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Hobbyist Gallery - Owen Hoffman

OWEN HOFFMAN (Billings, Montana, USA), e-mail : ohoffman@billingsclinic.org

My large aquarium (shown above) is 125 gallons.  It houses a mixed community with the following residents:  7 Labidochromis caeruleus, 3 Cynotilapia mbamba, 4 Haplochromis taeniolatus, 1 Pseudotropheus zebra OB morph, 6 Melanochromis maingano (cyanerhabdos), 1 Synodontis eupterus, and 1 Plecostomus (not sure of species).  I am planning on removing any extra male haplochromis taeniolatus once they mature.  They are too small to sex yet.  I just added six juvenile melanochromis maingano to this aquarium last friday.  I don't plan on adding any more fish at this point and will remove any excess male maingano should they present a problem once I am able to sex them.  I am hoping that once I weed out the extra male red empress that the number of fish and species I have settled on for this aquarium won't be to much.  So far it seems to be working out fine but two of the groups of fish
(protomelas and melanochromis) are still juveniles.  There are quite a few anubias barteri, nana, and java fern throughout the aquarium.  Rockwork is moderate at the moment.  I plan on expanding it somewhat.  There are a few small clay flower pots in the tank for extra hiding spots.  Filtration is provided by a fluval 404 canister and two emperor 400 power filters.  I just added a Fluval 3+ internal filter for a little extra filtration.  One 300 watt heater.  I change 50% of the water in all my tanks every 14 days.  The male cynotilapia has just come into color and I hope to get some nice pictures of him this weekend.

My second aquarium is a 50 gallon.  It has between 10-12 juvenile cynotilapia, 2 adult cynotilapia, 2 synodontis nigreventris, and 1 plecostmatus.  There are only a few scattered java fern in this tank.  The male cynotilapia has just adopted a new home I gave him: a big flower pot. I put a flat stone inside it and as soon as I put it in there he turned into his breeding dress and started digging gravel around the entrance.  Fun stuff!  Rockwork in this tank is fairly heavy for a tank it's size.  One fluval 404 canister and one emperor 400 handle the filtration.  One 150 watt heater.

My third and smallest aquarium is a 30 gallon.  It has one lamprologus brichardi, 4 neolamprlogus brevis, 2 small cory cats, 1 bumblebee goby, and 1 kuhli loach.  Substrate is sand in this one, unlike the gravel in the other two tanks.  Some rocks scattered around the tank among numerous snail and hermet crab shells.  No plants as there is a mystery snail in the tank that will tear them up.  There are two Emperor 280 power filters.  One 150 watt heater.

I have had an interest in cichlids ever since I was about 12 years old.  I had a twenty gallon tank with a small oscar in it that got me hooked.  He demonstrated much more awareness than the other tropical fish I had kept until then.  The range of behaviors demonstrated by malawi cichlids is absolutely fascinating to me.  I particularly enjoy seeing my male cynotilapia court females.  His colors literally intensify within seconds of getting near the female at which point he usually shakes intensely and then darts off into his cave hoping she will follow.  I think it is unquestionable that cichlids are highly evolved fishes.  And very beautiful (especially africans) for that matter!  I have only been dealing with Africans for about a year now but they are my favorites. If you choose your species carefully you can have as much color with African cichlids as you can with many marine tanks.
 

MCH Verdict

1. In my opinion there are no really irritating things, but also no real highlights. To get a perfect tank, Owen needs to hide his technical equipment. He can hide them and the reflecting background by using larger rocks or a better decoration in height instead of stacking these slate plates in different floors. He can also get rid of the flower pot and mix some sand into the bottom. His cichlid mixture is relatively good IMO... As it is a real aggressive Hap, the Protomelas will be able to defend himself against the Mbuna when it grows up. The plants should be removed in order to get some 'play beach' 

2. Generally speaking they look like tanks which are well taken care of. A close up of the gravel shows that it is regularly cleaned. I would call it a “correct” tank, in the sense that Owen has clearly done his homework but I don’t find any specific items that will really attract my eye. In one of the submitted pictures there is a serious mistake – a marine shell. Although this could be acceptable in a raising tank, it can’t be accepted in a display tank. The flower pot (at least as placed) could be removed and add to the natural "look" of the tank.

3. A well thought of tank with only minor points to reconsider. Apart from the marine shell there is nothing wrong, species correctly selected, there is no mixing between different lakes, stocking level are absolutely correct. All in all, a “correct tank”. However, some items could be removed / hidden and this could improve its rating. Last but not least, I would prefer some other angles which could present this tank in a better way. Good work.

Overall rating by MCH : 61/100

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