Apistogramma, the Dwarf Cichlid
How would you like to have a small, brightly colored, inquisitive, and wonderful new type of fish to add to your tank as a showstopper or within a community tank? Then we think you’ll really enjoy the entire Apistogramma family. Also known as Dwarf Cichlids, these great fish did fall out of favor for a little while, but they’re making a comeback – and with good reason. There are many colors to choose from. This will be discussed later in this article.
Apistogrammas, or Apistos to their affectionately called, are semi-aggressive. One of the first things you’ll notice about these species is how curious they are! They’re very curious and can come up to you as soon as they see the tank walls. They will pay attention to you and are great at interacting with their owners. This species is the opposite of fish swimming. They’ll spot you immediately.
Apistos are an excellent choice for a community tank. They will be living on the bottom of your tank, so they will get along any species that doesn’t take up valuable ‘floor space’. These Apistos appreciate having that territory to claim all their own. We recommend putting them with pencil fish, tetras or any other species that prefers to swim towards the top or middle of the tank.
Facts About Apistogramma
These fish grow to be about 3″ and 3.5″ maximum in size. They are native to South America and the Amazon rainforest. They do require a tank of about 20 gallons or larger. They’re best for a neutral pH water and don’t really require a low pH. The water should be between 72 and 86 degrees. They prefer groupings of planted plants in their tank.
These fish are not expensive and usually run for about $12 for more common color varieties all the way up to hundreds of dollars for a wild caught version. These fish are best when fed live food such as BBS (baby brine shrimp), glass and larvae, and other types of worms.
Apistos are fun and easy to breed. Apistos are an excellent egg layer. You should place a cave in the tank for the females to spawn.
Fish ownership is a joyous experience. It’s fun to look at the different colors and decide which one you prefer before buying. This species has a distinct difference in the color of each sexe. Males have a lot of color while females do not. It is easy to tell the difference.
Most Common Color Variations
The cacatuoides are the most popular color version, so you’ll find those in many aquarium stores and pet shops. These fish are often found in the Orange Flash variety. They have a distinctive horizontal stripe running along their bodies with bright orange tail and top fins. The same species is also available in bright red, the ‘Super Red’. They are reminiscent of little race cars thanks to their striped bodies.
These are also known under the name Umbrella Cichlid. They’re a pale light blue with some darker speckling along the body and lemon yellow top fins and tail fins. It is pretty and delicate in color.
Trifasciata is trifasciata, which stands for three. In this case it’s the Apisto version with three stripes. They do have dark, striking horizontal stripes along the body and vibrant blue fins. These fish would make a great centerpiece or show-stopper fish in a tank.
Happy Apistogramma Care
We are confident that no matter what color you choose, you will enjoy this intelligent, beautiful, and personable cichlid for many more years.