Fishes - Apistogramma Dwarf Cichlids
Apistogramma Dwarf Cichlids
by Auke Veenstra
real apistogramma's come from southern America, they all
have the same characteristics, like a complex breeding
behavior, as their large relatives, only their size is
different. Besides the apistogramma group there are also
some relatively popular dwarf cichlids from Africa, like
the Pelvicachromis group. From this group the most widespread
cichlid is the Pelvicachromis pulcher, also known as the
Kribensis or Purple cichlid.
Generally the cichlids from the apistogramma group are
more fragile and harder to maintain, and breed, for a
longer period of time. In my opinion apistogramma's are
not real beginner species. They are more likely to get
diseases if not all the environmental variables are properly
taken care of. They need soft and acidic water with a
low PH value, a PH of 5.5 to 6 is preferable. They hardly
eat dry foods, best is to feed them live foods or frozen
food, like bloodworms, brine shrimp and mosquito larvae.
Apistogramma species can be kept in a large tropical community
aquarium, but be sure the other fish are not too small,
they can defend their territory very fiercely, and can
be quite aggressive when they are breeding. In my opinion
it is best to keep the apistogramma's on their own, in
a larger aquarium you could combine two apistogramma variants
together, maybe supplemented with a small group of other
fish, like some livebearers or betta's. They also can
be kept together with discus or angel fish. I always have
a harem of apisto's in my discus tanks, just to populate
the lower areas of the aquarium and I really like these
small dwarfs with a big attitude.
The cichlids from the Pelvicachromis group are much more
tolerant when it comes to water values and feeding, I
do consider these cichlids a good beginner species. They
are hardened, beautiful colored and eat almost anything.
The Pelvicachromis pulcher is maybe one of the most easy
to breed cichlids as well. If you have an adult couple
they will reproduce, in a community tank, a special species
tank or in a pond, some people like to breed them in their
pond during summer. Actually some of the biggest and nicest
colored Pelvicachromis pulcher were pond bred and raised.
The only thing to keep in mind with these cichlids is
that they are capable of redesigning your aquarium, they
can make huge holes and are real little bulldozers. So
if you have, or want to setup, a subtile planted tank,
don't add a couple of Pelvicachromis to your aquarium.
The last dwarf cichlid I want to mention is the Microgeophagus
ramirezi, or Ram cichlid. Their behavior and care are
roughly the same as the apistogramma's but they are more
tolerant when it comes to water values, and in my experience
they are easier to keep in good condition. Unlike the
apistos they have to be kept as a couple, not a harem
but that's the only breeding experience I have. I have
tried several couples, have a couple in a breeding tank
right now, but I have never even had a clutch of eggs.
I know from other breeders that they are kind of hard
to get going, but if they do they never stop.
About the Author
Auke Veenstra is keeping and breeding tropical aquarium
fish, and dendrobatea, for years. He shares his experiences
on the TinkerFish website.