Plants for African Cichlids?
What kind of plants do you recommend for African Cichlid tanks?
It depends on what type of African Cichlids your talking about. I used to have some Peacocks which I could keep with just about any plant.
You should just go ahead and try the plants you like as long as it's in your budget. I have had some mbunas with plants but they seem to like to dig more (but they still did pretty well with the plants), I would say just try what you like because there are many things people will tell you won't work that will.
Also don't be afraid to lower your pH, the fish will be fine. I have breed Africans with the pH at 7 and they appeared healthy and happy.
I've got no personal experience with cichlids, but a member here named "travis" has an amazing tank full of all sorts of plants and Africans - do a search, and you'll find pictures and some of his tips.
Wow, this is sort of a coincidence but I just wrote up a list of all of the plants I've tried in my ARLC tank for someone on another forum. It's fairly long, but I can post it here if you'd like.
I've been growing (or at least trying to grow) plants in my African Rift Lake Cichlid tank for about two years now. My tank is a high-light (3.5 wpg), CO2 supplemented, 125 gallon tank that contains strictly Malawian mbuna. I have a high fish load and heavy canister filtration, along with strong UV sterilization. The substrate is roughly 50% Eco-Complete Cichlid Sand and 50% Eco-Complete Planted Tank Substrate. What follows is a listing of the various plant species that I have tried growing in these conditions and my experiences with them. I want to stress that these are only my experiences and that I am by no means an expert at this, so please correct me if I have erred :)
-Did not grow well; attracted black marl and withered in hard water
-Grew extremely well in good light; one monster of a plant
-Like C. siliquosa, grew incredibly well and became difficult to tame in good light
-Did well although it spread slowly which is typical of Marsilea spp.
-Did very well in hard water and required very little light
Microsorium pteropus 'Standard'
-Did very well; no problems at all
Microsorium pteropus 'Narrow'
-Does very well; seems to appreciate and thrive in high light/CO2 environment
Microsorium pteropus 'Needle'
-Doing well currently although growth is slow
Microsorium pteropus 'Windelov'
-Like M. pteropus 'Standard' and 'Narrow' does very well in hard water
Alternanthera reineckii 'Sunset'
-Did not do well at all in hard water; leaves withered and died
Ammania sp. 'Bonsai' / Rotala indica
-Does quite well in hard water with good light and CO2; does best when left in one spot and not replanted often; takes well to pruning and replanting when necessary
Anubias barteri v barteri
-Did well; slow grower
Anubias barteri v nana
-Have had several plants in tank for almost two years now and they grow slowly be steadily; tend to attract some green algae in high light but PO4 levels of 1.0+ ppm moderate algal growth
Anubias barteri v nana 'petite'
-Does very well in hard water; I have a wall of these plants growing on porous piece of lace rock, climbing it like ivy
-Does well in hard water; turns into a monster, like many Apos, and is not one of my favorites; will even bloom in an ARLC tank
-Does well in hard water given proper light; hard to kill
-This is one tricky plant; looked great when planted as an emersed specimen and began to put out submerged growth but slowly withered and died
-Would grow just fine in an ARLC tank except for the fact that mbuna seem to savor the taste of its leaves; if you can find a species of fish that won't eat it then you're in good shape
-Did fairly well although did not seem to want to take on purple-red coloration that it does in softer water
-Looked good when first planted but slowly withered away/melted; would like to try again
-Did well at first until it attracted a bit of algae because of its slow-growing nature in hard water; algae attracted Africans; end of story; would like to try again
-Loves ARLC water conditions; next to C. wendtii, the easiest Crypt I've found to grow in an ARLC tank
Cryptocoryne cordata v blassii
-Tricky and a very slow grower in ARLC conditions; I've kept one in my ARLC tank for over a year now and it has never show any inclination to put out more than a half-dozen leaves at any given time
Cryptocoryne crispatula v balanciaga
-A beautiful Crypt that simply won't grow fast enough in hard water although it has a beautiful bronze hammered/bullate leaf texture; best kept in softer conditions
Cryptocoryne crispatula v spiralis
-Grows like a weed in just about any conditions I've tried it in; gets too long, even for a large tank and begins to look ugly
-Like C. cordata v blassii, does not grow fast enough in ARLC water conditions to make any progress; would like to try again
Cryptocoryne undulata 'Red'
-Grows extremely well in ARLC conditions; very similar in health to most C. wendtii variants; very pretty brown/purple/red coloration and nicely pinnate leaf form
Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Green Gecko'
-Loves ARLC conditions and will change color dramatically depending on how much light it receives; very prolific and pretty
Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Mi Oya'
-A bit slower growing than other C. wendtii variants in my ARLC tank, but still did very well; nice leaf patterning
Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Red'
-Very healthy growth; hard to slow it down, although a bit boring to look at
Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Tropica'
-Strong, healthy, decumbate growth with a nice dark bronze bullate texture; hard to find a good spot for it in the aquascape
-Slow growth in hard water and always ends up attracting black marl; too bad, because it is one of my favorites; best kept in softer water
-Does very well in ARLC water although lower stems will turn black and rot faster than in soft water if shaded too much
Echinodorus x barthii
-Grew fairly well, but slowly; like other swords I have kept I believe its roots did not do well in my paritially carbonate buffered substrate
-Did fairly well but leaves did not tend to last very long before they began to wither; I suspect the substrate had a lot to do with it
-Grew quite well and became a bit of a pest; I am not a big fan of grassy plants, especially sneaky ones like this one - they're very hard to get rid of
-After the initial black-and-blue transplant shock that this plant seems to suffer on occassion it did fairly well; does not seem to shoot to the surface nearly as quickly or produce as many leaves as it does in softer water
-Grows unbelievably well in hard water; can quickly take over a tank if not pruned frequently; I still find it growing in the strangest places
-Grew slowly, but this was before CO2 supplementation so I suspect it may do fairly well if given proper CO2 levels
-Grows very well in ARLC conditions given proper light and CO2
-Growth was extremely slow and not enough to even offset die-back
Hemianthus micranthemoides 'Erect'
-Grows well in most conditions; has a slight tendency to attract hair algae in my ARLC tank if it gets too thick; can't figure out how to incorporate it into my aquascape
-Did not do well at all in hard water; lower leaves quickly died off; only growth tips looked good; it looks much better in my soft water grow-out tank
-Grows well in ARLC tanks but tends to have the tips nibbled by my mbuna, so it does look the best; I wish I could get them to leave it alone
-Given proper light will grow quite well; lower stems tend to rot quickly if shaded
-Grows nicely in hard water but leaves tend to die more quickly than they do in softer water; still one of my favorites
-Grows well in most conditions I've tried with med- to high- light and CO2; does not have a very nice growth form and tends to get bushy and tangled so can be tricky to incorporate into an aquascape
-Grows fairly well (and quickly) in hard water but needs plenty of light to prevent loss of lower stems; beautiful brilliant green color
Hygrophila corymbosa v 'Compacta'
-Grows decently but leaves tend to become pinholed and rot much more quickly than they do in softer water; not recommended
-Grows like the weed that it is; this plant would probably grow in an empty shoe box in the back of my closet; will inundate a tank very quickly
Hygrophila polysperma 'Rosa Nervig'
-Grows quite nicely in hard water given plenty of light; CO2 helps as well; leaves still take on the characteristic "pink with white venation" look at the tips
-Withered and died; did not seem to do well in hard water but I would like to try again
-Grew well and took on rich green submersed coloration like a grass yard but eventually attracted algae and slowly shrunk until I had to remove; might work well in the right conditions but requires tons of maintainence to make it look good; will try again when I have more time
-Loves hard water and grows quite well with characteristic purple-red leaf coloration; fast, healthy growth
-Very healthy and fast vertical growth; hard to keep up with; nice bright green accent
Lobelia cardinalis 'small form'
-Healthy but slow, low growth; does better in softer water
-Grows quite well in hard water; branches and propagates readily
-I love this plant but it grows so slowly in hard (or soft) water; the coloration is an unreal deep wine-red; easily my favorite Ludwigia species; will be trying again soon
Ludwigia inclinata var verticellata 'Pantanal'
-Melted like an ice cube; definitely a soft water plant
-Grows quite well in hard water; did not get the pretty salmon-pink coloration quite as well as it does in softer water
-Grows vibrantly in hard water; lower stems will lose leaves without sufficient light
Ludwigia repens 'Rubin'
-Like its standard cousin, grows very well in hard water; upper leaves near light turn a brilliant blood red; highly recommended for ARLC tanks
-Slow growth compared to soft water but the tips still got the nice frosted white look until they attracted algae and became lunch for my mbuna; would like to try again
-This is one of my favorite plants when healthy but, alas, I can't seem to keep it healthy in any tank conditions; attracts algae and stunts in hard water; eaten by mbuna once it gets algae
-Beautiful bright yellow-green growth in hard water with lots of light and CO2; lower stems tend to become brittle and rot more quickly than they do in softer water so it requires more frequent replanting, but is still one of my all-time favorite plants
-This is one fast-growing, bushy, green plant; requires plenty of light lower stems will rot; will readily produce offshoots if allowed to bend across top of water; great background plant
Myriophyllum matogrossense 'Green'
-Does extremely well in most water conditions; brilliant green foliage and medium-height growth makes it a great mid- to background plant; needs plenty of light
Myriophyllum tuberculatum 'Red'
-Sparse foliage and somewhat slow growth in hard water, but has a nice brown-red coloration; I wish it would grow faster and thicker; does better in softer water
Nesaea sp 'Red'
-I cannot grow this plant under any conditions; would like to talk to someone who has
Nuphar japonicum v formosa
-Slow growing lily that turns into a monster given time; it does very well in hard water and has brilliant orange-gold leaves; does not put up floating leaves readily like the Nymphera genus; highly recommended if you have a big tank and don't mind the plants below it getting shaded
-Will grow anywhere; typical banana plant
-Does very well in hard water; in my 50% carbonate-based substrate it takes on a richer, darker green coloration than it does in my softer water, Flourite-based substrate grow-out tank; beware, Africans seem to like nibbling on the new growth so they need to be fed well to be kept away from it
Pogostemon (Eusteralis) stellata 'Broad-leaf'
-Grows amazingly well in ARLC tanks; will lose lower leaves without sufficient light; does not seem to mind hard water at all; brilliant color as it approaches the surface
Pogostemon (Eusteralis) stellata 'Narrow-leaf'
-Grows well in ARLC conditions, sometimes; I still haven't figured this one out; requires as much light as you can give it; tends to stunt for no good reason, even when it appears to be in perfect health; still working on this one
-I've tried several mystery Polygonum species and they've all done quite well in my hard water, although the species is not one of my favorites - sort of boring in my opinion
-Very interesting plant that does well in hard water; nice bronze-green leaf coloration with quick, vibrant growth; tricky to use in an aquascape because of its unique growth habits, but I'm working on it
-Very similar to E. tenellus bet smaller and with a reddish tinge to the new growth; growth is fairly slow compared to E. tenellus and it requires good light and CO2
-Does quite well in my ARLC conditions; runners do not seem to spread as rapidly as they do in softer water and leaves tend to die a bit sooner but overall still healthy
Rotala macrandra 'Red'
-Slow to establish from emersed growth specimens with about a 50% mortality rate; survivors tend to do fairly well although leaves are not as lush and growth seems a bit stunted compared to soft water-grown specimens; once acclimated it does fairly well
Rotala macrandra 'Variegated'
-Almost identical to R. macrandra 'Red'; beautiful pink leaf coloration with faint white venation
Rotala rotundifolia 'Colorata'
-Grows very well in hard water but tends to be sort of 'tangly'; I wish it would grow straighter because the leaf coloration is truly amazing, ranging from greent to yellow, orange, pink, red and every shade in between; still working on this one
Rotala rotundifolia 'Green'
-Extremely vibrant growth with amazing coloration on the growth tips as they approach the light; this is one of my favorite plants because it is so amenable to trimming and sculpting and has a very regular growth habit
-Very fragile in hard water; does not seem to like it at all; not recommended
-Grows like wild but leaves tend to wither and die quite quickly; sort of messy; not one of my favorites
-Like S. subulata on steroids and growth hormones; I really like the leaf shape of this plant; grows well, even in medium light
-Lasts no longer than 24 hours when placed into my tank; I've never found a plant that my Africans enjoy eating more than Vallisneria; not recommended, buy your mileage may vary
Monoselenium tenerum (Pellia)
-Grows well; left alone by fish
-Grows very well; left alone by fish unless it attracts hair algae, in which case they will dig in it
Riccia species 'Dwarf'
-Grows in low tufts; tended to attract hair algae, and thus mbuna
-None of them will grow in my tank because my Africans take perverse pleasure in shredding them and scattering them to the four winds
-Grew poorly and slowly attracted the dreaded black marl from the hard waterPlease wait while the page is being loaded. If this message is shown forever, the page did not load. So try again...
That's an impressive list, Travis ;)... Thanks for posting it, very helpful!
Great list Travis! Thanks for sharing your experiences. :)
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