Wednesday, January 4, 2012

South America Cichlids-apistos

Apistos South American Dwarf Cichlid
Apistos South American Dwarf Cichlid Genus Apistogramma;there are volumes of material regarding aquarium literature discussing tank size and how it relates to the apistogramma. Most of the literature implies large tanks should be for large fish and small tanks for small fish; one line in particular stated the apistos are perfect for apartment dwelling hobbyists because you can keep them in small tanks tens and fifteens; well, this is true to a certain extent you can keep them in small tanks and they will live and breed there but what you won’t see, is apistos as they really are in nature defending territories and protecting areas against other males and bully females; further you will experience high unnatural death rate for your Apistos in small fish tank.

A Male Apistogramma cacatuoides there is a German dwarf cichlid researcher Dr. Uwe Romer has found by studying apisto populations in the wild that these little fish live in a fairly crowded environment; with perhaps as many as a thousand fish in an area of nine square meters, with leaf litter up to one meter thick on the bottom. You can’t duplicate these conditions in a small aquarium, but you can in a large one he recommends keep your fish in tanks from no less than 40 gallon or 152 liters to 150 gallon or 658 liters aquariums

Large tanks provide many advantages; they are easier to maintain the proper pH and hardness. It is also easier to control the effects of ammonia and nitrites. Lastly, you will see the fish act in a way that more closely resembles their behavior in the wild. As an example, many as 125 of A. juruensis living in a 40 gallon aquarium and around 500 of A. cacatuoides living and doing well in a 150 gallon aquarium.

Of course, to have this many fish in a tank it must have the correct environment. To achieve this in one of two ways your aquariums have either lots of cured drift wood, rocks (i.e. granite) and live plants or live plants, cured driftwood, river rocks and leaf litter can be moss balls. Follow the usual precautions with the wood and rocks make sure they are clean (sterilizing is always required) and with rocks, (never use) use just any type of rocks that will alter the chemistry of your tank water like rocks with limestone in them use sterilized river rock or granite this requires boiling them and then placing them in large bucket of clean water for several days pour off the old water and rinse them daily add new clean water.

There are hundred of aquatic plants that can be used like Anubias- Sword plants are a good choice for the new hobbyist; since they tend to grow quite well even in less than optimal conditions. Dwarf Hairgrass. Pygmy Chain Swords, Indian Fern, Java Fern, Water Sprite, Moss Balls, Lilaeopsis brasiliensis and Dwarf Hairgrass. For spawning caves, very small plastic seeding planting pots or small ceramic pots they are available in most nurseries. They are cheaper than other sold in aquarium shops and you can get them in green which blend in with their environment. As often as not, though, the fish will spawn on a rock or log or plant leaves; but put the caves in the fish really like them caves make them feel safe and secure.


The most important component for apisto aquarium is the water. There are three things about the water MUST be accurate;
1.      Hardness,
2.      pH,
3.      Cleanliness.

Is your water not quite good enough for apistos without any conditioning at all (100ppm hardness and a pH of 6.5 and run it through an R.O. (Reverse Osmosis) filter. Ion exchange is OK but if you are still not satisfied recharge them and run through again you probably won’t wear out the membrane in the R.O. filter.

The pH level in an aquarium is a measure of the tank's acidity. Most fish do best with a pH ranging from 6.5 to 7.5, but many aquarium keepers have difficulty maintaining these levels. With careful tank management, however, you can maintain the pH at a healthy level.
Tips & Warnings

  1. Fish can thrive in a range of pH levels. Most will do well a full point above or below their recommended "ideal." You should only use chemical pH-altering substances if the pH is several numbers away from where it should be.

  1. If you have difficulty regulating the pH in your aquarium, you may have either hard or soft water. Consider buying fish that naturally thrive in the pH level of your water.

  1. Rapid changes in pH can be dangerous to fish. If your aquarium pH is off, avoid rapidly changing it. Huge alterations in pH are far more likely to kill your fish than an incorrect pH.

Lights & Live Plants

Lights should be dim this can be attained through Ceratophyllum which floats on top of water;Hornwort is a very common feathery leaved aquarium plant that will grow well in many aquariums. Hornwort also stands up to many fish that may have tendencies to include salads in their diets.

Hornwort is unique in that it will never develop roots. You can put the plant in bunches in the back of your tank and it can look nice that way but the plant will roots just won’t ever form and if you try to place any part of hornwort under the substrate, that portion will die. 

Hornwort can grow under lower and higher light levels. In lower light it will be brighter green and thinner. In higher light the plant gets bushier and can get red tints particularly in the stem. In fact hornwort is usually very easy to grow in the aquarium and pretty much anywhere else. Though a native of North America, this plant has been introduced in many parts of the world where it’s become a problematic weed. 

The Ceratophy llaceae have their own family and its relationship to other plants is still undetermined. They seem to be confusing plants for botanists, the number of different species isn’t certain either. Earlier sources argued at 1 or 2, newer sources list 6 or 7; but over 30 have been described, though many of those are almost certainly the same highly variable plants. 

Although there are some very competent apisto keepers who use straight R.O. water for their fish, mix with tap water to achieve a desired hardness of 10ppm. Next I treat the water with Sodium Bisulfate to bring the pH down to 4.5. Also use peat in filters as well as leaves (either Oak or Birch) to bring the pH down. However, I have found that the peat and the leaves don’t get the pH as low as I like, so I supplement with Sodium Bisulfate. I like to A Female Apistogramma cacatuoides.end up with a pH of 5.0 to 5.5 for most of my fish. However, the fish in the A. pertensis and A. iniridae complex seem to like it lower, around 4.5 pH.

Water cleanliness means three things: filtration, water changes, and feeding. I prefer biological filters. Most aquarium manufacturers sponge filter media just don’t have enough surface area to keep my apisto tanks clean, or they require too much maintenance if you have a lot of tanks.

The filters I use are made up of glass partitions that separate one part of the tank from the rest and essentially turning in into a trickle filter. Next I mix peat into the bottom half layer of rock. Water changes are done once every week to nine days with my conditioned R.O. water resulting in the tanks staying nice and clean.


The feeding part of the equation is simple. I feed only live baby brine shrimp twice a day and only as much as they can eat in five minutes or so. I know some apisto keepers who practically count the number of shrimp they put in the tank, but it is actually very important not to over feed because uneaten live shrimp breaks down quickly and apistos are very susceptible to bacterial infections caused by dirty water.


Now that you have some idea as to the keeping of apistos some species of apisto are a bit more forgiving than others. Apistogramma cacatuoides, A. steindachneri, A. macmasteri, and A. sp. Schwarzsaum are all good fish for beginners. However, if given the right aquarium conditions, most apistos will adjust adequately to the aquarium environment.
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