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coconut shells

Hello everyone,

This is my first submission to the list, so I thought I'd give a quick blurb on what my current apisto goals are! The short of it is that I'm beginning to try to breed Apistogramma mamore (a trio - my first apistos).

I had two questions regarding using coconut shells for breeding caves. I've read conflicting info and I thought that list members might have their 2 cents to add!

1) I've read that some people use sand paper to smooth out their shells. I'm a bit confused by this, considering the inside of a shell is already smooth. Perhaps they're smoothing out the "hairs" on the outside of the shell? If so, what's the purpose for performing either sanding? Also, if you have any other advice on anything that needs to be done to the shells to prep them before introduction to the tank it would be much appreciated.

2) I've sawed the shells in half, and I've drilled one pinky-finger sized hole in each shell. The hole is just large enough for one female to fit in at a time. I tried to get the hole as small as possible to provide as snug and safe a fit for the females to make them comfortable. My confusion is with the male. I've read different reports of people setting up breeding "caves" where the male cannot enter, and others who insist on creating a hole large enough for the male to wriggle in. I know that a male can fertilize eggs that he can't actually see, but will he?


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