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I'm looking to set up my first African cichlid tank. It's a 125 gal 6' tank. I was looking at buying crushed coral to help raise the ph. How many lbs should I use. What is a cheap rock I can use as well? Not sure if I need both the rock and substrate to raise the ph or not
 

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Hi and Welcome to C-F!!

Have you tested your tap water first to see if you even need to buffer the water?

As far as rocks go, I would just choose ones that you like and are suitable to create rock piles. A landscaping or stone yard that sells bulk stone will be your cheapest option and provide a good variety to choose from.
 

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My natural tap water PH is 6.8-7.0 and I have about 70 pounds of Caribsand special grade aragonite in my 75 gallons (1 bag is 40 lbs, I bought 2 bags). This gives me about 2-3 inches of sand (on the manufacturer's website you can calculate how much you need for your specific tank). I also added about 80 pounds of buffering rocks. This is not enough to get my PH to around 8.2 so I use Seachem Malawi buffer on top and that gets me to a PH of 8.2.

My setup is new, only a few weeks old, so maybe in a while the sand and rocks will have more effect and I will be able to decrease the amount of buffer I use.

I also use Seachem cichlid salt to increase hardness.
 

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The limestone rock stuff and substrate thing is something that definitely won't hurt in possibly helping to sustain higher PH and water hardness in your aquarium. But, I'm not sure how effective it will actually be though, esp. if you wind up doing a lot of high-volume water changes to dilute Nitrate buildup in a heavily stocked tank.
Crushed coral is used a lot with former reef or salt tanks. It is a bit pricey. But If you're set on it, I would get it in as small diameter particle size as possible. Your cichlids will dig in it and it's easier for them to work with in a smaller size if any is accidentally ingested. Personally, I prefer and recommend Pool Filtration Sand (PFS). It's cheap, won't cause any problems for digging cichlids and looks very natural in the aquarium.
But, to each his own I guess....
As far as rocks go. You need a good sized pile(s), esp. for Mbuna type cichlids. Build your rocks up all the way to the surface, but leave open expanses of sand for your males to have room to do their thing. Big rocks are better than a bunch of smaller ones, because they stack better together and are more stable in a pile. Safer. When ready, build the rock pile(s) in the tank first. That is, place the rock directly on the glass, and add the sand afterward. This will keep digging cichlids from possibly undermining the rock pile later, and accidentally causing collapses or dangerous rockfalls. To purchase rocks, local garden supply centers and plant nurseries may have the cheapest stuff. I personally like Mountain Lace Rock because it looks gnarly, comes in big pieces and stacks very nicely together.
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Check your tap water for General Hardness (GH) and PH. If you have a natural source of pretty hard water that is decently high in PH? You may not need to add anything at all to the aquarium water to raise GH or boost the PH. :wink:
 

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IME the aragonite substrate and crushed coral in the filter do not raise pH. So I agree with Deeda, get rocks you like (I like smooth river rocks to minimize fish eye and scale injuries) and pool filter sand which is a natural color and an even, good sized particle that is easy to maintain and will not get into filter to grind the impeller.

You can buy cheap crushed coral substrate and use it as media in one of your canister filter trays to help buffer the pH, but to raise it baking soda works better. You don't have to go all the way to pH=8 but pH=7.8 or thereabouts would be a good target.
 
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