• 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!

New 300l Amazon biotope

Bagsofsmoke

New Member
Messages
8
Hi all,

I'm new to the forum. I am setting up a 300l (80 US gallon) rimless Amazon biotope aquarium. It will be blackwater, with moderate planting and CO2, and lots of botanicals, wood etc.

I plan to stock with:

30 x tetras (species TBD), or possibly 2 x 15 of 2 different species
1-2 x Ancistrus
6 x Otocinchlus
8 corydoras (species TBD)

I would really like to keep some apistogramma (cacatuoides) and / or some rams. I have kept larger central and south american cichlids before (Firemouths and Blue Acaras) but never dwarf cichlids.

In a tank that size, would it be feasible to keep 1 male apistogramma and 3-4 females? Or a male / female pair and then a small group of rams?

I've also seen quite different temperature ranges given for apistogramma cacatuoides, from 24-27 C to 26-29 C. Advice welcome!

I'm keen to ensure the water parameters are as suitable as possible for the intended species.

Thanks in advance for your assistance.
 

anewbie

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,331
You won't want cory or pleco with dwarf cichild if you expect them to breed; and if you don't expect them to breed you should drop the females to avoid aggression conflict.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,891
Location
Germany
Also Amazon Biotope is relatively non-descript. The Amazon Basin is huge and has dozens of tributaries (even tributary basins!) and habitat types. If you want a biotope/habitat type tank, you will have to decide either on a more specific location or river-subsystem or a habitat type.

300l (80 US gallon)
Dimensions, please.

6 x Otocinchlus
Absolutely not advisable for a freshly setup tank. At earliest 6 months run-time are necessary to sustain them without supplementory feeding. (Which in a new tank messes up the water parameters massively.)

1-2 x Ancistrus
Tend to compete with Apistogramma for caves and as these catfish have a tendency for nocturnal activity not really a good match with diurnal dwarf cichlids. If you get 2 make sure they're females. A pair will breed worse than guppies, two males will at one point kill each other.

8 corydoras (species TBD)
Depending on the footprint of the tank this might also go haywire in combination with dwarf cichlids. Also 10-15 would be a much more appropriate number.

It will be blackwater
Are we talking actual blackwater or false blackwater?

with moderate planting and CO2
Scratch that. You want biotope - get emersed, semi-emersed and floating plants, which can grab CO2 from the air. Especially if you want true blackwater this means the water will not be buffered.

or some rams
Mikrogeophagus ramirezi hail from the Orinoco River Basin, not from the Amazon Basin.

To me the plan sounds like a South American community.
 

Bagsofsmoke

New Member
Messages
8
Also Amazon Biotope is relatively non-descript. The Amazon Basin is huge and has dozens of tributaries (even tributary basins!) and habitat types. If you want a biotope/habitat type tank, you will have to decide either on a more specific location or river-subsystem or a habitat type.


Dimensions, please.


Absolutely not advisable for a freshly setup tank. At earliest 6 months run-time are necessary to sustain them without supplementory feeding. (Which in a new tank messes up the water parameters massively.)


Tend to compete with Apistogramma for caves and as these catfish have a tendency for nocturnal activity not really a good match with diurnal dwarf cichlids. If you get 2 make sure they're females. A pair will breed worse than guppies, two males will at one point kill each other.


Depending on the footprint of the tank this might also go haywire in combination with dwarf cichlids. Also 10-15 would be a much more appropriate number.


Are we talking actual blackwater or false blackwater?


Scratch that. You want biotope - get emersed, semi-emersed and floating plants, which can grab CO2 from the air. Especially if you want true blackwater this means the water will not be buffered.


Mikrogeophagus ramirezi hail from the Orinoco River Basin, not from the Amazon Basin.

To me the plan sounds like a South American community.
Thank you very much for taking the time to respond so comprehensively - it's much appreciated!

In answer to your questions:

Dimensions are 120 x 55 x 53cm

I have a massive piece of wood which offers a lot hiding places and have also created numerous other hiding places in the hardscape - a pair of apistogrammas should be able to find one to their liking and deconflict with an ancistrus or handful of otocinchlus.

Actual blackwater. I will use RO water appropriately re-treated, and have already been preparing a load of botanicals (a whole host of appropriate leaves including catappa, seed pods etc).

Fair point on the rams. I'll stick with Apistogrammae. Point taken too about the suitability of other bottom dwellers like corydoras. Whilst I know apistogramma species are bottom dwellers I hadn't appreciated they were that incompatible in a relatively large aquarium.

On the planting front I was planning on only native South American species (echinodorus etc), including a number of emersed and floating plants.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,891
Location
Germany
120 x 55 x 53cm
As mentioned above I would avoid females then. If well structured a group of 3 males could be feasable. Depending on the species of Apistogramma, because:

Actual blackwater. I will use RO water appropriately re-treated, and have already been preparing a load of botanicals (a whole host of appropriate leaves including catappa, seed pods etc).
Then I would probably avoid A. cacatuoides unless you get wildcaughts or wildtype F1- F5 from an originally blackwater population. The domestic strains you get are not as tolerant of soft water as they used to be it turns out. Depending on your experience level I'd probably recommend wild type specimens of other species.

On the planting front I was planning on only native South American species (echinodorus etc), including a number of emersed and floating plants.
Then you can completely ignore CO2 injection and rather invest the money in some more appropriate and less common fish that will really appreciate the biotope approach and reward with great behaviour.
I have no experience with Echinodorus in softwater, but otherwise I can definitely recommend relatively simple plants: Hydrocotyle leucocephala, Limnobium, several kinds of Salvinia, Nymphaea are also a big success in this water.
You will need a good amount of leaf litter in the course of a year. I go through a 25 liter bucket of leaves a year from fall to fall. It will take about 3-4 months until you will see significant change in pH. Just keep adding leaves (10-15 in your case every 2-3 weeks) and humic substances (bi-weekly) regularly. A mix of leaves, alder cones and rooibos has proven very effective to maintain roughly 5 pH with a TDS of around 30mg/l. It's still not true blackwater but a good approximation for a home aquarium.

Point taken too about the suitability of other bottom dwellers like corydoras. Whilst I know apistogramma species are bottom dwellers I hadn't appreciated they were that incompatible in a relatively large aquarium.
Another thing is, Corydoras prefer open sand. Apistogramma mostly prefer the leaf litter zones or the areas with some of both. If you stick to a group of males (always uneven numbers and in your tank max 3) the combination with Corydoras might work.

Below some pictures of my tank, only about a hundred liters net volume. I go the biotope direction in terms of a habitat type, which is somewhere between a morichal and an Igápo. My pencilfish occur with both the tetras and the cichlid, but the cichlid and the tetras do not occur together in nature. The actual fish are partially wild caught. The Dicrossus hails from Colombia, the Nannostomus from Peru and the tetras originally from Brazil, but mine are tankbred I'm certain.

20230213_093516.jpg
20230213_093524.jpg
20230213_093716.jpg
20230313_144745.jpg
 

Apistoguy52

Active Member
Messages
260
If you’re going full on RO/blackwater, cacatuoides is probably a less than ideal species as they’re typically found in clear/white water. Perhaps A. allpahuayo would be a good cacatuoides type alternative that’s more blackwater friendly
 

Mazan

Active Member
Messages
281
I second the comments about CO2, absolutely not necessary, as well as the plants mentioned by MacZ I have found that Echinodorus species (the green ones) do perfectly well in a low tech set up with low light and no CO2, even if the tank is pretty well covered with water lettuce. Cabomba also works well for me in the same situation. As well as costing more the CO2 system will just add more unnecessary complications.
 

Mazan

Active Member
Messages
281
Also I think if you use CO2 you also need strong light which is not really appropriate for a blackwater biotope. And you want to see all the twigs and botanicals, and not have them swamped by over exuberant plant growth that needs to be trimmed or thinned out every week.
 

Bagsofsmoke

New Member
Messages
8
Thank you all for your advice. I will dispense with the CO2 then! I'll share a photo or two of the aquarium once it's up and running. I've finished the hardscape but have yet to add water or any plants (I'm waiting for my light to arrive). The filter is set up and good to go. Then the waiting begins for the tank to cycle fully! I've scaped it with some deliberate open sandier areas and others which will be more strewn with leaf litter and other botanicals, roots etc. There are plenty of areas which I think would appeal to apistogrammas too. I'll let you know what I decide to stock once the water parameters are stabilised and the tank is fully cycled.
 

anewbie

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,331
Just be aware that the sort of plants that can grow in pure blackwater is a bit more restrictive than what can grow in mineral rich water.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,891
Location
Germany
I've finished the hardscape but have yet to add water or any plants (I'm waiting for my light to arrive).
Maybe show us that before finalizing. Structure is key, as we all know.

On the topic of cycling: Cycling works differently in softwater. In very soft water the nitrogen cycle is taken over by archaeans, yeasts and fungi, many of which colonize the botanicals. So basically a lot of those act as the biological filtration in direct view. Of course many will colonize the filter media in your filter as well. But the fact the cycle starts with the botanicals is important.
Also you will have to check for Nitrite, not Ammonia, as in low pH Ammonia (NH3) will almost completely be present as Ammonium (NH4), which is mostly harmless. Low pH makes Nitrite more toxic, so that's something to look for.
If you are really lucky the nitrite stage will completely fall flat, though. As mentioned: The microorganisms responsible for the cycle are different from "the usual suspects". Many skip the stage and metabolize Ammonium directly to Nitrate.

Anyhow, if you add a good amount of plants with access to atmospheric CO2, you can expect to never detect any nitrogen compounts. I have to add fertilizers, otherwise my plants start to die off within a week.

So basically, if set up correctly you can add the first fish after 2 weeks already. Something I would never advice to someone using regular tapwater. But with 100% RO, humic substances, botanicals and plants I see no problem. But stock with low density and slowly.
After the first fish are added quarantine separately. This kind of tank is almost impossible to treat with meds.
 

Bagsofsmoke

New Member
Messages
8
You might not want them to breed but the fish do! This is the kind of thing that stresses a community of fish.
I am well aware from prior experience. I kept fish as a teenager almost 30 years ago. I started with a community tank, then decided to get a second tank so I could keep some bigger cichlids (blue acara) and a plec, moving the smaller community fish to the smaller tank. The blue acaras then mated so I moved them to a third tank to raise their fry. That's the problem with fishkeeping, one aquarium is never enough... (a bit like bikes!).

Having had a c.25 year break, I recently set up a 60l planted community tank for my 8 year old son. He is already obsessed with fish (as is my 10 year old daughter, who obtained her PADI Open Water dive qualification in the Maldives last summer - my wife and I are keen divers too). I always wanted a larger aquarium for myself though, and redecorating our living room was the perfect opportunity (my wife is a biologist who spent quite a while doing research in the Amazon, so she was massively in favour of an Amazon biotope).

I'm a huge believer in providing the best possible environment for pets - my son's leopard gecko lives in a bioactive vivarium with a thriving community of cephalopods and other clean up crew, as does my daughter's corn snake. I'm hoping the large aquarium will offer a stimulating environment for the fish I keep in it. I really appreciate everyone's input, thank you.
 

Mazan

Active Member
Messages
281
That's the problem with fishkeeping, one aquarium is never enough... (a bit like bikes!).
Haha that sounds just like us - me with tanks, my husband with bikes! I am also a biologist and have spent time in the Amazon and Central America - so I can relate. I am not sure about the cephalopods in the vivarium though - aren't they all marine species?
 

Members online

Latest posts

Forum statistics

Threads
17,873
Messages
115,831
Members
12,994
Latest member
Cuzcosmulp

Latest profile posts

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 :(
Partial updated Peruvian list have more than this. Please PM FOR ANY QUESTIONS so hard to post with all the ads poping up every 2 seconds….
我的英语很差,请原谅我!
Top