My brother Dan just had a birthday, and because I’m his favorite sister: I made him a plan for his Amazon river cichlid tank. Since I haven’t finished our basement and therefore don’t have room for a larger aquarium, I am thoroughly enjoying living vicariously through him.
Cichlid tank plantings
My brother doesn’t want to deal with dosing CO2 or having special lighting, so he mostly wanted help deciding on some low maintenance aquarium plants. Here’s the plan I made for him (click to enlarge):
For the record: my children refuse to nap unless I drive them around at approximately 2 in the afternoon for a good 30-40 minutes. They were melting down and clearly exhausted the other day, so I grabbed my Aquarium Plants book and a sketchbook and mostly completed this drawing in the parking lot of a Cabela’s, with my kids passed out in their car seats. But they weren’t tired…
Cichlids are omnivorous, so I had to choose the plants carefully. The ones selected grow rapidly, or have thicker leaves, making them less appealing to eat.
I can personally attest that the anubias and the java fern are extremely easy to grow, as our current aquarium is a 30 gallon starter tank that is lit up by the simple bulb that came with the kit.
The vallisernia is supposed to be easy to grow, and is beneficial in that it is an emergent plant. The main reason this is important is because aquarium plants need to absorb carbon dioxide to turn nutrients into energy. If the plant is emergent it has a virtually unlimited supply of CO2, allowing it to be much more effective at growing, and therefore filtering the tank.
I tried a sword plant before and it didn’t do terribly well; however, swords are relatively easy to grow. I know my brother Dan has had success with them in his previous tank, since his lights are better than mine, although still not “high tech”.
The description of Java moss in my aquarium plants book claimed that this is an easy to grow plant. Dan can test it and let me know how easy it is to grow, thus being my guinea pig for my future tank.
If you want to see some of the cool Cichlids he has picked out, you can see them here.
For those who are curious, my brother’s tank will be 8′ long, 20″ high, and 20″ wide. He is in the process of building the tank himself, which is why the tank is not a standard size. He designed it to fit his space.
You need a big tank if you want to have big cichlids. I actually drew in some of the fish he hopes to stock in his aquarium, and many of them can reach 10-12″. The drawing I created is to scale, although the bright blue cichlid (a blue ram) is way too big. The other two cichlids are a Jack Dempsey and a Red Terror.
I honestly debated whether to post this, but figured I already made the drawing and someone else might find it useful. At the very least, happy birthday Dan:)