Keeping Agassiz’s Dwarf Cichlid

Keeping Agassiz’s Dwarf Cichlid

Looking to get into cichlid keeping? Why not start with one of the many colorful dwarf cichlids out there. Apistogramma agassizii (also known as Agassiz’s dwarf cichlid) is a true classic in the aquarium hobby and still a favorite when it comes to South American fish. Because the species is often captive bred and raised it’s not nearly as sensitive as many wild-caught Apistogrammas, making it a great choice if you’re a beginner.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about keeping Apistogramma agassizii in your own aquarium!

Apistogramma Agassizii 

When it comes to color the genus Apistogramma never disappoints. Apistogramma agassizii is no exception. The wild form is appreciated for its bright yellows, but if that’s not enough then there are also various other varieties featuring different colors out there. Apistogramma agassizii ‘Double Red’, for example, sports a bright red tail fin. ‘Super Red’ has a light belly and red back and fins, while ‘Cuipeua’ is appreciated for its electric yellows and blues.

With a maximum size of around 3” for the males (females stay even smaller), this isn’t exactly the largest cichlid out there. This means a large aquarium is not needed unless you’d like to keep a harem with multiple females instead of a basic pair.

Name (common, scientific) Agassiz’s dwarf cichlid, Apistogramma agassizii
Minimum tank size 15 gallons (long)
Minimum group size 1M 1F
Temperature 74-84 °F
pH 5-7
Difficulty level Intermediate

Apistogramma Agassizii Aquarium

Apistogramma cichlids like the Agassiz’s dwarf cichlid are generally found in relatively slow-flowing rivers with plenty of cover, soft water, low pH and leaf litter. In the aquarium they’ll appreciate a similar environment, making for a great opportunity to set up a biotope aquarium.

To keep your Apistogramma agassizii happy and healthy, provide plenty of cover in the form of whatever you can find. Coconut caves, live plants and even terracotta flower pots all work perfectly. The addition of leaf litter like Indian almond leaves stains the water a darker color due to the tannins it contains, preventing stress and even protecting your fish from illness.

When it comes to tankmates, you’re best off going for small and unaggressive schooling fish. This prevents squabbles that might occur if you added other cichlids and ensures your aquarium stays peaceful. Don’t worry about aggression on the part of the agassizii’s: like many other dwarf cichlids (and unlike larger cichlids like the feisty angelfish) this species is quite peaceful.

The only time you you’ll likely see your Agassiz’s dwarf cichlids misbehave is after spawning time when the female is guarding her eggs. This behavior can be dispersed by providing plenty of hiding places or possibly temporarily removing the male.

Caring for Apistogramma Agassizii

As mentioned earlier, most Apistogramma agassizii specimens available in the aquarium trade today have been captive bred for many generations. This means they’re used to water values like those in our aquariums and generally relatively tolerant to a wide range of conditions.

Do keep in mind that Apistogramma agassizii can be relatively sensitive to bad water values and fluctuations in water quality. Keep a close eye on your aquarium water using a liquid test kit to ensure your cycle is still stable, but avoid doing large water changes without proper acclimation.

This fish can be fed a protein-based diet. Regular cichlid pellets will work perfectly fine for most specimens as long as they’re used to commercial fish foods. Do try to switch things up as much as possible using at least frozen foods. Live would be the ideal: cultivating creepy crawlies like blackworms or daphnia might seem like a lot of effort, but your Apistogramma’s (and almost all other aquarium fish) will really appreciate being able to hunt as they naturally would.

We can easily see why Apistogramma agassizii has been around in the aquarium hobby for this many years. This dwarf cichlid is colorful, community-compatible and fascinating to watch. It can even make a great breeding project for those looking for a new fishkeeping challenge!

Your own Amazonas biotope?

Interested in keeping Apistogramma agassizii but feel like setting up and maintaining an Amazonas biotope (or an aquarium in general!) will be a little too time consuming? We can help!

The experts at FantaSEA Aquarium have years of experience and can set up and maintain any (biotope) tank for you, whether it’s at home or in the office. Sound good? Contact us and share your ideas here. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.