Tom's Cichlid blog

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Filtration system tuning

Thursday 1 July I worked on the filtration system. This is how it now looks, after a full day of tuning:

Some background:
When I initially installed it, I only had the bead filter EB-40, a 1 KW Koi Pro heater, and the Red Dragon 12.000 liter pump.
The first improvement was to add a circulation pump inside the tank (Eheim 5500 liter), as the 4 outflows connected to the Red Dragon weren't sufficient. This was mainly due to the fact that the outflow tubes have a rather large diameter.
Then I added the trickle filter (50 liters of syporax + 3500 liter Ocean Runner pump) to get more biofiltration + oxygen in the tank. This seems to work really well, as I hardly have any nitrate in the tank.
As the tank still wasn't crystal clear I extended the beadfilter setup with a pressure filter with filter foam (75 liter Velda clear control). This final step made a big difference: the water was completely clear!

Due to the original lay out of the system I could only place the pressure filter after the beadfilter. As I think it's best to have the the filter material with the widest granularity first, and the material with the finest granularity last, I had to take the system apart and build it up again. So, pressure filter first and then bead filter. After the bead filter I split the outflow to go to 1. the Koi Pro 1KW heater, 2. the Koi Pro 40W UV filter (new). Both outflows split again before they return to the tank. In the original setup I tried several UV systems, but they all couldn't handle the pressure of the 12.000 liter pump. In this setup the pressure is split in half, and I used a heavy duty UV filter. It's my intention to run the UV filter only for 4 hours each day as this should be sufficient for a 3600 liter tank. This would also imply that I don't have to change the tube once a year, by once every 6 years.

Another bottleneck in the previous setup was the small leaks that occurred now and again. A system that is normally used (and designed) for garden ponds, and operates under heavy pressure (12.000 liter pump) will sometimes leak a bit. I originally placed the beadfilter in a aquarium, and the pressure filter in a large plastic bin, but unfortunately couldn't drain both of them as they were placed on the ground.

So I designed a new setup, consisting of an aquarium table with adjustable legs, and a HDPE leakage tray. The tray just fits in the storage room, and can hold the pump, the bead filter and the pressure filter. The UV filter and heater have been connected to the wall. The leakage tray is connected to sewer, so any excess water will flow away without causing any damage. I had help from Verloop Vijver speciaalzaak who delivered the leakage tray, aquarium table and UV filter, and send a specialist who put everything together. I am always surprised to see how much new PVC materials you need... luckily most parts could be reused. Today, 4 July, the tank looks pristine, and there is absolutely no noise, no leaks etc. Hopefully it stays that way!

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Acrylic Tank Manufacturing

When discussing the setup of a large tank (20.000 liters) with a forum member of the Dutch Cichlid Forum I came across the site of Acrylic Tank Manufacturing. I was completely flabbergasted. These guys are amazing, and their site is massive. You can literally spend an hour browsing all different categories, and be amazed over and over again. I was uncertain about acrylic usage before I saw this, but will definitely consider them the next time I build a big tank!

Some interesting deeplinks:
Pool/Pond "window" pannels

Some amazing pictures from ATM, showing the application of acrylic panes:

Sunday, 21 February 2010

3600 liter tank - update februari 2010

The tank is doing great. The jaguar cichlids have another cloud of young swimming through the tank. Most fish ignore the fry completely, except for the female Chuco micropthalmus: They really like to eat them, sometimes being as bold as to swim through the cloud, right in front of the massive mana's...
I have noticed that the blue algae increase when I refresh water, and decrease over time, after the water change. Although the local water quality is supposed to be as good as bottled water, I have my doubts about the phosphate levels. According to the official reports (pdf Loenen aan de Vecht, Netherlands) it should be no problem though.

I have not seen the Brachyplatystoma tigrinum since I introduced the Nandopsis salvini couple to the tank. The salvini's took over his favourite, and, to me, visible spot. This is unfortunate, as there are many hiding places behind and in between big rocks that I cannot see. Either he emerges one day, 10 inches larger, or he'll completely vanish... I hope for the best.

The black arowana is doing great. He consumes loads of small fish, shrimp, small octopus, mussels etc, and grows beautifully. As the tank is 100cm high, he can easily use the top 20cm without swimming through the territory of the large cichlids. A common issue with arowana's is that they develop "drop-eyes", bulging eyes, facing downwards. One of the reasons for this deformity is constant attacks from below from large, aggressive cichlids if a tank is too low. Hopefully the height of this tank is sufficient. So far, no indication of drop-eyes :-)

I have selected some more pictures, courtesy/copyright of John de Lange, that I really like:

 (Male Parachromis loisellei)

 (male Parachromis managuensis)

couple Parachromis managuensis defending fry)

 (couple Vieja bifasciatus)

 (couple Vieja bifasciatus)

 (2 male Chuco micropthalmus facing off)

Friday, 22 January 2010

Professional photos and videos of the tank and the fish

John de Lange, of wrote an article about the 3600 liter tank.
He visited me in early January and spend an entire evening taking photos and making video.
If you cannot read Dutch, you could use Google Translate (in Chrome or Google Toolbar), and translate it into any language you like.
All pictures in this post are © J. de Lange, and have been posted here with his permission.

(2 male Chuco micropthalmus facing off)

(Male Vieja bifasciatum @ work)

(Massive male Parachromis loisellei)

(Head shot of Male Parachromis managuensis)

Monday, 28 December 2009

Visit to Artis aquarium Amsterdam

Once every three weeks I visit Artis, the ZOO in Amsterdam, together with my 2 year old son. He loves it, and knows all animals by name, and nickname (the mandril's name is Picasso ;-)

Although small, the Artis aquarium has some absolutely stunning setups. In the main hall they have several freshwater tanks, that I really like because of the way they used the tree roots, rocks and plants to create great depth. The use of HQI lights adds to the mystical feeling.

Some of my favourite tanks:





Another great tank is the massive Amazon underwater Forest, containing Arapaima's, arowana's, pacu's and red tail catfish:

They also keep an absolutely stunning couple of Cichlasoma citrinellum, or Midas cichlid:


If you're in an aquarist club, you can visit behind the scenes.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Massive Jaguar cichlids defending fry

Yes, the Parachromis managuensis (jaguar cichlids) have fry....again. This couple is constantly having either eggs, fry or young to look after. I think that I have at least 20 young Jaguars swimming around in the tank, in various sizes (from 2 inch to 4,5 inch). The good thing is that these young predators and the other fish ensure that not many more baby mana's will make it...  I had the same thing in the 360 gallon: I introduced 2 couples of convicts (Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum) about two weeks before the other inhabitants entered the tank, and I never got rid of them ever again. There must have been at least 40 young convicts in that tank at any given moment, even though it contained large mana's and loiselleis ;-)

Two videos:

And some other tank videos:

My favourites, the beautiful Parachromis loisellei:

And the massive male Vieja bifasciatum:

Black Arowana - Osteoglossum ferreirai

I have always loved arowana's. I tried an Australian Arowana (Sclerophagus jardini) once in the 360 gallon tank, but had to remove it within 3 days. It was so aggressive that I feared for the Amphilophus amarillo and Parachromis managuensis (both massive and aggressive fish).

In my Local Fish Store I came across a beautiful 15 inch South American Black Arowana, the Osteoglossum ferreira. South America has two types of arowana's: the Osteoglossum bicirrhosum (Silver Arowana) and the Osteoglossum ferreirai (Black Arowana), and both are known to grow over 3 foot. The advantage of the South American arowana's is that they are more relaxed then their Australian counterparts.

Asian arowana's could even be more suitable as they don't grow that big, but they are CITES protected, and very expensive to buy. It is legal to buy/own chipped and certified Asian Arowana's in Europe. Have a look at this fantastic setup by Oliver Knott.

Since my tank is 11.8 foot (360cm) and 951 gallon (3600 liter) I am confident that I can offer this fish a great and spacious life.

The only worry I had was that it would have a hard time with the big cichlids...but it adapted well, and ate from the start. I now feed it once or twice a day with fish, shrimps and mussels, and it grows like crazy ;-)