January 26, 2010
Initial Cichlid Grow-out Tank Setup
MY INITIAL JACK DEMPSEY CICHLID FRY
Not very pretty, but it worked.
This initial grow-out diagram is the setup for my first batch of Jack Dempsey cichlid fry that I reared to adults. As you may have seen, I now have modified this fishroomwith 9 aquariums on central filtration systems. (see ‘Fish Breeding Room’ ) The homemade filters sketched below are, however, very effective and I still use one or two from time to time on very heavy bio-loads.
A few people that have checked out this site have asked me about the first babies this breeding pair had. I wasn’t prepared for the 2nd clutch they had and the fry all died within 2 days of hatching. It may have been due to the fact that I wasn’t feeding the breeders much of a varied diet at that time. But the very first batch they had was a success. I estimate that they had about 350 to 400 hatchlings but after the first week we were down to maybe 150. This all took place in a 10 gallon aquarium. The pair were half the size they are now (male 4.5”, female 3”) so even with the babies, the aquarium wasn’t all that crowded, at least at first.
They grew rapidly because I was, as usual, feeding the tank 5 to 6 times a day. The adults ground up all the food so that the babies could eat and that kept me cleaning the gravel quite a bit. What a trick it was to vacuum the gravel and not suck up babies. I did catch many but I scooped them out and put them back..
About a month after the birth of the fry, I moved to another residence out of state. I had to pack the adults and babies into a 15 gallon plastic drum with a tight fitting lid. The move took all day and by the time I had the 10 gallon aquarium set up again it was late that day. They had been in the drum for about 8 hours and I lost many babies. I think the parents panicked and killed them. Once they were settled in, everything was fine. I had about 80 babies now but the parents seemed very comfortable taking care of them as before.
After about a week of watching all these fish growing rapidly, I got my hands on a 20 gallon aquarium. I transferred the adults into the 20 and left all the babies in the 10. This worked out very well for the babies but the parents soon hid away in their caves and for weeks I hardly ever saw them out swimming around.
I eventually had to place the babies in a larger grow-out tank. I had a 40 gallon aquarium that I had built some years earlier so I dusted it off, cleaned it out and filled it with water. Two days later, all the babies were happily swimming around in it. It’s not a pretty tank but it sure serves this purpose very well, for now at least.
I began to power feed the young. What I mean by that is that I fed them often and fed them a lot. I fed worms from the yard, soft insects, frozen brine
These filters are submerged in a 10 gallon aquarium with an air-stone and a 200 watt heater, keeping the water temp close to 77F.
Water siphons in from the 40 Gal tank through a double siphon. The debris is then sucked into one of the 3 filters. The filters have ceramic bio media in the bottom, covering over the top of the pump. Over that
is a layer of polyester filter material. The debris is drawn through the lid, filtered and then returned by the pump to other areas.
Each filter houses a small pump that turns over about 150 gph ea. Total GPH is approx. 450.
Filter/pump (#1) pumps filtered water into the 20 gallon tank that houses 12 Jack Dempseys.
Filter/pump (#2) pumps filtered water directly into an old Ehiem filter canister that is supported on the rims of the aquariums and feeds water that is treated with carbon filtration directly into the 40 gallon tank by gravity feed.
Filter/pump (#3) pumps filtered water directly into the 40 gallon tank housing 20 JDs. Two large siphons (#4) keep water levels in check and keep most of the debris off the bottom and into the filters.
This layout works very well. If power goes out there is no chance of an overflow.
shrimp and my own homemade gellatin foods with plenty of greens. Feeding in this way does produce a lot of fish waste and uneaten food particles. All this is siphoned off the bottom every day. (no gravel in the tanks) I was anxious to quickly get them to about 2 to 3 inches so that I could get the local pet stores to take them off my hands. I wasn’t asking for money or even a trade, I simply wanted to get them out of the house. I cannot just dump them down the toilet as so many people suggested I do.
These 80 babies over the next couple of months grew like mushrooms but when it came time to offer them up to the local stores… NO INTEREST. One friend of mine who owns a retail pet store did offer to take 12 of my largest. I think they all sold within 14 days. I’ve given a few away to friends and family and soon I was down to 32. They are getting huge and I had to add another 20 gallon tank to thin them out. I’m also using the original 10 gallon aquarium as a central filter for the 40 gallon and the 20 gallon. (see diagram on this page) The diagram shows how this is all laid out. Nothing fancy at all. It’s all housed in a basement room that was built to be a photography darkroom. So what if there aren’t any windows and the walls are painted black. It has a full double sink with hot and cold running water and that makes cleaning filters a breeze. It’s a good thing because I’m cleaning filters every other day or so and changing water daily. In this 70 gallon system I usually change 12 to 15 gallons daily and when I clean all the filters at the same time, I’m changing about 20 gallons. In the process of changing water, I siphon the floor of the aquariums, including the 10 gallon filter. There is lots of residue that accumulates there and with no gravel in any of these tanks, it’s easy to simply siphon off the bottoms.
These fish are very healthy and I enjoy watching how they all get along so well as they bump and smash into each other at feeding time. When I dump a bunch of cichlid sticks in all at once, the water is churned up and splashed all over me and the floor. As you Cichlid owners know, most cichlids are very messy eaters and I think Jack Dempseys are the “King of Messy”. I turn the central filter off for about 20 minutes when feeding them. This is on a timer so that I can leave the room and know that the pumps will turn back on 20 minutes later. This give the fish time to consume the food particles that drop to the bottom of the tank. They will clean most of this up if they can get at it. Before I set up the timer for the pumps, my filters would clog up after a few days with uneaten food. It’s under control now.
So check out the diagram and see how simple it is to connect these aquariums in series to provide some excellent filtering. A couple of large siphons, 3 small statuary pumps (about 150 gph each) and 3 $1.00 food storage containers is all it takes, along with about 15 feet of 3/4″ OD plastic tubing. I had an old Ehiem filter canister sitting around that the pump had burned out and I used that as a bio-drip filter. It does a great job. The filter worked good and the fish looked great in this “World Of juvenile Jack Dempseys”.
— Jack Lamountain
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