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hello everyone,

Getting ready for the 'centerpiece' of the tank, just trying to decide how many and exactly which ones. I'm thinking either apistos or blue rams. I'd love some advice on how many/sex ratio/etc. I've heard from some places that most species like either a pair or to be a little crowded. I was thinking maybe 2 or 5? If it ends up only being 2, then I might add some pencilfish later. I kind of like the idea of crowding, any experience with this? The other snag, which I'm sure the opinions will fly about, is that I'd like to add some large amano shrimp(also introducing my only foreign concession), because the detritus and non-pristine moss is making me crazy.
The specs:
38g
ph 6.5
temp 76-78

1 farlowella cat
3 otocinclus
3 serpae tetras
3 pictus cats

christmas moss
cabomba
bacopa
several swords
chain swords
lots of wood

any and all advice is appreciated,
thanks
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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IME crowding doesn't work with Rams like it might other cichlids (such as Africans). I'd get just a pair.

I've had no issues mixing Rams and fully adult Amanos, though I've heard smaller ones can be at risk.

And you'll want to keep the tank in the 78-82F range if you can swing it. Rams do best in warmer water.
 

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I think you could go with two pairs (or trios with 1 male and 2 females) of apistos depending on the species. Some are more aggressive than others so I would see what species you have available to you.
 

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I wouldn't recommend more than one pair of apistos for a tank this size. Especially since you have 4 catfish in the tank already. Apistos like to have a large territory and don't like sharing the bottom of the tank. Lots of plants, caves and hiding places is essential. I have kept apistos that harrassed corys until they died. If you buy a trio M/FF you should chose a species that live/breed in a harem, if you get a species that prefers to pair off permanently you will need someplace to move the second female once they pair off, the chosen female may try to kill her competition and in some cases an apisto female will also attack the male after they spawn. As noted above some apistos are more aggressive than others but there are no guarantees that the specimens you pick will exhibit the behavior you are expecting. Part of the fun of keeping apistos is watching and studying their behavior but you need to be prepared because the behavior may not always be what you expected or wanted.

Rams are nice but sometimes finicky and difficult to keep, they can also be pretty aggressive. Apisto cacatuoides is supposed to be a good "beginner" apisto and there are some beautiful strains available. Agree with the suggestion to get a few more serpaes, a school of dither fish really helps apistos feel comfortable enough in the tank to come out of hiding.

I am keeping amanos with a. baenschi without any problems and my a. bitaeniata were okay with amanos too, naturally if the amanos are still very small they stand a much better chance of becoming a snack.
 
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