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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think instead of going for the multi's for my 20g long, since i have no experience with cichlids and I don't want to accidentally kill them with inexperience, I might go with the cookie cutter for a pair of german rams, rummy nose tetras and instead of the blue Emperors, i might go for some cory cats. I was thinking of going with simple plants that I know i can grow, Java fern, java moss. I was wondering if i should go with an eco complete substrate or maybe just go with sand because i love the look of sand. And I'll go with a piece or two of driftwood in there as well. I was wondering if there were any other plants that were really easy to take care of like the Java fern and don't require alot of attention. I know i've wrote alot but i guess i'm mainly asking, which substrate should i go with and what plants?
 

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I will give you another easy plant.
anubias

The java fern, java moss, and anubias are considered easy because they can grow at low light. If your willing to provide 2 watts per gallon, plants like valisneria and amazon swords become easy to grow. But, I cant fault anubias, java fern, or moss. They are great plants, and I have all three in my tank.

None of those plants root into the substrate, so it doesnt matter what you use. Usually, you tie them to a piece of driftwood, but I have had luck getting the roots to grow into the gravel too. The main key for anubias and java fern is to make sure the rizome stays above the surface of the substrate. Java moss will just cling to everything, but wont bury itself. I use eco complete for my rams, but that is for a planted tank, some people suggest sand so that they can dig a little, im going to say that it is up to your personal preference as to what you use. Plants seem to prefer gravel, but like I said before, it doesnt matter with your types of plants.

One last note, you said you were new to cichlids, and looking for an easier fish....I hate to break it to you, but the german ram is not an easy cichlid at all. They can be very delicate if kept in anything less than ideal conditions. I would recommend 1 pair of the hardier bolivian ram cichlid. They are slightly larger, so only 1 pair for a 20 gallon tank. The tetra's and cory's would also go well in there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Aw....I thought they might be a little more easier since they don't require higher or lower ph like the africans and etc. I'm not new to keeping tanks at all and I would make sure the tank is atleast ideal for them. I'll be running a marineland c-160 on it and probably decent lighting like you had mentioned. I have been doing research on the rams though so i'm not going to just throw them in. I do want to make sure everything is right for them. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I work in a pet store that specializes in fish so I will have to take a look to see if we carry bolivian rams. I've only seen the german rams.
 

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If your experienced with fish, and know what you are doing, you should not have too many problems with blue rams. And you are right, they are a species best kept in an aquarium designed around them. They like a pH south of 7, usually in the 6-6.5 range, soft, and warm, around 80-82 degrees. I keep mine at pH 6.5, 50ppm, and 80 degrees F. If you can set these conditions, and keep them, you should be able to keep them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I can't say i'm experienced but this isn't my first time with fish. I've stuck with your standard live bearers and Bettas. But I got Angels recently and I'm wanting to move up to different fish. And since I'm not able to go into african cichlids, i figured I would start out small and work my way up. And it gives me a chance to learn about the different fish we keep in the store if someone has questions and i can tell them what i've experienced first hand.
 

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Just a few comments after reading through the posts again:

in general, africans like a high pH, and hard water, and south americans like a low pH, and soft water. IN GENERAL. Neither region is more difficult or easier than the other. A lot of the difficulty comes in what your local water supply is. I know a lot of people on the forum keep fish based on what comes out of their tap. Post your tap water pH and hardness, we can recommend some fish based on that. So, if your tap water is soft and acidic, you will have no problems with rams. But if your tap water is hard and basic, it will make things more complicated for the rams. All this can be changes with the addition of things to "condition" the water, and RO systems. But again, those things add to the complexity of the whole system.

Starting out small has two meanings. On one hand, dwarf cichlids do not require giant tanks, so if tank size is your definition of small, then yes, they are small (there are smaller african cichlids too). If your talking small as in simple/easy, then blue rams might not be the best bet.

You said you wanted rams because you cannot have africans...why?

I think the thing to do is to post your tap water pH and hardness. From there we can recommend some good fish for those conditions. That will help keep things simple and easy for your tank.
 

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Cryps are easy to grow too and do not need bright lights. My low tech 90 gallon tank has anubias, cryps and java fern.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
well the reason i can't have africans is because i'm not able to provide enough room for them. The biggest tank I have is a 30g and i use that for raising fish and i'd want to get a nice big tank for the africans. Like a 55 or a 75 because I like the look of alot of them. And i'm tight on money. And it's something mom and dad have to agree with so....i'm pretty much SOL.

And as far as the pH of my tap water, I thought it was about 7 but it looks like it's around 6.6. As far as hardness, i'm not sure. I don't know which kit i would need to test that. But i have no problems going the distance to adjust the perimeters of the tank to fit their needs.
 

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Forget about playing water chemist; it is a good way to ruin a nice hobby. That water will do nicely for any number of fish, especially South Americans. There are numerous SA dwarfs that would fit into that tank. There are a number of west African dwarf species, such as the various pelvicachromis sp. that will fit into that tank also.
 

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BillD you do a better job explaining my position than I did.

So you have a pH on the neutral to acidic side. Yup, south americans will do fine in there. I would like to know the hardness though. Since you work at a fish store, they should have some water test strips lying around, they are not the most accurate, but should give you a good idea, and they usually test for hardness. If not, check the water chemistry section.

I agree with BillD, you dont want to play water chemist, its what makes this hobby difficult (or in my case, provides the fun challenge...but then again, I am a bio-chemist). What I want to do is get you tap water conditions, if you match the fish to those conditions, you will never have to worry about water chemistry.

Another thought might be a harem (1 male/2 female) of an apisto species. Provided you have a hardness below 80, you should be fine with blue rams using your tap water.

As a side note, I asked about the africans because there are small sized africans as well. The pelvicachromis sp. that BillD mentioned, and the lake tangenika shell dwellers are bothe small enough for a 20g.
 

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As to your question about Eco-complete. It is a very fine, black sand-like substrate that I find very attractive. If you have it, then you can some day move over to plants besides java fern and anubias. It gives you a nice option. I have one tank with this and the plants do very well and it's very attractive. I have another planted tank with only regular gravel and it's a bit tougher to plant things (and make them stay) and I have to fert more. So while Eco complete is a bit pricey, I would recommend it even if you don't technically need it for the plants you're currently considering.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well i grabbed a kit for the hardness. I got the API liquid tests since i trust them more than the strips. The GH is about 107.4 ppm. That is if i did the test right.Should i still do the KH?

EDIT: I went ahead and did the KH and it's 71.6
 

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but the german ram is not an easy cichlid at all. They can be very delicate if kept in anything less than ideal conditions.
I somewhat agree, somewhat disagree with this statement... Yes - wild caught, or F1 Blue Rams will be a higher maintenance fish, but most store bought rams will be less sensitive than Rummynose tetras or Cardinals (as a lot cardinals anyway are still wild caught)... Obviously keeping the water clean is a requirement (but it should be with any fish), but peat filtration, water softeners, etc. are not needed for todays Rams - which for the most part are several generations tank bred & raised...

That's just my opinion - others may disagree...
 

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either way, the type of ram you get would do well. i have a planted tank with some real simple ones and they thrive.

personal recomendation, blue rams...the colors that come out of them are so remarkable.

and for easy plant growing - instant amazon :)

it cuts a lot of corners, which some dont like..but *** had a lot of good luck with the product and it helps my fish out a lot as wel.
 
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