Aquarium & Tropical Fish Site
November '05

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November '05 - Dark Aquariums

For several reasons, an aquarist may sometimes want to (or need to) setup a tank that'll have low lighting (less than 0.5 W/L) and a overall darkish look. In these cases live plants are pretty much out of the question, and many common fish species don't really look so great under low lighting. How to make the setup look interesting and attractive then? One sure way is to go with an African Cichlid Rockscape! Here a few nice examples, and congrats are due to their owners not only for the nice setups, but because photographing dark tanks is A LOT more difficult!

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Sergey Travkin's 380 Liter Cichlid Tank. (Van Nuys, EUA)

Here's my 380 liter "all black" African cichlid tank: black gravel, lava rock, black background. Filtered by two Aquaclear 500's and 1 Penguin 1147 powerhead for circulation. Plants are all fake - Surge.

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Cassio Andrade's 240 Liter Cichlid Tank. (Joo Pessoa, Brazil)

Filtration: Canister with perlon, ceramics and activated carbon, run by a 900L/h powerhead; and an internal filter with perlon and ceramics, run by a 700 L/h powerhead. Both are DIY projects made with plastic tubes and connections.

Lighting: 1x50 W dichroic Osram Decostar cool blue 50 W (4000 K) and 1x20 W common actinic fluorescent 20 W, with a photoperiod of 8 h.

Fauna: 1 Pseudotropheus demasoni, 1 Pseudotropheus lombardoi, 1 Pseudotropheus zebra Laranja, Pseudotropheus socolofi, 3 Labidochromis caeruleus, 2 Melanochromis auratus (breeding pair), 1 Melanochromis cyaneorhabdos, 3 Gephyrochromis moori (breeding), 2 Labeotropheus trewavasae "red top", 1 Copadichromis borleyi, 1 Astatotilapia latifasciata, 1 Hemichromis bimaculatus azul, 1 Scatophagus argus e 1 catfish (unknown species).

Maintenance: Weekly filter cleaning with perlon change, monthly carbon change, weekly glass cleaning.

Comments: I started out with a small community tank, but soon became interested in African cichlids and today, besides this tank which I consider the main one, I have a 50 L and a 64 L that serve as backups, since nowadays I've been getting many batches of young Auratus, Orange Zebra and Acei. My filters have always been home made (DIY). It's not difficult, after getting a grasp of the basic filtration principles and a little bit of creativity good results can be achieved. In addition, the internet has a lot of DIY models to serve as inspiration. Cichlids are very intelligent fish and, specifically with Africans, I want to dispel a little of the aggressiveness myth. In an appropriately sized tank for these species, with good water quality, parameters in the right ranges and proper feeding, there are hardly any problems with violence. Regards - Cassio.

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Edson Yasuda's 200 Liter Cichlid Tank. (So Paulo, Brazil)

Lighting: 2x30 W Aquaglo + Marineglo. Filtration: Milennium 3000, Aquaclear 300 and Fluval 304. Substrate: ~7 cm halimeda. Maintenance: water change of about 30% per month and Cichlid Vital. Fauna: 1 Steatocranus casuarius, 2 Julidocromis ornatus (with several young), 1 Lombardoi, 1 Trewavassae Red Top, 1 Brichardi, 1 Saulosi, 1 Demasoni, 1 Labidocromis Yellow, 1 Pleco.

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Verena Amaral's 140 Liter Cichlid Tank. (Brazil)

This tank of mine is 4 months old, lighting is 3x20 W Grolux, Coralife 20.000K and Power-glo. It has a Millennium 3000 external filter, pH 8.0, Dimensions (cm) 90x35x45, Substrate of aragonite mixed with pool filter sand. Water changes of 20% and syphoning every week. I haven't added any type of chemicals to the water because it wasn't necessary. I know there are specific cichlid salts, but I decided not to use them because my fish adapted well to the tank. Fauna: Jewel cichlid couple, Pseudotropheus cabro, Gephyrocrhomis moori, Pseudotropheus demasoni Pombo, Julidocromis marlieri, Julidocromis regani Kipilli, 2 Lamprologus brichardi, Lamprologus cylindricus, Labeotropheus trewavasae Red Top - Verena.

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

Photos taken by their respective authors and displayed here with their permission.

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