Craiger's 55G Malawi Cichlid tank.... - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-23-2005, 12:58 PM Thread Starter
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Craiger's 55G Malawi Cichlid tank....

I'm going to take the advice of one of the veterans and start a thread on my tank to track it's progress. Right now, it's pretty pathetic.

The only live plants I have are two amazon swords (which are doing great, by the way....even growing) and two little grass-like plants that seem to be doing very well.

Here are the grass-like plants. I believe I've actually seen something like them in some of your tanks. In the photo above, you can see how the two aren't standing very erect (one on the left, one on the right), but have come to look very good in the week that I've had them.

I think this is new growth on one of the swords. I don't remember seeing it when I brought them home (the stem in the center).

Anyway, that's my it's current, pathetic condition. About the only thing I can't seem to get control of are diatoms. I'm fighting them right now. Just need to figure out why they're in my tank.....high phosphates or silicates...or both. Could be poor lighting. I don't have any test kits for I don't know what the levels are. I've done two 40-50% water changes in the past week. Right now, it's the only way I know how to battle them....other than a toothbrush. I have considered putting my large male Bristlenose in the tank. He'd clean this thing pretty much over night. It's just that I've had him for a few years and I don't want to lose him to the cichlids. I have 7 juvie Bristlenose in two of my growout tanks. I put two of them in the tank a couple weeks ago and the Mbuna instantly noticed them. I had to pull them within half an hour.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-23-2005, 01:45 PM
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I like the setup...right now it depends on what you'd like to do with the future setup. The ciclids will probably end up uprooting, munching, moving the plants so pots are actually a good idea. A good look may even be buring the plastic pots into the substrate if you can---if its deep enough.

The swords look nice and healty and good growth is a nice sign.

How much is your....

1. lighting.
2. any co2?
3. fertilizers?

Diatom algae (brown or green?)..the brown will be munched on by the pleco as you've experienced...otos will eat it too..but the ciclids could, in turn, eat the otos.

If its a green spot type...then the addition of co2, po4 and other essential fertilizers will control that.

This could turn into something really cool!!

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-23-2005, 02:02 PM
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Your tank is hardly pathetic. How long has the tank been set up? The diatoms should go away on their own with time. I doubt your diatoms have anything to do with your light. I set my tank up in mid November with 192w over 58 gallons and I just got rid of them (only to get a serious case of GW, but that was my fault ).

Your grass like plant looks like Mondo Grass which is not an aquatic plant. Watch it closely and remove it starts wilting. You should also remove the swords from their pots and remove the rock wool. If your cichlids find joy in uprooting them, plant the swords in pond plant containers and bury the container in the substrate. You can smooth out the rock work by adding java fern and anubias.

Be patient it will all come around.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-23-2005, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the compliments, guys. I appreciate it.

As this is setup for African Cichlids, I'd like to keep the aquascape devoted to them. I'll soon be adding another 55G right beside it with matching everything (one large 8 foot stand, canopies, aquascape, the works) make it look like one big setup. They'll be the focus of my family room with our 13' long sectional right across from them. I just need to find the time and funds to do everything. The left one will be mostly Mbuna (Labidochromis cearuleus, Pseudotropheus Acei, and my Aulonocara Walteri peacocks (male and female....he'll be getting a harem after both tanks are setup). The right tank will be mostly peacocks and a breeding harem of haps (O. lithobates) along with five of my yellow labs (to help tie the two together).

Although you don't typically find them in a Malawi setup, I wanted plants for a third dimension. The fish and rocks just weren't cutting it for me. The rockwork will stay as close to the way I have them setup as possible as Mbuna need several caves for territorial reasons. They get moved when I have to catch a holding female to put her in a separate tank (I've currently got 11 tanks with 8 of them running and 2 of them soon to be setup).

Lighting is (2) GE Aqua Rays 9325K lights (F15T8) per side of the tank as that's all my hoods will accept. They're old hoods soon to be replaced by a nice canopy being built this weekend or next. I intend to put dual 36" lights in the canopy, one front and one back. Should give me a much better spectrum of lighting. I'll add low light plants to the sides and corners. Those needing light will be more centralized.

The diatoms are brown. I've been battling them since I lost my gold nugget pleco....due to meds. My fault. I should have pulled him before I medicated the tank. My cichlids were showing signs of parasites as flashing was pretty bad along with clamped fins and loss of color. They've been doing great since....and no signs of any illness.

My tank has been set up since April ' it's pretty established....which is why I suspect phosphates or silicates to be the issue. I've read where poor lighting (as in old flourescents) could be culprit, too. The bulbs that were in the hoods before they were replaced with the GE Aqua Rays were pretty old and yellowed. I didn't realize it 'til I replaced them. What a difference new lights can make.

Thanks for the information on the grass-like plants. They'll be the third and fourth plants I'll be pulling that I purchased at a chain store. I won't be getting any more from them. I think I'll be checking the Shop and Swap from now on if I want plants....just so I know what I'll be getting. Java fern and Anubias are in the plans.

No co2....other than some Jungle fizz tabs that I bought, but I'm not sure they're doing anything as it appears the bubbles just escape the surface of the water. I'm using FloraPride (phosphate free) ferts.....and it looks like they're going to get expensive to keep adding.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-24-2005, 05:56 AM
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Nice tank. I had an Africans in my 125g for about 5 years but after "da bloat"(African Bloat) reeked havoc in there killeing about 5 of my most fav fish I decided to sell the rest and am now in process of turning it into a planted(pics coming soon!) Your large male Bristlenose should be fine in that tank. I had two 6 inch Bristlenose in my tank and I had some large aggressive cichlids in there (including a 10" Sulphurhead Spilonotus) The cichlids dont even notice there in there. Of course i wouldnt put small ones in there but the adults will be just fine. Bristlenose plecs are THE best algae eaters for a cichlid tank.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-24-2005, 11:36 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks TF.

I really like the African Cichlids. They're my favorite so far. I can sit and watch them for hours....'til I fall asleep. Very therapeutic.

I haven't had any problems with bloat. In fact, other than what I assumed was a parasite, my fish have been disease free since the day I got them....and they couldn't look better than they do today. I try to keep the amount of food that I give them to a minimum (30 seconds to a minute of feeding...and no more). They get lots of fresh veggies in their diet (cucumbers, romaine lettuce, peas, squash). I'll toss them in the tank and let them munch on them throughout the day. They reduce the risk of intestinal blockages.....which then causes bloat.

Ironically, the diatoms seem to have subsided temporarily. I really went through the entire tank, cleaning everything....the rocks and glass....although they seem to like the rocks most. Having done three 40-50% water changes this week is likely helping, too. Hopefully, I'll get a handle on them and won't need to introduce my Bristlenose, but may just to make sure they're kept at bay. Haven't totally decided, yet.
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