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Old 06-25-2012, 09:37 PM   #1
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Needs help with setting up a 55 gallon African Cichlid Biotope

Hi
I am new to this form and I want to do an African Cichlid Biotope, either a Lake Malawi or Lake Tanganyika one in a 55 gallon tank, but I am not sure what kind of Cichlids to put in it. I will have white sand for a substrate and lots of rocks inside. I would like the fish to be colorful and easy to care for since I am a beginner at fish keeping. I am not exactly sure of how to set it up and what equipment I should use. I have a 200 watt heater, Aquaclear 70 filter and two florescent 15 watts lights inside a homemade canopy. My plan is to buy plastic egg crate and lay it on the bottom of the tank to help support the rocks from pushing against the bottom. Then I will add the sand and afterwards put the rocks in place.
Please help me with ideas and give me information about setting up a Cichlid biotope tank, also tell me what you think of my ideas for the tank and comment
Thanks... Help Appreciated
Eli
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Old 06-25-2012, 10:20 PM   #2
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Well you may need to add crushed coral to the tank to buffer it. It all depends on the ph of your tap water.

Almost forgot welcome to AA
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Old 06-26-2012, 09:40 AM   #3
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How high does the PH need to be? I think it is pretty high in the water where i live. The water is also hard, so i don't need to worry about that. Thanks for responding to my post.
ELi
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Old 06-26-2012, 09:50 AM   #4
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7.8-8.6

My well water is 8.2 so I don't use a buffer
Is you do shell dwellers you should get shells aswell
Let me know if you need any other help. But that's all I can see from what you've listed above.
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Old 06-26-2012, 09:57 AM   #5
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Thanks for the Reply. I was wondering if you think a few peacock Chichlids can live with Yellow lab Cichlids or blue acei cichlids in the 55 gallon or would it be to small?
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Old 06-26-2012, 10:01 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VTFish
Thanks for the Reply. I was wondering if you think a few peacock Chichlids can live with Yellow lab Cichlids or blue acei cichlids in the 55 gallon or would it be to small?
Well that's a big debate between us all however it is not recommended. But some of us do it including myself with no problems but just take caution that you may have to re home some. Be careful on witch ones you buy due to size. Plus remember everyone's tank is different so one may be able to do something and another may not.
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Old 06-26-2012, 10:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VTFish
Hi
I am new to this form and I want to do an African Cichlid Biotope, either a Lake Malawi or Lake Tanganyika one in a 55 gallon tank, but I am not sure what kind of Cichlids to put in it. I will have white sand for a substrate and lots of rocks inside. I would like the fish to be colorful and easy to care for since I am a beginner at fish keeping. I am not exactly sure of how to set it up and what equipment I should use. I have a 200 watt heater, Aquaclear 70 filter and two florescent 15 watts lights inside a homemade canopy. My plan is to buy plastic egg crate and lay it on the bottom of the tank to help support the rocks from pushing against the bottom. Then I will add the sand and afterwards put the rocks in place.
Please help me with ideas and give me information about setting up a Cichlid biotope tank, also tell me what you think of my ideas for the tank and comment
Thanks... Help Appreciated
Eli
Have you looked to see what Fish is available to you from your lfs or are you going to try ordering online?
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Old 06-26-2012, 10:08 AM   #8
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Thanks again.
My tank is 48 inches long. 13 inches wide and 21 inches tall. So maybe i should get smaller chichlids. Do you have any suggestions on difffernt species that would be better?
Eli
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Old 06-26-2012, 10:12 AM   #9
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I am not sure. The closest pet store is petco and i don't think it has a vey good selection of chichlids, so maybe i will order online, although i have never did that before. Have you and do you have any advice for what website i should get them from if i do?
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Old 06-26-2012, 10:18 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VTFish
Thanks again.
My tank is 48 inches long. 13 inches wide and 21 inches tall. So maybe i should get smaller chichlids. Do you have any suggestions on difffernt species that would be better?
Eli
A 55 is a recommended starting size tank for Africans so your good there. Just try and stay at the smaller end of fish with Malawi Cichlids so Google their names and put profile at the end and it should tell you the max size for that fish.
Lake Tanganyika has smaller shell dwellers and some stay small so you may want to look into them
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Old 06-26-2012, 10:19 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VTFish
I am not sure. The closest pet store is petco and i don't think it has a vey good selection of chichlids, so maybe i will order online, although i have never did that before. Have you and do you have any advice for what website i should get them from if i do?
I got almost all my fish from WWW.livefishdirect.com because when I ordered them they had all the ones I wanted. Not one dead fish
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Old 06-26-2012, 10:27 AM   #12
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Do you like this

Attachment 102946

This is my afra cobue that I got from them it only gets about 4" its a stunning looking fish. I wish I would have got more of them. Oh and it is not recommended to mix different lakes together aswell. So if you go with one you should stick with it
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:17 PM   #13
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Thanks for your help. I appreciate it. I think i will look into getting fish from livefishdirect.com. Maybe i will post some photos of the tank on this thread when it is finished which will take some time.
Eli
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:19 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VTFish
Thanks for your help. I appreciate it. I think i will look into getting fish from livefishdirect.com. Maybe i will post some photos of the tank on this thread when it is finished which will take some time.
Eli
Your welcome
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VTFish
Hi
I am new to this form and I want to do an African Cichlid Biotope, either a Lake Malawi or Lake Tanganyika one in a 55 gallon tank, but I am not sure what kind of Cichlids to put in it. I will have white sand for a substrate and lots of rocks inside. I would like the fish to be colorful and easy to care for since I am a beginner at fish keeping. I am not exactly sure of how to set it up and what equipment I should use. I have a 200 watt heater, Aquaclear 70 filter and two florescent 15 watts lights inside a homemade canopy. My plan is to buy plastic egg crate and lay it on the bottom of the tank to help support the rocks from pushing against the bottom. Then I will add the sand and afterwards put the rocks in place.
Please help me with ideas and give me information about setting up a Cichlid biotope tank, also tell me what you think of my ideas for the tank and comment
Thanks... Help Appreciated
Eli
Welcome aboard! I will share the advice and experiences that I learned with setting up my own Lake Malawi tank. In no particular order:

Listen to advice from others and do a lot of research before buying anything. Don't just take the advice of one or two people and run with it. Get the advice from several seasoned folks. It's easy to make mistakes and annoying to correct them. You are going to get a lot of advice and some will likely conflict with others. Just go with the popular opinion of seasoned folks. LFS advice is NOT necessarily good advice. More often not, actually. Just post "I'm considering this, this and this, will that work?" and you will likely get a flurry of responses.

Your AC70 is a good quality make/model, but it may not be sufficient enough for a 55 with Cichlids. It is generally advised to have at least twice the filtration needed for a community tank. So a filter rated for a 110 gallon tank would be ideal. You will eventually need at least 500GPH. I originally had a 300GPH filter an it was not cutting it even for a tank that was not overly stocked. I recently added an AC110 and it works out much better. Now, you will be likely starting out with juveniles, so that will give you some time to save up to add on when they mature. More is better. An AC110 or equivalent canister filter would be a great addition.

Some folks don't recommend mixing Haps, Mbuna and/or Peacocks, but to pick one group to populate the tank with. There are several options within each group.

For a 55 gallon, only select fish that will have a max size of 5.5"

Try to match the temperament of your fish. If you put peaceful with with aggressive fish there will be problems. Really, in a 55, I would avoid overly aggressive fish altogether. www.cichlid-forumscom/profiles is a source that a lot of folks use to profile potential purchases.

Certain fish really need a particular M/F ration to keep the males from stressing out the females. Others (like Yellow Labs), it's not overly important. Some choose an all-male tank to avoid this type of aggression, and to have a tank full of colorful fish. Of course, then there are no fry, and mouth-breeders are particularly entertaining when they are holding fry.

Some folks recommend over-stocking to disperse aggression. Others discourage this and prefer to stock more compatible fish. Just keep filtration and water conditions in mind should you choose to overstock.

Get yourself a good water testing kit. Most folks recommend the API Freshwater Master Test Kit. I was lucky enough not to have to amend my water at all, but it's quite common for folks to have to adjust their parameters and or dechlorinate.

Cycle the tank for a few weeks prior to adding any fish. Google "fishless cycling" for instructions. Make sure that the Ammonia and Nitrites stabalize at zero before you stock. Google "The Nitrogen Cycle" for background info.

Plan on a 30%-50% partial water change at least weekly. Get yourself a gravel-vac if you choose gravel instead of sand.

Several folks recommend black diamond blasting sand for substrate. Everyone advises to rinse thoroughly.

The top food recommendations that I see posted are NLS Cichlid, NLS Thera A, Omega One.

The eggcrate and rocks are a great idea and very common. Create caves, breaks in line-of-sight, and hiding places. Even peaceful Cichlids are aggressive compared to community fish.

Go to your LFS or wherever you are planning to shop, get some pics and/or names of the fish they have available, and post your ideas here. Good luck, have patience, and enjoy it!
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:21 PM   #16
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Thanks for the reply. Do you think that Daffodil Brichardi Cichlid would be a good fish for the 55 gallon without any other species? I am thinking of ordering online at livefishdirect.com since the closest pet store is petco and it does not have that great of a selection, except that website is expensive and i do not have enough money to get them from there, so i was wondering if you knew of any other good webstes to order cichlids that is not as expensive.
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:24 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VTFish
I am not sure. The closest pet store is petco and i don't think it has a vey good selection of chichlids, so maybe i will order online, although i have never did that before. Have you and do you have any advice for what website i should get them from if i do?
I have picked up a few Yellow Labs from PetCo. Yellow Labs are a great starter fish and still my favorite. I would advise a group of 5. When I started out with just 2 one was beating up the other one. There is very little aggression in my tank with 5 now. They are great fish, very colorful.

I would not recommend a Yellow Tail Acei. They get 6" wich is just over the 5.5" limit that I try to stand by for a 55. Several folks have recommended that they need a 4' -6' tank dur to their swimming pattern. As is mentioned, there is a lot of mixed opinions on this.

I stop in at PetCo frequently to browse their stock. I see Peacocks there from time to time, but consider that some folks don't recommend mixing Peacocks with Mbuna (Labs are Mbuna). Now, you could always opt for a tank of all Peacocks. A tank with all male Peacocks could be very colorful.

By the way, PetCo sells NLS products (food).

Here's my personal opinion (take it or leave it). I would just pick up 5 or 6 Yellow Labs from PetCo to start with before I ordered online. PetCo has a 3 week warranty on their fish with a no questions asked return policy. It's a great way to get a feel for it and not get too bummed out if you lose some or all of them. After a few weeks, and all is well, then you can consider ordering online.
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:36 PM   #18
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Thank you agian. What does NLS stand for. How much would 5 or 6 yellow labs cost and where could i get a cheap 110 gallon aquarium filter?
Eli
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:49 PM   #19
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Thank you agian. What does NLS stand for. How much would 5 or 6 yellow labs cost and where could i get a cheap 110 gallon aquarium filter?
Eli
NLS stands for New Life Spectrum. The going rate for labs by me is $8-10. If you find anywhere to get a "cheap" 110 gallon filter let me know. Your best bet for discount aquarium gear could be Craigslist or something.
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Old 06-26-2012, 02:17 PM   #20
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Do you mean 8-10 dollars per fish or for 5 or 6? I will let you know if i find a cheap 110 gallon filter. It probably won't be for a while though. Thanks alot for your help.
Eli
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