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Catfish in Apisto Tanks

Levin Tilghman

Member
5 Year Member
Messages
49
What are good choices of catfish for an Apisto tank? I was thinking more along the lines of an algae eater or something to clean up uneaten food. Most Cories seem too large or meddlesome.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,118
Location
Germany
to clean up uneaten food
With dwarf cichlids and e.g. Tetras there usually is none. The cichlids clean up the bottom themselves as they are foraging all the time.

Everything else... You don't need a clean-up crew. That's a thing the aquarium industry made out of the ideas of Takashi Amano. He wanted fotogenic tanks so he used shrimp and Otocinclus to keep his tanks clean, which were basically art. Keeping a working ecosystem for the sake of the fish was never a goal. The industry made this profitable business and now tells everyone they need them, ending up in people neglecting hygiene and leaving it to these fish and inverts that will not comply. Result - Tank crashes.

In a running tank for dwarf cichlids the water parameters and the tint should prevent algae from the get-go, while biofilms and mulm are essential for this type of tank and should stay untouched.

It depends on the exact stocking and dimensions of the tank whether any catfish would fit in.
- Ancistrus, Pqnaqolus, L-Numbers and other plecos are out as they compete with the cichlids for caves and as nocturnal fish they keep the diurnal cichlids from sleeping. If you've ever seen an Apisto in the morning, drifting along the surface because the pleco spooked it in the night knows what I mean. I'm very doubtful of anyone saying otherwise due to my experiences.
- Otocinclus may fall victim to a brooding female Apisto, they are just as stupid as Corydoras ignoring territory but unlike them lack the armour. So they are vulnerable. They'd also need a waiting period of 6 months before addition to any tank as they need sustainable amounts of aufwuchs.
- Corydoras: In a sufficiently big tank (footprint 100/120x50/60cm), and with no female Apistos (hence no chance of breeding activity) this would work out well.
- Rhineloricaria and similar lizard catfish: The small species do work well with dwarf cichlids, if the tank is at leat a 100cm and also no females present.
- Farlowella and other twig catfish: Would need a 120-150cm tank due to their own size anyway but also work well.
 

Levin Tilghman

Member
5 Year Member
Messages
49
With dwarf cichlids and e.g. Tetras there usually is none. The cichlids clean up the bottom themselves as they are foraging all the time.

Everything else... You don't need a clean-up crew. That's a thing the aquarium industry made out of the ideas of Takashi Amano. He wanted fotogenic tanks so he used shrimp and Otocinclus to keep his tanks clean, which were basically art. Keeping a working ecosystem for the sake of the fish was never a goal. The industry made this profitable business and now tells everyone they need them, ending up in people neglecting hygiene and leaving it to these fish and inverts that will not comply. Result - Tank crashes.

In a running tank for dwarf cichlids the water parameters and the tint should prevent algae from the get-go, while biofilms and mulm are essential for this type of tank and should stay untouched.

It depends on the exact stocking and dimensions of the tank whether any catfish would fit in.
- Ancistrus, Pqnaqolus, L-Numbers and other plecos are out as they compete with the cichlids for caves and as nocturnal fish they keep the diurnal cichlids from sleeping. If you've ever seen an Apisto in the morning, drifting along the surface because the pleco spooked it in the night knows what I mean. I'm very doubtful of anyone saying otherwise due to my experiences.
- Otocinclus may fall victim to a brooding female Apisto, they are just as stupid as Corydoras ignoring territory but unlike them lack the armour. So they are vulnerable. They'd also need a waiting period of 6 months before addition to any tank as they need sustainable amounts of aufwuchs.
- Corydoras: In a sufficiently big tank (footprint 100/120x50/60cm), and with no female Apistos (hence no chance of breeding activity) this would work out well.
- Rhineloricaria and similar lizard catfish: The small species do work well with dwarf cichlids, if the tank is at leat a 100cm and also no females present.
- Farlowella and other twig catfish: Would need a 120-150cm tank due to their own size anyway but also work well.
Thanks! Very useful information.
 

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
573
Location
San Francisco
I used to keep a "bachelor pad" tank for my male when I needed to separate him to stop breeding. In that tank, he got along fine with Corydoras. There are a few species of pygmy corys that are nice (pygmaeus, habrosus, hastatus) as long as your apisto isn't the big-mouthed kind.

Like Mac says, there aren't any catfish I recommend with a breeding pair.

I was thinking more along the lines of an algae eater or something to clean up uneaten food.

There shouldn't be much in the way of uneaten food, otherwise you should probably feed less. Also, you would need to feed catfish, so that's another potential source of leftover food, as it's hard to know when pellets are truly "gone."

If what you're after is a janitor, you could try amano shrimp. Those have survived well in my apisto tanks and don't require feeding. Darrel is also a big fan of Asellus aquaticus, but those aren't always easy to find.

There are no algae eaters that can sustainably keep your tank clear of algae. If you have a big algae problem, there's an imbalance in your tank, and you likely need to decrease light.

It's one thing to prefer animals that eat algae, in which case you WANT your algae to grow. If you think of algae-eating as the fish's function in your aquarium, I don't recommend that approach. Either it won't eat all the algae, or it will not have enough algae (or, like ancistrus, it will stop eating algae once it realizes it's easier to eat fish food). Fix the imbalance in your tank instead of relying on an animal to clean it for you.

Cheers
 

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