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So, I bought a large amount of sandstone from my local landscaper for 20 cents a pound. This is nice, flat natural looking rock. The size ranges from 1 footX1foot to 5"x5". I also bought a large sheet of eggcrate from Home Depot. Do I cover the entire aquarium bottom with egg crate or just the area I am putting rocks in? I assume I should put the largest pieces of sandstone down first, and then stack the others haphazardly? I already have gravel substrate in the tank, I assume I should remove it all, put the rocks in then refill the bottom with gravel? How much gravel should I use, I think I have 3-4" throughout the tank at the moment. I have some driftwood in the tank as well (was a south american community, just removed my last fish last night) that's been in there well over 2 years. Can I keep that in there mixed amidst the rockwork? I am getting Acei which I have read like to graze on agae on the driftwood, which my wood is covered in algae? I also have two emperor 400's running on the tank. Would filling the inserts (gray cages) with crushed coral be enough buffer for the pH? Also, I currently have Vals in the tank and 1 large potten anubias. Would these plants survive in my aquarium with mbuna?

If you see my other post, I'm having trouble figuring out my pH. I think my test kit is wrong, maybe expired. 3 years ago my pH was 7.5ish. Yesterday I measured it at 8.8....I'm going to assume that my city water has not flucuated that much and assume my pH is still around 7.5. Is this pH with 1/2 lb of crushed coral in the filters going to be ok with my mbuna?

I will have saulosi, acei, maingano and snow white socolofi in the tank with 3 bristlenose plecs.

Any other tips you guys may have would help.
 

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I had acei in my 90 and because they get over 6 inches when mature they made the tank look small. Personally, I think they belong in 6-foot tanks.
 

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Recommend you reduce your substrate to 2", it'll be harder for organics to become trapped, plus it's easier to vacuum.
Get yourself some pH test strips to first confirm whether or not your kit is accurate.
You are correct regarding the gravel and eggcrate, remove gravel, place eggcrate, place first level of rocks then add the gravel and continue with the rest of the rocks.
The driftwood is fine.
Plants are another story. They tend to not do so well with mbuna, all you can do is try it I suppose. The potted anubias might have trouble with 2" of substrate.
Crushed coral will definitely help to buffer the pH but first you need to confirm it's 7.5 and not 8.8.
 

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I would cover the entire bottom of the tank with eggcrate before adding the substrate.

You know where you want to place rocks now. You may decide in the future that you want to move the rocks around. If you don't already have eggcrate underneath the new target area fopr the rocks, you will have to completely tear the tank down to move your eggcrate.

If you just go ahead and eggcrate the entire tank bottom in advance, you give yourself a lot more freedom to redecorate your tank with minimal labor.

Also, I would definitely include the drfitwood in your setup. If your piece of driftwood has been in a tank for many years (as yours seems to have been), most of the compunds in the wood that adversely affect water perameters in a Malawi tank would have already leached out. Driftwood is highly recommended for bristlenose catfish.
 

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More suggestions.

There are two pH test reagents. If you were testing before with the low pH tester, maybe it just could not give a higher result. If you are testing now with the high-end pH tester, maybe you really have 8.8. I'd make sure before adding crushed coral, maybe you don't need it.

Build your rocks on a bench outside the tank. View from all angles and tinker for a couple of days until you like it for more than an hour. Easier than doing it in the water.
 

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GTZ said:
The potted anubias might have trouble with 2" of substrate.
Crushed coral will definitely help to buffer the pH but first you need to confirm it's 7.5 and not 8.8.
Don't put anubias in the substrate. Also, don't keep them potted. Tie or anchor them to wood or rocks. Burying the roots will kill them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
justincgdick said:
GTZ said:
The potted anubias might have trouble with 2" of substrate.
Crushed coral will definitely help to buffer the pH but first you need to confirm it's 7.5 and not 8.8.
Don't put anubias in the substrate. Also, don't keep them potted. Tie or anchor them to wood or rocks. Burying the roots will kill them.
The anubius is in a vase like pot with no dirt\substrate, just kind of sitting in there.
 

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aquagirl900 said:
justincgdick said:
GTZ said:
The potted anubias might have trouble with 2" of substrate.
Crushed coral will definitely help to buffer the pH but first you need to confirm it's 7.5 and not 8.8.
Don't put anubias in the substrate. Also, don't keep them potted. Tie or anchor them to wood or rocks. Burying the roots will kill them.
The anubius is in a vase like pot with no dirt\substrate, just kind of sitting in there.
Oh, I see. That would work just fine.
 
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