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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm wanting to change my 55 gal from gravel to sand. Can anyone in the Atlanta area recommend some nice white sand.
I will have african cichlids in this tank and can you tell me what I need to do to get the water to the proper PH and how to maintain it?
Will 50lbs be enough.
Thank you
 

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mbeattyptc said:
I'm wanting to change my 55 gal from gravel to sand. Can anyone in the Atlanta area recommend some nice white sand.
I will have african cichlids in this tank and can you tell me what I need to do to get the water to the proper PH and how to maintain it?
Will 50lbs be enough.
Thank you
50lbs should be plenty for a standard 55g tank. you could probably get away with less.

Regarding pH, what is the reading of your tap water you will use to fill the tank and do water changes? Also, you might want to know the KH and GH. Finally, what type of african cichlids are you planning on keeping? For most common tank raised species, any steady pH over 7.0 is fine. If you need to buffer, bicarb of soda (baking soda) can be used to raise KH, which will naturally raise your pH to about 8.2.

Can't help you with finding a pool filter sand in georgia. I use quickrete medium sand in all my tanks. Its not true white, more of a light tan color. Might look different in different parts of the country. I think playsand would be pretty white. If you can find a product called Spectraquartz, that will probably be your best chance at finding a true pure white sand. Some pet stores carry a type of sand called estes reef sand. I've seen it in white, tan, blue, and black. The white is not pure white, but pretty close.
 

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I'm in Birmingham, AL and I used pool filter sand from Home Depot. I want to say that it was pavestone brand but not sure (plus why would they make pool filter sand?)- its a light tan and has faded to almost white in the oldest tank. Just rinse it, if you don't it makes the water cloudy.
 

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Caribsea makes a nice white Aragonite. It will act as a buffer as well.
I should buy stock with the number of plugs I give them.
 

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doxiegirl said:
I'm in Birmingham, AL and I used pool filter sand from Home Depot. I want to say that it was pavestone brand but not sure (plus why would they make pool filter sand?)- its a light tan and has faded to almost white in the oldest tank. Just rinse it, if you don't it makes the water cloudy.
I was looking at that exact sand, do you have a picture? also, did you have issues with Diatoms using that sand?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks everyone for the quick reply. Guess I have been spending money on Perfect Ph 8.2 and Aquarium salt all these years for nothing when I could have been using household items.
I've got mixed African cichlids and I was always under the impression that the PH had to be above 7.8. I learned today that at Pets Mart, all their tanks are at 7.0 no matter what species of fish.
I still intend on using Stress coat unless anyone has any other suggestions...thanks.
 

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Pet stores don't raise fish. They buy them, and sell them. Check species profiles for preferred ph, and use aragonite (crushed coral) to raise Ph to proper level. Easy. Even I can do it!
 

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They don't HAVE to be above 7.8, but given it's their natural state, it can reduce stress (and therefore aggression and disease). However, you may have enough other positive factors that pH of 7.4 or whatever isn't an issue.

I use baking soda to buffer & get the pH to 8.2-8.4

When I do a 60 gallon water change in my tank, I only have to use 1/4 Cup baking soda - you know how cheap that is?!

Instead of stress coat, you can add some aquarium salt - effectively creates a little "slickness" that we're talking about. Some folks don't - but I don't know any that swear by "stress coat".
 

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To Cromak-

I have to get my pics on a hosting site so I can post them here...

I didn't have a lot of problems with diatoms, probably a normal amount. Honestly I don't really remember :)... the sand has been good for me and it's cheap. I'm using it in both mbuna and planted tanks (with added ferts).
 

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mbeattyptc said:
I learned today that at Pets Mart, all their tanks are at 7.0 no matter what species of fish.
Sort of true. They just don't add anything to change the pH that comes from whatever source of water they have in the area. Yours just happens to be 7.0.
 

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However, the fish aren't there THAT long.

When you're talking years in your own tank - it's a bit different.
 
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use baking soda to raise the ph... right now im using seachem malawi/victoria buffer but ima just use baking soda when i run out....i got my pool filter sand from a pool store since the people who work at home depot and lowes are completely useless... just make sure you wash the sand off as it is quite dirty out of the bag... and i used 50 lbs for my 55 gallon and it was more than enough..used 150lbs for my 125 gallon and it was waaaaay more than enough. suprisingly vaccuuming is easier too.. the poo jus sits at the top of the sand... and i use stress coat everytime i add water as my water is heavily chlorinated and stress coat is cheap enough when bought in bulk...
 

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Glaneon said:
However, the fish aren't there THAT long.

When you're talking years in your own tank - it's a bit different.
How do you know its different? What sort of ill effects have you seen in tanks with fish that were kept in non-ideal pH conditions?
 

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Well, what I meant by "it's different" is:
2 months in 7 pH
vs
2 years in 7 pH

Humans can withstand exposure to certain environments that are hazardous for short periods. Long periods, not so much.

Any living being has the ability to absorb/fight less-than-optimal conditions.

Would it affect fish long term? I've seen at least one poster say he keeps his africans in 7pH for years and no issues. Does that mean it's optimal?
 

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Would it affect fish long term? I've seen at least one poster say he keeps his africans in 7pH for years and no issues. Does that mean it's optimal?
How would you determine if something is optimal?

My fish are kept in water that would be described as not optimal, pH in the 7-7.4 range. I haven't seen any ill effects in the 14months they've been in my tanks. They spawn, they're colorful, there's no flashing, I've raised fry with few losses (lost 1 rusty fry out of ~60 from 4 females), I never get any disease or illnesses, no bloat, etc.

Should I decide to make a decision to start buffering my water to a level that is supposed to be optimal, what sort of measureable results should I be looking for to verify that the new water conditions are indeed "better"? As far as I'm aware, my fish were bred at my LFS. They don't buffer their hundreds of tanks. They have the same water coming out of their taps as I do mine. The fish were born and raised in these same water conditions that I keep them in today. What would make it better or more optimal to keep them at lake pH levels? The fish have no idea what type of water they're supposed to live in, they've never seen the lake :p

I'm not trying to be a jerk, but I am part playing devil's advocate here and part wanting to know if there is a reason I should be buffering my water. I've heard this debate a few times over the past year and a half since I joined the site and the conclusion always is, steady pH is what matters most for tank/pond raised fish. I've never seen anything in my tank to indicate I should change my pH, and I wouldn't know how to quantify if the change was for the better if I did. No one has been able to provide a measureable reason to indicate why the "optimal" pH should definitely be used, other than "that's whats in the lake".

Let me ask you this:

Humans can withstand exposure to certain environments that are hazardous for short periods. Long periods, not so much.
Is a pH in the low 7's hazardous? I think a better analogy is this. Humans can live in florida, where the air is warm, moist and thick. The same humans can also live in denver, where the air is thin, drier, and cooler. Is one place "better" or more optimal than the other in the same sense as the discussion we're having regarding water parameters?

Sure, if you sit at the top of everest where its cold and oxygen is low, or death valley, where its really hot, you start to see some physical effects on the body, but thats not really the comparison we should be making I don't think.

:fish:
 

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Until we can ask the fish, or get really good biopsies on fish from pH7 water vs pH8 water - looking at blood vessels, optic nerves, fish life expectancy - I don't suppose we'll really know.

It's more likely that I am trusting (perhaps too?) of "how it's done" - I assume it is that way for a reason and we (as amateurs) likely don't know enough to say "I don't have to do that" because my particular anecdote works.

I don't know if we can really tell the extreme. If a fish's home environment (what if Malawi isn't even optimal for them!?) is to be assumed optimal - how far off that environment can we go, and for how long?

Let's say under optimal conditions a fish can live 15 years.
For this we will assume pH 8.2, GH 300, KH 300

What if we go to pH 7.0, GH 300, KH 300 (not sure that can be achieved, but stick with me).
Does that reduce the fish's life span?
Breeding?
Aggression?
Color?

If we go to pH 5.0 (a full 1000 times less alkaline, since between each full point is 10x difference) - would it shorten the lifespan to 3 months? I would assume an arithemetic scale.
ie,
8.2 = 15 years
8.1 = 14.99
8.0 = 14.89
7.9 = 14....
7.0 = 13
6.0 = 6
5.0 = .25

Then what if we change other variables? What will that change? Without looking at years, I dont know that we have enough information.

What I'm saying is, do we have enough anecdotal evidence to contradict nature?
 

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For me, if I don't buffer, my pH will crash.

I have a water softener on the house - so I have 0 natural buffers in the water to hold the pH at 7. I have to add baking soda or the pH will crash as the Nitrogen cycle occurs.

My 55g tank is a pain to maintain - hard to keep a pH between 6-7 (at least for me it is) since as you add bicarbonate to increase KH (pH stabilizing), it raises the pH.

I totally did not mean to hijack the thread. Sorry :)
 
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*** had that problem too... all of a sudden outa nowhere the ph drops to 6...i put buffer in it and it would still drop to 6 after a day or 2... killed a number of my ca cichlids.. i think the tank had cycled thou... after a vigorous few gravel vacs and adding seachems nuetral regulator.. idk 4 or 5 days in a row it finally settled itself... and the guy that owns the LFS here (and is a dick) buffers all his africans to 7.8 and yells at you if you dont do the same.. he seems to think they are less happy and less colorful without the lake salt and higher ph.. as he's gotten in my face and chastized me about it saying things like "i've only been doing this for 50 years" so i use the lake salt and buffer but im sure the fish would probably look the same without it...def not using the expensive buffer anymore thou... im going to switch to plain old baking soda as they are used to it now...
 

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For me, if I don't buffer, my pH will crash.
----
I totally did not mean to hijack the thread. Sorry
Well I certainly helped with the hijacking :p. Low KH is certainly a good reason to buffer.

I was going to type out another lengthy response, but I guess all I'll say is, in general, aquarium-raised fish already live longer and grow larger than their wild counsins, despite disadvantages such as non-optimal water parameters and the presence of pollutants like nitrate. As long as a person cares for the well being of their fish, makes an effort to do whats best for them, and is able to back up any examples of doing something different than the norm with research or experiences, then to each their own :thumb:

Happy fishies for everyone :fish: :fish: :fish:

preview-edit: M1ke, I wonder if the guy at your LFS is just trying to strong-arm you into buying his buffer stock $$$. But certainly, if your pH keeps crashing, then you should raise your KH i.e. buffer, and baking powder should suffice :thumb:
 
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