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    THE BEST MBUNAS SUBSTRATE ????

    Discussion in 'African Rift Lake Cichlids' started by GermanRam, Feb 2, 2010.

    1. GermanRam

      GermanRam MFK Members

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      I have read over and over again that the best substrate for African Cichlids is dark or black (gravel or sand). It's been said on a lot of sites and in books that I have read that this helps to keep the fish stay calm and come out more in the open.

      Then I see the stuff about the importance of crushed coral, white sand and even shells to help with the pH.
      My water out of the tap is around 7.2-7.5ph already.

      After looking at hundreds of videos and pictures on the net and only seeing for the most part in well done tanks.....white substrate.

      What is the truth and what is the best. I know the people of MonsterFishKeepers will have an answer that I can trust!!! :headbang2
      Thank You, Jay
       
    2. Blue2Fyre

      Blue2Fyre MFK Members

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      Best is relative, it's all in what you like. I think most mbuna prefer sand. They love to dig and sift through it. The color is really up to you. I use to have play sand which was cheap and my cichlids liked it. I changed the sand to black colorquartz and my fish look better. I think they are more colorful over dark substrate.
      As far as crushed coral, you may not need it. What some people do is put a little bag on crushed coral in their filter to help buffer the water. You can also use limestone to decorate with and that will achieve the same thing. I think your Ph is fine.
       
    3. Blue2Fyre

      Blue2Fyre MFK Members

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      Here's a short video of my tank with the black sand.

      [YT]OSwK4hele7I[/YT]
       
    4. Honda12

      Honda12 MFK Members

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      I have been keeping africans for a long time, about 15 years. As far as what you want for substrate it is really up to you and your personal preference.

      I have had cichlids in bare bottoms, gravel, sand (dark and light), and numerous other substrates.
      [​IMG]
      [​IMG]

      If you want to go with something with a mix of dark and like sand I would suggest to look into eco complete cichlid sand. The grains are a bit heaver than say like play sand so it really doesn't mess with the filter like play sand can. Plus it is made for cichlids.

      Heres a little info of it and what it looks like.[​IMG]

      Instructions:
      For best results use one pound per gallon or one bag per 10-20 gallons.
      Do not rinse.
      Specifications:
      This substrate is both mineralogically and biologically complete. It is ready to use, no rinsing required and is water packed in conditioning solutions geared specifically for this eco-system. It will not only maintain chemical water parameters, but the live bacteria allows for safe and rapid cycling as well.
      Mineralogically complete because it contains Aragonite that helps to maintain the high pH African Cichlids need without the constant addition of chemicals; buffers automatically for the life of the aquarium; adds calcium, magnesium, carbonate and more; the dark color encourages the richest coloration in fish; the unique composition re-creates the African Rift Lake environment; it has a high initernal porosity for maximum carrying capacity-keep more fish healther-- longer.
      Biolocigally complete because it contains live water-purifying bacteria that makes cycling a new aquarium faster and safer; you would have to buy 4 bags of ordinary gravel to equal the surface area available for water purifying bacteria in 20 pounds of this product; it creates a natural biological balance to discourage nuisance algae.

      Andy
       
    5. GermanRam

      GermanRam MFK Members

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      Thanks for all the great info and Pics. BIG help!!!
       
    6. Muske

      Muske MFK Members

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      The stock list will also help with color selection. Some fish look washed out over a dark substrate and others pop. Same is true for white or light colored gravels and sands. Yellow and orange fish really glow over a white sand bed.

      So to answer your question, which ever you like. Sand is more naturally suited to them, but gravel works just fine. I have used them both and saw no difference is behavior between the two. I like gravel because it requires less finesse to clean and is cheaper at my LFS.
       
    7. GermanRam

      GermanRam MFK Members

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      Thanks so much for the help!
       
    8. GermanRam

      GermanRam MFK Members

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      Well I just put two 25lb bags of small black gravel and one 20lb bag of small shell in the tank and it loos great!

      I will be checking my water makeup tomorrow to see how it my have changed.
       
    9. GermanRam

      GermanRam MFK Members

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      bump
       
    10. emptyhead

      emptyhead MFK Members

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      I use white play sand from the hardware store mixed with some crushed coral.

      One thing to consider is that dark substrate will absorb light, and light colored substrate will reflect it. So - darker substrate = darker tank. So - the height of your tank and the wattage of your fixture would also be something to consider when choosing substrate.
       

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