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Luke3141

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Messages
6
TLDR: I would like to know the sex of these three for sure and what this tail flick/ biting behavior is. Is it territorial fighting or mating behavior?

Background
I should say from the start that this is my first go at apistos but I have housed other cichlids, as well as all the 'starter' fish ie guppies, platies, tetras exc. I have been in the aquarium hobby for 20+ years.

Recently I bought a pair of apistogramma cacatuoides orange flash from amy LPS. They both seemed like males to me but I was assured that one was male and the other female. Shortly after the 'male' died and I bought a new pair with the idea of having a couple females and a male. When I introduced them all together the old 'female', the largest of the group started chasing the new male and acting rather territorial. I assumed that the old 'female' was actually a male and so I actually had 2 males and a female. I separated them shortly after. I kept the large one and the small one in a 10 gallon with some pencil fish and the medium sized one moved to a 20 gallon with some guppies.

Recently the smallest one has been turning yellow which from what I have read is a sign she is ready to bread. I started doing a mirror treatment 2-3 times per week 10-15 minutes each time. After a week or so, she began this flicking behavior with her tail. But the large one is totally ignoring her. Now (about 2 weeks since starting the mirror) she has started occasionally nipping him when she gets tired of flicking. I am not sure why he is ignoring her but I thought maybe it was the size difference.

So today I switched the males. I was hoping that the smaller male might show more interest. As soon as I put them together she started flicking and biting and he started doing it right back. At one point he had most of her head in his mouth and after only 10 minutes I felt I needed to separate them or one of them would kill the other. Right now he is floating in a jar in the tank while I decide where to keep him for now.

Now I am confused. Why is she attacking this new male? Why is this new male attacking her? Are they actually male/female or are they the same gender?

Please help.
IMG 0310

^The largest one. Was sold to me as a female. Is mildly aggressive towards the medium one. Ignores the small one.
IMG 0311

IMG 0305

^The medium one. Was sold to me as a male. Just runs away from the large one. Flicks and bites the small one.

IMG 0306

^ The small one. Was sold as a female. Flicks both. Nips the large one. Aggressively attacks the medium one.
 

Mike Wise

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Staff member
5 Year Member
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10,632
Location
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
Yes, 2 males (top 2 fish) and a female. The female appears ready to court (fin flick and nips) but the the 1st male not so much. Then you made a mistake by replacing it with the 2nd male without rearranging the rather small tank - which the female now considers her entire territory. Female was interested but male was "a stranger in a strange land". My suggestion, remove all apistos, use 20 as the breeding tank with 2 - 3 pencils as dithers, but rearrange the decor first. Then add male #2 and female into the tank (with pencils) just before turning off the lights for the night. Then patience. Good luck.
 

Luke3141

New Member
Messages
6
Yes, 2 males (top 2 fish) and a female. The female appears ready to court (fin flick and nips) but the the 1st male not so much. Then you made a mistake by replacing it with the 2nd male without rearranging the rather small tank - which the female now considers her entire territory. Female was interested but male was "a stranger in a strange land". My suggestion, remove all apistos, use 20 as the breeding tank with 2 - 3 pencils as dithers, but rearrange the decor first. Then add male #2 and female into the tank (with pencils) just before turning off the lights for the night. Then patience. Good luck.
Thank you so much! That makes a lot of sense.
 

Luke3141

New Member
Messages
6
Update:
I rearranged the tank and reintroduced the female and small male in the dark. They are in the ten gallon because I have to move the 20 but then I will move them there. They get on much better now although the female still chases the male off a bit. Recently when cleaning the tank I even found eggs (that they ate in a couple days) and a few weeks later they had another batch and these made it to hatch but were eaten again after a few days. Next time I am going to move the eggs to a breeding net. I tried to get photos but they didn't turn out and I assume you all know what they look like in any case.

But now I am not sure if I should move them to the 20 gallon or leave them in the ten. They seem happy where they are. I suppose I'll leave it for a few weeks or a month and if they don't have another batch then I'll move them.

Thanks so much for all your help!
 

fyrefish

Member
Messages
53
Those fish have some nice colours. Good luck getting babies! My fish also have begun laying eggs recently and I was wondering if a breeding net/egg tumbler would work? I thought the fish would guard and fan the eggs with water, and they would usually eat the eggs the first few times they bred before being successful parents?
 

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