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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just picked up a custom tank that fits the built in cabinets in my house...it's a little smaller than ideal for a malawi tank but I was hoping to keep some mbuna anyways. Dimensions are 42 inches long, 15 deep, 18 high. I make it out to be around 48 gallons. What are the thoughts on options for this 3.5 foot tank? Stick to just dwarf mbuna? I was kind of hoping to keep Hongi, Maingano, and yellow labs but that may be too ambitious.

Thanks for any input.
 

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Too ambitious IMO. I would do hongi and maingano in a 48x18 tank or larger.

Cynotilapia zebroides Cobue have a similar look to hongi, and you could do the yellow labs with them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, I think you are right, when I had Hongi it was in a 75 gallon and the dominant male was the boss of the entire tank, he tolerated the other species males but wasn't shy about asserting his dominance when they drifted close.

It's a weird size tank so I should probably stick to the mellower species and/or dwarfs.

I like the look of the "Cobue" cynos, but I haven't seen them before in the LFS.

A readily available combo that would seem to work on paper are Rusties, Labs, and a Cyno species like the Cobue or possibly Hara which are probably easier to find for me.
 

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I would not go 3 species...this is a 42" tank as you say. The Hara is larger and more aggressive than the zebroides Cynotilapia.

Labs and rusties would work too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Could you do Rusties and the Cobue? I found a good deal on Rusties at the LFS, if they are solid colored and the cobue are barred and both mellow could that work? Do you need to worry about the sex ratio with C. Afra "cobue"?
 

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Yes rusties and cobue could work. You remove extra males as they mature if they cause trouble. I would expect the rusties and cobue to color best with one male of each in the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Okay sounds good. So I found some Rusties at the LFS and some Cobue online. I added the Rusties (6 of them about 4 days ago, about and inch to 1.5 inches, within 4 hours I found a dead one. Suspecting some type of new tank shock I took it back, and they replaced it, and for good measure I bought two more hoping to end up with 1m/3f. Now counting this morning 3 more have been killed, and I say killed because they look like they'd been in a fight and died quickly thereafter. the Nitrite is .25 ppm, I am doing a change for good measure but I had the LFS test for Ammonia as well as NItrates after the first death and all were zero. I added a whole bottle of quick start with the first round of fish after cycling for 5 days. Also if it was the water I should see all the fish seeming a bit off, whereas it's just one haggard looking fish all of a sudden and the rest look happy and swimming and eating.

FYI water is 81 degrees, pH is 8.2, filtration is Eheim 2217, changing 1/3 of the water today and another 1/3 in 48 hours to be sure that's not it.

Is this normal behaviour for Rusties? I thought they were reputed to be one of the mellower cichlids but they are behaving like a group of demasoni (under a dozen!)

I'm in two minds, add more fish soon to crowd the tank up more or do nothing until some stability is reached!
 

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I would cycle the tank without fish and with ammonia. It is not expected for rusties to kill each other 4 hours after adding them to the tank, but you should not have any nitrites either.

What pH are they at at the LFS? I have seen fish in pH shock, but never seen one die of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The LFS says their pH is around 8 as well, San Diego tap water has a lot of residual Alk. and Calcium and Magnesium Hardness as well, comes out of the tap at pH above 8 usually, so unless the LFS is really bad at water changes or is buffering down I would believe them. Nitrites/Nitrates/Ammonia all were zero the day after the first fish died. I checked the nitrites at home next day and were still zero, but crept up to .25 today, so 30% water already changed. I'll check it again tomorrow. I have ever used Quick start before, maybe it's a bunk product and there aren't enough bacteria in the cannister yet, although again, I would expect all the fish to distressed if it was wth water quality. Plus at least 2 of the fish had visible injuries and were panting heavily before they died, though this was 24-72 hours into being added, only one fish died 'right away'
 

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No it is common that one fish shows the stress and the rest seem fine initially.

Aggression deaths usually take longer, it is a long slow harassment over many days with the fish lurking under the surface or behind filter intakes or heaters.

A death in 4 hours from aggression would be like a blunt force trauma from being rammed which can happen but I have never seen.

Did you observe relentless chasing on the part of one of the fish?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I did not observe any fighting, just normal mbuna chasing off from a cave or what not. However two of the fish that died were hiding behind the spray bar or heater for the last half day before they died, so it seems consistent with behaviour of a harassed fish. No deaths yesterday or today so far, maybe just a really nasty male killing off the other males, or really bad luck (really doubt its the water quality at this point, nitrites are testing somewhere between 0 and .25 ppm, def not going up but am going to change another bucket out to stay ahead of it just in case)
 

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Which one is chasing the most? Maybe he needs to go?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
It's hard to tell, I think there was one doing most of the chasing but it never looked that mean, he seems (assuming he) to have mellowed out a little over the last few days as well. I'm going to wait a few more days for the nitrites to stabilize at 0 ppm and if there is no more violence probably go ahead and order some Afra Cobue.
 
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