Lake Malawi Loose Biotope
Hello, I have a 60 Gallon tank that I am trying to make into a loose Malawi biotope. The fish i have picked out so far are Yellow tailed Acei, and Yellow Labs. I would like to have a 3rd species of fish, preferably with lots of red(Maybe a Red peacock cichlid since the other 2 aren't as aggressive as most Mbuna?) and a suitable synodontis to go with the selection. I am not sure how many of each species i should have in the tank because of everything i read says that i should over stock. My tank is WELL over filtrated.
If you guys could give me a hand and some suggestions I'd appreciate it.
Also, any plants would be great. ATM only thing i could think to use is Anubias nana, even though it is not native. (I did say loose biotope! lol)
Overstocked can mean a number of different things. It can refer to fish that outgrow their environment and it can mean too many fish in a given amount of space. Aggression levels and waste are not the only worries. There is also the consideration of providing enough territory, stress levels, and spawning. African cichlids for most part are pretty easy spawners... so please consider if there will be room in the tank if 2 of your fish pair up and decide that 1/2 of the tank is theirs for the fry. They will defend it and the fry fiercely.
Synos are my favorite catfish, but unfortunately, most of them are not suitable for that size of a tank. If you are willing to limit yourself to 1, maybe consider the lace catfish? There is 1 species of dwarf syno, but I will need to look up the name as I forget at the moment. I have one in my 65 gallon with a pair of upside down catfish and a pair of daffodil brichardi. Full grown it stops at about 5 inches, so is perfect for a smaller tank and peaceful. They are shy unless they have a small group of their own kind, but mine has been thriving as the only of its kind for about 3 yrs now because I am not intent on having to see it all the time.
The upside down catfish are the other I would offer as a suggestion for you, as they, too, stay small enough to house 1 - 2 of them together in that size of a tank without trouble or risk of crowding.
Be sure to have extremely heavy amounts of decor in this tank if its going to work mixing that many fish in such confined quarters. What temp are you expecting to run the tank at? That will help in determining what plants will grow. Also helpful would be to know what lighting you are expecting to use, and how deep the tank is. Be prepared that most plants you put in there will likely become fish food. African cichlids are heavy vegetarians and have been known to even nibble on anubias from time to time. African water fern is quite pretty, but can be environment sensitive and may be more than your fish can resist for food. If the temp is not too high, java fern would also be a relatively easy addition for plants if the lighting is proper for it.
I have successfully grown carpets of java moss in African tanks, that was always very pretty. The trick was to get enough of it to start that the fish can't possibly eat it all before it starts to grow well. If you can add the moss to the tank a few months before the fish its much less of a challenge because growth rate of the plant can keep up with the appetites of the fish chewing on it. Starting it in mats on porous rock such as lava and tufa rock makes it easy to start it in another tank and move it in when the growth is optimal.
If I can think of any other plants for your tank I will come back and post them for you.
I agree with almost everything said to a T. The only thing is mbunas and peacocks are not pairing fish and breed and colonies which it's why we suggest having many females to a male. Although the male may defend a spot for the courting process, he will abandon it once spawning is done and leaves the female mouthbrooding the babies.
The fish still need to pair at some point to spawn, and while males may not continue their aggressive behavior in defending territory and fry, the females will and can be brutal. A peaceful yellow lab, for example, can wreak havoc on the other fish if guarding/protecting a new spawn.
Mouth brooding does not eliminate aggression levels, and, in a crowded situation, can also cause the other fish to attack a female holding fry in their attempt at a free meal. There are limits to "crowding" any fish.
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