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What to do now?

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
761
Location
Germany
(@Admins, if this is the wrong section, please move the thread.)

Hello Everybody!

In early August I got a pair of Apistogramma that Mike Wise identified as likely A. cf. ortegai "Pebas" or a hybrid of these with A. ortegai proper.
Well, as I also posted that by the end of August the male had killed the female even though I restructured the tank.

20201011_174719.jpg


Since I went more and more towards a biotope, got some seed pods and whatnot beyond leaves and alder cones and removed the old-world-epiphytes (mainly Anubias but also Bucephalandra, the two Anubias left in the pic were moved by now, too) as the central structure doesn't have to fulfill the purpose of a visual block anymore.
20201013_201736.jpg


The chance of getting another female is almost zero. First of all online ordering and shipping fish is no option for me. As a freelancer I can't guarantee to be at home when the fish arrive and it's getting colder outside.
At the store where I got them I wa told since they got them labeled incorrectly the chance of acquiring more is very slim and I shouldn't speculate on it to happen. They would call me though if they should be able to get them in again. So I asked in every LFS in my area. If they even knew what species I was looking for I mostly got a "If you're lucky and the wholesaler has wild caughts next spring...". Breeders are usually easy to find in Germany, but here also: Nothing. Got some Apistogramma breeders even in closer vincinity but nobody keeps and breeds them.

Now I have several options.
A. I rehome him and get a pair of another species. A neighbour has a relatively big Amazon themed pseudo-blackwater (low pH, high tannins, medium TDS) tank and would take in the single male, as he has no dwarf cichlids in his setup.
B. I keep him and wait for a female to be available. I was thinking to set up a second tank for that, in case he goes for a new female the same way he went for the first one so I could seperate them if needed.
C. I keep him and let the tank just be.

What course of action would be best?
 

Samala

Active Member
Messages
95
Location
Oviedo, FL
Depends on your goals, if you have any specific ones. If you were really hoping to keep a breeding pair (of any Apisto species) I'd go with option A. A female for this form/type might never become available.

Your tank/footprint is a nice setup, just need a species that isn't quite so aggressive and/or get lucky with a less aggressive male and a feistier female. (My strategy when picking pairs for a small setup is to get juvenile male/female that are close to same size and let them establish in a tank together. In shop tanks I look for females that are holding/protecting turf and males that are in the middle of apparent pecking order. Never get the most dominant males that are actively patrolling or fighting. I'd love to follow the advice to get >6 juvies and let them pair up naturally but never had tanks large enough to try it.)

If you really like the male he could certainly be on his own. I had an A. cf. eunotus "Orangeschawnz" many years ago that was quite a character. He also bullied his females when in a relatively small setup (80L, I think similar to your tank) but was fine on his own with pencilfish and cories to interact with. Some males are just terrors in the spaces we provide them.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
761
Location
Germany
I have no specific ones and could go either way so I thought I'd just ask for opinions.

But now that you say: Breeding is not my goal and it's more like I want to see wether I could keep more of just one specimen of the species, so they get the chance to show the whole repertoir of behaviour. If they breed, nice, but I wouldn't try and grow out the fry. I've bred Malawi and Tanganyika cichlids for quite some time in the 90s/early 00s and just got back in the hobby pretty much exactly a year ago. I know how much work it is when you suddenly have a whole rack of tanks. No. Not my goal and I wouldn't know how to cram a third tank for growout into my 1-room appartment after I had a second to possibly separate the two.
The technique to let a group of juveniles grow out I still know from Tanganyikans. It is a good strategy, if possible.

Right now there are only 4 fish in the tank. Three monster cardinal tetras (they will see any new cardinals as life food... I tried.) and the apisto. And yes, it's an 80l (60x30x45).
He is only aggressive towards the cardinals when I dropped a piece of a tablet. Then he guards the spot where it landed and sifts the sand in the area for hours.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
761
Location
Germany
And another round of great pictures. Just a few minutes ago a thunderstorm passed through and that little guy started flashing at his reflection in the glass during it.
photo_2020-10-23_16-38-58.jpgphoto_2020-10-23_16-38-58 (2).jpgphoto_2020-10-23_16-38-59.jpgphoto_2020-10-23_16-38-59 (2).jpg
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
761
Location
Germany
A little update. Just because.

photo_2020-12-02_17-10-54a.jpg


photo_2020-12-02_17-11-36.jpgphoto_2020-12-02_17-11-35.jpg
 

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MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
761
Location
Germany
Little and sad update.

I lost my Apistogramma yesterday. It was a bit skittish for over a week and wouldn't really want to eat. It would eat far less, but still eat. No superficial signs of sickness. Good colours, all relatively fine.
Then on the evening of New Year's Day it was having trouble breathing, lay on the floor a lot if not at the surface. The other fish were unfazed, so I guess it might have been a gill infection or something similar. Still did an emergency waterchange of 50%.
When I turned on the lights yesterday I found it dead in the corner, from the curvature of the body I'd estimate oxygen defficiency as the cause of death.
It was the first and only loss since it killed the female in August.

A shame. Now I'm down to 3 monster Cardinal tetras. No other fish.
As the cardinals already killed and partially ate a bunch of new cardinals last year before I got the Apistogramma I won't stock them up and might instead get a group of pencilfish in addition.

Any suggestions for new dwarf cichlid stocking?

I have conditions, though:

Must haves:
+ South American
+ compatible with cardinal tetras and pencils
+ real blackwater species
+ available in Europe (not even asking for Germany, if they are widely available in any neighbouring country I will be able to get them here, too.).
+ Species usually available as tankbred, not wild caught.

No-goes:
- no Microgeophagus species
- no linebred variants
- no superficial resemblance to A. cacatuoides (I don't like them.) or A. agassizii
- not too colourful. Rather some subtle little gem than multicoloured hippie vomit.

Water parameters: pH 6.0, GH ~3°, KH 0-1°, NO3 usually 10-15 mg/l, Temp ~25°C
Tank: 60x30x45cm - net volume estimated 70l - lots of wood and botanicals - lots of tannins (thus mostly floating plants)
Water is a 50:50-mix of tap and RO. I don't cut with RO because of hardness but because of very high and strongly fluctuating Nitrates in my tap water.

Not a condition, but: I don't want to breed. The tetras may very well eat the fry if the cichlids should spawn. I could also do with a single male. Worked out fine with that one, although this was unplanned. Still would want to give them the chance to have inner-species-behaviour.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
761
Location
Germany
Yeah, Nannacara was on my radar, named them and Dicrossus as interesting candidates on another forum, though I'd prefer a species of Apistogramma. N. anomala is available regularly in the area. Laetacara I would have to look longer for. Dicrossus usually only appear in spring as wild caughts each year. Don't know if I want to wait 3 months, though.

Quarantine is technically possible, if I get an extra vet and replacement suckers for a heater. Got a bag of biomedia in my filter for such cases. In a one-room appartment this is going to be "cosy", though.

As I work with cut RO water, what acclimation method would you advise? I'm prepared for pretty much all (well, drip only with a new valve) and have done all in the past, but I'm not sure how long fish have to be acclimated from medium hardness and slight acidity to no hardness and strong acidity.
 

anewbie

Active Member
Messages
309
Yeah, Nannacara was on my radar, named them and Dicrossus as interesting candidates on another forum, though I'd prefer a species of Apistogramma. N. anomala is available regularly in the area. Laetacara I would have to look longer for. Dicrossus usually only appear in spring as wild caughts each year. Don't know if I want to wait 3 months, though.

Quarantine is technically possible, if I get an extra vet and replacement suckers for a heater. Got a bag of biomedia in my filter for such cases. In a one-room appartment this is going to be "cosy", though.

As I work with cut RO water, what acclimation method would you advise? I'm prepared for pretty much all (well, drip only with a new valve) and have done all in the past, but I'm not sure how long fish have to be acclimated from medium hardness and slight acidity to no hardness and strong acidity.
I would reconsider nannacara - I have a male and two female with my cockatoo and quite frankly in terms of personality i prefer the nannacara over both the cockatoo (a fish i would not acquire again) and even the hongsloi i own. It would be a tough pick between the nannacara and nijsseni though in that case I am picking personality vs appearance (though I give a + to the female nijsseni which makes her presence known). While not flashy they are robust fishes which shows quite a few interesting interactive traits. Not sure if you tank is actually suitable for two females. In the 40B the females show some aggression towards each other both quickly putting on aggressive colouring when in close proximity. Your tank is a bit smaller and not nearly as densely planted or landscaped.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
761
Location
Germany
I would reconsider nannacara - I have a male and two female with my cockatoo and quite frankly in terms of personality i prefer the nannacara over both the cockatoo (a fish i would not acquire again) and even the hongsloi i own. It would be a tough pick between the nannacara and nijsseni though in that case I am picking personality vs appearance (though I give a + to the female nijsseni which makes her presence known). While not flashy they are robust fishes which shows quite a few interesting interactive traits. Not sure if you tank is actually suitable for two females. In the 40B the females show some aggression towards each other both quickly putting on aggressive colouring when in close proximity. Your tank is a bit smaller and not nearly as densely planted or landscaped.

You're absolutely right: I would not keep 2 females of either species in my tank. A. nijsseni have been recommended elsewhere before but if they're as aggressive as they are said to be, it'll be the Nannacara, no further questions asked. I'll make a list of species I'll find suitable and hit the LFS on Thursday. Should any of my list be available and the respective tank unit they are in is clean I'll pull the trigger on one of the species.

My list right now:

- Apistogramma bitaeniata
- A. hongsloi (wild colour morph)
- A. borellii "opal"
- A. nijsseni
- Dicrossus maculatus
- Nannacara anomala

Should they have any A. ortegai (or cf. ortegai) I'll immediately jump on those, though.

I have tons of wood and botanicals in there, but yes, almost all plants are on top. With the tint I usually maintain and the little nutrients in the water, plants just won't grow and I don't want to use fertilizers on that tank.
 

FishMonkey

Member
Messages
50
As a recent owner of A. Borellii (1M/5F Harem) I can tell you they are very peaceful but they definitely don't stand out as much as these larger apistos yet you can't really put a centerpiece fish in with them.

BTW if you make a list for a LFS with either, A. borellii, A. cacatuoides, or A. macmasteri on then they will probably be the fish you end up with.. These seem to be available commonly all year round in any half decent LFS around me.

Why no fertilizers? I dose Microcs with only traces of macros and I cut with RO water, it doesn't really effect TDS, GH, or KH.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
761
Location
Germany
As a recent owner of A. Borellii (1M/5F Harem) I can tell you they are very peaceful but they definitely don't stand out as much as these larger apistos yet you can't really put a centerpiece fish in with them.

BTW if you make a list for a LFS with either, A. borellii, A. cacatuoides, or A. macmasteri on then they will probably be the fish you end up with.. These seem to be available commonly all year round in any half decent LFS around me.

Why no fertilizers? I dose Microcs with only traces of macros and I cut with RO water, it doesn't really effect TDS, GH, or KH.

As I posted above I find A. cacatuoides - pardon - ugly as heck and they are pretty much out. A. macmasteri are aswell, as are nominate form A. borellii. I also don't want a flashy colourful fish (I have some cardinals in there for colour), I'm more into "hidden gems" that are often overlooked because they don't look like fallen onto the painter's palette. That's why I was so in love with the A. ortegai, that looked brownish/beige/grey in blackwater until they had a reason to colour up.
The list is not for the fishstore. It's my list of what I would deem interesting. My preferred LFS usually has at least 4 variants each of A. cacatuoides and A. agassizii as well as A. hongsloi, A. macmasteri, A. borellii, A. borellii "opal" and A. viejita. In addition last year A. nijsseni and A. panduro have become more available. What I'm going to look for are the 2-3 wildcard species that vary often and that I can't predict will turn up next time I go there.

No fertilizers because a: Our tap has so high nitrates, that when cutting 1:1 with RO there is still around 15mg/l of Nitrates in there, while GH and KH are both reaching zero. The nitrates fluctuate over the course of the year between 5 and almost 40. Only way to compensate is RO. And b. I think the light is the bigger problem. Below the upper third nothing wants to grow. Except Anubias when I still had them in that tank. Those grew like weeds even in my water, while Java fern and Bucephalandra almost went extinkt in my tank before I gave away the last few specimens. The tankwater looks like a weak tea in person and I keep the lights dimmed.
I have plants that actually grow in that tank: Egeria densa, Hydrocotyle leucocephala, Salvinia auriculata and Limnobium laevigatum. Problem: 2 are specialised floating plants anyway, the other two are extremely low maintenance. To keep the Nitrates low I also have a pothos rooting into the tank.
I have been foraging for twigs after a storm we had lately, and I might have found a good spot to collect a whole lot of that stuff. And I think I will add a good handfull or two of oak leaves before getting new fish. While the hardscape (including botanicals) is international, the fish are all broadly speaking from the Amazon basin and the plants are all at least from South America.
In general, and because it's an attempt of a biotope, a lot of the decoration has to be dead plants, not aquatic plants.
 

FishMonkey

Member
Messages
50
By wildcard do you mean wild type (suit) apistos?

If your nitrates can get that high I would start cutting with more RO water firstly or alternatively just buy minerals for your RO water and make it exactly how you want it. Luckily my tap water comes out a constant 80TDS/6GH/<1KH yet I still cut RO:Tap Water 2:1 mainly for the pencil fish.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
761
Location
Germany
Wildcard just like a surprise what they have in store.

I mean look at my parameters above. I'm pretty happy besides the nitrates.
 

anewbie

Active Member
Messages
309
I have not found my Nijsseni to be aggressive per sey. I had 2 nijsseni with 4 hongsloi in a 29 and they mostly got along. The female nijsseni has claimed a corner (not terribly large maybe 8inch on the long side) and she will occasionally chase a fish out from her corner but it is mostly posture and most of this chasing occurs in the morning when i feed them. She will freely leave her corner and not harass the fishes when she is outside. My male nijsseni died a couple of months ago for reasons I don't fully understand. The female is doing fine - i've had her now for about 8 months. I'm reluctant to get another male since i don't understand why the first one died and i'm reluctant to 'kill' another fish.
 

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
172
Location
San Francisco
Are nijsenni reputed to be more aggressive than ortegai? I know a lot depends on the individual personalities of the fish, but the ortegai owners I know describe them as the most aggressive species they've ever kept. Curious what your experience was with them.

Cheers
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
761
Location
Germany
I have not found my Nijsseni to be aggressive per sey. I had 2 nijsseni with 4 hongsloi in a 29 and they mostly got along. The female nijsseni has claimed a corner (not terribly large maybe 8inch on the long side) and she will occasionally chase a fish out from her corner but it is mostly posture and most of this chasing occurs in the morning when i feed them. She will freely leave her corner and not harass the fishes when she is outside. My male nijsseni died a couple of months ago for reasons I don't fully understand. The female is doing fine - i've had her now for about 8 months. I'm reluctant to get another male since i don't understand why the first one died and i'm reluctant to 'kill' another fish.

Ok, sounds quite docile in comparison to my ortegai.


Are nijsenni reputed to be more aggressive than ortegai? I know a lot depends on the individual personalities of the fish, but the ortegai owners I know describe them as the most aggressive species they've ever kept. Curious what your experience was with them.

Cheers

Just heard more than once A. nijsseni are quite aggressive.
About the A. ortegai:
I think the fact that the male killed the female within the first month speaks volumes. I wish I had had a second tank or at least a quarantine vet back then to separate them.
The male would relentlessly chase the cardinals from the landing spots of occasional food tablets I fed so he would chew the sand for hours. And he would also position in the part of the tank with only some rocks and roots and flare at his reflection in the glass. Or at me sometimes. He was oblivious of the waterchange hose and sometimes attacked the chopsticks I use to handle smaller maintenances when I don't want to use my hands.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
761
Location
Germany
They only had one female A. nijsseni left, and otherwise as expected only domestic breeds.

And then I found the tank with the A. hongsloi. Great specimens, a pair is in my tank for 30min. now.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
761
Location
Germany
And here are the new arrivals about 16 hours after moving in.
 

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