Aquaria / 75Gallon: November 2002 - April 2004

Dimensions: 48 x 18 x 20
Lighting: 2x48" 40Watt Triton NO T12
Lighting: 2x48" 40Watt GE Aqua Rays NO T12 (used when taking pictures) Filtration/Circulation: Eheim 2028 + AC 500 / 802 + 2x301 powerheads
Substrate: 100% Southdown Play sand from HD
Heating: WON BROTHERS Pro Heat 500 Watt

Beauty, behaviour and simplicity of african lake cichlids made me want to try a low-maintance african cichlid tank. I was debating on which species to pick and which lake to imitate. Victorian Lake fish are a bit too aggressive for my taste, although their coloration is extremely appealing, Tanganyika Lake needed high PH/KH so at the end I chose Lake Malawi. I wanted to design african-like theme, provide decent amount of space for fish and their hiding spots but unfortunetly I had limited space to work with. All Glass 75Gallon tank, which provides plenty of depth - 18", was a perfect choice for this project.

I used rocks that I found on the street (free !!!) and because of their weight I had to use egg-crate, available in Home Depot (6$), to distribute the mass throughout the bottom of the tank.

I used ~100lbs of Southdown Play Sand from Home Depot ($5 per 50lbs). This specific brand has very fine texture and whitish color. Initially, I was satisfied with the light color but if I was going to redo this project, I would invest in darker colors. Fish looked a bit washed out and substrate in every picture was overexposed. Fine texture of Southdown sand is another element which should have been researched more carefully. Because of its very fine texture, I had to move it around to prevent from "packing down" and forming "dead spots".

It took about couple of hours to wash 100lbs of sand and at the end of the project I felt like I wasted those couple hours and did nothing. Tank was very cloudy I could barely see the background. That is when my good-old Magnum 350 filter came to play and with its diatom filtration capability I was able to remove smallest particles in matter of hours.

Flora was introduced as well to give more natural look. I found Anubias sp. to be the easiest and hardest plants which could thrive in any environment.

This tank was a home to Aulonocara sp., Haplochromine sp., Mbuna sp., and some Tanganyika sp.: Aulonocara sp., Copadichromis borleyi, Sciaenochromis fryeri; Placidochromis electra, Protomelas taeniolatus, Protomelas steveni, Labidochromis caeruleus, Cyrtocara moorii, Neolamprologus brichardi w/ fry.

This Aulonocara baenschi was the "boss of the family". The holotype (SMF 20041, Senckenberg Museum, Frankfurt) and the 15 paratypes of this species were collected on 30 March 1983 by Stuart Grant at Nkhomo, Malawi, which is 8 km east of the town of Benga. The species was named for Dr. Ulrich Baensch, founder of TetraWerke, the German fish-food and aquarium products company.

This setup was a perfect example of a low-maintance tank. I did weekly-50% water changes (1 hour) to keep water quality and fed fish 3 times daily. For the rest of the the week I enjoyed this little piece of Lake Malawi.