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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm about to set up a new tank, which will be either a Fluval Edge 6 gallon, a ten gallon, 15 long. I appreciate that the first response will be that I should get at least a 20 long, but due to the physical restrictions of where I need to place the tank I can't do that. If I went with a 15 long then I'd have a serious compromise in that I would need to rebuild the built-in alcove shelving, and as I wouldn't have any room to work around the tank which would make a number of maintenance matters difficult unfortunately, and that's why I'm considering the smaller two tanks as well.

I would like to keep a pair or trio of dwarf cichlids, and I'm wondering what species could do the best in smaller tanks? I'd like them to be able to be happy and thrive without suffering life-threatening aggression. The entire tank would be planted densely, I'd have some driftwood, and I have 3 small ceramic breeding eggs that I could add in as well, so there would be a generous amount of cover. And I'd have a small school of cardinal tetras to act in part as dither fish. I'd like them to be able to exhibit natural behaviour as much as possible, but I'm actually a little concerned if they did happen to breed as I don't have separate quarters to raise fry or seperate the parents.

I'm an experienced aquarist and have kept a few similar species already and larger tanks before, but would like to try different species this time and can unfortunately only do a small tank at the moment. I also have a large Fluval canister filter I can add on with restricted flow, so between the plants and the mega-filtration, I think aggression is the limiting factor here in terms of what species I can keep in a certain tank size.

Here is a list of species in order of minimum tank size that I've come up with, listed roughly in order of aggression and thus progressively larger tank sizes, according to my research of what others had suggested. But I would like to verify this with yourselves before making any unfortunate mistakes with such matters. And I would not have an extra tank to remove any specimins to if they're getting harassed or attacked subsquent to spawning for instance.

Fluval Edge 6 gallon - (has a tank footprint just 15% smaller than a 10 gallon tank does).
1. Tanganyika Shell Dwellers trio (however I admit I'm not interested in keeping these).
2. Apistogramma Borelli trio
3. Nannacara Anamola trio

10 gallon tank minimum
4. Laetacara curviceps pair
5. Apistogramma Cacatuoides trio
6. Kribensis pair
7. The Nichols' Mouthbrooder trio - Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi

15 gallon long tank minimum
8. Nanachromis (Dwarf Congo Cichlids) trio, either of the three species
9. Mikrogeophagus Ramirezi trio (or 2 females could be kept together in a smaller tank).

There is some element of guesswork based upon the accounts of others who have kept these, and I'd like to hear if the experiences of others have differed with any of these species, or if there are other attractive species which you would recommend in this list as well. I've left out a number of more rare Apistogrammas/etc which I haven't yet seen offered here, but if it's not too rare and definitely worth it then I could always search around for it.

And there is also some margin of error here of course, as individual specimens can of course have widely different personalities, levels of aggressiveness, and strength of pair-bonding. I believe I'd probably start by looking through aquarist classified listings to see if I could find any well mated pairs, in case the particular species which I decide to try and find happens to bond in this manner. Thanks!
 

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All those options sound doable with some of them sounding ilk e tanks I've owned.
Borelli in a 6 or 10g tank won't disappoint.

Not sure I'd try the kris in a 10g. I've done it but ime they are too active for that size tank.
 

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I'm not real comfortable doing SA dwarf cichlids in 10 gallon tanks. If I was to do any, I would consider a pair of either A. borelli, A. trifasciata or Dicrossus filamentosus. I would not do a trio of any species in a 10 gallon tank.
 

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I would cross out the trios on your list in anything but the 15 long. Without enough space, you would likely end up with one dead female.
I recently picked up a trio of Dicrossus filamentosus. I always looked past them, but they have become my favorite dwarf as of late. My male swims around the tank turning over full oak leafs. Once I get them to breed in the 20 long, I'm thinking i'll try them in a 10 in my "fish room." Dicrossus are worth considering. I've even seen D. maculatus recently in my neck of the woods.
 

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I have done trios of cacatoides in planted 10g tanks, and I don't know if either of you have kept borelli but I've had 3m, 3F in a 12 g tank

What problems did you guys get and why didn't the line of sight breaks in a planted tank work for you?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Admittedly I'm not altogether comfortable doing any of these cichlids in a smaller tank, and regret that I can't fit at least a 20L where I need to put the tank. Thanks for the advice nevertheless.

I'd be happy with A. Trifasciata if I can find them, are they one of the milder-mannered Apistos? Fishprofiles suggest 3-4 females to every male... although it suggests the same for Borelli.

I'm a little wary of Checkerboards as they do sound quite delicate and unless I go RO I can't keep my water that soft.

I'm surprised by the suggestions of not doing trios with those particular species. The trio/harem arrangement is supposedly beneficial in defusing aggression in these species, as it spreads out the attention from the male to more than one female, and gives the male another female to pay attention to instead if one of the other females has already spawned. I was thinking of even considering three females and one male, but with some of these species the females will define their own territories to defend from other females and therefore I may not have sufficient room for the territories of three females but might be okay with two. I certainly wouldn't want to do more than one male though.

Accordingly, do members find in their experience that more than one female of those particular species helps with aggression or causes more? And if more females are better, than how many females would be recommended in that case for say a 10g, would more than 2 be good or bad?
 

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Borelli do not mind the company of their own kind as other apistos will. A harem is highly recommendable. Tris are not mild mannered ime and I wouldn't try that species in anything smaller than a 20long. Cacatoides females establish a territory from 8" to 12". In a 10g tank that is only 20" long, a female cac that setup shop in the dead center of the tank will kill another female. I purposefully leave a bare spot dead center of the tank to stop that being a preferred spot. Once I learned that trick, smaller tanks became simple.

I used to breed apistos in 10g tanks and there were species that worked, and species that needed a dinner plate put in there. Even a panduro gets bored of chasing a female he can't see! :lol:
 

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I will say that I mostly agree with Number6, I have often kept pairs of borelli in a 5 gallon tank, and trios in a 10. They are much more sociable than other Apistos.

Forget about Laetacara in any of these tanks.

Also the nicholsi are one of the most aggressive small mouthbrooders I've ever bred. They need a large tank with lots of hiding places for the females. I used a 40 gallon breeder, which is 36"x18". It was a single species tank, as he was just too nasty.

Nannacara I've bred in small tanks, but as soon as the female had eggs/young, the male had to be removed - I was too slow the first time, and she killed a male twice her size. I'd not put them in anything less than 30" long if you don't want to have to keep catching out the male.

You mention Nanochromis, you might want to consider Congochromis. These are the really small species that used to be grouped with the Nanochromis. They are also the more colorful species. I tried to keep a pair of Nanochromis parilus in a 15 once; they get as large as Kribs, and are more aggressive. The 3" female ended up killing the 4" male.

I also feel that kribs in any of those tanks is pushing your luck. A very young pair might get by for a while, but the problem is that these fish get bigger. A large pair will need at leas 30"x12".

I have kept and bred many Apisto species as pairs; it is always much easier with trios or quads, but that also requires a larger tank. Doing pairs in a small tank requires making a cave that the female can get into and the male can't. He can and will fertilize eggs from the opening. I used coconut shells a lot.

Good luck! :thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Sounds as if the consensus seems to be that Borelli would be the best choice, and I'd be happy with that. I'll have to look into them a bit more and figure out whether a pair, trio, or quartet would be the best choice under the circumstances in a 10g or 6g Edge. But very helpful advice all around.

I had a friend that had kept and bred both Laetacara and a pair of Nicholsi in 10g's, without any problems that I'd heard about. So I'd been seriously considering Nicholsi until I heard here that they can be that aggressive.

I can't seem to find any listings for Congochromis in the UK though. Which species exactly were you referring to? I found Congochromis dimidiatus‎ and Congochromis sabinae listed under names like Nanochromis though.
 

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I would do Borelli trio in a 10g. Nice fish and should not have any probs.

I have 4 Apisto Hongsloi (2 male, 1 female, and 1 still not sure) and 1 female Borelli in a 10g and absolutely no fighting at all. They have been together a year or so. No breeding so I guess thats how I get away with it.

...Bill
 

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The genus Congochromis was erected for a group of species that used to be in Nanochromis, mostly new species related to dimidiatus. Congochromis sabinae has been somewhat available in the last year or so on this side of the Atlantic, I just figured it was available there, too. Too bad you can't find it, it is a very pretty little fish. I've not kept them, opportunity and money haven't intersected yet.

A. borelli is one of my favorite Apistos, I don't think you can go wrong with them.
 

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A borelli trio would do well in any of those tanks I had kept a group of 12 in a 20 gallon with no problem, they even rivaled my convicts when it came to spawning. The coolest thing I noticed was that they would raise the spawns as a group, each adult male and female lead groups of fry whether they where their offspring or not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Chromedome52 said:
The genus Congochromis was erected for a group of species that used to be in Nanochromis, mostly new species related to dimidiatus. Congochromis sabinae has been somewhat available in the last year or so on this side of the Atlantic, I just figured it was available there, too. Too bad you can't find it, it is a very pretty little fish. I've not kept them, opportunity and money haven't intersected yet.

A. borelli is one of my favorite Apistos, I don't think you can go wrong with them.
Tropicalfishfinder.co.uk reported that no shops had it, but then I think I saw some Sabinae in one of the better dealers shops this weekend, listed as Red Pelvachromis I believe, which I thought was just a bred strain of Kribensis or something. However, I read the following about them, so I'm still not sure if they'd be that great for a smaller aquarium -
Although inducing Nanochromis species to spawn in aquaria is not very difficult, intraspecific aggression levels can run high, especially male on female aggression. For this reason, utilizing richly decorated, larger aquaria for these two to three-inch species that offer numerous hiding places is recommended.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
While we're on the topic, how do some of the other varieties of Apistogramma rate compare to one another in terms of aggression, in your experience? Are they generally about the same or are there some to watch out for?

This will help for future reference once I'm expanding my tank collection. And can any dwarf cichlids such as these be kept with other species of dwarf cichlids?

These are the ones I do tend to see around, can anyone try to rank them as such? Thanks!
Apistogramma agassizii
Apistogramma cacatuoides
Apistogramma macmasteri
Apistogramma nijsseni
Apistogramma trifasciata
 

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I have both Apisto. Agassizii and Apisto. Cacatuoides in separate species tanks. The Agassizi is the 'Red Fire' variant and I was only able to get 1M 1F. My Cacatuoides are a variant called 'Yellow Body Orange Flash' and With them I have 1M and 3F. If I could get more 'Red Fire' females I would. It was very rocky from the start with the pair, they were both pretty aggressive on each other, and I believe if the female ratio was better the aggression would be spread. I counter acted this by homing them in their own 29g with some tetras. The Cacatouides are in a 20g but since the ratio is better the only aggression I see sometimes is the females, but it's not bad at all. I haven't had any spawns but currently my 'Red Fire' female seems to be guarding a certain area of driftwood, but the driftwood is very large and has some inner caverns I cannot see. One of my female Cacatouides has also become very very yellow so I'm hoping that works out too.

These are just my personal experiences with them though. Hope it helps.
 

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ebjdftw said:
I have both Apisto. Agassizii and Apisto. Cacatuoides in separate species tanks. The Agassizi is the 'Red Fire' variant and I was only able to get 1M 1F. My Cacatuoides are a variant called 'Yellow Body Orange Flash' and With them I have 1M and 3F. If I could get more 'Red Fire' females I would. It was very rocky from the start with the pair, they were both pretty aggressive on each other, and I believe if the female ratio was better the aggression would be spread. I counter acted this by homing them in their own 29g with some tetras. The Cacatouides are in a 20g but since the ratio is better the only aggression I see sometimes is the females, but it's not bad at all. I haven't had any spawns but currently my 'Red Fire' female seems to be guarding a certain area of driftwood, but the driftwood is very large and has some inner caverns I cannot see. One of my female Cacatouides has also become very very yellow so I'm hoping that works out too.

These are just my personal experiences with them though. Hope it helps.
Agassizi definitely need a few females to every male, the "fire red" cf. seems to be an exception from my experience the female is definitely aggressive enough to handle a pushy male.
 
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