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So, it's been a hot minute since I've posted anything to my journals.  And this won't be any sort of a full update.  Too many other things going on.  But...

I just got in my first mbuna and put them in my all purpose QT (a single 20H tank that I can use to QT fresh, salt, and frogs - quite the space saver, as long as I only need to QT one thing as a time).  They are baby Chindongo (syn. Pseudotropheus) saulosi

Anyhow, here they are:


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  • 2 months later...

I am a bit ashamed to say that my poor mbuna are still in the QT tank.  Nothing is wrong with them!  I just let the holidays get in the way.  But...  But!  Today I filled the 75 gal to put them in.  So, this weekend they should be able to go to a more spacious home!

Here it is finishing filling:


Also, I think I am about to have another 75 gallon available to me.  I've never asked about "stocking options" before, but I'm not fully committed to my current plan.  At the moment, I am considering doing a tank with a colony of Paracyprichromis nigripinnis, preferably the 'Chitua Bay' ones with the purple (see old Amazonas article here).  But, I'm not totally sold.  If I went that route, I would do a rock scape with low lights to mimic their deeper water habitat.

That said, as long as it's hard water adapted, and I can breed them, I'm open to other ideas too.  Any suggestions?!

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I can't tell you how much joy seeing these particular fish in this particular tank brings me!  I've seen them on @Zenzo's videos for years and wanted them in my own setup.  But to finally have them in their new home is a thrill!  They too to the rock immediately and the males colored up better than they ever did in QT.  I think they are happy.  This is despite the ammonia in there (the old matten filters were not as well cleaned as I hoped, but I've transferred their sponge from the HOB over behind one of the mattens, so I am hoping between that and the 4x daily water changes, they should pull through).

Anyhow, here they are in their new home:


In terms of the 75 that will become free in the coming months.  I've been a bit all over between the Paracyprichromis that I thought might be cool, to odessa barbs, Turkana jewel cichlids, and now perhaps Aulonocara "ruby red" (supposedly Aulonocara rubescens, but I don't see an authority on that, so 🤷‍♂️).  Unless it tiurns out to be a hybrid, I might go with that last.  I mean look at this thing!


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Today I made my first ever Repashy gel food fish.  I made the Super Green for my mbuna in the Rock Reef tank.  I decided to make a tray of it and add green beans (canned of course a la @Preston John) and some seaweed flakes.  The stuff smelled okay when in powered form, but when it got wet it was a different story! 🤢  My family has "asked" me to no longer prep this while they are home.  Luckily, I made a good sized tray:


There is no way I can use all of that in time before it spoils in the fridge, so I cubed it, and put it in the freezer.  I think this heap is going to last me for at least a few months!


Next time, I'll add the green beans to the bottom first, but otherwise it was really easy!  I know @Zenzo does a DIY version, which I see as aspirational, but I'm easing into it.  It took the fish a little bit to realize this was food, as they are clearly accustomed to flake.  But eventually they figured it out and seemed to like it (sorry for the odd angle through the glass, I had to take the shot over the heads of small children where were excited to see the "fun fish" eat their new food):


Overall, I'm excited to see how this turns out.  The "vegan" nature of the mix, I am hoping, will prevent Malaŵi bloat.  I had already learned though that I am going to need to place the cubes well as they have a tendency to roll into the caves because of the higher flow.  That meant the two dominant males had full control of the food.  That won't be good for the subordinate males. 

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For high flow tanks I do bamboo sticks in the warm repashy. Then jam the empty part of the bamboo stick in the substrate or use a suction cup clip on the side. If you purée the green beans and seaweed it all adheres to the bamboo. 

side note freeze your repashy in the tray first so cubes don’t stick together. 

Welcome to psuedo-DIY food 🤗

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On 1/14/2023 at 3:35 PM, Guppysnail said:

For high flow tanks I do bamboo sticks in the warm repashy.

You know, I recalled that you did something like that for your snails.  It made me think that I should coat smaller rocks with it while it was warm, that way it would stay in place and allow the fish to do their natural scraping feeding action.  But then i thought about all of the extra storage space I would need in the freezer with gel covered rocks, and the exchange process would be annoying.  So, I instantly got lazier ideas.  Like putting the smaller rocks at the entrances so the cubes don't roll into the piles so easily. 🤣 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 1/15/2023 at 11:01 AM, eatyourpeas said:

You finally got your Mbunas and the rocks look great! 😍

Thanks!  You know how long I've wanted them, too.  Smaller scale than the original plan, but I think that's going to work out fine.

Today's update is that I finally, and at long last, have an automatic water changer (AWC) that I am happy with!  It took 4 iterations but I'm finally happy.  I've done PVC, drip irrigation line, PEX tubing, and none of those worked well for me.  Their either leaked, or were hard to regulate, and I ended up tearing all of them out eventually - at loads of wasted expense.  The ironic thing is my final setup is inexpensive.

So here it is:

1) I had to get some work done on my plumbing system (I have a well and so I have various filtration I manage).  This was probably the most expensive bit, but I got a harden hose valve installed in the spot that had the water at the stage of filtration I wanted to use.  To that, I attached a battery operated sprinkler timer from Amazon with two zones, which is all I needed.  Then I attached a fitting that got me to 3/8" RO line tubing.


2) The 3/8" line then runs to a group of tanks.  When I need to branch to a single tank, I use either a T fitting with a reduction to 1/4" RO line. 


3) The final tank on a line gets a reduction fitting down to 1/4" as well.


4) The water is delivered through my homemade tops via a 1/4" hole I drilled to create a tight fit for the incoming RO tubing.


And that's it!  It is the simplest system I've built, and probably not coincidentally, the one that has given me the fewest problems.  Really anyone who can hook up a garden hose, or use push connect fitting for a home RO filter, can build this.  Plus, it is quite inexpensive.  Finally, I have my forever AWC.  🥰

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