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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have a 55 Gallon tank with 8 blue johani cichlids...these fish are amazing. I have done research on this and most of it says planting a tank with these fish in it is not advised. From what ive seen of the fishes activity I am guessing this is correct. They dig, dig and dig more.
I would like to replicate their habitat as well as I can (lake malawi). I find it hard to believe there is no plant life in this lake.
Any suggestions? Or am I better off leaving the tank unplanted?

I do have over 20 yrs experience, but this is my first old world tank.
 

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I am certainly not an expert when it comes to the rift lakes, but my understanding is that Lake Malawi is basically a rock landscape. At a depth well below sea level, plant life would have to be restricted to the shores. There are stands of Vallisneria in the sandy substrate. Many of the cichlid species inhabit the deeper rocky areas.

When I had rift lake fish many, many years ago, I used a calcareous substrate and had Corkscrew Vallisneria planted in a few patches, with a tumbled rock backdrop. Vallisneria is a hard water plant that always grows better in such water, so it is an ideal plant. We have two species in our profiles, Vallisneria spiralis var. spiralis which is the corkscrew, and then the much larger Vallisneria americana var. americana. There are in fact only two species in the genus, and these two varieties are the most commonly encountered. Further info in the profiles [click the shaded names].

Byron.
 
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Although they're not Lake Malawi, I would suggest anubia attached to rocks. At least they're African. If you are not determined to keep things African, you could do the same with Java Ferns. These plants can be attached to objects above the substrate and aren't impacted as much by the digging of the fish. They are also somewhat tough and not attractive to plant eaters. Their light and nutrition levels are low also.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
I will get my son to take some pics when he gets home from class. They are really active, love them. Hoping to get some breeding, but they are just leaving juvenile stage. pics coming soon
I currently have 2 male and 6 females in tank. And there is a lot of display and posturing. mainly within sexes. Just in the past few days I have noticed the dominant male and the largest female courting. *keeps fingers crossed*
 

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Just a heads up, when eggs are laid, the dominant pair might kill their tank mates...

Anubis, java fern, mosses, and African water fern (bolbitis) can all be attached to rocks or wood.
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If you want to match the biotope, then limit the plants to maybe vallisneria, mosses (to mimic algae) and floaters.
 
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