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Agassizii trio aggression - should I reduce to a pair?

otoflow

New Member
Messages
15
About 1.5 weeks ago, I bought a trio of apistogramma agassizii fire red (one male, 2 females). I had wanted a pair but the online store I got them from was only selling them in trios. When they arrived, one female was already slightly larger than the other. I have them in a pretty heavily planted 30 gallon tank with 5 corydoras, 4 otocinclus, and a few endlers.

The larger female and the male paired up quite quickly and actually laid eggs a few days ago (they ate them though, from what I can tell). However, the pair quickly began chasing and bullying the smaller female as soon as they paired up. Today I noticed she has become quite pale and I think she is very stressed. I contacted my local fish store and they'll buy her from me, but I'm very sad to lose her since she seemed to be the most curious and interactive of the trio.

Is there anything I can do to minimize aggression before re-homing the smaller female? I'm also wondering if I could give up the larger female instead and maybe have the male pair up with the smaller one. Any thoughts on what I can do here? I don't want to rescape my tank if possible because it's dirt capped with sand.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,118
Location
Germany
What is the footprint of the tank? (length x width)

A. agassizii don't form bonded pairs, so reducing the number CAN be a bad idea, as then aggression isn't spread. Usually the cycle goes: If a female is not ready to spawn the male will chase her from his territory. (In a fish tank this might end badly if it's too small or not well structured.) Once she has laid eggs the tables turn and the male gets it. Additional females will also be a target. So, removing the second female is best for her, but may put the one you're left with in the target position once she is out of the spawning mode.
Until you can remove the suppressed female you can offer her additional hiding spots by adding driftwood. Make sure the fish can't look under it, otherwise it's not working as a barrier and sight block.

The Corydoras I would rehome as well. In a tank of less than 120cm length they are a nuisance and a stress factor people tend to underestimate.

I don't want to rescape my tank if possible because it's dirt capped with sand.
No offence, classic mistake. Just sand does it.
 

Mike Wise

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Staff member
5 Year Member
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Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
Everyone who has been here for any length of time knows my mantra: a community tank is not a breeding tank. Your mistake is combining the two. You need to decide which of these that you want. If you want a community tank then remove 2 of the cichlids; if you want a breeding tank provide the best laid out tank for the purpose possible. Based on the behavior of your fish it needs revamping in this regard.
 

otoflow

New Member
Messages
15
Everyone who has been here for any length of time knows my mantra: a community tank is not a breeding tank. Your mistake is combining the two. You need to decide which of these that you want. If you want a community tank then remove 2 of the cichlids; if you want a breeding tank provide the best laid out tank for the purpose possible. Based on the behavior of your fish it needs revamping in this regard.
This was good advice and I didn't take it until it was too late--I sold one of the females, and the other died shortly thereafter. Not sure why she died, she appeared to have swim bladder disease and was swimming upside down, then died a few hours after I moved her to a quarantine tank. The male seemed to be bothering her a lot so I wonder if that was too much stress for her.

After she died, my male has been hiding nonstop, in fact I've barely seen him whatsoever. Today I scoured the tank, poking behind plants, and was 100% sure he was dead and already eaten/disintegrated. I performed a big water change, and just now I saw him emerge briefly, before going back to wherever he is hiding. Is there anything I can do to make him more outgoing? I'm stumped. I hope he isn't sick with whatever killed the female.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,118
Location
Germany
After she died, my male has been hiding nonstop, in fact I've barely seen him whatsoever. Today I scoured the tank, poking behind plants, and was 100% sure he was dead and already eaten/disintegrated. I performed a big water change, and just now I saw him emerge briefly, before going back to wherever he is hiding. Is there anything I can do to make him more outgoing? I'm stumped. I hope he isn't sick with whatever killed the female.
I don't know your tank, so it might be just too little cover and too bright so the fish is in hiding, it might be your way of doing maintenance is too hands on, and of course it might be the fish is indeed sick.

Some pictures of your tank and a description of a typical waterchange might shed light on this.
 

otoflow

New Member
Messages
15
I don't know your tank, so it might be just too little cover and too bright so the fish is in hiding, it might be your way of doing maintenance is too hands on, and of course it might be the fish is indeed sick.

Some pictures of your tank and a description of a typical waterchange might shed light on this.
Sure thing--here's a pic of my tank. Since the pic was taken the frogbit has kind of overgrown. There are a lot of plants in the back, but I have this open area in the front because I thought the corydoras would like to sift through the sand there and wouldn't be as shy as they are. However, the corys and otos spend all their time in the back amongst the plants, so I think I probably need to have more plant cover in the front to see any of my fish more.

Regarding a water change, I have a knock-off python type of thing so I just empty the tank with that and fill it back up again. I did a 50% water change yesterday because I was worried about an ammonia spike from a dead fish, and threw in a half dose of ammo lock just in case. I usually put the water conditioner in right before I start filling the tank up (I don't have a place where I can mix the water conditioner and water beforehand). I used API Seachem prime yesterday.
 

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otoflow

New Member
Messages
15
Sure thing--here's a pic of my tank. Since the pic was taken the frogbit has kind of overgrown. There are a lot of plants in the back, but I have this open area in the front because I thought the corydoras would like to sift through the sand there and wouldn't be as shy as they are. However, the corys and otos spend all their time in the back amongst the plants, so I think I probably need to have more plant cover in the front to see any of my fish more.

Regarding a water change, I have a knock-off python type of thing so I just empty the tank with that and fill it back up again. I did a 50% water change yesterday because I was worried about an ammonia spike from a dead fish, and threw in a half dose of ammo lock just in case. I usually put the water conditioner in right before I start filling the tank up (I don't have a place where I can mix the water conditioner and water beforehand). I used API Seachem prime yesterday.
Oh and also, I forgot to say this but I took the cave on the left out. This pic was taken like a week ago.
 

dw1305

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Messages
2,782
Location
Wiltshire UK
Hi all,
Since the pic was taken the frogbit has kind of overgrown.
You can never have too much Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum).

I'm not an <"entirely unbiased commentator"> on it, but have a look at the <"Duckweed Index">, it is a simple technique for maintaining water quality.
here are a lot of plants in the back, ...........
That is it, more of everything. I have very heavily planted tanks (below), but you can use structural leaf litter etc.
dicrossus_clup1_resize-1-jpg.43731

but I have this open area in the front because I thought the corydoras would like to sift through the sand there and wouldn't be as shy as they are. However, the corys and otos spend all their time in the back amongst the plants, so I think I probably need to have more plant cover in the front to see any of my fish more.
You would never know it from what your read on forums etc., but a lot of Corydoras breeders keep their fish in heavily planted tanks.

These are Mark Allison's <"https://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/corydoras-breeder-with-planted-tanks.59723/#post-585522">.

mark-allison-tank1-jpg.147080


cheers Darrel
 
Last edited:

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
Messages
11,256
Location
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
Otoflow, you have an excellent tank for a tetra/cory community, but rather poor for apistos. It is too bright and too open for most apistos, so they will tend to hide. In the wild there is always some place to hide within a couple of inches/cm from where they are (usually a layer of leaf litter). They know it and feel more secure exposing themselves.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,118
Location
Germany
Otoflow, you have an excellent tank for a tetra/cory community, but rather poor for apistos. It is too bright and too open for most apistos, so they will tend to hide. In the wild there is always some place to hide within a couple of inches/cm from where they are (usually a layer of leaf litter). They know it and feel more secure exposing themselves.
Have to fully agree with Mike. The tank is indeed not suitable for dwarf cichlids. And that is a very common occurance here on the forum.
People come here asking "Why are my Apistos/Rams/Checkerboards hiding?" and when you ask for a picture you get to see a tank like your's. Not like it's your fault, store clerks usually know nothing about how to keep these fish properly and the online aquarium community is focused on scaping and many scping styles, while nice to look at, are the living hell for many species of fish and almost nobody talks about that issue.

I did a 50% water change yesterday because I was worried about an ammonia spike from a dead fish, and threw in a half dose of ammo lock just in case. I usually put the water conditioner in right before I start filling the tank up (I don't have a place where I can mix the water conditioner and water beforehand). I used API Seachem prime yesterday.
First of all, 1 dead fish will not cause an ammonia spike unless your tank is only set up for a few weeks.
Secondly, unless your pH is significantly above 7 Ammonia (NH3) is present as mostly harmless Ammonium (NH4). Ammo-Lock will prevent microorganisms from metabolizing ammonia and ammonium. So it won't go away, it is just locked from being (possibly) harmful.
Thirdly, if your water comes out of the tap chlorinated a simple dechlorinator containing Sodiumthiosulfate is all you need. Seachem Prime (which has nothing to do with API) is one of those. I luckily live in a country where we don't need dechlorinators.
 

otoflow

New Member
Messages
15
Thanks for all the input! So, my options are:
1. Plant heavily in the foreground and hope he comes out more
2. Re-home him

Also sorry, misspoke - I meant API stress coat! My pH is 7.4-7.8 and water is very hard out of the tap, unfortunatelt. I know it’s not ideal.

I just hope he isn’t bored without a female there and that’s what’s contributing to him hiding. He came out a lot when the female was around to display for her. Is it kind of inhumane to keep an apisto alone without any others of its kind?
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,118
Location
Germany
Also sorry, misspoke - I meant API stress coat!
Useless snakeoil. When it comes to additives, best to stick to the bare necessities.
My pH is 7.4-7.8 and water is very hard out of the tap, unfortunatelt. I know it’s not ideal.
Ouh, that can indeed be problematic in terms of ammonia.
1. Plant heavily in the foreground and hope he comes out more
I'd rather put in several bigger pieces of wood and some twigs as well as a handful of leaves. Catappa or oak.
And add more floating plants.
I just hope he isn’t bored without a female there and that’s what’s contributing to him hiding.
No, the drive to procreate will likely have made him ignore the lack of cover. Now that that stimulus is gone it won't pull him out.
Is it kind of inhumane to keep an apisto alone without any others of its kind?
No. Apistogramma are territorial for the most part and neither schooling nor gregarious all year. Some will gather in larger numbers in certain seasons, but most are rather solitary, interacting with conspecifics mostly for breeding or when competing for territory, food or potential partners. For a display tank most here would recomment only stocking males. Depending on the tank size between one and five. I think your tank is best served with one single one.
 

otoflow

New Member
Messages
15
Useless snakeoil. When it comes to additives, best to stick to the bare necessities.

Ouh, that can indeed be problematic in terms of ammonia.

I'd rather put in several bigger pieces of wood and some twigs as well as a handful of leaves. Catappa or oak.
And add more floating plants.

No, the drive to procreate will likely have made him ignore the lack of cover. Now that that stimulus is gone it won't pull him out.

No. Apistogramma are territorial for the most part and neither schooling nor gregarious all year. Some will gather in larger numbers in certain seasons, but most are rather solitary, interacting with conspecifics mostly for breeding or when competing for territory, food or potential partners. For a display tank most here would recomment only stocking males. Depending on the tank size between one and five. I think your tank is best served with one single one.
Okay, sounds good. I actually just bought a bag of catappa leaves the other day, I’ll throw more in. My frogbit has grown to nearly fully cover the water surface, I’ll let it keep growing. And I will look into finding some more wood pieces for the front. Do you think having 9 corys in there is stressing him out, given that he’s a bottom-dweller too? He used to chase them off when the female was there, but now he only seems annoyed when they brush against him.
 

dw1305

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Messages
2,782
Location
Wiltshire UK
Hi all,
My pH is 7.4-7.8 and water is very hard out of the tap, unfortunatelt. I know it’s not ideal.
That is a real issue.

I have hard tap water (about 17 dGH, 17 dKH), but I use rainwater in the tanks. Do you have another source of softer water?
My frogbit has grown to nearly fully cover the water surface, I’ll let it keep growing.
The fact it has grown so well, suggests that you have a lot of plant nutrients in the tank water. Have a look at <"https://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/the-scientific-background-to-the-leaf-colour-chart.62129/">

cheers Darrel
 

otoflow

New Member
Messages
15
Well, unfortunately my apisto died last night. Yesterday I noticed him flopping around and unable to maintain his buoyancy, so I tried to catch him and quarantine him but he hid well. Last night I finally managed to catch him and gave him an epsom salt bath for 20 min because I had previously read this was helpful for swim bladder issues (a very last ditch effort) and put him in my smaller quarantine tank, but this morning he was dead.

He had zero physical abnormalities, no lesions or redness, he was not bloated and he had no pineconing. Looked completely normal. The exact same thing happened to my female apisto 1 week ago. They both just started hiding more, lost their ability to maintain buoyancy and swim straight, then died about a day later. In both cases, water quality wasn't terrible (0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 10ish ppm nitrates or so). I'm really concerned this is some sort of pathogen that the rest of my fish could catch. My cories and otos appear completely normal though (for now...), so it seems unwise to prophylactically dose my tank with antibiotics or antiparasitics. I'm really nervous they will get sick too.

I feel terrible... Was it just that my water was too hard and alkaline for apistos? Or were they just from weak breeding stock, given that they were fire red and bred specifically for color? I would love to get another dwarf cichlid someday, but that might be impossible while I live in a place with such hard water and with my current tank setup. This thread has been super helpful so far--I would love any and all insight into what went wrong.
 

otoflow

New Member
Messages
15
Also, forgot to mention this--I had been feeding a bit of freeze-dried bloodworms every now and then. I've read a couple posts on forums about how this might be bad for apistogramma, so not sure if that contributed.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,118
Location
Germany
Shame. :( May he rest peacefully.
Once the critical state is reached (loss of buoyancy etc.), your only option is euthanizing the fish.
And yes the bloodworms might have contributed, I'm at the point to say better save than sorry and not to feed them to any cichlids.
Otherwise it is almost impossible to find the precise cause of death in hindsight. Often it's multicausal.

If you want to re-try your luck with Apistogramma we surely can guide you through some measures and help picking good fish but I can tell you in advance that it might be connected to at least some investments like - maybe - an RO unit. Luckily they are not that costly. But those are details, first of all you will have to decide if you want these fish in an appropriate tank and determine what it's worth to you. It's a commitment after all. But that's your decision to make. I'm not going to try to talk you into or out of something.
 

otoflow

New Member
Messages
15
Shame. :( May he rest peacefully.
Once the critical state is reached (loss of buoyancy etc.), your only option is euthanizing the fish.
And yes the bloodworms might have contributed, I'm at the point to say better save than sorry and not to feed them to any cichlids.
Otherwise it is almost impossible to find the precise cause of death in hindsight. Often it's multicausal.

If you want to re-try your luck with Apistogramma we surely can guide you through some measures and help picking good fish but I can tell you in advance that it might be connected to at least some investments like - maybe - an RO unit. Luckily they are not that costly. But those are details, first of all you will have to decide if you want these fish in an appropriate tank and determine what it's worth to you. It's a commitment after all. But that's your decision to make. I'm not going to try to talk you into or out of something.
Thanks for the support. I might try another apistogramma or other dwarf cichlid in a few years, but right now I should probably stick to more beginner-friendly species. I probably won't add any fish to my tank for a few months to make sure there's no pathogen spreading around! I might go with a honey gourami in a few months if all the other fish still look healthy. If I do get another apistogramma in a few years, I'll definitely look into an RO system!
 

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
573
Location
San Francisco
Thanks for the support. I might try another apistogramma or other dwarf cichlid in a few years, but right now I should probably stick to more beginner-friendly species. I probably won't add any fish to my tank for a few months to make sure there's no pathogen spreading around! I might go with a honey gourami in a few months if all the other fish still look healthy. If I do get another apistogramma in a few years, I'll definitely look into an RO system!
Honey gourami are also soft water fish.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,118
Location
Germany
I probably won't add any fish to my tank for a few months to make sure there's no pathogen spreading around!
If it was a parasite the only ways of getting rid of that is running the tank without fish for a while (2-4 weeks without a host and most parasites are done for) or medicating the fish still present.

Honey gourami are also soft water fish.
Indeed they are.
For hard water the best choices are fish from Central America, East Africa, Myanmar/northern Thailand, the Middle East and Europe.
 

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