Where are male apistos going?

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Original poster
Dec 10, 2005
Hi. I have a 29 gallon tank. I placed two pairs of cockatoo apistos in it about 5 months ago. The pairs didn't go together well and one female disappeared and the second male was quickly harassed. I moved the second male to another tank. Well then the first male disappeared. So I moved the first male back into the tank. The female turned bright yellow and then the male quickly disappeared. I added another pair of apistos to the tank and the male has been out of sight for several days. I regularly see the two females. One of them is vigorously guarding a small gaggle of fry. I also spotted a small juvenile (1/2 inch) which was obviously a remnant of a previous spawn. So what might be happening to the two disappeared males? And if there is a water quality issue, why are pairs repeatedly spawning? I'm not trying to breed them by the way, but I am happy when fish spontaneously spawn. Makes me feel like I'm doing something right. But not when the male disappears. Could be hiding in the back I suppose--didn't want to tear the tank up looking. Is this some behavior where the female will drive the male out of her territory post spawning? The other female seems fine, but can't go near the spawning grounds without being chased out.

I change 5 gallons a week, 4 gallons or RO and 1 gallon of tap and I don't have other fish in there. pH is roughly neutral and the water mix has about 6-7 degrees of hardness. I'm thinking of adding some ditherfish (pencilfish maybe) to help the fish come out more. Thoughts?