Dwarf Cichlids



Keeping dwarf cichlids like the Apistogramma has increased a lot, not only in the past year, but for some years now. When you study the dwarf cichlids a little more closely, you will understand why. Several years ago, I made a slide program about dwarf cichlids and I called it "Small cichlids with temper". This heading should give those of you not familiar with these cichlids, some hints.

The dwarf cichlids have everything the large cichlids have. They are colorful (maybe not all), have temper, do not need huge aquariums, and are usually easy to keep. There are of course things that you have to take care of, such as temperature, size of the tank, feeding, hiding places, water quality, and whether or not you want to keep them with other fish. A female can be so tough when she is guarding fry, that she can even kill the male.

So here comes one or two of the things you have to take care of. The tank must have a size that goes with the fish's temper, and not to forget hiding places. This can be for females to hide from a lustful male, or a male hiding from a furious female. One of the reasons that so many are keeping dwarf cichlids is, I think, that you can keep these fish in a rather small aquarium.

If you are keeping these fish right, provide them with the right conditions, food and water quality, and they are not difficult to keep. Some of them might be a little tricky to breed, but this is a challenge to you as an aquarist. Water temperature should be kept from 25-30°C and the pH should be around neutral or lower. What size tank shall they have? Well, it's better if the tank is wide, or the bottom surface is large. These fish do not need a big tank, so if you are going to make the tanks yourself, make them wide.

A tank with the measurements 50x30x25 cm (L x W x H) should be adequate for a pair of Apistgrammas. If you plan to breed these fish on a large scale, I would recommend that you buy several pairs, or at least 5-10 small fish, and put them together in a larger tank and let them choose their own partner when the time comes. This will usually give you a pair that goes well together, and might give you fry from the first batch with eggs. These fish love live food. You can give them mosquito larvae, bloodworms, Grindalworms, Cyclops, and if you don't want to go out and catch live food, you might buy some in your local store, or you can hatch brine shrimp.

This is also necessary when you get fry from your fish, to give the fry the right start. To make hiding places I use rocks and bogwood, but I also use half coconut shells with a hole drilled at the top. The hole must not be too big, only big enough so the fish can get in. If the hole is too big the fish will feel insecure, and they might not want to lay eggs.

You can also use live plants in a tank with dwarf cichlids, or only rocks and bogwood and maybe Javamoss covering the bogwood and the rocks. But in biotopes where I have been collecting Apistogrammas, there have not been many plants. For those of you that wanted to get in touch with other people keeping dwarf cichlids, make contact with the "Apistogramma Study Group".


********** More info about the Apistogrammas will come****************





Apistogramma iniridae, Kullander 1979

Apistogramma iniridae.

Apistogramma iniridae was described by Dr Kullander in 1979, and it was collected in Colombia in the province Guainia. The province Guainia has Rio Orinoco as the border to Venezuela.

I was out in Puerto Inirida in 1991 and 1993, and among several places and tributary rivers to Rio Inirida where I was collecting, I was also at one of the places that Apistogramma iniridae was collected for the first time, that was in Caño (Rio) Bocon.

We were collecting in a pond with still water left after the water in the river went down due to the dry season. In the pond there were plenty of different, small Apistogrammas and among them only the Apistogramma iniridae was described.



Apistogramma sp. "Blutkehl"

Among all the different Apistogrammas we collected, the only one known in the hobby here in Europe was the Apistogramma sp. "Blutkehl". Click on the photo and take a good look at the fish.

Apistogramma sp. "Blutkehl".

Other fishes collected in the pond were: Corydoras sp., Loricaria sp., Nannostomus unifasciatus, Amblydoras sp., and Crenicichla sp. There was also a tetra species there. The water was shallow and very hot. Water temperature was 36°C, pH was 5.7, dH 0 and microsiemens was 30.



Apistogramma viejita Kullander, 1979

Apistogramma viejita comes from Colombia, east of Villavicencio, near Puerto Gaitan. There are so far three different color types of the fish, they are named Apistogramma viejita I, II and III. The fish in the photo is called Apistogramma viejita I.

Apistogramma viejita I.

Apistogramma viejita II is more colorful and A. viejita III is duller in color. The Apistogramma viejita was described by Dr Kullander in 1979. The colortype I is found between Puerto Lopez (south-east of Villavicencio) and Puerto Gaitan. The colortype II was collected in ponds where the Rio Guarrojo starts. Rio Guarrojo is situated east of Rio Manacacias, and Rio Manacacias flows out into Rio Meta passing the town Puerto Gaitan and Rio Guarrojo, flows into Rio Vichada and Rio Vichada ends in Rio Orinoco, and so does Rio Metae.

Type III of Apistogramma viejita comes from ponds and waters that go west from Rio Manacacias, these rivers and waters flow into Rio Guaviare.



Apistogramma borellii

Apistogramma borellii.




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under the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature.