Hobbyist Gallery - Ron Brockmiller

Ron Brockmiller, Michigan, USA e-mail:

Picture above is my 100 US gallon Malawi tank (bottom picture with flash). The tank measures 72"x18"x18" (180cm x 45cm x 45cm).

The first shot is without the use of a flash to show the "true look of the tank". The second uses a flash and therefore the substrate is off-colored. The substrate for this tank is pool filter sand picked up from a local store. Rock work in the tank is a combination of lace rock and local rock from a creek that runs through my property. The rock work is currently setup as depicted in the first 2 pictures and spans the length of the tank.

The tank is mainly filtered by 2 Emperor 400 filters each filled with filter floss and Cell-Pore (bio media). There is also a Whisper 2 (20-40 was what it was previously called) for additional water movement and contains filter floss. There is also an extra sponge filter I had that runs in the back right hand corner and is well hidden. I also have 2 large air stones in each back corner to facilitate water movement throughout the tank. Heating is provided by a Marineland Visi-Therm 300 (300 watt). The tank is maintained at 78F.

The water used is well water. The PH is around 8, while the GH/KH are in the low teens. Water changes average every week and a half. I change 30% of the tank volume, or 30 gallons every water change. I also add salt (Instant Ocean) salt at a rate of 1 tbs per 5 gallons. Due to evaporation, 2-3 gallons is topped off between water changes.

Lighting is currently provided by a 4' (120cm) dual shop light. The tubes used are a Coralife 50/50 and a GE Cool White bulb (each 40 watts).

Species kept being kept currently, all sizes listed respectively to sex:
1 D. compressiceps (1m) 19 cm
1 P. taeniolatus "Namalenji Island" (1m) 13 cm
4 S. fryeri (2m/2f) 14, 13, 10, 9 cm
3 Ps. Acei (1m/2f) 15, 11.5, 11.25 cm
3 M. estherae "Red Zebra" (3m) 13.5, 12.5, 12.25 cm
3 L. caeruleus (2m,1f) 12.5, 11, 8.75 cm
1 M. cyaneorhabdos "Maingo" (1m) 12 cm
1 Ps. Demasoni (1m) 8.5 cm
1 M. auratus (1f) 12.5 cm
Non Malawians:
2 S. eupterus (sex unknown) 15, 12 cm
2 Common plecostomus (type with 13 dorsal rays, I forget species right now) 25, 22.5 cm [most probably Glycopterichthys gibbiceps ]

Species breed in this environment: Ps. acei, L. caeruleus, S. fryeri, . . . and M. estherae when I had females too. Everyone is fed Spirulina 20, HBH Graze, Tetra Cichlid Sticks, and romaine lettuce. Catfish and plecos also get Tetramin tablets and Spirulina algae wafers. Haps are also selectively fed small pieces of shrimp, meal worms, crickets, ect (while mbuna are distracted at other end of the tank. The compressiceps is particularly keen on being fed by waiting and have me toss him treats.

This tank is now just over 1.5 years old and has had no deaths. However, my specimens have been with me for as long as 3 years (I upgraded to this tank 1.5 years ago).


MCH Verdict

The unusual length makes it quite large and comfortable for most Malawi cichlids. On top of that the rockwork provides enough hiding places for the whole bunch. I'd welcome a more uneven stacking of the rocks, as this would give the tank a more natural look. The use of sand instead of crushed coral makes up allot for this though. Inhabitants are well matched, and the predators will only grab reckless fry. The Dimidiochromis compressiceps, one of my favorite Malawians, definitely won't turn down such an opportunity. I'm not a great fan of plants in African cichlid tanks, but if they're used sparingly, the green contrast really adds to the overall appearance. Water parameters, feeding and maintenance all look very good too, so I'm sure these fish will all be happy campers! Nice tank.

Although I am a bit in a hurry today I can't refrain from noticing that this is a really good tank. It is correctly acquascaped, correctly supported and maintained and "almost" correctly stocked. The only point that I would like to make as far as the species kept in this tank are concerned is the coexistence of  Haps and m'buna. On the other hand, here comes a tank without crushed coral - which is always nice to note for our visitors. The presence of red plants is also something I don't like but I must confess that I regard it as a minor "point" when I evaluate the whole tank. I would also like to mention that the fishes look healthy and well fed - another plus. In short, I have to admit that I regard this particular tank as one of the best tanks submitted in our Gallery.

Well, this time we move up to 100 gallons - larger tanks are always more impressive (and in this sense "forgiving") but also more difficult to aquascape in an interesting way. This particular tank has the additional advantage of the extra length (180 cm instead of the more typical 150 cm) and this makes a lot of difference. This time there is no crushed coral (what a relief at last) but - there is always a "but" - we have haps and mbuna together and - most important - piscivore haps (S. fryeri, D. compressiceps). Of course, if we take the size of his m'buna into account, there is no risk of any of the piscivores attacking any of his m'buna. His filtration system is definitely better than mine (which means, really good), his tank is actually correctly stocked (in the sense of fishes / liter and regardless of compatibility issues) and the appearance is positive at first glance. I like the placement of the stones (a really smart work in the sense that he managed to aquascape a whole tank with the minimum of stones, still offering many ways of escape for his smaller fish). I will definitely take a note of this arrangement. There are no striking technical stuff in the middle and the plants add a nice color to the tank. However, speaking of plants, I would prefer to see the usual stuff (Anubia sp., Vallisneria sp. even some Cryptocorine sp.) and I would prefer not to see the red plant in the right hand corner which definitely doesn't belong to a Malawi cichlid tank. It should be noted that this comment doesn't refer to the requirements of the plant per se but to the presence of a red spot in a Malawi tank. We all know (or should know) the "dull" environment of the original biotope. With the exception of this particular plant, the rest seem to add to the overall look and, since the mbuna don't mind, why should I? Overall, a very nice tank.

Overall rating by MCH :  75/100

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