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Converting from Reef to Mbuna Setup

1407 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Jedu
Hello all. It's been some time since I have posted here. About 1 year ago I began the setup of 75 gallon reef aquarium. About $1,000.00 later, and a baby on the way, I've decided to convert the tank to an Mbuna save time and money.

The tank is 48"L, 18"W, 20"T. It currently has about 150 lbs of live rock, with about 40 lbs of live sand. I have two external penguin biowheel 350 filters, a coralife aqualife compact flourescent 4x48 watt lighting, and standard heating.

I have several questions that you folks may be able to help me with...

1. Can I keep the live sand in the tank to help buffer the pH?

2. If so, will I have trouble growing vallesneria (I plan on rinsing the live sand with freshwater before use).

3. Any special precautions I should take with the filtration?

4. Will the lighting be too much for good algae growth?

5. How many and what kinds of Mbuna would you recommend for a tank this size?

I plan on having several batches of vallesneria, one in each corner of the tank, and one or two mixed in amongst some colorado river rock (large round boulders, stacked up on each other).


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You would probably be better off if you sold the live rock and sand. That stuff is not cheap, so you could probably get a decent buck for it. You would have to do a lot more than rinse it with freshwater in order to kill and remove all of the marine organisims and bacteria. I am sure it could be done; however, it is not something that I would do.
In regards to the live rock / sand Slimbolen99 is correct, if your rock is not bleached you should not have a problem selling it for a pretty penny. The problem with live rock and sand is that once in a freshwater environment it can take days / weeks for the organisims to die and this can corrupt, pollute, and ruin what you are trying to establish for Mbuna. As far as a 55g is concerned check out the cookie-cutter references in the library portion of this website, it will give you a great base to start from. Make sure that you wash the majority of the equipment that you have in BOILING water to remove the salt and pollutants.

In short, to kill all that live rock to put it with Mbuna that prefer smoother rocks that allow them to much algae is a waste. Use the cash you get from the rock / sand (assuming its not bleached) and purchase some very nice freshwater equipment / fish.

Hope this helps,
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I was planning on selling all the live rock, but keeping the live sand. I'm using Colorado River "boulders" in the 75 mbuna tank. I bought the LR for $6.00 a hopefully I can get around $3-4.
Also, if you have any shells left over from your tank, you could place them in somewhere, or grind them up and put them in a bag in your filter to help buffer your water.
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