Reconsidering Bottom Feeders

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Fish Herder
Aug 4, 2003
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Springfield, Vermont
I have been Planning for my 75 gallon Mbuna tank for ages, and yesterday I finally ordered all of the equipment and had my LFS ship in a new 75 gallon tank.
Since the equipment will be coming soon, I have been doing more research, just to touch up on the finer points of the fish I will be keeping, and I've been feeling more and more like having clown loach's for bottom feeders is a bad Idea.
The Mbuna I planned to stock are not overly aggressive ones (Labidochromis hongi , Cynotilapia axelrodi, Pseudotropheus acei, Pseudotropheus Saulosi, Iodotropheus Sprengerae), but I would not want the Loach's to be injured/killed all the same. The other reason I had to worry is that my water is fairly incompatible with most fish (except cichlids), with a pH around 7.9-8.2, and I've read the upper extreme for a clown loach is around 7.5.
So I was wondering if anyone else had any recommendations for me. I know I've seen FreshMikes frontosa tank is stocked with clown Loach's, but Frontosa strike me as more of slow moving indifferent cichlids, unlike Mbuna, I also don't know how high his pH is. I planned on having tons of rocks and hiding places, and I was thinking of ordering semi adult loachs off-line (or through my pet store if possible), so that maybe they could acclimatise better and be able to defend themselves better.
What do you think? :/

I also realise this should be in Cichlids, but The tank is comming tomorrow and the equipment shortly after ( :hyper: ), so I want to have an answer right away. :)
i would add a Synodontis multipunctatus or a synodontis eupterus...

lovely fish that do great in mbuna set ups,
personally i have the eupterus (featherfin catfish)
Cuckoo Synodontis or Synodontis multipunctatus woulld be perfect for mbuna set up. :nod:
Unless your trying to breed the chiclids. :oh:
Although I do like the looks of the Synodontis multipunctatus, I am entertaining the Idea of trying to breed the cichlids (I'm assuming the Cuckoo cat would eat the eggs?), I was actually thinking about the Featherfin synodontis, but I was not sure how available they were in my area. I'll try doing a little more research on them.
Thanks :D
a featherfin is a great addition to a malawi set up..

my favorite fish

here mine quite a while ago now.. he's grown into a lovely adult. (not as dark)

I have a syno eupterus and they are lovely. In my mbuna set up I have 3 synodontis petricola........gorgeous little fish!! :D
If you like clown loaches go for them, minimum 3.
My water is around 7.8, and my loaches are doing great, with enormous appetite.
This is fish with quite a character, the funniest to watch. I got mine loaches 1.5 inch long to kill snail problem some 18 months ago, now over 4 inches long doing great. :nod:
They get along with cories and otos, they stay near bottom most of the time, but they will be first to steal food from anybody around.
I realy like the sound of the synodontis Eupterus, except I've been reading and it seems they like a pH between 5.6 - 7.5 (planet catfish), which would make me assume that they prefer acidic water. Does anyone here know if they are still alright in more basic water?

EDIT: Also, if anyone has any more suggestions please post them, I am in no way torn to get one of these fish yet. If possible, maybe post a synodontus thats a little cheaper, as I have found all of the recommendations to be quite inexpensive, especial since I wanted a shoal of fish (Eupterus:$50, Petricola:$30, Multipunctatus:$20). :crazy:

EDIT, Again: I did a little more research and the eupterus seem to vary in price a lot, I guess I'll just have to see how much they are here.
I've read the Eupterus also are avid egg stealer's, and I was wondering if there was a way I could prevent this (by say, building a cave only big enough for the largest cichlids I'm getting (much smaller that an featherfin, I think))?
$50 for a eupturus!!! Wow they cant give the things away here :lol:

As for catfish/bottom dwellers for a mbuna tank im afraid you are pretty much limited to Synodontis species though there are pleanty to choose from so its not so bad. As your chosen cichlids are of the semi aggressive class id recomend a group of 5 or more Synodontis nigriventris which are hardy enough to cope with living with cichlids but stay small enough to not bother eggs or fry too much. I wouldnt advise mixing clown loaches (or any kind of loach) with mbuna as they have not developed with any cichlids in their native range and so are not in any way equiped for life with them.
Here is what I had planned to stock

4 Labidochromis hongi
4 Cynotilapia axelrodi
5 Pseudotropheus acei
4 Pseudotropheus Saulosi
4 Iodotropheus Sprengerae

I'm buying two Aquaclear 500 filters, so the tank volume will be recycled a little over 13 times an hour.
Now without clown loach's, I have a pretty big gap that I could fill with a large shoal of upside down catfish. Would say, 9 be an acceptable number?
EDIT, Again: I did a little more research and the eupterus seem to vary in price a lot, I guess I'll just have to see how much they are here.
I've read the Eupterus also are avid egg stealer's

yes they are egg stealers..BUT.. there arn't eggs lying around in a mbuna tank ;) the majority are mouth brooders (all the ones you mention are)

also not a good idea to have 5 eupterus as some can be pretty intolerant of their own kind...they also reach about 8inches and they would soon fill your tank when adults

totally agree with cfc about the clown loaches...hardly ideal for a mbuna matter how much success some members have with them.. its far from ideal IMO...i certainly wouldn't do it.

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