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Old 11-30-2003, 03:37 PM   #1
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Shells in an African Cichlid Tank

I am starting a 55 gal tank African Cichlid tank. So far I have this great sand from Criba-Sea that says it is specifically for an african tank and has small shells mixed into the sand, so I am not so worried about it. The man at the store (sales only fish and supplies) told me that the africans love hard alkaline water and that if I want to put shells in the tank to go for it. So, I would love too, of course. So far I have the sand mentioned above, a feathered rock and a fake coral (rubber I think). Any reason why I shouldn't put in shells? Anyone have any cautions or suggestions? I would rather learn from someone elses experience!! LOL
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Old 11-30-2003, 04:09 PM   #2
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My only word of advice at this point would be that I have some 'crushed snail' shell stuff, and it never seemed to quite work. In general, crushed coral is what is suggested for buffering the ph.

Otherwise, african like lots of rock and caves to hide in. how many are you planning to get?
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Old 11-30-2003, 04:19 PM   #3
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I haven't decided on how many fish to get yet. However, the more I read the more convinced I am that I need more caves, so I may have to change the design I was going for. Thanks for your thoughts
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Old 11-30-2003, 06:49 PM   #4
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Shells will work just fine in a tank set up for Rift Lake African cichlids. Just make sure they are THOROUGLY cleaned out before you use them.
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Old 11-30-2003, 09:57 PM   #5
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Which cichlids are you planning on getting? There are specific species known as "shell-dwellers" that actually live in the shells. I've heard many people really enjoy these types of cichlids.

If you are still interested in building caves, your local landscaping company will be able to furnish the rocks for your tank. I got a large bucket of rocks (~50#) for $25. The rocks were already dried and mostly cleaned.
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Old 11-30-2003, 11:07 PM   #6
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Shell dwellers

I want to have a Yellow Lab so I understand I need to stick with the Lake Malawi fish. The shell dwellers sound interesting I would love to find out more about them, do you know a name of one of them?
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Old 12-01-2003, 02:19 AM   #7
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The shell dwellers are from both Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika (perhaps others, too?). The most famous example is the Tanganyikan Neolamprologus multifasciatus. The Maylandia livingstonii is the most famous Malawi example (almost got some myself), but they do eventualy grow larger (3-4 inches) and abandon the shells.

You're right to think that a Malawi or Tanganyika biotope is the best way to go (I'm building one for one of my professors ATM) in terms of pH and compatibility, but the lines don't have to be drawn firmly between the two lakes. Keeping Malawi and Tanganyika cichlids together at a pH of 8.5 or so would be fine. I *am* a purist, so when designing this tank, I'm going for all Malawi! Most ppl, myself included, would advise this.

Read up *thoroughly* on African Cichlids, though, if you haven't already. It sounds like you might be adding 1 member of a species only. This does sometimes work, but in general you should try to combine 1 male of a species with 3+ females. This minimizes aggression which can, in any AC tank, be a big issue. Yellow Labs are no exception, though they are far from the worst (I'm looking at you Auratus, Johanii and Compressiceps ). Also, YLs are a great fish to have 4-5 of, as both males and females are very bright and colorful.

Obviously your sense of aesthetics will lead you towards diversifying the characteristics of your fish. This is a good thing! AC species that are too similar in body shape (morphology) or color will pick fights with each other. Try to get some blues, some yellows, some stripes, some peacocks etc.

Don't overstock the tank... 3 species is the max you'll be able to keep, probably.

One last really important thing to keep in mind is that M'bunas and Haps (different "flocks" from Lake Malawi) have very different dietary needs. The best route to take is to not combine the flocks. If you place M'bunas in with Haps, you'll find that the protein-rich food the Haps need is too difficult on the M'buna digestive tracts (they eat "aufwuchs," a combination of algaes and other aquatic veggie material). They will get "Malawi Bloat" (intestinal blockage) and die...

I've found www.malawicichlids.com to be an invaluable resource. It is scientific and incredibly helpful. Check them out if you haven't already.

HTH[/i]
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Old 12-01-2003, 02:24 AM   #8
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P.S. I've just gotten Kribensis this week (ACs from further up the continent). Check out my gallery: http://www.aquariumadvice.com/photop...r=1990&thumb=1 The pix should be up and approved by noon Dec 1.

Just an idea of what some of the other ACs look like if you didn't know. These are best kept in pairs, and are easy to breed! They are also quite stunningly beautiful. I'm having a hard time keeping myself from turning around--the tank is behind me.
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Old 12-01-2003, 03:33 AM   #9
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I though kribs need acidic tank as they are not from Tanganyika/malawi. I think they r S.American Cichlids.
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Old 12-01-2003, 07:42 AM   #10
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Kribs are African, but not from the Rift Valley Lakes. They are a river/stream species as I understand it.
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Old 12-01-2003, 11:15 AM   #11
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Kribensis are a riverine species from West Africa. The water parameters found there are close to that found in Central America dwarf cichlid habitats. Adding kribs to a Rift Lake aquarium wouldn't be a good idea, as the hard water and high pH would be very detrimental to the kribbie's health.
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