Aquarium Setup • Help Please, Converting Planted to Cichlids

New to the world of cichlids? For discussion on how to set up new tanks, including placement, filtration, substrates, water, etc. No stocking discussions here.

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Help Please, Converting Planted to Cichlids

Postby Doc7 » Thu Dec 12, 2019 12:41 am

Hey all,

I just haven’t enjoyed my planted tank for the last 3 years. It used to have CO2 but with the awesome growth it was too much work. I now keep it low tech with some liquid carbon addition and weekly fertilization but I just really don’t like a low tech tank vs the incredible CO2 driven plants and growth. I have decided to convert to a cichlid tank.

It is a 40 Breeder which is 18x18x36. A post I found from 2011 says this:
“Pseudotropheus saulosi, Labidochromis caeruleus, Iodotropheus sprengerae...to name a few. If you wanted more than one species you could do 5 caeruleus and a peacock for some added colour.” For that size tank. I see a lot of websites will sell 6 cichlids with 1-2 males, I am imagining based on this I could find any of those sets that are < 4" "Mbuna" fish along with one male peacock.


I currently have an Eheim 2217 with extended spray bar and a surface slimmer intake attachment which I believe to be acceptable filtration for a 40 gallon tank. Of course I will pull all my plants. I also currently am running “Saf-T-Sorb” substrate which is a gravel like substance that has a high cation exchange coefficient (basically it’s a 2 dollar hardware store equivalent of Eco complete or something like that). I am assuming I can keep the same substrate and purchase aquarium safe rocks that look more typical of a cichlid tank environment.

I keep baking soda and Epsom salt around to adjust GH and KH in both my fish tank and my coffee brewing water, as my well water comes out of the ground at 0 KH 0 GH. From what I understand, I should make my calculations target approx 10 dGH and 10 dKH , is this correct? As always, I will dose the BS and ES and test to confirm, and use appropriate amounts in water changes.

I currently change 14 gallons of water per week. I understand this will still be appropriate for a cichlid tank and I will siphon the gravel ,which I haven’t done in a decade of keeping planted tanks.

Is there anything I am missing? When I get rocks I will make sure to give them a stable foundation on eggcrate before refilling gravel so the fish don’t dig them out. Thanks in advance!
Doc7
 
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Re: Help Please, Converting Planted to Cichlids

Postby Doc7 » Thu Dec 12, 2019 1:37 am

After watching some Youtube videos I believe I would rather just stick with
3M/9F
of Chindongo / Pseudo Saulosi.
Doc7
 
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Re: Help Please, Converting Planted to Cichlids

Postby Ralph493 » Thu Dec 12, 2019 8:45 am

Doc7 wrote:After watching some Youtube videos I believe I would rather just stick with
3M/9F
of Chindongo / Pseudo Saulosi.

Good choice in my opinion.
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Re: Help Please, Converting Planted to Cichlids

Postby DJRansome » Thu Dec 12, 2019 9:23 am

Doc7 wrote: acceptable filtration for a 40 gallon tank.
Shoot for 8X to 10X GPH.

Doc7 wrote: I am assuming I can keep the same substrate and
Pool filter sand is ideal both for keeping debris on the surface so the filter can sweep it away, and for natural fish behavior using the sand.

Doc7 wrote: purchase aquarium safe rocks that look more typical of a cichlid tank environment.
Go to a landscape supplier, choose smooth rocks. Fill the tank as full as possible with stacks of rocks...to the waterline would be ideal.

Doc7 wrote: From what I understand, I should make my calculations target approx 10 dGH and 10 dKH ,
7 would be sufficient, you just want the KH to be high enough to keep pH stable.

Doc7 wrote: I currently change 14 gallons of water per week. I understand this will still be appropriate for a cichlid tank and I will siphon the gravel ,
20G would be better as a minimum and with sand you may not need to siphon very often if at all.

Doc7 wrote: make sure to give them a stable foundation on eggcrate before refilling gravel so the fish don’t dig them out.
Eggcrate is not necessary, place the rocks on the glass before adding the substrate. The rocks themselves create the stable foundation.
125G Borleyi, Multipunctata
75G Demasoni, Msobo, Lucipinnis
75G Calvus, Similis, Petricola
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Re: Help Please, Converting Planted to Cichlids

Postby Doc7 » Fri Dec 13, 2019 9:47 pm

Is there any stocking I can do in the 40B with plenty of hardcaping and 50% weekly water changes that would allow me to have P. Saulosi and I Sprengerae (Rusty Cichlid)? AQ Advisor seems to think I could do 12 Saulosi and 5 Sperengae but I can modify these numbers if needed.

Fish stores don't guarantee sex, are tanks like this typically overstocked and weeded down to the correct M/F ratios? I can purchase Male Saulosi but the smallers ones are not guaranteed so I imagine if i was just doing 12 Saulosi I would order 3 M, 11-12 Juvies with a request that they try to pick out females, then I have a good shot at getting 3m/9f. I do have means to safely remove stock to elsewhere if I end up with a wrong mix. The problem would be netting them of course!
Doc7
 
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Re: Help Please, Converting Planted to Cichlids

Postby DJRansome » Fri Dec 13, 2019 10:25 pm

I would not do anything else with 12 saulosi. And saulosi are the only species I would try to have 12 fish in a 36" tank. If you want rusties I would do them alone with 1m:4f.

You are going to do 50% weekly and plenty of hardscaping for mbuna regardless of the stock.

Don't hold your breath on vendors that sell Malawi mbuna sexed. You probably don't want adult males with no adult females in the tank in any case. They are no longer P. saulosi, but Chindongo saulosi.

They have a rep for being male heavy but I would probably take a risk and buy 18 unsexed juveniles and hope for 9 females.
125G Borleyi, Multipunctata
75G Demasoni, Msobo, Lucipinnis
75G Calvus, Similis, Petricola
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