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When I wanted to keep featherfins in a 72" tank I was told to give them the whole bottom.
 

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Well sure, they'd love that, but it is not necessary, especially in a large tank. Ophthalmotilapia will coexist quite happily with Xenotilapia; large Cyathopharynx may be more problematic.
I would want the Cyathopharynx, LOL. But at the time I was asking about Opthalmotilapia along with fish like calvus and julidochromis. What say you?
 

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Your water may have some levels of these minerals already. You don't have to match Lake Tang exactly...the amounts probably vary from location to location in any case. But feel free to customize your amounts based on your water.

I only use baking soda (almost never), but I have not kept the more discriminating Tangs.
 

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Do not mix species. The different color variants are specified by collection point. They have evolved separately so it is better for the hobby if you keep them separate, retaining the ability to sell the fish with the full genus/species/collection point name.

Also don't mix comps/calvus, etc. You don't want crossbreeding.

I will let sir_keith advise on numbers.

Regarding substrate and buffering...I use pool filter sand as substrate and put crushed coral as part of the media in my filters. My tap water starts off with the right parameters for the fish and I have a well so no chloramines/chlorine. I do have some tanks with aragonite substrate from my initial set-up in 2005...I see no difference among the different tanks.
 

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It does not change my opinion either. How do you know you will never want/need to sell your adult fish or fry? Life happens. What if your tank ends up being overpopulated, will you just keep adding tanks to house the overflow for their lifetimes?

The wonder of these tanks for me is that I can view a slice of the lake.
 

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Are you going with a colony of altos? And cyps? Looking for things to go with them? I would skip any shellies with the Synodontis.

What is the collection point of the Mandarin? Kilima?

Ideally add all the fish at once so that your beneficial bacteria level achieved by your cycle is fully supported by fish right away. This way you can avoid the need to quarantine new additions for 3 weeks every time you add a group, and then the waiting/testing to ensure the increased bioload does not generate more ammonia than the beneficial bacteria can handle.
 

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People who have used the alive aragonite have reported a cloudy tank for an extended period. I use PFS, which I still wash. sir_keith may have a recommendation on both the aragonite and the foai...which I was told would need the whole bottom...no calvus, no synodontis.
 

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A range like that will make it difficult to siphon and may cause a problem with your filters sucking up the fine sand and grinding the impellers.

I will leave the stock feedback to sir_keith as he has kept more of these fish than I. Seems like the foai and the cyps would fill the tank.
 

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I'd like to hear from sir_keith on your behalf about the combo of the Synodontis with those bottom dwellers you are currently planning. I am surprised they will be happy together.
 
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You CAN keep synodontis (I have kept polli) with rock and bottom dwellers. They won't die. It is just not ideal for either fish.
 

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You would always get six if you want to end up with three and two inches is larger than we can usually get them here. Even if the fish are sexable, there is no guarantee that the particular individuals would be happy together...better to let them choose and rehome extra fish.

Are you sure the orange is as bright as you think? In person most altos that are orange or yellow look kind of rusty to me.
 
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