The best tank environment for the fish should have plenty of caves, bogwood and live aquarium plants to fulfill their requirements. With their small size, it is best to avoid keeping them with other predatory cichlids such as oscars which may devour and make a good meal out of your Apistogramma. Usually having “dither fish” can be advantageous in the sense that having them around helps to get your dwarf cichlids getting acquainted to the new tank much easier. Certain seasoned fish breeders even recommend keeping Pyrrhulina brevis or better known as short-lined Pyrrhulina or either small sized corydoras catfish around as they make perfect tank mates for your dwarf cichlids.
Aquarium water for your dwarf cichlids fish should be soft and slightly acidic in the region of 6.5 to 6.7. During breeding season, you can even consider lowering the acidity of the water to around 6.0 to stimulate the spawning. If you have difficulty adjusting the pH to the right level, consider getting an accurate pH test kit to make your tasks easier. Usually observation during this period is very important because the male can turn aggressive towards the female. Wild female Apistogrammas in rivers will have open areas to swim and escape from the male in case she rejects the male approaches but in a confined fish tank, she will have nowhere to hide. This makes them vulnerable to attack and watch for any injury sustained in the commotion because open wounds often lead to development of sores and fish disease.
Nowadays, different species of the Apistogrammas such as the A. cacatuoides and A. harem is sought after in the aquarium trade. All these fishes are substrate brooders and they make excellent community pets that are hardy and less demanding. I would definitely recommend this fish for beginners to aquarium fish hobby.
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