Thinking About Starting a Cichlid Tank--Advice on Filtration System

Discussion in 'Freshwater Tank Equipment' started by csutter1, Jul 24, 2014.

  1. csutter1Valued MemberMember


    I'm a new hobbyist and just joined the world of Fishlore! I have been wanting to start my own aquarium for quite some time now, but have resisted the urge due to my inexperience and lack of knowledge.
    I've finally taken the time to do a substantial amount of research however, and feel ready to start planning out my full first set-up. I've read all of the Welcome/Beginner sticky's on this forum and would now like some advice on what types/brands of equipment I'll need.

    I haven't purchased anything yet as I'm the type of person who would rather be fully prepared and knowledgeable, as opposed to jumping into things blindly.

    My hope is to purchase a 55-75 gallon tank with stand. I like the look of bow-front aquariums, but am open to any type, so recommendations are welcomed!

    I also would appreciate if I could get some feedback on what filters work best for tanks of this size and what brands have proven best. I am wanting to have sand in my aquarium, so I'll either need a power filter or canister, but my knowledge on these are limited and would love some input on how they work exactly and which will be the easiest or most beneficial to use.

    I made a post earlier regarding stocking the tank and I've realized I am IN LOVE with cichlids. With that in mind, could any of you offer me some filter recommendations?
    I really don't want anything that's very complex or hard to manage--simple is good in my world!

    Thank you!!

    NOTE: It's looking like I will go the route of Lake Malawi cichlids. I hear they can/should be slightly overstocked to curb aggression? Keep that in mind when offering advice on the filtration system.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2014
  2. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Good morning,

    The 72g Bow Front makes a wonderful aquarium! For this size tank I would recommend an Aqua Clear 110 @ 500 gph (gallons per hour). I think this would do nicely. It worked well for me for many years. Too, it would be difficult to find an easier filtration system to use. :) Very easy access to the filter media, has a flow control know, silent.

    Keep us posted with your progress!

  3. csutter1Valued MemberMember

    Thank you aquarist48! My only other question is do you think the 110 would be enough for an overstocked cichlid tank? From what I've read, it sounds like multiple filters are usually needed for cichlids. Also, what type of media is usually preferred for Lake Malawi cichlid tank filtration systems?
  4. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Good morning,

    You could always add another Aqua Clear. Perhaps the 110 @500gph and then an Aqua Clear 70 @300gph. When using a hang on back (hob) type system such as the aqua clear, you want to have 8 to 10 x the tank volume for the water turn over. The more filtration the better as long as the fish are not being blown around the tank by the current.

    You could also check into canister filtration but I do not use it personally so I cannot recommend which would be the best for your set up.

  5. csutter1Valued MemberMember

    I like the idea of HOB filters--they seem less intimidating to me than the canisters. The thing I am very confused about regarding all filters however is the media involved. I have little to no knowledge of filter media and what it is. How do I manage it? And how do I know what type of media I need for my tank? I've tried researching filter media but it's all very generic and I would appreciate getting an actual description of what it is and how to use it.
  6. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Good morning!

    The Aqua Clear filters will come with the necessary filter media, such as Bio Max which will house the beneficial bacteria needed to sustain the tanks cycle and should not be replaced until it's crumbling/falling apart which should be years on down the road. You can rinse the Bio Max in siphoned tank water from time to time, just a gentle swoosh in the bucket and then put it back into the filter. This will help preserve the beneficial bacteria the aquarium needs.


    Activated Carbon also comes with the filter:
    My two cents on activated carbon: I'm a firm believer that every freshwater aquarium should use it. Granted it is a personal choice and many members only use it at certain times, if they use it all. I respect that and it's their decision.

    I use it around the clock in all of my tanks, changing it out every 3 weeks. I don't feel that carbon masks any problems but removes them as long as you change it out periodically. I change mine every 3 weeks for fresh. It absorbs minerals and organic substances, helps to keep your water clear, eliminates foul odors. It will also remove medications and discoloration in the water (caused by driftwood for an example). If you're running more than 1 filter on a tank, the carbon does not have to go into every filter only 1. The other filters you can stuff full of good bio media. (sponges, ceramic cubes and tubes, bio balls).

    I've stopped saying that the Activated Carbon (AC) leaches what it has collected back into the tank. There are people on both sides of the fence here. Instead I think it's more accurate to say the the AC looses it effectiveness after 3 to 4 weeks and it should be removed and replaced.

    It has been my experience that Activated Carbon will not remove a bacterial bloom.

    If your tank smells foul then I highly recommend adding it to your filter immediately. A water change would probably be a good idea too.

    Activated Carbon

    Brick Sponge also included:


    This sponge will also house beneficial bacteria and should be rinsed in siphoned tank water from time to time. If your media is sticking above the water level in the filter, then chances are good this sponge needs to rinsed out as it is clogging. Again, used siphoned tank water, a couple of squeezes and put it back into the filter.

    Sponge on bottom, then the activated carbon and the bio max goes on top. You want the bio max to be positioned where it will remain the cleanest, which is the top.

    Ken (Ken's is not my site)

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