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Apisto Bitaeniata Tefe Advice Pls

Discussion in 'Beginners Corner' started by TankWatcher, Jul 2, 2006.

  1. TankWatcher

    TankWatcher New Member 5 Year Member

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    Hello, I hope someone can help with advice.

    I have a juvi pair of Apisto Bitaeniata Tefe in a 90L tank, with the only other residents being 2 otos. The female is not at all tolerant of the male. She must have let him close on at least one occasion, as within a couple of days in my tank there were eggs, but she has eaten them now.

    But whenever she sees the male, she goes after him. He doesn't need to be anywhere near her, but if she spots him on the other side of the tank she charges, tries to nip his retreating tail & chases him away. He is bigger than her, but seems a wimp & just runs away. Sometimes, she just goes looking for him to make sure he knows he cannot come out of his hiding spot.

    To try & help, the tank is heavily planted, with lots of hiding spots & visual barriers.

    I don't have a spare empty tank, but thought perhaps I should move her into my community tank for a couple of months (provided she behaves in there). Then after the male has had a couple of months alone to establish his territory & maybe even mature a bit, I could move her back in & watch what happens.

    Feeding these fish is also a problem. The don't seem to recognise pellets as food. I drop it, so that it will float down right in front of their face, but whether by accident or choice, they always turn away. After 5 days of not eating, I gave in & bought some brine shrimp & they have eaten that, but I don't think it's good for that to be their only food. How can I get them to eat the pellets?

    Any help or advice would be gratefully appreciated. thank you.
  2. Mike Wise

    Mike Wise Moderator Staff Member 5 Year Member

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    Is there any chance that the eggs were not eaten, but hatched. Her behavior is similar to that of a female with larvae or fry.

    Pellets are rarely eaten by wild-caught apistos - particularly the more slender forms, which seem to favor small planktonic foods instead of large particles. I suggest that you use various frozen and live foods.
  3. TankWatcher

    TankWatcher New Member 5 Year Member

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    Thanks for your response, Mike. Yes I saw her eating them, one by one. In a short space of time she would eat one or two, swim away, swim back & eat some more, so they are definitely gone. There are no wrigglers or fry in the tank.

    LFS said these fish were tank raised, not wild caught. Funnily enough, I have a supposedly wild caught pair of cockatoo apistos in another tank and they took to pellets straight away - no agression there either.:confused:

    Maybe I should also post this question in the south american forum.

    Thanks Robyn
  4. Mike Wise

    Mike Wise Moderator Staff Member 5 Year Member

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    Well, Robyn, every fish is an individual. Some are just more aggressive than others. My experience with A. bitaeniata has always been that males are the more aggressive fish. An option would be to remove the female for a week or 2, move the decorations around some, and let the male have the tank to himself (other species will be OK). Once he knows the tank (and claims it for his own), he will most likely be the dominant fish even after the female is put back in.

    A. bitaeniata is a blackwater fish that needs soft & acid water for successful breeding. If you water isn't suitable, your female might be eating eggs that don't develop. I've always found A. bitaeniata a bit 'skittish' & often eat their eggs and larvae when startled - like when the lights turn on suddenly.

    As for food, I've never had A. bitaeniata eat pellets (other than finely crushed frog brittle). In the wild they seem to prefer fine foods taken off of the surface of leaf litter. They especially like small invertebrates (aquatic mites & insect larvae). In the aquarium the prefer similar foods like baby and adult brine shrimp, insect larvae like bloodworms & glassworms. A. cacatuoides comes from a different biotope where it eats a wider variety of foods that are found in whitewater biotopes. Wild A. steindachneri, which have adapted to many different biotopes, eats almost anything - even algae.
  5. kingborris

    kingborris New Member 5 Year Member

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    My wild caught bita's (orange fin) readily eat Tetra prima as well as frozen foods (mosquito larvea, brine shrimp, mysis) and chopped mussels / cockles and even the occasional bit of beef heart.
  6. Mike Wise

    Mike Wise Moderator Staff Member 5 Year Member

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    Are these the same as Tetra Bits sold in North America?
  7. TankWatcher

    TankWatcher New Member 5 Year Member

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    Thanks Mike & kingborris

    My temp is 27degrees Celsius & I'm using ADA Amazonia aquasoil substrate. My pH is 6.3 and my KH doesn't register. (It's a test kit that you count the drops that it takes to change the water form blue to yellow - the first drop makes it yellow). Are these parameters ok for this fish?

    Because I am fairly worried about these fish, I also received advice from another forum, and one suggestion was to place the male in a net breeder, to give him a break from the female. I ended up doing this, for 2 reasons. 1. so that I can see him & watch if he eats. 2. I had ready access to him if I need to start treating him with meds. Which brings me to the 2nd suggestion, that possibly his non eating is a wasting disease that needs treatment with flagyl (or Octazin, which contains flagyl). I should be able to start treatment, if necessary, tomorrow afternoon after work. But I wonder if that is necessary now, after having read your post, which suggests that feeding with pellets is unlikely (although kingborris has bitas that do). I bought frozen cichlid dinner & they wouldn't touch it either. Tonight he wouldn't eat the brine shrimp, but that might be because he wasn't happy to be in the net. He wouldn't eat brine shrimp today, but that might be related to being unhappy in the net breeder??

    Is it ok to feed exclusively on brine shrimp & black worms? I had thought that wasn't too healthy a diet for fish - but is it ok in this case?

    I don't have an empty tank to move the female to, other than my community tank. It contains plates, harlequin rasboras, 1 male & 1 female guppy, 2 b.rainbows & 4 sterbai corries. This tank is around 7pH with KH of 5. Would she be ok in this set up for a couple of weeks. What is the maximum time I should separate them for & how much do I have to change the set up. It is more or less how I'd like it to be, with the tank divided in 2 by a driftwood fence & lots of plants. Would it be enough simply to move around the terracotta pots I have hidden in & around the jungle growth in the rear of the tank - or would I have to do a total rearrange?

    Any comments in regards to my water parameters, of female would be ok temporarily in the community tank, how much to change the bita tank & if I should start treatment.

    Thanks for advice so far and thank you for any future advice.

    Robyn
  8. Mike Wise

    Mike Wise Moderator Staff Member 5 Year Member

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    Your aquarium's water parameters are close to those found in the wild for A. bitaeniata, except the pH there is a bit lower (~pH 5.5). Still, your water is quite acceptable. Even your community tank's water is good enough for long term maintenance (but not breeding). I would move the female to the community tank until the male is comfortable & eating well. She shouldn't bother the community tank fish. As for the male, put him in the tank. The net is not making him happy and he will not eat in it. If you can, buy some live brine shrimp or hatch some baby brine shrimp and see if he eats it. You might try black worms - if they are well cleaned - but not more than a day or 2 per week. Once he starts eating it, then switch to frozen foods. If he does not eat after this, let us know.
  9. TankWatcher

    TankWatcher New Member 5 Year Member

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    Thanks Mike

    I didn't read your post until at work, so I will put that plan into action when I get home tonight. Fingers crossed he eats when returned to the tank.

    Is there a maximum amount of time for them to be separated. I mean, if she is gone for too long, could the tables turn & he, being bigger harm her. So, should I stick to two weeks, or give him a little longer alone to mature.

    How much do I need to rearrange the tank. Is just moving around the hidden pots enough, or do I have to do a total rescape.

    Would dither fish help? I had none purposely, so that there was no competition at feeding times (have to say I'll worry about the female not getting her share of food in the community tank - as the others are very fast to get to the food - just need to see me approach the tank & they're ready & waiting).

    Thanks again for advice. I don't want to lose this fish.
  10. TankWatcher

    TankWatcher New Member 5 Year Member

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    Some others have suggested the non feeding might be due to sickness & have recommended flagyl. I have the meds but don't know whether to treat. I see no funny poops or any other sign of sickness, other than a reluctance to eat most foods. The male is now free swimming in the tank.

    For the time being, I have the female in a breeding net, in case I need to treat the tank. I put some black worm in with her and she ate them all. So, because she ate & I see no white stringly poos, I guess this mean she is not sick & doesn't need the medication. :confused: :confused:

    The male in the tank eventually came across the worm cone. By the time he did, most of the worms had escaped into the tank & it's substrate. I can see my tank getting very infested. I only put a small amount of worms in the holder, but they make their way out very quickly - quicker than he even knew they were there, but fairly certain he ate 2. Any hints on these worms & worm cones appreciated.

    I've seen no funny poops from the fish & now that they ate these, does this mean they don't need the meds? Would it hurt them (or my otos) if I did a "just in case" treatment?

    Thanks, Robyn.
  11. Mike Wise

    Mike Wise Moderator Staff Member 5 Year Member

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    Robyn,

    I am not a fan of keeping fish in net/breeder for long periods of time. If you think you can easily catch her later, I would put her in the tank proper. Your male probably was only suffering from lack of suitable food, the stress of harassment, and being in a confined net/breeder, but keep an eye on him if he doesn't behave normally

    If the male starts behaving normally (swimming throughout the tank and looking for food in the substrate) then I would rearrange the aquarium so that there are many areas where the fish cannot see across its entire length. Break up the line-of-sight with plants, rocks, etc. Also add 4 - 6 caves spread around the aquarium. These can be pots, piles of rocks, holes in bog wood, etc. Top swimming dither fish wouldn't be a bad idea. They give the male something to do other than snooping around the female when she is brooding, and encourages the female to allow the male in the tank to protect the eggs/fry from potential predators. I prefer pencilfishes because the naturally live in the same biotopes, are not particularly predatory, and fast enough to avoid being damaged if attacked. They also are not naturally schooling fish, so 1 or 2 pencilfish do well by themselves.

    You might try keeping the blackworms from spreading by placing a small saucer in the tank and putting the blackworm on it. They will tend to stay on it longer than in a worm cone. You can always remove the saucer after feeding.
  12. TankWatcher

    TankWatcher New Member 5 Year Member

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    Thanks very much Mike.

    The male was only in the net breeder 24 hours. I'm not very good at catching fish. For me, it usually means pulling everything out of the tank - which I did the night I caught them. I've already tried my best to break this tank up visually & provide lots of hiding spaces. I have a skinny, but tallish piece of driftwood (max 4inches, min 3inch height) that curves & bends & I've put it in to make a dividing fence. This fences goes diagonally from the rear left corner, all the way to the front right corner. To make an escape route, I cut it in half, so the division of the tank is there, but a fish can make a quick getaway from front to back in an opening if the fence in the middle of the tank. Behind that fence I have loads of high plants & 3 little pots. In front of the fence are 2 more caves formed out of driftwood. Just a little in from each front corner of the tank, I have bunched a group of several java moss balls together (on very short strings, so they low sit low on the substrate & the fish hide either side & within these balls. Some others have suggested that I also put some floating pipes to provide top level hiding places - I'll look in a plumbing place for those.

    To catch these 2 fish the other night, I had to take all the plants & everything out - so it is a major task for me. To give you an idea of the amount of hiding places / plants I have in there - something will have to come out if I'm to put a saucer in there for the worms.

    Will the escaping worms live on & multiply in my tank?

    I don't like her in the net breeder either, but I wasn't sure what to do with her. I'd like to put her in the community tank (like your previous advice) but I'm really concerned the greedy feeders in there won't let her feed. I've tried before in there for slow feeders, to feed them in one corner & drop food for the slower fish in the other corner - but the fast eaters always spot it & get there first. I usually find fish that are slower to find the food, will also not compete for it & back off in the case of competition. But I will put her in there tonight & see how she goes. I hope the others let her eat. I like the idea of the male establishing his territory without her. He is so timid.

    It has taught me a lesson, I will always ask LFS from now on to show me the apisto feeding before a purchase. Live food is a 30 minute drive from my house

    I'll try to get 2 pencil fish as dithers on the weekend - I'm not sure if I've ever seen any.

    I appreciate you answering my annoying questions - I am really quite stressed with worry over the survival of these fish. Whether they breed or not is secondary, I just don't want them to be happy, get enought to eat & not die. My slowness to move the female out of the net breeder is out of concerned & confusion about what is best for her. Thanks again.
  13. Mike Wise

    Mike Wise Moderator Staff Member 5 Year Member

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    We all have to make due with what we have. If the female seems OK & is eating in the net breeder then leave her there. The worms will live in the gravel, but it is unlikely that they will reproduce much, if at all. Your apistos will search them out & eat them. These fish do not need live food. Frozen is quite acceptable to them. I don't know how expensive brine shrimp eggs are in Oz, but even large adult apistos enjoy live baby brine shrimp. Eggs are easy to hatch.
  14. TankWatcher

    TankWatcher New Member 5 Year Member

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    Thanks again, I'll have to see how things turn out. They have rejected everything but the live food, so that is the whole problem (as well as her aggression & his timidity). Frozen food was not touched & just served to pollute the tank. They have only eaten live brine shrimp & now last night the black worm.

    I'll just have to tough it out for a couple of weeks & see how they go. Thanks for help.
  15. kingborris

    kingborris New Member 5 Year Member

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    I think so. They are an orangy coloured granule about 1mm in diameter that slowly sinks. They are usually fed to fish like discus and angels, but all my fish love them (the bita's, my wild D. fillamentosus, corydoras, cardinals, discus). As said though, i feed them as part of a very mixed diet.

    the only fish that wont take them as yet are my newly aquired wild green discus, but i suspect they will with time.
  16. TankWatcher

    TankWatcher New Member 5 Year Member

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    I have those Tetra Bits too, but the bitas rejected this. My other fish like it though.

    I feel a bit more positive today about feeding them. Spoke to LFS who sold them to me. He said he only fed them frozen brine shrimp & blood worm and I had success today, with both male & female spotted eating the frozen blood worm. LFS said to get Hikari brand - he says they are enriched. Don't know if that's right, but will try to get some of those. He said they won't eat the dry processed food. I think he should have told me all of this when I bought them, but I know now & I feel happy that they are feeding.

    After they are used to feeding from me, I will try soaking some pellets in thawed blood worm & see if this appeals, but I am just happy I have found a solution to them only eating live food.

    Temporarily, I have the female separated from the male, so he can acclimatise in the tank on his own hopefully, when I rejoin them, he will feel like he is the king of the tank by that time. Will try to find pencil fish by that time too.

    Fingers crossed that all will be well. Thanks for your help.
  17. algaefarmer

    algaefarmer New Member 5 Year Member

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    try Grindal worms

    Grindals worms are an excellent live food and very easy to culture. Less mess and fuss than brine shrimp I think. With two boxes of worms going, you'll have enough food for several tanks. Plus, you can easily feed your pellet food to the worms and it'll end up in your Apistos. I personally feed my worms enriched baby oatmeal and crushed spirulina tablets a few hours before feeding them to my fish. Add some frozen brine shrimp on occasion and you have a nutritious menu that isn't terribly difficult to maintain.

    Starter cultures are available at many fish clubs. Ask around and you'll probably find someone who'll give you some. If you can find a local Killifish club, you're sure to find some Grindal worms there. I'd mail you some myself, but I live about as far away from Sydney as one can get.
  18. Mike Wise

    Mike Wise Moderator Staff Member 5 Year Member

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    Grindal worms are an excellent conditioning food, particularly for getting females to fill with eggs. I certainly cannot recommend them for a daily diet because their high fat content leads to fatty livers in the fish - and an early death.
  19. algaefarmer

    algaefarmer New Member 5 Year Member

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    Well I've fed them to my killies for years without a problem, but I'm not very experienced with apistos. Thanks for the warning.
  20. TankWatcher

    TankWatcher New Member 5 Year Member

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    Thanks for the additional advice Mike & algaefarmer. I think I have the food issue sorted out now. LFS who sold them to me has told me they only ate frozen hikari brine shrimp, daphnia & bloodworms when they were with him. Now it would have been really helpful if he'd told me that when I bought them - would have saved me 10 days of stressing over feeding them. I now have all 3 frozen varieties & can see that they immediately recognise this as food. They feed better on this than they did even on the live food. Is this an acceptable diet for them?

    I will try the pellets in another week or so. Will soak them in the defrosted bloodworms & see if they get interested. But if all fails & they only ever feed on these frozen foods, need I be worried? Supposedly these frozen foods have been enriched with vitamins.

    Female is still in the net (& feeding) and the male is swimming in the tank. I've noticed a change in him. He previously ignored the 3 otos in the tank with him, but now has taken to occasionally chasing them. If it gets too bad, I can move the otos to another tank. But this seems to point to him getting some of his confidence back, now that he is not being harassed himself. Female has been separated from him for less than a week, so it's probably too soon to re-join them, right:confused: I don't want to leave it too long, in case he gets too big for his boots & won't tolerate her in the tank - but again, don't want to put her back to soon. It is a stressful time for me & the fish whenever I have to catch them. I have so many plants & I always have to take EVERYTHING out of the tank before I can catch a fish. So, I'm not sure what to do. Original advice was to separate them for 2 weeks, so I guess I should stick to that, right:confused:

    Thanks for any additional advice, Robyn.