After having my new 125L tank set up for a few months and matured nicely, I'm thinking of getting some cichlids.
I've decided on Kribs or Bolivian Rams as they're both suitable for my water, but I really can't decide which ones! The Kribs are more colourful and will be new to me, whereas the Bolivians I've kept in the past and they had fantastic personalities but would like something different.
Can anyone sway me in a direction?
Tank stats taken yesterday before water change: Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 40ppm pH 7.4 Hardness kit is on the way, but water board website showing as 'moderately hard'
Moderately hard usually means above 12 dGh and that's really too hard for either of those as both are soft water species'. Your nitrate level will be a problem too, especially for the Rams. With a starting level of 40ppm the level in the tank will be even higher and they don't tolerate levels over about 20ppm well.
As most (though not all) cichlids tend to be carnivores or omnivores with a carnivore bias, nitrates can build quickly due to diet so you'll need to look at a nitrate filter at least, or if you want to go for soft water species, using RO which would allow you to soften the water and remove nitrates at the same time.
Caresheet for Bolivian Ram is here and there's one for Kribs here
Yes you have 203.9 mg/l or 11.42 German Degrees of hardness. You can always get German degrees if you know mg/l by dividing the number in mg/l by 17.9.
As the upper limit for both species' is 12 dGh and pH 7.5, plus you have a nitrate issue I wouldn't recommend either of them for your water as it stands. RO would be the only route to providing suitable water parameters and quality for sensitive soft water species' (IMO).
I've had the idea of RO in the back of my mind for a few days now, but a home RO unit is out of the question. My local MA does RO water in 25L canisters, so lugging this home would be the only option. I don't know where to start on calculating the amount of RO needed though?
EDIT: After perusing the care sheets for both on here and SF, it seems they conflict with regards to pH for the Bolivian?
Get your hardness kit first as we need kH as well as gH. kH is responsible for keeping pH stable so can't be allowed to drop too low and complicates the matter. Apart from that it's simple for gH and nitrates. If you mix 50:50 Ro and tap water you reduce gH and nitrates by half, and so on.
For Bolivians you need under 20ppm at all times (they can take the odd minor blip above that for a few days, but not as a routine). If you start with 15ppm there's not much headroom so you'd need to either be doing water changes more than once a week, using very heavy planting with plants known to use nitrates, understocking or a combination of these. The other option is to use all RO and add back minerals and buffers. That will give you nitrate free water which you can adjust to the exact gH, kH and pH required.
jcw909 wrote: After perusing the care sheets for both on here and SF, it seems they conflict with regards to pH for the Bolivian?
You'll find some variance between care sheets across different sites. Based on their wild location, our is within that range where SF has extended for adaptation.
However, conductivity or TDS (reflected in the hardness figures) is far more important than pH for soft water fish and we're in agreement on that, plus these types of fish are not tolerant of high nitrates, which we also agree upon. If the hardness and nitrate issues are dealt with by the use of RO, the pH will drop well into the acceptable pH range, and mid-range is usually the best place to be. The lower and upper extremes are best avoided in a long term situation.
Ok, thanks for clearing that up. After reading your article on RO a couple of times I've decided that I can't make that type of commitment due to my work schedule. So I'm not sure where to go from here with regards to stocking some feature fish.