Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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fphipps 05-01-2012 05:47 AM

thinking of getting mbuna
I have about 5 years freshwater planted tank experience. i have tried to do a saltwater reef tank 3 different times in 3 different size tanks and failed every time mostly because i am broke -____-
so i now have a 75 gallon with 50lbs of rock, a 30 gallon sump and some nice lighting. i am looking to do african cichlids in this tank. i researched them about 6 months ago before i decided on trying to build a reef. from what i understand i have to over crowd the tank at first then they will pick each other off? am i just assuming the wrong thing with that statement? i was interested in what i saw on liveaquaria as Mbuna(?) as i saw they are "assorted" and i would like a couple different colors in my tank. how many fish do you think i could fit in my 75 gallon? what types of africans would you recommend?

and i am sorry if my post is rediculous, but that is why i am asking and researching.
thanks for understanding my ignorance :)

Tazman 05-01-2012 07:14 AM

Welcome to TFK :-)

Dont ever be sorry about asking a question on here that you are not sure about, same goes for real life, no point jumping in when simple research and patience is the key to a successful tank.

With regards to what you saw on Aquabid labelled as "assorted" generally alarm bell time...assorted tends to be hybrids which people are trying to get rid of, this is not always the case but I would stay away from them.

Mbuna means "rock dweller" in Malawi, and are from Lake Malawi Africa. With the tank you have a prefect size to do a nice setup, sump is a very big bonus.

Before we proceed to offering stocking suggestions, 2 very important questions need answering..

1) What is GH (General Hardness) of your tap water, this will make a big difference in whether you will be able to keep African Cichlids.

2) What is the pH of your water as well.

If you can answer these questions then we can start offering stocking suggestions for you.

Again glad to have you as a member.

fphipps 05-01-2012 08:18 AM

I used a test strip and it did not have GH but had total hardness and it was about 100ppm, PH=7.4ish, and alk=40ppm.

I read that using crushed coral as my substrate will buffer the alk and help with the ph. Where would I want the GH to be and how do I get it there?

Also..I have heard that africans are brackish fish. But I have not read anything about salinity levels or adding salt. Do people use salt to bring up ph and alk?
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Tazman 05-01-2012 08:37 AM

Africans are 100% not brackish fish at all..

For keeping Africans your water is fine, no problems with that, pH is nearly perfect for them.

You can use crushed coral to buffer but if you are considering keeping Africans, then sand is a better substrate as that is what Lake Malawi is naturally.

Research what fish are available local and if you are prepared to order online as well.

To give you a nice color tank, you would be looking at 4 species with 5 fish from each species in a 1 male to 4 female ratio as maximum for a 75g tank...if the fish are juvenile then 6-8 fish if they are small until they are old enough to sex (which is quite difficult to do).
Look at Pseudotropheus sp "Acei" and Labidochromis Careleus (Yellow labs), Red Zebra, Cynotilapia Afra and Rusty (Iodeotropheus Sprengerae).
Also Synodontis Multipunctus / BN Plecos as bottom dwellers and in tank vacuum cleaners :-) (about 5-6 of either one)

Check out other fish as well but check on here as some fish are extremely aggressive and not suitable for beginners into mbuna.

fphipps 05-01-2012 08:55 AM

Perfect! Just the answer I was looking for. So to be clear your saying 1 male for 4 females and If I get juvaniles then I could do 5-6 of EACH of the 4 species? So say 20 fish total? And as far as physically stocking the tank, would I want to introduce all the fish at once or over time?

Tazman 05-01-2012 09:04 AM

Correct, you need the 1 male to several females as mbuna are semi-aggressive fish when it comes to the male being in breeding mode...the extra females keeps the aggression off one individual.

The males will fight, so that is why, you dont want multiple males. With the juveniles until they get old enough to breed they will get along until you can reliably sex them and sort out extra males from females.

If they are very small juveniles then you can get 8 of each but you will need to have somewhere that will be able to take the extra males once you can sex them. Correct amount would be 20 fish maximum adult size for those species I have listed with 1 male to 4 female.

The Synodontis and BN plecos do not really count on the overall stock as they stay small...

You also need to consider that you need to overfilter African cichlids, to 10-15 times the tank volume.
I have on my 75g tank a RENA XP4 and Fluval FX5...the high flow rate is not a problem as the fish like it..I also have 2 Maxijet 1200's powerheads running in circulation mode in the tank as well.

ladayen 05-01-2012 09:06 AM


Originally Posted by fphipps (Post 1065476)
Perfect! Just the answer I was looking for. So to be clear your saying 1 male for 4 females and If I get juvaniles then I could do 5-6 of EACH of the 4 species? So say 20 fish total? And as far as physically stocking the tank, would I want to introduce all the fish at once or over time?

Over time. That many at once would likely cause a massive ammonia spike and kill them all. Also dont put Electric yellow and Red Zebras in the same tank. One or the other.

fphipps 05-01-2012 11:57 AM

And I tried looking it up but with sand is it really ok to use playsand? I'd like to because of the size of my tank and the cost of sand at petstores.

I've got a return pump in the sump that does 581gph and 2 1250gph so I should be good on filtration. I plan on running a couple bags of carbon in the sump. Anything else you would recommend?

ladayen 05-01-2012 12:12 PM

PLaysand is fine but it takes a lot of time to throughly clean it. Pool filter sand should work for you and is far easier to clean to my understanding.

Tazman 05-01-2012 02:25 PM

There is nothing wrong with putting Yellow Labs and Red Zebra together, the only thing that you would not do is sell, trade, giveaway any of the fry from either of them. They do crossbreed but can live together perfectly well.

With regards to causing a massive ammonia spike, if the tank is fishless cycled using pure ammonia and done correctly there is no reason NOT to fully stock the tank once the cycle is complete. I added 28 fish to my 180g this way and never had an ammonia spike at all.

Ditch the carbon and do a wet/dry filter system, it is by far the best type of filtration for Cichlids. They are easy to setup...if you do not want to do a wet/dry then load the sump with ceramic media or cheap plastic pot scrubbers from any dollar store.

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