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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I was given a 120gal tank and stand for free... It was awesome then I find out it also came with Fluval FX5 less than a year old. I def got lucky here. I have a 46 gal thats running now and my fish are getting big so this came at a perfect time! I have a few questions/topics Id like to get your opinions on. Any Info is good info! Thanks in advance!

1 The tank is missing a lid and a Light

*What websites have any of you used in the past that you would recommend??

*LED or Florescent?

*Any websites/people on the forum for custom lids?

2 I would like this tank to look as close to their natural habitat?

*What substrate is most appropriate?

*Pros n Cons of Black Cichlid sand?

*What type of rock is most natural?

*Drift wood??

* Plants(fake) or Rocks or Both?

* What websites are cheapest to find this stuff?

Remember I want all opinions on your Ideal setup... I need some Ideas and I would also like to find it the least expensive way.

If anyone can post some pictures Id greatly appreciate it!!!
 

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HenryF212
I have a woodshop in eastern pa and can build a custom top and even a stand for your tank if you need one. It may be cheaper to get a prefab plastic one if you can find one that fits. You can email me at [email protected] if you aRe interested.
 

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Lighting is really up to you. The fish won't care, unless it's EXTREMELY bright. Different light will affect how the fish look, too.

Can't say I've ever used a website for gear, but check the Reviews section :thumb:

Depends on what cichlids you have, really. A lot of people use pool filter sand. It's cheap, clean, and looks pretty natural. Plus, pretty easy maintenance.

Again, it depends what kind of cichlids you have, regarding rock. Google search for pictures of your fishes' natural habitats. There's plenty of Malawi/Tanganyika pics floating around the web, as well as quite a few for New World locales.

For rocks, find a local quarry/building material place. Lava rock runs around $.12/lb here, with smooth river rock around $.08. Cheap cheap cheap.
 

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*What websites have any of you used in the past that you would recommend??
Check the review section.. There are a ton of good online retailers out there.

*LED or Florescent?
Personal preference. Research it.

*Any websites/people on the forum for custom lids?
glasscages.com sales them

2 I would like this tank to look as close to their natural habitat?

*What substrate is most appropriate?

*Pros n Cons of Black Cichlid sand?

*What type of rock is most natural?

*Drift wood??

* Plants(fake) or Rocks or Both?
All of these are subjective and also a matter of personal preference.

* What websites are cheapest to find this stuff?
See first answer re: the review section of the site.
 

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*LED or Florescent? LED, If you can swing it. T8 from home improvement store if you can't. I have T5HO on a really deep tank with plants, wouldn't use it otherwise.

*Any websites/people on the forum for custom lids? DIY, it's not that hard to make a decent hood or have one made.

2 I would like this tank to look as close to their natural habitat? Who's natural habitat?

*What substrate is most appropriate? Sand, either white play sand/pool filter sand, or expensive stuff if you don't want white.

*Pros n Cons of Black Cichlid sand? Cost, I'd do it if you like the color.

*What type of rock is most natural? Don't know. Where?

*Drift wood?? Can slightly lower PH and release tannin, good for some species, not others. I have a piece covered with java fern which has a cave, I like it.

* Plants(fake) or Rocks or Both? Fake plants tend to look fake, real plants are hard to take care of. Rock caves are always good.

Check out this thread for ideas:
http://www.cichlid-forum.com/phpBB/view ... p?t=177546

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
@Comans- Thanks Ill check it out and let you know!

I know Its all preference but I want opinions on styles you like and why... I dont know much... I do as much research I can but just trying to get Ideas.

And im sorry I forgot to mention what fish I have. I have a mix... heres the list.

I have a Green Terror
Parrot
Red Empress
Frontosa
Rusty
Blue Dolphin
Electric Blue Jahanni
Buffalo Head
Peacock
Bumble Bee

Thanks for all the feedback! Its great info!
 

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I'm pretty new to this, but since I just went through most of the questions you have, I can share what I learned/decided on.

HenryF212 said:
1 The tank is missing a lid and a Light

*What websites have any of you used in the past that you would recommend??

*LED or Florescent?

*Any websites/people on the forum for custom lids?
For a lid, I was happy with a basic MarineLand glass top. Not overly expensive and it keeps the fish from jumping out.

LED vs Florescent is up to you. Look through the forums in the lighting category for photos (though remember photos don't always accurately portray lighting) and go to your local fish store and ask if they'll show you what different bulbs look like on one of their tanks(much better). I personally didn't like the 'spotlight' effect from the LEDs, or the upfront cost (LEDs are just -NOT- that expensive! I don't care if you dip them in gold!), but I'll acknowledge that in the long run (if you plan to keep the setup for years), you'll save in electricity cost and in not needing to replace bulbs. I went with a T5 HO, 2 bulb setup from Catalina Aquatics online. They build-to-order and if you'd like blue LED "moonlights" they'll add those for much cheaper than any of the prefab units I've seen elsewhere. Quite reasonable cost, long warranty on the ballast.
You'll want to decide on your substrate/decorations and get an idea what fish you'll be keeping to determine which bulbs to go with. 4200K and you'll get a dingy yellow on light colored substrate/decorations. 18,000K and you're looking at cold blue tint to the light, with many in between.

HenryF212 said:
2 I would like this tank to look as close to their natural habitat?

*What substrate is most appropriate?

*Pros n Cons of Black Cichlid sand?

*What type of rock is most natural?

*Drift wood??

* Plants(fake) or Rocks or Both?

* What websites are cheapest to find this stuff?
I'm not sure their natural habitat has much black sand in it! Just saying, but don't let that stop you! I don't think they care what color the sand is.
To decorate your tank on the cheap, and keep it natural, go to a landscaping yard and look for river stone, the 3-6" chunks of it, somewhat smooth. I walked in to one place and said I only needed a 5gallon bucket or two, was told they generally sold by the ton, then given the offer of $5/bucket. I think it came out to $10 for 145lbs of some nice colorful interesting rocks. Compare that to the $1.50-4.99/lb some aquarium places around here want for 'decorative' rocks.

People here seem to like the pool filter sand. It looks good, it's cheap. It's natural and readily available. I already had some course crushed coral from the tank I was upgrading so went a slightly different route, adding to that finer crushed coral and aragonite sand, hoping to get a natural look with different sized pieces mixed. I like it, others may not. I'm not sure where in NJ you are, but where I am, I need to buffer the pH up to keep the fish happy. Crushed coral and aragonite sand both do a good job of this. Some here would disagree with its ability to do such, but in my short experience, it's done the job so far.

One of the biggest cons of that cichlid sand is finding it. Good luck! I called all over the state, and while many of the LFS said they could order it for me, none hand it on hand, and I had planned to upgrade to the larger tank in a short time.

Personally, I love the look of sand in an aquarium, but I wanted a light colored substrate since my background was black and my rocks had some color to them. Light colored sand, from what I've seen, is a dirt/algae/etc magnet. It's work to keep pristine. My tank is pretty low maintenance and I'd like to keep it that way.

Doing everything black is just... too dark. As far as design is concerned, it doesn't allow each aspect of the tank to be showcased, IMHO. I also read a bit about sand causing mayhem with impellers on filters, having to turn off your pumps/filters while working in the tank if you might kick it up into the water. I didn't want to have to deal with that.

Again with the pH, if you use drift wood, you might see your pH start to drop. I'm on the fence about trying to add a long piece to my tank, though I probably won't. I also don't want to worry about having to boil such a large piece, or have it staining my water--both things that can otherwise be taken care of, but... meh.

For plants and other decorations, if you want to make it look like your fish's natural settings, it really depends on the fish. Mine live in the rocks, with very little plant life, so its pretty sparse. Live plants require specific types of light in order to grow, and will help keep your nitrate in check so long as they remain healthy. Fake plants don't have these requirements, are cheap, and some of the good ones look real enough to trick your eyes.

For websites, check out the reviews section here. It's not all inclusive, but it'll give you a place to start. Don't discount local shops though. A lot of the time, shipping charges will make the LFS's prices more reasonable in comparison. And don't be scared to think outside of the box. Go to Home Depot/Lowes/etc, landcaping yards, pool supply places. See if you can get the same type of stuff from them. Since to them, most of the items they have in common with this hobby aren't considered 'specialty' items, they tend to be much cheaper.

Lastly, about decorating your tank--another cheap thing you can do to really up the 'wow' factor is to paint the (outside) back of the tank. I had my doubts, but it couldn't have been easier. Just takes some patience while waiting for the paint to try. I went with plain old flat black latex paint and love the look. It'll make the colorful fish stand out that much more.



I'm hopefully stocking this weekend, and the new light comes in next week, but there's my start.

HenryF212 said:
Remember I want all opinions on your Ideal setup... I need some Ideas and I would also like to find it the least expensive way.
Ideal and least expensive. I don't think those two concepts generally go together! A lot of people here and otherwise told me ideal it really up to me, and even though I went with some of the cheaper options in my setup, it was not the 'least' expensive route I could have taken. These fish are pretty flexible about different lighting, substrate, and decorations if you see to their basic needs. While I personally tried to go more for their natural habitat, that doesn't mean a different setup would be wrong, so long as it met their needs. Really depends on the individual fish have, and as I'm still new to this, I can't really speak about the ones you've listed. Mine are rock dwellers, so I gave them rocks! ...I really though 140+ lbs of rock would have made higher piles though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
@Feralcoder.... This is great information!!! I really do appreciate u taking time out to help me.... I will def look into all the things u recommended... I'm in north jersey btw. Thanks again!
 

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cantrell00 said:
*What websites have any of you used in the past that you would recommend??
Check the review section.. There are a ton of good online retailers out there.

*LED or Florescent?
Personal preference. Research it.

*Any websites/people on the forum for custom lids?
glasscages.com sales them

2 I would like this tank to look as close to their natural habitat?

*What substrate is most appropriate?

*Pros n Cons of Black Cichlid sand?

*What type of rock is most natural?

*Drift wood??

* Plants(fake) or Rocks or Both?
All of these are subjective and also a matter of personal preference.

* What websites are cheapest to find this stuff?
See first answer re: the review section of the site.
wow, thats a lot of work to not answer a single question! :D
 

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HenryF212 said:
I have a mix... heres the list.

I have a Green Terror
Parrot
Red Empress
Frontosa
Rusty
Blue Dolphin
Electric Blue Jahanni
Buffalo Head
Peacock
Bumble Bee

Thanks for all the feedback! Its great info!
That list on the other hand will have people in all kinds of fits...
 

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One thing to consider when deciding on rocks and substrate, is that in nature they tend to match; the grave/sand is made up of the rocks in the area. You will not find white sand and red rocks for example. So, if you want a natural look, they really should match. I know of only one place in the world where the natural sand is white in a fresh water habitat. most places it is a mix of the prevailing rocks and is a mixture of colours. Along the shore of Lake Ontario there are many different colurs and types of rocks ranging from black slate to red granites and various light and clear quartz. The gravel found with the rocks is made up of these rocks as is the sand. This is my source of rocks and it has the added advantage that the rocks have all been worn smooth by the actions of the water. This too is a natural occurance to consider when setting up a tank; you don't normally see sharp rocks in aquatic environments. If you want a black sand, get some black blasting sand. not all PFS is white silica either. http://www.redflint.com/filtration.htm is an example of a natural coloured sand and the aquarium sand and PFS seem to be the same product. It might not be readily available to you but is an example of what is out there.
 
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