The dwarf cichlid Apistogramma agassizii has a distribution area that extends through practically the entire Amazon. With many of its genus comrades it is completely different, they often occur only locally and form then also location variants. Agassiz’ dwarf cichlid has so far successfully resisted all attempts to divide it. It is true that some particularly striking colorings are known – for example the “Tefe” with its zigzag pattern or the red-backed “Santarem”. But it is shown again and again that even with these extremes only relatively few males correspond to the ideal picture and with a larger number of wild-caught there are always also normally colored males. And the females all look the same anyway….
The matter does not get easier if you consider that almost every Apistogramma species in nature shows polychromatism (= multicolorism) of the males. So there are males with e.g. a higher proportion of red, those with a higher proportion of blue, etc. Under aquarium conditions one can select for the desired color within a few generations and then get uniform looking strains. But in nature it is not like that.
We have very pretty wild-caught Apistogramma agassizii from Peru, i.e. the upper reaches of the Amazon, in the stock right now. As is usual with wild-caught fish, they are about 30% smaller than their cousins that grew up in the aquarium when they reach sexual maturity. In the wild, there just isn’t as abundant food. But the coloration of the „wild ones“ is really very, very pretty, both the animals with more red and the animals with more blue in the tail fin.
For our customers: the fish have code 614073 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply wholesale.
The first reports about the brood care behavior of this dwarf cichlid in the early 2000s were a sensation. Mouthbrooding Apistogramma – one had never heard of it before. Later it turned out that things are complicated. Some of the females of A. barlowi, as this species is now called, show quite normal Apistogramma brood care behavior. They spawn in burrows, the male guards the territory with his harem, and the female cares for spawn and young. However, some of the females take the young into their mouths after hatching and keep them there until they are independent. These females are thus so-called larvophilic mouthbrooders. And in isolated cases it even happened that also the male takes parts of the brood into the mouth and takes part in the brood care!
So with Apistogramma barlowi, which originates from the Pebas district in Peru, one can make really exciting observations. It is by no means understood yet if brood care behavior is inherited or if it is a plastic behavior linked to certain environmental factors (yet to be explored).
For our customers: the fish have code 624983 on our stock list. Please note that we only supply wholesale.
The double stripe (= the translation of the word diplotaenia) is still a rare occurrence in the aquarium. For successful breeding you have to reach pretty deep into the bag of tricks of water chemistry and the animals are also relatively unproductive. This unusual Apistogramma species originates from the black water of the Rio Negro, where it lives mostly over bare sandy bottoms in larger breeding colonies. With a maximum total length of 5 cm (i.e. including the caudal fin) it belongs to the smallest cichlid species at all.
More than 20 years ago (1999) Mario Wilhelm brought back from an expedition to Brazil for the first time this beautiful dwarf cichlid from the Rio Abacaxis. An alternative name to Apistogramma sp. Wilhelmi is therefore A. sp. Abacaxis. This river, a well known area for discus fishes, belongs to the drainage of the Rio Madeira. A. sp. Wilhelmi is not yet described scientifically, consequently there is no scientific name for the species.
Apistogramma sp. Wilhelmi belongs, together with the numerous variants of A. agassizii, A. gephyra and A. pulchra in the closer relationship of A. agassizii. A. sp.Wilhelmi differs from the other species of this complex, among others, by the much broader longitudinal band and a unique sexual dichromatism: the males A. sp. Wilhelmi have a purple chin patch.
Unfortunately A. sp.Wilhelmi is a bit shy and therefore needs time to get accustomed and to develop the full color splendor. But then it more than compensates the patience of the keeper. For the care of the fish the usual Apistogramma rules apply: germ-poor water, secondary plant materials (dead leaves, peat, alder cones), sandy soil, varied nutrition. With animals maintained in this way, no significant problems are to be expected.
At the moment we have nice offsprings of this dwarf cichlid in stock.
For our customers: the animals have code 630703 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply to wholesalers.
Text: Frank Schäfer, photos: Dieter Bork and Frank Schäfer
For a long time this beautiful dwarf cichlid from the basin of the Rio Nanay in Peru sailed under the name “cf. juruensis” or “sp. Black Chin”. Only the scientific description of the species in 2012 put an end to the confusion.
Great similarity exists to A. juruensis and A. cacatuoides. From both species living Apistogramma allpahuayo (the species name refers to the type locality, small streams flowing into the Quebrada Allpahuayo in the Reserva Nacional Allpahuayo Mishana) can be distinguished by the pitch black chin area, which is only rarely not well visible in very few mood situations.
These are very beautiful, easy-care dwarf cichlids. Males grow to about 7 cm, females to about 4 cm. One should offer them, like all Apistogramma species, preferably germ-poor water, sandy soil and structure-rich furnished aquariums. In nature a large part of the food of Apistogramma species consists of decaying plant parts (dead leaves etc.). The fish do not digest the plants (they cannot do that), but the numerous microorganisms living in the “compost”. In the aquarium you must therefore be careful not to feed too fat, the digestive system of these fish is set up for high fiber food. Wrong feeding (e.g. too much worm food) makes Apistogramma inevitably ill.
Apistogramma allpahuayo is a black water inhabitant and shows accordingly in soft, sour water the most beautiful colors. The temperature can be between 24 and 28°C.
For our customers: the animals have code 622723 on our stocklist. Please note that we supply exclusively to wholesalers.
The attractive Apistogramma sp. Oregon comes from the wider surroundings of Iquitos in Peru. Don’t ask us why this one is called “Oregon” – we don’t know that either. It belongs to the closer relationship of A. nijsseni, but differs clearly from this species by the bulky body structure, the large tail spot and a group of black spots on the lower half of the caudal peduncle.
This beautiful fish is quite hardy and adaptable, but it has been shown that for long-term care and breeding, very soft water with a pH of 5-6 is most favorable. In hard water with higher pH, the fish first become paler and then start to care. It is still unclear whether the soft acidic water is actually a physiological necessity or whether the animals – like so many fish from comparable habitats – just cannot tolerate the higher bacterial load in harder and more alkaline water.
According to the information available so far, A. sp. Oregon is known from only one forest pool. This does not necessarily mean that it does not exist elsewhere, but it has not been found so far. Therefore imports of the animals occur only in large time intervals, breeders should strive for them.
For our customers: the fish have code 625112 on our stocklist. Please note that we supply exclusively to wholesalers.
Römer, U. & D. P. Soares (2019): Beiträge zur Biologie von Apistogramma-Arten: Apistogramma sp. „Oregon“, ein selten gepflegter Zwergbuntbarsch aus dem peruanischen Amazonas-Tiefland in Loreto. DCG-Informationen 50 (8): 174-183
This wonderful dwarf cichlid belongs to the rarest and most wanted species of Apistogramma in the trade. Nevertheless the animals are not very difficult to keep at all. If the fish is kept under the correct conditions it belongs to the hardier species of the genus. There do exist elder reports on the fish that say the opposite, but we learned in the meantime that the limited number of specimens available at this time led to this erroneous point of view. We currently have medium sized wild collected and fully grown offspring of the “Red Belly” selection in stock. The pictures in this post show the “Red Belly”, pictures of wild collected ones can be found here: https://www.aquariumglaser.de/en/fish-archives/apistogramma-elizabethae-2/
The successful keeping of these beautiful fish requires the basic rules of Apistogramma keeping: clean, bacteria-poor water (this can be settled the most easy way in soft water with an pH between 5.5 and 6.5), diversified food and at least on some places in the tank fine sand on the bottom. Especially the sand is important and the meaning of it often underestimated. In fact the sand is more important than the water chemistry (hardness, pH). In the wild, these fish feed mainly on particles they find in the sand. To find them the fish takes a mouth full of sand, chews the sand and releases the sand through the gill openings. Food particles attach on special anatomical structures on the gill arches and can be swallowed subsequently. In case an Apistogramma can find no sand it comes in a situation comparably to humans that get no opportunity to clean their teeth. This may work for a while, but in most cases sooner or later one becomes sick of it.
For our customers: the wild collected fish have code 618723, the bred ones 618704 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.
Suggestion of a common name: Elizabeth´s Dwarf Cichlid
Lexicon: Apistogramma: ancient Greek, means “with unreliable line”. It is not known whether the lateral line organ or the pattern is meant. elizabethae: dedication name for Elizabeth Cabot Cary Agassiz (1822-1902), the second wife of Louis Agassiz, who travelled with her husband on the famous Thayer expedition (1865-66) and wrote on the topic later. The name refers to the close relationship of A. elizabethae and A. agassizii.
The Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid is one of the most popular members of the genus Apistogramma and found in petshops all over the World. Almost exclusively bred specimens of very colourful sports are traded. These do not appear in the wild.
However, “the” wild form of A. cacatuoides does not exist at all. Like so many other Apistogramma, this one is polychromatic in males. This means that even within one population males can look very different. The biological sense of the phenomenon is not understood at all. But the polychromatism is without any doubt the reason why in so many cases Apistogramma sports can be developed after only a few generations of breeding the fish.
Currently we have wild collected specimens of A. cacatuoides from Peru in our stock, where many males show a particularly high degree of yellow in coloration.
For our customers: the animals have code 617234 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply the wholesale trade.
There are many colour varieties of Apistigramma agassizii. The species – as it is currently understood – occurs in the complete Amazon river area in Colombia, Peru, and Brazil. The most wanted variety is probably the „Tefé“ variety. It is, however, not really proven that this variety really comes from the Rio Tefé, a right hand tributary of the Amazon in the Brazilian state of Amazonas. The trade name „Tefé“ was created at a time when a lot of money was payed for these fish and the people who collected them were not interested at all to share their knowledge about the collecting sites. The only thing that can be taken for granted in the Tefé-Agassizii ist that it is a blackwater form.
The Tefé-Agassizii is as variable in coloration as any other A. agassizii. A. agassizii is a polychromatic species. In the Tefé-Agassizii this polychromatism appears mainly in the individually changing content of orange or yellow in the fins and the neck. But all males of the Tefé-Agassizii have the typical zigzag-pattern on the belly. The females look almost like all females of A. agassizii, but can be recognized by the orange-red seam along the dorsal fin.
For our custimers: the animals have code 614833 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.
Apistogramma bitaenata is one of the most beautiful species of the genus. And it is known for a very long time in the hobby already. Elder hobbyists will know the species maybe under the name of A. kleei, other, well known synonymys are A. klausewitzi and A. sweglesi. The species has a very wide distribution in Amazonia. It is known from Colombia, Peru, and Brazil. Most often wild collected fish come from Peru. A great number of local varieties is known.
We obtained now very beautiful wild collected A. bitaeniata from Brazil. These fish are not only very pretty but show a very unusual pattern in the caudal fin. This feature is rather known so far from the two close relatives of A. bitaeniata, namely A. paucisquamis and A. mendezi.
For our customers: the fish have code 615103 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.
Text & photos: Frank Schäfer