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Apistogramma Cacatoides Pair

Apistogramma Cacatoides Pair

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Synonyms None
Distribution Wild specimens are known from Brazil, Colombia, and Peru.
Sexual Dimorphism Males grow larger, are more colourful, and develop elongated rays in the dorsal fin. Females tend to display dark pelvic fins and a more yellow base colour.
Maximum Size Males up to 7.5cm (3”), females considerably smaller.
Water Parameters Soft and slightly acidic. pH: 5.5-7.0, dH: up to 10 degrees.
Temperature 24-27 deg C (75-81 deg F).
Compatibility Specialist community
Lighting Low


In the wild, 'Apistos' tend to inhabit slow-moving shallow bodies of water with a substrate is composed mainly of leaf litter, providing a matrix of hiding places. Their aquarium should reflect this and though they thrive in a tank furnished with catappa leaves, they'll be equally at home in shelters made from bogwood or ceramics. Dense planting helps to break up the sight lines and ease territorial conflict, these are cichlids after all and just as aggressive as their larger relatives, albeit on a much smaller scale. They may be dwarves but it's unwise to attempt to keep more than one male in all but the largest of set ups. Females are equally territorial but control much smaller territories and multiple females are usually found within the male's defended area. In small aquaria these fishes can be kept in pairs but if housing more than one female then allow around 30-50cm of tank length for each one and expect all other bottom-dwelling species to be expelled from these areas. 
Although requiring consideration for their aggression when breeding, apistos are clever little fishes and associate the absence of other fish as a warning of potential danger. In order to feel secure, they require 'dither fish' in the form of shoaling tetras etc which would quickly dart to safety at the approach of a predator, thus providing an early warning system. If these other species prefer swimming in the higher levels of the water column then they will usually thrive, quickly learning to avoid parental fish as long as space allows. As members of the Eartheater family, Apistos don't generally eat their tankmates and enjoy sifting through a sandy substrate for fine particles of food. Soft water is preferred, although this is less important for day to day care, with low nitrate levels being far more important to health. 
Several tank-bred colour varieties of A. cacatuoides are available, such as Double Red, Triple Red, and Orange. As well as these forms distinguished by fin colouration, a Gold or xanthic form is occasionally seen. Wild types are rarely offered, as their colouration is far more subdued.


Flake, micropellets, small frozen foods such as mosquito larvae, vitamin-enriched brineshrimp and daphnia.


When correctly maintained, spawning happens on a regular basis but is more successful in soft, acidic water. Maternal fish, which advertise their intentions by displaying a bold black and yellow pattern, will select or construct a spawning cave and this may be too small for the male to enter. The male's larger size enables him to cope with the heightened aggression of his mate and he may be excluded from parental duties completely. His role is to guard the territory while the female carries out the brood care. The eggs should hatch after 3 or 4 days, depending on water temperature. The female continues guarding the wrigglers, and after a further 4 or 5 days, will lead the fry out of the cave. She will be very pugnacious at this point, fending off any would-be predators and communicating with the fry using movements of her pelvic fins. The fry will require frequent small feeds with appropriately sized foodstuffs at this point, such as baby brineshrimp and microworm. With full bellies and plenty of partial water changes, the young fish will grow rapidly and should be removed for growing on when the female loses interest in them. Once independent they are driven from the territory and their mother will often spawn again.