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Just wondered about experiences of all-male tank keepers. How different does a fish have to look to have a good chance of being compatible? I know to some extent it is trial and error, but what is worth trying?

Obviously Aulonocara stuartgranti Maleri looks nothing like Aulonocara stuartgranti Flametail.

And obviously Aulonocara stuartgranti Maleri looks very similar to Aulonocara baenschi.

But are you limited to one yellow, one red, one light blue and one dark blue?

What about the Maleri and a Usisya for example? One has black fins and one has yellow fins...otherwise the fish are similar. Worth trying?

What similar-looking fish have you combined with success in an all-male tank?
 

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DJ, I have two Haps that, when I originally got them, I was a bit concerned about their similiarities in coloration. They are a Lethrinops "Red Cap" and Otopharynx Tetrastigma. The Oto has grown in leaps and bounds and shows the spots better(he has become one of my favs, stunning) now than when I got him, but before that, you can see they were very similar. I haven't seen anything regarding serious animosity between them. Just about everyone in my tank has chased or been chased, like a big game they play. But you know well enough that can change with the snap of a finger :eek: !

Red Cap

Tetrastigma
 

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For the first-time enthusiast (someone who has never kept cichlids) I would strongly suggest the rule "no peacock should look alike" meaning, no pairs of a single species. However, for the experienced cichlid keeper, such as yourself, the keys to keeping look-alikes are: larger tanks, the stock-list, overstocking, introduction of larger groups and multiple look-alikes, preferably a minimum of 3-4.

By far, the less challenging combination would be the yellows, preferably with a Benga in the mix. It's been my experience that the larger Bengas (5-6") generally keep the younger, more boisterous males in check. In the past I've ran with a Maleri, Benga, Usisya, and Undu Blue Neon with no issues.

More challenging would be the blues. The Red Shoulders tend to much more aggressive than the Masonis, koningsi Mbenjis and Ngaras. However, you can successfully house a Ngara and Red Shoulder together because they have enough variation.

Jakes can be real difficult and I would not suggest it.

Basically, a community tank of peacocks and haps should have enough color variation (multiples of the same color) so they can't single out the same individuals.
 

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For me, it's been very much trial and error. I have a maleri and usisya that do NOT get along - the usisya is on the short end of that stick. While on the other hand, my Protomelas Splinotus and Protomelas Taenolitus look almost identical at 4" and get along beautifully. At first, my deep water hap and star staphirre (both placidochromis) fought, but now they get along fine as they've matured. I think many factors come into play to determine compatability (environment, "personality", age of fish, etc.), of which similar appearance is just one factor, albeit an important one.
 

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One should also consider the markings, both when non dominant and when dominant. Really, all these fish throw together from different areas, one can only guess what they are thinking. Head shape? Spots in the fins? The dorsal line?

Some fish, from given examples, just learn to live and let live when they grow up together. If there were females, things might be very different.
 

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In my 150, I have three yellow peacocks: benga, lemon jake and a lwanda. They're smaller - 4" or so, but only occasionally get on each other. There's enough other traffic in the tank to present appropriate distractions. Now if I had those three in a 75, I'm thinking no way.

In my 180, I definitely see more problems. The blue face/red body combo is common in haps and I have more than a few in the tank that sport these colors. I see random bits of aggression between my red empress, Aristochromis chistyi and Tyranochromis nigreventor. It's not so bad that they're causing real serious damage, but occasional scratches and nicked fins aren't uncommon. The empress is pretty much maxed out - 8" or so, but the other two (also about 8") still have some growing to do.

It's going to be interesting to watch these guys get bigger and bigger over the coming months. I'll probably have to make changes eventually, but for now, it works well enough.
 
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