How big, how fast? Chiclid growth
I recently started a 29 gallon tank for chiclids with the intention of going larger when needed (or possibly seperate tanks). I have six chiclids all identified by the store as african zebra; 2 yellow, 2 orange and two blue. Right now they are all between 1 and 2" in size and the store ID cards say they will eventually reach an adult size of 4 to 6" which matches what I find online. My question is how quickly do they hit their full size and what is the typical size for this fish in a home aquarium?
Size wise, usually around 5" is average, but there are reports of them getting larger than the 6" mark, depends of feeding, environment (this includes water parameters), and the fish itself. As far as how long it takes them to grow, not very long for those guys. My Cobalt Blue Zebra has more than doubled in size in the couple of months I have had him. Actually, I looked at him today and dropped my jaw, as he looked as if he had noticeably grown overnight!!! I got him back in like Oct/Nov, and he was a little guy, less than 2". It's now the beginning of January, and he is a good 4" already. So yeah, just a few months and they can hit full size, depends on breed specifics, water, and how old they are when you get them.
Oh, and at the store, when they have all kinds of different colored cichlids in one tank and label them "Assorted African Cichlids" or similar, they can be just about anything. From hybrid zebras, or a mix of random africans, who's personalities might not conform to the general guidelines we as fish keepers might expect.
Agree 100% with above poster. Another problem is once those fish hit maturity they might decide to start getting nasty and a 29 gallon does not leave much room to hide. I would seriously consider getting different fish or upgrading to at least a 55 gallon tank.
I guess that makes my next question would going to the larger 55 or splitting between two tanks be the better option? I've stayed away from going over 29 gallon because my weekly water changes stay within one 5 gallon bucket, I have to schlep the water from another room in the house.
Mbuna do best in a large crowded colony setting. Overstocking is the way to go for mbuna but there are other factors lik tank size and amount of hiding places. A 29 gallon is not large enough to stimulate this type of environment which is why you will run into problems. You chose those fish so it is your responsibility to take care of them. If tank size is truly a limiting factor than get fish more suited for your tank size such as shell dwellers or rams. Even dwarf mbuna may be able to live in that size tank but I would not recommend it. Splitting the fish between two small tanks will not solve the problem. Basically it comes down too either get a bigger fish tank to accommodate the fish you have or get rid of the fish you have and get fish more suited for your tank.
So if I go to the 55 gallon and add more rocks and logs than I have now, should I stay with six fish or do I need to go with more to get the crowded colony? The idea of the crowded tank is where I thought the 29 gallon would work with six.
The problem with the 29g and the 6 cichlids is that each cichlid has the potential to reach half a foot long, and with 6 fish at 6", you have 3 feet of fish in a tank that is short than the fish are long together. There isnt enough room in a 29g for this sized fish (no matter how small they are now) to hide or retreat when another fish is being the bully cichlids are so great at being. There also isnt enough room in a 29g to house the proper sized hiding spots, and enough of them, for these fish to use properly and feel secure. Overcrowding cichlids of this kind is fine, but when its in a smaller tank, it will cause issues to water parameters and to the fish.
Your best option is a 55g if you want to stick with these cichlids. If you want to stick with the 29g then I would consider switching to a pair of Blue Rams with some nice dither fish that can withstand the water parameters needed for the Rams.
Hope this helps some.
I agree with the above...
If you do get a 55 then increase the number of each species you have to 6.
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