Call me Ivan (Michael is my middle name).
I've been a hobbyist since 1991 or so - mostly neotropical cichlids (I share Wayne Liebel's assertion that Mbuna are pretty but a bit stupid). Perhaps my favorite fish i ever had were real C Portalagrensis -beautiful fish and the neatest of the "ports".
I've had a 125 in the past and really lust after 8 foot tanks such as the 240 - but so far no luck in the $$ dept for one. I have had great success with a 20x15 tetra pond liner making a 9x14 pond for summer use (mostly tossing adult cichlids, fry, and oddballs along with livebearers for dither/food.) Draining in the fall was a chore - especially considering the amount of fry i tried to save. Water hyacinth provided all the cover and "filtration" the pond needed and grew exponentially. Fortunately in new england it doesn't overwinter even though they classify it as invasive.
I've kept a largemouth bass and sunfish in the past, and with the recent death of my oscar (i always seem to have an oscar - even when everything else is apistogramma), I decided to "go native" again and secure some largemouth bass.
I've bred a bunch of neotropical cichlids - even bred black neons in a tank choked with java moss. I've had the same java moss for 20 years (the original clump was $1 and the size of a handball - I don't know how much I've sold over the years but it never stops growing and I have a 55 gallon's worth of it now).
I'm a big believer in not screwing with water parameters unless really necessary - and then just using an RO
or something for those not tolerant of hard water. Biological filtration and water changes are everything. I can't tell you the last time I've checked for ammonia or nitrites - if you can detect ANY - you have big giant problems. I always keep some sort of media "active" and don't use any prepackaged bacteria - nature will give you plenty. (a good lump of java moss also provides a ton of adjunctive filtration help).