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A small fish room.. in an apartment II

by George J. Reclos

Those are the tanks currently set up in my fishroom. All photos were taken from the narrow glass panel.

This tank houses 4 cardinal tetra, 1 zebra danio, 1 discus, 1 Corydoras paleatus, 1 Corydoras aeneus, 2 Corydoras aeneus albino, 1 Acanthicus adonis and 1 Panaque sp. nigrolineatus. Some plants are included and the bottom is plain sand in which Seachem fertilization blocks have been added in advance. A "carbonator" was also included releasing 1 g of carbon dioxide daily (the bell like thing behind the discus). After a month I must say it does a fairly good job at a fraction of the cost required for a normal CO2 canister.  Light: 4 fluorescent tubes. Filtered by an internal sponge filter (1000 l/h). Photo without a flash.

This tank houses pieces of plants which are grown with the purpose of being used in other tanks if something goes wrong. This includes only low maintenance plants as this is the majority of plants I need to decorate cichlid tanks. No fish in this tank. Filtration is carried out by an internal Eheim Aquaball filter with sponge only. Plain sand is again the choice for the bottom. Light is fairly dim.

This tank houses 3 Paratilapia polleni. Ceratophylum demersum, Hygrophila corymbosa and Limna minor are added. Bottom: plain sand. A large rock formation is placed in the middle of the tank as a shelter for the fish. Light: one incandescent lamp 120 W energy saver. Filter: One external canister filter (650 l/h), one internal filter (1000 l/h) and a 350 l/h air pump. The rock formation is extensively used by the fish.

This is the home of 10 Archocentrus nigrofasciatum (convict cichlids), kindly donated by Manthos Vagionakis. Ceratophylum demersum and Limna minor are added. Bottom: plain sand. A bogwood formation with some Anubia sp. on it is placed in the middle of the tank as a shelter for the fish. Light: one incandescent lamp 120 W energy saver. Filter: One external canister filter (650 l/h). It is a pity that the water is still colored by the bogwood we added since Johnny has done a very good job with the Anubia plants.

Finally, this tank houses 2 Acanthicus adonis. Ceratophylum demersum and Limna minor are added. L.minor has already formed a dense population at the surface of the tank creating a nice shadow - much enjoyed by the catfishes. Bottom: plain sand. A rock and bogwood formation is placed in the middle of the tank as a shelter for the fish during the day time. Light: one incandescent lamp 120 W energy saver. Filter: One internal sponge filter (650 l/h) and one air driven sponge filter (air pump 350 l/h). The addition of bogwood created this tea-like coloration.

Fishroom news - update

During the last 9 months, the fishroom (at least the 10 tanks already in there – more to come soon) has been continuously operational and I can now claim it to be in top-notch condition. There have been some modifications, additions and other changes that had to be made in order to make it more functional. The changes are related to both equipment and instruments as well as the overall water conditions.

To start with, it is the first winter we have this fishroom and of course we had to close the windows to keep our home warm. This resulted in a tremendous amount of humidity in the room (I calculated more than 5 liters from each tank per week, which is 50 liters in total). The walls were sweating, all the glasses looked like a Turkish bath and it was almost impossible to stay in that room for more than 10 minutes without getting wet clothes and a “suffocation” feeling. The next step was to buy a dehumidifier which – apart from solving this problem immediately – let us quantify the water loss which is approximately 7-8 liters per day. A really large quantity of water which would create very serious problems in that room. The dehumidifier (see photo below) is set to keep the humidity at a 55% level which is really comfortable to work in (and enjoy your tanks). What is really convenient is the existence of a tube which can be directed to the garden in case you will leave your tanks for a long time (the 14 liter canister supplied with the dehumidifier won’t last more than two days).  

 

The dehumidifier, which will probably serve more than one purpose. Click on the images for larger pictures.

The next thing to take care of is the water parameters. While it was not a problem to make some measurements every now and then when the tanks were fewer this became a tiresome business with those 10 new tanks. Instead of buying more kits we estimated it would be come cheaper to buy some electronic monitors which can be used as often as we want (which means at least twice per month). Thus, an ORP (redox) and a conductivity monitors were added to our pH and Salinity monirors we already had. Finally, I decided to get a new “toy” which is the Pinpoint Wireless Thermometer with four sensors so I can see at a glance what happens in the fishroom while I am working in my home office (as I do now). The four sensors were placed in two different tanks of each row and this also allowed us to fine tune the thermostat settings of the heaters so all tanks have essentially the same temperature. All tanks which do not have a wireless sensor have an electronic thermometer. All monitors were purchased online and are manufactured by American Marine Inc.

Since I am always concerned about the overall water quality my fish live in I read all the available information about Eco-Aqualizer and decided to invest on them. Half of my 100 liter tanks are equipped with this already and I am carefully examining the conditions between the tanks to see if this delivers what it promises. In short this device is maintenance free and uses a magnetic field to change the magnetic properties of the water polar molecules. I don’t know if it effective but as a principle it should work. Of course, other, including Charles Matthews in his “Reef Science” column (FAMA, July 2003, p.128) claim that they can’t be effective in the aquarium but this is something that I prefer to see and evaluate by myself. The devices have been installed in the tanks for two months now and I can safely report that one thing they don’t stop (not even delay) is algae growth (as the manufacturer claims). Water definitely looks more clear in the tanks which employ it (despite what is stated in the FAMA article). Finally, I have the impression that fish grow a bit quicker in the presence of the device but I regard this observation pretty immature. I will let you know when I reach a conclusion. Despite the presence of the Eco Aqualizers the water changes remain the same for all tanks and they are performed on a weekly basis.

A final point we dealt with during those months is the filtration system. At the beginning some tanks had internal filters or old external filters from (very) old setups. We changed all the filters to external Eheim filters (model 2236; 600 l/h) which are run with a foam prefilter making service a real joy. All you have to do is to clean the filter pad instead of the canister. Cleaning the canister is only necessary once every 6 months. With the amount of food and frequency of feeding this is already more than I could ever hope for. All tanks are now equipped with air pumps (Schego M2K3; 350 l/h) with fine wood airstones..

The top and bottom racks (on this side of the wall). Click on the images for larger pictures.

The photos above show the numbers which correspond to the tank numbers in the table below.

Tank #

GH

μS, ppm,

odH

KH

pH

ORP

Temp

filtration

% water change / week

Inhabitants

1

535

290

16.2

8

7.90

320

26.0-27.0

Eheim Ecco 2236

 

Eco-aqualizer

25

5 x C. pearsei + 1 x L. caeruleus

2

581

315

17.6

8

7.88

296

26.0-27.0

Eheim Ecco 2236

25

4 x P. polleni large spot

3

865

469

26.2

7

7.32

300

26.0-27.0

Eheim Ecco 2236

 

Eco-aqualizer

30

2 x P. polleni large spot, 2 x Pe dambabe,

2 x Pe dammi,

4 x Corydoras sp.,

1 x Acanthicus adonis

4

477

259

14.5

8

7.99

294

26.0-27.0

Eheim Ecco 2236

25

4 x P. polleni large spot

5

565

306

17.1

8

7.52

280

26.0-27.0

Eheim Ecco 2236

 

Eco-aqualizer

25

30 x P. managuensis fry

6

829

450

25.1

8.5

8.08

307

26.0-27.0

Eheim Ecco 2236

 

Eco-aqualizer

25

1 x C. pearsei,

30 x Haplochromis „fire“ Uganda fry

7

674

366

20.4

7.5

7.43

313

26.0-27.0

Eheim Ecco 2236

30

3 x Haplochromis „fire“ Uganda (1 m / 2 f), 2 x C. nigrofasciatus (pair),  1 x red blood parrot, 2 x A. adonis, 1 x Panaque sp.

8

545

296

16.5

8.5

8.09

291

26.0-27.0

Eheim Ecco 2236

30

24 x C. nigrofasciatus, 1 x A. choirorrhynchus, 1 x Akanthophthalmus kuhlii myersi

9

595

323

18

7.5

7.46

302

26.0-27.0

Eheim Ecco 2236

25

2 x N. Brichardi (pair), 50 – 70 x N. brichardi fry

10

525

285

15.9

8

8.08

277

26.0-27.0

Eheim Ecco 2236

 

Eco-aqualizer

25

7 x Pe menarambo

GH, pH, ORP and Temperature was measured with monitors, KH was measured with a chemical kit which was calibrated by my own standards. Five standards corresponding to KH = 6.5, 7.0, 7.5, 8.0 and 8.5 were prepared and the kit was “calibrated” on them. Reference as well as tank water samples were used in four times the recommended volume to in increase the accuracy of my measurements. In this setup (mostly done to satisfy my curiosity) 28 drops would be needed for the KH=7.0 solution. Despite my suspicions, the kit worked remarkably well in this range. However, results in the low end values (KH=0 to 2.5) was a disaster – just to get the whole picture..  

It should be noted that tanks # 3, 5, 7 and 9 are the only tanks which have a large amount of Lemna minor in them. I don’t know if this is a “real” finding and not an artifact but those tanks show a pH decrease by 0.3 as compared to the average of the other tanks. Water comes out of the tap with a pH of 7.70-7.80, KH=8, GH=11.5.

Water that comes out of my deionization column has a ph of 6.55, KH=0 and a conductivity of 0 μSiemens (GH=0). Good news for my discus tanks.

Major changes will take place regarding the inhabitants of those tanks when the 600 liter tank becomes operational. Further changes are due when the new tanks are added in this fishroom, which may not be that small when all the elements fit into place. The final task is to have at least 6 empty tanks which will be used for raising fry (hopefully even fry of my Madagascan cichlids).

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