Black is nice, but a lot of darker colored fish tend to disappear against it. I did it to one of my tanks and kind of regret it. It will also keep you on your toes to maintain absolute crystal clarity of your water, as it tends to magnify any deficiencies in the clarity. The good news, as you know, is that your black Stealth heaters and other black tubes etc. will blend in nicely. Krylon Fusion spray paint for non-black tubes is great.
With the loaches and the wavemaker thingie, I'd think a 1/2" max of sand would stay stirred up and clean. I know the whole bb thing is a personal preference, but with cichlids and loaches a little substrate will definitely make them feel a little more comfortable.
Shame about the gourami, really cool looking fish. Mojo has/had some in his pond, but I guess since they can grow to appx. 24" (?) they are probably most appropriate for a wet pet. Too bad you're in CA or maybe TFG would take him in, heh.
Keep us posted, this is looking great - cool mix so far.
I've got 15 years in the hobby so I understand the differences between things as far as substrate and what not.
While I would love to see my cichlids enjoy digging around - I really plan to overstock the heck out of this tank with rare CA's and it simply won't do.
I'm going to paint the back flat black instead of gloss black, I think - as it shows off the fish a lot more and gives the tank some depth. But currently it's not at the top of my list.
Just picked up a Fluval FX5 and this thing is a real beast - I'll probably add another to the tank for a total of 1800 GPH going through god knows how many square feet of biomedia these things hold (the filter primed itself and took the water level in my 180 gallon down 2" to give you an idea).
Right now my main priorities are getting the fish I want - better decor, and some good VHO or HO lighting over the tank - after that I'll worry about painting and scaping it out. But I honestly think with large tanks like this you can have fish that speak for themselves over decorating the tank out to look like a biotype.
Great tank and fish DBS :thumb: Just a suggestion for the back drop on the tank. I use sheets of mica. What they make counter tops out of. It's thin and easy to tape to the back of the tank. It comes in all different colors and designs. They have solid colors and ones that look like stone, granite and marble etc. It's easy to change it to another style or color. Just a thought. You must be having a blast setting that big boy up!