#196: 1200L Biotope Aquascape The Blue Followers' Playground (Malawi Lake)

Popa Cristian George Secchiano - Novafeltria, Italy


Very well done. I like your theme and you have done a great job completing it. I also appreciate all the detail you hve given us about your chosen biotope and its inhabitants!
— Karen Randall
I applaud your research and the effort put into reflecting the theme of "Blue Followers". Not many people put such consideration into their fish species selection. I love that you play hide and seek with food items to stimulate natural behaviors.
— Phil Edwards

Aquascape Details

Dimensions 148 × 106 × 75 cm
Title The Blue Followers' Playground (Malawi Lake)
Volume 1200L
Background - 4 artificial background modules
- on the 2 sides of tank , I used a black sticker outside the tank
Lighting 1 AQL freshwater lamp with 2 T5 54W neon tubes Aqua Medic Aqualine Reef White
Filtration - I used a system with overflow and a 200 liters DIY Sump driven by a RUWAL pump 3500L/h.The sump is filled with a large amount of filter materials: Aqua Medic bioballs, Eheim ceramics, lava rocks, zeolite, blue sponges and synthetic wool.
Plants No
Animals The "Blue Followers" group:
- 5 Placidochromis phenochilus Mdoka "White Lips" 2M/3F;
- 3 Cyrtocara moorii / Malawi "Blue Dolphin" 2M/1F;

The big substrate foraging "host":
- 3 Taeniolethrinops furcicauda 1M/2F;

The other tankmates:
- 5 Placidochromis sp.Jalo 2M/3F
- 4 Sciaenochromis fryeri "Iceberg" 2M/2F
- 3 Copadichromis cyaeneus 1M/2F.

Materials - 70 kg of fine sand Ambra by Zolux and around 70 kg of river rocks.
Additional Information In this tank I tried to recreate a Malawi biotope specific to the "intemediate zone" wich is a transition zone between rocky and sandy areas. This type of habitat is one of 7 macro habitats described in the Malawi Lake.
Like in the nature, I tried to do a gradual transition of the background components from the rocky wall to the sandy area and leaving a generous sandy area and a big open space.
The entire composition of this tank gravitate around a fascinating group of sand sifting cichlids known as "Blue followers" who have in common an interesting feeding behaviour. They follow close-behind a substrate foraging "host" such as big cichlids species of Taeniolethrinops and Fossorochromis genus in order to feed with the small edible organisms (invertebrates, crustaceans)stirred up by them.

In my tank the "Blue Followers" are represented by 2 species: Placidochromis phenochilus Mdoka and Cyrtocara moorii. The big followed "host" is Taeniolethrinops furcicauda.

In order to stimulate their natural feeding behaviour and searching food instinct, very often, I use to play a "game" with them by hidding small frozen pieces of shrimps in the sand.
It is an incredible and fascinating show to see how the big Taenio dig deep into the sand and the others wait for some bits of shrimps revealed with the materials stirred up.

The water parametres are: pH-8; GH-16; KH-12; NO3-4mg/L; NH4/NH3,NO2 - absents; 30-50% water changes weekly with Seachem Prime conditioner.

The tank is a trully DIY one - I made the entire construction from A-Z all by myself.

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