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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am setting up my 55g (standard 48x12x12) as an African cichlid tank and need to know what type of lighting options I have that will limit my chances of an algae outbreak.

I think my options for plants are somewhat limited, so most will be some type of Anubias, so low light plants. Tank will also be low tech.

I have a Finnex Planted+ on my 90g that works well for that, but would probably be a bit much for a shallower tank at max. If I went with another Planted+, any ideas about how much I should dim the light as a good starting point. (10-12 hours of light per day)

Any other good options out there?

Thank you, in advance.
 

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Hi LensHiker,

When Ad Konings visited GSAS several years back I learned that many of the African cichlids are algae-grazers and algae is a primary source for vegetative matter in their diet - probably because the water in the Rift Lakes is very hard and few aquatic plant varieties can grow in those conditions. Depending upon the cichlid species you are planning to keep you many want to encourage algae rather than discourage it. I would suggest doing some research on the species you anticipate using and see what items comprise their diets.
 

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If you're getting mbuna, be aware that most plants might get eaten once the fish figure out that green leaves = food! Mine consider anubias a great delicacy, and they will eat java fern and bolbitis as well. I've had some success with vals.

I was running a single ODNO T8 alongside a Finnex Stingray on my 75, but definitely had algae with that combo. Trying just the Stingray now, but it's too soon to tell if that'll be too little light.

I, uh, don't think the standard 55 is only 12" tall, tho... maybe you meant to type 21"? ;)
 

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Check the measurements for a 55? Not thinking it is 12 tall.
But then I would also encourage you to open up a bit on the plant types. Depending on which African cichlids, you may find success with several other plants not mentioned. If you get some of the types who dig a lot, it will take a bit more thinking and effort to sort out where and how to protect the plant roots but there are ways for it. Then if you have not chosen the fish yet, you may find going with those who are less prone to actually eating algae make it less likely they will snack on leaves.
no real trustworthy advise on the lighting as I kind of blunder into mine but for plants, I can suggest some that work for my fish/plant combo. Anubias, crypts, and swords are all good to me. Java fern is one for up off the floor where most digging happens. The top of a rock pile, maybe. It helps make the tank look fully planted while still given Beetlejuice what he wants! Red tiger lotus works well for me as it can be put under and behind rocks to avoid digging and still come out plenty tall for the back. Takes a bunch of trimming, though.
For fish, I like to stick to some of the larger guys like the Protomelas group and then pair them with smaller more docile of the mbuna group. I run Protomelas insignus with yellow labs, SRT Hongi, yellow tail Acei and throw in some catfish, algae eater types for the bottom.

Sun going down after a long day!
 

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Yes. Sorry. 21" tall. :redface:

12" tall would be about 31g extra long by my calculations. :nerd:
They do make a 33g long that has about those dimensions and looks fantastic...

Also if you get a planted+ you can with some soldering skills add a dimmer to the light. It's actually very easy and should cost less than $10. I would however recommend getting a lower power light it that is your goal
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
@Silvering Haven't decided on the fish just yet. But, mostly mbuna and auratus available in my area (Petsmart and Petco). LFS might have some other varieties.

Most likely will be mbuna, though. Maybe I won't invest too heavily in plants and see how plant hungry my fish end up being.

I'm currently in the process of gathering, cleaning and cooking rocks.

Using aragonite capped with black gravel (the gravel is just to make the color pop on the fish; the fish will move the gravel around and expose the aragonite here and there anyway. It's their house, so they can do what they want). Collecting gray rocks to make the caves and hiding places. Was considering some plants to add some additional color contrast.

I have a fairly prolific crypt (bought 1; 6 months later, I have 5) that I could use that would give me some free runners. My boss has some Java fern he might be willing to snip off some pieces for me. If they get eaten, at least they were freebies.
 

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@Silvering Haven't decided on the fish just yet. But, mostly mbuna and auratus available in my area (Petsmart and Petco). LFS might have some other varieties.

Most likely will be mbuna, though. Maybe I won't invest too heavily in plants and see how plant hungry my fish end up being.
My juvenile fish are far less interested in plants than the adults, so I would definitely try a bunch of things to see what works out in the long run. Kids refusing to eat their veggies, I tell ya! ;)

For a 55 stocked with mbuna from the common big box stores, I would recommend doing acei with electric yellows and a third species, perhaps socolofi. Acei/electric yellows are a beautiful combo, not given to extreme aggression levels, and you might even be able to get away with the odd peacock in the mix with those two. I suspect the stores sell kenyi, auratus, and demasoni only to guarantee future purchases after the juveniles hit puberty and turn into psychotic monsters. Or that's what I hear happens, I haven't kept any of those since my very first newb foray into cichlids way back in high school. :icon_lol:
 
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