Apistogramma, the Dwarf Cichlid

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. These great fish, also known as Dwarf Cichlids were once in a while out of favor, but are making a comeback. There are quite a few color varieties to choose from, too. We’ll talk about that later in the article.

Apistogrammas, or Apistos, are semi-aggressive. These species are very curious and you will notice it immediately. They have tons of personality and will come right up to the tank walls as you look in. They will pay attention to you and are great at interacting with their owners. If you’ve not been happy with fish swimming the second you look at them, this species is the exact opposite. They will immediately spot you.

Apistos are a wonderful choice for a community tank. They will live at the bottom of the tank so that they can interact with all species. Apistos enjoy having their own territory. We’d recommend probably putting them with tetras, pencil fish, or another species that likes to swim in the middle or towards the top of the tank.

Facts about the Apistogramma

They can grow up to 3 inches and 3.5 inches maximum. They originate from South America and the Amazon rainforest. They do require a tank of about 20 gallons or larger. They are best suited for neutral pH water. The water temperature should range from 72 to 86 degrees. They prefer groupings of planted plants in their tank.

These fish are affordable and typically sell for around $12 for the most common color options, up to hundreds of bucks for the wild caught variety. 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. They can be used as an egg layer. A cave should be placed in the tank to allow the females to spawn there.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of fish ownership is looking at all the color variations to see which one you like best before purchasing. There is a clear color difference between the sexes with this species. Males have lots of color, while females don’t. It is easy to tell the difference.

Most Popular Color Variations

Apistogramma cacatuoides

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.

Apistogramma borellii

These are also known as the Umbrella Cichlid. These are a pale blue with some darker speckling on the body. They also have lemon yellow top and tail fins. They are delicate and beautiful in color.

Apistogramma trifasciata

Trifasciata’s “tri” stands for “three”, and this is the Apisto three-striped variation. These fish are distinguished by their dark, bold horizontal stripes and vibrant blue fins. These fish are a great choice to be the centerpiece of a tank or to be the show-stopper fish.

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.