Cichlid Tank Question

TJayPoling
Member
I've done some upgrades over the last month. Including rehousing my Cichlids in 75Gallons of rocky terrain, sand and crushed coral, with 4 Java Ferns, spread across their miniature landscape. I'm using a Fluval 407 Canister Filter with a hidden light system that came with the tank.
I ordered "Seachem Cichlid Salt", from what I understand, it isn't necessarily salt as it is a "water buffer" to help introduce a water chemistry more like their home water... I haven't added this yet, but where I was getting at is... I've seen Cichlid tanks on reddit that had 3 Pictus Catfish in the tanks with their Cichlids and claim its going great with no issues. Will this actually work? Or is this actually not a clever idea?

Side note though, all my cichlids are very happy, no aggression and growing well. Full of color.
 
carsonsgjs
Member
Its a blend of different minerals (calcium, magnesium etc) that will increase the gh of your water. I use the same stuff to get my tapwater gh higher.
 
StinkyLoaf
Member
I can’t answer the question regarding cichlid salt but I can try to answer the second question for you.

Pictus cats are speedy, predatory fish that may annoy your cichlids. While pictus aren’t suitable for community tanks they’re usually a nuisance even with larger, more resistant fish.

Despite this I’ve had people tell me that they make excellent tankmates for cichlids although I’m unsure if these people were speaking from experience. I imagine that pictus do better with South American cichlids (rather than North American or African cichlids) as they occur in the same area as each other in the wild.

Cichlids are predators of small fish too. If a cichlid ate a small pictus then both would die, as the pictus would be eaten and the cichlid would ingest the pictus’ spikes.

If you want pictus cats with your cichlids then consider individuals that are of a similar size to your cichlids, to lower tension and to avoid predation.
 
  • Thread Starter
TJayPoling
Member
carsonsgjs said:
Its a blend of different minerals (calcium, magnesium etc) that will increase the gh of your water. I use the same stuff to get my tapwater gh higher.
So that's practically the purpose of it solely is for water hardness? What fish do you use yours for?
CrustyDusty said:
I can’t answer the question regarding cichlid salt but I can try to answer the second question for you.

Pictus cats are speedy, predatory fish that may annoy your cichlids. While pictus aren’t suitable for community tanks they’re usually a nuisance even with larger, more resistant fish.

Despite this I’ve had people tell me that they make excellent tankmates for cichlids although I’m unsure if these people were speaking from experience. I imagine that pictus do better with South American cichlids (rather than North American or African cichlids) as they occur in the same area as each other in the wild.

Cichlids are predators of small fish too. If a cichlid ate a small pictus then both would die, as the pictus would be eaten and the cichlid would ingest the pictus’ spikes.

If you want pictus cats with your cichlids then consider individuals that are of a similar size to your cichlids, to lower tension and to avoid predation.
Man, I'm conflicted.. I was told i needed a shoal of them, and I know it's recommended to be technically 5, but I added 2 more to my one I already had in my community tank... the one i had doesn't want anything to do with my other two I added.. So I'm debating, trying them out in my cichlid tank or giving them a new home elsewhere... which i really don't want to get rid of my OG pictus but i might need to do what's best for them, more than me.

Tbh, my cichlid tank is great. It's going great, my fish are great, it looks great....
My community tank looks great but the "flow" of things between species is just off... and I'm unsure what direction I'd like to see that tank go other than happy inhabitants that enjoy being there.. I kept trying to go against the grain on the idea that "There's a 50/50 that'll work", and then I go for it.. and I'm not even a gambling man! ....
 
carsonsgjs
Member
TJayPoling said:
So that's practically the purpose of it solely is for water hardness? What fish do you use yours for?

Man, I'm conflicted.. I was told i needed a shoal of them, and I know it's recommended to be technically 5, but I added 2 more to my one I already had in my community tank... the one i had doesn't want anything to do with my other two I added.. So I'm debating, trying them out in my cichlid tank or giving them a new home elsewhere... which i really don't want to get rid of my OG pictus but i might need to do what's best for them, more than me.

Tbh, my cichlid tank is great. It's going great, my fish are great, it looks great....
My community tank looks great but the "flow" of things between species is just off... and I'm unsure what direction I'd like to see that tank go other than happy inhabitants that enjoy being there.. I kept trying to go against the grain on the idea that "There's a 50/50 that'll work", and then I go for it.. and I'm not even a gambling man! ....
Pretty much - it introduces trace elements apparently found in their natural habitat and increases general hardness. It wont increase kh (seachem do something separate for that). I keep neolamprologus brevis and they are tanganyikan so they need their water hard. My gh out of the tap is unpredictable and varies from 4dgh to 8dgh so i need to increase it to around 10dgh.

its a good product in my opinion but only really necessary if you have water too soft for africans. Some people that use it swear that it helps enhance colours in their fish but i cant say ive seen a huge difference in that. What is your gh at the moment?
 
  • Thread Starter
TJayPoling
Member
carsonsgjs said:
Pretty much - it introduces trace elements apparently found in their natural habitat and increases general hardness. It wont increase kh (seachem do something separate for that). I keep neolamprologus brevis and they are tanganyikan so they need their water hard. My gh out of the tap is unpredictable and varies from 4dgh to 8dgh so i need to increase it to around 10dgh.

its a good product in my opinion but only really necessary if you have water too soft for africans. Some people that use it swear that it helps enhance colours in their fish but i cant say ive seen a huge difference in that. What is your gh at the moment?
I heard that about the colors too, I think people write that stuff when their fish could be having a moment and they think it's their own decisions influencing the changes...
I've noticed when I come home from work at 4am, some of my brighter colored fish will be dramatically duller, until once they "wake up" and get moving and adjust to the light turning on and they suddenly are fully colored again, it was wild when I first started noticing this...
But I honestly haven't monitored GH since I quit using test strips when I started this hobby, I've just made sure I kept my parameters in my API Master kit perfect. Since buying the Cichlid Salt on impulse, I planned to get a kh and gh test kit tomorrow after I wake up and check those parameters before I added any of that salt.
 
carsonsgjs
Member
TJayPoling said:
I heard that about the colors too, I think people write that stuff when their fish could be having a moment and they think it's their own decisions influencing the changes...
I've noticed when I come home from work at 4am, some of my brighter colored fish will be dramatically duller, until once they "wake up" and get moving and adjust to the light turning on and they suddenly are fully colored again, it was wild when I first started noticing this...
But I honestly haven't monitored GH since I quit using test strips when I started this hobby, I've just made sure I kept my parameters in my API Master kit perfect. Since buying the Cichlid Salt on impulse, I planned to get a kh and gh test kit tomorrow after I wake up and check those parameters before I added any of that salt.
Cool. Check the parameters for both tapwater and your tank (i use the api gh and kh test kit) and see what they say. You may find that you dont need to use the lake salt at all and that your fish are fine without it in the water that they are in. Id only ever tinker with the chemistry if it’s absolutely necessary though. Any questions, just ask.
 
Nobody
Member
Definately test the water first. It might already be quite hard.

If in the UK you'd want to be going in the other direction if anything. The water is already very hard and mineral rich.
 
  • Thread Starter
TJayPoling
Member
carsonsgjs said:
Pretty much - it introduces trace elements apparently found in their natural habitat and increases general hardness. It wont increase kh (seachem do something separate for that). I keep neolamprologus brevis and they are tanganyikan so they need their water hard. My gh out of the tap is unpredictable and varies from 4dgh to 8dgh so i need to increase it to around 10dgh.

its a good product in my opinion but only really necessary if you have water too soft for africans. Some people that use it swear that it helps enhance colours in their fish but i cant say ive seen a huge difference in that. What is your gh at the moment?
Alright, so I finally got around to read instructions on my KH & GH test kit for my Cichlid Tank, and run a test. These are my results, by trying to understand my results, I believe I should add a dose of the Cichlid Salt, and I also think I know which dose I should try... but I wanted verification from more experienced Hobbyists like yourself. Here are the results and instructions for the salt.

Also, I'll come back and edit this post, with straight out of the tap KH & GH
(The species are a good mixture of African, peacock, bumblebee, yellow lab and a few others. But generally, in the same region. So with that being said, I believe to play it safe, I would follow instructions on the one directly in the middle, not at the lowest, nor the highest changes)

Thank you!
 
GlennO
Member
Your water is already moderately hard. You won't need the salts for captive bred fish.
 
carsonsgjs
Member
TJayPoling said:
Alright, so I finally got around to read instructions on my KH & GH test kit for my Cichlid Tank, and run a test. These are my results, by trying to understand my results, I believe I should add a dose of the Cichlid Salt, and I also think I know which dose I should try... but I wanted verification from more experienced Hobbyists like yourself. Here are the results and instructions for the salt.

Also, I'll come back and edit this post, with straight out of the tap KH & GH
(The species are a good mixture of African, peacock, bumblebee, yellow lab and a few others. But generally, in the same region. So with that being said, I believe to play it safe, I would follow instructions on the one directly in the middle, not at the lowest, nor the highest changes)

Thank you!
Definitely test your tap water as that is the water you are using for water changes, but based on those results directly from your tank im not sure if you do need to dose your water with any further additives. Ive never kept mbuna so will wait for someone else to share their thoughts but ive seen instances of people successfully keeping (and breeding) them in water with lower levels than yours.
 
MacZ
Member
There is just one problem with the salts. They are not necessary.

While yes, Lake Malawi has a high pH with relatively low hardness (as correctly stated on the bottle), all commercially available Malawi cichlids are bred in harder water, which seems to be necessary for F2 and later generations, meaning the hardness in the aquarium should be higher than in the Lake.
Those special salts are actually designed to remineralise RO water for use for Rift Lake cichlids. Which I would only recomment for wild caught specimens that are adapted to high pH but medium hardness.
The safest (and frankly long term easiest and cheapest) way is using crushed coral and/or limestone in the tank, those might not be controllable exactly, but they harden the water and regulate the pH to a safe and stable level, that won't have lots of fluctuation except you do a 75%+ waterchange with significantly softer water.

Btw your fish are all originally from Lake Malawi and are endemic to that lake. Region would include the other Rift Lakes.
 
GlennO
Member
I suspect that they are a good a money spinner for Seachem. I only used them (a cheaper brand) when I lived in a previous house that was connected to rain water tanks.
 
MacZ
Member
GlennO said:
I suspect that they are a good a money spinner for Seachem.
One of many. I have to come to find more than half of their assortment to tick that box.
 
  • Thread Starter
TJayPoling
Member
MacZ said:
There is just one problem with the salts. They are not necessary.

While yes, Lake Malawi has a high pH with relatively low hardness (as correctly stated on the bottle), all commercially available Malawi cichlids are bred in harder water, which seems to be necessary for F2 and later generations, meaning the hardness in the aquarium should be higher than in the Lake.
Those special salts are actually designed to remineralise RO water for use for Rift Lake cichlids. Which I would only recomment for wild caught specimens that are adapted to high pH but medium hardness.
The safest (and frankly long term easiest and cheapest) way is using crushed coral and/or limestone in the tank, those might not be controllable exactly, but they harden the water and regulate the pH to a safe and stable level, that won't have lots of fluctuation except you do a 75%+ waterchange with significantly softer water.

Btw your fish are all originally from Lake Malawi and are endemic to that lake. Region would include the other Rift Lakes.
That's solid to hear I suppose, bummer I bought the stuff already lol. Good information to know however.

75 Gallon
Nitrate NO³-: 20-30
Nitrite NO²-: 0 ppm
Ammonia NH³/NH⁴+: 0 ppm
PH: 7.6
High Range PH: 8.0

It would be nice to see that PH go up a tad, but I'm happy where it's at. Other than PH neutral stones, I do use sand/crushed coral mixture and a lava rock. I did however add a few nice pieces of drift wood, which I know lowers the PH.. but it hasn't caused any issues other than tannins leaking, which gives the aquarium a cool natural look if anything, and of course fades between water changes.
carsonsgjs said:
Definitely test your tap water as that is the water you are using for water changes, but based on those results directly from your tank im not sure if you do need to dose your water with any further additives. Ive never kept mbuna so will wait for someone else to share their thoughts but ive seen instances of people successfully keeping (and breeding) them in water with lower levels than yours.
I'll make sure I make note of what's coming out of the faucet.. apparently from other replies, my numbers are looking good without needing it. I do plan to move next year, so who knows.. maybe I'll have use for it yet. Thank you for the reply!
GlennO said:
I suspect that they are a good a money spinner for Seachem. I only used them (a cheaper brand) when I lived in a previous house that was connected to rain water tanks.
It very well could be that way. I know first hand, how easy it is to manipulate a new aquarist with relevant "helpful" products that end up being a money sink hole to the unwise. Thanks to this community, I've learned a ton of knowledge and continue to learn. Thanks to you guys, I've developed two very nice tanks. =)
GlennO said:
I suspect that they are a good a money spinner for Seachem. I only used them (a cheaper brand) when I lived in a previous house that was connected to rain water tanks.
What do you think of products such as this? I've been using it, as directed between 80% of the water changes done.. Do you think it's actually useful or a money dump?
 
MacZ
Member
TJayPoling said:
75 Gallon
Nitrate NO³-: 20-30
Nitrite NO²-: 0 ppm
Ammonia NH³/NH⁴+: 0 ppm
PH: 7.6
High Range PH: 8.0

It would be nice to see that PH go up a tad, but I'm happy where it's at. Other than PH neutral stones, I do use sand/crushed coral mixture and a lava rock. I did however add a few nice pieces of drift wood, which I know lowers the PH.. but it hasn't caused any issues other than tannins leaking, which gives the aquarium a cool natural look if anything, and of course fades between water changes.
Driftwood has no influence on hardness or pH in the KH ranges you are in. Only in very low KH (< 1°KH) driftwood or leaves have influence.

TJayPoling said:
What do you think of products such as this? I've been using it, as directed between 80% of the water changes done.. Do you think it's actually useful or a money dump?
Things people get sold that are not necessary to use continuously:

- Starter bacteria (like Stability, Safe Start, Quick Start): Once the tank is cycled, why add more bacteria (of the wrong type, btw) with every waterchange? The beneficial bacteria dwell on all surfaces, in the substrate and the filter media. Less than 10% of the bacteria are in the water column, except in cases of bacteria blooms.

- Most water conditioners. In many countries where water comes out of the tap chlorinated (not the case in my country, btw) a simple dechlorinator, maybe with an agent that detoxifies ammonia (but so that it still can be processed by bacteria) is all that's needed. Extra binding capacity for heavy metals is also unnecessary, as in many countries pipes made of lead or copper are out of use for at least a decade now. I especially despise stress guard btw, as it contains organic compounds that are beneficial for mammal skin like in humans, but have never really been tested and found to be working on fish. People make the analogy themselves, not the manufacturer who cleverly uses that connection people without knowledge of fish physiology make.

- Filter cartridges with activated carbon: The carbon filters indiscriminately a whole array of organic compounds, some of them necessary for plants and beneficial bacteria and also with each replacement the colonization of the filter media by the beneficial bacteria is set back to zero. That way tanks are kept from cycling properly until the owner stops replacing the cartridges, pushing them into an unplanned and unwanted fish-in cycle.

- Most products to raise, lower or stabilize pH and/or hardness. Technically most fish can live without problems in tap water, be it hard or soft. There is only a limited number of - admittedly, very common - fish that would warrant to try and control the conditions. Simply put those are decidedly hardwater fish like livebearers and Rift Lake cichlids who should be kept in mid-to high hardness and for which the pH shouldn't drop below 7.5 ever. On the other end are blackwater fish, that really benefit from RO water, tannins and acidic pH. Interestingly softwater fish can adapt to high hardness and pH better than the other way round. So, though all but optimal, a cardinal tetra can live a full life almost problem free in higher hardness and pH of 8 than a platy in soft water with a pH of 6.5. And while dialing down hardness and pH is always the bigger effort and warranting the acquisition of an RO unit, raising hardness and pH is easily done with nature products like crushed coral without having to test or mix and match all the time.

Ok, so much for the sermon for today.
 
  • Thread Starter
TJayPoling
Member
MacZ said:
Driftwood has no influence on hardness or pH in the KH ranges you are in. Only in very low KH (< 1°KH) driftwood or leaves have influence.



Things people get sold that are not necessary to use continuously:

- Starter bacteria (like Stability, Safe Start, Quick Start): Once the tank is cycled, why add more bacteria (of the wrong type, btw) with every waterchange? The beneficial bacteria dwell on all surfaces, in the substrate and the filter media. Less than 10% of the bacteria are in the water column, except in cases of bacteria blooms.

- Most water conditioners. In many countries where water comes out of the tap chlorinated (not the case in my country, btw) a simple dechlorinator, maybe with an agent that detoxifies ammonia (but so that it still can be processed by bacteria) is all that's needed. Extra binding capacity for heavy metals is also unnecessary, as in many countries pipes made of lead or copper are out of use for at least a decade now. I especially despice stres guard btw, as it contains organic compounds that are beneficial for mammal skin like in humans, but have never really been tested and foud to be working on fish. People Make the analogy themselves, not the manufacturer who cleverly uses that connection people without knowledge of fish physiology make.

- Filter cartridges with activated carbon: The carbon filters indiscriminately a whole array of organic compounds, some of them necessary for plants and beneficial bacteria and also with each replacement the colonization of the filter media by the beneficial bacteria is set back to zero. That way tanks are kept from cycling properly until the owner stops replacing the cartridges, pushing them into an unplanned and unwanted fish-in cycle.

- Most products to raise, lower or stabilize pH and/or hardness. Technically most fish can live without problems in tap water, be it hard or soft. There is only a limited number of - admittedly, very common - fish that would warrant to try and control the conditions. Simply put those are decidedly hardwater fish like livebearers and Rift Lake cichlids who should be kept in mid-to high hardness and for which the pH shouldn't drop below 7.5 ever. On the other end are blackwater fish, that really benefit from RO water, tannins and acidic pH. Interestingly softwater fish can adapt to high hardness and pH better than the other way round. So, though all but optimal, a cardinal tetra can live a full life almost problem free in higher hardness and pH of 8 than a platy in soft water with a pH of 6.5. And while dialing down hardness and pH is always the bigger effort and warranting the acquisition of an RO unit, raising hardness and pH is easily done with nature products like crushed coral without having to test or mix and match all the time.

Ok, so much for the sermon for today.
I think you reached your community guidance capacity for the day on this one reply! Loads of good info, thank you MacZ! I appreciate the reply and information.
 
MacZ
Member
Very much, for there are at least 8 hours between me and the majority of the forum.
You're welcome!
 
  • Thread Starter
TJayPoling
Member
I know you all had helped me come to a resolution already, but just for the record incase all the stats and problem solving helps somebody else, here was my parameters coming out of the tap water:
Nitrate NO³-: 5.0
Nitrite NO²-: 0 ppm
Ammonia NH³/NH⁴+: 0 ppm
PH: 7.6
High Range PH: 8.4
kH: 3° > 53.7
gH: 6° > 107.4
 

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