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Brent O
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Joined: 01 Aug 2003

PostPosted: 2003.08.01(Fri)10:43    Post subject: Substrate Reply with quote

Can I add crushed coral to a 3 week old tank? I recently started a tank (29 g) 3 weeks ago with a gravel bottom. I want to start a mbuna cichlid community. I have treated tap water, and based upon talking with others in the area, I plan on using bottled water when I do a water change. Realizing that cichlids like hard water, could I now add a crushed coral substrate to the gravel, even though the tank has been cycling for 3 weeks?

Also, any recommendations for mbuna cichlids? I'd like to have an electric yellow lab for sure. I'll eventually upgrade to a larger tank in a few years, once the fish get bigger. I don't want anything huge though, nothing bigger than 10-12 cm full grown.

Thanks for your help.
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rudy
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Joined: 01 Aug 2003
Location: Calgary, AB

PostPosted: 2003.08.01(Fri)14:52    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am not a big african guy, but will add my 2 cents to the first part of your question. You can definately add crushed coral to your set-up. As far as adding bottled water. In all honesty I would be very careful when doing that. Some bottled water is distilled, or has been treated in some other way that makes in unfavorable to most cichlids. What is your tap water like? Do you have a test kit?

As far as the fish go. In a 29 you are limited with mbuna. Even when small as they are really territorial. Your best bet is to go with a dwarf in species tank. Meaning one species with a suitable male to female ration. 1-3 works. As far as fish. Electric yellows Labidochromis caeruleus would work. I personally would go with Pseudotropheus Salousi. I think you could have 5 of each and have a great tank and never have to upgrade. That will enable you to just get another tank instead Wink

I know I said I wasn't going to answer the second part, but hey work is slow, and I used to keep Africans.!!
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bohica
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Joined: 10 Aug 2003
Location: western Ky.

PostPosted: 2003.08.10(Sun)17:44    Post subject: Reply with quote

I realize that I am the "new guy" around here and may be overstepping my boundaries but I have read several African cichlid posts and have to comment.

I have maintaned and bred a wide range of africans, from Brichardi to Fulleborni to Frontosa for going on twenty years. I am sure there are others here with comparable experiance. Heres the kicker.

No hard water, no crushed coral (other than for decorative reasons), no purified water, etc....

Good neutral pH, dechlorinated tapwater. My pH in 22 tanks is kept between 6.8 and 7.2. I am a succesful breeder and have used the "fruits of my labor" instead of cash for virtually all aquaria related purchases for years.

Most africans these days are bred in regular water domestically and due to their hardy nature; thrive! They breed readily and extremely well. It's all they know! Putting these fish in a hard water environment is a shock.

I know some of you are saying "what about imports?" Good question. I use a 50 breeder as a quarantine tank and maintane it with hard alkiline water for imports. Over a 3 week period through 10% water changes the imports are acclimated to my above stated normal pH range and level of hardness.

The above may seem difficult but over the long run having all the water 22 tanks the same is a huge time saver when weekly water changes are due. Not to mention cost savings. I buy pond sized dechlor and thats it. No artificial water hardeners or bottled water.

What say ye, oh gurus of the watery world?

Bo
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rudy
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Joined: 01 Aug 2003
Location: Calgary, AB

PostPosted: 2003.08.11(Mon)8:12    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't say I disagree with you on some of your points. I personally don't even own a test kit. I threw mine away quite some time ago. I got tired of testing water finding something was off and freaking out about it. It is a pain and really doesn't do you or your fish a lot of good. Keeping your water to precise levels by spending a lot of money on conditioners is a to each his own. With my neotropicals I don't use anything, not even water conditioners.

Having said that. Water conditoners to some extent and definatley crushed coral do can help a heck of a lot by keeping your water conditons especially your pH stable. Even small changes in water conditions can bring on stress which I am sure you agree brings on a lot of trouble. If you had a breeding group of frontosas and you threw in a piece of driftwood would they breed? I remember on another board there was a lady who bought two oscars she just loved. Loved them so much she changed their water with bottled water and killed the oscars immediately. It was not that the bottle water was bad for the oscars, it was the change.

There are cases which you are lucky to have where the fish just simply thrive in the water in your area with no isses. The water around here seems to work with most as well, but not everyone is that lucky.

I think the point of a board is to give the general consensis of what works and you should have minimal problems. If you want to adapt that along the way then go for it. I am sure most of us do. Wink
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Taratron
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Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Location: AZ

PostPosted: 2003.08.11(Mon)14:10    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must advise for the people who are deciding not to use water conditioner/chlorine remover to test their water source before adding it to the tank. Several water companies change what they add to tap water during summer months.

I know my tap water source has added more chlorine.
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Cyradia
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Joined: 06 Feb 2003
Location: Winston-Salem, NC

PostPosted: 2003.08.11(Mon)14:29    Post subject: Re: Substrate Reply with quote

Brent O wrote:
Can I add crushed coral to a 3 week old tank? I recently started a tank (29 g) 3 weeks ago with a gravel bottom. I want to start a mbuna cichlid community. I have treated tap water, and based upon talking with others in the area, I plan on using bottled water when I do a water change. Realizing that cichlids like hard water, could I now add a crushed coral substrate to the gravel, even though the tank has been cycling for 3 weeks?


I wouldn't use bottled water for water changes unless there is something really, really wrong with your tap water. Adding coral to your tank should be fine. Ideally, you're using something besides an undergravel filter for your tank. I wouldn't use an UGF for a mbuna tank for a variety of reasons. If you are, feel free to post back so I can try to talk you out of it. Razz

I think using crushed coral can only be a good thing in your tank. Sure, with the captive breeding of these fish there are certainly strains that can adapt to a variety of water conditions, but that still doesn't mean you shouldn't take steps to try to mimic what they find in the wild. I would avoid the use of chemicals that can vary the pH drastically. However, I've had excellent luck using coral substrate myself in a variety of african cichlid tanks. It provides a constant water condition that helps improve the fish's overall health. In fact, I've used dead coral as decorations for my African cichlid tank and loved the aesthetic affect.


Brent O wrote:

Also, any recommendations for mbuna cichlids? I'd like to have an electric yellow lab for sure. I'll eventually upgrade to a larger tank in a few years, once the fish get bigger. I don't want anything huge though, nothing bigger than 10-12 cm full grown.

Thanks for your help.


If I had your tank, I'd be tempted to do just a yellow lab set-up. For one thing, mbunas are pretty fast growers, so you'll have water condition and overcrowding issues before a "few years." Two, yellow labs are actually one of the most mellow mbuna fish you can get and I've found they're hard to balance in a mbuna tank unless you're very careful. They tend to get picked to death. Third, and related, keeping a few mbunas in a small tank is really hard because there's often no where to spread out their aggression. In a big tank, you can support enough fish that you have a better chance of everyone picking on everyone else only a little bit...and the "odd man out" fights don't happen as often as they do in small set-ups. In the aggressive mbuna world...odd man out fights are almost always fatal. Lastly, if you're at all interested in breeding, a species only tank could work out really well for you.
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bohica
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Joined: 10 Aug 2003
Location: western Ky.

PostPosted: 2003.08.11(Mon)16:09    Post subject: Reply with quote

rudy wrote:
I can't say I disagree with you on some of your points. I personally don't even own a test kit. I threw mine away quite some time ago. I got tired of testing water finding something was off and freaking out about it. It is a pain and really doesn't do you or your fish a lot of good. Keeping your water to precise levels by spending a lot of money on conditioners is a to each his own. With my neotropicals I don't use anything, not even water conditioners.

Having said that. Water conditoners to some extent and definatley crushed coral do can help a heck of a lot by keeping your water conditons especially your pH stable. Even small changes in water conditions can bring on stress which I am sure you agree brings on a lot of trouble. If you had a breeding group of frontosas and you threw in a piece of driftwood would they breed? I remember on another board there was a lady who bought two oscars she just loved. Loved them so much she changed their water with bottled water and killed the oscars immediately. It was not that the bottle water was bad for the oscars, it was the change.

There are cases which you are lucky to have where the fish just simply thrive in the water in your area with no isses. The water around here seems to work with most as well, but not everyone is that lucky.

I think the point of a board is to give the general consensis of what works and you should have minimal problems. If you want to adapt that along the way then go for it. I am sure most of us do. Wink


Rudy, You are correct in that stress (read change) is a definate fish killer. And crushed coral can stabilize water conditions. But if the fish is domestic the water can be perfectly stable but the conditions will still be improper and thus lead to stress. Very Happy As for driftwood in an african tank, do I really need to address that? Common sense dictates that wood of any sort will at least gradually drop pH and soften water which I guess was your point.

Crushed coral(our subject Laughing ) is a good agent for stabilization but it is by far and away not the best. Do you know what the best stabilizing agent is for any aquarium? Good regular water changes.

You also mentioned how water condition vary by area and unfortunately this is very true. So some chemical changes may be needed in extreme cases. But most fish including africans, wiil adapt and thrive in all but the most adverse water types as long as they are introduced to it properly.

More later if you want. Very Happy

Bo
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blueberry
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Joined: 27 Mar 2003
Location: AZ

PostPosted: 2003.08.11(Mon)16:17    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm only putting my two cents in here because my mbuna tank has always been my favorite. I agree with what Bo wrote. I was concerned about pH for the longest time. I have found over the last 2 years that my mbunas thrive with a pH of 6.8. Don't worry about coral unless you really like the look. Kenyi do real well with electric yellows. They are the most non aggressive. Zebras and Auratus are the best combination. They choose sides of the tank and stay content that way. They breed like convicts so be prepared. All I ever use during water changes is a de-chlor. Just make sure you have lots of river rocks for housing and for the fry to hide. My blue zebra spawned with the red zebra giving me the most beautiful peach colored babies with sky blue fins. My Auratus fry are coming out of hiding now and swimming with the big boys. Please don't clean the algae off the back wall of the tank. This is vital to their health and color. And remember, no meat. Some baby brine shrimp or shrimp pellets every now and again but thats it. They love shelled peas too!
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Taratron
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Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Location: AZ

PostPosted: 2003.08.11(Mon)18:09    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not to be picky, but I for one am not inclined to encourage people to produce hybrids "just cause they look so pretty."

Another vote for a yellow lab only tank.
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bohica
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Joined: 10 Aug 2003
Location: western Ky.

PostPosted: 2003.08.11(Mon)19:35    Post subject: Reply with quote

Taratron, I heartily agree that disseminating hybrids into our hobby is a bad thing and should be avoided at all costs. But do you really think it so harmful for one to experiment with ones own fish if they have no intention of selling or otherwise distributing the spawn to others? Especially in domestic zebras that have not seen pedigree since the late 70's?

Bo
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