Apistogramma Agassiz – Candle Flame at the Tip of the Tail

Dwarf cichlids have long been an integral part of the aquarium world. One of the most popular representatives of this group are apistograms: small but incredibly attractive fish with variegated color. In our article, we will tell you about the correct content of the Agassitsa Apistogramma, a scientific description of which was made at the end of the 19th century.

General information

Apistogramma agassizii is a freshwater ray-finned fish from the Tsikhlov family. She lives in the tropical region of South America. The fish got its name in honor of Harvard University professor Jean Louis Rodolfo Agassiz, who even at an old age (58 years old) managed to make a major expedition to Brazil, leaving behind a significant collection of local ichthyofauna.

Apistogramma Agassitsa has the widest range in comparison with its closest relatives. You can meet fish on a huge territory – from the foothills of the Andes to the confluence of the Amazon River into the Atlantic Ocean. Living in such different conditions contributed to the formation of local geographic morphs that differ in color:

  • Blue-white (lives at the mouth of the Rio Negro);
  • Red (upper Amazon, Peru, Colombia). Most common among aquarists;
  • Yellow (neighborhood of the cities of Rio Tefe, Santa Rema).

Apistogramma Agassitsa is a relatively peaceful and unpretentious fish to care for, which will be an excellent decoration for a small tropical aquarium. For apistograms, taking care of the offspring is inherent, so you can think about breeding them at home.


Apistogramma Agassitsa has a slightly elongated and slightly laterally flattened body. The maximum size of males is 8 cm, females are smaller, grow only up to 5 cm in length. The head is small, with a terminal mouth and large eyes.

The caudal fin immediately attracts attention. Its central ray is elongated, which gives the tail a diamond shape. To some, it resembles a candle flame. The dorsal fin is well developed and runs from head to tail. Its extreme rays are strongly elongated in males.

The main body color varies from blue to greenish, in some cases yellow-brown. The abdomen is orange or yellowish. A dark stripe runs along the sides of the body. It can be solid or intermittent, sometimes absent altogether. Small turquoise spots are not uncommon near the eye. The fins, with the exception of the pectorals, are colored red, orange, or blue. The color of males is much brighter than that of females.


The birthplace of Apistogramma Agassitsa is the central Amazon. Fish can be found in a wide area from the Atlantic Ocean to the Andes. Its range includes Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, and a number of other countries.

Apistogramma inhabits various biotopes, can live in “white” and “black” tropical water. Most of all it gravitates towards slow-flowing river tributaries, creeks, streams with dense vegetation, and significant leaf litter. The water here is soft and sour.

Care and maintenance

To keep the Agassits Apistogramma, you need an aquarium with a volume of 40-60 liters. It is best to start small groups of a male and 2-3 females. Several males can only be kept in large aquariums since the fish are territorial and there can be clashes between males.

The substrate can be sand or fine pebbles suitable for growing plants. Of the latter, it is desirable to plant shade-tolerant species – anubias, cryptocorynes, ferns. Apistograms do not like bright lighting; natural shading can be created using floating plants – pistia, riccia. It is necessary to create a variety of shelters from pipes, grottoes, stones, and snags.

Apistograms Agassitsa are sensitive to the content of nitrogenous compounds in the water, therefore it is important to ensure good aeration and filtration in the aquarium. In this case, the flow of water should not be very powerful. Apistograms are thermophilic, so you need a thermostat to maintain a comfortable water temperature. It is necessary to change 20% of the water in the aquarium weekly. Always use Tetra AquaSafe Conditioner to avoid sedimenting tap water and making it safe for fish. Adding another conditioner, Tetra ToruMin, would also be helpful. It contains natural peat extract, which gives the water a slight “tea” tint and slightly acidifies it, which creates conditions for fish very close to natural ones.


Apistogramma Agassitsa is a peace-loving fish, but at some periods of life, it becomes quite aggressive. It is primarily about the spawning period. The female and male guarding the nest actively drive away any stranger from it. Therefore, when keeping in a common aquarium, it is important to have many shelters.

Ideal neighbors for the Apistogramma are various types of harassing: neons, tetras, thorns, etc. Peaceful catfish – corridors, ancistrus are suitable. You can pay attention to the iris, nannostomus. Apistogramma Agassitsa is one of the few fish that will feel comfortable in the vicinity of discus. In their natural environment, the habitats of these fish often overlap.

Keeping with other types of apistograms is also possible unless you want to breed this species and keep the breed characteristics. In this case, it is better to focus on a species aquarium in order to exclude the appearance of hybrid offspring of closely related species.

Feeding Apistogram Agassitsa

The natural diet of the Agassitsa Apistogramma consists, for the most part, of small benthic invertebrates and swimming crustaceans. Despite the small size of the fish, it is a real predator. Therefore, when keeping it at home, it is important to provide your pet with high-quality proteins.

Tetra Cichlid Mini Granules are perfect as a base feed – these are small granules for dwarf cichlids, rich in protein and a complex of essential vitamins. The pellets are handy for fish that prefer the center of the aquarium.

To enhance the color of the red and yellow forms of the Agassitsa Apistogramma, you can use Tetra Cichlid Color Mini Pellets with a concentrate of natural carotenoids, which makes your pets even brighter and more attractive.

Be sure to indulge your apistograms with Tetra FreshDeica natural treats. Fish will like bloodworms or brine shrimp in a special nutritious jelly.

Apistogramma should be fed in small portions several times a day.

Reproduction and breeding

Breeding Agassitsa apistograms at home is an incredibly exciting experience. It is not at all difficult to find a couple of fish. In pubertal cichlids, males are much larger, more brightly colored, and their fins are sharply pointed.

Spawning can occur both in a general and in a separate aquarium. However, in the first case, it should be borne in mind that apistograms during the period of caring for the nest will be quite aggressive towards neighbors.

Spawning can be stimulated by a slight increase in water temperature (up to 25-26 ° C) and massive soft water changes. The relationship between male and female is very interesting. The male, ready for spawning, makes a nest. Usually, this is a hole near the stone, which he carefully cleans of debris. Then he chooses a female and begins to chase her. If the female is not ready for spawning, then the “courtship” of the male can become a real problem for her. The male can bite his fins and literally beat his partner. In such cases, it is recommended to plant the female and hold her for a week or a little more in a separate container, providing enhanced feeding, until she finally picks up eggs, which will become noticeable on the thickened abdomen.

If the female is ready to start a family, then she accepts the courtship of the male and swims up to the nest, where she lays eggs. The fertility of one female can range from 60 to 200 eggs. The male immediately fertilizes the eggs. And here the role of the fish can change dramatically. There are frequent cases when the female begins to pursue the male, damage his fins. In this situation, it would be prudent to plant him. In some cases, young Apistogramma females can easily eat their offspring. Therefore, it is better not to disturb them again.

Egg incubation takes 3-6 days depending on the water temperature. First, wriggling larvae are born, feeding on the contents of their yolk sac. After a couple of days, they turn into fry and begin to swim freely.

It is best to keep fry at elevated temperatures (28-30 ° C). It is necessary to maintain a high quality of water, change it daily. Fry that succeeds in growth must be removed from the smaller ones.

Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

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