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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Here is one of my favorite tanks. It's very low maintenance. I don't add any co2, ferts, or excel to this tank at all. I run 96 watts 50/50 actinic/10,000k.

Lake Tanganyika has some awesome fish that make for an interesting community in smaller tanks. There are lots of cool shell dwellers that don't need much space and live their entire lives in/around the shells. They live in the shells, raise babies in the shells, bury the shells, and move the shells. Their aggression level is about the same as an amazon dwarf cichlid... and in some cases less.

I have 5 eels(2 plagiostoma and 3 ellipsifers). They stay under 12" and are very intelligent.

I've obviously added some very out of place fish. Most of the inhabitants stay at the bottom and i really wanted something that would inhabit the top of the tank as well. I didn't want these guys to be flashy as they are nothing more than accessories.

Inhabitants
lamprologus speciosus
lamprologussimilis
mastacembelus ellipsifer
mastacemelus plagiostoma
altolamprologus compressiceps "sumbu"
synodontis petricola
ancistrus species lemondrop
ancistrus albino blue eyed
emerald eye killies
girardinus metallicus

This was the tank a few months ago.



This is the jungle that it looked like earlier this evening



and here is tonight's rescape... just finished it so it's still cloudy... I'll take some more pictures when it's clear.


Also... i have a really cool ancistrus species... it's albino but with blue eyes... I couldn't get a good pic. Apparently blue eyed ancistrus occur in nature.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
For those wondering why there are shells in the tank... the cichlids are shell dwellers. In their natural habitat there are tons of empty shells littering the lake. They hide, sleep, breed, and defend their shells. They rearrange the shell they chose by excavating around it and they bury other shells they might want to use later. Here are a couple of pictures of the similis in their shells.



 

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Discussion Starter #5
So... a lot clearer now... there's still a lot of detritus floating around. I will have to unclog the intake this evening.



on an amazing note....fishbguy1 had me thinking about the open water again. I looked up the killies again and they get a little bigger than i want. I looked up the Cyprichromis genus and found one that has been known to stay under 4" in a smaller tank... and grows fairly slowly... Cyprichromis leptosoma. I picked out two females and a male today... Needless to say the killies and the livebearers have been moved. One of the females was obviously holding fry (they are mouthbrooders). By the time I'd gotten home she had 3 babies... one I couldn't save as she bit him in half in an attempt to get him back in her mouth.

Here are the two young'ns





Here is the best picture I could get of the petricola... they never stop moving!



The similis claimed the front of the tank. The other shell dwellers have the back of the bus.




Here are some marginally better pictures of the blue eyed ancistrus

 

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Lovely simple tank.

Is that wood from outdoors? I ask for I am thinking of putting some wood from outdoors in my tank. Been told it needs a protective coat of something like varnish put on it, which I don't want to do. Otherwise wood will rot in the tank.

What is the white rock?
 

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Thanks TFM... yes it's a 30 gallon cube. The ph is 9.1
Are you certain that the Ph is not to high for the fish?

Read that using RO water and adding peat to filter lowes ph safely.
 

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The pH may be kind of high for the Ancistrus. Nice tank though.

Dawntwister: Do not coat any bogwood with varnish before using it in a tank. Anything that is not appropriate for a tank should not be used.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
T
Lovely simple tank.

Is that wood from outdoors? I ask for I am thinking of putting some wood from outdoors in my tank. Been told it needs a protective coat of something like varnish put on it, which I don't want to do. Otherwise wood will rot in the tank.

What is the white rock?
Thanks dawntwister.
The wood is Manzanita driftwood... bought from badcopnofish. it's held up very well. The rock is Texas holey rock... it's a heavy weight, limestone based rock. It's perfect for African cichlid tanks as it is full of hidey holes, and it naturally buffers the water.

Are you certain that the Ph is not to high for the fish?

Read that using RO water and adding peat to filter lowes ph safely.
Tanganyika has a PH that ranges from 8.6 to 9.4. I'm just about in the middle. Most of the fish have been in the tank for over a year now. As Cliff Mayes noted... the ph is high for the ancistsrus, but they acclimate to it very well. I commonly see plecos on duty in larger Malawi tanks. The emerald eye killies and the girardinus metallicus were also acclimated to the water. At one point i even had otos acclimated for algae duty... Had either 6 or 8 and I lost one from acclimation. They stayed in for about 6 months before moving to my 40 gallon tank to make way for the ancistrus.
 

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Those shell dwellers are freakin' adorable!

Makes me want a cichlid tank now :(

The only familiarity I had with african cichlids was seeing friends' malawi tanks, full of huge, aggressive (and utterly unappealing) cichlids, but these guys; in fact, this tank, has me wanting an african setup!

Great work
:)
 

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You are going to have tons of shell dwellers, get ready to sell. Beautiful tank, I have to ask where did you find those eels?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
You are going to have tons of shell dwellers, get ready to sell. Beautiful tank, I have to ask where did you find those eels?
thanks gibmaker! The petricola and the eels will probably keep the baby population down. My gets 2-3 in once in a blue moon. I decided i wanted a plagiostoma... but all they had was one ellipsifer. I think I waited 7-9 months to get another ellipsifer and 2 plagiostomas. I think they have 1 plagiostoma and 1 ellipsifer in right now.

Those shell dwellers are freakin' adorable!

Makes me want a cichlid tank now :(

The only familiarity I had with african cichlids was seeing friends' malawi tanks, full of huge, aggressive (and utterly unappealing) cichlids, but these guys; in fact, this tank, has me wanting an african setup!

Great work
:)
Thanks Flurl! I had a Malawi tank once upon a time. It was ok. Now I see Malawi setups... and it bores me to tears. The colors are nice... but most of the fish look similar and do the same things. Tanganyikans aren't nearly as colorful... but there are a lot of interesting body shapes and patterns.

One nice thing is you can do a smaller tank with selective tanganyikans. A pair of shell dwellers can be kept in a 10 gallon tank. It's very easy to pick species that will keep the aggression level low. The cost of the fish is high... but setup and maintenance is way lower than a regular planted tank.
 

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Shellies and plants! Love it! This is actually something I've been wanting to do for quite some time now myself. After getting out of the Brevis breeding craziness, I want to get back in!

I love it!!
 

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I thought it impossible to have plants in a tank with shell dwellers. Often I wish I hadn't gotten into a tank with stem plants and just used rhizome plants with shell dwellers. I believe it would have been less costly in the long run.

What plants or what types of plants do you have in there?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks Jessie!

Hey Dawntwister... I have anubias nana & nana petite, Bolbitis, Needle Leaf/Narrow Leaf/Windelov/and regular Java ferns
 
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