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MR2Jay's Big Cichlid Adventure - 200L Tank Build

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MR2Jay's Big Cichlid Adventure - 200L Tank Build

Postby mr2jay » Tue Apr 14, 2015 4:57 am

Good morning and welcome to my project page :dance:

I intend to keep a journal of my build from day one here so people can a) help me avoid silly mistakes and b) give a record for any other newbies to see when they are first setting out. I have to add at this point that I have NEVER kept cichlids before, this is a steep learning curve for me as well.

So, I have always kept tropical tanks and a few years ago decided to get back into the hobby. I have played about with a few before deciding in the new year that I needed a new challenge. In my garage I had a 4ft, 190l bare tank on a metal box section frame which I decided to do something with. From these humble beginnings, I have now built a complete wooden frame, brand new lid and fully kitted the tank out. It is now maturing with my tropical collection of fish so I have freed up my 200l tank ready to begin this build.

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This is the tank I am going to be converting to a Dwarf Mbuna tank. It is a very odd shape being 3ft wide and 2ft deep but I think set up right it could be perfect. I have since been shopping and spending far too much money which I am now waiting for bits and pieces to arrive.

First stage was lighting. I had a LED setup in there when it was tropical but personally I didn't think that it reached the bottom properly. The light pattern seemed a bit dead if I am honest. For that reason I have decided to go down the tube route and have ordered all of the kit to make a custom mount in the lid. I have gone for 1 daylight tube (Arcadia Classica T8) and one marine blue tube (Aquazonic Super Actininc Blue T8). I did a LOT of research into lighting and found that this combination would give me the exact lighting specification I wanted for the tank but also help the light actually reach the bottom of the tank. Throw in some reflectors and I think I have this covered now.

Filtration wise, I have gone for a Jebao 403 which is has a specification of 1200l/hr. I know that some people are dead against these Chinese "copies" (This is effectively a Eheim copy made in the same factory) but I have used these filters for years with no trouble and they always produce fantastic surface agitation without fail.

Next was a brand new heater. This time I have not scrimped and gone for an Eheim unit straight away. When you hear of stuck thermostats, cracking glass and failing elements, one area you can't save money is the heating.

I have also gone for a decent air pump (for noise) to produce a small air curtain. This looks good but also helps with the surface agitation.

Decor wise, I have ordered 25kg of coral sand. I have yet to work out if this is enough but it should give about an inch and a bit cover on the bottom. To go with this, I have also bought 15kg of red limestone to produce the decor. Slightly more unusual than ocean rock but it has just as many holes and crevices and should make an interesting display.

So, this is where I am at. I have a plethora of bits and pieces coming through the door in the next few days so hopefully I can begin building this week and getting set up :dance:
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Re: MR2Jay's Big Cichlid Adventure - 200L Tank Build

Postby mr2jay » Wed Apr 15, 2015 4:45 am

Yesterday I started to have the equipment arrive :dance:

First off, I have had a delivery of 25kg of coral sand. I need to get a brand new bucket and a hose to rinse this through thoroughly so that strikes me as a job for the weekend :wink:

I have had all of the new filter equipment arrive though and have now routed this from the cabinet into the tank. I haven't made the final connections to the filter yet as I have to run out at the weekend and get so extra media as the canister is supplied with 3 trays but only one level of media (a fine filter). I'm going to need some coarse to go in there as well or it is just going to clog up.

To keep wiring to a minimum, I have also fitted a switched 6 Gang extension cord to the side wall of the cabinet. This keeps everything out of the way with only one cable heading towards the wall. Much tidier.

Hoping the lighting rig arrives today so I can get that fitted. The plan is to start getting the tank stabilising this weekend before buying the fish the weekend after :dance:

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Re: MR2Jay's Big Cichlid Adventure - 200L Tank Build

Postby Clare » Fri Apr 17, 2015 7:56 am

Looking forward to the next update, I love diaries.
We supply high quality, home bred Malawi Cichlids to the UK http://www.tonysafricancichlids.co.uk Next day courier £15 Sat courier £26
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Re: MR2Jay's Big Cichlid Adventure - 200L Tank Build

Postby mr2jay » Fri Apr 17, 2015 10:50 am

I love coming home to goodies in the post :clap:

First off the red limestone is here for the decor - I am chuffed to bits with it :tu:

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I've also had a few more bits, A new water testing kit (my old one has vanished and I have no idea what happened to it), a nice big bottle of Safe Start to help get the tank cycled quicker (I already have ammonia) and a really good quality Eheim air pump

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Unfortunately now I've decided to go with a natural pea gravel substrate and I've realised I have made a bit of a faux pas with the lighting, there is nothing more I can do for the time being until these key items arrive in the post :doh:
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Re: MR2Jay's Big Cichlid Adventure - 200L Tank Build

Postby Clare » Fri Apr 17, 2015 2:23 pm

Isnt that that petrified rock whatit stuff? I have seen this about and it looks amazing in a maalwi tank against firefish, i will see if I can find the video but it really does help red of fires to pop and yellows of yellow labs to look stunning.
We supply high quality, home bred Malawi Cichlids to the UK http://www.tonysafricancichlids.co.uk Next day courier £15 Sat courier £26
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Re: MR2Jay's Big Cichlid Adventure - 200L Tank Build

Postby mr2jay » Fri Apr 17, 2015 2:40 pm

That is "Red Limestone" Ocean rock Clare - I wanted something a little bit different but was a completely different colour to the fish I've selected. This fitted the bill perfectly. Wasn't cheap mind at £40 for 15kg!
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Re: MR2Jay's Big Cichlid Adventure - 200L Tank Build

Postby Clare » Fri Apr 17, 2015 4:41 pm

no, there is an actual name for it. I have seen it online as red ocean rock. I am determined to find the name.
We supply high quality, home bred Malawi Cichlids to the UK http://www.tonysafricancichlids.co.uk Next day courier £15 Sat courier £26
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Re: MR2Jay's Big Cichlid Adventure - 200L Tank Build

Postby mr2jay » Sat Apr 18, 2015 4:27 pm

Really not sure, that's what I bought it as though. I really should make a very effective display though contrasting against the colours of the fish nicely.

So today I had the new tubes arrive :tu:

This tank has been chopped around so much with different lighting systems that trying to fit a secure yet effective system has bee a bit tricky.

Because of the depth of the tank, I wanted to avoid using LED - I adapted it to LED for the tropical setup prior but never really felt happy with the light. By the time it reached the bottom, the light was very washed out. So to avoid this, I have now adapted it to a T8 system utilising the Arcadia controller system.

Tube wise, I have gone for one marine white and one marine blue and the overall effect is exactly what I was after. I have held one of the pieces of limestone in the tank and the colour REALLY pops of it.

All I need now are the reflectors and the lighting is then finished. I was hoping for the pea gravel today but it looks like that is turning up on Monday now along with the biological media and new mechanical media for the filter. Give it a final clean out now it is dry and hopefully I should be ready to fill it with water by Tuesday :dance:

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Re: MR2Jay's Big Cichlid Adventure - 200L Tank Build

Postby mr2jay » Mon Apr 20, 2015 8:17 pm

Ahhh - the sweet smell of success :dance:

First off I had to load the filter with media. With 3 trays, I wanted to make the most of it.

In the bottom tray I fashioned a coarse, medium and fine filter, finishing it off with a fine wool. That took care of the mechanical side of things :clap:

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Next I wanted to use the trays afterwards as a biological filter. Alfagrog in the first

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And good old fashioned ceramic noodles in the third

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That is all now safely stored under the cabinet and the hoses all attached ready to prime. :dance:

So, next?

Well, I suppose some aquascaping :02

Started off by rinsing through the pea gravel - that took a while I can tell you

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Then came the time to rinse off the stones - they may look nice but they were filthy!!!

Organised them in the tank now and they are a) VERY stable and b) arranged in such a way that there are LOADS of hidey holes and tunnels.

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Next step? Water - that's tomorrow's job :character-beavisbutthead:
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Re: MR2Jay's Big Cichlid Adventure - 200L Tank Build

Postby Clare » Sat Apr 25, 2015 6:57 pm

That looks great. I know the overall light is what your after but be wary that it can alter the colour of fish.
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