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FAQs on African Cichlid Stocking, Selection

Related Articles: African Cichlids, Malawian Cichlids: The Mbuna and their Allies By Neale Monks, The Blue Followers: the Placidochromis of Lake Malawi by Daniella Rizzo,

Related FAQs: African Cichlids in General, African Cichlid Compatibility, African Cichlid Systems, African Cichlid Feeding, African Cichlid Reproduction, African Cichlid Disease, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid Disease, Cichlid Reproduction,

Bob Fenner and Pablo Tepoot palling about at one of the latter's Cichlid farms in Florida

Hi need help stocking my 200L 4 FT Tank; Af. Cichlid, READING         12/10/15
I was hoping to get some advice im moving from 90L tank to a 200L tank and I was wondering if I can get some advice on setting up right. Decoration , Filtering, Tank mates
At the moment I have
1x Electric Blue
1x Yellow Lab
1x Sulphur Head
1x Yellow tail Acei
1x Yellow peacock
1x Pearlmutt
1x spotted Pleco
<.... why only one each of the African Cichlids? You realize they will cross-breed>
I want to add a Rusty Cichlid , Afra Cobue, Pundamilia nyererei and possibly a Giraffe Cichlid .. would these make good tank mates they will be all males ...
<Will still fight and this tank is too small....>

I have some old live rock coral (8kg )I had in my saltwater tank that I bleach and have had in my 90L tank that I will transfer for caves and rock formations , also I want to get some Texas holey rock (amount?) wondered if driftwood log would be necessary ?
<The rock and substrate are fine>
I have crushed coral sand .. I have 2 External canister filters a aqua one 800 and a Jebao Bioforce 918 and I have a duel air pump that I will run airstones . I m in the process of getting a LED light for the 4ft tank ($240) so just saving the money ... anything else I need ?
<A bigger system and more reading.... trouble with this stocking plan when these fishes get larger>
really worried about aggression in the tank so open to any suggestions that will help. I have had the 90l up running for 5 months but the fish are growing from their Juvenile size and so a bigger tank is needed . thank you in advance (also would the tank be understocked )
Elias Hage
<See WWM Re Malawi Cichlids and their stocking, care. Bob Fenner>
Moving African Cichlids to 200L tank. Reading re-do       12/11/15

I was hoping to get some advice im moving from 90L tank to a 200L tank and I was wondering if I can get some advice on setting up right. Decoration , Filtering, Tank mates
<Sure: Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/afrcichlids.htm
the articles linked above.
Bob Fenner>
At the moment I have
1x Electric Blue
1x Yellow Lab
1x Sulphur Head
1x Yellow tail Acei
1x Yellow peacock
1x Pearlmutt
1x spotted Pleco
I want to add a Rusty Cichlid , Afra Cobue, Pundamilia nyererei and
possibly a Giraffe Cichlid .. would these make good tank mates they will be
all males ... I have some old live rock coral (8kg )I had in my saltwater
tank that I bleach and have had in my 90L tank that I will transfer for
caves and rock formations , also I want to get some Texas holey rock
(amount?) wondered if driftwood log would be necessary ? I have crushed
coral sand .. I have 2 External canister filters a aqua one 800 and a
Jebao Bioforce 918 and I have a duel air pump that I will run airstones . I
m in the process of getting a LED light for the 4ft tank ($240) so just
saving the money ... anything else I need ? really worried about aggression
in the tank so open to any suggestions that will help. I have had the 90l
up running for 5 months but the fish are growing from their Juvenile size
and so a bigger tank is needed . thank you in advance (also would the tank
be understocked )
Elias Hage

75?gal freshwater hardscape aquarium. Reading re Af. Cichlids        12/8/15
Hey yall! Always my go-to site when i have questions. :) Ok, so, I've got a question about my current setup that i was hoping you could help me with.
I've got a lake Malawi cichlid tank going, in a 75? Gal tank. (The reason for the ? Is im not entirely sure what gal. Size it is. It was a gift, and i know its taller than my 55&60 gal, so i assume 75.)
<Mmm; there are about 231 cubic inches per gallon.... could measure the three dimensions, multiply, divide by this number.... there are other ways of figuring; by filling multiple times w/ a bucket of known volume;
measuring the delivery rate of a hose and timing the fill....>
I currently have 6 yellow lab cichlids, 3 kenyi cichlids, and 1 electric blue johanni. The problem i have is aggression, mainly the johanni.
<Oh yes; you either need to remove; or add more fish/es. READ here
and the linked files above>
He's gotten to be overly
aggressive and im not sure what should be done to curb it. Alot
<.... no such word>
of people recommend "overstocking", but being I've always been told that's a huge no-no, I'm hesitant to do it and don't know the proper amount.
Water parameters are all good.
<.... of no use>
Ammonia:0 nitrites:0 nitrates:5. I was wanting to get yalls opinion on it, as this is my first cichlid tank.
<Ahh; then LOTS of reading>
I really appreciate it. I've tried to get the johanni and isolate him from the others, but that is one smart fish. Short of draining most of the water and pulling the 60lbs of rock out of the tank, he is impossible to nab.
<Might try trapping; but...>
So any suggestions would be great. P.s, i tried the "cichlid trap" (two liter bottle cut and flipped to make a diy lobster trap.) But, alas, he was still smarter and stayed clear. (Only one who refused to go into it. Caught all my other cichlids though. Lol)
<Drain the tank.... Bob Fenner>
Re: 75?gal freshwater hardscape aquarium.       12/8/15

Just some additional information. The tank is about 5-6 months old. The cichlids are all still juveniles, so i was thinking maybe this could have something to do with sexual maturity?
Or is it a stocking/species issue?
<This too>
I understood that there is general nipping and aggression in a cichlid tank, but he's (the johanni) going all out and chasing pretty much anything that moves.
<Could try adding more of its species.... BobF>

Female yellow African cichlids       2/8/15
<One for you, perhaps, Chuck?
In your mailbox at least. If you can't help out, let me know and I'll take a pass at it.
Cheers, Neale>
Female yellow African cichlids
Pairing Yellow African Cichlids       2/8/15

I have 2 African yellow cichlids, one female one male, they have been together for almost 3 years now in a 37 gallon tank. I won't go into many details but recently the male has been very aggressive towards the female so bad that I had no choice but to separate them. I put the female in a 10 gallon that I already had with 3 tetras. I noticed today that she is making/digging a hole in the sand in a corner next to the heater. I have searched over and over again on the Internet to know if she is pregnant, I don't know if she is and if she is what should do? Should I put her back with the male or should I put the male in her tank once she gives birth? Thank you and I appreciate the time you have taken to read my email.
< Your description of African yellow cichlids is rather vague. I will assume that you have a yellow Labidochromis from Lake Malawi. These cichlids are not as aggressive as most of the other Mbuna from the lake.
These fish are maternal mouth brooders. The males and females look very much alike and sexing them is not always easy. If you haven't seen them spawn by now you probably have two of the same sex. Pit digging is usually a sign of a male setting up a territory. A female would have a very difficult time trying to dig a pit with a mouth full of fry or eggs. You might have two males. Rearrange the tank decor and try to introduce the other fish back into the 37 gallon. -Chuck>

African Butterfly Cichlids       1/23/15
Hello Crew, Hope all is going well with you. I have a question about African butterfly cichlids, please. If I keep one pair does it matter if they are the same sex or not (I am not interested in breeding). Also, what other community fish can they get along with other than other cichlids?
Thank you for your time. James Hall
< Anomalochromis thomasi is a very peaceful west African riverine cichlid.
They can be kept a breeding pairs or as individuals since they are not very aggressive or territorial. They can be kept with most other tropical fish with similar water conditions that are approximately the same size. Other bottom dwelling fish like Corydoras may get pushed out of the way but that is about it. They are great little dwarf cichlids and are highly
recommended for a community aquarium.-Chuck>
Re: African Butterfly Cichlids      1/25/15

African Butterfly Cichlid II
Thank you. So I assume you mean that 2 females or 2 males are fine?
< Two of any combination would be fine.>
Also, Would you recommend against cories with these fish?
< Anything that hangs around the bottom may be pushed around but not hurt.-Chuck>
Thanks again. James Hall
Re: Dwarf Cichlids      1/25/15

Thank you Neale, I have been reading about the African Butterfly Cichlid.
From what I have read it seems to be fairly easy to keep and won't uproot plants.
<Outside of spawning, yes, that's true. Anomalochromis thomasi is much like Pelvicachromis spp in terms of behaviour and care, though less colourful, particularly when young, and consequently not widely traded. Spawning adults colour up nicely though. Not fussy about water chemistry, and generally tolerant of midwater dither fish and sensible catfish or loaches that keep out of their way.>
What is your opinion on these?
<Nice fish, but sensitive to nitrate, and youngsters are a bit dull and shy. Males get to about 10 cm, females a bit less, making them rather bigger than true dwarfs.>
Thanks again. James
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dwarf Cichlids      1/25/15

Thank you again Neale. Please give me your opinion,,,,,,,,,,, My tank is 30 gallons, 36 inches long. My PH is 8.0 out of the tap; I know it can be adjusted.
<As I'm sure we've discussed James, fish care less about pH than hardness.
What's the hardness? pH 8 is quite basic, which suggests high hardness. How do you plan to soften the water? That's your challenge if you want to keep soft water dwarf cichlids. I mix my hard tap water 50/50 with rainwater.
What's your strategy?>
I have some driftwood and some lava rock with a sand substrate and several artificial plants. Please tell me which cichlid is pretty, would be easy to keep in this environment with other community fish, and I would be able to keep 2 males or 2 females. If you were making this choice for me what would it be please?
<If hard water was what I was stuck with, a pair of Rainbow Cichlids would probably be my first choice. They're hardy, pretty, easy to breed, and generally very peaceful. In a tank as big as 30 gallon, the potential to keep a variety of Central American livebearers alongside them as dither fish would add to their charm. Green Swordtails would be the low effort
choice, but if you hunted around, there's all sorts of nifty livebearers out there, Limia nigrofasciata being among my favouritest. I'd add a clump or two of Vallisneria as well, as these grow happily in virtually any substrate and under all kinds of light, and would make an authentic addition to a Central American themed aquarium.>
Many thanks again.. James
<Welcome. Neale.>

Single African Cichlids   /RMF   1/4/15
Are there any African Cichlids that could be keep alone
<Alone? As in one species? Yes; as in one specimen? Surely>
in a 75 gallon with some dither fish, like the Firemouth cichlid
or do such aggressive fish need others of the same??
<MUCH more interesting to stock a mix of species that are compatible>
A guy at the LFS here said never to have a group African Cichlids without a 300 gallon tank, due to endless fighting. Thank you
<Mmm; well, African Cichlids, particularly Malawian Mbunas are territorial... but there are MANY Tanganyikans, Utakas that do get along well enough for a volume, shaped system you mention. READ on WWM re Stocking/Selection of these.
Bob Fenner>
Single African Cichlids /Chuck        1/5/15
Keeping a Single Cichlid

Hello: Are there any African Cichlids that could be keep alone in a 75 gallon with some dither fish, like the Firemouth cichlid or do such aggressive fish need others of the same??
< Firemouth cichlids are from Central America and not from Africa.>
A guy at the LFS here said never to have a group African Cichlids without a 300 gallon tank, due to endless fighting. Thank you
< The term African Cichlid usually refers to cichlids from Lake Malawi.
Most of the cichlids in the hobby are referred to as Mbuna. These cichlids guard a rock and eat the algae that grows on the rock. Other fish will try and eat the algae so an aggressive cichlid need to be able to guard their territory. In the aquarium they think the entire tank is their territory so they can be pretty rough on their tank mates. A bigger tank with lots of
tank mates dilutes the aggression throughout the tank to many fish and not just a few. You could keep a single cichlid with a large group of dither fish like silver dollars, barbs or giant danios. Just make sure the group of dither fish is at least six fish and the dither fish are too large to be eaten by the cichlid.-Chuck>

Pseudotropheus saulosi tank; and stkg.      8/7/14
Hey Crew,
It's me again. :D I did a lot of research this time before coming, just hoping you can give me a little guidance and verify I am on the right track. I am looking to purchase a used, but cleaned Fluval Venezia 350 "corner" tank. The dimensions are 48x34x25.5 inches. Which according to your site is above the minimum for a cichlid tank. So that's a plus. My one worry is the tank is that it is pre-plumbed for the filter system to go into the cabinet. It comes with a Fluval 405. They claim it is a 1300 LPH filter, which is roughly 3.7 turnover. I read that these fish like roughly 6-8x turnover.
<Yes; or more... I'd like ten times plus... dirty fishes that require clean water, high and consistent DO>
I would add a powerhead to give them more water movement as suggested.
I am worried depending on stocking if this turnover would be suffice or do I need to look to add an additional filter?
<More; another would be better... A large hang on would be my choice>
I looked at the FX5 but all the tubing is different which would mean boring out the holes in the tank, which I do not want to do. Any suggestions here?
My idea for the tank is setting up rock structures from the sides to meet in the back point of the tank, with a crushed coral or coral sand substrate with no live plants. I read the crushed coral is good to keeping the pH up?
True statement?
Would adding some driftwood be a bad idea as I know it has a pH reducing effect?
<Yes; a poor idea. Look to adding rock/work that will also boost hardness and alkalinity (made up of CaCO3)>
Now to the big question which I need more help on is stocking amount or maybe adding another breed of fish besides Pseudotropheus saulosi which I like for the males in the strong blue and the females in the yellow. I know to kelp hostilities low I need to keep 1 male per 3-4 females. I want to to have a good active cichlid tank, as this tank will be a focal point in the room, but I want to try and stay true to the biotope. Also for a cleaner crew any suggestion with these fish?
<Yourself... You could add one, two tough species of Synodontis that might help... the Mbuna are too likely to beat up, kill Loricariids of size>
And any input is welcomed. Thanks again. Sorry for the long e-mail. :D
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Pseudotropheus saulosi tank; plus stkg.     8/7/14

Thanks for your speedy and helpful response Mr. Fenner!
I was looking at possibly using Texas Holey Rock, which is in ample amounts here (Germany) and not so bad on the wallet.
<A good choice>
I know that will also boost the pH which will help. I have never used it, but I am worried about possible algae growth, but the Mbuna should do a good job to keep it in check, no?
<Likely so; yes... there are more/less palatable species of algae for sure>
Any particular hang on you would suggest?
<I really like the Hagen product line here; but there are others>
I have been reading about powerheads for these set ups, and I see them ranging from 800 l/h to 4000 l/h. Thinking somewhere around the middle. I still cannot think of a good number of stocking. I have read with Mbuna you either understock or overstock, which I don't agree with, but this is my first cichlid tank. What would you suggest in a 350l for stocking, number wise?
<Ten smaller fish/specimens... two inches or so>
Is it better with these aggressive fish to stock at once or slowly stock in sets of 1 male 3 females?
<At once... single males per species are best in small volumes like this>
I can just see some fighting going on, when new tankmates come into the picture further down the line. I just know when I had my piranha tank, that when I added new tankmates later on, they got beat up for a little bit. Thanks!
Re: Pseudotropheus saulosi tank     8/7/14

Mr. Fenner,
Last time I'll bother you for awhile (hopefully). :) In your advice of using a hang-on, what is your opinion on internal filters?
<Not as big a fan... take up volume; harder to clean...>
Specifically the Eheim Power Line XL
(https://www.eheim.com/en_GB/products/technology/internal-filters/powerline )
? I think with the hang on, I would have to make hood adjustments, and want to try and keep it un-modified.
<Perhaps a canister then... more money; but can be situated to provide more complete circulation and air/discharge along the surface>
Thinking that if I was able to position behind the rocks to hide it, something to that effect. Also with your suggestion of Synodontis, long as its the same size, would an Upside-down Catfish work in this situation or
would a Synodontis Multipunctatus be better suited? Thanks again!
<Bigger is better... see WWM re Mochokid stocking/selection. B>

Haps/Peacock Stocking Options for 330 G tank
Stocking Options for a 330 G Malawi Cichlid Tank     – 11/20/12

Hello Crew: I`m new to this hobby - and I really love your site.  I have a new (for me) 330 G tank that I set up this fall (2` x 2` x 12`).  Currently, the water parameters are as follows:  pH @ 7.8, ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 60, water temp. @74.5F.  My water is naturally on the hard side.  I tried some live plants, but they did not survive the cichlids.  I have three live plants left, some plastic plants, lots of rock:  marble, limestone, river rock, and about 1/3 of the tank is covered in sand, no obstructions - for the peacocks.  I have a Rena XP3 filter with Purigen and Super Elite activated carbon in the filter trays, along with the other media, two
110 Aqua Clear HOB filters, 2 Aqua Clear 70 pumps, and 2 blue Poret filters with water lifters in them.  I have two large pieces of drift wood with many caves near the rocks.  I do about a 25% water change week 1, and about a 40% water change week 2.  I try to fast them one day a week, but its hard not to feed them, especially when they do their `little dances`.
I started myself off with a few mixed Mbuna in a 70G before I found this large, custom built tank that came with stock.  After it was set up, while I was away on holidays, my spouse moved all the fish into the large tank and disposed of the 70G.  :(   I now have the following stock in the big tank:
6-7 Labidochromis Caeruleus (aka "Yellow labs"; 2 @ 3'', the rest various sizes)
5  Iodotropheus sprengerae (aka "Rustys")
 *  Protomelas taelianautas (aka "Super Red Empress"; 1 dominant male beautifully coloured @ 51/2'' He is the second dominant tank boss, 2 subdominant males @ 5'' that have taken on the female colouring, numerous females)
2  Metriaclima Estherae (aka "Red Zebra";  1 @ 3'', 1@ 2'' )
1  Metriaclima Estherae OB -  1 ''
1  Pseudotropheus sp. Acei  (aka "Yellow Tail Acei")
 *  Otopharynx lithobates 'Mumbo Is.' - and I think there are a few 'Zimbabwe Rock' also - (aka ''Sulphur Head'') - 1 white blaze male  @5'' who is my tank boss, 2 subdominant males that take on the female colouring about the same size as the dominant male, numerous females)
*    Capadichormis chrysonotus 2 males, several females
2   Metriaclima Lombardoi (aka Kennys; both males @ 31/2'' each)
1   Labeotropheus OB fuelleborni (about 3'')
2   Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi 'Eureka' Peacocks (1@ 3'', 1 @ 2'')
2   Melanochromis Johanni (aka electric blue johanni, 2 males)
5   Hemichromis binnaculatus (Blood Red Jewel Cichlids - juveniles - 2 males, 3 females less than 2 '')
5   Aulonocara Peacocks - Rueben Reds - juveniles - too young to tell sexes yet @ 1 ''
1   Red Top Hongi (male about 3'')
1   Melanochromis hybrid ?   (Started out as silvery pink, now has coloured up similar to the electric blue johanni but is larger and is relatively peaceful @3 1/2'')
1   Giant Sailfin Pleco (@14'')
1   Medium size sail fin Pleco @ 7''
1  Cuckoo catfish @ 2 1/2'')
2  Bristlenose catfish @ 3'')
1  Freshwater crayfish - Procambarus Clarkii sp. orange
*The females are similar:  silver with three black splotches or silver with black line below lateral line, sometimes with or without blotches.  All together, there is about 16 of them in various sizes.
I have read many articles that state it is not wise to keep haps/peacocks together with Mbuna, including Mary Bailey`s on this site, except for the very peaceful species such as the yellow labs and Rustys. This is the reason why I am re-homing the other Mbuna. While the red zebra and kennys have not killed any fish, they are very territorial and will not let others near their claimed homes. The ones left are all peaceful - for now. Will have to wait and see about the other red zebra and OB red zebra which are still small, and no trouble at the moment. If that changes, I can re-home them later.
Along with the two kennys, and the large red zebra, I`m re-homing the medium sized sailfin Pleco.  I will keep the yellow labs, the Rustys and yellow tail acei with the haps and peacocks.  I know that the yellow tail acei is a schooling fish so I will likely get 4 more.  I`ve heard the same about the cuckoo cats.  Should I get another one?
< If your cuckoo cat is a Syn. multipunctatus then a few more will make them feel more at home.>
 My main concern is that I read conflicting info about peacocks/haps in terms of mixing species.  It is clear that it is not good to mix species with similar looking females due to cross breeding and hybridization.  However, an article I read suggested that you can keep 4 different species of Aulonocara if you pick one from each of the following sub-groups:  Chitande, Jacobfreibergi, Stuartgranti, and sand dwellers (like Gertrudae).  So far, from my reseach,
I discerned that the Otopharynx falls into the Chitande sub-group, correct?
< The genus Aulonocara is characterized by the cichlids having a series of pores along the bottom of the jaw that that pick up vibrations of food items living in the sand. Cichlids without this feature are not placed in the genus Aulonocara. The Otopharynx is not a peacock. In the hobby it is usually placed in the hap group.>
 The Eureka peacock falls into the Jacobfreibergi sub-group, correct?
< Correct >
  So I could then select a Stuartgranti species such as the Stuartgranti maleri or Ngara species?  As for the sand dwellers, I do not want any at the moment.  Was this article accurate?  Can I also get the Stuartgranti ("yellow Regal") or Ngara ("Flametail") with the other Aulonocara or is this inviting cross breeding?
< Generally, blue colored peacocks and the Jake groups do best in Malawi community cichlid tanks. Yellows do best in a species only tank. I would recommend  getting males only unless you are planning on breeding them.>
Afterwards, I am looking forward to adding some Copadichromis borleyi (Kandango) and Copadichromis .  Can I, or is it better to select only one from these two sub-groups?
<  Go with the borleyi since the females will have some color on the fins.>
 Or in other words, does the rule about
Aulonocara apply to the other species as well?
< Here is how it works. If you have this big tank full of blue fish, the females will breed with the dominant blue fish. This means your fish will cross breed and  your tank will have numerous little strange cichlids that don't look like anything.>
 I would also like to get one Crytocara Moorii (aka "dolphin head").  To this mix, can I add Protomelas sp. steveni Taiwan (Taiwan Reef) or Protomelas sp. spilonotus Tanzania (Liuli) or will this be inviting cross breeding?
< Yes>
  I also like the following fish:  Pundamillia nyererei, Cynotilapia Afra (Cobue), Haplochromis ''ruby green'', Pseudotropheus demasoni, Pseudotropheus Saulosi, and Pseudotropheus Socolofi and I have considered some Lethrinops.  I prefer to keep the fish smaller than the 6 inch length, a few bigger are OK but I don`t want to get too much into species larger than 10 inches.  I prefer more herbivores than carnivores.  My concern is that I would like to utilize all of the tank, not just the mid section or bottom.
I appreciate selecting stock is very individual, but I would be interested in hearing your suggestions on stocking this tank.
< Skip the Victorians. They will have a difficult time competing with the Malawi cichlids. In my Malawi tank all the fish have color or at the least an interesting pattern and get along.  I would recommend the following:
Yellow labs ( Good stock have a orange -yellow color with black fins) or Labidochromis chisumulae ( Blue male with white female).
Rustys ( Both sexes look alike)
Ps Saulosi ( Blue striped male with yellow orange female) or Ps demasoni (Both sexes are blue with black stripes).
Ps acei ( Both sexes look alike, feeds on algae on driftwood )
Ps lanistacola ( Malawi shell dweller)
Mel parallelus ( Black male with blue horizontal stripes, females are white with black horizontal stripes)
Red Fin ( Colorful male and females are silver grey with red fins)
Red Top L. trewavasae ( Blue male with red dorsal fin, females are a bright orange color.) or L fuelleborni Marmalade Cat ( beautiful mottled fish)
C. moorii ( both sexes look alike but get big humps on their foreheads)
You get the idea. Keep all the fish colorful unless you are interested in breeding. Then keep them in a species only tank.>
As for the high nitrates, have you heard of Maglife USA`s new substrate, Nitrastrate that is naturally buoyant and reduces nitrates?  Has anyone tried it?  Does it work?  Do the fish like it?  I am in the process of setting up a refugium to cycle the fish water through that will help reduce the nitrates
< Nitrates are converted to Nitrogen gas by anaerobic bacteria. I would increase the filter maintenance, occasionally vacuum  the gravel, and try a vegetable based fish food high in Spirulina to reduce the nitrates. Haven't heard of the product but have seen similar claims on products over the years that may work for awhile.-Chuck>
Re: Haps/Peacock Stocking Options for 330 G tank  11/22/12

Stocking a 330 Gallon Malawi Cichlid Tank II
Thanks for your insight and comments, Chuck!  Yes, my catfish is a Syn. multipunctatus so I will add two more.  Thanks for the clarification on the peacocks.  The species you recommend seem to be sufficiently different from one another so as to discourage cross breeding.  I'll do more research on the stock you suggested and then decide.  With your suggested stock list, does Mary Bailey's rule of thumb re:  inches of fish/square foot of tank still apply?
< Since most cichlids are territorial it is wise to be aware or there passion for their own area. Mary's rule is s good place to start but it is not species specific. I would give a little more space to some of the more aggressive species like Ps elongatus types and very little territory to the less aggressive species like the Ps. acei . When it comes right down to all fish are individuals and you will have to watch you fish to determine the limits of their territories.>
What  vegetable based fish food have you used with good results?
< When you look at the ingredients listed on the package for Spirulina food you will see fish meal as the first main ingredient. This is because fish will not eat pure Spirulina.  Spirulina should be lists close to the top as a list of ingredients. I feed Zoomed Spirulina 20, OSI also makes a very good food. Some brine shrimp flake and plankton flake fed sporadically will enhance the fishes colors. Stay away from any type of worm food. Lake Malawi cichlids don't do well on bloodworms, glassworms or earthworm flake.>
I live in a rural area, so my LFS is very limited in choices so I will likely have to order on line.
< Good luck.-Chuck> Cheers, AW.

Paratilapia bleekeri   6/20/12
I recently came across a photo of a beautiful Cichlid Paratilapia bleekeri.
<Yes, in breeding condition adults are stunning. Juveniles are pretty drab though, and that's why the species isn't much seen in the trade. But here in England though, you do see Paratilapia polleni (a very similar, perhaps identical species) on offer reasonably regularly in the better aquarium shops. Almost all are tank-bred; like most (all?) of the other Madagascan cichlids, the wild populations are very close to extinction.>
I would love to keep and try to breed these fish.
<Not difficult, but see below.>
Would a 55 gallon tank be  large enough to keep a pair of these cichlids?
<Ah now, here's the tricky bit. Yes, a compatible pair would be fine. But getting a compatible pair isn't easy, and Paratilapia are very aggressive and territorial. You'd need a lot of luck to pick two juveniles, sex them correctly (the males have slightly longer fin tips), and then get them to cohabit.>
Thanks for your time.
<Your local/national cichlid club will be helpful here. Because the species is rarely traded, but bred fairly regularly by enthusiasts, it may be easier to get hold of them through fish club auctions and shows than any other way. Good luck! Neale.>

Mysterious Deaths. 9/24/11
A few months ago I decided to turn my 100gal community tank into an African Cichlid tank. I was very excited and started with about 10 small
1"-2" Assorted Africans
<A very bad way to start. Did you have a plan? Lots of Rift Valley cichlids won't cohabit for long. Peacock Cichlids for example shouldn't be kept with Mbuna, and not all Mbuna get along with each other, some being notably more aggressive than others. Throwing together a bunch of cichlids will simply result in successive deaths through stress and fighting until the bullies, usually Zebra Cichlids and Melanochromis auratus, end up ruling the tank.>
a 6" Pleco
<Doesn't belong.>
and a 4" Featherfin Catfish.
<Will be damaged and likely prone to diseases and stress. Synodontis euptera is an African catfish, yes, but from soft water rivers not the Rift Valley lakes. Africa is a big place, bigger than, for example, North America, and yet you wouldn't dream of assuming a fish from California would want the same conditions as a fish from Alaska. The same here. The bland name "African cichlid" is as meaningless as saying "American fishes" because it simply doesn't reflect the sheer diversity of species in the continent. There are African cichlids from rainforests, from swamps, from estuaries, and yes, from a variety of lakes, some of which are hard water lakes but certainly not all of them. Do, please, research your fish first.>
Everything was fine for about 2 weeks and then a cichlid died and it was all down hill.
<Not surprised.>
I lost a fish a day until I had no cichlids left. My PH is at 8.4 Ammonia is 0 Nitrates and Nitrites are 0 Temperature is about 79 degrees. The fish (who had very hardy appetites) one by one stopped eating, then would hide and stay very close to the bottom of the tank, didn't swim around much and their gills would go crazy like they weren't able to breath.
<Poor water circulation, lack of water chemistry control, social behaviour issues all sound possible. You haven't mentioned water chemistry yet, just pH. How hard is your water? How are you buffering the pH? What's the carbonate hardness?>
There were no other physical signs of being sick, and I did treat with Clout before I lost the last 3 and it was ineffective.
<Randomly adding medications prior to diagnosis almost never works.>
After that experience I moved my Pleco and Catfish to a Q-tank and observed them for any signs of illness for one month (they are perfect). I cleared out my 100gal and completely started over. My water quality is exactly the same as before. This time I started with 4 Acei cichlids 3",
<Pseudotropheus acei, a fairly mellow species.>
one week later I added 2 Electric yellows 3",
<Labidochromis caeruleus, another mellow if nippy species; should work with Pseudotropheus acei just fine.>
and one week later added 2 orange blotch peacocks 4".
<A hybrid between Aulonocara species and a Pseudotropheus species. Not highly regarded by advanced hobbyists because it's a hybrid more than anything else. Isn't a bad fish though, and most specimens are fairly easy-going. Does need a rather different diet to Mbuna though, and combining the two types of fish, Mbuna and Peacocks, in one tank means neither is going to get the "right" diet all the time, so you have to be extremely careful what you feed them.>
They had lived in harmony for exactly one week then I noticed 2 of my Acei's exhibiting the same behavior as the previous batch of assorted cichlids. (Bottom of the tank, not active, breathing heavy, not eating) and the next day both were dead.
<Sounds like lack of oxygen and/or unstable pH. The dismal quality of "Mixed African Cichlids" in North American pet shops especially makes life even more difficult, so mail-ordering in the US has much to recommend it. In other parts of the world the selection of Rift Valley cichlids is often rather better, e.g., in England, where you should be able to get wild-caught or at least good quality farmed specimens that are genetically purer and much more robust. City aquarium clubs can be another good source; the US in particular enjoys large numbers of fish clubs and these promote cichlid breeding among their other fine attributes.>
I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. I have owned fish for a few years now and I work at a local fish store, its extremely frustrating not knowing what's happening in my own tank! please let me know what you think!
<Do start by reading:
Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Malawi Setup 9/19/11
Adding A. Burtoni to a Malawi Cichlid Tank

Hi Guys/gals, I have a 165L tank setup which currently houses 3 Electric Yellows, 3 Cobalt, 3 Albino Peacock and 4 Xmas Fulu. I was looking at putting 4 A. Burtoni in this same tank. Although primarily Tangs I have read that the Burtoni also inhabit Lake Malawi.
< No it is found in the river estuaries of Lake Tanganyika. A. callipterus id found in Lake Malawi.>
Would they be ok in this Malawi tank?
< The cobalts are going to pick on everyone. If the other fish can make it then these fish can too.>
The current residents are all juvenile as would be the Burtoni as I am growing them up together as advised in other posts on this site.
< Getting them small and letting them establish a pecking order is a good idea.-Chuck>
Regards, Paul

Merging Tanks 9/19/11
Mixing Lake Malawi Cichlid Tanks Together

Hello. I'm seeking advice that perhaps you may be able to provide.
I currently have 2 Mbuna Cichlid tanks - a 36 gal and a 55 gal. The 36 gal has been up and running for about 2.5 years and currently has 1 male Red Zebra and 1 female Electric Yellow lab. The 55 gal has been running for a little under a year and has 5 fish: 2 Red Zebras (1 male, 1 female), 2 Blue Cobalt Zebras (1 male, 1 female), and 1 male Electric Yellow lab. The water conditions in both tanks are nearly identical (pH 8.2, KH ~12, GH ~10).
I've noticed lately that as the fish in the 55 gal tank mature, the aggression is starting to show, particularly, the males to the females - the female red zebra especially. I'd like to balance this aggression by adding more females to obtain the magic 2-3 females/male ratio. However I'm worried about moving the male Red Zebra to the 55 gal since it would then be 2:1 male:female.
So my questions are: 1. Would moving the 2 36 gal tank fish to the 55 gal tank be ok?
< When adding fish you need to do a few things. Lower the water temp to the mid to low 70's F. This will reduce the aggression. Then rearrange all the rocks and decorations. This will make the fish establish new territories.
Put the new fish in a night. Do in on a night in which you will be around the next day to referee the new set up. >
2. If I were to add more fish to the 55 gal so as to get the 2-3 females/male ratio, would a 55 gal tank with what would then be 9-12 fish succeed provided I added more filtration and maintained my current schedule of weekly 20% water changes (currently have a canister filter rated for 80 gal and a HOB filter rated for 25 - would probably add another HOB filter)?
< The water circulation should be 3 to 5 times the tank volume per hour.
Keep the nitrates under 20 ppm with water changes.>
3. Should I just not move the male red zebra from the 36 gal tank and restock with other compatible cichlids?
< Whenever you( add Lake Malawi cichlids together the fish will the same colors are going to have difficulty adjusting to the new territories. You can try it out but there are no sure things.-Chuck>This would ruin my plans for converting the 36 gal tank to a community freshwater tank).Thanks! - Aaron

Advice please, Af. cichlid sys., stkg... 7/1/11
I am looking for some experienced advice please. Re stocking and set up as well as any other advice welcome.
<Getting the reverb back from Jimi Hendrix, oh yes, "I've got pet fish experience">
I am new to keeping Cichlids but not to fish keeping. I have a community riverbed set up also with 6 loaches, 5 Otocinclus, 7 Columbian Tetras and 2 Barbs.
I have done a lot of research before I decided to go ahead and do this type of tank and am 100% sure its the set up and fish I would like but need good advice from people who know about keeping these great fish.
I have set up a 240l Rio Juwel tank at the foot of my bed. The bedroom is good I believe as it has plenty of natural subdued light thought the day but not directly on the tank. Has a daylight and nature bulb as standard in the tank but I am considering taking one of these out to make it dimmer for them the light is only used from dusk till we go to bed anyhow so its not on long a few hours at most and a very small blue led light at night which is little more than a tint of colour. It has a 1000w pump (which we upgraded from 600w,
<Mmm, likely gph/gallons per hour rather than w/wattage>
and claims to filter tank 4 x hourly) with air insert for oxygen and juwels in tank bio filtration unit which I am familiar with and like using.
I have naturally harder water from the tap. but have used coral sand to buffer in case. I have used two large resin rocks to begin with that will provide a starting point to add more rocks as I add the fish.
We have decided to use the fish to cycle and have bought an ammonia alert. I plan on swapping my Nitrite sponge from my cycled tank downstairs with this once the ammonia shows on the alert. (?Good/ Bad)
<I'd use it/this from the get go... from the beginning... And move some of the "mulm" siphoned from the established tank. Read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm>
I know there is <are> a lot of people who say its wrong to use the fish but I am being very very vigilant with testing and water changes when necessary to avoid any issues I can. I realise with hard water comes ammonia issues that are worse and I am prepared for the work needed. I tested my water after a week of the set up standing to get to 25 deg temp (Do you think this is warm enough I read a lot stating they are not that keen on too warm and they live longer in slightly cooler temp?)
<Is fine, depending on species...>
with the Coral sand washed and put in to settle. The results were general hardness: 180ppm, Carbonate hardness:240ppm, pH: 7.5.
Okay now to the fish Bit. I have taken advice from a shop I value for there knowledge as they always have good setups and healthy fish and even their receipts have the proper names of the fish printed on them for your reference.
I decided to start by introducing 6 small fish, 3 from each species, hopefully 1 male and two females but I am sure we will have got that wrong in time. . I watched the tanks for ages to see which fish looked healthy and less of a trouble maker and decided that I would buy Labidochromis sp mbamba x3 and Sciaenochromis sp Ahli x 3
The main concern I have is I overlooked the fact that both would eventually be a blue. I dont know if this is a huge mistake as I am planning on stocking the tank with further fish?
<Not more African Cichlids in this volume, but other families possibly>
Is this a big issue?
<Could be in terms of territorial aggression in time>
also with these two in the tank how many and what would you introduce next. I plan to wait until my tank has accustomed to the fish and returned to 0% ammonia before I do anything further.
<Depends on the species... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afcichselfaqs.htm
and the linked files above; particularly Compatibility FAQs>
Any Advice on the set up or Tank care/ Parameters or fish stock or Type would be greatly appreciated and I look forward to hearing from you.
Regards Michelle
<Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

First cichlid Tank, sys., stkg. 5/3/2011
Hey Folks,
Thanks for your wonderful website. I'm setting up an African cichlid tank and I'd like your input on my stocking plan.
<Fire away!>
The tank is a 56 cube
<Not an ideal shape for cichlids, though could work with Mbuna if rocks are built up as a cliff right to the top. A few caves at the bottom really won't cut the mustard!>
with a 10 gallon sump with Eco-Complete African Cichlid Sand. I'll be aquascaping with ceramic cichlid caves and some pieces of carefully arranged and glued stone. I'd like to stock with Labidochromis caeruleus, probably at least 6, and one other species, such as Metriaclima callainos, in similar numbers.
<Do read here:
Are these two species very compatible?
<Potentially, but the Metriaclima callainos / Maylandia callainos are extremely aggressive and quite a bit bigger than the Labidochromis.
Personally, I wouldn't mix them in a small aquarium like yours, especially one with such a limited surface area. Instead, look at the excellent Dwarf Mbuna species Pseudotropheus demasoni, a superb fish for an aquarium such as yours.>
What would be some other good, easily available choices to go with the Labidochromis?
<Labidochromis are quite mild, and can work alongside midwater dither fish such as the Rainbows; the Maylandia/Metriaclima, by contrast, will kill any dither fish. This is true for virtually all the other Mbuna including Melanochromis, so choose between Labidochromis and Rainbowfish, or Labidochromis with other cichlids -- you cannot do both!>
Finally, I would like a school of dither fish, and I'm considering the Australian Rainbow fish.
<Labidochromis are quite mild, and can work alongside midwater dither fish such as the larger Rainbows like Melanotaenia boesemani; the
Maylandia/Metriaclima, by contrast, will kill any dither fish.>
However, these are quite expensive, given that I would want at least 6-8.
<I'm confused by this. Good quality Mbuna should cost at least as much as Rainbowfish. If the Mbuna on sale are cheap, by which I mean less than the cost of the Rainbows, say, $5 or less, I'd be EXTREMELY dubious as to their quality and pure-bred status. Almost all the cheap Mbuna on sale are hybrids. Labidochromis are exceptions because only the one species in this genus is traded routinely. Still, there's a big difference between the fairly dull yellow Labidochromis and the really brilliant yellow ones.>
What are some other good options for hardwater dither fish that can stand up to these cichlids, and how many would you stock with this setup?
Thanks very much.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: First cichlid Tank 5/5/11

Thanks so much for your response.
<No problem.>
I will take your advice about building the rocks up vertically, and the Pseudotropheus demasoni seems like a great choice to go with the Labidochromis caeruleus.
If I just do these two species (ditching the rainbowfish), how many of each should I stock? I would like to minimize the impact of aggression, and also reduce hiding in the rocks and caves, without overloading my filtration.
<Do read Mary's piece on these both these "dwarf" Mbuna. But I'd work with 6 of each, perhaps more, as aquarium size, filtration, and nitrate levels allow.>
Thanks again.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Compatibility of Polit and Yellow Lab Cichlids /RMF 2/15/11
I'm setting up a 55 gallon Mbuna aquarium and am wondering if Polit Cichlids and Yellow Lab Cichlids can live together? Also, would I be able to raise some acei cichlids as well?
Thank you for your response! Enthusiastic Fish Keeper :)
<Mmm, the Pseudotropheus Polit might get along if the other Mbuna are not too numerous, territorial. Not the Labidochromis. See WWM re the latter.
Bob Fenner>
Compatibility of Polit and Yellow Lab Cichlids /Neale 2/15/11
I'm setting up a 55 gallon Mbuna aquarium and am wondering if Polit Cichlids and Yellow Lab Cichlids can live together? Also, would I be able to raise some acei cichlids as well?
Thank you for your response! Enthusiastic Fish Keeper :)
<Male Pseudotropheus Polit, are much more aggressive than Pseudotropheus demasoni, and I would not keep them in 55 gallons, and I would not mix them with Labidochromis caeruleus. Do read Mary Bailey's article on Dwarf Mbuna for some better choices for fish to keep with Labidochromis caeruleus:
Iodotropheus spp work well, as do Pseudotropheus demasoni. Together with Labidochromis caeruleus, these are relatively non-territorial Mbuna, and that makes stocking them together much easier. Pseudotropheus sp. "Acei" is fairly mild, and can be kept with Labidochromis caeruleus. But it is quite a big Mbuna, up to 15 cm/6 inches when mature, and that makes it a poor choice for tank as small as 55 gallons (which is a "small" tank by cichlid standards). Cheers, Neale.>

Tanganyika Tank, misc. stkg. 2/15/11
Hi guys,
<And femmes Phill>
I hope this finds you all well and your new year has been a good one so far. So after careful consideration I have decided to set up a Tanganyikan tank with my rock hard Western Illinois water in a 40 gallon breeder tank. I'm good with the set up except some books call for dark gravel and others call for sand. Any thoughts?
<The dark color is of use for contrast w/ some species, for looks... the "natural sand" is likely of better service practically>
I will be adding an Altolamprologus calvus, either Julidochromis dickfeldi or marlieri, Neolamprologus brichardi, a small group of Synodontis petricola, and a small school of dwarf neon Rainbowfish for the top.
<Mmm, I'd likely stick w/ just one species of Cichlid in this size/shape, volume>
My other question, that I am having a great deal of variance in my search, is the diet. I was thinking doing bloodworms in the a.m.
<I'd leave these out... too much problems speculated in recent times re these insect larvae use>
and a general omni pellet or flake in the p.m. Monday through Saturday. I typically do not feed my fish on Sunday just to give their digestive tracts time to clear out. Does the type and schedule sound ok for what I have planned in the tank?
<I'd sub another mix of proteinaceous for the AMs>
On a side note I have a 5 gallon tank in my son's room with a Betta and 2 African dwarf frogs. I have a ridiculous case of green slime algae that started from week 3 of cycling. I used water from my South American 55 with the dechlorinated tap water and put live Cryptocoryne wendtii in there as well hoping to kick start the natural bacteria colony. Any thought on how this happened?
<Conditions permitting little doubt. Read here:
Nitrates/nitrites/ammonia are at 5/0/0ppm. How can I get rid of this completely without having to rip the tank apart or start over?
<See the above citation for approaches>
My son is in love with this Betta and I'm pretty sure he's family at this point so I need to keep this guy in good health lol. Would Erythromycin be effective?
<I would only try such as a last resort. Poss. downsides, including killing the livestock>
Thanks again guys.
As always you are amazing and your help is deeply appreciated. Happy Valentine's
as well.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

African cichlids, diversity, sys.s 1/30/11
Hey guys.
First I want to thank you for all your help. I always feel fish stores will say anything to make a sale
<Certainly true in some cases.>
and it's always good to know you guys will say the exact requirements necessary for any situation.
<We will try, at least!>
Well I have been trying a few different situations and due to my tap water (@ 7.6) I feel the best option for me would be to have African cichlids, being a cheaper and easier choice to maintain.
<I'm worried you're still talking about "African cichlids" as opposed to Mbuna, Tanganyikans, West Africans, etc. Africa is a vast continent and cichlids from different regions have substantially different requirements.
Mbuna are the colourful, rock-dwelling cichlids from Lake Malawi, and yes, they can be good aquarium fish. But their hyper-aggression makes them difficult in many ways. Often, you'll find other Malawian cichlids better bets, such as Aulonocara, as well as cichlids of Lake Tanganyika, which are altogether less aggressive, and include some charming, colourful species.>
I have a 55 gallon and so far I have 2 mono sebae and a yellow back puffer with black spots. Only recently I learned that the older they get the more I need to add salt until eventually they will do better in a marine environment. (correct me if I'm wrong)
<Monodactylus sebae and Tetraodon nigroviridis certainly need brackish water, and yes, they can be kept in marine aquaria.>
So I was going to return the fish and get African cichlids. I wasn't sure if I had to make sure I get them all from the same lake in Africa, or I could get them from any one as long as the care requirements are close to one another.
<No! Malawians and Tanganyikans mix very poorly. The one exception is Tropheus from Lake Tanganyika that do best with Mbuna from Malawi, assuming a big enough tank. Otherwise, DO NOT MIX different Rift Valley species.>
Also my pH being at 7.6, I don't know if I should try raising it or just make sure I acclimate them all properly.
<Do read here:
Also, if I do go with the Africans would sand be better than aquarium gravel and should I be adding anything to keep or even raise the pH high?
<There is an argument for using a crushed coral / coral sand substrate, but that works best with undergravel filters. If your water is hard already, and the carbonate hardness is 8-10 degrees KH upwards, then go ahead and choose whatever substrate you like. Since cichlids like to dig, a soft, non-abrasive substrate is best. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: African cichlids 1/30/11
I apologize about that last email I accidentally sent it before I was done.
What I meant to ask was peacocks with peacocks?
<Not if you want hybrids, no. Keep a single species. Most of the Aulonocara work best in a harem unless you have a gigantic tank -- i.e., 200+ gallons.
Instead, stick to a single male and two or more females. Combine with some other type of cichlid if you want, preferably one that stays close to the rocks. Mary Bailey has written a bunch of articles about stocking Malawian cichlids including Aulonocara. Have a read. She's one of the best-known cichlid writers in the world!
Aulonocara mix extremely well with non-Mbuna Malawians of various types.>
Or Tropheus with Tropheus?
<Again, a single species of Tropheus is best, and ideally a single geographical variant within that species, since the fun of Tropheus is the countless subspecies and races. They are Tanganyikans, but very aggressive, so either kept on their own (by far the best approach because of their extremely specific dietary requirements) or with smallish, herbivorous
Mbuna able to handle themselves.>
Or any Lake T cichlids with Lake T cichlids?
<On the whole yes, Tanganyikans are kept on their own, except for Tropheus spp. as mentioned above. Mixing Tanganyikans is generally straightforward provided you keep pairs from different genera, i.e., a pair of Julidochromis, a pair of Lamprologus, and so on. Although pairs of Tanganyikans are often extremely aggressive towards conspecifics and closely related species, they usually ignore very different species. There are some exceptions like Cyprichromis and Cyphotilapia that are gregarious and best kept in groups.>
Also should I be adding any type of lake salt if I get these cichlids?
<Again, read where you were directed last time around.
There is a full run-down of the "Rift Valley salt mix", and once you've established your water chemistry, you'll be able to decide whether hardening the water is important.>
Hope I'm not being a pain.
<Nope, but there's a tip jar on the front page; feel free to buy me a beer!>
Thanks, Ben
<Cheers, Neale.>

Stocking A 150 Gallon Mbuna Tank 1/5/11
Hello WetWebMedia staff. I am contacting you from Iran. I have a 150 US gallons tank and its dimensions are 63 inches by 20 inches by 31 inches. I use neutral gravel and extensive rock works with many caves and tunnels for landscaping. The filter circulation is 750 gallons per hour and if it becomes necessary, I can upgrade the filtration to twice this much. The tap water's hardness is ten degrees and its pH 7.8. I plan to keep a community of Mbunas and the stocking list is as follows:
1. eighteen-twenty Ps demasoni
2. six or seven albino Ps. socolofi
3. five-six L. fuelleborni
4. eight Electric Yellow C. Labidochromis
5. five-six red Ps. Zebras
And now my questions. Is this a good stock list or I'll witness world war III? Is there remaining room to add more fishes to this list? If yes, should I add to the number of these fishes or I can add new groups of them?
In this list, who you guest to be the bully and who would be bullied?
< The fish you have chosen are different enough that the patterns will not confuse them into thinking that they are alike. The fuelleborni and zebras will be the largest and be the most territorial. The yellow labs and the albinos will be the ones kicked around the most. You can add more fish depending on your water changes. Keep the nitrates under 20 ppm. I would recommend getting all the fish at once as juveniles and let them grow up together. This way the pecking order will be established once they turn up as adults. Older males can be removed and leave you with one dominant male of each species. this will cut down on some of the aggression. Keep the water in the mid 70's F or else the fish will want to breed all the time. I
recommend getting "Enjoying Cichlids" by Ad Konings.-Chuck>

Re: Tank move, now Lake Tanganyika biotope stkg. 12/29/10
Thanks Neale. Great advice as always.
<Glad to help.>
Last question here. After the upgrade I am thinking of turning my 55 into a Lake Tanganyika bio.
<An excellent choice for somewhat expert fishkeepers. Though more delicate than Malawians in some ways, they're far less aggressive, and a greater variety of types can be kept in the one tank.>
I have done some research and am looking at the following:
Altolamprologus calvus
<An outstanding species.>
Cyprichromis leptosoma
<May need more space than 55 gallons to keep a decent school. Feel free to use Swordtails or Australian Rainbowfish instead.>
Julidochromis ornatus
Julidochromis regani
<Both outstanding species, though mixing them may cause problems given their similar requirements for space, nesting sites. Rockwork is central to their psychology, though they work well with a combination of caves and plants too, even though that's not their natural habitat.>
Neolamprologus brichardi
<Another outstanding species; breeds quickly though!>
Neolamprologus tretocephalus
<A lovely fish, but a bit on the territorial and grumpy side, so not an obvious choice for use with gentle Julies.>
Cuckoo catfish
<Nice, but you won't have any baby cichlids!>
I have not figured out numbers or which of the above. I have complied this list based on suggested temperament and size. Any stocking advice? Thanks Neale.
<Do try and get at least one Tanganyikan cichlid book. The Barron's one, "Lake Tanganyika Cichlids (Barron's Complete Pet Owner's Manuals)". is cheap and covers all the basics. A used copy costs pennies on Amazon.
There's so many possibilities here, especially given mail order as a way to get rare species, you don't want to be stuck with poor choices as the months pass.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Tank move, Af. Cichlid stkg. 12/31/10

Thanks Neale I will take your advice and get that book. In the meantime here is what I was thinking for the 55.
1 Black Calvus
<Good choice. But do consider keeping a harem for best effect. Females claim shells or small caves, while a male guards them all. Very similar to Apistogramma and some of the Pelvicachromis is overall nature.>
1 Regans Julie
<Why not a pair?>
1 Neolamprologus brichardi
<Again, most fun in groups, the species forming schools in the wild, and aggression becomes less of an issue when there's a whole bunch of them.>
1 Cuckoo cat
1 bristle Pleco
<Would skip this. Nerite snails will do a better job and will also be happier in hard water. It's doable with Ancistrus, yes, but I'd not recommend it.>
And a small school of rainbows
Sand substrate, lots of rocks, lights on for 8 hours, some Anubias for plants. Again I will consult that book per your advice but does that sound like I'm in the right direction? Thanks again Neale. As always your guidance is greatly appreciated.
<Why not consider a single cichlid species, but kept in large numbers, perhaps 5-6 of the Altolamprologus calvus, alongside which you could keep a pair of Julidochromis if you wanted to. Skip the catfish if you're worried the tank would be overstocked, and just use Nerites for algae control. If you haven't looked at them already, do review the Tanganyikan spiny eels, some of which make fun additions to cichlid communities.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Fish aggression (insanely small aquarium, fighting, destruction the usual)
I have 5 African cichlids, 9/25/10
<A meaningless term. Can I stress this point? If you're thinking of these as "African cichlids" you haven't done enough research. Africa is a huge continent with a range of water conditions, from brackish water mangroves through to blackwater streams. There are cichlid species adapted to all these different environments, but few if any occur in them all. Imagine if I considered the Arctic Fox and the Jaguar as "North American Mammals". Sure, they're both mammals, and yes, they're both from North America, but they obviously have completely different requirements.>
a jeweled,
<Jewel Cichlids -- Hemichromis spp. -- come from West Africa and need soft to moderately hard, acidic to neutral water chemistry. They ARE NOT compatible with Mbuna and other Rift Valley cichlids. I mean, they will live in the same tank for a while, but conditions that are good for the Mbuna are stressful for the Jewel Cichlid, and _vice versa_.>
an electric yellow,
<Labidochromis caeruleus.>
a purple one with lime-green fins (Acei I think),
<Or some sort of hybrid.>
a cobalt blue (really light blue, almost white sometimes),
and the last one is brownish w/ darker stripes, but can turn grayish and sometimes gets a bright bluish with dark stripes almost looking like a Kenyi or Tretocephalus, but I believe he is Mbuna.
They are in a 29 gal. tank
<Insanely small for these fish. Matter of time before the sexually mature males fight, and systematically kill off one another.>
with an air pump and a Penguin 150 Power Filter with two cartridges in it. I have about eight plastic plants and two small hand sized decorations in there as well. There is a Pleco in there too.
<The Common Plec needs a 55 gallon tank even by itself.>
I've had them all in the aquarium for about five months and they've always gotten along.
<They were juveniles. But once hormones kick in, the males WILL fight.>
I left the house the day before yesterday and came back yesterday afternoon to find the "Mbuna" being chased in circles by the Acei, and I intervened.
<By buying another aquarium? Any other sort of intervention will be of limited value.>
I noticed that the Mbuna has some (scarred looking marks on his sides and his fins are frayed (thought it looked similar to fin-rot).
<Physical damage. In good conditions no real risk of Finrot, but in stressful conditions, or if the weaker fish can't avoid repeat attacks, this is the beginning of the slippery slope to death.>
I assumed they were from fighting.
A few minutes later, another fish attacked him, then it looked like they were all attacking him and following him and biting his fins and sides every time he tried to hide.
<So now you went and bought a new aquarium, right? How much more carnage do you need to see before you understand that this won't work. There's a reason people write cichlid books, and that's to educate people who want to keep them. Can I suggest you run to the nearest bookstore or library and find something by the likes of Paul Loiselle or Ad Konings or David Boruchowitz and start some serious reading?>
They only went after him and not each other. Why do you think that is?
<It's what they do. Each male will try to kill the weakest "rival" in the aquarium. This poor fish has clearly been identified as the weakest fish in the tank, and the other males will kill him. After that happens they will turn on the next weakest, and so on until only a single dominant male is left. 30 gallons is not enough for most cichlids other than Dwarf Cichlids.>
Does he have some disease or ailment that the other fish detect and are trying to eliminate I removed him and put him in a separate container, and he sunk to the bottom and fell to his side.
After a while he straightened up and was doing fine when I went to bed. When I woke this morning and checked on him, he was laying on the bottom on his side again (the air pump I had in the container wasn't pushing air through the tube anymore, so I assumed he might be suffocating).
<Oh dear>
I placed him back in the aquarium (he sank, then straightened up in a second and swam like normal) and all the other fish immediately headed straight towards him.
<What made you think this fish would be left alone? Please, I happen to like animals, and what you're doing is making me cry.>
He took a decent beating and again I removed him and put him back in a separate container.
<You waited until he was beaten up before removing him?>
He sank and stayed on his side again, I took the air pump from the aquarium and put it in his container and he perked up and has been "OK" ever since.
<Please put two and two together. This fish needs its own home. Your current collection of fish is like a boxing ring filled with psychopaths. There's no evidence at all you've thought about what these fish need to survive. Given good conditions and his own aquarium, perhaps with sensibly chosen tankmates, he may well recover and live a long and happy life. It's up to you.>
He even swam to the top to take a tiny bit of food. Considering all this, what would you say the problem is, I'm at a loss
<The problem is you and your lack of planning. Do some reading this morning, pray to the Fish Gods for forgiveness, and then set about restocking this aquarium and/or buying a larger tank into which a sensible collection of Malawian species might be added. There's plenty to get you started here:
I know you will think I'm being mean, but trust me when I say I'm holding back here. I'm actually furious. But I'm a nice guy and I want to help. So I hope this e-mail and the linked articles will set you straight. Cichlids are lovely fish, but they ARE NOT EASY TO KEEP and anyone who told you so was an idiot. If you'd like some more ideas and information, feel free to e-mail me back. I won't bite! Cheers, Neale.>

Mbuna tank
Stocking a New Lake Malawi Cichlid Tank 6/10/2010

Hi, How are you?
< So far so good.>
I currently have a 29 gallon tank with 7 Mbuna. I'm not sure what type they are. I have 3 yellow labs (I think), 2 that are orange, one blue with black on his fins, and another that was blue with vertical black stripes that is
turning yellow now. They range in size from slightly over an inch to 2.5 inches. I plan on moving them into a 75 gallon tank. My concern is, the people at the pet store told me these fish need to be kept over stocked and
that 7 was a good amount for 29 gallons. I realize people at pet stores aren't usually right but I just wanted to make sure. :) Should I buy some new ones for the 75 gallon tank? Can I even do that or will the old ones kill the new ones? Or is 7 really a good amount for a 75 gallon tank? Thank you in advance for your time! Lindsay
< You have a pet store that is right on the money. Mbuna are territorial.
They have teeth that they use to scrape algae off of the rocks and can inflict lots of damage on another fish. When one fish sets up a territory it will defend it against all other fish. The idea is the more fish you have the aggression will be spread out and single fish will not get picked on too much. This will require lots of water changes and a large filter that will need to pump at least 300 gph. Keep the water at around 73-77 F.
Too warm and they will want to be breeding all the time and really be a handful.-Chuck>

African Cichlid (or gum) incomp. 6/8/10
<Hello John,>
I have 2 African chichlids that I purchased at my local pet store. I have a red zebra, and a yellow lab.
<Not really compatible.>
The red zebra has been chasing around my yellow lab for some quite some time now and I dont know if he is flirting, or attacking my yellow lab.
<Attacking. Pseudotropheus zebra is a very aggressive species not suitable for aquaria below 200 l/55 gallons. Males can, will kill any other fish they view as rivals.>
I believe the yellow lab is a female (she has 1 egg spot but I heard that some females can have only 1 spot).
<Indeed. Labidochromis caeruleus is near-impossible to sex. Dominant males develop all-black ventral and anal fins, but both females and non-dominant males appear virtually identical. Usually females are a bit paler and the
non-dominant males will have grey rather than white ventral and anal fins, but neither of these traits is 100% reliable.>
The red zebra is a male to my understandings because he has multiple egg spots (like 3 or 4).
<It's psychotic level of aggression is pretty good proof of its gender, too.>
I'm growing frustrated because I want my cichlids to spawn and they're not.
<Obviously they won't spawn with each other, and no responsible aquarist would be deliberately trying to hybridise cichlids anyway. Careless aquarists have allowed hybrids to all but ruin the Rift Valley cichlid hobby by dumping their worthless, indifferently coloured hybrid fish in pet stores across the land.>
And I do not know is the red zebra is attacking, or just trying to mate with my yellow lab. What do you think?
<I think you need to read. Anything by Loiselle or Konings would be appropriate, but you might want to start here:
The two species you have aren't really compatible. If the aquarium is relatively small, up to 200 l/55 gallons, get rid of the Pseudotropheus zebra, stock up with half a dozen Labidochromis caeruleus instead, maybe with a few Swordtails as dither fish, and then sit back and watch the cichlids interact and spawn. That would the most intelligent way to get into Malawian cichlids while also producing worthwhile fry you could sell profitably.>
Thanks, John
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re:..... Af. Cichlid stkg.? 6/8/10
That helped a lot, I appreciate the response.
However there is one more question I wish to ask. I used to have a third cichlid in my tank that I couldn't identify. He was definitely a male, and I got rid of him because he extremely aggressive. He has purple, with black vertical stripes going down his body, and he had a touch of yellow on the tips of his fins. Was he a hybrid, or a different species of cichlid?
<No idea. Likely a hybrid if bought from a batch of "mixed African cichlids" at your pet store. Pseudotropheus hybrids especially are (literally) a dime a dozen.>
I appreciate the help though, thank you!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Hello again,
So as you recommended I got rid of my red zebra. In my tank now I have my yellow lab and my rhino Pleco. I have a 30 gallon tank, how many more yellow labs would you recommend?
Thanks, John
<Why not get 5-6, let them grow up together, and see what happens? Should be fine. If needs be, remove surplus males and replace them with females if you can. But if you make sure there are lots of rocks you should find
there's not too much aggression. Your Rhino Plec, Pterygoplichthys scrophus, is going to get very large though, much too big for a 30 US gallon aquarium. 25 cm/10 inches is not uncommon. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Cichlids
A 10 Gallon Compatibility Question 2/4/2010

I would love to do a 10 gallon with shell dwellers, but I have my biara <bichir?> in there.
<When the bichir is gone, use crushed coral as a substrate and throw in a few shells. A male and a couple females. Keep the water hard and alkaline. In a few weeks you should see baby fish come up to feed when you
drop food in the tank.>
The bichir will rehome in 6 months or less. What if I kept a 4 inch Severum in there with him? I really like Severums, and regret not getting them when I got the 58. They've got breeding pairs, single adults, letter mate juveniles, and single juveniles. They juvies are very cheap. I think they are $6 for greens and $11 for golds. All about 4 inches. Maybe a 4 incher could be kept for now and moved in with siblings later? I plan on setting up the tank with lots of mangrove like root systems with some big suction cup reptile plants. Maybe with a big royal Pleco also. Also, I just cleaned of the driftwood that the eggs were on, flattened out their gravel, and changed things around. It'll be fun to watch them dig everything back up and lay eggs again. Thanks.
< Depending on the size of the bigger tank and the filtration you decide to use, you can add many fish around the same size. Keep the nitrates under 20 ppm to keep all the fish healthy. For now, just keep the bichir in there by himself.-Chuck>

African cichlids incomp. 01/30/10
How many Yellow labs, Demasoni, Red Zebra etc. Cichlids will fit in a standard 55 gallon aquarium? Thanks
<This is a non-question. You wouldn't mix Labidochromis caeruleus with Pseudotropheus zebra in the same aquarium. Likewise a "dwarf" Mbuna like Pseudotropheus demasoni would be hammered by a big species like Pseudotropheus zebra. On top of that, no wise aquarist would mix species from the same genus. Not only will they fight particularly fiercely, but you'd end up with hybrid offspring, which are worthless. Irresponsible aquarists have dumped hybrid fry in pet stores over the years, so that we now have the infamous "Mixed African Cichlids" for sale, which mature into poorly coloured, behaviourally unpredictable adults. So, instead of trying to cram in as many fish as you can into a relatively small tank, why not sit down and think about what you want to achieve. Do you want bright colours? Do you want interesting behaviour? Do you want to breed your fish?
Do you want to sell those offspring? How much work can you spend a week cleaning the tank? Do you prefer Malawian cichlids or Tanganyikan cichlids?
Have a read of these two articles, and then e-mail me back any further, more specific questions that cross your mind.
By far the best approach is to choose two or three species of interest from completely different genera, so that they don't hybridise. Among Malawians for example, one species of Aulonocara, one species of Labidochromis, and one species of Cynotilapia could work rather well. Likewise, in a Tanganyikan system one species of Lamprologus, one species of Julidochromis, and one species of Cyprichromis would work together very nicely. Consider the social behaviour of each. Some species live best in pairs, others in harems of one male to two or more females. Ignore these rules at your peril! Some folks thrown in whatever takes their fancy, but invariably they end up with a war zone, with the hyperdominant species killing off everything else it sees as a rival. Plan a tank to be interesting for more than a month; focus on species that will live together more or less happily, and will provide you with lots of interesting behaviours to keep you watching your fish. There are many, many books on cichlids out there: buy one. Writers like Loiselle and Konings have much to say that is helpful about East African cichlids. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: cichlids 01/30/10
Demasoni and Yellow Labs
I read the articles and still can't decide, I am not interested breeding, I just want colorful fish to look at. would yellow labs and demasoni mix? If so how many would fit in a 55 gallon? And what would be better crushed
coral or sand.
< Both fish come from Lake Malawi and like hard alkaline water in the mid 70's. The Ps. Demasoni are much more aggressive than the yellow labs. I would get the yellow labs first and let them get some size on them before
introducing the Demasoni. The key to how many fish depends on your maintenance. The filter(s) should run at least 300 gph. The nitrates should stay under 20 ppm or else you will have algae problems. You should be able
to have 12 to 20 fish in a 55. Coral will buffer the water but this may not be needed if you have hard water to begin with. If you don't need a buffer then sand would be OK.-Chuck>

An inherited tank - what to do? Mis-stocking concerns now and ahead 12/29/09
Hello again everyone,
Sorry for more emails. I just found out that I'm inheriting a tank from a friend of mine and to be honest, I'm slightly nervous. Here are the specs:
It's a 38G freshwater tank.
Inhabitants (all juvenile) -
African cichlids:
1 Yellow lab
1 Red by red zebra
1 Cobalt blue
1 Albino zebra
1 OB zebra
1 Sunshine peacock
1 Mel auratus
1 Nimbochromis livingstonii
1 Pseudotropheus acei
1 Turquoise jewel
<These Malawian cichlids will grow fast, easily within one year, and are barely compatible with each other, let alone other fish. Mature male Melanochromis auratus are incredibly aggressive and can (will) kill less aggressive Mbuna such as Pseudotropheus acei and Labidochromis caeruleus.
There is also a very high risk of hybridisation. So what you'll end up with is some fish killing the others, and within a year you'll also have a bunch of unwanted hybrid fish that lack bright colours or predictable behaviours.
You really should rehome these fish. With the possible exceptions of Labidochromis caeruleus and Nimbochromis livingstonii, none of these species have any place in even a boisterous community tank.>
3 Clown Loaches
1 Red-tailed albino shark
1 Hillstream loach
1 Black ghost knife fish
<These fish require entirely different conditions to the Malawians, in particular softer, less basic water. Hillstream loaches also need cool, highly oxygenated water and I can't see them competing with the Mbuna for space on the rocks at all well. There's a very high risk the Hillstream Loach will be battered to death, even before it starves.>
The largest fish in the tank is the ghost and he's about 4 inches long. The tank has a lot of rocks, an undergravel filter with an air pump, and an extra filter that hangs on the side that's meant for a 55G tank. The owner told me that he has had the fish for about 3 months (the tank was cycled before the fish were bought) and never had any problems with sickness or aggression.
<Because these are still juveniles, the male Mbuna aren't yet throwing their weight around. Sexual maturity is attained within 3-4 months, but it may need a few more months for the males to become big enough to cause serious harm.>
I did some research and realize that some of these fishes will grow up to be rather large...will they need a bigger tank?
<My word, yes!>
I have read that it's ok to overpopulate cichlid tanks because this will warrant less aggression (albeit more maintenance but I don't mind that), however, what about the other
<The idea of "overstocking" cichlid tanks is deeply misunderstood. Simply because you add lots of cichlids doesn't suddenly make them peaceful. What happens is you prevent males holding territories, and this reduces, but doesn't eliminate their aggression. The males are still violent, but at a lesser degree because they're trying to claim territories rather than actively holding them. Not all species are equally violent, so if you overstock more aggressive species with less aggressive species, the more aggressive ones will "win", and once they've killed off their rivals, the reduced stocking you get means they're now able to hold territories. So while you can overstock a tank with Mbuna of broadly similar requirements and aggression levels, you can't get away with a random selection.
Overstocking is strictly for advanced aquarists who know precisely what they're doing. Overstocking dramatically increases filtration requirements (likely two or three fold) and water changes need to be far more regular to keep nitrates below 20 mg/l. On top of that increased accumulation of organic acids in the water mean that extra effort needs to be made to prevent acidification. Overstocking doesn't prevent hybridisation either, so within a year you'll still end up with junk fish of no aesthetic or financial value. For casual aquarists, there are no benefits to overstocking and it should be avoided. In any even, if you overstock a Malawi tank and then throw in a bunch of delicate community fish like Apteronotus albifrons and Clown Loaches, you'll kill them.>
What is the acceptable setup for this group of fish?
<Hundreds of gallons. Melanochromis auratus males for example will dominate a 55 gallon tank, i.e., are more than able to systematically batter and kill any other fish they view as rivals in tanks that size. Do pick up a Malawian cichlid book of your choice to review, confirm what I'm saying here.>
I would love to provide them with the 'optimal' one but I'm somewhat restricted in terms of space.
<Not an option here. The original owner clearly did no research here at all, and has handed you a time bomb.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Cichlid Two-Part Question, "Assorted/mixed Pseudotropheus", traits, undesirability of hybrids 11/18/09
I have two questions, and any information that can be given would be so very much appreciated.
<Fire away.>
Firstly, I bought four freshwater cichlids from Petco, and I'd like to figure out exactly what type of cichlids they are. The only name given at the store was "Small African Cichlid," and the clerks at the store don't know anything more than that (they don't really know much at all), none of them are specialists. I've attached a picture to show you what the fish kind of look like.
<Without an actual photo of *your* cichlid it's really difficult to answer questions like this. There are 2000 cichlid species to choose from, and many of them are very similar!>
Mine don't have those spots nor striped fins, their tail fins are more translucent, there isn't a variation in color (except for what I mention below), and they're not quite as iridescent. *BUT* the shape of the body and the face is exactly like that. The fins are very similar, but a little different. There isn't a bulge a the end of the top fin like there is on the fish in the picture.
<What you have is almost certainly some type of Pseudotropheus hybrid.
These are very commonly traded by the less responsible pet stores. Being hybrids, you can predict virtually nothing about them with any certainty.
But at a guess, they're most likely to become fairly big (around 15 cm), be extremely aggressive (not community fish at all), nippy (will damage slow moving tankmates) and be more or less omnivorous (needing a diet that contains both plant and animal foods). Colours will likely not match anything in any books you have. Muddy blues and yellows tend to be commonest. I've said it before and I'll say it again: never buy a Malawian cichlid not specifically sold under a Latin name.>
Here are the physical details I can give you that might help you distinguish. You'll have to excuse me if I don't know most of the terminology. -- The fish are each mostly one color (no spots), a couple have a slight vertical fade of their color -- from the top to the underbelly (the top being darker than the underbelly). Of these cichlids, I have one that is a light blue, an orange, a yellow, and a salmon colored one that is more red-ish on top and more of a pale pink on the underbelly. Their tail fins are flared out *a bit* like a triangle, but the edges are rounded off. None of their fins are extravagant, flowy, nor long.
This is all the information I have for you, unless you have some questions that I'd be able to answer. They're the cheapest cichlids in Petco (if you happen to go in there often, or ever...not that I'm asking you to go to the lengths making a trip to Petco or anything).
<The "cheapest cichlids" is the clue. Nobody wants them. The only people who buy them are inexperienced fishkeepers, who quickly learn that these fish are worthless. Hybrids are a curse on the hobby, and the reason why so many Malawian cichlid aquaria don't have the bright, vivacious colours you see in magazines (where wild-caught, or at least pure-bred, species are used).>
*The second part* to this is, if you do know what kind I have, is there a way to tell their sex without venting them? Is there some other distinguishing characteristic(s) or behavior that might give me a good idea of the fish's sex?
<Males are generally slightly bigger, much (MUCH!) more aggressive, and usually, but not always, have more yellow spots on their anal fins. Females can have yellow spots, though rarely many, and often none at all. Wild and pure-bred species often have quite strong differences in colouration, but these will be weak or absent in the case of hybrids.>
I know all of this is very long, vague and probably not possible to answer, but if you have any ideas I would be very, very grateful. I've done hours of research online trying to figure out what kind I have, but I've got nothing.
<As will be the case with hybrids.>
Thank you in advance for any help.
<My pleasure.>
Ariel M.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Cichlid Two-Part Question 11/18/09
I am such an idiot. I should have done that in the first place. D'oh! >_<
There are some pictures of mine attached (hardest pictures to take, ever).
And you're right about the aggression, well at least for one of them (the biggest one). It's awful to the other fish. I only have the same cichlids in there, but he(?) bullies all of the other fish and hogs all the food.
<Certainly Pseudotropheus "something". Likely hybrids. But do check out things like Pseudotropheus zebra and Pseudotropheus saulosi, among other things, as these are particularly commonly traded. Adult Pseudotropheus zebra (and indeed some hybrids) are incredibly aggressive, and males can, will kill off any fish in the tank they consider rivals. Minimum tank size for these "big" Pseudotropheus species (and hybrids) is 55 gallons because of this. Not "easy" fish by any stretch of the imagination. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Cichlid Two-Part Question
How long does it take for them to become fully grown?
<About 6-12 months.>
The biggest one is only about an inch and a quarter right now.
<He's just a baby, and already causing problems... Cheers, Neale.>

Leleupi, stkg. 11/18/09
Good Morning, I hope all is well at Wet Web towers.
Quick (and hopefully easy) question.
How many N. leleupi can I keep in a 60gal tank, with no other Cichlids, just some dithers?
<Difficult to say. Pairs of Neolamprologus leleupi are very intolerant of conspecifics, so if you want them to settle down without aggression. They can harass conspecifics even in quite large tanks, and there's no reason at all to expect a 60 gallon tank to be big enough for more than one pair (one of my books recommends 75 US/62 Imperial gallons for keeping more than a pair). You might try getting six and letting them grow up together, but that's with the warning that removing surplus specimens may be necessary in
due course. It also assumes you have lots of rockwork, with rocks and hidey-holes all the way up to the surface.>
<Cheers, Neale>

Re: Leleupi 11/18/09
Thank you Neale.
<You're welcome.>
Are Leleupi girls as equally intolerant of others as the boys, or would a harem with only one dominant male work?
<Pairs will be intolerant of any other conspecifics, but I'd expect aggression towards females to be less than towards males or other pairs.
But these are not haremic cichlids so far as I know.>
I would like to keep 4 or 5, however I will of course take heed of sage advice!
<I'd go with 5 rather than 4... odd numbered groups seem to work best with cichlids.>
If I could only keep a pair, how would they feel about sharing the space with a group of Juli. Ornatus?
<Given space, they share well.>
If they'd tolerate it, how many Juli would I be advised to get?
<Again, these are pair-forming cichlids, though quite a bit less aggressive than the N. leleupi.>
I imagine this tank to have space for about 4-6 small/medium cichlids and am trying to come up with the right "recipe".
<Oh, easily space. Quite a bit more than 6 in a 60 gallon tank. But the art is choosing species that aren't going to view each other too aggressively.
Maybe a pair of Neolamprologus, a pair of Julies, a pair of
Altolamprologus, and a school of Cyprichromis could be quite fun (or better yet, and they are being traded now in the UK, Tanganyikan Killifish).
<Cheers, Neale.>

Cichlid Identification
Malawi Cichlid ID 11/07/09

Hello Crew, I was wondering if you could confirm the species of Cichlid in the attached photos. I purchased them as juvenile Rusty Cichlids (Iodotropheus sprengerae). Everything I had read about them indicated they were relatively peaceful (for Mbuna), and would do well with Labidochromis caeruleus and Pseudotropheus acei. However, before I even let them out of the bag they were fighting amongst themselves; several months later as young adults (one male/two females), the largest male and female wreak havoc in my 50-gallon Mbuna tank (the other female Rusty is an inoffensive creature who has remained much smaller than her colleagues). The large female Rusty (who is much more orange in colour than the other two) was dominant until she had a terrific fight with the male -- scales flying, mouths white. Then they spawned a couple of weeks later and the male harassed her until she swallowed her eggs, and constantly beats her up (you can see her tattered fins in the photos). He has now begun tormenting every other fish in the tank, even those much bigger than he. When I temporarily removed him, the female took up where he left off; especially targeting the Labidochromis caeruleus. I plan on removing these two rogues, but I was wondering if these really are Iodotropheus sprengerae, or if I have a couple of impostors in my tank.
Tank parameters:
50 gallon breeder
pH: 8.0 - 8.2
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 10
kH: 9 dH
gH: 13 dH
Weekly water change: 40%
Filtration: Eheim 2213 Classic; Aquaclear 70
Lots of rockwork and live plants (Hornwort, Anubias, Rotala rotundifolia, Vallisneria), so there are lots of hiding places.
Tankmates: Labidochromis caeruleus (1M/3F) and Pseudotropheus acei (1M/3F).
Thanks so much! Carla
< The fish in the photos is neither a rusty or a yellow lab. I suspect they were trade-ins. They look like a cross. This is very common in mixed species tanks where fish are allowed to bred with dominant fish in the tank.-Chuck>

Re: Cichlid Identification
Malawi Cichlid Cross 11/8/09

Thanks very much, Chuck, I suppose that explains the unpredictable behaviour. It's all very strange; my LFS supposedly ordered them in for me as Rusty Cichlids (Iodotropheus sprengerae), which I specifically wanted for my tank to *avoid* hybridization (since they are the only species in that genus and unable to hybridize with other Cichlids). I will show this e-mail to my LFS and try to return them (even though several months have passed), and perhaps peace will reign in my tank at last. I suppose this is a prime example of why hybrids are so detrimental to the hobby!
Thanks again, Carla
< Don't use the genus name on a cichlid to determine its potential to cross. The names given to cichlids usually have nothing to do with their DNA but are named due to physical differences like in their teeth. Many different Malawi cichlid genera are quite capable of crossing in artificial conditions like an aquarium.-Chuck>

A few questions, stkg., gravel, FW... 10/9/09
<Hello Melissa,>
I have (2) 55 gallons fresh water fish tanks....one is 13 years old and the other is almost 4 years old. My 13 yr. old tank, I have 1 fish....a 15 inch Pleco....who is as old as the tank. I am wanting to get rid of the fish and make it more attractive.
<The problem here is that Plecs are big fish (arguably, too big for your tank) and messy (so they demand massive filtration and a tank without stuff that collects silt or debris). They look their best in huge tanks with just a few rocks and very powerful filtration.>
I'm wanting to put black sand.....and new decor inside. I really am attracted to cichlid fish. The blue and black ones.
<Depends on what sort of cichlids you want. Malawi cichlids are popular, and there are numerous blue-coloured ones, but they are super-aggressive, and beginners often make all kinds of mistakes here, and end up with half the fish killing off the other half. They're also prone to hybridising, which is bad, and they have very specific dietary and water chemistry needs.
A good species to start with is Pseudotropheus demasoni, a fairly small "dwarf" species. Both sexes are blue with black stripes, and you can't usually tell them apart. A 55-gallon tank could hold ten of these if there were lots and lots of caves. Don't add anything, just this species, and you'll be rewarded with a very active, entertaining aquarium. In smaller groups one of the males can become a real bully, which is why you need a big group, to divide up the aggression. If Malawi cichlids appeal, then be sure to buy or borrow a book about them first: they are widely sold, but most of the stock sold are second rate hybrids, and if you choose unwisely, you'll end up with a total disaster.>
Can you advise me on how I would go about cleaning the sand if i do choose to convert over to it .
<The easiest approach is simply to throw out the old sand. Replacing it wouldn't cost much, and this would save you the effort of cleaning it. Old aquarium sand is useful in the garden, so don't bin it. Just stir it into
any soil that needs a bit of extra drainage. Since all the bacteria used for filtration live in the canister filter media, throwing out the sand won't harm your filtration system.>
I have a filter that sits underneath inside the sand. Mangum 350. It is for a 75 gallon tank.
<I don't know anything about this filter at all. It isn't sold in the UK.>
Also, what other fish would you recommend and how many total.
<It all depends on what fish you want.>
Also, my younger tank I have 1 Gold Gourami, 1 red tail shark, 2 Chinese algae eaters, 3 cherry barbs, 4 Cory catfish, 1 clown loach, and 6 tiger barbs. I have had these same fish for a few years. Would you recommend me getting more?
<Your tank is overstocked as it is, or at least, the Chinese Algae Eaters will get too big for a 55 gallon tank, and the Clown Loach should really be in a group of five or more specimens, since they're very sociable.>
I am considering 2 more loaches and i really love angel fish, but I worry my gold Gourami would fight with the angel fish...
<Tiger Barbs would attack the Angelfish.>
I guess i just want to know as well......if any more, how many can fit in each tank??? I clean the tanks regularly. once a month. When I go to my pet store it seems like each person tells me something different.
<Pet stores exist to make sales. Assume any information offered may be good, but could be biased towards making you buy something.>
Thank you in advanced for your help! Good day. :)
<Hope this helps. Have a read on Pseudotropheus demasoni, and feel free to ask more questions. Cheers, Neale.>

Dwarf? Red Fox. Af. cichlid sel. 8/20/09
I just have a quick question. I have an African tank I have 5 maingano 6 Red Fox, 5 Yellow Labs All were in a 45 gallon hex I just put them in a 65 long today,
<Much better volume and system shape-wise>
but my question is or observation is, that all of my fish are between 1 and a half to 2 and a half inches long except one lonely little red fox and he is not even an inch maybe a half inch long. They all appear healthy even the tiny one, it eats and plays and no one picks on it. How can I make it grow?
<Frequent partial water changes are best, along with more frequent, but smaller size portions of foods... Have you looked into Spectrum brand pellets?>
will it stay a dwarf forever?
<Mmm, not likely, but it may lag the others in growth>
Should I take it out before the others start picking on it? Thanks
<I would not, unless the others are indeed over-bullying this smaller individual. Bob Fenner>

Wish list
Lake Tanganyika Tank Set Up, stkg. 8/5/09

Very informative site. Well done.
< Thank you for your kind words.>
I would like to set up a primarily Tanganyika tank and I have a compatibility question:
What are your thoughts as to the co-habitation of the following? What numbers of each would work best given a 110 gallon tank with plenty of rock hiding spots, sand substrate, and a shell bed?
Benthochromis tricoti-<Large open water cichlid that gets big and can be somewhat skittish. Expensive and does better in groups with more females than males. Can be a problem jumper. Does not need extensive rock work at an adult size. Does best in a species only tank but may get along with other when small.>
Altolamprologus compressiceps Nangu (Black compressiceps)
Altolamprologus calvus (Calvus Black Congo)< Both these fish have the same temperament. I would switch out one of the species for one with color like a yellow calvus or orange compressiceps.>
Neolamprologus brichardi (Daffodil) < Nice fish but can be invasive in a larger tank. When a pair forms they continue to spawn while the older fry take care of the smaller spawns until they take over an entire tank. Forms large colonies in the wild. Very pretty fish. can reduce the numbers to keep other fish in the tank.>
Cyphotilapia frontosa (Frontosa) < No way. Gets a foot long and eats all smaller fish that it will fit in its mouth while they are sleeping at night.>
Neolamprologus leleupi (Leleupi) < Pretty orange or yellow fish. Pairs are difficult to get to pair off.>
Lamprologus similis (Similus shell dweller) < Make a little mound of shells for these fish to get a foot hold.>
Neolamprologus helianthus (Sunflower)< Nice yellow fish that is not as invasive as the daffodils>
Tropheus duboisii (Tropheus duboisii Maswa) < Nice as babies but not so nice as adults.>
Tropheus moorii Ndole Bay Red (Ndole Bay Tropheus) < Very aggressive.>
< Go with six each of all the Lamprologus types. As they pair off you can remove the others because they will be killed. Each pair will form a bond and pick an area to spawn. They will defend that territory and other fish will learn to stay away. The Tropheus are harem spawners with one male needed for several females. I would recommend a dozen of each. Assuming a 50/50 sex ratio this will give you 6 males and 6 females. The dominant male will pick on the other males so they should be removed. This will leave you one or two males per six females. Instead of the Benthochromis look at getting some Cyprichromis instead. Smaller, cheaper and will fill the upper open water area. Are prone to jump so keep the tank covered.
Instead of the frontosa look at getting some L. tretacephalus. Look the same as frontosa but stay smaller and are easy to spawn. Look at getting the book "Enjoying Cichlids" By Ad Konings. Blue peacocks may have a chance. Yellow ones are pussy cats and should be in a species tank The Tropheus may cross breed so make sure you have both sexes. Hope this helps.-Chuck>
Given this as a starting point, how would a group of peacocks hold up (for a little brighter color)?
Thanks for any input and/or recommendations.

Stocking A Malawi Cichlid Tank 6/26/09
Hi WWM crew, I am setting up a 130 to a 150 gallon Lake Malawi tank setup, and was wondering what sort of population density I could have in an aquarium like this, and if I am using a sump whether this would mean I could keep more fish because of the increased volume of the tank? I will also be using an external canister filter for additional filtration. I have also read that pool filtration sand is a good substrate for a Lake Malawi aquarium is this true? Peter thanks a lot for your help
<The pumps in the filter and the sump need to move at least 450 GPH, with more circulation being better. There are many variables in your question.
The answer lies in the nitrate levels reached prior to doing your water changes. The nitrate levels should not exceed 20 ppm. If you cannot maintain these nitrate levels then you need to do more water changes or change more water when you do get around to doing a water change. If these nitrate levels cannot be maintained with water changes then you need to decrease the bioload by reducing the number of fish. Lake Malawi has lots of different cichlids ranging from a few inches long to over a foot. You can keep more smaller cichlids and fewer big cichlids in the same volume of water. If you were considering stocking the tank with Mbuna then I would say that about 30+ fish would be just fine.-Chuck>

Stocking A Malawi Cichlid Tank II 6/27/09
Thanks for the quick response Chuck. Yes I am only going to be stocking Mbuna species and was hoping to keep 6 species with 5 specimens from each.
My local fish store told me that in this size tank (150 gallon) that I can choose pretty much any Mbuna species as aggression won't be as much of a factor in a tank of this size, is this correct?
<Get all the fish at he same time. Hopefully they will be small and will grow up together with a pecking order already established.>
I will be doing 25% water changes weekly.
< Check the nitrates often. This should work for a while but check later on when the fish get older.-Chuck>

Beginning an "African" Cichlid Tank 6/2/09
I would like to start a "simple" African Cichlid Community tank I'm new to African Cichlids, but not to fishkeeping having both a 120 reef and a 125 tropical community set-up. (Both thriving).
I recently acquired a 70g tall (36x18x25) tank. Thinking ahead, in generic terms for African Cichlids, I have set it up with about 200 lbs of softball (and larger) sized smooth river-rock type stones and an aragonite sand substrate. There are lots of caves, tunnels, and territory markers.
Filtration is accomplished with a wet/dry system flowing 450+ghp.
I need your help determining which fish to stock. I would like to have 3 basic colors of fish. I think the mix of yellow, blue, and red would be attractive against the black rocks and black background of this tank. I
would like for the inhabitants to be as peaceful as possible. My tanks are wonderful relaxation for me, and I don't wish to deal with territorial aggression, or extended fights for dominance that I've read about regarding
Africans. Is there a "peaceful" mix I could attain ? Would you be so kind as to list what species you feel would be compatible with my desires, and also what levels they could be stocked at ? Thanks, Jim
< There are hundreds if not thousands of cichlid species from Africa but the ones usually called Africans are the cichlids from Lake Malawi. There are lots of yellow and blue fish from Lake Malawi, but red is a relatively rare color. You could go with Ps saulosi. The males are blue and the females are yellow. They are pretty peaceful and don't get too large. Then add some red peacocks. These are not a normal coloration found in the lake but a man made strain. Instead of the peacocks you could add some red zebras. They get a little bigger than the Ps. saulosi and are a little more territorial. A couple of good books to check out would be "The Cichlid Aquarium" by Paul Loiselle and "Enjoying Cichlids" by Ad Konings.-Chuck>

Cichlid ID & tank (Chuck, cichlid ID?) 4/7/09
Neale, it's me again!
<Hello Summer,>
I've been researching the Pseudotropheus demasoni, and I love the look of this dwarf cichlid. I've read a few online recommendations that they should be kept in a minimum of 6 or 12. What's your view on the minimum number I should add to my tank?
<Does rather depend on the size of the tank. But assuming a reasonable amount of space, like all Mbuna, colonies are the ideal. Strictly speaking, you want at least one male per 2-3 females, since the males are primarily aggressive to one another, whereas the females are basically peaceful.>
Also, I said I have yellow-tail acei, but when I was in Aquatic Design Centre yesterday, I saw their labels and now am not sure what my fish are!
<I must confess to occasionally having seen mislabeled and hybrid fish in this store, so be careful.>
I've attached a photo. Can you please let me know what type of fish I have?
<Could be a rather dull-coloured Pseudotropheus acei, but could equally easily be some sort of hybrid. For African cichlids, the best place in London is probably Wildwoods out in Enfield (Zone 6, Crews Hill train
Muchas Gracias,
<Do remember you can't mix different Pseudotropheus in one tank safely:
they will certainly fight and usually hybridise. Despite their wide availability, I consistently recommend people against buying Pseudotropheus, at least initially. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Cichlid ID & tank
Malawi Cichlid ID and Questions... Chuck's bit 4/9/09

Neale, it's me again! I've been researching the Pseudotropheus demasoni, and I love the look of this dwarf cichlid. I've read a few online recommendations that they should be kept in a minimum of 6 or 12. What's your view on the minimum number I should add to my tank?
<This little cichlid carries a big stick. For its size it is very aggressive and a group of at least 6 is recommended. Assuming a 50/50 sex ratio, this will leave you with 3 females and 3 males. One dominant male will chase or kill the other males if they are not removed. This will leave you with one dominant male and three females. The harem will keep the male from continually chasing a single female and will spread the aggression out among the others. More will give you a good chance of successful breeding.>
Also, I said I have yellow-tail acei, but when I was in Aquatic Design Centre yesterday, I saw their labels and now am not sure what my fish are!
I've attached a photo. Can you please let me know what type of fish I have?
< It could be an acei. This is one of the least aggressive of the Mbuna types so they don't always color up to their best potential while being dominated by other more aggressive cichlids.-Chuck>
Muchas Gracias, Summer

Re: Cichlid ID & tank 4/9/09
<Chuck, any idea what the fish in this photo might be? I suggested possibly a poor quality Ps. acei, but just as likely a hybrid. Can you do any better? Cheers, Neale.>
< Neale, I totally agree with your conclusion. When kept with other more aggressive cichlids they don't color up much. The Florida fish farmers rarely select for color. My guess would be a poor quality acei in a tank where he is not the dominant fish in the tank. Since it sounds like he just got him it is unlikely the fish is going to show any color for awhile.-Chuck>
<Thank you for this Chuck. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Cichlid ID & tank
Ps. DeMasoni Questions 4/11/2009

Chuck, thanks for your follow up information! So if I add 6 Pseudotropheus demasoni (which I keep calling demon-osi for some reason, maybe because I have Satan), and assuming a 50/50 male to female ratio, I could expect two male deaths?
< Ps. demasoni is actually named after a Friend of mine, Laif DeMason, owner of Cichlid News magazine and Old World Exotic Fish farm. The dominant male will pick and chase the other males. They can soon be found with torn fins and can be removed before there is any more bloodshed.>
Oh how sad that would be. I've read that it's difficult to sex them. Do you think I could determine sexes, and identify the dominant male in hopes of returning the other two males to the LFS?
< Males are darker than the females. Their black bars are wider and they can get slightly larger than the females.-Chuck>>
The 'possible' acei cichlids in my tank are the most peaceful, even more so than the Yellow Labs.
Neale, my garden and vegetables are growing like crazy! I attribute their proliferation to my aquarium "super juice". My neighbour agrees and thanks me for a constant supply. Kind regards,

Re: Back up generator & tank update 04/07/09
Neale, thank you for the insight and the new article link. Glassfish eating neon tetras?!? This hobby is certainly not boring.
<Not for those glassfish, at least.>
Do you have any suggestions for blue Mbunas other than the Placidochromis that would be happy in my tank?
<Pseudotropheus demasoni is the most recommended "dwarf Mbuna" and while not peaceful, it isn't big enough to be genocidal either. It tends to ignore non-blue, no-vertically banded fish. Interestingly, the Yellow Lab is a variety of Labidochromis caeruleus that is rare in the wild; the usual Labidochromis caeruleus are blue, so if you can get those, then they're just as good as Yellow Labs. Other Labidochromis species might be options too, such as Labidochromis sp "hongi".>
On another note, it's the time of year to plant vegetables and such, which I enjoy. I tried to find information on WWW regarding the benefits of reusing aquarium water, but failed to get a hit. So, do you know if there
is evidence that using aquarium water removed from the tank is "liquid gold" for watering houseplants, gardens, etc?
<Do use aquarium water all the time... is rich in nitrate and phosphate.
But won't be high in iron and other trace elements.>
Water is a hot topic and tagged to become a scarce resource in the next decades, so we aquarists needing water for our tanks should definitely pay attention to this subject!
<Quite so! One reason I recommend rainwater for soft water fishkeeping.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Oscars V Mbuna Cichlids 4/1/09
I just converted my 100g saltwater tank to freshwater. Been running for a week now, cycling all over again (no patience) fishless and will remain so for about another 2-3 weeks.
Changed the lights to two t-12 fluorescent (not wanting any live plants).
<Depending on light intensity, algae can be a problem in cichlid tanks.
Under dim lighting, diatoms are usually the thing. If the water movement isn't strong, blue-green algae is common as well. Hair algae tends to crop up in tanks with high levels of nitrate/phosphate. Unfortunately, the pretty green algae that looks so nice on rocks (and is eaten by the Mbuna) requires very strong lighting. In other words, lighting may be more important than you think.>
Love Oscars but did not know if I had the space to keep two and if anything else would be able to go in this size tank with two Oscars.
<Best to keep Oscars singly, to be honest. Males are feisty, and because you can't sex Oscars unless they're spawning, getting two at random has a 25% chance of ending up with two males. If you get a boy and a girl, a 50% chance, then the problem is that they will spawn, and you're suddenly lumbered with hundreds of unwanted baby Oscars. Much better to get one Oscar, and then fill out the tank with some large dither fish (big barbs for example) plus a suitable Loricariid Catfish and perhaps a Bichir for the bottom, if you like oddballs.>
I am running the Fluval fx5 and will be getting a surface skimmer as well.
<Sounds good. With big tanks and big fish, I recommend 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour, and ideally more. The Fluval FX-5 should be ideal. Do keep the receipt though, or buy from somewhere with a good returns policy (e.g., a local store rather than mail order) because while Fluval filters are generally good, and I've often used them, the odd lemon does seem to come off the production line.>
I have also been looking at the Mbuna Cichlids but not sure how many would work to stop aggression and how many I could get away with in this size tank ( I would want the most fish possible if i went this route).
<Some personal thoughts are here:
Follow the links to other articles and FAQs. I'd HIGHLY recommend spending some time tracking down any of the Konings or Loiselle books listed here:
You can pick some of these up secondhand for very little money. People make
huge mistakes with Mbuna all the time, and instead of the colourful "freshwater reef tank" they were expecting, they end up with a bunch of muddy-looking hybrids that batter the heck out of each other. Among other things, social behaviour and hybridisation should be considered. For beginners, there's a lot to be said for choosing the smaller ("dwarf") Mbuna alongside relatively peaceful species such as Yellow Labs. Whatever you do, don't scrimp on the rocks, since the more cover you have, the better the fish will behave. Overstocking is an option, but it has costs in terms of water quality, and like all cichlids, Mbuna (and Malawians generally) are sensitive to nitrate. The all-too-common approach of adding "one of everything" tends to result in [a] the dominant fish killing the weaker species; and [b] lots of hybridisation. Hybrids are a bane on the hobby, and have really helped ruin this particular niche. Spend money on quality fish. Choose fish from different genera to avoid hybridisation, i.e., only one species of Pseudotropheus (including what are sometimes called Maylandia and Metriaclima), one species of Melanochromis, one species of Aulonocara, etc. Decide if you want just random colour or interesting behaviours; if the latter, then creating a proper harem makes sense, with one male and multiple (not just one!) female. Quite possibly,
concentrating on a single species would work well, as here with Placidochromis:
You could mix these with Labidochromis and Aulonocara quite easily, resulting in a mix of blue, yellow, and red fish without any risk of
(serious) aggression or hybridisation.>
The ups and downs of the two choices would be appreciated and any information you could give me on doing a 100g Mbuna Cichlid tank would be greatly appreciated as well.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Do you know of any? 3/27/2009
Source Of Rift Lake Cichlids For Importation

Hi. Do you know of any African cichlid exporters that are REPUTABLE? or can you put me in contact with someone who does know of them? I have my license to import and I don't want to be scammed as I know there are a lot of them out there. Thanks Kevin
< Depends on which lake you are looking to import from. For over 20 years the late Stuart Grant ran a compound off the coast of Malawi and was a solid businessman sending quality cichlids all over the world. His wife and children have been running the business now and are doing a fine job. They can be found at lakemalawi.com. They ship to certain areas of the US already and will not ship if you are close to one of their existing customers. Lake Tanganyika is another story. The lake is far from the airports. Due to the economy flights have been cut going into many parts of Africa. The Brichard's have been shipping fish from Burundi for many years but their selection is rather limited to many pond raised fish with few wild fish exported from that area of the lake. There are many, many fly-by-night collectors in the lakes with good intentions of shipping hundreds of beautiful wild cichlids all over the world. Unfortunately the logistics and cost associated with these transactions far exceeds the price many are willing to pay for these fish. I would recommend that you talk to Laif DeMason at Old World Exotic Fish in Homestead Florida. He has been dealing with these guys for over 25 years and gets in many wild fish from both lakes. I would recommend buying from him instead of trying to bring fish in yourself and save yourself lots of grief. Freight from Africa to where I live on the West Coast is close to $200/box. After you pay for the fish and the freight there is not much left for a profit.-Chuck>

Cyprichromis, stkg. 10/11/08
Hello all and thanks in advance for your help. Wondering if you could tell me how many Cyprichromis Tri-color I could put in a 90 gallon. They will be the only fish in the tank. Thank you very much. Phil
<Mmm, I would try one (or two) male/s and a handful of females, allowing room for growth and reproduction here. Much more to be perused of worth by inserting the string: "stocking density for Cyprichromis" in your search tool/s. Bob Fenner>

Re: Cyprichromis, stkg., sys. 10/14/08
Sir, I did enter the search string but did not come up with the information regarding stocking level. I believe I have done this correctly. An additional question. What algae eating species would be appropriate with Cyprichromis. I am looking just to keep algae off Texas holey rock. Thanks much. Phil
<Hi Phil. Cyprichromis are open water, sardine-like fish so the watchword here is "space". Apart from a few Vallisneria around the edges of the tank, they don't really need much by way of decoration. So choose the biggest tank you can get, or more specifically, the longest tank, so they have ample swimming room. The size of the school is critical because the males can be bullies even though they're also a schooling species that becomes nervous when kept in too small a group. It is widely recommended you keep groups of 8 or more specimens, with more females than males, ideally 2-3 females per male. A school of eight 12 cm Cyprichromis leptosoma for example will need a tank upwards of 300 litres (80 or so gallons). There are some smaller and/or less feisty species that might not need *quite* so much space, but don't try and wedge these fish into substantially smaller tanks. Do also remember to offer lots of water movement, ideally using filters and/or powerheads so that the water turnover rate is upwards of 8x the volume of the tank, ideally 10x. In other words, if the tank is 300 litres in size, use a filter (or filters) delivering turnover around 2400 to 3000 litres per hour. When choosing algae eaters for any Rift Valley tank, a lot depends on the other species in the aquarium. Assuming all you were keeping was Cyprichromis, then Nerite snails, Ancistrus catfish, and perhaps even Amano shrimps would all be viable (the shrimps might be eaten, but are cheap and so would be worth a shot). But other cichlids may be more or less hostile to such algae eaters, either viewing them as food or competing with them for space in the rocks. I'd perhaps grab some Nerite snails and see how they worked; a couple of dozen or so should keep a 300-400 litre tank nice and clean. They will thrive in the hard, well oxygenated water your Cyprichromis desire. Cheers, Neale.><<Outstanding! B>>

Fish in a 55 gal. (African community; selection) 9/23/08
I have a 55 gal. (48" long) that will hopefully soon serve as a happy home for some interesting fish. I plan to get an Armored Bichir, African Butterfly Fish, and African Knife Fish. Is there another good fish, I'd like another "oddball", that would be compatible with these three or should I stay with the ones previously mentioned? Thanks in advance, Larson
<Hello Larson. I'd actually suggest three different options. In the first instance, a school of large but peaceful tetras would act as "dither fish" encouraging the other fish to stay in the open. Congo Tetras would be ideal. You might also consider one of the Climbing Perch; I'd recommend the lovely Ctenopoma acutirostre, a peaceful species that gets to about 12 cm or so under aquarium conditions and is easily maintained on bloodworms and other insect larvae. Finally, a Synodontis catfish would be fun. I have a particular fondness for Synodontis decorus and Synodontis eupterus, two beautiful and peaceful members of the genus that thrive in large community tanks. Both tend to be pecked at by nippy fish, but with your placid tankmates they should be fine. Do see Bob's article on fish selection; it's got a great review of a system owned by an aquarist with similar interests to yours.
Cheers, Neale.>

African Cichlid Stocking Question How Many Tropheus 4/16/08 Good Day, I have a quick question. If I stock a 55 gallon (4 foot long) tank only Tropheus duboisii, what is the minimum number I can have in the tank? Thanks! Eric <To answer your question as posted-(1). If you were to ask what is the maximum number of Tropheus you could stock in your 55 gallon, then that answer would be depends. Tropheus are aggressive territorial herbivores. They require clean warm alkaline water and food with lots of vegetable matter. If you only had two in the tank then one would become dominant and constantly chase the other one around until it was dead or nearly dead. Tropheus breeders would then jam as many fish into a tank as possible. The idea is that the dominant fish would be so busy chasing all the other fish around that he would not be able to focus all his attention on just one fish. Novice Tropheus keepers make an initial mistake by not starting off with enough fish to form a colony. These fish are very expensive so it becomes a serious investment to start out with a big group. I have gotten by with a group of 12 in a 40 gallon. The sex ratio was about 50/50. If you are interested in breeding then look for one male to about 5 to 6 females. It is best to start out with a group of small individuals and let them grow up together to establish a pecking order. I would recommend starting out with 20 small fish. This would give you 10 of each sex. When they mature you can eliminate overly aggressive males a settle for two to three males to the 10 females. This would let each male to set up a territory at each end of the tank. Very cool fish, the spotted babies are always big sellers,-Chuck>

Re: African Cichlid Stocking Question Stocking A Tank With Tropheus duboisii II 4/17/08 Chuck, Thanks for writing. That's a lot of good information. I knew about the ratio of 1 male to 5 or 6 females, and hoped this would be the minimum number that I could put in my tank, and get by with.. 6-7 total fish.. Mainly because they are $25 each! 20 of them will add up quickly. And they are awesome looking fish as juveniles and adults, for sure. I'll have to keep looking! Thanks again! Eric <Another trick you could try is adding smaller species of Lake Malawi Mbuna to the tank to add as dither. They will have the same dietary requirements as the Tropheus and can handle the same water requirements. When the Tropheus colony gets set up you can always remove the Mbuna.-Chuck>

Re: African Cichlid Stocking Question 4/18/08 Getting By With As Few Tropheus As Possible Not to be a pain, but for clarification, do you mean trying 6-7 Duboisi with a number of smaller Mbuna ? How many Mbuna should I add? And are there any specific types you can recommend? I'm going to continue reading, but I'm not making much headway. Thanks again! Eric <If I had only a few Tropheus to play with I would fill the tank with cheap small Mbuna. The species does not matter. It is important that the Mbuna are smaller than the Tropheus. If the Mbuna are the larger fish then they become dominant ones and pick on the Tropheus. When the Tropheus becomes dominant they will pick on the smaller but faster Mbuna. This spreads the aggression throughout the tank. By the way, I would recommend that you look online for a cheaper Tropheus source and find a breeder near you. Check out aquabid.com-Chuck>

Picking New Malawi Cichlids - 4-11-08 Hi there, I'm wondering if you could help me pick out some new fishies! For the last few years we've had an African Cichlid tank: 4 foot, around 300L (80 gallons) with lots of rock. The fish I have currently are Ps. saulosi, Ps. acei (Yellow-Tail) and Synodontis catfish. The saulosi have bred (a lot) and the Synodontis have used them as a host. I would like to keep the catfish, but want to switch from lots of little fish to a simple colony of large fish. I want to have 1 male and maybe 5-6 females. I would like them to be suitable hosts for the catfish and would also like for the females to be colourful/interesting too (ie not dull and brown/grey). I like the look of say Frontosa, but not fond of the big-ugly-lump- head thing and I also understand I'll need something from Lake Malawi or Victoria for the catfish. I don't particularly like Yellow Labs as they're a bit too bright if you know what I mean. And I had some C. moori once and they look a little pale and boring, and then there's the lump issue with them too. Something with blue would be nice though. I'm considering venustus...but not sure about the females... Am I too picky? Any suggestions? I've been searching and searching but can't seem to find anything. Just need some species names...happy to do the research on how to care for them! < If you like the N. venustus then look at them as well as the other species of Nimbochromis like N. livingstonii or N. polystigma. They get about 10 inches with the males turning blue when they area breeding. All the other times they will be some sort of mottled brown.> Also wanted to ask about the Synodontis and in-breeding...I started with 5 and now have over 15 (that I can see). Should I introduce some new stock and sell some old ones, or is it not really an issue? Thanks in advance for your help! Cheers, Monica < Not really an issue.-Chuck>

6 fish too many or too few? 04/1/08 Hello, I had a few questions about stocking fish. What is a good time frame for stocking new fish after having a bout with sickness? All seem well now in the tank and I was hoping to be able to stock a few more fish... but I want to see what you guys think about it since I have had some trouble with sickness around a month ago. <Depends on the sickness. If Ick/Whitespot for example, once treated and cured, you can add quarantined livestock safely a few days later. But if the problem is something like Finrot or Fungus, then you need to establish the triggering environmental issues first. Since those diseases are often caused by overstocking, adding yet more fish could be a very bad idea. Much the same goes for things like Hexamita/Hole-in-the-Head. Broadly speaking then, it's a good idea to leave an aquarium for a couple of months after problems so that you can be sure everything has settled down.> Also, I have a 55gal aquarium housing 6 African cichlids. How many would you recommend in a 55? I have what I believe to be, 2 Jewels, 1 Electric Yellow, 2 Aulonocara and 1 Nimbochromis. All the fish are small except for the Electric Yellow and he is about 4 inches. <Well, for a start these fish probably shouldn't be combined, and long term you could have problems. Jewel Cichlids (Hemichromis spp.) are very territorial and need soft/acid water. The other fish are from the African Rift Valley lakes and need hard/basic water. Yellow Labs (Labidochromis caeruleus) are boisterous but not overly aggressive. Aulonocara spp. vary but tend to be fairly easy going in spacious tanks. In theory at least they work well with Yellow Labs. Nimbochromis spp. are big and potentially predatory fish, so you need to choose tankmates for them with great care.> I really like these fish, but I am new to them. I am feeding them a Wardley brand Cichlid flake food and was also wondering if this is a good food choice for them. <If they eat it, fine. But the golden rule is VARIETY! So mix things up a little. Cichlids will typically eat anything if they're hungry. Chopped seafood, frozen bloodworms, tinned peas, brine shrimps, all kinds of things could be used. Plant material, live daphnia and live brine shrimps have a useful laxative effective on cichlids and help to prevent constipation.> Until I had a bout with illness I would give them a treat of freeze dried bloodworms as a treat 2 times a week until I read somewhere that it wasn't such a good idea due to unwanted parasites and it can cause some to bloat, is this correct? <I personally never found any point to freeze-dried bloodworms. They're expensive for what they are. But they should be perfectly safe. The main problem with dried foods is bloat, or more specifically constipation. As I say, use a variety of things to prevent this. Wet frozen foods are my favoured food items. Safe, inexpensive, and available in a huge variety.> Also, I saw at PetSmart, there is a product of lighting for cichlids... is this something I should purchase? The bulbs are a little pricey and the ones I have now are fairly new, didn't know if changing the bulbs was a thing I really NEED to do at this point or will the regular hood bulbs that I am using be fine health wise. <Sounds like a racket to me. No, cichlids don't need special lights. Yes, some colour lights will make the blues or red stand out more. But it's an optimal effect, and nothing to do with the health of the fish. Most cichlids don't care about whether you even have lights on the tank or not!> Thank you for your time and love your website! <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: 6 fish to many or too few? 4/3/08 Great to know! I think I will put the 2 Jewels in my daughters 10 gallon tank unless you think that it will be too small for 2 Jewels. Its empty and was just waiting on her to pick something out for it... Oddly enough she has been wanting the fish in our big tank... :) If I give her the 2 Jewels, that will leave the Electric Yellow, 2 Aulonocara and the Nimbochromis in the 55gallon tank. I will just hold off on doing something with the Nimbochromis when he starts fighting with the others, but can you give me some nice suggestions on what cichlids would go well with the yellow and 2 Aulonocara as comfy tank mates and color variety? And again thank you for your time and information! <A 10 gallon tank is indeed too small for Jewel Cichlids -- Jewels can get to 8"/20 cm in captivity, though admittedly 5-6"/12-15 cm is more typical. They're also territorial and quite waspish when spawning, and I'd recommend nothing less than a 30 gallon tank for a breeding pair. A large tank than that would be essential if you planned on keeping them in a community setting with other species. Selecting tankmates for Yellow Labs and Aulonocara has been covered elsewhere on WWM (see African Cichlid behaviour, selection FAQs) but the main thing is you avoid Mbuna. Going with species such as Iodotropheus sprengerae (Rusty Cichlid) and perhaps Pseudotropheus acei (but not with blue fish!) usually works well. Avoid keeping species from the same genera or you'll get crossbreeding. Both these species appreciate being kept in groups, three or more. The Pseudotropheus acei should be one male to two females, but the Iodotropheus sprengerae are not territorial so get as many as you want. Cheers, Neale.>

Peacock cichlid Stocking A Malawi Peacock Cichlid Tank 03/15/2008 Hello all and thanks for what you do. Wondering if you could suggest stocking level of an all peacock tank in a 90 gallon. Thank you. <In the wild they only get about 3" TL, but they get much larger in the aquarium. If you go with the blue varieties then you could go with about a dozen. The yellow ones are not as combative and will get pushed around by the more dominant blue varieties.-Chuck>

Cichlid ID 01/14/2008 Hi Crew, I have a person selling some Cichlids and does not know what type they are and me either. Can you help me please? He needs to get rid of all 9 fish ASAP and will give them all up for US$24, what do you think about the price? I want to also add around 10-20 small (around 1 inch) Pseudotropheus saulosi in a few weeks when I get my shipment, do you think its safe to add them after these other unidentified cichlids are added first? My tank is 200 Gallons. Thanks in advance Ghulam <Hello Ghulam. The fish with the orange/brown patches and yellow spots on the anal fin is some sort of Pseudotropheus, likely Pseudotropheus zebra. But do bear in mind standard stock is often hopeless messed up in terms of genetics, and this fish may well be a hybrid. So fine as a pet, but unless you can 100% guarantee it is one particular species, not recommended for a breeding project, and DEFINITELY do not pass on any fry produced by this fish to other hobbyists. There's too many hybrid Pseudotropheus in the hobby already. The big orange fish with the huge mouth is some sort of "Tilapia", possibly Oreochromis mossambicus but equally likely one of the hybrids such as "Golden Tilapia" widely used in the aquaculture business. A nice enough fish, but big, messy, and fairly aggressive. Also potentially huge (20-30 cm) and very, very messy. No-one in their right mind PAYS for a tilapia for a fish tank -- that's a fish you take off someone's hands as a favour! As for your other question: NO, you NEVER, EVER mix two different Pseudotropheus species. Only a lunatic would do that. The problem is you'll end up with masses of hybrid fry that SHOULD NOT be passed on into the hobby. Furthermore, the levels of aggression in the genus are high but variable, and punchy species like Pseudotropheus zebra will often kill males from less aggressive species. When stocking Pseudotropheus, you choose a SINGLE species appropriate for your community, and then choose species from other genera that it WILL NOT hybridise with, such as Labidochromis, Labeotropheus, Cyrtocara, etc. Obviously do not mix Pseudotropheus with fish from closely related (possibly identical) genera such as Maylandia or Metriaclima; taxonomists may argue about the differences here, but Pseudotropheus, Maylandia, and Metriaclima all think they're the same thing and will freely fight/breed with one another. Cheers, Neale.>

Madagascar export 11/13/07 Greetings: I currently have a license from the US Fish and Wildlife to import fresh water fish and I really want to import native Madagascar cichlids and/or rainbows for personal collection. I know of an excellent aquarist in Madagascar but have no exporter. Do you know of anybody interested on exporting fish from Madagascar? Regards Jose Gonzalez <Will post your note. I would contact Paul Loiselle... is he still with the New York Aquarium? As he has the most extensive experience here... and I'll send this to our own cichlid expert, Chuck Rambo for further input. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

A question regarding African cichlids... sel. .......again. I have a 75 gal Malawi tank and I have a slight problem with my adult male cichlids coloring up. I have an all male tank and it's not too crowded. If I do go ahead and overstock my tank like the forums suggest, will my cichlids color up again (considering the focus is on several fish rather than each fish individually)? <Likely so... though there are going to be constant vigilance (on your part) issues of watching out for too overt aggression... and damage...> I have two HOB filters and one canister xp3 totaling 1,250 gph. Any suggestions? Thanks, Jay <Books and Net reading. BobF>

Melanochromis auratus 10/22/07 Sexing Mel. Auratus Hello, I recently bought 5 Melanochromis Auratus African Cichlids. They are about 2 inches long. I am wondering when the males will start to show their male colors or at least the "dominant" male? < Usually at around two inches the males start to darken up.> On one of them I have noticed a small black "speck" that seems to be getting bigger on the lower part of its tail. Also on another I have noticed a little black coloration on the fin on the lower middle part of the fish. Could these be signs of a male growing into maturity? < Male M. auratus males will usually change color in a couple of weeks when they are the dominant fish in the tank. Certain areas may darken before others. Females usually don't change at all.> If not when do you think I will start to notice the dominant male colors. Any other suggestions on breeding these fish or determining the sex would be great! Thanks! < In the wild males are usually fully colored by two inches. They grow slower in the wild and a two inch fish in the wild is actually much older that a captive raised fish the same size. Sexual maturity is usually a matter of age and not size. Raise the water temp. to 80 f and that should accelerate the change.-Chuck>

Less-aggressive blue-colored haps, sel. 7/21/07 Hi crew, Thanks for the earlier reply on blue-colored Mbunas. Both the recommended species are hard to find in the LFS around my area. Are there any less-aggressive blue-colored haps to recommend for a tank that currently houses electric yellow labs and peacocks? From my knowledge, the electric blue ahli isn't too aggressive, but is there any way to distinguish it from blue species of peacocks? I find that the color and body shape quite similar, although the peacocks have greater likelihood of coming in more than 1 color. Is it possible or common for electric blue ahlis to come in more than one color, or for peacocks to be pure blue? Thank you. <Greetings. I find it hard to imagine you *can't* find Cyrtocara moori -- it is known as the Malawi Blue Dolphin and among the most widely traded Malawian Haplochromines in the trade. If all else fails, ask your retailer to get some in for you. Although big (around 20 cm) it is a gentle giant, provided you only have a single male specimen. The problem for you is that Aulonocara and Labidochromis are both at the low end of Malawian cichlid aggression. If you add significantly more aggressive species to the tank, they stand a very good chance of being killed. It's as simple as that. Pseudotropheus zebra for example will usually dominate any Labidochromis caeruleus in the tank. Pseudotropheus demasoni is *sometimes* kept in communities with more placid cichlids because, while highly aggressive, it is [a] small (~8 cm) and [b] tends to be only aggressive towards fish that are blue. Pseudotropheus demasoni is light blue with dark blue vertical bands, so very pretty. So that's one species you might want to take a gamble with, assuming your tank was sufficiently large (not less than 150 litres). Sciaenochromis ahli is another fish that *tends* to be violent towards other blue fish while largely ignoring other types of fish, but again, this depends on the aquarium. Given the large adult size of this species (~20 cm) and its piscivorous habits, it isn't a fish for every tank. Allow at least 200 litres for this species. Both Sciaenochromis ahli and Aulonocara spp. do have a somewhat similar shape and both come in a wide variety of colours. But as a rule Aulonocara have a smaller, more dainty mouth reflecting their niche as micropredators, whereas Sciaenochromis have much bigger mouths better suited to their niche as piscivores. But any halfway decent aquarium store will keep them apart and properly identified anyway, so this shouldn't really be an issue. Hope this helps, Neale>

Stocking A Rift Lake Cichlid Tank 6/23/07 Hey WWM crew, hope all is well. I was doing some research on here regarding the "appropriate" stocking of African rift lake cichlids... but still have a couple questions. Hope you don't mind answer them. It seems as though the jury is yet to reach a firm consensus on the "best" approach for ARL tanks. Understocking, overstocking, biotope-systems, etc. I've read that ARL cichlids are found in nature at a ratio of approx. 10 - 20 fish per square meter, (cichlidrecipe.com states 12-18 I think.) Is that number more or less accurate, and can it be responsibly applied to a captive setting? This translates roughly to 5 - 7 fish for a 55g, 7 - 10 for a 75g. Sound appropriate, or is still too vague without knowing specific lakes/genera?? Please assume that filtration needs are met, rockwork is adequate and 25% weekly water changes are performed. Chuck seems to be a big fan of overstocking ARL tanks, recommending 100 fish for a 215g, 50 - 75 for a 90g. (I'm assuming that these would be 1" to 2" specimens, specific ones removed later as they mature/pair?) Paul mentioned that he felt that his 90g tank was barely adequate for 5 ARL cichlids. And Bob advocates that it is "almost always better to understock." No surprise there. Thanks again for your time, and sorry to be so general in almost asking for a "fish per gallon rule." -Tyler < All of the above assumptions you have mentioned are correct. There is no wrong or right answer here. What you are reading is what works for that particular aquarist. A great deal of success depends on the number of species, sex ratio of each species and age they are all introduced. No two aquarists have the exact same tank set up. So each aquarist has a different version of what works for them. Generally I would recommend that the tank be filtered at a rate of 5 times the volume of the tank per hour. I prefer the hang on power filters over canister filters because they are easier to clean. A 25% weekly water change would be fine if the nitrates are kept under 25 ppm. As far as fish selection goes, there may be as many as 1500 species of cichlids from Lake Malawi alone. This depends if you are a lumper or a splitter. Unfortunately less that 1% of the species available are found at stores. You usually find a dozen species that are colorful and easy to breed. These common fish species usually are very aggressive and very territorial. I would only put these fish together under special circumstances. I have seen 100 gallon tanks with 300 adult Lake Malawi cichlids in them. Not all of them are aggressive and there were probably close to 20-25 different species. The owner did a 50-80% water change every week. The tank was an explosion of color that rivaled many salt water tanks. Look into books on Lake Malawi cichlids from Ad Konings to find out about specific species and then start top put together you tank on paper. Almost all of the species from the lake can be obtained through private importers or through the American Cichlid Association's Trading Post. Once you have a want list together you can write back and we will probably make recommendations to fine tune your set up.-Chuck>

Cichlids... African... sel. mostly 4/8/07 Hi, really like thank you in advance for such great job been done so far. This is my first e-mail to you in regards to my tank set-up. I'm planning to have only a few species of cichlids in my 175 gallon bowfront with a 30 gallon sump system. I would only have adults size of 5-7 inches average in this tank. The type that I have chosen will be 8) super red empress, 8) blue dolphin, 8) albino Taiwan reef, 2)Wild Placidochromis phenochilus Tanzania and 10 more different species in similar size. Pls kindly advise <... Umm, advise in terms of what? The overall likely compatibility of the listed species? With adequate cover (likely rock caves, overhangs... these all should fit here... and there's enough room/space for some agonistic, spawning behavior w/o too much damage likely. I would place the more easy-going species ahead of the more aggressive... likely in three "batches" with a few weeks between... Bob Fenner> for I shall be transferring these in a week. Warm Regards. John.

Help with Cichlid tank 3/16/2007 Hello- <Hi there> I need help figuring out what is happening with my Red zebra (even though he is orange:-)). <Okay> First I have just set up a 29 gallon tank with Malawi cichlids. <Dangerously small volume... with time, growth, behavior here...> I have 2 Kenyi, 3 exasperatus, 3 red zebras, 3 Acei, 1krib and 1 cat fish from lake Malawi he has spots on his body and striped on his tail). When I put my 3 Kenyi (all small1 inch to 1.5 inch) into the tank one seemed to come down with something- he passed quickly. the other two seemed to have cotton mouth- one on the mouth itself and one on his one fin. I treated with the antibiotic that turns the water red can't remember the name) <Likely Tetracycline... regular water changes...> with M. green. Everyone seems great and I did my first water change today to start taking out the meds. My Red zebras have always had a black belly area (the pet store guy said it was normal) but tonight I noticed one has a protrusion( it looks like it is part of his internal area). The one side is slightly "swollen" and the other has a distinctive "lump". He seems at this point to be eating and active. I am thinking it is constipation, I was feeding some small cichlid pellets that float and have switched to Spirulina flakes and tropical fish food with occasional brine shrimp (frozen). Any help you can give would be great. Thank you so much! Christie <What is your water quality? Do you use salt additions? If so, of what sort? Bob Fenner>

Re: Help with <African> Cichlid tank 03/18/07 My water is great-- Nitrates 0-5, Nitrites 0, Amm. 0, Ph 7.6-8. You are correct with the Tetracycline treatment. <Easy guess> I have used salt additions ( aquarium salt) 1 tbls to 10 gallons of water. I also (last night before this was noticed) added some natural rock with a hard salt present on it... I could not even scrape it off with a knife with out breaking part of the rock off. <Likely not salts, but carbonates... lime...> It is used to provide caves. I boiled the rocks for about 2hours. Also last night one of my aceis was swimming erratically but other wise seemed fine. This morning they both seem fine and the bump seems to be gone. I am thinking I may be feeding the wrong food... I would also like to touch on the comment of the volume being too small... I was told by numerous people that this would work in my tank - is this not correct? <Not IMO... I only keep African Cichlids nowadays... (just travel too much...). I encourage all to start with nothing smaller than 55 gallon tanks if possible, keep only one species per... two males max. and females as they develop from a batch of younger individuals...> I do plan on upgrading to a 55 gallon tank with in the next year. <Good... do know though that many of the Cichlids hailing from the same "Lakes" will cross- inter-breed> But bought these fish based on the tank I have now (I feel that is the best bet). I do have rock work, caves and numerous fake plants. Any thought are greatly appreciated. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind2.htm The tray on cichlids, parts on Africans... Bob Fenner>

Lake Malawi Cichlid Biotope 2/19/07 First off, thanks for taking the time to read my e-mail. I apologize for the length... :-)I am planning a 215-Gallon (or 210-Gallon, depending which manufacturer you believe, hehe) tank (72"x24"x29") and I am CONSIDERING doing a Lake Malawi biotope. First of all, I should mention that my past 10+ years has been marine reef experience, but I'm trying to consider a more cost-effective, yet still INTERESTING alternative. Anyway, to date, no matter what I start out with, it becomes a reef again in a matter of hours during the planning process. ;-) I'm hoping that you fine folks might be able to open my eyes to some successful communities that will captivate me. To date, the plans that have more or less "made the cut" are either a SPECIES tank for P. saulosi, or a MIXED tank of P. demasoni and L. caeruleus. Your thoughts on either of these? How many dominant male saulosi are likely to be in a species tank that size? Then will the rest be orange females and steel blue (no stripes) males? Or just the orange females? Also, I've heard it said that demasoni and caeruleus impact one another's' breeding and therefore, while "compatible" are not TECHNICALLY compatible... Your thoughts? Also willing and excited to consider any other mixes. I want activity, colour, and DEFINITELY NO CROSS-BREEDING. I don't want to contribute to the growing numbers of "Malawi Mutts" in the trade. Thanks and my apologies once again for the long e-mail <Go with the Ps. saulosi. They are not very aggressive and you can have equal numbers of males and females. Orange females and blue males with black fins and bars are actually very attractive and pretty close to what they look like in Tawani Reef in Lake Malawi. To pull it off you need good stock. Don't settle for inferior fish. The Ps. demasoni are very aggressive and the L. caeruleus will get pushed around and not thrive.-Chuck>

Re: How many Kenyi? African Cichlids Not On Hold 2/2/07 Thank you so much for reply and ref of book, will certainly look into it. One more thing, I heard today they (Africa) was closing off all sales of African cichlids and Florida as well because of breeding issues, would you know if this is true and if so, how long do I have to get my other fish? <News to me. Send me a reference and I will look into it.> I don't like rushing into picking fish and like to have time to take back to store if something should go wrong. < Pretty unlikely. Too much money involved from the industry. Could be local fish store BS for not getting anymore fish that they can't keep alive. I could be wrong.-Chuck.> Malawi Cichlid Tank Stocking 1/29/07 Your website is great. I love it. Let me tell you what I have then ask my question. Tank situation is: 55 gal, 48 in long. Over 400 gals of water per hour being circulated and filtered. Temp is at a constant 78 degrees with a heater at both ends of tank. Over 100 hiding spots with plants and caves etc. pH is 7.8, Nitrites are 0, and Ammonia is 0. I clean algae every other 3 days from glass and 1x every two weeks off plants and rocks. I keep the light on a lot only shutting it off at night. I do reg weekly water changes of 25 percent (from the gravel) adding fresh salt only to the new water. I feed them Omega One shrimp flakes twice a day, veggies mostly green beans and zucchini everyday. I know I should be giving them pellets but they don't seem to eat it and it just goes to the bottom and turns to mold. I also give them frozen shrimp brine once a week as a treat. I have gone through a lot of fish trying to get the right combination. This combination seems to work for now. My Auratus and Kenyi were constantly nipping before I added the new sexes. They're very peaceful now. I have seen a lot of talk about the Zebra's being very aggressive. I have not experienced that at all. It's actually the opposite. Is there something wrong? I have had most of these fish since Sept of 2006, slowly adding a new fish or taking away a fish until all seemed fine. I think I have it now but worry about the near future with the Johanni and Kenyi. Fish in tank: 1 (m) 1 (f) Kenyi (Pseudotropheus Lombardoi) 1 (?) Electric Yellow Lab (Labidochromis Caeruleus) because of behavior tend to believe its a male. 1(m) 1(f) red zebras (Pseudotropheus Estherae) 1(m) 1(f) Auratus (Melanochromis Auratus) 1(m) Johanni (Melanochromis Johanni) 1(?) Snow White Albino (Pseudotropheus Socolofi Albino) I know half these fish are only an inch away from being full grown. I know I need a female for my Johanni maybe two. He is full grown and the most dominate fish of the tank for now. My male Kenyi is just now turning Gold and is in 2nd command for the time being. I just recently got what I hope is a female, pretty sure. How many more females do I need for him and the Johanni? < When you have a single female in the tank, the male will continuously chase her in an attempt to get her to spawn. Having many females relieves some of the stress on a single fish. I would recommend at least three.> Can my tank support these fish? < Check the nitrates. As long as they are under 25 ppm per week in between water changes then you can add more fish.> I don't want to over stock my tank. As it is once a month I am changing stuff around in the tank to prevent territory boundaries. In this case the Johanni doesn't seem to care how often I change things around, he still has complete control over the obvious hiding spots. < Many Melanochromis are notorious for being aggressive. An exception is M. parrallelus.> Everyone keeps saying you can never have a peaceful cichlid tank. I don't believe that. I think it just take some hard work getting the right combination. I want to stick with the Lake Malawi fish. I have 9 fish all together with the belief they wont get over 5 inches long, how many can I add to help the sexes of these two fish keeping the size of my tank and water conditions in mind? < I would continue to add females. You are very smart for picking species in which the female is also very colorful. Add at least three females per male.> I haven't had any eggs yet but do have another 29 gal tank cycled if the time should ever come. Right now it is holding my 4 dwarf puffers but they have a smaller tank I can put them in when the time comes. Thank You R. Pagan AZ <I would like to recommend a book titled "Enjoying Cichlids" by Ad Konings. Also this July the American Cichlid Association is having their national convention in Sacramento, Calif. Check out the association at Cichlid.org.-Chuck> African Cichlid Recommendations 1/23/07 To the crew at wet web: first of all your site is very resourceful and has helped answer many of my questions. I am new to African cichlids, as I'm used to south American cichlids such as Oscars, Dempseys, and convicts. I have very hard alkaline water from my tap about 8.3. I have been using a R/O unit to create softer water for my O's and Dempseys. Well I have an empty 55 gallon sitting in my room and decided since my water was ideal for Africans I would try so I would have to mess with my R/O for another tank. So I was looking at a few different Africans. I really like the color of the frontosa and the peacocks. I know a 55 would eventually be too small for the front but I am flexible with tanks. The peacocks, if I am right obtain a length of about 6 inches or so. Here is the question, would you recommend a juvenile front tank? How many peacocks would be suitable for a 55 gal? thank you for your time...Carl < The frontosa from Lake Tanganyika will get big within a year. Look at Neolamprologus tretocephalus instead. Don't get as big but have the same coloration. Peacocks come generally in blues and yellows. The yellow ones don't do well in mixed tanks. You could put about 6 blue type peacocks in a 55.-Chuck> Af. Cichlid Beh., Sel. 12/28/06 Hello Bob, me again..........Jason. Hope the holidays were good for you! <Thus far...> I have a question regarding the sex of a blue dolphin African cichlid. I've read through the forums and all over the internet and the literature says it's very hard to distinguish between male and female. <Mmm, Cyrtocara moorii is best sexed... by allowing a mix of individuals to "sort themselves out" in a large setting> I have a blue dolphin that is rather aggressive against my other peacocks and Mbuna, he/she chases constantly. <Not atypical beh.> The anal fins are more rounded (but not incredibly short) and the color is a nice sky blue. <Could/can describe either sex when small, perhaps in poor condition...> He/she is only under 3.5" therefore there is no apparent hump on the head. Between the aggression and the light, yet vivid sky blue color, do you think this is a male? <Possibly... but not able to tell decidedly here> I am trying to create an "all male" African tank to avoid breeding and dull coloring. <Mmm... where's that Chuck Rambo?! This can be an unrealistic goal... that is, your fishes will not show their "best" color, behavior w/o the presence of females... and may still be overly agonistic> I think I might run into some trouble if this is the ONLY female in the tank. Thanks again Happy New Year!!! <Again... I would keep a close eye on all your stock... for signs of too-overt aggression here... and remove the most damaging individual/s as these problems evidence themselves. Bob Fenner>

Tanganyika community tank 11/8/06 Dear WWM crew, I love your site and appreciate the down to earth approach of your question answering. I was wondering about suitable stocking levels for a 55 gallon aquarium. I have 2 Julidochromis marlieri (originally purchased 3 but one was picked off), 1 tropheus duboisi, and 2 Neolamprologus brevis. I know I should get more Marlieri's to get a group and stunt aggression, but was wondering if maybe some more Dubois's would be too aggressive, or possibly some Neolamprologus brichardi? <Mmm... well, in a system of this volume and shape, I myself would keep just three species... and "good" mixes of genders of these> I have heard that overstocking/understocking is best, <Mmm... re the over-stocking option... not a pan-goodness approach... too often results in troubles... aggression effects, losses if/when something additionally mal-influences social dynamics, the overall physiology of a/the system> but would like to know the minimum recommended group for each species. <Here... given what is offered re the system, current species make-up... a trio of the three species. Can/might still be troubles given a reproductive event... or two> I would also appreciate any suggestions on other desirable species to stock. <Perhaps some other non-cichlid indigenous fish groups... Mochokid catfishes?> I want to do a tang. tank but am not bound to this idea. Would Neolamp. lelupi's, Labidochromis' be ok? <Again...> Also I am interested in becoming an aquarist and would like to know what I can do to possibly help myself along the way before I finish college. <In what ways?> I would also appreciate any recommended reading for fish keeping. Sincerely, Matt Tompkins <See the names Ad Konings, Paul Loiselle... and in turn seek out these venerable writers in-print works, their further reference, citation. Bob Fenner>

Medication That Will Stain Silicon - 10/11/06 Thanks Chuck. Will the malachite Green permanently discolor my decor or just the sealant in the corners? <Different brands of ich cures have different strengths of malachite green. I have seen aquariums that have been stained with Malachite Green so when you use this medication it is always possible it will stain objects.> I have plastic and fabric type fake plants in the tank along with plastic rocks and caves. One last question Chuck........I really enjoy my yellow lab's personality and it seems a lot more active than other types of cichlids, which species is most like the yellow lab as far as being active and personality goes? I would like to fill my tank with other species of cichlids that mimic the yellow lab. Thanks again < Your Yellow Labidochromis swims among rocks looking for little invertebrates to feed on. Other cichlids to consider as take mates would be Melanochromis johanni, Ps. saulosi, Cyno. afra, Cypt. moori, or almost any open water utaka type.-Chuck>

Re: Malawi Tank Recommendations 10/11/06 Hey Chuck, I did some research on the fish you recommended to me. They look very much like the Zebra species, are they as nasty and aggressive as the Zebra? <Most of the Mbuna or rock dwelling Lake Malawi cichlids are aggressive. This is because the guard a territory or rock on which their food, algae, grows. If they don't defend it then it gets eaten by the other fish. The fish I have recommended are not as aggressive as these zebra types and don't get as big.> The Africans I have in my tank right now seem to be more passive. Will these that you recommended do well with mine (yellow lab, peacock, Dimidichromis compressiceps, and a couple of clown loaches)? < The compressiceps will get big but generally won't bother fish he can't eat. The clown loaches actually prefer soft acidic water but I guess are doing OK in your tank.-Chuck> Thanks, Jeff

Re: Ice Blue Zebra Cichlid With A Yellow Lab 10/11/06 Thanks for all of your help Chuck, your leading me in the right direction. One last thing, what about the "ice blue zebra", is he less aggressive than the other in the family and can I mix him with what I have now (yellow lab, peacocks)? Thanks < The Ice Blue Zebra is one of the most aggressive cichlids there is from Lake Malawi. As a smaller fish he would be OK. But he grows up to 5 inches plus and has a mouth full of teeth that can inflict a lot of damage very quickly.-Chuck>

African Cichlid Tank crowded time bomb - 09/14/06 Dear Marina and volunteer crew, <Hi there... Marina's long since absent> First off, I would like to compliment you on all the valuable information available on your website. Last night was my first visit and I learned a lot from a hour reading and a little searching. I have a few questions and if you can help, that's great, if not, I learned even more putting this together. Some background: I, my wife and daughter are first time aquarists. We have 58 us gal. Hagen aquarium Commenced set up July 25, 2006 Cycled the tank with limited seed stock (no fatalities but lots of learning) Tank settled down after about three weeks and we started buying Malawi cichlids We have 19 fish <Mmm, going to be trouble/crowded in time...> to date and are struggling a bit with species and male or female We have attached some photos and kept each one under 70kb <Not here unfortunately> We run two canister filters (Fluval 305 and EHEIM 2215) One power head with filter for cleanup after feeding Water change 40% per week now that tank is settling in (gravel is vacuumed during the water change) Lights are Aqua Glow / 12 to 14 hours per day Ammonia is zero Nitrite is zero Nitrate is less than 5 PH is 7.8 to 8.0 Temperature is 78 to 80F Buffer is good Small amount of green algae starting to form Our questions are as follows: Can we reasonably sustain this amount of fish in the aquarium? <Not indefinitely... even w/o a description of species... "African Cichlids" can be crowded when small (not sexually mature), and with very regular maintenance, feeding and possible removal of "alpha types" kept for a while... but... eventually mayhem, reduction in population here> Our goal is a community tank, did we choose a good mix for the community? <Once again... you don't state species... and there is a huge range of easy-going-ness to not...> Any advice on potential problems based on our fish stock? Do we have any natural mating pairs? Our OB zebra seems very energetic when lights go off and she swims back and forth and up and down through the bubble stream of the air stone for almost an hour each night then settles down. All other fish take their places and settle down as soon as lights go off. I know we have two jewels and these are River origin but so far are handling the chemistry, any comments? <... need more data> We feed two times a day, morning and evening. The food type is Nutrafin Max, spectrum grow and spectrum Thera + A, is this adequate? <Yes> We are just trying to do the best we can for our fish and appreciate any advice. I am constantly amazed at how the time passes, our family has a new 48' wide live color screen. We get so much enjoyment out of watching our community grow and every cichlid seems to have a distinct personality. One thing we are finding out is that aggressiveness is part of who these fish are, we are learning to accept that. <Need to keep a sharp eye... and remove real troublemakers... Likely the Zebra first here...> Thanks in advance for your advice and comments. Finding Nemo....... Sorry, one correction. Water change is 20% per week not 40%. Its late Miles <Do consider another tank... at least for "time outs" and the odd fish that will need to be removed enroute to being shipped out permanently. Cheers, Bob Fenner> Ways to avoid breeding? 8/25/06 Hello, and thanks for a very helpful site! < Howdy! Bob and the crew do a wonderful job! > I have set up a 20 gallon tank, which is cycling now (no fish yet). < Good idea. > I'm considering stocking it with some small varieties of cichlids. This is not a hard and fast choice, but I am considering them because my tap water is hard (about 120ppm total) and with a high pH (about 8.4). < It is wonderful to see you have researched your water source before purchasing the wrong types of fish. > My concern is primarily this - I keep reading about their breeding habits, and while it sounds fascinating, I simply do not have the real estate at my disposal to accommodate the resulting fry. < Quite understandable. > Is there a configuration I can keep that will be less likely to breed (like all females)? < The idea is sound, but unfortunately, they are not easy to determine sex at a young age. > If I did find myself with lots of offspring, what could I feasibly do with them? < Most fish stores will gladly accept locally grown fish as trade for food and supplies. > And are there any other varieties of fish I could keep in my present water conditions where this would be less of an issue? < Possibly some brackish water fish? > I want whatever fish I end up with to be happy and comfortable in their home, but I don't feel like I can support an endless baby factory either! Any advice would be greatly appreciated - thanks! < Consider some cichlids from Lake Tanganyika. Most of them stay fairly small, and if you chose members from different genera, they would not be as likely to breed. Good luck, and best wishes, RichardB > -Tara Fish Flashing and Stringy Feces in Some Tanks at LFS - Is this Common for LFS's or Should I Buy Elsewhere? 8/2/06 Hi Crew, <Cindy> I have been fish keeping African Cichlids a little over 3 years now. I've grown from one 50 g. tank to a total of 6 tanks. I get my livestock from a local high end independent retailer. As my hobby has grown, I find myself spending more and more time at my LFS buying supplies. I'm there once or twice a week. I enjoy looking at the fish and visiting with the fish guys while I'm there. Every time I've been there, over the past 6 months, I've noticed problems in a few of their fish tanks. I'll see several tanks that have fish flashing, maybe a tank with fish rocking, and I always see a few fish here and there with stringy feces more than triple their size that won't seem to detach. Is this common of all fish stores? <Way too common, yes... There are myriad, continuous health issues in retail and wholesale settings in the aquatic livestock business... too much "mixed" life that goes un-rested, un-quarantine, untreated and mis-treated...> Am I just becoming more aware, or should I be looking for another store for future livestock? <I strongly encourage you to "shop around", to take on all aspects of providing preventative measures wherever you purchase new livestock> I see this store occasionally take back large fish that have outgrown someone's tank and immediately after temperature acclimation, release them into tanks with breeder livestock. I realize they only have a limited number of backroom quarantine tanks, but I would expect fish coming from someone's unknown tank conditions to be quarantined before introduction to other livestock purchased from distributors. <This source of trouble pales in comparison with the weekly coming and going of shipped wild and distant-cultured stocks... there are seasonal and permanent pandemics that one can identify in our interest...> I heard it can even be dangerous for a LFS to mix livestock from multiple distributors. <Yes> The fish from one distributor have been exposed to and built immunity to certain bacteria while the fish from the other distributor have been exposed to different bacteria. <One way of viewing, stating this... it's more "their" systems that have expressed immunity if you will... akin to "A boy in a bubble"... Realize that almost to a one, more than 100% of all the stock goes through any given wholesaler/jobber/distributor's systems weekly...> When you combine the fish, and the bacteria they carry, you risk illness as they cross contaminate each other with bacteria they have no built in resistance to. <Nor much chance/opportunity to develop/acquire such> What should someone look for when selecting a good LFS to purchase their livestock? Cindy <The bazillion dollar question. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdis3setsfactors.htm and the linked files above... Much to state here, and thank you for this prompting. Bob Fenner> How Many Cichlids 6/20/06 How many of each should I add in my 60 gallon tank? bumble bee cichlids, < Ps. crabro-Get big and turn dark, almost black, no more than three. Powder blue cichlids,-Probably the cobalt blue. Pretty fish that stays blue and is moderately aggressive. Probably six. Mel. auratus,-Males turn dark while females remain looking like the young. Get eight then leave one male and remove the rest. Should give you one male to five females. Electric yellow labs. Pretty fish and peaceful too. get at least six. These numbers are for a tank that has plenty of filtration and weekly routine 25% water changes. If you are not prepared to do this work then you should cut down on the number of fish.-Chuck>

Adding Cichlids to a 60 gallon Tank 6/20/06 bumble bee cichlids, powder blue cichlids, auratus, and electric yellow labs. From all of these fish, which group should I add in there first, then second, etc..... < Get all small ones and add them all at the same time and let them grow up together.-Chuck>

Stocking A Lake Malawi Cichlid Tank 3/18/06 I have a 90 gallon tank. What is the average number of African rift lake cichlids I can keep in there without overstocking? I have heard that it is better to keep these cichlids a bit on the crowded side because it keeps them from being overly territorial. Is this true? Thanks for your help. < The key to a stocking rate depends on how often you do water changes, how much water you change, the efficiency of you filtration and total water movement. These fish are aggressive and territorial. I would recommend that you get all the fish at once while little and let them grow up together. The filter should pump at least 500 gph. Try and get that look different from each other. If the nitrates exceed 20 ppm between water changes then you need to reduce the number of fish or do more frequent or larger water changes. Females will less aggressive than males. I would say 20 to 25 adults (4") in a 90 gallon tank with lots of rock work and 30% weekly water changes would be OK.-Chuck> Starting A Lake Malawi Cichlid Tank 2/26/06 Hello, I've been researching Lake Malawi Cichlids, and I have a few questions that remain unanswered. It's my understanding that a crowded tank works best. Once the tank is cycled, what is the best method for initial stocking? Clearly you can't put them all in at once. Further, I have seen it written that when introducing a new species to an established tank that you should re-arrange the tank--but as I slowly stock a tank, I don't exactly want to be doing this every other week--any advice on stocking a new cichlid tank? I'm tired of buying books only to not find this info! Thanks, Katie < Buy small immature fish under two inches to stock your tank. Make sure they are all pretty close to the same size. Over that size they begin to get very territorial because they are old enough to breed, then you need to do the rock thing. Cool down the water temp to the mid 70's to slow down their metabolism. For long term stability try and buy fish that do not resemble each other. Check out a book called "Enjoying Cichlids" by Ad Konings at CichlidPress.com-Chuck>

Formalin stain? Stocking African cichlids, Dips... a peripatetic aquarist 8/9/05 Bob or Other Professional - Please help! WILL FORMALIN STAIN WHATEVER PLASTIC IT COMES INTO CONTACT WITH? <Not generally> The store says 'Yes," and your web site says 'NO." Would it be better to use rock salt? <For?> A local store says they keep the nets soaking in a mixture of rock salt and water. That after it evaporates or does something, it's ok to put them or whatever you are sterilizing in the dip. If so, how much rock salt to how much water? <A very saturated solution... like a couple of cups per gallon> How long soaking w/out damaging net and or containers or other ornaments or equipment? <Not likely to damage them> How long to rinse so it's safe for the fish to come into contact w/ it again? <A minute or so> The Pleco really helps to clean the tank. w/out him the algae turned into fungus on the plastic plants attached to ornaments. There's only Plecos and Chinese Algae eaters, right? <... what? For algae eating? No... many more animals, species> I switched from the algae eaters b/c I heard that at adult age they suck the slime off of the others in the tank, and one fish was missing. The upside down catfish doesn't help to clean too much. WHAT SIZE Pleco would U recommend? <I don't suggest placing Loricariids with Great Lakes African Cichlids... they're incompatible behaviorally and do better in very different water make-up> I have One zebra (1.5 inches long) , two yellow labs ( 1 fem 3 inches long & 1male 3.5 inches long),) 1 upside down catfish SIX INCHES LONG & I believe a Peacock (3 1/2 -four inches.) When I find the right size yellow labs, how many more can I add to the tank? <Please... write just one question per email... and provide your system information... what size system is this?> Only one or two if it will be three-four inches? Is there anything wrong w/ buying a fish from a small store? <... has nothing to do with size> They have a 2 wk guarantee. Someone told me that they wouldn't recommend I buy from there but they have one female lab the size I need. No one else has one now. I guess as long as the place appears to be clean and the tank they take her from appears to be alright, it's ok even though the store is small. On the other hand, if it's a dirty place and they don't look like they are talking care of the fish, then I'll skip it. Am I correct w/ my assessment of the situation? <IMO, yes> This fish stuff is difficult to keep up w/ once something goes a little wrong. IMP: ******Since I lost the Pleco, the peacock had ich and was treated w/ RID ICH. ****WHAT TYPE of med is best to cure and prevent ich from returning? <This is posted on WWM> It cleared up after seven days, and I continued treatment for another three days like the company recommends but the ich returned on the tenth day! Then I said freak this. I replaced the filter and he seemed to get better but he was never dipped in anything and the rest of the tank has been suctioned (cleaned) but nothing else was done. Also, I bought two new smaller yellow labs, and kept them on one side of a divider for a couple of days. After ten hrs in my tank, there was a little white bump that appeared on one fish, but NOT like ich. It appeared to be like a whitehead. The next night, I brought them back to the store and am wondering If I should dip the divider in the cleaning solution (whatever I end up using.) just to be sure before I place in any other new fish--I'm just trying to protect any new fish from what I just described. <I see... a dip might be a very good idea> Thought it would be a good idea to dip the equipment such as nets, ornaments w/ plastic plants, plastic containers, etc. in something to sterilize them just in case they are contaminated w/ something. What do you think? <Also a good idea> Thank you! You're the best! I'm just worried about the fungus growing back. I cannot keep cutting down the plastic plants b/c there will be nothing left! <? Cutting them? Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnornart.htm> YOUR RESPONSE: Skip the Pleco, add filtration*******(don't know what else there is to do***** more maintenance to your regimen ******MORE WATER CHANGES?? Okay***** <And more algae scrubbing, yes> I would not use a net dip here... for sterilization or for cleaning your ornaments... too toxic, too much trouble... there are articles and FAQs files posted on WWM re set-up, maintenance of freshwater systems, go, read there Okay, I'll read there. <Good> WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY No, I am Not a commercial retailer just someone at home w/ a 29 gallon tank. <Ahh, then if you only have the one tank there is little use for dealing with toxic dip chemicals...> There are NOT a lot of fish going in and out. I'M NOT SURE WHAT YOU MEANT BY NOT USING A NET DIP. Do you mean NOT TO DIP THE NET IN ANYTHING? Just rinse under hot water? I did read a few different ideas about sterilizing which is where I got this idea to use formalin to begin with. Are you suggesting I DON'T STERILIZE ANYTHING? Just rinse in hot water and don't worry about it? <Yes> I think I read that as long as they items thoroughly dry that nothing can stay on them. Is that true? <For the most part, yes> I just thought it would be a good idea to sterilize but if you recommend Not to, then please let me know. ONE MORE THING, PLEASE ..........I have some Cichlid Salt. When am I supposed to use this, and how much? <When you do water changes... likely about a teaspoon per gallon... the instructions should relate this> Is there a test to determine when this is needed or I just put a little in the tank after water changes are done? Thank You!! <You can measure indirectly with a hydrometer... but if you just approximate the replacement rate during water changes you'll be fine. Bob Fenner>

Basic cichlid setup 8/5/05 I've been surfing around this forum, and I have been impressed with the thoughtful insights you are providing. However, I haven't found the answer I am looking for. I have an empty 29 gal. that I am cycling right now. I'm looking to begin stocking it in 2 weeks after I return from a vacation. Due to the hardness of the water where I live, I am strongly considering African cichlids. In the past, I have had a 20 gal, that had two socolofi and one honngi (sp?) along with a Synodontis cat. (Gave them away because of a move.) For my 29, what would be some of your suggestions for a good set up? Questions that follow with that basic request: <I would look to the many smaller species of African Cichlids and set upon a species only set-up for this small tank. Perhaps some Lamprologines, Steatocranus... Bob Fenner> Lake Malawi set up 8/4/05 Hey I am about to set up an African rift lake tank and the tank I have is 4ft and it holds 60 gallon. I would like to no how many fully grown lake Malawi cichlids I could hold in it? this would be greatly appreciated >> If you are adding rock dwellers (Mbuna) you can calculate with 12-14 fish. If you are thinking of Haplochromines or Peacock cichlids I would consider 8-10 a good number. If your filtration system is very good you could add 3-4 more fish. Good Luck, Oliver Mbuna Recommendations for a 29 Gallon Tank Hello, I have a 29 gallon tank and I'm planning to breed Mbuna in it. Somebody told me that I could have up to 12 fish so I think I'll put in 10. What are some good fish to put in there? I'm looking for nice bright colors. Thanks, Mitchel < Ps. saulosi would work well. The males are blue and black while the females are bright yellow. Labidochromis caeruleus from Chisimulae is another good one. The males are a bright light metallic blue with black stripes and the females are a bright white. Melanochromis parralelus males are black with horizontal stripes while the females are white with black stripes.-Chuck> New African Cichlid Tank Hey, I am trying to set up a new African cichlid tank. The tank I have is 29 gallons. So far all I have is one Peacock. I was wondering what could I mix with it. Fish I have been thinking about are a jewel, electric yellow, zebra, maybe a jack Dempsey. If you could give me some examples of fish that would go together and fit in that tank for a while before I get a 55 gallon later; that would be really nice .-Tyler < If you peacock cichlid is the main fish you want to keep then you should only add cichlids from Lake Malawi. Of your choices the electric yellow Labidochromis would be fine. The zebra gets big and very territorial. Look for more peaceful Malawi cichlids like Ps. lanistacola, Ps elegans, Ps. saulosi and Ps. acei. Try and keep all the fish around the same size.-Chuck>

Finding Krib Cichlids I need help finding a pair of Kribs. I am looking for a mated pair that I can buy for a reasonable price, I looked over the internet but could not find any good sites. I appreciated your quick response last time. Thanks! Christine < Captive bred Kribensis from Asia are actually very common here on the west coast. I would call around the stores in your area first. They can usually get them if they try. If that doesn't work then there is always the internet but shipping is very expensive. Look at aquabid.com. It is like eBay for fish. I know mainlycichlids.com can get them at a reasonable price, once again shipping is a real costly issue.-Chuck>

Looking for Buffalo Head Cichlids I am looking for African blockheads to purchase, Steatocranus casuarius. I cannot seem to find anyone who has any or can point me in the right direction. Can you help me? Pat < These fish usually only come in once or twice a year. The good news is that they are around now. First I would call around your local stores and make sure that they can't get them. If that doesn't work then you can go on the internet. Look at aquabid.com. It is like eBay for fish. You might get a good price but shipping will be expensive. Check out mainlycichlids.com. They are in the San Fran bay area and they had some last week.-Chuck>

Cichlid Issues Hello, I was planning on moving my 10 Mbunas from a 30 gallon cube to a 72 bow. < Nice tank> My plan was cycle the 72 without fish, but the hyperdominant saulosi nearly killed my brooding female (he chopped part of her gill off and suffered fin damage). The rest of the bunch started to attack her/eat her fry while she laid upside down in a corner. I was forced to move all them in order to save the brooding female. She was recovering just fine and successfully released a few fry within a week, but the hyperdominant saulosi nearly killed the submissive male (he got fin rot, hanging scales and white stuff) in the 72 and had to remove the injured from the main tank. The conditions in the new tank are horrible at the moment and if there is any hope for the fellow, it would be to transfer him to the tank with the female and fry. I placed him in the tank with the recovering female and fry, but within hours he was brutally fighting with the female and now she has a dark bruise/mark around her mouth area from the fighting. There are little ones swimming around, I don't know what to do.. < Place the extra male in a large net with a couple of marbles in the bottom. Then set the net in a tank and you have an instant divider.> Now the hyperdominant male chases another lone female relentlessly in the big tank. He chases off all the others and corners the poor thing. I got 2 Msobo females as distraction (no saulosi at LFS), but that didn't work. I can't overcrowd or get more females because it's still cycling. I'm afraid he might injure/kill her. Any tips on easing the cycling process? < Add Bio-Spira from Marineland and you should be up and going in no time at all.> Here are my conditions in the 72 cycling tank: I have a Millennium 3000 and 2000 filter, 200 watt heater, play sand substrate, some caves and lots of small stones. The ammonia has started to declined (currently at .2), but the nitrite is at 7 < Too high, should be zero.> and nitrate is at 40. < Nitrate is too high. Do a 50% water change, clean the filters and get it under 25 ppm .> I just did a 15% water change. Hardness 120, Alkalinity 120, pH 7.6, temp. 82 degrees. < Too high. Drop the water temp to 75 degrees until the tank is done cycling. The male is trying to breed all the time. The cooler temps will slow him down and he won't be so bad.> 2 Ps.. saulosi (m&f), 3 estherae (all f), 3 Kenyi (m&2f), 2 Ps.. deep (f). Thanks for your help. < You have chosen almost all the meanest Lake Malawi cichlids you can find. In the wild these fish are crowded and they should be that way in the aquarium too. Check out the FAQ's and you will get some ideas on how to stock your tank and what to stock it with.-Chuck>

Juvenile Malawi's Hi, <Hello> I just have a quick question I hope you can answer. I have recently started a Malawi tank and was able to find someone locally who breeds some fish from this lake. <Neat> I picked out the following F1 juveniles; 5 Metriaclima estherae (1 blue male, 4 females), 3 Labeotropheus trewavasae (1 male hopefully - he is starting to get the orange top - and 2 females). The estherae's are all about 1 inch and the trewavasae's are about 1.5 inches with both males a little bigger. My question is when will the female estherae's start to turn orange and if the trewavasae is a male when will he start to get his blue as they are all colorless right now. <Likely within a month, two> I can't find any info about how fast they grow or how long it takes to reach maturity and this is my first time with cichlids this small as all at the LFS are bigger and have their colors already. <Mmm, well, you can/could "speed things up" with frequent feeding, partial water changes... a bit high temperature... But better to take your time here... your animals will live longer, better lives for it.> I also have 6 Aulonocara st. (cobue) on hold from this guy and won't be ready to bring home for another few months and just wondering the same question as with the others. <These "Peacock's" grow more slowly, color up later... likely a few months for them> The cobue's will have a separate tank from the others as I am hoping to witness all of these fish breed at some point. Thanks <They likely will. Bob Fenner>

African Rift Tanks Livestocking I am not new to aquaria but I will soon be new to African Rift Tanks. I am seeking a tank now, probably 100 - 150 gallons. The place I have for a tank is 67" long and 24" wide. I will aquascape with sand and appropriate rocks. Filter with 2 Rena Filstar XP3 at about 630 gph. The one tank I am looking at is @60"L x 18"w and 20"D? I would like to introduce the following: Crytocara moorii, Pseudotropheus Acei "Eccles Reef", Maylandia estherae, Labidochromis Caeruleus (of course), Pseudotropheus saulosi, Copdichromis borleyi "Yellow Fin" and Protomelas taeniolatus "Red Empress". Of those the Crytocara & the Yellow Lab are the two that are definite (IF I can find them) Reno and Carson City, NV are the closest and I haven't had any luck finding REPUTABLE fish dealers. < The fish you want can be found @ Chins Fins in Sloughhouse Ca, outside Sacramento. Email Pam at Pam@cichlidae.com I was thinking of doing (4) 1 male + 3 females for each breed. Please tell me - should I get a bigger tank? Should I not put one or more of the selected breeds in a 100 gallon tank? Should I reduce the number in each breed? I know the Crytocara and the Copadichromis Borleyi need more room. Hours and hours and days of research and my brain just can't do anymore figuring and searching. Any help you can give me will be SO GREATLY APPRECIATED! < Your tank is well thought out and should look great. Try and get all the fish at one time and small. No bigger than a couple of inches. The open water males will not color up for a while so you may want to get a few more and sell the left over males to a local shop. The acei eat algae from wood so a little driftwood in the decorations wouldn't hurt.-Chuck Pam - Yerington, Nevada

Cichlid Tank Stocking Thanks again :) I have been looking around on the web and what kind of fish are available locally. I have one more store to check out but so far I am leaning towards Mbuna. The fish that I can find so far are Pseudotropheus greshakei, P. Socolofi , Labidochromis caeruleus and some marked as Zebra's. How is the compatibility of these 4 ? I was hoping I could get 5 different types any suggestions for another ? Do you think 5 of each kind is ok or too many for the tank ? >>>Hmmm...what was this again, a 90 gallon? In a tank that size that is pushing it. I'd say 20 is the upper, UPPER limit. Some of these, especially the Greshakei get to be 5" give or take. Now, overcrowding them a bit does help with aggression, but you have to find a balance between that, and an unmanageable nitrogen cycle. I would keep it down to 15 or 16 fish or so. Also, look online. You will not usually find quality Mbuna at a store. Look for the different Cynotilapia afra morphs, zebra morphs, etc. Most of the zebras in local stores are garbage. I've gotten lucky, but almost ALL of my quality fish came from breeders. That is one disadvantage with choosing this group, you lave to look around for the quality ones. I would write back, and ask for Chuck Rambo. He is a crew member here and will be able to give you better guidance as to a source for these fish than I can. It's been a while since I've looked for any. Jim<<<

African cichlids hello sir or madam My name is Jeff and I have a 75 gallon aquarium and I plan to get African cichlids. I have done my fair share of searches and so forth just like any one else but I cant seem to find a compatibility chart and how many fish I can get in my tank question answered. I would appreciate information if you can, please < Depends on a few factors. When you say African cichlids do you mean cichlids from Lake Malawi or cichlids from Lake Tanganyika? You should not mix them together. If you are going for Lake Malawi fish then they need to be crowded to disperse aggression. They require hard alkaline water at about 77 degrees F. The filter should turn the water in the tank over at least 5 times per hour so some serious filtration and pumps will be required. I would say at least 30 plus fish could go in this set up. The key to the compatibility is to make sure that the colors don't match one another. Blue fish with black bars do not like other blue fish with black bars etc... A very good reference book is "Enjoying Cichlids" by Ad Konings. It is a little expensive but a very good book that will prevent you from having problems in the future.-Chuck> a major fish fanatic Jeff Tanganyikan cichlids Hello I have been reading your site and I think its great. I think I am going to get a 30 or 35 gallon aquarium and want to make it a Tanganyikan setup. I am new to African Cichlids and would like to find out if these fish would be compatible with each other. I want to add 2 Calvus, 3 brichardi, 2 Lemon cichlids, 4 shell dwellers and a Tanganyikan Spiny Eel. Would this be okay? Can I add some more? If so which ones would you recommend? < Skip the eel, when it gets big enough it will eat the shell dwellers. Look for a Julidochromis species like ornatus or transcriptus to add to the mix. They will all be fine until two become a mated pair then they will defend their fry against all the other fish, so be prepared.-Chuck> Thank you for your Time!

Re: Tanganyikan cichlids Ok, Ill skip the eel, thanks for the info! Does this look better? 2 Altolamprologus calvus 3 Neolamprologus Brichardi 4 Lamprologus brevis 2 Neolamprologus Leleupi 2 Julidochromis Marlieri and 3 Synodontis multipunctatus I'm glad I have found such a reliable source of information. Thanks! < I think this grouping is much better. Especially if you get them small and let them grow up together.-Chuck

African cichlid additions Chuck, My yellow Labidochromis did not survive, but thank you so much for all your help and for the promptness. This is a great website and I'm enjoying the ones I do have left. I spend a lot of time just watching their behaviors and they are amazing. Thank you again. < If you ever want to add new cichlids to your tank then you need to move everything around just before you turn out the lights. This way in the morning all the fish are busy establishing new territories and will leave the new fish alone for awhile. -Chuck> thanks Anita Anita Breen

African Cichlid stocking question - 12/21/03 Hello Fish Experts!! <Far from an expert> I'm hoping you guys can guide me in the right direction when selecting additional fish. <We'll see> I am having difficulty researching on the types of fish I can get for my 90 gallon tank that is compatible with what I already have. Currently I have 10 African cichlids about 1-2 inches. electric yellow <Great fish. One of my all time favorites> auratus snow white socolofi bumble bee Kenyi cobalt blue red zebra 2 daffodils (one albino) and one other one I'm still trying to figure out. I also have 2 Opaline Gouramis that I had saved from a relative who's tank was so bad that all their fish died except for these 2. <Ummmm.....they're not gonna stay in there right?> It's only temporary that they'll be in my tank until my relatives get theirs cleaned. <OK. Good to hear> I know that they're not compatible and I have no quarantine/hospital tank but surprisingly, they're still alive with all the cichlids, given all the floating plants for shelter and differences in pH. <Not for long> I haven't gotten any additional fish for my tank because I'm not sure on what to get. My main question is "Is it okay to have the same species of African cichlids but one of every race, like what I already have?" <Can be done depending on the species. Check out this site. Lots of info http://www.cichlidrecipe.com > Should I get additional cichlids of the same race to add to my tank and how many of each race? < I like the Hap and Aulonocara species and be sure to plan for adulthood not the size you buy> I want a few more daffodils and electric yellows. <Labidochromis would be fine in a small group but not sure about the daffodils.> Is it okay to add some barbs and how many if I decide to not get anymore cichlids? <Hmmmmm....hard to say. Do some research here as I have limited experience with barbs.> The level of aggression is not so bad, they occasionally chase each other (especially during feeding time) but none of them seem to be suffering from injury or anything like that. <Not always physical but mental as well> I don't want an all cichlid tank but I know that I might end up that way since my first fish were cichlids and considering how many I already have and the fact that they're so aggressive, I don't wanna get any kind of fish and have the cichlids end up killing them. <Good idea> Fortunately, none of the cichlids are getting picked on by the others. <Don't be so sure. Keep an open mind and eye towards aggression> Only the Gouramis seem to be suffering a bit with their "feelers" being nipped. I didn't know if they'll grow back but they did and pretty fast too!! <Oh yeah. Amazing regenerative properties> I will be removing them soon...hopefully. <Do your best> Any advice given on what to add will be greatly appreciated and hope you all have a Wonderful Holiday Season!!! <Will do. Look to cichlidrecipe.com for some great stocking ideas for your 90 gallon. There are a great many different cichlids that should be able to keep up with the frantic pace of your other inhabitants. Happy Holidays ~Paul> Sandy

A Whole Gang of Africans <Ryan helping you out today> Please help! <Will do> I have: 2 bumble bees 2 jewels 5 Kenyi 2 electric yellow 1 red zebra 3 big/weird lipped cichlids <This is important-search fishbase.org and similar sites to find out what they are> (not sure 2- dark blue black/ 1 - pastel pink/orange) 2 Plecos Can I add a frontosa to this or will that end in a disaster? Also, my jewels seem like they are getting ready to lay eggs. One turns bright red and they are rubbing all over each other. <Great! Always a good sign, but it's highly unlikely you'll be able to raise fry with this setup. Lots of great info out there on breeding cichlids. One site I like for some cichlidophiles is http://www.aquatiqterrors.com. As for adding the frontosa, it really depends on your tank. For your current livestock and a frontosa, you'll need 200+ gallons to pull this off. Best of luck! Ryan> Please advise Thanks, Ashley

What are African Cichlids? - 5/23/03 This a completely stupid set of questions. <there are no stupid questions> Are African cichlids fresh, brackish or salt water? <They are considered freshwater organisms. There are some trace salts and minerals in the waters of the lakes from which they come from, but not enough to make them salt water fish nor true brackish for that matter> Would a typical freshwater filter, lights, etc, be sufficient to have them thrive? (90 gallon tank)<Absolutely. You just described my Aulonocara tank. They key is to research the fish you want and then to get them as young as possible. Pay special attention to their full grown captive size so as to not overstock> How many 2-4 inch fish could I keep in 90 gallons, with a decent rock layout? <More than likely, unless you go Tanganyikan, most cichlids from the African lakes range from 6 inches and up captive adult size. I think the current thought is about 1 inch per 3-5 gallons because of freshwater fish metabolism is a bit higher in part due to their general aggressiveness> I love your site, and appreciate any advice you can give on these terrible questions. <No worries. Thanks for the kind words. Please go out and pick up a book on African cichlids as well as do a search in google or your favorite search engine for more information on them. Here is a site that I absolutely love as a start: http://www.cichlidrecipe.com/ Take care James. Paul> JamesAfrican Mr. Fenner <Anthony Calfo in your service while Bob makes his annual trip to Graceland> Having spent the last week surfing the web for suggestions I am more confused than ever about a couple things, I actually have two questions: I have just set up a 75 gallon tank to be used for African cichlids (which ones????) <pick one lake group and stick with it. Malawi would be best bet> I envision a tank with lots of rocks and many 2-4 inch brightly colored fish. I have gotten a lot of ideas so far but would really like to know what you'd recommend. I especially like the blue and yellow varieties. <yep, Malawi bread and butter colored cichlids: Zebras, Kenyi, Johani, Fulleborneii, etc> Is it possible to put some shell dwellers in there too? <nope...too shy...too plain...and Tanganyikan> I'd love to have a 75 full of shell dwellers but can't afford to buy enough of them to "fill" the tank. <again. not active or colorful compared to the Malawi cichlids> Also the tank is full of "African cichlid gravel" with crushed shells etc. What fish would you suggest for this tank. What fish should I get first to cycle the tank etc. Well I guess that is more than two questions but....Thanks, Peter <add no more than three fish twice monthly to build the bio-filter slowly. Best regards, Anthony>

African Cichlids Anthony, Thanks for the prompt reply I will start setting up my shopping list. <quite welcome> Of the compatible fish, which would be the best to start with. Are there some that will tolerate the tank cycling process better than the others? <actually all are quite durable. Try to add more than one at a time to temper aggression> Also I was thinking of a Pleco and a couple small cats to help with the housekeeping. Any ideas? Thanks again for the really prompt reply. <Plecos and Corys are a bad choice for true African water... look instead at African Synodontis species... a little pricey for some, but beautiful. Anthony>

Re: Please Help Me Decide Anthony; Haven't seen Martha yet but am keeping an eye out for her. <I'll keep watching headline news to see if you do... hehe> Sorry to be a pest but I really want to get this right the first try (for Africans at least). Thecichlidrecipe.com list the following as a good setup. There are fish in there that I have no idea about. Could you let me know what you think of the setup. Haven't been able to find all the fish that you mentioned earlier. The listing is rather vague. I gather that most of what you mentioned were Mbuna, ??? <exact-o-mundo> Would you be able to give me a little better example of a good tank of fish. at least give me the scientific names for the fish you mentioned and suggest a few others. <Predominantly Pseudotropheus and Labeotropheus... some Haplochromis and Labidochromis would be a nice contrast too> I am hoping to get the first 12 a week from tomorrow and the exact fish will depend on availability at 2 or 3 stores I plan to call once I get suggestions from you. I really like a shopping list for the final tank and I'll but what I can find for now and add the rest later. Also, do I need to keep at least a trio of each species I get? <only if breeding is an issue> Could you take a look at the values below and let me know what changes I need to make to prepare for the new arrivals? <water could definitely be harder (add cichlid salt and buffer) and the Nitrate/Nitrite should be near zero> Thanks YET AGAIN! Peter <quite welcome, my friend. Anthony>

Malawi Cichlid Exporters Hi I'm a Danish breeder of cichlids from Lake Malawi and I'm looking for addresses from exporters in Malawi. At the moment I only have the address to Mr. Stuart M. Grant, but I know that there are others. I've heard of a company called Malawi Aquatics Ltd and they should be located in Chipoka, but I can't find any info about them. Can You please help me with addresses?| <My best help is to refer you to a friend, associate in the trade, Mr. Pablo Tepoot of New Life Enterprises. In Florida his business numbers: 305-245-1906, fax 305-248-7450. I will cc him on the Net, but he has told me he rarely checks same... no doubt from his many business commitments: Raising African Cichlids on their two farms, make fish foods, writing/publishing/distributing books (including two on Cichlids). Be chatting, Bob Fenner> Best Regards www.malawicarsten.dk

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