20 gallon dwarf cichlid biotope

Discussion in 'Freshwater Aquarium Builds' started by Cichlid Guy, Aug 3, 2014.

  1. Cichlid GuyNew MemberMember

    Hi all,

    I would like to set up my 20 gallon tank as a biotope for a certain type of dwarf cichlid. I would also like to make it a biotope for that fish, as I have always been interested in trying to mimic the natural environment of fish. Does anyone have any ideas what cichlid I could try? Ideally I would want them to breed in the tank as well. Also what decor/plants/dither fish etc.? Any input would be appreciated.

  2. lollipopkillerWell Known MemberMember

    dutch gold rams

  3. Marie1Well Known MemberMember

    20 long or 20 high? A 20 long gives you more options. A 20 high would be nice for shell dwellers from lake Tanganyika.

  4. junebugFishlore LegendMember

    Shellies and cave dwellers ;) Easy biotope to build and you'd have a really hard time keeping them from breeding in the tank since they spawn just about as easily as guppies.
  5. Cichlid GuyNew MemberMember

    Oh sorry I forgot to mention some details: it's a 20 gallon long and I want it to be a planted tank. I already have the fluorite substrate and a piece of driftwood. Also not too interested in rams as they're too sensitive I've found.
  6. fishleeValued MemberMember

    Lyretail Checkerboards. Kribensis. Golden eye :rolleyes:
  7. Marie1Well Known MemberMember

    Apistogramma, lots to choose from, are what I would go for in your set up. They come from South America. So if you are wanting to do a bio type, plants and fish from there is what you should start looking for if you go with apistos.
  8. Cichlid GuyNew MemberMember

    I like the idea of apistos for sure, it's too bad my LFS doesn't carry them. Does anyone have any experience with ordering them online (any of the subspecies?)
  9. Marie1Well Known MemberMember

    I've ordered a lot of fish online. It is kind of expensive to have fish shipped overnight. But in the grand scheme of things, a necessary expense sometimes. And with everything else you have to spend money on to keep fish, it's not that bad. It's worth it in my opinion.

    For apistos, I would start here,  

    You can also try,   It might be easier to call The Wetspot. That's what I did when I got some fish from there.

    I have gotten fish from here too with no problems. What they have in stock can be hit and miss sometimes.  

    I have gotten all my African cichlids from here. Never had a problem. I think they are hit and miss with South American cichlids. You might send them a message if they don't have what you are looking for. I think I also called them one time as well.  

    I hope this helps. Sounds like you should have a great tank.
  10. Cichlid GuyNew MemberMember

    Thank you! After some research I believe I have decided on apistogramma agassizii. They are absolutely gorgeous it seems from the pictures. From what I gather they are native to the Amazon basin and its tributaries, so I assume I will need a blackwater setup? I have a nice piece of driftwood for a centrepiece,and fluorite substrate for the plants as well as a fluorescent bulb the guy at the store suggested for planted tanks. Should I mix sand with the fluorite substrate or would that endanger the impeller on my HOB? Beyond the obvious ones like amazon sword and dwarf chain sword, what are some plants I could get to stay true to the biotope?
  11. Cichlid GuyNew MemberMember

    By the way marie that is a gorgeous green terror in your icon. They are one of my favourite fish. I want to breed them in my 55 gallon as I mentioned in my other thread, do you have any tips? I figured I would buy 5-6 juvies and let them pair off naturally, select the best looking pair and return the others. What do you think?
  12. Marie1Well Known MemberMember

    My experience with sand and HOB filters is they don't mix very well. I bet someone here has had success doing it, but every time I've done it I've ended up replacing the impeller at some point. Hopefully someone else can advise you on that.

    Apistos do like black water. Something I have no experience with other than having driftwood stain the water. I know there is a recent thread here about someone doing it. I believe adding peat moss to the filter is the easiest way to get black water on a more permanent basis.

    Cabomba, Pennywort, Sagittaria, Riccia, Vallisneria, and Java moss are some more plants that are from South America.

    I've never breed green terrors. Mine is a single in a 55. He is 7 years old now. If I were to breed them, I would do it how you are planning on.

    By the way, you have me thinking of a SA bio type for some Apistos now! I've got a 20 long I've been debating on what to do with. I think I've made up my mind finally :)
  13. petaddictionWell Known MemberMember

    You can mix sand and a HOB. Just add a prefilter and IME no sand can get inside to hurt the filter.

    Sent from my iPhone using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum
  14. Cichlid GuyNew MemberMember

    Beautiful! Maybe we can keep each other posted as our tanks develop. I think I'll err on the side of caution and avoid sand, and just use fluorite which is a clay-based substrate. So for plants, I believe my LFS only carries Amazon swords and cabomba. I know they (and the other plants you listed) are South American, but are they native to the apisto's actual range? I want to be really true to nature (kind of OCD about it lol). Also for tankmates/dithers for the apistos, I was thinking neon tetras. Would this work? What else?

    As for your green terror, what kind of tank is he in (in terms of decor, substrate, plants, etc.? My 55 gallon that is waiting for them is a mix of sand/fluorite, with several pieces of driftwood that have anubias nana/java fern attached. I also have some hygro angustifolia in there. I know that none of these plants are actually native to where green terrors come from, so could you suggest some plants that are? The main reason I went with these is because (the anubias and java fern) are not in the substrate so there's no danger of them getting dug up.
  15. frampyWell Known MemberMember

    Aquaticclarity.com is a great online place for apistos. Its all he deals with. Jeff is a moderator for apistogramma.com . He knows his stuff!! I have ordered fish from him and they are great. An easy starter apisto would be cacatouides or agassizii. A pair or a mff trio would work fine in a 20 long. The caca's are more tolerant to different water types then most other apistos.

    Neons are fine.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2014
  16. Cichlid GuyNew MemberMember

    Thanks for the tip! I'll definitely check it out.
  17. Marie1Well Known MemberMember

    My GT's tank has changed a lot over the years. It has gone from HEAVILY planted, to a few rocks with a few plants. It's always been a low light tank with black sand. To be honest I have no idea what kind of sand it is. Nothing special, probably something I picked up at the LFS. If you can think of a low light plant, it has probably been in the tank at one time or another. As much as I like plants, I'm horrible with knowing the names of them. I got lucky with mine. He doesn't dig. I have several pics, but don't want to spam your thread with tank pics :p
  18. Cichlid GuyNew MemberMember

    By all means, go ahead. I don't mind. Yeah that's the reason I chose anubias and java fern for my upcoming GT tank, they're low-tech, low-light, and can be attached to driftwood/rocks (even though they're not biotope-specific). I figure they'll have a chance to put down some roots before the Terrors get big enough to mess with them too much. I'm probably gonna remove the hygro angustifolia; it's beautiful but kind of delicate and rooted in the substrate so it wouldn't last. Would you suggest crypts for a tank like this? I know they put down really strong roots so they might be ok even with diggers.
  19. Marie1Well Known MemberMember

    Lol, I guess it did have black gravel at one time...
    Right now it has a piece of driftwood with a huge java fern growing on it with black sand, 1 Eheim 2217 and a Emperor 400. Total over kill on the filtration, but meh.. It works :)
    These are all pretty old pics too. I don't even live at that place anymore..



    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  20. Cichlid GuyNew MemberMember

    That looks fantastic! It looks like it was really heavily planted at one time. Did he destroy all those plants is that why you went back to sparsely planted? And are those amazon swords in the last incarnation?

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