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PCS & Stuart M. Grant - Cichlid Preservation Fund - Details here



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#1 anchar

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  • Joined: 28-January 04
  • Location: Bullcreek

Posted 13 September 2006 - 10:28 PM

by Terry Rowlands

All Apistogrammas come from Sth. America; from the Orinoco River in Venezuela, to as far south as Paraguay. Several species are listed as coming from the Amazonas, which basically covers all of Brazil. They are also found in Peru and Bolivia. If you are familiar with maps of the area you will see they are found anywhere above the tropic of Capricorn.

The males reach a length of about 10-cm while the females get to around 8 cm. I have seen juveniles breeding at 3 cm.

Apistogramma cacatuoides (female)

In all species of Apistogramma, the male is the more colorful, with most females being a yellow gold colour with black markings, especially noticeable on the pectoral fins and black lines on the face. As with most cichlids the colour intensifies when the fish are in breeding condition.

Young Apistogramma look like the females, however young males do not develop the black markings on the pectoral fins and young females donít develop the black marking until they begin to mature. So it is very difficult to pick out a pair from young fish. It is possible to pick young males by the longer fins, but the best way is to buy about six and let them form pairs, or get adult fish.

Apistogramma can be kept in a community tank. If you have a pair they will defend the spawning site and the school of fry. For a really good display several males regardless of species will get along fine. But donít add a female because the males will start to fight.

By far the best food for Apistogramma is newly hatched brine shrimp. Even adult fish will eat them and to raise fry it is a must. Frozen bloodworms, Daphnia spp. and other zooplankton are also eagerly eaten. They also eat flake food, I use one that powders easily as it is suitable for fry and adults.

Characteristics of Species
Most females are very similar in appearance so they should never be mixed if you intend using the fish for breeding. Experienced Apistogramma keepers might be able to tell them apart, but
only in a few species. For example Panda / nijsenni females are distinctive when relaxed but if you start to chase them with a net the black markings fade and the will look like all the other females.

Most mature males are fairly easy to tell apart for instance compare A. cacatuoides with A. borellii or A. nijsseni with A. agassizii. All of these fish have different dorsal and tailfins. So it is easy to identify the different males.

Breeding Set-up
I have found that the best way to get them to breed is to set them up in a 24 inch tank with under gravel filters a few plants and three or four upturned flower pots with a notch cut into the side.

The pH is best at 6 to 6.5 and very soft water. I rarely check the hardness, as it doesnít register on my test kits. Water temp is best kept at about 26C. I have been told that if the temperature is too high, you will get more females. I havenít been able to verify this but there have been batches where we get a large percentage of females.

Apistogramma nijsenni (male)

All water changes are done fortnightly about 20% maximum. The gravel is vacuumed as I remove the water. New water is added from a large pond in my back yard which has had peat added to the filter, this keeps the water soft and acidic. I donít think it is necessary to go to this extreme, but as most of my fish are American it saves a lot of water checking.

Selecting Breeders
I have found that the best ratio is 1 male to about 3 females. More than one male in a breeding set up will result in death for the extra males.
The female chooses the spawning pot and she allows the male to share it with her until she is ready to spawn. Both will defend the pot before and after spawning however the male sometimes goes off and spawns with another female.

If you have fish that are not to many generations removed from the wild, you will notice the eggs are very red. As the fish inbreed the egg colour turns to pink. This is a good way to tell if fish are wild caught. The fry will hatch in about three days. The pH must be maintained at 6 to 6.5 or they will not develop. They are extremely small and after they become free swimming can take newly hatched brine shrimp. Apistogramma spp. generally make good parents but as time goes by the fry start to disappear and after a few weeks one or two might be left.

Artificially Raising the Young
The best results are to raise the young yourself. Put the eggs into a 12-inch tank with an air stone. Add Methylene blue at Ĺ the recommended dosage on the bottle. After the eggs hatch remove all of the fungused eggs and put a sponge filter into the tank. Each day vacuum the tank about one hour after you feed them at night. This is to stop the fry lying in their waste overnight. This is something that must be done with any fry in order to obtain large numbers of healthy fry. Top the tank up daily with water from their parentís tank.

Apistogramma spp. that are available in Perth are A. agassizii, A. bitaeniata, A. borellii, A. cacatuoides, A. hongsloi, A. luelingi, A. nijssenji, A. panduro, A. resticulosa, A. agacucho, A. mamore, A. steindachneri and A. viejita.
There may be a few others at times.

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