Apistogramma Agassizii – Care, Size, Tank Mates & Full Details!

Apistogramma agassizii, colloquially known as Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid, holds a revered place among the Apistogramma genus.

With a lineage traced back to Steindancher’s discovery in 1875, this colorful, engaging, and compact species has been the darling of cichlid admirers for generations.

Not only do their vibrant hues and captivating demeanor make them a visual delight, but their small size also fits perfectly into compact aquariums.

The Apistogramma genus encompasses a wealth of color and form, however, their size is quite uniform, a characteristic defining them as “dwarf cichlids.”

Compared to their larger cousins, like the majestic Oscars and elegant Angelfish, Apistogrammas remain small, generally under 3″ (7 cm.)

For those dipping their toes into the fascinating world of Apistos, the Agassizii is a fantastic starting point. The years of captive breeding have allowed them to adapt to less soft and acidic water compared to their wild relatives.

What’s more, many captive-bred specimens are amenable to pellet foods, albeit with a bit of patience and training.

That said, the Agassizii is relatively undemanding within the Apisto world.

It may not be as beginner-friendly as Angelfish or Kribs, but it definitely isn’t as delicate or, perhaps, as intriguing as the A. ‘black chin’.

In the fascinating realm of aquatics, there’s a name that has resonated through the ages – Apistogramma Agassizii. Revered by aquatic enthusiasts, it has become one of the most adored species in the Apistogramma genus.

If you’re an aquarist seeking to broaden your horizons with a distinctive addition to your tank, this guide is just for you.

Apistogramma Agassizii Appearance

Apistogramma Agassizii, also known as Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid, is a vibrant display of the aquatic world’s exuberance. Embellished with vivid hues, it captivates spectators with its breathtaking beauty.

Apistogrammas, although not blessed with size diversity, are gifted with an array of striking colorations.

Males exhibit stunning multi-color dorsal fins, generally displaying a blend of blue, yellow, and red. The vibrant coloration extends to the caudal fin, offering a truly mesmerizing sight.

The females, while less colorful, flaunt an enchanting yellow hue with a conspicuous black spot on their side.

Natural Habitat of Apistogramma Agassizii

Originating from the unique ecosystem of South America, Apistogramma Agassizii demonstrates remarkable adaptability.

In their natural habitat, these little marvels thrive in a myriad of water conditions, making them incredibly adaptable residents for home aquariums.

Agassizii typically occupy slow-moving or stagnant blackwater tributaries and pools, often layered with leaf litter and fallen branches, providing countless hideouts and spawning spots.

However, some have been observed in clear, swiftly moving water with minimal debris, testifying to their resilience and versatility.

Origin and Distribution

The discovery of the Apistogramma Agassizii is credited to Steindachner in 1875. Today, these captivating creatures can be found across the Amazon River Basin in Peru, extending to the Capim River Basin in Brazil.

This vast range from the upper section of the Río Ucayali in Peru, into Brazil with the Capim River, a tributary of the Rio Guamá, reflects their incredible adaptability.

The Apistogramma Agassizii showcases varying coloration based on their collection site, even amongst captive-bred species.

Certain distinct strains such as Fire Red, Super Fire Red, Tefe, and Tefe Blue have been successfully bred in captivity, most often retaining their parents’ vibrant colorings.

Growth, Size & Lifespan of Apistogramma Agassizii

Belonging to the group of “dwarf cichlids,” Apistogramma Agassizii are rather small in size, with males typically reaching 3 inches (7 cm) and females around 2 inches (5 cm).

Yet, despite their modest size, they’re renowned for their vibrant colors and captivating behavior.

Apistogramma Agassizii has a life expectancy of about 8 years, given optimal living conditions.

They are well-suited to smaller tanks, making them an excellent choice for hobbyists with limited space.

In the end, it’s the Apistogramma Agassizii’s unpretentious nature that wins the hearts of aquarists. Its vibrant colors, fascinating behavior, and manageable size make it a favorite choice for both novice and experienced fishkeepers.

In the world of aquatics, the Apistogramma Agassizii is indeed a small package bursting with big charm.

Let’s delve into the fascinating world of Apistogramma Agassizii once again. This time, we’ll unlock the secrets of their behavior and temperament.

Then, we’ll guide you through the steps of setting up a perfect home for these charming creatures in your aquarium.

Known for their peaceful demeanor, Apistogramma Agassizii typically get along well with other similarly-sized, non-aggressive species.

However, their temperament isn’t completely devoid of territoriality, especially during breeding periods.

Males establish territories, zealously guarding them against intruders, particularly rival males. Yet, outside of these times, they generally cohabit peacefully with others.

Females, on the other hand, are primarily responsible for egg and fry care, demonstrating impressive parental behavior.

Apistogramma Agassizii Behavior and Temperament

Known for their peaceful demeanor, Apistogramma Agassizii typically get along well with other similarly-sized, non-aggressive species. However, their temperament isn’t completely devoid of territoriality, especially during breeding periods.

Males establish territories, zealously guarding them against intruders, particularly rival males.

Yet, outside of these times, they generally cohabit peacefully with others. Females, on the other hand, are primarily responsible for egg and fry care, demonstrating impressive parental behavior.

Tank Setup For Apistogramma Agassizii

Creating an optimal environment for Apistogramma Agassizii requires meticulous planning. Here’s an in-depth guide to help you recreate their natural habitat.

Tank Size

Despite their small size, these fish require ample space to flourish. A 20-gallon tank is the minimum recommendation for a pair, with each additional fish requiring roughly 10 gallons more.


Recreating their natural habitat means incorporating a dark, sandy substrate. This not only mirrors their natural living conditions but also brings out their radiant coloration.

Decorations and Hiding Spots

Apistogramma Agassizii love a tank rich in hiding spots. Implement caves, driftwood, and plants to mimic their natural environment. Live plants like Java Fern and Anubias are excellent additions, providing natural cover and promoting healthy water conditions.

Water Parameters

Agassizii thrive in soft, acidic water, ideally with a pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.0, hardness between 50-100 ppm, and temperatures between 72°F and 86°F (22°C – 30°C).

Filtration and Aeration

A gentle filtration system is crucial. Too strong of a current can stress your Apistogramma Agassizii, as they are accustomed to calm waters. Simultaneously, ensure adequate oxygenation for your aquatic friends.


Moderate lighting suits these species best. It’s beneficial to have areas of the tank cast in shadow, mimicking their natural, often dimly-lit habitat.

Tank Mates

Compatibility with other species depends on their temperament. Peaceful species of similar size are generally suitable. Avoid large, aggressive fish that might pose a threat.


Apistogramma Agassizii are omnivores, preferring a balanced diet of both meat-based and vegetable-based foods. High-quality flakes, granules, live, or frozen brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms make for a wholesome diet.

In summary, providing the right environment and understanding the unique behavioral traits of Apistogramma Agassizii are vital to their successful keeping.

Once set up correctly, your tank can become a vibrant, engaging ecosystem, providing endless fascination and enjoyment.

Maintaining an aquarium with Apistogramma Agassizii requires more than simply setting up a tank. Regular maintenance is a must to ensure a healthy environment.

Below, we dive into the specific practices you need to embrace to keep your aquatic friends in their best form.

Tank Maintenance of Apistogramma Agassizii

Just as you would keep your house clean, so should you care for your Apistogramma Agassizii’s home.

Tank maintenance revolves around maintaining water quality, cleaning the tank and its decorations, caring for the filter, and monitoring fish health.

Regular Water Changes

Regular water changes are vital. Typically, replacing 25% of the tank water every week helps to remove pollutants and replenish minerals. Remember, these fish prefer soft, slightly acidic water. So, always check the pH and hardness after a water change.

Cleaning the Tank and Decorations

Tank cleanliness promotes fish health. Algae can overgrow and contaminate the water, impacting the tank’s overall condition. Use an algae scrubber to clean the tank walls.

Also, occasionally clean decorations and hiding spots using aquarium-safe products.

Filter Maintenance

The filter is an essential part of your aquarium. Regular checkups and cleaning, usually every 2-4 weeks, keep it in optimal condition. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent damage or mismanagement.

Monitor Fish Health

Keeping an eye on your Apistogramma Agassizii is a crucial part of tank maintenance. If you notice changes in behavior or appearance, it may be an indicator of illness.

Early detection and treatment can often prevent complications.

Keeping an Apistogramma Agassizii tank in top condition isn’t difficult. It only requires a bit of time and dedication.

By following these steps, you can provide a clean, healthy habitat for your Apistogramma Agassizii, ensuring their well-being for years to come.

Remember, a well-maintained tank is key to showcasing the enchanting beauty of these stunning creatures. Happy fish-keeping!

Acclimating Apistogramma Agassizii

When introducing Apistogramma Agassizii to a new tank, a process known as acclimation is critical. This phase helps the fish adjust to the new water conditions gradually, reducing stress and potential health issues.

Typically, acclimation should last about an hour, slowly mixing tank water with the water in the bag the fish came in.

This gradual process allows the fish to adapt to the new water chemistry, temperature, and other parameters.

Apistogramma Agassizii Diet and Feeding

A proper diet is essential for the overall health and vibrant coloration of your Apistogramma Agassizii.

Here’s what you need to know about their feeding preferences:

What They Eat

Apistogramma Agassizii is an omnivore, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter. In the wild, they feed on small invertebrates, insect larvae, and plant material. Their diet in the aquarium should mimic this natural food source as much as possible.

Feeding Guidelines

  1. Variety is Key: Offer a variety of foods to ensure a balanced diet. This can include high-quality flake or pellet food, brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms.

  2. Fresh and Frozen Foods: Both fresh and frozen foods can be used, but avoid overfeeding as this can foul the water.

  3. Vegetable Matter: While they’re not strictly vegetarians, incorporating some boiled peas, spinach, or zucchini into their diet can provide beneficial nutrients.

  4. Feeding Frequency: Feed your Apistogramma Agassizii once or twice a day. It’s crucial to only provide what they can consume in 2-3 minutes to prevent overfeeding.

  5. Adjust Portions as Needed: Monitor your fish’s eating habits and adjust portions if you notice food left over after feeding time.

  6. Special Considerations: Apistogramma Agassizii can be shy eaters, especially with other species in the tank. Make sure they’re getting their share of the food.

Feeding your Apistogramma Agassizii a balanced, varied diet will help them flourish in your aquarium. Regular feeding, combined with high-quality nutrition, will ensure their colors stay bright and their behavior lively.

By meeting their unique dietary needs, you’re promoting a healthy, vibrant ecosystem in your tank. Happy feeding!

Apistogramma Agassizii Tank Mates: Friends and Foes

Finding the right tank mates for your Apistogramma Agassizii can make a significant difference in the harmony and health of your aquarium community.

Let’s explore some suitable tank mates, and those you should steer clear from.

Suitable Tank Mates

  1. Tetras: Species like Black Neon Tetras or Cardinal Tetras are peaceful and make excellent tank mates.

  2. Corydoras Catfish: These gentle bottom dwellers are ideal as they won’t compete with your Agassizii for territory.

  3. Hatchetfish: They stay towards the top of the tank, reducing the chances of territorial disputes.

  4. Rasboras: Harlequin Rasboras or similar species add colorful beauty without posing a threat to your Agassizii.

  5. Pencil Fish: They are peaceful and inhabit the middle to upper regions of the tank, leaving the bottom to the Apistogramma.

  6. Otocinclus Catfish: They’re excellent algae eaters and won’t bother your Apistogramma.

  7. Dwarf Gouramis: As long as your tank is big enough, these fish can coexist nicely with your Apistogramma.

Tank Mates to Avoid

  1. Large Cichlids: They can be aggressive and bully your Apistogramma.

  2. Oscars: They are known to be territorial and could pose a threat to your Apistogramma.

  3. Convict Cichlids: These fish can be quite aggressive and are not ideal tank mates.

  4. African Cichlids: Many of them are territorial and could stress your Apistogramma.

  5. Common Plecos: They can grow too large and become a threat to your Apistogramma.

Breeding Apistogramma Agassizii and Fry Care

Breeding Apistogramma Agassizii can be a rewarding experience. However, it requires careful planning and specific conditions.

Here’s what you need to know:

Preparing for Breeding

  1. Sexing: It’s crucial to know the sex of your Apistogramma. Males are larger and more colorful, while females are smaller and duller.

  2. Tank Conditions: Ensure that the tank conditions are optimal. A slightly acidic pH (6.0-7.0) and temperature around 78°F are ideal.

  3. Breeding Pair: Provide a healthy breeding pair. You can purchase a pair or allow them to pair off naturally in a group.

  4. Caves and Hiding Spots: Breeding females prefer secluded, cave-like spaces. Provide plenty of hiding spots in your tank.

Breeding Process and Fry Care

  1. Courtship and Spawning: The male will display vibrant colors and perform a dance to attract the female. If she’s receptive, she’ll follow him to a chosen spot to lay eggs.

  2. Egg Care: The female will guard the eggs, which will hatch in 3-4 days. Remove other fish from the tank to protect the eggs.

  3. Fry Care: Once the fry are free-swimming, provide them with appropriate food like baby brine shrimp or finely crushed flake food.

  4. Monitoring: Keep a close eye on fry for any signs of illness or distress, and maintain optimal water parameters.

By providing the right conditions and taking proper care of the fry, you’ll help ensure the successful breeding of your Apistogramma Agassizii.

Signs of Stress in Apistogramma Agassizii

Stress in fish can lead to a range of health issues, so spotting the signs early is critical. Here are a few signs that your Apistogramma Agassizii might be feeling stressed:

  1. Changes in Behavior: This can include erratic swimming, hiding for long periods, and being less active than usual.

  2. Loss of Appetite: If your fish is ignoring food or eating less than usual, it could be a sign of stress.

  3. Changes in Color: Apistogramma Agassizii might show duller colors when stressed.

  4. Rapid Breathing: Fast or labored breathing can be a warning sign of stress.

  5. Signs of Disease: Illness often follows stress, so watch for disease symptoms like spots, fungus, or fin rot.

Common Health Issues and Treatments for Apistogramma Agassizii

Like all fish, Apistogramma Agassizii can suffer from various health issues.

Here are common ones and their treatments:

  1. Ich: This parasitic infection appears as white spots on the body. Raise the tank temperature gradually to 86°F and use an over-the-counter medication.

  2. Fin Rot: Damaged fins might be a sign of this bacterial disease. It can be treated with antibiotics and improved water conditions.

  3. Fungus: Fungus often shows as fluffy white growths. Antifungal medications are typically effective.

  4. Dropsy: This serious condition leads to a swollen belly due to kidney failure. Antibiotics can help, but early detection is crucial.

  5. Bloat: Overfeeding can cause bloating. Adjust feeding practices and provide peas to help digestion.

Additional Tips for a Healthy Aquarium

Keeping a healthy aquarium is vital for the well-being of your Apistogramma Agassizii.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Regular Water Changes: Keep the water fresh and toxin-free with regular changes.

  2. Monitor Water Parameters: Regularly check the pH, temperature, and ammonia levels.

  3. Feeding: Provide a balanced diet with high-quality food.

  4. Check for Illness: Regularly observe your fish for any signs of disease.

  5. Give Them Space: Overcrowding can lead to stress and disease, so ensure your fish have enough room.

Should You Get an Apistogramma Agassizii for Your Aquarium?

Apistogramma Agassizii are beautiful, fascinating fish that can be a great addition to a peaceful community aquarium.

They have specific needs, but with careful attention to water conditions, diet, and tank setup, they can thrive.

If you’re ready to meet these needs and enjoy their unique behavior and striking appearance, then yes, Apistogramma Agassizii could be a perfect choice for your aquarium.

Conservation Status of Apistogramma Agassizii

At present, Apistogramma Agassizii doesn’t face any pressing threats that put them on the brink of extinction. They’re listed as ‘Least Concern’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

However, like all species, maintaining their natural habitats is crucial for their future survival.

Availability & Pricing of Apistogramma Agassizii

Apistogramma Agassizii is quite popular among aquarists due to their beautiful colors and dynamic behavior. They are usually available at most aquarium stores, though availability might vary depending on your region. Online fish retailers also commonly carry this species.

As for pricing, it largely depends on factors such as size, color variation, and whether the fish are bred in captivity or wild-caught. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, prices may range from $10 to $30 per fish.

However, these figures could vary, so it’s best to check with your local fish store or online retailer for current pricing.

Frequently Asked Questions About Apistogramma Agassizii

1. How large do Apistogramma Agassizii get?

Adults typically grow to about 3 to 3.5 inches, with males generally larger and more colorful than females.

2. What water parameters do Apistogramma Agassizii need?

They prefer warm, slightly acidic water with a temperature range of 72-82°F and pH range of 6.0-7.0.

3. Can Apistogramma Agassizii live with other fish?

Yes, they are peaceful and can coexist with other calm and non-aggressive fish. Suitable tank mates include small tetras and corydoras catfish.

4. What do Apistogramma Agassizii eat?

They are omnivores and enjoy a varied diet of flake food, brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms.


Apistogramma Agassizii, with their vivid colors and spirited behavior, can be an appealing addition to your aquarium. Despite their specific requirements for water parameters and tank setup, their charm and beauty make them worth the effort.

Remember to introduce them to a peaceful community, provide a balanced diet, and keep the tank conditions optimal for their well-being.

Whether you’re a seasoned aquarist or a beginner looking to add diversity to your tank, Apistogramma Agassizii offers a rewarding experience.

Enjoy the colors they bring to your aquatic world while providing them a safe and nurturing environment. Your dedication will be rewarded with their vibrant presence and intriguing behavior!