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Male apisto cacatuoides agressive toward the female

Karen B.

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I have a 20 gallons high tank with a pair of apistogramma cacatuoides. As the opinions varied a lot about the tank size (too small, must have min. A 20 long, perfectly fine, etc…) I decided to go ahead but not add any other fish as to give them the maximum of space.

They do stay at the bottom most of the time but it’s not rare to see them swim in the higher part of the aquarium.

My problem is that the male is extremely terrible and my female is just a sweetheart. He forces her to stay in the bottom left back corner of the tank, behind some wood I placed. She is super sweet and social, she loves to swim in the front and interact with me but as soon as the male sees that, he chases her back. He always makes routine check up to see if she is there.. and even if she is, he still chase her. They don’t chase too long, but she does have one injury on her tail fin.

He is also food agressive but I lure him on one side of the tank and feed him first them give plenty to the female while he is busy. He eventually comes to her side but she had time to eat her share.

They are both about a year old, local captive bred, I’ve had them for about 2-3 months I beleive.

The tank is planted, about 79f, sponge and HOB filter, only little problem is that my water is a bit too hard for apistogramma.

I was wondering if adding some ditter fish could help mitigate the problem? Could I go with endlers? Or really rice fish are the best options? In either case, I do not expect my apistogramma to breed as the water is too hard so do not mind if ditter fish can in theory eat fry.

Some of the plants have grown a bit but this is basically what the tank looks like. I am trying to find a plants that could grow behind the left corner wood there there is less light, haven’t found one yet.


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Tank is too small for more females. The aggression is normal; the male tries to drive females who are not ready to breed out of the territory. The idea of adding more females is that the aggression will get spread until a female is ready to breed. However your tank is pretty small for these fishes - 20 long is usually the smallest you want unless you are willing to remove the female who is not ready to breed. The best you can do is provide her hiding places or remove her. Borelli (another species of apistogramma) are a bit less aggressive (and smaller) so I recommend them for smaller tanks.

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