Apistogramma , Dwarf Cichlids in the Aquarium
The real apistogramma's come from southern America, they all
have the same characteristics, like a complex breeding behavior,
as their large relatives, only their size is different. Besides
the apistogramma group there are also some relatively popular
dwarf cichlids from Africa, like the Pelvicachromis group. From
this group the most widespread cichlid is the Pelvicachromis
pulcher, also known as the Kribensis or Purple cichlid.
Generally the cichlids from the apistogramma group are more
fragile and harder to maintain, and breed, for a longer period of
time. In my opinion apistogramma's are not real beginner species.
They are more likely to get diseases if not all the environmental
variables are properly taken care of. They need soft and acidic
water with a low PH value, a PH of 5.5 to 6 is preferable. They
hardly eat dry foods, best is to feed them live foods or frozen
food, like bloodworms, brine shrimp and mosquito larvae.
Apistogramma species can be kept in a large tropical community
aquarium, but be sure the other fish are not too small, they can
defend their territory very fiercely, and can be quite aggressive
when they are breeding. In my opinion it is best to keep the
apistogramma's on their own, in a larger aquarium you could
combine two apistogramma variants together, maybe supplemented
with a small group of other fish, like some livebearers or
betta's. They also can be kept together with discus or angel
fish. I always have a harem of apisto's in my discus tanks, just
to populate the lower areas of the aquarium and I really like
these small dwarfs with a big attitude.
The cichlids from the Pelvicachromis group are much more
tolerant when it comes to water values and feeding, I do consider
these cichlids a good beginner species. They are hardened,
beautiful colored and eat almost anything. The Pelvicachromis
pulcher is maybe one of the most easy to breed cichlids as well.
If you have an adult couple they will reproduce, in a community
tank, a special species tank or in a pond, some people like to
breed them in their pond during summer. Actually some of the
biggest and nicest colored Pelvicachromis pulcher were pond bred
and raised. The only thing to keep in mind with these cichlids is
that they are capable of redesigning your aquarium, they can make
huge holes and are real little bulldozers. So if you have, or
want to setup, a subtile planted tank, don't add a couple of
Pelvicachromis to your aquarium.
The last dwarf cichlid I want to mention is the Microgeophagus
ramirezi, or Ram cichlid. Their behavior and care are roughly the
same as the apistogramma's but they are more tolerant when it
comes to water values, and in my experience they are easier to
keep in good condition. Unlike the apistos they have to be kept
as a couple, not a harem but that's the only breeding experience
I have. I have tried several couples, have a couple in a breeding
tank right now, but I have never even had a clutch of eggs. I
know from other breeders that they are kind of hard to get going,
but if they do they never stop.
Auke Veenstra is keeping and breeding tropical aquarium fish,
and dendrobatea, for years. He shares his experiences on the
This article can be used for free on-line, if the origin of
the article is mentioned and an active link to http://www.tinkerfish.com is
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