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Aggression During Spawning


New Member
jowens writes
RE:- During spawning, do your Apistos become especially aggressive towards fish they'd ordinarily ignore?

Although Apistogramma species are typically not particularly aggressive, they can be little terrors during spawning. :twisted: I have had to remove other fish from the tank so many times after a pair of well-behaved apisto started to breed. This Dr. Jeckle/Mr. Hyde transformation can start well before laying eggs takes place.
Usually tetra don't rank high on an apistos concern list and even after spawning they are only a minor distraction. But I had a pair of nijsenni once that didn't seem to bother with them at all; they just beat-up on each other. After spawning, however, the male actually hunted the poor little neon tetras down and killed them. It took him a while too, because they were so much faster than him. I didn't want to disturb the tank by fishing them out, because it was when I had just started and though I was pretty lucky to get a spawn from these cool fish. He kept chasing them into corners and blocking their exit. When they would try to get away he would either nip or ram them until they couldn't get away anymore.
Let me say that this is very unusual and I have never had that happen since, but it was a good lesson to me to keep an eye on the tank-mates of breeding Apistogramma. Nijsenni are particularly aggressive for apistos and this one individual was ruthless. So there are some species that are more aggressive than others in the genus, but the key is the individual fish that you have - I think! Neil


New Member
5 Year Member
What do you do?

Great post, thanks Neil!

Here's a quick follow-up: Clearly, the most thorough way to deal with an aggressive spawning pair of Apistos is to remove them from the tank (or remove their tankmates). But does removing just the fry to a growout tank - while leaving the parents in the original community tank - accomplish the same thing? In other words, will Apistos quickly mellow out once their babies aren't around for them to protect?

With a limited number of breeding, growout, and hospital tanks to move fish around in, sometimes it might be easier to provide the fry (or the fry and just the mother) a new place to live rather then the entire family!


New Member
Yet more good questions.
I usually breed apistos in tanks by themselves, so I can easily remove whoever I want. Sometimes I remove only the female. In many cases I think that the male is the better parent. He seems to be less likely to loose his mind and eat the free-swimming babies than the female, who quite often wants to spawn again in a couple of weeks and considers them intruders. But it does depend on the species and the individual.
The other benefit to having a apisto only breeding tank is that you can remove both parents into a community tank or something to condition them to spawn again and transform their tank into a grow-out tank for awhile. This is nice sometimes because the fry are small enough that they are tough to round-up.
If you start adding tap water to your tank when you do water changes (after a couple of weeks of the fry free-swimming) then you might decrease the chance of the pair spawning again soon and give the babies time to get to a good size. I have kept the fry in with the parents until they are 1/2 inch. They are then easy to fish out and can go with other fish easier. But usually they need seperate quarters for awhile at least.
There is never quite enough room to do things perfectly, because if you have a tank ready for grow-out, before you are ready to put fry in there, then you could easily want to try to set-up another pair that you have been wanting to work with, because the tank is free :roll: . At least, that is the way I am. Neil