Yup, I've been a big Cory fan since I was like 12 years old, and a lot of that probably has to do with their wink. Plus they do so much good stirring up the substrate and debris wherever it might be. I wanted to get julliis in my tank, but there were none in town, so I got Peppered instead. Any Cory is a good Cory.
My ph is 8.4 out of the tap, but mid 7's in the tank. I have to be very careful I have learned. Being I have a 20g, there isn't much room for error. You will find a happy medium where everything, light, CO2, stock, etc. balances out and your plants will grow slowly, you won't have a bunch of algae, and the fish will be happy. Patience, patience, and dilligence, dilligence.
Wouldn't you like to beside the seaside?