Hobbyist Gallery - Simon Cooper

Simon Cooper, Cambridge, England, UK. e-mail:  

Thank you for such a brilliant site! loads of info, articles and seeing all your own tanks is really interesting. Anyway, attached some pictures of my own hap tank, I have been keeping fish since I was about 8yrs old and started like many people with a 18x12x12" goldfish tank! now at 25yrs old I am pretty much obsessed!! im constantly researching and if I had it my way I would be researching and discovering new cichlid species around the world by now!  

Since my first tank, ive never been without one, and having just bought my first house, I quickly went out and bought the biggest tank I could fit in my living room! its not as big as I would like but due to its shape has a large floor area. Its a 400 liter bow fronted corner tank (it will do until I move house and get my 2000 litre tank!!!), filtered with 2 x eheim externals-pro2 2028's. The front glass measures 55" across and from the middle of the front to the back corner its nearly 40" so a lot of floor space for rocks and plenty of open sand, its also 22" high. I would like to move them to a larger tank, especially for the fossorochromis rostratus, although they do seem very happy in there, really active and outgoing, im sure more of their behaviour would be expressed in a larger aquarium, but as they are quite rare over here I bought them with the idea of sooner rather than later, setting up a huge hap tank....so watch this space!  

My stock includes:

2 x N.vunustus(1m/1f)

3 x Fossorochromis rostratus(1m/2f)

2 x Sciaenochromis fryeri(1m/1f)

1 x large male Auonocara baenschi(i think?)

3 other male Aulonacara

1 x male Nimbochromis livingstoni

(sorry for not having the names of my Aulonocara - I do know them, but haven't got the info with me, however I certainly do not have, nor would I ever have any hybrids!) this tank is really a show tank, hence the lack of females. Water changes are very frequent, they don't need to be, the filters are very capable, however I find water changes easy and don't see a problem with daily 30% changes sometimes every other day, and my fish seem, to love the fresh water. I feed a variety of frozen foods, chopped cockle, krill, shrimp etc, I also feed tetra prima pellets-I find these are very good for colour, and hikari gold pellets-mainly for the larger haps. (I have moved a rock out of the middle since the photos were taken to allow more open sand)

MCH Verdict

I have mixed emotions when I look at this tank. The size and shape is a plus, but these Haps will soon outgrow this aquarium. The promised extra room will be needed before you know it. (Beware: the daily 30% water changes will no longer be fun in such a 2000L tank!!!) Further on the positive side: the maintenance schedule sounds absolutely perfect and adds much to the health of the cichlids. The decoration of this tank - as far as the functionality is concerned - is very nice, although the Aulonocara could use more places to hide. The use of sand and the absence of plants also mimic lake Malawi conditions as close as possible. The uncovered sides of the tank spoil the fun a bit though as they give the tank a rather bare look. Maybe a nice rock construction could do wonders in the back corner and hide the technical equipment at the same time. Also the lightning could be a bit more dim in my opinion. This way the fish will look better when the bright patterns on their body reflects indirect light.

I don’t like the “missing” background (or the use of a very pale one if one is indeed used). I would have preferred some additional stones and I like the sand. Tank stocking seems correct to me – even considering the fact that a few of these fishes should/could grow up considerably more (I noticed that Fossoroschromis rostratus still seem to miss the adult colouration). A bit of concern has to do with the coexistence of two different Nimbochromis species regarding the possibility of hybridization. I am also worried for the fate of the Aulonocara in the future when the rest of the inhabitants grow to their final sizes… All in all this is a good job even if something seems to be missing - I can't really tell what it is ! However, it looks (perhaps too much) like a homework perfectly done and the fish seem to thrive in it - which is the most important point to me.

This tank may not be a real eye-catcher but there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. I mean, apart from the technical stuff which is partly visible, there are just a few rocks, a bit of wood, no plants and beautiful plain sand. There is an open sand space, the tank is not overcrowded for the moment and (since his aim is to get a much larger tank) I can say it is enough for the fishes he keeps in it since they will probably not stay in there for much longer. He keeps 6 large haps, 2 medium sized ones (S. fryeri) and 4 small ones. In short, it is stocked correctly - even now. The F. rostratus is not a cruiser neither the two Nimbochromis venustus and the N. livingstoni so the extra length required for large predators is not a necessity. Filtration is more than adequate and his water change schedule is such that even discus keepers would envy it. I would say that the aquascape could be a bit more creative but in such a tank with this sort of inhabitants what else should he add ? More rocks would be useless and occupy swimming place which is more vital for the fish. The fact that there are only a few females makes hiding spots less needed - the only issue I would raise is the fate of the Aulonocara when the others grow up. Although this tank is also "by the book" - much more than some of my own tanks - still I have the feeling that something is missing. I can't name it but I have the hunch that this tank could be somehow greatly improved.

Overall rating by MCH :  71/100

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