October '06 - Robert Mihalko's 650 L Tropheus Aquarium. (Slovakia)
This month we're back to featuring a very specialized, classy setup. Tropheus are cichlids native to Lake Tanganyika in Africa, famous for their interesting behaviors and their stunning color patterns, which depend on their geographical location within the lake. In captivity, they came to become one of the most highly prized cichlid groups in the hobby, granting the successful Tropheus owners a certain 'status' among advanced fishkeepers.
The proper setup for these energetic, 12-14 cm cichlids requires a huge tank to hold a colony of 15-40 individuals (they are intolerant of their own species so numbers are needed to establish a hierarchy and distribute aggression) with hard and alkaline water (to keep pH around 8,0-9,0) excellent filtration, maintenance and monitoring (to keep top water quality...ammonia is very deadly at this pH range) and good lighting to grow algae on ample rock surface for them to graze on, since Tropheus are herbivorous fish, well known for bloating and dying if inadequate diets are forced upon them.
On top of all that, add the fact that these are rather expensive fish (around $10-$50 US dollars each, depending on origin/variant/size, etc) and it should be clear enough that a Tropheus tank is not for everyone, only for hobbyists like Roberto Mihalko, who offers us this very nice example of the commitment required to successfully keep these fish. He chose to build the filtration and decoration by himself and describes one of the most creative solutions I've seen so far to hide the internal equipment in a tank!
|Owner:||Robert Mihalko, from Slovakia.|
|Volume:|| 650 L (nominal).|
|Filtration:||Homemade canister filter (20 L capacity, 700 L/h) plus a homemade internal filter (3 L capacity, 800 L/h).|
|Lighting:||2x40 W Aqua-Glo, 1x40 W Flora-Glo.|
|Water:||Temp 25-26°C, pH 8.2, KH 16, GH 10.|
|Maintenance:||30% weekly water change.|
|Fauna:||25x Tropheus sp. 'Ikola', 10x Tropheus moorii 'Ilangi', 4x Julidochromis regani 'Chisanse'.|
|Flora:||Anubias barteri var. nana|
The tank was previously a mixed Malawi Mbuna tank, featured on your website in February '05. I changed everything. Decoration, background, filtration and all fish. The background is made of travertine. The false tree trunks were made by painting a shaped styrofoam with epoxy resin and covering with sand, then all styrofoam was removed. The trunks are hollow and do not have to be glued. All equipment is hidden inside. Enjoy!
If you'd like to submit an aquarium for Tank of the Month, just contact me.
Tropheus sp. 'Ikola'
Tropheus moorii 'Ilangi'
Photos taken by Robert Mihalko and displayed here with his permission.