Hobbyist Gallery - Ralph Martinez
Ralph Martinez, Naples, Florida, U.S.A. e-mail:
Tank is 125 gallon (475 liters) 100% acrylic tank by Sea Clear
The measurements are 60 inches long (153cm) , by 18 inches wide (46cm), by 24 inches deep (61cm).
Filtration: Eheim 2128 Thermofilter
Texas Holey Rocks
Carib Sea White Marine Sand
Actinic fluorescent tubes; a full spectrum white tube will be added.
Nitrite is 0 ppm (mg/L)
Total Hardness is 120 ppm (mg/L)
Total Alkalinity is 240 ppm (mg/L)
pH is 8.2
Total Ammonia is 2 ppm (mg/L)
Water Changes: 25% weekly
Water Temperature: 78F (25.6C)
Inhabitants: (All ratios are 1 male to 3 females)
Labidochromis sp. Hongi
Pseudotropheus sp. Cherry Red Zebra
Pseudotropheus sp. Demasoni
Pseudotropheus sp. Red Top Blue Banded Zebra
Pseudotropheus sp. Socolofi
Pseudotropheus sp. Lombardoi (Kennyi)
Feedings: 3 times per day
Spirulina Sticks (floating) and HBH African Cichlid sinking pellets
Very nice work. Ralph clearly chose the best equipment and fish available in the hobby for setting up his fairly large Malawi cichlid tank. The impressive Pangea background, the neat rocks and caves, the excellent Eheim canister which provides first rate filtration, and the beautiful wood furniture/canopy make this a pleasing and contrasty display tank to look at. The lack of disturbing technical equipment is also very comforting. It really is an eye-catcher and I'm sure that every visitor in his house will spend some time in front of this beautiful aquarium. The nice selection of Mbuna in the right male/female ratio and a good care and feeding schedule are also applaudable. But as usual I have some "minor" remarks. The Texas holey rocks are nice for creating small caves and hideouts, but they make the setup a bit "artificial" in my opinion. These rocks together with the sand are very light in color as compared to the background, and unless Ralph will perform massive waterchanges on a weekly basis, I fear a bit that they will become a bit ugly when algae starts growing on them when the full spectrum lamps will be added. Also the fact that the tank is not wider is a bit sad in my opinion. I know that the cost of such an 125 gallon Sea Clear acrylic tank is very high, but at this price range, a custom built tank with a width of 24 to 30 inch would be preferable. This extra width would allow the owner to use the better matching Pangea rocks to create an even more savage & awesome natural aquascape.
I like it, yes I DO! Fish look very healthy, the tank is correctly stocked and large "enough" (risk of hybridization should be quite low); the maintenance schedule shown is almost perfect! I'm puzzled too by the (reported) ammonia reading but I guess this is an artifact or a temporary reading. It is possible that this measurement was taken immediately after feeding. The way Ralph keeps his tank should be showed to everyone and set an example for most hobbyists. From a personal point of view the only things I dislike (to some degree) are the white (marine) sand - even though fish seem not to care about it - and, a bit more, the very sharp contrast between the dark / black background (a piece of art on its own) and the whitish / bright rockwork. This is especially evident in the two pictures showing the whole tank. This creates a less than natural appearance of the whole set up but, of course, this is not a big mistake. On the other hand the clever use of only (as far as I can read) actinic lamps reduces the reflection of light from the white substrate and creates an overall better environment for the fish.
In general I like the tank as is. The volume is on the large side, the fish are not overcrowded and the selection of the species results in the most colorful combination one can get from the m'buna flock since he managed to combined blue, orange, yellow and red. I would prefer natural sand instead of the marine one (especially since it is white colored) but the fish don't seem to bother a lot and display full color. The background is - naturally - excellent and the aquascape is nice and functional. I was really impressed by the fact that not only did he invest in the (expensive) Pangea background but he also paid attention to the shape of the rocks he used in the tank - the fish seem to enjoy it. Filtration and maintenance of the tank is also on the right path (taking into account the three daily feedings - with the right food). Water parameters are almost perfect for Malawi cichlids and I wish more hobbyists were equally careful as far as this aspect is concerned. I am a bit puzzled by the ammonia reading since there should be no traces of it in a tank stocked to its full but I guess the readings were taken just after a feeding. Otherwise, he should be very careful and monitor the levels of ammonia on a daily basis. All in all a very nice tank, good looking and well thought of. I feel that some points should be deducted because of the white color of the sand but other than that, the tank is a real gem.
Overall rating by MCH : 83/100