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You're right: those hardness parameters are fine, and if I had an established tank I wouldn't fuss with them. That said, when starting fresh I like to be in the middle of the 'acceptable' range, so as to have some leeway. As far as pH is concerned, it is definitely my impression that tribe Ectodini Tanganyikans are much happier at pH9 than pH8.

I am keeping Triglachromis with Ophthalmotilapia and Xenotilapia, respectively, with no issues, but the Trigs are only half grown. I have kept adult WC Trigs in the past, and they don't seem to occupy all that much space on the bottom, but we shall see.

I believe the fish in the pic (not mine) is C.foai Sibwesa.
 

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Discussion Starter · #62 ·
Thank you! I did a 40% water change today to lower the dgH and dkH readings as adding the sand increased the readings to 20 dkH and 22 dgH. I think the Caribsea sand comes with some dissolved minerals in the water that comes with the bags of sand, so adding 20 bags worth increased the readings. Will test again tomorrow to see if they need to be adjusted back upwards.

Interestingly enough, I almost wanted to order Cyathopharynx foai Sibwesa, but based on your picture which looks to me like a Cyathopharynx furcifer instead, I decided to go ahead with Cyathopharynx furcifer Resha or Magara. These were the 2 variants from my supplier's stocklist that I liked best based on your recommendation to search for videos online. I like the Resha better, but the supplier only has 8-9cm juveniles available so they may not be able to be sexed yet. If not, then I'll go for the 8-12cm Magara instead, which the supplier has sexed already. On a side note, the available Cyathopharynx foai Sibwesa are only 6-7cm so are unable to be sexed too.

Here's what I plan to order:
  • Cyathopharynx furcifer Resha/Magara (3M6F)
  • Cyprichromis leptosoma jumbo tricolor Mpimbwe (20 pcs unsexed)
  • Altolamprologus compressiceps Mandarin (3M)
  • Enantiopus melanogenys Kilesa (2M3F)
  • Xenotilapia nigrolabiata Red Princess (2M3F)
I am tempted by some others on the stocklist like Callochromis macrops Ndole red, but am resisting the urge.
 

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Is very possible, perhaps even likely, that the pic I posted is C. furcifer Resha/Magara. So many of the featherfin populations are similar.

Two suggestions. (1) You will need more E. kilesa. These are highly social fishes, both in the wild and in captivity, and IME they do best in groups of 12 or more. (2) Callochromis macrops are super aggressive, and the Cyanthopharx need to be the dominant fishes in the tank. These two things are incompatible.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #64 ·
Is very possible, perhaps even likely, that the pic I posted is C. furcifer Resha/Magara. So many of the featherfin populations are similar.

Two suggestions. (1) You will need more E. kilesa. These are highly social fishes, both in the wild and in captivity, and IME they do best in groups of 12 or more. (2) Callochromis macrops are super aggressive, and the Cyanthopharx need to be the dominant fishes in the tank. These two things are incompatible.

Good luck!
Thank you! I have increased the number of E. kilesa to 5M9F and will not add the Callochromis. Now to continue cycling the tank and getting the water parameters right before the fish arrive!
 

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Discussion Starter · #65 ·
After the water change, dkH is now at 12 and dgH is at 11. Both are at the mid range of parameters but as a result pH has dropped back to 8.3 from 8.5. How do i raise the pH without raising the dkH back to super high levels?
 

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That's the problem with using sodium bicarbonate alone to raise the pH; it's fine for Malawi water chemistry where the pH isn't so high, but leads to the issue you've encountered in trying to achieve high pH Tanganyika water chemistry. The solution is to use an appropriate mixture of carbonate and bicarbonate salts. You'll find all kinds of DIY recipes online for doing this, or you can use a commercial product like SeaChem Tanganyika Buffer. That said, if your fishes are coming from water that is pH~8.5, I wouldn't worry about it for now: you're close enough, and you have time to decide how to treat your water changes going forward. It's not a reef tank; you do have some leeway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #67 ·
I think I might have quite alot of leeway to be honest. My supplier keeps them in his shop in just tapwater (my local tapwater is soft with low gh and kh with a pH of 7) and they do well for weeks until they are sold. Only thing is that they lose colour over time. I spoke with some local hobbyists and they don't use any kh buffers except coral sand as a substrate which typically only raises kh to 5-6. They don't measure gh or kh or ph, and they have successfully bred their fish. I am just trying to do my best to get the right parameters for my fish, though I think I may be overthinking it to some extent
 

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Discussion Starter · #68 ·
Came across an interesting thread: Tanganyika cichlids again

This guy with a beautiful tank kept Synodontis polli with featherfins successfully (first Cyathopharynx foai then Ophthalmotilapia nasuta). He didn't mention any aggression between the 2 types of fish. Is it because Synodontis polli is less aggressive than Synodontis granulosa? Or maybe it's the 4m long tank?
 

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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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Discussion Starter · #72 ·
Now that I have settled most of the other details, I have the time to sit back and start visualizing the scape of the tank. As you may have seen in the picture I previously posted, I am using an Aquadecor background on the tank and with it, j have a number of Aquadecor fake rocks as well to match. I understand that I am keeping sand dwellers and so I want a lot of bottom real estate for them to do their thing, but the tank looks rather bare and boring without any hardware inside, plus some hardware to break line of sight is usually a good thing to help deal with aggression right?

With that, my thoughts are to have perhaps a cluster of larger rocks at the back right hand side of the tank, and one medium flat piece or a smaller cluster of smaller rocks at the front left, then a couple more small pieces scattered around. This somewhat borrows from the iwagumi concept of positioning rocks in planted tanks for a pleasant visual concept - something like this picture but much less complex:



Would this work out for the fish I intend to keep?
 

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Yes, that should work. When space is limited (as defined by the fishes), sight lines help delineate possible territories, so vertical sight barriers are important. That's less of an issue in your tank, as the Cyathopharynx will have plenty of room to make their large, species-typical nests, so you can concentrate more on the aesthetics.

I use live plants to break up sight lines, but that's probably not feasible in a 4' deep tank. Here is one example-

Water Plant Light Green Pet supply

This tank contains a small group of young Ophthalmotilapia nasuta Chimba Tiger, and if you look carefully you can see that two co-dominant males have made nests, one under the plants on the left, and the other on the extreme right at the tank edge. The tank furnishings help keep the two territories distinct, minimize aggression between the co-dominant males, and ensure that they both have access to spawning partners.
 

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Discussion Starter · #75 ·
Yup plants are not feasible for me at this point. Despite the 7 x 3 ft floor area I have, I actually find it quite lacking in floor space as rocks large enough to look appropriate in the tank by themselves also take up a lot of real estate. I'm just worried the bottom dwellers won't have enough bare sand. Oh well, I'll give it a shot and post pictures later!

In the meantime my stocking has hit a snag. The exporter has run out of 3" Altolamprologus compressiceps Mandarin and only has 2" ones in stock. My supplier will be bringing 10 pcs of the 2" ones in, but are they sexable at that size? If not, should I just get a larger number than the originally planned 3 males and hope for the best in terms of sex ratio? I really want the brightly colored orange of the males to bring some pop of colour to the tank.
 

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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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Discussion Starter · #77 ·
Removing is going to be hard - with the 4ft height of the tank and all the nooks and crannies offered by the Aquadecor background, fish that go in generally aren't coming out. That's why I'd rather just forego the Synodontis granulosa instead of trying them out even though I really liked them
 

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...Despite the 7 x 3 ft floor area I have, I actually find it quite lacking in floor space as rocks large enough to look appropriate in the tank by themselves also take up a lot of real estate. I'm just worried the bottom dwellers won't have enough bare sand...

In the meantime my stocking has hit a snag. The exporter has run out of 3" Altolamprologus compressiceps Mandarin and only has 2" ones in stock... should I just get a larger number than the originally planned 3 males and hope for the best in terms of sex ratio?
...Removing is going to be hard - with the 4ft height of the tank and all the nooks and crannies offered by the Aquadecor background, fish that go in generally aren't coming out...
My expectation would be that you will end up with two co-dominant Cyathopharynx males who will want to build nests. I would leave enough space for those nests (the size of which you can see in YouTube videos) at each end of the tank, perhaps suggesting boundaries with scattered rocks, and concentrate the aquascaping in the middle. There should be enough space in this tank for them to get out of each other's way even with relatively open sight lines.

The Enantiopus will be fine in whatever space is left over, because they mostly school and forage together, and only fuss with nesting during spawning, so they don't require much space. Do provide them with some rockwork to dive into when/if the featherfins get feisty. I'm not sure about the X. nigrolabiata.

One downside of deep tanks is the lack of access, as you know, so in this instance I think you are best advised to wait until sexed Alto's, or better still, mated pairs, are available. I agree with DJR that Alto's can vary in color. Here are two pics of the same fish from an earlier thread (Yellow Calvus or Golden Head Compressicep ?), one in which the color saturation has been enhanced in Photoshop, one in which it has been reduced. I have no idea which is closer to the true-to-life coloration.

Vertebrate Fin Organism Fish Marine biology


Vertebrate Fin Fish Marine biology Tail
 

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Discussion Starter · #79 ·
Oops, I just came back to the forum from a scaping session where I had settled on a spaced out "triangular" rock placement that left alot of space in the middle instead, similar to this but with the largest rock nearer thr back right corner instead of so far front:



Guess it's back to the drawing board to just have 1 large cluster nearer the middle as advised!

Understand about the colour. It's my supplier's first time ordering this variant as well. He usually brings in the gold head and firefin variants when they are available - he had a bunch of nice gold heads just 2 weeks back from his previous shipment. My desired variant is actually the Altolamprologus compressiceps Kagunga with the blue lips and starry spangles on the fins, but my supplier said he has never seen them available ever from his exporter. The Mandarins are not commonly found on the stocklist either. I am ok with less saturated colouration so long as it's an entirely orange/yellow variant. To be honest, I would actually be happy with either of the pictures u posted. Too much variation arises due to so many factors like food, health, stress levels and even external lighting to be able to chase specific shades of colour. This is coming from someone who used to keep marine fish and discus, some of the most colorful fish in the hobby. I will also be able to see the fish in real life before deciding whether of not to go ahead. I didn't pre order this fish, but my supplier is giving me first pick before offering them for sale. If I like the colour I guess I'll go ahead with 6-8 juveniles and let them sort out their territories in the tank over time. They can also help with fry eating duties as I don't intend to breed and raise fry in this tank - it is purely a display tank.
 
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