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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So, I finally got my 75 gallon tank! Of course, now I have to stock it with equipment before my mbuna.

You experts out there, feel free to critique my ideas.

First, I am think'n of using 2 ViaAqua 200 heaters. Our house is often quite cool at about 19 degrees this time of year. I'm a little worried about a heater failing and having it cook my fish, after all the ones I've been reading about lately! But I'm thinking these aren't overpowered enough to do that? Or would they have auto shut offs anyway?

Next, I'm thinking of using a big old AC 110 HOB as my main filter, with a Max #3 prefilter attached to help it. As the fish get larger, I'd maybe add a second HOB. My stand probably won't have room for a canister at only about 15" high.

I'm also thinking of installing a drip system, for water changing. Then a drain to keep the tank at a constant level, either with a drilled, bulkhead near the top of the tank. Or a overflow box to take out the extra water. Does anyone know if Top Fin tanks can be drilled?

Now for my crazy idea, don't laugh! I'm seriously thinking of setting up a reverse flow UGF! To help keep the gravel clear, not as a filter system itself. I'd maybe power it with 2 Rio 1100s with each a prefilter attached again. This way, they'll push filtered water down, under the Lee Premium UGF, up through the gravel. Hopefully, keeping the muck from settling in the gravel substrate, and allowing the three, prefilters, and the HOB filter to take care of it.

The gravel I'd use would have to be more course than usual, I'm think'n. Probably about 1/2"- 1" in diameter and spread quite evenly to keep the water coming up from going to the easy, thinner areas. But this would also keep the mbuna from digging huge holes down to the bottom, which I don't really care for. I know, you're say'n they like to and have to dig. But I've seen plenty of vids of Malawi lake and there are huge areas inhabited by mbuna that have nothing but rocks and boulders, noth'n for them to dig. So I think they'll be just fine.

So, if my theory works, this should cut down on some maintenance!

Thanks,
KTm
 

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This sounds exciting! Cant wait to see the end product. Although I'm not familiar with UGF because I've never owned one but it depends on how you plan to stock with your aquarium?

Are you going to do an all fish? Are you going to have real plants?

I love to grow plants and if this is the case for you as well then they are not for a planted aquarium. It will suck away the nutrients the plants will need.
 

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African cichlids love to dig, especially mbuna. Unless you don't mind looking at the exposed UGF from time to time, I could see that becoming an issue. Mine will pick up nickel-sized stones and move them around. That said, and I look forward to seeing how well this idea works in a cichlid tank.

Good luck, have fun!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
No plants, just rocks, collected from my yard. As soon as the snow lets me at them again! LOL! I like the natural creek rock around here that my gardens are covered in. And they're pretty much what Malawi Lake has.
have
Sargasso, how big are your mbuna that can move nickel sized rocks? Wow! I may just have to go bigger than! :D I'm stubborn!

Oh ya, and the old, weathered barn boards I've collected should look great to cover the base and canopy. I'm a carpenter, so I love wood! I'll post pics when I have something to show.

Thanks for the input so far.
 

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That's a real interesting idea with the reverse UGF, however, unless the upflow comes out evenly and I wonder if it will be able to keep detritus off the bottom. Very interesting concept though. I've been able to use powerheads to direct flow so that detritus heads to the drains and that's worked well for me. I've seen others do riverine tanks by having the return jets located at the bottom of the tank creating a high flow bottom too. Never know till you try I guess. Good luck!
 

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Mbuna are Cichlid. Sorry, I'm not familiar with these fish. Ive seens videos of their natural habitat and they look awesome! I cant wait to see this project.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That's a real interesting idea with the reverse UGF, however, unless the upflow comes out evenly and I wonder if it will be able to keep detritus off the bottom. Very interesting concept though. I've been able to use powerheads to direct flow so that detritus heads to the drains and that's worked well for me. I've seen others do riverine tanks by having the return jets located at the bottom of the tank creating a high flow bottom too. Never know till you try I guess. Good luck!
Thanks, if it doesn't work out, I'll just yank out the UGF and cover the course gravel with sand. Then set up the power heads to create lots of currant across the substrate...

Mbuna are Cichlid. Sorry, I'm not familiar with these fish. Ive seens videos of their natural habitat and they look awesome! I cant wait to see this project.
No worries, we're here to learn, right? Ya, mbuna and Malawi lake are awesome! :D
 

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So, I finally got my 75 gallon tank! Of course, now I have to stock it with equipment before my mbuna.

You experts out there, feel free to critique my ideas.

First, I am think'n of using 2 ViaAqua 200 heaters. Our house is often quite cool at about 19 degrees this time of year. I'm a little worried about a heater failing and having it cook my fish, after all the ones I've been reading about lately! But I'm thinking these aren't overpowered enough to do that? Or would they have auto shut offs anyway?

Next, I'm thinking of using a big old AC 110 HOB as my main filter, with a Max #3 prefilter attached to help it. As the fish get larger, I'd maybe add a second HOB. My stand probably won't have room for a canister at only about 15" high.

I'm also thinking of installing a drip system, for water changing. Then a drain to keep the tank at a constant level, either with a drilled, bulkhead near the top of the tank. Or a overflow box to take out the extra water. Does anyone know if Top Fin tanks can be drilled?

Now for my crazy idea, don't laugh! I'm seriously thinking of setting up a reverse flow UGF! To help keep the gravel clear, not as a filter system itself. I'd maybe power it with 2 Rio 1100s with each a prefilter attached again. This way, they'll push filtered water down, under the Lee Premium UGF, up through the gravel. Hopefully, keeping the muck from settling in the gravel substrate, and allowing the three, prefilters, and the HOB filter to take care of it.

The gravel I'd use would have to be more course than usual, I'm think'n. Probably about 1/2"- 1" in diameter and spread quite evenly to keep the water coming up from going to the easy, thinner areas. But this would also keep the mbuna from digging huge holes down to the bottom, which I don't really care for. I know, you're say'n they like to and have to dig. But I've seen plenty of vids of Malawi lake and there are huge areas inhabited by mbuna that have nothing but rocks and boulders, noth'n for them to dig. So I think they'll be just fine.

So, if my theory works, this should cut down on some maintenance!

Thanks,
KTm
2 100 watt heaters would do the job. I had a 200watt heater stick on and it almost cooked my 155g. I use two 100 watt heaters in a 120g and they maintain the temps fine.

A drip system is the best thing you can do to reduce maintenance. All of my tanks are on drip systems. Some are drilled, others use commercial overflow boxes, and some home built PVC overflows. I haven't had problems with any of the options.

If you don't mind the look of sand, it's less work than gravel. A sand or fairly fine Aragonite (good for cichlids) bottom, with a couple power heads leads to zero substrate maintenance. The waste sits on top of the sand and eventually works it way into the filter. If the sand is deep enough (2" or so), the mbuna won't be able to expose the glass bottom as it keeps raveling into the hole.
 

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I don't know how you'd set up a drip system to look decent for a show tank in a living space... all the one's i've seen (only on you tube) have a ton of eye sore piping into fish rooms.
 

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Mines not running yet but it just has one pipe that goes to a drain no big deal
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
2 100 watt heaters would do the job. I had a 200watt heater stick on and it almost cooked my 155g. I use two 100 watt heaters in a 120g and they maintain the temps fine.

A drip system is the best thing you can do to reduce maintenance. All of my tanks are on drip systems. Some are drilled, others use commercial overflow boxes, and some home built PVC overflows. I haven't had problems with any of the options.

If you don't mind the look of sand, it's less work than gravel. A sand or fairly fine Aragonite (good for cichlids) bottom, with a couple power heads leads to zero substrate maintenance. The waste sits on top of the sand and eventually works it way into the filter. If the sand is deep enough (2" or so), the mbuna won't be able to expose the glass bottom as it keeps raveling into the hole.
Thanks, I just did the heater size calculation that I found on American Aquarium, and came up with 2, 100 watt heaters also. Good to hear that the overflows are reliable! Do you have to pull out all the rock work every few months to clean the sand under them? I've heard that if you don't...things can get real nasty!

I don't know how you'd set up a drip system to look decent for a show tank in a living space... all the one's i've seen (only on you tube) have a ton of eye sore piping into fish rooms.
LOL! Don't worry, I'm a carpenter, I know how to hide things. I'll put the lines through the drywall...and I'll be covering the stand and canopy with some great, rustic, old barn board. Watch for pics when I'm done.
 

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I don't know how you'd set up a drip system to look decent for a show tank in a living space... all the one's i've seen (only on you tube) have a ton of eye sore piping into fish rooms.
If you have a canopy and can run the lines down behind the tank than it's easy to make it look good. If you have a sump, it's even easier.
 

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Thanks, I just did the heater size calculation that I found on American Aquarium, and came up with 2, 100 watt heaters also. Good to hear that the overflows are reliable! Do you have to pull out all the rock work every few months to clean the sand under them? I've heard that if you don't...things can get real nasty!
I haven't moved the rocks for over a year and haven't had a problem. I'll stir up the sand I can easily reach from time to time (every 3-4 months).
 
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