The baby fish have grown quite a lot – I’d say they’re about twice as big now as they were when I stripped them.
I’m tempted to try putting some of the saulosi fry back into the 10 gallon, but after that fiasco the first time I did it (wherein I lost about 10 saulosi fry despite removing them the next morning and none of the rusty fry, to what, I will probably never know – some sort of shock, perhaps) I promised myself, and the survivors, that they wouldn’t go back from their little HOB frybox until Christmas. It would be the species I don’t care about and breeds like rabbits that’s hardy and the species that I do care about and not breeding nearly often enough that’s delicate. Sigh.
Also I found that while my mini-hose is not quite long enough to reach from the 75 to the 10 so that I can siphon water directly, I can siphon water into a bucket set on the top step of my three-step ladder, and then siphon from there into the 10 gallon. Since I can never pour out the last little bit of water from the bucket into the 10 gallon due to the frame supporting the 75 above it, this is now going to be my preferred refill method. (Also this means I don’t need to get some more hose and risk wandering off in a fit of blonde and accidentally overfill the 10 gallon. Win!)
I don’t know if it’s due to the different environments, but the saulosi babies have learned – maybe by observation? They can see the adults now, since they’re hanging on the main tank still and the piece of plastic I was using to block line-of-sight fell off – to beg for food when I approach. While the rusty fry immediately dart back behind the heater in the 10 gallon to hide from THE LEGS OHNOES. Even though I always feed them both at the same time. Maybe once the saulosi fry move, they’ll eventually teach the rusties to beg too?
The alpha rusty and the alpha saulosi are now in confinement in the 20 long together. It seems they’re coexisting fairly peacefully (the penchant of the tank boss to hide all the time in the best cave probably helps) but that’s not a long-term solution. I’ll be watching the rusty group to see how things go. They’re still aggressive – and I’m starting to think that the reason most of the fish can reliably be found on one end of the tank is due to one of the rusties claiming the whole corner, so he’ll need to go next if that doesn’t stop. ‘Course, if I do that I won’t know if there’s another male in that group since only the alpha rusty really had the purple coloration… I’m seriously considering just rehoming the whole lot of them.
One of the rusties is holding again – and I ripped the tank apart the last time mainly because I saw the alpha rusty get involved in what looked like a saulosi social order dispute between the females and the remaining colored-up male. I want the saulosi to breed again, but it looks like Three is not impressive enough for the females – they’ve gotten a bit of black on them, a sure sign of their feeling rather dominant and feisty. He’s trying hard though – maybe once he loses the last of the yellow they might change their minds? Long term I’ll probably bring back Alpha saulosi, who has better barring, and see if the different rock structures help keep the peace. I also have a half-grown fish that I’m certain is a male (he has enough barring at this point to have more than I’ve ever seen on a female, though no blue yet) so I’ve dubbed him Four.
Speaking of aggression, Two’s death taught me a valuable lesson. Conventional cichlid-keeping wisdom says that a harassed fish will hide up in corners of the tank (away from substrate-surface territories) and Two never displayed that behavior, while I have had other fish doing that but not really suffering any kind of serious damage and eventually reintegrating into the community. Nipped fins grow back. But Two did suffer some ripped-up scales on his “torso” so to speak, so I’ve upgraded “body damage and stressed coloration” to Code Red – Intervene Immediately status. Poor guy. But I used that knowledge to save Three when it looked like Alpha was targeting him next. (I’d rehome Alpha if only the females liked Three but it doesn’t seem to be working out between them. Maybe they don’t like his unsymmetrical barring either?)
Still no idea of the sex of the three acei. They’re as big as the full-grown saulosi – four inches, give or take a centimeter or so – but acei can easily get to be six inches so they may not be sexually mature yet. (Improbable.) Or maybe they’re just all the same sex and so laid-back that they don’t care to try to crossbreed with any of the other fish (who don’t look anything like acei, after all). I raised these guys myself so as long as they’re not causing any trouble in the tank I plan to keep them.
Adult mbuna are so responsive to human interaction that sometimes I wonder if I should be playing with them every once in a while to help keep them from getting too bored! They’ll even chase one of those laser pointers just like cats.