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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I'm Pat. I just started up a new Waterbox 190.5 destined to be a planted Mbuna (Lake Malawi). I'm planting with (you guessed it) Java Fern, Anubias, and Jungle Vals. Primarily because those are about the only plants Mbuna will not tear to shreds. The Vals are a question mark depending on the temperament of the particular fish you end up with.

Right now I'm at the beginning of the cycle. After that I'l establish the plants, then add the livestock.

The wife and I have settled on the following stocking list:

Yellow Labs
Rusties
Yellowtail Acei
White Top Hara
Bristlenose Pleco (2)
Malaysian Trumpet Snails (maybe, to turn the sand bed and as an indicator of correct feeding)

(1m/5f) all

20180922_163447 by pat w1, on Flickr
 

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Is this a first go with the mbuna? Some of the info given seems to differ a great deal from what I find and the tank layout might indicate a bit of newness. I do find the African cichids are a fun group and part of that fun is the way they force me to think much deeper than many other fish might. Part of that process, in my case, has been to watch what they will do, and gradually adapting my methods to allow for the way they think of their world. Since they have far more time to tear things up than I have to put them back, I find it works better to let them tell me where things should be in their tank!
But then, I also admit that I am not one to be super critical of things that happen in my tanks and I do just figure a few things will go wrong and need correction as part of the game. I find that I can train them at about the same rate they are able to train me!
We all have to just remember to enjoy the games we play? No harm done if the other team scores, now and then.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
New to Mbuna. The Java Fern and Anubias will be attached to rocks and the (Jungle) Vals will be in clay pots behind the rock work. Assuming they don't tear them up I'm hoping to get the Vals to trail along the back to the sides and then along the sides toward the front. Unless they tear up the roots of the JF or Anubias I'm just guessing they'll be OK and with enough weight in the rock will tend to stay where I put them.

I've already been told by one member on the "Cichlid Forums" that there is too much sand and not enough rock. Either can be changed. All the rock was installed directly on to egg crate. I attached the egg crate to the tank bottom with silicone. I added all the rock prior to adding the sand so the "stack" is very resistant to digging and undermining.

The substrate is Pool Filter Sand.
 

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Hi! I am by no means an expert or even good with africans. I recently traded mine away because it did not get me relaxed to watch them fight anymore.
One advice I want to give you, especially with mbuna is - get enough of them! Your set up has caves for a handful but not for all. This will create agression. The way to curb this is either have caves for all or for none.
You need to have so many that there is nothing to fight over.
Basically, if the show aggression - get more.
Sorry if I am preaching to the choir but I made this mistake and it took the fun out of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi! I am by no means an expert or even good with africans. I recently traded mine away because it did not get me relaxed to watch them fight anymore.
One advice I want to give you, especially with mbuna is - get enough of them! Your set up has caves for a handful but not for all. This will create agression. The way to curb this is either have caves for all or for none.
You need to have so many that there is nothing to fight over.
Basically, if the show aggression - get more.
Sorry if I am preaching to the choir but I made this mistake and it took the fun out of it.
I'm getting that from the folks over on CF, too. I've got more but my wife and I both liked the look so far. If this doesn't work out I'll add to them and if what I have isn't enough I'll go get more. My source is the scrap pile at a local landscape supply @ $0.15/lb so it's not like it'll hurt or anything.
 

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Ok, but you might have to replace half of the water volume with rocks.
Instead of getting more rocks, get more mbunas.
For the sake of learning you could ignore the aesthetics for a while and simply stack pieces of pipe against the back wall and see what happens at different numbers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
[full disclosure: this info is from reading/research, not personal experience]

There is a school of thought that offering the opportunity for the pursuer to lose sight line on his target this will also curb the aggression or at least reduce the duration. Also I plan on only 1 male of each of the four groups with a targeted ratio of 1 male to 5 females. The stocking ranges are in line with suggestions from mods at CF.
 

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Sorry, I don't mean to come across as a "know it all".
I'm sure you will work it out. I personally didn't which took the fun out of it but that is more my fault than the fish.
I'm looking forward to pictures of the tank planted!

Boris
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Not a problem. Always open to input if it's civil. I'm still waiting for the cycle to complete and I may have sabotaged it by replacing a stone dust clogged filter sock.:redface:
 

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Another of the group, "not wanting to sound like a " ??
I have had cichlids for a long time and then worked my way into planted after feeling I had done pretty much all I wanted with the African cichlids. Some were mbuna, some not, but the one thing I found is that I often totally disagree with much of the written info on them. I look at my fish to see what they are doing more than read about what they should do as I find each tank will operate different and much of it depends on how the tank is set and what the fish have "learned" . I often find fish operate pretty much like people!
So where do we find the most aggression among people? Open country or ghetto? I find when fish or people can never get away or not have somebody in their face all the time, they can become very aggressive!
So I work to end the aggression by first stocking lightly, forget the making a ghetto by overstocking as I do not want stressed fish but peaceful fish. Second, I set the tank as if there were going to be lots of fish and make sure the hiding places are true hiding places, not a simple duck-under which leaves the fish exposed front and back. A fish is not going to feel hidden if you or any fish going by can see him.
Looking at the OP's picture led me to think it was a new game as the rocks are now good for hiding. If you wanted to hide, where? We can see under almost all the rocks and so would any fish. Not good for hiding.
My suggestion would be to rework the rocks with lots of smallish rocks with a few flats. Then rather than stack them, let them form more of a "jumble" like something that fell off a truck. Somewhat hard for us humans to make "natural" but getting a vast number of sizes and shapes will produce lotsmore and the fish really can turn sideways to slide into spaces we might think too small.
For stocking, I highly favor more variety of types rather than a simple mbuna only. I like sticking to the milder mbuna and pair them with some of the larger open water fish like protomelas as they each have their section and that allows for each to not bother the other.
 

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