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First timer starting a new 125 gallon tank.

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fishnchips Level 1 Member
Level 1 Member

Posts: 2
I am looking for advice on fish combinations and other non-fish additions to put together to create a fairly easy to maintain tank. I work in a residential treatment center with kids from the ages of 8 to 12. We had a 125 gallon tank donated to us. I have been tasked with setting it up. We had a discussion with the kids about the types of fish we could get for the tank. They want fish that will be fun to watch so when they are feeling upset or down they can watch the fish. The main vote getter was a school of silver dollars.

Would this be a good way to go? What kind of fish would work well with silver dollars? How should I structure the tank?

Thanks for the time and advice!

abmcdonald Level 4 Member
Level 4 Member

Posts: 141
Location: Shakopee
I generally see African Cichlids from Lake Malawi in tanks set up in circumstances like you are describing. You can get lots of color and lots of activity, in a relatively easy to maintain setup. The fish tend to be hardy and relatively cheap. The aquascaping involves rock work. If some algae grows on the rocks it makes the tank look more natural IMO, whereas if you are using plastic plants with silver dollars algae looks terrible on the plants and cleaning is a pain. Don't get me wrong, my favorite tank right now is a planted "community" discus tank, but I put way more work into that tank than my african tank (lake Tanganika) and the fish seem to be equally happy in both as judged by coloration and nonstop breeding attempts even if fry/eggs are eaten by other tankmates in both tanks.

Is the facility state run or a nonprofit? I only ask because the Minnesota Aquarium Society has a fish in the schools program that MAY have some help for you.

fishnchips Level 1 Member
Level 1 Member

Posts: 2
It is a non profit. Thanks for the suggestion, that is something I will for sure consider.

Passionfish Level 20 Member
Level 20 Member

Posts: 12190
Location: apple valley, mn
Agree with Mr. McDonald concerning contact with MAS. A local mentor would be helpful for a few months until tank is settled in.
The primary factor in determing what fish to place in the tank is chemistry of tap water. Find fish that will do well in tap water at location of tank. Determine pH, alkalinity and hardness. Also does the facility have a water heater that can provide at least 65 gal of water mixed to 78 degress?


If tap water has sufficent alkalinity and hardness then I agree with Mr. McDonald in that a tank of mbuna would provide the most diverse colors, no contest. However, about the only community mbuna cichlids can live in includes other cichlids from African great lakes.
Again with Mr. McDonald in that mbuna display great activity in tank. Key to ensure this is to have correct number of fish in tank. Point on high resistance to disease and health issues is also true provided their is excellent oxygenation and weekly water changes of 50% or more are performed. Mechanical filter will require weekly cleaning also.
My decor choice for this type of tank is sand substrate with nice looking rocks arranged for mbuna. Sunken wood is not normal for mbuna decor but it can be added provided alkalinity is high to very high.
Like a complete unknown

yoimbrian Level 3 Member
Level 3 Member

Posts: 56
You don't see many goldfish owners on this forum, but I love mine. They are among the hardiest fish you can get. If you go the fancy route you can get different colors and shapes and big googly eyes and whatever. They are also really active mine are always on the move. They are also dirt cheap to buy, petsmart gets new shipments of different kinds each week. You can also save money and hassle and you don't even need a heated tank, they'll be perfectly happy at room temperature (the bill in the winter of keeping something like discus at 85F in a 120 gallon would be significant).

The main downside is they are dirty fish, they eat and poop a lot.


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