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Tips for Apisto planted tank

fyrefish

Member
Messages
53
Hi! Soon I hope to be getting a new tank for my apistos, hopefully a 20 gallon long. I am definitely going to make it planted, and was wondering about what substrate and plants to use. I was planning on fluval stratum, as this seems to be a go to for a lot of planted tanks. However, I am open to any plant-friendly suggestions that my cichlids would enjoy! For plants, I don't want a tank that's too heavily planted due to the tank's low-ish bioload, so I will probably be avoiding carpets. I definitely want to incorporate anubias into the hardscape, but tall background plant suggestions would be appreciated. Also, I was planning to mainly use dragonstone as hardscape material, but and other types of stone that would benefit apistos would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance.
 

anewbie

Active Member
Messages
512
Depending on the plants any fine inert substrate will work; I have no problem growing crypts, val, swords, java fern, anubia, .... in inert substrate; just avoid golden and red plants ('cept crypts and swords); and you would be fine. This is for low tech (non-co2); avoid super fine substrate as it will sometime develop anaerobic pockets; and make the substrate at least 2 inches deep. A 20 long is pretty shallow so avoid the larger swords, vals, most stem plants as they will grow too tall - if you leave the top off your tank you can try a few plants that like to grow above the water line and switch to emersed form. Some less common more interesting plants include jacobensii pink crypt, pondeterifolia crypt, crypt Nurii Pahang, crypt Nurii Rosen, crypt parva, crypt green greco (very nice green crypt). A nice but very short sword plant i like is enchinodorus parviflourus tropica (it has very broad leaves that are dark green but only grows about 1 1/2 inch tall). Not sure this will grow well in a low tech tank but enchinodorus kleiner prinz (do not confuse with kleiner bar which is a much larger plant) - this plant is a very rich purple/red colour in good conditions. An easier to grow sword is echinodorus red flame - very slow growing and not quite as nice looking. Avoid the larger swords as they can easily reach 2+ feet over time.

A taller back ground plant i like is Pogostemon Stellatus Octopus - but only buy this plant if you will let it break the surface and go emersed. It will produce a very nice purple flower once above the water line - otherwise you will have to cut it weekly to keep small enough for a 20 long. There are some nice crypts that will grow 10 inch or so you could use in the back ground. This is my nurii rosen in a 5 gallon tank with inert substrate - slow growing but not a bad plant (in 'rl' it is smaller and nicer looking as the leaves have a strong gloss that is not shown well in the photo)

Tt1

The above presume you will have a white water apisto; if a blackwater fish then the situation will be a different as some plants will struggle in the very soft low ph water.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,211
Location
Germany
Substrate should be sand for Apistos. As they should have access to the substrate carpeting plants are out.

Plantwise: pennywort, hornwort, lotus, vallisneria, any floaters...

Rocks: Smooth rounded river rocks come closest to the fishes natural environment. Many times there are no rocks in their biotopes at all. Important is the rocks are rounded to minimize the chance of injury while chasing each other. They should also be inert do they don't raise KH or GH.

In my opinion a typical planted tank is not suitable for the needs of dwarf cichlids. And the animals needs should take highest priority. Always.
 

fyrefish

Member
Messages
53
Thanks for the info! I have very little experience with heavily planted tanks, so I was planning on just having a few anubias (because I love how they look) and some taller plants in the background for shelter. I haven't had floaters before, but most people seem to think they will benefit almost any tank so I will give them a try. Something I have seen is that everyone on the internet has a dislike for duckweed, because it will take over your tank. I'll see what I can find. Mine do like to dig around a bit so I see how sand could benefit them. Is black sand ok too? I heard it makes their colour brighter, and I think it looks cleaner. Could I also have two layers of substrate? I have heard of people using plant substrate for the roots topped of with a sand layer to make it look better. On the topic of rocks, I have seen people use dragonstone in apisto tanks before to make natural looking caves, but I didn't know it could hurt them. I will see if my LFS has flatter, smoother rocks.
 
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MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,211
Location
Germany
Duckweed went extinct im my tanks more than once now. But that's most likely because I use straight RO. No nutrients whatsoever and then also a lightly stocked tank with darkly tinted water, just sand substrate, meh lights... kills everything green underneath the surface.

Black sand is ok. But they will get darker overall. Dark background - fish tries to stay hidde , becomes darker. opposite for brighter backgrounds.

I pass on the layered substrate. I don't do things like that.

Sad news: dragonstone is not natural at all. At least not underwater. It's used fir aquascaping but that has nothing to do with nature. I dislike tanks with that type of rock and territorial fish. These are an accident waiting to happen.
 

anewbie

Active Member
Messages
512
Substrate should be sand for Apistos. As they should have access to the substrate carpeting plants are out.

Plantwise: pennywort, hornwort, lotus, vallisneria, any floaters...

Rocks: Smooth rounded river rocks come closest to the fishes natural environment. Many times there are no rocks in their biotopes at all. Important is the rocks are rounded to minimize the chance of injury while chasing each other. They should also be inert do they don't raise KH or GH.

In my opinion a typical planted tank is not suitable for the needs of dwarf cichlids. And the animals needs should take highest priority. Always.
So you are saying this landscape for my hongsloi I've had the last 18 months is bad because there are too many plants ?
29w new
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,211
Location
Germany
So you are saying this landscape for my hongsloi I've had the last 18 months is bad because there are too many plants ?
View attachment 10870
Nope. I was only referring to the conditions in my tank being bad for plants. Your tank has developed really nice since I last saw it.
Or do you mean what I said about the "typical planted tank"? I mean high-tech scaping tanks with that. Your tank is closer to a biotope than to a scaping tank
 

anewbie

Active Member
Messages
512
Nope. I was only referring to the conditions in my tank being bad for plants. Your tank has developed really nice since I last saw it.
Or do you mean what I said about the "typical planted tank"? I mean high-tech scaping tanks with that. Your tank is closer to a biotope than to a scaping tank
Ok just didn't understand what you meant; it will be interesting when i try to setup a blackwater tank next year with plants.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,211
Location
Germany
Ok just didn't understand what you meant; it will be interesting when i try to setup a blackwater tank next year with plants.
Always just ask. ;)

If you go the full BW route including extremely soft water you are in for a piece of work. Be ready for a few leaps of faith. Blackwater is mostly challenging because it shows some things to be possible one would not expect.
 

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
347
Location
San Francisco
Is black sand ok too? I heard it makes their colour brighter, and I think it looks cleaner.
I don’t know of any commercially available black sand that’s ideal for apistos. The ones made for aquariums are definitely not inert. In fact, the Caribsea brand recalled their black sand because it turned out to be toxic. Some people use blasting sand, but that sand has sharp edges which could damage a fish’s gills.
 

anewbie

Active Member
Messages
512
I don’t know of any commercially available black sand that’s ideal for apistos. The ones made for aquariums are definitely not inert. In fact, the Caribsea brand recalled their black sand because it turned out to be toxic. Some people use blasting sand, but that sand has sharp edges which could damage a fish’s gills.
Stony river has a black sand; i have it in a tank for 3 years. I can't do a formal analysis to ensure it is inert but i have not notice any issues. I would be interested in knowing if this substrate is toxic as I plan to use it in my clown loach tank. Also caribsea has eco-complete (a substrate I find too coarse) that is black.
-
This is my tank with stoney river black stuff:

I had a male bn in the tank that used to dig in it all the time; he has since been removed. I now have a couple of borelli (1m 2f) with the guppies and swordtails. I thought the swordtails would be an issue but the female borelli has no problems chasing them away; there are tons of guppy frys all over the place that no one wants to eat.

B29 nov 2021
 

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
347
Location
San Francisco
I haven’t used that one, but it’s a coated sand that’s supposed to be neutral. From what I’m reading, it’s not a fine sand, but sounds like it’s working for you!
 

anewbie

Active Member
Messages
512
I haven’t used that one, but it’s a coated sand that’s supposed to be neutral. From what I’m reading, it’s not a fine sand, but sounds like it’s working for you!
You looked up the wrong product; it is not coated; look under estes marine substrates.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,211
Location
Germany
Coated substrate is environmentally not a good choice. At one point one has to get rid of it again and non-toxic or not, it will take ages to be normal sand again.
 

anewbie

Active Member
Messages
512
Coated substrate is environmentally not a good choice. At one point one has to get rid of it again and non-toxic or not, it will take ages to be normal sand again.
Yes but the substrate I am using is not coated as far as I can tell. Not 100% sure what it is - just who sells it.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,211
Location
Germany
Yes but the substrate I am using is not coated as far as I can tell. Not 100% sure what it is - just who sells it.
I was mentioning that generally so the OP can make an informed decision what to use. Not directed at you specifically, as you already wrote your's isn't coated. ;)
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
Messages
10,635
Location
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
There is natural black sand (i.e. black basaltic beach sands in Hawaii), then there are artificial non-coated black sands made from crushed slag and coke residues from furnaces used in power plants and iron works. The former is safe if the grains are smooth. The latter is typically crushed fine and has sharp angular grain - and toxic heavy metal residues; not good.
 

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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.
I want to get a 55 gallon slightly planted tank with many caves and I am thinking of getting 2 electric blue acaras, 3 blue rams, a apistogramma, 3 angelfish, and some corrydoras. Will that work if I keep the temperature at about and 80 or less?
I have kept fish for quite a long time but never cichlids. I want to find out more about them.
Hi
my Hongsloi, keep eating their eggs, any help greatly appreciated
The Shrimp Pimp wrote on fredmir1's profile.
Hi Fred, do you have any apistos for sale? I'm looking for Apistogramma trifasciata. I'm about an hour and a half from Mtl.
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