I currently have a fully planted, fertilised and CO2 injected setup with a modest mix of fish (Corydoras Schwartzi and Panda, wild caught Pentazona barbs, Rummynose Tetra, Serpae Tetra, Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish and a couple of Honey Gouramie).
Initially I bought the tank, a 175L 80cm x 45 x 55 high, to be set up as a biotope aquarium for breeding Apistogramma sp. That never transpired the way it was intended as I wanted to have plants and got pulled into the planted aquarium / aquascaping scene (which I thoroughly enjoy). This meant I spent a fair bit of time learning various aspects of growing and maintaining a successful planted aquarium and it became more of a planted jungle than an Apistogramma biotope.
I did have a pair of Apistogramma Cacatuoides in there but for some reason the tank was not large enough for the male to escape the remonstrations of the stroppy female and he spent his time hiding behind the spraybar or cowering in the corner. I don't know if he was sick or just henpecked but it was not a happy time. I did hear that Apistos can be a bit finicky and if you get them over the first couple of months all is good but it can be hit and miss up to that point. I do not know the truth in that, though I would have thought the tank was ideal for them. I had a great bit of redmoor root which formed a nice cave, there was pretty dense planting, no fish that would have caused a dwarf cichlid any concern, pH of 6.4 and temp at 26degrees. Anyway I took them back to the shop in the hope that someone else could give them a more successful environment.
Now, I am keen to maintain the planted look though would be happy to simplify the planting somewhat, and I would like to keep the feel of a "community" aquarium, though it does not have to be as peaceful as it is currently (I understand the relationship between dither/target fish and cichlids). But what I feel the tank lacks is a focal point in terms of fish.
To that end I would like to keep a pair or whatever breeding setup most suits, of cichlids. I have seen and fallen in love with Cryptoheros Nanoluteus and would like to explore the options I have for keeping some in this tank. However, I am after lots of alternative suggestions of fish that are equally as beautiful and of a similar size. I will consider Apistos but do not need suggestions for them. Likewise I might even consider Pelvicachromis Taeniatus. But they would not be my first choice at this stage. Therefore I am looking for some of the less "run of the mill" fish (but which are nevertheless obtainable, lol).
My water is currently soft and a low pH so I suppose that South Americans make most sense. Having said that I would be happy to adjust my water chemistry for the right fish.
I have also just bought a slightly larger tank in terms of length, being 100cm x 40cm x 50 cm high. I will probably use this, or one similar... My perfect tank would be a White Juwel Rio 180
Looking forward to hearing from you.