Strange Apistogramma Cacatuoides Behavior

jpm1993

Hi,

About one week ago I added an already bonded pair of male and female cockatoo apisto to my aquarium. The male seemed to adapt to the tank very well. He actively comes out, swims and chases off the other fish in the tank. The female, on the other hand, has been very reclusive. She spends her time hiding under a cave of driftwood, hardly coming out. I have been feeding BBS and bloodworms and she has hardly eaten, that I know of. Very unlike the male apisto.

The behavior that I am questioning is when the female does come out. She seems to be a little wobbly as she swims. When she sees the male, she swims into him and flashes her fins. Often going onto her side. One time, I even saw her do an "electric slide" across a piece of slate, with the male right there. IT was very strange. She then quickly goes back into her cave and sometimes the male will follow. She has been displaying this behavior for several days now. She is not aggressive towards the male, but the male is very defensive of her and generally will not allow other fish near her or their cave. On the other hand, the female makes no effort to defend the cave.

Is this breeding behavior or is she sick and dying? I have seen conflicting things on this forum, but one thing for certain is that she has not turned a yellow color to indicate she has dropped eggs. Her stomach seems a little round though, maybe she is full of eggs.. or she is bloated? She is drab, with a black stripe.

My water parameters are good: PH 7.4-7.8, Ammonia/Nitrite - 0, and Nitrate usually between 20-40 before I do a 40-50% water change, appx weekly. Other tank mates include, 2 Electric blue rams, 5 tiger barbs, and 3 oto's. Tank is 35G tall corner.
 

ktorg

Is the female bright yellow with highly contrasting dark marks? If so they may have spawned. My females will often come out and flash and tail-slap the male even when guarding eggs.
One time, I even saw her do an "electric slide" across a piece of slate, with the male right there. IT was very strange.
I don't know what an "electric slide" is but if she is scratching then something is wrong.
She then quickly goes back into her cave and sometimes the male will follow.
If she quickly goes back to the cave it is likely that there are eggs or wigglers in there.
 

jpm1993

Is the female bright yellow with highly contrasting dark marks? If so they may have spawned. My females will often come out and flash and tail-slap the male even when guarding eggs.
I don't know what an "electric slide" is but if she is scratching then something is wrong.
If she quickly goes back to the cave it is likely that there are eggs or wigglers in there.

She does not seem to be a yellow color. She is pretty drab. Her black stripe is prominent. The male is slightly yellow but I think he’s always been that way. Is it possible that this female does not turn yellow when spawning maybe by genetics?

Lol with the electric slide I didn’t know a better way to explain it. It was pretty bizarre.. unlike anything I’ve ever seen from a fish. It was kinda like if you were to slide across the hood of a car in some stunt... except a fish on slate.

I would feel much better if there were eggs but I lifted the cave the other day and did not see anything. I just really hope she isn’t diseased. Some of the symptoms she is showing seem like swim bladder or parasitic infection but others are very similar to spawning behavior. My lack of experience with this species are making it hard to diagnose as I am not familiar with their normal behavior yet.

I attached a picture of the male so you can see his yellow. Unfortunately don’t have one of the female and I don’t want to disturb the tank right now.
 

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ktorg

Interesting. How big is the female? My adult female A. cacatuoides are always a shade of yellow even when not spawning or caring for fry. It is just a lot more pronounced when breeding. How hard is your water, what is your pH? Cacatuoides are usually pretty forgiving of hard water when spawning but is it possible that your water is in one of the extremes?
Or it could be a sneaker male...
 

jpm1993

Interesting. How big is the female? My adult female A. cacatuoides are always a shade of yellow even when not spawning or caring for fry. It is just a lot more pronounced when breeding. How hard is your water, what is your pH? Cacatuoides are usually pretty forgiving of hard water when spawning but is it possible that your water is in one of the extremes?
Or it could be a sneaker male...

The female is probably about an 1 to 1 1/4 inches. Is yours also a flash orange? That makes me nervous because maybe her lack of any yellow is a bigger cause for concern. With regards to her being a sneaker male.. I suppose it’s possible but she is pretty developed and has nearly every characteristic of a female. I can take a picture of her tomorrow when the tank light turns on.

My water is pretty hard (don’t have exact reading) and ph 7.4 to 7.6. The breeder I got her from used local tap water with a ph of 7.5 so hopefully that transition was ok.
 

ktorg

The female is probably about an 1 to 1 1/4 inches. Is yours also a flash orange? That makes me nervous because maybe her lack of any yellow is a bigger cause for concern. With regards to her being a sneaker male.. I suppose it’s possible but she is pretty developed and has nearly every characteristic of a female. I can take a picture of her tomorrow when the tank light turns on.

My water is pretty hard (don’t have exact reading) and ph 7.4 to 7.6. The breeder I got her from used local tap water with a ph of 7.5 so hopefully that transition was ok.
Yes I have the "orange flash" and "triple red" strains of A. cacatuoides. All sexually mature, healthy female apistos should quickly become a yellowish color that gets more intense when spawning.
Send pictures of it tomorrow and we will try to tell, sometimes it can be really hard to 100% differentiate between a sneaker male and a female though.
 

jpm1993

Yes I have the "orange flash" and "triple red" strains of A. cacatuoides. All sexually mature, healthy female apistos should quickly become a yellowish color that gets more intense when spawning.
Send pictures of it tomorrow and we will try to tell, sometimes it can be really hard to 100% differentiate between a sneaker male and a female though.
So here is some pictures of my female. Not the best quality but as you can see she is very drab.
 

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jpm1993

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So here is some pictures of my female. Not the best quality but as you can see she is very drab.
I also have a video of her erratic behavior but I can’t seem to upload it here.
 

ktorg

So here is some pictures of my female. Not the best quality but as you can see she is very drab.
She doesn't look very good IMO. Was she quarantined?
 

jpm1993

She doesn't look very good IMO. Was she quarantined?
No she was not initially quarantined. So an update, situation hasn’t improved. I put her in a nursery for now so that I can observe her. Upon closer examination it looks like she Is missing a portion of her tail fin. Could this be causing her to act erratic and swim funny? Either way, She’s probably not going to make it. You can see her rear fin in the attached pic. Sad.
 

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ktorg

No she was not initially quarantined. So an update, situation hasn’t improved. I put her in a nursery for now so that I can observe her. Upon closer examination it looks like she Is missing a portion of her tail fin. Could this be causing her to act erratic and swim funny? Either way, She’s probably not going to make it. You can see her rear fin in the attached pic. Sad.
As long as the base of the tail isn't damaged the rays should grow back. Unless most of the tail is missing it is not a very serious problem. From the picture I can't tell if any of the fin is actually missing. It just looks clamped to me.
The problem I see is that the apisto is very stressed. You can tell by the clamped fins and dark coloration. I think that being trapped in a small brightly-lit place with no cover is doing more harm than good. It either needs to be moved to a larger quarantine container with adequate hiding places or if that is not possible then it should be moved back into the main tank. There is no way that is can recover in such a stressful environment there in the breeding trap. At this point I would worry about what it has possibly bought to your tank if it was like this when you got it, or maybe you have a water quality issue that you need to resolve. Apistos can be pretty sensitive to water quality so they are usually the first ones to show when something is wrong.
 

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