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jerrytheplater 10-05-2010 02:25 AM

65 Gallon Tanganyikan Tank with Vallisneria/Algae
I figure I should post up this tank journal I've been keeping on my local plant club and local fish forum. I have been enjoying this tank at work. My camera is now broken and I am limited to taking video with a Flip video. Here is what I have posted so far. I'll try to post updates here too as I make them. It isn't to often though.

12/2/09: I am starting to add the rocks to my new office tank at work. Here is my progress so far. My main question is, should I move the rock over to the right some more to have the point away from the center, and to put it maybe at 1/3 of the way across the tank from the right.

I plan to add more rocks on top of this basement rock and have a vertical rock on the right.

Testing for support areas:

Marking support areas with tape:

Full Tank Shot:

Underside of rock:

I planned out my moves very carefully when adding the rock and removed the 40 breeder underneath the 65 in case of disaster. I bumped the tank as I was picking up the rock and it shifted off the plastic shims I had under the stand. I am glad that happened as the tank would have cracked if it was full of water. I replaced the shims with one piece wooden ones I machined on the milling machine. They won't slip now.

There was only about 3/4" clearance to get that big rock in the tank. I wouldn't chance standing it up. I have another one I am going to stand up on the other side. I was hoping the substrate around and under the rock would hide a lot of it, and if the fish burrow out a cave-even better.

12/3/09: My goal for this tank is for it to be an extreme close up of the lake border, not a long range over view of a large expanse of the lake.

These photo's are from the Baltimore Aquarium and the rocks there are massive (most likely fake cement rocks). It gives a good idea of what I think the lake looks like where these fish are located.

12/4/09: I finished the bottom of the tank and added the sand and some water. The one rock which will be vertical is not in yet. I glued on some silicone cement to the places where the rock contacted the glass and it is drying now.

Basement rocks:

Silicone cement padding on vertical rock:

Rock supports:

Sand and water in to settle and fill in the holes. I'll drain this water and add new if need be.

Sand under the rocks:

12/7/09: I have finished the tank to the point where I can put fish in it. I still want to do something with the rock on the left side because I can see the silicone too readily. I am not sure what I am going to do there. I was thinking of siliconing two rocks together so they could hang off the one rock and hide the silicone.

The photo is of the tank after pouring in a lot of mulm for the filter to suck up, so the tank is really cloudy.

This tank has Vallisneria in the front left and center only. I don't plan on any moss or Anubias. No duckweed or other floaters either.

I have two 65 watt 6700K PC bulbs up top. I am using one Eheim 2213 Classic canister filter and one 300 watt heater.

All real rocks and tried to match the substrate to the rocks. I tried to pick up the colors in the rocks in the substrate, as if it were a naturally occurring sand formed in place.

The substrate is a blend of Carib Sea African Cichlid Mix, Carib Sea Super Natural Peace River sand, Carib Sea Instant Aquarium Sunset Gold sand, Seachem Onyx sand, some fine reef sand of unknown brand with some pink tones, and some Carib Sea Florida Crushed Coral.

jerrytheplater 10-05-2010 02:42 AM



Sloot is driving over to work tomorrow to deliver 5 Paracyprichromis breeding adults, don't know the sex ratio or locality, 5 Altolamprologus compressiceps-don't know the locality, and one Neo. buescheri. I have 5 adult breeding N. leleupi I could add in and get them out of the 38 they are in, plus my own Alto. compressiceps, but I am not sure. I do like the buescheri and would like to get more, but I also like J. regani kipili a whole lot too.

I also have my 4 adult Synodontis lucipinnis, but I am thinking of separating them and trying to spawn them. I'll never get them out of the tank without removing the rocks.

Mike-most of the rocks were all dug up from my back yard over the course of 20 years. I think I bought the first big rock I have in the bottom(the one with the scale on it in the beginning) for a buck at the garden center down the street from my house.

I was looking behind the rocks today and there is a whole lot of room back there very dark and cave like. There is about 6" of space behind the rocks at least. I am guessing the Paracyps will like that a lot.

12/10/09 PM:

I have 3 male and 2 female Paracyps. I think one female is holding eggs. I put the N. buescheri in too. All have settled in well and have eaten some flake food already. I will be looking for a few more females once I figure out the locality of the Paracyps I have. I also want to get some more buescheri. They were all purchased at Absolutely Fish in Clifton, NJ. I did take some photo's of the cleared up tank, but the Paracyps are hanging out in the dark areas behind the rocks mostly and didn't get them. One male did hang out nose down right on the surface of the big dark rock on the right of the tank. Looked pretty cool.

I didn't put the Alto. calvus (not compressiceps) in the 37 gallon tank as I am not sure I really want to keep them. Sloot says they are two years old. One bad thing happened. I didn't acclimate them to the water slowly and they went into stress right away. I checked pH and it was about 7.5. I don't know what Sloot kept them at. I added some buffer-2 tsp and 2 tsp of lake salts. One died anyway. The other 4 are still alive and just sitting on the bottom, but look like they will pull through.

Relatively clear water photo's, with the Paracyprichromis nigripinnis from Sloot, plus one Neo. buescheri.

Full Tank shot, with the Paracyps swimming around:

Right side, with the Paracyps on the flat rock up top:

Center, slight rust staining on right side rock:


I added a rock on the left to cover the silicone. The fish like it already. I have to look at it a little more. What do you think?


I am getting a growth of algae all over the rocks that are in the light. It started out as brown algae, now it is progressing to a green filamentous algae. It is pearling really well. Small bubbles floating up from it. This is a non CO2 tank too.

I cleaned the front glass today as it was getting really full of algae.

My fish are settling in fine. They just motor around the surface of the rocks and hang out. They pick at the rocks/algae from time to time. I feed them very, very small feedings a few times a day.

There is almost as much space behind the rocks in the dark as there is in the front. If I poke my head around the side and look back there I can see where the N. buescheri was starting to excavate a hole. At least I think it was him. He's not there any more.

I have thought about setting up a video camera to watch back behind the rocks, but I'm not sure how to go about that. What is involved in doing that?


I was at work on Saturday after I planted my garlic and took a video of the tank. I had to split it up into two videos.

Part 1:

Part 2:

This tank has two 65 watt PC bulbs over a 65 gallon tank. Sounds like 2 watts per gallon, but with the large rocks shading the back half of the tank, and me having the lights up near the front of the tank, I am thinking I have closer to 4 watts per gallon over the front half of this tank. The algae that is growing is a filamentous green type, and it is pearling!! Today I saw one of my Julidochromis regani "Kipili" grab a piece of the algae off of the rock and swim around with it in its mouth. I wonder if it ate it?

The_Finglonger 10-05-2010 03:04 AM

This is an interesting tank. I think you'll have more enjoyment with more viewing space. How about a downward slope from top to bottom, back to front? It's a shame to have half of the tank to be unviewable. It sounds like you have a lot of neat little fish in there that are hiding. I used to be very interested in African cichlids myself, that was until I discovered discus fish. :)

Here is a pic I found:

I know that's a lot of sand but I just think it's a lot more dynamic and open. You'll also still be able to see your fish dart in a out of their holes.

jerrytheplater 10-05-2010 03:05 AM

Jan 5, 2010:

The algae I have is Hair Algae, Spirogyra. It is still pearling but it is very long. I cleaned the tank last week with a 80 % water change and thorough scraping of the front glass. I took some before and after photo's and I'll get them up soon. Today the tank is just as bad as before the cleaning.

I have been thinking of ways to get rid of this algae: get one good looking Tropheus to eat it. Would only one Tropheus survive? Are there other Tanganyikan algae eaters?

Another option is a Florida Flag Fish Jordanella floridae I really don't want to go with non Tanganyikan fish though.

Reduce the lighting duration from 12 hours to 8 hours. Easy to do.


I ended up removing one of the 65 watt lights while keeping the lights on for 12 hours. This made a drastic improvement on the growth of the algae in the entire tank. Now I only get a thin layer of green algae on the front glass which is easy to scrape off.

We had a discussion on algae eating fish here: I settled on Tanganicodus irsacae Moba Goby Cichlids. They are small and the least aggressive of the Goby Cichlids.

I added about 6 new juvie Paracyprichromis nigripinnis a few weeks ago to go with the ones I got from Sloot. I got them from Spookyfish. Thanks again Mike. I now have about 10 of these, 6 1 1/2" Julidochromis regani Kipili, 1 two inch Altolamprologus compressiceps, four 1 1/2" Tanganicodus irsacae Moba Goby Cichlids were added in today, and four Otocinclus cats.

The Gobies are being picked on by the Alto comp and the Julies. I am hoping things settle down.

The Vallisneria is really starting to grow in and it is sending out runners. It is staying short so far, and from what I've read it will probably stay short in the African tank.

Here's a new video taken today:


The algae has really died back on the rocks now, or it could be the Goby Cichlids and Julie's eating it. I do see them picking at it. I was thinking of adding the other light back on to see what happens.

I am feeding the fish flake food about three times a day 5 days per week. They fast on the weekends while I am not at work. The Julies are really growing :cool: I give some pellet food, but it sinks too fast and most of the fish miss it. The flakes flutter down and are snatched up by the Paracyps, Gobies, Julies, and even the Altolamprologus. That is everyone.

The Goby Cichlids are accepted in the tank now. I was fearful they wouldn't be when I first added them in. They are chased by the larger Julidochromis from time to time, but not always. They are able to rest now and are accepted.


I really need to post an update here.

I played around with the lights to try to control the algae growth by adding the one light back but rewiring the two fixtures so the wattage dropped to about 40 watts each. The algae growth slowed too much, the Goby cichlids grew more hungry and I ended up having large bare spots on the upper faces of the rocks where the Gobies eat most often. I wired the lights back to full wattage on April 28th and I am seeing increased growth of the green algae. BUT during the slow down of the green algae growth, some red algae has taken hold. It has covered large areas that were bare where I moved some of the rocks slightly.

I feed the fish flakes every day and give a supplement of Tetra Micro Crabs soaked in Kent Zoe and Seachem Entice two or three times a week. The Micro Crabs get very soft and all of the fish go crazy over it.

I dread having to remove some of the fish because I will have to remove the rocks to do it. I am thinking pairs are forming between the Goby cichlids.


I cleaned this tank tonight after work, just a normal clean. All was well with the tank before I started. As I was re-filling it, I smelled a very strong chlorine bleach odor coming out of the tank. I have no idea where or how the tank got bleached like it did, but all of my fish were on their way to dying in a matter of minutes. I dosed the tank with a huge amount of Prime, and this removed the bleach smell, but their gills were fried by this point and they were swimming in spirals, upside down, dashing to the surface. It was horrible and I am just now getting reconciled to the disaster.

I am really racking my brain to see what could have happened. The buckets I used to fill the tank were the ones I used to empty the tank, and they didn't smell of bleach. I add Seachem Lake Salts and Tanganyika buffer during water changes. I took some of these chemicals and added them to a glass of water-no bleach smell. I don't keep bleach in my office or lab.

I lost one of my Goby Cichlids, five Julidochromis regani Kipili, one Altolamprologus compressiceps, and about a dozen or so Paracyprichromis nigripinnis. All of these (except for the Alto. comps) were young adults just entering breeding age.


Thanks for the sympathy guys. I appreciate it.

When I got to work this morning I found 8 dead Paracyprichromis nigripinnis and none living to see. Not sure really how many I had. I can't see the fish in this tank easily.

One dead Tanganicodus irsacae Moba and 4 living :happy: :happy: .

3 small and one large Julidochromis regani Kipili dead and one large one living. One is missing and could have died before without me noticing it.

2 Alto compressiceps missing and not seen dead. But I very seldom saw them before anyway. Not too much hope for them really.

I am not glad this happened, but I really was getting to the point of beginning to think about getting rid of the Paracyps. I didn't really care for them and I don't plan to replace them. I do want a pair of Julies so I am on the lookout for one of the opposite sex to mine.

One small Synodontis nigriventris found living and thought dead months ago. Go figure.



Originally Posted by Rockfish
Jerry, did you test the tap water?

I have not tested the tap water at work in a long while. I don't normally test the water either. I know PVWC does not use ammonia in the chlorination process, so I don't have Chloramine. I spoke directly to the head of the entire water treatment plant for PVWC in Little Falls, NJ the day after the fish kill. They did not have any abnormal water being sent out. The max chlorine residual in the water is 4 ppm. Any more and they are subject to fines. I am not sure what 4 ppm smells like, but what I smelled was pretty strong. If it really was city wide, the entire city would have been calling the treatment plant to complain.

It turns out the head of PVWC Treatment Plant is a fish keeper too. He has two 75's and about four more smaller ones. He filters all of his tank water for water changes through activated carbon before using it. I have a spare 1 cubic foot IX cylinder around and I am really thinking of setting it up with Activated Carbon to get my water change water. Its not hard for me to do.

I saw one Alto. comp. so far alive. I don't know if I still have two. But I have seen one.

The fish are still subdued, but increasing in activity. I am thinking they have injured gills and are not able to get as much oxygen as before and are restricted on activity because of this. Make sense?

Do you think, or do you know if the gills will heal and be returned to normal capacity over time?

I now have an outbreak of Blue Green algae on the top surface of two of the largest rocks. The Gobies are not swimming up that high yet and are not eating up there. The rocks were almost grazed bare up there before. The other green algae is growing longer too, but the Gobies are eating it and flakes too.



Originally Posted by Rockfish

Originally Posted by jerrytheplater

The fish are still subdued, but increasing in activity. I am thinking they have injured gills and are not able to get as much oxygen as before and are restricted on activity because of this. Make sense?

Do you think, or do you know if the gills will heal and be returned to normal capacity over time?

It does make sense. Unfortunately in trying to research this a bit it seems that once gill surface areas are destroyed they do not truly heal then adhesion's or scarring can occur and gill surfaces are thus reduced in surface area or functional quality for oxygen uptake.

That is a really big bummer. I"ll have to see how they come along. I am seeing a lot of sparing between the Goby Cichlids, but they are not swimming up to the top of the tank like before. They are eating the algae at the bottom of the tank. The one Julie is acting fully normal and is chasing the Gobies at times. I don't see the Alto or Syno out front at all ever so it is hard to evaluate them.

I am not against mercy killing. If I see they don't recover significant strength by September, I am thinking I"ll euthanize the fish and start over.


I cleaned the tank last Friday. 2/3 water change. No problems this time at all. Nothing was done differently either. Still don't know what happened.

I had some blue green algae form near the surface of the tank on vertical rocks. I cleaned it off on Friday and as of today, it has not returned and green algae is starting to grow in its place.

The remaining fish are looking perfectly healthy and frisky. Swimming normally.


Its been a while since I've posted about this tank. The fish that survived have recovered nicely, as far as I can tell. I have 4 Tanganicodus irsacae, 1 Julidochromis regani Kipili female, at least one Altolamprologus compressiceps, and one very dwarf upside down Synodontis in this tank.

I am seeing BBA in spots. I also have an outbreak of Blue Green algae right now. A member of my plant club and I cleaned this tank Saturday. I added a teaspoon of KNO3/KH2PO4 mixture after cleaning to start fertilizing this tank. I am hoping this will get rid of the BGA. I know Erythromycin will get rid of it easily, but I use that only as a last resort. On Monday PM I siphoned out about 5 gallons of water to remove more algae that had collected along the front glass. I was able to get the water in by very carefully picking up a partially full bucket with my right hand. (10/4/10 Edit: I cracked the neck of my Radius in my left arm in a bicycle crash Labor Day with the Boy Scouts. It is still healing. I was not able to pick up and handle a bucket before this)

Here's a video from Aug 27, 2010. I just got it made into a video and uploaded tonight.


Anthony jokingly said I should put a Bristlenose in this tank. I answered:

I have at least 25 1' juvie brown bushy nose in one of my tanks. I don't want to put any in this tank because:

1. I want the algae
2. I'd never get them back out
3. They aren't endemic to Lake Tanganyika (I know, neither is my Synodontis-but I cheated)
4. I want the Tangs to use the caves, not the Bushy Nose.

I am going to use Hydrogen Peroxide to spot treat the BBA. I know a person that had fairly good success with this treatment. I can't use Excel or Glutaraldehyde because the Vals won't tolerate it.

I have a 38 at home with 5 adult Neolamprologus leleupi and way too many juvies (the adults didn't eat them :sobbing: ) This tank has a fairly good crop of algae, but nothing like the 65 at work. I just put 5 juvie Bushy Nose in there last night. I am curious to see what they do.

jerrytheplater 10-05-2010 03:17 AM


Originally Posted by The_Finglonger (Post 1171260)
This is an interesting tank. I think you'll have more enjoyment with more viewing space. How about a downward slope from top to bottom, back to front? It's a shame to have half of the tank to be unviewable. It sounds like you have a lot of neat little fish in there that are hiding. I used to be very interested in African cichlids myself, that was until I discovered discus fish. :)

Here is a pic I found:

I know that's a lot of sand but I just thing it's a lot more dynamic and open.

Believe it or not, I really do enjoy not being able to see the fish all the time. I think it makes them more comfortable and relaxed-more likely to spawn. Plus it is exciting when they do pop out in a skirmish over territory. My goal was to try to duplicate a really close up view of the shore of Lake Tanganyika in the rocky zone. From my research on the Internet, and books, I did the best I could to duplicate it. I wanted massive rocks, as that is what is in Lake Tanganyika.

The photo you gave would look good with shell dwellers like Neolamprologus ocellatus. They do live in shallow sandy areas near river mouths, plus you could get away with Vallisneria here too.

The_Finglonger 10-05-2010 03:30 AM

fair enough :)

GitMoe 10-05-2010 04:25 AM

I really like that tank setup. Great work.

Noahma 10-05-2010 04:29 AM

Your tank is just plain awesome.

!shadow! 10-05-2010 04:30 AM

l like the tank it's simple yet everything goes so well together. l can tell you put a lot of thought on making this project. The rocks are all uniform, the sand matches perfectly and excellent choice of plants.

F22 10-05-2010 07:47 AM

I think that's an awesome hardscape. I really like your fish list too, looking forward to updates buddy.

jerrytheplater 10-06-2010 12:54 AM

Thanks for the good words guys. I love this tank. I am waiting to get a few more Julidochromis regani Kipilli in a few weeks.

sewingalot 10-06-2010 01:28 AM

Is this the same tank you showed in the algae forum? If so, it looks much better with the algae rocks, more natural.

jerrytheplater 10-06-2010 10:17 PM


Originally Posted by sewingalot (Post 1172123)
Is this the same tank you showed in the algae forum? If so, it looks much better with the algae rocks, more natural.

Yes, this is the same tank. The video in the algae thread is in this thread too. My digital camera is broken so I am limited to the Flip Video until I can get a digital camera. Got to save up. The algae covered rocks developed over time.

RipariumGuy 10-06-2010 11:11 PM

Very nice tank and journal Jerrytheplanter!

HouseofZoo 10-07-2010 02:38 AM

I love your hardscape!

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