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Someone selling cichlids told me to put a piece of coral in the water to harden the water?
My water hardness was measured at petsmart to be 150 (ppm I assume) but some people measure in DHK (which I converted somewhere on the internet to be 8.4) There was another hardness measurement called GPG?

Also, I see alot of different info out there on what size tank to keep cichlids in. I have a 35 gallon tank. I was told two things. One fish per gallon of water, and One fish per inch of tank.

Do cichlids generally get along with eachother, or do I need to be careful which kinds I put together? Anything else you can tell a newcomer? I'm going to be reading more on the forums.
 

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i agree that your dkh could be higher. However, consistency is more important than hitting an 8.5 ph or a 12 dkh. Yes a coral will raise your dkh and your ph consequently. Raising the ph will allow the fish to be a bit happier, ,healthier, and breed easier. If you chose to raise your dkh then I would use coral, texas holey rock (limestone), or argonite as opposed to powdered additives like "ph up" and "ph down"since the corals and such will be consistant. There are other equally effective products as limestone and such. I prefer the holey rock since it buffers and provides the fish with much needed hiding spots. Which leads to one of your other questions.
Cichlids have a variety of aggressive tendencies. Africans tend to be real territorial and South American or Central American can be equally territorial but over a larger variety of volumes of water. For instance a convict can take over 30 gallons as where a Red Zebra (african) can take 55 gallons or 1 gallon depending on the tank mates. That is not say that you can keep a red zebra in a one gallon tank, but given the environment a red zebra can be happy owning a 1 gallon section of the tank.

With Africans you are sure to have territory disputes, but they can go into a 35 gallon tank. They key to reducing the mortality rate is to over stock the tank and over filter it. The way to stock a tank can be different for everyone. A red zebra is typically a pretty dominant and aggressive fish, but sometimes they're not. So, I'll discuss the typical natures. Auratus and Demasoni are examples of african mbunas from lake malawi with higher aggressive natures. Yellow labs and socolofi are less aggressive. The idea behind overstocking is that aggression gets spread out as opposed to focused on one victim. So, these 4 can be kept together as long as the tank is slightly over stocked, and there are lots of hiding spots for them to call home (hence the holey rock). Another tip is keep a good female to male male ratio. Since males are more aggressive, you want 3 or 4 females to every male. Now demasoni, if kept in a species tank (just demasoni), need real high numbers to spread the agression. They really don't like other fish that look like them.

Tropheus (not mbunas) are similar to demasoni in aggression, but vary slightly with different breeds.

Peacocks and most haps, well, you wouldn't put them in a 35 gallon tank. They need a 90+ gallons in my opinion.

Smaller Lake Tanganyika fish... I'm not sure on. Large ones like Frontosa or Giberosa (I can't belive they changed those to giberosa), definitely not.

Lake Victorian cichlids would do alright. They aren't nearly as aggressive. Actually, if I were stocking a 35 for cichlids, I would probably do the Victorians. Absolutely beautiful fish that can be extremely affordable if you know the right people. Which I do. Atleast I know people who bred these in the last year or so. :) I'd be willing to contact them if you're interested.

As far as CA and SA, well you have a variety of temperments there too. You get a lot like convicts, just a little more or less tempermental. For these, around breeding time you will definitley end up with some dead fish.

Then you have relatively peaceful cichlids like angels or some of the dwarf species. Apistos are great little fish. I know a guy that breeds triple red apistogramma cactuoides and ships them.

Now, you also must know that CA and SA have lower suggested ph/dkh levels associated with them.

Definitely don't try to get an oscar, pacu, or arowana into the tank though.
My suggestion is to look around, find a fish that you like, and do some research or ask about it here. I did what I could to answer your questions, there are just way too many different fish with slightly different tendencies to list.

Oh yeah and the 1 inch per gallon rule. It's just a guide. It's a decent guide, however there are lots of exceptions. Just an example of why, some fish like to hang in the middle of the water column, some that like the top, and some that like the bottom.
 

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First you should tell us what cichlid are you talking about because thousands of cichlids need thousands of different water conditions...
 
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