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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
55 Gallon Lake Malawi Tank

Dimensions: 48 x 13 x 20
Lighting: 2x18" 50/50 Coral Life
Filtration/Circulation: TopFin 6.0 Power Filter & Fluval 205 Canister
Substrate: 15 lbs Crushed Coral by Marine Life
Heating: TopFin 500 watt heater

This is my first African tank, and I wanted to do it right. I didn't want anything too small, however I didn't want anything too big either. I settled on the Top Fin 55 gallon kit, and then invested in a 205 canister filter. I wanted to give the tank a feeling of realism, so I bought this background of of e-bay (after failing miserably at making my own) It takes up quite a bit of space, however I was willing to sacrifice space and the possible # of fish in the tank for more aesthetically pleasing features for the tank as a whole.

As of this moment, the tank is filled and cycling. The picture below is of the tank this evening with one side illuminated by a 50/50 bulb, and the other by the bulb that came with the tank. We were holding a vote within the household for the light we liked best. Note that the water is still cloudy in this pic because of the crushed coral.

I'll be using this thread to post updates as I make them. Until then, let me know what you think.

Also - I was wondering if anyone had any tips or ideas for allowing water to freely move from the front to the back of the background? I have an couple grills installed in the background (one in the bottom center, in the shadowed area, and one in the top left corner.

 

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If there is room in the back of your 3D background then you should add a powerhead in the back to keep water moving. You do not want stagnant water back there. That will help circulate water from the back of the 3D back to the front of the tank. if there is no holes in the 3d background then you will have to make some to allow water to flow from back to front of tank.
 

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Why do you only have 36" of bulb space with a 48" tank?

Looks Good. I don't prefer to have a 50/50 with a very light substrate. Try picturing the darker crushed coral with that light. :thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
fishIZneat said:
Why do you only have 36" of bulb space with a 48" tank?

Looks Good. I don't prefer to have a 50/50 with a very light substrate. Try picturing the darker crushed coral with that light. :thumb:
I actually returned the 50/50 bulbs today, and I'm currently using the standard bulbs that came with the hoods. Believe it or not, the Top Fin kit came with two separate hoods that I believe go individually with 20 gallon tanks, thus 18" bulbs. Anyone have any suggestions for what kind of bulbs would be best with the light coral substrate? I'd like something that isn't going to be too dark, but will also make the colors of my fish pop.

Here are some pics of what I have set up as of now.



I'm still playing around with filter location, I'm open to any suggestions.



Here are where my major openings are. I also pre-drilled multiple holes on the overlays on some of the rocks on either side of the BG. Right now this seems to be sufficient. Also in red I have highlighted where my bubble wand is, that right now is casting a soft array of bubble up the rock. Not really that important to me, but my girlfriend requested it.
 

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Aahhh .. the dreaded bubble wand. :lol:

I'm a big fan of twin tubes (2 tubes all the way across). That way you can combine the look of more than one bulb. I like a daylight bulb combined with a 50/50, or a daylight with full-on actinic blue depending on depth and substrate color. If you picture combining the 50/50 with the stock bulb you have just to get a feel for two different color bulbs you would see what I mean. It looks good 8)

It's easy to get a blue-ish look to the substrate using a 50/50 by itself or pure actinic/daylight bulb with white or very light colored sand/gravel.

If I had the choice of only one bulb color all the way across I would go with maybe a 20,000K, or the Trichromatic both by Coralife. Not cheap but they have a better selection than Walmart.

There are many bulb choices and I'm sure others will have their say.
 

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Interesting-well done-I like it. :)

I have a relative that lives in Tyler,Tx. 8)
 

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How often do you need to maually clear debris from the drain holes you made in the BG, to keep these from clogging up?
 

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Philg, personally, if it was myself doing it, I'd recommend every few days probably, as in when doing a water change, or maintenance, or whatever, or...even when you're just.... bored. :wink:
By the way, beautiful tank Jmiles, I really like it, do you have a clue on the stocklist yet?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Narhay - you should be able to find the background on ebay by searching the www.yourfishstuff.com store.

As far as debris go, I haven't any issues as far as clogs go at all. The tank with the filtration I have and now with the power head, seems to be circulating very well.

However, the yellow lab has proven to be a great foundation inspector. He has already landscaped himself a hole under the one place I did not properly silicone the background down.. and is swimming freely between the back and the front of the tank.

I'm going to transfer him temporarily to a 20 gallon tank for a couple days, and fix the problem. Pretty frustrating, however it was my own mistake. They should be fine in the little tank for a couple days (I'll transfer 20 gals of current tank water there, and place the power filter over in there with them). Definitely buts a damper on my progress of the tank though.

I'm still not quite exactly sure as to what I want to put in here yet. My LFS's around here do not provide great choice when it comes to cichlids - other than the common yellow lab and acei's.
 

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Instead of removing the fish, and causing possible stress to him/her, try using a foam bung in the hole, at least that way also you will have some addition flow behind the background.
 

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Your tank looks unbelievable. You have done really well :thumb:

What sought of fish list are you planning?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thank you! :)

I would love to have a mixed malawi tank, and include a couple of peacocks of some sort, however because of space limitations due to the BG, I'm going to stick to a mbuna set up.

Currently my stock list is as follows.
2 Yellow Labs
1 Cherry Red Zebra
2 Acei
2 Msobo
1 Melanochromis joanjohnsonae
1 Demonsi
1 Kenyi cichlid (possibly female)

I know the tank may become overcrowded, but it's my understanding mbuna actually prefer it that way sometimes.

Any suggestions as far as adding future fish (and what they should be?) and removing current ones?
 
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