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Darn females

Boserup

New Member
Messages
11
Location
Denmark
Ok. So I'm a total apisto-newbie. Just got back into aquariums a couple of months ago. Initially thought I would just do some random community-stuff with my kids, but couldn't resist getting some Apistos (have dremad about it on/off for years).

Tank: 70 Gallon. Water: ph ~8. GH = 11. Nh4=0, NO2=0, NO3 ~ 5. Population 15 cardinals, 20 ember, tetras 8 Corydas.

I got a pair of Orange Flash cacatuoides. A good beginner choice I thought, though I didnt really fance the "un-natural" looking colors. Later added a pair of agassiziis - had some concerns but my LFS said iy would be fine.

The female cacatuoides started behaving weirdly - "resting at the bottom". Then died, while I was on a weekend. Bought a new one (double red I think). Everything was moving along nicely. Did a rescaping, which - in hindsight - was more aesteically pleasing, but didnt do anything good for my fish's territorial nature. The famale agassizi was clearly drawing the short straw, and died (stress?). Next in line was the female cac. So I quickly rescaped again - making differnt "zones". And bought a new 30 Gallon tank - that I'm giong to setup this week. I'm done with multiple species of Apistogrammas in the same tank!

But... my female cac is looking weird - bloated. Is it the stress? Are my LFS not a good source of fish? Any advice appreciated. Images of the current apistos below.
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MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,740
Location
Germany
The female has dropsy, the A. agassizii has popeye. Both symptoms of opportunistic bacterial infections related to stress. And I don't have to guess that it's related to the behaviour, as the male A. cacatuoides looks unphased.

had some concerns but my LFS said iy would be fine.
Are my LFS not a good source of fish?
Na, just idiots telling you nonesense. But you found that out yourself.

. Did a rescaping, which - in hindsight - was more aesteically pleasing, but didnt do anything good for my fish's territorial nature. [...] So I quickly rescaped again - making differnt "zones". And bought a new 30 Gallon tank - that I'm giong to setup this week.
Care to show a full picture of the tank?

ph ~8. GH = 11.
What's the KH? Those levels are supporting bacterial infections. Even though you have domestic strain, bacteria are the achilles heel of softwater fish.

So it's the old classic: Fish are in a permanent stress situation, water far from ideal, bacterial infection, death.
Improving holding conditions (water quality, humic substances, structure, population density) is necessary to make any treatment worth while. Also a treatment in a separate tank is stringly advised.

I'd try the waterchanges + humic substances (catappa leaves/alder cones) route first, antibiotics would be like shooting sparrows with a cruise missile. Too many sideeffects and with the dropsy symptom the fish might rather be killed by the med.
 

MacZ

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Messages
1,740
Location
Germany
Also, as your tank is clearly a community tank, just leave the male alone if the female and the agassizii don't make it. Pairs or harems are a thing for breeding tanks or bigger species tanks, not for a community.
 

Boserup

New Member
Messages
11
Location
Denmark
Also, as your tank is clearly a community tank, just leave the male alone if the female and the agassizii don't make it. Pairs or harems are a thing for breeding tanks or bigger species tanks, not for a community.
Thank you for the speedy reply!

I can collect a lot of oakleaves easily.

I did a substantial waterchange yesterday (+75% of the tank but there is a lot of water in the sump as well) - which removed a lot of the humic acid from the oakleaves and wood in there i guess. Maybe a bad idea?

I am picking up a lot of wood and rock tomorrow i could add as well. But maybe I should proritise setting up the new tank. I could add filtermaterial from the sump and bet on a rapid cycling with the agazzisi in the fresh tank? (He seems the most aggressive)

Or should I maybe just admit that I didnt do my homework properly, had to much faith in the LFS, euthanise the sick fish and start from scratch?

Photo of my attempt to build temporary zones below.

Thx in advance
image.jpg
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,740
Location
Germany
I can collect a lot of oakleaves easily.

I did a substantial waterchange yesterday (+75% of the tank but there is a lot of water in the sump as well) - which removed a lot of the humic acid from the oakleaves and wood in there i guess. Maybe a bad idea?
Well, first of all waterchanges are never a bad idea, except maybe if there's ammonia in your tap.
The waterchange/humic substance method of course requires addition of more humic substances with each waterchange but also if you have notworthy amounts of wood and leaf litter the stuff will continue to leach it into the water you just don't see the visible compounds anymore tinting the water.
That's why I recommend alder cones for this, you can simply hang them in the tank in a media bag. Rooibos tea (without additives of course!) also works. The leaves are for the more sustained baseline levels.

I am picking up a lot of wood and rock tomorrow i could add as well.
You already have rocks and those make for rather bad structure. Especially as you have rocks that raise KH and GH and thus pH.

But maybe I should proritise setting up the new tank. I could add filtermaterial from the sump and bet on a rapid cycling with the agazzisi in the fresh tank?
No prioritizing. Both tanks and all the fish deserve the same level of care. You can try a jumpstart if you use cycled filter material.

Or should I maybe just admit that I didnt do my homework properly, had to much faith in the LFS, euthanise the sick fish and start from scratch?
What kind of a kneejerk reaction is that?
Admittedly, when it comes to stocking and structuring you made mistakes and that LFS is in my opinion still ok to buy dry goods from if you have no local alternatives. Just stop listening to them when it comes to stocking or fish health. They obviously lack in knowledge.

The main mistake in terms of structuring is, that you left too much open area and the fish can move and see through under the wood. Structures well done block the lines of sight completely in the 10-15cm directly above the substrate on the whole line front to back, glass to glass. Open front areas connect smaller open areas and whoever is the highest ranking fish will claim all the area it can overlook.

Have a look:

structure dwarf cichlids.jpg This is a schematic I drew up some time ago which schows it well from above. You see the middle piece? That's the extend it needs at least to work.
structure dwarf cichlids2.jpgstructure dwarf cichlids3.jpg And here you see a technique of blocking off lines of sight if you don't have massive big pieces of driftwood. You start with a layer of small rocks and pebbles and layer sticks and smaller pieces of droftwood on it. Get down to the fishes usual swimming level with your eyes again and again while you build up the structures to see whether there are openings and close them again.
I have to clarify, this tank was not intended for Apistogramma, but for Dicrossus and the pictures do not show the final tank. But I think the principle is clear to deduct from the pictures.


photo_2022-12-06_09-40-35.jpgNext the lighting situation. Dwarf cichlids require dimmed lighting. You can use floating plants for that and additionally dim down the lights. I never go higher than 50% of my light's strength.
Here's the lighting situation in my tank at the moment. Don't look at the structure, I've gone for a biotope community and only keep a single male Dicrossus in it at the moment. And even with 1-2 females I wouldn't have to change much, but Dicrossus ain't Apistogramma... If you stick to keeping single males structure is secondary.
photo_2022-12-06_09-38-39.jpg And here you see why it's so dark in the tank: Quite a small light, only one plant that's planted in the substrate (the Nymphaea sp.) and otherwise only floaters and emersed plants. And all shade the water underneath.

Please ignore the tint though, my tank is blackwater (and I don't just mean the colouration, it's chemically basically distilled water with some humic substances and that's it.). Your fish don't require such extreme parameters. They would profit from lower GH/KH and pH, though. In comparison to your current readings that is.

Back to the fish:
The female has a bacterial infection caused by stress and which will end fatal, treatment or not, if the tank isn't optimized soon. Otherwise the situation will repeat. You should try saving the fish, by any means realistically possible in a hospital tank on its own, and in the meantime restructure the main tank. Same goes for the A. agassizii. Realistic means: If you need to get a prescription from a vet for expensive meds or have no choice but a strong broadband antibiotic with tons of side effects, it's too much. Waterchanges, humic stubstances and maybe a non-antibiotic med against bacterial infections are within reason.
In both cases: Big (50%+) daily waterchanges, as little stress as possible and lots of humic substances and good food (live or frozen).
I'd give both a realistic chance that way.
If it doesn't work out, and the fish go into critical stage (most strikingly shows by loss of swimming control) euthanize. After that do not get another female, leave the male A. cacatuoides on its own. It will do just fine alone.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,740
Location
Germany
Sorry. It's KH that is ~ 11. I don't know how to measure GH.
Ooof, that's high enough for Tanganyika cichlids, but even for domestic whitewater Apistos like your A. cacatuoides this is too high. Long term, that's detrimental for all your fish. Even whitewater is soft in comparison to average tap in countries in Europe and North America, and you have only softwater fish. Those fish require much more and much bigger waterchanges than other fish, if kept in too hard water. You don't have to make the water softer or more acidic necessarily, but you have to keep up with waterchanges. There is little wiggle room.

In another forum we have a case of chronic bacterial infections in Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma going on for almost a year now, which is very much down to similarly subpar conditions. Too hard water, too little waterchanges, too bright lights, too little cover, social/intraspecies stress and additionally bad food. Those are very typical mistakes.

There are GH tests available all over the place, but with such high KH you can expect it to be higher. From experience I'd estimate between 13 and 18 degrees.
 

dw1305

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Messages
2,602
Location
Wiltshire UK
Hi all,
It's KH that is ~ 11. I don't know how to measure GH.
It is likely to be dGH11 as well. A little bit dependent on the geology of where you live <"https://www.thekrib.com/Plants/CO2/hardness-larryfrank.html">.
.........Long term, that's detrimental for all your fish. Even whitewater is soft in comparison to average tap in countries in Europe and North America, and you have only softwater fish. .......... Too hard water, too little water changes, too bright lights, too little cover, social/intraspecies stress and additionally bad food. Those are very typical mistakes.

There are GH tests available all over the place, but with such high KH you can expect it to be higher. From experience I'd estimate between 13 and 18 degrees.
I agree with @MacZ . Could you use rainwater?

cheers Darrel
 

Boserup

New Member
Messages
11
Location
Denmark
Thx for all the thoughtfull replies! Much appreciated!

I do 30% water change weekly in the tank. Feed a mix of frozen foods.

I just picked up a lot of driftwood from a guy who was shutting down a huge freshwater tank (picture below).

B8176107-7B81-4A7D-A733-A8A23AC02FE2.jpeg


My plan is:

Short term:
  • Clean driftwood. Add to existing tank as per @MacZ's post.
  • Setup 30 gal tank as "hospital tank" using filter material from the sump of the existing tank.
    • Sand/ no sand?
    • Plants/ no plants?
    • Cover for sure. maybe Coconutshells and driftwood
    • Minimal lighting
    • Daily watertesting
    • whom to move? The Agazzisi male or the cac female?
  • Add (more) leaves to both.
  • Cross fingers
Long term:
  • Water quality? Do I need R.O. or rainwater. If so - am I willing to make that happen or should I look for other types of fish. I used to have Tanganyika-cichlids, but at the moment I lean towards figuring out a way to soften my water.
  • Setup 30 gal as a apisto-tank (and get a 20 gal for quarentine/hospital backup)
  • Redo 70 gal as a community tank.
Am I missing something important?
 
Last edited:

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,740
Location
Germany
Clean driftwood.
Pour over boiling water, maybe 2-3 times. that's all you need to do.

Setup 30 gal tank as "hospital tank" using filter material from the sump of the existing tank.
  • Sand/ no sand?
  • Plants/ no plants?
  • Cover for sure. maybe Coconutshells and driftwood
  • Minimal lighting
  • Daily watertesting
  • whom to move? The Agazzisi male or the cac female?
Sand, plants and move the Agassizii. It will then stay there long term.
And set up a SECOND hospital tank for the female. 30-40 liters is absolutely sufficient. Also Sand, plants, leaf litter, driftwood.
If you want to move her back to the main tank, you will have to catch out the male and re-arrange things before adding both again at the same time.

Water quality? Do I need R.O. or rainwater. If so - am I willing to make that happen or should I look for other types of fish. I used to have Tanganyika-cichlids, but at the moment I lean towards figuring out a way to soften my water.
Normally I say for domestic fish like these tap is enough but you really have hard, alkaline water. So it's either switch to hardwater fish (Central America, East Africa, Australia/New Guinea, Myanmar) or switch to RO/rainwater.
Setup 30 gal as a apisto-tank (and get a 20 gal for quarentine/hospital backup)
GOOD!

I do 30% water change weekly in the tank. Feed a mix of frozen foods.
Make that 50% weekly, add live food to the menu and low-carb (low/no grains) granulates.

Am I missing something important?
Think that's it for the moment.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,740
Location
Germany
Oh and an addition:
If you choose to use RO / rainwater, you will have to slowly acclimate the fish to it, doing several smaller waterchanges (25%) over the course of several days until you reach the levels you want. If you don't want to go 100%, you will have to keep the mix ratio of RO to tap for every waterchange, premixing the water in a siffuciently sized container.
 

dw1305

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Messages
2,602
Location
Wiltshire UK
Hi all,
Sand, plants and move the Agassizii. It will then stay there
<"Sand"> and <"plants"> are both essentials.

Plants are fundamental to <"biological filtration"> and maintaining water quality, both because of their direct uptake of nutrients (including all forms of fixed nitrogen) and because of their synergistic effect with microbes.

There is "microbe only" nitrification, but there isn't any "plant only", it is always "plant / microbe" biofiltration.

Some people look on plants as a form of decoration, and they are decorative, but they are much, much more important than that.

cheers Darrel
 

Boserup

New Member
Messages
11
Location
Denmark
Ok. The “Hospital” tank is “online”. Some of the wood is floatning, but I guess thats ok for now.

image.jpg


Actually looks nice for an emergency setup. More apistostyle - when oxygen bubbles are gone I’ll do a watertest, and if it checks out ill move the agazzisi in there. Daily waterchanges for the time bring i guess.

Thx for the help so far
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,740
Location
Germany
Just one thing: Remove the rocks again. Those raise KH/GH additionally, which is the last you want in this situation.

Otherwise this is great for the time being.
 

Boserup

New Member
Messages
11
Location
Denmark
Okay. Less likeable without the rocks But you gotta do what you gotta do.

image.jpg


Is the problem these rocks in particular or rocks in general?
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,740
Location
Germany
These in particular. Same goes for many in your main tank. Almost only limestone variants.
Luckily the driftwood will be a more than sufficient replacement. You see above how little rocks I have in my tank. The latest iteration of the tank has maybe... a handful of smaller pebbles left.

Test your tap for GH/KH if you like. I'd not be surprised if the readings are lower than in your tank.
 

Eddy. E.

Member
Messages
51
Location
Germany
The stones should not release any hardness builders into the water. This can be easily checked by adding acid over them drop by drop. If it foams, then it contains lime, which releases hardness into the water.
 

Boserup

New Member
Messages
11
Location
Denmark
Thx!

I just tested with an acidbased bathroom limestone remover (pH<1). No foaming as I could tell.

But as of now driftwood is fine.

Will make a plan once i see how things pan out. Not decided on R.O. or different fish yet…
 

Boserup

New Member
Messages
11
Location
Denmark
Ok. So far, so good. No dead fish as of yet.

The Agazzisi-male is hiding. Thats fine. It's a new tank, and the goal isnt to get a good look at him, but to cure his current problems. The issue for me is:
  1. It's impossible to monitor his symptoms.
  2. I'm unsure if he eats the food. I'm feeding live mosquito larvae. I saw him pick up a few yesterday, that passed by a leaf, where he was hiding, but today I don't know where he is. I'm worried the larvae ends up in the filter, poluting the water (and him not getting enough nutrients to battle his infection). If he was healthy, I'd just lay of the food for a couple of days, but I'm unsure if that's a good idea now?
Should I add a couple of embers/cardinals/corydas - cleaning up food/dithering/letting him know that there is food in the tank?

The Female Cac is also hiding. But she shows up and eats, when food is served, and returns to hide afterwards. She's still in the community tank though, with way more leaflets/wood/complexity in it - haven't got more tanks available. I think she comes out on the signal of "tetras start chasing the frozen food".
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,740
Location
Germany
I'm worried the larvae ends up in the filter, poluting the water
No worries, that's negligible.
If he was healthy, I'd just lay of the food for a couple of days, but I'm unsure if that's a good idea now?
It is not a good idea. Just feed minimal amounts.

Should I add a couple of embers/cardinals/corydas - cleaning up food/dithering/letting him know that there is food in the tank?
No. The fish needs some peace and quiet now.
 

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