Cichlid Fish Forum banner
1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

It's been many years since I've had a cichlid tank. My last was ~50 gallon in Southern California, about 27-28 years ago. I knew next to nothing about cichlids, filtration, tanks, etc....but, I was successful in having a healthy tank (blind luck). I've also had a small reef tank that did "ok" when I resisted the urge to over populate.

I'm now older, have moved to Texas and arguably wiser. I'm considering adding a tank to my office. During Covid, I got into some smaller planted tanks; however, the water here in the Dallas area is really hard and planted tanks just don't thrive on tap water.

So - a bit more about my situation. I work from home "mostly" and spend quite a bit of time in a large office situated at the front of the house. I want to turn the office into a bit of a sanctuary, making it a project / hobby at the same time. I have "decent" woodworking skills - I've built cabinets for the garage and done a bunch of interior finish work.

If you're still reading "thanks" - I'm not that interesting! Anyway, I think the best tank footprint is 75-90 gallons. I have an interior wall that would really look great with a large tank and interesting scape.

I'm choking a bit on cost. I would like to ensure what I spend gives me appropriate value. Like many of you, I've spent and learned in this hobby - but, I did it nearly 30 years ago....so, would really appreciate some more recent wisdom. Here are my most pressing concerns:

Tank stand/canopy: After getting into the planted tank thing, I've come to really love the look of a rimless tank. But, they are **** expensive....especially the large ones. Further, I think I'll want/need a lid to keep the fish from jumping. I've googled a few sites - but, there don't seem to be a ton of stand / canopy options.....suggestions? This will be a focal point in the room - it can't look budget.

Size: Based on the roughly 5' footprint I think I've settled on 90. I like the 75 footprint, but the height will bring more balance to the room - my ceiling is 16' in this room; and, I'm sure the extra 15 gallons will help keep water parameters more balanced. Is my rationale / direction sound?

Filtration: Ironically, my 50 gallon tank of past had an undersized HOB. I don't want that again - I want the tank and scape to be really "clean" and uncluttered. So - I'll want to go canister. Opinions are all over the map on these types of filters - but, are there any practical reasons why I wouldn't go with several canisters? I remember sump filters from my saltwater days - but, is that " a thing" in freshwater applications?

I appreciate any and all advice. I hope you are all well!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
771 Posts
Hi All,

Tank stand/canopy: After getting into the planted tank thing, I've come to really love the look of a rimless tank. But, they are **** expensive....especially the large ones. Further, I think I'll want/need a lid to keep the fish from jumping. I've googled a few sites - but, there don't seem to be a ton of stand / canopy options.....suggestions? This will be a focal point in the room - it can't look budget. IMHO I think rimless tanks are way overpriced. Sounds like your concerned with cost so I'll eliminate a custom tank/stand. I just bought an Aqueon 90 gallon; no complaints. A LFS builds custom stands so I had them build one to my specs. I went this route due to tank being in living room. Canopy??? Why bother. You can get some really nice LED lightbars that are low profile and sit on the tank rim. Looks great and eliminates the cost of a canopy. Just add a glass lid/cover.

Size: Based on the roughly 5' footprint I think I've settled on 90. I like the 75 footprint, but the height will bring more balance to the room - my ceiling is 16' in this room; and, I'm sure the extra 15 gallons will help keep water parameters more balanced. Is my rationale / direction sound? Go 90 over 75; always. More water volume is a wonderful thing. You mention 5' footprint. I'm assuming this is the space you have to work with? Because both a 90 & 75 tank have a 4' footprint. If you have a larger area (AHEM) move up to a 125 gallon tank. You won't regret it. Again, recommending a 125 over 180 for $$$ savings; there is a big jump in price between a 125 & 180 and you mentioned saving $$,

Filtration: Ironically, my 50 gallon tank of past had an undersized HOB. I don't want that again - I want the tank and scape to be really "clean" and uncluttered. So - I'll want to go canister. Opinions are all over the map on these types of filters - but, are there any practical reasons why I wouldn't go with several canisters? I remember sump filters from my saltwater days - but, is that " a thing" in freshwater applications? A sump is the way to go. You just have so many options utilizing a sump and they're ridiculously easy to build. Go buy the largest tank that will fit under your stand and still leave room to work under there. Now, sumps are not stone dead quiet. They do make a little noise. So, if you want complete silent operation as I needed for my living room; 2 Eheim 2217's filter my 90, run like champs, do a great job and are dead silent. Always employ 2 for redundancy in case one goes down, which is highly unlikely with an Eheim. Most reliable canister out there, period.

I appreciate any and all advice. I hope you are all well!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
771 Posts
Some pics of my 90 for reference....
Furniture Cabinetry Wood Interior design Floor

Wood Display case Glass Curtain Room

Flooring Gas Audio equipment Machine Cable

You can see in the 1st two pics the clean look of just a glass lid and an LED light. That is a Hygger 24/7 planted LED light which I use on all my tanks. You could get a tank with the wood tone plastic trim vs black. Last pic is the two Eheim 2217's that filter the tank. Well built, durable, easy to maintain. You can also use an inline heater if you need it with Eheim. None of my tanks have heaters as I live in SW FL and room temp is 75-76 degrees. Not a lot of room for a big sump under a 90; you would probably utilize a 29, 30 or 45 gallon tank for a sump. You never mentioned what type of fish you were considering as that also will play a role in tank size, but a 90 leaves reasonable options.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
331 Posts
Everything @Aussieman57 said is spot on.

If you have 5’ of space go with that length for sure. Keep an eye out on Facebook marketplace and Craigslist for cost savings for sure, if you pay close attention deals come up eventually.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
720 Posts
Personally I like the advantages that sumps provide, especially for tanks larger that 150 gallons. Freshwater sump setups simply drop the protein skimmer.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
232 Posts
As opposed to buying expensive gear from LFSs, other than tanks and pumps.
I find I can get everything I need from hardware stores, and build it.
I find most commercial filters are comparatively inadequate, and prefer to build sumps from used tanks, and PVC, that provide much more capacity..
And because a large % of cichlids are plant eaters, I can get the benefits and beauty of plants by filtering with planted sumps.
Plant Botany Vegetation Sunlight Terrestrial plant

Cichlid tank left, heavily planted sump lower right, but....A planted sump can be put in cabinet below if space is a problem, or even above the main tank for better viewing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
771 Posts
Yup, there are so many possibilities with a sump. I believe sump all the way and I love listening to it. The only time I would even consider a canister is if I needed it to be silent running. If I was going to set up my 90 today it would be with a sump. Sumps are easy to build, easy to maintain, add water volume, you can adjust the water flow, provide SUPERIOR filtration, and a lot of sump pumps come with a pause feature that shuts down the pump for 3-5 minutes (depending on brand) to allow for feeding without the sump sucking up fish food.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,639 Posts
And well, since we're discussing just how impractical, over-complicated, over-priced and just generally how horrible (most....) Canister Filters really are?
~ JUMPS ON THE PILE ~
Sump Cons?
- NOISE! (supposedly) And that USED to be a valid concern with those things. My, what a difference a few years has made! I now own an aquarium running on a sump with FOUR Submersible pumps in it, and it is the quietest running tank I have ever owned. No roaring. gurgling, or trickling water noises. Just a deep, sub-bass kind of 'huuummmmm' from a pretty large, DC powered submersible return pump (something else really nice that wasn't around a few years back).
Pros,
  • ACCESS! Immediate, clear access to your filtration is an awesome upgrade from a canister. The only 'disassembly' required to access the entire contents of a sump - it to just open the cabinet door.
  • SIMPLICITY. Do Not Believe that a freshwater sump has very much in common with those freaking gadget monsters you see underneath a saltwater, marine reef tank. They are VERY different animals! A freshwater sump will work just fine with an electric heater placed down in it and a return pump. That's just two wires - done!
  • VERSATILITY. Can be pretty big in capacity. Or, almost absurdly small in size. High GPH electric submersible pump for a lot of flow, or something much smaller. YOU choose how much flow you want (and with the new DC types, the GPH flow rate is easy to adjust whenever you want to). And as shown partially above, it's kind of mind-boggling the things you can place down in a sump to tinker with or try. Stuff that can make an aquarium filtration system work really hard for YOU and your fish.
  • USER FRIENDLY. You DON'T move sumps. Where they're placed, that's where they work, are maintained, adjusted etc.... NOT a canister filter! Lifting those things in and out of a low cabinet a couple times (You HAVE to, to get access to the stuff inside) will have you wondering just how heavy a canister filter can actually be. Your back will hate you. Your pinched or sometimes smashed fingers will have you hating life. And no one will pity you when the ridiculously complicated canister filter isn't connected properly with an o-ring seal that leaks. A fastener (plastic, of course) that breaks. Or a pump that just stubbornly refuses to prime and work - after you've disassembled the awful, heavy monster THREE times! Oh yes... Some days YOU will be serving that horrible master - not vice versa. :mad:
-
Ahhhh yes..... All things that are 'part & parcel' of Canister Filter life. Can you tell that I DO NOT like that life?
Nope.
Real friends don't let their friends buy canister filters, yo'. :oops:
 
  • Like
Reactions: Aussieman57

·
Registered
Joined
·
232 Posts
I have run sumps on tanks 20 gal to hundreds.
And have run 5 different size tanks on one sump.
Water Fluid Houseplant Flowerpot Rectangle

Above is a large tank run in line with a 20 long for growing out fry, and starting plants.
Machine Building Cooking Engineering Event

On the far wall are 5 tanks running line on the 50 gal sump below.
The tanks closer in the shot are another line of 5 tanks running on a 75 gal sump.
Motor vehicle Automotive tire Automotive lighting Hood Automotive exterior

Above on the right another room of tanks, running on another sump.
I know, a bit excessive, but
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
232 Posts
Canisters can go anaerobic if the power fails. A sump has access to oxygen even in case of a power failure, same thing with a HOB
Beside going anaerobic if power fails.
If too much debris/mud collects in the can, or any filter, and is not regularly rinsed out, too maintain an aerobic environment, that debris can smother the thin microscopic biofilm (that are beneficial bacteria) and cause the media to go anaerobic, ruining the efficacy of ammonia and nitrite bacterial process of the filter .
If you go to clean a filter and instead of an normal pleasant organic smell, it smells like rotten eggs (Hydrogen sulfide) that is a sign the filter has gone anoxic or anaerobic, and too much time has gone by between cleanings.
The same can be said for substrate, it is possible for debris to build up in certain pockets where Hydrogen sulfide bubbles build up.
if substrate is not vacuumed enough, these bubbles can released causing a rotten egg smell.

When working as a microbiologist/chemist in a water facility, I was in charge of testing the efficacy of filters in a filtration plant using bioactive media.
We found that each filter needed to be backwashed (rinsed) every 4 days to keep it most efficient
Wood Rectangle Automotive exterior Building Flooring

The same goes for the aquarium filtration process.
I am not suggesting the media is to be overly cleaned, or sterilized.
Just that excess gunk is rinsed out, to maintain robust aerobic colonies of beneficial bacteria.
Examples would be, regularly squeezing out excess gunk from a sponge filter in tank water, or rinsing off the gunk buildup on ceramic media in a HOB, or inside a canister.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
720 Posts
...and a lot of sump pumps come with a pause feature that shuts down the pump for 3-5 minutes (depending on brand) to allow for feeding without the sump sucking up fish food.
This is handy feature in the Ecotech Vectra pumps, can use in the iphone app.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
wow, I asked for wisdom and I got it!! Thanks all!

I have a bit of an update - I was thinking a 48'' footprint, but after discussing with the wife, she suggested switching walls so guests who walk by the office don't see my desk setup, but instead see the tank. That opens up options significantly. I CAN do a 72'' but after looking at costs, I likely will go to 60'' footprint. I think that puts me in the 120gallon + territory.

I like the look of the waterbox 6025. It is expensive comparatively, but comes with a nice modern looking stand and will give me a ton of flexibility.

To answer a question above - I want to do a lightly planted Mbuna tank. I really love aqua-scaping, but my water parameters are hard, hard, and extra hard. It's bad for plants but perfect for cichlids. A few google searches have uncovered a small selection of plants that seem to be "ok" with cichlids. While not a perfect representation of their environment.....I'm ok with the deviation.

Silent is important to me. Now that the brain trust has opened up the idea of a silent (or nearly) silent sump....I will need to research that.

The sumps I have seen that are multi-chamber seem custom made with glass dividers that allow "zones". Is that what you guys are using?

I'm totally ignorant on sumps - so, before I asked a dozen irritating questions, I'll do some of my own research. I really, really appreciate everyone who has taken the time to post and the pics. super helpful. Thank you.!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
232 Posts
I do not use multi -chambers, I feel they are unnecessary, and get in the way when doing maintaence, or if I want to add some new filtration technology to the set up.
As far as plants go, there are a number that are good with hard mineral rich water, Val is one.
My tap water has a pH of 8.2, with over 250 ppm Total hardness, and the Val, water lilies, Hydrilla all work well.
Plant Plant community Vertebrate Water Leaf

That said mbuna are known to salad eaters, as can be some of the Panamanian cichlids I keep.
But this is why I heavily plant sump/refugiums.
Plant Liquid Terrestrial plant Grass Aquatic plant

Plant Botany Terrestrial plant Vegetation Yellow
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
265 Posts
Another example: The sump for my 125 is a DIY setup that i made using a 29 gallon tank, but it's similar to off the shelf sumps.

The overflow is probably different than what most predrilled tanks will have. This uses an external overflow box with a three pipe "bean animal" overflow system. When i first tested it, it sounded like a torrent of water, but after adjusting the height of the elbow in the overflow box and making some slotted circles to fit inside the mouth of the filter socks, it runs at full pump speed with only the faintest trickling sound. Glass covers under the wood canopy also help dampen the sound of the outflow weir.

A couple neat little tricks:
  1. I piped the end of my siphon right into the sock section of the sump, so i can vacuum the substrate (5 minute job) any time without needing to do a water change. I usually clean the substrate and socks a few times per week, and then do one weekly water change. It keeps things very clean.
  2. I keep a couple sponge filters (without air running to them) floating in the sump. It seeds them well enough and it lets me setup a cycled quarantine tank in minutes if I need to.

Building Cabinetry Interior design Floor House

Automotive tire Hood Wood Gas Engineering
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,639 Posts
Uh oh.....
To answer a question above - I want to do a lightly planted Mbuna tank.
Lightly or Partially Planted aquariums have a very high failure rate. Without enough plants in the tank to support each other and build up their own natural defenses in ALLELOPATHY processes, the Algae will almost always completely overrun the plants placed in a partially planted aquarium.
And those African Rift Lake Mbuna Cichlids are quite herbivorous in nature. Any Live Aquatic Plant in a tank with Mbuna in it that isn't Java Moss - is just gonna get gnoshed!
So, as shown by @dstuer above in those dedicated, planted sumps he has, getting plant benefits with aquariums containing plant-eating Cichlids, requires off-site placement of the plants. But, there are some other rather ingenious ideas out there also to get the look and benefits of a planted aquarium, without risking the entire crop to some hungry Cichlids,
The plants shown in that tank are terrestrial-growing Pothos, sited in an above tank trough. The roots might occasionally get eaten if they grow out of the trough they are planted in, but the plants stay safely out of reach of the hungry Cichlids, and will hoover up those Nitrates and Phosphates out of the aquarium water. :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Deeda
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
Top