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Discussion Starter #1
So I bought a 50 gallon tank on craigslist, just planning on filling it with gouramis or something like that when the seller said that he recommended cichlids. It wasn't my plan to have cichlids as this is my first tank besides a betta and I've heard they are very sensitive with water quality. I've decided to give it a go, and I currently have just started the cycle. Here is what I've done:
1. I bought a 50 gallon tank on craigslist with sand and crushed coral, plus a light and glass tops.


2. My cousin and I used hand-held strainers to separate the sand and crushed coral, as they were mixed.

3. We washed the crushed coral
4. We put the sand down, and then the crushed coral.
5. We found some smooth stones in my backyard and washed them (without soap of course), and placed them in the crushed coral along with a (I think it is limestone) rock that he gave me.




6. Slowly poured in water with buckets.
7. Got our 30-60 gallon Aqua-Tech filter running (which is only 330 gph, so later I fix that).




8. We put the backing he gave us on the back of the tank. One side was black, and the other side was a colorful background, which is what I chose.
9. I got a small Aqua-Tech 10-15 gallon filter, which is 100 gph, bringing my filters filtering 430 gph.




10. My Finnex 30-60 gallon heater came in the mail. I was worried, because it is tiny and only 150 watts, but I'm really impressed with it, it gets the whole tank exactly or very close to what I set it to.


11. I put in some decorations and fake plants (I have a small cave coming in the mail soon).
12. I did a 50% water change, and did water tests with the API Master Liquid Test Kit.
13. I just put in some fish flakes to get some ammonia into the water.




Here is a picture of how i fist got it:


Here are my first test results (These were taken yesterday, right before I put the fish flakes in)
Ph: 7.6 + High Range Ph: 8.2 Ammonia: 1.5 (don't know how that got there) Nitrite: 0 Nitrate: 0 and I still need to buy a hardness tester.
I still need to read a lot more about cichlids so I'm sure there are some obvious problems, so please let me know if there are any read flags.
Thank you for your time,
-Ian
 

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One red flag, don't just put any stone in your tank. Please test it with white vinegar and see if it fizzes or make pock marks in the store. This means it contains metal which will kill your fish.

Limestone usually contains metals, so test all of the rocks you want to include.

At this point I would do a PWC (partial water change)after your check your stones to make sure they are metal free to hopefully reduce the contaminents in your tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
PRcihs87,
I tested the stones with vinegar before I put them in, none fizzed. Sorry, I forgot to say that.
Thanks,
-Ian
 

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Your coral gravel will raise the hardness and corresponding pH. It is basically calcium. This is fine for rift lake cichlids (which presumably is what the prior owner meant by advising cichlids) and livebearers which require harder basic water. With these fish you won't have any issues over hardness and pH. But you should consider this in light of your tap water though; it may already be hard and basic, or it may be soft and slightly acidic which can cause water change issues. Do you know the hardness and pH of your tap water?

I wouldn't run out and buy a hardness test kit, you may only use it once. Tap water hardness can be ascertained from your water supply company/municipality.

Byron.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Byron,
Th Ph of my tap water is 7.6+ and the High Range Ph is 8. My tank's Ph is 7.6+ and the High Range Ph is 8.2, so it looks like the crushed coral has raised the Ph a little. I have contacted my water company about the hardness, they should get back with me sometime today. Thanks for the info,
-Ian
 

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Byron,
Th Ph of my tap water is 7.6+ and the High Range Ph is 8. My tank's Ph is 7.6+ and the High Range Ph is 8.2, so it looks like the crushed coral has raised the Ph a little. I have contacted my water company about the hardness, they should get back with me sometime today. Thanks for the info,
-Ian
A suggestion when testing tap water for pH: let a glass of tap water sit overnight and test the next morning. This allows the CO2 to dissipate out and depending upon how much is in the tap water (it varies from place to place) you may find the pH is actually higher.

Also, using two different range kits can be misleading. My thought on this would be to first ascertain from the water company the pH and hardness and see which of your kits matches. Also, I don't know which kits you are using and what ranges they have, but once you have ascertained which is identical (or nearly) with the water company, I would stick with that kit. But once we know the hardness, it will itself suggest which kit would be better. Hopefully all this will match up in the end.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
My water company contacted me back and said the ph was around 8 and the hardness was "very soft". The Ph proves that I'll be using the high range test, right? And for the hardness, I think I may as well go buy one, they are only around $3 I think and I don't want to take chances. Hopefully the coral gravel will raise the hardness enough?
-Ian
 

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My water company contacted me back and said the ph was around 8 and the hardness was "very soft". The Ph proves that I'll be using the high range test, right? And for the hardness, I think I may as well go buy one, they are only around $3 I think and I don't want to take chances. Hopefully the coral gravel will raise the hardness enough?
-Ian
Yes on the pH kit. The coral gravel will be good in this situation, as you need mineral for the fish mentioned (rift lake cichlids) and there is little in soft water, depending upon the degree of hardness which we don't know. But all should be fine. The pH in the tank may rise over 8, that's not a problem with rift lake cichlids, the pH in Lake Tanganyika is 9 if memory serves me.
 

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This is probably the least important thing, but Id say go with the black background. I have 2 tanks behind me, one with a black background and one with a picture or rocks and plants or something, the difference is like looking at a painting and looking at a puddle.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
thanks, I changed it and it looks a lot better.
 
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