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Hi from London, UK

PistUp

New Member
Messages
17
Hi everyone,

I’ve been silently lurking on here for the past two weeks and thought I’d finally join and contribute!

I’m new to fish keeping, I have a 60L super fish cube tank that I set up 3 months ago.

My water is soft (mostly RO) with a gh of 4 and kh of 3, and my ph is stable at 6.5 - although I’m new to the hobby, I have a background in hydroponics and have a good handle on water chemistry etc

I test my water daily and have had 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and a nitrate level of 5 since entering week 4. Phosphorus is also negligible. Temp is stable at
26 - 27 degrees Celsius

I have used Dennerle aquarium soil topped with sand as my substrate. My hardscape is made up on mopani wood and botanicals, with a cave built out of a few rocks under the canister filter in the corner. The mopani wood creates extra ‘caves’ and hiding places on the bottom of the tank. I’m currently on my way back from the LFS with a coconut shell that I’m also going to add in the corner which I hope my apistos and their future offspring appreciate. Yes, my tank is black water, I want to create somewhat of a biotope, I know it’s not perfect and 100% true to nature, but it’s my first tank so give me a break haha. The next tank will be perfect!

I’ve got 8 cardinal tetras (if I could go back I would have got green neons instead!), 6 zebra otos and I added two apistos last week. The apistos I bought are supposedly a wild caught viejita pair from sims tropical, though I am sceptical of the species and now even whether they are a true pair after all the reading I have done! I will not be adding any more fish to my tank, I understand that the stocking is already fairly high. I’m culturing some stones in green water on the windowsill which when covered with algae will go in the tank one at a time to help feed my otos (they have been super fussy). My cardinals are extremely happy and blood red which I’m really pleased about. The apistos seem to have settled well and are showing good colours.

I want to breed the apistos and share the offspring with other enthusiasts, and in time maybe I’ll sell a few on eBay, who knows. I am very excited about breeding them, and spend way too much time in front of my tank watching them!

I look forward to conversing with you all.

Cheers,

Alex
 

PistUp

New Member
Messages
17
Hi everyone,

I’ve been silently lurking on here for the past two weeks and thought I’d finally join and contribute!

I’m new to fish keeping, I have a 60L super fish cube tank that I set up 3 months ago.

My water is soft (mostly RO) with a gh of 4 and kh of 3, and my ph is stable at 6.5 - although I’m new to the hobby, I have a background in hydroponics and have a good handle on water chemistry etc

I test my water daily and have had 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and a nitrate level of 5 since entering week 4. Phosphorus is also negligible. Temp is stable at
26 - 27 degrees Celsius

I have used Dennerle aquarium soil topped with sand as my substrate. My hardscape is made up on mopani wood and botanicals, with a cave built out of a few rocks under the canister filter in the corner. The mopani wood creates extra ‘caves’ and hiding places on the bottom of the tank. I’m currently on my way back from the LFS with a coconut shell that I’m also going to add in the corner which I hope my apistos and their future offspring appreciate. Yes, my tank is black water, I want to create somewhat of a biotope, I know it’s not perfect and 100% true to nature, but it’s my first tank so give me a break haha. The next tank will be perfect!

I’ve got 8 cardinal tetras (if I could go back I would have got green neons instead!), 6 zebra otos and I added two apistos last week. The apistos I bought are supposedly a wild caught viejita pair from sims tropical, though I am sceptical of the species and now even whether they are a true pair after all the reading I have done! I will not be adding any more fish to my tank, I understand that the stocking is already fairly high. I’m culturing some stones in green water on the windowsill which when covered with algae will go in the tank one at a time to help feed my otos (they have been super fussy). My cardinals are extremely happy and blood red which I’m really pleased about. The apistos seem to have settled well and are showing good colours.

I want to breed the apistos and share the offspring with other enthusiasts, and in time maybe I’ll sell a few on eBay, who knows. I am very excited about breeding them, and spend way too much time in front of my tank watching them!

I look forward to conversing with you all.

Cheers,

Alex
Also, my tank is fairly well planted (1/3 of the tank) with Amazon swords, eleocharis, Sagittaria, hydrocotyle and red root floaters which are all pretty happy.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,184
Location
Germany
Welcome!
My water is soft (mostly RO) with a gh of 4 and kh of 3
Fairly hard and alkaline from a dwarf cichlid keeper perspective. pH is always a relative value, as it's dependent on KH and CO2. Most of us keep their fish at a GH and KH of virtually zero. Well, at least with the usual test kits available to the hobbyist.

Yes, my tank is black water, I want to create somewhat of a biotope, I know it’s not perfect and 100% true to nature
See above: It's not blackwater, but it's good you are willing to go the biotope route.

but it’s my first tank so give me a break
Of course, still means it's necessary to clear up misconceptions early on.

Also, my tank is fairly well planted (1/3 of the tank) with Amazon swords, eleocharis, Sagittaria, hydrocotyle and red root floaters which are all pretty happy.
1/3 is... well... "fairly well" is probably the right term. True blackwater would be almost completely devoid of true aquatic plants.

The apistos I bought are supposedly a wild caught viejita pair from sims tropical, though I am sceptical of the species and now even whether they are a true pair after all the reading I have done!

Those by any chance? You've been duped if you bought those. They are domestic (man-made linebred) Apistogramma macmasteri, you usually get those for 12€ per specimen. And they are never going to be a pair. Most Apistogramma species are non-monogamous and males chase females unwilling to breed from their territiry. In a fish tank of the size of your tank this means if she doesn't want to spawn, she's toast. Additionally this species grows quite big, the tank might be to small (dimensions, not volume) on the long run anyway. I also find it a BIG red flag if they offer sexed specimens while offering them at 3cm. That's not a size where you can sex them reliably.
 

PistUp

New Member
Messages
17
Welcome!

Fairly hard and alkaline from a dwarf cichlid keeper perspective. pH is always a relative value, as it's dependent on KH and CO2. Most of us keep their fish at a GH and KH of virtually zero. Well, at least with the usual test kits available to the hobbyist.
Hi Mac,

I’ve noticed that you are one of the more prominent and active members on this site; I appreciate you commenting on my introduction post.

I started with tap water with a KH of 11 and GH of around 20, not really knowing what I wanted out of my aquarium. Cardinals were my first fish (simply liked what I saw), when I decided that otos and apistos will join them (about a month or so ago) I introduced RO water and have been transitioning to soft water since. I am doing small and daily water changes and will soon get to the numbers you’ve described!
See above: It's not blackwater, but it's good you are willing to go the biotope route.
Of course, still means it's necessary to clear up misconceptions early on.


1/3 is... well... "fairly well" is probably the right term. True blackwater would be almost completely devoid of true aquatic plants.
I understand it’s not a ‘true’ blackwater environment given the plants. I know that some plants grow on the banks in the black water biotope and thought some plants would be helpful given my small tank size and canister filter. Perhaps not necessary? Perhaps better off without them?

Those by any chance? You've been duped if you bought those. They are domestic (man-made linebred) Apistogramma macmasteri, you usually get those for 12€ per specimen. And they are never going to be a pair. Most Apistogramma species are non-monogamous and males chase females unwilling to breed from their territiry. In a fish tank of the size of your tank this means if she doesn't want to spawn, she's toast. Additionally this species grows quite big, the tank might be to small (dimensions, not volume) on the long run anyway. I also find it a BIG red flag if they offer sexed specimens while offering them at 3cm. That's not a size where you can sex them reliably.

These are the ones! Pretty pist off to find out I’ve likely been robbed. The fish don’t resemble the ones in the picture to be fair, I’ll upload some pics ASAP for you to take a look at! I currently live in a very small one bed flat and physically cannot accommodate a larger tank, but I’ll be moving to a 2/3 bed house in August and the first thing I’ll be doing is setting up a much larger tank for these babies!


 

PistUp

New Member
Messages
17
Hi Mac,

I’ve noticed that you are one of the more prominent and active members on this site; I appreciate you commenting on my introduction post.

I started with tap water with a KH of 11 and GH of around 20, not really knowing what I wanted out of my aquarium. Cardinals were my first fish (simply liked what I saw), when I decided that otos and apistos will join them (about a month or so ago) I introduced RO water and have been transitioning to soft water since. I am doing small and daily water changes and will soon get to the numbers you’ve described!


I understand it’s not a ‘true’ blackwater environment given the plants. I know that some plants grow on the banks in the black water biotope and thought some plants would be helpful given my small tank size and canister filter. Perhaps not necessary? Perhaps better off without them?


These are the ones! Pretty pist off to find out I’ve likely been robbed. The fish don’t resemble the ones in the picture to be fair, I’ll upload some pics ASAP for you to take a look at! I currently live in a very small one bed flat and physically cannot accommodate a larger tank, but I’ll be moving to a 2/3 bed house in August and the first thing I’ll be doing is setting up a much larger tank for these babies!

Here’s pics of the pair I bought
 

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MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,184
Location
Germany
I understand it’s not a ‘true’ blackwater environment given the plants. I know that some plants grow on the banks in the black water biotope and thought some plants would be helpful given my small tank size and canister filter. Perhaps not necessary? Perhaps better off without them?
True black water is almost impossible to achieve in captivity. Either the ion values are too high or pH is too high. The closest most people can get is a conductivity between 20-30µS/cm with a pH between 5 and 6. That's closer to clearwater, but still true softwater. True blackwater is defined by very high amounts of humic substances, extremely low ion concentration/conductivity (below 10µS/cm) and low pH (4-5).

Plants are not wrong, but your choices of plants might be. The only plant I have planted in the substrate is a fast growing "cheater", Nymphaea lotus. They can cheat by getting CO2 and light by growing floating leaves. All other plants are floaters or grow emersed. Those are the ones that are really helpful in terms of biofiltration. Hydrocotyle is also a good choice.
The important thing is: They have to be able to collect as many nutrients as possible from the water column. The excess is removed when pruning the plants or netting out surplus floaters. In any way, keep the plants, but expect not all of them to do well and if a substrate-based plant doesn't make it, replace it with something more surface oriented.
These are the ones! Pretty pist off to find out I’ve likely been robbed. The fish don’t resemble the ones in the picture to be fair, I’ll upload some pics ASAP for you to take a look at! I currently live in a very small one bed flat and physically cannot accommodate a larger tank, but I’ll be moving to a 2/3 bed house in August and the first thing I’ll be doing is setting up a much larger tank for these babies!
The picture on the seller website is digitally enhanced. You never see them with those colours in RL. Not even when fed colour enhancers and a perfectly calibrated light.
The pictures confirm: Domestic A. macmasteri, often called "Red Shoulder" or similar things (domestic fish can be called anything, there is no scientific relevance for tradenames and none are copyrighted.)
 

PistUp

New Member
Messages
17
True black water is almost impossible to achieve in captivity. Either the ion values are too high or pH is too high. The closest most people can get is a conductivity between 20-30µS/cm with a pH between 5 and 6. That's closer to clearwater, but still true softwater. True blackwater is defined by very high amounts of humic substances, extremely low ion concentration/conductivity (below 10µS/cm) and low pH (4-5).

Plants are not wrong, but your choices of plants might be. The only plant I have planted in the substrate is a fast growing "cheater", Nymphaea lotus. They can cheat by getting CO2 and light by growing floating leaves. All other plants are floaters or grow emersed. Those are the ones that are really helpful in terms of biofiltration. Hydrocotyle is also a good choice.
The important thing is: They have to be able to collect as many nutrients as possible from the water column. The excess is removed when pruning the plants or netting out surplus floaters. In any way, keep the plants, but expect not all of them to do well and if a substrate-based plant doesn't make it, replace it with something more surface oriented.
This is great information. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction with this, I clearly still have much to learn. It’s a journey!
The picture on the seller website is digitally enhanced. You never see them with those colours in RL. Not even when fed colour enhancers and a perfectly calibrated light.
The pictures confirm: Domestic A. macmasteri, often called "Red Shoulder" or similar things (domestic fish can be called anything, there is no scientific relevance for tradenames and none are copyrighted.)

I appreciate you clarifying this. I am not undermining your expertise here, but will post these pics in the appropriate thread to get a second opinion before making a complaint to the seller. Based on the pics, are you able to say whether I have a male and female?
 

PistUp

New Member
Messages
17
P, your water is just fine for breeding your mac/viejitas. I just don't think you'll get many surviving fry with those notorious fry predators (Cardinals) in the same tank.
Hi, thank you for confirming this for me. I thought I was in the right range, but seeing so many people on here running 0Gh and 0KH water made me wonder. I guess I'll have to figure something out with the cardinals! If I find it to be a real problem and need a solution, would you suggest A.) getting a bigger tank for everyone, B.) getting a small second tank that can be used to protect fry, C.) swapping the cardinals for a different dither species?

Appreciate any help, suggestions or tips.. I'm here to learn!

Regards,

Alex
 

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
585
Location
San Francisco
The water parameters depend on the species. I believe Macmasteri come from clearwater, so there's no need to go as low as 0GH and 0KH.

In my opinion, a 60l cube (38cm x 38cm footprint) is too small for a breeding pair of Macs. They get larger than some apistos, and I would recommend 80cm length for beginners.

The fry will certainly not survive in the presence of cardinals, so i would separate them out. Dithers aren't necessary, but many apisto keepers use a few pencil fish.

You will want a second tank to separate the male when free swimming fry appear, to prevent continuous breeding (or in the case of severe aggression). The solo male can coexist with the cardinals. The 60L is probably OK for that.

And you will need a third tank if you intend to grow out the fry.

-B
 

PistUp

New Member
Messages
17
The water parameters depend on the species. I believe Macmasteri come from clearwater, so there's no need to go as low as 0GH and 0KH.

In my opinion, a 60l cube (38cm x 38cm footprint) is too small for a breeding pair of Macs. They get larger than some apistos, and I would recommend 80cm length for beginners.

The fry will certainly not survive in the presence of cardinals, so i would separate them out. Dithers aren't necessary, but many apisto keepers use a few pencil fish.

You will want a second tank to separate the male when free swimming fry appear, to prevent continuous breeding (or in the case of severe aggression). The solo male can coexist with the cardinals. The 60L is probably OK for that.

And you will need a third tank if you intend to grow out the fry.

-B
Hi Ben,

Thanks again for the steer on the parameters, I won't chase any crazy low numbers.

I'll be moving into a new house in August that will allow for a much bigger tank along with a few smaller tanks such as my current 60L, so I will address all of the issues you raised when I move.

I'll keep a very close eye on them for now and if my female looks like she might need rehoming before August, I'll figure something out for her straight away. Sounds like any fry won't have much of a chance until then, though I might look at a small 30L that I can stash away in a corner somewhere so that I can raise fry until they are big enough to be rehomed with someone else (I could always reuse a 30L for raising live food after I move).

Regards,

Alex
 

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
585
Location
San Francisco
Hi Ben,

Thanks again for the steer on the parameters, I won't chase any crazy low numbers.

I'll be moving into a new house in August that will allow for a much bigger tank along with a few smaller tanks such as my current 60L, so I will address all of the issues you raised when I move.

I'll keep a very close eye on them for now and if my female looks like she might need rehoming before August, I'll figure something out for her straight away. Sounds like any fry won't have much of a chance until then, though I might look at a small 30L that I can stash away in a corner somewhere so that I can raise fry until they are big enough to be rehomed with someone else (I could always reuse a 30L for raising live food after I move).

Regards,

Alex
If you really want to breed macs, what you need is bigger tanks, not smaller ones. The 60l you have is suitable for a single macmasteri, not a breeding pair. So my recommendation was for an 80cm tank for breeding. 75-80l might not seem much bigger than a 60l, but it's the footprint (in this case length) that's relevant.

For growout, a 75l tank could possibly work, but as the fry become juveniles, any more than, say a dozen fish would need a tank twice that size to grow out to sellable size. Macmasteri tend to have very large clutches of fry, so you could easily have 40 - 50 in one go. I'm afraid a 30l tank wouldn't last them very long at all.

Again, these are my recommendations if you truly want to breed this species. With several smaller tanks, you could certainly breed smaller fish (not Apistogramma). Or you could decide to maintain several small display tanks configured such that the inhabitants will not kill each other.

Cheers
 

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