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Questions on Filtration, Substrate and Plants for a new Cichlid tank

This is a discussion on Questions on Filtration, Substrate and Plants for a new Cichlid tank within the Cichlids forums, part of the Freshwater and Tropical Fish category; --> Originally Posted by Cja313 I pulled the info below directly from my county's water treatment/distribution webpage. "Typically, our water is "moderately hard" to "hard" ...

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Questions on Filtration, Substrate and Plants for a new Cichlid tank
Old 11-30-2012, 07:01 AM   #11
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cja313 View Post
I pulled the info below directly from my county's water treatment/distribution webpage.

"Typically, our water is "moderately hard" to "hard" (5 - 10 grains per gallon, or 84 - 170 mg/l)."

Some towns use mutliple water sources and the blending ratios can vary so periodic tap water testing is a good idea. In my case, it's the GH that periodically swings based on the % of water drawn from the town wells vs the reservoir. Now if only I could time it just right for my water changes!
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:58 AM   #12
 
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Byron, I finally got a chance to test my tap water now that my API Master Test kit and my GH and KH test kit arrived.

The results were as follows pH of 7.4
GH 4 degrees
KH 3 Degrees

Guess this means my water is moderatley soft. I would have sworn it would have been moderateley hard. I even had my LFS which is less than 1/2 a mile from me test their water (paper strip) and their results were practically Identical, yet their Cichlids do fine. So is it a MUST to really boost the paramaters of the hardness up to bout 10-12 Degrees and the pH closer to 8 if I want to keep Cichlids? That would involve a lot of work getting the fish I buy acclimated. I heard that the fish might not grow as big and will most likely not breed in the current water parameters, but to me this isnt a big deal because I wouldnt know what to do with the Fry. What are your thoughts?
Rift lake cichlids will absolutely not be healthy in soft water. It is a physiological issue. Every species of fish on the earth has evolved to live in their respective habitats. Many factors play into this, but here we are dealing with water parameters. The rift lakes are some of the hardest and most alkaline freshwater on the planet, and the cichlids species are endemic to these lakes [endemic meaning the species are found no where else]. Their physiology is such that they need hard minerals (calcium, magnesium) and these must be in the water or the fish will have many difficulties including osmoregulatory functions, immune system, etc. It is not possible to change the physiology of a fish species without hundreds of years of evolution.

The conditions in a store tank are temporary. Most--but not all--fish can tolerate unfavourable water parameters for the short term, though in many cases internal damage is done that may only show up months or years later. Stores hope to sell their fish soon, to make money; that is why they are in business, and there is nothing wrong with that. But once we acquire these fish, we must understand their respective needs and be able to provide them. Read the blue paragraph in my signature block.

Your tap water as I mentioned is ideally suited to soft water fish. It will be much easier to maintain such fish. Many of our members would give almost anything to have this water; make use of it. And have healthy and happy fish to enjoy.

Byron.
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Old 11-30-2012, 01:36 PM   #13
 
I think as I set up the tank and cycle it, Im going to do the crushed coral in both filters and see what my water parameters are after 3-4 weeks. hoping I can get the pH 7.8 or close to it and Im hoping that the Coral will be enough to boost the GH and KH significantly. (to the 10-15 degrees range) Because I dont want to be a Chemist and constantly have to add stuff to the water for water changes, Im hoping this will be sufficient in keeping water in the alkaline range. If not, I'll definitely have to look into keeping SA or CA Cichlids.

Even if Im unsuccessful at raising the GH, is there a way to increase the KH so that I can remain more confident that my pH wont fluctuate? If I'm not mistaken, a higher KH means more of a buffer and more likely that the pH will remain constant, which is key.
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Old 11-30-2012, 01:43 PM   #14
 
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Originally Posted by Cja313 View Post
I think as I set up the tank and cycle it, Im going to do the crushed coral in both filters and see what my water parameters are after 3-4 weeks. hoping I can get the pH 7.8 or close to it and Im hoping that the Coral will be enough to boost the GH and KH significantly. (to the 10-15 degrees range) Because I dont want to be a Chemist and constantly have to add stuff to the water for water changes, Im hoping this will be sufficient in keeping water in the alkaline range. If not, I'll definitely have to look into keeping SA or CA Cichlids.

Even if Im unsuccessful at raising the GH, is there a way to increase the KH so that I can remain more confident that my pH wont fluctuate? If I'm not mistaken, a higher KH means more of a buffer and more likely that the pH will remain constant, which is key.
If you go the rift lake cichlid route with hard water, the best solution is a substrate of calcareous sand. These sands composed of crushed coral and aragonite are commonly available as they are used in marine tanks a lot. This will up the GH, KH and pH suitable for rift lake fish. A small amount of calcareous gravel in the filter willnot do it; I've gone down this road. It raises GH minimally, maybe 1 dGH if that, but will send the pH soaring. Both GH and pH have to be together here.

Aside from this, is your question on KH related to keeping soft water, or to the hard? If you decide to stay with soft water you don't need to bother about KH.
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Old 11-30-2012, 02:03 PM   #15
 
If I was staying with my current soft water, with a ph of 7.2-7.4, I was wondering what I could do to ensure there are no pH fluctuations. so I wanted to bump up the Buffer in the water (kH?). But now that I think about it, if Im replacing tank water with tap water that has the same pH, there shouldnt be any flucutations......silly me!!:)
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Old 11-30-2012, 05:53 PM   #16
 
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If I was staying with my current soft water, with a ph of 7.2-7.4, I was wondering what I could do to ensure there are no pH fluctuations. so I wanted to bump up the Buffer in the water (kH?). But now that I think about it, if Im replacing tank water with tap water that has the same pH, there shouldnt be any flucutations......silly me!!:)
Not silly, as pH fluctuation is a normal thing, depending upon this and that. Generally speaking, the pH will tend to lower in an aquarium due to the production of carbonic acid from the CO2 resulting from the breakdown of organics and respiration (fish, plants and bacteria). This is the general, but other factors affect this.

Primarily the KH (bicarbonate hardness), up to a point depending upon the KH. Calcareous substances will prevent it from falling (usually) and actually raise it. Tannin materials like wood, leaves, peat will add more acid which will work to lower the pH even more, again subject to the KH.

Live plants create a normal diurnal fluctuation in pH; it will be lowest when the tank lights come on, and highest when the lights go off.

Water changes can also impact pH, sometimes keeping it more stable, sometimes creating greater fluctuations. And again this depends upon the initial KH, materials in the tank, plants, etc.

I don't know if fish species were mentioned, but in general soft water fish are acidic water fish.

Byron.
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Old 12-02-2012, 02:02 AM   #17
 
you could try potting the plants and using tank decore to hide the pots, or go with java moss and java ferns and tie them to wood
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