View Full Version : Tanganyikan Setup - 100g

03-25-2010, 08:50 PM
Since I went through all the trouble (or maybe benefit) to keep an event log of my tanks evolution these past few months, I figure what better place to share my words and pictures than here, at the AC.

I will commence transcribing shortly (or cut/paste/format).

May all who read this enjoy.
Maybe you can learn a bit from this.
Comments as always are very much welcome.


03-25-2010, 08:51 PM
Luck today – my LFS had a 100g acrylic display tank they are replacing (putting in a 500g Discus tank – whoa!) and placed it outside, stand, hood, tank and lights for $100 – zip!! It is mine!

Never mind I had to squeeze it into a Honda Civic to get it home – it fit. Guess being an engineer is good for something!

Now for plans….

This is going to be a longer term project.

I would like to make it a Tanganyika fish tank, replicating a shot of the lake bed if possible.
Note: pics I found online show that it is very possible. Need rock, crevices, drift wood. Think I will add some plants just for color/nitrates…

For fish I have taken a fancy to Calvus and Compressiceps, even picked up a couple of wild caught from my LFS

03-25-2010, 08:52 PM
I started collecting my fish for this project. I’m working with my favorite LFS trying where possible to get wild caught fish or F1 versus standard captive bred fish.
Fish I have collected to date:
• WC Inkfin Calvus – 3”
• CB Yellow Gold Comp – 1”
• CB Yellow Comp - ¾”
• CB White Calvus – ¾”
• CB Black Calvus = ¾”
I have placed the Inkfin in with my Malawi mates and the little guys into a 20g acrylic “Nursery” .

Started looking at what kind of filtration system I want/need and while I would love to have a couple of HOB (AC110s) the stand sits too close to the wall to do this. I will have to go with some type of canister filter system. Think I’ll ask my LSF and post on the AC forum to get some good opinions on where to start my research.


03-25-2010, 08:55 PM
Decided on my filtration system after a lot of looking around – Rena XP3. This system looks simple, reliable and will more than handle what I need it for.

For my heating system I hemmed and hawed before going with a 300w Marineland Stealth. I looked at using two smaller heaters instead but after looking at the energy consumption and output decided to go with one.

For substrate I was originally looking at putting all black coral and Tahitian sand. Once I looked at some nice stable systems including a couple of similar examples I decided on something a bit lighter, maybe an area mix of different colors.
One portion will have to be coral sand to help with the hardness and maintaining a high pH value for the fish.


03-25-2010, 08:57 PM
Added a couple of new fish to my prestock supply:
• WC Orangefin Gold Comp – 3”
• F1 Black Congo Calvus – 1 ½”

Started gathering the rock I want to include in the tank on one end. For this

I picked up about 25 pounds of natural lace rock. This type has worked very well in my other tanks. I really like the subtle color variations that come out as the rock ages in the water.


03-25-2010, 08:59 PM
Nothing much for now, just going through the tank, fixtures, stand and hood cleaning and getting it ready.

Picked another acquisition from my LFS:
• WC Red Finned Black Comp – 2” (nice looking fish!!)

I placed it into the nursery tank as it is a bit small to place into the Malawi tank with the mbunas.
Those boys get a bit rough.


03-25-2010, 09:02 PM
Picked up the substrate today – decide to go with off-white coral sand sizes 3 and 5 for the right side of the tank and small natural grey gravel for the left (planted) side.
The coral sand should really help with the hardness and pH with the gravel working well for plants requiring rooting. I know that tanks with water in the pH range I am looking at are hard on plants. Have to try and see what I can do.

I also picked up the Rena XP3 and the 300W Stealth heater. Now I need to head home and get this party started.

Side note: because I was buying all these supplies, they gave me a steal deal on a WC Black Zaire Calvus. It is a beautiful looking fish!

Started washing the coral and got the kids involved. Nice looking sand although it does have a lot of fine particles and dust. Need to remove this; I don’t think it would be good for the health of the filter system. :hmm3grin2orange:

The gravel actually was fairly clean and required only minimal washing. I placed the substrate in the tank as follows:
• Left side 50% of the tank – grey gravel at about 2” deep. This will be needed to help support any wood I add and root plants I add other than Anubia.
• Right side of the tank; the first 25% I used the number 5 coral sand with the number 3 coral sand for the next 25%. I am having a very obvious divide between the coral and gravel.

On the right side I stacked the washed lace rock in a fairly vertical orientation. Some of this rock has been sitting in the Malawi tank to “cure”…

Time to head back to the LFS…


03-25-2010, 09:04 PM
Setting up the XP3 was so simple! Followed the pictures and assembled as indicated. What a breeze! thumbs2:

I pulled a bag of ceramic tubes I had placed into one of the Malawi AC’s a couple months back to allow a nice colony of bacteria to root and grow.

The most difficult part of the process was deciding if I wanted the nozzle on the pump output or the aerator. As I was looking for a smooth calm look and the majority of my stock would be bottom to middle tank I went with the nozzle assembly. This also allowed me to direct the flow, force and direction.

I followed the priming/starting instructions and “Wallah!” the XP3 turned on and worked like a charm.

Now it is time for some more décor…


03-25-2010, 09:05 PM
Picked up a dark piece of drift wood – want a piece that will not bleed much in the way of color into the water. I found a nice dark piece – almost black in color.

Took this collaboration home and placed the wood into the center left. With the wood being wet, it took on that almost black color I wanted - sweet. Looks real nice with the grey gravel layered around it.

The middle of the tank looks very plain at this stage and I will have to give it some though.

I would like something that will provide a nice setting for the eye and blend the transition from white coral sand to grey gravel… Thinking…


03-25-2010, 09:16 PM
My LFS recently set up a 500g Discus tank display in the store and used fish for the cycling. I figured I would find out some recommendations on what to use. The fish would need to be hardy enough to survive (if possible) the cycling process and the survivors able to exist with the Tanganyikan I am going to add. After talking to the owner for a bit, he suggested using barbs. They will grow to about 3” and as long as you have enough for a small school (4+) they will tend to themselves but are hardy enough to survive.

I picked up 5 Tiger Barbs and 5 Green Barbs. Taking these nice looking fish home, I placed them into the tank after equalizing the temperature and took a step back to really look at it.


Nice, very nice (but still needs a middle).

03-25-2010, 09:27 PM
The tank has been running for a few days now.

I do daily tests and have watched it progress from ammonia to nitrites to nitrates. The progress seems very fast for a full cycle.

I posted my concerns into the general aquarium section in the Aquatic Community forum and received numerous feedbacks from folks that with seeded media this is a very normal process.

The drift wood is looking a bit bare so to set this off I picked up a large Oriental Sword which will hopefully do well. I placed the Oriental Sword between the wood and the left side of the tank – toward the front. This allows a small area behind the plant for shy fish to hide away but to allow viewing from the side panel.


At this stage I added a small Anubia to the side opposite the sword. The Anubia came in a wool filled pot which I left in place. I am playing with the thought of allowing it to root to the driftwood.

Figured at this point I would do a side trip to Quartzite Arizona (have to travel to Phoenix – family) and take a look at what the rock hound shops have. I can likely find something that would flesh out the center of the tank.


03-25-2010, 09:33 PM
Strolling through one of the rock sites, I came across a large quantity of petrified wood they had just received. Looking through the conglomeration, from red jasper to stuff that looked all too real I found three pieces that when wet, looked like a pale tan color with think black highlights along the grain of the “wood”.

When I returned home, I gave the “wood” a good cleaning, performed a vinegar check and placed it into the tank. I arranged the pieces from back center curving left toward the front. My son instantly labeled the front-most piece the “table” due to the shape.


You can see the fish "table" front left center...
Now as long as the fish don't use it for anything else..

At this stage the tank is looking real good.


03-25-2010, 09:40 PM
Time to move the fish!
I am moving fish from two different tanks into their new home.
Step 1: equalize the temperature between all three tanks – 78F +/- 1degree
Step 2: verify the pH is close. Malawi 8.0, Nursery 8.2, Tang 8.2
Step 3: move the fish…

Now moving Calvus and Compressiceps turned out to be a bit more trouble than I envisioned.
First off they are pretty darn quick fish…
Second they can and will leap out of the water to evade the net I was so deftly handling…
Third, and most important; they will arch their bodies and fins locking themselves into the net.

Not wanting to hurt these guys in any way, I took my time and spent the next couple of hours catching them and transporting them to their new home. I use a fine mesh net and immediately placed them into a container of tank water to transport them room to room. As the container was clear, it allowed me to check them over for damage or other items before placing them into the new tank.

From the Nursery:
• WC Firefin Comp
• F1 Black Congo Calvus
• CB Black Calvus
• CB White Calvus
• CB Yellow Comp
• CB Gold Head Comp
• Red Dorsal Caudopunctatus
• And one Gold Nugget Pleco!
• White Mystery Snail

From the Malawi Tank:
• WC Orangefin Comp
• WC Inkfin Calvus
• WC Black Zaire Calvus

All these fish went into the 100g with the barbs (yes, all 10 where still alive!) and immediately spread out poking into everything. It was not long before they start staking out their respective “areas”. Interestingly enough, almost all of the comps and calvus gravitated to the wood and plants, not the rock like I had thought they would.

Since the fish seemed to gravitate more to the planted side, and to add some more visual, I replaced the small Anubia with a medium Anubia from another tank. For the moment I placed the small Anubia in its pot onto a higher shelf rock.


It was time to sit back, enjoy the view, and look at what I had put together. Nice, very nice.



03-25-2010, 09:44 PM
Very nice, detailed, timeline! +1 rep!

03-25-2010, 09:45 PM
I noticed a slightly oily slick on the surface of the tank. I am able to skim it off but it reappears within a short period of time.

Looking for the cause, my son noticed one of the Lace rocks looked “fuzzy”.

I removed the rock from the tank (it had a rotten meat smell) and found about a ¼ inch slick coating of bacteria on the rock. Under the slime, you could see small areas or pockmarks of what looks like lichen on the rock.

I placed the rock into hot water with a bit of Clorox to kill of the coating. After a couple of hours, I took a scrub brush to the rock. This stuff is tough! Even after a couple of hours of hot water, Clorox and a scrub brush, a good portion of the slime still exists.

I took the rock back to the LFS (different one that I use mostly for rock) and the manager gave me a replacement piece that was a lot cleaner. He told me to keep the infested piece if I wanted. Think I will go home and see just what it takes (if possible) to get this rock clean.

I took my replacement rock, gave it a good cleaning and placed it into the tank.


03-25-2010, 09:46 PM
Seems one of my Green Barbs has developed a malady.

It has separated itself from the school and will only swim in a vertical head down position.

I immediately removed it from the tank and put it into quarantine, performed a 30% water change in the tank and ran tests for all parameters. I found nothing amiss.

Monitoring the tank shows nothing affecting nor sign of strange behavior of the other fish. The green barb that was moved to quarantine is still showing the same vertical swimming behavior.


03-25-2010, 09:51 PM
I stopped by the LFS to give them my shopping list for their upcoming trip to buy more African cichlid stock. For my selections (if they can get them) I asked them to look out for:
• Red Fire Fins Compressiceps (my dream fish)
• Julidochromis Transcriptus Gombie (3 or 4)
• Dwarf synodontis (3 or 4)
Funny how the dwarf variety is only ½” smaller than the standard
• Anything else they think I might really like (chuckle)

While I was there they had a WC Orange Comp on display – looked a good bit dark for orange (Burnt Orange?) but he had black pectoral fins.
And yes, I bought it.
Took it home and for size it is about 3”.

Note: it is the bigger one:hmm3grin2orange:

Tank is looking real nice.


03-25-2010, 09:54 PM
My barbs must think I am starving them or something!

I have been noticing they are picking at something on the rocks but cannot see anything. As a result a couple of the barbs (only the greens) are showing slight damage to their lips.

As a precaution I have moved them to the quarantine tank.

Update on the original green barb I put into quarantine; he is doing great! Swimming and eating like normal.

I think I will keep him in the tank for a bit longer just to play it safe.

I do not know of any diseases that can easily afflict these cichlids but there are a few that can get the barbs. I may have to relocate them, hopefully not. They look good in the tank and set it off well. May have to start thinking of alternatives if they have to be moved…


03-25-2010, 09:59 PM
With the tank populated and running I am doing a number of entries for this month. I suspect the number will tail off…

I noticed this morning that the flow from my XP3 was lower than I expected.
I went through the checklist; pinched tube, air, plugged inlet, valve open, etc…

Since none of these were the problem I thought it might be time for the first real cleaning of the unit.

Following the instruction that came with the unit, I
• turned off the power,
• lifted the center lever
• removed the inlet/outlet assembly
• unplugged and removed the unit from the stand

Having pulled a bucket of tank water I took all my items into the kitchen in preparation for the “big mess”. :hmm3grin2orange:

What a disappointment (?)! I undid the latched and removed the top, lifted the basket assembly from the unit and started going through the different layers.

First, the original carbon bag was toast! It went into the trash (it is disposable).

Next I took a look at the stars and the ceramics and they are looking good – nice bacteria colonies.

Lastly I pulled the sponge assemblies out and rinsed them out in the bucket of tank water. They were just a bit congested.

I reassembled the unit, placed it back into the stand, reattached the inlet/outlet assembly, purged and started.

Whoosh!! Nice flow and no leaks!!! It was very simple and took tops of 15 minutes from beginning to end.

This XP3 is a great unit and I would recommend it highly!! thumbs2:


03-25-2010, 11:03 PM
Gorgeous tank and great writeup! Thanks for sharing! thumbs2: I love those comps!

04-03-2010, 10:33 PM
I am traveling for a couple of weeks (East Coast) and have my son managing my tanks (West Coast) with some long distance help (me and my cell).

Quick camera phone shots are great to get a "quick" view to conditions. thumbs2:
Thinking of setting up a webcam for it. Hmmm.....

Update 1: THe two Green Barbs I moved to the QT tank took a directional turn. The one with the vertical swimming issue was looking great and then suddenly died one night.

Update 2:The other Green Barb with the damaged lip is looking very good. I am however, reluctant to move it back due to the death of its tank mate. Think I will wait another week or just move the Green barbs to another tank.

It is amazing how anxious you can get when a prize creation is out of touch.

04-12-2010, 04:41 AM
Came back from a two week trip to sunny-ish Pa after leaving my new tank in my son's hands.

Looking good!
Did a complete round of testing and other than growing nitrate level (15) everything is looking good. Even the remaining barbs are doing well. :19:

Well, almost.
Had to relocate the Oriental Sword I had in the tank - moved it to my wife's new shrimp tank. The hard water and high pH (8.5) was slowly killing it. Did a cull of dead leaves and moved it. After a day in the shrimp tank, it is looking so much better - softer water and much lower pH (7.3).

Here is a good shot of the comps/calvus/barbs being very normal.

Of course I had to get some new shots since I had not been present to enjoy my tank. Here a couple for general enjoyment. :22:

A good shot of the "leader" of the tank - a wild Zaire Calvus.

A nice shot of my wild Orange Fin - named Snark due to its attitude thumbs2: note the teeth!

Sometimes it is hard to visualize the real difference between the differing colors of the fish. Here is a nice comparison shot between the wild Orange and a captive bred Yellow - check out the fins on the Orange...

Enjoy. :22:

04-12-2010, 10:47 AM
Love your calvus/comps!

My 2.5" comp isn't scared of noone in my tank and he'll even try to bully the bigger loaches and CAE...lol. He's always watching his back for that aro, but comp is too quick and agile.. the aro doesn't bother. :)

I'm also growing out a few black calvus with my small fronts. :fish:

04-14-2010, 01:25 AM
Doing some slow rearranging of my other tanks and realized I had a lonesome Synodontis in the tank with my pair of German Peacocks. Caught it (fast little bugger) and transferred to my 100.

Little guy (4") seems happy as a cat in catnip! thumbs2:
Have to try to get a good shot later. After one day looks much better, much more active too. Besides the tank can use a good scavenger. Need to put in an order to get a couple more... maybe the dwarf variety (not sure why called a dwarf as it is only 1/2" smaller).

One casualty note, one of the original Tiger Barbs (2" and no sense) got into a dispute with my Zaire (5" and attitude with teeth). As my QT tank is currently out of commision, I put him in my turtle tank. If he makes it great, if not... I don't want to put my other fish at risk and encourage this behavior. If this happens with other barbs I may have to relocate the school.

Today everything looks back to normal and the barb is still alive in with the turtle. Time will tell.


04-19-2010, 01:12 PM
Since I relocated my Synodontis to this tank, trying to get a photo of it has been a challenge. There are enough hiding places, and the natural tendency to avoid direct light, getting even a semi-decent photo takes some luck.

Knowing this I parked in front of the tank for a good half hour and snapped a few photos, most head or tail shots.

Then there it was, in the open...
Point.... Auto Focus... click click click....
Hmmmm.... sigh....
It appears the much vaunted auto-focus feature likes the rock more than the fish.

Anyway, until the next round of photo taking, here is the best of the bunch.
It is a bit over 4" in length.

It is a really cool fish to watch amd if you shine a black light into the dark tank, yes, the white edges of his fins glow. Not to figure out how to get a picture of it....

Other than an uneventful cleaning of my XP3 (added additional bio stars), it has been an uneventful month (for this tank).

Knock on wood....


05-19-2010, 07:42 PM
Been doing a lot of travel in my current project and have not had the time to really enjoy nor to improve / change the setup.

Just got back from a three week trip to the lovely area of Fort Washington Pa. AFter the rains, everything is in bloom - my allergies just flat out love me thumbs2:

Got back to home base and had a couple of surprises.

Surprise #1
My anubia's are growing great! The smaller leaf variety and the large leaf variety are doing great! This I never would have expected in a tank this hard and a pH this high (9.0).

Surprise #2
The larger smaller leaf anubia is flowering! Just one so far but it looks like a couple more are budding.

Surprise #3
It appears that both of my smaller compressiceps are female, and I now have two seperate nests (with eggs) in the large piece of driftwood. They ignored the shells, the nifty lace rock cavities, and wanted a tree house instead.

This I was not expecting so...:help:

The Fry Episode
Comp Eggs x2

Nest 1: Female 2.5" Orange fin Comp, Male 4" WC Black fin Comp
about 40+ eggs.

Nest 2: Female 2.5" Yellow Comp, Male 4.5" WC Orange fin Comp
about 40+ eggs, starting to hatch.

I need to remove the eggs.

Question: should I also remove the females or just the eggs?
I was going to either use a turkey baster or just pull the piece of driftwood.
I do have another cycled tank available.
Didn't think these fish bred till 3"+.....
Time to ask for thoughts and suggestions.

Made A Move...
First, I realized I could not leave the eggs in the main tank - both batches were hatching (kinda cool to watch).
Too many BIG males.....

I went out and bought a 25g tall plus stand.
Added an AC30 to start.

Into this I put water drawn from the 100g tank (comp home).
I pulled just enough coral sand from the tank to thinly cover the bottom of the 25g.
Next, I pulled media from my XP3 and heavily seeded the AC30.
Then I tranferred two small Anubia's from said tank to the 25g.

Time for step 2!
Temps equal. Tests equal (same water).

Pulled the hood from the 100g (had my son play sentry with a large net, the males can draw blood - ouch!).
I lifted the driftwood straight out of the 100g and set straight into the 25g.

Success so far!

The females soon discovered the males were absent and instead of blocking the nest, backed off and stood guard. The hatchlings were abit farther along than I thought - about halfway through the egg yolk cycle.

All now seem to be doing great! The females both will flare if you put a finger aginst the glass anywhere near the wood - cool!

Hope all continues to go well.
All in all, looks to be 40-60 little wigglers per nest.

Needless to say, back in the 100g, the Dads are pissed.
Heck, even the barbs are tight schooling back on the far side, away from the irritated dads.

Update: the fry from the Gold Head have left the nest and are all over the bottom of the tank. I spread some baby brine shrimp on the bottom and am feeding the mom's blood worm and krill (frozen).

Keeping my fingers crossed thumbs2:

I'll post a number of pictures in a seperate post - coming soon.


05-19-2010, 08:25 PM
As promised in a previous post, here are some pics of the fry and parents...

One note: I am determining the parental father based on who was guarding the nest site and driving off all comers.

Pics of Yellow mom and fry (still in late yolk stage):

Pic of the father, a wild caught Orange Fin

Gold Face family will be in the next post.

05-19-2010, 08:32 PM
Family number two!
Introducinh the Gold Faces!


Gold Face mom and her fry. Just about ready to leave the nest...

The dad - a wild caught Orange. Has some interesting black fins...

So far so good!
Except dad is still irritated and stalking the anubia plants....


05-19-2010, 09:57 PM
I like, I like! I really like the acrylic look

05-28-2010, 05:21 PM
Things have settled down a bit in the tank.
After the nesting of my two surprise female comps, I now have the following:

25g tall with approximately 100 fry.
15g with both females – want to keep them separate till I see how the fry do and would like the females to get a bit bigger.
The males have all calmed down with no females currently in the tank.

Dropped by my LFS yesterday to pick up some more food and found they had just received two Synodontis Multipunctatus. Both these are just at two inches in length.

I've had a standing order in if they could get any good stock.

I decided to add these to the tank as I currently have only one at about four inches and in the wild they are deeper water fish that is usually found in groups or schools.

Within an hour of adding these to the tank I can see them swimming all over (makes photographing them very difficult and the larger one has joined them. They swim in a loose group, all in the same region in the tank but not in typical schooling fashion.

The Calvus and Comps just ignore them though they appear to have caught the eye of the barbs that seem to follow them around from the middle height region. The barbs don’t get real close, just near.

If I can get them semi-still I'll post a couple of pics or a short video.


05-28-2010, 11:14 PM
Since I had to remove the two femal comps, their fry and their nest, I thought I would update this journal with a few new pics.

Two shots of the tank with a slightly new layout
Anubias are looking real good, one is flowering still (2 flowers)!

A nice shot of my WC Firefin Comp

A good shot of some of the Comp fry...

Still trying to get a couple fo shots of my new Syns...

05-29-2010, 12:11 AM
Lucky lucky lucky!!!

Broke out the camera to experiment with some different settings and grabbed a couple pics of my two new Synodontis Multipunctatus thumbs2:

These are both right about two inches...


05-30-2010, 01:02 AM
Here is a video of the fish "doing their thing" in my tank.
note: there is no sound...



05-30-2010, 01:14 AM
Nice looking tank and fish.

05-30-2010, 01:17 AM
Very cool!

05-30-2010, 01:43 AM
Nice tank and fish!

05-30-2010, 04:14 AM
question! is the thing that looks like a tree-stump a rock? i skimmed through your journal in order to get to the pictures so i didn't really see it noted down somewhere~

nonetheless, great tank and fish!

05-31-2010, 01:03 AM
question! is the thing that looks like a tree-stump a rock? i skimmed through your journal in order to get to the pictures so i didn't really see it noted down somewhere~

nonetheless, great tank and fish!


Yes, the three pieces just to the right of the anubias are three pieces of petrified wood I picked up at a rock shop in Quartzite Az.
Check out entry Mar 2010 (2)....

Lends to a nice transition - Lace Rock to Petrified Wood to Drift Wood and Anubias...


10-10-2010, 09:10 PM
love the synodontis just bought 4 for my set up got a roma 200ltr went down a slightly different route though!

4 julidochromis regani
4 leptosoma
2 lamprolongus ocellatus
2 neolamprolongus cylimdricus
and finally 4 synodontis multipunctata

only added the syno's on friday and they just vanished when i put them in really good looking fish when they come out, wanted some calvus but with having already got some shell dwellers thought it might not be the best idea!

love your tank by the way!