Hobbyist Gallery - Patricia Pierce

PATRICIA PIERCE, Enumclaw, Washington, USA, e-mail:

These are just photos of my 125 gallon. Here are the occupants:

4 Placidochromis milomo (commonly named : VC-10's) ranging in size from 5 inches to 2 inches

7 Labidochromis caeruleus “yellow” (Yellow labs)

2 bushy nose pleco

More information:
Feeding: I feed them flakes in the morning (once daily) – a mix of Tetra- Spirulina and Tetra Color-Tropical flakes and pellets at night; a mix of Hikari pellets (Cichlid Excel, Cichlid Gold, Cichlid Staple and Cichlid Bio Gold. Other foods: Fozen Peas 1 to 2 times a week, Romain Lettuce 3 times a week, Zuchini now and then, Frozen Blood worms 1 time a week, Frozen Brine Shrimp now and then. Multi Vitamins dissolved every other day, feed when feeding flakes.

Maintenance: Water changes once weekly by 50%. The readings are: Ammonia 0, Nitrates 0, Nitrites 0 and PH 8.2 to 8:4

Chemicals added: Amguel {not Amquel plus}, Nov-Aqua, Marine Salt, Cichlid Vital

Filter: 2 Fluval 404, cleaned every 2 months.

Aquascape: Rocks from lanscape supply, Sand- Silica sand and a background-paper with rock pattern.

Tank dimensions: Standard 125 gallon All glass Aquarium. The stand and canopy we made ourselves. The tank has been up and running for 3 years.

Heater: 2 tronic watts {150 Watt each}; Temperature kept about 82 degrees.

Lights: 4 power-glo

I have tried to hide the heater, filter tubes, and the equipment behind the rocks, so for the most part you really can not see them, unless you look hard! But would really like to build a rock wall, with using the fruit crates as Patricia explains in her article on your web site...but am planning this for the spring.
I plan on adding a few more {maybe 3 or 4} vc-10's, and as they grow, out will come some or all of the yellow labs. I have worked hard to have the tank as natural as possible for my fish, it has taken a lot of learning, and finding out things {sometimes the hard way} for their requirements. Also finding out what they like as well, how they adapt. Have gone through a lot of "aquarium" decorations and money to find that just plain rocks are liked the best.......I am sure we have all done this at one time or another, thinking it was "necessary for them" And in the end nothing can be as natural looking as REAL rock! It's so simple it's silly almost. And yes as many times as it is said on the fish list, sand is the best for them. can see their more natural behaviour.....not that they don't dig in gravel, but you don't get the true behaviour....how they dig and "sift" through the sand. It's so awesome to watch. You can tell their thinking! It's  a lot more than just a tank with fish. Anyone can do that, but to make them happy and healthy is another.

MCH Verdict

Without a doubt this tank looks quite good. On the positive side the low fish density is quite remarkable. While most people tend to overstock their tank, Trish is doing a very good job with keeping only two cichlid species here. It's only a pity that there are no photo's of the tank with all the fish in the foreground. Also nice are the wallpaper and the matching rocks that make the tank look a bit deeper than this 125G tank really is. The technical equipment indeed is carefully hidden so it doesn't spoil the natural look of the tank. The wood canopy gives the tank a very neat and classy look. I have more objections to the powerful lightning though. In my opinion, it looks a bit harsh in combination with the white sand which certainly makes the fish more skittish. Bubble walls are also not my most favourite "natural" cichlid tank ingredient.

Assuming this tank is going to be presented in the hobbyist gallery (by the way, I think it should) here are my short remarks: The overall look is fine, furniture greatly boosts the look ... lack of techie stuff in sight is great, I like the two "bubble columns" too. Internal aquascape is fine (the background is made of real rocks or is it something like the "back to nature" panels?). Fishes (at least the ones in the pictures) are healthy and seem to enjoy the place (look at the brushes of the Ancistrus!). At the moment the tank looks understocked so the future (planned) additions are not a problem (at all). A massive breeding activity once fishes reach adulthood won't surprise me. Technical items used look good, lighting results in an extremely natural look.  All in all a really good work.

I will start with the note that I like this tank. I love the way the rocks blend with the background, the absence of any technical equipment in the main tank and the fact that it is understocked. Of course, when the inhabitants (mainly the P. milomo) reach adulthood, the picture will change but still, the tank size is excellent for this fish population. The furniture around the tank definitely adds to it and gives it a more luxurious appearance. The fish seem to enjoy it a lot and - despite the presence of those two air columns - the overall look is natural. A bit of extra aeration has never hurt any fish as far as I know and you can always turn it off if you want so this is just a detail in my evaluation. In some of the pictures (the one with the catfish and the one showing the whole tank) I get the impression that Trish has used coral sand or else, the light is a bit too strong for this type of tank. I think that using a darker sand color would improve this tank a lot - alternatively she can reduce the lamps to 3. After reading the introduction she made about her tank, I would like to add that in the end, effort and time spent on a tank pay off.

Overall rating by MCH :  74/100

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