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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi

This is the first time I've ever been on a forum before. I'd just like some advice on setting up my first mbuna aquarium. I won't be setting it up until July, this is just a rough planning stage so any advice would be appreciated.

First, I'll be fishless cycling and adding most (if not all) of the fish at once.

I'll try to create as many caves as i can. I think I'll use slate or some other flat rock as I like the look of them all stacked. I would have liked to use a dark substrate but I live in a soft water area, and I need a subtrate to buffer. If you could, is there a dark subtrate that can buffer well?

I would like to start with 8-10 yellow labs and 6-8 pseudotropheus acei. I've heard that they're quite peaceful. I'd also love 15-20 demasoni, but I hear they're very aggressive - but I do love their look. I read if their in larger groups their aggression is not as severe :lol: The tank is 80 gallons so I'm assuming that's big enough for these fish!

Any other helpful advice would be great for anything I've missed, as I say I AM a newbie!!

Also, if anyone lives in Glasgow here, are there any good shops where I can get quality cichlids?

Thanks
 

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Welcome to the Forum Mbuna-Glasgow. :)

Sounds like you've done a lot of research. I would go with either the higher number of Labs and Acei along the lower number of Dems or the lower number Labs, Acei and the higher number of Dems. Either way your very close to maxed out. I'm sure it will be an awesome looking display.

I would recommend very high filtration (8-10x the tank volume) and generous use of the slate. I don't know of any dark substrate that will buffer your water but, depending on what type of filtration you have you may be able to go with just about anything for substrate and place a good buffering media inside a nylon and add it to a filter so it's constantly circulating through the tank.

Good luck and don't forget to post a pic when it's finished.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply iceblue I didn't realise someone would respond so quickly!

On your note on stocking I might leave out the acei's altogether and go for a higher number of demasoni and 6-8 (possibly 10 max) yellow labs. However I've been looking through the forums and there's alot of people with 55 gallon tanks that are stocking with 15 dems, and similar numbers of labs and acei to my plan, all with advice from others. And I like the yellow, blue and violet combo so I'll decide later :p

I'll be using the Juwel internal filter (bio sponges, carbon and nitrate sponges) with a Fluval 405 (350gph) or FX5 external (600gph), predominantly for bio filtration. So if I'm right I should have enough filtration with the FX5 and Juwel Internal for 8x tank volume per hour. I don't know if these filters have space for something like crushed coral inside the filter - I'll have to check that!

I know I have soft water, being from Scotland. I know that this can cause pH swings, and cichlids like harder water, so I'll have to raise GH and KH. But I read in Practical Fishkeeping that Scotland has soft ALKALINE water, which I think is strange. So I'll need to check that when the test kit comes.

If I do use something to raise pH/hardness in the tank, will this not mean that pH/hardness flucuation will occur in water changes? Or will I use a buffer before water changes? I've read good things about Seachem's Malawi buffer, but I'm wary of using things like that in case they do more harm than good!

I'm going to take lots of time setting up this time - I'm waiting until after we come back from our holiday in Florida before I get started.

As for fishless cycling, I don't think I will be able to get hold of pure ammonia. Will Waterlife's Biomature act similarly, and should I try using Bio-Spira or is it a waste of money?

Thanks in advance for any advice! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
OK I've been reading alot about how demasoni have killed off lots of people's fish, and I'm getting put off. Are there any other similarly coloured fish that aren't as aggressive. I've read about pseudotropheus saulosi, but the females are yellow (like labs - too much yellow and crossbreeding may be an issue) and only one male would become the deep blue with stripes. I'll probably visit an LFS at the weekend. There is one that I usually go to that seems good - but I've seen another that says on their site they sell wild caught malawi cichlids. I've only been there once and that was before I decided on Mbuna so I didn't ask him about that.

I'll update with any decisions I make for any of you that would like to know
 

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However I've been looking through the forums and there's alot of people with 55 gallon tanks that are stocking with 15 dems, and similar numbers of labs and acei to my plan, all with advice from others. And I like the yellow, blue and violet combo so I'll decide later
A lot of things have worked for other people, maybe even long term. However the Acei prefer larger groups and at 6" in length in a 4' long 55g I just don't see them behaveing as naturally as they would in a longer tank. Jmo. :) You might also consider the Rusties. Not quite a violet shade but the purple surrounded by the rust color is awesome and pictures just don't do them justice.

You should have more then enough filtration and I'm sure whatever you decide to stock will do well.

But I read in Practical Fishkeeping that Scotland has soft ALKALINE water, which I think is strange. So I'll need to check that when the test kit comes.
Check your water out of tap and then put some aside in a bucket. Run a bubbler in it for a day or two and check the parameters again. This second reading will be your baseline for what you need to add to bring it up to a hardness and Ph you would be comfortable with. I'm sure you probably availed yourself to the library but just in case here's a couple of good articles to make your own buffer much more cheaply then buying it.

http://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/buffer_recipe.php
http://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/gh_kh_ph.php

Usually here in the states we find the right ammonia at the cheap no frills stores and sometimes at the the home improvement stores. If you can find the right stuff I would highly recommend the fishless cycle. I would rather add my fish all at once to a front loaded filter then to add the bacteria and fish all at once. If you go with adding the bacteria along with the fish moniter the water quality closely. Some have had problems with mini cycles going this route.

OK I've been reading alot about how demasoni have killed off lots of people's fish,
Thats one of the things Mbuna do that makes them such a challenge. I think your stock list as originaly written would be fine. One rule of thumb is to not mix males (or females) species of similar stripe and color. They will see each other as compitition for food, females and territory.
Nothing is perfect, just like people, personalities within species can vary quite a bit. Some males can go hyper-dominant and should be removed from the tank. I have no doubt most of us have had losses due to aggression. A little patience and careful attention to what's going on in your tank will help avoid most of these problems.

Don't get discouraged. Mbuna are wonderful fish and part of the attraction besides color and activity is thier aggressive nature. :thumb:
 

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I've got a lot to add, but my ISP at home is playing up. Suffice to say I'm making the transition (albeit very slowly from CA's), going with P.acei and P.saulosi only - less is more. Was recommended the Labs/Demasoni combo but likewise was put of by the super aggressive nature of the dems.

Will update tomorrow with more (from work :wink: ) - had responded earlier to find my router overheated!
 

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What's the dimension of the tank? I'd say if u put 15 juvi dems, chances r pretty good they'll all be O.K. Make sure u have lots of caves. It's worth the try if u ask me....I still get mesmerize when I look at my tank full of Dems, YL and M. Maingano. :lol: I have a male Ps. Saulosi, but I still prefer the darker, thicker black bars of the Ps. Demasoni. :thumb:
 

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I had written a lot earlier, but my router denied me posting. There must be a lot of discus keepers up north, with that soft water :wink: Was in Arran a while ago and picked up a load of cobbles from the seashore for my tank - aquascaping is part of the challange of mbuna. Some people like piles of cobbles, others lava rock, others holey rock - filled to the brim or not.

UK and US gallons are different volumes, so best to post the tanks dimensions (is it a rio 400?) as floorspace is critical with all cichlids.

Caribsea's Eco-Complete African substrate is really benefical (albeit a bit pricey) as it aids cycling and buffers the water. I bought it from here: http://www.aquatics-online.co.uk/catalogue/african-cichlid-substrate.asp

For fishless cycling you could use Tetra's SafeStart: http://www.aquatics-online.co.uk/catalogue/tetra.asp#product3426. Although I'd probably buy it from a LFS (as these products have a shelf life).

Re: stocking, Demasoni are absolutely striking, and well offset with Yellow Labs - a successful combo if the dems allow so (as suggested before, stock with 15-18 juveniles). Also, stock the least aggressive first if poss - but add all the dems together.
M.Cyaneorhabdos could be a substitute for the dems (but with horizontal stripes). Stocking is half the fun of mbuna!
 

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"mbuna-glasgow"

I'll be using the Juwel internal filter (bio sponges, carbon and nitrate sponges) with a Fluval 405 (350gph) or FX5 external (600gph)
I`m using Fluval FX5 in my 142 g and I just love this filter. I would recommend it to anyone with a tank from 55 g and up. Easy to clean and good filtration.

I'm going to take lots of time setting up this time - I'm waiting until after we come back from our holiday in Florida before I get started.
I like ur thinking. If u use ur time setting up u might be even more happy with the result. And half the fun is setting up the tank.

As for fishless cycling, I don't think I will be able to get hold of pure ammonia. Will Waterlife's Biomature act similarly, and should I try using Bio-Spira or is it a waste of money?
If u find it in ur LFS u could buy Sera nitrivec. I`ve had lots of good experience with this. Also if i get nitrate this works real good. At least in my tanks.

Thanks in advance for any advice! :D
U are so welcome. Good luck setting up. I wanna see pictures when u start. Love pics.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hi Thanks for all your replies - and all so QUICKLY! Lol

The tank dimensions are 121cm x 51cm (deep) and 62cm (height). The tank is a Juwel Rio 300. Realistically this is my max as its a birthday present and I'm only 14 (15 on the birthday). I may be able to scrounge a Juwel Rio 400 which is the same dimensions but 151cm wide. The tank is 80 US gallons. I'm so used to reading people say US gallons so even though I'm from the UK I just use US gallons :lol:

A lot of things have worked for other people, maybe even long term. However the Acei prefer larger groups and at 6" in length in a 4' long 55g I just don't see them behaveing as naturally as they would in a longer tank.
iceblue, this was someone else's tank which is smaller, but my 80 gallon tank is also 4 foot because Juwel don't do standard lengths lol. Would this be OK for acei?

I think I would be able to get some household ammonia in Homebase, is this the "right stuff"? I've found a good link for a fishless cycle and I'll be doing the Add Daily method as this tank will obviously be overstocked. Let me just find it...

This isnt the original but it's the same one but someone else stole it lol
http://www.fishlore.com/fishforum/aquar ... -tank.html

I've been thinking and I do like the dems, so I'll probably go with them. I also love the labs. If I go for the Rio 300 (litres) then I'll go with maybe 15+ demasoni and 6-10 yellow labs (any advice here would be great). If I go for the Rio 400 I'll do the above plus 6-8 acei as well. But I do think that another fish instead of the acei would be good as the acei isn't that spectacular-looking. For the Rio 400 (105 US gal) what colourful mbuna would you recommend that would contrast with the dems and labs but is not overly agressive. I don't want the red zebra as it will crossbreed with the labs.

Will update tomorrow with more (from work )
Lol I hope Im not keeping you off your work :lol:

I had written a lot earlier, but my router denied me posting. There must be a lot of discus keepers up north, with that soft water
Yes actually I was really tempted to get discus or angelfish and the like but I thought that they were all a bit samey, and I was really drawn to the colours and behaviour of mbuna. All I know about my tap water for sure is that its very soft (like 2*dH) and I have HEARD that it is alkaline (because Scottish Water add sodium hydroxide or something to raise pH to prevent corrosion) but I'd need a pH test kit which I'll get when I set up the tank in July.

Caribsea's Eco-Complete African substrate is really benefical (albeit a bit pricey) as it aids cycling and buffers the water.
Yes I've heard of this substrate, but I think it looks really unnatural (black and white). I also rarely believe such products when they claim they contain live bacteria etc.

I`m using Fluval FX5 in my 142 g and I just love this filter. I would recommend it to anyone with a tank from 55 g and up. Easy to clean and good filtration.
Linka, what filter media do you use and how often do you do maintenence on it?

Again thanks for all the advice!

Are there any Scottish cichlid keepers on here that could tell me their pH or any LFS which are good for cichlids?

I can't wait to set up the tank after all this time researching and I'll post some pics when I do! :D
 

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Linka, what filter media do you use and how often do you do maintenence on it?
In edition to the foam that come with the filter I use two packs ofBio-Balls and one packet Bio-Max. (The links are from an Norwegian webshop, but I put them in so u can see the pictures)
This set up has shown to keep my 540 l (142 g) malawitank cleen as a wistle... :thumb:
I maintenence my filter about once a year, maby twice if needed, but for now once is enough. No problem with bad waterquality or other problems. :thumb:
So I can only say good things about this filter and other external filters from Fluval.
 

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mbuna-glasgow said:
Yes I've heard of this substrate, but I think it looks really unnatural (black and white). I also rarely believe such products when they claim they contain live bacteria etc.
It looks different online than it does in real life, check this old video of my tank:

In the 1st tank I have that "Black & white" sand but it looks much more natural in the tank, and the fish love it. It's not for everyone, though. It looks a lot like the beach sand out here in California, actually. Just cleaner.
 

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mbuna-glasgow said:
Wow that looks alot lighter in your tank, gaqua.

Did you mix with a lighter sand or is this on its own?
That's the Sahara Sand color, 4 bags of it. (2 bags were eco complete and 2 bags were dry sand)



That's the eco complete, the dry stuff was exactly the same, but, well, it was dry.

Make sure you rinse the dry sand first, if you buy it, otherwise you get this:

 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hi gaqua thanks for the feedback.

I looked it up and the sahara dry mix looks almost orange on caribsea's webstite. Does it have that white look in your tank?

Did you mix the two sands or layer them?

Just out of interest how large is your tank and how long did it take you to rinse the 2 bags of dry sand?

That tank looks really cloudy! Did it take long to settle?

Thanks for your suggestions, as I said I didn't want a stark white aragonite as it would make the sand stand out instead of the fish. But I decided I'm not too keen on Tahitan Moon Sand so your sand is sort of in the middle - not too light not too dark! Thanks

In the 1st tank I have that "Black & white" sand but it looks much more natural in the tank, and the fish love it. It's not for everyone, though. It looks a lot like the beach sand out here in California, actually. Just cleaner.
Wow you must have some exotic sand there lol! I agree it does look natural in the tank and I actually quite like the look. CaribSea's sample pic was awful!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hi I'm just updating with some recent decisions that may change in time lol - I always change my mind! :lol:

I think I'll go for P. Saulosi, as they are quite peaceful and the males have the demasoni colours and the females have the yellow lab colours. I think it would be interesting to see the two opposites interact.

I would also like red zebras (metriaclima estherae?), do any of you know if they are overly agressive?

Any other species suggestions would be great! Would acei be a good choice?
 

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Nothing wrong with Acei, but I'd get Cynotilapia sp. hara Gallireya Reef instead. They are smaller, and you get females that are a nice mid-blue ranging from slate to purple blue. And males that are pale blue with a few narrow black bars.

I have both right now, must lose one species at year-end and will be getting rid of the Acei.

While I do think Saulosi are more peaceful than Demasoni, a fishkeeper who kept them for years said that he thought they were not quite as peaceful as advertised. But that will work out fine with the red zebras!
 
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