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Old 08-21-2011, 10:02 PM   #1
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Benjamin's 55g Malawi Cichlid Build

So here is a 2nd try. Many of you saw this thread before but I was trying to update the original post every time I bought something to track the cost. That didn't happen after awhile because the thread was locked. So anyway, here we go again.

I just acquired a 55g tall tank and equipment that I'm planning on doing some DIY stuff to house a Malawi Cichlid setup in. Here are my plans:

  • 10g Wet/dry sump with small refugium (for difficult fish, fry etc)
  • Sump pump & powerhead - Purchased
  • PVC overflow/return
  • Plants (tbd given cichlid types)
  • Rock background
  • Custom stand for better wet/dry access and support
  • Custom Hood
  • DIY moonlight
  • DIY CO2
Note that on the old thread a few people mentioned that this wasn't an ideal tank for the fish. However, given the limited wall space in our house I'm going to make the best of it.

Here is the tank and stand as is in my office:



Here is my current 10g cycled tank with danios and a catfish:



10g tank - free
Catfish and Danios - $20
50g tank, stand and supplies - $100
Current total: $120
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Old 08-21-2011, 10:10 PM   #2
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I posted a few days after the original thread regarding the DIY background. While I know I could make a great one, I stumbled onto Designs by Nature and found some great backgrounds for around $40. They are modeled from real rock, painted great and won't act as a buffer on the PH so I decided it was worth saving the build time, soaking time and honestly saving money by getting one of these.



Background & some other decor: $81
Current total: $201
Total cost:
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Old 08-21-2011, 10:16 PM   #3
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I also had posted about the PVC and acrylic for the sump. Here is what I had:

I went out to Lowe's last night and bought parts for the DIY PVC overflow as well as egg crate for the bio shelves, PVC glue, ball valves, check vales, silicon and plexiglass for the dividers in the aquarium. I didn't really look at the cost for the items since I needed them, however, I looked at the wrong price tag of the acrylic when grabbing it. My total was $144 for everything and I was a bit shocked because people have talked up their savings a lot.

Anyway, I realized the plexiglass sheet was $53!!! It's 1/4" 24"x36" @.22 thickness. I returned that the next day and dropped to the next thickness which is .92 I think. It was $22. The sump won't have a great deal of pressure and is only 10" deep so I think it'll be fine. I also grabbed scrubbies at a few close Dollar General stores.

Current total: $326
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Old 08-21-2011, 10:23 PM   #4
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About week ago I started on the PVC overflow just to see how that would start looking once roughed in. This is a twin overflow based on this design: the Prodigal Cube: DIY: TwinPipe Overflow Pipe The concept is to maintain flow but increase volume without bigger pipes. I modified the design so that the pipes would be as as flush as possible to the glass and therefore letting me get the tank closer to the wall.





After getting this together I realized I got the wrong size T here when I figured out I didn't needed the reducers. The 2 .75" pipes need to go into a 1.5" pipe.

I went back to get everything, but just like the acrylic, the price really jumped after 1.25" pieces and the 1.5" ball valves and such were obnoxiously huge on this rather small setup. So I ended up going with 1.25" reducers and ball valves etc. I have yet to get this finished as work was heavy last week and I needed to get the stand done as well to know how long to make the pipes.
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Old 08-21-2011, 10:25 PM   #5
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I've been doing a lot of research on cichlids for the past few months and this tank is far from ideal. These fish really need a lot of room to swim. A lot if these fish also get quite large and wouldn't be able to even move in a tank like that.

You can look at some dwarf species that would possibly be a better fit, like German rams or bolivian rams. They are in the cichlid family, but require a lot less of a aquarium footprint because of their size
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Old 08-21-2011, 10:29 PM   #6
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So now we're closer to real time I think This week I won some driftwood on ebay which is pretty sweet. It's almost as tall as the tank and had a few pieces by the base for hiding spots.



Current cost: $346
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Old 08-21-2011, 10:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FishN00b83 View Post
I've been doing a lot of research on cichlids for the past few months and this tank is far from ideal. These fish really need a lot of room to swim. A lot if these fish also get quite large and wouldn't be able to even move in a tank like that.

You can look at some dwarf species that would possibly be a better fit, like German rams or bolivian rams. They are in the cichlid family, but require a lot less of a aquarium footprint because of their size
Noted and I appreciate the advice. As I said, a few people have already mentioned that this wasn't an ideal setup. However, I'm dead set on a few fish and they shouldn't be larger than 4" full grown. If the fish end up not working out I will switch the tank over to a community tank, but I'm going to give it a shot and see how the aggression goes. Every tank and fish is different.
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Old 08-21-2011, 10:44 PM   #8
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Ok, now we're caught up on the old thread and at this weekend. I got a few hours over Saturday and Sunday to get a start on the stand. I'm doing a crate like style that will match the black furniture in my office. It's most 1'x3" boards. It's based on this design which was a cover for the guy's original stand: DIY Aquarium Stand – 55 Gallon Aquarium at Ken's Aquariums & Pond It looks nice, it will allow for some novice errors and I don't need a table saw to do any long clean cuts. Everything can be done with a miter saw and jigsaw. I'm using select pine at Home Depot for the outer pieces which I don't even needed to sand before painting because it's so nice. I'm making this all up as I go so I have no plans other than my sketches and I'm having to do a lot of triple measuring to make sure this will work out so it's going to take some time to complete.

I didn't want to do this out of 2"x4"s to save on some weight so I looked for 2"x3" like my shed kit came with. I couldn't find anything but 1"x3" boards so just doubled up on some to re-enforce everything. I'm not using the original stand because I want to use the 10g tank for the filter and the door in the current cabinet is just too narrow to insert it and do maintenance.















Current cost: $446
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Old 08-22-2011, 03:31 PM   #9
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I got the center supports in and the bottom shelf in on my lunch break today.

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Old 08-22-2011, 05:01 PM   #10
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This is going to Be incredible! Can't wait to see it all together and completed! Love the background
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