Until recently my 55 gallon was used as a South American themed set up, with Angelfish as the main occupants. About a month ago I started reading about African Lake cichlids, I read various titles and decided that I'd like to give them a go. At first it was a toss up between Malawi and Tanganyika, and I spent many hours agonising over which to choose, then I came across some text concerning a fish called "Neolamprologus Multifasciatus" I was enthralled, here was a fish that spent its life in and around a snail shell!!!!! Well, that was it, I had to have this fish, so a Tanganyikan tank it was.
First of all I checked up on what sort of tank my fish would need, Well to cut a long story short ROCKS, ROCKS and more ROCKS (And snail shells of course!) I took a look round my local fish shop at the types of rock available and I was horrified at the prices, how could they charge this much!!! Well, I wasn't going to pay those prices so I took a trip to the seaside and began filling up buckets with pebbles and large rocks. I then had to clean them, so I "borrowed" a large stewing pot from my mothers kitchen and (after scrubbing the rocks with a wire brush) boiled them all, this took a LONG, LONG time,
While I was doing this I started to think of what to do with my existing fish, it was obvious that they would not be able to survive in my new set up!! I phoned my local shop and thankfully he agreed to 'take them off my hands" and give me a credit note, And as a bonus he also had the Tanganyikan's that I wanted (more about them later). I took out all my plants and discarded them (no room for them in this tank!!) Then my bogwood, I removed this and put it away safe in a cupboard (never know when it might come in handy) For my Fish I half filled a 5 gallon bucket with water from the tank and (using the two net method) proceeded to catch all the fish and place them in it, The only fish which I didn't place in the bucket was my Gold Nugget plec, I couldn't bear to part wit him, so I put him upstairs in my little amazon tank (with keyholes and various tetras).
Then I got to the fun bit, Putting the rocks into the tank, this was scary, one slip and bye bye tank!!! I piled all the sand from the back of the tank to the front of the tank and placed a row of LARGE rocks along the base (using polystyrene to cushion them) then I pushed the sand back and began stacking the smaller rocks on top of the "foundation" (foundations are useful because my shelldwellers like to dig, and this stops them from collapsing the rock pile). I built my rocks up to about a third the height of the tank and added my "escargot" snail shells all along the front, the more shells the better. Then I grabbed my bucket of fish and went off to do a bit of trading, I managed to get most of the fish on my list;
3 julidochromis regani
4 lamprologus brichardi
4 lamprologus leleupi
But the shelldwellers were going to have to wait (My LFS didn't stock them) I took my fish home and (after floating them in the bag for 10 minutes) added them to the tank. They all seemed to settle in quite well, so I turned the tank lights on and added a small feed of live brineshrimp. (they loved it) A couple of days later I heard about a pair of multis. which my Lfs had got hold of, So I went out and purchased them, However I was slightly worried about adding them to the tank as I had heard that any newcomers were immediately attacked!! So to counter this I rearranged the rockwork a bit to disorient the resident fish and left the lights off while I added them. When I released them from their bag the little fish shot straight down and in to one of the snail shells, they stayed here for a couple of days after which they got a little courage and started venturing out, They are feisty little fish and are well able to hold their own against the larger ones. Since then I have added 3 more multis all with no trouble and the tank seems to be doing well. (My first pair of Multis. have dug a large pit and are displaying courtship behaviour)
PS. You may be wondering why I haven't mentioned water chemistry, Well, as I live close to my Lfs our water has always been similar (neutral) and as the fish in his shop were doing fine, I saw no reason to change mine. (If it aint broke don't fix it)
However for a general guide, the pH of a Tanganyikan tank should be around 8-8.5