Back in September, I decided I wanted a tank in my home office (wife wouldn't go for another one in the living room). I thought for quite some time about what I wanted. I was limited in space, and wanted to be economical about my choice. I considered easy fish like a live bearer community tank with guppies, platys, and the like. I looked at what equipment I had on hand to further inform my decision. One item I had was a 36 inch aquarium stand. I also had a Rena Xp2 and a 30 inch basic reflector sitting around, as well as 2 Rena smart heaters. Plent of stuff to get me started. I looked at tank sizes and decided to go with a 40 tall. It had the same footprint as many other tanks, but offered more volume, and since I couldn't add a sump, that was my choice. I'm a big fan of having as much volume as possible to provide an environment that is as healthy and stable as possible. All I needed for the initial outlay was a tank, hinged glass canopy (lid), and substrate.
Now I had to choose what I wanted to put in the tank. I decided that the live beare community tank would be no challenge, adn I've never been really successful breeding egg-layers and that was always a challenge to me for many years. I had discus spawn for me countless times, but I could never get them to refrain from eating the eggs. I rememberd that a friend of mine a few years back was very successful with cichlids, but that was a 55 gallon tank that I had no room for. I read a little bit (but not enough). My first choice was apistogrammas but they were proving difficult to find. I've never ordered fish online; never felt really comfortable about having fish shipped. Another concern was water. My tap water, from a well is hard and alkaline, not conducive to South American fish and constantly proves a challenge to me with my discus/angel tank. I ultimately decided to go with some sort of Tanganyikan species. After a trip to a huge fish place
in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to see what they had available, I still had not decided. Cycling the tank wouldn't be an issue since I keep a net bag of ceramic rings in my sump for just such purposes. This would provide bacteria until the tank could support a bioload on its own.
A second trip to Lancaster led me to purchasing daffodils, neolamprologus pulcher. From my reading, I remembered that they were fairly easy to breed. I bought aragonite for a substrate, a nice piece of Mopani wood for a centerpiece in the tank, some basic supplies, and 6 of the n. pulcher. There were plenty of great rocks near my house because the township had just built a drainage ditch and there were extra rocks scattered everywhere.
I took my purchases home and set the tank up, adding the fish immediately. They seemed quite happy. Then, to my horror, I logged on to this blog and discovered that I may have made a big mistake. I read that once two fish paired up, all of the others were probably doomed. Since they were juviniles, I had time to make a decision on what to do, though. After a few weeks, I didn't like the way the tank looked. It seemed to me that there were not enough suitable caves, so a home remodeling was in order for my fish. I put the fish into individual buckets. By the way, the 1 gallon white plastic paint buckets from Lowes are great for this. I tore the tank down and reorganized the rocks, then replaced the fish. Just after doing this, one of my fish jumped out of the very small opening I have for the filter tubes and comitted suicide, leaving me with five.
A few months passed and everything was going fine; everyone living in harmony. About three months ago, I added several java ferns, a couple of banana plants, a moss ball, some hairgrass, and a few vals. Not a biotope, but, oh well. At this point, I also splurged on a 36" high output light fixture to aid the plants.
A couple weeks later my wife and I went on a two week vacation. I set up the automatic fish feeders and away we went. Upon my return I noticed a huge amount of algae in the tank from which about 5 gallons of water had evaporated. I replaced the water, which really made things a mess by stirring up detritus from two weeks of neglect. The next morning, the water had cleared and I cleaned out the algae along with a 40% water change. Hours later, when the water had cleared, I was amazed to see a bunch of fry! Wow! Success with egg layers at last. Six of them have now grown to 3/4 of an inch. What is most suprising, however is what else has happened. The father of the fry has paired with a second female that now has quite a large cloud of free swimmers and the remaining two fish patrol the tank during the day, retiring to their caves at night.
I'm quite pleased with the way things are going. If there are others out there that raise these fish, I'd be interesed in hearing of your experiences.