Help please, want to convert planted to cichlid

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AC Members
Nov 18, 2010
Hey all,

I just haven’t enjoyed my planted tank for the last 3 years. It used to have CO2 but with the awesome growth it was too much work. I now keep it low tech with some liquid carbon addition and weekly fertilization but I just really don’t like a low tech tank vs the incredible CO2 driven plants and growth. I have decided to convert to a cichlid tank.

It is a 40 Breeder which is 18x18x36. A post I found from 2011 says this:
“Pseudotropheus saulosi, Labidochromis caeruleus, Iodotropheus name a few. If you wanted more than one species you could do 5 caeruleus and a peacock for some added colour.” For that size tank.

I currently have an Eheim 2217 with extended spray bar and a surface slimmer intake attachment which I believe to be acceptable filtration for a 40 gallon tank. Of course I will pull all my plants. I also currently am running “Saf-T-Sorb” substrate which is a gravel like substance that has a high cation exchange coefficient (basically it’s a 2 dollar hardware store equivalent of Eco complete or something like that). I am assuming I can keep the same substrate and purchase aquarium safe rocks that look more typical of a cichlid tank environment.

I keep baking soda and Epsom salt around to adjust GH and KH in both my fish tank and my coffee brewing water, as my well water comes out of the ground at 0 KH 0 GH. From what I understand, I should make my calculations target approx 10 dGH and 10 dKH , is this correct? As always, I will dose the BS and ES and test to confirm, and use appropriate amounts in water changes.

I currently change 14 gallons of water per week. I understand this will still be appropriate for a cichlid tank and I will siphon the gravel ,which I haven’t done in a decade of keeping planted tanks.

Is there anything I am missing? When I get rocks I will make sure to give them a stable foundation so the fish don’t dig them out. Thanks in advance!