Maybe 3’s of non schooling fish wasn’t the best choice???

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Magnum Man

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Jun 21, 2023
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Southern MN
So in the past, I have typically bought non schooling fish in groups of 3… my dwarf Cichlids, my African Tetras, 3 of each individual species, individual species of the Hillstream Loaches, Rainbow fish, etc.
But this morning, while watching tanks, something I enjoy each morning, I was feeling bad for a particular 3rd wheel, an electric blue ram… since my dozen Rummy Nose’s were group spawning the other day, 2 of the 3 electric blue rams have been chummy… I'm not seeing any spawn activity, but there was originally a pretty big size range between the 3 of them, and they were all pretty independent, but this week, 2 of them, haven’t been more than 6 inches apart, and the 3rd seems to be hiding more… I’ve not witnessed any aggression from the other two, a big community tank, with lots of cover…. I’m just feeling bad it doesn’t have a buddy too…
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Three is the loneliest number, lalala. At least you don't have to hear me singing.

If I buy six non schoolers (the standard number to get a pair in unsexed fish) I expect to need 3 tanks. The 3rd fish in a trio will be murdered.

I think the 'harem approach" to dwarf cichlids was 1950s men having fantasies. Females have territories, males have territories, and they don't welcome adult interlopers. I made an order yesterday, and decided to take a risk by order 2 of one dwarf cichlid, and 4 of another. All are easily sexed, and a friend will do the choosing. They may arrive too young to care, but they'll grow and eventually, adult hormones will kick in. I had three tanks free for them, so I hope for three pairs.

It's all beauty and interest until sexual maturity arrives, and it usually doesn't take more than a few months with the small, rushed to market fish we get.

I could have ordered extras for insurance, as shipping is shipping and things happen. But the odds of me ending up with a miserable, beaten, stressed and dying 3rd wheel are too high. I'd rather have a lone fish I can't breed than have to watch that again. I only purchase even numbers, and only when I can provide spots in other tanks for refuge. A lot of breeders buy the odd numbers, get the corpses out fast and believe that gives them better pairs in the end. They will allow the death of 4 fish to get 2. I don't do that.

When I do get three, because of shipping losses, I have gotten 2, and 1 fish over to a community tank. I never keep odd numbers of non Rift Cichlids together.

I think a key reason why so few people keep dwarf Cichlids now is once they breed, if you get 15 pairs as they mature, you have to either unload them quickly, or get 15 tanks. They're fish that make you pay for successes.

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