Selecting the right gravel is surprisingly important. Rift lake cichlids dig, so the gravel cannot be sharp or they will injure themselves. This also precludes installing an undergravel filter because they will dig down to the filter and reduce its efficiency (though as we will see, the number of rocks and caves in the tank makes undergravel filtration impossible).

Since the waters of Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganika are relatively brackish, using a gravel such as dolomite, aragonite or crushed coral eliminates the need to add buffers to increase the water hardness. I recommend crushed coral or aragonite as a substrate, although any of the gravels specifically designed for rift lake cichlids are also a good choice.

If you want a more colorful gravel, mix colorful stones into the gravel. Avoid metalic objects such as coins.

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Last modified at Sunday, April 19, 2015