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Old 03-07-2014, 01:17 PM   #1
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african cichlid substrate

I need multiple opinions on different substrates for african cichlids. The tank will be a 75 gallon with either a sump or canister filter or both. I like the looks of sand, but dont have experience with cleaning it and have concerns with it getting into the impeller of the filter and messing it up. Also, after around a year, how do you deep clean sand?
I also need a substrate that is not going to cloud water for days and days, and will also need to be able to buffer the ph and keep it up to keep the fish healthy and as colorful as possible.
lighting will be LED so that algae doesnt get out of control in between cleanings (once a month)
So do I choose, sand? If so what kind? pool filter sand? aragonite?
Do i get crushed coral? What brand?
regular aquarium gravel? What brand?
pea gravel?
Thank you for looking and giving your input!!!!
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Old 03-07-2014, 01:32 PM   #2
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What is the pH coming out of your tap? If it's around 7.8, you really don't need any kind of buffer since it should be fine (though having 8.2'ish will be great if you plan on keeping wilds). I currently have 5 KH and 7.8-8.0 pH out of my tap, but I always add 2 teaspoon of baking soda to get the KH to 10 and pH to 8-8.2 during every water change, so if you need to get your KH up, then baking soda will be a good supplement to get 2 birds with 1 stone (or 2 fish with 1 net :P). Substrate is down to personal preference, my vote will always be for pool filter sand. It's heavier than play sand, so it won't go into your filters and it only takes about 10-15 minutes to clean, plus it looks very natural. Keeping it clean is easy as well, if you have a siphon to remove waste, it'll also move the sand around to remove any leftover particles and gas that may lay underneath.

In addition, LED's will probably still grow a good amount of algae depending on how long you leave your lights on and how big your tank is. I too have LED's and currently leave them on for 12 hours a day because I actually want the algae on my rocks to give it a natural feel :P But of course, the algae growth won't be as rapid as it would be if you had a T5 HO fixture or something of the sort :P
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Old 03-07-2014, 01:44 PM   #3
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I think my ph is a basic 7.0 or so coming out of my tap. I considered running it through an RO/DI filter to make it pure water. Is that necessary for mbunas or peacocks which will probably be going in this tank? This tank will be going into a place of business which I will only check and clean/maintain once a month after the cycle is complete, so I want a good self-maintaining tank to where I wont be worried about the water parameters between water changes/cleanings
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Old 03-07-2014, 01:58 PM   #4
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It all goes down to trial and error and getting the right mix if you plan on having both mbunas and peacocks. Most would say don't mix the two because it'll cause mayhem, which is likely to happen if there are any females in the tank; but it "could" be done depending on what you're stocking and how much time you have to really examine the aggression level. Since it's not a personal tank, I'd just go the easy route and go with one of the two.

I'm not 100% sure if having the tank in the office is good if it'll only get a PWC once a month, the nitrates will be through the roof if you're going to feed them twice a day (when you get into work and before you leave). Ph is on the lower side, if it's stable then they'll probably be fine, but obviously it won't be as comfortable and pleasant for them. You'll also need to acclimate them properly because I'm assuming the pH at your LFS is around 7.6-7.8, so dropping them into a 7.0 tank would throw them into a shock and could be deadly.
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Old 03-07-2014, 02:43 PM   #5
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Fish will probably be fed every other day to keep the waste and ammonia down and all that. Most africans like the ph close to 8. Unless the tank is way over stocked it doesnt need water changes every week.
But anyways, I want the substrate to be the most natural and comfortable for the fish. But water clarity is a must. It is not my place of business, its a dentist office that wants a cichlid tank. So I wanted to get it set up, using seeded media to get the cycle going, and a substrate that doesnt cloud the water for days
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Old 03-07-2014, 03:06 PM   #6
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i prefer pool filter sand for cichlids...they seem to enjoy it more...easy to clean, same as gravel...

pool filter sand works good because they are coarser grains...pour it all in a large tub/bucket and stick the water hose in it and let it run for a while...stir often...this will flush out all the finer particles and everything left will sink rapidly....turn off filter while adding if concerned about it getting sucked up while dumping in...
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Old 03-07-2014, 03:07 PM   #7
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Of course mbunas and peacocks prefer a pH of 8-8.2, however since you said it's only getting maintained once a month, buffering the pH from 7 to 8 won't do much since it could easily go down if the KH is low and the pH fluctuating like that will cause a lot of stress on the fish. Also weekly water changes aren't only for overstocked tanks, it's for regular stocked tanks as well and the amount and frequency is dependent on your filtration.

You'll also need to consider diatoms that'll be developing in the new tank, it'll be covering the glass, sand and decorations for the first 1-3 months; so if you clean the sand good enough then this will be the next maintenance issue to tackle if the employees at that office doesn't like the brown.
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Old 03-07-2014, 03:27 PM   #8
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ok so lets say i buy some pfs, and rinse and rinse it. is there anything i could soak it in to make sure it is perfectly clean/healthy when i put it into the tank?
Also, the tank will have south seas base rock or lace rock in it as a ph buffer as well.
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Old 03-07-2014, 03:33 PM   #9
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pfs is safe...especially after rinse...can pour boiling water through it if desired...
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Old 03-07-2014, 11:07 PM   #10
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where can I buy PFS online for a good deal? are there different brands that are better than others?
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