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Dwarf cichlid

Rasmusm

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Joined
1 Jan 2011
Messages
114
Location
Denmark -> Hobro
Hi all

My tank is 576l heavily planted (low tech) I have 15 neon tetras and 6 otocinclus. Planning to add around 10ish corydoras soon. Also there's around 30 shrimps

Was wondering what type of peaceful dwarf cichlid I can keep?
Tap TDS is 280-300, well water. Tap pH is 7.5 tank is not heated, but it is still around 23.5-24c as of now.

Room temp is never below 22c.
I was thinking about the micro geophagus ramirazi, but I guess my temps are too low for them ? What about apistos?

Thanks,

/Rasmus
 

Rasmusm

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Thread starter
Joined
1 Jan 2011
Messages
114
Location
Denmark -> Hobro
Thank you, will look into that :) yea I think I will add more Otos, they are super cute prolly around 20-30ish if I can get them to eat. But it's a fairly new tank trying to feed them zuzhinni and vegetables so far so good.
 

shangman

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13 Jul 2020
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423
Location
London
I think you could keep some apistos, particularly A. borellii are happy in cooler water and slightly harder water, or maybe some cacatoides which also are ok in harder water. I think in a tank your size you could get away with 2-3 males and 4- 7 females, IF you have lots of plants, wood, rocks and particularly leaf litter/botanicals to make enough structure for their territories. It would be good to see some photos to see if that was right. Or you could just keep males if you aren't interested in being behaviour and want them to be more peaceful. They probably will clash with the corydoras if they breed.

Another option would be the lovely Bolivian ram, which unlike German rams don't mind cooler water, and they like to live in groups which is nice. Or you could look at some nanacara, though I don't know much about them.

Both the apistos and rams need to have a fine sand substrate to sift through, they eat that easy, and also it's good for their gill health.
 

Rasmusm

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1 Jan 2011
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Denmark -> Hobro
Here are a few photos, tank only 2 weeks and a half week old at this point. Growing fast though :) not any leaf litter though

What type of Bolivian ram do you think of?
 

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shangman

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13 Jul 2020
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423
Location
London
I think there's only one type of bolivian ram - Mikrogeophagus altispinosus. I would keep a group of 6 or so in yours, I think they are quite hard to sex so not sure about ratios. I haven't kept them, but I would love to as they have very intelligent faces that tried to seduce me at the LFS. I think visiting a LFS and seeing which call out to you, and which seem the most healthy is the best way to choose (once you know their water parameters).

I think for dwarf cichlids you might need more structure in the tank to make a larger number of them happy - apistos are territorial, and they like to have "fences" to define their territory. Without "fences", they just constantly fight over who owns what, because there isn't an obvious way to define it. The only other options is to add so many that none of them can be territorial, but then it's like running a Mbuna tank with a high bioload and you couldn't keep many other fish. Much easier to add fences :)

Your tank is currently really one big territory. When the plants grow in this will change a bit, but it will need a lot more growth. For example, your sand is quite flat throughout the whole tank, and there isn't any large driftwood or piles of rocks or dried leaves to break it up, and particularly there aren't any 'caves' or cave-like structures for them to hide or claim. This isn't an aesthetics thing, your tank looks very nice, but just isn't ideal for a group of dwarf cichlids yet. You can still keep a small number, like 1 male with 2 female apistos, this is advice for if you want a few more, and/or want them to breed (where they get more aggressive).

You don't need leaf litter, but it's a really easy way to create this 'structure' and caves with almost no effort, and you get great natural behaviour because in the wild, apistos basically live in waters filled with leaf litter and twigs. 'Botanicals', which are just dried tropical seedpods and leaves are a more aesthetically interesting version of leaves, and people have a lot of success with apistogramma and these botanicals, are they like to use seedpods to breed in. You can also use ceramic plant pots, cut coconut halves and plastic tubes.

Below are some examples of tanks that show great structure for a nice community of dwarf cichlids.

<Tom's Poco Pozo> - I linked to a later page where you can see the way his apistos interact with the wood and have a cave. You can see that in a way your tanks aren't too similar, and a few wood adjustments so it's more set in the sand would make it work out great. If you haven't seen it, this is one of my favourite journals on the site and every page is great.

If you don't want too much hardscape, <Giant tank for Killis>, is an amazing journal, with the plants dominating. The plants create lots of areas of shade and places to hide easily, where fish could have their own territory and not see another fish 30cm away from them in the grass. So you could just wait for your plants to get very bushy like this, and plant more as needed, and that would be great. Dwarf cichlids do like an area of sand though, a full carpet is beautiful but it would be better to keep an area of sand for them (which I would break up with some wood or rocks so they can share it without feeling too exposed).

Another example is <Fifty Shades of Green>, which is completely massive but still has the same principles - there is a lot of hardscape, and with the plants it creates variation in height as well as lots of caves. There are also separate sandy areas. You could keep loads of dwarves in a tank like this and they'd be very happy. While apistos are bottom-dwellers, they will swim about, around, in & out of all hardscape and plants, no matter the height, so a variation in height is another good way to make territory.

Finally <I wanted to show you my tank>, which as an example of a small tank for apistos with structure coming entirely from plants and dried leaves. I couldn't keep more than 2 adult apistos in this tank because of the size, (60L), but all the apistos I've kept in here seem very happy and they bred. For a while my apistos were harrassing my otos and kuhlis when the female had babies, and I solved this by planting more heavily, and by adding piles of leaf litter where any creatures could hide and live and eat without harrassment, and this in turn also made my apistos more relaxed. They bred in a long thin seedpod, which was very charming. I also separated the sand area a bit with some low grasses, so there isn't too much aggression there. In this tank, the leaves are mostly hidden behind and between plants, so they aren't even that obvious and I don't think make the tank look ugly. By hiding some of the gaps between plants, they actually make the tank look more lush, while also being useful. If I had a bigger tank, with the same lushness of plants and leaf litter, I could keep a lot of apistos without issues.

So I think you can def keep them, but you should wait a few months for your plants to grow, and maybe add some more plants and do some small changes to make it perfect for them. In return they will be very funny and you will fall in love with them, and then you will do even more to change the tank to make them more happy, and start evangelising everywhere about them like me lol
 
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Rasmusm

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1 Jan 2011
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114
Location
Denmark -> Hobro
Thank you for replying 🙂 will go through the links and see, your tank looks great btw! Yeah I won't be adding any thing yet. Tank is still only 3 weeks old.
I have a bunch of shrimps both amanos and rcs, will they end up as food you think?
 

Gadget

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17 Apr 2021
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Sheffield
Apisto's can have a peck at Shrimp, but if keep fed correctly, should mostly leave them alone. Small/baby shrimp can be more enticing though, so if you get any little shrimp running around then don't expect them to last long, but then that is true of many fish around baby shrimp...

As for types, generally they do not get along with other similar types of Apisto's, but you can sometimes try certain ones form other groups and only once the tank has grown and some clear territories are defined.... Then you could maybe keep Agassizi with Cacatuoides for example, but if they ever get into breeding pairs, there could be trouble, which is far easier than you realise! If Apistogramma are happy in a tank, then it won't take too long for them to get busy! Before today, I have had spawns after less than a week of placing them in a tank! Personally I wouldn't keep more than those two species in one tank, and I would likely only keep two males and three females of each, but even that may create issues, so no guarantees that a lesser male or female won't end up bullied and die. The best plan though is to introduce all your Apistogramma at the same time so that no one encroaches on anothers 'territory' by being added later. I would at first expect some sparring, until they sort out their stakes, but just keep an eye on it for any injury or signs of stress. After a week or so they should start to settle down (so long as there is no breeding in that time).

If possible, I would raise your temp by a degree, as the Otocinclus also tend to like it a little warmer. This will help the Apisto's to settle better too. I agree that you should add more Oto's as they do better in a larger group, and being so small barely have any bio load on the system, so even better!

I find Bolivian Rams don't look anywhere near as nice as German Blues, but both can be aggressive and messy buggers, and make a right mess. Kribensis dig and dig and dig some more so make even more mess! Dicrosis could be a nice addition, however, they can be very sensitive so I'd only recommend them much further down the line when the tank is very established and been stable for a good while.

Hope that helps?
Regards
G!
 
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