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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I currently have a 120g tank with mainly mbuna cichlids, its the standard tank with gravel and sunken ship deco. Now heres the thing i want to convert it to a planted tank but still have the cichlids. now i know most people say this is bad idea with african cichlids but i have seen videos of successful tanks where as long as the fish are well fed they pretty much leave the plants alone, so as im new to the whole planted aquarium thing i was wondering what it would take to convert it into a great looking planted tank. like best substrate best kind of lighting (looking into VHO so i can continue to use it once i convert to reeftank in far future any advice or suggestions on good place to get it would be great) how much lighting would i need and good place to get parts for DIY CO2 system etc. any advice would be GREATLY appreciated
 

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Lighting- Dont waste on VHO go for T5HO much more effiecient and the y run cooler and bulbs last longer.

CO2- Pressurized is a must on a tnak this size DIY won't cut it.

Substrate- I would recommend play sand as the cichlids will uproot it.

Here is what I would do if it was my tank:

2 Bulb T5HO fixture
NO CO2
Playsand

Rocks for hardscape

Plants: Anubias, bolboltis tied to rocks also some java ferns. Consider some java moss spread on the rocks the africans will love to graze off of it, plant some jungle vals in the sand with Root tabs underneath of them.

This will require little light, if stocked as most cichlid tanks are you shouldn't need to an KNO3 but maybe some Potassium K2SO4 and Phosphate KH2PO4. No CO2 will be needed as these are low light low demand plants. Sand will allow the cichlids to spawn and dig but not uproot tons of plants. Low enough light to see everything but not enough to start a huge algae field.

Craig
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
lol yeah not planning on the yeast CO2 crap for my size tank i meant where to buy the parts (regulator, needle valve, tubing etc) so not technically DIY but where you put the parts together yourself so its cheaper than buying system together? or if you know where to buy a complete system for around 100 if possible, and planning on feeding the CO2 into my Rena Xp3 so wouldn't need a diffuser either, also i don't have my tank stocked to the brim like a lot of cichlid tanks are i have only 6 cichlids, 4 tiger barbs (grew up with cichlids since they were small so are not harassed) and 2 pictus cats (again they have been in there since cichlids were young so no nipping of the whiskers or anything) but thats it i plan on adding only about 2 more cichlids to complete the pairs of the singles i have right now and then that would be the only bio-load for the tank, but yeah thanks for the advice on the plants those do sound like good ideas, but you wouldnt reccomend using a planting tank soil like the black flourite? was thinking it would look kind of cool to have the black sand and then white texas holey rock as deco (or referably a cheaper alternative if there was one) also thanks for advice on lighting didnt know T5HO was better so i will def start looking into those systems, when does a tank start to need CO2 and what wattages do you suggest for the bulbs?
 

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Not exactly sure on the water params of tiger barbs, but Malawan cichlids require a high pH, which not too many plants do too good in. Anubias, vals and java fern is a good choice, as stated above because they are low-light, and hardy plants, but most 'planted' tanks aren't done in water that is required for Rift Lake cichlids.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
yeah that was another thing i was unsure of, as of now i dont add anything to the water for the cichlids and they are doing great but this may also be because i am using water straight from my well so maybe the water is naturally harder?
 

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It's all good - go for it. I've got mbuna in a planted tank - it does work. My plants are a compromise - whatever the fish don't destroy stays in. It's just labs and demasoni (easier on plants than other mbuna), but I have been able to grow narrowleaf hygro, crypt. wendtii, amazon sword, vals, java fern and moss and even red tiger lotus! My main problem is that the necessary rocks take up so much aquascaping space - so it's not the prettiest planted tank.

Kevin
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
thanks for the support kevin its good to know there are others out there with similar tanks, also wanted to ask you, i see you have a 10g mini-reef, well i have a 20g long tank that im gona use for the cichlids while im rearranging their tank but afterwards it will just be sitting empty (was gonna convert 120g to saltwater but dont have the funds at the moment for that much live rock, etc) now iv researched about as much as humanly possible lol so i have the book knowledge of the saltwater tank but not the hands on experience so wanted to know how you manage your tank since smaller ones are a bit harder to maintain (do you use a sump or just a stronger HOB filter?)
 

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I have a sump and a HOB - I find the sump mainly serves to contain my small (almost worthless) protein skimmer and the heater - plus the submersible return pump gives some more flow in the main tank. I've found it not much harder than a planted tank - I do a 10% weekly water change and every other day top off with a kalk solution.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
oh ok yeah if i did the sump i wouldnt go with a protein skimmer (wasnt planning on it with large tank either when it eventually goes to saltwater) would just have equipment and refugium section but yeah with small may just do a good HOB filter or if i can find a cheap 10g and cheap return pump then do sump underneath with refugium section, what is the kalk solution??
 
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