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Help me plant my Malawi Mbuna tank

8149 Views 7 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  andrew14
Hi -

I just set up my new Christmas present - a 55 gallon mixed Cichlid tank (Malawi Mbuna).

I got about 100 pounds of rock and an African Cichlid substrate mix. I love the modern art deco kind of look (just gravel and stones), but everyone else thinks it pails in comparison to my 75G heavily planted Rainbow tank. are the tank specifics:
Magnum 350 Canister
Bio-Wheel 60
Pure gravel and crushed coral substrate
1 WPG (double tube T-5, 58W fixture).
No CO2 (although...I have a spare regulator...hmmm...)

What do you guys think? Swords? Annubias? Java Fern?


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help me with my malawi mbuna tank


Love you pictures of your planted tank! I would like to know what
the darker fish is in the front, a rainbow? What kind? I will be turning
my 75 gallon tank to a planted tank and I have three kinds of rainbows
now and I'm looking for more to breed. I'm thinking of using mostly Vals. and
other grassy plants.

For the Mbuna tank, I like to use just the substrate and the rocks, making
interesting caves and hinding places. Although if you need to catch a
holding female, you usually have to tear it apart to get her! I end up
redoing mine at least once a year, time to do it again!

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Ugh! I feel like a friend just came over and my house is dirty ;) Those pictures are old...I will post some new ones today.

I dont know the scientific name of the "dark fish in front" - but the LFS name is "Thai Flying Fox"

Aquarium Plants, Pond Plants, Freshwater Aquarium Plant & Aquarium Accessories – Arizona Aquatic Gardens

They are also called "False Siamese Aglae Eaters"...although they look so different from SAEs I dont really know how an knowledgeable could confuse them.

They are a bit on the territorial side....but I have two and they chase each other around and have co-habitated for years.

Note - they are ESPECIALLY susceptible to temperature changes. Specifically, when I change the water in my tank I am extra special careful to make sure the water coming in is the same temp as the tank water. You can kill a Thai flying fox in seconds by adding cold water to your tank.
Hi -

I just set up my new Christmas present - a 55 gallon mixed Cichlid tank (Malawi Mbuna).

What do you guys think? Swords? Annubias? Java Fern?


Can you say.......salad bar?
Mbuna are pretty avid veggiterians, and love swords and java fern. anubias will probly work, but will still have holes and nicks. Any special reason for mbuna? I had them, but traded them for peacocks and tangs. and haps.

Hornwart is another great plant for these fish, it grows fast enough to replenish its eaten sections, provided you start with a couple handfulls.
What kind of mbuna are you putting in there? I saw some that looked like yellow labs from your pictures. I have a 25 gallon tank with one mbuna in it as well as some anubius and some java fern. The fern is kinda messy cause he does pick at it but doesn't eat it and doesn't nip the anubias. Mubuna also like to move the substrate around quite a bit, so my anubius is attached to a piece of drift wood. I have some little java fernlets I can toss in and see if he goes for them.
good luck with your tank.
There's been some success with plants and mbuna (you can do a search on the site, I've seen pics here). But I think it really depends on your type of fish. I've put anubias and java ferns in my mbuna tank. They are growing and have done so for over a year, but they are badly mangled, new leaves are chewed down to an inch for the java ferns, old leaves of anubias are eventually chewed off. The newer leaves on the anubias have bite marks in them. I've never caught any of the fish in the act, so I don't know which ones are doing it.
I have a java fern plant in my 55g Malawi tank (Mbuna and peacocks) and they leave it alone. They also leave my vals alone, but they are slowly dying in 2wpg, so I wouldn't suggest them in your light. I'd try java fern and anubias...maybe they'll leave them alone. :) A good treat for them in some Hygro polysperma. :D When I need to get rid of some, I just toss it in the Malawi tank and the leaves will be gone in a week.
I haven't done my mbuna tank yet, but I've read that if you keep a good algae eater in the tank such as a bristlenose pleco, the fish won't shred your plants as much. They go for the algae more so than the actual plant. I also read that if you plant before you put in the mbuna, you may have more success because they see the plants more as part of their environment, rather than another tasty snack that Mr. Hand put in their tank for them. I read both of these things at this forum, but again, thye may or may not be true...just throwing it out there.
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