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pH range for South American Cichlids

19925 Views 32 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  rachelchick
I am planning on setting up my first South American Cichlid tank in the near future and I am trying to gather as much information as I can before I do so. My pH is on the low side and I'd rather ask those of you who have experience with these fish. What is the lowest pH level that Angels and Bolivian Rams can tolerate?
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I wouldn't recommend a pH below 6 for Bolivian Rams, unless you have sufficient experience with them already to accurately gauge how well they are doing.

Otherwise, where do you draw the line and how do you even know where that line is until you've crossed it (by then it's too late).....

As it will be your FIRST SA Cichlid tank (first cichlid tank in general? Ever?) then you need to keep everything nice and simple - so, it would be better if you could tell us what your pH is, one step further would be to provide us with your KH and GH - this way we can accurately gauge the water parameters and can therefore make much better recommendations for what will and won't work in your water.... What you can get away with, and what shouldn't be done at all.

I don't know what my KH or GH is but the pH in my 10 gallon tank stays around 6.4 - 6.6

A little off topic, but I just looked at your tanks and I have to tell you that they are beautiful! :thumb:
Bolivians and Angels will be fine in your PH and almost any SA fish will apreciate the lower PH. The Angels will love it and for the Bolivians PH=6.4 is on the low end but won't be a problem.

For some info on Bolivians you can check this link and the profile section on this site and of course the BRC Bolivian Ram Club treat on the SA board.
:thumb: Thanks for your kind words iLuvAngels!! I appreciate it, not long and I should have my latest planted tank escapades up....

Listen to Dutch Dude! :)

Your water is what a lot of people really hope for, heck people out there are going nuts putting peat in the filter to try and reduce the pH, but what you have there is a really workable range for SA's....
heck people out there are going nuts putting peat in the filter to try and reduce the pH
who...what...where...why... :roll: oh I guess Blair means me...sigh.

iLuvAngels you got some good water there. Ever thought of bottling it and selling to those of us with high PH water.
lol - no, I never thought about bottling up my water and selling it. I have always had a problem with my pH being so low. I am fairly new to fishkeeping. Just started it about a year ago and the fish I had in my first tank needed higher pH so I would put crushed coral in my filter to help raise it. The thought occured to me that I should try and find what fish do better in low pH so I wouldn't have to worry about it as much. It looks like I have finally found them now! I really think South American fish are beautiful especially Angelfish so I am happy to hear that they should do well with my pH :D

You will probably hear from me quite often in the near future when I get my South American tank set up and running. I hope you don't mind. :oops:
You don't really need to worry about adjusting pH until you decide it's time to breed - and if your pH is already that low you shouldn't have to worry anyhow.

Most people have over a 7.4 pH, what that generally means is that the gH is also up there - South Americans are somewhat unique in that they breed during the first heavy rains of the Spring season.

What this means is that they're laying eggs in very soft waters free of mineral content - if they try and breed in normal waters with a higher gH from city tap water the eggs will harden over before the male can fertilize them.

In terms of making your actual fish happy - if they aren't wild caught they will do best in whatever waters they've been raised in. It's best to try to find local breeders for this reason - and it saves you the hassle of trying to buffer your waters to adjust to the fish.
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a pH in the 6.5 region, I would think apisto's and blue rams would love a tank like that. I know some people are recommending bolivians, but thats a pretty low pH for them. They are hardy for most, but might be trouble in that water. Where a blue ram might thrive. I would think an easier apisto like a cacutoides or an agasizi would be perfect.

Angels, tetras and most south american community fish will also do well in that water.

By the way, a post in the south american forum where you state that you have a problem with a low pH makes us all very jealeous ;-)

(im sorry about the spelling in this post, I usually use firefox with a built in spellcheck, im at work using IE).
I haven't heard of the other apistos that you mentioned naegling23. I'll look them up on the internet to find out more about them.

I'm tip- toeing out of the forum now and taking my low pH "problem" with me ... hehe :p Sorry guys, I just had to say that :D
naegling bud, I can't let this one slip past :D . You and Ruurd......

I know some people are recommending Bolivians, but thats a pretty low pH for them.
Whaaaaaaat! :p A pH of 6.5 isn't dangerously low for the Bolivians, we recommend a range of between 6.0 and 7.8 for a good reason (Ruurd and I differ on this slightly in some ways :lol: just proves that it's all down to what you experience) - however, this is the tried and tested successful range for these fish, what's more they are hardy enough to go further, knowing of individuals keeping them in water closer to pH 8.0-8.2 and I myself prefer to keep them in a pH of 5.6-5.8 (KH2), however these are ranges that are outside of what one should attempt, at least until you are better experienced with the species. I've found that I get the strongest colouration, largest spawns and best success rate in that range. Blue Rams really just fit into the 6.5 range, I prefer to advocate that people maintain a pH of between 5.0, up to 6.0 as a maximum (simply due to my experience with them).

Obviously both fish can be kept above and below these ranges, they adapt, but it is better to try and stay within reasonable limits (at least initially!). I personally recommend Bolivians because they fit very easily into this sort of pH range, and given their hardy nature I believe you will find it easier to attain success in terms of health, vitality, breeding etc. Usually once people are familiar and successful with the Bolivian Ram I will recommend that they move onto the Blue Ram (because I love them both! They are after all both of the Mikrogeophagus sp.) and other, more challenging dwarf Cichlids.

Of course you can go straight in if Blues are what you want! I did before I perhaps should have and I had great success so don't be afraid to try something you want to either, I just prefer to recommend a somewhat more hardy dwarf Cichlid for your first real shot at this - you're bound to want more tanks and more fish, so there will always be time to move onto slightly more delicate species. Blues are just one of those funny fish where people either have great luck, or no matter what they just can't keep them alive. I don't want you to be put off by the fickle relationship that can be Blue Ram ownership, putting you off these fish for good, when really they are a spectacular species if given the right care and attention.... Don't forget luck either!

I always forget the Apisto and I think these are great suggestions, I am drawn to the world of Apistogramma. There are so many different species to choose from, why not use the cichlid forum profile search to help - do a search by species characteristics, specifically you are looking at your search to involve Water Hardness - yours would be very soft - soft (it would really help if you could get an actual reading here for your KH and GH).

With a quick search of soft water sp. it brings up 166 odd sp. so then click away and look at - how large the fish gets (will it fit, long term into the tank, would you be willing to make space for it), how aggressive it is, it's pH range and if there are any specific notes about it's difficulty level etc.

So you have some choices to make! :lol: Why not get a few tanks and keep them all.......

(If you think I'm joking, I give you two months and whether you expected it or not, you'll have another tank).

Fish tanks are like magnets, big magnets that attract other fishtanks and force you to stockpile them in your garage. Why? Because you bought a bigger one to replace the one you bought to replace the first small one you had, but that wasn't right because then the weight of the room was off, so you had to move that couch out and make room for another tank that should be where the focal point was supposed to be, then you get annoyed because it's just not big enough, you don't see it enough or you just want change, so you go and buy another one, but wait, now you realise the benefit of leaving the others up (mwahahahahah), and finding room for this one...... Why?

Because we can! 8)

All within the space of about, I don't know, a week.....

(True story, apart from the time frame....)
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I was short and clear abouth the PH range,....
Bolivians and Angels will be fine in your PH and almost any SA fish will apreciate the lower PH. The Angels will love it and for the Bolivians PH=6.4 is on the low end but won't be a problem.
So I don't expect problems with a PH as low as 6.4. I do think Bolivians apreciate a PH around 7 more. The specie is very tolerant if it comes to water prams but you won't be on the dangerous side but 6.4 is close to the lower limit. So Blair in this case we agrea.

For Apisto's I can also recommend A. borellii. The borellii and cacs are the hardiest and most tolerant fish among the Apisto's. A. borellii Opal is a beautiful strong colored fish. Watch out with fish from the Czech republic. They are often infected with flagellates what very well can lead to Bloat! An other specie worth to mention is Laetacara dorsigera (redbreas acara). Those are hardy to and also beautiful fish with plenty of character.
Ruurd it's alright, I was just poking fun ;).

I also wanted to say that I know of people keeping Blues in a pH of 7! Which shows how adaptable these fish are. I just want to see iLuvAngels have an easy and enjoyable experience as the starting point, because of how much I remember it getting me into the hobby.

Ruurd having kept the "3-4 year lifespan" Bolivian alive for 7 years! is someone I would advise you to listen to.... Ruurd also knows that I like to play with water :lol:.
Ruurd it's alright, I was just poking fun
:lol: you, you, you,...I will take revenge some day! :wink:

Ruurd also knows that I like to play with water .
Yep, submarine in the bath tub right? :D

Ruurd having kept the "3-4 year lifespan" Bolivian alive for 7 years
this is true,....I'm the one who was the most surprised,....not by the 7 years but the fact that everyone told they become only around 4 to 5 years. I was stunned and apparently did something right.
I have looked at some of the apistos and I must say that I have fallen in love with the Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid! I have to have some in my aquarium. They are beautiful, especially the male cockatoo. I still am in the planning stages but I just don't know what I am gonna do when it comes time for me to stock my tank. :roll:
I know it will have a pair of Angels in it for sure and some cory cats but who know what else because I like so many of these darn south american cichlids!!!! :?
What can I say, falling in love with cichlids is a double edged sword. You will love all the ones that you have but you will always have others that you want to get. :lol:
:lol: Yes and of course my husband wants all the Cichlids that are either the most aggressive or most difficult to keep. He picks out fish according to how they look. I have to keep explaining to him that certain fish can be put together and certain fish cannot. I hate saying no to so many of his suggestions but since I am new to Cichlids and will be the one taking care of them, I HAVE to start with the EASIEST fish for now.
I HAVE to start with the EASIEST fish for now
Sounds like a wise decision! Lots of guy's select the beautiful mostly demanding species or go for the more aggressive fish. Your doing right to check if you can provide the fish what they need and check if species can be tank mates. That's how it should work for everyone. We do are responsible for the health of our pets right?

So after reading the latest post and keeping the in mind that the tank also has to be interesting for your husband I strongly suggest the Bolivians. They are good looking, easy to maintain and do have lots of personality! Even a dedicated African owner like Kim falen in love with the little guy's.

We talked abouth the PH and you received some good suggestions. maybe I missed it but what is the size (dimensions) of the tank?
:lol: Of course my husband likes the Blue Rams more than the Bolivians but he did say that the Bolivians are nice "looking" fish too. :roll: I'm getting some Bolivians :wink: but I also like the Dwarf Cockatoo too - lol. Do Bolivians need caves?

The tank I am getting is 48 1/2" x 18 1/2" x 21 1/2"
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