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Practical Information About Keeping, Breeding and Buying Dwarf Cichlids

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South American  
Apistogramma
    agassizii
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    cacatuoides
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    macmasteri
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    pertensis
    rubrolineata
    sp. "Abacaxis"
    sp. "Putumayo"
    sp. "Steel Blue"
    steindachneri
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West African 
Nanochromis
   parilus
   transvestitus
Pelvicachromis
    pulcher
    roloffi
    subocellatus
    taeniatus



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Apistogramma cacatuoides

Apistogramma cacatuoides male
Click photo to enlarge
    A. cacatuoides "Orange Flash" male. This domestic strain is especially colorful. This male has an unusually tall dorsal fin.
    Apistogramma cacatuoides (A 200 - A 203) are one of the most widely available Apistogrammas and are the type species for the cacatuoides group of Apistogrammas. They are relatively hardy and fairly easy to keep and breed. Not only are they considered a beginners apisto, they are also spectacularly beautiful. Like most dwarf cichlids the male and female are markedly different in appearance.

    Males reach about three inches in total length and are very colorful. They usually sport a very high dorsal fin with several very extended rays on the front of the fin. Males also exhibit a strongly lyrate tail and extended ventral fins. Females are much smaller than males, growing to a maximum of 2 inches. They are generally a brownish to dusky yellow color but can be a vibrant yellow during times of brood care.

    Apistogramma cacatuoides are widely distributed in the Upper Amazon Basin. They are found in streams, lagoons, lakes and ponds. They are found in both white and clear water environments and do not appear to thrive in black water conditions. These natural water parameters make them generally easier to keep in an aquarium than many other species.
Apistogramma cacatuoides double redClick photo to enlarge
     Young male Apistogramma cacatuoides "Double Red". The terms "Double Red" and Triple Red" are often confusing. "Double Red" fish exhibit strongly colored ocelli in both the caudal fin (tail) and the dorsal fin. Triple Red fish express the ocelli in the anal fin as well. Note that this male has a very slight expression of ocellation in the anal fin.

    Apistogramma cacatuoides were first introduced to the hobby in 1950 under the name Apistogramma U2. They were subsequently mis-identified as Apistogramma borellii and went by this misnomer until the 1980's and since then they have been properly identified. You will find some references listing this fish as Apistogramma cacatoides.

     Apistogramma cacatuoides quickly became a favorite of many and today they are probably the most popular of the Apistogrammas. Many breeders attempt to enhance the colors of their cacatuoides through selective breeding and through many generations several different color morphs have been developed.


      Cacatuoides are generally considered to be an easy apistograsmma to keep and breed. However, any fish at any time can be impossible so if you have problems with them don't feel bad. Cacatuoides tolerate a wide range of water conditions. For general maintenance water of moderate hardness and neutral pH is perfectly acceptable. In their native range cacatoides are found in a very wide range of water temperatures. In the aquarium you should have good success keeping them anywhere between 74 and 80 degrees. If you are spawning them research has shown that you will get the most balanced sex ratios if you keep the newly hatched fry at 79 degrees for their first three months.
female with fry     This female cacatuoides is guarding her one day old fry. Baby apistos are usually large enough to eat newly hatched brine shrimp as a first food. Live plants provide an excellent surface for the fry to graze upon.

   Apistogramma cacatuoides are typical apistos and our aquarium care section should give you the information you need to keep and breed them. I have been keeping cacatuoides continuously since 1985 and in that time I have kept them in many different circumstances. I've had excellent success keeping them in pairs, trios and groups. I have successfully kept and bred them in tanks as small as two gallons but I do not recommend this to you as it is very hard to keep things in balance in this small of a tank.

    Cacatuoides are generally more available than other Apistogrammas. However, that doesn't mean you should expect to find them at your local shop unless you are one of the fortunates that lives near a shop that stocks dwarf cichlids. (Time to go on a tangent - If you do happen to find a shop that sells dwarf cichlids on a regular basis please patronize them! Very few shops stock dwarfs and we need to support all that do.) Check out our buying fish section for leads as to where you might find some of these great little fish.

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Dwarfcichlid.com - practical advice about keeping and breeding Apistogramma cacatuoides and all other dwarf cichlids.
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