Weald's new cichlid display aquarium (Part 2)
Blog post written by Andy | 06 September 2012 | Category: In the shop
It has taken me a little longer than I thought to put up the second post about the new show tank but it's because we have been really busy so I can only apologise!
In my last post I explained all of the equipment I was using and the general set up, now comes the fun bit... the water and fish.
Once the tank was filled I used Aquasafe to dechlorinate the water (you should all be familiar with this I hope!) and a double dose of Bacterlife to speed up the maturation process of the filter. As the fish I was going to be putting in were a touch on the big side, it was very important to "seed" the filter as best as possible to try and avoid any water quality issues. I will be adding Bacterlife on a regular basis throughout the early stages of the set up to maintain good water quality. Finally it was a matter of waiting 24 hours to make sure everything was working and the water was at the correct temperature.
So why Cichlids?
We wanted a set up with real impact as you walk into the shop with big fish and lots of colour. As I keep these fish at home the choice was easy. These fish are known as African Rift Cichlids, more specifically from Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi is the southernmost lake in the African lake system and the eighth largest in the world. It is found between Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania and resembles more of an inland sea than a lake. It is also believed to be the home of more types of fish than any other freshwater lake in the world with a reported 1000 types of cichlid! The Lake is around 560km long and 75km wide at the widest points. This gives a rough surface area of 30,000 square kilometers! It has a variety of environments within it, the rocky shoreline, the sandy beds and the large expanses of open water. These environments are home to very different types of fish with different behaviours and requirements so it's important to think about which types of fish you will be keeping. Some of these fish would never come into contact with each other in the wild so it is not usually advisable to mix them unless you have a large aquarium.
These fish are generally split into 2 groups by hobbyists, Mbuna and Peacocks. Mbuna means rock dweller and these fish are found along the very clear waters of the shore. There are lots of rocks and caves where these fish make and defend territories for spawning. They are often found grazing on the rocks feeding on the algae and microscopic creatures within. These fish are aggressive so it's important to provide lots of holes and caves for weaker fish to retreat to. One way to limit aggression is to almost over stock an aquarium so the aggression is diluted but this does need very good filtration so external filters are almost essential. Having a large aquarium so they can all find a territory will also help, so as I always say the bigger the better!
Peacocks are usually found in the more open waters of the lake and unless in a big tank do not do well against the more aggressive Mbuna. They need an open aquarium with a sand base and plenty of swimming space. The colours of some of these fish are amazing as you will see in our show tank.
I have mostly stocked the tank with Mbuna and provided a few caves for smaller fish to hide in. I have used high output T5 lights to replicate the bright sunlight penetrating the clear waters of the lake.
Common names of fish in our display tank include Red Zebras, Blue Dolphins, Marmalade/Blotched Zebras, Yellow 'Labs', Blue Zebras, Red Peacocks and Bumblebee Cichlids. Both the grazers and predatory fish are being fed on a variety of dedicated cichlid pellets containing both vegetable matter and crustaceans.
The fish I just mentioned are only a few of what we have on show, so please come and have a look and tell me what you think. I hope you like it! I love these kind of fish with their fascinating behaviour and amazing colours. I really could talk about them for hours... but I won't!
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