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Tanganyika/Malawi/plants/salt mixes

Daniel (1/20) asked about salt making at home:
Roy (1/20) asked if it were possible to maintain high pH w/ CO2 
and a kH>8:
Mark (1/21) also asked about Tanganyika ciclhid and plants:

Daniel, I've got a 55G with Neo. brichardi and Labidochromis 
caeruleus (yellow labs).  The brichardis are Tanganyikans and the 
yellow labs are Malawian. I keep my tank at 76F, 10dH, 15dK, pH 
8.2-8.3. My tap water is 1 dH and 1dK, so I definetly have to 
amend it. From my observations, 1/4 tsp baking soda to 3gal will 
give ~3.3dK (60ppm). So I usually add 1 tsp (+ a pinch) /3 gal for 
water changes and that sets my alk right. The pH of 1/4-1 tsp in 3 
gal is the same at 8.3. I add MgSO4 to get the Mg ~ 30ppm and 
CaCl2 to get the Ca ~ 25ppm. Tanganyika has the highest 
hardness and alk, so I maximized it for the brichardis, but the labs 
love it, too. I think Malawi is about half the values of Tanganyika, 
and even lower for Victoria. Tanganyika had more Mg vs. Ca. 
MgCO3 is a major player in the Tang. lake makeup. I don't add any 
NaCl, I get ~150ppm of Na from the baking soda, and don't want 
anymore, and get plenty of Cl- from the CaCl2. Nitrate is never 
limited (15ppm), so I add K2SO4 to get my K ~ 20-30ppm. 

Roy and Mark, I agree with George Booth about the plants, use 
slow-growing, hardy ones. I keep anubias nana and coffeofolia, lots 
of Java ferns, and Java Moss in with my Africans. They don't mess 
with any of them, and the plants seem not to mind the 'liquid rock' 
conditions. I keep small marble chips (1/2 lb) mixed with my gravel, 
which is brown Tex blast size (2-3mm). That's the only outside 
source of CaCO3 I use. I use compressed CO2 in my soft, acid 
plant tank (dH 3.5 dK 4.5 pH 6.6), but I like the slow growing plants 
with the cichlids. It's a plus they're tough, too. Be sure to use lots 
of flat rocks with many, many caves and hiding places. The more 
the merrier, those little boogers spend all day exploring and setting 
up territories. Plants are used as a bkg. enhancers or as territory 
dividers. Flower pots with holes drilled in the sides (3/4"-1") make 
great hide-and-seek spots. Gotta love them African cichlids!

Jamie    <"\\\><