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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I ordered 9 of these cool little cichlids on aquabid, and they were busy exploring the rocks and shells as soon as I put them in.
I have some concerns about my tapwater PH which is usually around 8 but I just measured at only 7.6, despite a tds of over 400ppm.
KH is around 135ppm.
I added a cup of crushed oyster shell to the filter in hopes of raising these levels but have seen no change in parameters after a couple days.
I am using my regular eco complete substrate. It is more coarse than I realized and I hope the fish are ok with it.
 

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Because of their sand sifting nature the gravel you have may be a bit rough, maybe not. Keep an eye on them and make sure they aren't getting hurt while eating/ cleaning shells. Good luck!!
 

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Your pH should be just fine, see how they do on that substrate and if it's easy enough for them to move it around. Add more shells as they will bury unused ones and still argue over who gets which one. Tip the shells so the openings are either horizontal or closer to the substrate and try to avoid placing the openings facing down because as they excavate it may trap ones that claimed that shell.

Oyster shell in the filter should be fine and will dissolve slowly over time, it's not a quick process.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have plenty of shells, I'll add a couple more for good measure, and I will adjust them a bit.
It appears that many of the nine multis have already staked out a shell after one day.
When I set up the tank I had just tossed them in, assuming the multis would soon move them all around, but these little fish don't seem large enough to move these big escargot shells.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I did a modest rescape, but probably stressed these guys, who are quite timid.
They spend a lot of time chilling in the shells or rocky crevices, but they gradually come out at feeding time and then can spend hours socializing and exploring the tank.
I just hope they are ok with my ph, which still appears to be 7.6 or so.
 

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Your pH is just fine as long as your not seeing any swings.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It's a couple of weeks later, and the dominant male is now moving lots of substrate around, setting himself up a nice compound in the center of the tank, but obstructing my view as he piles it up against the front glass.
I tried to tactfully remove some of the piled-up substrate in the front of the glass while vacuuming but he would have none of it, and soon after, piled it right back up.
Looks like gravel vacuuming is not going to happen going forward.
The crushed oyster shells in the filter have raised ph up to at least 7.8 now, and the fish seem happy, so I hope to just keep it in this range.
Most of these guys have staked out their own shell, but a couple of smaller males ( I think) hang out in the rocky crevices and get chased at times by the dominant male.
I hope to spot some fry pretty soon.
I
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
It's a month later and I now have at least a couple dozen fry.
These fish are so easy to breed and the fry are easy to feed.
I feed frozen bbs, microworms, crushed flake, bug bites and a powdered earthworm/spirulina mixture.
 

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It's a month later and I now have at least a couple dozen fry.
These fish are so easy to breed and the fry are easy to feed.
I feed frozen bbs, microworms, crushed flake, bug bites and a powdered earthworm/spirulina mixture.
That's awesome. If you ever get to the point you need to thin the herd, let me know, I'd love to set up a tank for some.
 
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