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New to African Cichlids

scogdell

CCA Members
Hi,

I recently converted my aquarium from a community tank and would now like to stock it with African Cichlids. My aquarium is 300 gallons (280 real size)...8' long, 31" high, and 2' wide. I have new substrate and recently converted to a sump system from Custom Aquariums (estimated 2400 GPH filtering). I added live bacteria and have been cycling the tank for about 4 or 5 weeks. Temp is 80 degrees and PH is about 8.2.

I'm now ready to stock and have been looking at Livefishdirect, Tampa Bay Cichlids, and Imperial Tropicals. Both Tampa Bay and Imperial have been very responsive of all my questions and have had sporadic luck getting responses from Livefishdirect. I initially wanted to stock with Lake Tanganyika...but due to availability and cost was going to stock with Lake Malawi Mbuna. I am not at all interested in breeding...so wouldn't mind an all male tank if it brings more color. I was told for a tank that size, around 80 fish would be good. But I have received conflicting guidance.

I just found this forum...and would greatly appreciate advice and guidance. I would much prefer to stock with local breeders if possible...I just didn't want to buy from a local fish store because the ones I have been to don't really seem to know that much about cichlids so weren't much help to me with my many dumb questions. I live in Mount Airy, Maryland (between Baltimore and Frederick just off I70). So here come the questions:

1. Should I stock all at once (e.g., 80 fish). I read this is bad from some...but livefishdirect recommends it because it will minimize aggression adding fish later.
2. Is there a local breeder than can provide either Tanganyika or Mbuna?
3. Should I look at male/female mix or try to stick with all male?
4. Should I stock with juveniles or larger?
5. Any other guidance or recommendations?

Thank you very much.
Steve

Back of Tank.jpg

Tank.jpg
 

Andrewtfw

Global Moderators
Hi Steve, Welcome! 300 gallons is a lot of fun to play with. if you added live bacteria to a tank without a bio-load, the bacteria will die off. Of the three businesses you mentioned, I recommend Imperial Tropicals. They have good quality fish, great customer service, and have been a supporter of our club in the past. Another great business to consider is Dave's Rare Fish. Dave is a great guy who specializes in African cichlids.

In addition to these businesses, you have local options. Have you heard about our event, the Big Fish Deal? We feature a marketplace where businesses, club members, and fellow hobbyists sell fish, and new/used aquarium related goods. It's in Gaithersburg, MD.
 

jonclark96

Past CCA President
+1 on Andrew's recommendation of Dave's Rare Fish. Dave is a good friend of the club and the hobby.

With respect to some of your other questions, I think they are all interrelated. If you really want an all male tank, and are going to pay to have colored up males, it will be very expensive to all all the fish at once. Most on line vendors are going to charge as much for an adult male as they would for 6 or 8 unsexed juveniles of the same species.

Personally, if I had a tank of that size and was going the Malawi route, i would pick the 3 or 4 or 5 species that i wanted to keep and stock with juvies all at once, or at least in a relatively short time span. It is always a risk when adding new fish to an established tank.
 

DiscusnAfricans

President
Welcome to the club! Beautiful tank setup.

Andrew and Jon have given solid advice. Of the 3 vendors you mentioned, Imperial would be my recommendation as well.

A lot of questions; I'll try to answer a few and let others chime in as well.

If you're free, as Andrew mentioned, you'll find tons of African cichlids available.

Vendors such as www.mikescichlids.com and www.cichlidsarespecial.com will be in attendance; and a group buy will be available for Dave's Rare Fish if you pre-order.

Local breeders will likely have plenty available too; Pat Kelly Pat Kelly , Reed Reed , cabinetmkr39 cabinetmkr39 are people I know that have Malawi peacocks and/or mbuna.

Peacocks and haps are popular for all male tanks, there's a lot of variety in size and color. Lots of mbuna types, but not as much variety.

I wouldn't start with 80 fish unless you're able to do a lot of water changes in the beginning, because you're going to create a huge bio load on a new filter.

If you want to go with all males, you'd have to go with at least medium size fish, as some aren't sexable below a certain size.

If you're not trying to breed, you could start smaller and try Jon's suggestion and pick a group of several species you like.

Your budget will determine some of your options, but you'll be overwhelmed if you don't narrow down your options.

Hopefully others will chime in with ideas, but I'd recommend searching google or youtube for african tanks and see what peaks your interest and hopefully we can provide more guidance.
 

F8LBITE

CCA Members
+1 on Malawi haps and peacocks being a better option but with a tank that big you could certainly add 15-20 demasoni and they could stick down low along the rocks and you could have big haps and peacocks cruising the upper areas of the tank.
 

scogdell

CCA Members
I spoke with Dave at Dave's Rare Fish. I can't say enough positive about him and the help he has provided. I am going with Mbuna's and he helped my wife and I pick the stock. We have ordered for pickup Friday March 13th at the BFD. I'll attach pics once I get them.

Thanks again for all of your guidance.


Steve
 

DiscusnAfricans

President
I spoke with Dave at Dave's Rare Fish. I can't say enough positive about him and the help he has provided. I am going with Mbuna's and he helped my wife and I pick the stock. We have ordered for pickup Friday March 13th at the BFD. I'll attach pics once I get them.

Thanks again for all of your guidance.


Steve
Great to hear, Dave is definitely an awesome guy. What did you go with?

I'll post pickup details once I have a specific timeframe, fish will likely be in the bottom level of the hotel where the auction is occurring.
 

Goonie

CCA Members
Dollar pergallon is in a couple weeks grab a 40bnor two and grow out some haps and peacocks :) takes a lot of time or a lot of money but either way it's worth it love my cichlids.
 

scogdell

CCA Members
Thanks everyone. Here is what we are going with:

  • 10 Pseudotropheus sp. "Acei" Luwala Reef
  • 10 Chindongo demasoni Pombo Rocks
  • 10 Iodotropheus sprengerae "Rusty"
  • 10 Labidochromis caeruleus Lion's Cove
  • 10 Pseudotropheus sp. "Williamsi North" Makonde
  • 10 Cynotilapia zebroides Jalo Reef
  • 10 Metriaclima sp. "Mbweca"
  • 10 Metriaclima sp. "Dolphin" Manda
  • 6 Synodontis lucipinnis "Dwarf Petricola"
  • And maybe 10 more of another.
Tank has been ready for a while and I"m really anxious to get them. Once again...can't speak highly enough of Dave!!!

Steve
 

FishEggs

Well-Known Member
Definitely keep an eye on your water chemistry adding that much bio-load to the system all at once. You will probably get a significant ammonia spike.
 

lkelly

Members
I strongly recommend finding someone local with extra filter media that's on a running tank. Just as you introduce the fish add in some seeded sponge filters and other material to your HOB or canister filters. If you add those fish to a tank that's not ready to handle the load, you're going to have an expensive water filled grave.

Mike, you might need a bigger boat when it comes to the Dave's order. The one listed above is going to take up several boxes.
 

scogdell

CCA Members
Thanks for the inputs.

When speaking with Dave, he felt it was better to add all the fish at once to minimize aggression. Livefishdirect said the same thing. I think its only 86...but still a lot of fish. He said with the fish being small (1-2") that it shouldn't be a problem if I monitor the water.

So now I'm confused...and my confusion and not sure what is right to do is why my tank is still empty after 6 weeks.
 

Goonie

CCA Members
I would run a few smaller tanks a bit over crowded use then to quarantine batches and allow more time for media to establish then transfer the fish and the media to the larger tank. But that's just me the largest group I have added to my 185 is about 25 at a time and I'm getting g close to getting rid of some females and doing another batch
 

lkelly

Members
Basically, if you don't have any beneficial bacteria to start breaking down the ammonia, your fish are going to start producing a lot right away and in a few days your tank will become toxic. Unless you have another established, stocked tank running which you can pull a filter off of, you'd be best served to ask someone in the club close by to let you have some media or buy a couple seeded sponge filters off them. You'll want to add that just before or just after the fish. If you add it to the equation a day or more before, the beneficial bacteria will quickly die off since there's no ammonia to feed it.

Dave is talking about minimizing the chances of an established, dominant fish picking on the new fish (adding them all at once means everything in the dominance hierarchy gets all reset). I can't imagine he would advocate dumping 80+ fish in an uncycled tank. I expect that he's assuming that you have the bio load planned for.
 

scogdell

CCA Members
Thank you.

I live in Mount Airy, Maryland. Is there anyone that can help me ensure that my tank can be ready for new fish?

Would daily or frequent water changes help once I add the fish?

Also, I had an established tank for 13 years with community tank. I still have that Bio material from the eHeim Professional 3 filter...but it's been removed and dry for almost 2 months now. So I"m guessing that won't work at all.

Thank you.
Steve
 

FishEggs

Well-Known Member
The dry media has no beneficial bacteria. You could start adding ammonia to your tank to get the bb numbers up to handle the new fish.
 

scogdell

CCA Members
Thank you.

Could you please explain how to do this. Regular bottled ammonia? How much?

Should I go buy a bunch of gold fish for a week or so? Only thing I've had in there is the 5 small plecos.
 
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