Apistogramma Dwarf Cichlid – Care Guide

Apistogramma Dwarf Cichlid white bg

The Apistogramma Dwarf Cichlid are some of the bold species of fish, that portray interesting features in their look. 

The look down below is not a drawing but rather their original structure; the thick lips are actually theirs, and this one looks curious though. Well, curiosity should have been their fourth name, because the Dwarf Cichlid is in the habit of coming to meet with you at the aquarium wall, as you peep in and stare directly into your face. 

They love interacting with their keepers but hate it when their space is crowded or invaded; they mainly dwell at the bottom part of the aquarium. And if you want to hit their last nerve, just introduce strangers to their breeding grounds, that is when you will know how aggressive they can get. On the other hand, the Apistogramma come in varieties and each of them does have different temperaments.

So if you are to introduce other dwellers, consider the ones that love the top or the middle part of the aquarium. The Apistos are a type of freshwater fish that reigns from the family Cichlidae and their known habitat is the aquarium. 

Apistogramma Dwarf Cichlid

Characteristics of the Apistogramma Dwarf Cichlid

Apistogramma’s come in about 250 different species, they hail from the South American continent, and with regards to their beauty, owning them will have you part with some good amount of cash. They like an environment that is not too expossive and with sandy substrate at the bottom complete with empty shells just like their natural ecosystem.

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The male Apistogramma come in attractive and different color patterns and are also large in size when compared to the females. Thus during purchase, it is easy to tell them apart; the Apistogramma have chameleon-like characteristics, for example, they will change their color to match the present occasion or mood such as breeding, looking for food or during the aggressive encounters. 


The Apistos are also known to enhance the look of your aquarium with their bright colors, what’s more, is that selective breeding has led to the birth of brightly colored Apistos that tend to stand out more than the natural ones. And an interesting fact about them is that they do have a family unit sort of thing going on. 

Their breeding strategy disregarded, the females will protect the eggs and fry with all the zealousness they can master, while their male counterparts will ferociously protect the territory from predators. Water temperatures also play an important part in their sexes, and you will find that more male fry’s are produced in warm temperatures or in areas with low pH.

striped Apistogramma Dwarf Cichlid

How to care for the Apistogramma 


Initially, we talked about the Apistogramma loving its bottoms space environment and this apparently is inclusive of feeding, so you will have to sink their food to them because they rarely go to the surface of the aquarium. 

And, when it comes to food types, as usual variety is key for the provision of the relevant nutrients. You can, therefore, feed the Apistogramma flakes or pellets, or live (glass worm, larvae, and baby brine shrimp) and different types of frozen foods. In the wild, they are used to feeding on insects or leaves, which means that they are carnivorous. 

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Aquarium requirements

The size of the aquarium that you want to use greatly depends on the number of Dwarf Cichlid that you want to keep or other species of fish that you plan on introducing into the tank. Despite the above, you should ensure that the tank can hold up to 50 gallons of water. 

A good filtration system incorporated in the tank will help enhance the life of the Apistos and to this end Reverse osmosis is normally recommended especially with the Apistogramma Dwarf Cichlid, as it will help in softening the tap water; making it safe to be included in the aquarium. 

Other important steps that you should be mindful of are the conducting of the harmful nitrites and nitrate tests; ammonia tests are also necessary, as they will help keep your fish out of danger. The tests are normally carried out during the cycling of a tank, as you prepare to add in fish, remember your Apistogramma could easily die because of water quality. It is however baffling how they survive in the wild, given the quality of water. 

Provide  a natural environment 

 Interestingly the fish do mark territories, which mean that you will have to provide a lot of space and include decorations. “Interior décor” for the fish that’s exciting, so what are the necessities? First, you need to provide caves, which are necessary for breeding, and to achieve this you could use pots that could be turned upside down.

Many sea animals are reserved when it comes to their young ones and the Apistogramma is not any different. So when they need privacy, they go into caves, which is like their special rooms. Plants, rocks, and driftwoods are a necessary addition to the aquarium for decoration and to offer a natural ecosystem like environment. 

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Watch out for the water’s PH in the aquarium, even though it is to be kept low, levels below 5 might put the Dwarf Cichlid in danger to the point of death. Don’t forget that the fish are adapted to the tropical climate of the Amazon that have optimum temperatures, so you might want to replicate that. 


The beautiful Apistos have proved to be polygamous in nature and these is because of their harem lifestyle. They are not the least bit jealous of the male when compared to how they protect their territories. The Apistogramma will, therefore, live in a group of one male to four females and mind you when they lay eggs, the male will guard the territories until the eggs hatch. 

The mixing of sexes would be good if you wanted them to breed and produce more fish of the same species, and if you want to see your Dwarf Cichlid thrive then just keep them in groups or pairs. However, you have to careful because the man eat man mentality also exists in the aquarium. You will find that some males are super aggressive to the extent of feeding on their own.