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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As much as I like my yellow labs, I'm seriously considering swapping them out for two reasons:
1. I have M. estherae as well (notorius hybrid risk).
2. My labs are marginal quality specimens as compared to my other fish.

Current setup & stock:

120g 4x2x2 with wet/dry
M. estherae orange - 2m/2f
P. acei - 2m/2f
Labs - 2m/2f
N. Venustus - single female (I think)
Hap. sp. 44 - single male
BN Pleco - single female
(15 fish total)

The groups were all unsexed when I bought them. The fact that they all came out 2m/2f is total coincidence. I have acei and estherae juvies growing out, so in a few months I plan to adjust those groups in the 120 to 1m/4-5f. Ultimately I figure I'll have 3 groups of 6, plus the 3 singles for a total of 21. If there's room to add another compatible single or two and/or a 2nd pleco, then I will.

So if I take out the labs, what's an ideal replacement. Here are my considerations:
1. Yellow or other light coloration that will be a nice contrast with the acei blue and the estherae orange.
2. Temperment that will make for a harmonious community with the others listed.
3. Minimal hybrid risk. I know any mouth brooding Malawis can cross, but I want to eliminate the high liklihood mixes (ie. estherae/lab).
4. Reasonably easy to find. I'm not in a great cichlid area and am not likely to find any overly exotic species close to me.

I considered M. msobo, but being the same genus and similar appearance to the estherae, I imagine they're just as likely to cross breed as the labs and estherae. I also considered P. saulosi, but since the yellow in the females leans toward the orangy side, I thought they may be too similar looking to my estherae to create the visual diversity I was going for. So now I'm wondering about L. textilis. The yellow/white pattern is attractive and different from anything else in the tank, and the temperment seems right. What about hybridizing? Would they be likely (assuming I had one male with a harem) to mix with any of the others?

If you've had textilis and estherae together, please share your experience. Also, if you have any other candidates you think I should consider based on the criteria above, please let me know. Thanks in advance for the input.
 

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I'm not familiar with the textilis but a fish I have and that's in most LFS around me is albino socolofi. I think the stark white of them really stands out and looks stunning. They should get along fine with red zebras and acei. Mine do anyway.
 

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You won't find L. textilis anywhere. A very close looking fish is Melanochromis joanjohnsonae (spelling?). Males get blue like socolofi, females keep the plaid pattern. They're nasty buggers but should be fine in that tank (acei might get bullied a little, but they already will with that mix, eventually).

Saulosi females usually aren't orange. At least not in my experience.

Get at least 4 more female red zebras OR 1-2 more and remove 1 male. Get 4 more acei (at least) so they feel safe and can school.

You can still get quite a few more fish in there (probably 20-25 mbuna total and 5-6 haps).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
dielikemoviestars said:
Get at least 4 more female red zebras OR 1-2 more and remove 1 male. Get 4 more acei (at least) so they feel safe and can school.
Thanks for the input. As noted above, I plan to add females and cut back to one male in the groups. There's really no serious drama in the tank now, so I figure I have time to grow out my acei and estherae fry and reintroduce some of them to rebalance my mix.
 
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