Tank Size – Fluval Roma 240 (240 litres) 4 foot
Fish Kept – Variety of African Cichlids form lake Malawi
Filtration – 2x Fluval 405 filters
Lighting – Standard T8 Fluval Roma tank lighting
Heating – 2x 300w heaters (one as a back up in case one of them fails)
Rocks – Around 60kg ocean rock
Plants/Corals – None
Substrate – Coral sand
Background – No background – ocean rocks used to make up the background
Other – Although a bit overstocked at the time, and numbers now reduced. This tank was home to my Malawi cichlids for some time.
After spending years working on building aquariums and aquascapes I have learned that the key to success is to plan what you are going to do before taking the plunge and opening the wallet. So when I moved the Tropheus Ikola from their bringing on home in to their new home I was left with an empty 240L Fluval Roma Aquarium.
This left me with a perfect opportunity to attempt another rift valley aquarium based on fish from lake Malawi. I have always admired cichlids from lake Malawi which I think is mainly down to their colour and playful nature. They are always swimming around and exhibit interesting activity which makes observing a treat. I have kept Malawi in the past to the point of filling a 750 litre tank with them however over time became slightly more conscious of the species I was keeping, their compatibility and what else was available. I ended up with over 100 Malawi cichlids in a 7 foot tank, a mixture of males and females as well as a variety of species however I realised there were many more out there and with a fascination with Tropheus cichlids the Malawi’s were rehomed.
After thinking about the reason for rehoming the Malawi’s being mainly down to thinking I had the wrong species and with the extra knowledge I had gained over the years I thought it was about time and opportune to use this spare 240 litre tank to have a go at Malawi’s again. The aim of this tank is colour – to give the wow factor.
Without trying to tell you how to suck eggs or anything, there are 3 basic types of Malawi cichlid; Mbuna, Aulonocara and Haps. The main differences are explained in this article but as a summary Mbuna are rock grazers and primarily vegetarian whereas Aulonocara and Haps are more open water Cichlids and although they will graze on rocks, they are classed as predatory cichlids which must have fish in their diet. It was decided to gain the wow factor we wanted to concentrate on Aulonocara and Hap cichlids. Whilst a 240 litre tank isn’t ideal for the potential size of Haps, these can be moved to a larger aquarium as they get bigger.
Now the tank and fish had been decided upon, the equipment would be next, always like to be safe with this side of things and use 2 of everything if possible and over do things rather than leave things on the edge, this results in a much more stable environment for the fish to live in too. So we would use 2 filters, 2 heaters and ensure this is overkill for the size of aquarium.
One of the key parts of keeping any tropical fish is the filtration you use and although Malawi Cichlids are very hardy and can generally stand a range of water parameters, it is always best to give them the best environment possible. Malawi Cichlids also tend to be aggressive and although the Aulonocara we plan on keeping in this tank are quite timid, it is still advisable to overstock them so over filtration is an absolute must.
The tank that we are using is a Fluval Roma 240 which is 240 litres. We wanted to be sure that we are as safe as possible so running 2 filters is of great importance and each filter must be more than capable of filtering our tank on it’s own, just in case one of them failed. It was decided upon to use the Fluval 405 filters as these are rated for aquariums up to 400 litres so with 2 of these we are hitting 800 litres which is over 3 times the size of our aquarium and should one fail, we are still over filtering the tank.
The Fluval 405 filters come with 4 media baskets as well as the foam inserts. To cover off all required filtration we wanted to use the appropriate media and have found in the past that the media which offers the largest surface area (to enable the most growth of beneficial bacteria) is the Micromec by JBL. So we will fill all 4 baskets in both filters with this media and allow any larger waste to be picked up by the foams.
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