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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am in charge of creating AND maintaining a 150gal Malawi tank for a high ranking public official in my city. The big problem...ALL CITY WATER SOURCES! Blaaa...I'm so used to Well-water fish tank maintenance that I wouldn't know how to safely maintain a city water-fed tank setup.

-What would be the most efficient way to go about prepping water for my water changes and cycling with city water?

-Would I not have to place chemical in the new water prior to the change?

-If I used air-bubble dechlorination how long would I have to leave the air stone in the 5gal jug before the water would be safe to use?

-If the city water is not hard is there a chemical or process to make the water hard enough?

-If I used a spring water delivery company what type of water would be best for this tank and would I have to use any chemicals in the Spring water prior to use? (I heard NOT to use Distilled Water with fish. Any opinions on this?)


I look forward to your input. :thumb:
 

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Its good to be cautious, but you may be a little over-concerned. ;)

Speaking from my own experience, I fill from a hose connected to my sink directly into my tank. I add dechlor as the tank is filling - about half at the start. My water has chlorine only.

You should find out whaat is in your city water, if its just chlorine, or if it also has chloramine. If you're not sure, make sure you use a water conditioner that treats both, like prime.

If the city water is too soft or too low pH, you can buffer it with baking soda and epsom salt - baking soda for KH and pH, epsom salt for GH. Most city water is just fine, though, even if its not "ideal".
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
So I can add the City water straight from the hose & into the tank? All while adding the chemical at the same time? Ok....that's wonderful. So I will take a sample of the water to my LPS and see what chemistry I already have brewing from the depths of the city water pipes.

Now as for the baking soda and Epsom salt. Can I just spend the extra money and buy the ready made pH stabilizer and not sure what KH and gH are?
Or if you have time, explain how to make the baking soda and salt mixture?

BTW thx for the info..... =D>
 

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That's actually in the rift lake recipe.

2tbsp epsom salt / 5 gallons (for GH)
1tbsp baking soda / 5 gallons (for pH)
1tbsp marine salt (aquarium salt) / 5 gallons (optional) (for KH, but you also get KH from baking soda)

I found a tbsp : cup chart somewhere since I do larger water changes on my 125.

You'll probably be doing 4 cups of epsom salt on a 50% water change on the 150. (I do 3 3/4 Cup).
 

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Now as for the baking soda and Epsom salt. Can I just spend the extra money and buy the ready made pH stabilizer and not sure what KH and gH are?
If your high ranking public official is the one paying for it, than sure. You can get ready made "rift lake buffers" that will do the job. Its pretty much the same thing as the baking soda and epsom salt though, at a much higher price. Check out this article for a DIY recipe - easy.

The thing is, if you buffer, you better take some time to learn exactly what is going on. Figure out what all the terms mean.

pH - aciditiy. For a malawi tank, I'd be comfortable with anything over 7.0. Others will probably recommend 7.4 or more. Keep in mind, fish in your LFS's will probably be kept in unbuffered city water, whatever it is.

KH is carbonate hardness. It is the pH Buffer. if you were to add acid to the water, the KH gets used up before the pH will crash. So, you want some KH.

GH is general hardness. Not sure of its importance.

this article may explain more than I've bothered to remember since I read it.

I don't buffer my water. My pH is 7.2-7.4, my KH is 2-4, and my GH is 6-8 - can't remember the exact numbers, but that sounds about right. All my mbuna are just fine, colorful, active, and breeding like crazy. Even my syno's from lake tanganyka are thriving, where the pH is supposed to be even higher than malawi.

I would spend the money to get a test kit to test your water yourself. At almost any LFS or big chain pet store, you should be able to find an API freshwater master test kit, that will allow you to test ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH, for around $30. There are other test kits for GH and KH - they're included in the tetra labralette kit, which is around $15 IIRC. If you're not going to buffer, then let your LFS tell you the KH and GH (make sure they show you to verify) once for your information. If you do buffer, you'll want the capability to do it yourself regularly. You'll need to test ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate while cycling, and whenever you suspect there may be a problem with the water. It is highly convenient to be able to do it yourself, and not rely on a LFS to tell you whether its fine or not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Ok thanks a Million! Ill take this and run....

Oh one more thing...Can I cycle the tank with guppies? Since my high ranking public official is wanting adolescent or adult cichlids to start I figured when its cycled the fish would have a happy first meal. Would that be smart? Or would the guppies get the tank no where near where the tank needs to be without cycling for weeks on end?
 

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City water has come a long way over the years.
 

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You mention adolescent and adult cichlids, but don't mention the species (does he even know what species he wants), size, and numbers. All of this will play into what kind of cycle you could do.

If he only wants a few adult fish to start and gradually add more fish over time, you could probably get away with cycling with a number of guppies. How many guppies I'm not sure. Small fish = small bioload = more guppies needed.

If he wants all of his fish to be added at once, you'd be better off going with a fishless cycle. Tossing in some established filter media from a tank you have would decrease the time it takes to do a fishless cycle.

Since non-fish people typically want lots of fish right away... you could even start off with setting up a tank at your place just to start the fishless cycle. It doesn't have to be a 150gal, you could do a much smaller tank (just barebottom, no decorations, etc) to get it going. While you're figuring out what to do and what he wants... the bacteria could be establishing itself in the media of this empty tank. When his tank it set up and ready to go, transfer the media from your tank into his tank, plop in the fish, and call it a day. (This, of course, assumes that the fishless cycle is complete and the bacteria is ready to handle the bioload.)
 

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frontosaSo said:
Ok thanks a Million! Ill take this and run....

Oh one more thing...Can I cycle the tank with guppies? Since my high ranking public official is wanting adolescent or adult cichlids to start I figured when its cycled the fish would have a happy first meal. Would that be smart? Or would the guppies get the tank no where near where the tank needs to be without cycling for weeks on end?
Glad I could help :thumb:

I always recommend fishless cycling - especially if you want to stock with adult cichlids. Malawi tanks do best if the stock is added all at once. It is hard to add fish 1 by 1 to an established tank. You'd need a ton of guppies to cycle to a point where enough ammonia could be processed. You'd probably lose a bunch of guppies along the way, so you'd be continuously buying more. Then, if you just added the malawi cichlids to the guppies, you'd be increasing the bioload, so you may go through a mini cycle while the bacteria catch up.

Cycling will take the same amount of time regardless, which is usually about a month, whether you cycle with guppies or fishless. Unless you seed with established media or use a bottled product that works. Not to mention, live food can introduce disease into a tank, and be harmful to fish that aren't piscavors - most malawi cichlids eat algae and aquatic insects, though some do eat fry and other small fish, and all will not pass up any opportunistic meal even if it is bad for them.

Guams idea is a good one :thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Guams said:
You mention adolescent and adult cichlids, but don't mention the species (does he even know what species he wants), size, and numbers. All of this will play into what kind of cycle you could do.
This is what I was thinking:
-Protomelas taeniolatus (2m&4f)
-Aulonocara jacobfreibergi (3m&4f)
-Protomelas sp. 'Johnstoni Solo' (2m&2f)
-RedTop Lwanda (colorful/healthy combination)
-Neon blue Peacocks (colorful/healthy combination)
-Ahli's (colorful/healthy combination)

Now, I know more about Tangs and their Niches than I do Malawi's. It's just I havn't done a TON of research on Malawiens. Also ALL of my previous tanks have been from <2"fry. NOT Adults or Adolescence aged fish. So this is a new adventure for me reference the bigger fish.
I have media from my 125gal at home I could use in the new 150g. However, I use extrenal Aquaclear at home and this is going to be filtered with a Rena Canister. So I'm not too sure on how to transfer the media from tank to tank. Any suggestions on the issue above?
:fish: :fish: :fish:
And What are ye'alls opinion of my fish population anticipation above? Too many? Too many at once? Not a good Male/female combo with a specific species? Any species conflicts seen above?

I REALLY appreciate any info I can grab!
 

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I can't comment on your potential stock list as I have almost no experience with non-mbuna.

As for filter media... can you put the Rena onto your tank for the time being? It won't completely establish itself, but it will help for when you transfer it to the 150 gallon.

I've also never used Rena canisters... would you be able to take a sponge from your AC and somehow get it into the Rena? Doing one or both of those will at least help you along.
 

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I use city water as well, fill from the hose, and add my chemical (mixed in a 2qt pitcher) in the filter system just as the water line reaches the top. I normally add my fish within an hour, after testing (of course). Have never had a problem, I use "Start Right" but definitely find out whats in your water source, sounds like a challenging adventure, good luck :)
 

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frontosaSo said:
I have media from my 125gal at home I could use in the new 150g. However, I use extrenal Aquaclear at home and this is going to be filtered with a Rena Canister. So I'm not too sure on how to transfer the media from tank to tank. Any suggestions on the issue above?
I'd run the Rena on your tank. Squeeze some dirty goodness from an AC sponge near the Rena intake, or, run the Rena without a couple of sponge pads and put an AC sponge in there. I'd probably remove a coarse and a fine pad.
Transfer the Rena to the other tank when it's set up and filled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
GTZ said:
I'd run the Rena on your tank. Squeeze some dirty goodness from an AC sponge near the Rena intake, or, run the Rena without a couple of sponge pads and put an AC sponge in there. I'd probably remove a coarse and a fine pad.
Transfer the Rena to the other tank when it's set up and filled.
That sounds good! Ill try running the Rena on my established tank for a few weeks and then transfer it over. Thank you for the info. "Dirty Goodness"--I like that. =D>

hbbyhorse--I suppose City water isn't too scary after all. Just a little chemical makes it all better! I just like to double check what I think I already know sometimes. Especially when I'm dealing with fish who belong to someone else. You Can never be too careful, I believe. :thumb:
 
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