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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Finally, I'm just finishing up my Mbuna tank build! Still have to get more mbuna from Harold in Calgary, but I think it's time to post what I have so far.



I started with a 75 gallon tank and built a 3/4" plywood stand for it to park on. Then reinforced it with some ripped down 2x4 and cut out the door openings. Topped it with 1/2" foam to absorb any uneven spots that could cause pressure points that could lead to a cracked tank. Then came my favorite! Old, rustic barn board that I've had my eye on for a few years, with this tank build in mind! I used a hole saw to cut out a couple check holes so I can see how clean it is under my UGF. I have a couple Rio 1400 powerheads set up to push water under the UGF and up through the course gravel bed.





These Rio powerheads, I was hoping would do a great job of back flushing the gravel until the gunk could be caught in the filters. Unfortunately, the theory worked better than the real deal. :( I'll still have to do gravel siphoning, but at least it helps keep some gravel cleaner, and I'm sure they're helping to oxygenate the substrate for more bio action. The powerheads are also helping to filter the water with the prefilters I have on them. I also have a prefilter on the tube of my Aqua Clear 110. These are very easy to clean during my weekly maintenance. And I don't have to clean out my AC 110 every week with this prefilter in place! :D

I found some hand forged, rustic hardware that goes well with the old barn board. It came from a cool, old shop in Quebec, called "Old Quebec Antique Hardware". The hinges cost only about $6.50 each! And come with matching screws.



Thanks to our own, "smccleme" (Steve) who helped me out with my drip system, there's no water changes to do! :bigsmile:



To hide all the plumbing and cords in the back, I made panels that can easily just slip in and out...



This is work'n out to be a fairly low maintenance set up, which I was really look'n for! I just have to siphon the gravel through a small filter bag, into a big bucket, and dump the water back into the tank. I dump the water right over the rocks to help work out any gunk that has collected around them. Then the prefilters can catch a lot of it before it settles again.

The canopy cover has a removable, front panel, for working in the tank better. The top, front and back boards flip up for feeding and maintenance. The whole thing can also just be lifted off to do major work. I've varnished the backs of these boards to help seal out the moisture from the tank, otherwise, all the barn board was left unfinished. I like the natural look.



17 ever hungry little buggers so far. About a dozen more on the way soon!



I hope this helps someone else to do a tank build of their own. Feel free to copy my ideas.
 

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The stand looks awesome. I'm glad you were able to seek out Harold.

Sent from my Nexus 6 using Tapatalk
 

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Looks good, like real good. You are lucky to have an inconspicuous location to run the piping for the drip system. I think I was saying in another thread that it's not always "easy" to run the lines, in my house the areas I can fit the bigger tanks are along exterior walls and opposite sides of my water sources.

What did you do to bring out the finish on the barn boards?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks!

Looks good, like real good. You are lucky to have an inconspicuous location to run the piping for the drip system. I think I was saying in another thread that it's not always "easy" to run the lines, in my house the areas I can fit the bigger tanks are along exterior walls and opposite sides of my water sources.

What did you do to bring out the finish on the barn boards?
The only thing I finished was the underside of the boards covering the top of the tank, just to help seal out the moisture. The rest is only cleaned with a nylon brush and vacuumed. All the color is from natural aging in the Okanagan sun shine! :D For some reason, the most colorful boards came from the south side of the shed they were on.
 

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Looking good! Very rustic looking stand. Hows the drip system working? Steves been trying to convince me to do it on my 210g.

Did you track down Harrold?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks. The drip is awesome! Steve really helped convince me, and I'm sure glad he did! You gotta do it!

Yes, Harold is set'n me up with most of the mbuna that I still want. Someone I know is picking them up and bringing them to K-Town! :D Can't wait!
 

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I'm a little worried about the metal used in your plumbing is that a water feed line?
 

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He used pex, why would you be worried about that? The water is always going to be delivered through either Pex (or other pvc/plastic pipe and metal (brass) fittings) or Copper Pipe for any residential water systems.
 

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I guess so I just worry about copper and brass in the aquarium. Of course I have pex in my house and brass fittings but it runs through my sediment and carbon filter before being fed to the aquarium. It's just a thought to consider but I'm sure your fine
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Just an update. The reverse flow, under gravel systems was a complete FLOP! :( Even with two, big Rio 1400s each rated at 380 gph! I was hoping the flow would keep the bottom of the tank and the gravel free of crap, but not so. The theory was great, but a crappy ending and I've pulled the UGFs out. I think there was just too much surface area to push through, and the gph was get'n cut way back.

I've now got the Rios mounted high on the back of the tank with prefilters on them still to gather..... They're doing a much better job now! Together with my AC 110, my tank stays really clear and I've never had an ammonia spike at all. That's with up to 37 Cichlids in it and a new set up, but with some old water....to start a cycle right away.

PS. Anyone want some UGFs? Going cheap!


But the system works great now with the dripper adding water constantly and the overflow taking it away. I just clean the 3 prefilters, and vacumn the gravel with an Eheim Gravel Vac once a week in not much time. The vac works great with the thin layer of very course gravel. No manual water changes at all! Then just clean the AC 110 once a month.

I guess someone wants a pic now? hehe
 

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Better do some videos!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Here's a new pic. I'm going to paint the pumps so they blend in better, but you can see the set up better this way. Between all the pumps in this 75 gallon tank there's over 1400 gallons being moved every hour! No wonder it stays clear! No wonder the fish aren't fat either! :lol: They seem to like the flow, even purposely fighting the current, right in front of the big Rios! My little Cynotilapia Jalo Reef gets fired up when fighting the current and colors up like he's mad at it! But then turns around and comes back for more! :cool:

 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Tank looks good, where did you acquire most of your fish from?
Thanks. I got most from Harold (Fairdeals) in Calgary. He can be found on the Alberta forum. Great service and really healthy fish! I still want to get some Blueberry OB Zebra from him, just waiting for him to get them from Florida. Then I just need to find someone that can bring them to town for me.

Also got some really good quality mbuna from Pet City here in K-Town. A few also from Shuswap Aquariums in Salmon Arm. And an awesome look'n Sciaenochromis fryeri (Electric Blue Hap) from our own Steve (smccleme).

It's quite the collection with about 20 different kinds. I couldn't be happier with it! Best tank I've ever had by far! :cool: I'm really surprised I am ending up with this big of an assortment! And no major aggression issues, yet anyway! :rolleyes:

It's really a shame how mbuna have become less popular these days. People just don't take the time to under stand them, and give them what they need. I've learnt a lot from websites like Cichlid Hub. Things like having a big enough tank to start with. Then stocking very heavily, like 20-25 in a 75 gallon tank to end up with, but starting off with as many as 35! The other big thing is my rock work which I copied from Cichlid Hub. No major hiding places like a cave that just causes them to fight over it! This also makes it much easier to keep a cleaner tank. I've also gone with all males, to avoid a lot of breeding issues and aggression. Seems to be working well and they're all getting mature now. I've also avoided the very highly aggressive mbuna.
 

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I really like Mbuna. I just upgraded my 75 to a 120. Really looking good, although I have a ton of river rock and driftwood in the tank, tons of hiding spot. Never really had any significant aggression issues, and I have a very dominate auratus male in the tank but he's too busy chasing down his females (although he did kill one but I had pulled her from the tank too long to spit the fry into a holding tank).

My tank is clean too, I have 3x canister filters and a couple power heads moving the water around really good, using silica/pool filter sand it always looks pristine for the most part except when they dig big valleys out of it over time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Doesn't the driftwood prevent the water from being hard enough for the fish though? I've always heard that wood is a good buffer if you want softer water.
 
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