Originally Posted by VTFish
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
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!