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Newbie - got the fish, have more questions

Discussion in 'Old World' started by boobaloos, Jun 22, 2011.

  1. boobaloos

    boobaloos Members

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    So I got my first school of fish on Saturday. :D I am not sure what they are, to be honest. There were a large group in the tank at the store and he said they are all African cichlids that get along well. And they were on sale. I am pretty sure they are:
    2 Red Zebras (red) - Mr and Mrs Spots
    2 Red Zebras (blue) - Zeus and Hera
    1 Pearly zebra or albino zebra (it's white) - Koko
    1 Synodontis multipunctata catfish - Herbert Hoover

    Both red zebras (red) have little white spots on their bottom fins. One of the red zebras (blue) has dark stripes, while the other one is a similar blue only without stripes. I am not sure what to believe in terms of male/female because I've read that some red zebra males are blue. Who knows? They all seem to get along so far though the smaller red zebra (red) is the most aggressive:mad:. I have only seen the catfish twice. I have no idea where he hides, but at one point I was sure he had lept out of the tank because I simply could not find him anywhere, even after lifting every rock in the tank. I am pretty sure he can teleport.

    :confused:My new questions:
    - Should I be concerned about water temperature? It's just over 80 degrees, probably because we only turn the AC on when it's approaching 90 outside.
    - How often should I feed them and how much? I am feeding 2X a day and I generally feed them for about 2 minutes. I have read that a big cause of death is over feeding. Maybe they are American cichlids after all.
    - Is it bad to leave the tank light on too much?
    - When it comes to the total number of fish in the tank I have read widely divergent views on crowding - some say good, some say bad. ?
    - What do I feed the catfish? I have read these catfish like "meaty" foods. What does that mean exactly?
    - What is the difference between a pseudotropheus and a mbuna?

    Thanks all!

    Boobaloos
     
  2. WendyFish

    WendyFish Members

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    I'm a big fan of red zebras. Mine have always been outgoing, interesting fish. They get a little boisterous with each other sometimes, but it's generally not vicious.

    If the blue ones are in fact males (wow! I've never seen blue x red in a pet store) then ultimately you'll probably want 3 or more females to a male. That cuts down the aggression because the boys have lots of wimminz and little competition. Crowding helps with that too, as long as there are lots of hiding places. The bad thing about crowding is that mbuna are messy and there will be lots of poop to find and clean out.

    I have a whole bunch of 1.5in red zebra fry at the moment so if you find yourself wanting more fish or wanting to balance gender, let me know. They're too little to sex at this point and no boys are fully colored up yet -- a few have potential early indications but too hard to know with certainty. But I can give ya a bunch or maybe by the time you're ready, we can tell.

    Just my thoughts. I'm kinda new at this myself (15 months or so).
     
  3. illpoet

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    the zebras are probably mbuna's (pronounced umbuna) and are mouthbrooders from lake malawi. the syndontis is known as "the cuckoo catfish" from lake tanganyika. They are called the cuckoo bc they actually will lay their eggs in between a pair of spawning mouthbrooders. The female mouthbrooder will pick up the catfish eggs and keep them in her mouth thinking they are her own. Inside her mouth the catfish fry devour the original species. since you only have one (great name btw) that shouldn't be a problem. your temp should be fine, its more dangerous to have your water drop below 68 degrees than to have it go over (to a certain point, you don't want 90+degrees for too long). overfeeding is one of the dangers newcomers to the hobby face, and something i'm still guilty of. Not so much because the fish eat too much as too much uneaten food in the tank severely degrades the quality of water. if you see food going uneaten definately cut back. regular (weekly) water changes (30-45 percent imo) will help keep your water healthy. another danger to your water is overcrowding. when the cichlid bug first hits your first instinct will be to get more! this is fine but remember each fish represents a certain amount of waste.once that amount of waste exceeds your filtering capacity the fish die. also when dealing with cichlids you have to factor in territory. each fish (mbunas are famous for aggresion) will defend a certain territory and the weaker fish will stress out. The general rule (much debated) is 1 inch of fish for every 2 gallons of water. I personally abide by the rule 1 inch of fish for evey 4 gallons of water and i overfilter all my tanks. you can never have too much filtration!
    all tht being said, welcome to the hobby! cichlids are great and you'll soon see that their personalitys/intelligence/antics are great fun to watch!
     
  4. illpoet

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    that actually brings up another question from me, has anybody ever seen a mouthbrooder raising S. multipunctata fry in a home aquarium?
     
  5. verbal

    verbal CCA Members

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    I don't have any personal experience, but I think there was a thread on the subject on EastCoastCichlids(although it may have been a different Synodonitis species). I think you could also find info on PlanetCatfish.
     
  6. Tony

    Tony Alligator Snapping Turtle/Past Pres
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    Hey Jeff,

    Wendy and Tym hit most of the points, but I'll add a bit.

    For water temp, I wouldn't go over 85. Ideally for Malawi cichlids, you'll want to keep a max of 78* or so for breeding. This is a good balance between a high metabolism, but not too high that they are fouling the water quickly. Another issue that you run into with higher temps is the aggression will get pretty bad.

    Feed once a day. For any fish over 2" or so, the slight increase in growth from the food is not worth the added pollutants in the water (which will hinder growth). For fry or fish smaller than this, 2-3x is worth it in my experience.

    Regarding crowding, how big is your tank again? If you have a 55, you could easily keep somewhere between 15-20 adult mbuna - so long as you do weekly water changes.

    Other than for the benefit of the keeper to allow for watching the cichlids (or plants if you have them), the light does not really benefit the aquarium at all. Most will keep their photo-period to 5-6 hours per day (generally when they are home in the evening). This will keep algae growth at bay as well as save electricity. Lights are generally the most power-hungry component of the setup.

    Do you have any pictures of your fish? Blue form red zebras (Metriaclima estherae) are extremely rare at local fish stores. If they are red zebras , then one of the two blue ones will likely lose his color (and turn orange) in a tank with another male and only 5 total mbuna. Cobalt blue zebras are more common - a different species entirely (Metriaclima callianos).

    Good luck and please continue to ask questions as they arise.
     
  7. Tony

    Tony Alligator Snapping Turtle/Past Pres
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    Yeah, there's a couple of folks who have bred them over on ECC. I had a large group, but nuked all but a couple a few months back with Quickcure. :smashfreakB:
     
  8. verbal

    verbal CCA Members

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    High 70s to low 80s is the temperature range for African cichlids. The fish might start getting stressed much higher than 82 or 83.


    Feeding twice a day is fine. If your beneficial bacteria are not established, you want to feed very lightly and do a lot of water changes.

    The more you feed, the more waste the fish produce. If you feed more than the fish eat, you have decaying food in addition to a heavy load of waste.

    You will likely get algae if the light is on for a long time. With your fish stocking, plants are next to impossible so lighting can be adjusted to times you want to observe your fish. If there is a large range between the times, you might turn the lights out in the middle of the day.



    Feed the catfish sinking foods with the lights out. Also make sure that it gets eaten.

    Psuedotropheus is(or was) a genus that is included in the mbuna group. Mbuna are rock dwelling generally herbivorous Cichlids from lake Malawi.
     
  9. Hawkman2000

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    PICS PLEASE. BTW I love the names.
     

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