Aquarium Setup • 180 gallon Mbuna Setup - Tight Tank Quarters

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180 gallon Mbuna Setup - Tight Tank Quarters

Postby dcheney888 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 3:36 pm

I have confirmed that I have (just) the footprint to place a 180 gallon 72x24x24 tank in my home. The tank install is part of a much larger renovation of the main floor of our home, so I would appreciate your perspective on how you would tackle this project, as I can potentially do some low cost options now as part of the total install which would be cost-prohibitive or impractical to consider once the renovation is complete.

The tight footprint means that the left end of the tank will need to be flush with a wall (to a closet). The backside of the aquarium will need to be flush or within 1-2" of another wall. The right end is unobstructed. The left and rear walls by which the tank will be positioned are being rebuilt, and I have easy access to fresh water and a drain. For the overhead view think of a large letter L rotated 90 degrees with the top left of the tank at the corner of the L.

Objectives:

Provide a safe environment for the fish. Given access to water, consider continuous drip feed with water going through an easy-to-replace carbon filter (such as a fridge fresh-water filter). This drip system would also reduce the number of water changes I would need to make and provide for a more consistent chemistry for the fish.

Protect the house against an aquarium malfunction - ensure that whatever can fail will not lead to water being pumped on the floor.

Have a robust filtration system in place with some redundancy in case one filter system fails. Run a sump and canister in parallel?

Ensure sufficient flow within the tank.

Ensure that all of these items can be maintained or replaced without having to tear apart the whole system after it is built-in.

At this point, I am working with 2 LFS to get their perspective, but given the collective knowledge of the folks on this forum, I would appreciate insights into any "must-haves" or "must-nots" you have picked up over time. If any of you happen to have such a configuration in place with some drawings, that would be really appreciated.

Thanks for your help

David
dcheney888

Joined: Sun Jul 30, 2017 2:24 pm
Location: West Linn, OR, USA
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Re: 180 gallon Mbuna Setup - Tight Tank Quarters

Postby caldwelldaniel26 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 3:48 pm

Your best option in that situation would be to have a drilled tank and a sump filter in my opinion. You wouldn't have to worry about hoses and all that mess behind the tank with such little clearance. I run a 40 gallon sump on my 180 gallon aquarium with a canister filter intake and return in the return reservoir of the sump for a little extra mechanical and biological filtration. I'm also running denitrifying reactors and growing plants in the sump.
Last edited by caldwelldaniel26 on Sat Aug 19, 2017 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 180 gallon Mbuna Setup - Tight Tank Quarters

Postby dcheney888 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 3:51 pm

I'm still learning, so pardon if I ask some obvious questions. With a sump filter would you normally have a canister as well?
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Re: 180 gallon Mbuna Setup - Tight Tank Quarters

Postby caldwelldaniel26 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 3:53 pm

Sorry I edited my response and answered your question lol
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Re: 180 gallon Mbuna Setup - Tight Tank Quarters

Postby caldwelldaniel26 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 3:57 pm

I prefer to use my sump for rough mechanical filtration and mainly biological filtration so there's not as much restriction. You don't want to try to use fine filtration media in the sump because you'll be adjusting the flow constantly and having to change out filter socks etc almost daily. Leave that duty to an FX4 or something.
...Surviving doesn't always mean they're thriving...
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Re: 180 gallon Mbuna Setup - Tight Tank Quarters

Postby dcheney888 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 3:58 pm

Thanks for the clarification. The designer I am working with said he could put in a washer box in the closet (opposite left wall of tank), or potentially do something in the wall at the back of the aquarium. With the attached drawing, would you think that the better placement for the washer box and drain be in the closet (for ease of access) versus something in behind the tank?

Finally, with this drawing, do you think my LFS folks should be able to give me the right recommendations for the drilled tank?

Regards
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Joined: Sun Jul 30, 2017 5:24 pm
Location: Bend, Oregon

Re: 180 gallon Mbuna Setup - Tight Tank Quarters

Postby caldwelldaniel26 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 4:14 pm

I think it would be better to have it in the closet to be honest. You don't want to have any possible issues with plumbing etc that would require having to move the aquarium. You just need a standard center overflow with two drains and two returns. I paid $1200 for my 180 with beveled edges on the glass and glass braces on the top instead of plastic like some of the cheaper brands. Universal Rocks can make custom 3D backgrounds to cover the overflow etc...
...Surviving doesn't always mean they're thriving...
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Re: 180 gallon Mbuna Setup - Tight Tank Quarters

Postby dcheney888 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 5:15 pm

I was thinking the same, access from the kitchen side if an issue happens won't be very friendly.

I was thinking of the 3D background as well. Would you also hide the heater etc in behind the background?
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Re: 180 gallon Mbuna Setup - Tight Tank Quarters

Postby caldwelldaniel26 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 5:21 pm

You could hide the heater back there but it's better to just put it in the sump so water is flowing over it instead of creating hotspots.
...Surviving doesn't always mean they're thriving...
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Re: 180 gallon Mbuna Setup - Tight Tank Quarters

Postby dcheney888 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 5:34 pm

Thanks. So almost everything in this arrangement is housed in the sump - canister filter, denitrification filter, heater. For the plants you have in your sump, do they need any light or grow fine in the dark?

Sounds like a pretty solid system you have in place. If that was all tied in to a drip feed system, would you be doing more than 1-2 water changes per month?
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Re: 180 gallon Mbuna Setup - Tight Tank Quarters

Postby caldwelldaniel26 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 5:54 pm

I have an LED grow light pointed at the plants and yes everything is housed under the aquarium. The only thing visible in the tank are the circulation pumps. If you're planning on doing a "drip system" depending on the rate you are exchanging water, it could be quite some time before water changes are necessary. Of course you'd have to run the water through a catalytic carbon filter before it goes in the tank to break up the chloramine molecules and remove the chlorine unless you have a private well. Also this is considering that your tap water is already acceptable for keeping Malawi cichlids, pH and kH wise...
...Surviving doesn't always mean they're thriving...
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Re: 180 gallon Mbuna Setup - Tight Tank Quarters

Postby dcheney888 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 5:59 pm

Yes, its public water so I would have it going through the carbon filter. I haven't yet checked ph and kH. I imagine I would keep these in check chemically, as the water changes themselves (public water for public water) aren't going to help here.

Thanks again for all the great advice. I take these threads and print them off to have a more informed discussion with my designer and LFS. Much appreciated.
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Re: 180 gallon Mbuna Setup - Tight Tank Quarters

Postby caldwelldaniel26 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 6:38 pm

Just make sure it's catalytic carbon because regular activated carbon can't break up chloramine.
...Surviving doesn't always mean they're thriving...
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Re: 180 gallon Mbuna Setup - Tight Tank Quarters

Postby dcheney888 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:42 pm

Thanks, may have missed that point. As this would normally be set up on a very low flow stream from the house water supply, would it make sense to have an inline filter with catalytic carbon or have the water feed somewhere into the sump and associated filtration equipment? I had initially thought a simple fridge-like in-line system near the washer box would be easy to maintain / replace. Any suggestions as to what equipment or tie-in would work best?
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Re: 180 gallon Mbuna Setup - Tight Tank Quarters

Postby caldwelldaniel26 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 8:01 pm

I have mine in a fiberglass inline filter bottle with 1 cubic foot of catalytic carbon but I use it for water changes. I'm not sure how small of a filter would be sufficient for that low of a flow but I am sure you wouldn't need one that big but it definitely needs to be inline
...Surviving doesn't always mean they're thriving...
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