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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
At the suggestion of Auballagh I wanted to set up a short journal for my 90g tank set up. It's not a Biotope but will mostly focus on CA cichlids, with a couple odd balls thrown in. I've traded in a few fish since my last post and lost one to a "decoy accident". The current stocking is 2 Nicaraguan Cichlids, a Flier Cichlid, and a Sengal Bichir. The next fish I get will be a HRP, 1-3 Firemouths, 1-2 Topaz Cichlid (if I can find them) and some plecos.

I am not sure how I feel about the driftwood right now so please give me some opinions. I also will get more anubius eventually.
 

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Wow! That is one seriously well-made, 90 gallon aquarium. Rare to see something so well built for New World Cichlds, esp. one featuring Central American species.
It's beautiful! :)
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I see you have added a bit more bog wood? Those are some really good pieces - there must be a killer supply of that stuff, nearby? There IS a lot of detail and structure in that pile, that most of us are not used to seeing. It looks incredibly natural though, and I'm sure your fish in that tank really enjoy swimming in and around all of that structure. It also looks like you've got some wood tannins leaching out of it, that has stained the water. But, unless that look bothers you, I wouldn't worry about it. I actually like the darker look in my own aquariums (while it lasts).
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As for plants, I see you are starting with some dwarf Anubias 'nana'? That's good, but to enhance that look, you are gonna need a lot more it. Also, be SURE you like the arrangement of the wood pile and other structure in the aquarium BEFORE committing to installing your plants on it. Making constant adjustments to the rocks and wood is one thing. When you have plants that have (sometimes painstakingly) been attached to those pieces, it raises the stakes and potential irritation level of the whole thing - a LOT. :x
For non-substrate rooting plant choices, you have what I call: The Big Three. That is, Java Moss, Java Fern and Anubias species. Don't be fooled by the Java Fern you may have seen in the LFS or elsewhere. Those sad, browning and weak-looking specimens you may have dismissed earlier, are NOT what you can expect when they have adapted and are growing strongly in your aquarium! Well-tended Java Ferns can provide a nice, visual balance to the plants in the tank. Additionally, there are a LOT more Anubias plants than the dwarf Anubias 'nana' species that we commonly see in aquariums. I recommend going online and perusing some of the less seen, possibly more exotic varieties. You might be amazed at how many leaf shapes, sizes and types of Anubias there are! A mix of the low growing dwarf variants combined with larger/taller growing types will look very nice in the higher water column of your 90 gallon tank.
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And then there is Java Moss. Mostly under-utilized in planted aquariums, this stuff will grow quite prolifically in all kinds of tank environments. Additionally, it has the distinction of being one of the only plant species that is just absolutely NOT LIKED by a host of plant-destroying fish species. Seriously! In my own experience, this stuff has defied the attentions of Silver Dollars, Severums and even a surly Black Belt Cichlid I had, that seemed to delight in wrecking even ARTIFICIAL plants placed in with that beast (maybe he just didn't like the color green?). If Java Moss has one downside... when happy, it will tend to spread by attaching itself to all kinds of things. It can grow literally just about anywhere it gets some light.
I found that Java Moss is used most effectively when placed on extended/long pieces (both wood & rock) in the aquarium. It helps to soften the edges of things, and will visually enhance a more well-established and natural look for the tank. It is a bit tough initially to work with. I followed the technical direction provided by Takahashi Amano (Nature Aquarium, now deceased), and used black, polyester thread to bind my Java Moss onto wood pieces and some rocks. Admittedly, it's a bit painstaking. But, you soon get the hang of it and it works great! And, in no time the Java Moss will puff back up and mask any evidence of the thread being there at all.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
All the wood is from the root system of some old bushes outside my station that had been cut down years ago. I soaked it for a couple months and then used a wire brush on my drill to take off the bark and soft wood. And yes it is letting off a lot of tannins, this picture was after a large water change. I don't mind the tannins myself, it's kind of like having to tanks, it turns to a black water tank after about 2 weeks and then I water change and have it bright again. I do plan on getting a lot more anubius, the ones I have now are coffeefolia. Their is actually a Java fern rhizome in there too, it had been neglected in another tank for years so I cut all the leaves off and saved the rhizome and now it's starting to have some leaves grow back. I also want to get a few varieties of moss going.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Haven’t done anything with the tank for a while, except a little rescaping, probably will continuously rescape as I am never satisfied. The fish are all still looking good, the only problem I have is the Bichir grew faster than expected and he is getting close to the size that he may eat the Firemouth and BN pleco in with him.
 

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Oh wow, your aquarium has come out super nice! Looks like the wood tannins have settled down a bit in your bog wood pieces, and that water has definitely become very clear.
The fish all look great. They're showing some good color and everyone seems pretty happy. And that is nice work with the little adjustments and resets. Everything looks settled in and very natural in there.
- Get some more Anubias to set out on the wood and rock pieces. And definitely, try spreading some Java Moss onto some of your wood pieces. It's kind of amazing how some moss growing here and there will soften up and sort of 'age' everything placed in the aquascape.
And yes, you're right to not trust the Bichir. These aren't really all that aggressive, or even really territorial. And, by predatory fish standards they are on the milder side of things (Unlike a Guapote', they won't tear a larger fish into chunks or anything to eat it....). But unfortunately, if a smaller fish will fit in your Bichir's mouth, and the opportunity is there. Well....:mad:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yes I plan on adding more anubius and moss, I was waiting for me to have a scape I like that lady’s more than a week. And the pleco already had a few close calls with the Bichir, but has learned to keep his distance. I wouldn’t be surprised if he disappears soon. I was keeping him well stocked with minnows to sate his appetite, but now he eats over a dozen in a sitting so he doesn’t get them as often.
 

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Hmmmm....
I was keeping him well stocked with minnows to sate his appetite, but now he eats over a dozen in a sitting so he doesn’t get them as often.
My goodness. What a little glutton! And yes, well.... it would seem that the more you feed this little piggy, the faster he will grow.
Keep an eye on him. And, if ultimately he winds up causing more problems than you are prepared to deal with? You may be pushed to getting that six foot tank sooner than you thought!
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Could it be that 'Mr. Minnow Muncher' might be staying on in the 90 gallon, with one or two larger Cichlids? While the rest possibly get transferred over to some more spacious (safer) accommodations?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I would love explaining to my wife how I need a 6 ft tank, but somehow I just do t think she’ll see it the same way. I do have some 10gs set up that the Firemouth could go in until he gets more size on him. I was told that bichirs grow fast until about 8” and then slow down so if that’s the case the other cichlids should all stay safe. Ultimately my plan is to let them all grow up and then start rehoming them, since I don’t think my tank is quite big enough for fish pushing past 10”, especially with all the hardscape taking up room.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
A got lucky today. My LFS had someone turn in an A. Myrnae, which is one of my dream fish I had been searching for. Their was also a royal Acara dropped off with it that I’m tempted to go back for.
Water Vertebrate Fin Underwater Organism
 

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Oh wow, that is Aequidens diadema, (Diadem Cichlid, Royal Acara). I had a really nice male of one of these. A very easy-going, larger sized cichlid. They say this species will max out at around 8 inches or so.... after his death, mine measured out just past 10 inches.
NOT a CA origination, these Cichlids come from the warmer parts of Peru. Comfortable in white water habitats with a PH that can at times measure out close to 8.0, this species is definitely not a 'Black Water' Cichlid, and will be comfortable in water dechlorinated right out of the tap. IF you get that one, the 90 gallon tank will be past maxed out, when your fish grow out and attain adult size.
So, howz that new/upcoming, 6 foot long tank looking now? :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
So I broke my rule I had for the tank and got a Cichlid which is not Central American, a Striped Venezuelan Pike Cichlid. I am definitely overstocked now I once everyone gets bigger, so maybe by that time I can’t talk my wife into a 210, and turn my 90 into a Bolivian ram tank. I have yet to get any good pics of my camera shy Firemouth and Myrnae but here is what I could get from n them as well.
 

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