Custom Hillstream Manifold W/ Canister - Critique And Thoughts Please!

Larry O'Donnell

Hello all,

I am looking to build my own custom Hillstream Loach tank and Hillstream manifold as devised by Martin at Loaches Online:

A River Runs Through It — Loaches Online

and more recently these Youtubers:

I was originally thinking a 40 breeder, but after devising a custom cabinet solution, I believe I am going to go with a 75 (48x18x21). This will allow more fish and a longer "run" for the stream. I really want to ramp up a rocky riverbank to the one side to 1) hide equipment, 2) give the loaches a natural well-oxygenated place to graze, 3) create a semi-Paludarium type effect with a slightly lower water level, terrestrial mosses, etc... I've borrowed a picture below that is kind of close to what I am thinking as far as that effect goes. Check out the rough sketches that I made (no longer to scale for a 75).

Fluval 406 w/ a spray bar (383 gph) up high, PVC tube under the substrate ending with a coarse pre-filter sponge over the intake at the opposite end of the tank.

Aquaclear 70 Powerhead (400gph) down lower in the tank, PVC tube under the substrate with a slightly finer sponge filter attachment at the opposite end of the tank.

Hydor (240gph) Circulation fan - Include and position as needed. Various sites have indicated I should shoot for 10x turnover per hour. The Powerhead and Filter should provide enough, but I have this fan as a backup if needed.

Finnex 800 Watt Titanium Heater
Aqueon Optibright+ Light Bar on a timer
Air Stones/Bubblers as-needed

Egg crate under a mixed sand/eco-complete substrate. Driftwood Chunks, slate caves, rounded river rocks, terra cotta, etc...

Jungle Val, Java Fern, Java Mass, Moss Balls, other TBD Asian species of plants.

Stocking Plan (most of these are already in my 30 patiently awaiting a bigger home):

10 Hillstream Loaches
4 Panda Garras
3 Yoyo Loaches
6 KuhlI Loaches
1 Dojo Loach
3-5 Clown Loaches
1 Filament Barb (Showcase
5 Zebra Danios
5-10 White Cloud Mountain Minnows
1 Sumo Loach (If he is still alive)

I know people have a Love/Hate relationship with AqAdvisor, but other than some bugs it has generally steered me pretty well. That site says I have adequate filtration and the stocking isn't too high for this plan.

What are your thoughts? Has anyone done a Hillstream Tank like this? I'd love to pick your brain.

Thanks in advance!


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I like your plan and just want to say I am not expert.
But first if you add that much powerheads fish will not have any place with slower circulation and even in nature fish have small like pools under big rocks where water is slower.
Other I personally don't like that intake will be low on bottom it will get gunk up with substrate fast, I would personally make something like Rachel one side at the end intakes and sponge wall.

And just one more thing I don't see the reason for second powerheads on other side of the tank you need to get constant one way circulation not whirlpool in tank.

In any case good luck with the project


The powerhead looks like it is connected to the intake tube on the opposite side of the tank, creating a good amount of current.

The decor will provide some hiding spots, OP stated driftwood, caves, river rocks, terra cotta, etc.


I like the set up myself.
The addition of any décor and the rocks breaking the surface will give the fish all the shelter they should want.
I run a 75 gallon only filled 12 inches on a sump but basically have the return pump moving water in same fashion.
The water does return to same side as where it is introduced but the flow itself is strong enough to emulate the river type flow.
I like the course sponge first in flow pattern and finer after also .IMO that would draw the water and debris in properly ..

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