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Apistogramma borellii  

    Apistogramma borellii (A102/103/104) are beautiful dwarf cichlids from the Amazon basin. Apistogramma borellii have a large range that includes a variety of water types. They are found in the Paraguay,  Parana & Uruguay drainages in Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina.  These areas represent some of the southernmost regions in which Apistos are found. Consequently, the fish from these areas are exposed to cooler water temperatures than most Apistogrammas.  In fact, Apistogramma borellii have been found
Apistogramma borellii male
    Apistogramma Borellii male in aggressive display. Note the long flowing pectoral fins on this male and the others pictured. In some borellii the fin tips will actually extend beyond the back of the tail.
thriving in waters with temperatures as low as 44 degrees F (6.5C)!

     Apistogramma Borellii are a polychromatic species. That is, they are found in a variety of different color patterns and in many cases a single population will produce several distinct variants.  In the wild, there are many forms some of which are particularly colorful.  Some individual males with vivid red streaking on their faces are truly spectacular.  At times these colorful races have been assigned trade names, including the common Apistogramma sp "Opal".  This has not helped with the confusion surrounding the name of this species which, for many years, was commonly known in the hobby under the wrong name. In recent years, the undescribed Apistogramma sp. "Steel Blue" has been widely distributed under the name Apistogramma Borellii.

     Apistogramma Borellii was first described by Regan in 1906 and was subsequently misidentified as A. ritensis, A. rondoni, A reitzigi and finally as A. aequipinnus in 1938. Of course each scientist that described this species thought he had the valid description and there were many misidentification of this fish.  However, by  the late 1930's it became commonly accepted that the correct name for this fish should be A. reitzigi and the fish was universally accepted as such.  To further complicate matters, in 1961 Apistogramma cacatuoides was mistakenly identified in
Apistogramma borellii males
     These two male Apistogramma borellii were tank mates for several years.  Although they sparred with each other for hours on end they never engaged in serious fights and neither fish ever damaged the other in any way.
the hobby as A. borellii.  Thus we faced a situation where A. borellii was commonly known by a wrong name and a wrong fish was commonly known as A. borellii.  This situation lasted until the 1983 when R. Sven Kullander reexamined the original material and was able to properly name these fish.

     I have always found Apistogramma borellii to be an easy Apistos to keep and breed. It tolerates most water conditions quite well but thrives in soft to very soft conditions.  Borellii can be kept at cooler temperatures than many Apistos and  almost any temperature between 72 and 78 degrees should see them thrive.  Personally I have found it difficult to maintain the incredible metallic colors that are exhibited by wild caught fish in my tank raised specimens.  The wild fish I keep maintain their colors for life but their offspring never seem to match the parent and after several generations I find the colors markedly diminished.  I have
tried introducing wild genes ever few generations but that has only produced limited success.  I suspect that my aquariums lack some important factor or factors (food or environmental) that is crucial for maintaining the most vivid colors.
Group of young apistogramma borellii
    These young Apistogramma borellii are feeding aggressively on newly hatched brine shrimp. This group is about 9 months old and the males are just beginning to get their spectacular coloration.

     Generally speaking, Apistogramma borellii are great dwarf cichlids
. They are wonderful in a community tank and are usually rather peaceful. A tank with a half dozen or more colorful males will provide hours of visual enjoyment. Be aware though, if you want this type of multiple male display you must make sure that the tank is large enough and there is enough cover so that weaker fish can always escape. Also, this will usually work best if you have at least a half dozen males so the the aggression is spread throughout the tank.

Generally speaking Apistogramma borellii requires no unusual care and if you follow the general care information you find in our Aquarium Care section you should enjoy success!



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