Slink's 55-Gallon Tank

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Having bought, probably unwisely, four additional species of Lake Malawu mbuna I had to provide more living quarters. I was keeping 13 cichlids and 5 Synodontis petricola in each of two 30-gallon tanks which had never been meant to be more than quarantine/hospital/fry-raising tanks. Even after I moved the 7 Labidochromis sp. "Perlmutt" to the 75-gallon tank, the 6 Cynotilapia afra "Jalo" remaining in that 30-gallon tank were showing signs of overcrowding. The other tank held fish that were mostly only half-an-inch long when I bought them, but half-an-inch was bordering on an inch by the time a very kind soul gave me a free 55-gallon tank. I moved the two filters from the 30-gallon tanks onto the new tank and filled it with water from them after pumping it through a pleated paper filter to remove crud. Because the 30-gallon tanks had to be torn completely down and the tank stand had to be rebuilt to accomodate the larger tank this operation took about four hours, during which one fish was lost. The second ranking male Cynotilapia male was not able to tolerate the attentions of the dominant male in the close quarters of the plastic pail into which I had put the six of them. He jumped out and was dead by the time I noticed that one fish was missing. I feel badly, but the third-ranking male appears to feel great about the resulting gap in the heirarchy. Which is to say that there was at least one male too many even though I would have rather solved the issue some other way.

Even though I do not yet have a light for this tank the fish are getting some natural light from the window above. To my surprise I was able to capture this with my digital camera. The flickering sunlight gives a cave grotto effect that is very lovely.

This tank now contains 8 Synodontis petricola, 7 Labidochromis sp. "Red Top Kimpuma", 5 Cynotilapia afra "Jalo", and 6 of something that was sold to me as Psuedotropheus sp. "Polit". Time will tell what they actually turn out to be. Below is a badly blurred picture of one of the unknown males. He may be a Pseudotropheus acei hybrid, but then again maybe not. In real life this fish is as black as a black mollie, rather than the denim color in the photo.

November 2002

The fish above turned out to be a Ps. sp. "Polit" after all. Apparently immature males can be a very dark blue bordering on black. These fish were all moved to the 75-gallon tank in the basement and I redid this tank for keeping excess males and other problems. I redecorated the tank with bricks and had to try three times before I found a configuration that looked reasonable to my eye.

At this time the tank contains 2 male Perlmutts, 1 male Deep Magunga, and 1 possibly female Deep Magunga who has to date refused to breed with anyone. It briefly contained 2 other Perlmutts which I had vented as males, until I removed them holding eggs. It was my first try at venting fish and I obviously have little or no talent for it. The plants are rooted philodendron cuttings which are suspended in plastic cage-like pots from hooks made of bent electric fence wire. The plastic cages came from aquatic plants purchased in the past. The filtration consists of one Emperor 400.

Late July 2003

Local market for Labidochromis had dried up, so I disposed of the Perlmutts and the hongi which were far too fecund and had filled all five grow-out tanks plus their own breeding tanks to more than capacity. The rest of the Lake Malawi fish were placed into the two 75-gallon tanks, and this tank was refurbished for the use of some new cichlids - Oscars!

Here are the new residents, in this picture still in quarantine in a 30-gallon. There are three reds and three tigers, one of each type the albino version. The fish appeared half-starved, with heads too large for their bodies, but the clerk showed me that they did all go for food when it was offered so I bought them. After a few days in the 30-gallon tank it was evident that two of the six were not doing as well as the other four, and these two were not growing properly.


Runes aka Runestick aka Cryptic



Embers aka Coals


Mid-Aug 2003

The oscars are well settled into the 55-gallon now. I'm still having trouble with two of the reds, the albino and one of the normals. The albino red was rushing to the top with the others, but not eating anything. When I removed it to a 5-gallon tank alone it refused to even look at food, and appeared terrified. After two days I returned it to the others and it resumed rushing at, but not eating, the food. The normal red was eating, but spitting out most of the food. I tried Jungle Pepso and a course of Hex-A-Mita. After a lot of messy pampering, the albino red is now shaped like an oscar instead of like a betta but has not grown in length since I brought it home.. The normal red remains slender, but has grown some in length. The other four have grown well.

The Big Four left to right: Runes, Flame, Cream, and Snake. In the center bottom, the scrawny normal-red Embers.

Scrawny red Embers and the undersized albino-red Peaches, to the left.

We're planning a 600-gallon DIY plywood-and-glass tank for these fish, sometime in the next few months.