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Apistogramma borellii pair locking lips

Greenfield

New Member
Hello all,

I have two very small Apistogramma borellii in a 36L tank. I've had them for about three weeks and have been keeping them in this tank until they're big enough to sex. Both have started to colour up really well and I'm almost certain they are one male and one female. (I was hoping for two females since I already have a fully grown male waiting for potential mates in a larger tank but that's a separate issue at present.)

Over the last couple of days I've seen quite a lot of what could be aggression – chasing each other, darting at one another as if to nip – but there has also been some tail-flapping and backing into each other, so it could have been courtship. But, today, the aggression seems to have increased and they've engaged in lip-locking, even while tolerating one another at close distance for periods of time.

So, my questions are:

1) Do experienced keepers agree with my sexing of these two? The female isn't terribly yellow as yet, but there's no hint of blue to her body at all and she has very pronounced black edges to her pelvic fins. The mail does not have these has a definite bluish-purple tint to his body, and increasingly flowing fins – these have become much larger over the last few days, with a shape very similar to those of my adult male.

2) If so, what's causing the lip-locking?

3) What's the recommended course of action here? Is this something they will resolve or should I consider moving the female to the tank with the adult male. She is presently around 25mm in length (and her juvenile male tankmate about the same); the adult male in my 90L tank is around 40mm. The larger tank is also much more heavily planted.

I have attached some pictures – as ever, apologies, they are poor quality as I'm not master of aquarium photography.

Any advice appreciated!

Greenfield
 

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Ambidextrous

New Member
The only help I can give you is with the lip locking. Usually this is the last stage of aggression when two fish are of equal size and strength. The winner will claim his territory and the loser will usually be unharmed. Unfortunately the victor can claim the whole of the tank as his own and the loser will be constantly bullied out. If this happens it usually ends in fatality so keep an eye out for the fish hiding at the higher tank levels or signs of him looking a bit beaten up.
In the wild the loser can get well away, in a tank he's stuck with the victor.
I hope this helps.
All the best.
 

Greenfield

New Member
Hi Ambidextrous,

Thanks for the reply.

I just wondered what to make of the lip-locking since they seem like fish of opposite sexes. I would have thought their territories could overlap, even if they hadn't paired as such. I wonder if that isn't the case?

Regards,

Greenfield
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
First, most apistos species, including A. borellii, do not form long-term breeding pairs. What you see probably is not aggression as much as testing suitability (strength) as a breeding partner. This is not unusual among cichlids, including apistos.
 

anewbie

Active Member
Not quite related but my female angel did this when i introduced a new male (her old partner). She locked lips with him for quite a long time and then decided he was not suitable and beat the crap out of him (I had removed him because she dumped him and tore him up). Anyway long story but the net result is it was a test of suitability.
 

Greenfield

New Member
Not quite related but my female angel did this when i introduced a new male (her old partner). She locked lips with him for quite a long time and then decided he was not suitable and beat the crap out of him (I had removed him because she dumped him and tore him up). Anyway long story but the net result is it was a test of suitability.

Hi there. That does sound like it's what's going on. She's actually a bit bigger than the male, so I guess he's just younger and not (yet) a suitable mate. Do you think it would be wise, therefore, to move her into the bigger tank with my adult male? Still no guaranteed pairing, of course, but perhaps less conflict?
 

anewbie

Active Member
Hi there. That does sound like it's what's going on. She's actually a bit bigger than the male, so I guess he's just younger and not (yet) a suitable mate. Do you think it would be wise, therefore, to move her into the bigger tank with my adult male? Still no guaranteed pairing, of course, but perhaps less conflict?
Hopefully others who are more experience will comment but my first inclination is I would. In the case of angels (and i know some apistogramma but unsure about borelli) she will not tolerate him once he lost the fight. Of course you have the actual fishes so you know if they are still fighting or if they have gone their separate way. In the case of angels she was relentless in attacking him which is why i removed him in the first place. I did put him back in the 29 and eventually decided a 29 was too small for an adult angel and gave him away to a local lfs. He was quite a lovely fish (platinum) but i had no other large tank for him.
 

yukondog

Active Member
I have found it better for the male to be larger than the female, the female will pick a mate she thinks can best defend the fry from attackers.
With my angles I always use a larger male than female.
 
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