So my husband and I didn't really MEAN to get interested in Livebearers. It was sort of an accident. We keep African Cichlids (A 90 Gallon Mbuna tank and a 75 Gallon Lake Tanganyika tank). We got three mollies from a "Used Fish" tank at our LFS with the intention of keeping them in our hospital tank to keep it cycled. Then we kind of fell in love with them. We had a fungus of some kind break out in our tank, and though we managed to medicate it rather quickly, we lost the two females. We have one male remaining.
Currently he is in a ten gallon tank, but when they were ill I started doing some more research. I purchased a 20g tank, and I would like to move him into the larger tank and get him some lady friends.
I have a number of questions related to this pursuit:
1) I was told at the LFS that Mollies can be kept in the same water chemistry as my Lake Tang tank, and will even prefer it to the usual freshwater conditions. That's why I used them in a hospital tank, so I could keep the chemistry the same. As such, he's currently living in 8.2 pH and high hardness water, no salt. Of course, we all know that LFS are not always the best source of information. Is this true? Will he be happy at that pH and high hardness, or should I instead add salt and go for more like 7.5 for pH?
2) If I do go brackish instead of high pH, high hardness, can I safely keep a small filter cycled on the 20g for my hospital tank and use it for either my Africans or my Mollies or will moving the filter back and forth between brackish and high pH/high hardness damage the beneficial bacteria?
3) How many females can I keep with Mr. Molly? He is (I think) a black sailfin Molly. I understand from my research that they get bigger than shortfin Mollies.
4) What sort of clean-up crew can I keep? Are there catfish that can live happily with Mollies in a 20g and won't munch on all the fry? Or can I do a bristlenose pleco?
5) Do Mollies like rockwork? Lots of plants? What plants work best?
6) In Cichlids, there's a lot of concern about hybridization between different, closely related species. Is this similar in Mollies? Or can you keep different varieties/colors together and let them breed without compromising genetic integrity/desirability in the hobby?
7) Is there anyone in the Portland, OR area that is a reputable Molly breeder? I'd like a bigger variety to choose from them the LFS I go to seems to offer. I read elsewhere that there's a members only section that is a trading post, so that may answer this question for me. I've already submitted my dues, just waiting for my account to be properly activated.
I'm so excited. I LOVE setting up new tanks! Thanks in advance for any help you guys can offer.