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Old 12-26-2003, 01:16 PM   #1
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Should I remove some fish?

I have a 50 Gallon 4" tank, my first tank in a long time and my first with Malawi cichlids.

I want to establish a breeding colony of Ngara Flametails, but I was hoping to have a little color and variety in the beginning as well, so after much research I ordered 10 Ngara Flametails and 4 Yellow Labs through my LFS.

I did a fishless cycle, and my water parameters have been solid at 0/0 ammonia/nitrites. About a week and a half ago I stocked the tank with the fish I ordered.

I was expecting small fish, in the 1" range. The plan was to watch the original bunch, weed out some of the subdominant Ngaras and any of the Labs that start to threaten the dominance of the alpha Ngara, stacking the deck towards the alpha Ngara becoming the alpha of the tank.

The fish I got were all in the 1.5" to 2" range, which is good in many ways, there are a couple of the Ngaras showing a little color, and I would have paid a lot more for these fish if I had not got them 'in the bag', but I am having to think about stocking changes earlier than I expected.

The problem is that two of the Labs are the biggest fish and fairly aggressive. not mean and beating up the others, but claiming more than half the tank as their territory, running the Ngaras out of hideyholes. They have pretty much taken the hyper-dominant role.

They are getting big fast too! Being more aggressive they are getting more than their fair share of food and showing it. The 2 smaller labs are fine, they get along well with the other fish.

I added a few Zebra Danios to the mix a few days ago for the dither effect, and that has helped. Everybody is out swimming around more, but the dominance scales are still heavily leaning towards the big Labs. The Ngaras are still pretty crowded into 'their' corner.

That's the background, here are the questions:

1-Is it too early to take the 2 big Labs back? Is there a chance the Alpha Ngara will assert himself over time? The LFS is willing to take them in trade for store credit, I already have that worked out, so that is no problem.

2-Should I get another little lab to fill out the trio of Labs, or will the 2 be ok on their own? I would prefer at this point to just drop the population by 2, but I don't want the little Labs to be too bummed out...

Any advice is appreciated!

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Old 12-26-2003, 01:21 PM   #2
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Hrms. Well. I don't know how big the flametails get. Buuuuut. If they average what most Malawi do (4-6inches), I'd say you're way overstocked, hence aggression/territorialness will be worse than usual. If you're trying to breed the Ngara's, I'd say dump the labs, wait for the ngara's to pair (Or are they a harem/colony breeder? Then follow whatever ratio is correct) and get it down to 8 ngara. I feel that would be far more acceptable as they mature.
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Old 12-26-2003, 01:46 PM   #3
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The Ngaras get to be 5-6 inches, and they are harem brooders. What I am hoping to have eventually is 2 male Ngaras and a few females maybe 6-7. I thought I could get the Labs to play nicely, but I just happen to have gotten a couple of pugnacious individuals, I think.

I know I will have to pull more of the male Ngaras as they start to reveal themselves, but I was really hoping I could have a second cichlid species for some variety and early color.

A side note: My GF has decided that she really likes the Labs 'cause they are pretty, she is bummed that I want to get rid of one of the tough guys, he is the only fish she recognizes.
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Old 12-26-2003, 02:48 PM   #4
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2nd tank >
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Old 12-26-2003, 03:09 PM   #5
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for now, i'd just sell/trade the 2 larger yellow labs and see how it goes for a while. you have a little time to play with since your fish are around 2" and labidochromis species seem to be one of the slower growing mbuna.
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Old 12-26-2003, 04:47 PM   #6
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2nd tank >

Thus begins another outbreak of MTS
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Old 12-26-2003, 08:35 PM   #7
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Already I have 1-2 10 gallons being donated to me in the near future. I have been planning on a grow out tank for my Ngara fry. Then there is the shellie tank and the oscar tank I want to do...

It was already too late for me

The 2 labs are at the LFS now. I think there has been a positive effect, but it is hard to tell. I used the fish hunt as an excuse for a remodeling. Everybody is a little on edge still. The two Labs that are left are on their best behavior
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