Lake Malawi Species • My saulosi setup

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My saulosi setup

Postby aconite » Tue Jul 14, 2020 4:20 pm


I thought I'd share my saulosi tank setup. The tank has been running for about two months now, and has 18 juveniles in it - a mix of coral red and standard saulosi, of differing ages and sizes. I have a couple of males that are starting to change colour, and there's one of the larger females holding at the moment. I'm not intending to keep any fry at this stage, but if any manage to survive I'll leave them in there.


The tank is a Juwel Rio 240 litre (~63g 48"x16" footprint). I've used 60 lbs of Caribsea cichlid sand - I wasn't initially sure about the black lava rock that came mixed in with it, but I've grown to like it. It does match the tank and the room decor. I've had no diatom issues yet in this tank, and I think it might be due to using this substrate instead of generic white sand. The fish don't seem to have an issue spitting the lava rock out along with the sand when excavating. I've got about 120 lbs of grey granite for rock - all pretty large pieces, but with plenty of areas that can be dug out at their bases. The rock is resting on a grid of plastic egg crate. My other tank is full of holey rock / ocean rock and I wanted to try something different. Probably a bit light on rock really, but I wanted to try out the tank without overfilling it with rock initially. I've got access to about another 150 lbs of the same rock if I need more - it just needs cleaning.

For filtration I'm running two Eheim Pro 4+ 350s with spray bar kits for water surface agitation, and a Tunze Nanostream 6025 to help improve water movement in the tank. The filters combined are rated at 2100 lph, and the circulation pump adds another 2800 lph, so plenty of water movement. The filters themselves are giving around 9x or 10x turnover, given how much rock I have in there, but I have found (in both this tank and my other one) that the Eheims by themselves don't seem to have enough flow to stop waste collecting on the substrate. The circulation pumps sorts out that issue for me in this tank, and the fish seem to like playing around in the current. I have two 150W heaters in the tank. As you can probably tell, I like redundancy in equipment.

The first thing I did when the tank arrived was rip out the internal filter housing - it's a huge waste of space and really not good enough for a heavily stocked tank. No idea why Juwel decided to glue them into their tanks in the factory with silicon.

I'm currently running the lights that came with the tank for about 3 hours in the morning and another 3 in the late afternoon, but will probably replace them with an AquaSky if I can manage to fit one into the existing housing.

I ran one of the new filters on my existing tank for 10 days, then moved it over and added 9 juvenile fish. I had a very small nitrite spike on day 10 after adding them (got a .25 reading), so did an immediate water change, but have had no issues since, and had no ammonia readings at all. I added the other fish in two groups over the next few weeks. Given how young they all are, there were no issues with the new fish being picked on (I added a group of 3, then a group of 6).

I've been feeding NLS for the last couple of weeks. Prior to that I was using Vitalis green cichlid pellets. The one thing I noticed immediately is that there is a lot less 'food dust' in the water after feeding when using NLS. The Vitalis seems to break up when grabbed by the fish and I'd end up with lots of very small particles in the water, which clouded the tank for a while after feeding. The NLS also seems to have a lot less moisture content. The fish seem happy, so I'm probably going to stick with NLS from now on as it seems to have benefits without any drawbacks (apart from the increased cost).

I have no plans to add any more fish to this tank, apart from perhaps some additional females if I end up having to remove too many males. It'll be staying as a single species tank. I may add a group of lucipinnis at some stage in the future, assuming the water volume and filtration can handle the additional number of fish and bioload.

Thanks for reading! Just thought I'd share what I've done when setting up my second mbuna tank.
Joined: Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:18 am
Location: UK

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Re: My saulosi setup

Postby Deeda » Tue Jul 14, 2020 5:28 pm

Tank setup looks great, thanks for sharing.
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Re: My saulosi setup

Postby manoahmarton » Wed Jul 15, 2020 9:13 pm

Looks awesome! How do you like the powerhead with mbuna? The moving water effect is cool, thinking of getting one myself
Joined: Sun Apr 12, 2015 9:21 pm
Location: Southern California

Re: My saulosi setup

Postby aconite » Thu Jul 16, 2020 5:00 am

Cheers. I'm quite pleased with the way it turned out. Only thing still bugging me is the red Eheim name on the heater! Maybe next time I'll think about a 3D background...

As far as the powerhead goes, the fish seem to like the extra flow. They'll occasionally 'surf' the current across the tank, and it doesn't seem to effect what they get up to at the bottom of the tank. It's doing a great job keeping stuff off the sand and making sure the dirt gets picked up by the filters. Tunze make nice pumps - this has 4 rubber plugs that attach the holder to the base section, and a magnet outside the tank to hold it in place. It's pretty much silent. The outlet is relatively wide too, so I'm not getting a jet out of it like you would get from a narrow filter outlet pipe.

I've read some conflicting information about currents in the lake, but it sounds like the fish would expect to be swimming against fairly strong ones at times, so I'm guessing that having a powerhead in the tank isn't something that's going to be unnatural/unusual or stress them out. Been running one in my other tank for close to a year now, and haven't seen any negative impact.
Joined: Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:18 am
Location: UK

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