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Hobbyist Gallery - Dr Hector Cordero

Dr. Hector E. Cordero from Mexico City, Mexico.

My aquarium is a 120 gal (450 lt ;150cm X 60cm X 50 cm) tank with filtration taken care by a fluval 404, 2 power heads for water movement, heating is performed by 2 heaters 200 W each, lighting consists of 3 fluorescent tubes; 1 coral blue Azoo 40W, 1 tri-power Azoo 40W and 1 superlight Azoo 40W with timers to turn them on in steps to simulate the dawn and the sunset.  Volcanic rocks are the main element of the decoration while crushed coral and shells are used as a pH buffering system and – of course – as a substrate. A 15% partial water change is performed weekly during which I also add rift lake salts by Kent. Feeding consists of spirulina flakes, Wardley flakes and cichlid pellets, which are fed twice daily. Every week I run a test for  Nitrates, Nitrites, pH, KH and GH wich which normally are as follows :

pH = 8.0, KH = 8, GH = 3, NO3 <5mg/L, NH3 <0.3 mg/dl and NO2 0 mg/l.

The list of species that inhabit this tank is as follows :

5 maylandia estherae O

2 maylandia estherae OB

7 pseudotropheus lombardoi

3 melanochromis johanii

5 melanochromis aureatus

3 pseudotropheus elongatus

1 cynotilapia afra

5 labidocrhomis caeruleus

2 pseudotropheus socolofi

5 Pseudotropheus crabro

5 Pseudotropheus sp albino

1Aulonocara auditor

 
MCH Verdict

Although the coral doesn't appeal to me, and the amount of cichlids seems to be a bit on the high side, especially when you consider their final sizes, my overall impression is that this tank is good! The wild rocky structure strikes me the most with good colour contrasts and a wealth of hiding spaces. A good thing is that the technical equipment is hidden very well, so all attention goes to the cichlids. I would like to suggest to remove the Aulonocara though, as it can't stand up against such a crowd of Mbuna. The plants don't really belong to a lake Malawi biotope, but because of their subdued positioning they add some frivolity to the aquarium, thus their presence is more than justified... nice setup!

Well, all in all, this is a nice work (likely main problem being ... the somewhat dark pictures!!!) except for the statement “crushed coral and shells as a pH buffer and substrate”. However, when you look at the pics it looks that the crushed coral is a) extremely small in pieces b) used but out of sight (in the filter?). Still I am not that sure about the buffering power of crushed corals ... Any way things seem to go well, fishes thrive and so on. Aquascaping is good and thus - despite fishes are a LOT - the tank looks like being "normally stocked" ... few plants are a nice addition (nice to look at!). With such a "bio-load" from a theoretical point of view a larger
water change (timing is correct to me!) could/should help, but ... water chemistry sounds good. What is most important is that things seems to work OK. Fishes kept are NOT likely to crossbreed even if I would avoid keeping single specimens (Cynotilapia afra and Aulonocara auditor). I thik this tank (also because of the surrounding furniture which creates a nice “corner"  could be rated high enough.

As I already said at the beginning, I do like this tank. It seems he has managed to keep a very large number of (compatible) cichlids in a relatively small tank in a very good way. The tank seems to be correctly stocked and if you had never seen the list (and number) of species in it you would suggest to add some more fish. I don't know if the fish are adults - this could be a  weak point for this tank. The water parameters prove that the filtration is efficient although (especially if the fish are not adults) he will probably have to increase the percentage of changed water weekly. The plants don't really bother me since he is within the acceptable limits and the result is pleasant in the eye. About the crushed coral I do have my objections but
it is the second best option (after sand) and it is far better than the large grain gravel or the fluorescent things found in some tanks. The use of rocks is apparently correct. The photos could have a bit more light although you can still see most of the contents and the aquascape.

 
Overall rating by MCH :  72/100

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