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May '09

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May '09 - Christine Karlsen's 660 L American Cichlid Aquarium. (Norway)

There are several good examples and experiences to learn from in this month's featured tank. Probably the most important is Norwegian hobbyist Christine Karlsen's commitment to responsible fishkeeping by providing a larger home for the big fish she owned, as soon as it became clear that the previous 325 L tank wasn't big enough for the growing fish. You will note that an upgrade to suit the needs of her fish didn't necessarily imply in any major increase in investment, and large tank setups can in fact be kept pretty simple. She also shares a few other interesting stories below, so be sure to read the comments in addition to admiring the photos of her very nice tank!

Owner:Christine Karlsen, from Norway, 11 years of fishkeeping.
Setup:December 2006.
Dimensions:200x55x60 cm.
Volume:660 L (nominal).
Filtration:Eheim 2260, Juwel Jumbo, Fluval 204.
Lighting:2x40 W Osram full spectrum fluorescents (5000 K and 6000 K) + 2x30 W Hagen Sun-Glo.
Heating:Juwel 300 W (inside Juwel filter) + Sera 300 W.
Substrate:About 3.5 cm of common gravel, but more around some of the root plants.
Decoration:Wood, plants.
Others:No circulator pumps. The tank has a turn over of 7x per hour. Light timer is on for 12 hours a day. No automatic feeder, no pH control, no CO2 injector, no plant food.
Water:Temp 27C.
Maintenance:Until recently, 40 to 50% water changes twice week. I have now cut it down to 50% once a week. We will see how it goes, might have to go back to twice again. I have not needed to clean the filters as of yet, except for the Fluval that has only filter pads and floss.
Fauna:1 Oscar, 1 Severum, 1 Vieja, 1 Dempsey, 1 Pearl Gourami, 6 Clown Loaches, 1 Pleco.
Flora: Brown wendti crypt, Java fern, Windelov's fern, giant hygrophila, and a few others.

This tank was set up for my Oscar and my Clown loaches, with a lot of wood and some plants. They were previously in a 325 liter - the Clowns for almost two years, and the Oscar for a year. I felt it was getting too small, so I found a good deal on a used 660 liter. Everything from the 325 L went into the 660 L.

When I setup this tank I wanted to have lots of hiding places for the Clowns. I had 2 bristlenose plecos but the Oscar tried to eat the male BN tail first (thankfully, or I could have lost both fish) and I had to chase the Oscar around the tank to get him to spit it out. Unfortunately the male BN didn't live, and the female died two days later (to what I don't know, found no wounds on her). They were both 5-6 years old.

I am now fighting algae, so I got a new pleco that will not grow too big, but big enough not to be eaten or hold its own. I also had a Convict Cichlid, but he got too aggressive. I also tried a Firemouth Cichlid but he was also too aggressive for my Oscar. My Oscar is very mellow, he does not dig or move plants. His favorite passtime is to spit gravel on the Clowns while they sleep at the front of the tank. After getting gravel spit on them a few times the loaches go under some wood to sleep.

Plants are all low light. They are doing OK, but the Severum and loaches are hard on them. I had 2 kinds of Anubias, but every time they flowered the loaches would kill the flowers and poke holes in the leaves, which got covered in algae, so I had to move them.

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

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Adequate space is pretty much all that's needed to keep a big oscar happy

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Jack Dempsey and Clommon Pleco

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Vieja and the Loaches

Photos taken by Christine Karlsen and displayed here with her permission.

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