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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Introduction:
My name is Eric and I'm a fishaholic. With many thanks to my wife, I am down to a single aquarium that is going to be the focus of my attention (until I can of course convince her otherwise). I am here to share my addiction with you - quite possibly the only people around, besides the amazing reefkeeping community here in Phoenix, that understand the difference between having a fish tank and fishkeeping.

The aquarium was previously set-up for our long-term family pet, Beaker, who was an awesome Fahaka puffer. Sadly, Beaker passed away in October and I've finally gotten around to the planning stages for the tank's new inhabitants. My goal is to use this thread as a sort of journal from set-up to ???. Thanks for visiting, and feel free to leave your comments, questions, concerns, and smart remarks as you see fit.

Current Equipment:
225G Aquarium (72x24x30) w/ Single Overflow on Back Wall
Custom Built Stand & Canopy
Water Blaster HY 7000 Return Pump
AquaController Jr Aquarium Controller w/ Temperature and pH Probes

Upcoming (Non-Fish) Purchases:
Custom Built 60G (38.5x18x20) Wet/Dry Sump
2x 250W Jager Heaters
Ecoxotic LED Lighting
CaribSea Eco-Complete Cichlid Sand
Assorted River Rock (smooth, dark, rounded stones up to 12" across)

First, though, a picture of my cleaned-up and ready to go blank slate:
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I can honestly say that I enjoy the design process as much as the end result. Here's the Google SketchUp I created for the sump that I'm going to have built:


The entire sump will be made of 3/8" thick acrylic and will have a removable lid to help with evaporation in our dry Arizona weather.

It will have a single drain input, which will overflow into a 7" filter sock before going up and over it's first baffle into the trickle/biomedia chamber. From there the water will go up and over the final baffle to the return chamber where it will get pumped back into the aquarium by the return pump. The chamber that houses the filter sock will also be home to my probes for the aquarium controller as well as the two heaters.

PS - The red and blue colored braces are just place holders. The drip plate and media tray will be constructed at the builder's discretion to ensure even distribution of water over the media chamber with as little warping as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Of course, it's also fun to plan for the future residents. Here's what I'm thinking so far...

Planned Inhabitants:
5x Synodontis multipunctatus
http://www.planetcatfish.com/images/full/mochokidae/synodontis/multipunctata/1.jpg
6x Iodotropheus sprengerae
http://freshwatercichlids.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/rusty_cichlid.jpg
6x Labidochromis caeruleus
http://www.bigskycichlids.com/images/color1.jpg
12x Pseudotropheus sp. "Acei"
http://i237.photobucket.com/albums/ff192/dinos_album/Malawi/Acei_1.jpg
6x Labeotropheus fuelleborni "Marmalade Cat"
http://www.bigskycichlids.com/images/L_fuelleborni_rt_marmalade.jpg
6x Cynotilapia sp. "hara"
http://www.malawi-dream.info/Images...a/Cynotilapia sp hara Gallireya male1 800.jpg
36x Pseudotropheus demasoni
http://www.bigskycichlids.com/images/Pdemasoni1.jpg
 

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Your tank is going to be amazing when it's set up! :drooling:

In regards to your stock list, the hara and demasoni might not go well together. I'd post the list on the malawi forum to get feedback.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
zimmy said:
Your tank is going to be amazing when it's set up! :drooling:

In regards to your stock list, the hara and demasoni might not go well together. I'd post the list on the malawi forum to get feedback.
Thanks! That's exactly what I've just done. Looking forward to the responses...
 

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I have several comments about this thread:

1. Awesome tank!

2. You sir, know EXACTLY how to make a new thread...Detailed and WITH PICTURES! It is really hard to remember scientific names for thousands of types of cichlid species, so it's awesome to have a picture with that name without having to look it up. :D

3. Why not drop the white top hara, lower the demasoni just a bit and add some more Rustys, Yellow Labs and M. Cats? It would be a better contrast in color, IM(very)HO.

Good luck with the tank...I look forward to seeing the finished product. :thumb:

BTW, how big was your puffer when he/she passed? I hear they can get to about a foot and a half long, so I'd imagine yours had to be pretty big if it was in there by itself in a 225g tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
benny71 said:
I have several comments about this thread:

1. Awesome tank!

2. You sir, know EXACTLY how to make a new thread...Detailed and WITH PICTURES! It is really hard to remember scientific names for thousands of types of cichlid species, so it's awesome to have a picture with that name without having to look it up. :D

3. Why not drop the white top hara, lower the demasoni just a bit and add some more Rustys, Yellow Labs and M. Cats? It would be a better contrast in color, IM(very)HO.

Good luck with the tank...I look forward to seeing the finished product. :thumb:
Thanks, thanks, and THANKS! I've spent more time looking at a slideshow of the pics I've assembled of the current assortment and that's what I'm starting to think as well. It's hard to tell though without seeing the real thing, ya know? I'll keep everything on the burner until the tank's ready to go. :)

benny71 said:
BTW, how big was your puffer when he/she passed? I hear they can get to about a foot and a half long, so I'd imagine yours had to be pretty big if it was in there by itself in a 225g tank.
She wasn't quite as big as some that I've seen, but she was over a foot long. However, her personality more than made up for her "small" stature. She was a worse begger and a bigger clown than any of the dog's I've had. This is a picture my little bro took of her - she wasn't exactly camera shy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
benny71 said:
Wow, what an amazing fish...I imagine that it was pretty tough losing her. :(

How old was she?
It was. She was 8-9 years old. We had her for most of those years (took her in from a friend of mine whose eyes were bigger than his aquarium).

Now, and I mean this in the nicest possible way, can we get back on the subject of cichlids please? :wink:

I'm looking forward to my return pump arriving on Tuesday so I can get bulkheads/etc ordered to give everything needed to my acrylic builder to get cracking on the sump. I have this pile of filter socks here just waiting for a new home. I can't wait!
 

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It seems as though you have this thing well planned and figured out.

Few questions:

WHat do you plan to do for the returns?

Will the sump be your only form of filtration?

How often do you figure you will need to clean/change out the filter socks and will they be your only mechanical filtration in your sump?

What's the flow output on that pump?

I'll look forward to following your thread.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Let me start by saying I love this kind of reply. This is the type of round-table discussion that gets my brain going. Thanks for your feedback!

PauloSilva said:
WHat do you plan to do for the returns?
Previously, I had the return going up the back of the aquarium where it Y'ed off into two LockLine returns. This worked well for me before so I was going to use a similar method this time. What did you have in mind?

PauloSilva said:
Will the sump be your only form of filtration?
That was my plan. What else would you suggest?

PauloSilva said:
How often do you figure you will need to clean/change out the filter socks and will they be your only mechanical filtration in your sump?
I purchased ten 7" 100 micron socks to be able to change out and wash as needed. I haven't used filter socks before, but I belive they are a better mechanical filtration option in my sump than the filter pad/sponge combo I have used in the past. Again, any suggestions?

PauloSilva said:
What's the flow output on that pump?
It's 1800gph at the output and ~1200gph at the height the outputs will be. It will turn the tank over at ~5x per hour. Along these same lines, yes, my drain is set up to handle this amount of flow.

PauloSilva said:
I'll look forward to following your thread.
Me too! 8)
 

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SonsOfLeda said:
Previously, I had the return going up the back of the aquarium where it Y'ed off into two LockLine returns. This worked well for me before so I was going to use a similar method this time. What did you have in mind?
Well I am planning something similar but I've been thinking hard about using UGJ. I too will have one overflow centred in my tank (a 1500 glass holes overflow) and would like to drive the water upwards towards my filter. I was wondering if you had thought of this, but since you have something that works well, why try to re-invent the wheel unless you see a significant benefit.

SonsOfLeda said:
That was my plan. What else would you suggest?
I agree with it, and I plan to do the same as long as I can achieve the crystal clear water that I desire.

SonsOfLeda said:
I purchased ten 7" 100 micron socks to be able to change out and wash as needed. I haven't used filter socks before, but I belive they are a better mechanical filtration option in my sump than the filter pad/sponge combo I have used in the past. Again, any suggestions?
Again, I plan to do the same thing. I've read alot of people that liked them. I'm concerned about the frequency of changing them though. I would also like to buy OR fab up some kind of holder for them cause I don't want to tie them to the outlet. If they became full/clogged I wouldnt want to choke the outlets.

SonsOfLeda said:
It's 1800gph at the output and ~1200gph at the height the outputs will be. It will turn the tank over at ~5x per hour. Along these same lines, yes, my drain is set up to handle this amount of flow.
I'm going to be buying this week a Mag 18 which has some similar stats. I've never heard of your particular pump. I'll look it up and have a read.

I'm sorry I can't comment alot about your stock list as I've never kept many mbuna.

Good luck... I'll be asking many more questions likely.
 

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zimmy said:
In regards to your stock list, the hara and demasoni might not go well together. I'd post the list on the malawi forum to get feedback.
The initial stock for my 55 mbuna included Hara, Yellow Labs, and Demasoni. None of the demasonis survived the Hara. On the other hand, I now have over 100 Hara and they are debatably my favorite species. Demasoni are nice, but I would go with the Hara given the chance. They color up very young (as you can see in the picture) and offer more color variety than the solitary color state of the Demasoni. A male in full dress is a site to see and their rapid changes from blue/purple to white/black is simple amazing to witness.

My dominant male is in my avatar. This is my Hara growout.

 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
PauloSilva said:
Well I am planning something similar but I've been thinking hard about using UGJ. I too will have one overflow centred in my tank (a 1500 glass holes overflow) and would like to drive the water upwards towards my filter. I was wondering if you had thought of this, but since you have something that works well, why try to re-invent the wheel unless you see a significant benefit.
I had UGJs in a 75G I had ~15 years ago. I don't remember them being a huge benefit to me. However, I was thinking a little bit about multiple powerheads similar to what reefkeepers use in their tanks to simulate the movement of the ocean. They help keep debris/food suspended for their corals and so their filters can be more effective. Not sure how mbuna would react to this much flow, however.

PauloSilva said:
I agree with it, and I plan to do the same as long as I can achieve the crystal clear water that I desire. ... Again, I plan to do the same thing. I've read alot of people that liked them. I'm concerned about the frequency of changing them though. I would also like to buy OR fab up some kind of holder for them cause I don't want to tie them to the outlet. If they became full/clogged I wouldnt want to choke the outlets.
I designed my sump/filter sock holding method after one that Aqueon designed - http://www.aqueonproducts.com/education/videos/index.php?v=TICzgBiJJ3A. That way I can easily remove and replace filter socks at any time. There are also holders available exactly like you're planning on fabbing. We need to make changing them as easy as possible since it's going to need to be done relatively often I'm assuming.

PauloSilva said:
I'm going to be buying this week a Mag 18 which has some similar stats. I've never heard of your particular pump. I'll look it up and have a read.
My pumps are more well-known in the reefkeeping community and are well worth the research. I had a Mag for this tank before and it was simply too loud for my taste. Not really annoyingly so, but I could definitely hear it over everything else in the tank (including the overflow itself). I simply wanted a more efficient, quiter pump and decided to shell out the money for this one. I did my homework here - http://coralvue.com/waterblaster-pumps/. Enjoy!

PauloSilva said:
I'm sorry I can't comment alot about your stock list as I've never kept many mbuna.
No problem. I'm getting plenty of help regarding stocking in my Malawi forum thread.

PauloSilva said:
Good luck... I'll be asking many more questions likely.
Thanks! You and me both! :thumb:

EDIT: Removed specific vendors from the post. PM me if you want details on where I purchased any of the equipment described above.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
RRasco said:
The initial stock for my 55 mbuna included Hara, Yellow Labs, and Demasoni. None of the demasonis survived the Hara. On the other hand, I now have over 100 Hara and they are debatably my favorite species. Demasoni are nice, but I would go with the Hara given the chance. They color up very young (as you can see in the picture) and offer more color variety than the solitary color state of the Demasoni. A male in full dress is a site to see and their rapid changes from blue/purple to white/black is simple amazing to witness.
VERY duly noted. I love to hear stories from people with experience. I'm a huge fan of both of these species (on paper anyway - never kept either) and don't really want to give up one or the other if I don't have to. I'm keeping my options open and welcome any more feedback anyone has on this subject. Thanks! :)
 

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I think I'm going to experiment with the UGJ's as they will be easy to remove and put in traditional nozzle type returns if I don't like it. Awhile back I was reading everything on fmueller's site and it convinced me to atleast try it.

I'm not keen on the powerheads because I want my tank to have no visible equipment (atleast to the average person viewing the tank). The back wall of the tank will be painted black, similar to yours, the overflow black, and I think some people have had success staining or painting pvc tubing black(krylon fusion paint) for the returns.

Do you think with your current return setup (without the possibility of the powerheads) that you can stir all the debris up and get it into the overflow? This will be the biggest challenge imo without the assistance of a polishing canister or HOB.

I'm really interested to see how your led lighting turns out. I'm leaning towards the DIY shop light in a canopy setup.

Thanks for the links btw.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I just placed an order for my heaters. I decided to go with a pair of 300W ViaAqua Titanium Heaters rather than the Jagers. While the Jagers have a reputation for reliability, they were simply too large for where I want to put them in my sump (12" for ViaAqua vs 20" for Jager). Plus, the ViaAqua's have good reviews as well (the most widely recommended titaniums that I could find anyway).

Why so much heating you ask? Good question! I was going to go with smaller, but the price difference between the 300s and the smaller ones was only a dollar or two.
Only one more day until the pump arrives... :popcorn:
 

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SonsOfLeda said:
I just placed an order for my heaters. I decided to go with a pair of 300W ViaAqua Titanium Heaters rather than the Jagers. While the Jagers have a reputation for reliability, they were simply too large for where I want to put them in my sump (12" for ViaAqua vs 20" for Jager). Plus, the ViaAqua's have good reviews as well (the most widely recommended titaniums that I could find anyway).
Don't know if you've thought about this but with two heaters, it's a good idea to get a controller IMHO. Scroll down to the bottom of the link below to see a good outline of the reasons.
http://www.jehmco.com/html/temperature_controller.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
zimmy said:
Don't know if you've thought about this but with two heaters, it's a good idea to get a controller IMHO. Scroll down to the bottom of the link below to see a good outline of the reasons.
I have my AquaController Jr to take care of this. I haven't found a need for a separate temp controller from what the AC Jr offers me. Thanks!
 

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SonsOfLeda said:
I have my AquaController Jr to take care of this. I haven't found a need for a separate temp controller from what the AC Jr offers me. Thanks!
Sorry, I didn't notice you mentioned this in your original post. That's quite an impressive unit!
 
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