Apistogramma says: Tonight we are going to discuss breeding Malawi cichlids
Horus says: blast away on the mbuna discussion!
Apistogramma says: Good idea. Folks, for those who do not know, the PA system will allow the speaker to be heard, but none else. Roger will be keeper of the microphone, so if you want to speak 'tell' him to hand it over. You can also ask questions of me using the 'tell' command
Rgrmill has turned the PA system ON
Apistogramma says: Welcome to this weeks Cichlid meeting. Last week we searched long and hard to find a good topic and a qualified speaker and were not successful.....so I am going to tell you a little about my experience breeding Malawi mbuna
Apistogramma says: I am not as organized as Juanmi and do not have prewritten paragraphs to paste in, so please be patient and I will keep it brief
Apistogramma says: I prefer Q and A anyway
Apistogramma says: I STOPPED breeding mbuna as a money making venture a year and a half ago. At that point I was (with a partner) producing and selling about 500 bred and butter Africans a month in the Louisville Kentucky area
Apistogramma says: We bred about ten common mbuna varieties as well as a few odd balls, and came up with a pretty good system for doing it quickly, efficiently and cheaply. I would like to take a moment to express what I feel are the most important considerations in breeding mbuna....water chemistry is the easy part so we will ignore it until q&a time
Apistogramma says: First....Colony size....Mbuna are all polygamous mouth brooders. This means that only the males tend to defend territories in the lake, though the females might in an aquarium. We found that large tanks with large, crowded colonies of one male for every five or six females facilitated increased spawning and decreased brutality on the females...males are another issue, but they are easily replaced
Apistogramma says: We usually kept at least 15 females and three males in a bottom 55 gallon or 40 breeder tank with PVC caves
Apistogramma says: Second...Temperature....Believe it or not, we had more success at 75 degrees F than at 80 degrees. Malawi is a pretty large, deep lake with a lot of current. Ad Koning's book about the lake mentions that the average temperature is near or even below 20 Degrees C. We really cut back our occurrence of Malawi bloat at the cooler temperatures. Noted exception is the fry, which grew faster at 80
Apistogramma says: The PVC caves are eight inch long, 2 inch diameter pieces of pvc glued together to form pyramids up to the top of the tanks
Apistogramma says: Third......FOOD....For the breeders, moderate to heavy feedings of a HIGH VEGETABLE PROTEIN flake or pellet, and daily baby brine shrimp. Peacocks and Haps get a fish meal flake added once daily for increased protein, but I am not convinced that this was necessary...whenever we had only the veggie or spirulina flake the 'carnivores' did fine on it
Apistogramma says: The fry get a brine flake plus spirulina flake at least five times a day and live brine once daily. The flake is crushed to size
Apistogramma says: Fourth...grow out space and Water changes...For the fry specifically, to get optimum growth we did a 20% change in all growing tanks every third day religiously. For the first month of the fry's life. it exists in a 20 gallon with about 100 fry. Then it goes for a month in a forty breeder with about 400 fry. The whole batch from that 40 breeder goes into a 100 gallon plastic vat (tub) for another month, at which time they are sellable and get moved out to make room for the batch behind them
Apistogramma says: Adult colonies get a 20% change weekly. All tanks get salt added at changes to increase hardness and buffer alkalinity
Apistogramma says: lastly...light...24 hours a day. No plants involved so no problem there. The long light period keeps them active and feeding all the time. During the day the lights over the tanks go on, and at night they go off, but the room lights are on ALL OF THE TIME
Apistogramma says: That's all the basics as I see it. Let's go for questions...I hope there are a lot to fill in the gaps
rgrmill says: Ted, could you tell us about the water parameters you used?
Apistogramma says: We used tap water dechlorinated as it enters the tank
pH of at least 7.8 and a hardness of at least 500 ppm. We maintained this using a salt mix that I can put on the screen in a few minutes
Apistogramma says: If anyone has a question, grab the mic
Rgrmill gives the mic to Melissa
Apistogramma says: Yes Melissa?
Melissa says: I was just wondering if the chemicals for the salt mix could be food grade and could you please repeat the formula for the mix
Melissa gives the mic to rgrmill
Apistogramma says: I think that food grade would be fine. We use reagent grade because we bought them in 50 pound bags and mixed 100 pounds at a time
Rgrmill has turned the PA system OFF
Dev says: assuming I wanted to set up a tank for maintenance and not necessarily breeding, what would be a suitable substrate?
Apistogramma says: Here it is: 4 parts Mg Sulfate, 2 parts Ca Carbonate, 2 parts Sodium Bicarbonate, 2 parts NaCl, 2 parts Iodized salt, and 1 part Potassium Chloride. Dosage was 1 TBS per five gallons for Tanganyikans and 1 Tbs per ten gallons for Malawi
Apistogramma says: For a display I suggest a dark color gravel...shows color better. If pH is an issue, use crushed coral or dolomite
Dev says: regarding those two substrates- I have soft water so I will use crushed coral- but I would also prefer a darker gravel- could I put a layer of the dark gravel over the crushed coral?
Melissa says: And how much did this seem to raise the hardness and pH of your water?
Roger says: ok, I have what may be a silly (and somewhat off topic) question
Roger says: how do you pronounce "mbuna"?
Jasonw says: umbuna
Roger says: is it EM-buna, or Ma-Buna?...
Jasonw says: em boo na
Roger says: ok, that's what I thought, but I've never heard anyone ever say it
Jyching says: not sure if you said it or not. Do you leave the females with eggs in the same tank with other females and the males, or do you have to remove them? Did you strip the eggs/fry from the moms?
Arcadia transports into the room
Arcadia says: Hi all. This is Ted. Sorry, but my screen went blank and I got kicked off
Arcadia says: were there any questions that I missed?
Dev says: I wanted to know if I could add a dark color layer of gravel over some crushed coral
Arcadia says: When you do water changes and sweep the gravel you will end up just mixing it in
Arcadia says: Plus mbuna dig A lot, so if you do not mix it in they will
Dev says: I would separate the layers with a mesh
Melissa says: Do you know how much the salt mix raises the hardness and pH?
Arcadia says: That dosage took the pH from 7.6 to about 8.0 and the hardness from 300 ppm to about 500 ppm
Arcadia says: Dev, is this over and UG filter?
Dev says: I probably wouldn't bother with an UG filter if the fish dig
Melissa says: Hum, my water is only 7.4 and 100ppm. Should I add more to get it up to that level?
Peter says: If you put the coral over the UG, then the mesh, then the gravel, you're fine
Arcadia says: Then the mesh would just cause a dead space for anaerobic bacteria to go. Without water running through the coral the pH buffering capacity is severely decreased
Arcadia says: If you are keeping Malawi mbuna Melissa you should increase the hardnees. pH will usually take care of itself if the Hardness bufferieng agent you use includes a carbonate in it
Arcadia says: Yes Dev that should work
Jasonw says: when you talk of hardness do you mean KH DH or both?
Arcadia says: TH.. total hardness I guess. I have always talked in the American terms of parts per million
Arcadia says: I have never learned teh DH KH TH stuff
Dev says: what's in Sea Chem's "buffer mix" versus their "salt mix"?
Jyching says: Ted, I wanted to know if you had to isolate the females with eggs, or did you wait until the eggs hatched and stripped the fry instead?
Arcadia says: Getting the fry depends upon your preference. We did it two ways. With the really hardy zebras and stuff we let the females stay in the breeding tank until we could see eyes, then we stripped half developed fry into net brooders with airstones. Rare or fragile stuff we stripped the eggs and tumbled them in an egg tumbler of our own design
Apistogramma appears in the room
Apistogramma says: I'm back
Apistogramma says: Our tumblers use a Ginger sponge filter that has a 1 inch lift tube and a carbon cartridge 9 just the empty cartridge
Apistogramma says: Sorry, just the empty carbon cartridge from a lee's mini UG filter that you can by empty from Ginger
Apistogramma says: The carbon cartridge is used as the egg chamber. It is hard to describe written. Delores Shear at Wet Thumb Aquatics sells a really good tumbler for about 7 bucks
Apistogramma says: Sometimes we just put the females in the 20 gallons and let them spit
Apistogramma says: Have I completely confused everyone yet?
Melissa says: Yep :)
Apistogramma says: Usually when I do this talk I have slides :)
Melissa says: That would be a little difficult to do here
Apistogramma says: This is the first time I have done a remote talk...not really efective for my format...oh well...better next time
Melissa says: Do you know if accidentally getting the air flow cut off to a brine shrimp hatchery will affect the nauplii (maybe make them die?)? I woke up this morning and it wasn't bubbling. At most it was off for 6 hours
Jasonw says: that can happen Melissa
Apistogramma says: Well if none else has anything to discuss I think that it was an interesting talk Ted..
Dev says: good info, Ted- thanks very much
Apistogramma says: Ciou, thanks