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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, This is my first time with fish since I was a child. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. I'm starting a 60 gallon aquarium. I bought a Fluval 406 canister filter (rated up to 100G). Is this enough or should I get an a HOB filter too? Which Cichlid's do you recommend for a beginner? Which ones are the most comparable? Where's the best online place to find rocks, caves and other decorations? Sorry for all the questions. I just want to make sure I do everything right and have happy and healthy fish.

 

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Hi gwljr1314. First let me say Welcome to TFK! I can't answer all your questions but I'll try to answer what I can.
Filters really depend on what type and quantity of fish you are going to keep. My personal opinion is a canister filter all the way!
You said... new tank.... how old, have you cycled this tank? It takes up to 6-8 weeks without live plants. Have you read?: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/freshwater-aquarium/beginners-guide-freshwater-aquarium-cycle-38617/
Do you have an API Liquid testing kit? Test strips can be very unreliable as they can absorb moisture and humidity. Get yourself a kit asap so you can test your water. Also test your tap water or whatever is your "new" water source so you know what your numbers are.
You will not be "cleaning" this filter for some time, and when you do there are strict rules as you do not want to kill off all the good bacteria you have built up during the cycling... or you will cause a mini cycle and poss death.
Always use old tank water or clean De-chlorinated water to rinse your media. The tubies and gravel stuff inside just goes right back into the filter. I have never changed mine!! The foam inserts or fiberfill stuff can be rinsed too and reused or replaced but again I don't do this often. Never scrub the whole thing clean... the slimy surfaces inside are your good bacteria... just make sure that you have flushed the main tubes of any heavy gunk/sludge.
A good judge of when to "rinse" your canister is if you see the output flow has diminished some. Mine is set up as a "river". The uptake tube is at one end of the tank (75gal) and my out put is a spray bar across the other end of the tank which makes the flow of water go down the tank like a river. But I have Rainbowfish and Tetras.
Cichlids.... I think you meant compatible? Do you mean peaceful? Rusty's are quite social and will breed easily. Hopefully other members can jump in here with other suitable species to keep and any questions I missed!
 

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Welcome to TFK also.

If you are looking at keeping African Cichlids then I cannot stress enough the need to over filter them, so a possible addition of a HOB filter for extra filtration and gas exchange would be beneficial.

With regards to beginner fish, Look at:
Metriaclima estherae (Red Zebra)
Pseudotropheus
sp. "Acei"
Labidochromis caeruleus
(Yellow Lab)
Iodotropheus sprengerae
(Rusty)
Cynotilapia afra

Maximum of 12 fish spread over 3 species from the above list. Try also as well to aim for 1 male to 3 female of each, these fish are harem breeders and co-specific (same species aggressive), we look at 1 male to several females to help keep a breeding male from constantly harassing a lone female.
Also look at Synodontis Multipunctus or BristleNose Plecos as bottom feeders.

Any more information, please do not hesitate to ask.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you very much you two for all the information. It's gonna be awhile before my tank even sees water. Still buying all the things I'm gonna need for it first. It can get very expensive as you know. I'm trying to do as much research as I can now so I'm prepared when I start.

Next I plan on buying
Eco-Complete African Cichlid Substrate
Cichlid stones
Fluval E 300-Watt heater (do you think one would be enough?)
air pump

Do you recommend silk/plastic plants or are they unnecessary? What are the best testing kits? Thank you again for all your help.



http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=21383
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Just one more question (for now). When it's time to finally add fish do I buy them all at once or a few at a time? People seem to have different answers to this question.
 

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You do not really need the cichlid stones, my BN pleco spend more time in them than my cichlids do. As long as you have a decent amount of rocks, the fish will be happy. You can get dry reef rocks (macro rocks) and they will be cheaper long term.

If you are getting the HOB filter (look at Penquin 350B or 400), then you can get away with not having the air pump / stone as well, the waterfall effect from the HOB will be all you need for gas exchange / oxygenation.

If you want to do a natural look of Lake Malawi there are very few plants in the lake, however, they can provide additional hiding spots for fish / fry should you wish to use them. You can also look into real plants such as Java Fern and the larger Anubias, both are cichlid friendly, they will chew at them a bit but not as much as some other real plants, they are also beneficial as they will help export ammonia, nitrite and nitrates from your tank.

Perhaps instead of 1 300w heater, look at getting 2 x 150w heaters and put them at opposite ends of the tank, this way in case one ever dies (which does happen), then you have a backup, whereas with just one, if that dies, the tank can quickly get too cold for the fish.

In regards to the test kit, API MASTER kit is highly recommend. There are some additional things you would need to know about the Nitrate test should you decide to purchase this kit. It is highly recommended to stay AWAY from the test strips!, they are very inaccurate.

Hope this helps.
 

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Just one more question (for now). When it's time to finally add fish do I buy them all at once or a few at a time? People seem to have different answers to this question.
If you cycle the tank using pure ammonia, as described in this article beginners guide freshwater aquarium-cycle, then once the cycle is complete you can FULLY stock the tank straight away. I have used this on the tanks as described in my signature at the bottom of my posts.
 

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What roughly is your average room temperature that the tank will be located in (both summer and winter)?
 

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I think the 2 x 200w will be sufficient provided there is not very large 15°F temperature differences in cold room temperature to summer temperature.

Having two though is recommended so at least as I mentioned you have a backup should one fail.

I have 2 x 300w inline heaters on my 75g tank and it stays constant at 78°F and my house gets freezing in winter, it is an old house with virtually no insulation.

You might consider getting an inline heater something like this and hooking it up to your canister filter and then having another 200w in the tank.
 

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Cichlid stones in my opinion are overrated and nearly useless when the fish grow above 3".

Texas holey rock, Marco rocks and the carib sea ones you posted would be fine. You can even use regular rocks from your garden provided they are cleaned with bleach and left to dry completely for about a week prior to going in the tank.
 

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I would just spend some time collecting rocks around the house or take a hike along a river near by, I think it would look more natural than any of the other rocks you mentioned, I agree with everything Tazman has said so far, just one thing with rocks is pour a little vinegar on them and if it bubbles up of fizzes then dont use those rocks in the tank, good luck
 

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I completely forgot about that part! That is EXTREMELY important.
 

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I have some cichlid stones in my tank, the fish hardly ever go inside the stones, they usually go between the gaps as they would with any other pile of stones so I agree with the other guys! Plus they can look pretty unnatural which is a turn off for me.
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Thank you very much Tazman and Hanky.
Your entirely welcome, actually if you collect some rocks, slate is also a good stone to use in tanks just try to make sure edges arent to sharp, you could get some 100% silicone and use it to glue some rocks together to create your own formations, or just arange them in the tank and try to create small hiding spots
 
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