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New tank for apisto

Hi everyone,

I am going to set up a new tank for breeding
apistogrammas.  It will be either a 15 gallon tank
or a 20 gallon long.  I am hoping that it will be
a moderately planted tank (unless that is not
advisable for a breeding set up) since I have a
lot of plants I can move from my 75G and 10G

Being a newbie to apistos, I need your help to get
this tank set up correctly.  I intend to try
apistos that are easy to breed in my water
(cacatuoides, borellii - if I can ever find a
female or two, etc.).  My tap water is moderately
hard and pH is 7.2 to 7.4.  Conductivity is 199
microS.  I have access to DI water (the place I
work for is willing to give me as much DI water as
I need.  pH 6.6, conductitity 0.556 microS.)  I
suppose I should mix the two, but what ratio?

I need to decide on the lighting and the substrate
which have a lot to do with the types of plants I
can grow in it.  I would appreciate it if anyone
can tell me what to do in this area as well.  My
borellii males do not seem to be bothered by high
light (220W) in my 75G.  On the otherhand my young
trifasciatas are always hiding in the jungle ( I
don't know if this has anything to do with light.)
If apistos like moderately lit tanks in general, I
can select lights and plants accordingly.   I
understand fine textured substrate is better.
However, 3 mm size gravel is often recommended for
a planted tank rather than sand.

I also need a recommendation for a filter as well.
Is a sponge filter the best way to go for breeding



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