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Apistogramma - Substrate grain size

Yeronimo

New Member
Messages
14
Location
Germany
Hello,

a few years ago I asked about gravel or sand for apistos. Now I know that sand is the prefered substrate.

At the moment I am planning a new Walstad tank for Apistogramma borelli and want to make it right from the start. Best procedure for a Walstad tank is to take gravel as a cap with 2-4 mm grain size. For the borelli I want to change this recommendation to a smaller grain size.

I read different opinions in this forum. "Mike Wise" said in different threads that 1-2 mm worked best for him [1] [2]. In another thread "MacZ" wrote that he won't go with sand bigger than 1 mm because of possible dislocated jaws in smaller specimens or gill rake problems [3].

I want to find a way between very fine sand and coarse gravel. So the question is: Which maximum grain size (<4 mm) do borellis need so that they can still sift through the substrate without risking health issues?

Thanks a lot,
Gerd
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,198
Location
Germany
I should add to my post from back then, that this was the size at wich the fish will still try to chew the sand while finer sand is no problem and bigger gravel will not be tried. That's all. The risk is minute.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,198
Location
Germany
Something Inwanted to add earlier, but I'm at my partner's place on my phone:
I'd think through a walstad tank twice and a third time if dwarf cichlids come into play.

These fish do not burrow but they tend to chew the substrate a lot more than people think. So a true walstad might not be working as because it needs every centimeter of the footprint for the plants. The only walstads I've seen working were jungles of walisneria or cryptocoryne 8nly st8cked very lightly with shrimp or small fish like Boraras sp.. Pure monoculture just as in natural plant habitats. the plant diversity e.g. in the floodplains inhabited by A. borellii is low. There are basically 2-3 species of plant tops.
Under such conditions it might end up subpar for the fish.

On a sidenote... Mrs Walstad has revised her method about 6 or 8 years ago, stating the longevity she estimated for her tanks was too high. So don't be disappointed if it needs a redo after two years.
 

Yeronimo

New Member
Messages
14
Location
Germany
Something Inwanted to add earlier, but I'm at my partner's place on my phone:
I'd think through a walstad tank twice and a third time if dwarf cichlids come into play.

These fish do not burrow but they tend to chew the substrate a lot more than people think. So a true walstad might not be working as because it needs every centimeter of the footprint for the plants. The only walstads I've seen working were jungles of walisneria or cryptocoryne 8nly st8cked very lightly with shrimp or small fish like Boraras sp.. Pure monoculture just as in natural plant habitats. the plant diversity e.g. in the floodplains inhabited by A. borellii is low. There are basically 2-3 species of plant tops.
Under such conditions it might end up subpar for the fish.

On a sidenote... Mrs Walstad has revised her method about 6 or 8 years ago, stating the longevity she estimated for her tanks was too high. So don't be disappointed if it needs a redo after two years.

Thanks for your replies. No, I won't bother. It's my fourth Walstad tank and they worked very well for the last 3 years. They don't need to last 10 years, but they are great with low maintenance and gorgeous plant growth.

I also had Borellis with fry in one of these tanks without issues. But that tank had a substrate with 2-4 mm gravel and I felt that this wasn't perfect for them. That was the reason why I opened this thread.

So you think if I choose sand with a grain size they can chew that they will rearrange the tank or did you mention this because the Apistos don't have enough substrate to sift through when it is full of plants?

Greetings to the other part of germany :).
 
Last edited:

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,198
Location
Germany
My thought is they might lack the free access to the substrate, as I find that extremely important.

Ha! What Bundesland?
 

Yeronimo

New Member
Messages
14
Location
Germany
My thought is they might lack the free access to the substrate, as I find that extremely important.

Ha! What Bundesland?
Thanks, I will see if I can find a satisfying solution.

If I got you right, Borelli won't chew substrate pieces bigger than 1 mm or 2 mm?

I'm from Niedersachsen and you?
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
Messages
11,305
Location
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
I read different opinions in this forum. "Mike Wise" said in different threads that 1-2 mm worked best for him [1] [2].
Did I really say that? I would say now that 1-2mm sand has worked adequately for me for ages, BUT I recommend finer sand if you are starting out. I use coarser sand only be that's the sand I have had for 40 years (remember those undergravel filters everyone used decades ago?) - and I'm too cheap to buy new sand.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,198
Location
Germany
If I got you right, Borelli won't chew substrate pieces bigger than 1 mm or 2 mm?
They will chew it and I've seen Apistogramma try grainsizes that unhinged their jaws. 5mm and up and that was what made me say it's less than ideal in the first place. I agree with Mike: Finer is better. For A. borellii under 0.5mm

Northerner, eh? I'm from NRW.
 

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