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Re: Planted tank for Malawi cichlids

> Date: Thu, 29 Jan 1998 12:06:10 -0600
> From: dhutton at omnipoint_com
> I'm thinking about setting up a planted tank for Malawi cichlids.  I read
> what I could find in the archives and have concluded that suitable plants
> might be Java Fern, Java Moss, and Bolbitis (African water fern).

Anubias is another tough low-light plant, less likely to be eaten. 

> Lighting would be Triton bulbs at roughly 1 watt per gallon.

If I were you, I would use less expensive bulbs and try to get a bit
more than 1 watt per gallon, although it is adequate for many plants.

> I was also considering the use of a small amount of manual CO2 injection to
> give a slight increase in CO2 concentration.  Given  the high alkalinity I
> think it would have a minor effect on pH.

For that amount of light, there is no real benefit to adding CO2.

> I'd be interested in hearing if anyone is doing something similar.
> Suggestions for improvements etc. would be appreciated.

If you will have fish that aren't very herbivorous e.g. Labidochromis, you
should be able to grow Vallisneria, Echinodorus and other plants.  If you
go with the real algae-eating mbunas like Pseudotropheus, one thing that
works really well is hornwort (Ceratophyllum).  Even under low light it
can grow faster than the fish can eat it.  A friend of mine keeps a 4"
layer of it on a 75 gallon tank full of mbuna, with only 40 watts of cool
white for illumination.

I've got a Lake Tanganyika tank with spiral val, Java moss and Java fern,
floating Limnobium laevigata and duckweed/Wolffia.  I have some Labidochromis
caeruleus in there temporarily, and they aren't harming the plants.  This is
a 30 gallon long tank with 2 20w tubes, one cool white and one Sylvania
Gro-lux Wide Spectrum.

> I'm also looking for suggested targets for GH, KH, and pH.

Rift lake fish can live and breed perfectly well at lower pH and hardness 
than their origin lake, but the pH does have to be above neutral.  7.5 is
a good minimum for Lake Malawi fish.  A GH of 10 is quite adequate.  If your
normal tap water is suitable, don't mess with it.  It doesn't hurt to use
limestone rocks and shells, and a limey substrate, however.