A “TRIPLE TANK”
by Francesco Zezza
You may or may not belong to those who are lucky enough to afford (not only from the “financial” point of view!) a fish room, either inside (see George) or outside the house you live in, or may be not. Regardless of the fish you keep (and possibly breed) you need a quarantine tank (at least one!) and if you run multiple tanks (better yet targeting different environments), possibly breed cichlids and want to go a “step beyond” then may be, just may be, one (quarantine/service tank) is NOT enough ... This is what many hobbyists, me included, have found out (usually, the hard way).
On the other hand if you belong to those who simply can't afford to have a fish room then I will dare to propose a solution which I have used myself in an effort to work around this problem and has worked very well for me for many years now. This I call the “Triple Tank” (actually three tanks on two, separate, levels) arranged like this:
· “Upper Level” one tank (125 liters - gross capacity).
· “Lower Level” one tank (140 liters - gross capacity, splitted into two – equal – “sub units”).
All tank(s) have independent technical equipment, arranged like this (with the exception of the lights in the lower unit which are shared by both tanks):
· UPPER TANK: two (18 watt each) lamps, single heater (100 watt), internal “triple stage” biological filter, driven by a 600 lt/hr pump.
· LOWER TANK: one (shared, 18 watts) lamp, heaters (75 watt each); internal Eheim filters (one on each side, models 2008 and 2010 respectively).
There is no need to report on the aquascape in detail, since it may vary according to the fish hosted and/or their needs at any given moment. As an example the tanks are (at the moment I write these lines) arranged like this:
· UPPER TANK: sand / gravel / rocks, one bogwood, some Anubias (barteri) / Microsorium / Riccia fluitans. It is the home of a breeding colony of Haplochromis sp. Fire “Uganda”.
· LOWER TANK (left unit): gravel, a large bogwood, many plants. It is the home of a (wild caught) large Pterophyllum sp. “Peru” male, removed from the 500 lt tanks because of territorial matters.
· LOWER TANK (right unit): gravel / bogwood / rock, few plants. It is the home to a large group of fry of the “Mpibi” cichlids of the upper tank. (Mpibi is the name Ole Seehausen uses when referring to Lake Victoria Rock Cichlids) plus a (loner, old) Ancistrus sp.
All set-ups are kept, on purpose, as simple as possible (thin layer of sand, not that much of aquascaping, all equipment within immediate reach and each one of them can be radically reshaped in a quarter of an hour (some details will be described, using pics, later on). All in all it will not replace a fish room but it is definitely more then having a simple “quarantine tank”. Thus, I regard it to be a "second best" solution which will allow you some room (almost 250 liters) for “unconventional” purposes and, on the other hand, a simple, not too large “working area”. Indeed, the space required to set up something like that is less than one square meter. As a final remark, I would like to mention that this “Tower” has been placed in a bathroom which was initially a shower room (which means accessible water supply AND quick removal of waste water). This latter point proved to be of extreme importance whenever recursive (even on a daily basis!) water changes were needed. A large drawer – which will allow you to keep everything under control – is located under the lower tank:
AN OVERALL VIEW.
Forgive me for those images which were taken from a quite close distance, which is due to the fact that the room which houses the “Triple Tank” is too small while my digital camera doesn’t allow me to use wide angle lenses. Sorry!
THE UPPER TANK (125 lt, image below).
THE LOWER TANK (140 lt spitted into two – separate – sub units. Again image below).
In the following picture you can see in detail the contents and the aquascape of one of these tanks (upper one).
In this tank, the plants grow (some algae too, to my regret …) and the fish thrive. Some things you can see in this photo :
1) a carrying female (close to the lower Anubia plant),
2) the dominat male (almost hidden by a large female),
3) the second male (at the left)
NOT that bad for a “service tank”, isn't it?
To finish this quick report here are a few more pictures (describing some technical details):
This is the left “half tank” of the lower unit where you can see the sliding door, a bit too small, to speak frankly. On the opposite side (back) there’s an “empty space” to allow the placement of additional technical equipment, while the side panels are made of styrofoam).
The “basic” equipment in use (lower tank): a small Eheim filter (with adjustable water flow and a “snorkel” to increase air supply to the tank if needed) and the heater, nothing exotic but you can add whatever you may need … easily.
Small “recycled” plastic cans allow me to have quick access to a lot of small items at any time. Among them you can see a used tooth brush which I use to clear water intake hoses; sponges; algae-remover and more. They are hooked on the (golden) pipe of the former shower which is now used to add water into the tanks.
A large – under the whole “building” – wheel mounted drawer hostsa lot of other “tricky gadgets”. Shown in the picture are fish breeding nests, pipes and more (on the right side – but not shown – I keep part of the R.O. water supply which I use to water/spray the carnivorous plants on a daily basis.
The “Triple Tank” has been (almost completely) built from spare parts and old equipment which were already in my home. For instance, the upper 125 lt tank is the very first “cichlid dedicated tank” I got, back in 1989. Only a few technical stuff (such as filters and one heater) were bought brand new.
In conclusion, such a “working” tank is quite cheap to build and maintain in top notch condition and ABOVE ALL will allow you to easily handle a lot of different situations you may run into while keeping fishes. Just imagine that you can use one tank as a hospital tank, another one as a fry raising tank and the last one as a quarantine tank for a new fish you just bought, all uses available to you at the same time. Not bad isn’t it ?