180 African Cichlid Tank Converted to Hi-Tech Planted Softwater Community
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Old 05-20-2013, 12:09 AM   #1
Fishmommy
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180 African Cichlid Tank Converted to Hi-Tech Planted Softwater Community


I recently did a complete teardown of my 180g (72" x 24" x 24")

What I got rid of: Granite rocks, sand, and my African Hap community I had running for about 10 years. I was artificially hardening the water for them and have naturally mild water that is perfect for plants and regular community fish. I got sick of battling algae and figured a fully planted hi-tech tank would be easier in the long run. I have a high tech 75 and hoped to have similar success on the bigger tank.

Here was the tank as it was:




The tank has two filters: and Eheim ProII and an Eheim pond filter. I have two in-tank heaters - unfortunately this is not a sump setup so the equipment is in the tank.

What I added: 6x AH Supply 26w LED bulbs (replaced 4x 55w CFLs), Pressurized CO2 (20lb tank) using a solenoid regulator, Dosing pump (50ml/min) to dose liquid fertilizers automatically, and an Apex Lite controller with PH and temperature probe. The Apex monitors time, temp, and PH, and controls dosing, CO2, and lighting. For fertilizer I am rolling my own PDDD using CSM+B. I run the dosing pump 5 times a day to provide a steady stream of nutrients.
Here is what the equipment looks like under the tank. The Apex controller and outlets are screwed to the back of the stand, and the controller interface is just inside the door to the right. The pond filter is to the right and cannot be seen in the pic really.


I put in 3 inches of Eco Complete substrate, two large pieces of driftwood, then added plants and fish after the dust settled. The filters stayed cycled the whole time by dosing ammonia pretty aggressively and running all the usual tests throughout.
Here is what it looks like after two weeks of running. Nitrates are staying around 5-10ppm with heavy feeding. I may need to add KNO3 as the plants grow in.



Hoping it grows in nicely and the algae stays at bay. Once the ludwigia and lotus grows in it should hide the heater.

Current residents: 1 gigantic Snow King Pleco, a shoal of Bosemani rainbowfish, a shoal of Congo Tetras, 6 Roseline sharks, 2 Bala sharks, 4 Rosy Barbs, 2 Angelfish, 2 Red rainbowfish

For foreground plants I am trying glossostigma and chain sword. I am hoping the glosso takes off and I can cut back the sword. I am using water sprite as a nitrate sponge, and am using ludwigia for color. I have some large and medium sized swords and am using vals for background in hard to reach places. I have some red tiger lotus I may get rid of in there.

Open to ideas going forward, but mostly just happy with it so far.
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Old 05-20-2013, 12:20 AM   #2
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Nice rescape! What did you do with the Red Tiger Lotus? I love that stuff. I'm such a sucker for red plants

I love that driftwood, btw. Very nice!
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Old 05-20-2013, 02:29 PM   #3
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Thank you.
I sold all the red tiger lotus, and then changed my mind and ordered more. I hope the stuff I just bought turns out as red as the stuff I had before!
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Old 05-20-2013, 03:19 PM   #4
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I like both of your setups! I can't to see the new scape grow in more!
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Old 06-28-2013, 09:55 PM   #5
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180 is growing in....the algae battle begun.
How do you keep chain sword looking nice? It has grown into a tangled mess. Getting some BBA and some green thread....have upped CO2 and ferts while decreasing light.
Glosso has started to spread nice. My red plants are red, but are not growing as fast as I would like. Pearling all day though.



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Old 07-28-2013, 11:30 PM   #6
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Did some pruning today and swapped some plants with my 75 to see if I can get better results. Algae is mostly under control. Still tweaking CO2 and ferts as well as adding minerals now to get calcium and magnesium levels up.



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Old 07-29-2013, 02:16 AM   #7
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Very nice. Would love some close ups of the congo tetras?!?
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Old 07-29-2013, 03:22 PM   #8
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Congos are extremely active and hard to photograph

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Old 08-04-2013, 07:06 PM   #9
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video of the fish from one end of the tank
http://youtu.be/Gt1KpUf-bzU
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Old 08-04-2013, 07:31 PM   #10
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Very nice congos. Its good they are hard to photograph, I love active fish
Mine are unnaturally shy Working on a bigger school to fix it
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Old 08-04-2013, 08:38 PM   #11
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My pleco nomming on some raw shrimp



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Old 08-05-2013, 12:38 AM   #12
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oh wow, I was looking for a little bristle nose plec, and then saw him!!
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Old 08-16-2013, 05:51 PM   #13
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Continuing to grow in. Gradually replacing the chain sword with other stuff and added some ludwigia. Algae pretty much under control at this point ... For now anyway. Nitrates have been dropping steadily.


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