Who switched from community fish to cichlids ?

Dechi

I’ve been running my tank for a while now with community fish and I’ve generally been disappointed with the quality of fish overall in the hobby. I’ve also had a major accident happen that made me lose more than half my fish. I’ve been thinking about changing my setup for a while and since I have little fish left, I think now is the time. I’ll find a new home for them and adapt the tank for cyclids.

I’ve been watching cyclids videos for a while and I find them very appealing. Also, there is a very nice store that specializes in cyclids not too far from my house. I would benefit from great advice and knowledge and avoid beginner’s mistakes, or at least most of them hopefully (I’ve been in the hobby for more than 40 years but only had community fish and once a piranha but I was very young, lol !)

I would love to hear from people who made the switch ! And see pictures if you feel inclined.
 

LeviS

What type of cichlid are you looking at? Something like peacock/mbunas or cichlids like electric blue acara or angels? If your after the African cichlids they are aggressive and generally heavily stocked in the aquarium to help spread aggression. Generally they are not kept in planted tanks as they tend to pull them up. Also the tanks are overly filtered with lots of flow. I quickly changed to community fish as I preferred planted tanks and peaceful fish.
 
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Leeman75

I echo that question of Africans versus South/American Cichlids. I have little experience with Africans, but I did move a Community tank to a SA Cichlid tank. It didn't happen overnight. I started with some Rams. Then, I got a great deal on a couple of Electric Blue Acaras that were about the same size as the Rams. Over the last nine months or so, I've lost/rehomed/moved non-Cichlids from the tank, I've added other Cichlids, being careful to watch them when first added to ensure relative harmony prevails. My current stocking is this:

2 EBAs
1 Bolivian Ram
1 Firemouth
5 Rainbow Cichlids
2 Pearl Gourami
Various Cories
5 Platys (holdover from the community tank, but nice filler/dither fish)
4 larger Black Skirt Tetras
1 Clown Pleco

I also have 3 Keyhole Cichlids growing out in my 20 gallon hex tank. Once they are big enough, I will also add them to the tank.

The tank is really a very peaceful tank. I don't think I have any pairs of any of the cichlids, but I keep a close eye on them because if a breeding pair forms and starts spawning, I will need to move them out to maintain the peace in the tank.
 
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Dechi

What type of cichlid are you looking at? Something like peacock/mbunas or cichlids like electric blue acara or angels? If your after the African cichlids they are aggressive and generally heavily stocked in the aquarium to help spread aggression. Generally they are not kept in planted tanks as they tend to pull them up. Also the tanks are overly filtered with lots of flow. I quickly changed to community fish as I preferred planted tanks and peaceful fish.

I’m looking into M’bunas. Depending on which species I choose, the cyclids store told me I could have between 8-12, most probably 2 groups of 4.

I’ve been told java fern, anubias and vallisneria will be okay. I have lots of plants at the moment, so I will let them go at it and whatever survives, survives. Then I’ll buy more of those three if need be (I have one anubia and 3-4 big java ferns now that would be good and something that looks like vallisneria, but bigger and thicker).

For filtering, I was told the filter needs to have twice the capacity, so for a 45 gallons tank, I need something that will handle 90 gallons. Fortunately I went oversize and bought a Fluval 407 which is good up to 100 gallons. It definitely has a lot of power and provides good flow and water agitation.

I’ve never had territorial and aggressive fish and I’m interested in learning about such fish. It will be a change !

I have little experience with Africans, but I did move a Community tank to a SA Cichlid tank.

With Africans cyclids I was told you can’t have other fish, with a few exception. With SA cyclids I guess you can ? So you don’t need to add cyclids salt and buffer ? Do you use coral gravel ?
 
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BigBeardDaHuZi

I’m looking into M’bunas. Depending on which species I choose, the cyclids store told me I could have between 8-12, most probably 2 groups of 4.

I’ve been told java fern, anubias and vallisneria will be okay. I have lots of plants at the moment, so I will let them go at it and whatever survives, survives. Then I’ll buy more of those three if need be (I have one anubia and 3-4 big java ferns now that would be good and something that looks like vallisneria, but bigger and thicker).

For filtering, I was told the filter needs to have twice the capacity, so for a 45 gallons tank, I need something that will handle 90 gallons. Fortunately I went oversize and bought a Fluval 407 which is good up to 100 gallons. It definitely had a lot of power and provides food flow and water agitation.
That sounds about right.
With the mbuna, be prepared for lots of water changes. Maybe 50% every week.
You will need to build up your rockwork if you want to keep happy, less murderous mbunas. A lot of rockwork. There should be caves everywhere with rocks sticking up to block line of sight and nooks and cranies for fish to escape through. Plants are a fine meal - and vallisneria grows naturally in their lake - but it is not a good substitute for rockwork. Check out some Mbuna tanks on youtube to get a better idea of the look of things.
Yellow labs are usually the suggested starter mbuna. They are less murderous than other mbuna by nature - although not always. I'm sure someone else (like SinisterCichlids or A201) will pop up with good suggestions for stocking.
Welcome to the cichlid family I love them. I find I need a tank of both - one planted tank for the soothing peacefulness. One full of cichlids, cause I like them so much.
 
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SinisterCichlids

What are the dimensions of the 45 gallon? Sorry, this is going to be a long one because I can talk about mbuna all day! But I promise it will be worth it!

Stocking
Yellow labs (Labidochromis caeruleus) are a great starter cichlid. Full growth about 4-5 inches depending on the sex. Both the males and females have strong yellow color; the males just have distinct black markings on their fins. Can't recommend this one enough. Very available at LFS and online due to their popularity. No mbuna tank is complete without them.

Rusty Cichlids (Iodotropheus sprengerae) is another low aggression cichlid. Full growth about 4inches. They are brown but have a beautiful blue tint to them.

Yellow tail acei's (Pseudotropheus sp. acei) is another great beginner cichlid. They are blue with yellow tails and stay around the same size. They also have a white tail variation that are very similar, just with a white tail, believe it or not! haha

Demasoni (Pseudotropheus demasoni) is another great cichlid that blends well with the ones mentioned above. Some people have reported having very aggressive demasoni, but in my tanks, they are typically towards the bottom of the hierarchy.

The fish mentioned above are typically considered lower aggression mbuna. Of course, it is sometimes luck of the draw. You can have a peaceful auratus (very aggressive stay away) who are somehow peaceful and a very aggressive yellow lab (which are typically peaceful). If you are interested in any others such as red zebras, blue zebras, marmalades, exoasperatus', auroras etc., let me know and I can help you create a good stocking. I am going to attach photos below of some of my cichlids for reference. Also, look in my bio, I have a list of mbuna that you might be interested in.

Depending on the dimensions of your 45. I think 8-12 is an excellent number.

Mbuna aggression and attitude
Cichlids create a hierarchy amongst themselves. The tank boss will usually try and keep all the other fish from fighting. I suggest adding fish together in groups and not one at a time. This will disperse aggression. They will probably fight a lot, and then the fighting will calm down once the hierarchy is established. Mbuna typically dont like fish that are the same species or look similar to them. Therefore keeping lots of different colors like yellow labs, rustys, acei's, and or demasoni will be beneficial.

Filter and hardware
Mbuna are messy fish. For filtering, turning your tank over 10x is ideal. So for example, I have a 40-gallon breeder with two Marineland 350 HOB's. So if we do rough math, 700gph turns my 40-gallon tank over 17.5 times. This keeps my water looking like the fish are floating in glass. Since you already have lots of experience, you already know changing about 25-50% of the water once a week is very important for them. After the tank becomes a bit more established every other week at 50% should be fine depending on the stocking.

Plants, rocks, substrate, and products.
I don't do plants in my mbuna tanks because the fish will eat them; and that is very expensive snacks! But if you already have them and know they are going to get eaten, then go for it!

Mbuna means 'rockfish', they are most comfortable hiding in holes of rocks and using them for cover. Therefore I suggest lava rock or texas holy rock, but really any type will work. Just make sure it doesn't affect your pH because you are going to want something around 8.0 pH. Don't stack the rocks too unstable, because the mbuna will move the sand and make them fall. I lost an mbuna that way, so be careful. Use sand. The mbuna will move the sand around the tank how they like it. Seachem cichlid lake salt is my secret weapon. It replicates their natural environment and the color of my fish have really shown because of it.

If you have any questions or need some more help. I would be more than happy to help! BigBeardDaHuZi thank you for recommending me to help out; I really appreciate it.
 

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BigBeardDaHuZi

I'm pretty set on peacocks and haps, but I have to admit to being pulled to the 'dark side' once in a while. A colony of mbuna is a really impressive sight. So much like watching a reef
 
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Charlie’s Dad

My wife an I have a 75 gallon community and a 55 gallon cichlid tank.

I am happy with them both. However.... I do with sometimes I had gotten another 75 for the cichlids.

In the here an now WCs are just a normal weekly reflex.
 
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Dechi

What are the dimensions of the 45 gallon?

First, thank you so much for this detailed answer ! I will come back to it as needed. Your fish are amazing, such nice colors !

My tank is a Fluval bow front 45 gallons 36x16x20

Yellow labs (Labidochromis caeruleus) are a great starter cichlid.
Those were recommended to me as well and my store always has them in stock.

The other one they said would fit nicely is a black fish with white stripes but I forgot its name. They always have it in stock as well.

I’ll look into the ones you mentioned as well.

For filtering, turning your tank over 10x is ideal.

Right now my Fluval 407 would turn my tank 5.4x. I’ll start with that and see if I need more. The thing is the tank is in a room where I spend most of my time, and I can’t have too much noise. Noise level is acceptable at the moment.
 
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SinisterCichlids

Totally get the noise problem. Hmmm black mbuna with white stripes huh? I am going to attach a photo below and if it is that one ... STAY AWAY !!! That is the male golden auratus and they are horribly evil fish.

Ok, so the 45 gallon has similar dimensions to the 40 gallon breeder and will be a good fit for mbuna in the 4-5 inch range. Yes, yellow labs male and female have great color, low aggression, and small size. Every LFS stocks them because there really is no mbuna tank complete without them.

I am so glad I could help. If you literally need anything, do not hesitate to contact me. BigBeardDaHuZi thank you again for the recommendation, love seeing your content around the forum.

Defintiely look into more mbuna in the 4-5 inch range. Stay away from bumblebee cichlids (Pseudotropheus crabro) and Blue lipped williamsi (Pseudotropheus williamsi) They grow well over 7+ inches and are great fish, but will outgrow your tank very quickly.
 

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Dechi

Hmmm black mbuna with white stripes huh? I am going to attach a photo below and if it is that one ... STAY AWAY !!! That is the male golden auratus and they are horribly evil fish.

Sorry, I have it all wrong !

I went back to my notes and it said « blue with black stripes ». I checked what they had in stock that would fit that description and I saw three fish : which one is relatively peaceful among those ?
 
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SinisterCichlids

The one on the left with the strong yellowfin that is a Jalo Reef. (Cynotilapia Afra)
Definitely one of my favorite mbuna, from my experience with them, they are luck of the draw. I have had dominant ones that were aggressive and some that werent so dominant that were middle to bottom of the pack.

The second photo is a yellow top mbaba (Labidochromis sp. Mbamba). They are in the same family as the yellow labs. Whenever you see a name start with anything Labidochromis, think of yellow lab dogs being mans best friend. Labs are known to be the least aggressive mbuna. I have only had one, and no aggression.

The last photo is either a johanni or maingano, but I am leaning towards maingano. Despite popular belief, they are different fish, but sometimes are categorized together or marked incorrectly at stores. From this picture, I cant tell which one it is. Either way, they are both of the Melanochromis family and are both typically are one of the much more aggressive mbuna.

You should also look into red top hongi's they are in the Labidochromis family like the labs and mbaba. Very beautiful, small size, and on the lower side of aggression.

Hope that helps!
 
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Dechi

SinisterCichlids thank you ! I don’t know why my pictures were resized but originally the names of the fish were written on it, along with the name of the store. Since I can’t give credit, I don’t know if I’m allowed to use them so once you’ve seen this reply, I will remove them.

I think you got all the names right but one ?
Here they are, from left to right and top to bottom :

Cynotilapia zebroide (jalo) afra
Cynotilapia zebroide (mara rock) afra - white dorsal
Pseudotropheus cyaneorhabdos maingano
 
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Dechi

I’ve started my journey. It will be a long one because I have to have some gypse and paint done behind my tank, and will wait until that’s done before adding the cichlids (the tank will need to be moved and I don’t want them to go through that stress). I also have to find a home for my 10 remaining fish. Until then, they are being nice and maintaining my cycle until I do the switch.

This is my Christmas present from me to me, so the goal is to have the fish before Christmas !

STEP 1
I bought 40 lbs of CaribSea Seafloor Special Grade Reef Sand Dry Aragonite. I rinsed it thoroughly and left it to dry until I’m ready to use it.

I bought 10 lbs of white rocks that have a buffering effect (2x medium size) and 10 lbs of light grey rocks that don’t have a buffering effect. I forgot their names, sorry. It will be enough until I have no more plants. On top of that, I already had 2-3 medium/big slate rocks and 1 medium lava rock that I might use eventually. I will rinse them tomorrow.

I am hoping to have 12 cichlids in 3 groups.

4 x Labidochromis caeruleus (this one is certain)

And 2 other groups of 4 among those, depending on which are available :

Pseudotropheus demasoni
Pseudotropheus cyaneorhabdos (maingano) OR
Cynotilapia zebroide Afra
Cynotilapia zebroide Afra

SinisterCichlids I have a few questions that you might help me with :

1- Knowing I currently have 10 little fish in my tank (5 neon tetras, 2 rosey tetras, 1 flying fox and 2 coreys), how many cichlids (small, not adult size) at a time can I add without risking an ammonia peak ? My goal is to add 4 at a time, maybe 8 if there are no risks.

2- I do not understand how to calculate how much seachem cichlid salt and buffer to add to my water to obtain a PH of 8.2 as the store does. They also keep GH or KH at 300 ? How do I do that ?

Knowing the argonite will help buffer, and that my natural PH is between 6.8-7.2 but 90% of the time 7.0, how do I do the math ?

The cichlid store measured my GH between 30-40 (or was it KH, sorry I’ve never measured those).

Thank you !
 
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SinisterCichlids

Hey, I would be happy to help, but I just need a bit more information, so starting from the top. Great choice with the yellow labs. You will not regret it. The demasoni would also be a great second choice! As for the Cynotilapia zebroide Afra, you are talking about the orange tops correct? That is a REALLY rare find for my area. If so, they are mildly aggressive and I think either would be fine. I would stay away from the maingano, I find them to be a hit or miss on aggression, especially if your store mixes up maingano's with Johannis who are very aggressive. A lot of stores sell them as the same fish, but they are not.

1. I really suggest you rehome the fish currently in the tank, they don't suit well for the higher pH you are trying to establish, and mbuna, no matter the size is going to immediately try and establish a hierarchy and your current fish will get thrown to the bottom of it very quickly. The end result not being pretty. I think you are better off rehoming or donating them and getting as many of the mbuna you can afford. The more put together at one time and at a small age, increases your likelihood of a successful tank.

2. Having a consistent pH is more important than having the perfect pH. I saw you said your pH is usually around a 7.0 which is too low (as you know haha). Unfortunately, my tap water pH is 8.2 where I live so I never messed around with having to adjust it. I think someone can give you better advice on that then me.

GH (general hardness) and KH (carbonate hardness) in my opinion really aren't as important as a pH and proper temperature. Check out this article: http://www.thetropicaltank.co.uk/mbuna2.htm
 
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Dechi

1. I really suggest you rehome the fish currently in the tank, they don't suit well for the higher pH you are trying to establish, and mbuna
Oh yeah, they’re all going to a new home. I’m redoing the tank completely and it wouldn’t be suited for them.


Having a consistent pH is more important than having the perfect pH. I saw you said your pH is usually around a 7.0 which is too low (as you know haha). Unfortunately, my tap water pH is 8.2 where I live so I never messed around with having to adjust it.

You’re lucky ! I’ll keep trying to find more infos about it. I must not have the right key words, as nothing comes up but I’m sure many people are asking about it !
 
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BigBeardDaHuZi

If you take out your fish now to re-home, you can use a little bit of store bought ammonia to keep the cycle going. Your LFS might have it, or you can order it on Amazon. Dr. Tim's is a trustworthy brand for this, but there are others too.
The bonus of doing this early is that it gives you time to play around with your water parameters a bit and find a path to stability.
You say you have buffering rocks and 40 pounds of argonite sand. These two things might be all you need to get to a good pH and hardness, especially if you are starting at neutral. If you can rely on their natural buffering it will be a lot easier than trying to get the right water using chemicals/powders every week.

After you have the tank set up and have given your sand and rocks time to buffer the water, you can begin to experiment with the cichlid salt if you choose to.

I use cichlid salt, but I mainly use it to add trace minerals to the tank with a side order of pH and hardness. I would rather rely on my crushed coral to get the water parameters I want. I follow the directions on the canister.
 
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Dechi

If you take out your fish now to re-home, you can use a little bit of store bought ammonia to keep the cycle going. Your LFS might have it, or you can order it on Amazon. Dr. Tim's is a trustworthy brand for this, but there are others too.
The bonus of doing this early is that it gives you time to play around with your water parameters a bit and find a path to stability.
You say you have buffering rocks and 40 pounds of argonite sand. These two things might be all you need to get to a good pH and hardness, especially if you are starting at neutral. If you can rely on their natural buffering it will be a lot easier than trying to get the right water using chemicals/powders every week.

After you have the tank set up and have given your sand and rocks time to buffer the water, you can begin to experiment with the cichlid salt if you choose to.

I use cichlid salt, but I mainly use it to add trace minerals to the tank with a side order of pH and hardness. I would rather rely on my crushed coral to get the water parameters I want. I follow the directions on the canister.

Pure ammonium chloride is almost impossible to find in Canada. I’ve heard it’s illegal to sell, so that explains why.

I could order from Amazon, but it would be coming from the US and will take a month to get here, if not stopped at the border.

The cichlids fish guy told me to put fish food directly in the filter inlet. He says that’s what he does and it works well.

I’m very anxious about the whole thing, because I need to coordinate the time I give the fish away, the time to set-up the new tank, get to the right PH and GH and then get the fish. Not only do I not want them to die, but it will be more than 200$ for 8 fish...

Once I give away the fish, the tank will be empty until my water parameters are good, so maybe 5-7 days ? I don’t know, I’ve never had to play with PH and hardness before. Also, while I do the new set-up, the filter won’t be running for 2-3 hours, so that’s also a blow on the BB.

Sigh. So stressful !

After you have the tank set up and have given your sand and rocks time to buffer the water, you can begin to experiment with the cichlid salt if you choose to.

How long would that take ?
 
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BigBeardDaHuZi

How long would that take ?
My big new tank should be arriving this week. I was expecting it two weeks ago, but I guess that's just how it goes. I've been cycling my media in a bucket for over a month to prepare. I actually started that cycle with fresh shrimp from the market. The shrimp produced enough ammonia to get the cycle going well, but it was a bit of a smelly experience. Fish food should work, but I wouldn't know how to guess how much.
It doesn't have to be Ammonia Chloride though, by the way. Ammonia Hydroxide works well too. You can find it in the hardware store usually. As long as it is pure (ammonia 90% water 10%) you should be fine. Or maybe check Amazon Canada? (Is that a thing?)

Since your tank is already cycled, you might be okay anyways. The bacteria that is involved in the nitrogen is pretty tough stuff. It doesn't need to be fed everyday like a pet. I would imagine you could go a week pretty easily with no fresh ammonia. The fish food might be all you need. A few hours with no flow should not hurt it either. Paging mattgirl here, she is a master at all of this.

As for playing around with the buffering, I am planning on a week to get the tank really going before I add fish too. The substrate needs to settle, the hardscape needs to be hard scaped, and most importantly, the water needs to be ready.

I am planning to add 10 kilos of crushed coral to my sump. My fish breeder friend here said that that should do it (he breeds Africans). Once it is added, I am assuming it will take a few days for it to buffer the water, and then I want to experiment with the cichlid salt. Can I get the parameters I want? Once I have achieved those parameters, can I maintain them through a big water change? Will the KH be strong enough to buffer a 50% water change?
I want to play around with the big tank and big water changes while there are no fish to get stressed out. I will be dosing the tank with Ammonia at that time too. I want to keep it tip top.

I hope someone else can jump on here. In the past, I had naturally hard water and I didn't need to adjust anything. The water where I live now is neutral to a bit soft.
 
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mattgirl

Since your tank is already cycled, you might be okay anyways. The bacteria that is involved in the nitrogen is pretty tough stuff. It doesn't need to be fed everyday like a pet. I would imagine you could go a week pretty easily with no fresh ammonia. The fish food might be all you need. A few hours with no flow should not hurt it either. Paging mattgirl here, she is a master at all of this.
Thanks for the call out. You are right about the bacteria being tougher than most of us give it credit for once well established in our tanks. To stay on the safe side though it might not be a bad idea to go ahead and add a pinch of fish food daily for the first 3 or 4 days without fish in the tank. It is going to take a day or two for the fish food to decompose and add ammonia so no need to add it right up to the day before adding fish. Personally I would drop it in the tanks instead of in the filter but it should work either way.

A better way to provide ammonia might be to hang a piece of raw shrimp in the tank and leave it in there until it is time to add the new fish. The shrimp will be easier to remove when it is time to add fish. The smell shouldn't be too bad in this amount of water. I can see where it would be in a 5 gallon bucket with lots of room taken up with substrate.

As far as the filter is concerned. It shouldn't hurt the bacteria if not running for a few hours. Just keep the media wet and all should be well.

As for playing around with the buffering, I am planning on a week to get the tank really going before I add fish too. The substrate needs to settle, the hardscape needs to be hard scaped, and most importantly, the water needs to be ready.
I was hoping you already had your tank. Be sure to page me when you tell us all about it and post photos of it
 
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Dechi

Thank you BigBeardDaHuZi ! All you’re saying makes a lot of sense.

I am probably stressing too much over this, but I really want to make it easy on the fish. I tested my GH and KH and they are 100 ppm for GH and 30-40 ppm for KH. I’ve played a bit with the coral rocks I bought but I definitely need more, so I will get 10-20 pounds more, which will help with buffering. I wish I had a sump !

So my plan is getting more precise as I read and get advice from nice people like you.

2-7 days before day 1 : « feed » the filter a few flakes son they have time to rot before the fish go away and the ammonia source diminishes (I have to research this more to find out how long it takes to release ammonia from food).

Day 1 : give the freshwater fish away and set-up the new tank. Restart the filter. Let the water settle. Before going to bed : test the water and add cichlid salt and/or buffer if needed.

Day 2 : retest water. Adjust parameters if needed.

Day 3 or when water parameters have been stable for 24 hours : get the fish

Day 4 and up : test the water daily and dose with beneficial bacteria and maybe Cichlid trace (I have to research this).

mattgirl thanks for the advice !

BigBeardDaHuZi will you document the set-up of your new tank ? I think it would be very interesting to read, as I haven’t seen many such posts about cichlid tanks.
 
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mattgirl

mattgirl thanks for the advice ! would you have advice for me on this ? (you can read from my previous message if you want to save time).
I will leave this part of it to those that know much more about what you are attempting and what to do to get there. I'm pretty good a cycling but not so much at adding things to get specific parameters.

We will expect pictures, lots of pictures when you are ready to show us your new water pets in a home designed just for them.
 
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BigBeardDaHuZi

Thank you BigBeardDaHuZi ! All you’re saying makes a lot of sense.

I am probably stressing too much over this, but I really want to make it easy on the fish. I tested my GH and KH and they are 100 ppm for GH and 30-40 ppm for KH. I’ve played a bit with the coral rocks I bought but I definitely need more, so I will get 10-20 pounds more, which will help with buffering. I wish I had a sump !

So my plan is getting more precise as I read and get advice from nice people like you.

2-7 days before day 1 : « feed » the filter a few flakes son they have time to rot before the fish go away and the ammonia source diminishes (I have to research this more to find out how long it takes to release ammonia from food).

Day 1 : give the freshwater fish away and set-up the new tank. Restart the filter. Let the water settle. Before going to bed : test the water and add cichlid salt and/or buffer if needed.

Day 2 : retest water. Adjust parameters if needed.

Day 3 or when water parameters have been stable for 24 hours : get the fish

Day 4 and up : test the water daily and dose with beneficial bacteria and maybe Cichlid trace (I have to research this).

mattgirl thanks for the advice !

BigBeardDaHuZi will you document the set-up of your new tank ? I think it would be very interesting to read, as I haven’t seen many such posts about cichlid tanks.

The only thing I would change on your schedule is when you plan to add your fish. You are spending a lot of money on those fish, don't rush it. Your bacteria will be ok. Safety first. Give it a few days to settle. Just my advice though.

Keep in mind, too, that crushed coral dissolves slowly. It is not an instant buffer. Think in days more than hours.
On the plus side though, by its nature, crushed coral will not take your water past the limits that you want. It releases all of its carbonate goodness as a reaction to acidity in the water. When the water is hard enough and alkaline enough, the CC stops releasing.

mattgirl Ahhhh. Every time I talk to the guy building my tank, he says it'll be ready in another week. EVERY time I talk to him he says another week. I really want to know how the bucketful of rocks does.
Oh well, it will come out right eventually.
I'll post about it when it happens
 
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Dechi

We will expect pictures, lots of pictures when you are ready to show us your new water pets in a home designed just for them.
I definitely will !

The only thing I would change on your schedule is when you plan to add your fish. You are spending a lot of money on those fish, don't rush it. Your bacteria will be ok. Safety first. Give it a few days to settle. Just my advice though.

Yeah, I’m torn between losing the cycle and when to get the fish. Some people say I don’t need to wait, but others feel it’s best to wait, and my gut feeling is also telling me this.

I think with the idea of a shrimp in the tank, I’ll be more secure to wait a few more days.
 
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veggieshark

This thread has great info as quick reference. You can skip the rest, as it turned into a monologue before I could stop:

My problem with cichlid tanks (and in general all tanks) is that I eventually get bored. Due to aggression issues, show tanks are set up to establish a stable status and then maintain it afterwards. So, it is the same thing day after day once the status is established. If you encourage spawning activity, things change. You have to make room for the breeding ones, and save others from increased aggression. Once the breeding pair is given comfortable space, they will keep breeding and breeding. It is hard to maintain something beyond quasi-static and yet not turn everything in to a hectic operation.

I know this is a very personal view, and I am not even sure what exactly I am talking about, but that is how I feel with cichlids sometimes. I don't want to rearrange and restock a tank all the time, which is a recipe for disaster. I guess that's why we end up having multiple (many) tanks.
 
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SinisterCichlids

This thread has great info as quick reference. You can skip the rest, as it turned into a monologue before I could stop:

My problem with cichlid tanks (and in general all tanks) is that I eventually get bored. Due to aggression issues, show tanks are set up to establish a stable status and then maintain it afterwards. So, it is the same thing day after day once the status is established. If you encourage spawning activity, things change. You have to make room for the breeding ones, and save others from increased aggression. Once the breeding pair is given comfortable space, they will keep breeding and breeding. It is hard to maintain something beyond quasi-static and yet not turn everything in to a hectic operation.

I know this is a very personal view, and I am not even sure what exactly I am talking about, but that is how I feel with cichlids sometimes. I don't want to rearrange and restock a tank all the time, which is a recipe for disaster. I guess that's why we end up having multiple (many) tanks.

I guess that is one way of looking at it. In my opinion, the best part is having the tank established and getting it to that point; I think of it as working out --you are never satisfied and always trying to make it better or bigger.

I find it amazing having a small piece of the ocean or lake right there in your room; having the ability to interact and care for species that are basically reliant on you as a fishkeeper. Watching their spawning habits and personalities and growing an attachment for something outside of your own personal gratification. Being able to look back at all of your hard work and mistakes, and think "wow I made this possible."
 
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veggieshark

Watching their spawning habits and personalities and growing an attachment for something outside of your own personal gratification. Being able to look back at all of your hard work and mistakes, and think "wow I made this possible."

True. Sorry, if I sounded anti-cichlid. Don't get me wrong, I have 4 species of cichlids right now, and I am still reserving a 75g for an African mix. I am just expressing a feeling that I get sometimes. I feel that their spawning behavior is not fully exhibited in a tank filled with others to minimize aggression, and breeding/survival chances are low in the mixed cichlid community. When I let them have their own space, it is a different kind of viewing enjoyment and I can't keep up with the demand for space. It is bit of a dilemma for me.

I think you are correct about growing an attachment though. It is more so when you can identify individuals and recognize their character. Cichlids give you that.
 
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SinisterCichlids

True. Sorry, if I sounded anti-cichlid. Don't get me wrong, I have 4 species of cichlids right now, and I am still reserving a 75g for an African mix. I am just expressing a feeling that I get sometimes. I feel that their spawning behavior is not fully exhibited in a tank filled with others to minimize aggression, and breeding/survival chances are low in the mixed cichlid community. When I let them have their own space, it is a different kind of viewing enjoyment and I can't keep up with the demand for space. It is bit of a dilemma for me.

I think you are correct about growing an attachment though. It is more so when you can identify individuals and recognize their character. Cichlids give you that.

No, I totally get what you are saying don't worry. I love mbuna, but I have been so sick of the aggression lately too. To the point I think to myself "why am I doing this, fish tanks are supposed to be relaxing..." That is why I am trying to switch over entirely to peacocks. Yeah, they are still "aggressive" but nothing compared to what I have dealt with in mbuna tanks.

Community fish just don't do it for me, I personally don't find anything exciting about tetras
(tetra and community lovers, don't crucify me) hahaha
 
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Dechi

This thread has great info as quick reference. You can skip the rest, as it turned into a monologue before I could stop:

I think we’re missing the link. I’d like to read it, can you insert it ?

I find it amazing having a small piece of the ocean or lake right there in your room; having the ability to interact and care for species that are basically reliant on you as a fishkeeper.

That’s my feeling. I don’t get bored of my fish. Sometimes I want to rearrange a little, but that’s fun.

but I have been so sick of the aggression lately too. To the point I think to myself "why am I doing this, fish tanks are supposed to be relaxing..." That is why I am trying to switch over entirely to peacocks. Yeah, they are still "aggressive" but nothing compared to what I have dealt with in mbuna tanks.

Now you’re making me rethink my choice. I don’t know if I would be happy with constant aggression. My goal is to have a peaceful environment (as much as possible), and replication conditions in the wild.

Am I kidding myself with thinking I can achieve that with 2-3 species in the same tank ? Should I go with 5 females and 1 male of yellow labs or maingano ?
 
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veggieshark

I think we’re missing the link. I’d like to read it, can you insert it ?

I was referring to this thread that we are in right now, i.e., the info posted by people here. Sorry, if there is a deeper meaning to what you said, I hate to miss a good joke.
 
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Dechi

I was referring to this thread that we are in right now, i.e., the info posted by people here. Sorry, if there is a deeper meaning to what you said, I hate to miss a good joke.

Ha Ha Ha ! No, no deeper meaning !
 
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BigBeardDaHuZi

How's it going Dechi? Have you made any progress?
 
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Dechi

How's it going Dechi? Have you made any progress?

BigBeardDaHuZi thanks for asking !

If all goes well tomorrow I am bringing my fish to the LFS and buying the rest of what I need to start my new tank (Except the fish, which will come 5-7 days later) I will be removing my plants and the gravel/sand before I put the Aragonite and coral rocks and refill.

I have been having second thoughts because my plants are doing so well, better than I’ve ever had. I will be able to keep, maybe, the java fern, anubia and vallisneria like plant I have, at least.

I was thinking I should keep little bit of water that will be in the bottom of the tank, because it would be from the substrate, which contains BB. What do you think ? Should I keep a very fine layer of substrate as well, just to help ? (You know I’m OCD about losing my BB...).

I’m starting with yellow labs, then waiting a bit before introducing a second group. Maybe 2 weeks.
 
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BigBeardDaHuZi

BigBeardDaHuZi thanks for asking !

If all goes well tomorrow I am bringing my fish to the LFS and buying the rest of what I need to start my new tank (Except the fish, which will come 5-7 days later) I will be removing my plants and the gravel/sand before I put the Aragonite and coral rocks and refill.

I have been having second thoughts because my plants are doing so well, better than I’ve ever had. I will be able to keep, maybe, the java fern, anubia and vallisneria like plant I have, at least.

I was thinking I should keep little bit of water that will be in the bottom of the tank, because it would be from the substrate, which contains BB. What do you think ? Should I keep a very fine layer of substrate as well, just to help ? (You know I’m OCD about losing my BB...).

I’m starting with yellow labs, then waiting a bit before introducing a second group. Maybe 2 weeks.

If you are changing the substrate, you will lose all the BB there, but you will keep the BB in your filter, which is the more important part.
What color is your old substrate? Will it clash with the argonite? I myself am a fan of white mixed with black. A dark substrate brings out the colors better in the fish, as they try to blend in with the darker bottom. If your substrate is all white, they fish may be a little paler as they try to blend in with the bottom. Also a substrate that is all white or all black shows dirt better, which is handy when cleaning, but ugly in general.
If your new substrate and your old substrate don't look good together, I would just pull it. You may lose a little BB/time growing new BB, but ugly is forever.

Keeping a little of the old water is ok, but generally the last water out of the tank is filled with decomposing gunk from the removed gravel. I think I would toss it and rely on your filter. As you are adding fish slowly, it should be fine.
Just my two cents though, maybe someone knows better.

Your plant choices sound great. The java fern and anubias are super hardy/not tasty, and the vallisneria grows naturally in Lake Malawi. As long as they are anchored well, so the cichlids can't dig them up, they should do well.
I am still hopeful I can grow a bed of vals in my new tank. We'll see how it goes
 
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Dippiedee

Watching and hoping for pictures when all is said and done

Not too long ago I removed all the substrate and 100% of the water from my 12 gallon, then took out and sterilised all my decor. Only thing that remained untouched my was filter media and I didn't have any cycle problems. Tank had been set up for roughly 6 months and had 1 betta, 5 harlequin rasbora and snails in it. Since you're adding fish slowly (highly recommend, adding too quickly is disastrous ask me how I know *eyeroll*) IMO changing all your substrate and water out will be fine. I doubt that last bit of water has much BB in anyway.
 
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Dechi

What color is your old substrate? Will it clash with the argonite?
I have 2-3 inches of Eco-Complete (many shades of brown) and 1-2 inch of sand (beige). In most places, the gravel has been mixed with the sand (as I was planting). I was thinking I might use some of it but I’m not convinced. Maybe if I could have the sand and Eco-Complete separated, and then only add part of the Eco-Complete, but this is a big job in itself...

Watching and hoping for pictures when all is said and done

Yes, pictures will be coming ! Before and after...
 
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BigBeardDaHuZi

Oh
I have 2-3 inches of Eco-Complete (many shades of brown) and 1-2 inch of sand (beige). In most places, the gravel has been mixed with the sand (as I was planting). I was thinking I might use some of it but I’m not convinced. Maybe if I could have the sand and Eco-Complete separated, and then only add part of the Eco-Complete, but this is a big job in itself...



Yes, pictures will be coming ! Before and after...
Oh, be careful with that one then. Some of the plant soils will lower your pH substantially. I have a (knock-off Chinese version of ) ADA soil that brings my pH to 6.8 or lower. If I have it in the same tank as crushed coral, the soil seems to be the winner
 
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Dechi

Oh

Oh, be careful with that one then. Some of the plant soils will lower your pH substantially. I have a (knock-off Chinese version of ) ADA soil that brings my pH to 6.8 or lower. If I have it in the same tank as crushed coral, the soil seems to be the winner

Good point, I hadn’t thought of that. No old substrate then !
 
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Dechi

The adventure continued yesterday. I went to the cichlid store and bought everything I still needed : Seachem cichlid salt, Seachem lake Malawi buffer, Prime, Microbe lift (supposed to be better when using salt), 25 lbs more of Florida rocks (coral), specialized pellets and flakes, artificial plant to hang in water and glue for the rocks.

I brought in the fish as well and bought and 4 labidochromis caerelus (juveniles, unsexex). They are keeping them until I come for them, in 2-3 weeks.

The instructions I was given were to treat my water with salt and buffer, test then wait 5 days. In 5 days, test my water again and adjust if needed to get correct parameters (PH 8.2, GH 300 ppm and KH 300-400 ppm). Then, do a WC 1 week later and adjust. And another one the week after. After doing 2 water changes, if the water is stable, go get the fish !

Closing the tank :
The onwer of the store recommended I keep as much water as possible, to preserve the BB from chlorinated water. I wish I could have, but this is what my water looked like, with all the Eco-complete I had as substrate :


33C70BA7-291F-40AF-AC17-49FAA59B0CC8.jpeg

There was no way I was starting a new aquarium with that mud water... So I emptied it all. Near the end, I got a few electric shocks from my heater (I coudn’t see what I was doing with this brown water). I immediately stopped and cut the power supply to the tank then resumed the cleaning. Then I found a big piece of heater’s the protective glass in the sand. I’m lucky I wasn’t electrocuted...

By the time I was finished removing all the sand/gravel and water, the filter had been off for a little less than 1 1/2. So I quicky put the egg crate I had bought on Amazon on the bottom of the tank and started trying to arrange the rocks.


E07FC694-6863-4708-874E-99242495104E.jpeg
This is the tank before adding the rocks. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the rocks without the Aragonite.

Here are the rocks with the Aragonite.


9FC015F2-0E2C-45D8-8D63-1BC11EA51F50.jpeg

Here is the tank once filled and with the plants added. The water is still cloudy. I haven’t planted them yet. I want to see if they survive before going to this trouble.


AA08643D-4C6D-48B1-A9B5-71D7F3F003FD.jpeg

Here is the tank this morning.


87D79F9C-A04E-4F17-9F38-8A1805B468EE.jpeg
 
Upvote 0

NoahLikesFish

Looking good, I’d get some empty escargot shells on amazon for more hiding spots and I’d leave the lights on for a long time so lots of algae grows. Heavy aeration and high lighting gets lots of algae on rocks
 
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