Apistogramma Fish – Care, Habitat, Feeding & Details You Need!

Apistogramma belongs to the Cichlidae family. It originated in the Amazon rainforest and South America. 92 species of Apistogramma have been found lately. All these species found are valued among fish enthusiasts.

These fish are found in many different colors. The maximum size that they can grow up to is 3” to 3.5”.

The personality of these fish varies from one fish to the other. Some are very curious, while others are not. A lot of species of these fish are found each year.

Apistogramma males are quite larger than the females. Both males and females are mouthbrooders, which means they hold their offspring in their mouths for some time to help them grow. The males are more colorful than females.

When females are in the process of breeding, they change their color to yellow, so if you see a yellow Apistogramma, you should know that in just a few days, you will see new offspring of your favorite fish.

Quick Stats

Name: Apistogramma
Family: Cichlidae
Size: 3 to 3.5 inches
Care level: Need a little care
Minimum tank size: 50 gallons
Temperature: 21 degrees Celsius
Water conditions: Soft, slightly acidic water (pH 6 to 7)
Diet: Omnivorous
Temperament: Territorial


Apistogramma is a small fish found in many different colors. The appearance of this fish is determined through factors such as sex and hierarchy.

Ventral fins of the males are seen easily, which are attached to the front and the lower part of their bodies.

The first lines on the dorsal side of the males are longer than the females.

They differ from each other in terms of body shape and sizes. The finnage, different colors, and markings set them apart from other fish in the same family too.

The different species of Apistogramma have dark or blue markings on their body that help people identify them from the others. These fish can be kept in pairs, trios, or harems.

The males are very aggressive and tend to fight for their territory, but the females are not the dominating type.

These fish can communicate with their color change. Thus, they signal the other fish by changing their colors. Fish enthusiasts have always had a little problem with the identification of this fish.

Sometimes, these fish suppress their dark lines and blend in with the rest of the fish around them. As it is not found everywhere, a lot of struggle is needed to find the best kind of Apistogramma.


Apistogramma has a moderately elongated and laterally compressed body. The head is pointed, with large eyes. The size of these dwarf cichlids varies from 3 to 12 cm. Males are larger than females.

The dorsal fin has 14-18 rays, their tips can be pointed, and the rear ones are often elongated. The pectoral fins are almost invisible, have a rounded shape. The abdomen is usually elongated. The anal fin includes 3 to 6 rays and is also usually elongated.

The tail may have a triangular or rounded shape. Since the extreme rays are often longer than the rest, the fin can take the form of a lancet or lyre. The scales on the body are contrasting, clearly visible. The lateral line is shifted to the back, its shape depends on the specific view.

The most important feature of Apistogramma is their color. It is bright, juicy, and multifaceted, which makes these small fish noticeable, despite their size. The torso often contrasts with the fins. The latter is characterized by a bright border or black rays. Breeders obtained forms with veil fins.

Almost all colors can be present in color: yellow, blue, red, turquoise, etc. Numerous breeding forms have been developed. For example, the Ramistrezi Electric Blue Apistogramma has a solid “neon” color.

In comfortable conditions, life expectancy is 3-5 years.


These fish are not easily found in the market because they are rare. You would have to go on a hunt to find these fish.

They are usually found in small streams, rivers, and flooded forests. They are never found in main rivers because of the water current.

They live in areas where there is a lot of plantation, so if you are planning to keep this family of fish, know that they need plants in your water tank too. Plants also tend to keep the tank clean, which is very helpful for fish.

You need to change the water of the tank frequently, but if you can’t for any reason, the plants do their work and help keep the tank clean.

The size of their habitat (i.e., the water tank) has to be large because the males are aggressive and can kill other males in the tank with them.


If you want to care for these fish, you will have to do a little bit of research before tossing them in your fish tank. All fish need a proper temperature and pH level so that they can live comfortably.

The Apistogramma needs soft, slightly acidic water. Hence, make sure you are not providing it with hard water, or else your fish will not be able to thrive.

You also have to provide them with food and change the water of the tank on time. It would be good if the tank has a sponge filter.

These fish should not be kept with fish other than their own family. These types of fish need extra space because they are territorial and can kill each other if not given enough space to mark their territory.

Thus, the size of the water tank should be right, not too small nor too big. These fish need a tropical climate, so the temperature of the tank should be optimum.

The tank should be decorated with rocks and plants for the fish to remain calm and happy. Add pots so that the females can breed there easily.


Apistogramma is carnivores and feeds on the larvae of other fish and other fish. The food can vary from frozen to live food.

Fish need a balanced diet too, so you must feed them different kinds of food and not the same type every day.

You can give artificial food to your Apistogramma. There are a lot of brands found online for this purpose. The quality of artificial food has to be very good or else it can become the cause of your Apistogramma’s death.

Apistogramma could be fed granular fish food and frozen bloodworms. Blackworms are their favorite kind of food, and it is found that this particular food is the main reason for its breeding process.


The breeding time of these fish depends on a lot of factors. The presence of really warm or really cold water makes it possible for these fish to breed. Sometimes, the availability of a spare female or male is the main reason for their breeding.

As mentioned below, the female turns yellow when it is in the breeding process. This yellow color varies from genus to genus in the family. Some turn bright yellow, while some turn pastel.

A single male can breed with many females. A healthy female can produce almost 80 eggs at a location where it thinks it is safe for its offspring.

The female is responsible for taking care of the eggs, while the male guards the territory to ensure that the eggs hatch safely.

Sometimes, the fish may not breed. If that’s the case, you will have to look at some of the issues that may be causing this.

Either the water of the tank is not suitable for the fish, or the fish is not of the age where it could breed. There is also a chance that your fish has an internal disease.

Apistogramma Tank Mates

These fish are the aggressive type and if kept with others, they can erupt in fights over territory. If two species of Apistogramma are kept together in a tank, they tend to fight too.

You can try adding plants, rocks, and driftwood to help your fish stay calm and happy.

The Apistogramma can be put in a tank with Cacatuoides and live peacefully with them. However, never keep this species with Tetras, Endlers Guppy, Killer Fish, Galaxy Rasbora, Pygmy Corydoras, Otocinclus Catfish, Bristlenose Pleco and Ram Cichlids due to their aggressiveness.

If your water tank has a lot of hiding places, these fish can be kept with many other families of fish.

Their territory and the safety of their eggs come first, so if the tank has places for them to claim their territory, they will be able to live happily without harming others.


All fish can have an internal parasite problem. For this particular problem, you have to consult a nearby pet store to give you the appropriate medication for your fish.

Dropsy is a disease that is very common in the Apistogramma when the fish becomes quite weak and cannot swim properly. This disease occurs when the fish do not get clean water to live in. If you skip changing the water for a week, your fish will need medication for this disease.

Sometimes, the bacteria get into the water, causing the death of the fish. Medication is required to keep the fish healthy.

White spots or belly sliding can also happen because of the high level of ammonia as a result of the leftovers eaten by fish.

White little worms are also produced due to overfeeding. Although this is harmless, the quality of the water is at stake. Apistogramma can also suffer from intestinal worms and medications are needed to treat the fish.

These fish are hard to find in the local market, which makes them very fascinating. The care of these fish is quite difficult, so you need to understand everything about them before adding them to your water tank.

If provided with a good amount of food, water, and a perfect habitat, they will live on for a long time. All fish need proper food, water, and a safe place to live, but when it comes to the Apistogramma, a little research has to be done before keeping it in a water tank.

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