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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I thought I'd take a stab at a tank journal. I like a clearing area for my additions. Specifically I like to place my Equipment posts in one place, Livestock in another, Plants, and so on. I'll be editing this and each of the others in an ongoing basis along with links to whatever interesting discussions that might develop.

The pic below will hopefully reflect the most current state of the tank. [Pic update 2/23/2019]

20190223_121443 by pat w1, on Flickr

Edit [11/26/2018]: Shout out to Amazon vendor CrocSee. Wonderful vendor. https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/12-tank-journals/1282533-141-gallon-planted-s-am-cichlid-journal-%5B-mbuna%5D-4.html#post11141547

[Edit 11/06/2018] OK, due to local water parameters this is now a journal for a South/Central American Cichlid tank. Similar stage - new players. See reasoning HERE.

This is my attempt and I hope I get it right because it’s setup in my living room for all the world – at least the portion that visits – to see.[/SIZE]


Just Click on the links below:

Equipment:

Plants & Plant Related Info:

Livestock:
 

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Just add additional one-word posts: “equipment”, “fish”, etc. Then you can go back and use the edit function later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Equipment:

CO2 injection test [12/8/2018] Details HERE.

A poor picture showing surface agitation.
20181208_101946 by pat w1, on Flickr

CO2 Reg setting.
20181208_103322 by pat w1, on Flickr

Ph of degassed sample - 24hr airiation 40hr rest.
20181208_101426 by pat w1, on Flickr

pH progress - 50 cc/min on the Dwyer - 10 minute intervals.
20181208_105143_Signature by pat w1, on Flickr 20181208_110002_Signature by pat w1, on Flickr
20181208_111214_Signature by pat w1, on Flickr 20181208_112209_Signature by pat w1, on Flickr
20181208_113159_Signature by pat w1, on Flickr 20181208_114350_Signature by pat w1, on Flickr

Some Pics of my CO2 regulator and delivery system [12/2/2018]
Further details in post @ https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/12-tank-journals/1282533-141-gallon-planted-s-am-cichlid-journal-%5B-
mbuna%5D-4.html#post11143947


An old Victor 450D. An oldie but goodie.

20181202_174856 by pat w1, on Flickr

20181202_174932 by pat w1, on Flickr

A pic of the delivery system including the Dwyer flowmeter and the GLA inline diffuser and 10' coil of 5/8" ID hose in the background.

20181202_175052 by pat w1, on Flickr

The remainder of the delivery is a PVC port feeding the input of the return pump.

20181202_175141 by pat w1, on Flickr

What should be the final of the rock work. [11/18/2018]

Anyone using a landscaping supply for smooth river stones needs to take a spray bottle of water to expose the character of the stones. Some of these are amazing and I wouldn't have known otherwise.

20181118_202221 by pat w1, on Flickr

20181118_202243 by pat w1, on Flickr

20181118_202335 by pat w1, on Flickr

20181118_202415 by pat w1, on Flickr

20181118_202351 by pat w1, on Flickr

20181118_202415 by pat w1, on Flickr

20181118_202442 by pat w1, on Flickr

First post 11/04/2018
20180911_142955 by pat w1, on Flickr

It's a monster, at least by my standards. 141 gallon display. Tank dims: 60"L 26"W x 24"H. 3/4" Starfire low iron glass all around (1" bottom). Smoked glass back and overflow. Overflow has a smoked glass cover. Drilled fo a dual "Herbie" drain. Ready made plumbing with tools free installation. Two individually adjustable flow accessory supplies branching off the main return. Recommended filter flow is 1600gph.

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20180911_143302 by pat w1, on Flickr

I just like like a sump. IMO nothing beats one for overall convenience and filtration capacity. On top of that it's an oxygenation machine. Waterbox did something with this one I really liked - cascading filter sock chambers allowing true two stage mech filtering. I'm going with 250 micron mesh in the first and 200 micron felt in the second. The next chamber is meant for a refugium but I've using it for Bio - 8 liters of Pond Matrix + 250ml Purigen. Moving straight back is the skimmer chamber. The only thing I have there are two 500 watt Finnex heaters. In the back right is the return pump chamber. I chose a Jebao DCP-13000 Sinewave. I wanted DC variable control and PWM controllers are subject to whine issues. This one is silent unless you're right on top of it. The sump is feed by a "Herbie" dual drain supply. For those of you who don't know what that is go here. Herbie Overflow Plumbing Guide for Quiet Reef Aquariums - gmacreef

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20180914_211619 by pat w1, on Flickr

I laid down a sheet of egg crate both too distribute the load of the rocks and to insure none of the digging would result in undermining of the structure.

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20180915_170233 by pat w1, on Flickr

the next four images are of the beginning stages for the rock structure for the Mbunas. They are no longer valid. The rock will be reused - differently - for the new livestock.

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20180916_161754 by pat w1, on Flickr

20180916_181651 by pat w1, on Flickr

20180922_163447 by pat w1, on Flickr

20180922_134055 by pat w1, on Flickr

A total of 8 Liters of Pond Matrix for the Bio-Filter media. Pond Matrix has a stated capacity to host anaerobic bacteria for de-nitrification although setting up the colony has been shown to be hit or miss at best. Hope springs eternal.

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20180922_134028 by pat w1, on Flickr

The Waterbox supplied sump has a somewhat unique feature - cascading filter sock chambers. Each is individually feed from a dedicated upstream baffle. This allows for true two stage mechanical filtration. Additionally a standard gravel vac can be feed into either (I'm intending to use the mesh) to allow for a more relaxed time while vacuuming the substrate. You can vacuum to your heart's content without being bothered with either over draining the tank or overfilling buckets. All that's required is to monitor the tank and sump levels and when the sump begins to fill up, pinch off the siphon hose and take a short break to let the return pump catch up. Often a change in the noise the Herbie drains will signal you when that time comes. Did I mention I like sumps?

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20180922_133957 by pat w1, on Flickr

Two Finnex HMX-500S 500 watt digital heaters. I'm controlling these with a Baylite 1100W Heat/Cool temperature controller. I currently have the controller set @77.1F and the temp has never varied from 77.0F at any time I have checked it. The sensor is in the drain chamber of the sump. I have two cheap digital thermometers on either end of the display tank. one reads 76.8F, the other 76.5F. These never change either. The differences I chalk up to the accuracy of the sensors in all three cases.

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20180922_133936 by pat w1, on Flickr

A better view of the return chamber with the Jebao DCP-13000 DC Sine Wave return pump. The pump is well over-sized as I currently have it at 70% output and it will turn over the current 140 gallon water column 7 times per hour. The chamber to the front is the included Auto Top Off reservoir. When I had the temp @ 82F for the cycle I had to fill it every 3 days. Now that the temp is down to 77F it'll be more like once a week. More below.

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20180922_163906_HDR by pat w1, on Flickr

A view of where I mounted the Bayite temp controller and the DCP-13000 controller.

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20180922_163737 by pat w1, on Flickr

Technological advances seem to generate rat nests.

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20180922_163653 by pat w1, on Flickr

Normal water levels in the sump.

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IMG_4319 by pat w1, on Flickr

I added 250ml of Purigen. I have 250ml more waiting for when this needs recharging.

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IMG_4320 by pat w1, on Flickr

XP Aqua's Ultimate ATO 4 sensor Auto Top Off system. XPAQUA So far I like it. Reliable and quiet. Includes a siphon break to prevent a siphon from forming from a dropped hose. Loads of other extras I don't need. ( I wanted the security of the 4 sensors.)

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IMG_4321 by pat w1, on Flickr

The cabinet is filling up but everything will fit. I even have room to upgrade to a 10# CO2 bottle later.

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IMG_4322 by pat w1, on Flickr

Almost forgot these. Two Jebao PP-8 Wave makers. DC powerhouses. I can't take them to a setting higher than three out of eight without tossing the sand bed too much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Plants:

[12/13/2018 Wednesday]
THE PLANTS ARE ON THEIR WAY.

Should be here Saturday.

2- Java Fern
2 -Anubias Coffeefolia
3 -Anubias Nana
1 - Green Melon Sword
1 - Amazon Sword
2 - Ozelot Green Sword
10 - Jungle Vallisneria

Got some 00 gelcaps coming to make root tab from some Osmocote + i have.

Gotta get the fertz mixed up. Going to try to get close to Dennis Wong's "APT - Complete". Used my StockSolPro spreadsheet to develop the mix.
Link - https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/11-fertilizers-water-parameters/1283005-stocksolpro-resurrected.html#post11137451

Finally - some life in the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Livestock:

All Mbuna species will be stocked initially at a ratio of 1 male to 5 females. If over aggression issues occur extra females may be introduced.


Selection:

White Top Hara:

White Top Hara by pat w1, on Flickr

Yellow Lab:

Yellow Lab by pat w1, on Flickr

Rusty:

Rusty by pat w1, on Flickr

Yellow Tail Acei:

Yellow Tail Acei by pat w1, on Flickr
 

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Point of warning on the rock placement and all that new "bit of coin"?
Many of the African cichlids will dig, especially if you get into any of the mbuna and that makes the rocks a real hazard to sliding down the glass. Amazing but the fish really can get that bit of sand out from under a rock and that small shift at the bottom chn make the top rocks slide. If it reaches the glass and slides, it will ruin a big bit of that coin?
And if that catches your attention and you are into moving rocks, consider where a fish might actually go to really hide. Right now, I see it as an obstacle to go around during a chase but no place to really hide.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Point of warning on the rock placement and all that new "bit of coin"?
Many of the African cichlids will dig, especially if you get into any of the mbuna and that makes the rocks a real hazard to sliding down the glass. Amazing but the fish really can get that bit of sand out from under a rock and that small shift at the bottom chn make the top rocks slide. If it reaches the glass and slides, it will ruin a big bit of that coin?
And if that catches your attention and you are into moving rocks, consider where a fish might actually go to really hide. Right now, I see it as an obstacle to go around during a chase but no place to really hide.
Agree with Burr 100% on how much certain fish will dig. The video below has had me and the wife laughing for many months.

spitting fish
As for the undermining of the rock structure, see the third pic in the 11/04/2018 Equipment update. As for hiding places the pics are a bit deceiving. There are nooks and crannies in the structure and the exit paths (according to my research) supply much the same function as overstocking to abate aggression. In an overstocked tank the chased occupant tends to "get lost in the crowd". Placing paths in the structure to turn and lose the aggressor gives the fish a way to break the sight line and serves a similar purpose. As long as the aggressor male has a territory marked off, from what I've read, he'll often break off pursuit and return to guard it (I hope). We'll see.
 

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As for the undermining of the rock structure, see the third pic in the 11/04/2018 Equipment update. As for hiding places the pics are a bit deceiving. There are nooks and crannies in the structure and the exit paths (according to my research) supply much the same function as overstocking to abate aggression. In an overstocked tank the chased occupant tends to "get lost in the crowd". Placing paths in the structure to turn and lose the aggressor gives the fish a way to break the sight line and serves a similar purpose. As long as the aggressor male has a territory marked off, from what I've read, he'll often break off pursuit and return to guard it (I hope). We'll see.
This is where I often disagree with the most commonly promoted methods! I find fish do have many of the same traits as humans if we look closer, so I look at how people react when faced with overcrowding. Where do we see the most aggressive behavior? In the overcrowded sections of town or out in the open spaces?
So I have gone down a different path with my fish, rather than doing what the books tell me. I have two big reasons to not overstock. One is that it makes me work harder as I have more fish than I am able to take care of in changing water, etc. and two is that they are constantly stressed and stress leads to disease, both in humans and fish.
When I choose a place to live, I look for one where there is not going to be somebody in my face all the time and I try to give my fish the same. One way people deal with stress works for fish as well. If we can get totally away and not feel threatened, we feel better and live longer. So I find ways to let my fish have both open space to swim as well as spaces where they can actually hide, both from me and any fish who might want to chase them. I go for less stacking of rocks and more a jumble of mixed size/ shapes of rock, more like something that might have fallen off a truck rather than stacked by humans? I keep a wide range of sizes and types of fish and find it works well if I give them the variety of spaces to let them choose where and how to live.
Then over time, I have gradually fit in plants in the spaces where the fish do not live and dig.
Step one is to NOT overcrowd and try to force my will onto a fish who has unlimited time to do me in!
:grin2:
An old night view from the pre-planted days? lots space. lots of both open water and mbuna but all living peacefully as they all can find what they want.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
This is where I often disagree with the most commonly promoted methods! I find fish do have many of the same traits as humans if we look closer, so I look at how people react when faced with overcrowding. Where do we see the most aggressive behavior? In the overcrowded sections of town or out in the open spaces?
So I have gone down a different path with my fish, rather than doing what the books tell me. I have two big reasons to not overstock. One is that it makes me work harder as I have more fish than I am able to take care of in changing water, etc. and two is that they are constantly stressed and stress leads to disease, both in humans and fish.
When I choose a place to live, I look for one where there is not going to be somebody in my face all the time and I try to give my fish the same. One way people deal with stress works for fish as well. If we can get totally away and not feel threatened, we feel better and live longer. So I find ways to let my fish have both open space to swim as well as spaces where they can actually hide, both from me and any fish who might want to chase them. I go for less stacking of rocks and more a jumble of mixed size/ shapes of rock, more like something that might have fallen off a truck rather than stacked by humans? I keep a wide range of sizes and types of fish and find it works well if I give them the variety of spaces to let them choose where and how to live.
Then over time, I have gradually fit in plants in the spaces where the fish do not live and dig.
Step one is to NOT overcrowd and try to force my will onto a fish who has unlimited time to do me in!
:grin2:
An old night view from the pre-planted days? lots space. lots of both open water and mbuna but all living peacefully as they all can find what they want.
Another thing to consider is the male/female ratio. Mbuna are know to spawn readily if the correct conditions are maintained. Maintaining a good ratio (1/4 - 1/7 depending on the species) will give a break to any particular female and still satisfy the drives of the male. Additionally a conspicuously aggressive male can be re-homed and replaced or removed and reintroduced. Either can effectively re-establish dominance in the tank.

I'm not discounting your methods. It's pointless to argue with success. I'll think about a change but my wife is happy with it as it is and since it's in the living room her opinion has to be taken into account.
 

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Much of what I find written is just not what I find in my tanks and another part of that is the theory of keeping M/F groups in a specific ratio to keep the aggression/mating down. What I actually find is a bit of theory as well since I can't actually see hormones in the water. But what I find flies in the face of the theory that one groups female will only be pursued by the males of that group. Doesn't work in humans and I don't see it work in my breeding tanks of African cichlids. When the yellow lab female is ripe and ready to breed, the protomelas male is also ready! One of the big problems in the current African cichlid situation is the huge number of "mutts/ hybrids" we are finding as they do cross breed so easily.
I find no point in keeping"X" number of males and "Y" females of the same group as one group will breed so easily with another. The weaker/ less dominant like the yellow lab males are often just left out if there are some more dominant fish like the zebra group in the tank. It tends to be like closing time at the bar and we often see hybrids with no name produced. I work hard to prevent setting up those situations and do often move fish when I see the action but I am still morally required to cull some groups when I see the results. When I keep a weak group like the lab, I often set them in a tank with fish so totally different like protomelas , that the female is far less prone to doing the dance with some fish who lacks all the other moves. It is not purely a matter of being present to get the chance to pass on the genes as they do have to have more of the finer details down as well, but I try to avoid the problem at step one, rather than keep a holding female for several weeks and then find out it is a total loss.
I don't want my fish to wind up in the tanks of "mixed cichlids" that nobody can name!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I've been in discussions with some of the folks over on the Cichlid Forums regarding my stocking list. Some of my early selections have been changed to avoid crossbreeding. The current list is a product of those discussions. I have the intention of this being exclusively an Mbuna tank (with the exception of a couple of BN Pleco's). If what you say is true (and I see no reason to believe otherwise) then the crossbreeding risk is something I'll have to deal with going forward. Thanks for the heads up.
 

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What I see so often is that there are terms/ideas, etc. applied to all african cichlids as if they were all the same when each type has just as many traits which are specific to them as we see in humans. We tend to group things together as it is easy but if we really want to know how to best deal with a person, we need to know that person, not just what group they fit into.
Cichlids can be broken down into open water and mbuna and it sounds really nice to say something like, "all mbuna dig" and let it go to print. I want to know when, why and how they dig, if I'm going to fit them into a tank full of plants!
Number one, for me, on choosing cichlids is to sorthem and first throw out those who are more trouble than I want to deal with. There are just way too many to choose from for me to consider the thugs of the group. A pretty color may be nice but I far prefer a fish that behaves over one who looks great but tries to kill everybody!
I do not fully follow all the advise I find in this article but there is a great deal of value in the charts of behavior of each species to be found here:
https://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/haps_vs_mbuna.php
Never met the writer but we might be soul mates in some former lifetime? I find what he writes works in my tanks. But then there is still a lot of really obsolete info still being reprinted and written. Things like all mbuna eating algae has been fully debunked but it is still written. As we finally got into the lakes we found that lots of mbuna work on the algae but it is because they try to strain small micro organisms out of the algae and don't get all the sorting done. They really eat microorganisms but the algae is just part of it! That's an important clue when we want to keep them in planted tanks. Really not a good idea to put veggie eater in with veggies so knowing they eat the veggies or just the bugs in the veggies is a biggie!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
@PlantedRich - I'm curious about the water parameters at your tap. Mine are quite low (dGH 0-1, dKH 1-2) which forces me into a big adjustment during a 50% water change just to bring the tank to the low end of advisable values. In order to bring the GH up to 6° I need to mix lake salts into 3L of tap, 3 separate times, so I can add it to the make up water as it's coming in. KH is adjusted at the same time but it seems a little easier but I think I just hit on the right amount of buffer to add early on. I can see this as getting old going forward. On top of that I've yet to arrive at the final value of GH I expected even after a few attempts. I'm doing water changes to bring the nitrates down since my cycle completed and using the opportunity to arrive at the recipe. I'm starting to question the wisdom of fighting the water I have in order to keep the category of fish I've chosen and perhaps a change in direction may be worth considering. I'll still need to do something but the change won't be as dramatic and may just involve some crushed coral in the sump. My wife is agreeable to Angels with some compatible softer water fish which would open up my options on plant selection as well.

Thoughts?
 

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Sounds like a very good thought to me. I do not favor fighting the water as it is a good way to have lots of trouble as it tends to be hard to keep it stable and stable is the big thing I shoot for on almost all points. Part of that is from me not wanting to work it too hard but I could see it being a real problem for lots of other things I do. My water is very hard and alkaline and that makes it super easy for me to go with African lake cichlids. Just too easy for me to fall into not fighting it and go with what the water gives me. So from that point, I have always looked to water changes as my first thought at any point when I see fish acting odd in most any way. Good clean water is step one for my treatment of anysort so I put a tap into the former bedroom which is now the fishroom, got a food grade barrel and keep it full of water to come up to room temperature. Since it requires no treatment, I do lots of draining down and refill, even if it is just to make catching fish easy!
But that hard alkaline water has also made me loosen up on what I feel fish can adapt to, if I hold it steady. I also have moderate success in breeding and keeping some fish who should not like my water, like angelfish, severum, and rainbow cichlids. I do seem to notice small fish like platy, guppies and swordfish seem to not be as willing/able to overrun the tank in my water. They breed but it tends to be a group of six instead of 36 and they don't really grow and prosper but that could also be that I only keep them when I have got them in a tank trade, etc. Maybe they would do better if I watched them closer?
Angelfish might be just the thing to make life easier but if you wanted to get into some cichlids that are not so often seen, there are quite a few that can also go with the angels and give some nice color. Acara is one of my fav, but my all time favorite fish is the rainbow cichlid.
An old line fish that tends to be here for a while and then fall out of fashion but a great little fish if you can find them:
https://www.google.com/search?q=rai.....69i57j0l5.3439j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
But very meek and easily bullied by many of the bully sort of cichlid. Tend to pull plants if they are of the tender sort that doesn't root well but I love them with bigger stuff like sword plants. Maybe not the best for grasses and moss, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Just got home from work and had the discussion with my wife. I think I'll be switching gears on the tank before the chance gets away from me.

Sounds like a very good thought to me. I do not favor fighting the water as it is a good way to have lots of trouble as it tends to be hard to keep it stable and stable is the big thing I shoot for on almost all points. Part of that is from me not wanting to work it too hard but I could see it being a real problem for lots of other things I do. My water is very hard and alkaline and that makes it super easy for me to go with African lake cichlids. Just too easy for me to fall into not fighting it and go with what the water gives me. So from that point, I have always looked to water changes as my first thought at any point when I see fish acting odd in most any way. Good clean water is step one for my treatment of anysort so I put a tap into the former bedroom which is now the fishroom, got a food grade barrel and keep it full of water to come up to room temperature. Since it requires no treatment, I do lots of draining down and refill, even if it is just to make catching fish easy!
But that hard alkaline water has also made me loosen up on what I feel fish can adapt to, if I hold it steady. I also have moderate success in breeding and keeping some fish who should not like my water, like angelfish, severum, and rainbow cichlids. I do seem to notice small fish like platy, guppies and swordfish seem to not be as willing/able to overrun the tank in my water. They breed but it tends to be a group of six instead of 36 and they don't really grow and prosper but that could also be that I only keep them when I have got them in a tank trade, etc. Maybe they would do better if I watched them closer?
Angelfish might be just the thing to make life easier but if you wanted to get into some cichlids that are not so often seen, there are quite a few that can also go with the angels and give some nice color. Acara is one of my fav but my all time favorite fish is the rainbow cichlid.
An old line fish that tends to be here for a while and then fall out of fashion but a great little fish if you can find them:
https://www.google.com/search?q=rai.....69i57j0l5.3439j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
But very meek and easily bullied by many of the bully sort of cichlid. Tend to pull plants if they are of the tender sort that doesn't root well but I love them with bigger stuff like sword plants. Maybe not the best for grasses and moss, etc.
Great minds must think alike. We already settled on the Electric Blue Acara as a choice. What do you think of the matchup with a Red Spot Severum? Those would throw in some great color contrast.

As for tossing the plants, I was already planning on Jungle Vals in pots so some more pots for some swords wouldn't be a problem. Anubias and JAva Fern tied to some rock or wood and, heck, might try an Electric Blue Jack Dempsey. ... Got plenty of rock :grin2:.

Thanks, man. You've been a big help.
 

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I would go with the acara and severum but the Jack is named after a boxer/prize fighter and has much the same attitude! Might be worth a try but generally I would think one might get too big and nasty pretty quickly. But there are fish who do not fit the standard and some are nice fellows but I would want to be alert and have a plan for moving one if it became a problem. I just like to steer clear of questions and might suggest sticking with the smallish cichlids.
So many fish, so little time?/
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I would go with the acara and severum but the Jack is named after a boxer/prize fighter and has much the same attitude! Might be worth a try but generally I would think one might get too big and nasty pretty quickly. But there are fish who do not fit the standard and some are nice fellows but I would want to be alert and have a plan for moving one if it became a problem. I just like to steer clear of questions and might suggest sticking with the smallish cichlids.
So many fish, so little time?/
Such a shame. My wife likes JD's and Silver Dollars and I have to disappoint her on both counts.

I had a fish death on a small tank a few months ago following a water change that prompted me to check the pH. It was in the high 4's. I was shocked because my tap is in the mid 6's. I assumed that the water change freed up some sequestered ammonia which took out the fish. I added some crushed coral and it's been in the low 7's ever since. I also added some Seachem Matrix to augment the Fluval Ceramic rings that were there. I checked the GH and KH last night.

GH - 5° ... KH - 4°

That settles it - Out of Africa (see what I did there) and back into my own hemisphere. :fish::cool:
 
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