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Apistogramma steindachneri experiences

Hello everyone,
    Recently I acquired a fish as "Apistogramma ortmanni." Well, after
asking about the ID of the fish, I found two distinct alternate ID
possibilities... A. sp. Rotpunkt / Puerto Narino or A. steindachneri. Well,
after going through my Linke and Staeck book, I came to the conclusion that
it was *definitely* not Rotpunkt, and it sure didn't look like steindachneri
because my fish's fins were not lyrate, and all of my fish possessed a
distinct lateral bar with a spot (this was not present on the example in my
book). However, my fish seem to have spawned, and the presumed female
(turned yellow and is guarding a cave, not letting the "male" come near) and
the male turned slightly mother-of-pearlish and lost the entire lateral bar
(but not the spot).         After going again to "TheKrib," I noticed that
one particular photo of a "female" absolutely, totally looked like mine. The
link is below.
It may as well be a carbon copy of my specimen. Also, the pictures of males
were pretty much similar. In fact, the picture at TheKrib of the male with a
distinctly dark suborbital stripe looks nearly identical to my male, BUT, my
male has kept a single darkish spot in the middle of his body. The caudal
spot was also identical. Therefore, I have figured that my fish are indeed
young steindachneri specimens.
    I would like any and all info on Apistogramma steindachneri. Personal
experiences will be greatly appreciated! I would also like pH and temp
    As for MY fish, I have three in a 10gal tank that I set up two weeks
ago. I purchased the three fish from my LFS about a week and a half ago and
measured the pH in their pet shop tank at 8.0. Using R/O water, I set the pH
in my tank (decorated w/ small Bits O' Walnut gravel and lots of plastic
plants and two caves, and a clump of real Java moss) to 7.0, and I slowly
lowered it to 6.3 in three days, down to the final pH resting point of 5.4.
At around 6.3 (six days ago), the one, biggest fish (the female) turned
yellowish and started being overly aggressive to the other fish in the tank.
The next day (five days ago) one of the "beaten on" fish had lost its color
and taken on a whole different pattern (as described above).
    After using an "Amazon Rain" product mixed with pH Minus, the pH was
lowered to 5.6, and declined and held at 5.4 (with the aid of a pinch of
Arm&Hammer per day). Four days ago, one of the caves had one of its two
entrances nearly totally blocked by the small gravel--- it had been piled
up. The aggressive yellow Apisto spent more time in the cave now, and
attacked the other two specimens
equally. Temp was 80-82 at this time (usually around 80).
    Three days ago, the pile of gravel blocking an entrance to the cave grew
taller, and the "female" fish was almost constantly in the cave,
only exiting to shoo the other two fish away and eat (ground Krill-E,
earthworm flake, and Color Bits. They like to come to the top, and didn't
take frozen brine shrimp the one time I offered it). Well, at this day I put
two and two together. My fish probably must have at least laid eggs. The
yellowish specimen in the cave was most likely the female, and the other
fish that had lost its pattern and taken on an occasional slight blue sheen
at the right angle was the male, who was not allowed by the nest (this is
not unusual behavior).
    Two days ago. I watch the tank more. The three fish in the tank
all have different patterns. The smallest fish is the outcast male,
he has a suborbital stripe, a lateral band with a distinct lateral spot in
the middle of it, a caudal spot, and an overall colorless body.
The larger, non-yellow specimen was the paired, breeding male. He had a
pearlish body that had a slight blue sheen at the right angle at the top
half of his body. He had no markings except for the caudal spot and a
lateral spot that regularly faded on and off. Also, when he raised his fins
in display, the top of the dorsal fin was notably lined in a thin black as
far as I can tell. As for the female, she is a dark, almost khaki yellow
with thick transversal and abdominal stripes, although they are not solid
nor distinct and fade on and off. She also has a lateral band that she
normally possesses at least faintly, but she can fade that off as well. It
should be noted that the lateral spot always stays, however, and the lateral
band, faded or not, is always a continuous line. Heck, it's just like the
picture link I included! Look at that for a perfect description. A picture
is worth a thousand words.
    Behavior is interesting but mostly predictable. The female stays in the
cave, continually making sure that the one entrance to the cave that I can
see is mostly blocked by a hill of gravel (I watch her pile it up), and when
one of the other two fish comes by she will display and attack it rather
violently. However, she distinctly favors her mating male over the "outcast"
male, because she will tolerate him around her when she is out of the cave,
and will not as aggressively attack him. While she will bite the outcast
male, she only does the "tail whip" to her hubby, and he slowly retreats
only to try to be with her again. She almost never physically "headbuts"
him. It is clear that they are mates, but he is not to come near the cave.
As for the outcast male, he is confined to hiding near the top of the tank
in the plants. He is attacked by both the female (if he goes near the cave)
and the breeding male (if he happens to be in his sight). I fear for his
health right now, but at least he is eating. He doesn't seem to be in
immediate danger at least.
    As for the cave, there are two entrances, one is not visible from my
viewing angle (the front of the tank), but one is. The female has blocked
most of the entrance that I CAN see with gravel, so it is very hard to try
to look in the cave. I used a flashlight and could see nothing in the tiny
spear of area visible, but there is a LOT of space not visible. I have not
anything yet, but all signs point to something being in there. I will not be
prying, I want to leave them alone so as not to stress them (leading to
nibbling on the eggs if there are any).
I guess I can only wait and hope :-)
    I will update you guys with any important info should it arise, but I
would still like your experiences and/or info (however technical I don't
care, I like EVERYTHING!). Thanks all,

-- Derek Wingert

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