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75g Planted Mbuna Tank Photo Journal: "True Colors&quot

28644 Views 71 Replies 41 Participants Last post by  Oscar Madison
I hereby declare that Here Beginith the Photo-Journal for my 75g Mbuna Cichlid Planted Tank. Mwahaha. or whatever...

<rant> Background on moi: I am a 28 year old PhD. student in Philosophy (Biomedical and Environmental Ethics, specifically). Note that this makes me very poor, living on a State University stipend: that is why this tank is being done on the cheap. I'm from Northeast Ohio, but currently live/work/study in Knoxville, Tennessee where they call us Northern folk "Yankees." I been done had fish tanks ever since I warse a youngin wit my ma. This is but the latest episode in a chronic condition of aquaphilic fetish....blahblahblah </rant>

In this journal, please allow for asides, tangents and irrelevancies (not to mention parenthetical remarks!). Do not check your funny bone at the door. If I offend you, then I was just being sarcastic. If you believed that, would you like some used tires? "All Scotsmen are liars." Did I ever tell you that I was a Scotsman? Paradoxes ....You've been warned. Anywho...I digress (See? I told you). Let's get this journal started.

Grab a beer and some popcorn, sit down, and enjoy the show!

(space-ambient music fades in)

(music abrubtly stops, beer pouring sound)

Stage 1: Planning
("Inspirational" music begins. Use your "God-narrative-voice-from-nowhere")

The plan/theme for this tank is "True Colors": Primary, Secondary, and Black/Grey/White

Primary Colors:
red: 1 m Protomelas taeniolatus, Nymphaea lotus Alternanthera reineckii and Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Red', and probably others later...
blue: 15 Psuedotropheus demasoni aka da Wreckin' Krew, the meanest beast nature ever but in a 10g package.
yellow: 4 Labidochromis caeruleus aka Yellow Dye #s 1, 2, 3, and 4, pretty, ubiquitous, docile. just like women and hamsters.

Secondary Colors:
orange: 1 f Metriaclima estherae aka Quillito, well, mine is orange anyways, and 1 Labidochromis textilis, aka Patches McGee
purple: 1 Pseudotropheus sp. "Acei" aka Leticia, pretend he/she/it is purple and an androgynous crossdresser.
green: :icon_idea obvious, or so one might think...[hint: PLANTS!!!]

black: lava rock cave grotto background, took forever and I got high on silicone. :confused:
grey1: limestone rocks, I paid for a small portion at $200/ton = like $1.50 for more rocks than I know what to do with? they weighed my car and laughed...
grey2: Soil Master Select Charcoal substrate, Lesson learned 3 months later: LESCO personnel are largely incompetent (and maybe incontinent too, I didn't have time to check, despite acute interest).
white: 1 Metriaclima greshakei (Albino) aka "Cracka", He is whiter than your landlord.

and Joel rested, and saw that it was good. Now it's time to get to work.

(begin "Eye of the Tiger" music)


Stage 2: The Tank

I got a free 55g from some lady. It was OK, but it was BROWN TRIM and SCRATCHED to **** and back. I thought my Mbuna were still in there, but I couldn't see due to the abberations. and I wanted MORE TANK. Begin the obsessive checking of daily not so patiently waiting for a nice 75g combo to appear, like a Lion waiting for her prey...not really, more like a guy in front of a computer drinking beer and clicking a mouse.
An ad for a 'perfect' tank appears. I go to check it out...
False positive! It's a 55g! He doesn't believe me, we calculate the volume from the dimensions. I go home in defeat.
Then, divine intervention: I scored an AGA 75g from SuperPets for a buck a gallon. Only a buck, aww wtf... why not. That is right ladies and gents, $75, brand spankin' new.

So... I squeezed the beast into my brand, spankin new little Toyota Yaris:

and drove home speedracer style (insert high concept action chase music):

I dropped in some eggcrate to prevent Noah's Second Coming due to my clumsiness with rocks. Also, it will theoretically help keep the plants rooted against my digging crew.

I painted back black with, you guessed it: black paint. :icon_roll


Stage 3: HaRRRRRRRRd scape aRRRRRRRRRRR Not sure why I sound like a pirate, but let’s go with it.

(pirate music and a swashbuckling interlude)

I made a DIY Cave GRRRRRRoto background. Original idea by Brad Newton, see here for details: : I made the background more 'natural' by varying hole size and shape, and made it sloped instead of uniform across the back. This gave me more planting space for Java Ferns.').

I staRRRRted with white vinyl guttering. And made the holes.

I painted it black with, you guessed it: black paint (Rustoleum "Fusion" is aquarium-safe), and added the cave dividers using silicone:

Then, the time-consuming process of gluing the lava rock yielded this result (left half):

I added limestone rocks. Bought 'em at the local rockyard. They sell it in QUANTITY: $200/ton. I bought WAAAY too much for $1.51, and was thereby an endless source of entertainment for the employees. "We ain't done sold so little before, I reckon," or somesuch.

Stage 4: Lighting

And Joel said, "Let there be light"

DIY hood. Plywood and 1"x 6" and 1" x 4"s with some trim wood, hinges, etc.

Supplies and Tools (all are inessential except the beer):

Halfway there, and no fingers lost yet!:

Finished product. 128w for $32. (2 shoplights @ $10 each, 4 T8 bulbs at $3 each). How you like me now? Not quite 2wpg, but I want this to be a "mid tech" tank. There is room for another shoplight. If I buck up another $16, I'll be at 192w
Also, note the blue LED light for night disco parties.
('staying alive' song begins)


Stage 5: Filtration

XP3 baby. Filled it to the gills with sponge material, floss, potscrubbers, and crushed coral (keep hardness). Official Filstar **** #89 [at] registration Beeeatches:


Stage 6: CO2

Got a 10# tank and the Drs.Fostersmith "Semi-Auto" combo.

These instructions were especially useful. I guessed my way through it and no one has died (yet):


Stage 7: Wirin'


Stage 8: Substrate and Plantin'

Joel then created the earth, and saw that it was good.
I put some plants in pots with flourite, covered with extra lava rock to keep my rats with fins out (aka mbuna).

Joel then planted the plants, and saw that it was good.


Stage 9: "Just add Water"

Fill er up, and it didn't even fall through the floor. Isn't it beautiful?


Stage 10: Fish

Then Joel added fishes to the sea, and saw it was good.


Stage 11:All Set!

('end of the road' song begins)

Joel looked back on his creation, and saw that it was good, and rested.


Stocking List:

LOTS of java fern (background)
narrow leaf java (on rocks)
windelov java (on rocks)
LOTS of anubias nana, coffefolia, and afzella (thank you walmart, for dropping out of livestock.. I got tons of anubias for $1 per pot! suckers...).

apons and crypts.

Fast Grower Stems (most temporary for nutrient sponges):
red hygro
hygro polysperma
rotala sp. "green"
hygro difformis Wisteria
unknown spikey plant on left that grows faster than toe fungus.

Floaters thrown in (most temporary for nutrient sponges):
water lettuce

left: Stargrass, HM
right: Dwarf sag., e. tennelus

to be continued.... thanks for lookin.
Feedback appreciated.
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1 - 20 of 72 Posts
I enjoyed this post so much....It was very entertaining and informative.
The play by play was perfect.....And the end result is stunning a beautiful tank. Just lovely.
As the days go by I hope u can keep us updated on how everything is going.
And more pics are always welcome.

Congrats its a beaut.
I really enjoyed your entire post! :D And the end result is beautiful!! :thumb:
Doc_Polit said:
Melanochromis Joanjohnsonae (female).
There is lots of confusion on this species... Are you sure? I bought it as labidochromis textils ... php?id=744
One of the most beautiful planted mbuna tanks I have ever seen! The rock work is amazing, and the way you placed the plants on on that beautiful lava rock ... stunning.
macclellan said:
Doc_Polit said:
Melanochromis Joanjohnsonae (female).
There is lots of confusion on this species... Are you sure? I bought it as labidochromis textils ... php?id=744
That's actually probably 'going to be a male' given the egg spots. The true Lab. textilus is very rare in the hobby. Mel. joanjohsonae is probably what it is although its possible its textilus
Awesome tank!
Two thumbs up for the post and tank. FANTASTIC!!!!!!!
well I saw this on PT but I gotta say again.....super job and I am totally going to copy you but with Tanganyika species.. ;)
sweet post and sweet looking tank... :thumb:
WOW! I enjoyed the entire post (humor, too!) and what a creation! HUGE thumbs up, man! Enjoy it!
Ridiculous tank, in a great way. :thumb:
Well, a fairly major update....Plants are all growing nicely....I moved some stuff around and got some nice crypts in trades (thanks guys!). I'll post details later on the plants, but the major new news is FISH!!!!

Through aquabid I got 17 p. demasoni (paid for [email protected]$3 each, quite a deal in my book!) and 3 more yellow are some pics of the process and result. Sorry for the crappy snapshots I was in a hurry.

Live Fish!!! My mailman was kind enough to deliver this direct to the door first thing this morning instead of delivering to office in afternoon:


Mrs. Acei says: WhoTF are you?!?!

Full Shot:

Another one:


Another one:

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beautiful tank, but i don´t think Mrs Acei is in fact an Acei though the main colour is too blue and shouldn´t have bars. Sorry
yellow said:
beautiful tank, but i don´t think Mrs Acei is in fact an Acei though the main colour is too blue and shouldn´t have bars. Sorry
if you know Acei's, you know the blueness changes with angle and lighting. That is about as blue as she gets...she looks a flat black from the side except in the face. trust me, i know it is an acei, just not the best angle on her.
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