Aquarium & Tropical Fish Site
December '05

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December '05 - Andrea Dalbeck's 450 L Firemouth Cichlid Aquarium. (Germany)

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This month's featured aquarium is focused on the popular but often under-rated Firemouth Cichlid (Torichthys meeki) from Mexico and Guatemala. Their medium adult size (~15 cm) and relatively mild aggression level make them an excellent choice for beginner cichlid keepers who can't afford larger tanks - even a tank as small as 100 L is already acceptable for a pair.

But of course, the larger the better, as exemplified by German hobbyist Andrea Dalbeck's wonderful 450 L setup. With its ample space, perfect water parameters, shaded atmosphere due to floating plants, peaceful target/dither fish and bottom cleanup squad, it's a Firemouth's dream tank! And I bet many an aquarist's too... :-)

Owner:Andrea Dalbeck, from Germany.
Dimensions:180x50x50 cm.
Volume: 450 L (nominal), 415 L (effective).
Filtration:Eheim 2250.
Lighting:3 HQL lamps.
Heating:Jagger 300 W heater.
Substrate:5-8 cm construction sand.
Water:pH 7.5, KH 15, GH 18, NO3 20 ppm.
Maintenance:Water change once a week, about 50%.
Fauna: Fish: 5 adult Torichthys meeki, about 40 baby T. meeki, about 15 Mollies (in all colors from silver to black), 10 Corydoras paleatus, 2 Lemon-Spotted Green Plecos (L200), 2 Ancistrus sp..
Invertebrates: about 8 Pomacea bridgesi snails in various colors and lots of those tiny thingies you normally don't see, but are very healthy for the gravel and sand.
Flora: Microsorum pteropus, Nymphaea lotus (red and green), Cryptocoryne crispatula, Anubias barteri, Eichornia crassipes, Limnobium laevigatum.

Water in my area is pretty hard, but just perfect for Central American fishes. My Firemouths are about 2 years old, and they are happy parents of a bunch of babies. As long as the other inhabitants keep away from the kids, my Meekis really ignore anything that doesn't fit in their mouths. In my opinion Meekis are absolutely great animals to keep, and with them in your aquarium, you don't need a TV any longer.

The bottom is just cleaned sand, with some rounded bigger stones I collected from the river Rhine near Cologne. On the left side I tried to build a terrace with some nicely colored flat stones. It works more or less. Then 1 big root on the left side, on which I tied some Microsorium pteropus. In the back of the center and on the left side there ar a lot of Nymphaea lotus red and green, and one big Cryptocoryne crispatula left side in the back. In the center there are some Anubias barteri.

To keep the tank a bit shady, which is something Thorichthys meeki really love, I have some floating plants like Eichornia crassipes, Limnobium laevigatum and the big floating leaves of my Lotus plants. The tank is open. I hope sooner or later some of my plants will grow out of the water too, and I may have the opportunity to see some interesting flowers. I don't use CO2 or other things to keep my plants growing.

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

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Left Side View
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Top Side View

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Daddy Firemouth with his babies at 2 months of age

Photos taken by Andrea Dalbeck and displayed here with her permission.

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