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Starting Over, Please Advise

Aquatic_Adam

Member
5 Year Member
Hello my helpful people here at Apistogramma.com!

Let me start off by saying I am an experienced fish keeper, but still relatively new to Apistogramma. That being said, I think I got myself in over my head. I have lost some Apistos and I have lost some spawns. I will be moving in the near future and I want to make sure that this upcoming time; I do right by the fish.

This is my current stocking:
7 (7F?) A. paulmuelleri
1 (1F) A. tefe pearl blue (lost 1M and 1F)
3 (2M/1F) A. elizabethae

Questions:

1. I am having extreme difficulty sexing the paulmuelleri. They were sold to me as "Masken." I have spoken to Apisto Dave and Tom C about the subject but none of my fish show any color on their caudal tails and I cannot discern if they have a pointed or curved anterior dorsal fin as the dorsal fins are pretty much translucent. Does this mean I have 7 females?

2. The paulmuelleri are easily 6+ months old, the tefe female has spawned but is now nearing a year or so old with no prospect on finding more tefes, and the elizabethae are also easily 6+ months old. When do Apistogramma get beyond the prime breeding age?

3. How do people set up their tanks? I have long fought the good fight of making a planted tank or making a biotope tank. But my split mind of this makes me attempt to do both at the same time, and fail at both. I guess I am looking for a little guidance as my tanks seem to be neither appealing to look at, nor good enough to enduce spawning in my fish at the moment. Do people mainly use 20g longs?

Any help that can be given is much appreciated. Thank you all for your time!
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
Are all of these fish in the same tank?? If it is only 1 tank, it is entirely too small unless it is well over 6'/1.8m long. Also community set-up are not ideal breeding tanks.

Your A. paulmuelleri should be sexing out sometime soon. I found this species one of the more fast-growing apisto species. If none of the fish show any pattern in the caudal in the next couple of months, then there is a chance that you do have all females. Since sex is determined by temperature during egg/fry development, it is possible that the spawn was kept at too low of a temperature early on.

I have had female apistos successfully reproduce at 3+ years of age, so I think they they will breed until they pass away. I will say that I don't allow my females to breed continuously. I try to give them a few months between spawns.

You wouldn't like my set-ups. Tank size depends no which species I'm breeding, anywhere from 12 gal. (16x18x10"h/35x45x25hcm) to 30 gal. longs. The only plants are floaters (duckweed, Salvinia), Java Moss, and Java Ferns. All other decor is wood, rock, pots, etc. properly distributed to form good territorial boundaries. I even let algae grow on the glass sides. There is nothing pretty about my tanks.

I'll be giving a talk for the Atlanta club in May. Maybe we can talk then?
 

Aquatic_Adam

Member
5 Year Member
No sir, they are not all in the same tank. The 7 paulmuelleri have a 40g long all to themselves (I guess Nerite snails could count as tankmates). They are in a planted tank with a Finnex Ray2 with a dirt substrate with eco/flourite cap. Obviously the large granules of the Flourite could be better for them and the lights could be dimmer, but then again...7 females aren't going to be breeding any time soon...I have now started the search for a paulmuelleri male (Batfish aquatics potentially has some in).

The 3 elizabethae are in a 20g long with a divider between one male and the other 2. This was done because the 2 fish on the left side are from the same brood. They are from a EU breeder that I believe I got through Aquatic Clarity. The male on the right side is from a different US breeder, and is actaully prettier than the EU male. He is the one I want to breed, but at the moment the EU male (although very pretty in his own right) is larger and more dominant. This tank is also a Flourite substrate (no dirt) and a Fugeray light. I know that I will need to update this if I ever have hopes of breeding them and successfully keeping the fry.

The surviving tefe female was moved to a 10g that I had set up. Dirt with PFS cap and a Fugeray light.

That is great to know that female apistos can breed long into their lives! I was worried I would miss a window all because of my inability to give the fish the tank requirements they need at this moment.

I am actually very interested in your set ups. Here is the basis of my question for that. I will be moving to Raleigh NC sometime in the relatively near future. The houses that I am looking at have potential for a dedicated fish room. At this point in my fish keeping career, I would like to basically dedicate that to breeding different kinds of fish (starting with the apisto species I own already). But as I stated earlier, I always have this struggle between function and form. Functional as a breeding is not always form as a pretty tank (as you apparently know haha). Do you keep a fish breeding room, and then like a show tank or two around your house? Am I the only crazy person that feels that need? Haha.

Talking to you in May would be wonderful :) I will definitely do my best to make it to that meeting (they are about 2.5 hour drives for me) Are you bringing anything to sell at the mini auction at the beginning of meetings? ;)
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
I have a small fish room 12x12' in the basement with about 40 smaller tanks. It is heated, no individual heaters unless needed. Tanks are all run on air/sponge filters with light from strips. No special tank plumbing; just a siphon hose for cleaning. I used to have a community/show tank upstairs but it turned into a geriatric/miscellaneous tank downstairs. Some day I might bring a 3' tank back up for a show tank, but not a priority right now.

Right now I can't say what I'll have in the way of fish for Atlanta, if any. Besides, I only keep 'ugly' apistos.:)
 

Aquatic_Adam

Member
5 Year Member
Ok. That is good to know. I have also been following Ted Judy's blog in preparation for a fish room but he doesn't go in depth on setting up an Apisto breeding tank (which is my interest now and into the foreseeable future). I thought maybe I was the only crazy one who just felt the need to have show tanks AND breeding tanks!

There is no such thing as ugly Apistos! I used to have to tell my A. gibbiceps that and he believed it until one day he actually did get pretty!
IMG_0271.JPG
 

Aquatic_Adam

Member
5 Year Member
Well. In the most peculiar turn of events...I have come home to find that my female elizabethae has spawned! This is a first for me (not first spawn mind you) but first elizabethae spawn. Anything in particular I should know? Are BBS a fine first food for the fry in this case? Should I start a separate thread for this?

I do have some questions that relate to my case in particular:

It seems that when I miss my water changes, that is when my fish in this tank appear to spawn? This happened with the tefes who were in the same tank before I moved them out. I have peat in the filter, I am curious as that maybe when I miss the changes the peat is able to do more work and lower the pH to the proper range? This also presents a curious challenge as I know that fry, especially elizabethae, are sensitive to any build up of organic compounds but it seems my water changes greatly effect the parameters (haven't tested my water for before and after yet and I only do about a 20% water change at any given time).

The pair that spawned was my 2 fish from the EU. While the male is pretty (I will grab pictures tomorrow) he is not as pretty as my US male (who is in the same tank but behind a separator). The US male is the one that I actually want to breed with the female but I was waiting for an opportunity to sell the EU male. After this spawning, is that a bad idea? Should I sell the US male even though I want that one to be my preferred breeding fish?
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
All I can say is that A. elizabethae fry have a reputation for being very sensitive to water pollutants. BBS are fine. Just feed a very small quantity at a time so none die before being eaten frequently ... and do very small water changes very frequently.
 

Aquatic_Adam

Member
5 Year Member
That I can do. Need to go get a new turkey baster for direct feeding. Looks like I need to start waking up a bit earlier for water change and feed time before work! 5 am here I come...Thank you Mike
 

Aquatic_Adam

Member
5 Year Member
Any thoughts on the 2 male situation? Is it dumb to split up a pair that I know can breed just because the other male is my preferred breeder?
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
A. elizabethae female will generally accept the best male available. You might just trade off males and see what happens. Crossing the offspring from the 2 males should add genetic vigor to the strain.
 

bludfire

Member
Quite a late response to your post however I wanted to jump in on the 'skipping a water change spawning' point. This is often the time when any of my species spawn (after a holiday, business trip etc). I put this down to replicating the rainy season when the real grubby water finally gets washed away and new clean fresh water flows in from the rains which is the best time for the fry to survive in the wild.

I guess the way we are so accustomed to regular water changes for our apistos the water doesn't often have a chance to be full of enough pollutants before being flushed out on a regular basis to instigate the spawning as easily.
 
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