The Impossible Dream

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Here we are - got the scape in with the rocks and the sand. I did pre lay it out on the table and it sort of matched in the tank but not 100% I prefer whats in the tank though.

I think this is probably my favourite scape I've done so far and is exactly what I wanted to achieve. It's funny you mention a beanbag @WhistlingBadger as I have a comfy chair across the room from the front right corner so I've scapped it in part to be viewed it from there as well a from the front.

Screenshot 2023-08-12 at 17.25.30.png

Screenshot 2023-08-12 at 17.25.20.png


As soon as I'd got the sand in I did realise I've basically made a Zen Garden so felt the need to do the lines around the edges haha. I was hoping to get water in there today but I think I'm going to give it a bit of time to fully make sure I'm happy with the scape - though 99% certain I am.

I also need a few bits of equipment, I went to an LFS for new pipes for my FX4 and a new heater and they didnt have the ones I wanted - this is the main reason for the delay.

In terms of thoughts on the scape for the fish I want to keep - in total there are a solid 9 cave structures in here and while they are smaller likely 12-15. Everything is really stable too with the mega boxes I got 3 bags of nano boulders which have been really useful to wedge around and between the rocks to secure them in place.

Wills
 
Is that blue Inchyra blue by any chance? Its exactly the same shade as a wall in my living room!
 
That scape looks great! Looking forward to seeing the progress.

I also really like that table, and the color blue your wall is painted.
Is that blue Inchyra blue by any chance? Its exactly the same shade as a wall in my living room!

Thanks both :) @Lcc86 its Hague Blue but good spot on the Farrow & Ball!
 
Oooh interesting that it looks the same shade as mine even though they're a bit different. Great minds think alike clearly :cool:
Indeed our front doors are Inchyra Blue too!
 
A few people will probably know that my favourite fish are Nicaraguan Cichlids, in particular the females. This is because of a female I had for around 2 years who I called Elsie. You might remember her from my old avatar, I have no idea why since I lost her I havent gone back and tried to keep them again, so that is the 'dream'.

View attachment 142867

Bit of a disclaimer upfront this project is a slow burn, I will likely be setting the actual tank up in late December but that is also the big news that Mrs Wills has agreed to my impossible dream of having a 4 foot tank specifically for a female Nicaraguan Cichlid and some friends :) Since we reached this treaty the concept of the tank has basically lived rent free in my head 60-70% of the time and I wanted a place to start putting these ideas down and I thought it would be good to share with people here and get some opinions on what I want to do.

I'm approaching this tank in a very different way to how I have any other in the past. Usually I want to look at rare, unique, unusual fish and sometimes these fish are not known to be the most colourful, they might be irridescant or spangled or cool behaviour but not in your face screaming colour. And following from the Nicaraguan Cichlid I want everything in this tank to be crazy colourful.

Fish

I often struggle with setting up tanks because of my tapwater, its hard and has around 25ppm of nitrate in it as well as quite high levels of things that cause algae. The hardness often leaves me a bit dispondant because it limits my fish choice without using RO water (which I do have access to now) but its actually pretty good for the centre piece of this tank Nicaraguan Cichlids.

So in my hard water there are 4 obvious groups of fish to look at for a tank like this, Central American Cichlids, Livebearers, Rainbow Fish and Synodontis Catfish. There are a couple of others too but these four groups are basically my plan.

(non of these pics are mine btw just found to illustrate my ideas)

The centrepiece fish will be (hopefully) 3 female Central American Cichlids and I want a Nicaraguan, Salvini and an Electric Blue Jack Dempsey

View attachment 142870 View attachment 142871 View attachment 142872

I want females because all Central American cichlids can hybridise, Nics and Salvini are easy to sex, female Nics are super obvious, female Salvini get black spots on their gill plates (like this pic) JDs are harder but I'll do my best. I feel these three will work in a big 4 foot all are feisty but kind of in the same way. I think the Salvini has the worst reputation but I have seen them do well in a mixed tank, Nics are bolshy but I think would be able balance and the EBJD is possibly an outlier in that people say the EBs are quite a bit less aggressive than the regular JDs. Also aware of the health issues EBJDs are said to have so I'll be really careful on where I get one from to make sure I get the best chance.

Schooling fish will be Rainbow Fish, I'm really undecided on which species but I think it will be one of these three. All have their advantages and disadvantages but I feel all of them would be viable. The choices are Bosmani (which would look great with the cichlids and are a real wow fish especially some of the strains available now but the school would be smaller) Dwarf Neon (which would allow a bigger school but I've only seen really sickly ones recently) Kamaka (really nice Rainbow but quite rare, they stay smaller too so would be a bigger school than the Bosmani but would I ever be able to buy them?).


View attachment 142873 View attachment 142874 View attachment 142875

Up towards the surface I'm mainly looking at livebearers. I think Platies will be ok and I really like the bright colours (I said I'm not looking for super rare lol) and Swordtails would def work, of either species I'd look at the sunsets, red wags and kohakus. To go with them as well I'm thinking of some Golden Wonder Killis who also match my criteria, bright colours and also do well in my water.

View attachment 142876 View attachment 142877 View attachment 142878 View attachment 142879

Then down at the bottom, while giving the cichlids as much space as possible I want some of the black and white Synodontis species like Polli and Multipunctatus. While not a bright colour the white scales are so white they are bright in their own right so I think would look good with the others in here. I'm also tempted by some of the other Synos like Angelicus or the Pyjama ones which have a great pattern too.

View attachment 142880 View attachment 142881

I may also add in some Bristlenose Plecs to help keep ontop of algae, maybe some snails in there too I don't think any of the fish I'm thinking of would be a threat?

Equipment

I'm hoping to go for a 4x2x2 120 gallon tank, it will be rimless but I want black silicone and I'll be using a jump guard with clear netting this time as the black I have on my current tank is a bit distracting from the tank. Its going to be custom made as I want the stand to match my 100 litre which will be in the same room and the manufacurer has gone now but the custom people seem to be able to use the same bronze stone laminate I have on the 100 litre.

I think the tank is going to have a 3D background with a rocky effect. The one I want is super expensive and I'm trying to decide if I want to go with the silicone one or if I should just buy aquascaping rock and do it myself? Keep it natural?

View attachment 142882View attachment 142883

Substrate will be sand, but if I go with the 3D background I'll get one of the rubber floor mats too so the sand might not be super thick but also as the cichlids dig the stone effect base would be revealed. Planting I'm undecided on I'd like some of the bigger crinkled Crypts and some Criniums, I'll try and get some moss going on rocks or the 3D background and I also want to do some emmerged plants like Peace Lillys to help with my nitrate issues (from the tap and the messy fish).

For filtration I might go with the Oase Biomaster for the external filter but if I got the 3D background I could hide heaters behind that and go for one of the FX filters? Because of the nitrate in my tap water my plan is to use some chemical filtration in my filters rather than as a prefilter. I'm also trying to learn about nitrate filters which a few people have mentioned to me which uses a trickle system and grows an anaerobic bacteria that converts nitrate to nitrogen which gasses off through the water (I think...)


Like I say this is a really slow burn and I'm a few months away from buying the tank but it feels great to get this down and I'm really looking forward to hear peoples opinions on the plan. I'll update this thread as I start to pull together a shopping list of kit I'm going to get and hopefully someone will find that process useful too.

Wills
Kia Ora, This is great, so many possibilities. I love the size too. I was pleased to read you call it a slow burner. I was recently watching a video of a guy who took photo's of the water which he wanted to recreate, then he used photoshop or equivalent to take drop readings of the colours, then he got a piece of thin ply and some rattle cans and recreated the colours that were there in nature... I loved that idea and will definitely do that on my own "slow burner". Looking forward to seeing what you end up creating Wills. All the best... Phil.
 
A few people will probably know that my favourite fish are Nicaraguan Cichlids, in particular the females. This is because of a female I had for around 2 years who I called Elsie. You might remember her from my old avatar, I have no idea why since I lost her I havent gone back and tried to keep them again, so that is the 'dream'.

View attachment 142867

Bit of a disclaimer upfront this project is a slow burn, I will likely be setting the actual tank up in late December but that is also the big news that Mrs Wills has agreed to my impossible dream of having a 4 foot tank specifically for a female Nicaraguan Cichlid and some friends :) Since we reached this treaty the concept of the tank has basically lived rent free in my head 60-70% of the time and I wanted a place to start putting these ideas down and I thought it would be good to share with people here and get some opinions on what I want to do.

I'm approaching this tank in a very different way to how I have any other in the past. Usually I want to look at rare, unique, unusual fish and sometimes these fish are not known to be the most colourful, they might be irridescant or spangled or cool behaviour but not in your face screaming colour. And following from the Nicaraguan Cichlid I want everything in this tank to be crazy colourful.

Fish

I often struggle with setting up tanks because of my tapwater, its hard and has around 25ppm of nitrate in it as well as quite high levels of things that cause algae. The hardness often leaves me a bit dispondant because it limits my fish choice without using RO water (which I do have access to now) but its actually pretty good for the centre piece of this tank Nicaraguan Cichlids.

So in my hard water there are 4 obvious groups of fish to look at for a tank like this, Central American Cichlids, Livebearers, Rainbow Fish and Synodontis Catfish. There are a couple of others too but these four groups are basically my plan.

(non of these pics are mine btw just found to illustrate my ideas)

The centrepiece fish will be (hopefully) 3 female Central American Cichlids and I want a Nicaraguan, Salvini and an Electric Blue Jack Dempsey

View attachment 142870 View attachment 142871 View attachment 142872

I want females because all Central American cichlids can hybridise, Nics and Salvini are easy to sex, female Nics are super obvious, female Salvini get black spots on their gill plates (like this pic) JDs are harder but I'll do my best. I feel these three will work in a big 4 foot all are feisty but kind of in the same way. I think the Salvini has the worst reputation but I have seen them do well in a mixed tank, Nics are bolshy but I think would be able balance and the EBJD is possibly an outlier in that people say the EBs are quite a bit less aggressive than the regular JDs. Also aware of the health issues EBJDs are said to have so I'll be really careful on where I get one from to make sure I get the best chance.

Schooling fish will be Rainbow Fish, I'm really undecided on which species but I think it will be one of these three. All have their advantages and disadvantages but I feel all of them would be viable. The choices are Bosmani (which would look great with the cichlids and are a real wow fish especially some of the strains available now but the school would be smaller) Dwarf Neon (which would allow a bigger school but I've only seen really sickly ones recently) Kamaka (really nice Rainbow but quite rare, they stay smaller too so would be a bigger school than the Bosmani but would I ever be able to buy them?).


View attachment 142873 View attachment 142874 View attachment 142875

Up towards the surface I'm mainly looking at livebearers. I think Platies will be ok and I really like the bright colours (I said I'm not looking for super rare lol) and Swordtails would def work, of either species I'd look at the sunsets, red wags and kohakus. To go with them as well I'm thinking of some Golden Wonder Killis who also match my criteria, bright colours and also do well in my water.

View attachment 142876 View attachment 142877 View attachment 142878 View attachment 142879

Then down at the bottom, while giving the cichlids as much space as possible I want some of the black and white Synodontis species like Polli and Multipunctatus. While not a bright colour the white scales are so white they are bright in their own right so I think would look good with the others in here. I'm also tempted by some of the other Synos like Angelicus or the Pyjama ones which have a great pattern too.

View attachment 142880 View attachment 142881

I may also add in some Bristlenose Plecs to help keep ontop of algae, maybe some snails in there too I don't think any of the fish I'm thinking of would be a threat?

Equipment

I'm hoping to go for a 4x2x2 120 gallon tank, it will be rimless but I want black silicone and I'll be using a jump guard with clear netting this time as the black I have on my current tank is a bit distracting from the tank. Its going to be custom made as I want the stand to match my 100 litre which will be in the same room and the manufacurer has gone now but the custom people seem to be able to use the same bronze stone laminate I have on the 100 litre.

I think the tank is going to have a 3D background with a rocky effect. The one I want is super expensive and I'm trying to decide if I want to go with the silicone one or if I should just buy aquascaping rock and do it myself? Keep it natural?

View attachment 142882View attachment 142883

Substrate will be sand, but if I go with the 3D background I'll get one of the rubber floor mats too so the sand might not be super thick but also as the cichlids dig the stone effect base would be revealed. Planting I'm undecided on I'd like some of the bigger crinkled Crypts and some Criniums, I'll try and get some moss going on rocks or the 3D background and I also want to do some emmerged plants like Peace Lillys to help with my nitrate issues (from the tap and the messy fish).

For filtration I might go with the Oase Biomaster for the external filter but if I got the 3D background I could hide heaters behind that and go for one of the FX filters? Because of the nitrate in my tap water my plan is to use some chemical filtration in my filters rather than as a prefilter. I'm also trying to learn about nitrate filters which a few people have mentioned to me which uses a trickle system and grows an anaerobic bacteria that converts nitrate to nitrogen which gasses off through the water (I think...)


Like I say this is a really slow burn and I'm a few months away from buying the tank but it feels great to get this down and I'm really looking forward to hear peoples opinions on the plan. I'll update this thread as I start to pull together a shopping list of kit I'm going to get and hopefully someone will find that process useful too.

Wills
Kia Ora. Just out of interest, you've mentioned sand as a substrate, do you intend using anything like aqua soil beneath it? Just thinking about our horribly hard water. Phil.
 
Kia Ora. Just out of interest, you've mentioned sand as a substrate, do you intend using anything like aqua soil beneath it? Just thinking about our horribly hard water. Phil.
Thanks Phil it’s definitely a lesson I’ve learned over the years to take it slow it’s served me well especially over the last three years while I’ve reignited the hobby.

In terms of hardness these are the near perfect fish for our waters but are not really compatible with plants so I’m not putting any planted substrates in as I won’t need them. There will be plants in here which will be a row of peace Lilly’s basically across the full back of the aquarium maybe in some kind of trough or piece of wood if I can work out how! Think I need a router to carve out an oak branch into a trough or maybe a few hours with a good chisel…
 
Thanks Phil it’s definitely a lesson I’ve learned over the years to take it slow it’s served me well especially over the last three years while I’ve reignited the hobby.

In terms of hardness these are the near perfect fish for our waters but are not really compatible with plants so I’m not putting any planted substrates in as I won’t need them. There will be plants in here which will be a row of peace Lilly’s basically across the full back of the aquarium maybe in some kind of trough or piece of wood if I can work out how! Think I need a router to carve out an oak branch into a trough or maybe a few hours with a good chisel…
Lol a chisel........ I'm looking at hardness as a challenge. As I'm sure you already have. I do know you have vastly more experience than me and I'm sure I'll repeat some of your failures. But yes I'm not rushing anything. Your selection of fish look great anyway! All I can say is Yorkshire water... bring it on!
 
Here we are - got the scape in with the rocks and the sand. I did pre lay it out on the table and it sort of matched in the tank but not 100% I prefer whats in the tank though.

I think this is probably my favourite scape I've done so far and is exactly what I wanted to achieve. It's funny you mention a beanbag @WhistlingBadger as I have a comfy chair across the room from the front right corner so I've scapped it in part to be viewed it from there as well a from the front.

View attachment 324711
View attachment 324712

As soon as I'd got the sand in I did realise I've basically made a Zen Garden so felt the need to do the lines around the edges haha. I was hoping to get water in there today but I think I'm going to give it a bit of time to fully make sure I'm happy with the scape - though 99% certain I am.

I also need a few bits of equipment, I went to an LFS for new pipes for my FX4 and a new heater and they didnt have the ones I wanted - this is the main reason for the delay.

In terms of thoughts on the scape for the fish I want to keep - in total there are a solid 9 cave structures in here and while they are smaller likely 12-15. Everything is really stable too with the mega boxes I got 3 bags of nano boulders which have been really useful to wedge around and between the rocks to secure them in place.

Wills
Very nice Wills😍 really strong start to the set up and the tank looks great in its new surroundings.

Your patience with this tank as been remarkable and im pleased your time and patience will be rewarded finally 🙂 enjoy
 
Here we are - got the scape in with the rocks and the sand. I did pre lay it out on the table and it sort of matched in the tank but not 100% I prefer whats in the tank though.

I think this is probably my favourite scape I've done so far and is exactly what I wanted to achieve. It's funny you mention a beanbag @WhistlingBadger as I have a comfy chair across the room from the front right corner so I've scapped it in part to be viewed it from there as well a from the front.

View attachment 324711
View attachment 324712

As soon as I'd got the sand in I did realise I've basically made a Zen Garden so felt the need to do the lines around the edges haha. I was hoping to get water in there today but I think I'm going to give it a bit of time to fully make sure I'm happy with the scape - though 99% certain I am.

I also need a few bits of equipment, I went to an LFS for new pipes for my FX4 and a new heater and they didnt have the ones I wanted - this is the main reason for the delay.

In terms of thoughts on the scape for the fish I want to keep - in total there are a solid 9 cave structures in here and while they are smaller likely 12-15. Everything is really stable too with the mega boxes I got 3 bags of nano boulders which have been really useful to wedge around and between the rocks to secure them in place.

Wills
Kia Ora, Really like the way this is heading. I'm excited to see which way you jump next.... two islands, a classic V shape? You could just carpet it all now eh? You have certainly left doors open for yourself. If you're stuck for a heater the newer Flugal T series are excellent.
Which way will the water flow be? and how strong? Love the way you support LFS. Where did you get all the boulders from. "Mega boxes"?

Love your patience, also very Zen.
 
Very nice Wills😍 really strong start to the set up and the tank looks great in its new surroundings.

Your patience with this tank as been remarkable and im pleased your time and patience will be rewarded finally 🙂 enjoy
Thanks! I am determined to get water in it next weekend! I just need to get a heater and some new pipes for the filter - annoyingly out of stock at the LFS I went to!

Kia Ora, Really like the way this is heading. I'm excited to see which way you jump next.... two islands, a classic V shape? You could just carpet it all now eh? You have certainly left doors open for yourself. If you're stuck for a heater the newer Flugal T series are excellent.
Which way will the water flow be? and how strong? Love the way you support LFS. Where did you get all the boulders from. "Mega boxes"?

Love your patience, also very Zen.
Haha I think this is a two island scape - not sure what my other 1200 will be yet! I have a lot of Frodo Stone and some Oak branches waiting for that one - you can see them earlier in this thread actually.

For the heater I think I'm going to go Ehiem as I've used them before and they were crazy reliable and also very minimal in style. The Fluval ones are nice, I like the fact they are black but they have lots of lights on them which I'd prefer if they didn't.

I was thinking the pipes would be over on the left but I've just realised the way the cupboards are configured it will have to go on the right, I'll put the heater next to the inlet so the water gets heated on its way to the filter. If needed I could add a second to the far side. One thing I do want to is... and I've forgotten the name... but I've seen a sensor you can get where you plug the heater into it and if the heat in the tank gets higher than the sensor is set it turns the heater off! Never had a heater malfunction but happy to learn you can avoid it!

The rocks are from a brand called Wio - I got 2 boxes from them which came from their HQ in Spain and the other one from Aquarium Gardens near Peterborough via their website. I'd have got them all from Aquarium Gardens but I didn't realise they were selling them!

Wills
 
I always love watching your scapes take shape over time, too. Also, it makes me happy that there is something called "Frodo stone." They should make special glue to hold it together and call it "Samwise adhesive."
 
I always love watching your scapes take shape over time, too. Also, it makes me happy that there is something called "Frodo stone." They should make special glue to hold it together and call it "Samwise adhesive."
I don’t want to blow your mind but you can get Ent Wood too haha
 

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