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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all, I'm relatively new to cichlid keeping. I've had my 40 gallon setup for roughly 6 months and it's been rough. I initially started with 4, one died probably an hour after hitting the water but I would say that was more on the pet shop selling me a sick fish or my selection of a fish that seemed "chill". I have a sunsun canister filter, 2 wave malers, and do water changes about every week or so (usually). Of the original fish that I bought, only 3 remain, I just lost another last night that has always been healthy and active. I'm not sure what happened exactly but I came home to find him listless and tattered and very grey/Silver. He was normally a dark blue. I've had this happen to a newer fish that I had gotten maybe 2 months ago that I assumed was from being bullied by my tank boss, a blue peacock. I've got alot going on right now, though. I've started a tiny 5 gal quarantine tank from an old betta we used to have in order to save a yellow lab that was bullied and had some fin damage and another small OB peacock that also got beat up.

So I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with whats going on lately. I'm tired of losing fish, the tank boss probably has to go but I was wondering if maybe there is something else I can do.

I checked my water last night when I saw the one that was very sick.

Ph 7.8
Ammonia 25
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 80
80 degrees

I purchased 3 more from a different petshop about 2 weeks ago that are slightly younger/smaller than the main tank and sure enough, they started getting beat up. These fish are beautiful and fun to watch but man losing fish is frustmakers,

Appreciate any help I can get, thanks.
 

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Hello and welcome,

What size is your filter?
Did you do a cycle of some sort before adding fish?
Please verify those results. Particularly the ammonia.

Regards,
Stu
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I believe it's the HW302, advertised at 265 gph. The only cycling I did was adding the 5 gal of water from the betta's old tank to the new one when I got it. I wasn't too familiar with cycling tanks but I knew enough that good bacteria from a different tank is better than just straight sterile and fresh water.

I did a 40% ish water change last night while fishing out the dead one but before that I tested it. I didn't test again afterwards but I will test it again tonight when I get home. I just had a huge brown algae diatome bloom a couple weeks ago that I just got under control after taking everything out and cleaning... everything.

Also I'm using the API freshwater master test kit.
 

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What are the dimensions of the 40G? 48" is better for Malawi than 36".

The beneficial organisms/bacteria do not live in the water column, they live on the filter media and surfaces like glass, decor, substrate, etc.

Your nitrates were 2X the safe level and if you changed 40% you still have unsafe toxins.

Change 50% tonight and 50% in the morning to get back to a safe level of nitrates.

You have several species...are all the fish males? What are the other species beside lab and OB peacock?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The tank is more like a tall square than a rectangle, with a convex front glass. I'm not sure the exact dimensions.

I did have a mini heart attack when I saw the nitrates hence the water change.

I'm really not sure what species I have as I just pick them from the "african cichlid" tank at the store. I've tried to research what exactly I have and pretty much the only ones I can positively identify are the OB and the yellow lab. Also identifying male/female I'm kinda lost. I can try to get some pics of them if that helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
This is the day that I brought them home. The orange one died about 2 months and he died the same way the dark blue one died last night. The light blue one is now alot bigger and he's the tank boss. Yellow lab is in the 5 gal quarantine tank as his fins grow back and he's doing fine.
 

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Will you measure the length and the front to back on the side? It is possible that this is not the best tank dimension for Lake Malawi. A long tank provides distance for the victim fish to flee and more room along the tank for territories for each male to own and defend.

I would either choose fish that fit the tank or choose a tank that can house the fish you have.

With a bunch of different species (fish that look different) what can possibly work is it you get a 75G rectangle tank that measures 48" long by 18" from front to back and you would need 12 males that look nothing alike. Stick to haps and peacocks that mature <= six inches...the yellow lab is mbuna but it can is the exception among mbuna that usually works in a male tank.

Don't buy from the assorted tank, they are likely hybrids and their behavior can be unpredictable.

If you decide to get a larger tank, post pictures in the Unidentified forum to help you figure out what you have and whether they are compatible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Here are the last 3 that I recently added a couple weeks ago. The dark gray one has since died, once again the same way my others have died. The other 2 are fine now and doing just "ok". They're a little smaller and looks like they get picked on, usually hide up the corner away from the light blue one or the OB.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
This was the tank when I first added the fish. Minus the power heads and it's been rearranged to create 2 or 3 "sections". I try to rearrange the rocks every other water change in an attempt to hinder fish claiming territories. I would honestly prefer there was no territory to compete over.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Tested my water again before I change the water.

PH 7.8
Ammonia .25
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 40

I'm gonna go ahead and do another water change right now. But I have one fish, mister orange Mohawk, who really looks bad. He's swimming sideways and bumping into stuff. Listless I guess. Is this fin rot or biting? His scales are also turning gray. One day these fish are fine and the next they're dying, really fast but some are perfectly healthy. Whaaaat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So I decided to take the blue peacock out because after the water change, he was just being a major ass to every other fish, i also put the yellow lab back in the big tank with the others. He seems fine now and I think the OB will be the new tank boss but so far he's not being nearly as aggressive. The only problem I have now is my blue fish is chilling in the 5 gal with the small beatup OB and orange mohawk guy. orange mohawk guy probably isn't going to make it through the night, though. He's not doing too great, just chilling on the bottom and occasionally shoots to the top and falls back down limp. That makes 2 of the 3 fish that I recently bought that are dead/dying.

I'm going to try and rehome the boss because obviously he's not working out.
 

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Any progress on the measurements?

Any decisions on whether you will keep the existing tank or get a 48x18 75G rectangle tank for the Malawi?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Here are the measurements

W 30.5
H 19.5
depth (outside edges 11.5
depth (middle) 16

I'm not sure I can get a longer tank as it's currently in a space that fits it perfectly and no more room to expand length wise. And of course the wife is over it already and doesn't want to invest any more money into the hobby because she's tired of losing the fish also. She didn't even want to get this one after the 5 gal but i convinced her "we need a bigger tank".

I watched them for a little bit before work and they seem to be doing much better. OB is the new boss but he mainly just chills on the left side and minds his own business (for now). He doesn't chase as aggressively as the blue peacock, mainly just does a short lunge and stops when the other fish goes away. The blue peacock would literally chase all the others 2 or 3 times around the whole tank before stopping.
 

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You are losing the fish because the tank is too small for them. Lake Malawi in a 30" tank will be difficult, but it might work for you to get 1m:4f yellow labs and rehome the rest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I've read that plants can help reduce aggression by breaking line of sight. Seems to make sense to me. Could I plop some anubias and Java fern? What would I have to do to prep for them or maintain them?

I don't mind yellow labs, by far my favorite fish in the tank. Where would I find specific sexes as it seems pet shops don't really have them sorted usually.
 

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You buy 8 if you want 4 females and then rehome extra males. Rocks are a better sight break than plants. But you want break the line of sight in the 48x18 tank as well...so doing this in a 30" tank is not going to solve your problem.

Definitely fill the tank with rocks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I have the 5 pieces of dragonstone that stack pretty well but they weren't cheap. I could definitely get more though. I have them arranged now so there is a decent cave/tunnel system that spans almost the length of the tank.. I did have one issue once where I had them stacked up and one fell over from someone picking up and moving the gravel. I'll try to get some more rocks though for sure, just make sure to move the gravel before stacking them.

Should I buy them online? I don't think I've seen a shop that didn't have assorted fish in their tanks. What is the preferred method for buying specific species?
 

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Usually a good shop will have at least a couple of species that are sold as named fish with the full scientific name. I do buy almost all of my fish online but buying 8 may not be efficient due to shopping. If you are going to buy 8 yellow labs, do consider buying 8 Chindongo saulosi instead because they are a better fit for a very small tank than the labs.

You always put the rocks on the glass and THEN add the substrate. This way the fish cannot excavate underneath.

Here is a topic that shows you what we mean by "fill the tank with rocks". Scroll down to the posts on April 4.
https://www.cichlid-forum.com/phpBB/vie ... 7&t=454279
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Wow that is.... filled with rocks haha. Doing dragonstone I think that will probably cost me about $300, probably more. (If I buy them from the same shop I got them originally). Is there a cheaper alternative that will go well with the dragonstone? I'm planning on doing a black or dark dark blue background.

Also on the background, what is the preferred method? Paint? Window tint? Ebay sticker? Black trash bag??
 
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