• Hello guest! Are you an Apistogramma enthusiast? If so we invite you to join our community and see what it has to offer. Our site is specifically designed for you and it's a great place for Apisto enthusiasts to meet online. Once you join you'll be able to post messages, upload pictures of your fish and tanks and have a great time with other Apisto enthusiasts. Sign up today!

My first ever Apistogramma!

Bakejullock

New Member
Messages
12
Meet Sid and Nancy! Adopted these two on Saturday. They are currently living in a planted 10 gallon tank by themselves. The tank stays around 82 degrees. They have lots of hiding places and 2 caves to choose from (one of which I built myself from stone!) i’ve been feeding them live baby brine shrimp, frozen bloodworms, fluval bug bite flake and xtreme nano pellets. They are a proven pair and have successfully spawned once with the previous owner. I am hoping they can do it again in their new home!

Some observations and questions:

- I was told these are cockatoos called “orange flash”. Can anyone confirm, and maybe explain the coloration/grading system of this type of fish?

- Upon introducing them to the tank the female immediately started investigating the right side cave. She was in and out constantly, with the male following a few times. At one point the male had only his hind quarters in the cave, with his head sticking out. I watched him quiver 3 times. I was curious if he was fertilizing the eggs? Unsure if that is even how it works, or if they would spawn so quickly after being moved to a new tank.

The female has since been seemingly spending less time in the right side cave and more time in the left side cave. I assume that means she has not dropped any eggs yet? Once she has eggs to protect, she will stay in or close to the cave they are in?

- The male displayed some interesting behavior on the first day. He set up shop in the front right corner of the tank and barely left for hours. He flared his fins and used his tail and fins to blow the sand around, basically digging himself a shallow hole in the corner of the tank. I have read that digging is common post spawning behavior, but that it is usually the female doing the digging, and in front of the cave. Anyone know why he was doing this? I thought maybe to try to feel more safe and protected, but that seemed odd as he has tons of cover and hiding spots elsewhere in the tank, where he wouldn’t have my giant dumb face staring right at him.

- I assume neocaridina shrimp are a bad idea to introduce to this tank? What about small corydoras? Just curious. I realize it’s already probably too small of a tank, and I do not want to stress them out or throw a wrench in the spawning process. I read somewhere that having a few bottom feeders could be a good thing, as it gives the mother something to protect the fry from which in turn makes her more diligent and caring. Seems weird to me but does anyone have any experience?

Any tips, advice or insight would be much appreciated! My goal is to keep these two as happy as possible, and have them produce offspring and raise them up.

IMG_0881.jpeg

IMG_0876.jpeg

IMG_0882.jpeg

IMG_0916.jpeg

View attachment IMG_0898.jpeg
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,180
Location
Germany
They are currently living in a planted 10 gallon tank by themselves. The tank stays around 82 degrees. They have lots of hiding places and 2 caves to choose from (one of which I built myself from stone!) i’ve been feeding them live baby brine shrimp, frozen bloodworms, fluval bug bite flake and xtreme nano pellets. They are a proven pair and have successfully spawned once with the previous owner. I am hoping they can do it again in their new home!
Almost 28°C... Turn down the temp, they age even more quickly than domestic fish do already. At that temp you can be glad if they live to be 2 years.
Also a tank that size is usually a bit too snug for the species. They grow quite big for Apistogramma. Especially the domestic ones.
Scratch the bloodworms from the menu, they have often schon to be a gamble. Many Apistogrmma-Owners have lost their fish to these.
Replace the flake food with pellets. Flakes tend to stay at the surface too long and Apistos are bottom feeders.
Now... proven are only the sexes. Most Apistogramma species do not form pairs. Usually the fish meet for spawning, then the female does the rest herself. More on that below.

I was told these are cockatoos called “orange flash”. Can anyone confirm, and maybe explain the coloration/grading system of this type of fish?
Orange Flash among other names. There is neither a grading system nor a fixed nomenclature for domestic breeds (your fish do not occur in the wild in this form). The names are trade names and every hobby breeder can call their strain whatever they want.

- Upon introducing them to the tank the female immediately started investigating the right side cave. She was in and out constantly, with the male following a few times. At one point the male had only his hind quarters in the cave, with his head sticking out. I watched him quiver 3 times. I was curious if he was fertilizing the eggs? Unsure if that is even how it works, or if they would spawn so quickly after being moved to a new tank.
Possible to be an early attempt at spawning. Unusual to happen within the first days though.

The female has since been seemingly spending less time in the right side cave and more time in the left side cave. I assume that means she has not dropped any eggs yet? Once she has eggs to protect, she will stay in or close to the cave they are in?
She will also chase every other fish, regardless of species into the other half of the tank. Once the female as laid eggs the male will get the short end of the stick. All. The. Time.
And once she is not receptive anymore, he will chase her all the time. Your tank might as well turn out too small. Just as a heads up.

- The male displayed some interesting behavior on the first day. He set up shop in the front right corner of the tank and barely left for hours. He flared his fins and used his tail and fins to blow the sand around, basically digging himself a shallow hole in the corner of the tank. I have read that digging is common post spawning behavior, but that it is usually the female doing the digging, and in front of the cave. Anyone know why he was doing this? I thought maybe to try to feel more safe and protected, but that seemed odd as he has tons of cover and hiding spots elsewhere in the tank, where he wouldn’t have my giant dumb face staring right at him.
It sounds like a sleeping pit. Especially male Apistogramma make those as they do not sleep in caves. "Tons of hiding spots" is a very relative sentence. Often what people perceive as a tank with lots of such spots, mistake caves for hiding spots and sight blocks for cover. Care sharing a picture of the whole tank for a better evaluation?

- I assume neocaridina shrimp are a bad idea to introduce to this tank? What about small corydoras?
Shrimp are expensive live food. And correct, no Corydoras. I have seen a A. cacatuoides that choked on a Corydoras pygmaeus. The cichlid could be saved, the Corydoras had to be dismembered in order to be cut from its mouth.

I read somewhere that having a few bottom feeders could be a good thing, as it gives the mother something to protect the fry from which in turn makes her more diligent and caring. Seems weird to me but does anyone have any experience?
Wherever you got that from... please delete the bookmark or if it was on a forum ignore the user, that's wrong on many different levels.

The main reason for deaths in captive Apistogramma is stress. Be it behavioural, environmental or otherwise. Bottomdwellers in a dwarf cichlid tank are only okay in bigger display tanks, best if only keeping a bachelor group of Apistos. Additionally domestic fish are extremely overbred, having lots of health issues, malformities and shorter life expectancy than any wild caught or wild type fish. So preventing stress is really what you want.
 

Bakejullock

New Member
Messages
12
Almost 28°C... Turn down the temp, they age even more quickly than domestic fish do already. At that temp you can be glad if they live to be 2 years.
Also a tank that size is usually a bit too snug for the species. They grow quite big for Apistogramma. Especially the domestic ones.
Scratch the bloodworms from the menu, they have often schon to be a gamble. Many Apistogrmma-Owners have lost their fish to these.
Replace the flake food with pellets. Flakes tend to stay at the surface too long and Apistos are bottom feeders.
Now... proven are only the sexes. Most Apistogramma species do not form pairs. Usually the fish meet for spawning, then the female does the rest herself. More on that below.

What is an ideal temp? I only chose 82 based on what the previous owner had them at, along with some cursory web searching (on this board and elsewhere).

I will cease the flakes, although i always crush them and use a pipette to feed them into the water column. I don’t own any fish that will eat flake from the surface. Thank you for the blood worm advice, I will not feed that again. I have only fed them frozen bloodworms once (this morning) so hopefully I get lucky and they stay healthy.

Orange Flash among other names. There is neither a grading system nor a fixed nomenclature for domestic breeds (your fish do not occur in the wild in this form). The names are trade names and every hobby breeder can call their strain whatever they want.
Got it. I found an old post on reddit where people were calling them “double reds”, “triple reds” etc based upon how many fins showed red/orange coloration, with more being more desirable.
Possible to be an early attempt at spawning. Unusual to happen within the first days though.


She will also chase every other fish, regardless of species into the other half of the tank. Once the female as laid eggs the male will get the short end of the stick. All. The. Time.
And once she is not receptive anymore, he will chase her all the time. Your tank might as well turn out too small. Just as a heads up.
I am prepared to move the male to another tank if necessary. I can also move the pair into a 29 gallon if necessary.

It sounds like a sleeping pit. Especially male Apistogramma make those as they do not sleep in caves. "Tons of hiding spots" is a very relative sentence. Often what people perceive as a tank with lots of such spots, mistake caves for hiding spots and sight blocks for cover. Care sharing a picture of the whole tank for a better evaluation?

I will post a photo when I get home. What would be considered proper hiding spots if not caves and sight blocks?

Shrimp are expensive live food. And correct, no Corydoras. I have seen a A. cacatuoides that choked on a Corydoras pygmaeus. The cichlid could be saved, the Corydoras had to be dismembered in order to be cut from its mouth.


Wherever you got that from... please delete the bookmark or if it was on a forum ignore the user, that's wrong on many different levels.

I got that anecdote from this forum, although if I remember correctly it was a many year old post. I thought it seemed far fetched but figured I should confirm.

The main reason for deaths in captive Apistogramma is stress. Be it behavioural, environmental or otherwise. Bottomdwellers in a dwarf cichlid tank are only okay in bigger display tanks, best if only keeping a bachelor group of Apistos. Additionally domestic fish are extremely overbred, having lots of health issues, malformities and shorter life expectancy than any wild caught or wild type fish. So preventing stress is really what you want.

I will do my best to keep them stress free. I would like them to have a happy life if at all possible. Thanks for your time, and thorough answers!
 
Last edited:

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,180
Location
Germany
What is an ideal temp? I only chose 82 based on what the previous owner had them at, along with some cursory web searching (on this board and elsewhere).
So the previous owner is not a reliable source of information. 24-26°C is a good range.
Got it. I found an old post on reddit where people were calling them “double reds”, “triple reds” etc based upon how many fins showed red/orange coloration, with more being more desirable.
Yeah, but the desirability is not based on a real grading system but subjective personal or perceived preference. Often even going as far as "People find this desirable, so I will do so too." without any thought about it.
am prepared to move the male to another tank if necessary. I can also move the pair into a 29 gallon if necessary.
Being prepared to a sudden move is excellent. The bigger tank would be better long term.
I will post a photo when I get home. What would be considered proper hiding spots if not caves and sight blocks?
Appreciated.
Caves (except for spawning) are basically a dark hole in which predators can lurk.
Sight blocks are necessary for the fish to evade each other properly. A mix of driftwood, leaf litter and plant thickets and a lot of cover from above (twigs, floating plants) is a good idea.
Thanks for your time, and thorough answers!
My pleasure!
 

anewbie

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,464
I'd move them to the 29 immediately; waiting till you think you need to sep them is usually a day too late as in when things turn violent it will be over very quickly in a small aquarium. To be honest even a 29 that is not that large and needs good scapeing. The problem with fish violent is things will seem fine until they aren't. You go asleep one night and everything is peaceful and you wake up in the morning and one is dead and wonder why when everything was fine the night before.

temp wise 76-78 - they aren't too picky but 80-82 is too warm.
 

Bakejullock

New Member
Messages
12
So the previous owner is not a reliable source of information. 24-26°C is a good range.
Temp has been lowered and is sitting at 25C where it will remain!
Appreciated.
Caves (except for spawning) are basically a dark hole in which predators can lurk.
Sight blocks are necessary for the fish to evade each other properly. A mix of driftwood, leaf litter and plant thickets and a lot of cover from above (twigs, floating plants) is a good idea.

My pleasure!

Okay, here are some photos as it sits currently. I’ve got the driftwood, leaf litter, thickets and a lot (too many) of floating plants. It’s an overgrown mess but i’m afraid to do any trimming because I don’t want to stress them out, and I assumed heavy growth would provide cover and sight blocks. The female spends a lot of time exploring the thick jungle on the left, and the caves, while the male hangs out exclusively along the more open right side of the tank. You can barely see but there’s a large piece of driftwood on the left side surrounded by the jungle, the wood itself creates a cave-like archway and provides 3 “legs” thick enough to hide behind. Underneath the archway are 3 or 4 catappa leaves that have been there awhile, along with alder cones scattered throughout the tank. There is a stone cave underneath the arch as well as the plastic cave you can see on the right side.

Full tank:
View attachment IMG_0997.jpeg

left side close up:
View attachment IMG_0998.jpeg

Right side close up:

View attachment IMG_0999.jpeg

Thanks for all the feedback and advice. I love learning about these fish!

Edit: unsure why the photos won’t embed but if you click the attachments hopefully you can see them
 

Attachments

  • IMG_0999.jpeg
    5.6 MB · Views: 85
  • IMG_0998.jpeg
    5.9 MB · Views: 73
  • IMG_0997.jpeg
    6 MB · Views: 81

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,180
Location
Germany
Allright, don't even think about cutting back the plant thicket. It is what safes your setup. Because if for some reason you thin the plants out or if they die off the tank immediately becomes problematically understructured.

Here's some reference material:
structure dwarf cichlids.jpg A schematic view (for a bigger tank). Take note of the big piece of wood dividing the tank in two. This is useful structure if it also blocks the sight glass to glass and right above the sand. You shouldn't be able to look through under it. If you can, the fish can. And then it's not a sight block.

structure dwarf cichlids2.jpg structure dwarf cichlids3.jpg Just an example of how I like to build structures. Just for the theory. I use small rocks and pebbles to close the gaps.

structure.jpg The complete setup. It was for growing out a bachelor group of Dicrossus so I didn't have to close the whole thing.

photo_2023-08-15_18-12-26.jpg This is how the tank looks today. Note the wood cutting off the right back corner basically. The cichlids have divided the tank along it just as intended.
 

Bakejullock

New Member
Messages
12
Beautiful tank. I will construct my next one with more division and blocks. I assume apisto’s benefit from blackwater? I have been wanting to build a blackwater tank anyway so perhaps now is the time.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,180
Location
Germany
I assume apisto’s benefit from blackwater?
Not necessarily. Depends on the species. Your domestic fish will do with tap. You cam use softer water (GH/KH < 3) but they do not need true blackwater (conductivity as low as 10 and pH down to 4.5), not even true clearwater.
 

Bakejullock

New Member
Messages
12
Hey everyone, just an update. 2 days ago I woke up to find both male and female in the left side homemade cave. It was morning feeding time and I fed live baby brine and some pellets as usual, and neither fish would come out to eat. At that point I became a bit concerned that the male may be stuck inside the cave, as the opening is small, they had piled some sand in front, and there was also a piece of cholla wood partially blocking the entrance. He kept sticking his head out over and over, and I became convinced he was stuck, so i carefully and slowly moved the cholla wood away with some long tweezers. He remained peeking out for a bit and finally came out to eat. Huge relief! The female remained in the cave. Realizing that he wasn’t stuck after all I started to wonder if he was fertilizing eggs. After a day of work I came home to male back in his usual corner away from the cave, and female guarding the cave. Evening feeding time came and everyone reacted normally. While the female was on the other side of the tank eating, I used a flashlight to peek inside the cave. A whole bunch of salmon colored eggs stuck to the roof! This means it took them less than 6 full days to spawn after being moved into their new home. I have to say it was one of the most exciting moments of my fish keeping hobby thus far.

It has now been two days since discovery. I am working under the assumption that the eggs were fertilized that morning that they were both inside the cave, meaning (if the 3-5 day period I’ve read about is accurate) that I will see wigglers between tomorrow (monday) and wednesday. If all goes well of course! I am prepared to remove the male if things get nasty, but upon several hours of observation last night, the female has not displayed any concerning level of aggression. Yes I realize better safe than sorry so i will isolate him soon.

One observation I am curious about: there appears to be some salmon colored eggs scattered in front of the cave as well, in plain sight, laying on the sand. I cannot be sure, but they really seem to be the exact same size, shape and color as the eggs I am observing on the roof of the cave. Has anyone experienced this? Could the male (or female) have accidentally knocked them off the roof? I thought perhaps they were “kicked out” by the mother because they were sick or unfertilized, but I have never read about that kind of behavior, and from what i have read, the salmon color means they ARE fertilized. See photo below:

IMG_1232.jpeg
 

anewbie

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,464
The male will take no part in caring for the young or the eggs; that is all left to the female who will now 'hate' the male ;)

Reminds me of a story my biology teacher gave in the 8th grade. She said that female cats only have sex once since it was so painful to have kittens of course the whole class looked at her funny trying to decide what the heck she was talking about.
 

Bakejullock

New Member
Messages
12
11/8 update. A few days ago the mother moved all the eggs (including the ones scattered in front of the cave) into the other cave. This morning I spied wigglers inside the cave. It appears she piled the eggs up along the side of the cave, with the hatched wigglers crawling/swimming up the side. Or maybe they’re just attached there by the eggs. Either way it’s happening and I’m very excited!

I hatch baby brine shrimp daily, will this be small enough for them to eat when they become free swimming? If not I also have Sera powder fry food, microworms and vinegar eels.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,180
Location
Germany
I hatch baby brine shrimp daily, will this be small enough for them to eat when they become free swimming?
yes.

If not I also have Sera powder fry food, microworms and vinegar eels.
Toss the dry food.

Sorry to be a buzzkill, but...
You know where to put the fry once the female doesn't care for them anymore? Seems in your happiness you're overlooking the practical problems that come with fish procreating.
 

Bakejullock

New Member
Messages
12
yes.


Toss the dry food.

Sorry to be a buzzkill, but...
You know where to put the fry once the female doesn't care for them anymore? Seems in your happiness you're overlooking the practical problems that come with fish procreating.
I have a 29 gallon growout tank ready for the fry, and a 55 if that ends up too small, but I appreciate your concern! I’ll hang on to the dry food as it’s a great product for lots of other types of fry.

I was under the impression she will care for the fry for a few weeks at least?
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,180
Location
Germany
I have a 29 gallon growout tank ready for the fry, and a 55 if that ends up too small, but I appreciate your concern!
You're welcome. Seen too many people screaming "Yaaay, we got young!" first and a month down the line "I can't get rid of them and the parents have the 3rd clutch of eggs already! What shall I do?"
Allright, the bigger one will be big enough for growout if enough fry survive. At 4cm they are ready for the trade. Do you have a customer already? Otherwise I'd probably sepaarate the parents after this spawn.

I’ll hang on to the dry food as it’s a great product for lots of other types of fry.
For livebearers, barbs, tetras and other unfuzzy fish, sure. Not for cichlids though. But that's not because of the manufacturer but the fact it's dry food. Sera has their headquarters less than 100km from me, I've actually got a small pack of their insect-based pellets, those can compete with bug bites any day.
 

Bakejullock

New Member
Messages
12
Been feeding live bbs daily. They seem content. I am keeping a close eye on mom for signs that she’s done caring for them. I will remove her once that happens. They became free swimming on November 11, so this is day 4, I am hoping I have at least another 5-6 days before I need to remove her.IMG_1378.jpeg
 

Bakejullock

New Member
Messages
12
Great to know, dad is seperated and mom seems very attentive and caring. It’s a lot of fun watching her show them food and move them around in her mouth. I love watching the babies strike live baby brine shrimp, they really take their time before lunging. The female is colored up beautifully, her orange is deep and saturated and her ventral fins have turned black, they were a very light grey before.
 

Members online

Latest posts

Forum statistics

Threads
18,055
Messages
117,437
Members
13,142
Latest member
DavidWrona

Latest profile posts

jloponte wrote on hongyj's profile.
Please send me info regarding cuipeua. Thx, Joe.
jloponte wrote on hongyj's profile.
Where are you located?
Josh wrote on anewbie's profile.
Testing
EDO
Longtime fish enthusiast for over 70years......keen on Apistos now. How do I post videos?
Looking for some help with fighting electric blue rams :(
Top