120 Gallon Tank Setting up a 120g African Cichlid tank

Thorpef1

Hi all.

I'm starting to plan for my 120g African Cichlid build and looking for some guidance and feedback on my plan so far.
Note I'm based in Sydney Australia

Tank. 60 long X 18 deep X 24 high.
Filtration. FX6 and I'm also thinking to add in 2 large sponges (are they needed?)
Lighting. Beamswork 150cm 10,000k light.
Heating. Eheim Jager 300w.
Substrate. Pool sand.
Scaping. I'm tossing up between holey rock, limestone or slate.
Stocking. Yet to be decided.

Stocking is where I need your guidance, sounds like an all male peacock/hap tank is the way to go. How many fish should I put in this footprint and what cleaners would be suitable (I'm happy with either catfish, Pleco or snails)

Any recommendations to the above regarding my gear, the only thing I have purchased yet is the FX6 so everything else yet can be swapped.

Thanks
Luke
 

Lebeeze

First thing I notice is your filtration. If you plan on doing what most do and overstock to help with aggression you may need more filtration. I have a 135 gallon african tank with approx 30 fish plus 6 clown loaches and 1 red tailed shark. I have an aquaclear 110, 2 large sponge filters, a large canister filter ( cascade I believe) and a 1200GPH sump I built myself. I still need to do about 60% water changes every week. I'm not sure what the GPH is on the Fx6 but just beware you need lots of filtration or lots of water changes, unless you decide not to overstock of course.

Male hap/peacock tanks are incredibly gorgeous. Get a venustus right away those guys get about 10" or so and are gorgeous.
Also dont just rush out and buy the first fish you see, shop around at multiple stores and make sure you get the right fish for you. For example one store might have venustus that you think look nice, but another store might have a different supplier that has just amazing color in their venustus.
 
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Donthemon

How cold does it get where the tank is going to be? Could need two heaters for a 120. And a bunch of Mbnua would be nice. I have Feather Fin cats with mine. (Synodontis)
 
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MacZ

Not much to add.

The best cleaner is YOU. You will only have to clean the glass, the fish will dig around the substrate themselves so it won't have algae and in a real Malawi tank you need thick algae and aufwuchs on the rocks.

You may also want to add pothos plants on top to get the nitrates levels low. Because with Malawis it's really hard to keep plants. While peacocks won't eat plants, they dig them up and it's almost impossible to get plants really to grow IN such a tank. But just hanging the roots of pthos in the tank or in the sump is ideal to get the nitrate levels low. And check if that plant is legal in Australia. Also as said above: You need more filtraton.

Tankmates: Synodontis catfish. S. multipunctatus, S. njassae, S. lucipinnis would be optimal.
 
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MacZ

How cold does it get where the tank is going to be? Could need two heaters for a 120. And a bunch of Mbnua would be nice. I have Feather Fin cats with mine. (Synodontis)

Mbuna and peacocks/haps don't mix. The dietary needs are too different. Protein rich food gives Mbuna often fatal intestinal problems.

Edit: And while at it. Don't add plecos. They need different water parameters and totally different conditions concerning light and food. One often sees them hanging in the back corner living a miserable life in a tank not suited for them with aggressive tankmates and most often a bad diet.
 
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Thorpef1

Thanks guys.
We are currently in winter and the room it will be in gets to lows of around 13 at night and during summer into the low 30s indoors (Celcius).

Ok so it sounds like filtration might be a concern if I do overstock.
Would a sump be a better option or would adding a powerhead to the current plan be sufficient?
 
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jmaldo

Just beginning my Journey with an African Build. All males Peacocks and Haps.

Watching.

Good Luck!
 
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Lebeeze

Thanks guys.
We are currently in winter and the room it will be in gets to lows of around 13 at night and during summer into the low 30s indoors (Celcius).

Ok so it sounds like filtration might be a concern if I do overstock.
Would a sump be a better option or would adding a powerhead to the current plan be sufficient?
I would keep the fx6 and build yourself a sump unit. Unless money isnt an obstacle for you then you could just buy a sump. I built my overflow system and sump with return pump for approximately $200 canadian. And the return pump alone was $80.just do alot of research and decide what kind of sump you want. King of DIY on youtube has alot of good sump and overflow builds.

Most important thing would be making sure you use the right size pvc piping for the size of the return pump.
 
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Donthemon

Mbuna and peacocks/haps don't mix. The dietary needs are too different. Protein rich food gives Mbuna often fatal intestinal problems.
Yes , I meant instead of peacocks or haps as another option as he seemed to think that was his best or only option.
Edit: And while at it. Don't add plecos. They need different water parameters and totally different conditions concerning light and food. One often sees them hanging in the back corner living a miserable life in a tank not suited for them with aggressive tankmates and most often a bad diet.
 
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Thorpef1

I would keep the fx6 and build yourself a sump unit.

It would be one or the other as the FX6 is $700 here in Australia (I get so jealous when I see guys in the states getting them at Petco stacking discount codes)
Good point around sizing the return pipe for the pump, I never thought of that.

Any guide towards the gph pump I should be looking for a tank of this size ?
 
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qldmick

A fx6 is a huge filter, I have an aqua one nautilus 2700 a half price cheaper version that runs my 6x2x2 with filter cleans every few months.
If your after specific species and male only I would recommend ordering online through specialty aquarium if you can afford them, lfs and chain stores often carry hormone peacocks and sometimes haps so they all look male but are not.
I have kept peacocks, mbuna, haps all together so it can work, maybe feed new life spectrum Probiotix (suitable for omnivores), along with NLS Algaemax.
Here's an example of what a Malawi mixed tank can look like,
 
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MacZ

Donthemon : Came across as meant additionally to the peacocks.
 
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Lebeeze

Yes both the return hose/pipe you use and the overflow piping should be the correct size for the pump. If your pump is too large for the size of the overflow PVC then the tank will overflow because it cant drain fast enough. I used 1and 1/2 " pvc with a 1200 GPh pump and everything runs perfect. I also made an additional 3/4 " overflow just in case the large one gets partially blocked by a dead fish or food. It is definetly more risky than just drilling the aquarium but if you do it right you shouldn't have an issue. Also I use polyfill for sewing etc in my sump and no carbon or purigen and my water is crystal clear. Polyfill is amazing
 
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Thorpef1

Ok, so I'm planning with my tank builder the overflow and piping requirements based off the flow that I'm looking at.

In regards to stocking, how many should I look at putting in this tank and do they all need to go in at the same time to reduce aggression?
 
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Lebeeze

Ok, so I'm planning with my tank builder the overflow and piping requirements based off the flow that I'm looking at.

In regards to stocking, how many should I look at putting in this tank and do they all need to go in at the same time to reduce aggression?
You dont need to add them all at the same time, but its best to add them in groups of 3 or 4 just so there isnt singling out for attacks.

Also the filter media probably couldnt handle 20 fish added at once
 
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Thorpef1

Thanks Lebeeze, good to know i can do a few at a time.

I have had a bit of a look at the fish i like, can you all please let me know how they look for compatibility and also any recommendations for others i could add in

  • BLUE PEACOCK
  • Red Empress
  • ALBINO PEACOCK
  • AULONOCARA STEVENI BLUE NEON
  • AULONOCARA KORNELIAE
  • Electric Yellow
  • LABIDOCHROMIS HONGI
  • Melanochromis Maingano
  • O.B. BLUEBERRY ZEBRA
  • RED JACOBFREIBERGI FIREBIRD PEACOCK
  • RED PEACOCK
  • YELLOW PEACOCK
 
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MacZ

  • Electric Yellow
  • LABIDOCHROMIS HONGI
  • Melanochromis Maingano
  • O.B. BLUEBERRY ZEBRA

These are all classified as Mbuna, you could technically keep them with each other, but not with Peacocks or Haps. Main problem being the diet.

With Electric Yellow (aka Yellow Labs, scientifically Labidochromis caeruleus) the main problem is that most store employees don't know how to tell the difference between sexes. Even professionals often need to vent them to make sure.

The Zebras and the Melanochromis also tend to beat up everything in the tank.
 
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Thorpef1

And thats why im here.
Ill cross them off my list.

Are you aware of a good listing that shows commonly available peacock and haps, when i look on some sites its just one big page of africans
 
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MacZ

Not in English, sorry. There's several good sites like Malawi Guru in German, if your browser allows for autotranslation maybe you can make sense of it. Otherwise I could translate the template they use for every species.

Here's the listing for non-Mbuna on that site (Peacocks & Haps)
Malawi-Guru.de - Die Nonmbuna

Edit: Oh, they finally added other languages! Just select English.
 
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Lebeeze

I have a 135 with haps, peacocks and mbuna. I feed an variety of foods both protein based and spirulina based and I have had fish die but I've only had 1 fish die from what I knew was bloat and that was my taiwan reef which isnt an mbuna. So it might not be ideal to keep all 3 together it is definetly doable.
 
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MacZ

I have a 135 with haps, peacocks and mbuna. I feed an variety of foods both protein based and spirulina based and I have had fish die but I've only had 1 fish die from what I knew was bloat and that was my taiwan reef which isnt an mbuna. So it might not be ideal to keep all 3 together it is definetly doable.

It can work. Really hard work and often a matter of brands and mixtures and avoidance of certain ingredience. I guess you put a lot of care into that?
 
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Lebeeze

It can work. Really hard work and often a matter of brands and mixtures and avoidance of certain ingredience. I guess you put a lot of care into that?
Yeah I make sure to keep protein down, no live/frozen foods. Feed spirulina flakes daily as well. Also make sure my mbuna are smaller than the rest.
 
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MacZ

Yeah I make sure to keep protein down, no live/frozen foods. Feed spirulina flakes daily as well. Also make sure my mbuna are smaller than the rest.

That's how you do it.
 
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Thorpef1

Good to hear its possible but i think ill stick with peacock/hap for the moment as cichlids are new to me so i want to make this as trouble free as possible
 
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MacZ

Good to hear its possible but i think ill stick with peacock/hap for the moment as cichlids are new to me so i want to make this as trouble free as possible

That's exactly why I always say one shouldn't mix them. If someone new to the hobby (or just even new to Malawi cichlids) would then think it would be fine to combine and it goes horribly wrong I don't want to be responsible for that. It takes knowledge and experience that one doesn't just get overnight. So keeping them separate for quite some time first is the best practice.
 
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Thorpef1

So how many do you think i can fit in my tank, what should be my target number over the 6-12 months of stocking?
 
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MacZ

10-15 peacocks/haps when fully grown. The bigger the species grow the less you can put in.
 
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Thorpef1

10-15 peacocks/haps when fully grown. The bigger the species grow the less you can put in.

Thanks.
And would that be classified as an overstocked tank or regular stocking?

I'll try and visit some of the recommended breeders/ aquariums soon and see what they have rather than just googling and bookmarking up mbunas aswell
 
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MacZ

And would that be classified as an overstocked tank or regular stocking?

I guess while I say that's maxing out without overstocking many people from other countries would even say understocked. But I'm known for a preference for low density stocking.
 
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Thorpef1

That sounds fine to me.
Ill add 3-4 at a time and see how i go.

Thankyou so much for your help, ill be working with my tank builder soon to get it started
 
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