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Cookie Cutter Setup for 75-gallons
(48x18x20 in / 122x46x51 cm)
by the CF Moderators

75 gallons is a very popular aquarium. With this volume, the hobbyist can keep many different species and more of them as well. In fact, 60-70% of the cichlid species available to the hobbyist can be housed in 75 gallons. And as far as New World species are concerned, you will find your probability of stocking success is much greater than it might be with a 55-gallon aquarium. Listed below are several stocking recommendations for 75-gallon aquariums, some popular and others quite unique. These recommendations come to you courtesy of the Cichlid-Forum moderating staff.

As already mentioned, the stocking combinations are many and varied. It is therefore unreasonable to comment on every possible setup, even on just those within this article. Individual setups should be researched in order to understand what will work best for your selection. Items to investigate are water parameters, substrate, plants, rocks, and the diet of your fishes. Despite having said this, it behooves us to comment on a few setups.

In general, Tropheus and Lake Malawi Mbuna require lots of rocks. Nooks, crannies, and anything that can function as a cave is highly appreciated. These are readily claimed as hiding, sleeping, and breeding spots. Because of their aggressive nature, caves offer protection and rest to subordinate fishes. Some of the more popular rocks used include: lace rock, shale, slate, lava, petrified wood, tufa, pagoda, granite, and of course honeycomb limestone (aka holey rock).

The Purple & Yellow Mbuna Setup is great for beginners and makes a great show tank with lots of activity. To really bring out the colors, we recommend a blue light (actinic bulb), a black backdrop, black sand (e.g., Tahitian Moon sand), and dark or black rocks (e.g., lace rock).

The West African Setup could be arranged with a couple of different rocky, caved areas with the rest of the aquarium containing large driftwood and being very heavily planted.

The East African Riverine Setup should be very well planted.

The Cave-Dweller Tanganyikan Setup is a little more challenging and should consist primarily of rocks with at least a dozen caves. Each of these species prefers caves to the open water and without these harmony will be difficult to achieve. We also recommend a dark, sandy substrate with an actinic bulb.

75-gallon aquariums should be outfitted with a 250-watt heater to ensure a stable water temperature. Lighting is rather straightforward. A single 48-inch fluorescent light strip is the most common method. For planted tanks, consider using a second strip light. A little more expensive, but justifiably so is the 110-watt Power Compact.

Filter options are numerous. Keep in mind that the total water volume should be cycled through your filter(s) 4-8 times and hour. In other words, to adequately filter a 75-gallon aquarium your filter(s) should cycle a total of 300-600 gallons/hr. There are many ways to accomplish this. Some of the more popular filters are Hang-On-Tank (HOT) filters and canister filters. HOT filters include: Aquaclear 500, Emperor 400, Penguin Bio-Wheel 330, System 1 Pressure Filter, and Cascade 300. Popular canister filters include Eheim 2260, 2215, 2217, 2026; Fluval 404; Magnum 350; Filstar XP3. To really maximize filtration, many keen hobbyists will use a canister/HOT filter combo.

Wet/Dry filtration using a sump is a very effective method that requires little maintenance. Sumps are less popular however due to the higher price and additional work required to set them up. Sumps require a pump, either submersible or external. For specific product information and member reviews of these and other products please visit the Product Reviews Section.

75 gallons is large enough that one could also install Under-Gravel Jets (UGJ). UGJ are appealing for many reasons. First of all, they're cheap and highly customizable. Furthermore, they increase water movement at the bottom of the tank, elminate the need for vacuuming the substrate, and supplement other means of filtration.


Central American Aquarium

    Peaceful CA Community #1
    •  Herotilapia multispinosa - 1 pair
    •  Thorichthys maculipinnis - 1 pair
    •  Astyanax fasciatus mexicanus (Tetra) - 12


    Peaceful CA Community #2
    •  Hypsophrys nicaraguensis - 1 pair
    •  Amphilophus margaritifer - 1 pair
    •  Hyphessobrycon columbianus (Tetra) - 10


    Aggressive CA Community
    •  Archocentrus sajica - 1 pair
    •  Herichthys carpintis - 1
    •  Astyanax fasciatus mexicanus (Tetra) - 12


    Single "Wet Pet" Aggressive CA Tank
    •  Nandopsis haitiensis - 1
                              -OR-
    •  Parachromis motaguensis - 1
                              -OR-
    •  Parachromis managuensis - 1



South American Aquarium

    Peaceful SA Community
    •  Gymnogeophagus gymnogenys - 1:3
    •  Apistogramma cacatuoides - 1:3
    •  Laetacara curviceps - 1 pair
    •  Megalamphodus megalopterus "Black Phantom
       Tetra" - 10
    •  Peckoltia sp. L-333 "Yellow King Tiger Pleco" - 1
    •  Chaestostoma milesi "Bulldog Pleco" - 1


    Aggressive SA Community
    •  Gymnogeophagus balzani - 1:3
    •  Mesonauta festivus - 1 pair
    •  Crenicichla compressiceps "Dwarf Pike" - 1 pair
    •  Hemmigramus caudovittatus "Buenos Aires
       Tetra" - 8-10
    •  Leporacanthicus galaxias "Vampire Pleco" - 1
    •  Ancistrus sp. "Bristlenose Pleco" - 1


    •  Pterophyllum scalare - 4
    •  Mikrogeophagus ramirezi- 4
    •  Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis "Lemon Tetra" - 6
    •  Hemigrammus bleheri "Rummy Nose Tetra" - 8
    •  Corydoras adolfi "Cory Catfish"- 6


    •  Symphysodon aequifasciatus - 4
    •  Mikrogeophagus ramirezi - 4
    •  Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis "Lemon Tetra" - 6
    •  Hemigrammus bleheri "Rummy Nose Tetra" - 8
    •  Corydoras adolfi "Cory Catfish"- 6


    •  Heros efasciatus - 1 pair
    •  Aequidens pulcher "Blue Acara" - 1
    •  Danio malabaricus "Giant Danio" - 8
    •  Melanotaenia trifasciata "Banded Rainbow" - 5
    •  Melano. boesemani "Boeseman's Rainbow" - 5



Lake Malawi Mbuna Aquarium

    Blue and Yellow Mbuna Setup:
    Select only 1 from A or B and 1 from C:

    Group A: Blue:
    •  Pseudo. elongatus "Likoma Is." - 7
    •  Metriaclima callainos - 10

    Group B: Blue & Yellow Dimorphism:
    •  Pseudotropheus sp. "Msobo" - 7
    •  Pseudotropheus saulosi - 12
    •  Melanochromis johanni - 8

    Group C: Yellow
    •  Labidochromis caeruleus - 10


    Purple and Yellow Mbuna Setup:
    •  Pseudotropheus sp. "Acei" - 8 adults
    •  Labidochromis caeruleus - 10 adults
                        -OR-
    •  Pseudotropheus sp. "Acei" - 14 juveniles
    •  Labidochromis caeruleus - 16 juveniles
    *  See note.


    •  Pseudotropheus sp. "Elongatus Chailosi" - 2:4
    •  Metriaclima estherae - 6
    •  Metriaclima greshakei - 4
    •  Labidochromis sp. "Hongi" - 5
    •  Synodontis multipunctatus - 3-6


    Select 4 species (Max 5 of each):
    •  Pseudotropheus polit
    •  Pseudotropheus saulosi
    •  Pseudotropheus sp. "Msobo"
    •  Pseudotropheus sp. "Acei"
    •  Cynotilapia axelrodi
    •  Labidochromis caeruleus
    •  Labidochromis sp. "Hongi"
    •  Labidochromis sp. "Perlmutt"
    •  Labidochromis chisimulae
    •  Iodotropheus sprengerae
    •  Cynotilapia afra
    Do not mix any two species of Labidochromis, the
    Pseudotropheus saulosi with the Pseudotropheus
    deep
or any two Cynotilapia species.


    •  Labidochromis caeruleus - 3
    •  Pseudotropheus sp. "Acei" - 3
    •  Pseudotropheus sp. "Elongatus Chewere"- 3
    •  Pseudotropheus socolofi - 3
    •  Labeotropheus fulleborni - 1:2
    •  Pseudotropheus saulosi - 1:2
    •  Synodontis multipunctatus - 6



Larger, More Aggressive Mbuna Setup

    Select 1 species from 4 of the various groups below (Max 4 of each) , for a max total of 4 groups, and 16 fish. :
    
    Group A:
    •  Labeotropheus trewavasae

    Group B:
    •  Melanochromis johanni
    •  Melanochromis cyaneorhabdos
    •  Melanochromis auratus

    Group C:
    •  Metriaclima callainos
    •  Metriaclima estherae
    •  Metriaclima lombardoi

    Group D:
    •  Labidochromis species

    Group E:
    •  Tropheops tropheops

    Group F:
    •  Pseudotropheus elongatus types
    •  Pseudotropheus flavus

    Group G:
    •  Cynotilapia afra



Lake Malawi Haplochromine Aquarium

    Pick 1 species from any 4 groups (Max 5 of each):
    Group A:
    •  Copadichromis azureus
    •  Copadichromis chrysonotus
    •  Copadichromis sp. "Mloto fluorescent"
    •  Copadichromis trewavasae

    Group B:
    •  Protomelas sp. "Steveni Taiwan" (Taiwanee        Reef)
    •  Protomelas taeniolatus (Red Empress)
    •  Protomelas ornatus

    Group C:
    •  Aulonocara baenschi
    •  Aulonocara stuartgranti (Usisya)

    Group D:
    •  Placidochromis electra
    •  Placidochromis phenochilus

    Group E:
    •  Otopharynx lithobates

    Group F:
    •  Nyassachromis species


    Blue and Yellow Haplochromine Setup:
    Select 1 from each group:

    Group A: Blue
    •  Cyrtocara moorii - 4
    •  Placidochromis phenochilus - 5
    •  Copadichromis azureus - 6
    •  Sciaenochromis fryeri - 5

    Group B: Blue & Yellow:
    •  Protomelas sp. "spilonotus Tanzania" - 1 pair
    •  Otopharynx lithobates (Zimbabwe) - 4

    Group C: Yellow
    •  Aulonocara baenschi - 2 pair
    •  Aulonocara sp. "Stuartgranti Maleri" (Maleri Is.) - 2 pair



Mixed Lake Malawi Aquarium

    •  Aulonocara jacobfreibergi - 3-4
    •  Placidochromis electra - 3-4
    •  Pseudotropheus sp. "Acei" - 4
    •  Labidochromis caeruleus - 6


    •  Aulonocara stuartgranti - 4
    •  Copadichromis mloto - 4
    •  Labidochromis chisumulae - 6
    •  Pseudotropheus saulosi - 6



Mixed African Aquarium

    •  Metriaclima fainzilberi - 10
    •  Pundamilia nyererei (Makobe Is.) - 4
    •  Labidochromis sp. "Perlmutt" - 8
    •  Synodontis multipunctatus - 6


    Red, White, and Blue Mixed African Setup:
    Select 1 species of each color:

    Red:
    •  Ptyochromis salmon - 6
    •  Haplochromis sp. "Flameback" - 6

    White:
    •  Labidochromis chisumulae - 6

    Blue:
    •  Placidochromis phenochilus - 4
    •  Cyrtocara moorii - 4


    Black and White Mixed African Setup:
    •  Melanochromis parallelus - 6
    •  Astatotilapia nubilus - 6
    •  Pseudotropheus socolofi (Albino) - 4
    •  Metriaclima callanois (Pearly White OB) - 6


    All Red Mixed African Setup:
    •  Ptyochromis salmon -1 male
    •  Protomelas taeniolatus "Red Empress" - 1 male
    •  Copadichromis borleyi (Kadango) 3:3
    •  Aulonocara stuartgranti "Rubescens"- 1 male
    •  Aulonocara jacobfreibergi "Eureka" - 1 male
    •  Metriaclima estherae (Red) - 1 individual



Tanganyika Community

    Select 3 types only:
    •  Neolamprologus cylindricus, mustax,
        leleupi or nigriventris - 2
    •  Altolamprologus calvus or compressiceps - 3
    •  Julidochromis or Chalinochromis
    •  Telmatochromis vittatus, bifrenatus or         brichardi


    Select only 1 Tropheus species:
    •  Any single Tropheus species - 12 - 15
    •  Spathodus erythrodon, Eretmodus or
       Tanginicodus - 1 pair of one species


    Tanganyikan Sand-Sifter Setup:
    •  Xenotilapia papilio or flavipinnis - 6
    •  Paracyprichromis brieni or nigripinnis - 8
    •  Altolamprologus calvus or compressiceps pair
    •  Reganochromis calliurus - 6
    •  Phyllonemus typus - 4


    •  Neolamprologus brichardi complex - pair
    •  Cyprichromis leptosoma - 12
    •  Synodontis petricola - 3-6


    •  Altolamprologus calvus or compressiceps - pair
    •  Neolamprologus buescheri
    •  Shell dweller pair of choice -
         'Lamprologus' (Shellies) brevis,
         multifasciatus (group), meleagaris,
         ornatipinnis, ocellatus, speciosus,
         similis (group), Neolamprologus signatus
    •  Cyprichromis leptosoma (12) (non-jumbos)



Lake Victoria Basin Aquarium

    •  Paralabidochromis sp. "Rock Kribensis" (Uganda)         - 1 trio
    •  Pundamilia nyererei (Ruti Is.) - 1 trio
    •  Astatotilapia latifasciata - 1:3
    •  Paralabidochromis chromogynos- 1 trio
    •  Synodontis alberti - 1-3


    •  Haplochromis sp. "Thick Skin" - 1 trio
    •  Paralabidochromis chromogynos - 1 trio
    •  Haplochromis sp. "Ruby Green" - 5
    •  Lipochromis sp. "Matumbi Hunter" - 1 trio
    •  Synodontis schoutedeni "Marble" - 1-3


    •  Haplochromis limax - 1 trio
    •  Pundamilia sp. "Crimson Tide" - 1 trio
    •  Paralabidochromis sp. "Redfin Piebald" - 6
    •  Haplochromis sp. "83 Purple Yellow" - 2:4
    •  Synodontis ocellifer - 1
    •  Synodontis decorus - 1


    •  Pundamilia nyererei (Makobe Is.) - 1 trio
    •  Paralabidochromis sp. "Rock Kribensis" (Mwanza        Gulf) - 1 trio
    •  Lipochromis sp. "Matumbi Hunter" - 1 trio
    •  Astatotilapia nubilus - 1 pair
    •  Synodontis eupterus "Upsidedown Cat" - 1
    •  Synodontis ocellifer - 1



East African Riverine Aquarium

    Select 1 from each group:
    Group A:
    •  Thoracochromis braushi - 6-8
    •  Haplochromis burtoni - 1:4

    Group B:
    •  Schwetzochromis neodon - 6-8

    Group C:
    •  Micralestes interruptus "Congo Tetra" - 10-12
    •  Micralestes occidentalis - 10-12

    Group D:
    •  Synodontis eupterus "Upsidedown Cat" - 2
    •  Synodontis ocellifer - 2
    *  See note.



West African Biotope Aquarium

    Select 2-3 cichlid pairs from the list below:
    •  Thysochromis ansorgei
    •  Nanochromis transvestitus, nudiceps or parilus
    •  Pelvicachromis taeniatus
    •  Steatocranus causarius
    •  Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi (trio)
    •  Anomalochromis thomasi
    •  Teleogramma brichardi (requires many rocks)

    Select one option for catfish:
    •  Synodontis nigreventris "Upside-down cat" - 6
    •  Synodontis brichardi & flavitaeniatus - 1 each

    Select one option for dithers:
    •  Arnoldichthys spilopterus "Red Eye Congo" - 8
    •  Brycinus longipinnis "Yellow Eye Congo" - 8
    •  Phenacogrammus interruptus "Congo Tetra" - 8
    •  Hemigrammopetersius caudalis "BlueCongo" - 8
    *  See note.



Madagascar Aquarium

    •  Paretroplus kieneri - 2 pair
                              -OR-
    •  Ptychochromoides katria "Katria Cichlid" - 1 pair
                             -AND-
    •  Bedotia geayi "Madagascar Rainbow" - 6-8
    •  Hypseleotis tohizonae "Goby" - 2


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