well it's up to you.. If you think LHG is wrong with his advice you should stick up for what you think is correct. For me it's about the discussion, research, evidence and facts from which everyone can learn.
LHG does have an incredible amount of knowledge on all aspects of fishkeeping but maybe he's wrong on this one?
No, ive got nothing against northerners, a lot of my family live in cheshire, and I have northern friends.
But this overcrowded malawi culture is very much a northern cultural phenomenon, a well noted one, based on the relatively high ph over the larger part of the north, this leads to their being a greater proportion of rift species keepers in the north, and indeed thats where so many keepers problems lie. The conception is that because the ph is harder it makes rift cichlids easier to keep, which it does, but alongside this cultural phenomenon comes another problem, one that happens because so many people keep malawis before their skills are rounded, and of course this brings with it the usual mistakes of massive overstocking, undersizing aquaria for the task at hand and in case of point - this statement...
you can only keep them overfiltered and overstocked
... is a common belief, but not a fact ,it is in fact a large issue in humane fishkeeping that needs to be addressed. It is at best a misconception. It is most certainly not the only way to keep malawi , tanganyikan or victorian cichlids, and its a commonly used technique that often leads to serialised deaths and massive overall deathrates. The overstocking principle is one of those issues that needs to be severely addressed, all the better to give the rift cichlids, that thanks to overexploitation and the introduction of the nile perch to the lakes a chance to survive without massive pressure from the fishkeeping industry. The goal ultimately being viable captive breeding in the greater proportion of the rift aquaria owners.
Unfortunately many rift keepers have been keeping their cichlids as if they are entirely expendable, and that is not acceptable. 80 fish in 80 gallons however is a stupid amount of fish in any good fishkeepers book. My any possible permutation 80 fish in an aquarium of merely four feet in its longest dimension is beyond any reasonable interpretation of using territorial overstock to cessate violence and territorial behaviour among fish, its merely an expression of how far and how ridiculous some rift keepers have become in their approach to their fish. In those stocking densities normal expression of behaviour is denied, and there is no need whatever to take on that level of tank maintenance or indeed push the necessary water changes to excessive to accomodate this foolish trend in rift keeping.
FYI I have in excess of 100 cichlids currently, though you'll not catch me keeping 80 of any species or community type in merely 80 gallons. Its actually one of the reasons along with large catfish species I have aquaria totalling 1200 gallons.
Were you aware my initial recommendation of 10 was alreadt territorial overstock, but tempered? Sounds to me like 15 years of some very bad rift keeping indeed has been going on there. Overstock is one thing , critical overstock is another. Its a pet shop / wholesalers trick to stop them fighting, it is not however the correct way to keep them for life and they should not be kept in these densities for life, and no permanent aquarium should be based on those principles. Yes malawis do come from highly competitive communities, but no, there is nothing in their behaviour or lifestyle that commands they must be kept at a 1 fish per gallon density in a four foot tank. Thats dire fishkeeping.
Sorry it didnt work out too, but 80 fish in an 80 gallon, thats crazy talk. Theres overstocking to make something work, and then theres going completely nuts , most malawi keepers would do rather better to step back and actually watch the behaviour rather than overstock the tank from the outset, and discover for themselves how the community works, with each species having an individual persona, subtleties and variation in pair bonds and loose groups, a territoriality being managed with decor, suitable species choices, and proper niching. Theres a lot more to malawi keeping than just massive overstocking. Thats how the newbies and the idiots do it.
Trouble is with a lot of rift keepers is that they think there is only one way of doing things, and so many are unaware they force fish to live in stupid conditions for the sake of a few species, when others may settle quite happily with territories in lower number. Its kind of a spoilt brat syndrome gone mad, a massive oversimplification based upon their wish to own as many fish as possible while not researching said species very well. Youll hear the idea supported in shops because frankly it makes them lots of money. Why sell somebody a couple of fish when you can sell them two dozen, why sell them only those when you can have the owner kill the fish with critical overstock and maintenance issues, force them to thingk the average longevity of a fish is lower than it really is, so that they come back again and again to replace them?
Then, what is a malawi cichlid, is it a small fish no bigger than a shellie, or is it a midrange, or is it a 2-3 foot giant? Is it any number of chromis types, an an eyebiter, a mbuna, a venestus? Is it an algae eater is it a mutilator or a predator, is it all show or will liplocks end with maimed fish?
There is nothing about the statement 80 fish in 80 gallon that addresses any of that successfully.
Of course because of the relative ph, the malawis are more nitrite and nitrate sensitive than many other fish, hence why I said it, they will not forgive you of beginner mistakes. Like putting 80 fish in a foor footer for example. It was an obvious extra note of caution. There is not one choice in rift keeping, but many, you might overstock a little, or you might back off, or you might have species groupings, or fill niches. Announcing overstock as the only way is actually a pretty foul recommendation, and for many rift keepers its about hiding their own mistakes in a mob of other people making the same mistakes. The behavioural diversity of rift lake species is just as diverse as cichlids from any other region if not moreso. Therefore there is no one way to keep them all.
Hope that has it explained for you. Dont make the mistakes of other naive keepers your own. Theres nothing very clever about massive territorial overstock or having to massively overfilter and perform OTT changes. It blinkered culture gone mad, nothing more.
As any truly good rift keeper will know, there are many much better ways to keep their fish than that.
Im happy to engage in any level of conversation on this subject, in a way I have avoided it for so long precisely because I know the extent of bad rift keeping there is out there, and how resistant the culture will be, but shrinking violet I aint, so lets get to it. This is an area in which many damn fools think they are an elite, they dont know their species, dont know their fish, and dont know their behaviour, and they are completely unaware of the failings in their own popularist culture, so lets get cracking on it. There a million malawis out there waiting to get a better deal in life. The rift lakes may never recover and exploitation of these fish has to stop, at the very least people have to change their perceptions of how expendable they are.
Entire viable captive bloodlines are lost to foolish keepers every day. As for who needs that kind of advice, well you and thousands of others do. You need it desperately. So does the hobby and so do the fish. Thats why I said it.
Since a beginner was also about to be horribly mislead, and most likely made an unintentional abuser of fish if your advice was followed, that too was another seriously important reason to speak. What nobody needs to be told is that 80 cichlids of any kind be put in an 80 gallon tank that is four foot long. Even for fish with small territories thats massively pushing it.
Any community has to built gradually, especially if the filtration is to cope, and the QT of species that are not expendable is to be considered. All suggested was aim for ten, see what your building, see how they react , get to know the species and see how it goes. How can anyone have a problem with that?
Seriously, what tank has anyone seen thats four feet across, and has 80 cichlids in it that clearly wasnt owned by a bloody idiot? Dont even know why im arguing so hard to prove the point, its bleedin obvious.
Lets all pop off to youtube and watch some wonderful videos of that in action.
ime sorry have to ad my thouts to this i keep malawi, mbuna and am defanetly a northener being from hull. and i saw no affencive remarks in eny of that just plain fact. i kaap 5 mbuna in a sutably sized tank and have no aggresion isues what so ever. and they range from 2 to 5 inch in lenth.
i must agree 80 fish with a posobility of reaching 4 to 6 inch for the averege mbuna of the comman veriatys is absalutly ridiculas in an 80 galon tank. the filtration alone would have to be emence not to mention the ethicalaty of doing this and the qualaty of life the fish would have.
if you truly beleve 15 years of doing this has made you and expert then sorry you are plane wrong and no amount of ime leaving this forum becous i dont like being told the truth is going to change that.
my thouts go out to your fish if this is truly the atitude you take to keeping them
and to then go on to encinuate that the advice on marine keeping on this fourum is poor considering you are a beginner at this is well childish to say the least.
i dout ime the only one hear that shall not mis such a misguded fishkeeper and hope that you can see the errors of your ways in the future
..and on some of the finer points of cooleyloaches post, he advocated masssive overstock, and then suggested not going for a sump and going for a big canister filter like athe big fluval of the big eheims. On the ammonia and nitrite processing point, theres no argument, they are incredible filters, but...
... when you advocate overstock is it also not prudent to recommend a sump that increases water volume radically, thus alleviating some of the issues of having to do massive proportionate water changes, because while an eheim or fluval is a serious processing unit, very hard to beat, it doesnt increase the water volume to the degree that a big sump would, and therefore wont have the same handy degree of decreasing both the level in rise of nitrate accumulation, and having the sump also lessens the degree of change in water values post water changes, which lets face it , is handy.
Plus , you think youd really need another pumphead if you were using the fluval or the eheim on an 80 gallon? Yeah, riiiiight. Have you ever seen one of those things go at full tilt? Me I got one seven feet to my left right now. 2 intakes, and a spraybar wider than most peoples aquaria chucking out more water than a running bath tap. This is malawi, it aint marine.At overfilter of more than 200% and with two intakes and a huge spraybar I dont think lack of flow is going to be a problem, though conceivably a little something behind a rock stack might stop detritus accumulating there, but with a carefully planned and arranged stack it really shouldnt be necessary, your not trying to keep bacteria and algaes in the rocks alive like a marine system.
(lol admin, not wrong on this one, they'll have to get me next time )
Thank you so much for the replies on this setup - I feel like an expert after reading that!!!
LHG - I have often heard that you should have high stocking levels with Malawi Cichlids - however I have always been weary (to say the least) of this menthod... Besides - the cost of the fish would be huge!! What if it was hit with a disease!! Could you imagine the water changes!!!
All i want is a sensibly stocked tank, as natural as possible looking, the fish are happy, and live long lives... so thank you for clearing that up.
Thanks to everyone for addressing the sump idea ... My main reasons for going down the sump route are... 1. filtering power 2. tank is free from equipment 3. I can have loads of eqipment... (I have been looking at Nitrate filters)
Why leave all the fun equipment to the Marine Crew?!
Cheers for your feedback!!!
And on the notherner thing... I'm from Northern Ireland so I don't know very much about North / South feuds... (LMAO) So shall we leave it out... hehe