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Hi,

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Hi,

PostAuthor: BernW » Sun Dec 01, 2013 17:52

Hi,

I’ve been a fishkeeper since I was 7 and I’m in my 60’s now. My main fishy hobby is koi but I got into tropicals as soon as I earned a wage packet and could afford the aquariums and heaters etc. Over the years I’ve tried allsorts but most of the time I’ve just maintained community set ups with the exception of a couple of years in my 40’s where I had a fish-house (13 tanks) where I concentrated on Tanganyikan cichlids and catfish. But a thief put paid to that and the aquarium in the living room became my only treasure.

That aquarium has been in place for over 20 years (295 litres) and undergone many reincarnations. 7 years ago I decided to make it a planted tank with very small fish and shrimps. I soon got bored with the fish and replaced them with Angels & Festive cichlids as soon as they died off. I was quite happy with the look of the tank for many years but Angels and Festives aren’t exactly exciting fish to watch. Then at the beginning of 2012 algae became a problem that wouldn’t go away and the plants looked awful. Eventually I decided that enough was enough and I wouldn’t replace any fish and the tank would have another makeover once they had died off. Somewhere along the way the idea of Malawis came into my head and I started planning ahead.

At the end of September this year the final Festive passed on and the tank got converted a week or so later. It’s only occupants were a Bristlenose, a Twig catfish and 3 Corydorus.

The tank transformation took up most of the day. Emptying the water, dumping the plants and gravel, filter stripped down and cleaned and then installing the new substrate and decor. New water came from the koi pond (already 14c, pH 7.5) and the aquascaping began. I kept back three plants as an algae nursery and left it to mature with the Bristlenose etc as the only occupants.

I’m fortunate to have a professional Hanna meter that I use for testing the koi pond plus a load of reagents (Copper, Phosphate, Kh, Gh, Iron, Chlorine) that I never use, along with the basic pH, Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and DO. With this I kept an eye on the water parameters. Some Kent salts, a leftover from my Tangy days probably sorted out the water hardness. I did have a slight phosphate problem which was nullified by a product suggested by my LFS and within a few days everything looked rosy.

I had invested in another filter (Fluval 305) in the interval between deciding on Malawi and getting this far so that had been added in readiness for its first occupants.

And that’s when I made my first mistake. I had decided on a mixed community of Mbuna and Utaka and bought a selection of Peacocks which included a couple of OB types. I remember OB’s being all the rage from days gone by, but didn’t know that they had since been hybridised so I am a little disappointed that they are now taking up tank space.

During the time I spent preparing for the conversion my LFS set up a Malawi display tank and used some artificial rockwork made by Unipac. It looked good and I liked the idea of it not displacing so much water so I began buying pieces here and there. At some point I had the idea of having one end of the tank rocky and the other end corally and bought some of the Unipac artificial coral too. Another mistake! - it just doesn’t look right. So I’ve disguised a lot of it by putting other rocks (real ones) over it. If/when I redesign the aquascaping I’ll hide it behind other stuff as it is useful for the holes/caves it has but just doesn’t look appealing. BTW the tanks dimensions are 54 x 15 x 20 at the water level.

I thought I’d done plenty of research but I’ve clearly missed out on a lot. But there comes a time when you have to put what you have into practice. One thing I’d read was that crowding a Malawi tank is a way of dispersing the aggression so I took the initial stocking at a faster pace than I normally would, relying on the extra filtration and the daily testing to keep me on top of things. That has worked.

My current maintenance routine is to rinse a filter on alternate weekends and change water every week.

As this tank is in the living room and the wife takes an interest in its visual appeal my eventual choice for occupants was centred on colour.

Stocking.
As soon as I saw that the water parameters were ok I went out and bought :_

2 x Synodontis Multipunctatus (wc)
2 x Synodontis Poli (although I’m not sure that one is)
and 9 Peacocks from a mixed tank that included the OB hybrids mentioned before.

I know the synos are from Lake Tanganyika but I like them. S.Nyassae the Malawi Syno is not so easy to find.

I didn’t spend a lot on the Peacocks as there was always a thought at the back of my mind that things might not be as they seem tank-wise and therefore they were literally bought to test the water. I am thinking that 9 is a good number for the open water in the tank and might maintain that if it doesn’t turn problematic. However, some of these will be moved on (to a nephew) to make room for some better choices. The OB hybrids will be the first to go.

Over the next 6 weeks my purchases were Mbuna. An initial intro of :-

Labeochromis Caeruleus (3) and Hongi (3)
Metriaclima callainos(3)
Rusty cichlids (3)

Followed by :-

Ps Saulosi (4)
Ps Demansoni (6)
Ps Elongatus Yellowtail (1)
3 Demansoni and the Elongatus were a trade off from my nephew.

That’s it for the time being. As none of the fish are mature I just have to let them settle in and wait for any fireworks when mating hormones kick in. My winter project will be to set up a 250litre tank elsewhere to cater for the disaffected (and a chance to have a few more synos). I have the tank – anybody remember Hockney’s? I just have to make an attractive cabinet for it.

BernW
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Re: Hi,

PostAuthor: trumps » Sun Dec 01, 2013 18:24

First of :hi and :welcomeflash

That's a very good introduction :good:

I think most of us have made mistakes with stocking fish and what we buy tbh :roll:

The only problem you might have is the peacocks as they need a different diet than mbuna, people have mixed them with good results though, so I suppose it just depends on the individual tanks and set ups! These fish don't play by the rules and make them up as they want!

Look forward to more posts from you and how all progresses
cheers,

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Re: Hi,

PostAuthor: BernW » Mon Dec 02, 2013 16:26

Thanks.

Ref the feeding.
The irritating thing is that that information was right under my nose while I was researching and it never registered.
Apart from the odd bit of live food they are getting JBL Malawi flake food and a malawi pellet food all geared to vegitarians.

So far - no problem but I am mindful that it is still early days and its not time to relax yet.

Bern

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Re: Hi,

PostAuthor: Rdwh » Wed Dec 04, 2013 14:12

Wow! what a concise introduction.

Shame about the peacocks as they can come in some awesome colours, any pictures to look at??
Lakemalawi.co.uk The number one resource centre on Malawi Cichlids.
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Re: Hi,

PostAuthor: matt_harry_harrison » Sat Dec 14, 2013 22:34

Great introduction and nice to hear about your tank and set up !

A word about your tank mates; I would watch the Demasoni carefully, they can be nasty little devils, its limited to anything blue / black though. Unfortunately the Saulosi will also (possibly) take some knocks in the confusion.

That's not to say they can't be mixed - my dealer had some super versions of both together with no problem. As has been said before the fish never read the rules !

Matt
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