View Full Version : through the wall 120g

03-09-2003, 04:00 PM
i am installing my new 120 in the wall of the dining room :P . the tank will actually be in my closet, as well as all "mechanisms". this was going to be a saltwater reef tank, but too many variables, too expensive for livestock and reef matter etc :cry: . i want to know if some of the items for water purification/clarity i have been looking at could/should be incorporated in the new set up. this will be a cichlid tank, first inhabitants will be the "boys from the 55" red oscar 7.25 in long, hap livingstoni 6.5 in, and jack dempsey 5.5 in long. what do you think about... 1)protien skimmer 2)sump 3) bio balls 4) cannister filter 5)undergravel 6)uv light. i want the cadillac setup with low maintenance, do not mind the price of the equipment so much, but just want to see if some of these items can be incorporated in what i want. :?:

03-09-2003, 06:20 PM
Hi Hvac4u,

All of your components will work in a freshwater set-up, except the protein skimmer. Skimmers will have no effect on your tank what-soever.

The only benefit might be that you will raise your O2 level a bit, but I think thats over-kill. Your lighting though top of the line is IMO to bright for cichlids.

Just a quick note on your current inhabitants, they have differing PH requirements for optimum health. The Oscar prefers softer water than your Jack or Living. Not a S. American expert, but I believe the Jack is a Central American and can tolerate higher PH range that the Livingstoni will need in order to prosper.

I think you will need to decide what type of TANK you are going to keep, a High PH, Neutral, or Acidic. You should test your water and see what comes out of the tap. It will make your life easier, but who said cichlidiots prefer the easy way :lol:

If you go with what come out of your tap, you won't need water purification, unless you have other issues with your tap water-I would test it for all parameters before you go buy anything too expensive.

Test it for PH, GH, KH, Nitrite, ammonia, Nitrate and maybe heavy metals.

If your going to spend a lot of $ on your set-up, spend a bit more and have your tap water analyzed proffesionally.

Go to fish stores and on the web and research fish that pique your interest, and will prosper under the conditions you can best provide.

I think you will get a lot of replies on this topic, hopefully a New World cichlid person will respond, specifically about your Jack.

Good luck,


03-09-2003, 08:03 PM
Do not use an undergravel filter with your cichlids. The lighting will also have to be less bright. A standard fluorescent light that comes with an economy hood will be fine unless you are keeping plants. If you want live plants you will want stronger bulbs (not sure on specifics). Do not use a protein skimmer with fresh water either, the water will not 'fizz' as salt water does, and the skimmer will be useless. For a tank that size i would go with a wet/dry unit for your filter. You can purchase one for around $250, or you can make one for about $150. They are top of the line filtration. As for the uv sterilizer. I have heardthey can be dangerous to your tank and you, and you should definetly research them and know how to use one before buying one.

Now for the inhabitants. I would test your water for pH and hardness. pH is the main factor in a fish's health (along with water quality and low stress) and hardness takes second. While hardness isnt quite as important, redings very low or very high could cause problems. Oscars are south american cichlids, jack dempseys are central american, and the hap livingstoni is african. They all have different water requirements, and while oscars can adjust, they will be happier in softer neutral water. The other two prefer hard water, and the african needs a pH of 8.2-8.6, while the jack dempsey should have 7.2-7.6. They can all live together, but i would not recommend it. You would be better keeping your african in the 55 and only putting the oscar and jd in the 120. You could also add some bottom feeders like raphaels and plecos or large cory cats.

If you are going for low maintenance forget about the oscar. They are poop machines, and you WILL need to vacuum the gravel.. etc. I would really decide what you want to base your tank around. If you like the oscar better, i would put him with a severum or some firemouths. Whereas, if you prefer the jack dempsey, i would put him and a green terror with a few convicts. Good luck making your decisions, and i hope the tank turns out great!! :D

03-10-2003, 07:20 PM
did not know about different ph needs for these guys. protien skimmer is out now, as well as uv light. hate to hear that about the UG filter, but as a weekly vacuumer, i can relate! :D BTW thanks to whoever moved me over here, was not sure where to post!

03-11-2003, 06:24 PM
I have used an UGF in my cichlid tanks for ten years. I use it in reverse flow powered by power-heads with sponge pre-filter. I have had great success with this, it pushes up the detritus out of the filter bed where other filters can remove it.

However, I am now converting to a sand substrate for various reasons.
1) takes out the unsightly power-heards and sponges.
2) Sand is easier to maintain.
3) sand looks so good.

Now if you want to use an UGF you can, but you must make in cichlid-proof, which is easy enough to do. If you want I will walk you through the steps. I just like to take the opposition point sometimes. There are no absolutes, and to just tell someone not to use an UGF without an explaination disturbs me.

Now the pro's of using an UGF.
1) great as a biological filter bed.
2) used in reverse-flow, gravel stays clean, you still need to vacuum though.
3) gravel looks good too.

The cons.
1) Is never completely clean.
2)the under-filter plate needs occasional maintenance. Easy to do-6month spans
3) sand looks so cool.

So go with what you like. Keep us posted.

Matt :)

03-11-2003, 11:06 PM
Lots of good advice there.

Any of the filter applications would work given appropriate maintenance of each unit. The wet/dry route would be, by far, the easiest if your tank is drilled. It may still be the best regardless of drilling. It would certainly give the most natural look as a drilled tank allows you to hid every bit of equipment from view.

Good advice about fish compatibility. Pick the fish first, then decide on the tank makeup. Actually, the easiest thing, usually, is to have your tap water tested. Pick fish that live well in your tap water as it is extremely difficult and tedious to "make up water" each week or so. Start from there and do some research on the water requirements of the fish that interest you.

If I were setting up such a tank, I would drill the tank, utilize a wet/dry (no U/V needed, and as pointed out the Skimmer won't operate efffectively in fresh water). The comments about a standard strip light are right on (you may even want to add some floating plants to cut down on the light). Additional mechanical filtration (for big, messy fish) can be accomplished by increasing the flow around the different layers of the tank (power heads, etc.) so that the wet/dry can process them. As an alternative, you could add a Magnum 350 canister or two (run with the micron cartridge covered with the floss sleeve; get an extra micron cartridge as you'll need to swap out weekly or so). You could also or otherwise add an Emperor 400 or two to the tank, but my picture of your desired outcome is a see through wall tank, and you would see those devices hanging off the tank. The Magnum's hoses could be easily hidden and the canister itself would be under the tank next to the wet/dry sump.

03-12-2003, 07:57 PM
If there is some way you could hide an emp 400 or 2 on the side of the tank inside the wall, i would use them as opposed to a canister filter. Two are cheaper than 1 canister filter, they have excellent bio filtration, and they pump much more water. Just my input though. Also, do not use an ugf with a cichlid tank. Cichlids produce much to much waste to be handeled by an ugf. The feces will get stuck under or around the plate leading to nearly impossible to clean decaying matter in your tank. Your water conditions will rapidly decline, and you will have to remove the thing and clean it along with removing all your gravel, etc.. (pain in the a**). In regards to running it in reverse flow to keep debris out of the gravel. DO NOT BE LAZY, just gravel vac once a week. That is pointless, and will provide much less bio filtration if any (the whole point of an ugf).
Just had to get that off my shoulders, maybe save you some frustration and money. Good luck!! :D

03-12-2003, 10:14 PM
The idea for two Emperors on the ends is a good one (assuming they would fit on your tank). I've done that on uncovered tanks. Working out a cover glass and light would need to be considered. You can fit the Emperors for micron filtration too.

I agree with the UGF to a degree....... Not impossible, but it would take a great deal of effort to avoid what was described. In actual practice, Surfdudes comments are just about right.

03-13-2003, 05:08 PM
Just to clarify the operation of a UGF in Reverse-flow. You get two great benefits. One: Substrate stays cleaner and when you vacuum the gravel as you would normally, much less detritus is evident.
Two: [b:6414fb1229]You get greater Bio-filtration in reverse flow+-the reason for this the main active surface of the filterbed is below, thus in the dark, where nitrifying bacteria grow better.[/b:6414fb1229] It is the underside of the substrate that is most active.

To make it cichlid proof just lay down a layer of light diffuser over the filter plate. The fish can only go down so far, thus not exposing the UGF.

The prefilter sponges on the power heads also act as a mechanical and addl bio filters. This allows clean oxygenated water to wash over the underside of the gravel. Now you will get a little build-up of detritus under the fliter palte after about 6 months, it is easy to remove, pop a small magnet down the uplift tube and take the other half of the magnet and run it up/down over the glass. This dislodges everything. I then stick the intake hose of my Vortex and everything is sucked up.

I have hade the same tank set-up this way for 6 years and my water quality is perfect. It also allows me to keep a greater bio-load in the tank due to all the de-nitrification going on. So dont say it can't work. it does and does a wonderful job.

You may ask why a guy is sitting typing this diatribe about a UGF. Again we have two answers this time.
1) It has worked for me for years and wonderfully so.
2) I had a bad day at work and want to vent my frustration at something. :lol:

If you have'nt done it yourself, and I dont think you have because you are making statements that are erroneous.

Oh. and by the way, I will be dumping my UFG system soon for aesthetic reasons only. To end my rant I'll just say that UGF in reverse flow works great. There is virtually no Maintenance, other than gravel vac, which you do anyway, and rinsing out the pre-filter sponges on a rotating basis. Also system would be great in a fry tank.

So there :wink:



And Hvac4u, If you want to purchase something that will make your life easier and help maintain a clean tank, go Buy a Vortex-XL it is a diatom filter, it actually polishes your water to a glass consistency. I use it whenever I do a water change, and I vacuum my filter bed with it. I have found it my most valued tool in fish keeping :)