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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Is this too many rocks? Do I need more open sandy area on the bottom? I plan on having yellow-tail acei, yellow labs, and maingano.

 

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The amount of rocks looks good to me but I would arrange them to have more caves and cracks, so any fish that needs to escape a chase or hide for a while has a place to go.
 

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You will want to ensure that you have room to get an algae scrubber/scraper between your rocks and the side panes. That way, there is no need to move or re-arrange rocks once you get algae buildup on the glass.

The arrangement looks fine to me otherwise. My Acei always ignored the rocks in my tanks and stayed more in the upper half of the water column.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Idech said:
The amount of rocks looks good to me but I would arrange them to have more caves and cracks, so any fish that needs to escape a chase or hide for a while has a place to go.
Well, the way it was explained to me is that "caves," per se, are not really what's important, but rather a lot of nooks, crevices, and especially walls. You need to "think in terms of breaking the sightline of the male on the substrate." When you think of it that way, vertical surfaces and horizontal ledges/overhangs are just as effective as "caves." Some photos of great mbuna tanks I've seen don't have any "caves" at all, but just a lot of big rocks creating vertical surfaces that a fleeing fish can hide dart behind or around. That said, I have 7 obvious caves in the front (see yellow circles below), and a couple more in the back that aren't visible in the picture. Plus, there are lots of vertical surfaces and a few horizontal ledges that can be used to break the sightline during a chase.

 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Swim_Shady said:
You will want to ensure that you have room to get an algae scrubber/scraper between your rocks and the side panes. That way, there is no need to move or re-arrange rocks once you get algae buildup on the glass.

The arrangement looks fine to me otherwise. My Acei always ignored the rocks in my tanks and stayed more in the upper half of the water column.
Great point about the algae scraper! I didn't think of that. I'll make sure there's enough room. I don't really need too much space though.... I've always found that an old credit card works about at good as anything for an algae scraper.
 

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You want to use smaller rocks as you climb because indeed you do need a lot more nooks and crannies, and the smaller ones are better. Not too small on the rock size...half the size? Remember the males are going to want the ones on the substrate with walls (I see 3 of these), and the females needs dozens of places like a maze up higher to escape when being chased.

Plenty of substrate left, but I would definitely leave room for the scraper and also a "python-width" on the substrate all the way around the rock piles.
 

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Concur with all.
And, I really love your cardboard sizing mockup. That's safe and very smart! :thumb:
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I think your bottom layout is very good. The open/sandy expanse in the front looks great. And, as 'DJRansome' pointed out, the use of smaller rocks near the surface will hopefully help to provide more openings and spaces for harried females to dart into. Plus, I actually think you need to go just a bit higher in the rockpiles. Yes! A sort of 'twin peaks' configuration would be ideal, with the one on the right coming in a bit lower than the one on the left. As 'DJRansome' has also pointed out in another post about this earlier... you're looking to build in rock 'walls' with this. That's one reason the textured backgrounds are so effective. My use of the really big pieces of Mountain Lace Rock (MLR) made that easier for me to do that than what you are now experiencing with the more chunky pieces of mudstone (siltstone?!!). The MLR is naturally more tapered in shape (Bladed?), and the coarse surface texture makes it easier (and safer) to stand up on end and make rock walls.
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But, the smoother surface of your rocks is probably gonna grow out algae much faster than the MLR did. They'll look nice as a more homogenous type of rock, as well. So, if you are going to get more rock? I would definitely recommend adding with the type and color of the kind of rocks you have now. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
DJRansome said:
You want to use smaller rocks as you climb because indeed you do need a lot more nooks and crannies, and the smaller ones are better. Not too small on the rock size...half the size? Remember the males are going to want the ones on the substrate with walls (I see 3 of these), and the females needs dozens of places like a maze up higher to escape when being chased.

Plenty of substrate left, but I would definitely leave room for the scraper and also a "python-width" on the substrate all the way around the rock piles.
Any photos of examples? All the photos I can find of mbuna tanks look more like my trial rockscape than what you're describing.

How much actual water is typically in a 75g mbuna tank? I'm guessing I'm down to about 40 gallons with the above trial rockscape. And you're saying I should add more rocks.....

Also, if I leave a "python width" around the perimeter, then I'll be left with a very narrow corridor available for stacking. I might as well try to balance a sheet of paper on its edge. I guess I bought the wrong kind of rocks. Is it too late for me to switch to haps?
 

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I have rock piles in my 75G without touching the sides, and I have a 3D in tank background. The points of the rocks in the base can come close to the glass but not touch and you want the python to be able to access right and left of the point, so that all substrate surrounding it can be siphoned.

Can't do pictures now because I have not replaced the rocks (correctly) since I moved...my tanks are not picture ready. I might be able to find old pics or other pics, stay tuned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
DJRansome said:
I have rock piles in my 75G without touching the sides, and I have a 3D in tank background. The points of the rocks in the base can come close to the glass but not touch and you want the python to be able to access right and left of the point, so that all substrate surrounding it can be siphoned.

Can't do pictures now because I have not replaced the rocks (correctly) since I moved...my tanks are not picture ready. I might be able to find old pics or other pics, stay tuned.
You don't have rock piles in your 75g using my rocks. I think the depth of a 75g is a little under 18". If I leave 2.5" of clearance in front & back, that leaves about 12 inches of depth. Using my rocks, I'd basically be stacking them straight up, one on top of another. Like a child's stack of wooden blocks, it would be highly unstable and would inevitably tip over. Like I said, it appears I bought the wrong kind/size of rocks. Any suggestions on what I should buy and where? I had a devil of a time finding these ones.
 

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From fist sized to head sized. I buy all my rocks that did not come from my property at a landscape supplier that sells boulders to landscapers (not a garden center...a rock yard).
 

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I wish I had the capability and knowledge to copy your existing rock pile and rearrange it a bit to give you some examples. I think your rock choice is fine, you just need to stack them a bit differently.

Try putting the smaller rocks on the bottom of the tank and using them to support the larger rocks horizontally or tipped at an angle. It really is a trial and error process and if you can, take pics during the various iterations of your rock piles.

As far as placing rocks near the rear sides and back wall of the tank, I don't see a problem with using that method as you can always use a power-head or if filling the tank via a hose during water changes, use those methods to flush out any trapped debris and then manually siphon debris during your water changes.

You may also want to consider where your filter intake will be located as that may change the positioning of any rocks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Deeda said:
.....Try putting the smaller rocks on the bottom of the tank and using them to support the larger rocks horizontally or tipped at an angle......
Seems impossible to achieve any height that way. I'd end up with the largest, heaviest rocks balanced precariously on towers of smaller rocks. I've been staring at these things for hours, and I'm out of ideas.
 

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It always takes me several days to get something I like. It will happen. What about if you go diagonal tipped up and leaning on each other with all of them? Or think in those terms?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
DJRansome said:
It always takes me several days to get something I like. It will happen. What about if you go diagonal tipped up and leaning on each other with all of them? Or think in those terms?
Well, if it goes by what I like, then I'm happy with the rockscape in my photo above. But I'm more concerned about what the fish will like.

I did go "diagonal tipped up and leaning." See the rock near the center of my photo (above). I don't see how I could create a lot of small caves that way. I might be able to repeat that configuration a couple more times in the space available, but it won't be very high, and each iteration will only create 1 or 2 caves at the most. I think the problem is that my rocks are too big and too round. I don't have enough small and/or flat pieces to work with. I thought I had more variety until I actually started trying to stack them.

I see thousands of pictures of tanks like the one below, claiming to be mbuna tanks. How is my scape so much different than this?

 

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If we were asked how to improve that very pretty tank we would say double the rock or stock it with peacocks. Nothing wrong with going ahead and trying it. You can always change it later if required.

That blue fish is not a mbuna...maybe they ended up with haps and peacocks and weeded out other mbuna over time.
 

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...it's easy to throw an inappropriate amount of rocks in a tank, throw in some mbuna, take a picture, and say "this is my mbuna tank". That doesn't make it a SUCCESSFUL mbuna tank...
 

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This is my mbuna tank...I'm still playing around with the placement to get it "just right", but you can see how much of the tank is full of rocks, varying sizes, creating lots of spaces for fish to hang out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Sinister-Kisses said:
This is my mbuna tank...I'm still playing around with the placement to get it "just right", but you can see how much of the tank is full of rocks, varying sizes, creating lots of spaces for fish to hang out.
Nice. I like it. What size tank is that? Is the rock pile centered between the front and back glass? Or is it closer to the back? Approximately how many inches are there between the front glass and the rock pile? Also, where are the fish? Thanks!
 
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