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Questions  2.

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Q.      When  can I  put  fish  in the tank ?

A.   A  tank is ready to be stocked when the water is  5 days old.  At this time an initial  
cloudyness  will  have disappeared,  and the  water is  clear. The one  thing which  is
important is the `sewage works` previously mentioned. The problem  is a`catch 22`as
the microbiology cannot be formed naturally in the tank  without fish,and yet it is best
to have it  in there when you first   introduce  fish to stop the ammonia levels  soaring.
It  MUST  be  suitable  bacteria, capable  of  surviving  in  `hard /alkaline`  water  and
ideally  to  be introduced  from an existing  running  Malawi setup. This is a far better
start than the shop bought ` starter kits`. Whenever I sell fish to customers setting up a
tank from  scratch, I give them a bag of `dirty water` or filter  sponge squeezings from
my  own filters.This then is introduced to their tank when they return home by tipping
the  bacteria  into a bucket,  filling  it  up with  tank water,  putting  the  filter  into the
bucket , if it is an internal, and let the filter clean the water, when this  has been done
satisfactorily  the microbiology  is  in the filter, and ready,  when  returned to the tank  
to start purification. Exactly the same method is used for an external filter putting the
 `inlet and outlet` pipes  into the  bucket, and removing when the water in the bucket  
is clean. At this point the tank NEEDS fish to keep the microbiology alive.You will now
see that the two are closely linked  and very dependant on each other.

Q.       How  many  FISH  should  I  put in  my  tank

A.   Stocking levels.
 The first,  and  probably obvious point,  is the `SIZE` of the tank.  It  is not however just
 the volume of  the tank,  (in gallons or litres), but  the  shape of the tank, meaning  its
 relative  length  to  width  to  height .   Given  two  tanks of  the  same  `water holding
 capacity`  then  whatever  shape  they  are ,as far as I am concerned, one is  bound to           
 be better,  for Malawis,  than the other.
 Points  with  reasoning  :------
         A tank of size 24" by 24" by 24", has a volume excluding rockwork of  50gall.
         A tank of size 48" by 18" by 15", has a volume excluding rockwork of  46 gall.
 As far as I am concerned, the best tank by far for Malawis  is the latter, even though it
 has a slightly reduced water holding capacity.   It allows  fish to  `get away` from there
 tankmates, for however short a time, and if the tank is  set-up correctly , (see previous
 points) they can be out of the line of sight of a chasing fish. This is impossible in a 24"
 cube!!.  The  24" cube  would  be absolutely  ideal  for  a  breeding  group  of  Neolam.
 Brichardi.  As you  will appreciate it is  definitely `horses for courses`.
 A tank  48" by 18" by 15"  should be stocked with  30 to 35 Mbuna,  which will  become
 on average 4.5" to 5.5" long at maturity. The tank should be set-up with that number of
 fish  initially,  and  put in as  young fish of 1.5" to 2.00". They should also ALL be put in
 at the same time.This is of course an ideal situation,from the fish point of view as they
 grow to know one another, a  form a natural  `pecking order` evolves  without to much  
 aggrevation  generally.  If  the  tank  is  stocked  `ad hoc`  then the fish  in  first  get the
 terratories, and  then the next group are the`new kids`, and can get picked on for that
 very  reason. If you`re setting a tank up from new, don`t waste the opportunity, give all
 the fish the best start possible,  they should all grow at the same  rate just to prove the

Q.      What is the best food for my Fish.

A.    Food for best all round Growth and Condition.
 My  feeding  regime and  philosophy  is simple.  If  you  feed  `good grub`  you will be
 rewarded  with  healthy,  good  coloured  fish,  more resistant  to diseases  and more
 prolific  breeders.  Basically  I  don`t  feed flake.  It  is  a  very  wasteful  food.  I  feed
 expanded pond sticks,  30% protein, which float until eaten and even `bob` back up to
 the surface if  taken under by fish and let-go.  Flake falls from  all everywhere at once  
 the second just one fish breaks the water surface.If all is not eaten, as with larger fish,  
 then  the filter must  not  only  treat  the ammonias,  but  also raw  food.  This creates
 inefficiencies and could cause tank  microbiological  breakdown. The filter is a small
 `sewage treatment `works  and is  finely balanced for the treatment of fish waste only.  
 I feed also prawns, and `soft-boiled brussel sprouts`. The prawns are rich in oils, and  
 are cheaper to feed than  bloodworm,  tubifex  and daphnia,  which  only come  from
 stagnant  waters.  Our fish are too valuable in all  senses of  the  word to be fed these.
 Crush or  blend  the  prawns  depending  on  the  size of  the fish to be fed, mix with a
 little water,  and spread in an ice cube tray.  At  feeding time either  thaw the amount  
 for one feed, or simply throw  the cube in the tank, and as it melts and falls  it is eaten
 immediately,  again  saving  the filter  from  overwork. The  sprouts  when  very  soft ,
 should  be  squashed  between  finger and thumb  and dropped  in at  the front  to be
 observed. The Mbuna go  `crackers` for these and in no time,  all  that  is left are lace
 veined leaves.  Green foods are essential to Malawi, (especially Mbuna) metabolism.  
 Their  intestinal length  relative to  their body  length in some  species, is  about 5 to1,
 and has evoloved to digest greenfoods. A  4ins. mbuna can have as much  as 20ins.of
 intestine.  It is the same principle as a cow having many  stomachs, needed to digest
 grass, and it bears this out, but I don`t want to be too technical. Another point to know
 is that Malawis  should NEVER be fed minced chicken or beefheart. It is fed to discus ,
 with  good  resultant  growth rate,  but can  cause `bloat`  in  Malawi`s , as  when it  is
 travelling through the long  intestines previously mentioned,  it  can start to `ferment`,
 causing  the formation of gasses and the resultant bloating.
 Well, I hope these few `helplines` may have dispelled some myths for the prospective   
 MALAWI  keepers.  I  have tried to keep things  as  simple and easy  to understand  as
 possible with these `frequently asked questions` and that the experienced among you
 might  have found it interesting also.
 We propose to add more Q & A to benefit all, as more questions are asked, however  
 if  you would  prefer  answers  on  a  more  personal  basis,  then  please  write to us.
                                  We will be pleased to be able to help.
                                  and  hope you will  visit  our  site on a regular basis,

                                                                                                                                   Best  Regards
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