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Mikrogeophagus altispinosa
by Blair Stacey and Ruurd Koop

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Tank and decorating:

The minimum tank size for adult Bolivians is 15 gallons for a single pair, or 30 gallons for a group of 5 fish. Tanks larger than 30 gallons will give you the ability to stock even more Bolivians. Keep in mind that there should be enough room for each fish to have a territory on their own. As a general rule, the territory of a Bolivian is about 10 inches square. Some fish will have larger territories while others smaller, depending on your decorating and territorial markers.

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It is recommended that you provide lots of plants and shelter for these fish in the home aquarium. The aquarium should also be decorated with driftwood and some flat stones. During breeding the fish will lay their eggs on driftwood, flat stones or on occasion, a wide leaf.

If the eggs are exposed to strong lighting, it's possible they will not hatch. It is vital that you provide densely planted areas that give them the shade they need.

A recommended substrate is sand or fine gravel (grain 0.1 inch). Unlike most cichlids, Bolivians don't dig much, only making some shallow pits in the substrate where they protect their fry.

Breeding:

Pairs of Bolivian Rams will exhibit a strong bond that has its ups and downs, just like any couple! To induce spawning, increase the frequency of your water changes and feed the fish as follows - Day 1,2,3: Blood Worms, morning and evening, Day 4: feed Bloodworms in the morning, a quality prepared food in the evening, Day 5: No feed, Day 6: Return to you normal feeding schedule, on the eve of Day 5 or 6 you will usually find they have spawned.

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Prior to spawning, a pair will dig one or more shallow pits in the sand. Next, they will clean a surface that has been chosen. This is a good telltale sign that spawning is imminent. The female will generally lay between 50 and 150 eggs. Spawn size is dependent on the diet, fertility and other predetermining factors.

A day after spawning has taken place, fertile eggs will begin to color up, becoming a deeper yellow-beige. The male guards a larger area of territory, whilst the female stays closer to the eggs. The female will provide the eggs with fresh oxygen rich water by fanning the clutch. Every now and then, the male takes over egg duty so the female can eat and have her turn at chasing off trespassers.

After 24 hours, small black spots will become noticeable in the eggs. These black spots are the eyes of the embryos. After approximately three days, the eggs will "hatch".

At this stage, the eggs become "wigglers". The wigglers cannot swim and only wiggle on the bottom of the tank. For the first three days, they rely on nourishment from their yolk sack. After three days, they will swim freely for the first time.

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When fry become free swimming, they should feed them newly hatched Artemia (baby brine shrimp). Some have good results with feeding powder food, but live food is what we have found works best. After three weeks, they will also accept smaller frozen foods.

You will find keeping, breeding and raising these fish to be a joyful, fascinating and educational experience. Not to mention the comedic moments that they often grace us with! Consider purchasing some Mikrogeophagus altispinosa, you won't be disappointed.
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