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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, newbie here !

this is my first post. I've been in the hobby for a very long time but this will be my first try at a cichlids tank, or anything other than freshwater community fish, really. I'm hoping you can help me with this important question.

First, I'm in Canada and will not have access to pure ammonia if it is needed. It's not sold in my country and ordering some would take months.

My first concern is losing my cycle: I have a 45 gallons freshwater tank with only 10 small fish left (an accident happened in the tank and I lost most of my fish, which led me to decide to do this switch). The fish will be rehomed and then I'll set up the tank for Mbunas. When I get the tank ready, the filter will not be running for 2-3 hours, which I'm afraid will affect the nitrifying bacteria. Once it starts running again, there will be no inhabitants in the tank until the water parameters (GH, KH and PH) are good (how long will that be and will this delay kill all my nitrifying bacteria?). It will be a few days before I can get to the store.

I have never played with PH, ever. My current PH is 7.0 90% of the time and it might fluctuate between 6.8 and 7.2. I had my water tested and something (KH or GH) was between 30 and 40 and apparently that was good. Sorry, I have no experience with GH and KH either, never had to bother with it.

My second concern is that my bioload of beneficial bacteria will not be sufficient to sustain the 12 fish, even small, that I plan to add. I've read about the importance of adding all the fish at once, and I'm afraid doing so will crash my cycle. I don't want to kill the fish and/or lose hundreds of dollars doing so !

I have started to prepare and bought 40 lbs of CaribSea Seafloor special grade reef sand dry Aragonite and 10 pounds of buffering rocks. I was told I would need cichlid salt and buffer, which I plan to buy.

What advice can you give me to make it a successful new set-up ?

Thank you !
 

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First what are the dimensions of the tank? 45G can be on the small side for most mbuna. The rest of these comments assume your tank is a 48" long rectangle or longer.

If the filter will be off only for 3 hours you will not lose your beneficial organisms.

Adding all the fish at once is a good idea if you have cycled with ammonia and the beneficial organisms can support the bioload, but that will not be the case for your tank, so plan on adding one species at a time and wait for the beneficial organisms to grow to support them before adding more fish. Think in terms of one month.

Get your own test kit for pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, KH and GH. Since you are a beginner with water chemistry you might want to add commercial cichlid salts until you are confident all is well. The change is instant so no need to wait until parameters are good.

If your KH and GH are good you may not need an additional additive for buffer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
DJRansome said:
First what are the dimensions of the tank? 45G can be on the small side for most mbuna. The rest of these comments assume your tank is a 48" long rectangle or longer.

If the filter will be off only for 3 hours you will not lose your beneficial organisms.

Adding all the fish at once is a good idea if you have cycled with ammonia and the beneficial organisms can support the bioload, but that will not be the case for your tank, so plan on adding one species at a time and wait for the beneficial organisms to grow to support them before adding more fish. Think in terms of one month.

Get your own test kit for pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, KH and GH. Since you are a beginner with water chemistry you might want to add commercial cichlid salts until you are confident all is well. The change is instant so no need to wait until parameters are good.

If your KH and GH are good you may not need an additional additive for buffer.
Thank you @DJRansome ! My tank is 36 inches long x 16 inches wide x 20 inches high. I am aware that most cichlid species would be too big for my tank, which is why I plan on keeping small ones. I was told yellow lab, Demasoni, Maingano and others I forget would be okay in groups of 4, three groups total. Unfortunately I don't have room for a bigger tank.

I have the API master test kit and will get a kit for KH and GH. I'm very familiar with testing ammonia, nitrites and nitrates, which I do as part of my maintenance routine.

If I understand correctly from what you said, I could set-up the new tank and even if I wait for a few days to get my first group of 4 fish my cycle would not be lost ? Should I do anything to feed the BB ?

Also, what is good GH and KH for Mbunas ?

Thank you :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I can't seem to be able to edit my post so I'll add it here. I went and bought a Fluval GH/KH test and here are the results of the tests done on my tap water :

GH : 100
KH : 30-40

Now I have to figure out what numbers I need and how to get there !
 

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> the filter will not be running for 2-3 hours, which I'm afraid will affect the nitrifying bacteria.

No your bacteria will be just fine as long as it stays wet. Remember thousands of filters lose power every day all around the world for hours, days and weeks and all is fine. It's very tough to kill bacteria. You really have to try hard.
 

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I would not put those fish in a 36" tank.

You would want a 48" tank for 3 species and 12 fish regardless of the size of the fish. Aggression can come in a small fish.

You could try a single species tank with 1m:4f yellow labs. They mature at six inches so they would not be considered small. They are peaceful however.

An ideal species for a 36" tank with Malawi mbuna would be a single species of Chindongo saulosi. They are small and peaceful and also have 2 colors...males are blue with bars and females are solid yellow orange.

Some other options that might work as a single species in a 36" tank may have drab females, so 1 colorful male and 4 brown/silver females. An example of this would be Cynotilapia zebroides Cobue.

How many drops did it take to turn the test tube from clear to a color? If you have more than 4 drops your GH and KH are probably OK. You said that you had the water tested for GH and KH and it was good, correct? GH and KH just need to be high enough to buffer your pH.

I would skip fish like demasoni (difficult to keep) and maingano (too aggressive) in a 36" tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Cichlidude said:
> the filter will not be running for 2-3 hours, which I'm afraid will affect the nitrifying bacteria.

No your bacteria will be just fine as long as it stays wet. Remember thousands of filters lose power every day all around the world for hours, days and weeks and all is fine. It's very tough to kill bacteria. You really have to try hard.
You're absolutely right. It's not ideal but people do with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
DJRansome said:
I would not put those fish in a 36" tank.

You would want a 48" tank for 3 species and 12 fish regardless of the size of the fish. Aggression can come in a small fish.

You could try a single species tank with 1m:4f yellow labs. They mature at six inches so they would not be considered small. They are peaceful however.

An ideal species for a 36" tank with Malawi mbuna would be a single species of Chindongo saulosi. They are small and peaceful and also have 2 colors...males are blue with bars and females are solid yellow orange.

Some other options that might work as a single species in a 36" tank may have drab females, so 1 colorful male and 4 brown/silver females. An example of this would be Cynotilapia zebroides Cobue.

How many drops did it take to turn the test tube from clear to a color? If you have more than 4 drops your GH and KH are probably OK. You said that you had the water tested for GH and KH and it was good, correct? GH and KH just need to be high enough to buffer your pH.

I would skip fish like demasoni (difficult to keep) and maingano (too aggressive) in a 36" tank.
I really like Chindongo saulosis, they're beautiful ! I don't know if they are available at my specialized cichlid store though. I've never seen them but I only started looking for cichlids a while ago. I'm not interested in drab females, but 5 yellow labs would be interesting.

The cichlid store told me I could have between 8 and 12 fish, depending on the specie. So I was set on getting at least two groups. They said to go with 2 males and 2 females, in case something happens to one of the males. If one dies, the store might not have other males to sell and in Canada, stores don't ship fish during winter (they would die). Which means no replacement male before spring or even summer. I've also been told and read that over stocking will lessen aggression. Is this not true ?

The LFS tested my KH (but not the GH) and said it was between 30 and 40.

Today, when I tested my tap water, it took 1 drop for the tube for GH to go from clear to pink and about 2 drops for the tube for KH to go from clear to blue, if that's what you're asking. But changing to the second color took 5 drops from the start with GH and 3-4 drops from the start with KH.
 

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If you add two males of the same species you'll have constant problems in that size of tank IMO.
6 Yellow labs 1M 5F should work fine
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
shiftyfox said:
If you add two males of the same species you'll have constant problems in that size of tank IMO.
6 Yellow labs 1M 5F should work fine
I'm starting to realize a 36inches tank is not ideal. I'm trying to see how I could fit a 48 inches tank in my living room... So I would start with this tank and get juveniles, and by the time they've grown, if it's too crowded and I'm really enjoying Mbunas and want to keep going, I'll get them a new tank. This tank is only a year old, so I'd like to use it a little more before getting rid of it.
 

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They will need to move to the larger tank in six months or less. Start with the yellow labs. Then when you get the 48" tank you can add one more species...wait a month and then add the last species.

Unless you get a 75G 48x18 inches skip the maingano.
 

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Have you considered Julidochromis or shell dwellers? They would be much more forgiving in a 45 gallon, even if you got a mean one. With mbuna, even a yellow lab can be aggressive, there is always the possibility of a "bad" apple in the bunch. My friend has a yellow lab who is 2 inches smaller than a labeotropheus fuelleborni, yet it is the tank boss. Meanwhile, a user on this website mentioned that he had a 4 inch yellow lab get bullied by a 3 inch red zebra. I can't remember the name or post of that user though. However, I think that yellow labs could work. Just saying that shell dwellers or Julies would probably work better. I personally enjoy watching shelldwellers a lot and they are pretty easy to keep. Just get about 10 or so and a colony would form soon. You could also turn in excess fry into the lfs for in store credit.
 

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Also, Multis can self regulate their colonies and I read that they are less susceptible to disease compared to mbuna, who can get bloat if fed too much protein.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
SoccerMbunaAndShak said:
Have you considered Julidochromis or shell dwellers? They would be much more forgiving in a 45 gallon, even if you got a mean one. With mbuna, even a yellow lab can be aggressive, there is always the possibility of a "bad" apple in the bunch. My friend has a yellow lab who is 2 inches smaller than a labeotropheus fuelleborni, yet it is the tank boss. Meanwhile, a user on this website mentioned that he had a 4 inch yellow lab get bullied by a 3 inch red zebra. I can't remember the name or post of that user though. However, I think that yellow labs could work. Just saying that shell dwellers or Julies would probably work better. I personally enjoy watching shelldwellers a lot and they are pretty easy to keep. Just get about 10 or so and a colony would form soon. You could also turn in excess fry into the lfs for in store credit.
Thank you for the suggestion. I fell in love with the yellow labs though so I really want them !
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
SoccerMbunaAndShak said:
Also, Multis can self regulate their colonies and I read that they are less susceptible to disease compared to mbuna, who can get bloat if fed too much protein.
I've looked at shell dwellers and they don't appeal to me. I have my 12 juveniles now and I've already decided they will get a bigger tank next summer. :)
 
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