Hobbyist Gallery - Jochem Tuin

JOCHEM TUIN, Netherlands, e-mail:

I 've started only last year with keeping fishes and the normal fishes bored me very quickly. I was looking for some interesting fishes to keep and my wife asked me to only buy beautiful fishes or else I would be exiled to the attic. A friend of mine mentioned African Cichlids and I did some research and liked it from the start. First I did some tests in a 130 liter tank and then bought the 300 liter tank. I chose the Malawi Lake Cichlids because I think they are a little bit easier to keep than the Tanganyika cichlids. In the tank I have 3 Maylandia lombardoi, 2 male and 1 female. I started with what I thought to be 2 females so I bought a male but one of the females was very aggressive toward the male and started to show yellow colors so it's probably also a male. Four Melanochromis johannii, 1 male 3 females and 5 Aulonocara "Rubin Red" not sexed yet because they are fry. My two Botia macracantha are a special case (yes i know that they do not come from Lake Malawi) since they were my first fish and I am very fond of them. They can give a good fight against the cichlids so they are staying. The 2 Siamese algae-eaters are planned to be sold to who-ever comes first, they were also one of my fist fishes and lived in the 130 liter tank together with the clown loaches.

Now some technical data: The tank is filtered by two Eheim 2026 Professional filters and heated by one 150 Watt heater. pH is around 7,5 and KH=8, it's just tap water with a water conditioner to bind the heavy metals and other chemicals who are dangerous to fish. Temperature is 26 degrees Celsius. The background is from Hornbach and the stones from the local garden centre. The bottom is covered with (aquarium) sand. I started with two 38 Watt fluorescent tubes from Dennerle African Lake but only one was more than enough due to the light colored substrate I 've used in this tank. The light is on for 14 hours per day (from 8:00 am till 10:00 pm). I feed my cichlids little frozen shrimp and green and red cichlid pallets, alternating each day. Plants used are Anubia afzelii and Microsorium pteropus (Java fern). I change every week 25% percent of the water volume.


MCH Verdict
The technical side of this tank looks very good to me. There is no equipment visible or it's well hidden behind the very impressive background. Although they could be a bit larger in number to form a larger "reef", the rocks blend in nicely. It's good to see that sand is used, which is the only correct bottom material in my opinion. Lighting seems to be adequate, but with a relatively shallow tank like this one there is of course little room for experimenting with the positioning of the fluorescent tube. The plants add a nice contrast, but they don't really belong to an African cichlid tank in my opinion. Of course I know that they originate from the previous tank, together with the other non-cichlid fish, so they're at least not present on purpose. Being attached to them is a good sign of devoted hobbyist after all. Of course time will tell, but I have some concerns about the Aulonocara, as Maylandia lombardoi is not exactly known as Mr. nice-guy! Melanochromis johanni will also defend his territory very fiercely. All in all a very nice tank and definitely much better than my first African cichlid tank!
A good job, above all ... I'm NOT that fussy about "alien" fishes (Crossocheilous siamensis and Botia macracantha) even though I do not like the former ... (this is a matter of personal likes and dislikes of course!). This tank shows an excellent solution both for the background and a very effective "hiding technique" for the technical stuff. In my humble opinion, a REAL minus point is the mixing of shy "haps" like the Aulonocara “Rubin red” and bully Mbuna's (like both the Melanochromis johanni and the Maylandia lombardoi). This could lead to some serious problems in the future (e.g. attempts to breed the Aulonocara). Furthermore, I would either reduce the light or, else, choose a less bright / reflective bottom material and / or rocks. I would like to point out that, in my opinion, there is room for more fishes ... The owner should be very careful when choosing new tankmates. Size and frequency of water changes are OK to me.
I must confess I like this tank. I mean it is the kind of tank that I would like to have in my living room. The presence of the Crossocheilous siamensis is a nuisance but we have to omit them from the overall picture as they are going to be removed. As for the Botias, well, their presence won't harm anybody. As far as the biotope is concerned, the Botia macracantha are equally aliens to a Malawi tank as a Synodontis decorus for example. The background is a real gem and the technical equipment is well hidden. I like the addition of the Microsorum pteropus but I would prefer the Anubia to be attached on the rocks and not on the substrate. Apart from the fact they look (and are) completely unnatural, they will probably be covered with algae after a while. Removing them to a shaded place would benefit the whole setup. This setup offers the additional advantage that if more species are added he can simply add more rocks. A minor negative is the presence of the Aulonocara "rubin red" not because it is the result of selective breeding (and therefore not a hybrid) but because of the presence of the Maylandia lombardoi and the Melanochromis johanni both of which are quite aggressive. However, the coloration of the Aulonocara is radically different from that of the mbuna (both sexes) so this could work in the end. I like the lighting and I agree that anything more than one fluorescent tube would be too much because of the large reflective area of the sand. In conclusion, after the (already decided) removal of the C.siamensis, a really attractive tank.
Overall rating by MCH :  79/100

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