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Scapesce

New Member
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5
Hello everyone,

My currently 2 months old aquarium is starting to slowly stabilize and I'd want to soon start adding some fish in it, unfortunately while setting it up I didn't know exactly what kind of fish I wanted to house (nor really knew anything since this is my first tank, I just do a lot of research online) and went with straight aquasoil as my only substrate (ADA Amazonia V.1), adding sand now seems like a bad decision since it would just mix with the soil over time and I can't add much height since I already have it pretty high with the soil.

I would love to adopt a couple of Apistos (I particularly like Cacatuoides, Macmasteri and Panduros, and I think that my local store will most likely carry Cacatuoides so that would be the species I can most likely get), try to breed them and in general house them properly providing everything they need, so my question is, has anyone successfuly kept Apistos on aquasoil or is it just not doable if you want to give them a proper home? In case that's how it is, do you have any suggestion on dwarf chichlids which will just do well in a densely planted aquarium with an aquasoil substrate?

Tank specifics and photos for reference:

125l/32gal
80cm/31in lenght
50cm/19in height
30cm/12in deep

It's planted with:
Limophila Sessiliflora
Rotala H'Ra
Bacopa Caroliniana
Hydrocotyle Leucocephala
Althernatera Reinicki v.mini
Weeping Moss
Anubias
Bucephalandra

Water parameters:

PH: 6.4 (stable, buffered by the soil)
GH: 6 (I use remineralized RO so I can adjust accordingly to the species I'll house)
KH: 0 (useless to remineralize it with aquasoil as it will just exhaust it earlier)
Ammonia: 0 (and has been consinstently 0 throughout the last month)
Nitrite: 0 (same as ammonia)
Nitrate: 30ppm (would like to reduce it to 10 and have it stable before introducing any fish so that with the fishes load it can stabilize around 30)

I have some fertilizer (APT Complete) but I currently stopped dosing since most of my plants grow really well anyway and really don't seem to need anything more and I prefer to not add anything to the system if possible.

And is decorated with 2 pieces of driftwood and some stones.

I am also planning to add leaf litter to the front + some hollow pods to add additional cover.

Screenshot 2024-05-16 alle 12.01.48.png


In any case I'm planning to first add some reassuring small schooling/shoaling fish (still thinking about it but I'm leaning towards a group of 10/12 Pseudomugyl or 8/10 Lemon Tetras), let the tank mature a bit more and then add the Dwarf Chicllids, so between actually deciding for something compatible, finding it, quarantining it and letting it acclimate to the new envroinment I'm probably 4/6 months away from adding any Apisto/DC to the tank.

Many thanks to everyone which will spend some time helping me!
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,119
Location
Germany
I'll put it this way:
General consensus is that sand (not going into details on grain size) with at least a thin layer of leaf litter is the ideal substrate for dwarf cichlids as their main way of feeding is chewing sand. Even though you obviously can feed them otherwise, depriving them of access to sand takes away the option of following their natural foraging behaviour and thus of an important part of behavioural enrichment. Having no access to sand can have negative impact on their health.

You will of course also find people that say it's irrelevant, but considering the short natural lifespan of Apistogramma being short already and that of domestic breeds often even shorter, I'll always recommend tayloring a tank to the fishes needs.
 
Last edited:

Scapesce

New Member
Messages
5
I'll put it this way:
General consensus is that sand (not going into details on grain size) with at least a thin layer of leaf litter is the ideal substrate for dwarf cichlids as their main way of feeding is chewing sand. Even though you obviously can feed them otherwise, depriving them of access to sand takes away the option of following their natural foraging behaviour and thus of an important part of behavioural enrichment. Having no access to sand can have negative impact on their health.

You will of course also find people that say it's irrelevant, but considering the short natural lifespan of Apistogramma being short already and that of domestic breeds often even shorter, I'll always recommend tayloring a tank to the fishes needs.
Makes sense, is there for what you know a fish species with similar characteristics (I'd love the chance to witness parental cares and obviously like the looks of Apistos) which wont' need sand? In any case thank you for taking the time to answer :D
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,119
Location
Germany
GH: 6 (I use remineralized RO so I can adjust accordingly to the species I'll house)
KH: 0 (useless to remineralize it with aquasoil as it will just exhaust it earlier)
Something I missed earlier: You don't have to remineralize for fish from South America. Most species in the hobby (of course there are some exeptions, which don't matter in this context), come from what is considered true softwater. If you remineralize you only do this for the plants, the fish all do well in pure RO or distilled water. (of course you'll have to acclimate them because wholesalers/retailers do the opposite and acclimate them to harder water to be able to sell to a wider range of hobbyists.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,119
Location
Germany
Nitrate: 30ppm (would like to reduce it to 10 and have it stable before introducing any fish so that with the fishes load it can stabilize around 30)
More plant matter. Drop a bunch of Ceratophyllum or Hydrocotyle in and let it float. Or let a pothos or a small variety of monstera grow from the top.
 

Scapesce

New Member
Messages
5
More plant matter. Drop a bunch of Ceratophyllum or Hydrocotyle in and let it float. Or let a pothos or a small variety of monstera grow from the top.
Yeah I was considering adding some floating plants confined to the front area to provide additional cover/shade and suck up some waste, thanks!
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,119
Location
Germany
Considering that high excess of Nitrates in a tank with (remineralized) RO and no stock yet, I'm pretty sure the soil is fertilized. In that case you have faaaaar too few plants. And don't confine the floaters to an area. Let the stuff grow and rather remove a good handful or more weekly. My tipp for actual floating plants in that case: Salvinia. A nitrate sponge.
 

Scapesce

New Member
Messages
5
Considering that high excess of Nitrates in a tank with (remineralized) RO and no stock yet, I'm pretty sure the soil is fertilized. In that case you have faaaaar too few plants. And don't confine the floaters to an area. Let the stuff grow and rather remove a good handful or more weekly. My tipp for actual floating plants in that case: Salvinia. A nitrate sponge.
Yep it's ADA Amazonia V.1 which after some research looks like being pretty heavily pre-fertilized (ADA even released a V.2 which is less fertilized because people were apparently having issues with it), my lights are pretty dim, that's why I was considering keeping the floaters in front, all my plants are on the back and I don't want to deprive them of light. I really like salvinia and I'll get some as soon as I can find it, unfortunately stores in my area basically don't carry live plants (and those who do keep them in horrible shape) and online resellers don't carry many floaters.

Ty so much for all the inputs tho, really appreciate it.
 

Scapesce

New Member
Messages
5
Consider one of the dwarf acaras, genus Laetacara or possibly Keyhole Cichlid (Cleithracara maronii) which grow a bit larger.
Love the Laetacaras, and will most likely go for them as soon as I get everything sorted out and I'm able to find a pair, thanks!
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,119
Location
Germany
Yep it's ADA Amazonia V.1 which after some research looks like being pretty heavily pre-fertilized (ADA even released a V.2 which is less fertilized because people were apparently having issues with it),
I'm only familiar with soil as such, I have barely any idea of brands and stuff. I'm doing "low tech, sand, RO, no additives" botanical tanks.
my lights are pretty dim, that's why I was considering keeping the floaters in front, all my plants are on the back and I don't want to deprive them of light.
Oh boy...
Are you familiar with the principle of the balance of light, nutrients and CO2?
When you raise one factor you have to raise the other two as well, or the plants might not do as expected. You have a surplus of nutrients, but due to the KH barely any CO2 and also seemingly little light.
Frankly, a substrate switch might be the easiest and cheapest measure for you. Then you can do with what you have and don't have to get pricey but for a cichlid tank unneccessary equipment like stronger lights and CO2 injection.
Would be a one-off thing, then the tank should balance out in no time.
 

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