65gal Malawi Mbuna Biotope

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Nutter

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First off, if the tank & stand look familiar to some of you, they are in fact the tank & stand from my 65gal planted aquarium which has had the fish removed to 3 existing tanks & the bulk of the plants moved to the 25gal I posted pics of the other day. Basically I worked out a way for me to have more fish without having to have more tanks. ;D

I've tweaked the stock I intend to have in this tank a little from when I first had the idea a week or two ago & have ended up with this as my final stocking list:

2 x Brown Julie (Julidochromis Dickfeldi) -if available
OR
2 x Black & White Julie (Julidochromis Transcriptus)

1 x Calvus (Altolamprologus Calvus)
2 x Lemon Cichlid (Neolamprologus Leleupi)
8 x Black-Finned Cichlid (Paracyprichromis Nigripinnis)
4 x Pearly Ocellatus (Lamprologus Stappersi OR Meleagris)
4 x Cuckoo Catfish (Synodontis Multipunctatus)
1 x Bristlenose (Ancistrus sp.)

1 x Daffodil Cichlid (Neolamprologus Pulcher) - if available
OR
1 x Fairy Cichlid (Neolamprologus Brichardi)

The rock I've used is Granite with a single piece of Limestone. The substrate will be sand containing shell grit & argonite. There will be a few large shells scattered around the fore-midground when I pick them up. A few bunches of Vallisneria Spiralis will be scattered around the back & sides.

I've still got to pull the rockwork apart again to silicone it in place but I've taken lots of close-up photos so that I know exactly where what piece goes.
There will be more updates over the coming weeks but here's what I've done so far:
 

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swervo513

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Congrats!.. I might suggest one thing for a tank with many rocks in it. You may want to put egg crate under the sand to spread the weight out better. I generally do to any tank with a lot of heavy decor.

Good luck!
Larry
 

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I really love that tank! I've never seen one with such pretty wood work on it.
Putting squiggles of silicone on the rocks(let it cure before putting in the tank) where they contact the glass will protect the glass as well as keep the from sliding as easily.
Can't wait for completed pics. Not rushing you or anything...
Carol
 
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Nutter

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Thank you.

The stand & hood are custom built by me. There is a full floor supporting the entire tanks bottom glass so there is no risk of the glass breaking. The only way the glass could be damaged is by adding enough rock to actually crush the glass. The base rocks were also ground flat where they contact the tank so the weight is spread out & fish cannot undermine them. I would need over 1000lb of rock on a single point for the glass to be at risk of actualy being crushed. So it's pretty safe. I've had way more rock than that in the tank before anyway.

Here's a pic of how the tank looks right now. There will be Vallis added this week & perhaps a couple of fish. The internal filter that's in there is from another matured tank & is only to help with the cycling. Not that I'll be getting the 2213's for another month or two yet.
 

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ccb04

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Nutter ... love the color of the wood on the tank & stand.

Rock work looks really nice as well. Can't wait to see it finished/stocked.
 
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The stand & hood took me about 6hrs to build & another day to stain (allowing for varnish to dry between coats). I only used a drill, handsaw, spirit level, screwdriver & paint brush to build & finish it. The stand is made of an old pine bed & the hood is made of pine floorboards. Varnish is just a rose or mahogony tint, I don't remember which. There are 4 posts supporting the hood & it is attached to the stand rather than sitting on the tank. The hood & supports can be removed in under 3 mins. The entire hood is hinged so that hood, light etc swing up out of the way allowing full unimpeded access to the top of the tank. There's room for 6 x T8 4ft single tube fixtures inside the hood (only using 2), as well as a couple of PC fans to help keep things cool.
 
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Just an update on what I've done over the last few days. Today I just planted the bits of Vallis around the back & sides of the tank. It's not the exact species I was after but I guess that doesn't really matter, I had already veered away from the biotope when I added the Bristlenose for algae duty. The Vallis is pretty ratty at the moment but that's fairly typical for Vallis in Perth. It should pick up over the next few weeks & start to fill in properly. It won't go all the way along the back of the tank. There are a few spots that will remain bare to give contrast against the black background. I added a few more rocks to the middle area of the tank the day before yesterday to create an extra couple of caves & moved the piece of wood for the Bristlenose to the right side of the tank to act as a bit of a divider between two of the caves.

Yesterday I managed to track down what is a pretty rare fish in Perth, a Neolamprologus Pulcher, so against my better judgement I bought it. I wasn't going to add any fish yet as I don't have the canister filters to hook up but I couldn't resist given that it is hard to find these guys & that it's a lovely coloured male. There's established media in the little internal filter & I havn't recorded any ammonia as yet with 0-5 nitrates so I don't think things will get too bad for this guy.

I also rigged up my water change system today. It's just a 60lt plastic bin with a heater & 500lt/hr pond pump for circulation & pumping the water over to the tank. I've just tried it out today & it works really well. For under $30aus you can't go wrong.

Here's a couple of pics of the tank & the water changing rig. Sorry about the poor picture quality. I'm not a great photographer & it's a new camera that I'm still learning how to use.
 

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And here's the best pictures I could get of the Neolamprologus Pulcher. He's till pretty shy which is to be expected so the pics arn't great but they do show a little of his colour.
 

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MikeNTX

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I dig the stand and hood you have. Nice work!

Thats pretty much the same water changing set up I have, except my bin is on rollers so I can keep it in the closet out of site untill needed.
 
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Thanks Mike. This tank is in one of my garages where I go to escape the noise of my 4 kids so I'm not too worried about appearances. If it ever comes inside the house though the water change system will definitely get hidden. I'd probably build a cabinet with the same finish as the stand & use it to store all the other bits & pieces in as well.
 
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It's about 900 degrees in my garage.
Same in mine for most of the year but I've made up some mesh lids that I use when it's hot & there's room inside the hood for me to install a a few fans so I can keep it under control fairly easily. If it gets too bad I just cycle some frozen water bottles through the tank. This tank was planted with 5 lights running over last summer & I never got above 30c. It will only stay cooler now with only two lights in there.
 
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Nutter

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Just a little progress update. The Vallis mostly died back but it's making a good come back over the last week so that's making me happy. I added another couple of rocks to create more caves so the rock work is finally completed & I added in a few shells today to provide a couple of other types of hiding spots. I've still got to put a few more small shells scattered around though as it looks a bit odd at the moment. I was supposed to pick up my Eheim today but the shipment has been delayed & now it's not going to arrive at the LFS until next week. That's a pain because I just got 3 new additions to the tank today, 2 x Leleupi & 1 x Calvus. Now that the bioload has increased & my filter didn't show I've put a well established air driven filter in temporarily. That will take care of any extra waste for the next week or so. Anyway, here's a couple of pics of the tank & the new inhabitants. As usual, sorry aobut the fuzzy pics.
 

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