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Unfortunate Science experiment results. Apistogramma sp and cold temperatures.


New Member
Hi All,

It's a very gloomy time for me today. As I live in Austin, TX which just had a major ice storm and I lost power for over 48 hours, and subsequently 90% of my collection that I was not able to get evacuated to a powered place in time.

Unfortunately I dont know exactly how cold it got, but all but a couple of my Apistogramma Trifasciata survived the extreme temperatures. Which I found particularly surprising and interesting. I figured I would share as it seems very unexpected that they would be capable of surviving such extreme temperatures.

Basically all other fish perished. Temperatures likely got into the low 50s or even below. Room temp was in the mid 40s for the last night.

apistogramma Trifasciata - ALmost 100% survival rate
apistogramma elizabethae all died almost first. My favorite breeding project is gone.
apistogramma Ortegai also did not make it (except one female I was able to evacuate).
apistogramma Macmasteri also did not make it.
apistogramma Agassizi double red did not make it

Other fish that didnt make it:
nannostomus marginatus (dwarf pencil)
nannostomus beckfordi (Beckfords pencil)
Axelrodia riesei (ruby tetras)
hyphessobrycon tetras (unsure on exact species)
Pangio kuhlii (kuhli loach)
synodontis petricola (cuckoo catfish)
Corydoras Pygmaeus (pygmy cory)
Corydoras Habrosus
Corydoras Atropersonatus (Fairy cory)
Ancistrus cirrhosus (bristlenose pleco) 1 saved, 1 perished
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Active Member
Sorry….I feel your pain. I once left the exterior door to the fish room open for an entire weekend in February….similar results. borellii had no problem with the chill, other inhabitants were not so fortunate. Gotta love dwarf cichlids that are near subtropical.


Well-Known Member
Rumour is that a. borelli are more resistant to cold temps; I had the power go out 2 years ago for 30 hours after a hurrican and lost my rams but my angels and clown loaches did ok - it wasn't as cold - i think temp went down to around 60ish. Still the interesting thing was how the rams reacted to heat - as soon as the power came on they rushed to the heater and sat there until the tank reached normal temp - when i said they died - they both developed bloat and died a couple of weeks later. In the place i'm moving in may i've put in a backup generator to deal with these issues. Pricey but i dread my 20 years old clown loaches dying due to a power outage. I might make it another 20 years but probably not 40.


Active Member
So sad when this happens. I recently lost a lot of fish in one tank by accidentally filling it, just for a few minutes, with cold water. There was a problem with the water supply to the house, the tubes were slightly blocked but the water was initially coming out at the correct temperature, just more slowly than usual, and I had done all the other tanks that morning with no issues. But while I was filling one of the large tanks (160 x 60 x 60 cm so it takes a while) someone used the water elsewhere and so there evidently was not enough pressure to keep the gas heater alight. By the time I realized (and I do check often) the tank temperature had dropped from 26C to below 20C - it doesn't sound much but it happened very quickly. Over the next few days I lost all the big angelfish, all except one of the emperor tetras, all but two beckford's pencifish, and about three of the Hyphessobrycon tetras. An Apistogramma agassizii survived as did the Laetacaras, 7 hyphessorycons, all the Otocinclus and a pleco.

I think that both borellii and trifasciata come from quite far south so would experience quite cold temperatures sometimes.


That really sucks. I've never lived anywhere that was subject to such long blackouts. It would definitely change my fishkeeping habits. Doesn't seem like the lax regulations are doing Texans any favors. Is there any improvement in sight or is this just something you have to account for?

I wonder if having some insulators available would help at all? For example if you wrapped your tanks in sleeping bags or something similar as soon as you could after losing power. I know when I brew beer, I wrap my kettle in an old sleeping bag as I need to keep the water temp consistent for an hour. The sleeping bag helps quite a bit - temps inside the kettle drop much faster without it.

Mike Wise

Staff member
5 Year Member
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
I'm not surprised that most of the A. trifasciata survived since like A. borellii they are from more subtropical parts of South America.

For those who experience a similar loss of power, I suggest you get a plastic bag, fill it, put it into a pot of boiling water until it is hot. Then put it in the aquarium. It will keep the temperature acceptably warm. You will need to repeat this process until your power is restored. For those, like me, who have an electric stove, I recommend that you get a trusty old camping stove. BTW this also works if it's too hot - and you have power. Put the plastic bags of water in a freezer until frozen and then float the bag in the aquarium. Once the ice melts, simply re-freeze the bag and re-use.

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