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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks,

I was looking around for some centerpiece fish for a 10-gallon tank today, and stumbled across some Panda Cichlids (Apistogramma nijsseni) at the LFS. They were darn cute, and I knew Apistos were generally easier keepers that stayed small, so I bought a pair. I know, I know, I should have researched first! Now I have two lovely Pandas that, according to the Profile on this forum, are a 4 out of 5 for keeping difficulty and need extremely soft, low pH water. I have hard, high pH (7.6-7.8) water.

I was wondering if anyone had experience with Pandas and could give me some advice. Should I try to keep them, or should they go back to the store? I think of myself as an "advanced beginner" as far as fishkeeping goes. I grew up with an aquarium, but just started really getting into the science of fish husbandry in the past three years. My cichlid experience consists of Angels, Cons, and a new Yellow Calvus. I'm not sure if I'm prepared to tackle the care of a difficult fish, but I'm game to try. I'm willing to buy RO water if I can find it for a reasonable price locally.

Water parameters as of yesterday (before a 50% PWC) were pH: 7.6, ammonia: 0 ppm, nitrIte: 0 ppm, nitrAte: 7.5 ppm. The 2 Pandas are in with 1 ****** loach, 1 horse-faced loach, 1 bristlenose pleco, and 3 balloon red-eye tetras. The tank is 10 gallons, gravel substrate, driftwood, plastic plants, and has a submersible heater and an AC "mini" filter, which I think is equivalent to a modern AC 20. The tank was cycled using media from one of my other established tanks, and has been up and running for about 9-12 months. My fish currently eat New Life Spectrum pellets and wafers, Tetra Rich Mix granules and tablets, Hikari algae wafers, frozen bloodworms, and frozen glassworms. Not all at once, mind. :wink:

So, should I try to keep them in hard water (or hard water with RO), or should I hand them off to someone with softer water?

Thanks much,
Puff
 

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Most tank raised fish are used to a higher ph than the profiles dictate. While they may not breed or raise fry as successfully as they would in the lower ph, they should be okay.
 

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Not sure what the species profile says but I successfully kept panda's in a pH close to 8.0 with absolutely no issues.

They appreciate plants - and are more aggressive than other apisto's...mine would even lay eggs from time to time with no hatches due to the hardness of the water.

Watch your nitrates, keep them below 40 ppm and you're good to go. If the fish aren't showing signs of stress and are eating properly then don't believe the hype - there is a lot of disinformation on the internet, even if it comes from credible sources. :)
 

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The native waters of nijesseni are very soft and acid. When they were first introduced it was discovered that they needed very low pH to successfully reproduce. The first time I had success with wild fish was at a pH of about 4.8! However, most of the ones you find today are tank raised and, as already noted, you can have success at higher pH's. DBS's success at 8.0 is the highest successful pH I have heard of.

I would suggest that you do not attempt to change your water conditions for the fish. Most people find this to be an ever increasing problem. Instead keep them in your regular water and they should be fine. The only problem you might find is with successful egg development.

In terms of general care, follow the advice for all Apistos. Give them a tank with a variety of habitats, make sure there are hiding places in case of agression and provide them a variety of good food. Generally nijesseni are more aggressive than other Apistos but this is a generality. They also are usually out in the open and not hiding in the back as some species tend to do.

These are great fish with beautiful colors and interesting habits. I suspect you will enjoy them.

DC
 

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DCguy said:
I would suggest that you do not attempt to change your water conditions for the fish. Most people find this to be an ever increasing problem.
I couldn't agree more. In most cases, a steady higher or lower ph is alot more tolerable for our fish than one that fluctuates all the time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks! I was worried I'd bought myself some mini-discus or something. It's good to know these guys can be healthy at higher pH levels.

So far they are doing well--good color, moving about the tank, and eating. They came from a shop in Sacramento with water similar in hardness to mine, so I suspect they were pretty used to hard water before I bought them.

I''m really enjoying these cuties! I enjoy fish that are a little bit different. I'd like to try breeding cichlids some day, but it doesn't have tpo be this pair. So long as they're healthy it's fine by me.

I think I'll be keeping them. :)
 

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I totally agree that keeping them in your tap water with a steady ph is safe and the easiest but I am just gonna through this out there to offer another option...
Before I got into africans I kept the plain old "tropical fish" tank with neons, tiger barbs, angels and such. My tap water is 8.4-8.6 ( :eek: ) and the LFS told me thats why they were not doing well. I went to the local Wal-mart and bought one of their 5 gallon water bottles they have at the RO/DI water machine. The bottle is a one time purchase and is refillable there or at any of our local grocery stores over and over again. I had a 29g and your 10g would be even easier you could get two 25% water canges out of each bottle.... and it will be 7.0.
Just a thought.... :wink:
 

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Common misconception on fish needing low pH to survive. Only wild caught specimins are this way - and MOST fish will adapt to any water conditions within reason (obviously you can't take a fish out of a 5.2 pH at adult size and expect it to live long in a 9.2 pH).

Even discus are this way these days - and there's a pretty bad stigma going around that says otherwise - if you see it at the LFS eating and swimming around just fine chances are it will do fine in your tank too.

When it comes to breeding most SA need RO/DI water simply because the eggs will harden overe if the waters gH is too high before the male can fertilize them.
 
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