120 Litre Set-Up...from Lake Tanganyika to South America
I've really enjoyed reading other people's journals on here and looking at photos of how set-ups change over time. Now that my own tank has been through a few changes I thought I would post its history, up to where I am with it now.
Originally I bought the aquarium to create a small Tanganyikan tank. At the initial stage I got the following:
Interpet Fish Pod 120 (aquarium with built in lighting - two 15W bulbs and a nice cabinet/stand)
Eheim Classic 2213 canister filter
A few bags of recycled sand and a large pack of crushed coral
A large boxful of rustic and green slate
The intended inhabitants were shell dwellers and some small cave dwellers so I needed some space at the front for shells and plenty of rockwork for caves.
Here's how it looked once I had set it up:
It looks quite barren and rather unnatural but the tank was only cycling at this stage. Looking back now I really wish I'd gone to more efforts to hide the filter and heater, but it had been a while since owning a tank so I wasn't very inventive at this stage.
Ok, so after cycling (fish food method...three week cycle) I added a few plants. I know these aren't really true to the Tanganyikan environment but I wanted a bit of colour, and something to hide the filter. I also got shells for the shell dwellers, and here's how it looked:
More to follow...
I then very gradually (over a couple of weeks) stocked the tank with:
5 x Lamprologus Ocellatus Gold (shell dwellers):
Aggressive little beasties who would nip you if you put your hand anywhere near their precious shells!
Guarding a shell:
More to come...
5 x Lamprologus Julidochromis (cave dwellers) of what I thought was one species but later realised that I'd got a bunch of hybrids...still interesting and attractive all the same:
Quite shy on their own but dither fish help them with their confidence and they can be quite active in a full tank.
3 x Neolamprologus Pulcher "Daffodil" (cave dwellers and open water swimmers):
These started off great...a very subtle and beautiful species...but I should have researched them better as when they came into breeding condition they really went to town on the others in the tank. After killing a few Ocellatus I took them back to the LFS to exchange them!
Species only next time!
Still one of my favourites though...stunning fish!
Okay the "Guarding a shell" picture is my absolute favorite! I'm going to make that my desktop wallpaper at work just to cheer me up when I'm grouchy :P
Those Daffodil fish are beautiful. Too bad they didn't work out :(
120 gallon FW bowfront in progress
So here it was after a few months. A few plant changes but looking quite ok:
A rebuild of the set-up after moving house and it looked like this (more slate rockwork and different plants again) and the addition of a few dwarf neon rainbowfish (used as dither fish):
If you look closely you'll see some tiny fish at the top...these were an accident. My boyfriend was going by the LFS and asked me if I needed anything so I asked him to get a few more of the dwarf neon rainbowfish. He came home with threadfin rainbowfish! They were mis-labelled at the LFS! Oops. I kept them for a couple of weeks and then gave them to a friend with a peaceful community tank (NOT with Tangs!)
I think it looked quite good in that last shot, but again, I wish I had made more effort to hide the filter...and why I didn't put a black background on I don't know! I kept meaning to and kept forgetting to buy one!
This is a closer shot of the cavework (with the Daffodils looking pretty huge here, maturing quickly):
So the tank carried on without any issues for a good while. I upped the dwarf neon rainbowfish to around 12 which I know is too many for a tank that size but the water flow was decent and my water parameters stable...live and learn though. The tank was lively and fun to watch.
I did about a 30% water change twice a week and upgraded my filter to an Eheim Professional 3 (massively over-filtered).
All was good until the Daffodils went evil (as described previously) so I had to take them back to the LFS.
Then about a year or two later one of the rainbowfish got pop-eye. I couldn't save it and didn't have a quarantine tank (literally no space in our flat). One by one they died...from I don't know what...I treated for bacterial and fungal infections. They had various symptoms...sticky out scales (but not bloated), white patches (fungus?), or nothing at all and sudden death. Very worrying. In hindsight I should have euthanised the ones that looked sick to try to save the others. But they all died.
Six months later I only had the Julidochromis left...they seemed completely unaffected by whatever had wiped out the rest of my tank. I thought very carefully about what to do next.
Ha, as a Tang keeper I keep wanting to jump in with advice but now im realizing that this is long story and you have already learned everything lol! Curious to see how the story ends :)
"At some point you aren't making the animal more dead...You are just making a bigger mess." - Demjor19
I thought about restocking the tank, but was worried that whatever had killed the Ocellatus and Rainbowfish would just resurface. What to do?
The Julidochromis (Julies) didn't show any signs of illness at all and now had the tank to themselves. The problem with this was their shyness. Without any other active fish in the tank they rarely left the caves (only to eat) so I wasn't very happy with the way the tank looked. You'd walk into the room and all you would see was, what appeared to be, an empty fish tank!
I decided, rather than rish restocking and losing them all again, I would cut my losses and start over. So I took the Julies back to the LFS and cleaned everything out.
Rockwork scrubbed in boiling water and vinegar, tank scrubbed out with hot water and vinegar, filter taken apart and cleaned. Gravel and sand boiled. Any bugs and viruses were (hopefully) now dead.
Back to cycling and back to a blank canvas. A bit sad, but exciting for a new start.
Here's the empty cycling tank...dosed with ammonia this time. New plants. Total inhabitants: two assassin snails (who seemed to love the tank to themselves!)
I didn't much care for the look of this set-up, I was trying to work out what I wanted to put in it. Most of my rockwork was boxed up in the bottom of the wardrobe at this point. I didn't really like the blue moon light on the left and the white light on the right (I know you're meant to use them separately but it just wasn't bright enough) so I later changed the blue light for another bright white (so two whites).
What I did do at this point was buy a pH test kit. I'd never owned one before as I had reliably been informed that London water was both hard and alkaline...ideal for Tangs. Anyway, I got one, tested the water and the pH was 7.0 Completely neutral. I was amazed. How strange. Even with the crushed coral and slate it (and even now with my current set-up...see later pics) it has stayed neutral...even through a cycle. Most odd!
What that did do for me however was open up the option to have other species. I still don't really know if I have hard water as I don't have a kit for this, but neutral pH meant I could at least try some hardy species from outside of Africa. Hmmm...the options!
So...now I've cycled successfully (took about two weeks until I had stable zero ammo and nitrites). A hefty water change, and I'm stocked!
Here's how it looked the day I stocked it:
A bit of a different look, I know. The bogwood looked amazing in the shop, and even better in the tank! I was well prepared for it though - I took a tape measure with me!
Once I got it home I realised it was too big to boil so I showered it with hot water in the bath for a good while and tried to hold it underwater but it floats like a balloon. I ended up just putting it in the tank and weighing it down with a few of my largest rocks (these won't stay in there once it stays under by itself).
It has been leeching tannins and oil for a couple of weeks now but I'm doing 20% water changes every other day. One change will be just skimmed water from the top, and then the next change will be very gently (around the plants) hoovering the bottom and skimming the top.
A couple more plants in there too. I'm dosing liquid CO2 each day and they seem to be doing well...a miracle for me as plants normally NEVER survive. I'm making an effort to actually grow these this time!
It'll look better once the rocks are gone from the wood.
So, what I stocked was:
18 x Cherry Barbs
3 x Peppered Corydoras
3 x Sterbai Corydoras
I originally wanted 6 peppered cories, but the LFS only had 3. I love the Sterbai but they were sooooooooooo expensive. Just 3 of them was £20 (around $30+) so I thought this would do for now and I can add to them later.
Here's some (not very good) shots from my phone: