I am in the process of builiding my new tank to house malawi fish (yellow labs and ?) it is a 40G breeder. I want a nice gournd cover and then some taller ones, that will actually root in the sand, any ideas? I will be using LED lighting, yes LED.
If it's high output LED lighting(like that designed for reef tanks) it should be fine.
Vallisneria does well in sand, but you'll want to put fertilizer spikes or something near the roots. IIRC, there is a short/ground-cover type val as well. They apparently don't taste bad, but the fish leave them alone more or less because they're incredibly tough/fibrous. Most plants that root in sand require enriched substrates, as well as lower-pH environments. Your mbuna are also likely to dig up ground cover if it's getting in the way of their excavation.
You could also do low-light plants like java fern or anubias that don't root in sand.
My heart is not set on Malawi fish, I think I would rather have nice rooted plants. The LED's would be reef quality. I had built a set up on a nano reef many years ago, and with the new LED's wow, they will be nice. Can anyone recomend a colorful chiclid that will do well with plants, and not outgrow a 40G breeder, tuff requirments I know.
These would be happy in the 40g breeder with a shoal of tetras or something, maybe a bn pleco or 2, some driftwood, a few rocks, etc, but they need a least a little sand to root around in.
I was planning on a planted SA tank before I decided against it(due to my tap water parameters and the cost of a CO2 system), and that's exactly what I was going to do. Amazon swords are beautiful and grow well in the sand, and there's something called microswords that are a beautiful groundcover. http://www.AquariumPlants.com/product_p/mi080.htm
If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.
Your best bet to make a pair is to start with 5 and let whoever pairs up kill the other 3, or pull the other 3 out if you're able to tell they're not the "in" crowd.