May 2014 TOTM: DragonFish71’s 120 Gallon Aquarium

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I grew up in Daytona Beach FL. Moved to Colorado when I was 18, then to Alaska briefly. While I loved Alaska, where I lived was too remote and moved back to Colorado.

I’ve been in the hobby since I was a child. My first tank was a 20 tall with your standard community fish; guppies, mollies, and swordtails. All of which were wild caught from the waters local to me. After catching my first wild Jack Dempsey in a net, I was in love with cichlids. I would spend all of my free time at the local library reading as much as possible on the various South American/New World cichlids as I could. My father helped develop my love by allowing me to turn our sun porch into a fish room. We had wall to wall tanks, mostly of various wild caught cichlids.

I love the hobby because of the variety. You can create any world that you want within your own home. I choose to run mostly freshwater tanks, some species specific, and one speciality tank, a brackish water system. I have run breeding programs in the past, and continue to do so. I love to share my passion with others.

I don’t have too many other hobbies, as having 17 tanks and work keeps me pretty busy, but I do have a tank with a fire belly toad, Kermit, who is my little buddy. I also have a wonderful hubby, two cranky old dogs, and a weirdo cat.


My set up is a 120 gallon long, low tech set up.

I have an Ocean Clear canister filter with filter pads and plastic scrubbies as media. I also have a Fluval 405 with standard ceramic bio-media, sponges and filter floss.

The heaters are two ViaAqua 300w titaniums.

Lighting is a work in progress. Right now I have light strips from other tanks on this one until I can find good lighting. All of the bulbs are 6500K daylight.

Pool filter sand, manzanita driftwood, a few large river rocks.


80% water change once a week, this includes a sand vacuuming.

My water parameters before a water change are usually at 7.6 pH, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 30-40 nitrate.


Jack Dempsey


Giant Danios

Golden dojo loaches

3 Synodontis Eupterus

1 Synodontis Ocellifer

Clown loaches

Live plants are Jungle Val, Amazon Swords, Anubias.


This tank gets a variety of foods. I feed my home made food, shrimp pellets, bottom feeder wafers, Ken’s cichlid pellets, earth worms. Each day they get something different. I feed them once a day. The syno cats and the clowns like to eat from my fingers, so while the other inhabitants are eating, I’ll stick my hand in with pellets or wafers to feed them.

The idea behind this specific set up was for an easy, low tech approach to a cichlid community tank. We wanted plenty of color and movement while keeping a natural flow to the tank. Everyone in the tank has a personality, from the Firemouths with their constant “in your face” attitude, to the clown loaches who want to play. The Syno cats love having the bellies rubbed when I’m doing tank maintenance, whereas the JD prefers to be left alone. The flow of the tank is relaxing, and our friends have commented on many occasions that they could fall asleep watching the tank.

Filed under TOTM.