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March 09, 2012

For many of us, setting up a new tank can be just as challenging as it is rewarding. I have a 12-gallon long seamless tank from one of our distributors that has been sitting in my home now for a few months. I’ve put much thought into what I would like to do with it. The idea was originally for Red Pygmy Licorice Gouramis (Parosphronemus parvulus) with a nice school of Blue Neon Axelrodi (Sundadanio axelrodi), but now I’m thinking more of a South American biotope. The real problem I have with my decision is that we get so many cool fish here that I can’t make up my mind!

Well, regardless of I decide to put in there I’m certainly going to need substrate and some decorations before putting any fish in. For the base, I have chosen ADA Amazonia soil. The reason for this is that not only is it dark (which will help bring out some of the true colors of my fish), but it will also help keep the pH a little lower. The Amazon basin is often very acidic and by replicating the waters the best we can, this should not only keep the fish happy, but healthier over all. For this set up I’m going to aim for a pH in the low 6’s.

Now that the base has been laid down it’s time to start adding the décor. I found some great pieces of ADA’s branch wood and placed one piece in each corner. The tank is uncovered, so it allows them to stick out of the water kind of representing the way you would find them fallen down along the shore lines of the Rio Guamá. From there, I have rooted down some New Christmas Tree Moss onto the wood. Then I placed some Rotala indica into the corners and along the back. My foreground cover is Cryptocoryne parva. The parva will fill in nicely with the help of some new T-5 lighting. I prefer the “simple is better” when it comes to my tanks. Instead of flooding it with the “Dutch” style, I like to have just a couple species of plants.

Now that the aquarium has cycled and the plants have started to fill in, I decided to add my first group of fish. I wanted something small, colorful, and peaceful. I walked up and down our rows for about 15 minutes when I stumbled across a much-underrated tetra in North America. In Europe, Hyphessobrycon roseus “Yellow Phantom Tetra” is a very popular aquarium fish that comes from sluggish waters off of the Rio Maroni in the French Guiana. I spent a moment observing their behavior and noticed exactly just how peaceful they are. The entire group was swimming near the front of the tank, and never did I notice a single fin nip from any of them. Like most of the Characin family, I recommend feeding high quality flakes and frozen daphnia to help them grow to their 1.2” size.

Hyphessobrycon roseus

In the upper parts of the Rio Orinoco, you will find one of my favorite plecos, Hypancistrus sp. “Orinoco Angel Pleco” L201. I’ve had one of these Loricariids at home for a few years now. Originally, I had purchased a pair in hopes they may spawn on their own accord in my community tank. I wanted to breed plecos, but wasn’t ready to commit to a tank just for them back then. I purchased pleco caves and placed them near each other in the tank. The male chose one and the female the other. When it came time to feeding I gave them a variety of frozen daphnia and bloodworms. I found they really enjoyed Sera Catfish Chips and would recommend these to any hobbyist keeping any type of catfish. About a year or so later, I lost the male from unknown reasons. Today, the female is full grown and is one of the most stunning fish I own. I’ve always considered a treat to see her 5” yellow polka dotted body appear from behind the wood. She has always been peaceful to my other Loricariids and has done well in any of my tanks from the 20 gallon long all the way to the 125.

Hypancistrus sp. L201

Over the years, the Apistogramma family has fascinated me, as I’m sure it has fascinated many of you. These “dwarf” cichlids occur throughout the Amazon basin and there are around 70 species within the family. Many seem to exist in two or more color forms and could eventually end up being described as their own species in the future. When I was much younger, I played around with A. cacatuoides without much luck in keeping them alive for very long. I don’t think it was anything I was doing wrong, but rather the water in Vancouver, Washington which is much harder than that of Portland. The fishes didn’t seem to tolerate the alkalinity and after a few months would perish. It’s my recommendation that, if you wish to keep Apistogramma species, you do your best to keep them in softer water that is fairly warm. A diet of frozen bloodworms, daphnia, or other meatier foods should be supplemented into their diet to replicate their natural food source. Apistogramma agassizi come in many colors, but the one that I wanted to point out to you this week is the “Netz/Tefe Pearl Blue” form. The Tefes will grow to around 2” in length and develop a spade-like tail that is bordered with a white seam. The head is yellow and the body is a blue tone. It would make a fine addition to my 12-gallon aquarium!

Apistogramma agassizi Tefe Pearl Blue

That’s it for this week. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me by phone or email. Thank you all for your continuing support with this newsletter, and I’ll see you all back here next week!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager