20 gallon long Apistogramma tank build

Fishnturtleguy933

So i was given permission to add one more tank to the room........mts is definitely a thing.
I'm going to be stocking with a m/f pair of apistogramma, cacatuoides or hongsloi, haven't decided yet but I'm leaning more towards cacatuoides.
Here's the tank
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I plan to create a larger dragonstone island on the left side of the tank with a single piece of spiderwood and loads of tall and short plants. On the right side I'll have a second smaller dragonstone island with less plants but some tall background stem plant behind it and shorter plants in front with a good size swimming space between the two islands.

Anyways here's a list of all materials and possible stocking ideas.
Any help and advise will be welcomed and greatly appreciated.

Tank:Aqueon 20 gallon long glass.

Filters: tetra quite flow 30 hob and a
20 gal sponge filter with a 30 gal tetra whisper air pump.

Lighting: probably getting another finnex planted plus 24/7 hlc but what do y'all think?
I have a fluval on my 50 gallon i like as well but it's a bit more pricey.

Heater:fluval E100 digital adjustable.

Substrate: caribsea eco complete put into mesh bags to create some hight, small and medium river stones and some natural color sand. I have play sand but i hear that stuff compacts pretty bad so ill probably use something else, either pool filter or some other type but i know i want a more natural look to it than my other 3 tanks.

Hardscape: ohko(Dragon) stone and spider wood. I have a peice I'm waterlogging and growing bacteria on in my 50 gallon

Plants I'm thinking of: rotala rotundifolia, rotala hra, bolbitis mini leaf, some anubias nana, some taller crypt for the background(suggestions) and some crypt wendetii green with water lettuce as a floater. Going to add pothos and some monkey face to grow out the top of this tank as well.

Fish stock ideas: M/F pair of apistogramma cacatuoides or hongsloi.
8-10 harlequin rasboras or other top/mid dweller and a cleaning crew of some sort. I have a ton of Malaysian trumpet snails i can move over but i want to do something different in this tank, any ideas?

Ferts and such: eco complete, thrive all in one(doing great for my other tank)
Thrive root tabs, api stresscoat/stresszyme plus, api quick start to help with cycling,I'll stop this when cycle is done, api co2 booster.

Going to be a week or two before i get all materials needed. Some is on the way, some i need to buy still. Again, any help, suggestions, advice and inspiration is more than welcome.
Thanks guys!
 

MacZ

Dragonstone isn't good for Apistos. Once they start chasing each other these rocks become dangerous. Abrasions are very possible.

I plan to create a larger dragonstone island on the left side of the tank with a single piece of spiderwood and loads of tall and short plants. On the right side I'll have a second smaller dragonstone island with less plants but some tall background stem plant behind it and shorter plants in front with a good size swimming space between the two islands.
If you want to keep Apistos in a tank that size the scape is not good. You need to break lines of sight. With the "island" style this is not the case. Apistos do not need free swimming space, they like cover.
You've got two options: Either keep just a single male (doesn't seem like you are wanting to breed, so this is likely your best option) or change the layout so a pair won't be killing each other.
 

Fishnturtleguy933

Dragonstone isn't good for Apistos. Once they start chasing each other these rocks become dangerous. Abrasions are very possible.


If you want to keep Apistos in a tank that size the scape is not good. You need to break lines of sight. With the "island" style this is not the case. Apistos do not need free swimming space, they like cover.
You've got two options: Either keep just a single male (doesn't seem like you are wanting to breed, so this is likely your best option) or change the layout so a pair won't be killing each other.
I've seen a few scapes for apistos similar to this, i can always use some wood and plants betweed the two rock formations to create more sightline breaks. I'll keep the dragon stone in mind though. I've got seiryu I n my other two tanks, just looking to do something different. If i can find dull enough pieces ill use them, if not ill try to find something else.
Thank you for your advise!
 

MacZ

I've seen a few scapes for apistos similar to this
Me too, never worked out with a pair or group of Apistos long term in these tanks. Especially not in a 20 gallon. (In which I would only keep a single Apisto unless the option to separate them at any given time is provided.) The tanks you've seen are typically setup by aquascapers or influencers that are not very knowledgable about territorial fish and often don't care. Sombody started the combination a few years ago and people just keep replicating, not knowing what they are getting into with these fish. They are by no means scaper tank material.

Rock-wise I'd go with smooth round river stones and pebbles (like the size of an egg to the size of a fist. Important is they are inert. (Which seiryu is not.)

You're welcome.
 

Fishnturtleguy933

Dragonstone isn't good for Apistos. Once they start chasing each other these rocks become dangerous. Abrasions are very possible.


If you want to keep Apistos in a tank that size the scape is not good. You need to break lines of sight. With the "island" style this is not the case. Apistos do not need free swimming space, they like cover.
You've got two options: Either keep just a single male (doesn't seem like you are wanting to breed, so this is likely your best option) or change the layout so a pair won't be killing each other.
I've seen a few scapes for apistos similar to this, i can always use some wood and plants betweed the two rock formations to create more sightline breaks. I'll keep the dragon stone in mind though. I've got seiryu I n my other two tanks, just looking to do something different. If i can find dull enough pieces ill use them, if not ill try to find something else.
Thank you for your advise!
Me too, never worked out with a pair or group of Apistos long term in these tanks. Especially not in a 20 gallon. (In which I would only keep a single Apisto unless the option to separate them at any given time is provided.) The tanks you've seen are typically setup by aquascapers or influencers that are not very knowledgable about territorial fish and often don't care. Sombody started the combination a few years ago and people just keep replicating, not knowing what they are getting into with these fish. They are by no means scaper tank material.

Rock-wise I'd go with smooth round river stones and pebbles (like the size of an egg to the size of a fist. Important is they are inert. (Which seiryu is not.)

You're welcome.
Good to know. I've got smaller river stones going in all ready. I'm probably still going to get some larger stone but I'll be sure to be as cautious as possible when selecting pieces as well as add some caves. They will more than likely be by them selves too. just wasn't sure if a pair would be fine with some smaller schooler in here or not. I know more bottom dwellers is a no go for sure.
 

Fishnturtleguy933

So this is what ive decided to go with black lava rock instead of ohko. Its still a bit coarse but not sharp like ohko and will add to filtration. I'm going to get some black apisto caves to hide under the rock as well to make natural looking caves.
I know this won't be an "island" scape but I'm still going to make two separate lava rock islands with pebbles and smaller accent stones surrounding them both heavily planted to make as many sightline breaks as possible. In between will be a piece of spider wood with more plants
The substrate around the islands will be mostly stones/gravel with a natural color sand in the middle with some smaller lava rocks and plants.
Only going to keep a m/f pair with nothing else in the tank. I think I've settled on cacatuoides.
Sand comes in tomorrow.
I've got a fluval 3.0 comming in as well as the heater. I've purchased plants as well. Tank should be done and started the cycle process by the end of the week.

Total materials list:
Tank:Aqueon 20 gallon long
Lighting:fluval 3.0 32watt
Heater:fluval E100 digital adjustable.
Filters: tetra quiet flow 30 and 20 gallon hyger sponge filter.
Air pump:tetra whisper 30
Substrate:eco complete, caribsea super naturals torpedo beach, imagitarium accent stones both small stones and smaller tiny stones.
Hardscape: black lava rock, spider wood.
Plants: african water fern, anubias nana petite, anubias minima, crypt wendetii bronze(in my 40 gal), crypt retro spiralis, rotala coin leaf, ludwigia natans super red(from my 40 gal)
Water lettuce( 40 gal)
The rest of the plants not from my 40 gal are coming from buceplant. Would have gone to the lfs but it seems the covid has finally made it's way to my house.
Ill post more tomorrow or Thursday.
 

Fishnturtleguy933

Lighting came in today, sand came in yesterday. Plants, heaters and stones should be in tomorrow. After that, it's the fun stuff.
I really like these fluval 3.0. Nice and bright and easy to control with my phone.
Only downside is how expensive they are.
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Fishnturtleguy933

Moved the spiderwood out of my 50. Everything else i need should be in tomorrow. Might have to rethink the scape a bit but here are a few ideas I've got with the spiderwood so far. No lid on this tank. Going to grow pothos off the top of the wood. Let me know what you guys think looks better.
1.
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2.
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3.
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SouthAmericanCichlids

I like 2 the most.
 

Berryblue

#3 kinda speaks to me more
 

Fishnturtleguy933

I'm definitely stuck between 2 and 3. Stones and plants should be in later today i hope. Should have this done and started the cycle process by later tonight.
 

MacZ

Sidenote: If you can still decide the species. I vote Apistogramma hongsloi. Very nice fish and though relatively easy to get, not as commonly kept as A. cacatuoides. Might even be quite easy to get rid of eventual fry.
 

Fishnturtleguy933

Definitely still time. I was thinking this my self, if i can get the male nice and colored up i feel they look better than the cacatuoides. Any suggestions on what to feed? And would adding leaf litter help?
 

MacZ

Any suggestions on what to feed? And would adding leaf litter help?
Live and frozen: Artemia, Daphnia, Cyclops, white mosquito larvae. I know for sure A. hongsloi have problems with bloodworms. Can cost you a fish so don't even try. Otherwise a high quality sinking pellet (no grains, no fishmeal, no carbs) and add some vitamins to the live and frozen 1-2x a week and do two fast days a week.

Leaf litter is a MUST for Apistogramma.
 

Fishnturtleguy933

I Appreciate all your help and advice. I hate feeding bloodworms. Makes me itchy after feeding and usually causes ammonia issues in my tanks. Would live or freeze-dried brine shrimp work? If not i can get some cyclops or daphnia. It's going to be a month or two before i get the fish, i don't want to attempt a fish in cycle with apistos. If i do i have platy that I've done fish in cycles with and a place too move them back to when the cycle is done to make sure everything is stable. I also keep a pack of catappa leafs on hand at all times so I'll throw those in there as well. Probably start keeping more than one pack on hand.
 

Hellfishguy

Oak leaves, especially those from the white oak, break down much more slowly than catappa leaves. Plus they’re free. The trees are common in the N.E. USA.
 

Fishnturtleguy933

Oak leaves, especially those from the white oak, break down much more slowly than catappa leaves. Plus they’re free. The trees are common in the N.E. USA.
I'll keep this in mind. I'd have to boil before use to disinfect thoought right?
 

Hellfishguy

I'll keep this in mind. I'd have to boil before use to disinfect thoought right?
I just soak the leaves in a pail for a few days until they sink, then rinse them thoroughly with tap water before introducing them to the tank. You can soak them longer if you want more of the tannins to leach out.
 

MacZ

You can cycle with the leaves. Start with a good amount and just let it sit, add some more leaves every few days. The biofilms that grow on them are giving the tank stability.
 

Fishnturtleguy933

I just soak the leaves in a pail for a few days until they sink, then rinse them thoroughly with tap water before introducing them to the tank. You can soak them longer if you want more of the tannins to leach out.
Good to know. I just got a few 5 gallons so soaking shouldn't be an issue. Although the blackwater look is intriguing to me and i don't mind the tannins that much.
You can cycle with the leaves. Start with a good amount and just let it sit, add some more leaves every few days. The biofilms that grow on them are giving the tank stability.
I'll give this a shot. Ive got the api master test kit. How long does this method usually take to cycle? I've got pre cycled media going in as well as bottled bacteria.
 

MacZ

I'll give this a shot. Ive got the api master test kit. How long does this method usually take to cycle? I've got pre cycled media going in as well as bottled bacteria.
Depends on the parameters. Neutral pH or above with medium hardness about 3 weeks, Acidic with no hardness whatsoever 2-3 months, but fish-ready after 3-4 weeks. With enough cycled media give it a week or two. Safe the bottled bacteria for another day.
 

Fishnturtleguy933

My ph usually stays closer to neutral but with the extra leaf litter it might be a little more on the acidic side. Thanks again for all the help! I'll post again once i start putting this thing together. Got a bit of snow where i am but fedex says my buceplant order is still on time. Should be up by tonight.
 

MacZ

Leaf litter alone won't lower your pH significantly, as long as you have measurable KH. ;)

Have fun, I'm some hours ahead of you, so I'll likely see it all tomorrow.
 

TClare

On the subject of reducing pH, I just saw this product advertised at one of our local shops. It is supposed to be a highly efficient biological filter media, but also comes in 3 versions called soft, pure and hard, which respectively are meant to slightly reduce, have no effect, or increase pH, obviously the amount of change will depend on the GH and KH. I wonder if it works and if it is a lasting effect? It is called Neo Media by Aquario.
 

MacZ

On the subject of reducing pH, I just saw this product advertised at one of our local shops. It is supposed to be a highly efficient biological filter media, but also comes in 3 versions called soft, pure and hard, which respectively are meant to slightly reduce, have no effect, or increase pH, obviously the amount of change will depend on the GH and KH. I wonder if it works and if it is a lasting effect? It is called Neo Media by Aquario.
They don't explain HOW it works, which is concerning. There are peat pellets on the pictures though.
 

TClare

They don't explain HOW it works, which is concerning. There are peat pellets on the pictures though.
Yes, I was trying to find out what would actually cause the change in pH and as you say there is no information on that. But probably peat for the soft one if that is what peat pellets look like.
 

Fishnturtleguy933

On the subject of reducing pH, I just saw this product advertised at one of our local shops. It is supposed to be a highly efficient biological filter media, but also comes in 3 versions called soft, pure and hard, which respectively are meant to slightly reduce, have no effect, or increase pH, obviously the amount of change will depend on the GH and KH. I wonder if it works and if it is a lasting effect? It is called Neo Media by Aquario.
Definitely sounds interesting. Something to look more into. Maybe they're using crushed coral to harden? I'm definitely at a loss for how this would work.
 

TClare

Definitely sounds interesting. Something to look more into. Maybe they're using crushed coral to harden? I'm definitely at a loss for how this would work.
Probably peat to acidify and coral for the hard one, perhaps it can be done by buying these products separately and maybe that would cost a lot less, which is why they don't want to say what they use?? I don't know as I have not seen peat pellets for sale here and I don't even know yet how much this stuff costs. It is supposed to be far more porous than even matrix, also not sure how important that would be, but theoretically you don't need as much. It also comes with dormant bacteria in little balls so you don't need to buy stability to start a cycle. I have never used peat in filter so I don't know if this would work long term, or if water changes would cause any issues.
 

MacZ

perhaps it can be done by buying these products separately and maybe that would cost a lot less, which is why they don't want to say what they use??
Pretty sure. That stuff is not what I would recommend. Generally: If you can't find out how exactly it works, leave it.
Standard biomedia, peat and/or botanicals are absolutely sufficient and cost far less.
 

Fishnturtleguy933

Looking like this build is happening tomorrow. Fedex and amazon have yet to update tracking but nothing has arrived yet. Fedex says on time to show before 8pm tonight eastern time and amazon says it shipped and scheduled to show before 10pm tonight but as it gets closer to 8 I'm guessing it's not showing tonight. I'll post when i know more.
 

Fishnturtleguy933

Rocks have shown up! Came in usps. Fedex is supposed to bring plants. Buceplant tracking says it's comming today but fedex has not updated the delay from yesterday .
Going to start scaping once my amazon order shows up. Has the media bags i need for what I'm attempting.
Sorry for the low light. My roomate and my self have a bout of the covid unfortunately. Feeling fine but trying to keep light low as we both have slight headaches.
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MacZ

Good old basalt. Nice. Should be inert... but... do they glimmer? Can you take a picture with better lighting? Or can you confirm it only looks like they have metal inclusions but there are none?
 

Fishnturtleguy933

Here's a better picture. Looks to be good.
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I should include they are wet from soaking so the camera and lighting might make it shine more.
 

PAcanis

Slow but sure.
It's always nice getting the stuff together for a new build.
But sometimes it does not arrive in the preferred order ;)
 

Fishnturtleguy933

Slow but sure.
It's always nice getting the stuff together for a new build.
But sometimes it does not arrive in the preferred order ;)
I know it Lol.
I'm just glad i have plants in my other tanks to use for now. I don't mind adding later, definitely part of the fun.
 

MacZ

Ah, it's just some kind of pumice and no granite and the water reflected the light in the pores. Allright.

Not my choice, but legitimate choice. Matter of taste. :)
 

Fishnturtleguy933

Ah, it's just some kind of pumice and no granite and the water reflected the light in the pores. Allright.

Not my choice, but legitimate choice. Matter of taste. :)
I figured with it being inert and providing the benefit of a porous surface area for bb to grow on it might be a good choice.
I always like the "tropical" look lava rock brings to a tank. I have seiryu in my other two tanks and river stones in my turtle tank. Thought this would definitely bring something different to the room.
 

MacZ

I usually stick to river rocks but then again... they are mostly not even visible in my tank. Buried under wood and leaf litter.
 

Fishnturtleguy933

Well, still no plants. Calling fedex and emailing buceplant asap. But here's the look so far. Not quite what i first thought but even without plants i like it. Adding the plants from my 40g breeder now.
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I was going to take a picture....but I'll do it tomorrow when the water clears up a bit. Squeezed a sponge from my 50 gallon in there to Kickstart things. Threw in a few mts as well to help the plants. Apisto caves come in tomorrow. Still waiting on plants as well. I must say, this tank looks great to me so far though.
 

MacZ

I don't know... lot of rocks... needs more wood, I think. Otherwise good start.
 

Fishnturtleguy933

I don't know... lot of rocks... needs more wood, I think. Otherwise good start.
Lol thank you! Believe me. If it weren't for being in quarantine with the vid, I'd have spent even more on hardscape and plants.
Here it is less cloudy than last night. Definitely needs more plants and wood.
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TClare

While more wood would be nice, I am sure it will be good once it is planted and well established.
 

Fishnturtleguy933

I
While more wood would be nice, I am sure it will be good once it is planted and well established.
I'm sure of it. I tend to plant densely from the start. It's killing me not having the rest of it here lol.
 

TClare

I
I'm sure of it. I tend to plant densely from the start. It's killing me not having the rest of it here lol.
Hopefully won't be too long...
 

Fishnturtleguy933

Water is less cloudy. Looks better now. I cut the wood into a few pieces to give more space for the light. Spread the cut pieces around the tank. Changed the island on the right a little to. I like this better. It'll look better with more plants and when the water clears a little more. I didn't do a great job rinsing this sand. Should have gone another half hour.
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NearMeBettas

Tank looks gorgeous!
 

Fishnturtleguy933

Thank looks gorgeous!
Thank you. Just got the caves in today. Fedex is goving me and buceplant the runaround about my plants. Probably going to have to get a refund if they don't show in the next day or two.
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NearMeBettas

Thank you. Just got the caves in today. Fedex is goving me and buceplant the runaround about my plants. Probably going to have to get a refund if they don't show in the next day or two.
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Wow, that looks beautiful. You're going to Ave some happy future fishies.
 

MacZ

Thank you. Just got the caves in today. Fedex is goving me and buceplant the runaround about my plants. Probably going to have to get a refund if they don't show in the next day or two.
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I hate those caves by now... I was going to ask. Completely forgot.
The holes are too big and Apistos prefer caves with one entrance. Often the females will dig the entrance shut so only they can get in and out. Either place them inbetween/under the rocks or take them out. They have no use for the fish and just take up space.

Otherwise I love what you did.
 

TClare

Yes, the caves spoil the natural look of the tank. Its not difficult to create small caves with rocks and driftwood, you could also try hiding the caves and partially covering the entrances, but as MacZ says they take up space...
 

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