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colour, size,water & space

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I have impatiently been waiting for my africans to colour up. I have an 8x2x2 tank and these are my first ever africans. in particular there are 2 red empress and a blue neon that are I am watching with eager anticipation. the red empress males are now approx 6cm and the blue neon 7.5cm. the blue neon when I got him at about 6cm was dark and on the verge of colouring while the reds were about 4.5cm, quite a way off. in the last week I have noticed that the blue neon is getting paler while one of the red empress is now colouring and seems to have had a growth spurt of about 1cm in a week. this is exciting for me as most of the fish I have previously kept don't change in appearance, only size(tropicals)can't wait to get some colour happening in this tank.I also have saulosi, trewavasae, and eureka red. is there a general rule of thumb for when colours come through? is there an average size for each for this to happen? with the larger space to grow in (8x2x2) how much faster can this happen? and is water quality most likey the cause of the blue neon getting paler? any opinions/ thoughts gratefully appreciated.

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