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Hi All - Newbie w/ 36 gallon interested in apistos

Roy Connell

New Member
Hi everyone, I've just started this new hobby with a 36 gallon bowfront. Thanks to Josh for the welcome! I'm fish in cycling with some long fin leopard danios and am interested in apistogrammas and many others. I'm not sure if I want to try and breed or turn this tank into a well planted community tank. If community, then I'd like some active fish maybe even semiaggressive.
Bio: I'm 42 and live in NJ, US
Any input appreciated! I had no idea how much there is to this all so I'm trying to sponge in info.


Hi Roy,

There are many fish that you can consider:
1)African Cichlids
2)South American Cichlids
3)Asian fish

But considering your tank size (36gallon) and with your Danios, I think South American + some Asian fish will be more suitable.

African cichlids will require bigger tank unless you decide to give them away when they grow too big.

All the South American cichlids eg. Apistogramma and the Ram (German Ram, Electric Blue Ram, Golden Ram) are very beautiful. They are all active fish. You might want to get a few of these.
They will be your centre piece of your aquarium.(the most beautiful fish in your aquarium). So choose carefully.

You can mix them with 1 group of schooling (top or middle level fish) to make your tank more interesting.
Schooling fish like Cardinal Tetras, Rummy Nose Tetra, Harlequin Rasbora, Balloon Pristella Tetra, Rosy Tetra are beautiful and active fish and their size are suitable for your tank. For schooling, it's best that you get about 6-10 fish or slightly more.

For bottom level fish, you can consider Synodontis Petricola, Yoyo or Bohtia loach.
Btw, these fish are the most active if you have 3-4 of them and they move in all level, not just the bottom level.

My suggestions is tht you get fish from all the 3 levels - top, middle, bottom to make your aquarium more interesting and you will have fish in all level moving at the same time.


Some additional info:
You might want to get fish with these 3 different colours - blue, red and yellow to make your tank more colourful. And add some green plants.
But among the 3 colours, blue colour fish is the most unique and they are more rare.

As for the plants, most people will usually advise you to put your plants at the back and side of the tank. Keep the middle & front clear so tht your fish can swim around in the middle and front.
You can also check the internets for more ideas on how to arrange the plants. Some people will have short plants at the front of the tank and tall plants at the back.


There is another group of fish tht is also interesting is Central America cichlids.
The Electric Blue Dempsey from Central America is beautiful but it will grow too big for your tank and it will become aggressive when it grows big.

Btw, African cichlids is the most aggresive of all.
The second most aggresive might be the Central America cichlids.
The third most aggressive will be the South American cichlids.
I think majority of the Asian fish will be the least aggressive. But there are also Asian fish tht are very aggressive especially those that are bigger in size.

Fish like Peacock Gudgeon (from Papua New Guinea) or the Goby fish are also quite beautiful but some of them might be aggressive and they may nip the fins of fish with long fins.

One very beautiful fish are the Killifish. But I find them to be less intelligent and their characteristics are not so interesting.

Another group of fish is from the Australian continent. Some people like the Rainbow fish.

But in my opinion, South American cichlids are still one of the best for your tank or for all the medium size tank.
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Roy Connell

New Member
Thanks HengLee! I appreciate the input. I've added 2 clown plecos, 2 Bolivian Rams and 1 Siamese algae eater. Planning on moving the Danios to a smaller tank I have. Very interested in getting more danios out. Would like to add 2 German blue rams I think. I'm not sure on the sexes of the Bolivians yet. Its been about 2 weeks and they're mostly separate. There was a little mild aggression, but nothing significant. I think they might be the same sex. We'll see. Anyone have input on 2 bolivian rams and 2 german rams in the same tank? What about a pair of apistogramma instead of german rams?

Also, I have a few plants: Red robin, amazon sword, and an anubias I think its called


Hi Roy,
What is your tank size?
I think you need to have at least 90cm(3ft) length (mininum) if you want them to be comfortable.

But I have no experience with Bolivian Ram.
Bolivian Ram is bigger than German Blue Ram.
Since both are cichlid, they will always get into fight.