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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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Old 08-23-2011, 09:41 AM   #11
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Yesterday I got to work on a unique feature (IMHO) for the sump. This is my spin on most of the DIY stuff I have seen online, a slider tray for the sump. Hopefully will help out with one of the issues I hear about all the time, maintenance and access. Since it's a very small tank I think I'll be able to get away with the idea.

The full extension sliders are from Rockler.com and are rated at 100lbs. I think this will contain a max of 8g when full so I should be right under it. I'm going to include a "kickstand" of sorts for when I have it pulled out. It's got a bunch of braces under that plywood so it's super strong right now. My kid stood on it I don't foresee ever needing to pull it all the way out so it should be fine. If it doesn't work I can always remove it.

I'm also planning to bolt the stand to the wall because it's a tall setup, I'll have a hood which will make it even taller when I'm cleaning it and I have 2 kids.






Sliders on sale: $20
Current cost: $366
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Old 08-23-2011, 05:40 PM   #12
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Just got the front panel done. This will be held in place by the trim on the bottom and 4 spring loaded magnets just like a stereo cabinet has. No knobs or handles and should be just about invisible when it's in place.

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Old 08-24-2011, 02:35 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrbee2828
Yesterday I got to work on a unique feature (IMHO) for the sump. This is my spin on most of the DIY stuff I have seen online, a slider tray for the sump. Hopefully will help out with one of the issues I hear about all the time, maintenance and access. Since it's a very small tank I think I'll be able to get away with the idea.

The full extension sliders are from Rockler.com and are rated at 100lbs. I think this will contain a max of 8g when full so I should be right under it. I'm going to include a "kickstand" of sorts for when I have it pulled out. It's got a bunch of braces under that plywood so it's super strong right now. My kid stood on it I don't foresee ever needing to pull it all the way out so it should be fine. If it doesn't work I can always remove it.

I'm also planning to bolt the stand to the wall because it's a tall setup, I'll have a hood which will make it even taller when I'm cleaning it and I have 2 kids.

Sliders on sale: $20
Current cost: $366
Haha thats amazingly awesome!?!! Will u make me one?? Lol lol jk jk.
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Old 08-24-2011, 02:38 PM   #14
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I'm building from my head right now and just made 2 decent mistakes. I need to go buy a few pieces of trim to make up for it but I think overall it's still a decent plan.
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Old 08-24-2011, 03:26 PM   #15
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Looking good so far! As far as space goes a 55G is fine. Obviously it being tall isn't ideal but doable. How long is the tank? IMO it can work out provided you have lots of rocks and cave structures. Any idea on specific stock? If your going African I for one love saulosi and they only get to be 4".
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Old 08-24-2011, 03:37 PM   #16
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Quote:
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Looking good so far! As far as space goes a 55G is fine. Obviously it being tall isn't ideal but doable. How long is the tank? IMO it can work out provided you have lots of rocks and cave structures. Any idea on specific stock? If your going African I for one love saulosi and they only get to be 4".
That's kinda' what I'm looking at. I really like the yellow labs. The tank is 30" wide. I have bought a tone of rocks and wood for the tank and I'm going to have a few hardy plants as well.
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Old 08-24-2011, 03:41 PM   #17
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That's kinda' what I'm looking at. I really like the yellow labs. The tank is 30" wide. I have bought a tone of rocks and wood for the tank and I'm going to have a few hardy plants as well.
If your looking at both yellow labs and saulosi your gonna have to choose one. Considering the obvious similarities between females your likely to get some cross breeding.
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Old 08-24-2011, 03:49 PM   #18
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True true... maybe I can make a new species and become a millionaire lol. J/K. I will make a decision but I'm not even thinking about breeding. It's going to have to be a bit over crowded to dial down aggression and without clearly marked territory I don't know if they will breed.
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Old 08-25-2011, 11:07 AM   #19
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This morning's effort before work. I got the trim glued and tacked in place. The tank sits inside the trim at 1 5/8" flush with the black plastic.



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Old 08-25-2011, 12:15 PM   #20
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Nice work man, stand looking very good. Cant help you much stock wise, because I've never had an african setup, but go with your heart as long as its not too overboard.
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