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Magzmoir 05-20-2010 06:16 PM

My first Mbuna tank...the story so far
So I bought a 4ft (55g) tank on Ebay including filter, heater decor and various community fish. I wanted to set up a mbuna tank and I was in luck my dad was also setting up a new tank with a mature filter already so I unloaded the fish onto him :lol:. They are now happily swimming around in his 55g altho I am tempted to steal back the common plec, its huge and very pretty.

So Ive stripped down the tank and cleaned everything, got rid of all the gravel and decor I didnt like and put in a Juwel 3D background, the granite coloured one. Ive put some polystyrene in the base to help distribute the weight of all the slate Im going to use. So this is how it looks atm.... oh excuse the disembodied head below the tank. My sons 2 years old and interested in everything :lol:

That was 2 nights ago, tonight I decided to set up some of the hard ware, it came with a Rena Filstar XP2, a bubble curtain thingy (not sure what its called its not the rigid bar type but a hose with trianglar shaped air stones set along its length). Im going to get another filter, probably an internal one for mechanical filtration and have the external one kitted out with biological filter media. Does anyone have suggestions on the most effective ? rings, bio balls etc ...whats good to use ?

So once I had the gear set up the way I wanted I had a bit of an accident, I dropped the light unit and smashed one of the flourescent tubes :oops: way to go magz (feel like such a numpty). Anyway I had some slate put aside so put that along with a few of the rocks the tank had already into the tank and tried messing around with it so see if I could arrange it. It's probably going to get remoddelled about a million times before Im happy with it and I will be buying more slate 2moro I'd really like the stacks to be higher, heres what it looks like so far .....not a huge change I know but making a little progress :roll:.

I have bought a couple of bags of play sand to use as substrate and Im swithering on wether to order some of the neat java fern thats already attached to rocks to help with hiding wires, heater and the seam where the background tiles join up. Also the heater stuck to the glass in plain sight is bugging me but I cant think of any thing that will hide that until I get more decor :roll:.

I'll keep posting pics as I make changes and ad things to the tank......its amazing how excited Im getting with all this prep work lol.

zof 05-20-2010 07:06 PM

Awesome I love the rocks on the right side all the little hiding places and everything, might want to check the heater and see if it can be fully submerged if so I would put it about 2-3 inches off the bottom so you can get some tall background plants to hide it, then all you have is the black power cord.

jeaninel 05-20-2010 07:29 PM


Originally Posted by zof (Post 388131)
Awesome I love the rocks on the right side all the little hiding places and everything, might want to check the heater and see if it can be fully submerged if so I would put it about 2-3 inches off the bottom so you can get some tall background plants to hide it, then all you have is the black power cord.

Put the heater low and horizontally.

Magzmoir 05-25-2010 01:44 PM

So after stacking, restacking, removing, adding more and restacking again I decided on the layout of the rocks (or more like I got fed up playing around with them and decided this would do :roll: ) I added the sand and water and let everything settle for a night. last night I turned on filters, pump and heater and let it run for a while. The sand hasnt smoothed out yet since I pretty much just dumped it in and the waters still a little cloudy but heres how it looks atm......

I lowered the heater and stacked some rocks around it, I tried putting it horizontal like you said but its actually longer than the width of the tank with the 3D background in :shock: and I couldnt put it along the back because of said background. I am gonna get Java fern since Ive heard Mbuna dont like the taste of it and use it to hide as many flaws as I can :oops:.

So time to start cycling .......

zof 05-25-2010 02:43 PM

You might consider moving the heater to the other side behind the big stack of rocks, normally I wouldn't want to do that do to lack of water flow but since your filter is right there it should work good. You might want to just buy 1 or 2 Java ferns as the one I bought from petsmart a whim about 3 weeks ago already has 6 plant-lets on it..... I don't know if that's typical but I was rather surprised when I counted them, now I gota figure out what I'm going to do with all those Java ferns, I guess I will just have to buy another tank ;)

Btw I still love that rock you are stacking where did you find them at? River bed?

Magzmoir 05-25-2010 04:26 PM

Thnx Zof I think I will move it to the other side, I just wasnt sure if placing the heater right next to the intake would make it less effective.

The rock is just chunks of tumbled slate, I bought them for 99 pence a piece from dobbies garden centre about 20 min drive away. The thing with this slate is that because its been tumbled theres no sharp edges so the fish wont hurt themselves :). I felt I was still lacking some hieght in the stack and didnt want to add too much more slate because its really heavy I bought a few cobbles and used them to space some of the slate platforms out. Theres 4 bits of pinkish stripey rock that came with the tank originally I have no idea what it is but I've used them too. Im guessing its inert becasue the fishes that were in the tank were clown loaches and various community fish they were all mature and healthy.

Magzmoir 05-29-2010 01:27 PM

So Ive started the cycling process a few days ago now. Trying the prawns in a bag method...measured the ammonia lvl's today and I only seem to be reaching about 0.25ppm Im sure I read somewhere it needs to get a lot higher, like around 4 - 5 ppm (most of the methods Ive read advise using pure ammonia in liquid form). Should I just add more prawns ?

Getting into reading up on the types of fish I want to put in the tank now. I really love the look of about 5 different spieces here they are as follows -

-Yellow labs (cant go wrong for colour and should look awsome against my slate coloured decor)
-Cyno afra (not sure tho cos the females Ive seen in pics look quite drab)
-Rusty's (love the lilac sheen the mature males develop but once again females quite drab)
-Red top Ndumbi (doesnt seem a popular fish but I love it)
-Demasoni (Ive heard very agressive but mostly with its own kind or similar looking species)

So atm leaning towards 3 grps of 8 juvenile fish probably Demasoni, Yellow labs and Ndumbi's, would this mix work ok or should I forget about the Demasoni since they are the most agressive of my selection ?

Im picking these 3 because info on the net seems to suggest the females are almost as pretty as the males.

teddyzaper 05-29-2010 07:08 PM

i wouldnt go with the amonia cycle method. i would just leave the tank be for about 2 weeks then do a water change then you should be ready. i know i shouldnt say this, but you can get away with adding the labs now if you wanted, although it puts stress on the fish.

Magzmoir 05-30-2010 06:31 AM

Was a little timid about putting any of the fish in before others, I heard its best to put them all in together so that they can get thier territories sorted out with minimal amount of squabbling. I suppose since the labs are probably the most peaceful of the 3 spieces it might work.......

Really dont want to cause discomfort to any of the fish tho :-(

willow 06-05-2010 05:10 PM

the tanks looking really good.
you said your dad has aquariums right ?
you could always buy some filta media,put it in a bag and hang it inside
his tank if he'll let you,or get the squeezing from his filter on a water change day
and tip it into your tank.
it is best to stock them together,because of agression.

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