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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

My name's Moni & I am from Pakistan. My son wanted to keep some fish so we went & bought 8 Cichlid juveniles. Details being: 2 Auratus, 4 Kenyi & 3 Electric Yellow. We have put them in our L: 30" X H: 15" X W: 12" aquarium. I will appreciate if you could guide me how to go about from this point onwards...
 

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Hello and welcome to Cichlids forum! All your fishes fall into the lake Malawi Mbuna category, and they are truly beautiful and fun pets if you keep them right. Warm, hard water is what they thrive in.

First things first, is your aquarium cycled or not? If not, it might be well worth your efforts to read http://www.firsttankguide.net/
and, from this site, http://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/cycling.php

Secondly, perhaps it is worth getting some information on your assemblage of fishies. The following should do it
Auratus - http://www.cichlid-forum.com/profiles/s ... php?id=750 (picture is an adult male, yours are probably yellow with white and black stripes along the top)
Kenyi - http://www.cichlid-forum.com/profiles/s ... php?id=798 (nowadays many pseudotropheus have been renamed metriaclima in their scientific names)
Electric Yellow - http://www.cichlid-forum.com/profiles/s ... hp?id=1669

After doing this, you should now know that you have vegetarian fishes, and that you should match their diet to that (more info, try - http://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/f ... chlids.php.)

A few last words. Cichlids are territorial, agressive fish. The most peaceful species is generally agreed upon to be the electric yellows. They need space. The smallest aquarium that people generally agree you can keep them in is a 45 gallon aquarium (more or less 3' long, not 30'').
Agression is managed by providing them with enough space, and then 'overstocking' that space. Agression is also managed by keeping them in good proportions of males and females.
This means (as a general rule) one male to three or four females.

melanochromis auratus is probably one of the most agressive fishes in the mbuna group. I don't know how to advise succesful keeping of these guys.

Having said this, the well being of your fishes should be your primary concern. Firstly, make sure the tank water is liveable - This means equip yourself with the relevant knowledge - i.e., get a tester kit (I know they're expensive, but they really make a HUGE difference in your ability to keep happy, healthy fish).
Secondly, if you're planning on keeping Mbuna cichlids you need to do two things. You really do need a larger tank. Not only will it be less maintainance (your tank might be too small for a bacterial colony to form to keep toxic chemicals down - meaning (like a fish bowl) 50% daily water changes will be necessary). Trust me. Larger tank. And soon!
The other thing is that you need to keep a careful eye on your fish, and probably adjust your stocking. Extra agressive males will have to go back to the fish shop (LFS - local fish shop) and additional femals might be necessary to create balance. This is part of keeping cichlids.

If this does not sound possible, please consider changing your tank to small tropical fishes, that are not agressive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the detailed reply Nina_B...

Yes the water in the tank came from my Cousin's aquarium who keeps Tropical Fish...

I have a test kit & the PH in my tank is around 8...

Being juveniles how do you suggest I differentiate the sexes? All the fish are nearly an 1 inch...
 

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It's a pleasure. :)

The bacteria that will keep your water healthy lives on rocks, plants and in filter media, not in the water. If you can, get a filter from him that is already established with biomedia. Either way, please keep an eye on ammonia and nitrites, both are poisonous to fish in very small quantities. This is more what I was refering to when I spoke of testing - ammonia, nitrIte and nitrAte tests. While cycling with fish, you really do need to keep ammonia and nitrite under or around 1 ppm.

Ah, juveniles. There really isn't much way to sex them as of yet. Some things that might give you an indication would be spots on the anal fin - males have more of them. The only real way to know who is what sex is to let them grow out - most of these fishes end up 5'' in length (the auratus are a bit smaller). Well before they reach this size, males will either change colour (auratus males go black and blue) or the egg spots will be visible. Their behaviour also differes from females (except the auratus). They'll be more aggresive, and will usually banish lesser males to the upper corners of the tank, or to behind the filter).

Note again - 5'' in length. Which means they literally won't be able to swim if there's eight of them in your aquarium. They won't be able to form any sensible groups, or territory. Long before they're half way grown, they'll either poison themselves with their waste, or one fish will kill the rest, sooner or later, and even after then it will be stressed constantly as it is too small for it to swim any more than back and forth. I know I'm harping on about this, but this seems like so much more of an issue to me than the sex of your fish right now. Sorry.

Most of us here on the forums buy more juveniles than we want (double, more or less), and as males become apparent, we fish them out, and take them back to the LFS. Usually they'll take them back, sometimes for store credit, sometimes for cash, sometimes for half of what they sell for, when they sell. This helps establish peaceful colonies of fish, which usually rewards the keeper with lots of spawning.

There is a surefire way to sex a fish, known as venting. I've never tried, nor will I likely, because I'm scared to do it. The article below discusses sexing fishes, and the issue of venting.

http://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/gender.php
 

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Now that I'm on typing this, it's worth knowing that malawi mbunas are called that because they are rock dwellers - mbuna literally means rock dweller. In their tank they require lots and lots of rocks for them to hide in. The lots of rocks helps them to hide from an agressive fish as well. Plants will usually be eaten, but I have a flourishing java fern with mine. Apparently it's a bitter plant, so they don't eat it.

Why not browse through the 'aquarium setups' forum, and take a look at the pictures of mbuna tanks? I've found them inspirational in my aquascaping efforts.
http://www.cichlid-forum.com/phpBB/view ... 9dcf3ffc7b

(All this of course is a moot point until you upgrade aquarium, but it's worth keeping in mind for long term fishy happiness)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks again...

I agree with the need for a larger tank and understand your emphasis on this.

Referring to the Ammonia, Nitrite & Nitrate levels, the fish have been in the tank for the past 10 days now & have been doing well so far, so i am guessing they are all at the required levels.

I'll be buying the larger tank during the weekend. How large should it be? I don't think 6" should make much of a difference. i have a 30" tank & 3" makes 36". Should i go for 42"? What about the height and width?
 

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have you changed any water during the past 10 days? If not, please do a small water change (around 30%) of the water immediately. Siphon it out, taking the opportunity to clean whatever substrate you have. Water changes are a weekly duty to keep fish healthy. Shouldn't take more than ten minutes :)

I'm not sure about the sizes, since I use metric units. Try for 55 gallons (which is the minimum size any of the specias guides say mbunas can be kept at) or larger. Longer, rather than deeper is better (more swimming territory). I'm sure the LFS will help. I think 48'' by 13'' by 20'' is pretty standard in this regard.

In that size tank, you can think of keeping two species in harems, or an 'all male' tank.

I would suggest keeping a very, very close eye on your auratus. If any fins show signs of nipping or harassment, consider taking those guys back. They're grumpy. Immensly grumpy.

Best of luck with your fishes :)
 

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Auratus are among the most difficult cichlids to keep because they are so aggressive. Some suggest a 72" tank for auratus, but if that is not an option, I would not go smaller than a 75 gallon tank that is 48" long and 18" front-to-back.

Kenyi have similar issues. I'd do 1m:7f of each to spread the aggression of the male across a large number of females.

When buying unsexed juveniles we often buy extra fish. If the odds of getting a female are 50% and you need 7 females...buy 14 fish (or more). Then as the males mature you can remove them and sell them back to the fish store or other hobbyists. Females can have more egg spots so that isn't always a good indicator.

Along with the tank, why not buy a test kit for pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate? The fish don't always show signs of distress when toxins are in the tank. Why not test the water so you can adjust before permanent damage is done?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks Nina_b and DJRansome for the guidance.

Yes I have changes around 25% water once.

You are right, the bigger the better. Will get more fish when I get the aquarium during the weekend.

Good idea about the other test kits, will do that too.

Will try and upload a couple of pics of my setup on a day or two.
 

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looking forward to the pictures :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Can I keep snails in my tank?

Also do I need an air pump in the set-up? I currently have one...
 

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Air pumps are not necessary. Filters are more efficient at oxygenating the water than air stones. Shoot for gallons-per-hour at the rate of seven times the gallons of your tank, up to ten times.

Mbuna love to eat snails.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks DJRansome.

Will get the larger filter at the weekend ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hi again,

Got the bigger tank and the filter too.

Got 4 more fish as none of the sellers had any CICHLIDS..... :( Just got 2 Auratus and 2 Electric Yellow.

BTW 1 of my Electric Yellows seems to go missing for days. This has happened twice now. It doesn't even appear at feeding time but suddenly appears out of nowhere after 2 or 3 days.

Got a few more rocks and have ordered a few more to get the rockwork upto the water level on the sides.
 

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Seems to me the hiding fishy might be getting bullied. Hope you enjoy your tank :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Oh yes we do. So far so good. Not much fighting just a bit of chasing...

Lets keep our fingers crossed...
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I will appreciate if you could guide me about feeding the cichlids.

I am currently feeding them twice daily and feed them the normal pallets (green & red ones), flakes, New Life sinking pellets, Hikari Cichlid Excel & blood worms (occasionally).
 

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Stop the blood worms, the malawi cichlids you are keeping are mostly vegetarians, and too much protein makes them succeptible to bloat. Go for a small (and I mean small) pinch in the morning and evening, only as much as they can devour in 30 seconds. They are going to look ravenous, pretty much always. That's how it should be.
 

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mine absolutely love a little block of defrosted carrot or a defrosted pea as a treat.
Blanched spinach also makes a good treat.
Some people manage to get theirs to eat zuccini and cucumber, the cucumber has very little nourishment, and mine as yet have not taken a liking to zuccini.

About the fish you never see, that's pretty normal in a new tank, they can take a few weeks to settle in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks.

I just gave the freezedried bloodworms once a week but will stop them now.

I didn't know they should be given this small a portion. I give them as much as they can eat in 2 - 3 minutes.

Changed 15% water earlier today. Is it OK if i change 15 - 20% twice a week?
 
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