Aquarium & Tropical Fish Site
January '04

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Photos & Descriptions

Tank 1 - FALSE! :-) 401francisco2.jpg (33kb)

January '04 - Francisco Ribeiro Jr.'s 122 L Cichlid Tank. (Brazil)

This tank is a great example of the 'False Marine' style, using dead corals, shells and halimeda substrate together with fresh water and specialized cichlid salt to create and maintain an ideal water chemistry for the Lake Malawi Cichlids that inhabit the tank. The setup even uses blue-toned marine lighting to further increase the 'illusion'.

Owner:Francisco Ribeiro Jr., 30, from Taubaté (Brazil)
Setup:February 2003
Dimensions:90x30x45 cm
Volume: 122 liters (nominal), ~95 liters (effective)
Filtration:4 Millennium 1000 - I opted to put more filters of smaller capacity, to reduce the risk in case of malfunction or even to be able to clean one of them without any adverse effect on the circulation. One of the Millennium's has been with me for 5 years.
Lighting:2x15 W Arcadia Marine Blue and Marine-Glo, on from 6:00 om to 10:00 pm and controlled by a Timer - Automatic Intermatic.
Heating:Visi-Therm 150 W heater. Temperature monitoring is done with a digital thermometer - Time or Temp - which makes the reading very easy.
Substrate:About 12 kg of Halimeda
Decoration:Recife dead rock, a large shell and several small shells.
Water: Temp. 28 - 30ºC; NH3 < 0,01 mg/L; NO2 < 0,3 mg/L; pH 8,0; NO3 12,5 - 25 mg/L; GH 16ºdH and PO4 < 1,0 mg/L.
Fauna:2 Gephirochromis moorii, 2 Labidochromis caeruleus, 2 Pseudotropheus zebra, 1 Pseudotropheus demasoni, 1 Nimbochromis livingstonii e 1 Copadichromis borleyi.
Feeding:4x a day, in small quantities, Tetra Spirulina Flakes and Tetra Cichlid Flakes (dosed with an Eheim automatic feeder) and weekly, alternating with the flakes: brine shrimp, Tetra Blood Worms and vegetable leaves, such as chard.
Maintenance:Weekly water change 20% to 30%, with gravel vacuuming and cleaning of the filter cartridges in the removed water. Cartridge replacement in one of the filters ever 20 days. Monthly testing of Ammonia and Nitrite, since the tank's been cycled for a while. pH testing every other week just for assurance, since this parameter hasn't changed at all since the first few weeks after setup. Weekly testing of Phosphate, Nitrate and Total Hardness. These parameters tell me the amount of water I need to change and the amount of cichlid salt to be added. My tap water has low hardness and pH around 7.6. To correct it, I add Aqua Safe, cichlid salt and also Tetra Cichlids Vital.
Comments:I believe that to keep african cichlids well in a medium size tank like mine, the crucial factors are the careful choice of fish and and close monitoring of their behaviors, a thorough regular tank maintenance and especially good control over the owner's anxiety, one must accept that it's just not possible to 'add another fish'! That's why, if I had the means, I would keep a larger tank, at least 200 liters, but where I live there's not enough room. The choice of making it a false marine tank was purely esthetic, and despite the controversy involving the use of marine items, I've never had any problems with the water quality, at least with respect to the parameters I monitor) and I have friends with such setups for more than 3 years who've never had any major problems either. In conclusion, as any cichlid lover, I believe that the trouble involved in maintaining a Malawi Cichlid tank is pretty small, and the cost/benefit to the aquarist is highly favorable.

If you'd like to submit an aquarium for Tank of the Month, just contact me.

401francisco3.jpg (36kb)

Pseudotropheus demasoni and Labidochromis caeruleus

Photos taken by Elbert Morais for Francisco Ribeiro Jr. and displayed here with his permission.

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