06-02-2009, 04:21 PM
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Lovely fish, rams, deserving of a nice home. They need to feel secure, so plants are best, with some open spaces between groups of plants; this is their natural habitat (the orinoco River basin and savannahs in Venezuela and Columbia, SA). If they spawn (and they probably will if the water is warm, soft and slightly acidic) they will lay eggs in depressions in the substrate or on rocks. Substrate may be sand or small gravel, your preference.
Main thing is the water chemistry; even though most are now raised commercially, many aquarists find they still do not fare well when the water is outside their natural preference. They are also sensitive to nitrates and deteriorating water conditions. Good filtration is important, but as they occur in very slow moving water and pools in nature they do not like water movement and the filter should be slow-flow so as not to create a current more than necessary to circulate the water.
Lighting is dependant upon the plants, but as this is a relative shy fish bright lighting should be avoided. Moderate to low-light plants (swords, crypts, annubias, java fern) would be ideal in their favoured water conditions, and 1-2 watts of full spectrum fluorescent light would suffice. Floating plants like the Indian Fern (Ceratopteris) would also help reduce the brightness.
Heat is critical, they are warmer water fish, around 80F. Suitable tankmates at this higher temp would be cardinal tetras, pencilfish, hatchetfish, and small corys. I mentioned their shyness, and suitable quiet tankmates will help them feel more secure and keep them out a bit more. The females care of the eggs and fry is fascinating to watch.