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A. Cacatuoides Begginer Questions

jkj39

New Member
Just tore down my 20 gallon tall tank since I feel like something new. I am considering Apistos and more specifically, cacatuoides since they tick all of my boxes and seem to be easy to breed. I’ve been keeping fish for a while now (about 5 years) but have never tried Apistos, and my only experience with any cichlids in the past was a German blue ram I had as a centrepiece fish.

I was wondering if it would be better to have a harem with one male and 2-3 females or just a pair in my 20 gallon tall. If I chose to go with Apistos the tank would be heavily planted with plenty of hiding spaces. I’ve heard cacatuoides are better in harems but I thought this would be the best place to make sure.

Another question I have is what is a good dither to have with A. Cacatuoides? I’ve heard hatchetfish are good because they stay at the top of the tank and rarely go after fry (which is most important to me) but I would prefer something more colourful if there is anything.

Jake
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
I personally prefer a harem situation with A. cacatuoides: 1 male 2 - 3 females. By writing "20 gallon tall tank", I hope you mean 20 High (24x12x16"). There is a 20 Show/Tall that has a surface footprint of a typical 10 gallon tank, but 2X as tall. Unfortunately a 20H tank is usually a bit small for even a trio of cacs unless the tank is so densely structured that one almost never sees the fish - of the fish each other. A pair will live and breed easily in a 20H. Just keep an eye out for aggression. It can appear quickly.

Yes, hatchetfish do make good dither fish. We often collected them together with apistos. Just remember to keep a VERY tight lid on the aquarium. These fish actually can fly. When collecting them with apistos many would fly out of our seines before we could pull them in! Most apistophiles recommend pencilfish (except N. anomala) as good dithers.
 

yukondog

Active Member
I tried MFF in a 20 tall and it did not work [heavily planted w/caves] out, the dominant female was going to kill the other on the first day, removed sub-dominant female and have had no problem.
 

jkj39

New Member
Thanks for the advice, I really appreciate it. The tank is a 20 high, and I think I’ll stick to a pair. Are pencilshish schooling fish? They are quite expensive so if I had to get a whole school of them they would probably be out of my price range. I was mainly looking at either the golden pencilfish or the coral red pencilfish.
 

Ben Rhau

Member
They do not school, but tend to work better in larger numbers. If you're prioritizing the pencilfish, you'd want 5 or more. If you're prioritizing breeding the cacs, it's fine to have just 2 or 3 pencilfish. Of the two species you mentioned, the beckfordi are generally cheaper than the mortenthaleri. N. marginatus, eques and unifasciatus are also good choices and not too expensive.
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
The Golden Pencilfish, N. beckfordi (= anomala), is reported to eat apisto fry. If you can, I would avoid them in a breeding tank.
 

Larry Rogers

Member
5 Year Member
I prefer to harem breed most apistos but a twenty, any twenty, is not bigg enough. A tank at least four feet long will service far better. Lately I have been moved toward four foot seventy gallon tanks and only filling them two thirds full. The shallower water helps prevent jumpers, helps regulate temperature, and keeps the surface humidity at a level closer to natural for the fish. It seems to keep my fish healthier so I am sticking with it for now.
 

Larry Rogers

Member
5 Year Member
For cleanup I would go with pygmy cories, for dithers I use clean feeder guppies. Guppies tend to feed inn the upper reaches so they don't upset the apistos. They are dirt cheap so if the apistos decide to take a few out you have not lost anything. And they are not aggressive enough to challenge apistos for their fry. In addition if they spawn ot supplements apisto diet. Pygmy cories are good cleamers and not aggressive enough to upset apistos. A four foot well planted tank with 25 pygmys, 10 feeder guppies, and a male cac with three females looks really sharp. I should add that not all apistos can be kept with cories, Golden Eyes will kill corys out of hand.
 

jkj39

New Member
I don't have enough room for a four foot, and since I'm on a limited budget I would prefer not to buy a tank and just use my old 20 high. Do N. Marginatus also eat fry like N. Beckfordi? The main thing I'm looking for is something that won't go after free swimming fry, I heard that dithers just help the Apistos feel safe and comfortable, if this isn't true then I might skip on dithers. Also is it safe to keep snails with Apistos?
 

Larry Rogers

Member
5 Year Member
I don't have enough room for a four foot, and since I'm on a limited budget I would prefer not to buy a tank and just use my old 20 high. Do N. Marginatus also eat fry like N. Beckfordi? The main thing I'm looking for is something that won't go after free swimming fry, I heard that dithers just help the Apistos feel safe and comfortable, if this isn't true then I might skip on dithers. Also is it safe to keep snails with Apistos?
All pencilfish are predators that primarily feed in the lower waters of the tank where your fry will be exposed. You will also find that all characins will take fry that are small enough for them to eat.
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
N. marginatus are excellent dither fish with apistos. They are not true schooling fish so 2 - 3 work fine as dithers. While all fish will eat another fish if it can catch it and fit it in its mouth, most pencilfish do not go out of their way to predate on fry. N. beckfordi is a bit of an exception.
 

Paul1006

New Member
Have you thought about a 20 long? It’s the same footprint as a 29 so that length gives you options for creating visual barriers between territories. For dithers Cardinals, Neons, Rummynose, Emperors. & Pencilfish have all worked in my tanks.
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
Cardinals, Neons, and Rummynose tetras are known apisto fry predators. If one doesn't care losing fry then all 3 are fine with apistos. I found my Rainbow Emperors (N. lacortei) too rowdy to be good dither fish in a breeding tank. In a community tank the OK but a bit 'pushy'.
 

Paul1006

New Member
Cardinals, Neons, and Rummynose tetras are known apisto fry predators. If one doesn't care losing fry then all 3 are fine with apistos. I found my Rainbow Emperors (N. lacortei) too rowdy to be good dither fish in a breeding tank. In a community tank the OK but a bit 'pushy'.
Like I said I haven’t had an issue with any of those fish as dithers. Not everyone has the same experiences.
 

Larry Rogers

Member
5 Year Member
Paul
Very few characters make good dither for apistogramma. They are in the same family as piranha which should say all that is needed. Most also hold in the bottom two thirds of the tank generating more exposure for apisto fry. I prefer to use topminnows and for the larger apistos Hatchets will sometimes work,but they are still characins. I also try to harem breed where possible and harem breeding makes dither less needed.
Larry
 

Paul1006

New Member
Like I said before experiences differ. I think it comes down to how good the parents are at protecting their fry and how well feed the tank mates are. Hungry fish will look to eat anything they can fit in their mouths. Correct me if I’m wrong but don’t Apistogramma and Tetras inhabit the same waters.
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
You are right. There is no one way to successfully breed apistos in the aquarium. What works for one does not for another. So many factors come into play: tank size, tank structure, population density, etc. Suggestions given here by experienced apitos breeders (and they are only suggestions) are based on years of experience using normal (whatever that is) breeding aquariums.

Yes, apistos and tetras inhabit the same waters, but in different micro habitats. Apistos tend to dart into leaf litter when danger to themselves or their fry appears. Most tetras tend to school in large numbers so the odds are that you won't be the unlucky one. Also the population density is much, much lower in the wild. One other thing, if only 2 or 3 fry survive to maturity from a spawn, this is a successful spawn in the wild.
 
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