Lee's MBUNA tank!

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Lee_k
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Lee's MBUNA tank!

Post by Lee_k »

Hi all,

*Silly long post - but putting it all in one rather than 3 or 4!*

Due to recent changing around in tanks, I had a spare 4ft and I'd been pondering many uses. I'd posted on here about it.

Angels were tempting
Or an aggressive community another option (Barbs etc)

Both of these options I eventually ruled out as I thought it'd just be the same as the discus tank minus the discus - and the tanks are right next too each other.

Puffer was tempting me but Jodie was less convinced and thought it's just the waste of a big tank to have 1 fish in it that never moves....

Coldwater I briefly considered but maybe another time!

Then the 2 choices I kept coming back too - MBUNA or Marine

Both had plenty of colour but ultimately I decided I wasn't ready for marine just yet for a few reasons but main one being cost, for marine I'd need to get a hang on back overflow and setup a sump - I'd need alot of £££'s worth of rock, and that's before the thought of the £350-£400 light! Combine this with the fact my freshwater knowledge has built to a point where I'm fairly confident in it from a hobby level the complete opposite of the marine world. (Though I still have much more to learn than I know!) so decided MBUNA.

Interestingly I should of known this would happen, When I got back in the hobby with the jewel lido 200 about 18month ago now and was looking to buy the 4fts my driving factor was MBUNA with a view of doing that in one of the tanks for a while before "braving" discus. It was only talking to the LFS about how "difficult" the "king" of the hobby is in the discus and them rubbishing most of what you hear that made me jump straight to the discus - so I guess it was always going to happen to come back to African cichlids at some point.

That was the easy part, if you think the hobby is bad for the internet opinions conflicting and everyone convinced there's only "one way" and its the way they do it, MBUNA takes this up a level.

For a tank my size recommendations ranged from 18 to 30 fish!
Some said only 2 species, others said no 4 or 5 is fine, some people had 24 fish of 10 different species and say its a calm and aggression free (as a mbuna tank can be) tank and there youtube videos seem to back that up - Its a mine field!

From talking to my local LFS (They started out as malawi breeders so that helps) it seems very much the species in a tank thing is down to limiting risk of aggression (although some aggression is inevitable), and also due to the risk of cross breeding so I can rule that risk out as I'm not interested in raising and selling fry I don't think - certainly for now so a few hybrids surviving wouldn't be terrible for me.

But anyway, regardless of this, and still reading ALOT of posts and websites etc I've jumped in with both feet and I now have a MBUNA tank.

So, tank got completely emptied. All sand removed and replaced with "samoa" coral sand - as much rock as I could find that I'd had from other scapes gathered today - and another £50 spent on more (and more probably still required as stock builds and fish grow!) - But we're filled with water and we were ready for fish. My water is hard anyway, but with the coral sand and spider web rock in there too - its probably liquid rock in there!

First mistake, prior to the fish - got the new sand, stripped the old out and about to pour somewhere between 20 and 25kg of sand in, laziness got the better of me and I didn't rinse the sand - full week or constantly stirring the sand up and clearing out the filter and its finally beginning to clear!

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So then it gets to the stocking, I'll see how I go. I think 30 is too many, especially seen as some of the ones I like can get to 5 or 6" but i think high teens would just encourage aggression so I'll likely go for 20-24fish and stock quickly before anyone gets too settled!

I went down to my LFS and took photos of the names of everything they had in stock, then came home - drew up a list and starting researching each of the ones available a breed at a time making notes on a spreadsheet around size, "family" and notes around mixing etc. Then from that built a bit of a wish list up.

Then back down to the LFS to get some fish and ask about some other types I'd like!

So as we stand today my stocking is:

6 Coral Saulosi (Pseudotropheus Saulosi) - Aimed for 2 male and 4 female (All these start out yellow, then the males turn blue! - I know at least one is male as he's already starting to change, then the shop do there best from knowledge on the others but its very difficult, basically if I end up with too many males there happy take the male back in and try again)

4 Flavus Mbuna (Pseudotropheus Flavus) - Aimed for 1 male and 3 female - these are known as quite aggressive I just love the look of the male! - The females can stay quite bland but there worth it if you get a good well coloured up male in the tank!

3 Super red Hongi (Labidochromis Hongi) - Aimed for 1 male and 2 female - Similar to the Flavus males are stunning, females less so but you need to balance that aggression

And that's it for now, for now I've seen 3 males showing to one another but no nasty aggression and no fish are hiding away its for now very active.

So for now, here we are:

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Re: Lee's MBUNA tank!

Post by fr499y »

Nice!

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Re: Lee's MBUNA tank!

Post by Staffylover »

Looking good so far, bet it's a nice contrast with the peaceful Discus tank, I think my friend had these for a while and it was fine with the settled group but the problem came with introducing new ones she held them in a grow out tank until they were the same size as the others but still it wasn't easy, they are very colourful fish though always interesting to see a new set up :)
400l 6ft Asia River Theme - (Scissortails, Tiger Barbs, SAE, Hovering zebra and dwarf chain loach, silver hatchet imposters)
300l 4ft Dagoba theme tank - (phantom tetra, african banded barb, synodontis petricola, gold laser and schwartzi cory)

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Re: Lee's MBUNA tank!

Post by Lee_k »

Thanks, next fish to be added will be:

- Pseudotropheus Acei (Either yellow tail or Itungi) - These can get bigger (around 6") but they prefer staying higher up in the tank and also allow the introduction of roots/wood into the aquarium as in the wild they like to feed there algae off the roots around the lake edge - Will 100% add these

Then i'll take a look at:

- Labeotropheus Trewavasae - Store had a stunning really light/white one in but they were all reserved! - Option

- Livingstoni - Option

- Polit - Store had these in and they seem quite rare, problem was store only had 2 and no way of knowing if male/female at such a young age so i'll have a think, they are also known to be really aggressive (Even for mbuna)

Anything else I see probably! Its such a different way of looking at the tank, like just reading seriously fish on the Trewavasae and a quote of

"Aggressive and territorial. It should not be kept with peace loving species such as Peacocks or Utaka but it can be combined with other Mbuna. The tank should be overcrowded to reduce aggression and territory formation. It is very aggressive towards its own kind and the presence of heterospecifics helps to dissipate this. Similarly several females should be kept per male in order to reduce harassment by the male."

Is hard to adjust too - its obviously why people end up with 30+ fish in a 4ft tank before it becomes calm, guess the better the mix of species the faster you find that balance, hopefully I get 20-24 fish and it all grows to be calm and im not frantically adding 24 more in order to calm things down :)

Just a quick snap of the 2 tanks now - I'll try get a better picture at some point as the mixed light it throwing the camera off so its washed all the mbuna tank side/rocks out! But the contrast of the tanks is exactly the kind of thing I had in my head and in 6-10months when the fish are growing and showing colour filling the tank out it should be great to look at.


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Re: Lee's MBUNA tank!

Post by Lee_k »

A week has passed since initial stocking with no losses or problems as yet and so the stocking must continue to get stocking up quickly and keep aggression low before anyone gets too settled!

This weeks additions were:

3x Labeotropheus trewavasae - Hoping for 1male & 2 female - lets see what we've got! - These were a option I mentioned last week hoping for a white but they'd only got "reds" so plucked for them, who knows if they'll grow mottled or solid colours, they seem to do as the please colour wise.

and

3x Cynotilapia sp hara (white tops) - Again hoping I got 1male and 2 female but again, only time will tell! - I'd not seen these and the shop had only had them in at the start of the week, quick google and yep liking these! Helped by the fact they look cool already unlike alot of young mbuna. There probably the stars of the tank as it stands!

That brings stocking up to 19 fish! - The shop hadnt got any ACEI in which is a fish I really want as they're more "top section" (for mbuna) and also like to feed off roots/wood so a reason to add some roots in (which are still floating as yet!). Once i've added the ACEI i think that'll be it, i'll be between that guide of 20-25 fish with hopefully a good balance of male and female per species. Hoping the shop can get me some in the next week or 2 so i'm done. I've also seen Synodontis njassae is a lake malawi only catfish so tempted with one of these but ideally i'd only like 1 and I cant seem to find any solid info on if they should be alone or in groups.

Along with the new fish another 2 large rocks were added in along with some pebbles to create some "change" and add some extra caves!

And the final upgrade on the tank this week was a Aquasky 2.0 33w light following the upgrade on the Discus tank (and part of the reason I made the decision on the upgrave) was too save buying another light for this tank and just moving the aquasky over to this one. I've not played too much yet but i'll likely turn the red/green right down and run a chunk of blue and medium white to give that more "malawi" look


Also did some water testing tonight:

PH: 8
Nitrite: 0
Ammonia: 0
Nitrate: 10 (Was suprised at this given no plants, but given the tank had a 100% water change the week before the fish were added it could just be its still building! - will see how it goes)
Phosphate: 3
KH:7
GH:13

And the tap water:

PH: 7.4
KH: 7
GH: 13

The coral sand has only been in for 2 weeks since the full change, but obviously the fact my water is already hard will limit what it will do no matter how much I put in (theres about 20kg of it in) it has however buffered the PH up to 8, I think the highest I could get no matter how much sand you put in is 8.2 as it stops buffering at that point.


Afra white top:

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Trewavase:

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Tank:

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Re: Lee's MBUNA tank!

Post by PaulVerrall »

Tank looks great, really like the 2 next to each other, sets them both off.
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Re: Lee's MBUNA tank!

Post by fr499y »

Do it!, drop all the other colours and crank the blue and white up.

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Re: Lee's MBUNA tank!

Post by jammedfool »

Giving me serious MTS! Especially with the wife recently basically telling me to get a new tank...

Your tanks both look awesome, love the Mbuna setup
40L nano
7x Guppy (2m +5f) (?)
2x Xiphophorus pygmaeus
Cherry shrimp
1x assassin snail
+ some loose guppy fry

125L Juwel Rio
2x Apisto Cacatuoides
5x Cherry Barb
7x X-ray tetra
1x Amano
1x Dwarf Neon Rainbow
1x assassin snail

20L Qtank
Dwarf neon rainbow fry

Lee_k
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Re: Lee's MBUNA tank!

Post by Lee_k »

Another update, 2 weeks on and the final upper fish stocking.

I did lose one, but i've not a clue what it was! It was one of the silver ones.... and not enough of it was left by time I saw it too identify, and i never had to fish any of it out :O - Im not sure if it was lost to aggression or just ill health but everything else has gone ok.

Then this weekend I added the Acei's like I mentioned, 4 were added.

At the same time I added 3 more rocks in and changed all the rocks around to reset territories and everything seemed to go ok when the fish were added in. Why the rocks were out I weighed them all too as they went back in, 46.5kg of rock in there now!

I think that's just about it for stocking, although i'll add a malawi squeaker if I can find one as a bit of something different in the tank that's still "right" - But the main thing now is letting them grown and the colours come to life keeping an eye out for any over the top aggression

Yellow tail:

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Tank:


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Last edited by Lee_k on Mon Mar 15, 2021 8:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lee's MBUNA tank!

Post by Stephen »

Very nice Lee :)
6 foot (550L) - Rio Ucayali themed
9 x juvenile Biotodoma Cupido, 54 x Paracheirodon innesi, 21 x Thayeria boehlkei, 29 x Gold Laser Cory (CW010), 2 x Flash pleco (L204) named George & Mildred

2 foot (120L) - Breeding tank (temporary stocked)
15 x Paracheirodon innesi, 9 x Three-lined Cory (Corydoras trilineatus)

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