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LisaLB24 03-01-2012 01:54 PM

New 150 gallon start-up
Hi, all. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed and out of my league at the moment and was hoping for some good advice. We are purchasing a used 150 gallon tank and would like to start an African cichlid tank (leaning towards malawi mbuna based on my research thus far). I am planning for a mix of pool filter sand, aragonite and some coral for substrate, slate rocks and vals for decor, and no special lighting (just whatever comes in the hood).

I plan on doing a canister filter but haven't picked one yet. I'm debating if I should do a canister/ HOT combo. Any advice? What are your favorite filters? I currently have an emporer 400 on my 55 gal and really like it. Could I do another one of these with a canister setup?

What about sirstones and cichlids? I've never used them in my tanks before because my tanks are typically heavily planted. With the sparse plants in this tank I'm not sure if they are neccesary.

What size heater? Should I get two to put in seperate spots of the tank?

What am I forgetting?

We're moving so we have a couple months to acquire supplies and plan this thing out before we actually start building. What fish to stock is going to be whole other ball-game.

Any advice to get me started would be most appreciated! Thanks!

Tazman 03-01-2012 02:06 PM

If you do go with Malawi mbuna you be looking at minimum 15-20 times tank volume turn over per hour, so 2250- 3000gph.

I would seriously have a look at Fluval FX5 filters, they are extremely powerful and would suit your tank perfect. I have a FX5, Rena XP4 and 2 Marineland Penguin 400's on my 180g malawi tank, plus a 32 gallon sump with 6 gallons of bioballs.

Heaters I would look at 2 x 200w or inline ones if you go with canister filters. I have 2 inline on my tank and the temperature is constant on both sides of the tank.

Again with mbuna, sand and rocks is the theme, plants only SOME will work (Anubias and Java Fern) being some that come to mind, a lot will get picked at. Mbuna like to dig an awful lot so not so much the crushed coral substrate, rocks need to be well positioned and sturdy. I have pieces of eggcrate (light diffuser panel) on the bottom of both my tanks and the rocks directly on that even before I put the sand down.

Am sure there are other things I have forgotten but this is a start.

Tazman 03-01-2012 02:23 PM

API Freshwater Master kit will be invaluable along with tests for GH AND kh (General Hardness and Carbonate Hardness).

Your water will need to be tested from the tap in the location of the new tank before suggesting stocks. The tank is going to take 6-8 weeks perhaps to cycle if you do not use live plants, which will give you time to sort a stock list out.

When compiling a stock list, take into account, what is available locally? will you be prepared to order fish online?

LisaLB24 03-01-2012 02:39 PM

Thanks for the quick reply. I was totally not expecting to need that much filtration! I was thinking 8x and hour would plenty suffice. Hmmm. Have to think on that more.

I do have java so some of that will move onto the rocks. I forgot to mention that I'm planning to use egg crate with the substrate as well and only using the coral sparsely. The water at the new location is not going to be hard enough for these guys so I'm preparing to have to add buffers. I'll have many more questions regarding keeping ph/gh/kh steady during water changes etc., but I'm not quite there yet. Thanks for the heads up, though. I'm taking good notes of what everyone mentions!!!

The selection around here SUCKS so I'm planning on ordering fish; I see them as an investment and not really where I want to try to skimp... Everywhere else on the otherhand, I'm looking to save and DIY as much as I can!

LisaLB24 03-01-2012 02:41 PM

Can you tell me more about your sump pump? I've never bothered learning about them as I always thought they were more suited for marine setups. What do they do?

Tazman 03-01-2012 02:56 PM

Here is an image of the design of the wet dry filter which I created..(this is not my own one but will give you an idea).

Basically you have a tower which holds bioballs or dollar store plastic pot scrubbers, above the water line in the sump, water drains down from the main tank via an overflow (see video ) into a prefilter, from there it goes into a drip plate (plate full of holes) to evenly distribute water over the bioballs...from there it goes through another filter sponge before being sent back to the main tank with a return pump.

I have an overflow capable of doing 600gph made from 1" pvc tubing, my return pump is 750gph as the water has to be pumped up 5 feet from the sump into the main tank.. I use 1/2" pvc for the return line and a ball valve to control flow.

A sump serves to increase the total volume in your system and make the water parameters more stable, if using bioballs or pot scrubbers (MUST BE PLASTIC ONES) you are creating a massive biological filter in which to house all the good bacteria needed to break down waste. They can be quite expensive to setup as you either DIY a tank or buy a readymade tank or container.

There are literally hundreds of ways to create an effective one and simple google search for "wet dry filter" will give you some ideas. If you decide to go this route, then depending on what canister filters or canister / HOB combo, this will determine if you need / what size sump / wet dry filter.

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