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.
Since its scientific description in 1980 this dwarf cichlid is subject of an ongoing debate among keepers and breeders of Apistogramma. Some think that A. gephyra is a mere variety of A. agassizii, others defend its status quo as a separate species. Most likely both parties are right. There can be no doubt that A. gephyra and A. agassizii are very closely related forms that parted from a common ancestor only quite recently. If they already represent different species or still the same is finally a question of personal taste.
Here in the wholesale trade we use a quite simple coloration-feature to tell both species apart, because this feature has proofed to be very reliable: only A. gephyra has a red seam along the dorsal fin edge. Mid-january we obained a shipment of young, about 1,5 cm long Apistogramma from Brazil. They showed a peculiar feature that we had observed so far (at least knowingly) only in one species from the Rio Negro, namely Apistogramma elizabethae: under stress the longitudinal stripe vanishes and a double-spot becomes visible in the first third of the body. In all other known species from the Rio Negro there is only one spot or a totally different pattern.
However, our new imports did not really look like A. elizabethae. So we decided to wait a bit. In mid-february, the largest males showed their mating colours. They are in fact Apistogramma gephyra!
For our customers: the fish have code 629502 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade. As they fish are still quite small we cannot exclude the possibility that other species of Apistogramma are mixed in as bycatch.
On wednesday we received wild collected Apistogramma elizabethae. Anytime we get such rarities we take an even closer look than anyway on the fishes wether they really belong to the ordered species and if bycatches are among them. Apistogramma elizabethae can be told apart from other, similar species by an unique feature: alarmed fish loose much of their coloration and show two horizontically arranged oval spots on the flanks. This double spot can be also seen under special light conditions in relaxed fish, but it is much less obvious then.
So we took our documentary photos and discovered a male that looked totally different from all Apistogramma-elizabethae males we have ever seen before: it had broad vertical bars on the belly! We selected the fish and two others to take a closer look in the phototank. But here the male didn´t show that coloration anymore. Instead it came very quickly in mood for sexual activities and delivered a fabulous combat with his likeness in a small pocket mirror. These fish are simply gorgeous!
For our customers: the animals have code 618712 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.
Text & photos: Frank Schäfer