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Apistogramma and....


5 May 2011
I'd like some advice on stocking. I'd like to try a pair of apistogramma - first time I've kept cichlids. I think I've narrowed it down to cacatuoides on the grounds they look pretty, and small and seem to be one of the easier options? I like corys, but I've read corydoras are a no-no with apistos but otos ok? That said I've also seen a lot of tanks mixing corys and apisto. I'm leaning towards...

Apisto. cacatuoides
Threadfin rainbows or sundadanio axelrodi (neon blue rasboras)

Would that work - what sort of numbers? Not sure if the rasboras would be too small? Or is there anything else I might want to consider?

Is it better to add apistos last or does the stocking order not really matter?

The tank is 30x30x76 - a mix of sand and fine gravel over some tropica substrate - I plan to add some leaf litter too. It's got quite a lot of tannins from the wood - lots of seed shrimp for snacks at the moment too.

It's currently just rainwater TDS 30 in tank, but I was going to add some tap TDS 300 / GH 18+ to bring it up a little - what would be a good ratio for the stocking?

Any thoughts/ideas appreciated 🙂



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I think your proposed stock list sounds good, I’m sure the rasboras will be fine. However I would let everyone else settle in first then add the apistos.

The issue with corydoras and apistos is corydoras have no concept of territory. When apistos spawn the corydoras will keep encroaching on their territory getting battered in the process. Eyes being bitten out isn’t unheard of. In a big enough tank this isn’t an issue but in a tank your size it’s too risky as they’ll keep swimming into the apistos territory.

They’re brilliant fish to keep and I’m sure you’ll love them. To be fair with your water you could choose most species.

I'd also not recommend Corys with apistogramma but I've read that a lot of people do keep them together with no problem. Threadfins are nice, especially in a good group but they really seem to thrive with surface cover.
It's currently just rainwater TDS 30 in tank, but I was going to add some tap TDS 300 / GH 18+ to bring it up a little - what would be a good ratio for the stocking?
Assuming you wish the apisto's to breed successfully I would probably go for something like 20% Tap (18 GH) and 80% Rain- or RO water (~0 GH). That would yield a GH on the low side of 4. You also want to keep the KH low as well (~2) as it makes it easier to acidify the water with peat etc. Overall try and keep the TDS on the lower end of the 100-150 ppm range (some recommend a smidge below 100ppm) - Back in the day when I had Apisto's successfully breeding I had no idea what my TDS was... but it was likely in that range as well. The criticality of the water parameters depends on the species and how well the stock is adapted to certain water conditions. There are some good sources out there these days (such as Apistogramma.com ) on breeding apisto's. Their recommendations may not always be ideal for plants, as the low TDS is not leaving much headroom for nutrients and fertilizers.

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Thanks, that's confirmed for me no corys - I like them with eyeballs intact!

To be fair the plants are doing well even with the current low TDS. I know the swords/crypts have access to the substrate but the floaters are multiplying very successfully too. I've just done a water change and added some tap in so it's sitting about 110 TDS.

If both are suitable then think threadfin v. rasboras will probably be determined by what I can get hold of. I have kept both before and they turn into stunning fish once settled. I haven't seen the rasboras available often though.
I keep apistogramma Macmasteri (who regularly spawn) with Corydoras without any issue. As long as everyone has their space to retreat to.

I reckon a pair of apistogramma is the most you'll want in that size tank.
It works cos your tank is also HUGE!! 😂

I keep apistos with pygmy corydoras and there isn't a problem, because there is space for them to flee the aggressive motherfish.

I wouldn't keep them with corydoras in a tank this small tbh, I think your stocking plan is good, don't add any more fish. When they breed (which apistos tend to do, ESPECIALLY in soft water like yours) your tank will be MORE than full enough with the growing babies.

If I were you I would just get a schooling fish that looked the lovely soft water you have, like some lovely pencils. I like the threadfins too, but they do like things more neutral I believe.