Aquarium Decoration (Rocks, Plants and Substrates) • New 55 gallon african cichlids tank - decor suggestions?

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Re: New 55 gallon african cichlids tank - decor suggestions?

Postby Iggy Newcastle » Mon Dec 02, 2013 8:32 am

Head to a local creek if there isn't a landscaping place anywhere.
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Re: New 55 gallon african cichlids tank - decor suggestions?

Postby B.Roberson » Mon Dec 02, 2013 9:51 pm

Iggy Newcastle wrote:Head to a local creek if there isn't a landscaping place anywhere.

+1
You need the bigger rocks, so the fish actually have space to swim thru when they are bigger.They are prolly ok with the small rocks if they are 1.5". but later,,,,NO. then use the smaller ones to "drape"off the bigger ones.looking like a riverbed/pond waterfall effect.
you could try and stack all those into the corner and slowly decend them down into the sand bed and add some more at the other end in a pile also..
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Re: New 55 gallon african cichlids tank - decor suggestions?

Postby cdrake261 » Tue Dec 03, 2013 1:04 am

B.Roberson wrote:
Iggy Newcastle wrote:Head to a local creek if there isn't a landscaping place anywhere.

+1
You need the bigger rocks, so the fish actually have space to swim thru when they are bigger.They are prolly ok with the small rocks if they are 1.5". but later,,,,NO. then use the smaller ones to "drape"off the bigger ones.looking like a riverbed/pond waterfall effect.
you could try and stack all those into the corner and slowly decend them down into the sand bed and add some more at the other end in a pile also..


I'll try....there was a lot of stones in the bag that were either limestone(or contains limestones) or contains iron via rust.
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Re: New 55 gallon african cichlids tank - decor suggestions?

Postby shelbynjakesdad » Tue Dec 03, 2013 11:55 am

Limestone is no problem for African cichlids, it is actually beneficial as it hardens the water a bit. Even the rocks with rust on them are likely fine if your pH is high enough, but it is understandable if you do not feel comfortable with the rust. Here is an article with more information:

http://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/rock_metals.php
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Re: New 55 gallon african cichlids tank - decor suggestions?

Postby cdrake261 » Tue Dec 03, 2013 12:18 pm

shelbynjakesdad wrote:Limestone is no problem for African cichlids, it is actually beneficial as it hardens the water a bit. Even the rocks with rust on them are likely fine if your pH is high enough, but it is understandable if you do not feel comfortable with the rust. Here is an article with more information:

http://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/rock_metals.php


Our Indiana water is a bit high in pH...around 8.0-8.2 to be almost exact. Limestone and rocks with rust still safe? I'd hate for them to kill off my fishes.
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Re: New 55 gallon african cichlids tank - decor suggestions?

Postby cdrake261 » Tue Dec 03, 2013 7:53 pm

Have you guys made your own rocks from foam board and quikcrete? I know most people do that and silicon it to the tank, but I'm a little too late for that but thinking if I created pockets in the man-made rock and weigh it down, I won't need to silicon it to the tank.
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Re: New 55 gallon african cichlids tank - decor suggestions?

Postby Iggy Newcastle » Wed Dec 04, 2013 8:41 am

If you do anything like that avoid concrete. It will cloud your water, skyrocket the pH and require many water changes. Drylok sealant is the way to go. Nothing beats real rock, IMO.
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Re: New 55 gallon african cichlids tank - decor suggestions?

Postby cdrake261 » Thu Dec 05, 2013 1:05 am

Iggy Newcastle wrote:If you do anything like that avoid concrete. It will cloud your water, skyrocket the pH and require many water changes. Drylok sealant is the way to go. Nothing beats real rock, IMO.


Drylok over foam board instead of quikcrete? How long do you have to cure it before it's safe for the fishes?
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Re: New 55 gallon african cichlids tank - decor suggestions?

Postby Iggy Newcastle » Thu Dec 05, 2013 7:58 am

Think you need to give it several days. You can also mix some of the Quickrete paints to add detail and browns, blacks, greys, etc.

There's countless threads on the stuff in the DIY section.
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Re: New 55 gallon african cichlids tank - decor suggestions?

Postby bpark83 » Fri Dec 06, 2013 9:56 am

cdrake261 wrote:Also, my rainbow shark chases these new guys around, so I separated them for the time being until I can add some divider or rock cave setup for the jacobfrebregi's.



I have a rainbow in my mbuna tank. He is 8 years old and this is the 3rd tank of mine he's been in!

When the fish are small, he would chase them around - never killed any of them or noticeably stressed them though. After they got bigger, they put him in his place and he doesn't bother them anymore.
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Re: New 55 gallon african cichlids tank - decor suggestions?

Postby bpark83 » Fri Dec 06, 2013 10:19 am

As far as rockwork/decor goes - your safest bet is to place the rocks either (a) directly on the tank bottom, (b) on lighting grid ("egg crate"), or (c) on layer of foam. Of course (b) and (c) would be preferred, but I have done (a) in the past on a 55 gallon tank without any problems. All Glass/Aqueon 55 gal tanks have tempered bottom glass so they will hold up fine.

Check out my tank. I've used various sizes of limestone - which you can usually obtain without spending a lot of money (especially in areas where its mined). To support the larger pieces, I used pond foam to secure them to slate. All the rocks in the tank are sitting on lighting grid, then the aragonite sand was added.

If you have a tub to put the fish in for a couple hours with their heater and an air stone, I'd highly recommend taking the sand out of your tank and then doing rockwork, especially if you plan on building it up at all.
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Re: New 55 gallon african cichlids tank - decor suggestions?

Postby cdrake261 » Fri Dec 06, 2013 10:54 pm

bpark83 wrote:
cdrake261 wrote:Also, my rainbow shark chases these new guys around, so I separated them for the time being until I can add some divider or rock cave setup for the jacobfrebregi's.



I have a rainbow in my mbuna tank. He is 8 years old and this is the 3rd tank of mine he's been in!

When the fish are small, he would chase them around - never killed any of them or noticeably stressed them though. After they got bigger, they put him in his place and he doesn't bother them anymore.


I really want to give him another chance, I like the jakes and my rainbow shark.
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Re: New 55 gallon african cichlids tank - decor suggestions?

Postby cdrake261 » Fri Dec 06, 2013 10:55 pm

bpark83 wrote:As far as rockwork/decor goes - your safest bet is to place the rocks either (a) directly on the tank bottom, (b) on lighting grid ("egg crate"), or (c) on layer of foam. Of course (b) and (c) would be preferred, but I have done (a) in the past on a 55 gallon tank without any problems. All Glass/Aqueon 55 gal tanks have tempered bottom glass so they will hold up fine.

Check out my tank. I've used various sizes of limestone - which you can usually obtain without spending a lot of money (especially in areas where its mined). To support the larger pieces, I used pond foam to secure them to slate. All the rocks in the tank are sitting on lighting grid, then the aragonite sand was added.

If you have a tub to put the fish in for a couple hours with their heater and an air stone, I'd highly recommend taking the sand out of your tank and then doing rockwork, especially if you plan on building it up at all.


You suggesting taking water, rocks, sand, and fish out and make a 3d background? Or just add some lighting grids and sand/rocks on top?
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Re: New 55 gallon african cichlids tank - decor suggestions?

Postby bpark83 » Fri Dec 06, 2013 11:10 pm

cdrake261 wrote:
You suggesting taking water, rocks, sand, and fish out and make a 3d background? Or just add some lighting grids and sand/rocks on top?


Take out water, rocks, and sand that are in there, then add lighting grid, build up rocks on lighting grid, add sand and water. 3d background wasn't part of it.

Basically i'm saying its best to have the rocks resting on a sturdy surface such as the tank bottom, lighting grid, foam, etc., then add sand around them. This way when the fish move the sand around to their liking, the rocks will remain sturdy.

I am certainly advising against building up rockwork by placing the rocks directly on the sand you already have in there. If you did that, they would be sure to collapse or move once the fish start excavating areas of sand.

Hope that helps and make sense.


As far as your shark, some minor or moderate chasing should be ok, but if he seems to be really stressing your cichlids out (where they have shredded fins or are not eating, etc..) then he should be relocated.
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Re: New 55 gallon african cichlids tank - decor suggestions?

Postby cdrake261 » Fri Dec 06, 2013 11:17 pm

bpark83 wrote:
cdrake261 wrote:
You suggesting taking water, rocks, sand, and fish out and make a 3d background? Or just add some lighting grids and sand/rocks on top?


Take out water, rocks, and sand that are in there, then add lighting grid, build up rocks on lighting grid, add sand and water. 3d background wasn't part of it.

Basically i'm saying its best to have the rocks resting on a sturdy surface such as the tank bottom, lighting grid, foam, etc., then add sand around them. This way when the fish move the sand around to their liking, the rocks will remain sturdy.

I am certainly advising against building up rockwork by placing the rocks directly on the sand you already have in there. If you did that, they would be sure to collapse or move once the fish start excavating areas of sand.

Hope that helps and make sense.


As far as your shark, some minor or moderate chasing should be ok, but if he seems to be really stressing your cichlids out (where they have shredded fins or are not eating, etc..) then he should be relocated.


That makes sense to put rocks on steady surfaces vs just on sand.
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