120 Gallon African Tetra Aquarium - The Planted Tank Forum
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Old 12-28-2019, 04:29 AM Thread Starter
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120 Gallon African Tetra Aquarium

My new 120 Gallon Visio Aquarium has arrived at the shop so I went in to pay for it and took a photo. Figured it would be a good time to start this thread. It is being delivered on Tuesday and I will probably set it up as soon as I can. I've already started prepping RO water for it and getting the hardscape ready to be cleaned. The whole point of this aquarium is to provide a home for my existing African tetras and to maybe add some more.

New 120 Gallon Aquarium by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr

The story with my African tetras is a prime example of don't buy fish now for a large tank you don't have yet. I just had to have these fish several years ago and was afraid they wouldn't be available retail again. I was convinced I was about to buy a larger house and would have room to buy the huge tank of my dreams. Well as with all such big dreams there were delays and setbacks and soon I ended up with a bunch of big tetras in a 46 gallon aquarium that they quickly outgrew. And then when I finally did buy the big house my Corydoras collection won the prize of first big tank and ended up in a 5 foot long 100 gallon. Recently my Steatocranus casuarius (lionhead or buffalohead cichlids) had babies (for the first time in 3 years of owning them) and I realized I couldn't hold out any longer. It was cruel to keep these fish in a tank that was too small (at this point one of my 40 breeder quarantine tanks) and I made it work and ordered a 120 (4' x 2' x 2').


Existing fish that will be making the move over eventually:

11 x Phenacogrammus aurantiacus (lamp-eye Congo tetras)
3 x Bathyaethiops breuseghemi (red-cap moon tetra)
2 x Nannaethiops unitaeniatus (African one-line tetra, some of my oldest remaining fish)
1 x Brycinus longipinnis (Alestes tetra)
1 x Microctenopoma ansorgii
6 x Pelvicachromis kribensis 'Moliwe' (probably about 6 generations from my original pair)
2 x Steatocranus casuarius and their babies

Phenacogrammus aurantiacus by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr

Steatocranus casuarius by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr

I'm going with leftover natural sand from Buceplant (ordered twice as much as I needed for the 100 gallon), Ohko/Dragon Stone and some large pieces of Malaysian driftwood for the hardscape.

Assorted pieces of hardscape gathered for the 120 gallon. by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr

And I bought a bunch of plants already during Cyber Monday and Holiday sales from Buce Plant and Planted Aquariums Central which I have had potted up in one of my quarantine tanks. Hopefully they will survive this abuse.

More plants for future build by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr

I also ordered 10 very expensive Alestopetersius brichardi (red-cherry Congo tetras) during The Wet Spot's holiday sale. Those Holiday sales really got me this year.

New aquatic plants and Alestopetersius brichardi in quarantine by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr

Filtration will be dual canisters and I'll be injecting CO2 via a new GLA CO2 Reactor.

More to come when the tank arrives and I start setting up.
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Old 12-28-2019, 05:24 AM
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aponogeton boivinianus and longiplumulosus will look spectacular in that size tank. Their such a ignored large format plant.
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Old 12-28-2019, 05:34 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
aponogeton boivinianus and longiplumulosus will look spectacular in that size tank. Their such a ignored large format plant.
Yah I love them. I have been growing A. longiplumolosus for years. One of my favorites. But this is the first time I was able to get my hands on A. boivinianus. Excited to see how they will look in such a big tank. And hopefully I can get the Crinums going as well. I have had the Crinum natans for years now smooshed into a small tank but it it looking a bit sad now. I hope it will bounce back.


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Old 12-31-2019, 10:15 PM Thread Starter
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120 was just delivered. It looks so much more massive in my house than in the store! The pictures don't even do it justice but I got my 45's in the shot to compare. In the big empty space between them I plan on getting a 180 but that probably won't be for at least a year unless I win the lottery.

Pinched a nerve in my neck last night so probably won't be setting this up for a few days but I have been prepping the stone and the wood in the meantime.

New 120 gallon aquarium by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr

New 120 gallon aquarium by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr


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Old 01-12-2020, 02:56 AM Thread Starter
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Bit of a setback getting the tank ready. I scraped my thumb pretty deeply (enough for lots of blood) on my iMac (don't ask) so since I prefer not to do any work in my tanks whilst having open wounds I have had to wait for it to heal. It is mostly better now so I started getting everything ready.

I have been soaking the wood since I received it. Most pieces sunk right away but the smaller of the two large pieces was annoyingly floaty. I wedged a large river stone into it and that seems to have done the trick. I checked today and it is pretty water logged. From past experience though I know to leave the wood in water until I am ready to use it.

Cleaned of all my dragon stone by soaking it in a diluted bleach/water mix for a few days and then scrubbed off any old algae and gunk.

Ohko Stone (Dragon Stone) for 120 gallon by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr

Then I decided to start placing them in the tank with the sand to see if I have enough. The sand is leftover Natural Sand from Buceplant (larger grain size) I bought for my 100 gallon which they are out of stock on. I considered buying a box of the finer grain size they sell but I would rather not spend the money if I don't have to. Placing the stone and sand in the tank today I think I will be OK. I am creating a sort of wall between the back and front of the tank with the rocks set on the glass (because the cichlids will dig) so I can have the sand deeper in the back where the rooted plants will be an an open area in the front of the tank where the sand is very shallow. I have two half coconuts I am going to place toward the front of the tank for the various cichlids to adopt as homes in the hopes they won't do too much digging. We'll see how that goes. Probably not well. In my old 46g they all used to dig like crazy.

This is not the final layout obviously I just wanted to see if I had enough material to do what I want. Once I am ready to place the two large pieces of driftwood I will shift the rocks around a bit and try to make more of an aquascape out of things. I'm not the best at scaping though and that really isn't my focus so much. I am just happy to have healthy fish and plants that are growing well. If I accidentally make it look pretty I'll be happy.

Getting 120 gallon ready by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr

Getting 120 gallon ready by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr

Next step is to prep the water. Since I am dealing with my RO system and it makes water faster than I have room in the pressure tanks to store it I am going to have to do this over a few days. I may go to the RO place in town and buy 40 gallons on Monday to speed things up. I had asked the company I am working with to get me an estimate on a better storage system but they are short staffed and never got back to me and I have had other expenses come up with my house so I probably don't have the cash to deal with that now. So I haven't been on them to give me a quote. But I will have to eventually because soon I will have almost 400 gallons of aquariums that need water changes.


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Old 01-12-2020, 03:40 AM
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Sounds like a fun project, I’ll be following
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Old 01-12-2020, 12:00 PM
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Looks like quite the fun project! Good luck with it, and enjoy the setup process!



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Old 01-13-2020, 06:17 AM Thread Starter
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80 gallons of water waiting in my trash bins. I will probably go buy the other 40 gallons tomorrow and maybe set the tank up in the morning. We'll see if I am feeling motivated.


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Old 01-14-2020, 02:39 AM Thread Starter
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Had to go to the grocery store today and spent some time on the phone opening a new bank account so I did not feel motivated. Tomorrow though! Definitely, probably, maybe tomorrow.


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Old 01-14-2020, 04:37 AM
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Looks like it's going to be an awesome tank. I love the Lionheads, I had a pair when I was kept rifties, they had a great personalities.
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Old 01-14-2020, 10:21 PM Thread Starter
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Working on the 120. At first I was just going to add a little bit of water, set up the hardscape and then add plants. But I realized I really need to fill the tank to get an idea of how the hardscape is going to work and look fully submerged so I am completely filling it with the 80 gallons I had on hand and am prepping another 40 gallons now. I may set up one of the filters and heater and sit on it for a day or two while I think things over and move things around and take my time. This is generally how I have worked in the past with my outdoor gardens. Place plants and leave them in pots and think about it for a few days and move them around a bit if needed. I don't have a super clear vision of how I want this tank to work. I am not in love with dragon stone and am not sure it goes well with driftwood but at the same time I already had it and was not about to go buy new rocks so it is going to take some time.

I also find setting up filters/heaters/etc. super annoying and my least favorite part of the hobby. I just want the plants and fish to be in the tank so I can enjoy them!

Filling up the 120 gallon aquarium by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr
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Old 01-16-2020, 12:40 AM Thread Starter
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Today I got an alert that the natural sand I used from Buceplant is back in stock. I feel like I just barely had enough sand for this tank but I went ahead and ordered another 25 pounds just to be safe. Also looked over my existing plants for the tank and decided to add a bunch more Anubias and a few more Crypts. Hopefully it will all arrive by Friday and I will continue setting things up. In the meantime I have my Magnum water polisher moving the water in the tank since I don't have the water full or the filters set up yet.

I have become much more patient with this sort of thing as I've grown older. I don't like to rush things.


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Old 01-20-2020, 09:18 PM Thread Starter
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Will probably finish setting up the tank today. My order of additional sand and plants from Buceplant should arrive this afternoon. I have to decide ultimately what I am going to do about my African cichlids. The male Steatocranus has HitH so I am going to move him to a 20 gallon and try to treat him. But how many babies should I put in the 120? All of them and let them duke it out like the kribs have in the past? Just a few? And I have 6 kribs currently. But the female is in one of the little caves guarding wrigglers. It is possible they won't survive long once out of the cave with all the other cichlids in the tank. She lost her last batch once the Steatocranus babies were free swimming.


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Old 01-21-2020, 01:48 AM Thread Starter
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Ooof. I am about halfway through. Placed all the plants (including tying Anubias to driftwood which is always tedious), moved around hardscape, currently filling the tank with the last 40 gallons of water. So tired. Setting up a new tank is hard work but when it is over 100 gallons it is even harder. I still have two filters, a heater and CO2 to set up but I just want to take a nap. Photos will have to come tomorrow or later in the week because right now the tank is too cloudy to even see.


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Old 01-21-2020, 04:03 AM Thread Starter
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I'm beat. Still have one canister filter to setup but I can do it tomorrow. The water should clear up in a day or two. Not easy to set up a tank this tall (25 1/2") and deep (24"). I definitely wouldn't want to go any taller. Not sure how people deal with 30"+ deep tanks.

I'll label all the plants when I can get a clearer picture. I also have a big problem in my fish room of the reflection of my other tanks when I try to take pictures. I need to get some sort of large photography black screen or something to shield them since I don't want to run around turning lights on and off every time I try and take photos.

120 gallon aquarium set up by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr
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