Practical Information About Keeping, Breeding and Buying Dwarf Cichlids
Apistogramma sp. "Abacaxis"
Apistogramma sp. "Abacaxis" (A227 - A228) is a beautiful and interesting member of the agassizii group and pulchra complex of Apistogrammas. This species was first discovered in 1999 in Lago Glemende near village of Walendo in the middle Rio Abacaxis basin, Amazonas Brazil.
A lago is a small jungle lake and Lago Glemende is connected to the Rio Abacaxis by a small Igarapé. Igarapé [ee-gah-rah-pay]: Amazon Indian term for a small stream that goes deep into the rainforest. Igarapés are quite different from the forest streams that we know from temperate forests. They are often very deep and can go hundreds of miles into the forest. In the wider parts, igarapés open up to quiet and peaceful hidden lakes, tree lined and without perceptible current.
Apistogramma sp. Abacaxis was first collected by Horst Linke and Mario Wilhelm and Linke introduced the species to the hobby under the name of Apistogramma sp. Wilhelmi. Today this name is widely used but many hobbyists are making a serious attempt to use the name "Abacaxis" instead of "Wilhelmi". The reasons for this are far different than many would believe. The real problem with using the name Wilhelmi is that the name sounds as though it is a scientifically described species and name. The rules of naming fish are very rigid and there is a risk that by using the name "Wilhelmi" as the hobby name it could remove the name from usability as the scientific name when the species is described. Thus, many are encouraging the use of "Abacaxis" to preserve the name "Wilhelmi" for use in the ultimate scientific naming.
Wilhelm and Linke collected A. sp. "Abacaxis" in the leaf littler lining the shoreline of the Lago. They noted that the Lago had extensive piles of brush in the water. The water was slightly muddy and was a dark brown in color. The water was very soft, measuring less than 1 dGH. The pH was quite acid at 3.9 and the water was quite warm at 86F. The collectors noted that the waters were rather barren of fish.
The first imports of A. sp. "Abacaxis" came to Germany, the United States and Japan in 2000 via several importers. The dry season in this part of the Amazon occurs in the winter and sporadic wild imports of this species are occasionally offered in January and February. However, this is not a commonly collected or imported species so don't expect to find wild fish on a regular basis. Tanks raised specimens are often available but are usually rather expensive because this is not an easy fish to mass produce.
Apistogramma sp. "Abacaxis" males are usually easy to identify as mature males have very obviously dark colored lips and throat. The color can vary from red to brown or black but forms with dark purple lips are especially beautiful. The other diagnostic feature is the broad lateral band that is two scales in width. This wide band is the prominent feature of females.
As would be expected from the waters they inhabit in the wild, A. sp. "Abacaxis" does best in very soft acid water. Many breeders have reported no successful spawning until pH's were adjusted to below 4.0. these are extreme conditions and it is difficult to maintain stable conditions at these pH levels. I have had some success with this species at slightly higher pH values but have never gotten large spawns. Breeders in Germany have reported that this species is especially prone to skewed sex rations with temperatures of 80F or higher producing almost all males. The same reports state that at 79F sex ratios will be balanced. The factors that determine sex in Apistogramma are poorly understood but there is no doubt that temperature plays a major role. Try to shoot for a temp in the high 70's but don;t be surprised if you get unbalanced sex ratios in your fry.
Non-breeding husbandry of this species is not too difficult. Keep them as you would any other Apisto. Give them good habitat and food with plenty of water changes. I have found them to be fairly peaceful when kept in a group of ten adults of mixed sexes. However, there is no breeding in this type of tank. I have found that they will do well in breeding set ups of either pairs or trios. Males can be tough on non receptive females so be sure you have plenty of cover. They feed readily on live and frozen foods and can be switched to prepared food without too much trouble.
Apistogramma sp' "Abacaxis" is a very pretty fish. The strikingly colored lips and throat of adult males is very unique and rest of their body colors only heighten the effect. They make an excellent fish for experienced Apisto keepers and present a breeding challenge for the serious hobbyist. Although rarely seen in pet stores they are sporadically available from private breeders and are on the wish list for my dwarf cichlid fans.
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