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Potentially sick female A. Agassizii? Help

Adam Scho

New Member
Messages
6
Hi, I have a 1 month old 25 gallon tank which I cycled and introduced a pair of Agassizii and 10 CPDs to about a week ago.

Everything started out great. They were eating immediately, then the female started staking out her turf and showing what I thought was breeding behavior. Turning over on her side when the male flashed at her.

This morning I found her hiding in the upper corner of the tank behind the outflow buffer. She still eats but won’t move very far and isn’t active. For a couple days she had a string of white feces hanging out but eventually passed it.

Water parameters are fine, 0/0/10 and ph of 7.8. What could this be a sign of? Potentially internal parasites? They have been eating live baby brine, flake, pellet, and freeze dried daphnia.

The male and everyone else seem okay :( I haven’t noticed much aggression between the pair. If anything the female has been the aggressor.
 

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Adam Scho

New Member
Messages
6
I think I figured it out...the male is aggressively flashing and chasing/nipping her until she retreats to the corner of the tank. I don't think this pair is working out. I don't know what to do...
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,740
Location
Germany
This is a social problem, no parasite, no disease. Your tank is lacking cover and structure that breaks the lines of sight. In this tank size you have to have a second tank to separate them as needed. She hasn't been the aggressor either, this was self defense.
Usually when a dwarf cichlid is in an upper corner of a tank this means it's homeless. No free territory real estate left in the tank. Move one of the fish to another tank or the male might kill her.
Any redo or rescape will come to late if you don't remove her now.

We have a lot of threads here on the forum that explain the needs of these fish.
 

Adam Scho

New Member
Messages
6
I will remove one of them, thanks. I thought there would be plenty of cover with all the rocks and plants in the back. Would it be reasonable to take him out and let her settle in and maybe grow a little bit before reintroducing them? The plants are growing quite fast so maybe things will fill out. I'll add more cover as well.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,740
Location
Germany
Would it be reasonable to take him out and let her settle in and maybe grow a little bit before reintroducing them?
No, sadly plants alone don't suffice. The hardscape is too open and too spartanic. Lines of sight have to be broken. If a fish can see the other from the other side of the tank it's not going to work out.

Here I have written in some more detail how to structure a dwarf cichlid tank and linked there to another thread with moreexplanations.
 

dw1305

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Messages
2,602
Location
Wiltshire UK
Hi all,
the male is aggressively flashing and chasing/nipping her until she retreats to the corner of the tank. I don't think this pair is working out.
Apistogramma agassizii aren't pair forming, she isn't in breeding condition, so the male is trying to drive her out of his territory and then wait for another, hopefully receptive, female to move in. He doesn't know that no other female is going to appear. @Mike Wise suggests a <"short piece of pipe in a top corner"> where the fish can hide until you can remove her.
For a couple days she had a string of white feces hanging out but eventually passed it.
That is strongly suggestive of <"internal parasites">. They may be protozoan, but <"Camallanus infection"> is rife in commercially bred Apistogramma.
I have a 1 month old 25 gallon tank which I cycled and introduced a pair of Agassizii and 10 CPDs to about a week ago.
I will remove one of them, thanks. I thought there would be plenty of cover with all the rocks and plants in the back.
Have a look at <"Seasoned Tank Time"> and also <"Dwarf Cichlid tank">, this is what we mean by tank maturity, structure and blocking line of sight.

cheers Darrel
 

Adam Scho

New Member
Messages
6
Thanks for all the feedback. I will admit I thought I was giving them a perfect home but there is still some work to do. Fortunately, I've bought some time.

Next day update:

I removed the male and put him in Pisto Prison - a temporary 5 gallon. I used established filter media but will be checking params a few times a day.

I had a small ammonia spike (.25ppm) yesterday - yes I know the tank was not mature enough but we're here now - I dosed with prime for some immediate relief and did a 40% water change. Levels are back to 0 this morning.

The female is doing better. She likes to hide at the top in the floating plants but is coming down more to pick around at the substrate and chase a CPD here and there which is a good sign. She is still eating but I'm watching for any more signs of internal parasites. With the other stress she's endured, I can't rule that out yet. Her color has returned.

I'm having a bit of trouble maintaining a stable Ph. I use RO water dosed with equilibrium, alkaline buffer, and acid buffer (2:1 ratio targeting 7.0 ph). On a fresh water change, the ph will be around a 7 then it increases through the day. My Gh is also a little higher than I want, but I suspect my plant substrate and ferts are increasing that.

Things are stable at the moment. I'm going to fill this tank to the brim with driftwood and anubias this weekend. Once she is behaving normally and the scape is more dense I will consider adding him back in. I'm afraid that they are permanently incompatible, I was hoping for some fry but I've got other challenges at the moment. Is there a decent chance that all things provided, she will tolerate breeding with him? Or will his presence at all in the tank bring back trauma and prevent it?
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,740
Location
Germany
Honestly, just return the female to the store or rehome it ASAP. You are not ready to manage a pair or group of Apistogramma, yet. No offense intended, but I see your lack in experience is going to become a... well, a mortal risk to your fish.

I'm having a bit of trouble maintaining a stable Ph. I use RO water dosed with equilibrium, alkaline buffer, and acid buffer (2:1 ratio targeting 7.0 ph). On a fresh water change, the ph will be around a 7 then it increases through the day. My Gh is also a little higher than I want, but I suspect my plant substrate and ferts are increasing that.
Instead of messing around with buffers, just use straight up RO (you will have to do several waterchanges with RO over the course of several days to acllimate the fish) and add humic substances in the form of IALs, alder cone extract and botanicals. The pH will be lowe than 7.0, but also stable and the water will be much more suitable for Apistogramma.
 

Adam Scho

New Member
Messages
6
Honestly, just return the female to the store or rehome it ASAP. You are not ready to manage a pair or group of Apistogramma, yet. No offense intended, but I see your lack in experience is going to become a... well, a mortal risk to your fish.

I'll admit I bit off a little more than I could chew initially, but I identified the issue before it escalated out of control. Your assessment is a bit extreme and not that helpful. In this moment, there is no "mortal risk" to my fish. I'm taking steps to minimize the aggression. Besides, how do you expect me to gain experience keeping the fish without keeping the fish?

As for the water, this was the first small ammonia spike in weeks. I suspect I just overfed because they appeared to be getting along initially and showing courtship (turned into aggression obviously). Again - immediately corrected it without any harm to the fish.

People breed these fish with nothing more than a few plants and a coconut hut (not saying that's responsible fish keeping). What I'd really like to know is whether under ideal conditions, these two could ever get along. If not, I can find a new home for the female and try again with one he may find more suitable.

I'm going to take the advice from this thread and my research and try to reintroduce them in a couple weeks in a much denser tank. Of course I'll have my eye on them the whole time and now I understand more about what to look for. If you have suggestions on how to do that, I'm all ears. I'm not going to give up when there are solutions to my problem. I'm sure that anyone who has kept apistos has dealt with aggression at some point.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,740
Location
Germany
Besides, how do you expect me to gain experience keeping the fish without keeping the fish?
As there is no nice way to say it: By researching properly and setting up a tank tailored to the fish before buying them.
I don't like to be the buzzkill and a basshole, but there are few things that grind my gears worse than people jumping into it underprepared. Maybe because there have been things I have done wrong for the same reason - not being prepared enough. First priority is the fishes wellbeing, then everything else.

As for the water, this was the first small ammonia spike in weeks. Again - immediately corrected it without any harm to the fish.
That's kinda proving my point. Your tank should be seasoned and "corrections" unnecessary. How long until this fails?

People breed these fish with nothing more than a few plants and a coconut hut (not saying that's responsible fish keeping).
Professional breeders (sometimes, but usually not, also basement or garage operations or collectors) keep the females separate in smaller tanks and only add the males for mating and let the females then do the raising of the fry alone. That's the kind of breeding you are describing. And even amateurs have spare tanks running all the time to separate fish at any given point. Context. You often only get to see the setup but no explanations.

Otherwise, I know, it may seem not helpful, but what else am I supposed to advise, if the options are slim? You have only a too small, uncycled tank for backup and some of your comments make me assume you are not aware of the possibilities of softwater aquatics.
 

dw1305

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Messages
2,602
Location
Wiltshire UK
Hi all,
I'm having a bit of trouble maintaining a stable Ph. I use RO water dosed with equilibrium, alkaline buffer, and acid buffer (2:1 ratio targeting 7.0 ph). On a fresh water change, the ph will be around a 7 then it increases through the day. My Gh is also a little higher than I want, but I suspect my plant substrate and ferts are increasing that.
Instead of messing around with buffers, just use straight up RO (you will have to do several waterchanges with RO over the course of several days to acllimate the fish) and add humic substances in the form of IALs, alder cone extract and botanicals. The pH will be lowe than 7.0, but also stable and the water will be much more suitable for Apistogramma.
@MacZ is right.

The amount of <"sensible information"> I've read on most forums (or been told at LFS) about pH and buffering could be written on the back of a beer mat.

Have a search on the forum for <"buffering">.

cheers Darrel
 

Adam Scho

New Member
Messages
6
Thanks to you both. Believe me, I have the best intentions and did weeks of research setting up this tank along with almost daily visits to my LFS for advice and to make sure I have everything I need. In my defense, there are a wide array of opinions out there on keeping apistos. I am not particularly drawn to the school of thought where apistos (especially agassizii) must be kept in a natural black water environment, which is what this forum tends to advocate. These "blue flames" are so many generations removed from their wild ancestors that I don't think it makes a difference as long as the conditions are within a normal range and stable. I'm not aiming to breed right off the bat. I just want a nice, healthy community tank because I enjoy their behavior (the first 1.5 weeks of it anyway). I think my CPDs might eat the fry anyway, but now I have a tank for raising fry with the female if that happens down the road.

That being said, I will acclimate them to pure RO and reduce the minerals I'm adding during water changes. I've got some peat for the filter and IALs on the way. Along with tons more hardscape to break lines of sight. Introducing aspects of their wild environment certainly can't hurt.

Last thing I'll note...these fish are healthy. Sure, they are not in a natural blackwater tank but they are highly active and devouring baby brine. The tank is stable, though not optimal for breeding. From here, I can make incremental changes in that direction. None of this is related to my most pressing issue which is extreme aggression between them, which I was not prepared for.

Sorry to grind your gears, I'm sure its frustrating to get posts like mine when you have everything figured out and years of experience. I love these fish and want to provide the best life for them. Thanks for your time, I'll provide an update when I make these changes to my tank.
 

dw1305

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Messages
2,602
Location
Wiltshire UK
Hi all,
I love these fish and want to provide the best life for them.
That is it, honestly that is what we all want, I want people to have fish tanks they can enjoy with healthy fish and plants. We want to give people good advice, because that makes fish keeping easier and more enjoyable. We don't have anything to sell, or any agenda.

As an example, if people use the <"Duckweed Index">, I'm pleased because it makes fish-keeping easier and more enjoyable (and all right it flatters my ego), but it doesn't make me any wealthier, just happier.
almost daily visits to my LFS for advice and to make sure I have everything I need. In my defense, there are a wide array of opinions out there on keeping apistos. I am not particularly drawn to the school of thought where apistos (especially agassizii) must be kept in a natural black water environment, which is what this forum tends to advocate.
I'm not trying to be funny, but many of us are long term Apistogramma keepers (and breeders), and I think that makes us a somewhat more reputable source of information than either other forums or most LFS.

Personally I'm a pretty shoddy fish-keeper, but there are many <"members of this forum"> who really know what they are talking about. If @Mike Wise, @Tom C or @Frank Hättich tells me something I'm going to listen to them, because they know more than I will ever know.

I'll give you an analogy, you go to the doctor and they tell you that you have a ruptured tendon in your knee, but you decide to get a second opinion from your barber and they tell you you are fine, but you need a hair cut.............

cheers Darrel
 

Wazaaaa

Active Member
Messages
106
Location
France
Always get as much information as possible before buying the fish to be able to anticipate the slightest problem
personally, I put 5 months before buying my apistogramma <<my project >>, I didn't hesitate to ask questions on this forum, that it is on the acclimatization, the maintenance, the parameters of water, the quarantine etc... I always had answers
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,740
Location
Germany
Hi all,

That is it, honestly that is what we all want, I want people to have fish tanks they can enjoy with healthy fish and plants. We want to give people good advice, because that makes fish keeping easier and more enjoyable. We don't have anything to sell, or any agenda.

As an example, if people use the <"Duckweed Index">, I'm pleased because it makes fish-keeping easier and more enjoyable (and all right it flatters my ego), but it doesn't make me any wealthier, just happier.

I'm not trying to be funny, but many of us are long term Apistogramma keepers (and breeders), and I think that makes us a somewhat more reputable source of information than either other forums or most LFS.

Personally I'm a pretty shoddy fish-keeper, but there are many <"members of this forum"> who really know what they are talking about. If @Mike Wise, @Tom C or @Frank Hättich tells me something I'm going to listen to them, because they know more than I will ever know.

I'll give you an analogy, you go to the doctor and they tell you that you have a ruptured tendon in your knee, but you decide to get a second opinion from your barber and they tell you you are fine, but you need a hair cut.............

cheers Darrel
Always get as much information as possible before buying the fish to be able to anticipate the slightest problem
personally, I put 5 months before buying my apistogramma <<my project >>, I didn't hesitate to ask questions on this forum, that it is on the acclimatization, the maintenance, the parameters of water, the quarantine etc... I always had answers
I have nothing to add and agree.
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
Messages
10,817
Location
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
One thing I've learned from 40+ years of breeding apistos. There is no ONE WAY to breed apistos. Some just make it more likely to succeed than others.

As for your fish: A. agassizii, being a polygamous species, the male will breed with any female receptive to his advances - even females that were not ready in the past. I am not a fan of playing 'chemistry set' with fish tanks. The less messing around the better. Finally keeping an eye on fish behavior is just as important as proper tank set-up. Good luck with your fish.
 

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Prontodelivery wrote on Apistoguy52's profile.
Do you still have the F1 Ivanacara adoketa “red” from the Rio Icana, interested in getting 2 Pairs.
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Hi,

Do you still have Apistogramma diplotaenia pairs available to sell? Please advise. Thanks.

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I see that The Wet Spot Tropical Fish currently has the fire red A. agassizi you are looking for. Here is the link:
I've always had good experiences buying from them on line.
Hallo,
I am Hanzle from Holland and keep apistoos for 40 years. Had my own aquarium shop from 1984 till 1988. Always s great fan from apistoos and hyphessobrycon which is s great combination in a Community Aquarium. Perhaps.....in the near future I start breeding apistoos again. Have a 400 liters Community aquarium for hyphessobrycon wadai and apistogramma biteaniata.
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