Apisto breeding tank


Hello, I am sorry for the book I am about to write, but I want to make sure you guys have all the information.

have a 30 gallon long that has been up and running for about 9 months now.

It is currently stocked with:
4x Cockatoo Apistos (1m 3f)
7x JulI Cories
3x Otocinclus
4x Threadfin Rainbows
16x Nerite snails
8(?)x Red Cherry Shrimp

Everyone seems to get along great with no signs of stress or bullying.

The Otos, Corys, and snails were added over the last 6 weeks or so. Removed were 2 Javanese ricefish (freebies) and 3 female cacatuoides. I had originally purchased 5 otos, but 2 did not survive quarantine.

I did have 8 threadfins and over 50 shrimp, but I got sent out of state for work this summer and returned to find my fish sitter had severely neglected my tank. I had expected the Cacas to snack on the shrimp, but for the several months that I was able to observe them the shrimp population had grown. I suspect the fish had not been properly fed while I was gone, thus making the RCS their primary food source...

Currently in quarantine are 5x Beckford's Pencilfish (all that the LFS had) and 5 more otos.

I would like to be able to successfully breed the cacatuoides in this tank, but I also want a bit more top-level action. Right now the otos spend most of their time in the back corners, rainbows hang out in the top 1/3, and cories and apistos rule the bottom. I bought the Pencilfish because it was my understanding that they were a topwater fish, but so far in quarantine they are also hanging out on the bottom

I know the water that the apistos need for breeding is not right for the rainbows, so I am considering giving them to the LFS and getting something else, maybe Coral Red Pencilfish (Nannostomus Mortenthaleri) if I can find them? I also just started to wonder if the soft water for the Apistos will cause problems with the RCS and/or snails? I would like to get the RCS population back up, not only as a cleaning crew but also as a source of live food for the Apistos. The Apistos do not bother the adult shrimp, but they do hunt the babies.

My tank right now admittedly does not have a ton of cover, it does have a couple nice sized pieces of driftwood, 4x Cichlid Stone caves, a large wad of Java Moss and 1 large fake leafy plant. It has an eco-complete substrate and I do have T5 lighting because I did want to plant it, but I am afraid I would have to tear it up every time I tried to catch the young apistos...

My quarantine/grow out tank is also only a 10 gallon, I am toying with the idea of getting a 20 gallon for grow out, and putting 2-3 otos and a couple cories in it as well as more RCS (to grow and use for re-stocking the main tank) and leaving the 10 gallon as a dedicated quarantine tank.

Any suggestions are welcome!!

And here are some pictures I took after the WC the other day...

Overall tank view


Coiries devouring the HikarI Algae wafers (the otos won't touch them)


Couple of female Apistos:



and of course, my male Apisto:







Well, I did a 50% water change on Tuesday. Added 3 gallons of RO to my 12 gallons of tap (Ph 8.2 and HARD). Wednesday I saw one of the females trying hard to get the male to follow her into the cave, he was more interested in one of the other females (who was not interested in him). I am going to do another WC on Saturday and slowly work to 50% RO (in both tanks)...

On a side note - does anyone know how to get rid of that calcium ring on my tank? It really bugs me.

One of the otos in quarantine does not look too hot... Thin, off colored, and legarthic, everyone else seems to be doing great though. I have been feeding Repashy Super Green and it did venture over last night to eat with the others, but it spends most of it's time hiding behind the heater. The other otos hang out on the glass and sponge filter.

I would really appreciate any advise... I have so many questions... Stocking, to plant or not, calcium deposits, soft water for shrimp and snails, sick oto...

Holy . I spent over a year researching before I started this tank. It seems that I still don't know anything.


I would keep an eye on the Corys when the apistos start mating. The females get aggressive when they have fry. They will attack anything that comes near them.

Planted tanks are much better for apistos. Plus it will give the fry and RCS hiding spots.


If you truly want to breed the apistos successfully and have the fry survive. Eliminate everything except the apistos and pencilfish, the otos are probably ok too. The pencilfish are known to be safe from eating fry (and necessary as dither fish) but most of those others will go after either the eggs or the fry. The corys may or may not eat the eggs, but they will upset mama and get in the way of her moving her brood around the tank.

The tank looks good except for the lack of sand.

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