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55gal Cichlid tank w/ custom shale rock wall UPDATED 10/2 with pics

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Project Daiguren Hyorinmaru great crimson lotus ice ring

About the name: I'm a Bleach fan, what can I say? ;)

On to the good stuff!

Tank: 48"x12"x21", 55 US gallons
Filter: Rena XP3 (2x20ppi foam/2x30ppi foam/~40x Bio-stars/Bio-chem Zorb)
Substrate: ~40lbs white leveling sand / ~50lbs black diamond blasting sand
Decoration: Loads of gray shale collected from a stream in Frankfort, KY. Several sandstone patio tiles from Home Depot.
Lighting: 4x 26w CFL spirals with clip-on work light reflectors from Home Depot (most likely won't bother with a cover/fixture or antyhing like that).

Flora: A single melon sword mother plant for now, 18" at the tallest point!

So far I have purchased five cichlids, four of which I have identified as:
Red Peacock cichlid Aulonocara sp.
Albino 1/2 Crimson cichlid Paralabidochromis sp.
Electric Yellow Labridochromis cichlid Labidochromis caeruleus
Red Zebra cichlid Maylandia zebra
The fifth I am not sure of, but I believe him to be a peacock cichlid.
EDIT: three more cichlids were purchased, species TBD.

Yes, I realized that I am mixing peacock and mbuna, however, the peacocks are not only the largest currently, but they are also much more aggressive than the mbuna is. This may change, but I will play it by ear from here on to see if it's gonna work out long term.

I plan on adding at least five more to the tank (which is currently not fish ready, I need to fasten the rock wall to the back of the tank so I need to drain it again :( )

To be continued, it's late here and I have to work tomorrow. I will update later with pics of what I have so far. :)

UPDATE 9/19/2011

Well, I finished siliconeing the rock wall last night, I made a big mess. :( I think I cut the tip of the silicon tube too big, so a lot came out and kept coming out.

Here are some pics of the planning stages (I put it all together on the floor)
(still had the smaller pieces on the bottom of the tank, those are gone now, replaced with black blasting sand)

Leftmost piece is put together.

Got them in safely, though I almost had bad things happen lol. Red clamps are to hold it to the glass so the silicone can hold it to the glass, and the hangars are keeping pressure on a couple of pieces to cover where I got too much silicone on or to cover a hole)

See what I mean? Wayy too much silicone. I'm ashamed of myself.

BUT! I heard Red Sanford say "YOU BIG DUMMY!" and I remembered that the excess silicone would pull right off, and it did. :) My project for tomorrow is to pull as much off as possible to make it look cleaner.

I also got some "patio stones" from Home Depot yesterday. They are roughly 6"x6"x2-3" and are made of sandstone, and have excellent coloration and marbling in them! They were also pretty ridiculously cheap, 60 cents each!
They look kinda like this:

(that's the pic from the HD site, I will get some actual pics of them once I get them inside and start putting them together).

What does anyone think of this stone? It's at my LFS and it's ~$40. I don't exaclty know how it would look in the cichlid tank with the darker stone wall and such, so I'm debating. It's about 8"x8"x8" or so and weighs about 20lbs.

Well, I think that's all for tonight. If anyone has any comments, feel free. :)

Also, if anyone has any suggestions for plants, please let me know! Lighting will be a custom CFL fixture like Hoppy's with four 26w CFLs, and I'm not planning on dosing ferts or injecting CO2.

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803 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Update 10/2/2011

Ok, filter has been stocked with 40x Bio-stars from my angel tank for a couple of days now, so I went ahead and put fishies in (plus the temp tank where I was keeping them no longer has power where it is, so I figured I'd go ahead and drop them in).

I noticed when I pulled the top of the filter that holds the pump that the o-ring that keeps the pump from pulling in water from around the baskets instead of through them was missing a large chunk, don't know how I missed that. It must have happened before I got it, as it has always made gurgling noises and had a much lower output than my other new XP3 does. I ordered a new gasket kit that will arrive on Tuesday. Until then, the flow is fine and will keep the fishies alive and well.

On Friday, my LFS got in their order. The owner had ordered some "extra large" sword plants (melons, red melons, and osmocote or something like that). She had thought that extra large meant that it would have the normal sized plants she regularly gets but in a larger quantity in the pots, but when they came, they were over 18" tall, with leaves being 6"+ wide! She was quite surprised lol, but she somehow talked me into taking two of them home. I put one in my angel tank and one in with the cichlids.

I still haven't decided on that pretty rock at the LFS, $40 may or may not be worth it.

I also built a custom top for both tanks today. Just took some hardware cloth from Home Depot (it's a metal mesh, kinda like that square fencing except really small holes, around 1/3" square) and stapled it to some wood I cut to fit the top lip of the tank. It needs some fine tuning, but it should work out nicely. I also went ahead and got two of the CFLs and reflectors, will get the other two pretty soon (if I think I need it).

I also got another two cichlids on Saturday, another blue mbuna and a yellow striped one that I need to pin down the species. I tried to take pics, but they don't seem to want to pose for the camera very often (and my camera is kinda crappy, so it makes it even worse!).

Without further ado, pics. :D

Is this pearling on the underside of this leaf?

My sister will be coming in a few days and I told her to bring her camera and take some good pics, she has a $5k camera she uses for work, so she should be able to do a bit better than I can!

2,757 Posts
Very cool! I was afraid to try real stone, I was afraid of the weight.
Does anyone know if the sandstone will crumble if submerged? Because I really like the looks of it.
If I wasn't going to have plants in a tank, I'd put slate like you have, but on the bottom of the tank. I think that would look cool, too. (your pic sold me on it! lol)

803 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Post #2 updated.

Very cool! I was afraid to try real stone, I was afraid of the weight.
Does anyone know if the sandstone will crumble if submerged? Because I really like the looks of it.
If I wasn't going to have plants in a tank, I'd put slate like you have, but on the bottom of the tank. I think that would look cool, too. (your pic sold me on it! lol)

Well, you gotta think that the glass is made to withstand hundreds of pounds of weight (water is 8lbs per gallon, so this 55gal if it had only water would weigh 440lbs), so adding rock is no big deal. Someone one TPT added some rocks to his setup, and one was over 100lbs alone!

And actually, the rock is shale, not slate, though they are similar. If you paid shipping, I could send some to you, I only used ~1/15th of what I collected in KY! I'm planning that since cichlids are like my grandma and never keep their living room the same way for more than a short time, I will put small pieces of shale around each plant so they can't uproot them!

The stone you got from the LFS should be fine if it looks good with the rest of the decor.

Nice work on the background.

Most sandstones that are very dense will not break down in the tank.
Thanks for the input, much appreciated! :)
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