Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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tsalvageboy 05-28-2007 06:23 PM

New 70 Gallon tank...
I just finished staining and sealing my stand and canopy for the tank. It is a 70 gallon Glass tank. I bought it used from a guy that has had it for only 6 months. I am planning on doing a malawi cichlid tank starting with about 25 smaller fish. I have purchased 8, assorted sized, resin lace rocks for deco and rock work. I am planing on course sand substrate and some assorted fake plants. The tank came with 2X Penguin 330 bio-wheel filters. The light it came with was shoddy, so i went out and invested in a coral life 90 watt light (the one that has two, blue and white lamps) not sure if its incandescent or fluorescent, although i was told that it can grow plants and coral. In the next week or so i am planning on starting the cycling process. My brother has a 60 gal freshwater with a tiger Oscar, silver arowanna and some green terrors. I am planning on taking about 20-25 gallons of his water to jump start my cycle. I was wondering if it is a good idea to take a couple of his used filter cartridges and squeeze those into my filters and bio-wheels? I am probably going to do the fish food method an top of that to make the process speed up to about a week or so. What do you guys think?

Also, based on the cichlid threads that i have read, i understand that it is good to overstock the malawi cichlids. I am planning on buying 25+ small cichlids, probably one step up from the smallest lf's carry. Am i taking in to consideration, deaths, growth and aggression enough? I have had a mixed cichlid tank before with both malawi and lake T. Cichs in it. I didn't know they were incompatible. Amazingly it was a successful colony with only a few runts. In that tank i had two clown loaches and a plecco. I loved the loaches and how they would stick together, fight each other, and not bother the cichs. Because i am going with a malawi themed tank what are some bottom feeders that will go well with the tank? If there is nothing else i think i may go back to the loaches, maybe 3 or 4, what do you guys think? If i have the loaches, do i even need a plecco?

Will my light be too much for my fish and the tank. One aspect is the heat, i live in North Orange County and even with the central air the place can get up to about 79. Will the light heat the water above desired temp? If it does what do i do? Will the light grow too much algae and bacteria for my tank? Do malawi cichs like a lot of intense light, will they hide all the time? I also splurged on some lace rocks that have blue LED lights built into them for the night lighting. What are your opinions on those?

Thanks for your time...


tophat665 05-28-2007 08:17 PM

Don't know much about Lake Malawi Cichlids. I do know that there are several species of synodontis catfish endemic to the rift lakes, and they are the typical cleanup crew for rift lake tanks. I don't know about algae eaters, more's the pity. I don't think there is any equivalent to a pleco (though there are some species of African sucker fish, I have never heard of them in connection with the rift lakes.)

For cycling, your best bet is to install some of your brother's media in one or both of your filters, then bury some dead fish (Enzo says said that prawns will work, and I see no reason why not) in the substrate. Figure 5 prawns (like for cooking) or 5 feeder goldfish, or the equivalent in fish for cooking.

As for the lights, it doesn't really matter so much what kind of lights you use in a malawi tank from a health perspective. Plants won't last any length of time, and you have wisely decided against trying, so it's a pure aesthetics thing. I would go with 6700 or 5500K daylight bulbs for both. They give a warmer light than 10000K true daylight. Now the blue light (actinic) is designed to mimic the effect of Depth. Not a real consideration outside of a marine tank (I have a light like this that I'll be installing on a 110 gallon, and before I do, I'll be trading out the Actinic bulb for a 10000K bulb for an equatorial high noon effect.)

If I may, let me suggest you use a different background. Your fish will be lost in the clutter of that one. Is there a reverse side to it with plain blue or black or maybe a rock wall effect? Those would be better.

Lupin 05-28-2007 09:52 PM

The only catfish suitable with Rift Valley cichlids are synodontis. Plecos and loaches(cyprinids) are not good tankmates IMO. First of all, the water conditions they require is far different from the Rift Valley cichlids. Loaches and plecos thrive in soft, acidic waters whereas Rift Valley cichlids prefer the hard, alkaline waters. Moreover, the Rift Valley cichlids are generally aggressive and being territorial fish establishing boundaries, they share the same level that the loaches and plecs dwell on. This is most likely to increase the chance of them beating the crap out of the plecs and loaches. Loaches prefer to live in several hiding places and placing territorial cichlids with them put an end to their fun of hiding from one place to another. On another note, most of the cichlids of Lake Malawi are mbunas, therefore, their diet consists predominantly of greens. Loaches on the other hand require a vast array of foods, most of these being meaty foods such as crustaceans(you'll notice why most people are afraid to keep shrimps with loaches), insects, etc.

Note that there are plecs that are also aggressive and will want one hiding place permanently so expect too much squabbles which can be a problem to most aquarists.

There isn't any algae eater that is compatible with these cichlids. Chinese Algae Eaters are very aggressive and will develop a taste for slime coat thus putting harm on both sides. Siamese Algae Eaters and otos are incompatible as well. These fish are peaceful and will not take the beatings of the cichlids.

tsalvageboy 05-28-2007 10:25 PM


If I may, let me suggest you use a different background. Your fish will be lost in the clutter of that one. Is there a reverse side to it with plain blue or black or maybe a rock wall effect? Those would be better.
That is the background that came with the tank, not to my liking either. Ill change it out a bit later.

So it sounds like you guys are saying the synodontis catfish has the only real chance in the tank. The funny thing is that in the last tank, the loaches did great. Never had any problem with them attacking the cichs or with the cichs beating them up. I guess ill try for the catfish at the lfs and if i have no success ill go with the entertaining loaches.

Thanks for the advise on the lighting. For now i will stick with what i have and see how they cope, maybe down the road ill get the warmer lights.

Anyone else have advise???

Lupin 05-28-2007 10:30 PM

If I were you, rehome the loaches and get some synos instead. Synos should work. I see no reason why they shouldn't. It's not worth letting the loaches take the risk and bear the brunt of the cichlids' aggression. I really regret making this same mistake before.

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