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sand/excavating apistos

Hi everyone,

I'm very interested in trying to provide as many elements of a natural habitat as possible for my apistos. After reading a few old threads on excavating behavior, I realized that my females are often trying to do just that. I currently have a gravel substrate - small gravel of varying sizes. I was curious what my females were up to when they were inside of their flower pots, so I set up what my wife likes to call Living Room National Geographic. I cut a flower pot in half, and I cut a small hole at the top. I put the large opening of the pot against the glass of the aquarium, so that a female could swim in through the little hole and no one else could get in through the larger opening. Once inside she couldn't see or be seen by the other fish, and if I stood at an angle, she couldn't see me. She would go inside the pot, and float at the typical and beautiful 45 degree angle with dorsal and ventral fins displayed. She would then proceed to attack (at least that's what it looked like to me) the gravel. It's now clear to me that she was trying to dig!

I'm interested in laying down some sand to help make things more comfortable for the apistos. Clearly, laying the entire tank with sand would be a messy job. I'd like to try to introduce some sand under spawning caves, wood, and rocks. Any tips on how to do this with a tank that's already settled? How much sand should I lay down (an inch, half inch, less?) Finally, will it be all for not - will the sand simply, over time, fall between the gravel and sink to the bottom of the tank? Any ideas or experiences would be great to hear about!


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