How to Setting up a Cichlid Fish Tank?
Fish tank ownership is a widely popular hobby all over the world, and many people enjoy a vast assortment of community, and non-community fish and aquatic life.
Owning a cichlid fish tank can be entertaining, and rewarding, if proper care is taken to assure the quality of life of the fish, and if you have the right information needed to create a real to underwater life ecosystem in your home. Depending on the type of fish tank you choose to own, the level of maintenance fluctuates. Generally, freshwater fish tanks are much easier to maintain and are the perfect type of fish tanks for apartment living, and for busy people who prefer the easy and convenient weekly or even monthly cleaning regimens.
The alternative to freshwater, on the other hand, is the saltwater fish tank, also known as a Marine fish tank, or a Reef fish tank. Saltwater fish tanks are stunning, with an uncountable variety of living rock, coral, and sand available in conjunction with the thousands of species of aquatic livestock you can incorporate with your tank. However, caring for a saltwater fish tank can be tedious, and to be honest, kind of a pain in the neck.
Daily cleaning and PH testing are required to ensure that the living conditions are entirely right for the ecosystem to sustain itself; this can take anywhere from ten minutes, to a full hour per day. Though for some, this minor inconvenience is worth the fantastic conversation piece their reef tank becomes, and in this case, the saltwater fish tank is an excellent choice.
However, the following article is going highlight information about freshwater fish tank ownership, maintenance, and everything in between, as well as give you unique, and informative tips on how to start your very own aggressive aquatic community fish tank.
Finding the right tank is the first step in building up your underwater world, and it is best to keep in mind that not only will this tank serve as a home for your aquatic life, but it will also be an accentuation of your living space. Choosing something that matches your current decor is essential, so as not to make the fish tank stand out too much.
Another choice you will need to make is whether or not to go with a standard glass fish tank, or a more recently popular acrylic style. Many people prefer acrylic tubs, as opposed to the more massive, glassfish tanks. However, there are downsides to choosing the lighter, more cost-friendly container. When acrylic gets scuffed or scraped, it permanently disfigures the surface of the container, therefore making it impossible to see into the fish tank.
This makes it more of an eyesore than a decorative piece of living nature and isn’t repairable in most cases. However, acrylic is considerably lighter than glass, and when properly cared for, can provide a crystal clear, almost high definition view of your underwater environment. Glass fish tanks have been used for decades by fish tank hobbyists across the globe, and glass is still favored by die-hard fish tank enthusiasts, even today.
A standard 3/4 inch thick glass pane fish tank will be sturdy, harder to scuff and scrape, and on a more negative note, very heavy depending on the size you choose, and will usually require more than one person to move this fish tank from location to location. Aside from which type of material you want your fish tank to be constructed of, you need to decide on the shape or theme of the fish tank you desire.
Something amazing that acrylic tanks offer, that most glass tanks cannot, is the ability to conform to unorthodox shapes and looks. From completely living coffee tables to asymmetrical corner tank designs, there is a wide range of options available to the hobbyist.
Materials needed to construct your aquatic environment can be expensive, even at so-called discount specialty outlets, so being thrifty and smart is a huge plus when gathering the things you need for your fish tank. As an example, the remainder of this article is going to highlight and inform on how to create, stock, and maintain a healthy and thriving ecosystem of Cichlid fish, as well as information on this aggressive, and fascinating species.
1. 100-gallon Acrylic Fish Tank.
Some hobbyists opt for purchasing brand new, or even custom built tanks for their needs, but there are a lot of deals out there if one is willing to do a little searching. There are a lot of p2p marketplaces on the internet, making it easy to find gently used items in your local city for close to nothing. However, don’t expect to get a one hundred gallon acrylic tank for free. These tanks usually cost about $700.00
2. Filtration System.
For a hundred-gallon tank, one could ordinarily use a canister system equipped to handle large containers. Such as the Cascade 1000 Canister Filter. These types of filters are easy to use and powerful enough to keep a large fish tank clean and bright. However, popular opinion is that the use of two top-fed filtration apparatuses in conjunction with an under gravel system is the best approach at keeping your fish tank a healthy environment for aquatic life.
A good recommendation is to use two fifty-gallon top feeding filters and place one on either side of the fish tank, and on the floor of the container, before you add your gravel, use an under gravel filtration system. It is preferred to use the methods with the clear tubing, to not take away from the beauty of the fish tank. You can find these items in most pet stores and specialty fish tank shops.
3. Fish Tank Heaters.
It is highly recommended that you purchase two fish tank heaters for your 100-gallon fish tank. One heater should be about 250 watts, which is ordinarily used for 80-gallon tanks. The other heater should be much smaller, like 75 watts, which is used generally for twenty-gallon fish tanks. Much like the top-fed filters in the previous step, each heating element should be placed on opposite sides of the container, near the filtration sources.
This will create a perfect underwater climate for Cichlid fish, which are the types of fish that will be outlined later on. Ideally, one side of the habitat should be about 76 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and the other hand should be about 65-68 degrees, providing both a warm zone and a colder area for finicky Cichlids fish.
4. Aeration and Pumps.
Incorporating an aeration system with your large fish tank is both beneficial to the health of the aquatic life in your tank but also serves as a beautiful way to add a little excitement and motion to your fish tank’s atmosphere.
There are a variety of ways to add bubblers to your aquatic habitat, depending on the kind of fish you are housing. With Cichlid fish being aggressive, burrowing types of fish, it wouldn’t be a good idea to use under-gravel aeration. Instead, use bubble walls that use suction cups to attach themselves to the walls of the fish tank.
You can find an assortment of aeration pumps at pet stores and aquatic stores ranging from reasonably priced single tube aerators to elaborate multi-directional systems. For a Cichlid fish tank, you don’t want too many bubbles, so a single bubble wall ornament with a single tube aerator would suffice. Just attach it to the back wall of the fish tank.
5. Tank Basics.
For a 100-gallon fish tank, you will need about thirty pounds of fish tank gravel, in the color and consistency of your choice. Sand is an excellent option, but not a good idea if you are using an under gravel filtration system.
Many Cichlid fish species come from places such as the Amazon River and other similar regions and prefer neutral colored river rock for an underwater floor. Their environment should feature a variety of terrains, in the cooler side of the tank, make sure to place an adequate amount of vegetation, both live and artificial, as well as some cave-like formations as Cichlid fish like to hide sometimes.
On the warmer side of the tank, pile the gravel bedding a bit higher than the rest of the tank, making a sort of hill against the walls of the tank. This is so the fish can burrow and nest comfortably while basking in the warmer waters on that side of the fish tank. Tank decor should be an assortment of neutral-colored items, and nothing too bright in color, as it will aggravate the Cichlid fish in the tank.
Some shiny items are good, and serve as amusing playthings for the fish, but should never be small enough for the fish to ingest. Large rocks and dense vegetation is recommended for Cichlid fish tanks, but keep in mind that these burrowing fish will dig up plants quite often.
The most important, and exciting part of setting up your fish tank is stocking it with a variety of aquatic life. There are millions of species of freshwater fish, and other freshwater creatures, to choose from, so the possibilities are endless. However, as an example, this article is about freshwater Cichlid fish.
Belonging to the Cichlidae family of fish, there at least two thousand scientifically named species of this family of fish, ranging from rare and endangered to numerous and plentiful. Sizes of Cichlid fish vary immensely from species to species, ranging from as tiny as a millimeter in length, to the staggering size of the Boulengerochromis, microlepis, which is the largest known Cichlid fish, growing to a massive size of up to four feet in length and about twenty-five pounds, and is indigenous to the Lake Tanganyika area of Asia.
In addition to the thousands of natural species of Cichlid fish, there is also a variety of hybrid, and newly created Cichlid fish, such as the Blood Parrot Cichlid fish, and the Jellybean Convict Cichlid fish. Opinions vary regarding hybrid fish, so it is up to you to form your own.
Starting an aggressive community tank is an exciting hobby when you understand the kind of fish you are putting together. A common Cichlid that most fish tank lovers appreciate is the Astronotus ocellatus or commonly called Oscar fish. These intelligent and seemingly affectionate fish make a great starting fish for your aggressive community. However, when purchasing a baby Oscar fish, keep in mind that even though the fish you are buying is only about two inches long, it will grow to be as large as a foot long and even bigger in record situations.
Some hobbyists argue that you shouldn’t introduce a juvenile Oscar to a large tank. Instead, the common opinion is that you should start them out in something small and gradually introduce them to larger environments. However, few people follow these steps properly and sadly forget about their Oscar, leaving it in too small a habitat detrimentally to its health.
If the conditions are satisfactory, introducing a juvenile Oscar to a large tank is just fine, as long as any of its tank-mates are the same size and age range as itself, with the only exception being that you will want a larger plecostomus fish (i.e., algae eater) than the rest of the fish in the tank. The reason for this is because Cichlid fish are pretty darn mean, and will attack and kill algae eaters almost one hundred percent of the time, so getting a larger one will help in preventing this. Plecostomuses are not aggressive, and will not harm any of the life in your tank.
Tankmates for your Astronotus ocellatus fish can vary in species, as long as they aren’t too docile as Oscar fish can get extremely territorial. A good mate, if introduced at a very young age, is the Osteoglossum bicirrhosum, or, more commonly, the Silver Arowana fish. Often referred to as “Dragon Fish,” Arowanas are an attractive and shiny fish, that is originally from the Amazon River basin, and other still waters throughout Guyana and various regions of South America. Its temperament is very aggressive, and it can grow as large as two feet in length.
However, even in its large size, if introduced to tank mates at the juvenile stage in life, it will remain docile. Arowanas typically eat the same kinds of food as the Oscar fish, with a diet consisting of blackworms, flake food, and crustaceans. However, this fish has been known to attack and ingest birds and mammals. In a large 100-gallon fish tank, you could get away with housing two adult Oscar fish and one Silver Arowana fish, with an assortment of smaller aquatic life, such as snails, crabs, and even eels and smaller species of Cichlid fish.
To add some color and flair to your fish tank, you can opt for incorporating two differing species of Oscar, such as the extremely beautiful and elegant Veil Tail Oscar, which has long flowing fins resembling that of an Angelfish, and comes in bubblegum pink as well as a velvety dark chocolate color that is absolutely awe-inspiring. You can also incorporate smaller, and faster-moving varieties of Cichlid fish, like the Red Jewel Cichlid fish (Hemichromis), and the Green Terror Cichlid fish (Aequidens rivulatus).
Maintaining your large fish tank can be a time-consuming chore, especially when it is housing a variety of large, aggressive, and carnivorous fish. Some people have no problem taking the two to three hours a week for cleaning and adding fresh water to the habitat, but a lot of hobbyists are also very busy people with demanding schedules that make it almost impossible to dedicate that kind of time to clean a fish tank.
That is why you can use natural tank cleaners as an option. Natural tank cleaners like crustaceans, snails, and algae eaters require no food, other than the waste of the other tank dwellers and the algae that grow on the walls of the tank, as well as whatever settles to the gravel on the tank’s floor. These natural maids of the underwater world are also small enough in size that you can incorporate them in with the tank’s decor, and aquatic life theme if you have one, and they will not take up the vital space needed for larger fish in the habitat.
For a 100 gallon tank, it is recommended that you purchase around seven or eight freshwater aquatic snails in assorted sizes. However, do not try to order aquatic snails via mail order catalog, or via the INTERNET, as it is illegal to do so, for hobbyists and pet dealers, due to the growing aquatic snail infestation in the Southeastern United States. Freshwater snails are considered an ecological threat to most of the U.S., but you can acquire them in most aquatic hobby shops, legally.
In conjunction with the use of freshwater aquatic snails, Crayfish make an excellent addition to an aggressive community tank. However, Crawdads can be territorial and aggressive to anything that enters their chosen domain areas. This can result in maimed and mutilated tank mates. The only way to effectively introduce crayfish to a fish tank is when the fish are much larger, and more aggressive than the crawdad, even though it is not a guarantee that there won’t be at least one or two mutilations during the transition time.
The Snowflake Moray eel (Echidna nebulosa) is a wonderful alternative to the crawdad because it is only aggressive when it is cornered. There is a debate among hobbyists about the Snowflake Moray eel’s ability to live in freshwater because ordinarily, the Moray is a saltwater animal.
The fact is, the Snowflake Moray is not an actual Moray, but a cousin of the saltwater eel. The Snowflake Moray is what is called a Brackish fish, meaning it thrives well in inland ocean lakes and other bodies of water that have a small amount of saltwater. They can adapt to live in a freshwater tank if conditions are kept at a satisfactory level.
Once you have set up your large fish tank, you want to wait at least forty-eight hours before stocking it with aquatic life. The reason for this is to allow the water to settle and to allow the filtration system to run an ample amount of water through its filters to clean it of any sediments or impurities. You will also want to treat the water with needed chemicals and conditioners, that can be purchased at any pet and aquatic store.
The usual chemicals and treatments needed are Ich treatment, which is a dark blue liquid that resembles food dye. It’s used for treating the disease Ich but works well as a preventative measure when a few drops are added to the tank every time freshwater is added. You will also need tap water conditioner, and PH balance liquid, with the need PH testing strips, to assure the best quality of life in your tank.
Once you have waited the needed time for the water to settle, and for the chemicals to clean out toxic impurities, it is time to add your fish. You mustn’t just dump the fish, and snails in all at once, as the change of water temperatures, and general climate can put the fish into shock and might even kill them.
The proper thing to do is to keep the fish in the water-filled bags that you purchased them in, and simply place the bag with the fish in it, in the fish tank, allowing the temperatures of the water in the bag, reach the same as the tank. This is also a good way to introduce tank mates without the risk of fighting.
Your new fish tank is now active and alive with a vivid display of aquatic flora and fauna, that will remain a conversation piece for years to come. Eventually, you may even find that the fish you have paired together in the tank may even mate, producing fry (i.e., baby fish). When this occurs, not only will it be a delightful display of a miniature ecosystem in action, but you will also be able to raise the fry until they are mature enough to transport to most local pet and aquatic shops, which in turn, will purchase them or exchange them for store credit.
Caring for a fish fry is easy, and if it isn’t for profit, you don’t need to interfere with the natural process of life within the fish tank until it’s time to fish the babies out to move to another location. However, many hobbyists discover a knack for fish hatching, and opt for special items such as fry nets, which act as barriers of protection for the fish fry from the outer parts of the tank-like other hungry adult fish, and filter suction.
For hobbyists with families, having a large fish tank is entertaining on several levels. Children are often fascinated by watching the actions of aquatic life and are often in awe by the colorful fish and plant life. Aggressive fish like Cichlids are particularly entertaining because of their unique personalities. Fish like the Oscar (Astronotus ocellatus) almost appear to develop bonds with their caretakers, and even come up to the surface, allowing their owners to sneak a touch or two.
They can even be trained to eat from your fingertips, and will even appear to get excited by wagging their bodies when an owner comes into the room they are in. The wonders of owning a fish tank are limitless, and can only be experienced by owning one yourself.
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