Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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JDM 12-16-2012 10:41 AM

South American Cichlids
I thought, for some odd reason, that the cichlid family was African so I wasn't putting any on my list of possibles. Also, I dropped the angelfish from my list early on before seeing that it was also on the cichlid list.

Seeing as I want small fish most of what I am considering will be dwarf versions of various species, I looked at the Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid this morning. Not set on this, just a consideration.

I see that they seem to be compatible with a good number of other fish that have made it onto my list.

A couple of questions come to mind.

The minimum tank size seems to be related more to territorial behaviour... if I considered these in a group of up to 4 (1 male and 2 or 3 females) I would figure that they would take the same consideration as a school of 10 tetras or similar. These become the "show fish" in the tank instead of the larger school of smaller fish.

Would I be OK with a 24" 25 gallon tank with these guys?

Is there any difference putting these in first or last as I stock the tank?

Is a harem similar to a pairing type of fish in that it should already be established or are the males less picky when there is more of a selection of females?

Any other thoughts or comments?


Thoth 12-16-2012 10:50 AM

24" is about the size of the territory they defend when they go into mating behavior so I would not get more than 2 for the tank.

The male triple red Cockatoo is just amazing looking as well as the yellow on the female during mating. :thumbsup:

Since they are rather difficult to find, I would have the tank cycled before introducing them.

Byron 12-16-2012 12:00 PM

I concur with Thoth. I have maintained and spawned several of the "dwarf" SA cichlids over the years.

Some species are best in a pair, other species need a harem (one male, 2-3 females), and some are OK with a small group. A rather interesting trait usually occurs with the latter.

Back in the 1980's I acquired a group of five wild Apistogramma kleei [as they were then named, now they are A. bitaeniata] and put them in a tank on their own. Within a few weeks it was "obvious" than I had one male (and what a beauty) and four females--or so I thought. The male spawned with a female, and I raised the fry and sold them at the local club auction. After a few months, the male died. To my surprise, one of the "females" within a matter of days developed the male characteristics (extended fins, bright colour, etc) and turned out to be a male and he spawned with one of the true females. This is quite common with many but not all of these species. There is no sex change here, it is simply that the subordinate males do not develop the male characteristics but remain drab like the females when there is a dominant male present, as there will usually be. This works for some species, but in others the dominant male might well kill any rivals.

The sole Apistogramma species (so far) in our profiles is the most commonly seen, Apistogramma cacatuoides, and it is relatively tolerant of slightly basic water. Many of the others will be wild caught, or from specialist breeders, and require very soft water. And as mentioned, species can vary in how they should be kept with respect to numbers. Aquascaping is basically identical for all. And aside from the Apistos, there are the absolutely stunning fish in the "checkerboard" group, Dicrossus filamentosus and Dicrossus maculatus being the two usually seen (though rare), and both are in our profiles [click shaded names]. The similar species in Crenicara are a bit larger, not quite as colourful, but good aquarium residents; see Crenicara punctulatum in the profiles.

All these dwarfs need dither fish or they may be so shy you never see them. The "checkerboard" species seem to fit in better with a community tank. With all the Apistos I've had, some other fish tended to get picked on, especially by the females who in spite of their diminutive size can be very rough. I've had them kill other females of the same species even in 4-foot tanks.


JDM 12-16-2012 04:55 PM

Dither fish, interesting concept. I was considering Mosquito Rasbora for a 10 fish school before I noticed the cichlids were S.A. Seeing as Rasbora are considered compatible that might be good. I was also looking at Purple Dwarf Pencilfish... they happen to have similar water requirements. Also the Banded Dwarf Loach seem to fit... even though I wanted Oto Catfish, those are not in the centre of their water requirements with this list.

These are all just conjecture at this point but a mix might be

Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid x 3 ( guys suggest only two...)
Purple Dwarf Pencilfish x 6 (sub Mosquito Rasbora X 8)
Banded Dwarf Loach x 5

At full size that is almost 23 inches of fish in a 25 gallon tank. Although it falls within the classic rule of thumb, I expect that my work will be cut out for me in keeping everything ship shape.

I also expect that, even though the closest FS is well stocked, I probably won't find all these in stock at the same time.


Byron 12-16-2012 06:27 PM

That seems fine, generally. The A. cacatuoides should be a harem though, so one male and 2 or 3 females.

And a caution; when the cichlids spawn, and undoubtedly they will, these loach will be hounded mercilessly. Substrate fish like loaches, corys, etc do not fare well with dwarf cichlids when spawning.


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