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How many caves in a 125 L (80 cm x 45 cm x 35 cm) Apisto Tank?

ARK93

Member
Messages
35
Location
East Yorkshire - England - UK
Hi Folks,

I'm currently planning a tank for breeding Apistogrammas (the species is yet to be decided as availability varies constantly here in the UK) and hoped to get some input on my layout and provision of cover. The tank is roughly 125 L (80 cm x 35 cm x 45 cm) and my intention is to keep a pair of Apistos and some Nannostomus as dither fish. I intend to cover roughly 75 % of the surface with floating plants and hope for the roots to trail deep into the tank providing cover for the pencils. I also intend to build up a deep bed of leaf litter by piling some of the leaves on top of pieces of Azalea root.

Am I right in thinking that for optimum results I should try and make it difficult for fish to see from one end of the tank to the other? If so how high above the substrate should these visual barriers extend? Should they meet the roots coming down from the surface? If so how many of these barriers would people try to include in the tank? One barrier dividing it into two "zones" or two barriers, providing three separate but smaller zones? Will these areas be large enough to provide adequate swimming space?

Secondly, how many different caves would people provide? In my previous Apisto setup I had just two but I had no plans to breed the fish. If breeding is the aim would people provide several caves per fish? I am considering placing up to eight caves in the tank but in some ways this feels overkill, however I would like to keep the male in the tank alongside the female and fry (do people think this should be possible in a tank this size?) and I assume having several hiding places will help the male cope with any aggression.

Layout Idea 1


Above is an image showing an example of one of the barriers I intend to create and the provision of caves, the space between the barrier and the near pane is between 1/2 and 1/3 of the tank base. I will of course be adding sand substrate and many more leaves in the long run.

Sorry this was a bit long-winded but I'm trying to be thorough in my planning and research.

Thanks in advance.
 

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
379
Location
San Francisco
Is the footprint 80x35 or 80x45? You list it both ways above. If it's 80x35, I assume you're keeping one male and 1 - 2 females, depending on species. You have room for roughly 3 territories. In one territory, you should not be able to see into another territory (when at the bottom of the tank). There's no downside to lots of caves, but I don't think it's necessary to have many if there's other structure in the tank.

IME with a tank that size, a female will quickly find the caves and use the one she likes. I used 3 caves and all 3 were used at some point (by various trios/pairs). You can move them if it turns out they don't prefer one location. One thing I'd advise is to not have the openings face each other, like you do with the 2 caves along the back edge, which are in the same territory. Make it so that you only see your own territory when looking out the entrance.
 

ARK93

Member
Messages
35
Location
East Yorkshire - England - UK
Is the footprint 80x35 or 80x45? You list it both ways above. If it's 80x35, I assume you're keeping one male and 1 - 2 females, depending on species. You have room for roughly 3 territories. In one territory, you should not be able to see into another territory (when at the bottom of the tank). There's no downside to lots of caves, but I don't think it's necessary to have many if there's other structure in the tank.

IME with a tank that size, a female will quickly find the caves and use the one she likes. I used 3 caves and all 3 were used at some point (by various trios/pairs). You can move them if it turns out they don't prefer one location. One thing I'd advise is to not have the openings face each other, like you do with the 2 caves along the back edge, which are in the same territory. Make it so that you only see your own territory when looking out the entrance.
Sorry Ben,

I was estimating slightly since I have measurements for both the dimensions measured outside the glass and the actual inside measurements giving the volume of space/water inside the tank. The actual internal dimensions are Length: 76.5 cm Width: 39.5 cm and Height: 45 cm. I think I'll play it safe and keep a pair, unless I'm unable to find an obvious bonded pair in which case I may buy a trio and hope one forms.

Thanks for the pointer about the entrance holes, I would have probably rotated them slightly anyway but wanted to have them all roughly in place just to get an idea of the space available.

Thanks again.
 

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
379
Location
San Francisco
I think I'll play it safe and keep a pair, unless I'm unable to find an obvious bonded pair in which case I may buy a trio and hope one forms.
It will depend on the species you choose. Some only form bonded pairs, some are polygamous (and care not at all who they mate with), and some are in-between, or what Mike calls "casually polygamous."

I personally think the last category is easiest, when you can keep a pair and not have to worry about whether they're a match. For the polygamous species, trios can make things easier on the non-breeding female, since the male has something else to occupy his attention. That said, the third fish can still get bullied. Also, it's logistically more challenging when there are overlapping or simultaneous spawns.

-B
 

ARK93

Member
Messages
35
Location
East Yorkshire - England - UK
It will depend on the species you choose. Some only form bonded pairs, some are polygamous (and care not at all who they mate with), and some are in-between, or what Mike calls "casually polygamous."

I personally think the last category is easiest, when you can keep a pair and not have to worry about whether they're a match. For the polygamous species, trios can make things easier on the non-breeding female, since the male has something else to occupy his attention. That said, the third fish can still get bullied. Also, it's logistically more challenging when there are overlapping or simultaneous spawns.

-B
Interesting. I knew some species are more suitable to keeping in harems vs pairs but I didn't know the distinctions were as clear as your description seems to suggest. I suppose this is something I'll need to look into when choosing my species.

The reason I was swaying towards a pair is because that way the fish will be able to find their own space much more easily without being pushed by an aggressor into the territory of another fish. If only I had a four foot tank (I'll have to show this to my partner when my birthday comes around!)

Thanks Ben.
 

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
379
Location
San Francisco
Interesting. I knew some species are more suitable to keeping in harems vs pairs but I didn't know the distinctions were as clear as your description seems to suggest. I suppose this is something I'll need to look into when choosing my species.
Yes, it's something that's more or less known for most species that are likely available to you. If in doubt, there's a lot experience and expertise on this forum to help.

The reason I was swaying towards a pair is because that way the fish will be able to find their own space much more easily without being pushed by an aggressor into the territory of another fish. If only I had a four foot tank (I'll have to show this to my partner when my birthday comes around!)
The most common size breeding tanks are 60cm or 50cm, so you should have plenty of space to work with!

Cheers
 

ARK93

Member
Messages
35
Location
East Yorkshire - England - UK
The most common size breeding tanks are 60cm or 50cm, so you should have plenty of space to work with
It's only the fact that I lack a 2nd tank to place the male into after spawning that worries me. I will likely set up a second tank to rear some fry in but a 3rd is very unlikely. If I did have the space I'd likely use it to breed Chocolate Gourami or even Vailants Chocolate Gorami although I'll first have to gain a bit of experience maintaining blackwater parameters.
 

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
379
Location
San Francisco
Hm, yes I started with one tank and now I have 5. :) My advice would be to pull the male once you have fry and put him in the second tank. The fry will grow better in the presence of Mom, and also there's more room for them to grow out. If you keep the pair together, they will continue breeding, sometimes breeding back to back. This creates a couple issues:
1. It's physically taxing on the female.
2. The bigger fry predate on the younger fry.

All that said, it may take a few spawns for the couple to get the hang of it. So I'd wait until you get a good size clutch, and then yank the male.

-B
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,439
Location
Germany
Structure dwarf cichlids

I've drawn up a schematic example for structuring a tank. All this is provided the wood and rocks do completely block the lines of sight between 0 and 15cm above the sand. In my experience the caves can be smaller and integrated into the barriers. The schematic leaves more open spaces between wood and rocks than intended.
 

ARK93

Member
Messages
35
Location
East Yorkshire - England - UK
My advice would be to pull the male once you have fry and put him in the second tank.
I'll have to do my best to get both tanks set up, then resist putting something else in the other tank... unfortunately I need to think about aesthetics as I don't think my partner would appreciate me filling the house with half empty quarantine, fry rearing and isolation tanks. She's very keen on my aquarium hobby but perhaps not that keen.

She does have good taste in fish though, preferring unusual species and wild-types rather than brightly coloured line breds like most non-aquarists.

All that said, it may take a few spawns for the couple to get the hang of it. So I'd wait until you get a good size clutch, and then yank the male.
Something I need to look into is the sizes of clutches I can expect. I can probably manage to house and rehome around 20 - 30 sub-adult size young in the space I'm likely to have, but no more.
 

ARK93

Member
Messages
35
Location
East Yorkshire - England - UK
I've drawn up a schematic example for structuring a tank. All this is provided the wood and rocks do completely block the lines of sight between 0 and 15cm above the sand. In my experience the caves can be smaller and integrated into the barriers. The schematic leaves more open spaces between wood and rocks than intended.

Cheers MacZ,

I love the schematic, I might have to attempt to draw one myself once I've decided on my layout. I picked up four coconuts last night so will make some more caves at the weekend. I wont be using rocks in this tank just to save me needing to use egg crate or similar under the substrate.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,439
Location
Germany
Cheers MacZ,

I love the schematic, I might have to attempt to draw one myself once I've decided on my layout. I picked up four coconuts last night so will make some more caves at the weekend. I wont be using rocks in this tank just to save me needing to use egg crate or similar under the substrate.
As I said, it's just a schematic. You do you, just take away from it how structures should be positioned. Whether you use only wood or additionally rocks and plants is your decision. It's just an example.
 

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