Practical Information About Keeping, Breeding and Buying Dwarf Cichlids

Fish Profiles & Photos
South American  
    sp. "Abacaxis"
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Apistogramma baenschi 

Apistogramma baenschi male          This mature male Apistogramma baenschi shows a coloration pattern that is only found in mature fish that are kept in high quality conditions. 
   Apistogramma baenschi (A188), is also known as Apistogramma Inka, Apistogramma Inka 50 or Apistogramma "high finned nijsseni". All of these common names were used prior to the formal description of Apistogramma baenschi in 2004 as various collectors sold the fish under different names. Since the description, this delightful dwarf cichlid is usually offered as Apistogramma baenschi although it does pop up under one of the former common names from time to time.

      Apistogramma baenschi was discovered in 2002 by a German scientist who then guided a group of Japanese hobbyists to the location where he discovered them. These visiting hobbyists introduced them  in Japan where they garnered immediate attention from the global dwarf cichlid community. Several expeditions were launched to the area and the species soon began to appear in both Europe and the USA. By early 2003 the species became commercially available and has generally been available in the hobby since then.
Apistogramma baenschi female with fry      This female Apistogramma baenschi is surrounded by her brood of roughly month old fry. She exhibits the bold vertical stripes that characterize the species.

    Apistogramma baenschi is a member of the nijsseni group of Apistogrammas. Apistogramma nijsseni itself caused a stir when it was first introduced as the "Apistogramma Superstar" in the late 1970s. They were the holy grail of Apistos at the time and were known as delicate, being very demanding of water conditions and an especially tough fish to breed.  By contrast, I find Apistogramma baenschi to be a hardy, undemanding and easy to breed species. They tolerate a wide range of water conditions and do well in both community and species tanks. Apistogramma baenschi are not a shy species. Generally, they will be right out front in the aquarium, out in the open not hiding in cover.
      Feeding Apistogramma baenschi is usually an easy task. As you would expect, they avidly feed on all types of live foods. In my experience, they also will take most types of frozen and prepared foods. I have never had trouble converting them from live food to prepared and they thrive on a varied diet. Even wild fish can usually be converted to prepared foods without too much difficulty. I have noticed that Apistogramma baenschi are serious snail eaters. In my tanks they will hunt through the plants looking for small snails. I have not observed this in many other Apisto species but it seems to be strong in my baenschi.
Apistogramma baenschi male      This male exhibits the vertical bars to a slight extent. Their ability to shift color and darken and lighten the bars is remarkable

     I find Apistogramma baenschi to be pretty easy to breed. First pay attention to the basics. Give them good water, good food and good habitat and they will usually do the rest. They prefer soft, slightly acid to acid water. A pH range of 5-6.5 is most appropriate, however, this is an undemanding species and the exact water parameters are generally not critical. Apistogramma baenschi does well in lower temperatures than some species. They will do fine in the low mid to low 70's but, again, they are relatively undemanding and will tolerate a large range.

     A. baenschi spawns in typical apisto fashion. The female selects a close dark place, typically a cave, which she prepares as a nursery. Following a courtship she enters the cave
A group of A. baenschi fry      A group of maturing A. baenschi fry. These could have been removed from their mother some time earlier. Soon the males will begin to show the red edge on their caudal which is often one of the first ways to sex these fish.
area with the make and places rows of eggs neatly on the ceiling. The eggs are generally pink to red in color and the male will occasionally role sideways emitting sperm to fertilize the eggs. When the female has completed her egg laying, the male leaves and egg and fry care become the responsibility of the female. The eggs hatch in 48 - 72 hours and the female moves the larval fry to a pit in the cave. After another 4 or 5 days the fry will begin to swim and the female will soon lead them out to begin feeding.
     The newly free swimming fry will be able to find a few days of food in a well established tank but you must be prepare to quickly provide suitable food to the fry. Micro worms and newly hatched brine shrimp are two excellent foods and are my personal staples. It can be difficult to raise fry only on commercial prepared foods. The fry grow at a reasonable rate and I have not had too many problems with skewed sex ratios with this species.

     If you ever have the opportunity to keep Apistogramma baenschi you will find them to be a really great addition to your tank. They are beautiful, hardy, easy to keep and easy to breed. Hopefully they have become a permanent part of our hobby.    
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