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Hi all,

This forum comes highly recommended. I'm about to inherit (from a friend who is very much still alive!) a 46 bow front acrylic tank. He bought it but has never had time or inclination to set it up, so it's essentially brand new. Coming with a pretty good selection of gear including:

Aqua Euro USA Max Chill chiller
Marineland C360 canister filter
Marineland LED "Double Bright" light bar

I've had some experience many years ago with keeping African cichlids, and an early iteration of a saltwater reef tank, but it's been 20+ years since I've had more than a goldfish.

We have a great local store here in Tucson that carries a nice selection of SA cichlids and other species, as well as plants, etc. It's one of those stores that you get a good feeling when you walk in - very well laid out, tanks are spotless, fish look healthy and vigorous - just a nicely run operation.

Basically I'm open to any and all suggestions on how to get started. I'd love to do a planted tank, and what I'm thinking is a breeding pair of SA cichlids (I love Apistogramma macmasteri!), plus some other South American natives in a community grouping. Thinking something like rummy noses, neons, etc. I don't want anyone too aggressive, or that will grow too large. I'm game for breeding if that happens.

Thanks for any thoughts!

Butch
 

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I used to live in Yuma, the water there was very hard and the Ph was pretty high; have you tested your water? South American cichlids prefer soft acidic water for the most part, although farm raised fish may be more tolerant. There are ways to condition water though.
 

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I think we've only been to your corner of Arizona a couple times, none recent, but we visit our daughter in Phoenix every year. She buys drinking water that is Reverse Osmosis at a reasonable price at a local store selling water and ice. Although Indian almond leaves and alder cones are often used to tint, soften, and lower the pH of aquarium water, other tree leaves also work well, such as magnolia, oaks, and nut trees except black walnut. You might be able to collect those locally from irrigated landscaping with permission of course. The Apistogramma species like to use the leaves to hide and spawn in. Some find leaves that have rolled up into a tube and keep their eggs inside it. I have some Cryptocornynes in Apistogramma tanks. Refer to the species profiles above on the bar. You will need some of that hard tap water to add some minimal hardness and buffer to the water, since straight RO is not stable. The small tetras are very useful to act as look outs for the dwarfs. In fact if there are no look out fish, Apistos tend to hide lot.
 
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