How Do I Pick the right Cichlid substrate?

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blkdeath75

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I was at the LFS today and noticed some sand and a type of crushed gravel I guess that was made specifically for Cichlid use? Is there any benefit to this versus say noraml playsand and such? The Cichlid sand was going for about $20 for a 20 lb. bag,
 

Nitro Junkie

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It is probably buffered to keep the PH higher for African cichlids.
 

bolivianbaby

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In your aquarium info, your PH is listed as 7.8. This is a perfect PH for Tang or Malawi cichlids.

I use crushed coral to raise my PH in my Malawi tank to 8.0 and I use cichlid sand in my Daffodil cichlid tank because I like the way it looks and it maintains the 8.0 PH.

I hope this helps!
 

blkdeath75

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My Ph out of the tap is actually 8.0. It is a bit lower in the community tank due to it being established with driftwood I believe.

As far as getting a "Cichlid" substrate I was curious to any other benefits other than it "looks" like the stuff in Lake Malawi. So I guess the answer is it raises ph is good enought for me. As far as the price goes I am not too familiar with sand. $1 a pound sound high?
 

jetajockey

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the ecocomplete african cichlid sand has aragonite in it which they claim buffers the PH anytime it goes below 8.2. I have a bunch of it sitting in a tub from when I wanted to do an african cichlid thing and then changed my mind lol.



it also claims to have live bacteria in it or whatever but I tested this in an uncycled tank and it didn't seem to make any difference cycle-wise.
 
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Butterfly

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I have Sahara Sand by Carib Sea in my Multi tank. It looks like salt and pepper I can't really tell any difference in my parameters because of the water changes I do on all my tanks. It doesn't have a chance to change anything LOL
What I like about it is that it doesn't compact at all. That sand has been in their tank for 2 years and it's still as loose as it was when I put it in.
regular play sand or pool filter sand either one will work. If you are going to use a non-cichlid sand i suggest Pool filter sand as it's not dirty and not expensive.
Carol
 

bolivianbaby

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My Ph out of the tap is actually 8.0. It is a bit lower in the community tank due to it being established with driftwood I believe.

As far as getting a "Cichlid" substrate I was curious to any other benefits other than it "looks" like the stuff in Lake Malawi. So I guess the answer is it raises ph is good enought for me. As far as the price goes I am not too familiar with sand. $1 a pound sound high?
I bought the Eco-Complete cichlid sand from DrsFostersmith. I paid $20 for a 20 lb bag, so that sounds about right. I only needed one bag since it was for a 29g tank.

Something I considered doing for my Malawi tank until I decided it would be too much trouble was to do half of the tank with cichlid sand and half the tank river rock. The river rock is inexpensive so it would've reduced the cost a bit. My Malawi tank is 75g.
 

Huicho

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I recently changed my 60gal from gravel to sand. As was so astutely suggested her on FL, I went out and bought the super-inexpensive Pool Filter Sand.

I got a 50lb bag for 10 bucks! The huge downside is that you'll spend a good 2 hours cleaning all the sand. However, now that it's clean, i love the look in my tank. It's not as super white as the stuff you'll get in the store, but it does the trick. Almost immediately, my cichlids starting digging into the sand. They love it. I also have live plants and rocks.

Regarding my PH, it never really affected it. I'm still in the high 7's and haven't had a problem with PH yet.
 

DarkRift

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I recently re-started my 150 gallon cichlid tank and decided to ditch the gravel substrate I had always used in my tanks.

I am using 50 lbs of crushed oyster shell purchased at a local farm supply store for $12 as the base layer, 30 lbs of sugar-grain argonite sand as a second layer, and 60 lbs of the Eco-Complete Cichlid Sand for the top layer. Additionally the tank has 120 pounds of Texas Holey Rock aka Lace Rock creating caves and demising walls for the fish to establish territory as well as find safe places to rest.

The oyster shell and Holey Rock provide some buffering capacity; however both dissolve very slowly. The Argonite and Eco-Complete sand quickly and sustainably infuse the water with high amounts of calcium, magnesium and critical trace elements negating the need to add "instant ocean" or "reef salt" to the tank.

Out of the tap, our water has a pH of 7.2, a KH of roughly 4 dKH and GH of roughly 50 ppm.

After 48 hours, the tank water jumped to a pH of 8.2, KH of 8 dKH and GH of 286 ppm - and has been holding steady for the past 4 weeks through the fishless cycle & beyond.

*** KH is CRITICAL to maintain & buffer since the nitrifying bacteria in your bio-filter actually consume the minerals that create your KH. Also, high turbulence at the water surface that facilitates gas exchange and increases the oxygen levels in your tank for fish and the bio-filter aerobic bacteria may contribute to lowering KH levels. Low KH can result in damaging pH swings or crashes and fish death.

An excellent alternative to commercial buffering chemicals is a DIY mix of common Epsom salts, backing soda and (non-iodized) sea salt that works as well as the expensive versions. A quick Bing or Google search for DIY cichlid buffer should yield many references if you decide to take this approach.

*** FAIR WARNING: using farm feed store crushed oyster shell, while very inexpensive, requires a CONSIDERABLE amount of rinsing before adding it to your tank. I was aware that it would require some rinsing; however if I had known exactly how much time & effort involved, I don't think I would have used it. Also, be sure to wear gloves when working with the crushed oyster shell out of the bag. There are small slivers that are rinsed away however before the deluge rinse process they can easily lodge in your hands. Oyster shell slivers are miserable little things.
 
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