frustrated with maintenance

Q&A about aquarium maintenance

Moderator: Pam Chin

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frustrated with maintenance

Post by grasshopper »

Hi Pam,
I have a 40 Gal tank that has 15 cichlids at this time. The largest is a bumblebee which is about 5 or 6 inches (big daddy as i lovingy call him). At one time, it had upwards of 35 (little buggers are too fast to count accurately). I started the tank 1.5 years ago with 8 fish, but due to breeding it has gotten out of hand. I have given away as many of the babies as i could to keep the population down. I believe the 2 breeders are red zebra, but am not completely sure. The males are blue and females yellow, both with dark colored stripes. My delema is this... keeping the tank clean. When i started the tank, the freind who got me interested had several african cichlid tanks, all of which had Eheim canister filters, which he cleaned about every 3 or 4 months (aside from the biweekly water change ofcourse). Now, with the explosion in population, i added 2 additional penquin 250 filters in order to keep up with the turnover rate, and i do mean just barely keep up. The tank is constantly filthy. I have a continuous layer of brown algea (or whatever it is) that just wont go away. I clean all 3 filters atleast every 2 weeks, if not every week due to getting clogged. After a cleaning and water change, the water debri settles and the tank looks awesome...for about 2 days, then the debris gets bad again, and the brown algea starts up. I also have a placostamus in the tank (originally purchased to keep the brown algea down) which is about 15 inches in size(not kidding). So, my turnover rate is around 600 gph, and i do about 20-25% water change every week or 2. The dank gets Zero direct sunlight, and moderate indirect sunlight. I turn on the overheads at aroun 7 am, off at around 10pm. I have 2 18" CoraLife 10K lamps (15Watt). Any clues as to why i cant seem to keep it clean?

Pam Chin
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Post by Pam Chin »

Hi Grasshopper,

Well the bottom line is your tank is way overcrowded. There is no way the filters can keep up with the bioload that your tank is producing. And then a 15" pleco is certainly not helping the situation as they produce a ton of waste. I also suspect that you are overfeeding your fish, and this is also contributing to the problem and causing the brown algae.

You need to cut back, decide which fish you can't live with out, and either get rid of the rest, or get your self a bigger tank. You need to do some research on the fish that you have and learn their names, and besure that your fish are pure bred and not hybrids - as I suspect that is what has happened in your tank. Hybrids are frowned upon, and mutts are not welcome in the cichlid world.

When you clean your tank there should be no settling of the debris, if there is that much debris then your tank isn't clean. With a bioload that you have in that tank, you probably need to work these fish up to larger water changes, to get out the debris. A 40 gallon tank, is really only designed to hold about 4 - 6 adults of cichlids from Lake Malawi. After you subtract the rocks, gravel, and the fact that you don't have your tank filled to the very brim, you probably only have about 20 gallons or less in your tank.

It is time for a bigger tank, or some major cut backs. Sorry wish I had better news!
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