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Old 04-09-2014, 09:08 AM   #1
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Beginner - 60g Mbuna African Cichlid Tank

Hello everyone, great forum here!

Other than having a 10g tank as a kid, I'm new to the hobby and on-line it seems like there is conflicting info on cichlids, especially regarding stocking.

I just bought this 60 gallon tank/stand from Petsmart and am planning on using it for a Mbuna African cichlid tank. Still need some filters/heater/gravel/rocks/caves and fish. The petsmart employee suggested treating with the bacteria stuff and testing the water before stocking, which I plan to do.

Here's the list of Petsmart's African cichlids, but there were probably only about 6 or 7 types at the store: Electric Blue, Spotted Leaf, Electric Yellow, Peacock, Bumblebee, Jewel and generic

The person working the fish department there told me to start with 5 cichlids and not to add more than 10 for the size tank.

My questions:
1. Is 5-10 a good number for an all cichlid tank?
2. Are there any other types of fish (non-Mbuna) that I should consider adding to an African cichild environment?
3. Can you suggest an example cichlid mix for stocking a 60g tank?
4. Would it be a good idea to just pick one fish from each type to avoid mating agression? And avoid baby fish filling up the tank?
5. Is it a good idea to just do one of the larger cichlids but group the smaller dwarf mbuna?
6. Is there a good place to buy on-line that is reputable and environmentally responsible that would have more selection?

I am ok with doing a weekly 10% water change, but would prefer something that is not going to be overly time consuming. My big concern is if I get the 1 male:3-4 female ratio and they mate, what am I going to do with all the fish, I don't want to end up with too many fish and an overcrowded tank.

I have to admit that I'm partial to the idea of African cichlids as I did a volunteer trip to Malawi about 8 years ago and visited Lake Malawi on a side trip.

Thank everyone for your help!
Scott
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Old 04-09-2014, 10:01 AM   #2
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Welcome to A.A. Scott and thanks for joining us. Glad to see you doing some research before you jump in with both feet. You have a nice size tank there to get started into African rift lake cichlids. Personally, since you are new to the hobby, I would suggest that you consider one type of African to stock in your tank; either haps, peacocks, or mbuna. Reason being is that each of these types have some different feeding requirements and for someone just getting started it is typically easier if they only deal with one requirement at a time. Down the road as you gain more experience, you can always add or change. Regardless of which type you choose their are still lots of species to choose from and you will still need to be careful in regards to compatibility. In other words, not all mbuna do well with all other mbuna. If you go with mbuna, I would recommend that you stay away from the auratus, the johanni, and the kenyi as all three types are extremely aggressive and do not do well in a mixed community tank. Lemon yellows, socolofi, and some of the zebra types typically do pretty well. Of the zebra types IME, the reds tend to be the most aggressive. You will need to consider filtration and substrate as well. Most Africans will breed if you have a mixed sex tank, so you either have to pull fry or simply allow it to remain in the tank and deal with adult fish consuming the fry as well as fry surviving and increasing your population.
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Old 04-09-2014, 10:58 AM   #3
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I'm new to cichlids myself but have been running other types of freshwater fish for two years now and if you click my image below it will take you to my thread I posted which renegade and Andrew very kindly offered me a lot of advice and therefore may answer a lot of questions you have. Read through and learn
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Old 04-09-2014, 12:08 PM   #4
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Beginner - 60g Mbuna African Cichlid Tank

Sounds like your taking the right steps, read up on new tank syndrome, and avoid adding fish until your past that phase, usually 6 weeks, but there are products you can get to shorten that time. Remember not to add more than a few fish at a time, give the bioload time to cope. Also research the fish your adding. Mbuna tend to be more aggressive, and don't mix well with rock dwelling peacocks. Some haps, like electric blue get pretty large 8-10 inches, keep in mind the adult size of the fish. A general rule is 1 inch of fish per gallon of water.
I have successfully mixed Mbuna, haps, and peacocks, but not all species will work with each other, I have had to get rid of more aggressive fish like Kenyi's and Demasoni.
Just keep doing what your doing, research research research. Don't do trial and error like I did. It's twice as stressful, and twice as expensive.

A lot of people, including myself, overstock their African tanks, (also don't mix Africans with South Americans, Tanganyikans, etc) overstocking helps with aggression, and can make the tank amazing, but in order to do this your system needs to be able to handle it. Start slowly, and add fish slowly overtime. It becomes pretty apparent where the limit is, on yourself as well. How much time you have to clean, do water changes, etc.
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Old 04-09-2014, 01:12 PM   #5
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Thanks everyone for the advice, I appreciate the links, and suggesions on which types to get and which types to avoid.

What does everyone think if I were to get say two types of Mbuna like these:
1. Electric Yellow Lab
2. Blue Acei (yellow tail)

I was thinking maybe 4 of each: 1 male to 3 female ratio - seems like the yellow and blue color contrast is popular and these are more docile mbuna and maybe can eat the same food? And just let them eat the fry. Introduce one set and then the other set later so to not overshock the tank...

Thanks again!
Scott
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Old 04-09-2014, 01:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squirrilah fish View Post
A general rule is 1 inch of fish per gallon of water.

1 inch of fish per gallon of water, even as a general rule, is extremely outdated and inaccurate advice with Africans of any type.

Don't do trial and error like I did. It's twice as stressful, and twice as expensive.

Amen

A lot of people, including myself, overstock their African tanks, (also don't mix Africans with South Americans, Tanganyikans, etc) overstocking helps with aggression, and can make the tank amazing, but in order to do this your system needs to be able to handle it. For clarity, Tanganyikans are Africans, they are just from a different rift lake, and you are correct that they should not be mixed with African Rift lake fish from Malawi
Just a few points of clarification (in red).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulrichsd View Post
Thanks everyone for the advice, I appreciate the links, and suggesions on which types to get and which types to avoid.

What does everyone think if I were to get say two types of Mbuna like these:
1. Electric Yellow Lab
2. Blue Acei (yellow tail)

I was thinking maybe 4 of each: 1 male to 3 female ratio - seems like the yellow and blue color contrast is popular and these are more docile mbuna and maybe can eat the same food? And just let them eat the fry. Introduce one set and then the other set later so to not overshock the tank...

Thanks again!
Scott
Sounds like you are off to a good start - you will have a bit of a full-grown adult size difference, but it shouldn't be an issue with those two species. Both will eat the same food without issue and simply leaving fry in the tank is a good starting point. Since you will be adding adult fish, remember that when you go to add the second species you will need to completely rearrange your scape so the established species has to reestablish territories. Additionally, you could probably add a third species down the road if you desired.
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Old 04-09-2014, 05:26 PM   #7
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Thanks Wy Renegade!

As I'd like my wife to think that she has some input into picking the fish, I'd like to have another option or two in addition to the Mbuna...

I've read that Haps and Peacocks are both pretty docile and get along well together and seems like they both have a carnivorous diet, so they could use the same food? I could do an all male peacock/hap tank?

Anyone have any preference on Mbuna tank vs peacock tank? pros/cons?

Also, is there any type of bottom feeder I could put in a mbuna tank? Red tail shark or rainbow shark maybe just to add something different? Or is that a bad idea? I'm okay sticking with just the African cichlid if that is what is best.

Thanks,
Scott
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Old 04-09-2014, 10:08 PM   #8
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Ok, the more i research the more I am pretty set on Mbunas. Would it be a bad idea to throw one male peacock into the mix somewhere down the road? Feeding one fish different food shouldn't be so bad. Will it try to mate with the Mbunas?

I'm just trying to think what i add that would give a little more variation to the blue acei and yellow lab mbunas.

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Old 04-09-2014, 10:11 PM   #9
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It depends on what you are looking for. Haps and peacock males can get beautiful colors but the females are a drab gray color and males can take a long time to show color if they are juveniles. The mbuna both males and females can have good colors right away. It might not be a bad idea to check out local fish stores to see what is readily available and then decide what way to go. Check out any fish you find on this site http://www.cichlid-forum.com it helped me a lot when I was starting out and still does.
As far as bottom feeders I know there are some catfish that do well with cichlids but I don't have any and don't remember their names but I'm sure others can chime in to help with that.
Post some pictures of the tank and your progress if you get time I would love to see.
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Old 04-09-2014, 10:28 PM   #10
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In your opening post you mentioned that you only want to do 10% weekly water changes. That wont cut it with cichlids how ever look into the python or aqueon water changers because you will most likely need a 50% weekly water change to keep NitrAtes below 20ppm.
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