Big Beard's Big 170 - African Rift Tank

BigBeardDaHuZi
  • #1
Well, it has finally arrived. About a month late, but oh well, it's nice to finally put it up.

When I was a kid, keeping fish, there were a lot of big cichlids that I could look at only longingly. Getting a huge, massive 100 gallon tank was just out of my budget. A dream tank, but not a dream tank I ever imagined having.
As I got older, I started to travel a lot, and I drifted out of the hobby. I lived in many different states, worked a lot of interesting jobs, and eventually even moved out of the country. I have been an ex-pat for over ten years now. And I don't really see myself moving back. I got married and started a family. I have two little girls.
Last year, we finally bought a house. Well, condo, I suppose. Flat? It is really big, comfortable, warm and beautiful. For the first time in a decade, all the boxes got unpacked and we didn't save any of the cardboard for next time.
Late last spring, my wife mentioned maybe getting a tank for the girls, so we got a small one. It didn't take long before I was hooked again. The biggest question became - Do I want a big cichlid tank or a big planted tank? Both were mightily appealing. Finally, my love for cichlids won over. But this time I wanted to try something new. I'd never kept African Cichlids so.... well, here we are.

The tank is roughly 170 gallons, 57"x 30" x 24" (650L 145x75x60) with a 50 gallon sump. Bigger than I ever dreamed of when I was a kid. Now that it is sitting in my living room, it is epically huge for the space, but at the same time still too small for some of the cichlids I want to keep. Which seems a bit unfair.

It is a custom tank. The standard sizes here are 150x75x60 or 120x75x50. My wall space only allows for 145cm. The choice was to switch down to the much smaller tank (the wise decision) or go for it all with a custom tank. My wife is awfully patient.

Here are some shots of the initial setup. If you look closely you can see the Tank Inspector carefully checking for what I can only guess are leaks, but what I suspect is tuna. Luckily we passed with flying colors and now it is time to start washing sand.
 

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AcornTheBetta
  • #2
Well, it has finally arrived. About a month late, but oh well, it's nice to finally put it up.

When I was a kid, keeping fish, there were a lot of big cichlids that I could look at only longingly. Getting a huge, massive 100 gallon tank was just out of my budget. A dream tank, but not a dream tank I ever imagined having.
As I got older, I started to travel a lot, and I drifted out of the hobby. I lived in many different states, worked a lot of interesting jobs, and eventually even moved out of the country. I have been an ex-pat for over ten years now. And I don't really see myself moving back. I got married and started a family. I have two little girls.
Last year, we finally bought a house. Well, condo, I suppose. Flat? It is really big, comfortable, warm and beautiful. For the first time in a decade, all the boxes got unpacked and we didn't save any of the cardboard for next time.
Late last spring, my wife mentioned maybe getting a tank for the girls, so we got a small one. It didn't take long before I was hooked again. The biggest question became - Do I want a big cichlid tank or a big planted tank? Both were mightily appealing. Finally, my love for cichlids won over. But this time I wanted to try something new. I'd never kept African Cichlids so.... well, here we are.

The tank is roughly 170 gallons, 57"x 30" x 24" (650L 145x75x60) with a 50 gallon sump. Bigger than I ever dreamed of when I was a kid. Now that it is sitting in my living room, it is epically huge for the space, but at the same time still too small for some of the cichlids I want to keep. Which seems a bit unfair.

It is a custom tank. The standard sizes here are 150x75x60 or 120x75x50. My wall space only allows for 145cm. The choice was to switch down to the much smaller tank (the wise decision) or go for it all with a custom tank. My wife is awfully patient.

Here are some shots of the initial setup. If you look closely you can see the Tank Inspector carefully checking for what I can only guess are leaks, but what I suspect is tuna. Luckily we passed with flying colors and now it is time to start washing sand.
Jealous mode activated!
 
Jacklynn
  • #3
Eeeep, I got excited for you and your family as I was reading this. Especially the part about not saving the cardboard, congrats to you and your family on your new home, that's wonderful.

AS FOR YOUR TANK - holy smokes, it's beautiful, I can't wait to watch it grow. I will just sit here dreaming about having a tank that big. Hehehe.
 
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jmaldo
  • #4
Ooh! a"New" setup, the possibilities. Looking forward to your creation.
So I see you already have a tank inhabitant, "Catfish" LOL
I have an inspector too, has to check out everything.


watching.jpg

Just remember this is supposed to fun.

Good Luck!
 
Dippiedee
  • #5
Cichlid tank everytime, no question

Watching
 
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Coradee
  • #6
I now have serious tank envy! Look forward to seeing this one progress
 
Pfrozen
  • #7
Gorgeous tank and stand following!!!

But also omg, your kitty is super cute
 
Kribensis27
  • #8
Can't wait to see it! Love your cat!
 
Basil
  • #9
Very nice! Looking forward to your adventure. Africans are something I’d love to try.....eventually!
 
BigBeardDaHuZi
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
Scape & Substrate

I am using a mix of sand for the substrate. 2/3 white and 1/3 black. I had originally been planning on all black, but the 3D background I wanted to use fell through (they don't have them here ), so I decided to use a black background. A black background and black sand sounded a bit too dark so I scratched that idea.
After that, I was planning to use aragonite sand, but the African Cichlid breeder I met here said you can't trust the aragonite in China and he strongly suggested using sand instead.
So, sand it is.
I didn't want all white sand - it makes the fish go a bit pale - so I'm using the mix.
It turned out really well.

Rocks

I went rock hunting all summer. Whenever we were hiking, at the lake, climbing the mountain, I was scouring for good looking rock. It was a lot of fun. I love rock hunting. I probably brought back enough rock for three tanks this size. What I wanted kept changing as my substrate plans were changing. My wife was very patient.

Eventually, I found some really beautiful black rock. It is marbled with, what is possibly, limestone. I'm gonna quote bamos1 on this one, cause I thought it was fascinating.

That looks a lot like a conglomerate. Which is a sedimentary rock (sandstone, limestone, etc) that has other types of rocks embedded in it, usually round rocks that flowed down an ancient river during a flood and ended up in the mud or sand. Based on how the fragments are breaking I’d say it has probably undergone some metamorphosis and would be classified as a meta conglomerate. Having undergone metamorphosis, it’s not likely a limestone base, as limestone turns into marble and has larger grains/crystals than this has, It looks like it was probably a shale conglomerate that has metamorphosed into a slate base with earlier metamorphic and/or igneous rock inclusions. Some of the round rocks look like volcanic glass. It’s likely that the round bits are millions of years older than the slate that glues them all together. If that’s the case, this conglomerate was probably not very thick (less than a foot thick) in the parent material and would have been encased in a larger piece of shale. It’s pretty cool to find this as it’s much more rare to find conglomerate in shales than other types of sedimentary rocks. It also is cool to find this because it looks awesome. While not likely to have any limestone, it probably does not have any petroleum either as that would have been cooked out of the shale during metamorphosis. Awesome find.

The rocks are gorgeous in the tank. There is one problem with the rocks - they are made up of sharp planes and angles, like you would find looking at the Rockies. Sadly, sharp and cichlids (or maybe any fish) do not go well together. So I bought a rock file and sandpaper. They are tools used by people installing tile, and they worked pretty well on my rocks. I sanded down all the sharp edges that I could feel. I'm sure I missed a bit here and there, but I think I got the most of it.


Media & Fish

As some of you know, I cycled my ceramic balls in a bucket. Starting a Cycle in a Bucket - the Experiment | Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle Forum | 471307

The balls were able to clear up to 12 ppm of ammonia. Anything higher and the ammonia bacteria stalled out.

We'll see how that translates over to the big tank. I'll be keeping a close eye on the nitrogen levels in the tank.

But, I did feel comfortable putting in the first inhabitants. Three cichlids that I have had in quarantine for a while. A Red Rubin, a Z rock and a Copadichromis Azureus. They were all doped, sadly. They had been fed food with hormones to bring out their breeding colors. Of course, once I started them on healthy, non-hormone food, they colored down a bit. They do all still appear to be real males though. They all have a good touch of color. And the Red Rubin kept most of his color. He is the tank boss, at least for now. He is a wonderful brick red. I hope he is able to fully color up as he gets older.
After these three, my fish will be mostly F1s from the local breeder. He has everything :mad:
 

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AcornTheBetta
  • #11
Scape & Substrate

I am using a mix of sand for the substrate. 2/3 white and 1/3 black. I had originally been planning on all black, but the 3D background I wanted to use fell through (they don't have them here ), so I decided to use a black background. A black background and black sand sounded a bit too dark so I scratched that idea.
After that, I was planning to use aragonite sand, but the African Cichlid breeder I met here said you can't trust the aragonite in China and he strongly suggested using sand instead.
So, sand it is.
I didn't want all white sand - it makes the fish go a bit pale - so I'm using the mix.
It turned out really well.

Rocks

I went rock hunting all summer. Whenever we were hiking, at the lake, climbing the mountain, I was scouring for good looking rock. It was a lot of fun. I love rock hunting. I probably brought back enough rock for three tanks this size. What I wanted kept changing as my substrate plans were changing. My wife was very patient.

Eventually, I found some really beautiful black rock. It is marbled with, what is possibly, limestone. I'm gonna quote bamos1 on this one, cause I thought it was fascinating.



The rocks are gorgeous in the tank. There is one problem with the rocks - they are made up of sharp planes and angles, like you would find looking at the Rockies. Sadly, sharp and cichlids (or maybe any fish) do not go well together. So I bought a rock file and sandpaper. They are tools used by people installing tile, and they worked pretty well on my rocks. I sanded down all the sharp edges that I could feel. I'm sure I missed a bit here and there, but I think I got the most of it.


Media & Fish

As some of you know, I cycled my ceramic balls in a bucket. Starting a Cycle in a Bucket - the Experiment | Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle Forum | 471307

The balls were able to clear up to 12 ppm of ammonia. Anything higher and the ammonia bacteria stalled out.

We'll see how that translates over to the big tank. I'll be keeping a close eye on the nitrogen levels in the tank.

But, I did feel comfortable putting in the first inhabitants. Three cichlids that I have had in quarantine for a while. A Red Rubin, a Z rock and a Copadichromis Azureus. They were all doped, sadly. They had been fed food with hormones to bring out their breeding colors. Of course, once I started them on healthy, non-hormone food, they colored down a bit. They do all still appear to be real males though. They all have a good touch of color. And the Red Rubin kept most of his color. He is the tank boss, at least for now. He is a wonderful brick red. I hope he is able to fully color up as he gets older.
After these three, my fish will be mostly F1s from the local breeder. He has everything
U like the scape!
 
NoahLikesFish
  • #12
Get a Synodontis, if I were you, get your lights on 18 hours a day and use a ton of airstones To grow algae on. The rocks for the chiclids
 
BigBeardDaHuZi
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
Get a Synodontis, if I were you, get your lights on 18 hours a day and use a ton of airstones To grow algae on. The rocks for the chiclids
Most African cichlids do not like that much light. Especially some of the deeper species. Too much light will stress them out.
If you leave your lights on at a moderate light for 6+ hours a day, your fish will color up better.
But lights are coming up next. I bought two awesome pendant lights. It should be beautiful.

I am really hoping to get a small school of Synodontis - so cool
 
NoahLikesFish
  • #14
No, I mean while cycling. You could have algae growing like crazy on rocks so it is naturalistic
 
BigBeardDaHuZi
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
No, I mean while cycling. You could have algae growing like crazy on rocks so it is naturalistic
Well, that's true
 
NoahLikesFish
  • #16
You know, you could have a planted chiclids tank
 
BigBeardDaHuZi
  • Thread Starter
  • #17
You know, you could have a planted chiclids tank
I had been thinking about having a vallisneria patch in the tank. Vallisneria grows naturally in Lake Malawi, so it can handle the water parameters, and some of the fish I am looking at would probably appreciate the reeds to swim into. Don't know though. My tank is a tall box, I don't know if I have the space. Maybe. It is still on the table.
 
BigBeardDaHuZi
  • Thread Starter
  • #18
This was supposed to be the page about the lighting, but the guy that shipped my lights didn't send the directions for putting together the arm bar, so ....nuts. I have some pendant lights sitting there, mocking me, but they're gonna have to wait for my day off on Monday.
Oh well, on to the fun part

Stocking

There are some fish that I know that I want, some fish that I know that I can't have, and some fish that I am very on the fence about, but in a really good way. I'd be very happy for any advice or ideas on this.

Fish that I can't have: Predator Haps.
My tank has got some decent real estate. 170 gallons is nothing to sniff about. But it is not a long tank. I couldn't fit a long tank in my house. I had to go with a five footer (145cm), but tall and extra deep. I really like the extra depth, but the height is already a pain in the butt. Still, it's pretty. But, this does limit me a bit. Some of the bigger haps - a lot of the bigger haps - need a longer tank. At least six foot. So a lot of species get knocked off of my list.

I would really like a Malawi Eye Biter. They are like a floating razor blade. When they are colored up, they are breath-taking. So unique and so beautiful... but they get too big. My breeder friend even has some of the gold variant, which I've only seen in a few rare pictures, but... no can do. My friend also has some really stunning Malawi Trout. And they would be really interesting in the tank. But they get a foot long and my tank is only 5.
I would love to have some Nimbochromis, boy would I. The Livingstoni has such beautiful colors. And the juvenile/female coloring is as nice to me as any of the blue hordes you come across... but, again, they get too big.

You get the idea.

Oh, well, better to aim for fish that do fit my tank.

Fish that I want: Utaka

The main focus of my tank will probably be Copadichromis and Placidochromis. These are more open water fish. Even if they live around the rock zone or the transition zone, they are not tied to a cave. They spend more time floating along, looking for food. They are not particularly territorial. And unlike most of the African cichlids, they don't have a crazy hate for anybody that looks just like them. A lot of these fish shoal in the wild (a loose school of fish), and you can keep more than one male in the tank. I think I would still only have one of each, but their more peaceful nature really appeals to me.

Copadichromis Azureus - an intense, beautiful blue. 6-7"
Copadichromis Trewavasae - black body with a creamy white blaze on top, 4-5.5"
Copadichromis Borleyi - Blue head with red body. 7-8" Not super interested in these, but you take a red fish where you can find it. They also get bigger than I want. I would like to stay at 6" or less. Kinda iffy on this one.
Copadichromis Geertsi - Black body, yellow blaze 7-8" My friend's breeding pairs are all wild caught. Mine would be F1s. Love this fish. A little too big.

Placidochromis Phenochilus - Star Sapphire. You should look this one up if you don't know it. Just stunning. Blue with white chips/spangles. 8-10". They are probably too big for my tank. Probably also the fish that I want the most.
Placidochromis Phenochillus - Mdoka White lips. Pretty much the same fish as the Star Sapphire, but with an all blue body and white lips. Also too big 8-10"
Placidochromis Electra - The Deepwater Hap - Beautiful little fish. More of the size that I need. 6"
Placidochromis Johnstoni - this one has more of the perch coloring/broad tiger stripes. that I love. I really want one. A nice break from all the blue fish you usually find. 7.5"
Placidochromis Jalo Reef - another stunner 7.5"

I also really want a Protomelas Steveni "Taiwan Reef" - just stunning. 7-8"
A Red Empress would also be nice. 5-6"


As you can see, a lot of the haps that I want are really pushing the limits on size. I think I will get maybe just one really big one - the Star Sapphire (and hope he becomes the tank boss) and any of the smaller ones that I can find. Anybody have any thoughts on this?

Aulonocara - the Peacocks

Beautiful and relatively small. Most of these fish don't get more than 6", so I will probably get quite a few. These fish don't like it when somebody else in the tank is sporting the same colors, so you gotta stock a little carefully.

Blue - Aulonocara Cobue or Mbenji 4-6"
Yellow - Aulonocara Maleri 6"
Yellow with blue fins - Aulonocara Stuartgranti "Blue Neon" - or Flavescent 5-6"
Red - Red Rubin/German Red 6"
Orange and Blue - Ngara Flametail 5"
Teal - Aulonocara Turkis 5-6"

And here is where it starts getting tricky. Some of the most beautiful African Butterflies are the Aulonocara Jacobfreibergi. Just stunning. But they are also a bit more aggressive. Red Top Lwanda. Lemon Jake. Eureka Red. Walteri.... sigh. Can I add them? Or will they mess up the dynamic?

And here is where I get to my real quandry - How about some Lethrinops and some of the smaller Peacocks from the Chitande group?

Lethrinops are a cool, somewhat harder to find family of African cichlids. In the wild, they live in vast schools that float along the substrate, sifting the sand and scooping up crunchy little tidbits. These schools attract other fish from the Utaka, who follow along snatching up the prey that the lethrinops disturb in their grazing. Big multi-species schools, hunting together for food? How cool can it get?
And I've read that you may be able to duplicate this a bit in the tank. Maybe. Some of the Placidochromis up above might pair really well with some Lethrinops.

Lethrinops are also stunning, in a more subtle way. Just gorgeous. The breeder that I know has all of them. Red caps, Gold Harbor, Marginatus, Mbasi, and green-face Furcifer... I can not express how tempting this is.
But they are shy fish. If their tankmates are too boisterous, they won't color up. They need a calm and quiet tank or they will live a stressed out life. Which is not ok.

There are also some stunning little peacocks that stay a little smaller and prefer a quieter tank. Aulnocara Korneliae is purple and yellow (!) and only gets 3-5". Aulonocara Huesari, the "Mid-night Peacock" is a subtle little stunner. Aulnoncara Maylandi and Kandeense are absolute knock-outs, that prefer a quieter tank.
There are a few others, but you get the idea. The breeder has these too, I believe.

If I get any of these little guys, I really can't be getting an Eye Biter. For a stress free life, no big predators in the tank. The real question is if the regular Aulonocara Stuartgranti and Jacobfreibergi would be too much for them too, stop them from coloring up. What about the Protomelas, will they be too aggresseive? Or should I skip all of those Peacocks and big haps and just pick the timid fish?
I really don't know.

The last parts of my stocking list are a little different.
I would really like a school of catfish. Synodontis Multipunctatus are natives to the lake, I think, and can thrive in the hard, alkaline water that my other fish need. They are very playful and need a small school to thrive. My worry is that my tank won't have enough cover to keep them happy.

Also, I would really like a small school of Pseudotropheus Acei. They are one of the more peaceful Mbuna, and you should be able to keep them in a Peacock tank. They really resemble a salt water fish and, also, they school (!)
I find these fish mighty tempting. But again, could I keep them with Lethrinops? A peaceful Mbuna might still be way too aggressive. I really don't know.
Anybody have any experience with these?

Well, I'm off to bed. Tomorrow is a long day for me. I hope this read wasn't too long-winded or dry. Tell me what you think. I am wide-open to good suggestions

-Big Beard




 
mattgirl
  • #19
I can't be of any help with stocking but am still following. I am so happy your custom tank finally got done and soon you will be able to sit back and enjoy this magnificent tank.
 
BigBeardDaHuZi
  • Thread Starter
  • #20
Lights and Finishing Touches

It was a bit of a wait to get the armbar, but I finally got my light hung. I went with a pendant/canister light. From the very beginning I really wanted to use a pendant light for the shimmering effect they give. Have you ever been in a canoe or kayak on a crystal clear lake in shallow water, and you can see the sun rippling on the bottom? That was what I wanted in the tank. I was super stoked to be able to make it happen.

I originally bought two of the lights, 65 watt, but they are so darn bright, I only needed one, so I got to send the other one back. I am pretty happy with the effect. Some day, when the tank is stocked, I will try to put a video on Youtube. Maybe.
The light comes with an app, so you can change the colors/brightness to your desire. You can also put the light on a timer. Overall, pretty happy.

The guy who made the tank for me came over today. He helped me adjust the sump so it is quieter now. When the tank first went up, there was so much gushing and gurgling... my wife was not a big fan. Now it is kind of a low hum. Really glad he came over.

Now, for the fish! On Monday, my wife and I are going to Jiao He to visit the African Cichlid farm there. I confess, I am pretty excited to see this and I don't often get excited. See a fish farm, pick out some fish from the fish farm, ride in the rich guy's Porsche to get there.... gosh darn tootin, I can't wait

Bonus picture of cat. Cat is ubiquitous. He looks so dignified when he is not being chased by the three year old. Or chasing the three year old. I catch them playing 'tag' from time to time, which is pretty funny in a cat.


Edit: the brick red fish is one of the ones that I got from the local LFS. He was doped when I got him. His colors have really returned well.
 

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Shamannite80
  • #21
Lights and Finishing Touches

It was a bit of a wait to get the armbar, but I finally got my light hung. I went with a pendant/canister light. From the very beginning I really wanted to use a pendant light for the shimmering effect they give. Have you ever been in a canoe or kayak on a crystal clear lake in shallow water, and you can see the sun rippling on the bottom? That was what I wanted in the tank. I was super stoked to be able to make it happen.

I originally bought two of the lights, 65 watt, but they are so darn bright, I only needed one, so I got to send the other one back. I am pretty happy with the effect. Some day, when the tank is stocked, I will try to put a video on Youtube. Maybe.
The light comes with an app, so you can change the colors/brightness to your desire. You can also put the light on a timer. Overall, pretty happy.

The guy who made the tank for me came over today. He helped me adjust the sump so it is quieter now. When the tank first went up, there was so much gushing and gurgling... my wife was not a big fan. Now it is kind of a low hum. Really glad he came over.

Now, for the fish! On Monday, my wife and I are going to Jiao He to visit the African Cichlid farm there. I confess, I am pretty excited to see this and I don't often get excited. See a fish farm, pick out some fish from the fish farm, ride in the rich guy's Porsche to get there.... gosh darn tootin, I can't wait

Bonus picture of cat. Cat is ubiquitous. He looks so dignified when he is not being chased by the three year old. Or chasing the three year old. I catch them playing 'tag' from time to time, which is pretty funny in a cat.


Edit: the brick red fish is one of the ones that I got from the local LFS. He was doped when I got him. His colors have really returned well.
Absolutely beautiful tank. Take pictures while your shopping. Can't wait to see what you get. What kind of cichlids would I be able to keep in a 90g? I was originally planning a discus tank but now you got me thinking. I don't know much about cichlids so I would have to research them. Any suggestions for me to look into would be appreciated.
 
Dippiedee
  • #22
Wow tank looks gorgeous! Can't wait to see it fully stocked
 
BigBeardDaHuZi
  • Thread Starter
  • #23
Absolutely beautiful tank. Take pictures while your shopping. Can't wait to see what you get. What kind of cichlids would I be able to keep in a 90g? I was originally planning a discus tank but now you got me thinking. I don't know much about cichlids so I would have to research them. Any suggestions for me to look into would be appreciated.
A 90 gallon really does give you a lot of options. If you want to check cichlids out a bit, I would recommend watching a bunch of youtube videos. Prime Time Aquatics is really solid and he has some really good pieces about cichlids. If you are looking for a water pet, you might look into Oscars, Green Terrors or Midas Cichlids.

If you are ok with all the extra work - like a discus tank would be - check out some African Cichlid videos. Searching "African Cichlids" will get you a lot of cool hits. My favorite channels for eye candy though, and getting started with Africans, are Ben O'Chart and Adam C.
Quebec Cichlids had a really nice breakdown for beginers too.

For a website, when you want to dig deeper, I can't recommend Malawi-Guru.de - Home enough. So much information... just fantastic.

Edit: some words - for clarity
 
Shamannite80
  • #24
A 90 gallon really does give you a lot of options. If you want to check it out a bit, I would recommend watching a bunch of youtube videos. Prime Time Aquatics is really solid and he has some good pieces about cichlids. If you are looking for a water pet, you might look into Oscars, Green Terrors or Midas Cichlids.

If you are ok with all the extra work - like a discus tank would be - check out some African Cichlid videos. Searching "African Cichlids" will get you a lot of cool videos. My favorite channels for eye candy and getting started with Africans are Ben O'Chart and Adam C. Quebec Cichlids had a really nice breakdown for beginers too.

For a website, when you want to dig deeper, I can't recommend Malawi-Guru.de - Malawi-Guru.de enough. So much information... just fantastic.
Is was worried you were going to say it's not large enough of a tank. Some of the smaller fish you mentioned caught my eye. I'll look that stuff up and see if it would work for my tank. I was already planning on a lot of maintenance with discus so that's not a problem.thank for the information.
 
BigBeardDaHuZi
  • Thread Starter
  • #25
A 90 is a lovely size. You can't do a lot of the bigger haps, but you could do a lot of the Peacocks or even Mbunas if you're up for the battlefield.
I look forward to seeing what you end up with
 
jmaldo
  • #26
Bravo, Bravo, Bravo!
Absolutely "Stunning"
"Envious" and "Happy" for you.
Hard to believe, but it will look even better once it's stocked.
I really like the your light choice, going to borrow your idea.
Hopefully, when I up size, I can achieve something similar.
Looking forward to the vid.

And your "Catfish" looks good to. It's just amazing how they find a spot to perch like a statue.
 
CTYankee79
  • #27
Amazing thread. Compliments on this absolutely gorgeous tank. I know very little about African cichlids but following this thread has sparked my interest.

I appreciate the detailed commentary and look forward to it being fully stocked!
 
Jacklynn
  • #28
It looks absolutely wonderful so far. Excited to see which fish you come home with!
 
JayAlva
  • #29
Lights and Finishing Touches

It was a bit of a wait to get the armbar, but I finally got my light hung. I went with a pendant/canister light. From the very beginning I really wanted to use a pendant light for the shimmering effect they give. Have you ever been in a canoe or kayak on a crystal clear lake in shallow water, and you can see the sun rippling on the bottom? That was what I wanted in the tank. I was super stoked to be able to make it happen.

I originally bought two of the lights, 65 watt, but they are so darn bright, I only needed one, so I got to send the other one back. I am pretty happy with the effect. Some day, when the tank is stocked, I will try to put a video on Youtube. Maybe.
The light comes with an app, so you can change the colors/brightness to your desire. You can also put the light on a timer. Overall, pretty happy.

The guy who made the tank for me came over today. He helped me adjust the sump so it is quieter now. When the tank first went up, there was so much gushing and gurgling... my wife was not a big fan. Now it is kind of a low hum. Really glad he came over.

Now, for the fish! On Monday, my wife and I are going to Jiao He to visit the African Cichlid farm there. I confess, I am pretty excited to see this and I don't often get excited. See a fish farm, pick out some fish from the fish farm, ride in the rich guy's Porsche to get there.... gosh darn tootin, I can't wait

Bonus picture of cat. Cat is ubiquitous. He looks so dignified when he is not being chased by the three year old. Or chasing the three year old. I catch them playing 'tag' from time to time, which is pretty funny in a cat.


Edit: the brick red fish is one of the ones that I got from the local LFS. He was doped when I got him. His colors have really returned well.
Beautiful setup
 
BigBeardDaHuZi
  • Thread Starter
  • #30
A trip to a Chinese African Fish Farm

On Monday, I was able to get my first big stock of fish. I added 13 new fish to my tank – up from 3. Obviously, I am going to need to be on top of my water changes, but this was a once in a life-time kind of trip. (Probably)

On Monday, my wife and I met up with the Chinese breeder that we know. He has an immaculate fish room, with a lot of the more rare haps that you don’t usually find but always wish you could. His breeding pairs are all wild caught so his fish are all F1s. Just gorgeous.

He has a partner in the country that has a large hatchery. The breeding pairs there are also all wild caught – brought in by my breeder friend – but the hatchery itself is huge. The hatchery is in the country, which is really … surprising? interesting?...unusual.

China is an interesting place. In the cities, you will find the first world and the third world mixed together, sometimes only a couple streets apart. There are no rickshaws, none that I have ever seen, but there are a lot of sky scrapers, even in a little backwater city like mine (pop. 4.5 million). There are glittering shopping malls, flashy KTVs, beautiful tea houses, and every other amenity that you would expect to find in a modern city. But there are also hutongs – little alleys – all over the city, where you can find cheap noodle shops, vegetable markets and more of the working class people of the city.

The country on the other hand is very much like the old days. The countryside is dotted with villages. Villages everywhere. In the west, we are used to big farmhouses, surrounded by huge fields of corn, cows or what have you. In China, the fields surround the village. The crops are mostly still planted and harvested by hand. My father-in-law used horses to pull the wagon and for, well, horse-power.

The villages themselves are distinctly 3rd world. Everybody has electricity and a tv, but everyone has an out-house too. The streets in the village are all dirt roads. If there is paving, it is always intermittent. And all the young people have left. They have all moved to the cities where the good jobs and the money can be found. The villages are mostly filled with people your parents age.

Which made finding an African Cichlid fish hatchery in a village a really bizarre experience. Walking in off the mud road to find African cichlids of all things was very surreal.

You can see from the photos, it is a pretty big operation, with fish probably in the thousands. Rows and rows of fish fry in various sizes. And their parents. Their big beautiful parents. I had a hard time getting good pictures, but some of them were breath taking. There was a full sized, wild caught Aulonocara Cobue that was particularly stunning. I felt like a kid going to a toy store for the first time.

The hatchery was not as pristine as my friends place. Partly because of the size of the operation, but also because his fish room is made with love. (He has some Madagascar cichlids in one of his show tanks at his house. Maybe the loveliest fish I have ever seen. And the tank itself was really nice too.) But it was still quite a treat to visit the place.

In the end, we made a list of the fish I was interested in and they went around and caught some out. I ended up getting more Aulonocara than I had been planning on, and less haps. My goal is still to have a hap centered tank full of Copadichromis, Placidochromis and Protomelas, but I have a good head start anyway. And I got some beautiful fish. They are all juvies, but they look like jewels floating in the tank. I’ll share some pictures of them too.


A few shots of my fish.

They are not great photos - partly because it is a camera phone, partly because of the photographer, but also party because of all the photo bombing. The fish would swim away at first, but then come back and look at the camera.
Some of the stand out fish so far: I have a beautiful little Otopharynx Tetrastigma. He is only a little over two inches and he is already colored up so well. Can't wait to see how he turns out.
My Red Rubin that I bought earlier from the LFS came back into his full red colors. He is really hard to miss.
I also have a little Red Top Lwanda. He has some of the most beautiful finnage, and he is only just starting to color up. Actually, his fins look a bit more like a Lemon Jake, but his body look Lwandan. Purple even

The last photo is the long view that is available from the dining room table. Still pretty stoked about the rocks.

Well, my posts were just merged and a bunch of photos kicked out. Which is why I made two posts in the first place. That's irritating
Sorry for the length of this one
 

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Basil
  • #31
Wow! What a cool experience! And stunning fish!
 
mattgirl
  • #32
Oh my goodness, I am green with envy. Not only about your tank and its beautiful inhabitants but also the experience you had when buying them. I truly am thrilled for you and your family. I am sure you are all going to enjoy this beautiful piece of nature right there in your home.
 
jmaldo
  • #33
"Thanks" for Sharing!
If you go again, let's see a vid.
Well, after all this time (research and prep), your on your way.
"Tank and Fish look "Great".
Good Luck!
 
BigBeardDaHuZi
  • Thread Starter
  • #34
Sorry, life has gotten really busy and I haven't posted anything for a long time.
Here is my fish tank now. A little fuller. A little greener
I added a couple more "boulders", from three to five. I really love the natural color that the stones had, but they have all been pretty thoroughly colonized by green algae. At first, I was thinking I really need to get a BNP, but the green has really grown on me. The green gives it a more natural look. Also, the fish pick at it all the time - especially on fast days - which adds some natural veggies to their diet.

The fish are starting to color up pretty well. And they like to photobomb. The Otopharynx Tetrastigma is the tank boss. He does a little chasing and has kindof taken over the right side of the tank, but he is pretty chill. Even though the right side is "his" there are almost always other fish over there. The tank is mostly peaceful.

I will try to put a video on soon. I am figuring out the whole "create video" function on Youtube. Now I just need to take a good video
 

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Basil
  • #35
Sorry, life has gotten really busy and I haven't posted anything for a long time.
Here is my fish tank now. A little fuller. A little greener
I added a couple more "boulders", from three to five. I really love the natural color that the stones had, but they have all been pretty thoroughly colonized by green algae. At first, I was thinking I really need to get a BNP, but the green has really grown on me. The green gives it a more natural look. Also, the fish pick at it all the time - especially on fast days - which adds some natural veggies to their diet.

The fish are starting to color up pretty well. And they like to photobomb. The Otopharynx Tetrastigma is the tank boss. He does a little chasing and has kindof taken over the right side of the tank, but he is pretty chill. Even though the right side is "his" there are almost always other fish over there. The tank is mostly peaceful.

I will try to put a video on soon. I am figuring out the whole "create video" function on Youtube. Now I just need to take a good video
I’m jealous that you can get algae on the rocks but not everywhere else! I haven’t been able to tame mine like that lol! Fish look great!
 
Dechi
  • #36
Wow, very nice tank !

I am very envious of the green on your rocks, as mine are all leaching phosphate and/or silicates and are covered in a deep layer of diatoms...
 
BigBeardDaHuZi
  • Thread Starter
  • #37
I’m jealous that you can get algae on the rocks but not everywhere else! I haven’t been able to tame mine like that lol! Fish look great!
I do have to scrub the glass a couple times a week. It is a really healthy algae. I imagine it is probably helping with my nitrates too.
It's got a really powerful light. I could grow plants like crazy with that thing... if my fish didn't eat them
 
BigBeardDaHuZi
  • Thread Starter
  • #38
Ok, let's see if my luddite self can upload a video.

I am still a little on the fence about whether to add more fish or not. There are still a lot of fish that I really want. A Taiwan reef, an ivory head mloto and a johnstoni for example. Some sardine cichlids for the upper level would be nice. A small school of Acei would be nice too.

......but the tank seems pleasantly full as it is. And the fish are not even close to full size yet.
There are 16 fish in there now. With rocks and sand, there is probably about 10 gallons per fish.

What do you all think?


Edit: I hadn't meant for the video to have a soundtrack going in the background, but two points for anyone who can tell me what it is. It's not from this century
 
mattgirl
  • #39
I don't recognize the soundtrack even though I am not from this century either but I love this tank and its inhabitants. Absolutely mesmerizing. Accidentally adding the soundtrack made the clip even more interesting.
 
StarGirl
  • #40
Song is Duran Duran Come Undone.

Your tank is looking so good.
 

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