substrate

  • pinkyNthebrain2
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pinkyNthebrain2 created the topic: substrate

I current have my African cichlids in a 55 gallon on white rocks. I am thinking about overhauling a few if not all 8 of my tanks this summer while school is out and had some wild ideas. I saw a beautiful cichlid tank at a local restaurant that almost fooled me for a saltwater tank from a distance and I loved there set up. They were using white sand which I really liked. But that got me to thinking about some marine substrate I saw at my lfs that was mainly composed of crushed shell (which they also have in white) and was wondering if this could be used in my cichlid tank. I know shell will raise the ph but i kind of need to do that anyway my tap comes out at 6.0 and I have only managed to bring their tank to 6.2 by dropping in a few seashells. They all are doing great. Getting big and fisty. Have had them a little over 2 months now I believe. Would the shell substrate be a really bad idea? Too much? Hard to clean? Also I notice that a lot if my fish flash off the substrate and decorations not just my cichlids but all my tanks except the Oscar do it especially the guppy breeding tank. No signs of ich and water is always in pretty good shape. Finally got myself a dang liquid test kit lol. Everyone is super healthy in my opinion eat like pigs guppies drop new babies every week or two and haven't had any recent deaths... They have all been doing this flashing for a while but not constantly. They all do it just randomly once in a while. No idea why. Been watching for ich for months now because I had an outbreak of that once and the fish were flashing like that but spots showed up really quick after that. Haven't seen a single spot so far.. any ideas?
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  • Nina_W
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Nina_W replied the topic: Re: substrate

sometimes fish just need to scratch? With the africans, some flashing is normal. It could also be because of the pH.

People have had success with crushed coral (what it sounds like to me?) or crushed shell substrates. It will up your pH somewhat, but with frequent water changes the impact will be minimal. Try and see? Just watch for really sharp bits - your flashing fishies might cut themselves.
About a kilogram of crushed coral for every 40 liters of water will keep your pH at about 7.6. I don't know how frequently you'd have to change it out to keep the effect going - I have no idea how quickly the calcium carbonate in it gets 'used up'.

I use bicarbonate of soda on my malawi setup to buffer my pH up to a steady 8. There is a lot of debate on using bicarb. I use it because the chemistry makes sense to me, bicarbonate of soda adds the same thing that your crushed coral does - calcium carbonate. This is the thing that breaks down, neutralising acid and keeping your pH higher. This works pretty well for Malawi fish.

In my personal experience, because of large, frequent water changes, anything that is expected to leach slowly into the aquarium, like crushed coral, does not really make any impact. Again, others have had different experiences.

In my opinion, for malawi fish, pool filter sand is the greatest thing ever for subtrates. They get to dig (they love digging) and it looks all white and lovely. But that's just me :)

In the end, stable really is the key. Both crushed coral and regular bicarb additions will keep things stable as long as you add enough and regularly (with regular water changes). I would really stay away from commercial pH up additives.
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  • bassetman
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bassetman replied the topic: Re: substrate

Crushed coral will also damage any eggs the females are holding if they pick any up with the eggs. It is too sharp and can also irritate the gills causing flashing.


Good judgement comes from experience, experience comes from bad judgement
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  • pinkyNthebrain2
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pinkyNthebrain2 replied the topic: Re: substrate

So I should go with sand... I appreciate the advice. Any thoughts on a sand crushed shell mix...?
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