Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   need help stocking a 55gal malawi tank (

brokenrules69 11-02-2011 10:19 PM

need help stocking a 55gal malawi tank
i want to stock a tank with some malawi lake juveniles enough for there to not be enough room to fight over
but as they grow still be able to swim comfortably and layer them properly
they will be accompanied by large hi fin pleco

i have bought some large "african rocks" used to make caves and raise ph
and a commercially made rock with many holes for caves

still havent bought a substrate... looking for ideas on that too

it will have 130 gallons worth of hob filter power and may convert to a canister filter

ladayen 11-02-2011 11:01 PM

Hi fin pleco.. those grow 18"? Thats too big for a 55g. Not mention it's very likely they will attack and kill the cichlids on occasion.

There really isn't a way to layer the malawi's. They stay near hiding spots. If you make caves all the way up they will use the whole tank. If theres only spots on the bottom, they will rarely go higher. You could try a mix mbuna/hap tank with caves all the way up on the sides, and the mbuna's would go back and forth, with an open space in the middle for the haps but it would be difficult to pull off in a 55.

As to substrate, it has to be gravel. If you go with the aforementioned mix hap/mbuna you would have sand in the middle with the open space for the haps.

Your filtration would likely have to double at least, probably more. The malawi's, being from a lake, dont like a strong current but you have to overstock to reduce aggresion and therefore keep a good filtration.

brokenrules69 11-03-2011 12:27 AM

so do i need 260 gallons worth of filtration or is the 130 good for a 55

and hi fin plecos grow to 12in but very slowly and they are extremely peaceful have never heard of them attcking anything

ladayen 11-03-2011 02:30 PM

you would need at least 260, some would recommend 550gph filtration.

cichlidlover 11-08-2011 09:36 AM

I use Aragonite sand.. Keeps pH above 8.. Cichlids love it!

Look into buying a couple of busheynose plecos.. They stay small and do a great job.. I have 2 albino in my 50G..

brokenrules69 11-08-2011 12:23 PM

would a fluval 403 and a ehiem 2215 and a power filter 70 work?

umcalleg 11-09-2011 11:34 AM

Hey there
The rule of thumb i was taught was 5X the tank volume/hr minimum, and 10X is all you'll likely ever need (unless you stock it like crazy). I have a 500 and a 300 HOB (= 800) on my 80gal, thus 10X but it really didn't make much difference from when I just had the 500, my stock isn't that heavy.
I too have mostly a malawi setup and I'm really happy with my mix, I only go with bright ones that stand out.

I have: electric yellow lab; Bumblebee (or hornet); red zebra (really bright orange with tiger stripes); Blood Jewel (My favorite, not a malawi but still african and gets along great with the others, I would definately look into these as they look so cool!) and an electric blue.
I have a johanni too but it's aggressive and not that special looking to I'm trying to find a suitable trade. I've tried putting in ablinos a couple times but they keep getting attacked by ALL the others so I've given up on them until i decide at some point to go with a heavy stock.
I have lots of room and pretty much no hiding space but they get along just fine and they are all healthy and super bright and look great together. I spent a lot of time looking for really bright africans and these are what I've come up with so far but if anyone has any other suggestions I would love to hear them too!

brokenrules69 11-11-2011 12:48 AM


Originally Posted by brokenrules69 (Post 888064)
would a fluval 403 and a ehiem 2215 and a power filter 60 work?


Originally Posted by umcalleg (Post 888934)
Hey there
The rule of thumb i was taught was 5X the tank volume/hr minimum, and 10X is all you'll likely ever need (unless you stock it like crazy). I have a 500 and a 300 HOB (= 800) on my 80gal, thus 10X but it really didn't make much difference from when I just had the 500, my stock isn't that heavy.

ok so the fluval 403 with 317 gph and the power filter 60 with 300gph totaling 617 for the 55 gallon tank should do fine??

i have some rocks and pre made caves i was thinking about doing a half mbuna and half hap tank like ladayen said with caves up the sides with the argonite stuff 4 side substrate and sand in the middle

and if its a good idea maybe you could help me with a stocking list and appx how many fish i should have

brokenrules69 11-17-2011 12:25 PM

how many fish should i have total in this 55 gallon tank
and i decides to have rocks up the sides and open in the middle for the mbuna/hap tank

how maybe haps and how many mbuna should i have
i would think more haps? because there would be more open space because rocks would only be on the sides and up the back corners

rrcoolj 11-20-2011 12:44 PM

Mbunas are awesome fish to keep and are so fun to watch but it is important you choose your stock wisely in order to prevent aggression problems. I loved mine but took a different route with centrals. one day I hope to get back to keeping africans. There are a couple things I would like to say...

First off even though Malawi is a lake it actually has a current in it... strong currents. Mbunas and haps a like benefit from stronger currents and my mbunas seemed to do much better hen there was a lot of water movement in the tank. That doesn't mean that there needs to be white water rapids in your tank but a good current helps oxygenate the water and keeps debri from setting on the bottom so it can be sucked into the filters..

Second mixing haps and mbunas is generally not a good idea for several reasons. The first is most haps get 10-14" and need to be kept in at least a 6ft tank because they are fast open water fish that need the space. Second many haps need a high protein diet and some actually PREY upon mbuna in the wild so mixing them with mbunas probably isn't the best idea lol. Now there are exceptions and I have seen these species mixed but it was in a much larger setting and with more experienced fish keepers.

Next, cichlids are VERY messy fish. I would look at having eventually 12-15x turnover rate so 660-820gph. For exampe I had 800gph on my 55 gallon mbuna tank. For filtration I would look for a good power filter(may I reccomend the Ac filters?) Fill it with mechanical media. That way you can clean this when it gets dirty. Then invest in a good canister. Fill it with bio media and you should be set. Remember you can NEVER have too much filtration. On my 125 I have 1850gph and looking to add more. You should be doing 30-50% water changes weekly since you intend on overstocking which you should for a mbuna setup.

As for bottom feeders, usually not a good idea. I tried on several occasions to add bristlenose plecos to my mbunas tank. They were eventually killed by my mbuna or my very nasty synodontis decorus. Synodontis make great catfish for a mbuna tank because they know how to defend themselves. make sure they are one of the smaller growing species though. Water chemistry should ideally be hard and alkaline. Mbunas are adaptable and will adjust to pretty much any type of water chemistry especially tank raised fish. But I would not keep them at very soft or low pH.

Now for the stock. I would go mbuna but you can also do a peacock tank. peacocks are very colorful but IMO are not as interesting as mbuna. If you do want to go with peacocks let us know otherwise I will assume you want mbuna. For a newbie start with the less aggressive mbuna. less headache and just as much color as the nasty guys. I would reccomend 8 yellow labs with 12 demasoni. Lots of color and lots of action. You can also look at rusty cichlids, hongi, and afras. All are good candidates. Make sure you stock with more females than males at least 2-1 so the females don't get harrased to death. I reccomend buying a group of juviniles and then waiting until they are old enough to vent. Then sell the excess.

As for decor and diet, decor they aren't picky as long as the decor provides lots of hides for the fish. Mbunas generally are not shy so if all your hides are at the bottom they will still travel to the middle and top of the aquarium. My mbuna spent most of their time outside their caves but they like caves for security. Mbuna actually means "rock dweller". Their diet should be mostly vegetarian since they eat algea in the wild. Too much protein and they will get bloat which is a pain in the ass to deal with trust me. I reccomend using NLS(New life Spectrum). It is a great quality pellet food that is great for all cichlids vegetarian or carnivorous. You may supplement with veggies of sprinula pellets. They will also take protein like kirll and bloodworms but remember do it very sparingly.

I think that's everything I wanted to say.I went very fast with this type up so if you have any questions feel free to ask and good luck with your setup. Be sure to post pics!

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