Store Is Closed
I think a 55 gallon tank is a good size for me. It is spacious enough that the fish can build up speed. The larger the tank, the less extreme are the swings in ammonia and temperature. I’d go bigger if I could, but I don’t have the space or the budget.
I purchased my supplies by first shopping around at different pet shops. I saved money by looking for deals. I found Walmart to have the best prices but least variety. In fact, I recently noticed they started stocking a 55 gallon tank with light, filter, water heater, and food for a better price than I paid purchasing items separately. As for the fish, I did not worry about price as much as the condition they were in.
Here is what I paid around Christmas 2009…
The Basic Stuff
|55 Gallon Tank with light||$179|
|Cast Iron Tank Stand||$65||On sale at Benson’s, needed paint job|
|Tetra FS 30-60 filter w/ cartridges||$40.82||Update: For my African Cichlids, I find the Tetra filter insufficient. I recommend the Fluval 305 External Canister Filter|
|JW Fusion Air Pump 400||$9.68||To oxygenate water|
|Air Pump tube, 20’||$4.67|
|18” bubble curtain||$4.78||Hooks to air pump tube|
|Tetra 200 watt submersible water heater||$24.76||I try to keep tank at 76°F-78°F|
|Adhesive Thermometer||$2.58||Attaches to exterior of tank|
|10” Gravel Vac||$12.15||For sucking out water|
|Two five gallon buckets||$2.50 each||For cleaning tank|
|Aquarium Brush||$4.38||For scrubbing algae off glass|
|3 Prong Outlet Timer||$8.70||To put light on timer|
|6 Grounded Outlet In-Wall Adapter||$5.25||Like a power strip|
Update: I purchased an AquaClear 50 powerhead with filtration attachment and cartridges to polish my water during tank cleaning and whenever debris builds up in the tank. I published a review of the powerhead “here“http://chrisbemis.com/essays/aquaclear-50-powerhead-review
The decorative stuff
Cichlids love their hiding places. When friends come over and are too loud about it, you’d never know I have fish. I still don’t have enough hiding places for all my fish, they often fight over good spots. It’s good to have lots of hiding for timid fish to escape the aggressive ones.
|Aquarium Background||$9.67||Use an Aquarium background adhesive or petroleum jelly to put it on|
|2 Bags Aquarium Gravel||$14.99||Rinse before use|
|Large Artificial Driftwood||$34.99||My favorite centerpiece|
|2x Driftwood Log||$11.99 each||would like two more|
|2x artificial 12” plants||$3.15 each||Nice for hiding cichlids, should buy more|
Larger tanks tend to have less problems with disease and ammonia. However, I recommend stocking certain chemicals, such as Ick Away and MelaFix, to deal with problems quickly. Certain additives, such as stress coat, and aquarium salt, are required each water change
|pH test kit||$5.99||African Cichlids like 7.5-8.5 pH, alkaline water|
|Ammonia Test Strips||$12.99||Monitor ammonia in new tanks|
|Stress Coat Water Conditioner||$6.14||Removes chlorine in water, conditions fish scales|
|Aquarium Salt||$7.99||African Cichlids need 1 tbs per 5 gallons water|
|MelaFix||$13.99||A general tonic for bacterial, fungal infections|
|Ick Away||$2.12||I recommend application in a new tank before stocking fish|
African Cichlids are voracious eaters. They love variety. However, when establishing a new tank, it is critical not to overfeed. Ammonia levels can kill fish. One should always feed only as much as fish will eat in a couple of minutes. I also avoid feeding them a whole day from time to time.
Update: After a year and a half of experimentation, I found an ideal diet for my cichlids. I published the review here.
|Tropical Flakes||$5.94||Staple food. Crush up for fry.|
|Cichlid Pellets, medium||$11.99|
|Frozen Brine Shrimp||$4.99||Occasional treat|
|Frozen Bloodworm||$4.49||Occasional treat|
I wanted variety in my tank, so I purchased African Cichlids of three colors. I also purchased two algae eaters, they work wonders on my tank. The combination mingles well, although one fish was timid and ravaged by the others. I put her in another tank I recently acquired.
|2 Red Zebra Cichlids||$7.99 each||Not my favorite, but still pretty. Actually orange|
|2 Electric Yellow Cichlids||$9.99 each||Very beautiful with black streaks|
|2 Acei Cichlids||$7.99 each||Vibrant blue, so far the largest.|
|2 Chinese Algae Eaters||$1.99 each||They clean the algae very well|
For the tank, all required accessories and decorations, the fish, and about a month of food and chemicals, the total is $635.55. Then New York adds on $44.49, giving a grand total of $680.04. It is a constant responsibility and investment of resources, but I find it a family anchor and rewarding experience.
Other Articles In Series
- 55 Gallon African Cichlid Tank: Setup, Maintenance
- How many African cichlids in a 55 gallon aquarium?
- What to Feed African Cichlids
- How to Clean Aquarium
- 55 Gallon African Cichlid Tank: General Observations
- Fluval 305 External Canister Filter Review
- AquaClear 50 powerhead review
- . "Setting up an African Lake Aquarium."Badman's Tropical Fish.. 'http://badmanstropicalfish.com/afcichlids_setup.html'.
- . "So, You Want to Set Up a Fish Tank?."The First Tank Guide.. 'http://www.firsttankguide.net/steps.php'.