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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all!

Long time lurker, first post! I've been keeping Apisto's and Discus in planted tanks for 15 years, until I moved a year ago and gave away all my tanks. I had never thought about starting a Mbuna tank until last month, when I inherited a Top-Fin 50 gallon long tank with stock LED lighting, tank dimensions are 48.25″ length x 12.75″ wide x 20″ high.

I had some questions about starting the mbuna tank, I have done some research and my "answers" or constraints are in parentheses, any help/suggestions will be very helpful/

1. Equipment: I am planning on going with 2 AC 70's (do not have enough space for a canister filter under the cabinet); For rock-scape, I'm planning on using slate and "fake" Seiryu stones. Are 2 AC 70's are adequate for filtration?

2. Stocking: I am thinking about 1m4f of the following three species: Chindongo Saulosi (difficult to acquire apparently, so any help sourcing these will be much appreciated!), Labidochromis Hongi "Red Top" OR Pseudotropheus Acei Yellow Tail, and Cynotilapia Hara "White Top" OR Pseudotropheus "Orange cap Perspicax" Ndumbi . Any red flags and/or preference suggestions between the options? (I would like some "red" in the tank, but couldn't find a good starter mbuna, I want the tank to be as colorful as possible without a bloodbath :) ).

.I would like to get adults (2.5") instead of juveniles if possible. Do you add all the fish at once or each species at a time. If one species at a time, what is the best order to add them?

Thank you all for your input, I am super excited to get this tank going!
 

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Some like the look of the slate stacks, but I've found the more natural piles of roundish rock to be utilized much better by the fish.

If you do a proper fishless cycle with ammonia, you should be able to add all your stock at once.
 

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Is purchasing a standard 75 gallon totally out of the question for you?

The 50 is technically doable, but even the dwarf species will really appreciate the extra 6 inches of width.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Is purchasing a standard 75 gallon totally out of the question for you?

The 50 is technically doable, but even the dwarf species will really appreciate the extra 6 inches of width.
I would love to ... but I have some space constraints :( It'll have to be the 12" width.
 

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Fair enough. I've personally never kept perspicax, but they seem extremely aggressive from what I've seen. I'd keep a close eye on them if you do end up getting a group of them.

And you'll want rocks piled the entire length of the tank and at least half the height for any mbuna species. I was shocked to see just how much it reduces aggression to add more rocks. I was having issues with one of my males relentlessly terrorizing his females. I just kept adding more rocks. Every time, the aggression decreased until it was eventually no longer an issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Fair enough. I've personally never kept perspicax, but they seem extremely aggressive from what I've seen. I'd keep a close eye on them if you do end up getting a group of them.

And you'll want rocks piled the entire length of the tank and at least half the height for any mbuna species. I was shocked to see just how much it reduces aggression to add more rocks. I was having issues with one of my males relentlessly terrorizing his females. I just kept adding more rocks. Every time, the aggression decreased until it was eventually no longer an issue.
Thank you, I will pile up the rocks :). Is it possible for any Lab species to interbreed (say Hongi and Caeruleus)? I don't plan to sell/raise any fry but just curious.
 

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@DwarfCic : The African Cichlid species and stocking recommendations you're getting from @Kagia are looking very good. :)
So, let's discuss your proposed filtration.
GOOD: One is none? Placing two filters (primary life support equipment?) on the aquarium, makes outstanding sense. That is, redundancy in case one fails. Additionally, providing a more uniform level of current, oxygenation and water movement throughout the water column of your aquarium will definitely be appreciated by your African Cichlids.
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Feedback: An Aquaclear 70 may not provide 'enough' filter for the aquarium. Dual AC70's will give you a nice level of surplus filtration capacity, yes. However..... if one fails? A single AC70 will be pushed to it's limit and may NOT provide sufficient filtration capacity for a 50 gallon African Cichlid tank, set up with adult-sized fish. I strongly recommend that you move up to either a pair of AC110's or Tidal 110's.
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Tidal 110 - this one has an interesting surface skimming feature, that actually seems to work. If you go with a pair of AC110's, I would recommend that you also place an air stone or wand in the tank to break up the surface (protein) film, which will inevitably build up in a fully stocked African Cichlid tank.
Canister Filtration - the 'ultimate' filtration would be to provide a single, small canister filter along with either an AC or Tidal 110. Setting up that canister with an in-line heater mounted onto the discharge hose would be a very nice touch. That sort of thing helps your aquarium look much nicer and will promote more efficient heating of the water (less $$$). You might be surprised at how easy it is to (discretely) site a smaller sized canister filter either behind or even beside the aquarium it serves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
@Auballagh : Thank you for the detailed feedback. I have always had canister filters in my discus tanks, I absolutely loved my Fluval XP5. I don't have the space right now around this set up (long story) but I'll keep your suggestion in mind. I'll go with the two Tidal 110s for now and maybe upgrade to an XP4 or XP6 at some point.

Additional questions:
Do you have any recommendations for a "white" sand-like substrate that won't be too much of a pain to clean? I was going to go with Aragonite (something like this: https://www.amazon.com/AquaNatural-African-CICHILD-Aragonite-ARAGAF010/), but just wanted a sanity check. How deep should the sand bed be?

Do you suggest a certain level of stocking for this set up? I have heard anywhere from 15 (what I have proposed) to 25 (!!) for the 50 gallon.

Thank you again!
 

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Pool filter sand and one inch for substrate.

I agree perspicax are too aggressive and acei are too big. Further I would avoid having more than one species with blue bars...hongi and saulosi and hara for example.

Actually I would skip the hongi in this tank size as they are on the aggressive side.

The closest thing to red in mbuna is Metriaclima estherae (red zebra). The orange blotch in my avatar is the red zebra. Avoid yellow labs if you go with the estherae.
 

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Some are more aggressive the others, but Metriaclima estherae is OK.
 

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One thing I don't like about Metriaclima in a 50 gallon is that some Metriaclima species can get quite large (7"+) when full grown, and it just looks very cramped in a tank with a 12" width.
 

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Agree, they are large and also aggressive. And not as red as estherae. Beware photos with flattering lighting, showing fish to buyers in ways they rarely look in person.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
@Kagia @DJRansome, Thank you both for your insight.

I think I'll have to think of a different strategy now based on all the advice. Here is what I came up with: C.Saulosi, M.Estherae, P.Socolofi :OR: C. Hara, L. Caeruleus, I.Sprengerae.

I think the second option is probably "safer" but I really like the dimorphic Saulosi :/ Is there some other combination of this that might work with Saulosi?
 

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I would choose the second combo because the female saulosi and the estherae would be too much yellow/orange in the tank for me.

Honestly in a 48x12 I would do 3m:9f saulosi as a species tank.

For 3 species saulosi, socolofi and white labs? Or saulosi, socolofi and rusties.
 
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