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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings, fellow forumers!

It's my first post here and there's a nagging question on my mind, but I thought that a general introduction would also be appropriate. Hope you'll forgive me for mentioning the obvious but I'm really very new to cichlids.

Over 10 years ago I started my first, 40L tropical fish tank. It was a disaster and I lost over 50 fish during its lifetime. Eventually I gave it up and the hobby vanished altogether. Recently I took an interest to fish-keeping once again, because fish were incredibly therapeutic to watch...very calming on the mind and a great way to do some thinking whilst having something to look at.

I wanted to keep a tank with a few native Australian fish but then the Electric Yellows caught my eye. They introduced me to a whole new world of beautiful African Cichlids. So I did much reading before even buying anything and got a lot of information from this site, among many others. The wish was to create a peaceful cichlid tank.

About 5 weeks ago I bought a 200L tank, set it up with limestone rock formations and coral sand and all the other bits and pieces, and left it to stand for a week. After that I added 4 little (about an inch, one being inch and a half) Electric Yellows (Labidochromis caeruleus) and did weekly water tests at the local shop. The largest one is a definite male, dominant and forever displaying, the other 3 are hard to tell. Could be male or female.

All of them are still alive today, fortunately. Yesterday after the water test the shopkeeper informed me that the tank was fully cycled with ammonia and nitrites at zero and I could add more fish. Previously he advised me not to buy any more fish (not that I would have anyway), which is very much to his credit. :)

So yesterday I bought 4 Benga/ Sunshine peacocks (Aulonocara baenschi), one male, and three females. They are all larger than the Electric Yellows at 2 1/2 to 3 inches long. The smallest is ironically a male and is just beginning to show a blue sheen on the face and yellow in the dorsal and the body. Surprisingly the Electric Yellows hold their own and the dominant male pretty much still rules the tank. There's a little chasing and occasional confrontation but nothing serious.

Now here comes the frustrating bit. The male, being a little smaller than all the female peacocks, is sometimes chased by one or even two of them. My greatest worry is the effect this would have on his coloration. I'm trying to aim for a 1M3F ratio with both the Yellows and the Sunshines so I'm obviously counting on the two males to really put on a show. Would the male sunshine eventually assume dominance over the females or are things likely to remain as they are?

If so then I'm doomed because I do not have a second tank to temporarily remove the females and allow the male peacock to 'establish himself' in the current tank. Are there any other practical means of changing the hierarchy, short of returning the females (which I probably also cannot do)?

Once I've kept this combination for a few weeks and have all the water changes in order I may add two cuckoo cats/ Synodontis multipunctatus (not exactly a Lake Malawi species), however they are expensive so that can wait.

Thanks, hope to get some help from the more experienced folk here. Sure you could all help a complete cichlid greenie.
 

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The male "should" eventually gain dominance over the females. At least usually he will grow bigger and take control. A Yellow Lab male may or may not be dominant over the Peacock, or they may ignore each other. Things are always variable to some degree, which is another reason why cichlids are interesting.

You could add Synodontis at any time, they will be ignored. I would add 3 or 4 Multipuctatus, they are very social fish, constantly in action, they love groups. Having two may result in one picking too much on the other. Multipuctatus will bother cichlids when they breed, if that is a goal.

Or you could add a group of Rainbowfish, they will act as dither fish and be mostly ignored.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
noki said:
The male "should" eventually gain dominance over the females. At least usually he will grow bigger and take control. A Yellow Lab male may or may not be dominant over the Peacock, or they may ignore each other. Things are always variable to some degree, which is another reason why cichlids are interesting.

You could add Synodontis at any time, they will be ignored. I would add 3 or 4 Multipuctatus, they are very social fish, constantly in action, they love groups. Having two may result in one picking too much on the other. Multipuctatus will bother cichlids when they breed, if that is a goal.

Or you could add a group of Rainbowfish, they will act as dither fish and be mostly ignored.
Thanks for the reply. I went for the 1M3F ratio mostly to keep things more natural and less stressful for the fish. However if this ratio were suitable for breeding then that is a bonus. Part of my worry was that the male peacock would be so suppressed that he would be unable to mate, not to mention that if his color remained poor then my hopes for more color in the tank are pretty much stuffed.

I'm not too surprised that the male electric yellow is dominating the entire tank at this time because to be fair, he and the other 3 yellows have been in the tank a whole 4 weeks longer than the peacocks have.

Ahh...should the cuckoo cats actually attempt to spawn and disturb the other cichlids when they're doing so, then it's a dream come true. It's behavior that I hope to see and maybe even record with my camera. It's true that the cichlids are interesting to watch. The hierarchy and behavior is something I didn't see in my previous tank over a decade ago.

I'm afraid to add the cuckoos at this time for fear that my tank is not quite settled. With the addition of 4 new fish yesterday the biological load has more than doubled, so I'm guessing I'd need the bacterial load to build up further to handle the additional waste that's being produced. Once that's settled in and I'm well into the weekly water changes, then maybe I'd add them. The cuckoos are very expensive so I can't afford too many at one time.

The local shop sells fairly small specimens at around 1 inch, and apparently it's difficult to sex them at this size and I might need to buy a few in the hope of getting at least 1 male and 1 female.

Bigger problem is the size of the tank. Would 4 Electric yellows, 4 peacocks and 2 Synodontis in a 200L tank already be pushing it? My filter is an internal power filter (Otto PF800N) that cycles 800L per hour. I understand that I could get away with more fish if I do more frequent or larger water changes, but I'm not intending to 'overstock' the tank at this stage.
 

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200 liters is a little more than 50 US gallons. What are the dimensions of the tank? You may be right to be worried about adding more fish, depending on your answer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
DJRansome said:
200 liters is a little more than 50 US gallons. What are the dimensions of the tank? You may be right to be worried about adding more fish, depending on your answer.
If I am not mistaken, it's 4 feet X 18 inch X 14 inch. Thus far I've spoken to both the guy who sold me the tank and also the shopkeeper where I got my fish. Both have independently told me that I could keep 12-15 fish in it. However both of them also suggested less especially in case (or if I hoped) breeding occurs.

I'm guessing that the fish will be happier if the tank is not overcrowded...and I would take great pains to ensure that they are happy while creating a tank that would be a joy to look at. It's my wish to add another two more cuckoo cats for a bit more variety and stop there. But if just two of them is going to lead to undesirable fighting then I need to review my choices.

Either that or push to adding 3 cuckoos...
 

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The floorspace is the size of a standard 55G and three species should do well. In fact, three species of cichlids PLUS a group of cats should do well.

I would add two labs (they like to be in larger groups) and a group of Synodontis. Three multies or six Lucipinnis (a.k.a. dwarf Petricola).

I have both types of Syno's, the Lucipinnis are much smaller and the Multies are much more rambunctious. I like the Lucipinnis a little better, but right now I'm enjoying them both.

The yellow lab will not lose color if he is not dominant, well maybe his black fins might fade a little, but all the labs, male and female will give you a bright display. It's more the peacocks that need dominance to show best color. So right now, you have the best situation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
DJRansome said:
The floorspace is the size of a standard 55G and three species should do well. In fact, three species of cichlids PLUS a group of cats should do well.

I would add two labs (they like to be in larger groups) and a group of Synodontis. Three multies or six Lucipinnis (a.k.a. dwarf Petricola).

I have both types of Syno's, the Lucipinnis are much smaller and the Multies are much more rambunctious. I like the Lucipinnis a little better, but right now I'm enjoying them both.

The yellow lab will not lose color if he is not dominant, well maybe his black fins might fade a little, but all the labs, male and female will give you a bright display. It's more the peacocks that need dominance to show best color. So right now, you have the best situation.
Thanks. That's very reassuring to know that there's still room for more and I'm not pushing things too far. I had thought about adding a couple more Labs since I do not know if I have enough females at this time. My Mum loves the electric blues (Scienochromis fryeri) and I saw a tank of nice 'ice berg's that arrived in a new shipment at LFS.

That said, I've read that the electric blues and things from the Aulonocara species generally don't mix. I might add the Cuckoo cats sometime down the track. Currently I do not know what other cichlid species I can add. There's still the Copadichromis azureus but will need to wait till they come in stock. Once again I need to find out if they are compatible with what I already have. Either way, I'm not desperate to add anything else.

The dominant Electric Yellow male is still controlling the whole tank at this time. He is smaller than the peacocks but in a face off one-to-one he drives any of them away. In a way that worries me because the male peacock may never fully color up.

Plus, the male peacock was himself subject to some chasing by one or two of the female peacocks. A funny sight. Do you think he'd ever climb to the top of the hierarchy amongst his kind?

Just performed a water change today and I hope that I've done everything right, otherwise there's bound to be some floaties tomorrow.
 

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I don't think I would put Fryeri (rambunctious) in a 55G with anyone, let alone a Basenchi (timid). And I don't know what an ice berg is...hopefully you don't mean ice blue Greshakei, one of the most aggressive mbuna.

The copadichromis azureus can grow to 7.5 inches...too large? What about the copadichromis trewavasae? He is on my wish list if I ever get haps. Six inches max and peaceful temperament.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The Ice Berg is supposed to be another morph of the fryeri but with a white blaze over the forehead and dorsal fin, if I remember correctly. Interestingly enough the 'ice bergs' I saw at the shop also had a paler colored body.

I've never looked into the trewavassae but that's probably because I don't remember seeing them in the shop. Unfortunately a lot of my research revolves around whatever is readily available at the store. They have plenty of other species too (eg. Venestus, Crabbro, Julie, Malawi Eye Biter, leleupi, saulosi...) but they are not on my list because I need a peaceful community for a relatively small tank.

They had a whole tank of white-tail and yellow tail aceis at one time but they've all suddenly disappeared.

Heheh...the Baenschi is definitely timid. They get shoved around by the Electric Yellows. Then again, I picked out the most aggressive specimen from a tank of dozens, so maybe I had it coming. The dominant Lab has colored up amazingly and looks great despite his size at 2 inches or so.
 

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C. Azureus should be fine. The deep blue will contrast well and is different from the Baenschi, and they don't get much bigger than the Aulonocara.

Fryeri can sometimes get hyperdominant in a tank that size. If you got a Fryeri the male would most likely be quite dominant over the Baenschi. Would be more of a risk, but then it is whatever you want to be the most colorful.

You will always have the chance that the other males may be dominant and the Baenschi be kinda wimpy and never at full color... you never know. There are always variables, that is part of the fun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
noki said:
C. Azureus should be fine. The deep blue will contrast well and is different from the Baenschi, and they don't get much bigger than the Aulonocara.

Fryeri can sometimes get hyperdominant in a tank that size. If you got a Fryeri the male would most likely be quite dominant over the Baenschi. Would be more of a risk, but then it is whatever you want to be the most colorful.

You will always have the chance that the other males may be dominant and the Baenschi be kinda wimpy and never at full color... you never know. There are always variables, that is part of the fun.
Yeah...the wish would be for the male peacock to be dominant since it really wouldn't affect the color of the Electric Yellow male even if he became subdominant.

I've gone away for the last three days and came back to find a sudden spurt of brown algae growth in my tank. Oddly enough this seems to coincide with the recent water change. The 8 fish are all still alive and very happy. The peacock has had a slight increase in color even over the short absence but nevertheless he is still being chased by two out of the three female peacocks in the tank.

It's a rather disappointing sight, but when I next take the trip to my LFS I will need to ask the owner what he suggests. It seems rather odd to have paid a premium for the male peacock only to see that he's probably never going to get his harem together. :lol:
 

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Give the boy some time. When he catches up to the girls in size he should take them over. :)

Brown algae is pretty normal, cut back on what your feeding out. Brown algae tends to grown when there are too many nutrients in the tank. If you can, pick yourself up a good algae eater. Bristlenose plecos are great, they keep all the green and brown algae off of the glass.
 

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I'd be very surprised if your Baenschi didn't become dominant after awhile. Noki is absolutely right about their being variations. My Baenschi male has always been an absolute terror, and has killed off other peacocks as well as a Fryeri, so you never know. A third species would be absolutely fine in a 55 gallon, and that wouldn't be pushing it. I'm pushing it a bit in a 55g with 7 Mainganos, 8 Lab. Sp. Hongis, 3 Estherae, and 4 Fryeri but they seem fine so you never know.
If I were you I would add a relatively peaceful blue species, maybe Ps. sp Blue Dolphin? I know in NZed you're sometimes limited to what you can find.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the advice, QHgal and eoconnor. When I asked the shop owner about the algae he also recommended that I buy a few bristlenose catfish to take care of it. At that time I declined because I was worried about overcrowding the tank, especially since I still have plans to add the Multis and now, maybe even another two Electric Yellows. Looks like it's a matter of course.

I was hoping that as my tank matured, that the algae would go away. Like I said, it's a surprise to see a sudden growth spurt after a water change when it was growing fairly slowly before that.

Then again, in the time I was away for three days all the curtains in the living room were closed. So the tank was in darkness for 12 hours of the day, which is more than usual. I had the lights on a timer switch though, and always have.

It'd be a wait and see game with the male peacock. I'd be more troubled if he became so aggressive as to kill some of the other tank mates. For a brief time I read about the blue dolphins but didn't quite like the look they took on when mature so I stayed away from them. The frontosas were another one I initially thought of keeping but the appearance when mature seemed a little unattractive to me.

Guess it's back to the drawing board...and the fish shop, to see what else I can get. If not, maybe it's better not to buy anymore and just stick with what I've got.
 

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I did mean Psuedotropheus sp. Blue Dolphin aka the giant demasoni and not the haplochromis species C. Moori known as blue dolphins as well. Also Frontosa grow too big for a 55g.

Cheers,
Eric
 

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Just a thought -- you don't really need the lights on over the tank unless you are viewing it. If you turn the lights on only then and the tank isn't near a window, your algae should be minimal. That's what I do and I have zero algae . . .
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
eoconnor said:
I did mean Psuedotropheus sp. Blue Dolphin aka the giant demasoni and not the haplochromis species C. Moori known as blue dolphins as well. Also Frontosa grow too big for a 55g.

Cheers,
Eric
It's going to be tough finding those giant demasoni. They look great but I don't remember ever seeing such a fish in the shops. Could always ask the shop owner to call a few breeders but the few fish I want to buy are hardly an incentive to him to bring in a whole batch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
hollyfish2000 said:
Just a thought -- you don't really need the lights on over the tank unless you are viewing it. If you turn the lights on only then and the tank isn't near a window, your algae should be minimal. That's what I do and I have zero algae . . .
That's something I was pondering. However I've put the light on a timer switch to avoid manually meddling with the switch in the first place. There are more expensive timers around with separate programmable times for weekdays and weekends to fit my schedule, but they do cost a bundle more than the couple of dollars I spent on this simple one.

Looks like the solution is a bristlenose catfish. Would rather spend a bundle on something that would be visible in the showtank, than some gadget that will be hidden in the cabinet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
An update:

The brown algae was growing completely out of control in my tank. I would scrub it clean one day and find new spots the next day. It grew over the bright green algae (the one which I liked) on the rockwork and was causing spotting on the glass. I gave in and bought two tiny bristlenose catfish. I didn't like the idea, but the bigger ones were unaffordable.

I added them to the tank and switched the lights off. They were getting chased all around by the other fish and I was worried they'd be eaten. So I sat in front of the tank and watched for a while. Something really surprised me then.

Just yesterday night the three female peacocks were still chasing the male around and I was remarking to my Mum that he was such a wimp. Interestingly all the fish were very spooked over the last few days for some reason. Instead of coming out to greet me they usually hid in the rockwork and only emerged later when they knew I wasn't a threat.

The funniest thing I noted today, as I sat in front of the tank with the lights switched off, is that the male peacock has become more aggressive overnight. Now he chases all the female peacocks. He leaves the electric yellows alone and in a confrontation with the dominant male electric yellow, he moves away.

But man, the change of hierarchy and seemingly overnight. He's been coloring up slowly over the last week or so but was still subject to abuse by the females up till yesterday night. Today things have reversed and he's giving all the females a hard time.

These fish are interesting and I don't regret all the expense to keep them.

Now, the only worry would be the bristlenose catfish, which could be at risk of getting eaten alive.
 
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