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Female (?) Macmasteri hiding and clamped tail fin

pjg250

New Member
Messages
16
Hi all,

I have a female Macmasteri that has just recently started hiding and has a clamped tail fin while not eating. She still eats well, but she's been hiding almost constantly. Sometimes she just hangs out between one of the HOB filters and the aquarium glass close to the top of the tank. I thought I caught her flashing once, but I haven't seen any white spots on her or any of the other fish.

She has never bred with the male Macmasteri, but I've never seen them fight either. I assume she's female because the male is much bigger than her, but I guess it could be a subdominant male. It's hard to tell because they're the domestic strain "Gold", and the coloration looks very similar between them.

Tank specs are as follows:
  • 40 breeder
  • Temp: 80 degrees F
  • 2 Macmasteri
  • 9 Nannostomus marginatus
  • 6 otocinclus
Tank has been cycled and stocked for about 4 months now with no issues besides algae.

They are fed live banana worms from my own culture as well as live baby brine shrimp.

Water parameters are attached as images.

Any idea what could be going on? I'm hesitant to medicate without knowing what's going on. She's obviously stressed, but I'm not sure why.
 

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Mike Wise

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Staff member
5 Year Member
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11,174
Location
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
For me, an apisto that "eats well" but hides at the top of the tank is a stressed fish with no territory, but not necessarily sick. Can you move her to some other tank? Can you show us a photo of the aquarium?
 

pjg250

New Member
Messages
16
I am an extremely bad photographer. Hope this helps!

Thing is, she doesn't hide at the top often. Like I have no idea where she is right now, but it's not at the top of the tank. I definitely think she might be stressed for some reason, but I'm not sure why. I could move her to a different smaller tank. I'd definitely be sad that this pairing failed for some reason though.
 

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pjg250

New Member
Messages
16
Here's a wild question: could she be stressed because she can't breed?

I did a water change today, and she came out to explore the tank for a little bit afterwards, and hung out with the male for a couple of minutes. They were pretty chill. She then went inside one of the "apisto caves" I bought from Aquarium Coop after doing a few wiggles. The male did a few tail wiggles back. Her tail fin still looked clamped.

However, it looks like my male is too big to fit into the cave's opening. Is it possible they were trying to breed but can't because of the size issue?

Or is the tail wiggling between them a fight? It didn't look aggressive, and they weren't right next to each other.
 

pjg250

New Member
Messages
16
Male and female together during feeding just now. Male is right behind her. Obvious clamped fins, but towards the bottom of the tank.
 

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Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
Messages
11,174
Location
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
OK, my guess is that she hides but not at the top because there is nothing to hide in. Also your male considers any part of the tank that he can see to be his own. There are reports of mac males taking over tanks as large and larger than yours. Males ideally should not be able to enter a breeding cave. The best caves are those with opening that the female can enter by sliding in sideways and then fill most of the opening with sand.

All of the photos show the male displaying to her and her fins clamped in a submissive gesture, probably because she is either not ready to spawn or the male is just too 'eager' for her. In the wild the female would leave the male's territory and the male would wait for a receptive female to appear. She cannot do this in an aquarium. Such stress often leads to illness. Try keeping the fish in separate aquaria for a month or two. Then put them together - after arranging the aquarium decor to remove the male's territory - and see if things change.
 

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