View Full Version : What kind of substrate to use?

01-01-2008, 11:56 AM
I have set up a tank for Malawi cichlids, its a 55 gal and have live plants and everything biologically working.

Now I am wondering if I should change the substrate, I currently have a black crushed granite gravel in there, it looks great, but, it does have some sharpish edges on it. It could be considered quite coarse.

Do malawi cichlids do a lot of digging? Is this substrate suitable or should I rip the stuff out and start again with smoother pebbles.

(I just think the common pebbles are boring to look at)

thanks in advánce, i've never had malawis before.

01-01-2008, 02:35 PM
Sand is ideal for Lake Malawi cichlids and plants, and other fish for that matter. However, most cichlids end up tearing up plants. What type of Lake Malawi cichlids are you going to do?

01-01-2008, 03:08 PM
Malawi's defo dig around in the sand and will also sift through it with their mouths looking for morsels of food... plants indeed won't have a big chance in a Malawi tank... most Malawi tanks are sand substrate with a beautiful layout of lot's of stones to provide shelter

01-01-2008, 03:42 PM
I have seen underwater pics from Lake malawi. What you see is sand, rock formations and here and there Valisneria "islands".

Those rock formations consist of rounded pebbles like rocks (very big of course). So I wouldnt use that Lava rock stuff or this coulored things with those holes in them. They just arnt natural. And if you take plants, try those bigger Valisneria.

01-01-2008, 05:14 PM
I was going to say crushed coral sand.

01-01-2008, 07:16 PM
What type of Lake Malawi cichlids are you going to do?

I have no idea yet, the ones at the LFS lol!

they are probably mbunas (they are the most common ones right?) I dont know much about malawi cichlids other than they look cool and I want some.

It sounds like I need to replace the substrate.... is that right?

01-01-2008, 07:57 PM
I would. You can try the plants, but they may not make it. Worst case they get a snack. I feed nothing but New Life Spectrum and many would be problem makers don't bother things like plants, which clues that they are getting all the nutrition they need. It also really helps with the bright coloration of cichlids, especially types like mbunas. Most likely they are mbunas, but I suggest looking through all the different types so you can get an eye for what is and what is not a mbuna. Most tanks are 'Assorted African Cichlids', so other types may be mixed in. They all tend to do better within their own groups, so mixing non-mbunas with mbunas isn't a good idea (especially for the non-mbunas).

01-02-2008, 04:30 PM
i have anubias and swords in my 55 mbuna tank. they don't mess with them at all. i did have some anacharis at one point in there and got turned into anachaistem. i think they really liked it but it couldn't grow back fast enough to keep up with them so i ended up pulling it out. i think broad leaved (low light) plants will do pretty well with them.

01-02-2008, 09:30 PM
cheers for that sergo, thats exactly what i was considering using.