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hi all, new to the forum but not fish keeping, kept marine for many years and various planted tanks. about 4 months ago decided to venture into biotope and decided on a rio n egro black water scape in a 15g, 2 pieces of wood,lots of sticks, branches, botanicals, oak leave litter, substrate is mixture of fine sand, lilly plant substrate rinsed and rinsed some more, along with a little clay. there are some region specific plant life as well. Filter is a fluval 307 turned down low, i also inject small amounts of CO2 for the plants.

Anyway to my question, i have a male and female checkerboard (Dicrossus filamentosus ) along with 6 gold tetra's and 6 beckford pencil fish.
the female checkerboard is very aggressive chasing the male away and to the back of the tank, i don't see any of the tell tale signs from the female that she is ready to breed.
I'm now wondering if i need another pair or another female or a couple of males thoughts?
thanks in advance
 

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Oh wow.... you have Dicrossus filamentosus, Checkerboard Cichlids? How cool is that!
Those are a CLASSIC New World Cichlid, that has been unfortunately - somewhat overlooked - these past few years. That's a shame, because they really are beautiful! And yes, all of the substrate spawning Cichlid keeping drama and excitement, is definitely there with this species.
You don't inform your water parameters in the 15 gallon tank you are keeping them in . But, from what I can see in your post you're on top of providing very soft, acidic water for these fish that is maintained to an almost pristine condition (extremely low, measured Nitrates).
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This species can be a well, CHALLENGE, to get them to pair off and spawn successfully. Words to describe the experience are often accompanied with the words 'Frustrating', 'Annoying' and sometimes even 'Sad'.
Yes, though small in actual size... these are definitely New World Cichlids. And, those spawning games in the aquarium can sometimes get pretty rough. So, what I would suggest is to get MORE Checkerboard Cichlids. In this case pull one, or both adults out of the 15 gallon tank and then raise out a fresh crop of young'ns in there to get things started again. Usually a group of 6 - 8 individuals will provide enough numbers for them to work things out amongst themselves. In this species, (as you've seen) the females are indeed The Boss of those spawning arrangements. She will initiate the process with a male deemed suitable. And, will vigorously keep that same male out at a distance once she has fertilized eggs to defend. A good male, will stay out on the perimeter of the spawning site and help with the guarding arrangements.
And unfortunately, ALL males of this species will eat the free swimming fry, once hatched. The females know this too, and are wise to attack her 'partner' if he is seen taking liberties.
FOOLS are not treated lightly! ( I lost a male to a female because of this). :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
thank you for the response. my nitrates are undetectable which is a problem for my plants (i'm actually dosing daily Ferts that have nitrate and phosphate in (i think in reality i need to remove some of my filter media as its doing a good job).
my water params are not there yet, ph is to high, along with KH and GK ( i live in a hard water area and although the fish came from the same water i do want to lower everything), i have ordered some peat moss and i plan on running an experiment.
1 bucket with a 50/50 mix of RO and tap water
1 bucket with tap water and small filter full of peat

leave it a few days and see what it does to the params.

in regards the fish, its going to be a right * to catch the fish, could i add another mature male or female or pair, are you suggesting with adding a group of juvs in that they all stay even when mature or move out the odd ones out?
thanks
 

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Yeah, I hear you. Cichlids in general can be some annoying little gits to net out on a good day. Checkerboards are fast, savvy and learn fast! That means: NOT fun. Esp. when you have a nicely set up tank. :mad:
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So yes, I am totally recommending you start out fresh with a school of juvenile fish. It's those females. They way yours is acting informs me, that she REALLY just doesn't like your male. That problem unfortunately in Checkerboards (and many substrate spawning Cichlids) will probably not resolve itself over time. And, in the smaller confines of your 15 gallon tank - she may wind up killing that guy kept with her.
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Given a choice, I would definitely pull the female out. It's possible your male may be able to be 're-introduced' to the tank, after your little juvenile school grows out a bit. Who knows, he may even have better luck next time with the ladies!
But for now, it's time for a fresh start.
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And definitely, keep working with the water. You need to develop a water treatment system that will be sustainable for this tank as a process. That may mean utilizing larger pre-treatment reservoirs, and getting your quantities of RO, Tap and additives dialed-in to specific measurements - weekly. Oh yes, these black water Cichlids are amazing. But, the cost of 'doing business' with them in getting those water parameters set up properly to support them, can be a bit daunting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
thanks for the advice, i know what job is this weekend. I'm thinking of just pulling the female out for now, take it back to the LFS and see if they still have any other checkerboards left. Or more redical, pull them both out whilst the tank is in bits and go for my second option (i could not source any earlier in the year), a pair of apistogramma mendezi from the rio *****, unless someone else has any other suggestions for centre piece fish that are from said area?
 

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If she's not damaging him, I'd wait and try to find another male and go for a reverse trio. Female D. filamentosus are definitely among the most ornery little fish I've ever watched spawning, but they tend to chase without actually attacking. A friend had a reverse trio in a 15 gallon tank, and the female did not allow either male near her chosen spawning site. However, when she laid eggs, she would chase after the first male to come near them. While she was chasing him, the second male slipped in and did the job!

They prefer to spawn in an elevated position, such as a broad leaf of a plant or a hidden part of a driftwood. Once the eggs are laid, the female will stand several inches away, so as not to attract attention to the eggs. Some females are a little more tolerant of a male if he is a very large specimen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
that sounds a more realistic option, i really don't want to break the tank down. During the day i rarely see either fish, not sure where they hang out but the female removes the male from the centre of the tank to the left as you look at the pic.
i'm also on the hunt for a small pleco from the region but i'm drawing a blank, did look at the clown pleco but its not really from the right place. the water looks a little more tea stained than in the pics but its still not dark enough yet. got an out break diatoms as well, i think its due to really low flow and the tank settling down, my surface skimmer is also not working right, think the inlet is clogged, all good fun.
Water Plant Green Grass Aquatic plant

Plant Light Green Botany Organism
 

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Whew man..... 'EYE CANDY!!!'
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Don't break down that awesome tank to catch your snippy little female! The @Mr Chromedome .recommendation totally makes sense, and will save you some major aggro.
And wow, that really is a beautifully set up aquarium. Nice Work! :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
took the advice and bought another male. Turns out its a male from the same batch from when i got my male/female.
the existing male has since grown a pair and is now holding his own against the female. unfortunately for the new male, he is taking a beating and not sure how long to leave it, its been 24hrs now so i'll leave it another 24hr and see what is happening.

gave the tank some love over the weekend, water change, trim of the plants, cleaned everything up. has lost the tannis look though

Water Plant Fluid Terrestrial plant Pet supply

Plant Vertebrate Water Pet supply Organism

Plant Terrestrial plant Grass Houseplant Tree

Plant Houseplant Terrestrial plant Grass Wood
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
well not good news, went back to the tank to see the new male motionless, his fins are shredded so put him in a fish breeding holder in the tank, i would be surprised if he pulls through, keeps going on his side etc
 

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Sorry to hear this bad news.... Maybe with that (hopefully) outta her system, she'll have decided the original male you had in there with her - wasn't so bad after all! But, if she returns to her old, bad behaviors of attacking the original male in there, I guess you have a couple options to consider,
  • Add more Checkerboard Cichlids! Maybe with a group of them in there to better distribute the aggression, she won't be as successful in isolating and attacking a single fish.
  • Pull that Psycho Girl out. Rinse - repeat the process with a fresh group of new Checkerboards.
And yes, these problems you are going through with this (charming?) dwarf Cichlid species, are pretty much expected. Challenging!
 
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