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New to apistos - help please??

2927 Views 7 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  It'sJames
Hey everyone! I'm new to the forum and new to cichlids, so I hope you guys don't give up on me too quick. :wink:

I recently saw a picture of a Apistogramma Cacatuoides "triple red". It was absolutely amazing! I would really like to learn about these fish, and depending on what I find out, try to keep some. Like I said, I know very little about cichlids - any advice is appreciated. Here's a little info about my tank and my water...
It's 28 gallons, on it's way to being moderatly-heavily planted, and currently houses cardinal tetras, four platies, a couple ottos, sparkling gourami, and a single BB goby. I know this is an odd mixture, but it happens... :-? I'm willing to move out anything that would not be compatible with apistos. Most of the fish in this tank are temporary residents anyway, as my original plan was a school of cardinals and an angel. I'm using a penguin 200 for filtration - hopefully upgrading to a canister soonish. My water will probably be the biggest challenge. It's very soft, but the pH is high - around 8.2. I'm trying to find out weather it's coming out of the faucet that high, or if something in the tank is raising it. I think it may be something in the tank, although I have no clue what...

So what does everyone think? I'm totally open to anything, and if it turns out that I can't keep these fish... then I guess I'll just have to find something else.
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28 gallons? what are the dimensions? that makes a huge difference, as you are going to want a longer tank rather than taller.
Not an odd mix just a nice community tank with some interesting smaller fish in it that can be nice tank mates. Most of your current fish spend their time in the midle part of the tank and no other dwarf cichlids in there. The Cac's will be fine in your tank and make it even more interesting. I suggest 1 male and 2 female and at least 3 caves for them to hide and to breed. The PH is indeed high but I expect the Cac's will handle it. If they spawn the eggs probably won't be fertilized becouse of the high PH. If you can bring it down it would be perfect. Causes for a high PH can be a high GH wat can be caused by calcium in the stones, gravel or sand. What kind of substrate do you use and are there stones in there that could couse this problem. PH can be lowered by adding peat to the filter media or just drop in blackwater extract (peat extract).
Thanks for the quick replies! The tank is 24" long, 19" tall, and about 13" deep. I know about using peat to lower pH, just haven't tried it yet. Guess I should give it a shot. I'm using a mix of two types of supposedly inert gravel, with laterite mixed into the under layer, for my plants. Nothing else in the tank except some driftwood, which should lower the pH.

If I choose to keep apistos, many of the fish in my 28 gallon will be moved to different tanks. That was kind of my plan all along, whatever I was going to put in. How does this sound: a trio of apistos, 10-12 cardinal tetras, 3-4 platies, and either 3 BB gobies or ottos. Do you guys think this is overstocked? I was thinking it would be okay, since the tetras and gobies/ottos have such a light bioload. I have a penguin 200 for filtration right now, hoping to upgrade to a canister. So what do you guys think on that stocking? Are all those fish compatible? I'm not sure if the gobies would be okay with the apistos.
Just a few thoughts -- if you get pressurized CO2 to help your plants, you will lower the pH, which would be good for your apistos.

A canister I'd recommend would be the Marineland C-220. I have one on a slightly larger planted tank and it's a fabulous filter. I also have the Fluval 205 on another planted tank, but it does not produce as much flow as I'd like.

As for me, I'd probably lose the gobys and add the otos. You don't have anything in there for algae control and otos are great at that -- as well as super cute!
Well.... I forgot to mention that I was planning on adding some amanos for algae control. Would apistos snack on shrimp??

Pressurized CO2 would be awesome! If I wasn't broke. I'll be doing DIY CO2.
Apistogramma cacatuoides are probably the very best beginner's Apistogramma. The original wild stock comes from waters with more dissolved minerals and a higher ph than most any other Apistogramma species. In all the years of captive and selective breeding, the aquarium strains have become even better adapted to a variety of water conditions. The other aspect that makes them such a good starter Apisto is that they are not a shy species in a community tank. Healthy specimens are usually out in the open where you can appreciate them all the more.

Cockatoo's are very peaceful and are perfectly safe to keep with Amano Shrimp. They will often eat small shrimp species like Cherry Shrimp but even those often can co-exist with them. I keep a 36 inch long 35 gallon planted community tank with Amano and Cherry Shrimp. The other fish in this aquarium are 24 Green Neon Tetras and 10 Green Fire tetras. My clean up crew consists of one red lizard whiptil, an albino common Bushy Nose pleco and five wild caught Panda Corydoras.
I keep my Apistogramma cacatuoides breeders in this tank. There are 3 trios of them.

I would recommend calling your water department and requesting a copy of their water analysis.
This is good reference information. To find out whether anything in your tank is changing the ph and/or hardness, you should test a sample of your tap water after letting it age 24 hours. Compare your test results with the water test report. They should be in close agreement.
If your aquarium water is much different in pH and hardness then you must have a substrate or rock work that is dissolving enough to change your water chemistry. You need to know these things before trying to change anything. It is almost always a bad idea to add things to change the pH without knowing your true starting point. Every chemical buffer used to lower pH also adds to the total dissolved solids. Using CO2 to lower pH should only be done once you know what the KH of your water is. High KH and GH can make it necessary to use dangerously high levels of CO2 to lower the pH. As a general rule, if your water is safe to drink it is probably fine for breeding Apistogramma cacatuoides. They are a very accommodating species. Black water extracts do not lower pH. They only darken your water and Cockatoo's are not black water fish anyway.
If you should discover that something in your aquarium is drastically increasing hardness and pH you should determine what that is and remove it.
Any more advice would be information overload at this point. Follow up on my recommendation of testing a sample of your aged tap water and that of your aquarium water then post the results. We can provide better advice once we have that information.
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Thanks so much apistomaster! I'll go ahead and test the water and post the results as soon as I can. I have well water, not city water - does this affect anything? I'm not sure I understand the meaning of kh and gh... Could someone explain? How do you test for these?
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