is ready for the fish. Since I use fishless cycling, I am planning to stock the full tank all at once. I sort of decided to go with a Tang community tank. I will buy fish online since LFS carry Malawi species only. I will buy juvenile fish since it'll be more fun for me and my 3-year old (that's where things get started :)) and it's also a lot easier on the budget...

This is what I am thinking so far:

- Cyprichromis Leptosoma Jumbo Livua "Blue Orchid" (12)
- Altolamprologus calvus Chaitika "White" (a pair)
- Neolamprologus leleupi (a pair)
- Julidochromis marlieri (a pair)
- Ancistrus sp. Bristlenose Pleco red marble (two)

Here we go the questions. Any thoughts or comments are greatly appreciated:

1. Could I buy 3 or 4 fish per group and still have a good chance to get a compatible pair when they grow up? I know many articles / posts suggest 6. But I just don't know how to deal with so many extra fish after they pair off. My LFS is likely not going to take it (they don't carry any tangs). If 3 or 4 fish per group is fine, I can easily start a new 30 gal to house the small number of extras. But it'll be too many to deal with if I start with 6 per group.

2. Other than the Cyps, I picked three pairs. Is that too many? I know the cookie cutter article says only two pairs. If there is definitely too many when they grow up, I can drop the Julies since they are the most aggressive group and they are ominivorous (all others are carnivorous).

3. I feel like I can still fill the bottom of the tank with another species. Is that a bad idea? If not, is the bristlenose pleco a good choice? Or is the synodontis multi catfish a better choice? Or could I even consider a pair of shell-dwellers like Lamp. Belvis?

4. I might get too greedy here. I really like some red color in the tank. So one option I am thinking about is four Malawi Peacocks (Aulonocara German Red, one male three females) to replace the pair of Julies. Good or bad?

Sorry for the long post. Thank you for your help in advance.

June
 

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Hey there- Welcome to C-F!
Great questions- and I'll try to answer from my experiences, although some other folks are sure to chip in with another opinion. :popcorn:

Most of the answers are no, unfortunately. When looking at building a Tang community, we start by looking at the footprint of the tank (48x12 in this case) and what territories are available for the fish. In general, you've got open water, rock/caves, and then sand/shells. But, the first thing I see a lot of folks have trouble with is leaving room for open water fish to sleep.

Cyps must have an unclaimed portion of the footprint in which they can sleep without being disturbed. Your current list has three rock-dwellers who won't appreciate a school of cyps lying about their territories.

Next- when we're looking at a suitable rock dweller territory, it should be well-defined spatially. Meaning, you have caves/rocks in a pile, and then 8" or so of open sand before the next territory. 3 rock dwellers can be housed in a 55, but it's often asking for trouble, and one overly aggressive fish can ruin it. So- pick your favorite two out the julies, leleupi and calvus; and then you'd have room for the cyps.

If you really want to stick a 4th species in there, look at gobies- E. cyanostictus would be robust enough to handle your rock dwellers, but don't claim a territory. Plecos are just fine.

Shellies might be a possibility if you dropped the leleupi, and changed to J. transcriptus instead of the marlieri. Although, I find brevis a bit boring- I think your 3 year old would find multifaciatus much more amusing.

As far as getting compatible groups out of fewer individuals... it's a crapshoot. Six provides the greatest odds, but as you point out, it can be difficult to get rid of the extras. Although unfortunate, the process of pairing these little fish can result in dead tank mates, thus rehousing isn't always necessary. I strongly suggest getting at least 4 of the rock dwellers, and see if your online retailer can vent them for you. While risky, if you start with only one male and three females, you might not have to remove very many fish. Both leleupi and calvus are harem spawners, while I've seen plenty of julies form trios.

I recommend not mixing the lakes. Peacocks would be a bad idea- first, you don't have room, and secondly their diet and size don't make them good neighbors; add a red plant or something instead.

So, my recommended stocking lists are something like this:

12 Cyps
5 leleupi
5 calvus or julies
Plecos

OR
12 Cyps
5 J. transcriptus
5 calvus
5 multifaciatus
Plecos

OR
12 Cyps
5 leleupi
5 calvus
5 gobies
Plecos
 

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The problem with Tangs and taking a chance on a compatible couple IME is that it takes SO long for them to mature enough to spawn(1-2 years or more)...if you don't get a compatible couple you have to add juvies and wait again.
 

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DJRansome said:
The problem with Tangs and taking a chance on a compatible couple IME is that it takes SO long for them to mature enough to spawn(1-2 years or more)...if you don't get a compatible couple you have to add juvies and wait again.
Very good point.

Another route would be to look for proven pairs. But, that would require a bit of patients, and your upfront cost would be higher.
 
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