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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have had a pair of orange heads for a few months now. They had been attempting to breed every ten days (5-6 attempts) but have not in well over a month. They are also not showing their orange at all. On first glance you only notice their blueish tint.

Now, part of this is my lighting. It's a planted tank getting 130w throughout the day of a light whose spectrum doesn't make reds and oranges pop as much as my other tanks. And at night for 2 hours there's some actinic as well, so of course the blues stand out. But they still showed a bunch more orange before - it was plenty noticeable, just not as rich under the light as say DFF or Ed's fish.

I have had more health issues in this tank than in all the rest of mine combined, but none recently. In fact, the last time they tried to breed was during the last disease scare that I had. The water conditions haven't changed either. It's generally fairly warm (83-84 - from the lights) and well filtered, no nitrates to speak of, etc. The water is fairly hard out of the tap, but my measurements show it also as being consistent from three months ago.

The only other thing I can think of is that their former tankmate, a 5-6" Jurupari (Mongo, my first "large" fish ever and about an inch bigger than the male) died 6 weeks ago (the aforementioned scare). The timing seems to match their dull coloration. There is one other jurupari left, but he's smaller than the female and hangs out in a different area. Is it possible that the male was coloring up more because of Mongo's presence, even though they're only distant relatives, and now that he's gone he doesn't have any competition? Should I try to find another pair to add? I planned to copy the biotope idea and have a big tank full of geos next year, but would be willing to tolerate the sand-sifting and small plant-uprooting and do it earlier if it meant my fish would be more colorful.

Or is it more likely the water hardness? Should I be finding a way to buffer my water down? (if so, how? and what GH/KH numbers (on an API kit) should I shoot for?) Chicago water is really hard, but I still do buffer it up a bit for my africans and all the other fish have always tolerated it.

A few fish are moving out of this tank and these guys and a trio of rainbows (who also have orange) will be the focal points so I am quite eager to get them back to their full brilliance. New bulbs, water buffering, new fish, I will do whatever you guys suggest.
 

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Hi Dave,

Did you identify what the problem was with the jurupari? Any Satanoperca in my opinion is more sensitive than "orang head" but I would assume whatever killed the jurupari also significantly affected the Geos and is the cause for their loss of color.

Without question your fish will show better color in a group. Most people suggest 4-5 is the minimum but IMO 5 is also not a good number, so I recommend 6 minimum. I am not happy with how my group of 5 functions and think I would be better off with one more fish, and that is why I suggest that.

Your temperature is good and I don't consider the pH overly important for the species as long as it is not notably alkaline. I am also not sure of the effects of hardness either. It has been discussed in my thread, you if wanted to check that out for some info. My water is gH 3 and kH 2, so very soft. But I have not kept them in harder water so I cannot say if that is worse or not for their condition. As a general suggestion I would aim for less than gH 5.

For prime coloration in Geos the best setup is white sand and less than 1w per gallon, with a bulb high in the red and orange spectrum and low in blue. Conveniently this is also good for controlling algae growth. My bulb is 40w/4400k, so 0.6 wpg. I grow Echinodorus in this low lighting with no problems. That is the best setup but honestly I have pictures of my Geos under three different bulbs and I don't think it makes a whole lot of difference like some people suggest. My fish display bold orange heads with the red-orange spectrum bulb but also show a lot of blues under a bulb that is not strong in that spectrum.

Inter-species competition is important for Geos and all eartheaters so I think your fish will benefit from more of their own. BUT I would take care to try and identify if they have health problems before introducing more fish. Do they still eat eagerly? Do they court each other? If a large tank is in the near future you could go ahead and get more Geos, a short term overstock is not going to present a real problem IMO.

Goodluck,

Ed
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi Ed,

The jurupari had septicimia and treating him in the hospital tank was too late I guess. These two behave as usual and eat just fine, and the tank is doing OK now. I added more filtration after the jurupari died (just in case it was caused by poor water conditions, though I never detected high nitrates or anything). There are tetras and a baby arowana (for now) in there too, who would all be sensitive to issues.

The only thing that concerns me is that my africans stopped breeding a while ago too and it turned out that they have a parasite (the one that gives them that ridiculous concave belly). I'm treating that tank and am optimistic about it, but I'm not sure how it would've carried over into this tank. They don't share nets or equipment or anything. I'm not noticing any of the concave-ness (concavity?) but the male's stomach does look perfectly straight/flat. Maybe I'm just being paranoid and trying to see something that isn't there. No other fish are affected. Is there any chance that there's a parasite that would come from the water source? The only other thing I can think of is that they were briefly in the tank that became a hospital tank, and there are snails in there, and sometimes snails carry parasites. But that was 2 months ago and they had another attempted spawn a week after that. Plus if that was the cause they'd have huge semi-circles missing from their stomachs, as that's how bad another fish is and he was there much more recently.

I do know that SA waters are not hard, and the water here in Chicago is very hard. But they've been in chicago water the whole time. pH is 7.5, I'm not overly concerned about that either.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Just as I start this thread, they pair off again and start digging like crazy. So hopefully that means I was just being paranoid.

I found someone with a whole bunch of them for sale too so I'm going to get more and add them in a week or two. I'll actually have too many - will probably sell some of the larger ones.

I also bought some lower K flourescents and new fixtures that I am going to put together and mount in the canopy. The 4000k on their own cast a really yellowy light that looks a little odd but one 4000 and one 6500 really made a difference in the orange in the geos and the rainbows. The clown loaches looked totally different too. A little bit more work on the fixture (it lacks the reflectiveness and cover that the more expensive units have so a lot of light ends up going through the canopy and into the room - need to solve that) and I'll be able to sell the coralife and add this one in. The only other challenge will be finding the space for more than 2. The plants will want more than 80 watts. I'd love to run just 40-80 at most times and then have 2 more bulbs to turn on for a few hours for a photo period for the plants.

So that just leaves water conditions. I'll have to do some research on peat and how much I would need to reduce alkalinity. I just put in a test strip and both GH and KH are at 120ppm and pH is lower than I recall, closer to 7 than 7.5. But this is just a cheapo API strip and I don't really trust it that much. I'll have to get something more precise if I'm going to start messing with the water. Softer and a 6.5-7 pH would be ideal for these guys, and I think the plants would prefer it too.
 
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