How Important is GH and KH for Africans?

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dcallen

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May 6, 2003
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Hi,

What should the GH and KH be at in an African Cichlid tank? Also how sensitive are the fish to these parameters? Can the fish get sick or even die if the GH and KH is too high or too low? As always thanks for the help.



Also I just did my weekly water change of 30% and some of the fish are rubbing themselves against the rock like they are scratching or trying to get something off of them. They have done this in the past so I'm not overly concerned about it at this point, otherwise the fish look great and they are eating.
 

valerie

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Apr 18, 2001
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they like hard water with a high ph but they aren't too sensitive so as long as your parameters aren't super soft and low ph you should be fine. Mine are ph 7.8 kh8 gh11 and they are doing great. The ph for africans ranges from 7.8-8.5 so as long as the water is hard it is ok.

As for scratching after a water change could be the amount of water you are changing, although 30% isn't too big. Or it could be the wate conditioner you are using. Or the temp of the water you are replacing is different.

If it is only right after a water chagne and it goes awa quickly i wouldnt' worry, mine have done this before too.
 

Dragon_Lord_Tia

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my africans are also scraching not 1 sign of ich(white dots etc)the only obvious thing is the rubbing against the rocks and decor.I will try ich treatment and ill see how that goes.
 

jimbo

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When I first started with Malawi cichlids (6 years ago) I used to keep them in plain tap water.
PH 8.3, kH 5 and GH 9. After reading an article about the water conditions they should require, kH and GH both 11/14, I’ve raised only the kH from 5 to 9 which took me 4 days to get there (1 degree each day), and actually they all ‘seem’ to ‘feel’ better, more at ease so to speak. I’ve kept on doing this for about one year. When I stopped adding kH+ nothing really changed much in their behaviour (for as far I could see) and they’re doing just fine ever since.

As for the scratching, partially it seems to be part of their natural behaviour; even in the wild they seem to do that according some people amongst whom, Ad Konings. Excessive scratching however, could be a sign of too many bacteria/parasites on/in their slime coat. Adding some salt would help them changing their slime coat more quickly.
In my tanks they’re scratching too, not excessively though. I think that’s because my water changes are pretty heavy. During the time I’m siphoning all the dirt from the substrate (sand), fresh water is flowing into the tank. (same temp) This takes 30 minutes or so. Then I stop adding fresh water to the tank and remove 40% of its contents. After that I resume adding fresh water, with the hose removing water still hanging in the tank. Filling up the tank like this takes about 1 hour for my 180. I used to perform my water changes once a week. Now I'm changing the water every Monday, Saturday and Wednesday (in that order)
Not just to avoid scratching but for several reasons. I’m a pretty conservative when it comes to keeping cichlids, better save than sorry. I guess there is no such thing as too much fresh water in a tank.

Jimmy
 
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Mystroe_TheMyst

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Hmmm I guess I should read up on GH and KH cause i don't have any clue what they are, cause someone please post a link perhaps?
 

JSchmidt

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First of all, it's important to distinguish between scratching and flashing. Scratching is rubbing against the rocks, flashing is making little sharp movements around particular rocks to demonstrate territory. (Flashing is sometimes accompanied by flaring, a mating behavior where the fish flares out its fins and shakes and shivers in place.)

My mbuna often flash after a water change. It seems to make them frisky. I take it as a good sign.

If they are scratching, I'd expect them to do so all the time, not just after a water change.

RE: water parameters, I think it is possible to keep african cichlids in water that is softer and/or more acidic than their native waters. Mine tend to breed more readily (and seem more vibrant and active) when kept in water with high pH, KH and GH. I experimented with several tanks and slowly dropped those parameters to near what our tap water is (it's still pretty basic, but not very hard), and breeding decreased and the fish didn't look as robust. I've gone back to supplementing the water and the fish look better.

Given the relative ease and low cost of increasing KH & GH, I think it's well worth it.

HTH,
Jim
 

Mystroe_TheMyst

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Thanks, I sorta knew what it was, just didn't know that GH stood for general hardness, I thought i was missing out on somthing vital that i didn't know...thanks again
 

dcallen

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May 6, 2003
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Thanks for all your replies, and for the link to that article which by the way is a big help to me in better understanding things. The fish primarily do this after a water change. I have seen a few of them do it at other times but certainly not excessively. I do add a Cichlid mixture from Seachem to the new water I put in the tank during the water change in an attempt to replicate their natural water conditions better but I have not added sea salt as yet. Should I add salt to the tank periodically as a preventative? I'm doing my best to insure that the fish are taken care of to the best of my ability so I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.


Thanks again...
 
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