PH question for Malawi Cichlids

johnny75
  • #1
HI everyone, I'm new to the fishlore forum. I originally planned on keeping gourami's and Australian rainbows, but decided to change to African Cichlid (Lake MalawI Mbuna Cichlids). I currently have a 55 gallon tank with a Fluval canister filter. The tank is in the middle of the fishless Nitrogen cycle.(I'm using 3 raw shrimp.) I currently have gravel stones, which I've read that crushed coral is the right approach to raising the PH level for African cichlids. Should I remove the gravel and add crushed coral or should I just place the coral on top of the gravel? I know African cichlids prefer a higher Ph level between 7.5 - 8.5, but I'd like to know how to maintain that ph level during water changes without stressing the fish. My local pet store has suggested to purchase "MalawI & Victoria Buffer by Seachem". Should I use this chemical or would crushed coral maintain a high ph level even during water changes? By the way, this is a awesome site, I've gotten a lot of great ideas from all members.
 
martynmarion
  • #2
In my 75 gallon I have 3/4 of the tank in pea size gravel, the rest in white sand. I use an alkaline buffer which serves the same purpose as the malawI buffer. Don't forget to use a stress coat (or something similar) to condition your water in addition to the alkaline buffer. I treat my buckets of water at each water change to both, and thus far things are going ok. You can add a piece of coral rock or two if you want to raise the ph, but I wouldn't suggest putting the crushed coral on top of the other gravel(too much chance of bacteria being trapped down deep). I, like you, have got a ton of info off of this sight, and I am passing along what I have learned. I am by no means an expert on cichlids, but I did stay at a holiday inn express last night.
 
mlinden84
  • #3
I have loads of limestone in mine to keep the pH high. (Like the landscaping stuff) Plus, it provides plenty of spots for the cichlids to hide!
 
Angela_96
  • #4
your ph question...

I have loads of limestone in mine to keep the pH high. (Like the landscaping stuff) Plus, it provides plenty of spots for the cichlids to hide!

That was what I was going to suggest... I wouldn't layer crushed coral on top of gravel that is more places for waste to build up in the tank.
We origiaially bought gravel but luckily I researched when we got home and had unopened bags and found crushed coral was great for a buffer...
so I got to exchange my gravel for the coral I have coral mixed w/ sand.
I also have limestone in there for their caves, etc and it helps the ph naturally.
 
capekate
  • #5
I also would like to raise my PH level to make a cichlid tank.

hI mlinden:

Limestone sounds like the way to go to raise the Ph level. Do you have to change out the limestone from time to time to keep the PH level up? Or does just having limestone in the tank do the job and keep the PH level consistent?
Would a small sack of crushed coral left in the tank do the same thing?

thanks,
~ kate
 
Angela_96
  • #6
I have heard that you can take a sack of crushed coral and place it in a filter to raise the ph... the limestone will always chemically be the same (I even ran the limestone question by my husband who has a bachlors in enviromental science/minor in chem) he says that limestone is a buffer. The limestone I got came out of the lake and it had been there since the lake had (the lake was a tva lake so at least 70 years I'm guessing) and its doing its job.
 
capekate
  • #7
Thanks so much S&A.... ;D
that is very encouraging news for those of us with a low PH ( like 6-6.4) who would love to be able to keep A. Cichlids! thanks so much! I will have to try it in a tank without fish and check the readings to see if they stay constant enough to be able to add fish! ;D

~ kate
 
mlinden84
  • #8
Thanks so much S&A.... ;D
that is very encouraging news for those of us with a low PH ( like 6-6.4) who would love to be able to keep A. Cichlids! thanks so much! I will have to try it in a tank without fish and check the readings to see if they stay constant enough to be able to add fish! ;D

~ kate

One thing that I would suggest if you have that low of pH is "aging" the water before you add it to a tank with a high pH. I'd just put some limestone pieces in a bucket or barrel and add water, so there isn't such a pH shock to the fish when you do water changes.
 
capekate
  • #9
One thing that I would suggest if you have that low of pH is "aging" the water before you add it to a tank with a high pH. I'd just put some limestone pieces in a bucket or barrel and add water, so there isn't such a pH shock to the fish when you do water changes.

...that's a great idea. thanks Mlinden! ;D Sorry if this is off topic.. and I don't want to butt in on the original thread, but since we are talking about M Cichlids.. can I have a cichlid tank in my 29 gallon or is that too small?

~ kate
 
Allie
  • #10
You can also add crushed coral to your substrate to bring up the ph. As long as it is 7.5 and up and stays steady your fish will be fine. It when the ph fluctuates, that is when you may have problems.
 
mlinden84
  • #11
...that's a great idea. thanks Mlinden! ;D Sorry if this is off topic.. and I don't want to butt in on the original thread, but since we are talking about M Cichlids.. can I have a cichlid tank in my 29 gallon or is that too small?

~ kate


I am sure you will get conflicting advice on this one. Personally I think if you had the right numbers and stuck to the ones that only grew to about 4-5 inches you'd be ok. I mean really its not THAT much smaller than my 55 gallon tank... I'd say 7 or so might be ok but then there is always the risk it wouldn't work since they wouldn't have a ton of room to move.
Too bad you aren't closer, I've got a ton of babies at the moment!
 
susitna-flower
  • #12
I don't have cichlids, but one of my tanks has Cherry Red Shrimp and I wanted to raise the ph naturally. This tank has regular gravel, I added shells and a big hunk of coral. My normal ph is 7.4 and after a two months this tank is now at 7.8, I don't usually worry about the difference when doing a water change, but my normal isn't 6 or 6.5. I think it sounds fine to keep water in a container, as long as it doesn't go stagnant...
 
capekate
  • #13
You can also add crushed coral to your substrate to bring up the ph. As long as it is 7.5 and up and stays steady your fish will be fine. It when the ph fluctuates, that is when you may have problems.
HI Allie
this is so true.. and why Ive been hesitant on trying to adjust a PH to suit a species of fish. BUT, that said I really really would like to try A. Cichlids.. there are so many types and are a beautiful fish IMO.
From advice I am reading here it seems that it can be done.
What I would have to do I assume, is to maintain a correct, stable PH for some time before introducing the fish.
That would mean I would need to keep the tank that is already cycled, but without fish full of beneficial bacteria. I am currently going through a minI cycle in the 29 gallon due to a total house cleaning there. But it will bounce back soon. Should the heater be kept on? Would a cold tank temp kill bacteria?
Just wondering since there is no fish there, that I can save on some electricity usage.
anyway...
I don't think that Johnny75 would mind if we (me) hijacked his thread...
a one poster over a month and a half ago...
I have more questions to follow on turning the tank into a cichlid tank...
;D
~ kate
 
mlinden84
  • #14
What I would have to do I assume, is to maintain a correct, stable PH for some time before introducing the fish.
That would mean I would need to keep the tank that is already cycled, but without fish full of beneficial bacteria. I am currently going through a minI cycle in the 29 gallon due to a total house cleaning there. But it will bounce back soon. Should the heater be kept on? Would a cold tank temp kill bacteria?
Just wondering since there is no fish there, that I can save on some electricity usage.
anyway...
I don't think that Johnny75 would mind if we (me) hijacked his thread...
a one poster over a month and a half ago...
I have more questions to follow on turning the tank into a cichlid tank...
;D
~ kate


I would just try putting either the crushed shell substrate or rocks in the tank and test every few days to see what the ph goes up to. I'm not sure exactly how long it takes to get to the desired ph.
I don't think you have to have the heater on... goldfish don't have heaters and they still have the bacteria. As long as the water isn't freezing... (and if it is, I think you need to turn up the heat in your house!! )
 

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