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New to keeping Apistogramma, Help, Advice, Questions I have.

smokecombs1015

New Member
Messages
11
Location
Yosemite, Kentucky
Starting off I hope I've not broken any rules making a new thread. I read the rules but sometimes I still seem to break a rule or two upon entering as a new member to various forums. So if I have I apologize in advance.

I have been interested in Apistogramma for many years, from an old aquarium book I've had since I was a kid I got in 1980. I think it was the borelli, or boreli species, but the pic was non colored and just showed the basic shape of the fish, which I liked. The main point I liked was the fact of a cichlid being "fairly peaceful and community compatible"...So anyways to shorten up a long story of fishkeeping, I've kept fish since I was around 8 years old, goldfish was my starter fish and quickly outgrew an old pickle bologna jar. Lol. I was a poor kid in rural Kentucky and got, as I called him, a hammerhead black goldfish. Haha. Not even sure what they are called for sure, but I thought of him as a hammerhead. Anyways he just got so big I had to release him in a neighbors goldfish pond where he grew to a large size. I checked on him almost daily for many weeks. Eventually I was lured to cichlids. In my adult years I have bred convicts, rams, and managed to get some angelfish fry once. Rams I've had luck, and bad luck both. Depended where I bought them. To be honest my favorite fish I've ever had was a very good specimen of a paradise fish. He was beautiful, super intelligent, and wouldn't take crap from other fish. He and a dominant angelfish I had used to have territorial battles for the ages, but never seemed to hurt each other. Apistogramma, in looks, body shape, somewhat coloring of the cacatoides double reds or orange flash remind me a bit of paradise fish. So I have "had to have one" for some time.

Finally found a fish store that isn't so local (I drive 2 hours and a half to get there), that will order these guys for me. They received 6 but when I got there the guy could only get me 5. I think one had been sold on accident. But these guys are small, and although pretty, not quite as colorful as I thought. The finnage for sure is not where I want it. But I assume, and hope these are quite young fish. The largest 2 are slightly larger than my female guppy, smaller than my plump female platies, and quite a big smaller than my German Blue Rams. Overall length including tail fin is about an inch and a half on the largest. I also don't know if I have males or females, or a mix. I'm thinking I have 2 females and 3 males.

My question is, how large will a large male apistogramma cacatuoides grow to? Will they be larger than a German Blue Ram, same size, or quite a bit smaller? Can you distinguish if I have any males from the videos and pics I will post? Would someone be so kind as to show me pics of various stages of growth, example, 1 month with a pic, 3 months old pic, 6 months, a year, and fully mature male and female? If that is not too much trouble. Or could someone link me to such a pictorial thread here? I have googled and haven't found definitive pictures like this. Does the color improve with age? And judging on the looks of my video I will link, do I have a good enough environment for these fish? In the video take note I have removed the Bolivian rams to their own tank. The Bolivians and the German Blue were at odds with each other too much and the Apistos are so small right now I was just afraid all the commotion would stress them out. So I have removed the Bolivian rams and only have the 5 apistos, 2 German Blue rams, cories, 3 platies, and 5 bloodfins in my 55 gallon tank. The tank has driftwood, spiderwood, fake plants, live water wisteria, 1/3 sand substrate on one side, 2/3 gravel, oak leaves, lava rock, and coconut shell huts. Here is some video and I'll try to put up some pics.
 

smokecombs1015

New Member
Messages
11
Location
Yosemite, Kentucky
This is the guys I bought this past Saturday, in bag assimilating.
Apistogramma Cacatuoides I bought.jpg
 

smokecombs1015

New Member
Messages
11
Location
Yosemite, Kentucky
Anyone...lol. The video show anything I need to rearrange/change environment wise? Established tank, about a year for this particular tank, cycled well. I really want to have a clue how much more my male apistos might grow. Largest is maybe 1.75" including tail. I notice the lighter orange, less colored male who is slightly bigger is dominating the other 2 males. If they breed not sure I should put him in another tank so he doesn't breed his weaker colors in, or use him as the breeder due to his stronger more boisterous nature. I really just want to breed to have a supply for myself, 3 other community tanks in my house, another 55, 29, and a 10.
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
Messages
11,177
Location
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
First welcome to the apisto forum. If you take some time and use 'search' I'm pretty sure you'll find most of your questions already answered. I'll try to answer some of your questions.

Size: A. cacatuoides males can reach 3 - 3½" / 7.5-8 cm TL (including tail); females remain smaller 2 - 2½" / 5 - 6.5 cm. Your fish are still juveniles and almost impossible to sex at their present size. Color normally can't be used to sex domestic color strains.

I don't know of anyone who has done a developmental growth study on A. cacatuoides. There are plenty of photos of fully mature A. cacatuoides on the web, however.

Color: It varies depending on domestic strain / wild population. Proper feeding will keep much of the color present and certain live foods containing caratinoids can brighten the colors.

Tank: It really depends on how it's decorated. Each of these little cichlids is territorial and will want its own territory. Therefore, the tank needs to be set up with many visual territorial boundaries and the lines-of-sight need to be broken, too.

Breeding: A community tank is not a breeding tank - especially if you want any number of fry to survive. Cory cats are fine for grow-out tanks, but can disturb breeding females. Many schooling fish are fry predators. Since only the female guards the fry, multiple simultaneous attacks can decimate a spawn.
 

smokecombs1015

New Member
Messages
11
Location
Yosemite, Kentucky
Thanks a ton, Mike, for your advice, help, etc.. In regards to my tank setup/environment did you watch my video in the thread? And if so do you see anything wrong for the apistos in the tank. I will setup a separate tank for breeding. I have an extra 10 gallon here. Thanks again, this is a great website.
 

smokecombs1015

New Member
Messages
11
Location
Yosemite, Kentucky
IF I do have multiple males, what age should I think about separating them? If I see one starting to dominate too much, and he starts showing larger finnage, etc.. thus proving he's dominant? He then likely might kill the younger males, correct? My tank is 55 gallon, so adequate size, however my fish still seem to find fights when they want them. The fact is, even 4 feet isn't a lot of room to run from a fight if the aggressor isn't simply satisfied that the other fish runs to another corner. I've seen that happen too many times when I had convicts.
 

Mike Wise

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Staff member
5 Year Member
Messages
11,177
Location
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
Your 55 is fine for a community tank. For breeding apistos IMHO the bottom is too open. Most of the structure sits above the gravel (which is rather coarse for geophagines like apistos and rams). The coconut shell has an opening much too large to make the ideal breeding cave. The ideal cave has an opening that the female can easily block with gravel or her body, if threatened. The opening only needs to be large enough for the female to slide through - on her side. While I've successfully bred many apistos in a 10, it's much more likely to succeed in something larger - less aggression. As for separating males. This usually isn't a problem if there are adequate territories with visual boundaries. Most male aggression is display and not actually attacks. I actually find females are more vicious to other females.
 

smokecombs1015

New Member
Messages
11
Location
Yosemite, Kentucky
Your 55 is fine for a community tank. For breeding apistos IMHO the bottom is too open. Most of the structure sits above the gravel (which is rather coarse for geophagines like apistos and rams). The coconut shell has an opening much too large to make the ideal breeding cave. The ideal cave has an opening that the female can easily block with gravel or her body, if threatened. The opening only needs to be large enough for the female to slide through - on her side. While I've successfully bred many apistos in a 10, it's much more likely to succeed in something larger - less aggression. As for separating males. This usually isn't a problem if there are adequate territories with visual boundaries. Most male aggression is display and not actually attacks. I actually find females are more vicious to other females.
Awesome info again, thanks. I haven't found a good method (or not inventive enough) to make one small hole in a coconut and still get all the meat out of the coconut? Unless I saw it evenly in half and clean it out, then silicone it back together...I'll probably be able to find a DIY video on how to do this. Or just buy something artificial. I like the aesthetic of a real coconut though, plus benefits of some tannins. I did notice in many youtube videos it is the female apistos that are battling it out with each other. Very cool if I can leave the males together, at least a couple. Then I can have a breeder male when I setup my other tank. Planning on adding a little more leaf litter to the tank. I don't like the gravel to be honest. May remove it and add a thinner layer of substrate. Or perhaps just a leaf bottom?
 

dw1305

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Messages
2,746
Location
Wiltshire UK
Hi all,
I haven't found a good method (or not inventive enough) to make one small hole in a coconut and still get all the meat out of the coconut? Unless I saw it evenly in half and clean it out, then silicone it back together......
You can use 1/2 a coconut, details are here: <"Ideal spawning cave">.
Planning on adding a little more leaf litter to the tank. I don't like the gravel to be honest. May remove it and add a thinner layer of substrate. Or perhaps just a leaf bottom?
Ideally you want sand as a substrate and then dead leaves on top.

Have a look at <"All the leaves are brown">.

cheers Darrel
 

smokecombs1015

New Member
Messages
11
Location
Yosemite, Kentucky
Thanks for even more advice, Darrel! I went and bought more sand yesterday and now all I have is a little 5 inch wide section of gravel in which I have some plants rooted, both sides are surrounded by sand (48" long tank, so at least 42" of sand coverage). I noticed I had a nearly dead male (I believe) apisto and removed him to my hospital tank. He had blood spots and missing scales. He died after about 2 hours in the hospital tank, looked like his back was broken as it seemed curved in, plus the bloody looking spots and scales missing. Then today noticed the smaller of my males, but more colorful was attacking the larger male with less color. Both are still quite small, under 2". The larger male is not swimming well at all and removing him to my hospital tank. In the earlier post I think I was right, I ended up with 4 males and 1 female. Well, right now in the tank I have only 1 male (the more colorful one, brighter red with longer fins) and the female. They are the only 2 apistos out of 5, left. My rams are perfectly fine, perfectly healthy, and they rarely bother the apistos. Bloodfin tetras, cory cats, etc.. all fine. I actually witnessed some of the male apisto going after the larger male apisto. So I'm not so sure whether he killed the other 2, or if this other male was already sick and he's just picking on a sick fish. To me it looked as if the other male was fine until after the attack. They got wedged down between a lava rock and some plants and I couldn't tell what was going on in the battle. Just a few minutes later the other male came up looking very very worse for wear.
 

smokecombs1015

New Member
Messages
11
Location
Yosemite, Kentucky
The large male that was injured, or appeared injured from fighting the smaller male (unless there was an underlying condition), actually made it. Still alive and much healthier today, eating, etc.. My nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia levels were good. The smaller male apisto seems to be growing in some larger colorless "finnage" around his tail fin and lyretail points (whatever you call it) seems to be extending. Dorsal fin rays have grown as well. I assume, even though he's smaller, he's going to be the more dominant male. Not sure if I should put the other male back in the tank. Seems to be doing fine in my 10 gallon, but may put him in my son's 29. My apistos seem to stay hid quite a bit (probably normal), even though I only have minimal leaves in the tank right now. I bought 2 more coconuts and made 1 small entrance on each of them. Right now the female and male could enter it as the males are still only a little over half their adult size. I'm going to continue to monitor my water parameters but I can't imagine anything is wrong with my touchy rams and corys doing so well.
 

smokecombs1015

New Member
Messages
11
Location
Yosemite, Kentucky
Super bummed. Only 3 weeks of having these fish and all males are dead except one. I do not know what I am doing wrong. All fish in my tank are super healthy, German blue ram male, medium gold ram, school of 5 bloodfins, and a couple of guppies. The Bolivian rams I moved to another tank were 100% healthy in this tank and are still healthy in the smaller tank. I have invested in all sand, 3 coconuts, collected leaf litter, added a little extra driftwood...I just don't understand it. I have rarely killed off mass quantities of fish, at least in the same species. Does anyone think I may have got a bad strain/batch? I ordered them from a petshop in southern Indiana. They had to check if they could order them, called me back and said they could, no problem. I got 5 of the 6 fish they got in, all right around the 1 and a half inch mark, maybe 1 fish was close to 2. They basically hung at the bottom, and quarreled a little bit among each other, and threatened the rams whenever they got close. I do know I have hardly ever witnessed them eat. Will they refuse flake food? I had flakes (discus flakes with garlic, pretty high quality food by Ocean Nutrition), and sinking pellets from API that I crush into slightly smaller chunks. Have I starved them to death? Usually with fish I've raised they sometimes refuse flakes for maybe 2 or 3 days, maybe even over a week, but eventually they eat, or they are eating in cover where I can't see them. Apistos have been at the top of my list of fish I wanted to keep, maybe even raise and supply my other smallish tanks in the house. I fear this male isn't going to make it. He just slithers on the bottom of the sand, from one side to the other. Looks very listless. Still pretty color in his tail and dorsal. His body is nearly a black color. I have good levels on my water, and these rams are usually pretty finicky, and they are awesomely healthy, as are my cory cats who also seem to show signs of illness early if something is wrong. I have done a water change every 7 to 10 days since having these fish. Temp is staying around 78. I wanted to find a "happy medium" for the rams and the apistos. I just wonder if this is me, or something to do with the batch of fish I got. Have I starved them, or is there a water quality, environmental quality I'm missing? I've basically rearranged my tank to what I considered, putting the apistos first, and hoping everyone else would adjust. It's been near the opposite. The remaining male, and the female, if I can find her. I don't know whether to relocate them to my small 5 gallon holding tank or leave them in the 55. There is no visible disease signs.
 

smokecombs1015

New Member
Messages
11
Location
Yosemite, Kentucky
I've never felt so bad about killing fish. In my experience it comes with the hobby, at least at some point. Even when you do everything right (and I rarely do). But I felt I worked harder this time to make an environment as close as possible. Plus these are probably my favorite fish, or what I thought would be my ideal cichlid (small, but not crazily aggressive, however still with some cool territorial behaviors and that touch of cichlid attitude). Plus, IMO, these fish look like flames are shooting out of their body with that finnage. Maybe melodramatic but I am devastated. Got the last little male here in a cup now, he's very listless. Assimilating him gradually to go in this 5 gallon hospital tank. Very pretty little fish still, but it's like he isn't thinking clearly, just going through the motions of moving his fins, slowly to stay upright. Female is still in the big tank, I couldn't find her. She was moving well yesterday. They always stayed hid a lot from day 1.
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
Messages
11,177
Location
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
IMHO live and frozen foods are the way to go. I've tried many, many different flakes and pellets. The only one the eagerly ate was the original 1980s formula of Aquarian flakes (no longer made). Everything else is taken and then spit out. I imagine some is sifted out of the substrate later, but it doesn't seem to be enough to keep apistos happy. My apistos get some live BBS and frozen food (almost) every day.
 

Phile

Member
Messages
58
Location
Indianapolis, Indiana USA
IMHO live and frozen foods are the way to go. I've tried many, many different flakes and pellets. The only one the eagerly ate was the original 1980s formula of Aquarian flakes (no longer made). Everything else is taken and then spit out. I imagine some is sifted out of the substrate later, but it doesn't seem to be enough to keep apistos happy. My apistos get some live BBS and frozen food (almost) every day.

I agree about the live food. Fish go nuts over it and it gives them something to do. When I used to breed killifish, I had all sorts of live cultures going--baby brine shrimp ( very easy to do), vinegar worms, grindall worms, white worms, micro worms. During the summer, I kept a large plastic tub of daphnia in the shade in my back yard. If the daphnia culture fails ( or if one of your son's friends thinks he's doing you a favor and dumps it out--yeah, it happened), you can always raise mosquito larvae and bloodworms in it. Just be sure to cover it with fiberglass screen to prevent escapee adults--you will not be popular with the neighbors if that happens. There used to be a site called "The Bug Farm" that sold all sorts of starter cultures along with some fish. I don't know if they're still around.
 

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