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My first post, but I've been lurking & learning for the past two months. Wow, there's a lot to learn about these Malawi species!
I tore down my 15-yr-old 75 gal (was planted with CO2 tank and ferts, then was a b/b + driftwood discus tank for last 7 years) and built a foam- cement backdrop and rocks to set up a tank for Malawi cichlids. I added a 30 gal sump in anticipation of higher feeding and stocking. Tank has been filled and running for two weeks seeded with biofilter from another tank's sponge filter, and pH and hardness are upped with seachem salt & buffer because our well water has low pH, Gh and dH (it was ideal for the discus, though).

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So now we're thinking about the fish to get! And I'd love some feedback on our thoughts - throw darts at it, give me constructive criticism, etc.
Overall numbers: ultimately 20 or so depending on size.
Varieties: here's where these Malawi's get confusing - so many kinds, and many don't play well with others.
We'd like a multi species tank.
My wife is attracted to the OB Peacocks (read, that's how I got authorization to start this project) so your good points about hybrids and pure strains aside, 2-3 of these are going in there.
Could I add other Peacocks? Something from the true Aulonocara? More than 1 species of them?
What about also P. Acei? And/or yellow labs? These both appeal to me for their colors; I'd give P. Acei the edge if I had to choose just one.
What about Cynotilapia afra? Is this a stretch?
I'm trying to take a page from the "cookie cutter" setups, but have questions about how far I could stretch this.
What about sex ratios?
Opinions about their age & size when added?
Any other suggestions that would fit in the mix? We live in southern New England USA so we have access to some good LFS.
Lastly, how many to get at a time, in what order?

Thanks!
 

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4 species with 1m:4f of each is a good starting place.

Acei, afra and labs are good.

If you have mixed gender you want only one peacock species.

OB peacocks could be your 4th species with mbuna but note they are hybrids. Do 1m:4f of them as well. Multiple males which are all OB probably will not work.
 
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