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Cacatuoides with corydora

Discussion in 'South American Tank Mates' started by audigex, Aug 20, 2018.

  1. audigex

    audigex New Member

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    Hi guys

    I'm planning a new tank, and I'm looking at a SA biotope... but more of a theme than a biotope. Soft water, a few tannins, and SA fish, anyway. I've kept larger SA cichlids, so that's all fine.

    However, I'm struggling to find clear answers on keeping Apistogramma with Corydoras. Some people report complete disasters, others say they've never had a single problem.

    Now obviously some of that comes down to the individual fish, but I'm trying to work out how much is related to poor setup and tank footprint. For example I saw a guy with a 3 ft tank, 2 males, 3 females, and 20 corydora... that was clearly asking for trouble. I'm fairly sure it can be done with a "big tank for small fish" approach

    So my question is, how big a tank do I need in order to be fairly confident of a reasonably low-aggression tank. I don't mind a few chases, but I want to avoid anything nasty.

    My plan is to stock with
    • 1x Male Cacatuoides
    • 3 or 4x Female cacatuoides (I'm happy with either, whichever would work best)
    • 6-12 Corydora (I'd like at least 6, but if I can have more that's great)
    • 6+ Tetra and similar SA dither type fish: these aren't the main point of the tank, so the exact numbers don't matter to me
    For the tank I have two options: My current 90 Gal (approx 48x15x18" LxWxH), which has a footprint of 5 square feet.

    The second option would be a new custom sized tank - in this case the tank footprint could in theory be anything up to a 5x2' (60x24" LxW), or a little over 10 square feet - possibly an inch or two smaller, and limited by my room shape. Water volume would be approx 130 gal including sump, or 110 gal if I use a canister, with a height of about 18" - anything more than 18" seems fairly pointless for this setup.

    How suitable would either of these two sizes be? I'm not really concerned about the water volume, as this tank would be very under-stocked, but I'm more interested in the footprint and how much space I would need to ensure that the fish can each have their own territory, and that the corydora would be okay around the cichlids (eg they have room to avoid the territories).

    As above, I'm pretty experienced with larger SA cichlids, so I'm fairly good at defining territories and breaking eyelines, and this tank would be purposely set up for this purpose with at least 4 bigger "zones" (approx 2.5 sq ft each) separated by wood/rocks, substrate hills, and plants and lots of cover and eyeline-breaking decoration and aquascaping even within the areas: my aim would be that pretty much the entire height of the tank would be aquascaped in some way, such that there are no real sightlines across the entire tank.

    My goals are to ensure no female gets hounded to death by the male (eg his attention is spread), the females can each have enough territory to not fight (bickering is okay), and that if a pair do spawn, the other fish can stay out of the way (again, a few quick "go away" chases is fine). I don't mind cichlids being cichlids - I just don't want sustained aggression: which, in my experience with larger cichlids, means letting the victim get out of sight for a while, but without forcing them to hide under a branch.

    So yeah, sorry for the wall of things from my brain: any thoughts? Would I be okay with the 48x15" footprint, or should I hold out for the 60x24"?
  2. Mike Wise

    Mike Wise Moderator Staff Member 5 Year Member

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    Here I go again: a community tank is not a breeding tank. Female apistos with eggs/fry will attack anything that blunders into their brood territory. We're talking about bottom-dwelling fish here. Anything 16"/40cm above the bottom is generally not considered in her territory. With armored catfish about the only thing she can do is attack are the eyes. Often the result is eyeless catfish. So I suggest that you decide what you want, a breeding tank or a community tank.
  3. audigex

    audigex New Member

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    Will an apisto attack that hard initially? With the other cichlids I’ve kept, the breeding pair will chase any other fish away, and only actually attack if the other fish doesn’t leave

    I understand that forcing fish into a small enough tank that they can’t escape will leave to damage - but is that still the case in a tank with a large footprint? Eg I could understand in a 20G, but in a 110G with the footprint of a 150G, that seems unusual even for cichlids. Even if the breeding pair took 50% of the tank and don’t let anything in it, that still leaves nearly as much space left as a typical 90G

    If so, I’ve sorely underestimated apistogramma aggression - I’ve had much larger cichlids breeding in that size tank without issues with other fish
  4. Mike Wise

    Mike Wise Moderator Staff Member 5 Year Member

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    Brooding female apistos can be vicious. I once had a 1½"/3.5cm female A. cacatuodes shred and force a 5"/12.5cm Herotilapia multispinosa into the top back corner of a 20L tank. I didn't realize that one of my grow-out cacatuoides had spawned when I removed all the others and put the Rainbow Cichlid in the tank to reduce its snail population. I saved him and it took a while to regrow fins and scales. Yes females will first try to drive other fish away, but if it is too stupid not to repeatedly blunder into the female's brood territory, well ...
  5. audigex

    audigex New Member

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    A 20L tank is a little different to a 425L tank, though: that's why I was surprised to have a response of "Don't even try it", rather than a discussion of whether I'd be okay with a 48x15 footprint, or should go with a 60x24 footprint.

    Everything else I've read suggests that it's fine in a larger tank: I was mostly just trying to gauge what is meant by "larger" tank. Although plans have changed a little (missus decided she wants to move the sofa), so the tank I'm looking at now will be a 10x2x2' or possibly even 10x2.5x2... so 1400-1800 litres display volume with a 20-25 sqft footprint. At that size, I think I'm happy to take the risk and remove the breeding apistos to the refugium if needed

    I've never yet known a fish stupid enough to stay near a territorial cichlid, as long as the tank is big enough for them to get away: I've only ever had problems when the tank was too small for the other fish to make a tactical retreat, hence the request
  6. Ade205

    Ade205 Active Member

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    Trust me, Corydoras are stupid enough! They get a beating, get chased away, and promptly turn around straightaway and blunder straight back into a warzone!!
    Also worth considering that running away isn't so easy if the Cory wonders into a brooding Apistos cave! The resulting savagery doesn't allow for the catfish to calmly find the exit and get out the way!
    As I wrote in another post I had a brooding female Cac go to town on a rather expensive Queen Arabesque pleco who happened to wonder into a her cave! He survived with both eyeballs, but I witnessed the ferocity and have to say it's not really fair to have put the pleco into a tank where that could happen.

    Do you want to breed because in a tank of that size you could have a nice mix of just males?

    Ade.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2018
  7. audigex

    audigex New Member

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    I've got no intention of breeding them in the main display tank: the setup will actually be a 4-tank setup (10ft display, sump, 3-4ft isolation/breeding tank, and a fry growout tank), though, and I have several other tanks.

    I definitely wouldn't be considering a pleco, since they'd completely compete on territory preferences with caves. I'm also not intending to have any caves in the main display tank - substrate, plants, wood, and rock only.

    I guess my best option could be to keep a small harem of females in my other 4ft tank, and move males across to breed. My original intent was to have 1 male and perhaps 3-4 females, and then I can always move the male, females, or both out to other tanks, since I'd have at least two alternate tanks even if I left no apistos in the display

    Male only sounds like it may be the better option, thanks.
  8. Bart Hazes

    Bart Hazes Active Member

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    If you want to breed apistos with the goal to maximize progeny then definitely go for a tank with just a pair of apistos and perhaps a few small tetras. If you want to keep apistos because they are pretty and you want to see their mating and territorial displays then in my experience you can easily do so in a community tank, and it would not be unlikely for some offspring to survive without any feeding or other help from you. I've done so in tanks as small as 30G breeder (90x45x30) with A. macmasteri, rubrolineatus, iniridae, allpahuayo, norberti, panduro and probably others I've forgot.
    I do agree that corydoras are about the stupidest fish, or at leas with VERY short memory, and they will swim right back into the breeding territory right after being chased out and do so repeatedly. I've not seen damage but could easily see that happen. Apisto species, and individuals, also have different temperaments. One A. panduro females has been the nastiest and it really seems she was out to hurt, not just chase away. She would also chase fish at quite a distance, instead of just when they were getting too close. For A. norberti both parents were very active in defending their territory which encompassed 90% of a 2x4' footprint tank. The female would deal with interlopers that came in sight, the male would roam the perimeter and bunch up all other fish in the corner diagonal from the fry. In contrast, A. rubrolineatus and A. ortegai have been quite mellow. I had two rubrolineatus females with a nest of fry herding them about 30cm apart with some fin flaring between them but not much more.
    If you go ahead and start a community tank with apistos I do suggest you have a backup tank in case some fish need a time-out.

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