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 ;-)

Building a trickle filter

After I, by accident, flushed the beadfilter into the tank (forgot to close one valve), I have been having issues with Blue Algae. After several large water changes it has become less and less, but it's still there. So I decided to buy/build a trickle filter. After some research I found the Bio Crystal Shower Filter. The only disadvantage is that it has a heigt of 4 foot (125cm). The available space above the tank is approximately 3 foot (90cm), so I discussed with the shop if I could have the top 30cm removed. This was not possible...

The cool thing of this filter setup is that the water trickles through the tower/filter medium, and that it never fills up with water (the return/outflow must have a sufficient diameter). This allows the aerobe bacteria to brake down the nitrates much faster then if they were submersed (more oxygen in air then in water).

So I decided to build one myself:

I bought a plastic trashbin (80 liter, 13 euros), and created an inflow and an outflow. The outflow is 40mm in diameter and the inflow 22mm. I perforated the inflow, and zig-zagged it several times to ensure that the water would trickle equally through the medium.


The pump is a 900 gallon (3500liter) Ocean Runner.

This is how I placed it above the tank. It rests on the tank, and it is kept in place with curtain wire ;-) The filter doesn't fill up with water, and the filter material is very light weight.


The filter material I used is Sera Siporax. If you intend to use this high quality filter substrate I can recommend to buy 50liters at once (and e.g. share it with friends if it is too much), as the price will drop significantly when you buy in bulk.
And on top of the medium I placed blue foam in order to filter out the biggest dirt. As the tank is not a pond (leaves) and the other filtration systems is run by a 3170 gallon (12000 liter) pump I hope this foam is enough to keep the siporax from getting to dirty.

Now hopefully the Blue Algae vanish....once the trickle filter has build up enough BIO-filtration capacity....

Monday, 16 November 2009

Brachyplatystoma tigrinum

I have added a really nice catfish to the tank: Brachyplatystoma tigrinum
It looks like a Tiger Shovel Nose (TSN) or Pseudoplatystoma tigrinum, but stays a lot smaller.

A mature TSN will grow up to a meter in length and is a true predator. He'll decimate your cichlid population if he gets the chance. I love the look of this fish, but was not going to risk my entire setup. So.... when I came accross the Brachyplatystoma tigrinum, it was a quick and easy decision.

According to PlanetCatfish it can grow up to 50 cm in lenght (19,7 inch). Currently he/she is around 14cm/5,5 inch. Since most of my fish are bigger then 25cm it should be no problem to keep them together.

According to PlanetCatfish they also require a strong current and good oxygenation. I trust the Red Dragon (12000 lh / 3170 gh) and the Eheim circulation pump (5500 lh / 1452 g/h) to be sufficient. If not, I can still squeeze the 4 outflows on the Red Dragon pump (smaller diameter means higher pressure), thereby increasing the current.

Have a look at some great images (I cannot use them directly in this blog due to copyright restrictions) and a good description:

Image of full grown adult

Description and more images of the Brachyplatystoma tigrinum

I currently feed him/her fresh/frozen fish and shrimps, and I really hope it will be able to stand the heat in this tank with strong, big fish.

I will post videos & pictures soon (if possible ;-) !



Sunday, 11 October 2009

fantastic 15.000 liter tank setup

This is by far the most professional setup description I have come accross on the web.
These guys are super professionals. I don't know if they are still active though...

How to setup a 15.000 liter aquarium

3600 liters / 951 gallons aquarium - VIDEOS

Some videos:

The tank during the day:

The tank in the evening:

For other videos have a look at my youtube channel

3600 liters / 951 gallons aquarium - Cabinet overview

And the tank caninet from several angles:

3600 liters / 951 gallons - construction time (2)

So, after getting the tank, the filtration and the background in place, it's time to create the cabinet, and install the lights...



My brother in law is a master carpenter (builds e.g. yacht interiors):
He helped me out.




3600 liters / 951 gallons - construction time (1)

I have been setting up a big aquarium over the last year.

Here are some pics of the developments:

Placing the 360x100x100 cm tank (19mm glass):

Above the tank we used liquid pond epoxy: 100% water proof and ideal against too high humidity.

The filtration system consists of an EB40 beadfilter + a Red Dragon 12.000 l/h pump + 1Kw heater:



Preparing the back ground, consisting of 3x Pangea Rocky 3 (on the picture a friend and experienced Central American cichlid breeder, Jan Fioole):




Sunday, 4 October 2009

Freshwater dolfin VIDEO

Hi, I just came accross this fantastic video on youtube, which I have to share:

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Cool aquarium videos on Youtube - The Nature Aquarium by Amano

These two videos are great. The first is by Takashi Amano, the Guru behind the Nature Aquarium. I am really inspired by his great works of art, and try to bring as much of his insights and teachings into my aquascaping... I have to admit that dragging around big pieces of wood, meter long roots, and 80 pound pieces of stone feels different than his elegant aquascaping. In his books he has several examples of planted aquaria in which he keeps Discus fish. I would not recommend releasing an Amphilophus chancho or amarillo into one of his creations, but do recommend to have a look at his books. His books are expensive, but I have never seen more beautiful and high quality aquarium books. If you click on the image below you can read more about the Nature Aquarium World by Mr Amano.

The building and aquascaping of a fantastic, LARGE, Amano tank:

Video of Mr Amano feeding Pterophylum altum / Angel fish:

Another cool video I came accross, features one of the biggest public aquariums in the world, in Japan, the Kuroshio Sea:

Introducing massive Jaguar cichlids (Parachromis managuensis)

These massive fish came from somebody who tried to keep them together with a couple of Parachromis motaguensis in a 2m long tank. It didn't go that well and I offered to help out.

This couple is really amazing, especially if you consider the size of the female: she is even more massive then the male. Both are 40 cm / 17.7 inch long.

In this video they meet the boss of the tank, the Amphilophus chancho:

This video shows the couple checking out the new tank:

Cichlasoma salvini & others

I really love this fish. Bas Pels was so kind to provide me with the most stunning full grown Cichlasoma salvini couple I have seen so far. I am not the best photographer, but I hope you can appreciate these pics:

Another nice pic is from the male Parachromis loisellei and the male Amphilophus chancho:

Fish videos - featuring Amphilophus chancho, Parachromis loisellei and more

Here are some more videos of the fish in the 1440 liter/381 gallon tank:

Parachromis loisellei feeding:

Loisellei male facing off with the chancho female:

A big loisellei male being teased by a 2 inch convict:

1440 liter / 380 gallon Central America tank => THE FISH

In this post I'll tell a bit about the fish I kept in the 380 gallon Central America tank. Initially I populated the tank with convicts / Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum. I introduced two strong couples into the tank, which I got via the chairman of the Dutch Cichlid Association, Willem Heins, ( who originally collected them in one of the Nicaraguan Crater lakes. These Central American lakes remind me of the great African Malawi and Tanganyika lakes, as they are the home of many interesting species of Cichlids. I can really recommend The Cichlidroom Companion for more information and some great articles.

Within days the the two couples had offspring, and within weeks the tank was crawling with tiny convicts. Ideal I thought, as I intended to keep Parachromis loisellei and managuensis. In their natural habitat these predatorial fish love convicts, so I was not worried. About two years later I understood I was wrong: the little ones were almost always able to hide between the roots and the rocks, and they turned into a pest when it came to reducing the offspring of the loisellei and other breeding fish.

Willem also provided me with a fantastic couple of Amphilphus chancho, which he personally collected in Nicaragua. The male is 35+cm/14 inch+) and the female approximately 23 cm/9 inch. Below the video of this stunning fish:

Here are two pics of the Amphilophus chancho:

Below you can see a video of the Parachromis loisellei and the Amphilophus chancho:

In the next post I'll add some more videos.

1440 liter / 380 gallon Central America tank => the setup

This post is a bit more technical. It gives insight into the setup of the filter system + pump.
It also shows the materials that I used to cover the back and the bottom of the tank.

In this image you can see the two inflows: one is used for fresh water, and the other one is the outflow of the filtration system:

This picture shows the other side, from the filtration compartiment. The right connector is a so called GARDENA connector.

This picture shows the filtration inflow, and the Trespa plate I use to protect the bottom of the tank:

In this image you can see the filtration area filled with blue material:

I changed one of the three blue elements every month. You just pull it out, put it in a bucket, clean it in the shower, and then put it back in.

In the last compartment I had an OceanRunner 3500 (900 gph), which had enough power for this tank. More on this pump here. I can really recommend this pump for INTERNAL/SUBMERGED use. For external use I recommend an Eheim with similar power, as they tend to leak a lot less.

In the filtration department I also had two electric heaters of 300 Watts. Two, because one was the back up for the other: I simply put its temperature limit 2 degrees lower then the other one.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

1440 liter / 380 gallon Central America tank

After having had a great time aquascaping and maintaining smaller tanks, I acquired my first Big Tank in 2006.
The Tank measured 250x80x70cm which is approximately 98.4x31.5x27.6 inches. The thickness of the glass was 12mm = .47 inch.

This tank obviously needed some lights and a pump, so I added 2x 70 Watts HQI, and a Ocean Runner 3500. Then I went out to collect rocks, and wood. For the final touch I added Microsorium pteropus.

These videos might give you an even better impression:

And a second one I made a year later:

Hope you enjoy the pics and the movies!

My first tank and catfish

Hi all, my name is Tom Mulders and I live in a small village in the Netherlands, next to Amsterdam. I have been a fish nut since the age of 7, when I got my first tank. I will never forget the fish that came with it: an American catfish (Ictalurus nebulosus / brown bullhead). After it had eaten through the gold fish, it started to outgrow the tank (50x30x30 cm). I finally had to release it into the wild, when the tank got damaged (me dropping a rock in it when changing water: learning lesson 1: gravity under water is still gravity). The best spot I could find at the time was near Roermond, in the river Maas.... 

In all my ignorance I helped contribute to some real fauna destruction, some 27 years ago, way before I read Tijs Goldschmidt's book "Darwin's Dreampond".

This very accessible book describes in a colourful way the destruction of the Victoria Lake cichlids by the introduction of non-native species. It also elaborates on evolutionary development of the many different cichlids species inhabiting the great African Lakes. You can read more in the reviews on Amazon: Darwin's Dreampond: Drama on Lake Victoria

Some 4 years later there was a big news article in the local press, showing a picture of a proud fisherman who caught a full grown American catfish at the exact same spot I had released it... Looking at his size and belly, I am sure it must have had the best time ever :-)

Around 2004 I started with a new tank, which measured 150x50x50cm (59x19.7x19.7 inch / 99 gallon) in which I kept a fantastic couple of the Parachromis Loisellei. I really loved these fish!!!

Here is a video of the loiselleis feeding on small (dead) fish:

And here are some pics of the Parachromis loisellei male:

And an image of the Parachromis loisellei female:

Hope you like them!