African 75 Gallon Oddball Tank


Next summer I am planning on making a African style 75 Gallon aquarium. I've done research but I'd like second opinions and help to refine it so it turns out the best.

It'll be more of a Central or West African design. Since the East African designs are more commonly seen opposed to the other two. There would be plenty of hiding places, hardy plants from Africa, fish from Africa, but more so from the west, and a slight current and subdued light in some areas. I am open to ideas even if they don't match up to the area.

77-81 Degrees
6-7.5 pH
10-15 dh

•1 Retropinnis Bichir
•1 Ropefish also known as Reed Fish
•2 Buffalo Head Cichlids.
•1 Leopard Ctenopoma
•1 Synodomtis Ocellifer or Angelicus
•10-12 Congo Tetras
•1 Elephant Nose Fish
•1 African Butterfly Fish

•3 Vampire Shrimp
•6 Bamboo Shrimp
•7 Giant SulawesI Snails or Pagoda Snails
•12 Amano Shrimp

I am worried the Congo Tetras would become food. So if anyone had opinions on other schooling Fish I'd appreciate it. Other fish that I was interested in were the banded Ctenopoma. They are quite smaller, about 3.5 inches. Another fish was the Mormyrid Cornfish Jack. Very similar to the Elephant Nose Fish but 14 inches as max length. They are not as aggressive though. But because of their size they'd for sure would eat the Congo Tetras. Most these fish I've seen kept together and have it go good. Only the rare disagreement.

For the inverts I wanted Shrimp. But the safest ones to put in would be Vampire Shrimp. Bamboo shrimp would be safe while the fish are all juveniles but eventually could become food. I could move them though at that point. Amano Shrimp I believe would be safe as well at first. But eventually could become a food source. But there would hopefully be enough hiding places for them to survive.

(Long list)
Java Fern
Anubias Coffeefiolia
Anubias Barteri
Anubias Nana
•Anubias Petite
•Anubias Congensis
•Anubias Lanceolata
•Anubias Minima
•Anubias Heterophylla
•Nymphaea Tiger Lotus
•Ammania Senegalensis
•Pista Stratiotes/Water Lettuce
Echinodorus Big Ear
•Echinodorus Fancy Twist
•Echinodorus HadI Red Pearl
•Echinodorus Marble Queen

Plants wished I wanted more native plants that were hardy. I'd use varying amounts of every plant. Any recommendations would be appreciated. I have SeaChem plant supplement which I'll use.

•10-20lbs of Elephant Skin Rock
•Some Spider Wood
•1 Large Congo Wood Piece
•Few medium Congo Wood pieces

The rock would be used to help tie down plants, and keep wood in place. But due to the Cichlids they have to be sitting on the bottom of the tank because the Cichlids tend to dig holes. Should I just make holes myself with Pleco tunnels? I'd like to make a few hiding places for the other fish.

•ADA Aqua-Soil Africana
•ADA Power Sand Special Small
SeaChem Flourite Black Sand/ regular or dark version
Flourish Plant Tabs

I'd use in total about 300-375 lbs of substrate. Gonna be a lot of money though but I'd have a deep enough substrate layer. I'd use a Inch or 2 of Africana then half a inch of power sand then a inch of Flourite. In the Africana layer I'd put the flourish tabs.

Aquatop FORZA FZ7 UV Canister Filter
Aquatop CF400-UV Canister Filter

The forza filter does 295 gph but that'll almost cycle the water 4 times a hour. But has one more media compartment than the CF400. But the CF400 does 370 gph. The forza is $160 but I can get the CF400 for $100. The forza is supposedly newer than the CF400. If they don't create a strong enough current I could always use a Too Fin Internal Filter 20. Which will also filter water good. I have personal experience with that filter. Both filters come with supplies if there isn't enough my LFS carries some stuff and I can go to Home Depot

The media I'd use would be SeaChem Matrix (biological), SeaChem Purigen (Chemical), Fluval Polishing Pads (Mechanical), and SeaChem SeaGel (Chemical). In with the polishing pad would be some course foam. I will keep CupriSorb on hand and would run that for a day once a week to remove any copper from the water for the Inverts.

Aqueon QuietFlow Air Pump 100
•Fluval MinI Pressurized CO2 Kit

The Aqueon air pump is rated for 100 gallons. So the water will have enough oxygen in it. I'll run it to a few different air stones. I'd like to use CO2 for the plants but I don't want to risk using too much so the minI kit would be good. Comes with everything I'll need. But has the benefit of using minI CO2 canisters which are easy to change out.

• Aqueon OptiBright Light

I am planning on using a glass cover. And these are recommended to be used with the glass covers.

•Aqueon 200 Watt Pro Heater

This is supposedly enough to heat the tank.

I would buy all of these supplies over the course of a few months. I will for sure not stock this at the same time. But any opinions on how I should stock it? I'll let it cycle for a month with cycle media to get it started. Then first stock set would be in there a month before anything else is also introduced. I'd preferably do it by size/sensitivity/aggression.


I might have missed some things but if I have just ask and I can provide the info.


Where are you planning on getting these fish? Little by little over time or did you source all these already? Looking for bush fish myself, never really seen them


The majority I can get at my LFS. But some I can order online from sites who I've had good experiences in the past. But I'm gonna add them in little by little over time to allow for the more peaceful smaller fish to not be as stressed and to not shock my tank.


I have ctenopomas and am in the midst of putting together a Congo tank myself. I'm not overly familiar with all the fish you listed but by research I think your temp would be to high past 77.... That was about max for many fish I'd considered. Just a thought to double check... Congo tetras are too big for the ctenopoma, if they were torpedo shaped they'd be bite size but the broad bodies make them perfect schooling fish to have with ctenopomas. And juvenile ctenopoma will eat the amanos, without a doubt. I've never given min the chance with my amanos but yes they're just about right for snacking... And the ctenopoma loves to hunt down its prey so hiding really isn't going to keep anything safe from a ctenopoma. If you want cleanup crew get things like cats that have spines. I keep synodontis eupterus with mine.

Also source your Gnathonemus PetersiI very very carefully. I spent a considerable amount of time rehabbing one whom I lost anyway, I'm not sure I'll replace unless I can find a very exceptional source for them. You've listed some difficult fish so do tons of research, and I'm assuming your just tossing ideas around and realize all the stock you mentioned will not work together (edit : I missed where you indicated what you planned and what you were interested in) your plan list I'm not sure about buffalo heads and have heard issues with birchir and rope fish, but I'm setting as a 55 may be different in a 75.

As for plants... Here's a few more to consider from Africa : Bolbitis HeulodotI (*sp), Crinum Natans, Vallisneria Spiralis, Dwarf Hair Grass and Red Tiger Lotus. Then if you're interested in plants from the Madagascar region there's a myriad of them!


Thanks. I've seen plenty of tanks where the Ropefish and Bichir get along well. And that's with 2 ornate Bichir who get over 2 feet long. The Retropinnis gets 14 inches, which is what I'm considering. The Buffalo Head Cichlids were just an idea though. I don't think I want to deal with the tunnels they'll make. But I'll try the amanos, I can get ones that are 2 inches already. But if they don't make it I'll try to remove them and put them into a different tank.


But the Elephant Nose Fish is also an idea. Still doing some research on them.


But I just checked the temps for everything. Everything should be fine. A high temp would be 82. I plan on staying around 78-80. But the above listed temp is what would be ok, not the best. I did research on tank mates for bichirs and many people say Ropefish, African butterfly fish, larger synodontis species, and medium to large Ctenopoma. Most people say the best schooling fish to have with those fish are Congo Tetras. But the Elephant Nose Fish and Buffalo Cichlids were ideas. The Buffalo Head is a no go now after rethinking about their tendency to make tunnels. And the Elephant Nose is on the half yes half no. Where I'd get one had good reviews but I don't want mine to get sick easily.


I have a few Congo tanks, as well as friends who have gone fishing there. I see a lot of Congo imports, and know the fish reasonably well.
There are a LOT of possible biotope set-ups. The diversity of the species is matched by the terrain.
I kept a number of buffalohead species til recently. I am not sure how they would do with shrimp. They tend to be snail crushers, and might find shrimp intriguing food.
I think you have a fishroom planned, not one tank.
The bichir will get big. In a 75, maybe too big. It will look cramped with a ropefish in there.
I see a lot of competition in a small space in your plan. I also see river, lake and stream fish, with different water flow needs.
My Congo tanks are a slow water Epiplatys singa 20, a 75 gallon Lake Mweru tank, a Congochromis sabinae 20, an Aphyosemion sp 30, and a Nanochromis teugelsI 30. I've kept a few Ctenopoma and Microctenopoma, and also have West African coastal species (Cameroon and Guinea). I have avoided the big stuff you like precisely because it takes a lot of space.


Well the Retropinnis gets a 12-14 inches. And I think I'm going to do the Bichir, Ropefish, ctenopoma, Tetras, and African butterfly


And synodontis


But I found a few people keeping the Bichir in a 75 and having good results with it in there with a Few other fish. But the tank I'm looking at had quite a lot of bottom room.


After doing some research and thinking on it. The stocking fish wise will be:

1x Retropinnis Bichir
1x Leopard Ctentenopma
1x African Butterflyfish
12x Congo Tetras
1x Synodontis Ocellifer or Angelicus
1x Elephant Nose Fish (If I can find a good supplier)

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