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stocking suggestions and questions

2497 Views 13 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  lloyd
OK, I've been checking out the site for a while and have read a lot of information and had some specific questions/concerns regarding what I'm thinking for a setup.

I'm thinking of about a 55 gallon long aquarium, would love a bigger one, but the reality is that it just doesn't fit anywhere very well if I get something bigger. This is a project that I'm doing with my two daughters ages 5 and 3. It is my project, but bear in mind, I have to explain everything that's going to go on in the tank to them and "Why?" is a common phrase heard these days. So some requirements:

1) I want to keep aggression to a minimum. If it happens, that's OK. I just don't particularly want massive murder or massive aggressive behavior. I've generally been thinking about some haps and peacocks, but am open to suggestions.
2) What do you do with all the babies if they "make it". First off, if we have fry I'm sure I can put them in another tank for protection till they're bigger, but then what? I probably don't want any more than one or two of the fish, especially if they breed often. I keep reading I should be keeping the fish in a harem to keep them happy, but to be honest, I want to keep breeding down to a minimum, not because my kids can't handle it, but because I don't know what to do with the fish when they get bigger.
3) I've read about keeping an all male tank to minimize breeding, which if buying juvies seems to require that you cull out the females and take them all back to the shop or whatever. I guess, I just wonder if it's possible to buy a single species juvie, not worry if it's male or female, put it in a tank of like tempered but different enough species to make sure they don't cross breed and have a workable tank that way? I don't want to have to regularly take out individuals, because this is a tank for my daughters too. If there's a personality difference every once in a while, I'm OK with the possible need to take one out. I just don't want it to have to be regular.

Thanks for any of your thoughts you can throw my way. I just want to make sure I get the details right the first time, especially because I do have to explain everything that happens to curious minds.
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I would go with an all male peacock and hap tank. They are very pretty which your daughters would like i am sure. You could get quite a few species and if none of them look too much alike they will always be colored. It may get kind of pricey buying colored up peacocks but you may be able to get some partially colored up. That will be a very fun project indeed :thumb:
You wouldn't want female haps or peacocks because they are drab brown or silver. Also if they are mouthbrooders they can ALL cross so even if they are pretty different, I think you still might get some fry if you mix sexes. If so, the females WILL cause aggression which you want to avoid.

Downside as mentioned is the long wait for them to color up and the need to switch fish until you get a workable mix.

I may try it someday, but I like mbuna!
Thanks for the thoughts. So, it looks like I either do all males or deal with breeding. So what happens to your tank when you start breeding pairs, especially possibly of multiple species? Does it eventually become overwhelmed by new inhabitants (as long as you protect them in the beginning)? Do you have to find a LFS that will take them? Do most LFS's take them? Do most of them die anyway or the fish stop breeding when the tank is getting overwhelmed? I just don't want to start breeding until I know what I'm going to do with them.
Excellent approach! First, you let the Mom's spit in the tank and get a group of Synodontis to help with fry control. Second, you ensure the species you choose have low odds of crossbreeding. I typically have a survivor fry or two from every couple of clutches. Third, once a year or so you round up the extra fish and take them to the LFS, or fish club auctions (monthly and semi-annual). Good LFS will take them for store credit...about 1/3 what they sell the fish for.

(Malawi don't pair, you need a harem for each male. The more aggressive the species, the larger the harem.)
You could put together a peaceful mbuna tank that's colorful and interesting if you wanted. If there are babies(there won't be many if you let them spit in the tank-out of 3 spawns, I had 1 survivor), you can net them and take them to the LFS, or just wait for fish club auctions. My approach was to get slightly fewer of each species than I want in the long run, and allow them to spawn and whoever survives gets to stay(unless I have too many survivors), that way I have some level of "natural selection" and I also get to watch babies growing up much longer than I would otherwise.

Labs, acei, and and some sort of nonaggressive cynotilapia, or rusty would make a beautiful tank that's active and fun to watch. M/F ratios for fish like labs and acei also aren't really that important in most cases. Or if you wanted a SLIGHTLY more aggressive mix, you could do saulosi(stay smaller than yellow labs), acei, and rusties. That would be a beautiful tank as well.
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why the fixation with african cichlids? malawi are so boring once you get past their color. i have over 20 aquarium in my house, and the one that catches interest, from all those under the age of 10, is a lightly planted tank shared by a small group of aequidens atabapo, some bright orange swordtails, and a few fancy plecos.
aequidens hide-but cannot resist their own curiosity to peek out at viewers, they secure a 'house' (a broken ceramic pot nestled among plants work well) to have babies, the eggs, wrigglers, and free swimmers are all available for viewing as they mature, and the pair work together as 'mom and dad' to protect their spawn as they venture into the 'big world'. this type of parental show goes on for over a month. now, doesn't that sound like fun for someone under the age of 6? IMHO. :)
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I love planted tanks too, but they're time consuming and troublesome, and a lot more work than most people who keep fish are willing to deal with.

Also, many fish that do well with lots of plants require softer water with a lower pH that the plants like as well.

It's significantly easier to add hardness and increase pH than it is to get rid of it.
planted tanks aren't hard to maintain, you buy a plant growing bulb instead of a regular one.
And if you want active colorful fish, I would definitly go with sa/ca cichlids, as africans don't have nearly the personality. In a 55 you could go with a few pairs of dwarf sa's, or a pair of convicts, firemouths, jd's, or a single specimen. Add dither fish like a school of giant danios or tetras to add more movement to the tank and draw your cichlids into the open and into entertaining situations. You could also add a cleanup crew, such as corys, or syno's, or some sort of pleco(s). If you want to avoid getting rid of babies, you could set up a stocklist where other fish will take care of your fry for you.
So, I visited a better LFS which said they'd take the fish at 1" to 1 1/2", which makes me feel better, since I can just put the fry in another tank. I don't really want to explain to my small child how the fish ate all the babies and they all died, but I suppose I need to make sure then that I read up and I'm not the one who kills them accidentally. The people at this store seemed to actually know what they were talking about instead of another place I went to where fish were just sort of yet another pet to own. So I feel like I've found a store I trust, which is a big thing to me. I'm exploring more of the SA/CAs and definitely open to ideas and it's evolving. Thinking something that get's along with tetras and others is a good thing, since my daughter REALLY likes neon tetras.

Live plants feed on nitrates right? So wouldn't that make it generally easier... as long as the fish don't mess with them and the plant isn't dying? Another bonus of the CA/SAs seems like they don't need me to screw with my PH, which is naturally at 7.5. I tend to like killing variables if they're not necessary. Thanks for all the ideas, it's helpful.
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Live plants do eat nitrates, but nitrates are a good indication of other things building up in tank water that we don't test for. Plants can be hit and miss and while some are very easy to have success with, others are difficult and require "messing with" until they flourish.

Keeping Malawis at a pH 7.5 is fine, as stable water parameters are better than "perfect" water parameters.

One thing to keep in mind is that having fewer CA/SA fish (with the exception of tetras) is common, whereas Malawi fish generally do better with higher stocking levels.
pretty much 'anything green' feeds on nitrates. remember that when algae shows up. :) for a first tank, or one that involves the assistance of young helpers, i would suggest some easy, low light plants like anubia and java fern. they can be attached to sunken wood and/or rockwork with a light wrapping of string. by the time the string breaks down, your plants will have attached themselves with root development. the nice thing about these types of plants, is that they do not get buried in substrate. keeping the substrate shallow, helps to reduce accumulation of debris within it. planting requires deep substrate and adds to the labor required (as Laurel cautioned previously). some light fertilizing is required to help any plant grow well. i feed my planted tanks just a few teaspoons each week.
the cardinal tetra is a bit hardier than the neon, IME. either way, picking tank mates will require some attentive homework, because they are both tempting food for many other fish. a school of 20-30 would be quite impressive, though.
(p.s.--with regard to ph: although some will not breed, if the water is too far off their origin, most all fish will acclimate nicely to a consistent 7.5 ph.) HTH.
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So, what you're saying about the aequidens atabapo is that basically I can leave the fry in the tank and mom and dad should basically be able to protect them, depending on the neighbors I'd think? Both the parents and others of the same species won't eat them? Just want to make sure how it'll work out. Thanks.
mixlo said:
lloyd, So, what you're saying about the aequidens atabapo is that basically I can leave the fry in the tank and mom and dad should basically be able to protect them, depending on the neighbors I'd think? Both the parents and others of the same species won't eat them? Just want to make sure how it'll work out. Thanks.
there are many cichlids, like aequidens, that have quite strong parental instincts. the downside, is most have no capacity to recognize past spawns, from other potential predators, when they settle in to nest again. so, parental care is a 100% effort, until the fry naturally drift from their birth site. once the parents settle in for round two, all and any fish near the site are deemed undesirable.
all fish, other than the parental pair, will recognize new fry as edible.
there is a 'perfect time', to save fry, before this type of natural safety net dissolves. when the fry are free swimming, but still crowded together at the nesting site, is my time to syphon them out to a quarantee tank for further grow out. if this effort is too extensive, then stock only a pair to start your 55. this allows for more unclaimed space for newborn to drift to, without interfering with other spawn activities. neons and cardinals will not likely ever interfere with any fry development. HTH.
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