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My 3000L non-Mbuna tank



The 3000L from above, as my photo camera can't capture the whole tank at once when I'm standing right in front of it.

With a view of giving my Malawi Haps the room they need to thrive and show more natural behavior, I built a 3000L (800G) show tank. An article of how I built this plywood monster is also online. But regrettably (or not?) it will be the biggest tank in my house for only one year, as an even larger 4000L (1060G) will be built in my new kitchen. The main purpose of building this 3000L aquarium, is to experiment with some pond techniques and learn about water dynamics. This will ensure that the future 4000L aquarium will be running smoothly from day one.


If my Aristochromis christyi could speak: "Oooooh darling, look what a room!!!!!! 3000L!! Lovely!!!!!"

With a floor space of 2.9m² or 31 square feet it's not easy to create a natural look with normal rocks. Big and hefty rocks have to be used to mimic the habitats of Lake Malawi. The largest stones that I used weigh up to 80Kg/176pound and they have to be handled with uttermost care, both for not damaging your back and also the tank. As they are square and can be bought in different sizes, concrete chimney elements can be used to build large caves. They're ideal for this job and can be carefully hidden behind the rocks. There they also can serve as support to stack rocks higher up to the water surface. As substrate I used the one and only material: sand! About 200Kg of ordinary construction sand is carefully washed to prevent cloudiness. 


Rocks!!! BTW try to find the Nimbochromis livingstonii


The cichlids can hide in the large rock section and roam around on a wide sand area.

How did the fish feel about this increased space? When I moved my cichlids from my old 1000L to this one it took about a week for them to feel at home as it was a complete new setup of rocks and sand. Now all cichlids feel at home and at least 5 of them defend a territory. 2 of 5 Copadichromis azureus "Nkhomo reef" have a nest under a rock. A Fossorochromis rostratus has a nest on the right side of the tank near the window. The Protomelas spilonotus "Tanzania" keeps his territory behind and above a large rock. Coincidence or not, but a month after they got into their new home, my Aristochromis christyi and Placidochromis phenochilus "Tanzania" also bred for the first time. All in all it makes me consider of keeping only smaller species in the future. My observations show that they (Copadichromis, Aulonocara, Otopharynx) benefit best from the extra room. The larger species like Fossorochromis rostratus only start to feel at home in this tank, and they should be kept in tank of at least 15000L to 30000L to be done justice. Remember that they have 2.5m nests in the Lake! 


Like all other inhabitants, the Copadichromis azureus feels quite happy in his new tank. Look how he uses the sand  to make a nest.


The 2 males with full dominant colors and separate territories!!! The piles of sand each mark the left and right edges of both nests.


The peaceful Placidochromis phenochilus "Tanzania" in the new aquarium.

This tank is thoroughly filtered with a sump and trickle filter. The sump is fed by a PVC siphon which is 75mm in diameter and that starts in the left corner near the bottom. This is the most efficient way to remove the debris as it floats near the bottom. After passing the first settle compartment, the water flows through a mechanical/biological filter to end up in the heating/pump chamber. A 5000L/h pump pushes the water through a 32mm pond hose that feeds a spray bar in the trickle filter. The water returns through a 75mm PVC drain back into the right side of the tank.


The sump: notice the different water level in the pump and filter compartment.


The 75mm siphon brings the water of the tank into the sump. You can see the current in the sponge filter compartment.


The trickle filter.


The DIY spray bar in the trickle filter. You can see the quantity of the holes needed to let the 5000L/h pass.


One of the 2 splash protected fluorescent lamps that are placed right above the water surface.

Is this project finished? Not yet! I'm planning to grow plants in the trickle filter, as they consume the excess in nitrogen elements that are bad for the cichlids. I'm also going to install HQL lamps for a better lightning and also for an increased growth of the plants that I mentioned above. This hobby just never ends...
   

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