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Hi All - first time post, from Dallas Texas.

I am interested in doing "another" cichlid tank....noting that my last tank was over 20 years ago. Closer to 24 (wow, I'm almost in pain typing that).

Anyway - my previous tank was a 50 gallon cichlid with a hang on the back filter. Now, I know 24 years is a long time....but, I don't remember having any complications in running this tank. (of course, I was going from a reef tank...so, maybe this just seemed easier). Anyway - I didn't know a think about species or mixing or sexing - I just went to the fish store, bought africans I liked and put them in the tank. I did crowd the tank which had a nice effect...lots of activity.

Fast forward 24 years and....things seem immensely more complicated. Technology has moved, tank design, etc. Kind of fun. If you'll indulge me on a few questions to help me get pointed in the right direction. And, hopefully I'm posting in the correct place - I know that is an irritant if not.

Tank. I have a large spot in my office which could accomodate a 4 foot rectangular tank; however, after looking online - I'm leaning toward a 3 foot with 2 feet of height. I *think* this is about 90 gallons. My previous tank was glass and very basic. I'd like to go with a tank that is plumbed, black backed and very clean looking. I've never done a plumbed tank...my reef was an all in one contained (and, was small) Is there anything specific I need to know? Brands? where to purchase?

Filtration. I know water changes are part of the game, but they are a PITA. (24 years ago, you started the suction by actually "sucking" on the tube :)) So - I'd like to have strong filtration that allows me to crowd the tank and do water changes no more than weekly. (I know this is sort of species dependent - but, I didn't do it any more than that before and my filter was an old hang off the back thing) I will do some you tube searching to come up to speed...but, if there is a CLEAR winner in the filter department - that would be nice to know.

Source for Fish. Online? Really? My previous routine was to go to the fish store and buy fish. That doesn't seem to be the way it's done anymore....I definitely need pointers here on fish AND decorations. (I recall having some wood in my tank that bled off color for like 2 weeks....I had to soak it and change the water for 2 weeks before introducing it into the tank.

Thanks for reading and in advance for any answers. I'm looking forward to starting up the hobby again.
 

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Hey Lutzy,

I see you mention leaning towards a 3 foot tank. If you have the space a four foot tank or bigger would give you so many more options when coming to stock it.
(Generally length is more important than height for a Cichlid tank)
I personally have Mbuna, great colours very active and fantastic to watch.

I don't think you can go wrong with a canister for filtration, I find they are easy to maintain, reliable and keep my water crystal clear. Many different brands out there but in the UK Fluval and Oase are two I like. If you did go down this route tank size and stocking would determine what size and how many you may need.

Decor I guess is a personal preference - "please no pink gravel pirate ships and skulls lol"
Plenty of rocks/caves is what I like with fine crushed coral for substrate which helps raise my Ph. Other members may suggest pool filter sand.
Painting the back of your tank black or blue for me is a must, helps hide equipment and fish stand out much better. Some tanks may come with this option my main tank did.
I wanted a clutter free clean looking tank like you mention so went for bottom drilled with dry shaft and heater built into the canister. This set up means no unsightly pipes/cables and heater on show just fish and rocks.

The best investment you can make is in a Python for your water changes, (no more sucking on tubes) so fast and efficient with this little gem

Such an addictive hobby, started out with one tank now have 6.. and still want more

Shifty
 

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If you want Africans I would not get a three foot tall tank. The majority of them hug the rocks or substrate and a three foot tank is not long enough to have the cyps that like the top. My favorite is 75G which is 48x18. Avoid corner tanks and bowfront tanks...rectangle accommodates the most fish with the Africans that are most often available.

I would pick a Lake. Malawi for color and action...Tanganyika for interesting behaviors and a variety of shapes.

If you choose Malawi, the mbuna have a good selection of species with colorful females. Think in terms of 4 species and 1m:4f of each for 48x18.

Agree with the canister (no reason to plumb a tank unless you just like apparatus) and Python. For a look free of equipment use in-line heaters and you can even do an in-tank background and put the filter intakes behind the background.

I did not find crushed coral helped my pH and it is hard to clean. Pool filter sand for sure. I still use hang-on-back filters. Some of the advances are hype...you just need filter media with water flowing through it for your beneficial organisms.

Read the Cichlid-forum article in the Library about fishless cycling and allow six weeks to complete that process before buying fish. THIS may be the biggest advance.
 

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Agree with the pool filter sand which is pretty perfect for africans. Crushed coral can help the more acidic your water is, but it's a case of diminishing returns and the coral has to first dissolve in the water to have any upward effect on pH.
 

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A python is a must have in my opinion. I also recently got back into the hobby after a long break and when I saw the python water changer I thought my prayers had been answered. If a python is not in the budget you can always get the siphon with the "squeeze bulb" attached to get the suction going.
 

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ken31cay said:
Agree with the pool filter sand which is pretty perfect for africans. Crushed coral can help the more acidic your water is, but it's a case of diminishing returns and the coral has to first dissolve in the water to have any upward effect on pH.
Ken31cay, I would love to read more about this statement. I'm in the same boat as OP in looking to put together a tank after a long time away. Is it not entirely the objective to have the aragonite dissolve in the water, thus increasing GH and KH as a primary goal and having PH follow as a natural increase due to the increase in alkalinity? Is there a place I should go to read about the PFS vs. aragonite debate? It seems to me that if you set up front expense aside, the marginal benefit of buffering the water over time would push one into aragonite. Even if grain size was an issue, one could go with sugar fine and have some lovely sand that also buffers.
 

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I have had aragonite and PFS in various tanks for 10 years. Not the slightest change in pH, GH or KH. If you want to use crushed coral in your filters just in case, that is a better location since the water is forced through and will dissolve a tiny bit more.

Sugar fine sand is not a good choice due to difficulty to vacuum (20 grain works well with the Python) and as it flies around the tank it gets in impellers, grinding them up.

Test your tap water. As you stated in the other post, most people do not and should not use RO water and will not need to try to adjust pH.
 

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SenorStrum said:
Ken31cay, I would love to read more about this statement. I'm in the same boat as OP in looking to put together a tank after a long time away. Is it not entirely the objective to have the aragonite dissolve in the water, thus increasing GH and KH as a primary goal and having PH follow as a natural increase due to the increase in alkalinity? Is there a place I should go to read about the PFS vs. aragonite debate? It seems to me that if you set up front expense aside, the marginal benefit of buffering the water over time would push one into aragonite. Even if grain size was an issue, one could go with sugar fine and have some lovely sand that also buffers.
I honestly don't think there is a debate regarding PFS vs. aragonite, at least not among those who are informed on the topic. I used to read a lot on water chemistry when I kept Discus, found most of my info doing google searches. I would search something like, "aragonite solubility in different pH", "aragonite water pH", etc. It really depends on what your source water pH is and how much you need to increase it. If you do increase low pH water with aragonite, which doesn't happen immediately, then on your very next 50% weekly water change you're putting that lower pH tap water into your tank which can shock your fish, and have to wait again for the aragonite to dissolve & raise the pH again. Buffer solution is much better.
 
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