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Apisto aggression

Pete Johnson wrote:

>Regardless of the exceptions, I think nijsenni are among the most
>aggressive of the Apistos. I'm intrigued that they appear extroverted --
>they don't stay in hiding, as do most of their genus. The other end of
>the spectrum is A. norberti, which in my experience hide all the time.

I just had*** A. nijsseni and A. norberti in nearby tanks (pairs in each 
tank, 10 gallons each), and I found different behavior.  The nijsseni did 
not even notice the neon dithers in the tank, and while the stray Betta 
imbelis cohabitating there was not seen often, I never saw her chased 
around the tank.  The nijjseni themselves wrestled a bit with each other, 
and changed dominance about every 5 days.  First, they were male dominant, 
then female (I thought this would be the start of spawning, but it was 
not), then male, then female again - spawning this time.  I never saw any 
evidence of fin damage, but the aggression was enough to send the lesser of 
the two into the plants for a day or two.   I don't know the source of the 
nijjseni, but they were store bought, so the chance for wild caught is low, 
right?  And for clarity, these WERE nijjseni, not pandurini, which I get 
from another local store (of course, mislabelled as nijjseni).

Similarly, the norberti I have had for about a month like to tussle quite a 
bit.  This has, so far, been male dominated exclusively.  This was a 
surprise to me, as the male was a bit beaten (last in the tank) and the 
female was in good shape when I first bought them.  He got better quite 
quickly, and now rules the roost.

I don't disaggree that nijjseni are more aggressive than most apistos, but 
I have not seen the "terminator" behavior some of you have discussed.

 I like to think of hiding places as distinguished between two types; 
"real" hiding places - where the truley afflicted go to completely avoid 
the aggressor (and typically die due to stress or wounds if you don't 
eventually separate them) and the "hide in plain site" hiding places. 
 These are where the afflicted wants a little cover, so as not to seem like 
such an obvious target, but yet wants to know what's going on, as well as 
"test the waters" to see when the mood has swung back to something a little 
more tolerable.  The later situation is perfectly safe and healthy, the 
former, of course, is the first step towards the lonely heart club.

This is definitely the way both these species have acted for me.  The 
afflicted nijjseni would typically find a spot high up in some bunch plants 
back about 2/3 of the way in the tank, and keep an eye out for an 
opportunity to interact peacefully with the other.  At feeding time, the 
afflicted would come out and gingerly root around, typically being chased 
back by the other when he/she became too obvious.

The norberti are the same way, though the female does not even hide so 
carefully.  She typically keeps something between her and the male, but 
otherwise tries her best to live out a normal life.  Interestingly, if the 
male comes straight at her, she will flee.  If he comes from a direction 
where she is not initially aware of him, she will get pinned down and WILL 
NOT flee.  Under these rare conditions, he typically stops short, turns 
broadside, and "flares" for display.  He'll then turn back around, at which 
point she typically takes off and he follows - looks like he is chasing 
her, but is it pursuit instead?

One thing I have "found" recently (I think many of you out there will scoff 
that you "found" this years ago) was that my apistos show much more lively 
behavior when I use a thin (1/4 - 1/2") gravel bed in the tank, rather than 
my typical bare-bottom.  I decorate the tank with pots, caves, plants the 
same way, but that brown gravel seems to take the shyness away.  I see all 
of my apistos regularly - I could'nt say that 6 months ago.  When I first 
purchased the norberti, I put them into a 15 gallon bare-bottom tank with a 
bunch of Betta edithae while I set-up their 10 gallon.  They were there 
about 1 1/2 weeks, and they were as shy as could be.  I did'nt see them at 
all the first 2 days, and the only cover was a sponge filter and a few 
shards of pot no bigger than the fish themselves. Within a day of 
introducing them to their current home, complete with gravel (yes, and with 
the same B. edithae), they took over and now can be seen at all times.  I 
have gradually shifted all my tanks over to gravel bottoms for my dwarfs. 
 My only concern is if these tanks will be harder to maintain in the long 

*** I say had, because I have problems keeping Nijsseni alive.  As with my 
usual luck, this pair lived about 3 weeks, spawned once, turned around and 
died with little outward sign of problem.  The female had come with a bad 
spot on her head, but it had not gotten to critical stage yet.  The 
remaining Nijsseni at the store I bought them from are vibrant and alive - 
living in tap water yet!  Meanwhile, my pandurini live and love, in soft 
water, tap water, whatever.  But that's another string altogether.

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