First Attempt with Cichlids

Over the weekend, I bought 9 cichlids from QianHu to replace the goldfishes we had lost. Judging from their appearances, they should belong to the Mbuna Cichlids species, residing in Lake Malawi, Africa.

After some research, the species that I have now are Auratus (Melanochromis auratus), Electric Yellow Labido (Labidochromis caeruleus), but the plain white cichlids are still unidentifiable.

Even though mine is a 2ft tank, I decided to overstock the tank a little to spread out any possible aggression. Also, since their natural habitat is rocky with little plants, I try to setup a rockscape similar to it.

Went down to Aquastar this evening to buy some rocks. In the end I only bought two rocks, with the rest picked up from the roadside, which looked safe enough to be used:

I then scrubbed and washed them before putting them in piece by piece, trying to create as many hiding places as possible while making them look natural.

The plants were already in the tank prior to the cichlids, so I decided to include them in to provide some shade and greenery. Although the fishes are plant eaters in nature, so far they haven’t been eating off any of the leaves.

So far here’s the simple rockscape created for them. Looking forward to some algae growing on the rocks so they will look more natural, and the fishes can graze them for food.


Revamping for the Chinese New Year!

Wow how time flies! So it has been more than a year since I last updated on this blog? I must have been very laid back with my aquarium hobby over the past year… ^^|

True enough, our planted and goldfish tanks have been victims of my negligence for the longest period you can imagine. The CO2 tank had gone dry for more than a month, plants had been dying off and water change had been few and far between. Miraculously though, there was hardly any algae in the main planted tank despite the lack of maintenance; looks like our hungry Otto and SAEs were doing their jobs well cleaning the tank.

As for the goldfish tank, only the Oranda ‘Xiao Wu’ remained, who had been lonely and sulky since his companions died. The tank was also infested with algae.

As guilty as I was over the sorry state of the tanks, I was too preoccupied with the other commitments in life and had left the tanks, fishes and plants alone to fend for themselves. The only routine that I’ve ensured was to feed them once every night before I went for bed.

It was only over the last weekend that my wife Cat highlighted about the bad conditions of the tanks that prompted me to take some action. As Chinese New Year was nearing, she felt that I should do something with the tanks so as to bring in a fresh, renewed look to our home. Also, it would be inauspicious if we were to welcome the new year with these dirty tanks.

With all these as my motivational forces, I was determined to do something to the poor fishes which I am still very much responsible for.

On Tuesday, I started off by scrapping off the algae on the walls of the goldfish tank, followed by water change and cleaning the OHF (overhead filter). Following that, I turned my attention to the planted tank, siphoning the water (hardly any algae present to be scrapped off) and trimming away the rotten leaves of our Echinodorus Amazonicus (Amazon Sword) plants.

The next big task was to clean the external cannister filter for the tank. The last time I cleaned it, it was a year ago so it wasn’t difficult to imagine how dirty the filter had become. The water flow had been reduced to a weak flow of water due to this lack of maintenance and was affecting the ventilation of the tank. Surprisingly though, almost all the fishes in the tank were still okay despite all these; guess the tank itself had become quite self-sustainable biologically since it had been running for a while already.

It sure felt great after the cannister filter had been cleaned thoroughly, transforming it from a horrendous lump of dirt into one that was spanking clean. Of course the water from tank were used to clean the filter, so that none of the beneficial bacteria on the filter media would be killed by the chlorine if water straight from the tap was used.

By then, around 2 hours had passed since I started the cleaning process. I still had a task to settle before I were to call it a day — to fix the lightings. For the goldfish tank, one out of the two tubes was working, while only one out of the four tubes was still working for the main tank. Furthermore, the transparent protector for the light tubes of the main tank had turned yellowish, resulting in the tank looking dim, dull and yellowish.

After identifying the specifications of the florescence tubes and the amount I needed to replace, I made a note for my shopping trip at the LFS (local fish shop) the following day, and called it a night. Phew! It was already close to 1am then, and I still had to work the next day.

On Wednesday after work, I headed to the LFS in the adjacent neighbourhood, bringing along my empty CO2 tank for refill. It had been quite a long while since my last visit to the place.

Besides requesting to top up the CO2 tank (which would take two days) and getting the required florescence tubes, I also went on to pick up some fishes to add into our tanks. 6 male and 3 female guppies and 2 lionhead goldfishes were bought, together with some plants. I had also bought some fresh packets of fish food.

With that, I headed home and placed the plastic bags of fishes into their respective tanks, after switching off the lights of the tanks. This was to minimise any shock the new fishes might suffer while they were introduced to their new environments.

After about 30 minutes later when the temperatures between the waters in the plastic bags and tanks had been more or less balanced off, I released the fishes into the tanks, with the lights still switched off.

After our son had slept later that night, I started off with the tank revamp, which included cleaning of the plants and replacing the new light tubes for the tanks. I then planted the plants into the tanks.

These took some time but after seeing how much different the tanks looked after the revamp (too bad I didn’t take any of the ‘before’ photos), I felt a sense of satisfaction and revival of the hobby I once enjoyed so much. ^^

Planted Tank after Revamp

Goldfish Tank after Revamp

And so here are our current setups after the cleaning up. Hopefully I will be able to honour my responsibility to continue caring and maintaining the fishes and plants for the aquariums in the years to come.

Re-Arranging of Planted Tank’s Layout

This mini revamp might have been overdue for over four months, considering that I didn’t have time or motivation to do much with our aquarium since the arrival of our son Darius (see our Baby of Love blog for more information), except the routine feeding and water change regimes (even the frequency of water change has been reduced).

It was after borrowing several aquarium-related books from the community library recently that got my hyped up about my aquarium hobby again.

Besides getting a Betta to add to our community tank, I would also like to make some re-arrangements to the layout of our main planted tank, since it’s getting a little boring looking at the same layout day in day out.

I sketched a simple layout on how the new layout should look like, noting that some of the bigger plants in the tank should not be moved, since they already had their roots well established at their current locations. Instead, I would focus on shifting the two pieces of existing driftwoods and some smaller plants, while addding on another few pieces of driftwoods to form a hill-like structure on the left portion of the tank.

Some stones would also be added to cover part of the substrate, so the bottom won’t look so dull with its whitish substrate. Previously, I have tried to plant some carpet plants (HC, glosso, hairgrass etc) but none was successful, so the easier alternative will be to place some stones instead.

Knowing what were the items I needed to get, I proceeded down to the LFS in Yishun.

I rummaged through the pile of driftwoods on sale, which were priced according to their weight and size. I finally decided on two long pieces which could be placed side by side vertically to form a hill-like structure. I also purchased a bag of brownish stones and two plants. Our Betta was also bought there.

Bringing all these things home, I started to wash the driftwood thoroughly before placing them as how I’ve sketched out. Though the outcome was not exactly how I had thought it would turn out, I was still quite satisfied with the outlook. Since I didn’t have enough driftwood to fill up the entire 3-feet tank, I filled up the bare portion on the right with plants and stones.

A few days later, I bought some Riccia and HC (not giving up yet!) to add on to our layout and hopefully these will survive well and help beautify the tank. Two new T5 florescene light tubes were also added to replace the two spoilt tubes (they probably have failed quite a while but I didn’t notice).


"Hill View"


"Garden View"


Hemianthus Callitrichoides aka HC

The fishes appear to be liking the new layout too, as they have become more lively and are often seen swimming in the ‘garden’ region. I didn’t expect them to like stones that much.


Planted Tank Overview

Revamp of Goldfish Tank

I was doing a slightly major water change for the Main Planted Tank, trimming and replanting some of the plants as the tank was getting a bit congested.

With some extra plants leftover, I thought it was a waste to just throw them away, so I decided to plant them into the barren Goldfish Tank instead. Goldfishes are known to eat plants as food, so that’s why I haven’t been placing much plants with them. However, these leafy plants appear sturdier and it’s always better to give them a chance for survival rather than just dumping them away.

After placing the plants in, the tank sure looked brighter and beautiful, striking a nice contrast between the goldfishes and the plants. Glad to make a good decision.

How the tank looked like previously:

How it looks like now:

Future of the Guppy Tank

Following the Guppies’ Epidemic which left us with only around 10 guppies, it was time we decide what to do with the almost vacant 2-feet tank.

While some idea came to our minds, we moved on to vacate the tank of the remaining guppies and performing a 70% water change to clear off as much harmful bacteria and particles.

Using a quarantine tank, we filled it up with aged (overnight) water to ensure the water was of good quality. We then netted up all the guppies from the 2-feet tank and placed them in it with some ornaments:

I then proceeded to drain out around 50% of the water in the 2-feet tank, before moving the substrate in a re-shuffling of the ornaments. A lot of particles were thus floating all over the tank, signifying how dirty the tank was due to a growing population of its previous inhabitants.

Anyway, the bottom dwellers, such as the SAE, two dwarf loaches and an Oto were still kept in the tank so they had to endure with all the disturbances. At one point, the SAE jumped out of the water due to shock but fortunately he did not jump out of the tank.

After the ornaments were placed in their new locations, another 20% of the water was drained out, before I proceeded to pour in the aged water.

This was how the vacanted tank looked like:

New Carpet Plants Added

I went down to Aquastar at Yishun on Friday evening again (see Located a LFS at Yishun), with plans to buy another two bundles of the S$4.00 plants I bought the other day. After observing the initial plant I bought that day, we noticed healthy and lush green growth, and thus decided it was safe to get a couple more so we can decorate our foreground with these plants.

They are not exactly carpet plants, since these unknown stem plants seem to have capability to grow rather tall, thus more suited to be mid-ground plants. Still, they would look good when placed in the foreground provided they are trimmed regularly.

Upon getting the two new bundled plants, I simply placed them side by side, leaving a small gap between them, simulating a bushy fence. However, on Saturday morning, I decided to re-organise their location and placed them slightly slanted (i.e. not parallel to the front glass) and just in front of the driftwoods.

On the right driftwood, where there is a cave-like structure which the Garras seem to like, I have purposely place two bundle of plants on each side of the cave, thus creating a more attractive appearance.

So far the plants appear healthy, and hope they will stay that way. As they grow taller, I have plans to trim them off and re-plant them nearby so it will gradually become a full carpet for the foreground. However, we have qualms covering too much of the gravel as the bottom feeders such as Corydoras, Garras, loaches and the SAE enjoy scouting the area and having plants in the region might discourage them from roaming around.

Main Tank Updates

New fishes and plants have been added recently, with slight adjustments in the setup too.

We have just bought two Garra Flavatra at S$2.50 each (a drop in price from $5.00 a year back) as Cat loved Garra a lot. Though we are unable to revive the Garra we both liked, this is as much as we can do.

These two Garra were very active upon entering the Main Tank, swimming around to explore the area. Unfortunately, they appeared to be rather aggressive and seemed to be disturbing some of our existing inhabitants, such as the SAE and the Leopard Corydoras. Hopefully this won’t be too consistent and cause stressed to the fish.

The two competitive Garra Flavatra:



One Chain Loach died recently, after noticing that it had grown extremely thin. We were not sure what went wrong, as the other two were still living happily. Hopefully these two will continue to stay healthy and help control our snails population (they have been doing a great job on this).


Our guppies have also been getting along well with one another, and are often seen together as a group.


Our eldest guppy, Pretty, is still appearing healthy despite her age, but she had started to hunchback a while back. Guess this is just part of growing old.


On the other hand, our largest inhabitant, the SAE, seems to be relaxing and having a good life. This peacefulness of his may start to be shaken with the introduction of the two Garra though…


As for the plants, most are doing quite well, though there are occassional ‘melting’ leaves and growth of algae. We will just observe and let the plants grow on their own for the moment.