Aquarium Setup • 125g Malawi Tank - Aquaterra Background And More...

New to the world of cichlids? For discussion on how to set up new tanks, including placement, filtration, substrates, water, etc. No stocking discussions here.

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Postby harveyb27 » Tue Sep 22, 2009 1:12 pm

Hey, sorry for the delay people, been very busy.

I started on the preperation ofr the background whilst im still waiting to get the tank. I will get my aquarium from ND Aquatics. Ill visit them soon to install the background before they apply the euro bracing. I have done all the preperation for the background, so all i have to do now is literally silicone it to the tank...

First i changed the size of the tank i was going to get. Originally i was going to get a rio 400, rena 450 or a custom tank in the same dimensions. The new custom tank will be bigger, a 60x24x24" tank, ensuring i get the maximum space back for the fish to swim, as the background is huge (understatement).

I started the preperation for the background by deciding where i would put the piping/tubes for the filters. I changed my mind from the original plans of having twin pipes from each output. Instead there will only be one pipe to make things less complicated, and also so i dont have to cut the background in too many places. The fluval fx5 output nozzle will be used so i can still control the direction of flow.

I cut two holes using a simple kitchen knife. I then filed these using a Half Round Rasp/File (wood work tool). This helped the smooth out the edges slowly to the perfect shape and measurement for the pipes to fit snug.

I then cut out the holes to allow water flow in the same way. I also made a small overflow at the top of the background. The overflow is near the flow of the output from the fluval fx5 so this should draw water out from the surface behind the background.

I used a very fine mesh to cover these sections. I used a silicone/glue gun to cover the edges of the background and to seal any gaps etc. Black silicone was used so that it would match the tank silicone.

After Cutting:
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After Silicone and Mesh:
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Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2008 5:09 pm
Location: London - UK

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Postby harveyb27 » Thu Dec 10, 2009 8:26 am

Good News Everyone... The tank is up and running, rocks, background and the first bunch of fish too.

Since my last post i have painted the rim and sides black. Cleaned rocks and sand... Install an eheim 2227, fluval 405 and fx5. The surface agititation is great with 3 filters. The volume of water is approx 560 liters / 150 US gallons.

All i need to do now is silicone the rim of the background (so fish cant jump behind) and get lighting.

There is no hood, as i wanted an open top. There are glass covers which cover the whole of the top.

NDaquatics did an amazing job on helping me install the background. The finish of the tank is unbeleivable...

The fish so far are:

11 Pseudotropheus Demasoni "Pombo Rocks"
7 Labidochromis Caeruleus "Lion's Cove"
6 Pseudotropheus Acei "Kambiri Point"
3 Melanochromis Dialeptos "Masinje Rocks"

Here is a teaser pic, though you wont be able to see the full effect without lighting.


I want to buy an arcadia luminaire ot2 (60"). Does anyone know where i can get it or the lowest price. The best price i found was £409. Which is crazy, but i think it would look great as i have an open top. Plus i will be able to switch from a moon light to normal lighting from one button in one system. So is there anyone that knows how/where i can get a good deal for this? Thanks.
Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2008 5:09 pm
Location: London - UK

Postby harveyb27 » Wed Sep 22, 2010 2:18 pm

Major major delay, since last post but here it is...

After a few years of chopping and changing I'm finally happy with my tank and stocklist*


WC = Wild Caught.
F1 = First generation from wild parents.
TB = Tank Bred.
PB = Previously Bred in other peoples tanks.
RB = Regular Breeders in my tank.

3 Cynotilapia Lion "Sanga" - 1M/2F (F1) (RB)
2 Cynotilapia Mbamba "Mphanga" - 1M/1F (WC)
2 Metriaclima Dwarf "Manda" - 1M/1F (OB Fems) (WC)
2 Metriaclima Mbenji "Mbenji Island" - 1M/1F (OB Fems) (WC) (PB)
3 Metriaclima Zebra Chilumba "Maison Reef" - 1M/2F (WC) (RB)
3 Metriaclima Zebra Gold "Kawanga" - 1M/2F (OB Fems) (WC) (PB)
3 Labeotropheus Trewazasae "Zimbawe Rocks" - 1M/2F (OB Fems) (F1, One fem is F2) (PB)
4 Labidochromis Caeruleus - 2M/2F (TB)
2 Pseudotropheus Acei "Kambiri Point" - 1M/1F (F1) (RB)
5 Tropheops Red Fin "Kakusa" - 1M/4F (WC) (RB)
4 Synodontis Njassae (WC)

*I said i was happy with the stocklist, but i will be happier when i find these last additions:

5 Metriaclima Msobo "Magunga" - 1M/4F (WC)
2 Metriaclima Dwarf "Manda" - 2F (OB Fems) (WC)
2 Metriaclima Zebra Chilumba "Maison Reef" - 2F (WC)


Custom Aquarium by ND-Aquatics (UK). 60"x25"x24" (LxHxW).
Glass Sliders, Black Silicone, Black matching cabinet, No Hood.
I used black paint to border 1" of the top of the tank, allowing 24" of veiwable glass. Also painted the sides behind the background.

- Aquaterra 3D Background - Malawi Version
The background was sealed with black silicone on the bottom and both sides. There was a 1" gap between glass sliders and the background, which was also filled with silicone to ensure no fish could get behind the BG.
- Large Brown Boulders
- Caribsea Aragamax Select Sand (50lbs)

Filtration, Heating and Lighting:
- FX5 - Twin Output
- FLUVAL 405 - Single Output
- EHEIM 2227 - Spray Bar

- 2x Rena SmartHeater 300w

- 2x Aquaray 500 LED Bars
Aquaray Controller - "natural sunrise/sunset effect"

- Clean one filter every 4 months in rotation
- Scrub glass (inside and out) twice a week.
- 50-60% Water change every week.
- Siphone tank weekly (behind background bi-weekly).
- Re-arrange rockwork bi-weekly.


Sunday-Tuesday - NLS 1mm Pellet
Wednesday-Friday - Tropical Malawi Flake

Afternoon or Evening:
Monday - NLS 1mm Pellet
Tuesday - Tropical Malawi Flake
Wednesday - Red Astax Crumb
Thursday - NLS 1mm Pellet
Friday - Tropical Spirulina Super Forte Flake
Saturday - No feed
Sunday - Treat - Frozen Mysis Shrimp or Brine Shrimp


I leave holding females in the tank for 2 weeks.
Strip using a ball point pen then transfer fry to fry trap in a 30g.
I return females to the same tank immediately after stripping, to avoid re-introduction process.


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Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2008 5:09 pm
Location: London - UK

Postby kriskm » Wed Sep 22, 2010 11:13 pm

Wow, amazing job on this tank. I love how the rocks match the background so well. It all provides a very natural backdrop for those gorgeous fish. The pics were worth the wait (of course, I just found this thread, so I didn't really have to wait :wink: ).
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:33 pm
Location: Edmonds, WA

Postby harveyb27 » Thu Sep 23, 2010 12:53 pm

Thanks, the rocks actually used to be a yellow/brown color. After a bit of algae everything easily blended in together. I searched high and low for brown rocks with no luck at all.

Glad you did not have to endure the delay... i was useless! :D

Make sure you guys watch the video in the link at the post.
Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2008 5:09 pm
Location: London - UK


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