Am ready to add a school of 80 neon tetras to an established 180-gallon.
Have been using rainwater to gradually bring down the ph and hardness compared to our hard, alkaline highly treated tap water.
Have found a seeming "hold" spot through many water changes that stays at ph 7.1; kh
5 through weekly large 25% (40 gallon) water changes using 25-30 gallons of rain water and the rest tap which can include a small amount of very hot softened water as I can only bypass the cold water. Very stable water with utterly zero ammonia and nitrate with very steady nitrate that via the API test is as orange as possible without being red. It has stayed that color since cycling over six months ago. I've verified a range of colors by testing tap water and a mix of such with aquarium water.
Moderately planted with a fair amount of shade from "open" piles of large "holey" rocks. Highly highly aerated with varied currents. Lighting varies but is generally moderate. Tankmates are 5 adult red parrots, 1 adult firemouth, 1 large pleco, 30 or so guppies and 6+ cory cats that are repeatedly and successfully spawning. I don't believe the cichlids will bother the neons as the guppies successfully breed. Originally I'd put in a few small (perhaps as big as a small neon) guppies in with them as a treat to find them not only ignored but breeding very successfully. More living plants will be added on the right side in the next couple months and the current ones are growing strongly.
Current staple diet is floating cichlid pellets and Omega One flakes with fresh hatched brine shrimp, freeze dried tubifex and [soon] mosquito larvae as treats a few times a week.
Would they appreciate more frequent brine shrimp?
Am aware of their natural habitat and that acid and softer water with low lighting is ideal but believe they easily tolerate the conditions described as long as breeding isn't expected and the water chemistry stays very stable. Correct?
They're coming direct from a wholesale supplier and I intend to put into a very aerated 10-gallon and gradually add water from the aquarium they will inhabit over a few days.
What else can I do to ease their transition and keep them reasonably happy?