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Old 02-02-2012, 07:18 PM   #1
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Angry First Cichlid Tank, need serious help

I had a 20 gallon long tank set up with these mbunas- 3 yellow labs about an inch and a half long, and 1 cobalt blue zebra just over 2 inches. I had lots of aggresion problems with my cobalt blue, always keeping the other cichlids hiding. When I added two plecos about 2 1/2 inches, my cobalt blue went nuts picking and beating at the plecos. After two days I thought everything had calmed down, but I woke up the next morning to find one of my plecos dead inside my cobalt blues cave. I re arranged everything, hoping they would find new territories, but this just made everything worse. The cobalt blue chased every other fish ALL the time. I had to get rid of it, he/she went back to the store for resale. I have had WAYY more than enough with aggression problems.

So here is my question. Should I keep just the three yellow labs and pleco by themselves? (I would upgrade to 40 gal long, 48x12x12) Or, should I start completely over and take the three yellow labs back to the store for resale? (Considering this one a lot more cause of all the problems I've had) I would love to hear any ideas on peaceful stocking options. With or without the yellow labs. Tank size is not an issue.

PS. If the tank size is all wrong let me know, but any fish I get will be very small and will always be upgraded when necessary. I'm very experienced with water quality and maintenance, and keeping my fish healthy in that department. Just not cichlid stocking and behaviors
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Old 02-02-2012, 07:27 PM   #2
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Tank is way too small, most likely why you are having issues. I would upgrade to a 55 gallon minimum.
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Old 02-02-2012, 07:33 PM   #3
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Okay, it is just over 24 inches long, by 12 inches deep, by 13 inches wide. The fish were much smaller when I bought them and the guy at the store said they would be fine in a 20 long until they got bigger. Yeah I know, never listen to the people at the pet store
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Old 02-02-2012, 07:39 PM   #4
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I've also heard of people keeping yellow labs (full grown even) in a ten gallon tank, which is why I thought I'd ask you guys. And it just seems to me like 3 inch and half fish in a 55 gallon with only a 2 inch pleco is a bit much? Sorry for my naive-ty. And sorry for lack of a better word lol.
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Old 02-02-2012, 07:42 PM   #5
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These fish are active. I have seen people keep common plecos in 10g tanks, but that doesn't make it right. You're going to find that advice from other hobbyists is far better than that of someone who is going to make money by telling you what you want to hear.

I would only recommend a few mbuna for a 3' tank, and yellow labs are right there on the border... so if you upgraded to a 40 breeder, you coudl keep a few fish, but a 4' tank would open up a lot more possibilities.
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Old 02-02-2012, 07:42 PM   #6
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Even if they are smaller they still require a large tank because their aggression and territorial nature is not lessened do to their size. No matter the size of the fish the tank should be the size they need when they are adults. Unless you are able to upgrade as soon as they need a larger tank.
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Old 02-02-2012, 07:44 PM   #7
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Average Cichlids need 4' of swimming room.
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Old 02-02-2012, 08:33 PM   #8
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I know that advice from you is better than anything anyone will tell me in a store no matter how knowledgable they seem. I tried to make it clear that they would upgrade when they got bigger, I just thought that the space required (sort of) went along with size. Aka the bigger they get the bigger the tank they will need. Obviously though, I was wrong. I am keeping the pleco no matter what, so obviously I will be getting a larger tank.
Just because I mentioned that I had heard of people keeping yellow labs in a ten gallon doesn't mean I would ever do that to my fish. My bettas aren't in anything less than five gallons, with the exception of one 3.
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Old 02-02-2012, 10:01 PM   #9
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Even though the 3 yellow labs are loving the tank without the cobalt blue I will take your advice and upgrade sooner. I was planning on upgrading by april at the latest anyways. And I will obviously not be stocking any more fish. I wouldn't want to risk the happiness I see in the tank now by adding anything else.
Just wondering though, what are all those sites talking about when they say it is ok, sometimes best, to keep up to 12 mbunas in a 55 gallon? That just seems ridiculous i.m.o. Considering all the problems I've had and what you guys have told me so far.
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Old 02-02-2012, 10:18 PM   #10
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Sometimes over stocking in a cichlid tank can be for the better. It spreads out all the aggression. I think the problem with the fish you have is that labs and zebras are kinda on the opposite ends of the aggressive scale. My red zebra is dominate over every fish in my tank and I've never seen an aggressive yellow lab (not saying that be aggressive though). I also wouldn't see a problem for you to keep your labs in the tank u have at the size that they are. You said you planned on upgrading tanks in April. That would probably b about the time they would start to get a little big for a 20 gallon so that would be about perfect
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