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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In September, '07 my female gave birth in a 20 gallon long tank to 17 fry, one of which succumbed early on, leaving me with 16 fry, 9 of which were eventually moved with their mother into a 29 gallon tank, while 7 offspring were left to grow out in the 20 long.

At approximately 4 months old, 2 males of the 7 juvies in the 20 long began to color up. They reached full color in a few weeks, and were both absolutely stunning. None of the juvies in the 29 gallon were coloring up, so a little over a month ago, I decided to swap one of the males from the 20 long with one of the females in the 29 gallon to give the 29 some color.

Interestingly, the fully-colored male I placed in the 29 turned completely back to yellow over the next two days. I figured it was because he was the new fish in the cell block, and would need time to adjust. After an entire month, his blue color never came back. Since the mother is still signficantly larger, I figured she might be too dominant in the tank, so 3 days ago, I set up my 5-gallon Q-tine tank and placed her in it. I reasoned that maybe without her in the tank, the male might color back up and once he did that, I could probably release Mama back into the general population, and the male would probably stay colored up.

Imagine my surprise when within hours a different male, who had previously shown no signs yet of coloring up, began to change color. By that first night without Mama in the tank, he got his vertical bars. The next day is yellow turned to gray, and tonight his gray is turning light blue. At the rate at which is he coloring up, I figure by the end of the week, his transformation will be complete.

Note that the previously blue male orignially from the 20 long is still trying keeping his "male-ness" a secret, and hasn't shown any interest whatsoever in becoming blue again. So, here is my question:

I know that often a dominant fish's colors are more brilliant than the sub-doms, but is it possible that in this species, only one male in a given territory will undergo and maintain the color change to blue?

I'm phrasing this question this way because in the 20 long, where the other blue male still resides, it has become obvious that there are two more males in the tank. Now, the two other males are the same age as the brilliantly blue-colored male, and the three of them have been together in the same tank since day one, yet the two other males have not tried to change color at all.

On the other hand, is it typical in this species that sub-som males won't color up at all until they reach full adulthood because of the dominant male, but that they will eventually completely blue-up at some point as they get older, regardless of the presence of a dominant male? If so, how long does this usually take?

I really hope the sub-dom males will eventually color up because I have 5 males to 12 females and that would be a great ratio to spread over these two tanks, not to mention how colorful these tanks would be.

Thanks in advance, especially to those who may have experienced what I'm experiencing right now.
 

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Out of 10 purchased as yellow juveniles 7 were male, 3 were female. In a 125 gallon tank, 3 males were fully colored, one male was light blue, two were not yellow but not blue either. One male was removed because it was living in the corner with no where to go. Mine never changed back once they started to change color. Some of the males I thought were female for sure because they did not start the color change until months after the first ones. I gave some males away and will be getting another female soon ending up with 3M/5F.
 

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i would think its the tank size... if you had a longer tank they might have enough territory to fully color up. just a thought
 

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This is quite common actually. If you read some of the notes about this fish collected in the wild, many males keep the female coloring.

It is also quite common that if a larger, more dominant cichlid (even female) is in the tank, the male won't color well. I had a 55g hex (36" around) that I used as a species tank for saulosi for many years. Rarely would I ever have more than 3 males colored up. If a male was added after the fact and was a much smaller size, he never would fully color.

I agree with others that the difference in sizes between the fish and the small footprint are the main factors in why the males aren't coloring up well in the 29g compared to the 20g.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the replis folks.

chapman76: The footprint on the 20g is the same as the 29g, except that the 29g is taller. This made it even more perplexing as to why the 2 males in the 20g colored up, but when one was moved into the 29, he went back to yellow.

Update: Now that the large female has been out of the 29g for 6 days, the secondary male is almost entirely blue, while the previously blue male remains in a neutral color state.

It appears that it may indeed be a case of tank size. Since I now kow that I have 5 males, I guess I might consider putting them in my 55.

Why I have a feeling I already know the answers, what the heck: Does anyone know if Saulosis would be OK in a tank with large Greshakei, Acei, Yellow Lab, Socolofi males? Will the larger Mbunas attempt to breed with the dwarf Saulosis?
 
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