160 Gallon Aggressive Cichlid Tank

Konfusion101

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Hey everyone,

I'm getting ready to start piecing together my 160 gallon cichlid tank. I picked up a 160 gallon acrylic tank that is 8 ft w x 2 ft d x 1.5 ft h. I also have a 75 gal glass tank I will be converting into a large sump/refugium/grow out plus a couple large sponge filters.

Here's my preliminary stocking list.

1 tiger oscar
1 black convict
1 firemouth
1 severum
1 green terror
1 jack dempsey
1 ornate bichir

I don't want to overstock, nor do I want to have any unnecessary aggression. I've used aqadvisor and it doesn't show me as overstocked. My main concern is that once these fish start to get large the short height of my tank will be an issue.

Also, will I be fine getting all these fish when they are young and similar size? I will be using some media from another filter and ammonia to fishless cycle before I add anything. I just don't know if their growth rates will put any of them in danger of being eaten. I will have a large refugium full of plants in the 75 gal I plan on using to separate anyone out who is overly aggressive or being bullied.

Any other advice you guys have for someone just getting into large cichlids is also welcome!

I am in the very beginning stages here, at least a month or more out from buying fish, so stocking and setup can all be modified as needed.

Here are the tanks. (Water testing both now)
20180501_175618.jpg
 

NavyChief20

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the Jacks and Green Terror i have kept together no problem. Mine are about 8" but not full grown. Oscars get BIG and mean. JD's and GT's are very mean. Convicts are mean but only get 5" max and will probably get picked on by the GT, JD, and Oscar.

Firemouths i have had super aggressive and super calm. It is hit or miss with them on aggression.

The sump is an excellent idea. I use sumps exclusively with my tanks which are all cichlid tanks. What sump style are you implementing besides having a refugium?
 
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Konfusion101

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I wanted to do a pair of convicts or more if my filter could handle it. I was hoping providing plenty of rocks and possibly driftwood or pots could help the little guys. But if they cant hold their own I wont be able to house them.

As far as the sump goes, the plan was to do a multi chamber setup starting with different sponges. Next would be a couple chambers of different bio media. Either ceramic noodles or bioballs or some combo of those. I am still in the research stages with this being my first attempt at a sump. All that would take roughly 1/3rd to 1/2 of the 75gal. The remainder would be the refugium chamber and equipment chamber.
 

NavyChief20

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I wanted to do a pair of convicts or more if my filter could handle it. I was hoping providing plenty of rocks and possibly driftwood or pots could help the little guys. But if they cant hold their own I wont be able to house them.

As far as the sump goes, the plan was to do a multi chamber setup starting with different sponges. Next would be a couple chambers of different bio media. Either ceramic noodles or bioballs or some combo of those. I am still in the research stages with this being my first attempt at a sump. All that would take roughly 1/3rd to 1/2 of the 75gal. The remainder would be the refugium chamber and equipment chamber.
My warning is that it will be an aggressive tank and your convicts will probably be on the receiving end of aggression and not be able to handle the bigger tougher cichlids.
 
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Konfusion101

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This tank is centered around the tiger oscar.
My warning is that it will be an aggressive tank and your convicts will probably be on the receiving end of aggression and not be able to handle the bigger tougher cichlids.
Got it! Should I worry about the firemouth as well since they are on the smaller side of this tank? They are all going to go in as juveniles. I am not sure if 6+ silver dollars as dither fish will help with aggression.

I saw you use a trickle filter setup. I was considering doing this in my sump. What media do you use?
 

NavyChief20

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I can tell you that my sons convicts wiped out his firemouths over night.

I use polyfil batting as a polisher/prefilter, lava rock, pot scrubbies, legos, pie weights, and i have one that has biomax. I stay away from "aquarium store" bought media and i get my stuff from the hardware store or michaels or walmart. Much cheaper and just as effective if not more.
 
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Konfusion101

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I have a friend who uses a trickle filter setup with all lava rock on a fully stocked 210, which works great alongside his cannister.

I have quite a few trips to the hardware store before all is said and done, so I will be on the lookout for cost-effective bio media.

Thanks for the advice! I appreciate it.
 

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Hi there,
I am new to the fish keeping world also and worried about the aggressive fish in my tank.
I started off with 2 convicts, Texas, bristle nose plec, red tail shark and a dovii. The first night the dovii ate the rts so I put it in a tank with the Texas on there own as they paired. I have now added an Oscar 2 electric blue acaras, a firemouth and a large sucking loach and they all seem to get on fine despite multiple people telling me the Oscar will eat everything. My advice would be to go for it and if there are any problems with aggression try to lower the temp slightly as that will make a calmer tank. If that doesn’t work like it didn’t with my dovii then as you said separate most aggressive fish to another tank 1303]
 

NavyChief20

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Hi there,
I am new to the fish keeping world also and worried about the aggressive fish in my tank.
I started off with 2 convicts, Texas, bristle nose plec, red tail shark and a dovii. The first night the dovii ate the rts so I put it in a tank with the Texas on there own as they paired. I have now added an Oscar 2 electric blue acaras, a firemouth and a large sucking loach and they all seem to get on fine despite multiple people telling me the Oscar will eat everything. My advice would be to go for it and if there are any problems with aggression try to lower the temp slightly as that will make a calmer tank. If that doesn’t work like it didn’t with my dovii then as you said separate most aggressive fish to another tank 1303]
As someone who keeps cichlids exclusively I will tell you that's a bad idea. Good luck though.
 

NavyChief20

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As someone who keeps cichlids exclusively I will tell you that's a bad idea. Good luck though.
Also lowering the temperature of the tank makes them appear more docile because it slows their metabolism down. That's like sending a kid with ADHD out in the snow in shorts because he is acting up.
 
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Konfusion101

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Well i got the stand up. Going to do a lot more before it is done , but I can start on the plumbing.
20180513_214819.jpg


I think I am going to go ahead and stay away from the convicts. Probably best to stay under stocked anyway while I get used to a maintainence schedule for this large of a tank.

I still have a long way to go on this, but I really wanna drop some fish in here asap! Hopefully about a month out.
 

NavyChief20

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That should be good then. I have bottom supports on mine. Over engineered but that's just me.
 
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Konfusion101

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Basic plumbing is done. Still need to plumb in 2 way valves on all lines and a check valve on the return, but it will run for now. I have it filled to the max so the sump cannot over run.

Going to let it run for a few days to ensure no leaks or major problems before moving on.

Next step will be placing dividers in the sump and filling with media to start cycling.

I am going to keep a close eye on the temperature as well. I'm debating if I want to place this inside my house or keep it in the garage. Since the tank is second hand, I'm worried about another blowout and the potential damage 220+ gallons of water could do.

The temperature will hit 105 degrees Fahrenheit and over this summer. Sometimes for weeks. I am not sure if I can maintain temperatures at 80 without a chiller or fans running, neither of which I want to do.

20180520_180050.jpg
20180520_180116.jpg
 

NavyChief20

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looking really good. you should have great surface skimming and agitation with that setup. The long run overflow i would support under the stand a bit. I see you have an external support with the board but just to be safe maybe one underneath. If you keep it in your garage dont have the back of the tank facing the sun. Since the back is colored it will heat at a diffrent rate and you can have destructive issues that way. Also as you already know you'll need a chiller since it will get warmish. They arent too tough to build but it is a risk. Incidentally 200 plus gallons blowing out in your house really sucks, ive had it happen.
 
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Konfusion101

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I set it in that position for easy access to the back. If I do plan on leaving it, I will turn it 90 degrees so the back is toward the wall.

If you look closely, I have a support under the first 90 of the long overflow. The short overflow gets about about 75% of the water anyhow. It seems the divider is a bit lower on that side (hence the level).

I'll be putting a thermometer in the tank this week to monitor temperature. Probably going to leave this is the garage for quite a while before building the courage to put this in my house.
 

Mike1995

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i really don't think that is a very good tank for large cichlids. Especially an Oscar. They'll get as tall as your tank height almost in addition to thier length. Basically they're not gonna have very much room to swim and hide from eachother. I have a 116g tank that 60" long but 25-27" tall with a terror, Severum and firemouth. Green terrors, especially the one i have, enjoy roaming throughout the whole tank. As do Severums, jacks and many other big cichlids. Firemouths and convicts spend a lot of time towards the bottom. So it will be very confrontational having big cichlids and your cichlids that inhabit the bottom all in one level. They will probably fight a lot. Especially the convict and FM.
 
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Konfusion101

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i really don't think that is a very good tank for large cichlids. Especially an Oscar. They'll get as tall as your tank height almost in addition to thier length. Basically they're not gonna have very much room to swim and hide from eachother. I have a 116g tank that 60" long but 25-27" tall with a terror, Severum and firemouth. Green terrors, especially the one i have, enjoy roaming throughout the whole tank. As do Severums, jacks and many other big cichlids. Firemouths and convicts spend a lot of time towards the bottom. So it will be very confrontational having big cichlids and your cichlids that inhabit the bottom all in one level. They will probably fight a lot. Especially the convict and FM.
That makes sense. I've already decided against the convicts. I kinda figured the firemouth may have to go as well, so I guess that settles that.

I'm pretty set on the large cichlids though. All will go in as juveniles and we will see how it goes. Eventually I may just upgrade the main tank. I really have very little invested in comparison to what it would have cost brand new.
 
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